Some questions have been raised about Rick Perry's views on Islam. Islamic infiltration into American politics means that every candidate deserves close scrutiny. My purpose is not to attack Perry, but to conduct a preliminary discussion of the subject. Pamela Geller and Debbie Schlussel have written their own articles, which add more pieces to the puzzle. As with every candidate, the discussion will go on as more materials are brought forward.
First of all it's important to recognize that the Rick Perry question, is also the Chris Christie question, it's the question that comes with every governor from a state with a large and politically active Muslim population. This question will have more serious implications as the size of the Muslim population expands even further.
The multicultural pandering that used to be associated with the Tammany Hall political machine has become second nature in American politics. There is hardly a governor who does not pay lip service to diversity or do roundups of all the religious groups in America. That's an unfortunate reality.
The initial good news is that Rick Perry did not try to influence the judicial system on behalf of a member of a terrorist organization, or appoint a terrorist Imam's political affiliate to a superior court judgeship the way that Christie did.
The worst thing he seems to have done is played footsie with the Aga Khan and appointed one of his people to the State Health Council. He also seems to have met with a group of black clergy, which included a Nation of Islam minister, and made the usual trips to Dubai to talk up trade and academic exchanges.
Then there's the Texas Halal Law, which makes it a criminal offense to sell Halal and non-Halal meat in the same store, without specifically labeling the two, and of misrepresenting non-Halal meat as being Halal. In theory that's not such a big deal. Similar laws are on the books for Kosher meat. But the problem comes with the definition of what Halal is.
"Halal," as applied to food, means food prepared and served in conformity with Islamic religious requirements according to a recognized Islamic authority.
That comes from the bill's definition. And it raises the question of who is recognized as an Islamic authority. HB 470 leaves that question open. But in a dispute over which Islamic definition of Halal to use, the State of Texas would be forced to rule on a question of Islamic law. And to enforce that law. Texas would become an enforcer of Sharia.
At the signing, Perry made a point of thanking Imam Bakhash for all that he does. Bakhash also appears to be one of the judges on the Texas Islamic Court, whose decisions have been upheld as binding by Texas appellate courts.
Believe it or not, all this is the good news. It's a sad commentary on the state of Islamic infiltration that this is business as usual in state politics. The bad news is that this means Perry's as bad on Islam as George W. Bush. Maybe worse.
Like most of the world’s major religions, the Islamic faith preaches peace, love and tolerance. Indeed, terrorism is the antithesis of the basic tenet to which the one billion Islamic followers all over the world adhere.
The Koran teaches that “whoever killed a human being, except as punishment for murder or other villainy in the land, shall be regarded as having killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as having served all mankind.”
The heartfelt condolences and overtures of cooperation that have been offered by Islamic communities in Texas portray the true spirit of Islam.
The governor of this swiftly changing state works to take a nuanced approach to a minority group that’s been very much at the center of the news. "We have a huge Muslim community in the state of Texas," he says, and many of these Muslims are "great businessmen and women, very good supporters of mine. ... We are an incredibly diverse state. I sell it as part of our strength."
Perry was asked if he was comfortable with the way that some people talk about the problem with terrorism — their concern to say that the real problem is “Muslims" or "Muslim countries."
"The radicalization of Islam is a great concern," Perry said. "Islam of and by itself is one of the great religions, along with Christianity and Judaism." He recalled meeting one of the Democratic candidates for Texas governor in the recent election. "He’s a Palestinian. And he and I were having a conversation about Ground Zero. How do you deal with this? He said, well, it’s pretty easy. He said, 'Build a synagogue, a temple, and a church there. And bring these people together.'"
How problematic is this? Again this is Bush territory. It's insipid and dangerously ignorant. It's one thing to hear it from the governor of a state with a sizable Muslim population. But it's inappropriate for a president. And yet it's also inevitable.
As some have pointed out, Perry is pro-Israel. So was Bush. It didn't stop him from toadying to Saudi Arabia and Abbas, or from pressuring Israel to make concessions to terrorists during his second term. It's possible to be pro-Israel and pro-Islam. And when the scales are weighed, then Islam comes first. If you doubt that, go look at what happened when Bush was pressured by the Saudis.
But this isn't about Israel. It's about Islam. Specifically it's about addressing the threat of Islamic terrorism.
Perry has pandered on Mexican illegal immigration and on Islamic terrorism, as Bush did before him. Will he keep it up once he gets elected the way that Bush did? Hard to say, but the odds are good that he will.
Some will note that this article is not particularly harsh compared to my original piece on Christie. And with good reason. There's no fundamental breach here, just a slow erosion of ideas and values. But there's a larger reason too.
Christie's position as US Attorney and his role in prosecuting terrorists meant that he knew exactly what he was doing. And he did it anyway. For all his smirking and bellowing, that's the unforgivable thing.
I don't know how much Perry knows or understands. Which is the larger reason why I'm not harshly attacking him for what he did and said at the state level. A slow trickle of criticism may move him to the right, better than a complete rejection. Pandering to Muslims was part of Texas politics. But he's running for nationwide office in a country where Muslims are less of a political force than they are in his state. That may give him more freedom to break with the past.
The very fact that two Texas governors have done it this way suggests that the entire political path to the top is badly contaminated. That it's easier to pander than to take a stand. But while I keep comparing Perry to Bush, and this is a personal view, I don't read the same sincerity in Perry, that I did in Bush. There's too much showmanship and I'm not sure who the man underneath is. He may be more to the right, he may be more to the left, or he may not care at all. As the race continues, it may be easier to get a read on him. Maybe.
The last four years are a reminder that we could do worse than Bush II, but maybe we could do better. With Perry in the race, the two frontrunners, Romney and Perry will be clones of each other. Two aggressively business oriented governors with no real interest in protecting American manufacturing or resisting the Islamization of America. One of whom looks like a Tea Party friendly populist, but more in style than in substance.
Perry may shoot a gun into the air, but his rhetoric is the same old Compassionate Conservatism. He may be more authentically Texan than Bush, but the substance of his ideas is the same. NAFTA, education for illegal aliens, and Islam is a great religion.
Whatever we say and do, he may be the inevitable candidate. The man who merges the strongest points of Huckabee and Romney into one populist friendly package. Who sells a pro-business compassionate conservatism that comes off as a low pain alternative to Obama. But before that it might not be such a bad thing to pore over the details of his record in office.
Perry is certainly an improvement on Obama. But in a race where Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, Palin and Gingrich have spoken out about the dangers of Islam-- everyone is gathering to cheer a man who celebrates it. Is this what the struggle of the last 3 years comes down to? Did we go through all this just to put Bush era policies back into office?