Everybody knows that Islam is having a civil war between murderous totalitarians and people who just want to live and let live. Civilization’s urgent agenda must be to help the good guys. But as Connecticut saw last weekend, some people are determined to insult and intimidate the good guys by suggesting that all followers of Islam are bad, which can only discourage the good guys and strengthen the bad guys.
Last weekend’s demonstration of this came in Waterbury, where a group called ACT for America held a rally, purportedly to warn about sharia law, an Islamic religious code that is contrary to democracy in many respects. Waterbury seems to have been selected because it has a large Muslim community.
But no one in Connecticut is advocating replacing civil law with sharia law. In Connecticut, sharia is not an issue and is no more a threat to democracy than Christian or Jewish religious law, both of which also differ substantially from civil law but are not acknowledged by ACT for America as being just as incompatible with democracy as sharia is. Nor does ACT for America acknowledge that Christianity and Judaism had their own civil wars that devastated Europe and the Middle East for centuries before the live-and-let-live factions triumphed. Even in Connecticut, as late as the 1950s Protestants and Catholics nearly came to blows over whether civil law should provide public school bus transportation to Catholic schools.
Being 2,000 years younger than Judaism and six centuries younger than Christianity, Islam isn’t done with its civil war yet. So Islam’s good guys need support, not bullying and shunning.
ACT for America says it wants religious freedom for all, but the group’s harping on sharia law where there is no attempt to induce government to impose it smells like bigotry and hate.
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How state government helps hoaxers: Former Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly, now running a news program on NBC, is catching criticism for planning an interview with radio talk show host Alex Jones, who is renowned for asserting that the Newtown school massacre in 2012 was a hoax.
Maybe Kelly’s questioning will undermine Jones as a hoaxer himself, or maybe it will just glorify him among the growing segment of the population that is inclined to consider everything official to be a lie.
But if government wants to help squelch hoaxes, it should reconsider what it has done to encourage them, as the General Assembly and Governor Malloy did in response to the Newtown massacre. That is, at the urging of the families of the murdered, legislators and the governor hurriedly enacted an exemption to Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act to obstruct disclosure of police photographs and videos depicting victims of homicide.
Such images remain essential to refuting deniers of all sorts of atrocities, from the Holocaust to the Armenian genocide to the Rape of Nanking. If applied nationally, Connecticut’s law would conceal the Zapruder film of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as well as the photographs taken during his autopsy, even as the circumstances of the president’s murder remain very much in question.
After the Newtown massacre, Connecticut’s black and Hispanic state legislators insisted on making the photo and video exemption apply to all homicide victims rather than limit it to the Newtown case.
Now those legislators are lamenting that, because Bridgeport police are not equipped with dashboard and body cameras, there are no photos or video of the fatal shooting by officers of a 15-year-old boy a month ago.
But even if there were such images, the law those legislators insisted on enacting would obstruct any release to the public.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.