[Vision2020] His View: Idaho legislature is 'a bucket of worms'

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Mon May 4 05:07:01 PDT 2015

Courtesy of today's (May 4, 2015) Moscow-Pullman Daily News with special thanks to S. M. "Ghazi" Ghazanfar.

His View: Idaho legislature is 'a bucket of worms'
By S. M. Ghazanfar
That's how Idaho state Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, describes recent legislative deliberations (The Spokesman-Review, April 10), and properly so. Then there are some GOP leaders worried about "two-faced Muslims infiltrating" Idaho (Idaho Statesman, April 4). Their "knowledge" is understandable, for that's how "learned ignorance" that passes for "knowledge" has been historically internalized about Islam/Muslims and many "others" of the world. Appropriate here is a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "The person who reads nothing at all is better educated than one who reads nothing but newspapers" (today, he would include media generally). Obviously, open-mindedness and tolerance are not pre-requisites for electability.
There is indeed a "bucket of worms."
First, some lawmakers refused to attend the invocation by a Hindu chaplain, for we are a "Christian nation" (an apology to the chaplain?) - a slap on world's third largest faith.
Second, I hear that some legislators wished to declare Idaho as a "Christian state." The Founding Fathers would turn in their graves; that's not the mosaic they visualized.
Third, there is the "Sharia law" scare (thanks to Rabbi David Jerusalami's nationwide campaign). But "Sharia" simply means "the way," same as "the Way, or Word" and canon laws in the Christian tradition, and Judaism's "Halacka," the Mosaic laws (kosher food, circumcision, bar-mitzvah, etc.).
Fourth, an "expert" recently enlightened some lawmakers on "The True Face of Islam," including "enclaves" forming in Idaho (Spokesman-Review, March 26). Good combination - a receptive audience and an "expert" exploiting their fears (and perhaps earning a few bucks).
Fifth, apparently following the "expert" advice, Bonneville County's "GOP group warns supporters and police that Muslims are 'Infiltrating' Idaho" and that "Muslims were 'ready to rise up and kill' non-Muslims" (Post-Register, April 1).
And finally, the Legislature recently killed the child-support bill, for it would make Idaho "bound to the laws of a foreign country" (The Spokesman-Review, April 10). Incidentally, Bosnia and Albania are secular societies, with no Sharia laws in practice, same as most "Muslim-controlled" countries (conspicuous exception - our close ally, Saudi Arabia). Sadly, all those children lose because of this narrow-minded ignorance.
Looking back, this "infiltrator" reluctantly migrated to Georgia recently. After 50-plus years in Idaho, 40 years as a University of Idaho faculty member, Moscow was home. With fairly well-recognized contributions, this "Idaho Treasure" (thanks to UI Retirees Association) "infiltrated" thousands of young minds and campus life in so many ways. He also "infiltrated" the City Hall and the community by volunteering in various capacities. And he "infiltrated" the Idaho Legislature for 25 years as a budget-forecasting consultant. He continues to fondly remember his home-state friendships; and, suspect or not, he anticipates returning home occasionally.
Given this Islamophobic "bucket of worms," some recent research might just assuage the bigotry. In a recent book, "Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an: Islam and the Founding Fathers" (2013), Denise Spellberg reveals a little known dimension of the story of American religious freedom, in which Islam played a significant role. Years before writing the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson obtained the Qur'an and other Islamic literature, and absorbed much from these sources. Further, the Founding Fathers advocated religious freedom even for non-Protestants, "including Catholics, Jews, and Muslims." And, "America should be open to Muslim citizens, office-holders, and even presidents," thus, "Muslims becoming part of the American experiment." Moreover, "Far from fearing it, the Founding Fathers would have incorporated Islam into the fabric of American life" (James Huston, "Founding Fathers and Islam: Tolerance for Muslim Faith," Library of Congress Information Bulletin, May 2002).
Obviously, it is not the first time that Idaho has been the laughing-stock in the nation; once there was the Aryan nation, then last fall's interesting gubernatorial candidates. Indeed, there is a "bucket of worms," and as a friend recently wrote, "every time I think Idaho is at the bottom of the barrel I have to lift the barrel" to look for more underneath.
S.M. Ghazanfar, a long-time professor at the University of Idaho, is retired and living in Acworth, Ga.

Thank you, Ghazi.

Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares"
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"There's room at the top they are telling you still.
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill."

- John Lennon
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