Lori Walsh wasted public resources yesterday by giving Neal Tapio 34 minutes to word-saladify about June Cleaver gender roles, the inability of Bernie Sanders rallygoers to understand profit, and—predictably—the need for all of our Muslim friends to denounce their religion.
Walsh made up for her error by interrupting Tapio’s diatribe about Islam’s inescapable incompatibility with American values and posing this one penetrating question:
So doesn’t that Constitution then and the rule of law in America sort of protect American Muslims and protect American Christians and American atheists from a crime such as “We will kill you if you leave our religion”? I mean, once you’re in America and you live here, you’re living under Constitutional law, and if you violate that… you’re subject to the rule of law [Lori Walsh, interviewing Neal Tapio, SDPB Radio, 2018.04.23, audio #2, timestamp 7:58].
Tapio never answered that question. He diverted to Egypt. Walsh reminded him we’re not in Egypt and tried to pose her question again. Tapio again diverted, avoiding an answer about the greatest, surest protection we have against religious extremism of any flavor: our Constitution, particularly the First Amendment and its robust separation of church and state.
Neal won’t listen to Lori or me, because he’s oh-too-proudly annotating his Koran and proving that all Muslims are liars, plotters, and killers. But I’ll reiterate a point I’ve made many times and am happy to have Lori Walsh join me in making again: as long as we believe in the Constitution and American democratic pluralism, we don’t have to worry about Sharia law.
Our Constitution guarantees that no religious extremists can hijack our laws to force their cultish quirks on all Americans. Our adherence to the rule of secular law means no one may be fined or exiled, let alone killed, as Tapio constantly frets, for going or not going to church or temple or mosque or sweat lodge. We are safe, and all people of good faith can recognize that our values keep all of us safe.
Tapio has no faith in America’s laws or America’s values to keep us safe. Tapio preaches that we can only protect our laws and values by oppressing and excluding people with different beliefs and practices.
Tapio whinged to Walsh about how we must understand (audio #2, ~10:50) “the pathway to radicalization.”
That pathway is Tapio’s radicalizing politics. Tapio’s radicalizing politics, slamming the door instead of extending America’s hand, makes those who are different hate us. Tapio’s radicalizing politics supports the terrorists’ point—America’s values are just words! America does not respect your religion or your culture! America fears you and hates you!—and helps the terrorists win. By radicalizing fearful white Americans into a Hollywood-style (i.e., epic and fictitious) war to save civilization, Tapio makes it easier for the next odd bin Laden or al-Baghdadi to convert into terrorists the young people disillusioned by the Trumpist perversion of America.
Be better than that, Neal. Listen to Lori. Stop believing in bogeymen. Believe in America. Lori and I do.