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July 27, 2010


Brendan's hypersensitivity toward criticism of Obama is a continuing theme of his blog. As early as May of 2007, Brendan expressed his concern that John McCain's statement that "Obama wouldn't know the difference between an RPG and a bong" would "trigger ugly racial stereotypes" about Obama.

Today the burr under Brendan's saddle is that criticism of Obama about anything relating to the Muslim world is "Muslim-baiting." Whether the Administration's statements to the Scottish government relating to the Lockerbie bomber amounted to a wink and a nod is a subject about which reasonable people can differ, but it's ridiculous to suggest that criticism of the Administration on that score is "Muslim-baiting," apparently for the sole reason that Libya is a predominantly Muslim country.

On the same theme, Brendan imagines that there's been an "outbreak" of fear about Sharia law since Obama took office. Never mind that in 2004, in an article in that right-wing publication The New York Times, concerns were reported about application of Sharia law in Canada. Never mind that in 2004 Daniel Pipes wrote that the "goal [of militant Islam] is to apply the Islamic law (the Shari‘a) globally. In U.S. terms, it intends to replace the Constitution with the Qur'an."

In February 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury called "for Britain to adopt aspects of Islamic Shariah law alongside the existing legal system. His speech set off a storm of opposition among politicians, lawyers and others, including some Muslims." Not surprisingly, the storm of opposition was not limited to the United Kingdom; the subject was extensively discussed in the United States as well.

During the Bush Administration, right-wingers expressed concern about a U.N. resolution demanded by "Sharia-following Islamic nations," the possible application of Sharia law in a Texas state court case and that the "U.S. Treasury Submits to Sharia Law."

So the "outbreak of fear" about Sharia law that worries Brendan occurred well before the Obama Administration. Yes, a small percentage of the electorate thinks Obama is Muslim. But that shouldn't make discussion of Sharia law in the U.S. or the role of the Administration in the release of the Lockerbie bomber illegitimate.

Regarding the first item, the Fox article quotes sources showing that the US did not make a serious effort to discourage Meghari's release. Their resistance to his release was half-hearted. The headline exaggerates what the column says but the column itself it quite damning.

How Brendan leapt to an accusation of Muslim-baiting of Obama is unclear. The Fox article makes no claim that our allegedly lukewarm opposition to Meghari's release was related in any way to Obama's connections with Islam.

Oklahoma has just introduced a ballot measure to prevent Sharia law there. http://www.economist.com/node/16542247 Right-wing noise about Sharia certainly isn't new, but state legislatures and gubernatorial candidates actually promising anti-Sharia legislation is a recent development.

Very interesting -- just tweeted.

Bredan's tweet cites the Oklahoma story as "More evidence of Muslim panic." But is it panic or just political opportunism? To analogize, there's been plenty of populist rhetoric from the Administration and its supporters. Is that a sign of middle class panic? I don't think so. The explanation of political opportunism seems quite sufficient.

The Sherrod firing ought to be a warning to look at the full context first. It's true that the Oklahoma ballot measure specifically mentions Sharia law, but it actually bans the judicial use of all foreign law:

The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law.

Since several US Supreme Court Justices have publicly approved of the use of foreign court decisions as precedent, this proposition relates to a realistic concern.

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