Jacob Heilbrunn

The Greatness of Gov. Chris Christie: Attacks About Sharia Law Are "Baloney"

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has never been known for mincing words. But he surpassed himself at a news conference, where he defended his nomination of Sohail Mohammed, a Muslim-American lawyer, to a Superior Court judgeship in Passaic County. "This is crap," Christie said when someone asked him about sharia law. "This is crazy, and I'm tired of dealing with the crazies," he also said.

The allegation among Mohammed's detractors is that he defended Muslims who were detained after the 9/11 tragedy. Indeed he did. Muslim-Americans who were swept up in the FBI dragnet and had no connection to terrorism. That's the American way, you know. Right to representation and all that kind of stuff in the Constitution.

If only there were more politicians like Christie who had the courage and integrity to denounce the demonization of Muslims that has been taking place on the far right. Remember Rep. Peter King's hearings earlier this year about the supposed domestic Muslim threat? But worse, much worse, is being peddled by Frank Gaffney and others. As Eli Lake documents in the New Republic, Gaffney, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan and general wingnut, helped author "The Team B II Report." Gaffney has already claimed that Grover Norquist and Suhail Jhan have dangerous ties to Muslim radicals.

His shiny new report maintains, Lake says, that "a stealth jihad seeking to infiltrate the United States has found multiple champions among the GOP candidates." Lake says further that Frank Gaffney has close ties to Michele Bachmann and that she has issued a statement lauding the Team B II report: "The Team B II authors and contributors are to be commended upon the release of their systematic and thorough piece of research, which will highly add to the discussion of sharia law's impact on the United States."

Which is what, exactly? The truth is that sharia is the basis of the Muslim religion. Do we attack Christians because they believe in the Trinity? Gov. Christie said that he was relieved that Mohammed was even willing to serve after all the "baloney" that's been said about him.

A campaign to demonize Muslims is under way, based on the contention that they are disloyal citiizens attempting to establish an Islamic republic in America. These charges would be amusing if they weren't so pathetic. But the clamjamphrie of conservatives who insist on smearing Muslim-Americans as amounting to a fifth column have found their issue, and won't let it go.

Which is why it is too bad that Gov. Christie isn't running for the presidency. He probably couldn't win the primary because he's too frank. But he could inject some needed sanity—and cojones—into the race. Who wouldn't pay to see him and Bachmann debate each other?