“I am deeply distressed that you have been misled about our community and the way that we conduct our affairs,” wrote O’Reilly. “I am afraid that many share the perception that Muslims have only recently immigrated to this area and are imposing their culture on our region… Muslims have been practicing their faith in our community for almost 90 years without incident or conflict.”
But the specter of Sharia law swings both ways: Sen. Jim DeMint’s was roundly criticized earlier this month for saying that sexually active single women and gay people shouldn’t teach in schools. Opponents compared his remarks to, yes, Sharia law, and even the Washington Post described his comments as “DeMint’s Sharia Law.” Along the same lines of using Sharia law to hammer the right wing, there’s Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson’s ad comparing his opponent, Dan Webster to the Taliban.
Grayson’s commercial was panned for taking Webster’s words out of context, yes, but the message still heard loud and clear: right wing conservatives like Webster, who pals around with “gay regulating” Christian nationalist David Barton, have politics that are just as oppressive as those espoused by Islamic fundamentalists, the very same people conservatives criticize.
Sharia law has, for better or for worse, become a major player in American politics. It’s become rhetorical pawn, and can employed by either sides of the ideological divide to stoke xenophobic fear or to highlight radical, oppressive politics that single out women and gay men. And, with election day nearing, voters need to decide not whether they should be worried about encroaching ‘Sharia law,” but how the concept should be used on American political field, if at all.