On October 21st, U.S. reps. Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky issued a press release introducing a bill titled the “Combating International Islamophobia Act.” According the release, the purpose of the bill is “to address the alleged rise in incidents of so-called ‘Islamophobia’ worldwide.”
American Thinker – Bert Peterson (h/t Nita) Specifically, it would require “the State Department to create a Special Envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia, [which would] include state-sponsored Islamophobic violence and impunity [sic] in the Department’s annual human rights reports.”
The bill was supported by the White House, which, notwithstanding its focus on Islam alone, described it as a measure committed to “defending freedom of religion and belief.”
On Dec, 14, 2021, the bill, H.R. 5665, passed in the House, 219 to 212. No Democrat voted against it; no Republican voted for it.
Portions of the bill at §3(k) describe its scope:
(1) acts of physical violence against, or harassment of, Muslim people, and acts of violence against, or vandalism of, Muslim community institutions, including schools, mosques, and cemeteries
Under this clause, no reports of any violence and killing committed not against Muslims, but by Muslims against other religious groups, nor the suppression of non-Muslims in Muslim-ruled nations, would be authorized. Only acts against Muslims.
The astute reader will notice a difference between this clause and the press release issued by Omar and Schakowsky. That release did not include any mention of “nongovernment media” — that is, “non-government” newspapers, magazines, radio and television programs, internet, social media, blogs — as being within its scope of oversight. The press release mentions the mouse but omits the elephant.
The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. If English is our language, the term “Islamophobia” means “irrational fear of Islam.” So we are facing a rise of irrational fear of Islam? Why would that be of concern to anyone except those who are suffering from such irrational fear?
The press release and bill are not really talking about a fear of Islam; they are talking about a hostility toward Islam, which are not the same thing.
One may fear Muslims but not necessarily hate them, or act violently against them. But, in expressing fears about Muslims, is certainly possible that such fears may lead some persons to hostile acts of violence. Does this mean that such fears cannot be raised? What if they are justified?
The bill does not address this issue; instead, it proceeds as if there could be no rational basis for fear of Islam. That would be a Muslim presumption; if based only on Islamic scriptures, however, such presumption would not be an objective one.
Those Scriptures include biographies of Muhammad, which describe his great achievement of uniting Arabs under the standard of Islam, but which also include accounts of callous and unprecedented assassinations of political and religious opponents in order reach that objective. Nonetheless, in the Quran, at 33:21, Allah names Muhammad as a good example for mankind. It is fair to expect that some Muslims, appalled at the degeneracy of the West, but blind to its virtues, have taken that endorsement to heart. And if assassination is justifiable for what is believed to be a greater purpose, then what isn’t?
In short, if there is content in the media that could give rise to fear of Islam, such content is not necessarily “propaganda,” as the bill effectively assumes.
Need it be said that H.R. 5665 violates the First Amendment at two different levels? First of all, in addressing not the alleged hostile actions themselves, but rather the media that are supposedly instigating those actions, the bill runs afoul of such media’s freedom of speech.
Secondly, in focusing on issues relating specifically to Islam and to no other religion, the bill is “respecting an establishment of religion,” which, under the Amendment, is prohibited.
One has to wonder if the 219 House members are aware that we have a Constitution, or whether it has a First Amendment?
In addition to constitutional issues is the one of national sovereignty. Two hundred nineteen Democrats have voted for the U.S. to monitor “international Islamophobia.” But the U.S. is not an international institution; Islam is. This is Islam’s concern, not America’s. Or have the Democrats converted to Islam?
Following its passage in the House, the bill, now as S. 3344, was forwarded to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Because of the 50-50 party split in the full Senate, the membership of the Committee was also evenly split, leaving the bill in a deadlock. If Raphael Warnock wins the Georgia seat, Democrats would have a majority in the committee. If that majority accepted the bill as the House presented it, it could move to the Senate floor for a full vote — one in which, if it is passed, will not need reconciliation with the House, which would no longer be controlled by Democrats.
Republicans might try to filibuster such a vote, but, the filibuster being not a law, but only a Senate rule, it could be terminated by a simple majority of senators. Democrats could possibly have the votes to do that, and then vote S. 3384 into law.
As noted, however, the bill is unconstitutional on at least two levels, and so could likely be challenged successfully in court on such bases. Since Republicans would control the House, Democrats would be unable to pack the Supreme Court in order to prevent such outcome.
Even so, it would be far better if such a challenge did not need to be made at all, for the more legislation the Court must strike down, the greater is the appearance that it is legislating from the bench. In either case, a lot rides on the Dec. 6 run-off election between incumbent Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker.