Sometimes you have to taunt the bigots. It’s often more fun and satisfying than getting angry with them.
In this instance, the focus of my fun is Tea Party candidate T.J. Fabby, who is locked in a two-man runoff today to determine his district’s GOP nominee for the Texas state House of Representatives. On Saturday, good ol’ T.J. launched a last-minute attack against his opponent, John Wray, because he had accepted a campaign contribution from (cue scary music) a Muslim.
Now, did Fabby allege that the Muslim-American businessman who made the contribution, Ali Sharaf, was part of terrorist group? Did Fabby claim that Sharaf had given money to radical organizations or advocated overthrowing our government? Nope, T.J.’s problem with Sharaf is that he’s an “espoused believer of Islam.” On some level I must applaud his unabashed bigotry. Usually people try to camouflage it, but not our T.J.
Wray countered that Sharaf is a well-respected businessman in the community who has been honored by the local Chamber of Commerce and has been a big supporter of Christian charities. But that’s not good enough for Fabby, who noted that Sharaf “can say that he’s a peaceful Muslim” but, with the country at war with radical Islam, Sharaf’s religion is relevant. In other words, Muslim-Americans are suspicious simply because of their faith.
This type of anti-Muslim bigotry is nothing new from the Tea Party. For example, last month former Texas State GOP chair Cathie Adams spoke at a Tea Party event where she warned the audience about a secret plot by Muslims to take over the American government via a “stealth jihad.” She even told the crowd that Muslims will invite you in their house because their religion demands they be hospitable, but then they’ll shoot you in the back as you leave.
And a Fox “News” contributor, former Rep. Allan West, warned viewers in April that he had uncovered a secret plot by Muslims to take over America via the ballot box. What was the basis for his claim? A document from 1991. (I’m not kidding.) I’m not sure if I should be more angry with West and Adams or the fact that other Muslims failed to inform me of the stealth jihad we are waging!
Back to T.J. After reading about his aversion to Muslim campaign contributions, I emailed him on Sunday asking if I could make a donation to his campaign. Of course, I didn’t mention that I’m Muslim—after all, that would undermine the whole “stealth” thing.
Fabby, or a person on his behalf, responded by email a short time later with instructions on how to make a contribution online, which was signed: “In Liberty, T.J.” You see, T.J. is all about liberty. In fact, not only has he advocated that Texas refuse to follow federal laws he doesn’t support. He has declared, “We need to be prepared to meet force with force when the federal government tries to enforce such laws in Texas.” It appears the T.J. hasn’t learned about stealth like ways to take over our government.
So, on Monday morning I followed Fabby’s instructions and made a $100 online contribution to his campaign. A short time later, I emailed Fabby, informing him of my donation and revealing that I’m Muslim.
Fabby, or a person on his behalf, responded by email with instructions on how to make a contribution online, which was signed: “In Liberty, T.J.”
I also explained that my Muslim-American friends wanted to create a “Muslims for T.J. Fabby” Facebook page to help him raise more money for his campaign, unless he voiced any objections. I concluded by explaining that our goal was “to increase the involvement of Muslims in U.S. politics and get them involved in all areas of our government from local to State to federal level—just like other minority groups have done in the U.S.” (I know, I gave away the stealth jihad’s goals.)
I waited for T.J. to respond. Nothing. It seems he’s on board with the whole “Muslims for Fabby” Facebook page, which I hope you will “like.”
To be honest, I never expected Fabby would reject my money. Rather, I predicted his response being in essence: “I’ll take your money because you are one of the ‘good’ Muslims.” I get that “you are one of the ‘good’ Muslims” a lot. In reality, I’m not one of the “good” ones. Nor am I one of the “bad” ones. I’m simply a Muslim.
Religious bigotry is nothing new in America. What’s alarming now is that there appears to be a concerted effort by some on the right to shut American-Muslims out of every part of American politics. They want people to be suspicious of any Muslims serving in our government. In fact, we saw Rep. Michelle Bachmann do just this with her baseless claim against Hillary Clinton’s then-aide Huma Abedin that she was somehow part of the Muslim Brotherhood. And now they want to turn contributions from Muslims into a political liability so that candidates will reject them, further silencing the voice of Muslims in American politics.
T.J. Fabby may win his election on Tuesday. He won the GOP primary in March, but not by a big enough margin to avoid a runoff. Regardless of the outcome, the fight against the right’s efforts to disenfranchise minority groups from American politics—whether it’s based on race, ethnicity or religion—must continue long after the votes are counted on Tuesday night.
And to T.J. Fabby: I hope you use the one hundred dollars I donated for something both fun and educational. Why not sit down to a nice falafel sandwich, grab a Lone Star, and check out some TV shows with Muslims you might like such as Dr. Oz or Dave Chappelle. Or even the comedy documentary I co-directed, “The Muslims Are Coming!” I’ll even double my campaign contribution if you can figure out the role each of us plays in the “stealth jihad” to take over America.