Charles Blow, a columnist for The New York Times, wrote this column about how anti-Muslim bigotry that has become prevalent in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in the aftermath of the Paris attacks is un-American. Last time I checked, “Anti-Muslim is Anti-American”, the title of Blow’s column, is trending on Twitter, and I strongly encourage reading Blow’s column.
He’s right…opposing an entire religion is an un-American ideal.
Republican presidential candidates, most notably Donald Trump and Ben Carson, have gone all out in recent days to pander to the lowest common denominator in American society, bigots, in order to support their crackdown on an entire religion. Trump has supported closing mosques (Islamic places of worship) and creating a national registry of Muslims. Carson has publicly compared Muslims to rabid dogs. What Trump, Carson, and other Republicans are supporting is absurd and offensive. Proposals to crack down on Islam from Trump and other Republican candidates blatantly violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and comparing Muslims to rabid dogs is downright offensive. Even worse, what Republicans like Trump and Carson are saying is eerily reminiscent of the rhetoric that Nazis used to justify their hatred of Jewish people in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Not all Muslims are members of an Islamic fundamentalist terror group like ISIS, al-Qaeda, or Boko Haram. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Muslims here in America live peacefully and regard those Islamic fundamentalist jihadists as barbaric militants who don’t represent their view of Islam. We should embrace religious freedom in this country, not crack down on it.
Hoosier Hospitality has been legally eliminated in Indiana. I’m not kidding.
Mike Pence, the far-right Republican Indiana Governor, signed into law a religious discrimination bill that, among other things, will allow business owners to refuse service to gays, lesbians, and other groups of people because of the owners’ religious beliefs.
The effects of the religious discrimination bill on Indiana’s economy are already negative and far-reaching. Gen Con, the largest tabletop game convention in North America, stated its intention to move the convention from Indianapolis to an as-of-yet-unspecified location in another state or country prior to Pence signing the religious discrimination bill into law. Additionally, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is looking to move its scheduled 2017 General Assembly from Indianapolis to a location outside of Indiana. The NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, has signaled that they’ll hold the 2015 Final Four in Indianapolis (presumably because moving the Final Four to another venue on nine days notice would be a logistical nightmare, if not virtually impossible, for the NCAA), although the NCAA has publicly condemned the religious discrimination legislation, and it’s possible that the NCAA may refuse to hold future NCAA championships in Indiana and move the NCAA headquarters to somewhere outside of Indiana.
Also, a special note to Democrats and progressives regarding religious discrimination legislation: Don’t use the Republican/conservative framing by referring to the legislation as “religious freedom” legislation, as all you’re doing by using their framing is reinforcing the right’s narrative. Refer to it as religious discrimination legislation, as that’s what it is: it allows business owners and other types of employers to discriminate against others based on religious beliefs of the business owners and employers.
I promised you that I would pick someone very notorious to be The Progressive Midwesterner’s 2014 Person of the Year.
Well, I’m proud to announce that my 2014 Person of the Year is…Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg, widely thought of as the most liberal of the nine justices on the conservative-controlled Supreme Court, has earned a loyal following among progressives, feminists, and reproductive rights supporters after the conservative majority on the court ruled that businesses owned by people who want to shove their religious beliefs down the throats of their employees, such as the arts and crafts store chain Hobby Lobby, could deny their employees health insurance coverage of contraception, even if they have a medical need for it. Ginsburg, in her dissenting opinion of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, blasted the court’s conservative majority for allowing employers to shove their religious beliefs down the throats of their employees:
The reason why is hardly obscure. Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations. […] The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.
Ginsburg earned such a loyal following among progressives, feminists, and reproductive rights supporters in this country after her blistering dissent of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, she became known as The Notorious RBG, and “join the dissent” became a rallying cry for supporters of women’s rights.
For bravely standing up to a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court that has dismantled religious freedom and has tried to take reproductive rights away from women, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has earned my 2014 Person of the Year award.