From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Friday, March 18, 2011: Job-Killing Terrorists; First half of legislative session was fantasy camp
Before leaving Jefferson City last week for the spring break that marks the midway point of the legislative session, Missouri Republicans took the initial steps toward keeping the state safe from Sharia law-following, non-English-speaking illegal immigrants who may or may not also be sex offenders.
So, rest easy Missouri.
Oh yeah. They also talked about jobs. Well, they didn’t talk seriously, but they did put the word “jobs” in their news releases.
Take the note that House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, sent to his constituents on Thursday. His first sentence made a passing reference to some amorphous “jobs” agenda, but he then went on to talk about a bill the House passed that would require the Missouri Highway Patrol to check sex-offender lists for illegal immigrants.
You didn’t know Missouri had a problem with rampant sex attacks by illegal immigrants? Well, it doesn’t. That’s exactly the point.
The Republicans who control the Legislature ended the first half as they started it: distracted by ridiculous rhetorical battles against straw men and phony issues.
The Post-Dispatch’s Rebecca Berg reported that one House committee last week took a phone call from an alleged ex-terrorist named Kamal Saleem. Mr. Saleem, whose bona fides as a terrorist are in dispute, now makes a living talking to credulous conservatives about how bad he believes Islam is, and how Americans should be very, very scared.
The House is considering two bills that would stop state courts from enforcing Islamic Sharia law. Never mind that no Missouri court ever has attempted to do so, nor would it be possible under the state and federal constitutions. The bills, sponsored by Reps. Don Wells, R-Cabool, and Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, are an unfathomable waste of time. We’re quite sure that Mr. Tilley and other sane Republican leaders in the Capitol are aware of that futility.
But when the speaker lends his time to news conferences in which the sponsor of a purely anti-Muslim bill can’t point to a single American case — not one — in which a judge applied a religious litmus test to his ruling, it demeans the entire legislative process.
Mr. Tilley says the House is merely being a “mirror to the people we represent.” Well, we doubt that most people in Perryville, Cabool and Pacific spend much time worrying about marauding bands of Sharia law-abiding sex offenders in their midst, but, admittedly, we don’t live there.
We live in a city, a state, a country and a world in which very real people — Muslims, Hispanics, immigrants, blacks, whites, Republicans and Democrats — have real things to worry about. Such as where their next paycheck will come from.
These are serious times and they demand serious people. There’s no reason to spend time debating unconstitutional legislation that has a sole purpose of attacking a group of people who are the right wing’s bogeyman du jour.
It’s offensive and downright scary. This nation’s history with German-Americans during World War I, the internment camps for Japanese-Americans in World War II, and the scourge of McCarthyism in the early 1950s remind us of a very dangerous road that Republicans are staking.
Oh, and it does nothing to create a single job in Missouri.
Jobs and justice should be the task at hand in the second half of the legislative session, not sending messages about how low the lowest of the bottom-feeders can go.