Eventually, I do promise to return to the subject of modern Shi’i law and the Jawahir, but first, let us speak of Allen West, he the former congressmen from Florida who has recently spoken in praise of the extermination of the Muslims and has been rewarded for this 21st version of the Final Solution with an invitation to Trump Tower.
In any event, there is little worthy of report here, save that the episode has helped me with my new, working definition of white privilege—the supreme repose that routinely attends to a man who can expect to pay no personal consequence if it turns out that a xenophobe and a bigot turns out to be deadly serious in pursuit of his xenophobic bigotry. Meaning, in this case, that your statement to me that “Trump does not mean it” lacks all credibility unless Trump is meeting with someone who has expressed a desire to kill your children as well.
But I digress. The story demonstrates little beyond the much reported fact that Wallbuilder has done less than zero to assuage those of us terrified of him, and we can leave it at that. What is more interesting is the recirculation of a story of Allen West as a controversial let’s be charitable and say “hothead” involving a Muslim employee at Walmart. Apparently he tried to buy alcohol, the checkout lane he wanted to use had a sign that prohibited alcohol being sold at that lane. He apparently knew this was because the clerk was Muslim because, and I quote, the clerk’s name was not Steve. He posted, fussed, made a stink and then apparently asked Walmart to clarify, because that’s apparently how you go about it in his universe. Turns out, we find out from Walmart once someone bothers to pick up the phone and ask them, that the problem was that not-Steve was not-21. So he couldn’t sell the alcohol because he was legally prohibited from doing so. We’re still not sure not-Steve was Muslim, so far as I’ve been able to tell. However, it is very unlikely that his name was Steve.
Normally the story is told to demonstrate how fundamentally unreflective and Islamophobic Allen West is, and boy is he that. But I thought there was even more of interest here. To paraphrase Dr. Johnson, how is it that we hear the loudest yelps for religious liberty among the haters of the Muslims? If, contrary to fact, the lane had been closed to alcohol because the clerk was Muslim, why is this such a problem for the supporters of Hobby Lobby like Allen West? So I personally have no problem if Walmart has a policy that its Muslim employees must sell alcohol, and if they can’t or won’t, then they just have to get another job. But geesh, if I thought Hobby Lobby was such a good idea, I can’t see how I could responsibly take that position.
Let’s run through the two scenarios. In the first, a woman wants birth control. If she can’t get it from her insurance carrier, she will either have to pay several hundred dollars a year out of pocket, or risk pregnancy. A rather significant problem to have to deal with. On the other hand, you have Hobby Lobby who has a moral objection to having to provide the birth control, as the law mandates. Result? Hobby Lobby must win. We believe in religious liberty!!!
Now, by contrast, Allen West wants a beer. If he can’t get it from not-Steve, who is Muslim, then he has to wait for, I guess, Steve to sell it to him in a longer checkout line. We know this is not some sort of tremendous inconvenience for if it truly were, then Walmart would not let underage employees ever staff the checkout line and thereby lose business caused by the inconveniences. Also, am I wrong to describe all of this as slightly less a problem for a beer drinker than unwanted pregnancy is for a woman? Meanwhile, on the other hand, you have the Muslim not-Steve with a moral objection to providing alcohol, much as Hobby Lobby morally objects to contraception, so shouldn’t not-Steve win? Why is Allen West so upset?
So if you want to know, as many on the right have, why it is that so many Jews and Muslims don’t jump for joy at the idea of Hobby Lobby and the religious freedom it entails, let me fill you in on my perspective. I’m not quite convinced it’s intended for us. So far, it seems more like a pretext for some altright version of white Christian supremacy. And I bet not-Steve agrees with me.