Showing the nation exactly where the Republican Party currently stands, Wisconsin conservative lawmakers are working to pass a misguided, Islamophobic bill written by a known white supremacist and anti-Sharia extremist. Critics are arguing that the legislation is entirely unnecessary and does nothing but indicate how far down the bigoted rabbit hole the GOP has gone.
Bill 401, titled "American Laws for American Courts," is a superfluous act to keep foreign laws out of American courts. The Wisconsin Independent reprots that it was co-written by the American Public Policy think tank, an organization with a reputation for trafficking in lies about Muslims, and David Yerushalmi, a lawyer who the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as an "anti-Muslim activist." Yerushalmi also serves as counsel for another anti-Muslim think tank Center for Security Policy, and runs the hate group the American Freedom Law Center. According to the SPL Center, he practices what he calls "lawfare," a "multiplatform attack on Muslims’ freedom, staged by pushing his model anti-Sharia bill in state legislatures and filing aggressive lawsuits against supposed enemies of free expression and America’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage."
Bill 401 does not specifically mention Muslims or Sharia law, but given the current climate and the administration in power, it's easy to see exactly whom the proposed legislation targets. Rep. Thomas Weatherston, who is spearheading the bill, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he is concerned "about other countries’ laws creeping into the United States." Especially religious laws, no matter what the origin is. I’m just making sure that U.S. laws are heard in U.S. courts.” We'd expect that to include the religious far-right, but given who's authored the bill we doubt it.
The American Bar Association and other critics argue that the bill is entirely unwarranted as protections designed to keep American law entirely American are already in place. Bill 401 is simply an attempt to sow seeds of hate from ignorance.
"If you look at the promotional materials, the lobbying, it's the same people who are pushing against Sharia around the country — holding rallies, talking about 'Sharia creep' and Muslims taking over," explained Asifa Quraishi-Landes, professor of constitutional and Islamic law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and president of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers, to the Journal Sentinel. "They see any acknowledgment of Sharia in American Muslim life as a first step to the Trojan Horse."
The threat to American laws is not, nor has it ever been, the guiding principles of Islam as interpreted by peaceful Muslims. At this moment, the greatest threat to American life comes from extremists across the nation who have a lot in common with people like Yerushalmi and, for the first time in a long time, have a voice in the government.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters: Darren Hauck