By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
It's the kind of thing that's usually discussed privately. But now, Tennessees Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey - who is running for governor - is asking it publicly.
Ramsey, at a recent community forum, was asked about a planned mosque in Rutherford County, Tennessee.
"I'm all about freedom of religion," Ramsey answered.
"But you cross the line when they start trying to bring Sharia law in the United States."
Ramsey believes that Muslims follow Sharia law and don't believe the Constitution of the United State applies to them.
"You can even argue," he said, "whether Muslim is actually a religion or if it is a nationality way of life or a cult ... we do protect our religions but at the same time this is something that we are going to have to face."
In other words, if Islam isn't really a religion, is it protected by the Constitution?
There are others who take it even further. Radio talk show host Michael Savage refers to Islam as Islamo-fascism. Words designed to raise angst among many - especially America's Jewish population.
"Would you want a Nazi headquarters opened in your neighborhood?" asked a friend who subscribes to this theory.
"Islam is no different than Nazism, except that it's disguised as a religion."
So if you don't recognize Islam as a religion - if you substitute the word "cult" as did Ramsey - then it's OK to oppose it. After all, this nation was founded by those who sought freedom of religion. But if Islam is not a religion - well then, heck, it's OK to attack it.
It and its followers.
This, of course, is the same kind of tactic used against Jews, blacks and other minorities. If a Jew or a black is a son of a monkey, then he is less than human, and deserves our scorn. Or worse.
More than a few people I know are fearful that every mosque is a center of terrorism. A concern raised by those who successfully derailed the agreed upon sale of a vacant convent at St. Margaret Mary Roman Catholic Church on Staten Island to a Muslim organization that wanted to use it for a mosque.
The Council on American Islamic Relations is concerned as well.
"We see a disturbing trend in our nation in which it is suggested that American Muslims should have fewer or more restricted constitutional rights than citizens of other faiths," said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. "We urge Lt. Gov. Ramsey to meet with representatives of the Tennessee Muslim community who can offer him balanced and accurate information about Islam."
Yes, it is undeniable that there are Muslim terrorists who use their religion as validation for their actions. But that doesn't mean that every mosque is a hotbed of terrorism. Or that Islam is not a religion. Or that Muslims don't deserve the same constitutional protections afforded the rest of us.