South Carolina: Still fighting the non-existent threat of Muslim law

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The state of South Carolina has a shockingly huge Muslim population — 7,000! That’s a whopping 0.2% of its entire population! Not to fear, though; in response to the Muslims’ evil demographic juggernaut, the wise government of the land south of Carowinds is taking steps. The state is now one step closer to enacting a law that boldly states the obvious: “We practice and enforce our own laws here, not those of other countries.” With that kind of deep insight at work, it’s just a matter of time before the geniuses in Columbia declare that water is completely, unreservedly wet. Yep, they’re at it again — time for another episode of “Sharia Law Paranoia,” one of the far right’s favorite delusional pastimes.

As we wrote in January, “Republican conservatives are running more state houses, which means we can look forward to new laws specially tailored to the right’s peculiar collection of paranoid notions” (see “Voter IDs” in N.C.) In that kind of atmosphere, South Carolina had to strike quickly in order to keep its reputation for having one of the nation’s strangest legislatures. So on Tuesday, the S.C. Senate passed a resolution calling on S.C. courts to enforce American laws rather than sharia law derived from Islam. And yesterday, the bill we wrote about earlier was passed out of subcommittee, continuing its journey toward the desk of Gov. Nikki Haley.

This whole issue is so absurd, and is being peddled by such a collection of ethnocentric knotheads, it’s hard at times to take it seriously. Here's the richest part of the S.C. debate: The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Michael Fair of Greenville, says he introduced it because, “We’re big on religious freedom” and “civil law and criminal law ... are not religious law.” This is coming, mind you, from a state that imposes Christian religious standards by restricting Sunday shopping. “Blue laws” still mandate that S.C. non-essential businesses not operate before 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, because lawmakers think South Carolinians should be in church instead of out buying Kit Kats or whatever. In other words, Sen. Fair’s picture of South Carolina as a progressive land that’s just trying to protect everyone from religion-based laws is pure bullshit. The fact is that Fair and his cohorts are fear-mongering for the sake of their Christian Right supporters, a group that, ironically, would love nothing better than to turn the U.S. into a fundamentalist Protestant theocracy.

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