First they came for the Muslims

Most people have heard the old quotation, “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I wasn’t a communist”. In the original quote, communists, socialists and trades unionists are mentioned. In the American version, socialists, trades unionists and Jews are mentioned. Either way, it does not particularly matter, it is the sentiment that is important, and it can be used in almost any context, in any nation about any group of persecuted people. The United States has its equivalent.

Charlie Fuqua of Batesville, AR, had this to say “[there is] no solution to the Muslim problem short of expelling all followers of the religion from the United States”. He is a relatively minor functionary in the Republican apparatus, having served in the Arkansas State legislature between 1996 and 1998.

There has long been an undercurrent of religious intolerance in the United States, especially among more fervent Protestant sects, including Evangelicals and groups like the Southern Baptists. Catholics have come under particular criticism from these more extremist organizations, but they are by no means the only ones.

Some American states, like Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback instituted legislation preventing judges from considering in whole or in part, any foreign law, legal code or system in issuing judgments. While it does not specifically mention Sharia law, that is how it was presented to the people.

The shrill condemnation of Islam in Southern states leads one to believe that Sharia law was an all-pervasive threat to lives and the legal system in those states. Yet their Muslim population is almost non-existent. This typifies the paranoia that has invaded this nation after 9/11. There is no threat from Sharia law. The real threat is from those that yearn to transform this nation from a secular democracy into a Christian state.

I would love to know how this Republican plans to institute his ideas. Perhaps he would set up concentration camps in Arizona to which all Muslims will be sent. Is he going to deport native-born Americans that convert to Islam? According to our justice system, does someone not have to  commit a crime before any kind of judicial action is taken against him?

Just as this state official wants to deport Muslims, others want to round up undocumented workers and deport them. Can we imagine the chaos, the inhumane treatment of 12 million people being rounded up and placed in concentration camps? We can call them deportation centers, or processing centers, but in their implementation and effect on people, they are concentration camps. It is not too much further and we would be considering other outlandish ideas, like re-education centers for gay or homosexual people, or forced slave labor for prison inmates. Atheists would not be far behind the Muslims. Extremists are very resourceful in their violations of human rights.

This is just how the Jewish people were treated in Europe in the 1930’s. They instituted laws preventing Jews from working in many professions, the universities, or owning businesses. Then they expanded the targeted groups to include Roma, Slavs, homosexuals, the mentally challenged, and political adversaries. The Final Solution was not far behind.

This is how persecution begins. We start with some group of people that we can blame for the ills of society, it doesn’t really matter which groups. Conservatives find some minority group to target, often to deflect attention from their own policies. Then they blame that group for the economy, falling moral standards, or whatever else strikes their fancy. At some point they can blame and target anyone that does not adhere to their view of society.

Conservatives have been successful in their attempts to paint over society with a very wide brush. Anyone that is not conservative enough is exiled, and cast out of the Republican fold. Anyone that accepts global warming, Big Bang Theory, Evolutionary Theory, or embryology are targeted as not conservative enough. In this way, extremists can gain power, just as the Tea Party managed in the 2010 mid-terms.

Conservatives have successfully managed to paint moderates with the liberal brush, liberals with the socialist brush, and socialists with the communist brush, without really specifying what they mean by these labels. It just sounds good to call someone a socialist.

Many conservatives have learned nothing from slavery, Jim Crow, the Black Laws, Eugenics, the Holocaust, or Civil Rights. They continue to attempt to drag this nation back to extremist politics that have been shown to have failed in the past to improve peoples lives and make for a  better nation. We can only hope that the current rash of extremism will be forced back to the periphery of our society.

I had to deal with the immigration system in this country in order to gain permanent status, and hopefully citizenship. It was a mind-numbing experience. The immigration attorney that I found was superb. He treated me with respect, worked hard to ensure that I was able to stay legally, fought for me when the immigration service was intransigent. He was Muslim. A better attorney I could not have hoped for. He was polite, hard working, inquiring, with a vice-like grip on immigration law. What did his religious views have to do with anything?

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