MSNBC apparently doesn't have viewers in Oklahoma. If it does, Cenk Uygur just alienated about 70 percent of them.
At the close of the 3 p.m. EST hour today, the MSNBC substitute anchor mocked the Sooner State for passing into law a constitutional amendment that forbids state courts from using the principles of Islamic sharia law in court proceedings.
The measure, Question 755, also forbids laws from foreign countries from being used by judges to inform their decisions.
Uygur's complaint was five-fold: 1) It's a silly waste of ink -- no one has tried to use sharia law in Oklahoma courts thus far 2) It's unnecessary -- the U.S. Constitution forbids use of religious law in federal and state court proceedings 3) It's actually unconstitutional 4) The ballot question is predicated on irrational fear and hatred of Islam and finally 5) It's discriminatory against Muslims.
Of course, Uygur may not realize it, but points two and three are contradictory on their face. If sharia law is already unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution, what's the harm of codifying that in a state constitutional specifically?
Uygur failed to explain how an amendment to the state constitution specifically forbidding the enforcement of religious teaching by courtroom fiat transgressed the U.S. Constitution, other than noting that a federal judge has issued a temporary injunction halting enforcement pending a hearing.
As to the fourth point, Uygur may be correct that some Oklahomans who voted in favor of Question 755 did so out of animus against the Muslim faith, but Uygur failed to cite any empirical data to back his offensive claim that the vast majority of Oklahoma voters are Islamophobic or at best thoughtless dupes.
Finally, as regards the fifth point, in fairness to Uygur, perhaps the ballot question could have been written to include ban and all religious legal traditions besides sharia -- such that Orthodox Jewish rabbinical rulings or Catholic canonlaw -- from being enforced by court fiat.
Yet Uygur himself would insist that the vast majority of Oklahoman and American Muslims by and large don't follow or have any use for sharia law:
There's this weird paranoia running through the country that Islam is about to take over. Really?! Are there Muslim hordes at the gates of Tulsa?! This is what happens when people drive a campaign of fear and hatred against an "other."
Look at the mindset: they really believe that Muslims are these evil creatures that kill innocent women and children. I don't know if they know this, but Muslims love their children too.
That being the case, it begs the question where the harm in Question 755 would be.
Does Sharia law allow a husband to rape his wife, even in America? A New Jersey trial judge thought so. In a recently overturned case, a “trial judge found as a fact that defendant committed conduct that constituted a sexual assault” but did not hold the defendant liable because the defendant believed he was exercising his rights over the victim. Fortunately, a New Jersey appellate court reversed the trial judge. But make no mistake about it: this is no isolated incident. We will see more cases here in the United States where others attempt to impose Sharia law, under the guise of First Amendment protections, as a defense against crimes and other civil violations.
In S.D. v. M.J.R., the plaintiff, a Moroccan Muslim woman, lived with her Moroccan Muslim husband in New Jersey. She was repeatedly beaten and raped by her husband over the course of several weeks. While the plaintiff was being treated for her injuries at a hospital, a police detective interviewed her and took photographs of her injuries. Those photographs depicted injuries to plaintiff’s breasts, thighs and arm, bruised lips, eyes and right check. Further investigation established there were blood stains on the pillow and sheets of plaintiff’s bed.
The wife sought a permanent restraining order, and a New Jersey trial judge held a hearing in order to decide whether to issue the order. Evidence at trial established, among other things, that the husband told his wife, “You must do whatever I tell you to do. I want to hurt your flesh” and “this is according to our religion. You are my wife, I c[an] do anything to you.” The police detective testified about her findings, and some of the photographs were entered into evidence.
The defendant’s Imam testified that a wife must comply with her husband’s sexual demands and he refused to answer whether, under Islamic law, a husband must stop his sexual advances on his wife if she says “no.”
The trial judge found that most of the criminal acts were indeed proved, but nonetheless denied the permanent retraining order. This judge held that the defendant could not be held responsible for the violent sexual assaults of his wife because he did not have the specific intent to sexually assault his wife, and because his actions were “consistent with his [religious] practices.” In other words, the judge refused to issue the permanent restraining order because under Sharia law, this Muslim husband had a “right” to rape his wife.
Besides the fact that the ruling is wrong as a legal matter, and offensive beyond words, it goes to the heart of the controversy about the insidious spread of Sharia law—the goal of radical Islamic extremists.