Several Sioux Falls Muslims and neighbors of other faiths attended a prayer service at the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls yesterday to protest Senate Concurrent Resolution 15, our Republican Legislature’s dogged effort to make Muslims feel like they don’t belong in South Dakota. SCR 15 evolved this week from vote of no confidence in refugee-resettling Lutheran Social Services to a contradictory statement of praise for the President’s “unifying words” and his “commitment to keeping our nation safe from radical Islamic terrorism.”
“Words hurt. They marginalize. They make us the other,” said Taneeza Islam, a Sioux Falls lawyer and community activist. “We are beautiful Americans, and we will no longer stand by to allow for inflammatory rhetoric by our state leaders.”
Members of other faiths appeared, as well, including Father Larry Ort of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookings. “Radical Islamic terrorism” disparages all Muslims, Ort said.
“It’s somewhat like our using the term ‘the drunken Irish, the Mexican wetback, the Chinese laundryman,” Ort said [John Hult, “Muslims Reject Radical Label from Senate Resolution,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.03.03].
Hult reports that “several lawmakers were on hand,” but alas, the one who gets the ink is Senate Majority Leader R. Blake Curd, who apparently came to poop on the party (the Muslims’ gathering, not his political party):
Senator Blake Curd said, “What we can see is a meaningful look at the immigration system. The reforms that are necessary. Making sure that we understand who comes to the United States. That they are coming here to become a part of that intricate fabric that is the United States to make it a stronger community and a stronger country. Those are the people that we want here.”
Senator Curd told us, he believes the intention of the resolution is not to discriminate towards any religion [Kole Fehling, “Community Comes Together for Muslims,” KDLT, 2017.03.04].
It takes some pretty strong partisan blinders—or maybe just the smug majoritarianism of a rich white male Christian in South Dakota whose never really experienced an attack on his faith by his community leaders—to not see the ill will toward Islam embodied in the original text of SCR 15 and the current language that brackets one specific religion with negative terms