Editor’s Note: For some reason, Newt Gingrich is considered the intellectual heavyweight among Republican thinkers. He is also a heavyweight when it comes to “crackpottery,” which is a phrase I’m hoping to have become part of the journalistic lexicon, although I have my doubts.
fans … fundamentalists … pro wrestling enthusiasts … people who enjoy Neil
Young or think Jack Black is funny … evangelicals … moviegoers who dislike
Woody Allen films. A large percentage of the American populace is
incomprehensible to me.
also don’t get conservatives. Because a columnist needs some grasp of how that
half of the country thinks — and I don’t get it socializing with the leftist
heathens who make up most of my circle of acquaintances — I’ve been trying
to spend more time with right-wingers. And one question I regularly ask them is
how they define conservatism.
usually elicits the standard dogma touting the virtues of a small government
that stays out of people’s business, which pretty much evaporates upon closer
examination. This is often followed by an affirmation of reverence for the
Constitution. Conservatives seem to believe it was carved in stone on Mount
Sinai, and the Amendments were penned by Jesus, which explains why they’re
ambivalent about separation of church and state, and warm to the idea of a
However, as fundamentalists often do with the Bible, conservatives take a cafeteria approach to the inconvenient parts of the Constitution. They despise activist judges, like those who found the constitutional right to privacy that legalized abortion, but, oddly, have no problem with activist jurists in the Citizens United case who decided corporations are people, thereby increasing the political clout of big business (ergo, Republicans). The Right also rejects a non-GOP president’s right to appoint Supreme Court justices and ignores their own obligation to vote on his appointments.
hypocrisy is most glaringly obvious in the area of religious freedom. Indiana
governor Mike Pence signed a bill supporting discrimination and denying gay
people’s civil rights, based on bigots’ religious freedoms. Meanwhile, Newt
Gingrich, who has reportedly been promised a position in the Trump
Administration, is making a mockery of the First Amendment — at least insofar
as it applies to America’s Muslims.
In the wake of the Nice terrorist attack, Gingrich conducted some last-minute politicking for the VP spot by advancing a Trump-like solution to the specter of terrorism in the U.S. He began by positing that Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization and values.
self-evident proposition isn’t terribly controversial. With a death penalty
for leaving the faith, stoning for adultery and amputations for less-serious
crimes, Sharia is a primitive and brutal set of laws that’s incompatible with
21st century civilization anywhere in the world and ignores any sort of decent
humanitarian values. It’s the appropriate legal code for a cult of death that
celebrates cruelty and misogyny.
However, Newt’s prescription for dealing with the threat of Sharia — and, by extension, terrorism — is the sort of impractical, let’s-get-tough “crackpottery” that appeals to Trump partisans. Newt wants to test Muslim-Americans for their belief in Sharia, then deport the faithful.
did our legal system start punishing people who’ve done nothing illegal for
holding objectionable religious beliefs? We don’t arrest Trump supporter David
Duke or the Westboro Baptist pro-life/anti-gay fanatics merely for being
obnoxious bigots. Deporting Americans for “thoughtcrimes,” comes
disturbingly close to George Orwell’s “1984” and shows scorn for the First
Amendment. What sort of activist Supreme Court judges would Trump need to
appoint for Newt’s plan to be ruled constitutional?
a practical matter, belief in Sharia doesn’t necessarily equate to terrorism,
and wouldn’t believers simply lie to their inquisitors anyway? If keeping my
home in Fairfield County required me to say Jesus is the Son of God or the
universe was created in 4004 B.C., then so be it. Many Muslim-Americans came
here to escape oppressive Islamic societies, so this would encourage them to
lie, whether they’re militants or not.
there’s nothing conservative about expanding the size of government payrolls
to staff the huge Sharia agency that would be required to interrogate 3 million
Muslim-Americans. It also fails the “small government” test, when you
consider how many enforcers it would take to go door-to-door to subpoena or drag
Muslims to the Sharia panels to find out how literally they take their religion.
wouldn’t this interfere with Trump’s scheme to round up all the Mexicans?
Would Newt use an auxiliary police force, in addition to the Hispanic wranglers,
or would he have to wait until all the illegal Spanish speakers had been caught?
And would they get the Arabs to pay for it, or just roll the cost into the
invoice Trump will be sending to Mexico for The Wall? Maybe they can fund it by
expropriating the deportees’ homes.
problem with the Newt solution is that many American Muslims are longtime U.S.
citizens, so what country would they be deported to? Or would they just load
them into the same buses they’re using for the Mexicans, and dump them all in
2017, President Trump can appoint Newt as Secretary of Transportation or
Deportation or whatever. Once they’ve emptied the country of Hispanics and
Sharians, I have my own list of people I’d like to see tested for potential
expulsion: Scientologists … Southern Baptists … 700 Club members … and
anyone who believes Fox News is fair and balanced, for starters. Once you’ve
trashed the Constitution, it’s a slippery slope.
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