The attack in Nice is the “fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary.”
This is the type of reaction that instills senseless panic and incites division. The rhetoric came from a GOP vice presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich.
After the horrible attack in Nice, France, by a Tunisian-born man reportedly with no apparent previous links to extremism, in an appearance on Fox News Channel's "Hannity," Gingrich said that every person "who is of a Muslim background" in America should face a test.
"We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported," he told host Sean Hannity. "Sharia is incompatible with western civilization. Modern Muslims, who have given up Sharia -- glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door."
Further, the act of visiting a website that favors ISIS or al Qaeda should be a felony, Gingrich declared.
"We are behaving as though we are insane," he railed. "We're like sheep wondering why the wolves keep killing us."
"Let me be very clear. You have to monitor the mosques," Gingrich said. "I mean if you're not prepared to monitor the mosques, this whole thing is a joke. Where do you think the primary source of recruitment is? Where do you think the primary place of indoctrination is?"
Gingrich also suggested that not only should every "internet-based source of terrorism" be shut down., but if that's not possible, he said, "We should destroy them with kinetic power, using various weapons starting with predators and frankly just killing them.”
(“Gingrich calls for Muslim test.” CBS News. July 15, 2016.)
While American people demand their freedoms such as the right to bear arms and the right to protest, some leaders and media celebrities believe suspension of liberty is necessary in what they consider to be dire times.
The right to freedom of religion is so central to American democracy that it was enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment in response to two centuries of state-sponsored religious conflict and oppression in America, and with a keen understanding of the religious persecution in European nations resulting from official state religions and religious wars.
The First Amendment clearly states …
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
The Fourteenth Amendment declares …
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Gingrich’s proposal, which made no distinction between U.S. citizens and noncitizens, would violate scores of First and Fourteenth Amendment-based Supreme Court rulings and laws that together bar discriminating on the basis of religion, favoring one religion over another by the government and restricting freedom of expression and and belief.
(Melissa Etehad. “After Nice, Newt Gingrich wants to ‘test’ every Muslim in the U.S. and deport sharia believers.” The Washington Post. July 15, 2016.)
Following Newt Gingrich's suggestions not only would be a violation of constitutional rights but also would constitute actions that accomplish the goals of terrorists – to cause widespread public panic and to create division in political ranks. Gingrich represents a base of hard-line conservatives who use panic to incite fear of a religion.
Gingrich's remarks echo Donald Trump's call for a religious test for all Muslims who wish to remain in the United States. Trump has also proposed a moratorium on immigration from countries where terrorism is prevalent and for greater surveillance of mosques. Gingrich and Trump champion such measures as they both employ the fear of Muslim terrorists to win support.
Inquisition-style religious tests? Monitoring places of worship? Killing internet users? Such rhetoric actually spikes interest in Sharia law – the kind of interest that institutes dissolution and potentially seeks revenge. Although Gingrich's own diatribe is protected by the First Amendment, such inflammatory expression borders on defamation and incitement to violence.
And, the truth must be acknowledged. There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 – roughly 23% of the global population – according to a Pew Research estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. If current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.
According to Pew's best estimate, Muslims make up just less than 1% of the U.S. adult population. Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study (conducted in English and Spanish) found that 0.9% of U.S. adults identify as Muslims. A 2011 survey of Muslim Americans, which was conducted in English as well as Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, estimated that there were 1.8 million Muslim adults (and 2.75 million Muslims of all ages) in the country.
It must be understood that Sunnis and Shias are two subgroups of Islam, just as Catholics and Protestants are two subgroups within Christianity. In the U.S., 65% identify as Sunnis and 11% as Shias (with the rest identifying with neither group, including some who say they are “just a Muslim”).
(Michael Lipka. “Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world.” Pew Research Center. December 07, 2015.)
Lee Lawrence, correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, says …
“The perception of Muslim as 'other' – and a dangerous or suspicious other, at that – persists, stoked by post-9/11 insecurities. One of the reasons is that most Americans know little about Islam and, in many cases, don't know a Muslim personally. When they do, stereotypes fall away, revealing a diverse and dynamic population that is doing what Americans have historically done: figuring out how to be themselves.
Jen'nan Ghazal Read, associate professor of sociology and global health at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, believes that America's 2,100-plus mosques (up by 74 percent since 2000, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations) can provide a vehicle for Muslims' integration, "similar to how religious institutions have helped other immigrant communities adapt to life in a new land.”
Government pursuit of terrorists must NOT become government pursuit of religion. Leaders such as Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich instill undue terror into American citizens as they insist that Muslims are our enemies. Terrorists, not Muslims, are the enemies of the state. We, as a democracy, must preserve all democratic principles as we pursue criminals in our midst. We must do this because we have inherited the birthright of maintaining the cradle of liberty for all people everywhere in the world.
In fact, church history is replete with examples of evil perpetrated in the name of Christianity – yes, many so-called Christians have committed acts of terrorism while claiming allegiance to the teachings of Christ. So, Americans do understand that our majority religion -- though based on love, peace and understanding -- can be perverted by evildoers. I cannot imagine competent leaders would propose Big Brother monitor the actions of Christian denominations in the United States.