While many Republican politicians are trying to distance themselves from Donald Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. (or returning when they travel abroad), right wing talk show hosts are taking a different approach, by minimizing, making excuses, or arguing that Trump has a point that we should be seriously considering. On "The Sean Hannity Show" Tuesday, Hannity advanced a Trump-supportive argument that was breathtaking in its hypocrisy: That Muslims should be barred from the country unless they can prove they are liberal enough. Media Matters has the clip:
So there is a cultural divide. If somebody from a country that practices sharia, wants to come to America, do we have a right to know and to vet whether or not they are bringing values that are contradictory to our constitutional republic? Do they want the breathe of freedom and a better life for themselves, their daughters, their family? Or do they want to bring their values with them? And how do you ascertain that? And is asking that question really so over the top? If those values are brought with them, are they going to treat American women this way, or treat women in their own families this way? Or gays and lesbians in their own family this way? Why is there such a denial about how sharia law contradicts everything that we believe in our constitutional republic?
Hannity no doubt thinks this is a way to wiggle out of the unconstitutional calls for a religious test on immigrants. But of course, this is still a religious test. Hannity isn't going to support laws requiring Christians to prove their liberal bona fides in order to earn the right to live here.
If we did have laws like that, of course, Hannity would have to relinquish his citizenship and hope that Saudi Arabia takes him. That's because Hannity, like nearly all conservatives these days, is a strong believer in the Christian version of "sharia law," i.e. forcing conservative religious beliefs on the non-believers by law.
Hannity's theocratic yearnings are particularly strong when it comes to destroying the lives of women and LGBT people. On the topic of women's sexuality, Hannity loves to rail about how "modern feminism" is all about "abortion" and "free birth control," sounding quite a bit like some fundamentalist imams issuing dire warnings about women's liberation and promiscuity.
Hannity may be pretending right now to be concerned about the wellbeing of LGBT people, but as soon as his faux concern stops being a useful shield, he has nothing but hate for queer people. He advocates for the "right" of parents to shame their gay children under the guise of teaching "values." He also hustles hard to deny transgender people the ability to use the bathroom in peace.
No doubt Hannity's argument is that his support for forced childbirth, mistreatment of LGBT children, and public harassment of transgender people is OK, because it isn't as bad as fundamentalist Muslim views on these issue. "I must sound like the liberal here, because I'm one of the ones standing up for women and women's rights," he preened Tuesday during his show.
This is because, as he goes on to lay out, he opposes beating women to death for having unauthorized sex. How very generous of him. Sure, he wants to make contraception harder for you to get and force you to give birth if you get pregnant, all while he sneeringly implies you're a slut on the radio, but hey, he'll allow you to live. So he's like practically a liberal, right?
That's why these "gotcha" arguments that conservatives roll out about Muslims don't make a lick of sense. You're not going to find many liberals who think that anyone, Muslim or Christian, should be able to invoke religion in order to wiggle out of laws offering broad protections against domestic violence and child abuse.
Hannity claims to be worried about the safety of Muslim women at the hands of their fundamentalist relatives. If so, why would you want them to continue living in countries that have fewer protections instead of moving to countries, like ours, that, at least in theory, take crimes like domestic violence more seriously?
The "sharia law" hysteria on the right that Hannity is fueling here is a classic example of right-wing projection. Liberals (outside of a idiots who have a simplistic view of multiculturalism) don't think conservative hostility to women and LGBT people is only wrong if it comes from Christians but somehow ennobling if it comes from Muslims. We just simply put a value on religious freedom and believe that everyone, even creeps like Sean Hannity, should be allowed to believe their stupid, hateful beliefs are justified by God, so long as they follow the laws and don't impose their views on others.
The big difference between conservative Muslims and Christians in this country is that only the latter have a massive, organized movement that is backed by an entire political party to force their theocratic views on the non-believers. I may disagree with the religious views of conservative Muslims, but by and large, they aren't trying to force me to wear a burqua or to turn the local high school graduation ceremonies into a Muslim prayer service.
You can't say the same about conservative Christians like Sean Hannity, however. Hannity would force someone like me to have a baby against my will, all because his God says so. Conservative Christians are forever trying to hijack government events and services and turn them into proselytization opportunities for their religion, often by pretending their "religious freedom" is being constrained if they are asked not to use taxpayer dollars to impose their religion on others.
Most kids can expect to go to their biology classroom without having Muslim-penned religious materials being passed off on them as if they were "science," but in huge swaths of America today, public school science classes are being used to pass off Christian theology under the guise of "teaching the controversy." Similarly, kids in health classes in America don't have to worry very much about having Islam-constructed views of human sexuality taught in lieu of evidence-based sex ed, but substituting Christian ideology for real sex ed is the norm in this country these days, not the exception.
Liberals understand that the price you pay for religious freedom is some people adopt views that you disagree with, whether they call those views "Muslim" or "Christian." The problems really begin when you try to impose those views on others by force, and in that department, Muslims have a long way to go in the U.S. before they can even begin to catch up to Christians.