Last updated on 2013.10.12
The South Dakota Legislature becomes a bigger embarrassment every day. At a crackerbarrel in Rapid City yesterday, Rep. Phil Jensen (R-33/Rapid City) declared it a problem that American women marry whom they want:
In the Western world... Muslim men are starting to demand Sharia law so the wife cannot obtain a divorce.... It is alarming how many of our sisters and daughters who attend American universities are now marrying Muslim men [Rep. Phil Jensen, quoted in David Montgomery, "On Sharia Law," Mount Blogmore, 2011.02.05].*
In one sentence, Rep. Jensen makes crystal clear his xenophobia and his misogyny. In Rep. Jensen's world, not only are Muslim men evil seducers, but American women are too stupid to make their own decisions. (Why yes, Rep. Jensen is a sponsor of HB 1217 as well.)
Rep. Jensen and the all-too-numerous sponsors of HJR 1004 also fail to recognize the broad scope of the language with which they would abuse our state constitution. Rep. Jensen says the resolution offers South Dakotans a chance to keep Sharia law out of our courts. But as Rapid City Muslim Ahmed al-Asfour points out, we are already protected from application of religious codes in court by the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. (Punctuate that with an ironic rimshot.)
In his Muslim-hating myopia, Rep. Jensen also misses the fact that HJR 1004 doesn't focus just on Sharia law or Islam. The resolution text refers to "any foreign religious or moral code." Last I checked, Jesus's passport was stamped Israel, not U.S.A. Goodbye, Gospels....
I know we need to recognize each other as neighbors and fellow South Dakotans. I know I shouldn't throw insults that alienate legislators and make it harder to cooperate to develop good plans for the budget and other practical solutions for our state.
But when legislators say things so malicious, so odious, so stupid as Rep. Phil Jensen said yesterday about Muslims and women, they disgrace our Legislature and our state. Such comments cannot go without criticism and correction. Rep. Jensen, shame on you.
*Update 2013.10.12 10:06 CDT: The Rapid City Journal has since closed down Mount Blogmore. The quote is still archived on RCJ's mobile site. Post author David Montgomery now reports and blogs for that Sioux Falls paper at Political Smokeout. He can verify Jensen's xenophobic quote.