Tea Party candidate Allen West made clear his disdain for the “Coexist” bumper sticker. West was quoted as saying,
“[A]s I was driving up here today, I saw that bumper sticker that absolutely incenses me. It’s not the Obama bumper sticker. But it’s the bumper sticker that says, ‘Co-exist.’ And it has all the little religious symbols on it. And the reason why I get upset, and every time I see one of those bumper stickers, I look at the person inside that is driving. Because that person represents something that would give away our country. Would give away who we are, our rights and freedoms and liberties because they are afraid to stand up and confront that which is the antithesis, anathema of who we are. The liberties that we want to enjoy.”
West makes clear that what he objects to is the symbol of Islam on the bumper sticker, saying that people choosing that bumper sticker would give away America because they won’t stand up against radical Islamists. It seems to me that he reaches a conclusion without any chain of logic connecting the premises he starts from to the conclusion he wishes to reach. We can reject the extremism of some without trampling on the rights of other citizens; West doesn’t appear to get that.
The Bill of Rights to the Constitution does provide for freedom of religion, and Islam, last I checked, is a religion. There are practitioners of Islam who don’t agree with radical Islam, just as there are Protestants who aren’t in favor of hanging or burning witches and Catholics who aren’t into pederasty or burning heretics at the stake. We aren’t ‘giving up America’ when we tolerate our Protestant and Catholic neighbors, and we aren’t ‘giving up America’ when we tolerate our Islamic neighbors. It is, though, ‘giving up America’ when we let foreign extremists of any sort encourage us to turn our back on freedom of religion here in the USA. It is curious that Allen West can’t seem to see that his attitude is the problem, not the fellow with the “Coexist” bumper sticker.
Update: I’ve already been told in the comments that West “is not anti-religion”. Here’s another reported quote from West continuing his anti-bumper sticker comments:
– “We already have a 5th column that is already infiltrating into our colleges, into our universities, into our high schools, into our religious aspect, our cultural aspect, our financial, our political systems in this country. And that enemy represents something called Islam and Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 AD, and we need to have individuals that stand up and say that.”
– “George Bush got snookered into going into some mosque, taking his shoes off, and then saying that Islam was a religion of peace.”
The above demonstrates the very generically anti-Islam sentiment that West advocates. West is not targeting Islamic radicalism or radicalism in general; he is setting himself up as an arbiter of who gets First Amendment freedom of religion rights. That’s about as scary as politics gets in my book.