(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/09/14328429_BG1.gif)The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) boasted this week that over 100 delegates at the Democratic National Convention are Muslim, more than double from 2008. Interesting, though still less than 2 percent of the total delegates in Charlotte.
Groups like CAIR like to boast there are 8 million Muslims in America. And one new report circulating at the convention claimed 3 million Muslim voters. In fact, surveys put Muslims at just under 1 percent of the U.S. population, so less than 3 million. A study called “Engaging American Muslims” asserted there are 1.2 million Muslim voters. With nearly 150 million registered voters, the Muslim vote is less than 1 percent, though arguably concentrated in urban areas of a few swing states.
“The more than doubling of Muslim delegates at this year’s Democratic National Convention is a direct result of their hard work and grassroots organizing within the Democratic Party,” a CAIR official boasted in a news release. “It is also a sign of the American Muslim community’s growing civic engagement and acceptance in the Democratic Party.”
CAIR noted that Muslim voters overwhelmingly backed Obama in 2008, although the small poll it cited claims nearly 90 percent, surely an exaggeration. Muslim voters are believed to have been mostly Republican before 9-11 and supported George W. Bush in 2000. Socially conservative on issues like abortion and homosexuality, Muslims also often tended to own small businesses and were leery of Democratic policies on taxes and regulation. A 2008 Newsweek story to which the CAIR news release links explains: “The shift began in 2004—in part because of the GOP’s mishandling of civil liberties, from wiretapping American citizens to detaining Muslims in the United States and Guantanamo without trial, and because of the war in Iraq.”
Groups like CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America have almost entirely aligned with America’s Religious Left, ignoring differences over marriage and abortion, while touting Big Government and opposition to U.S. national security policies. Most American Muslims probably have little in common with feminist Episcopal bishops or Presbyterian LGBTQ activists. But groups like CAIR have nurtured an alliance mostly based on common disdain for American conservatives and relishing the role as aggrieved minority group.
CAIR complained of relatively few Muslim delegates at the Republican Convention, while apparently failing to note that Democrats, like Republicans, omitted any Muslim clergy from delivering prayers before their convention this year. CAIR also denounced the Republican Convention’s platform for denouncing application of “foreign law” in the U.S., which CAIR declared an “anti-Islam platform plank, because its presumed target was Sharia.
“This plank is part of a nationwide trend to marginalize Muslims and keep them from having the same rights and access to the courts as Americans of other faiths,” CAIR Government Affairs Coordinator Robert McCaw alleged in a news release. “The plank is irrelevant, since the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause ensures that no foreign law can replace it, and only serves as a smoke-screen for anti-Muslim bigotry.“ He added: “We wish…the Republican Party had as much confidence in the Constitution as we do.“ Perhaps CAIR might more effectively deflate concerns about Sharia by specifically renouncing any attempt to codify it into civil law.
It’s not at all clear the Republican Platform even addresses Sharia. Only two sections mention “foreign laws.” One warns: “Subjecting American citizens to foreign laws is inimical to the spirit of the Constitution. It is one reason we oppose U.S. participation in the International Criminal Court. There must be no use of foreign law by U.S. courts in interpreting our Constitution and laws. Nor should foreign sources of law be used in State courts’ adjudication of criminal or civil matters.”
The GOP’s other mention of “foreign laws” declares: “Despite improvements as a result of Republican nominations to the judiciary, some judges in the federal courts remain far afield from their constitutional limitations. The U.S. Constitution is the law of the land. Judicial activism which includes reliance on foreign law or unratified treaties undermines American law. The sole solution, apart from impeachment, is the appointment of constitutionalist jurists, who will interpret the law as it was originally intended rather than make it.”
Although a Republican from Kansas at the convention cited concerns about Sharia, the emphases of these two sections on “foreign law” seemed aimed at jurists with a fondness for quoting the laws of other nations in their rulings, or subjugation of American citizens to global tribunals. Neither concern relates to Sharia or to Muslims per se.
In a quote for The Washington Post about Muslim delegates at the Democratic Convention, an Indiana religious studies professor said many American Muslims are disappointed in Obama over continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan plus lack of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. But “in the end, the decision to support Obama is a decision to defend Muslims against Islamophobia.”
Touting chronic victimhood can garner attention but usually fails to gain real political influence. CAIR’s victimology and proclivity for the kinds of scare tactics it ascribes to its critics make it unappealing and ultimately an ineffective advocate for American Muslims.
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