Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal along with analyst Steve Emerson and others at Fox News have been almost universally shamed and criticized for making unfounded claims of “Muslim no-go zones” spreading throughout Europe, places which, according to the two men, are off-limits to non-Muslims.
Turns out Jindal and Emerson were looking in the wrong place. Muslim no-go zones are real, or, at least, there are people who want to make them real, though not in the way Jindal and Emerson claimed. Given what happened at the Capitol in Austin this morning, far-right activists and politicians do in fact want Muslim no-go zones, just as long as they’re the kind where Muslims aren’t allowed to go.
They want that no-go zone to be Texas.
What happened inside and outside the Capitol Thursday morning was — let’s just say it — disgusting, and it comes a couple of weeks after another similar incident in Garland.
Today was Texas Muslim Capitol Day, the seventh such celebration in which Texas Muslims visit their elected officials to advocate for, among other things, police accountability and religious freedom. As Texas Muslims were gathering outside the Capitol building, so was a small group of protesters. And then this kind of bigotry and anti-Muslim hysteria started happening.
The woman grabbing the mic was identified as Christene Weick of Michigan, who apparently came to Texas to tell Texas Muslims at the Texas Capitol to “go home.” Yeah, OK.
Things just got uglier from there. When Muslim children started singing the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the protesters shouted “Islam is a lie.” Someone else responded to the singing with “there’s no ‘twilight’ in sharia!”
And then this was said to a clerk for the Dallas Morning News:
Anti-Muslim protestor to @BeeDotMartin: "you're skin be white, but you shame America."
— David Saleh Rauf (@davidSrauf) January 29, 2015
Our friends at Progress Texas point out that this kind of sickening incident doesn’t happen on accident. It takes extremist politicians spreading misinformation and stirring up fear.
Which brings us to what happened before the Muslim rally, inside the Capitol.
Freshman state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, was not in Austin today, but she left instructions for her staff. First, she left an Israeli flag at her Capitol office. If any Muslims came by, White told her staff to ask them “to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.” And if they didn’t, they could leave.
“We will see how long they stay in my office,” White said.
By the afternoon, White was Internet-famous and already (kind of) backpedaling. She issued this statement, according to the Texas Tribune:
As law-abiding American citizens, we all have the privilege and the right to freedom of speech granted to us by the First Amendment. As a proud Texan and American I fully denounce all terrorist groups or organizations who’s [sic] intent is to hurt and destroy the great state of Texas and our nation.
To be clear, Texas shouldn’t be a no-go zone for anyone. Texans should welcome people of any and all faiths, or those who choose to practice no faith at all. That’s what proud Texans and Americans are supposed to do.