10 Most Islamophobic Texas Politicians

Protesters at Houston's Arabic-Immersion school.
Protesters at Houston's Arabic-Immersion school.

If you’re anything like me, you watched French police stripping a Muslim woman of her burqini and thought, “Bigoted shenanigans by the sea? No way, buckaroos, that’s OUR job!” Texas has managed to field a rather impressive set of raging Islamophobes in our political sphere over the years, and today we’re going to point them out. Just in case you see some names on a ballot and wonder whether or not that’s who you want to represent you.

10. State Representative Molly White, District 55 (R)
Starting off the list is Representative Molly White, who chose to use 2015’s Texas Muslim Capitol Day to openly question the allegiance of Texas Muslims to America. In a message left on her Facebook page, she said, “I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws. We will see how long they stay in my office.” White was defeated in her primary this year in March by Hugh Shine, who criticized White for her remarks.

9. State Representative Dan Flynn, District 2 (R)
There's probably no more poorly understood term in America than "Sharia law," but whether it's understood or not, Texans apparently really hate it. In 2015 Flynn introduced House Bill 670, a law that rather pointedly didn't mention Sharia but that did make the already illegal practice of following laws other than domestic ones...doubly illegal, I guess. In an email to constituents, Flynn told Texans that Sharia was already supplanting laws in Britain,  and that "There is no question the Judeo-Christian heritage we covet and aim to protect is under attack." He also added that "political correctness" kept people from even being able to question "extreme practices." All this, by the by, is turbo unconstitutional. The right of religious groups (including Christians and Jews) to use religious arbitration to settle disputes was established by the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1984. 

8. State Representative Debbie Riddle, District 150 (R)
Representative Riddle is another Texas politician with an itchy Facebook posting finger, and it got her some flak in 2012. After reading an article about U.S. soldiers being given sensitivity training regarding the locals in Afghanistan, she took to social media with the following...

Our soldiers do NOT need to be taught how to be sensitive to radical Muslims. They do not need to be worried about blowing their nose wrong or using their left hand and offending someone. . . . They should not be bothered with being sensitive to people who want us all dead! We need a true leader in the White House — a vote for Obama is a vote to destroy our country.

When a young Houston law student named Abdul Pasha offered mild criticism in response, Riddle continued her rant...

Abdul, if you are so offended by our soldiers then you don’t need us or our money in Afghanistan. As an American I am greatly offended that we have had American soldiers killed by the very ones we were attempting to train and help — Afghanistan soldiers. Get a grip fellow — if you want to be an American act like one and be proud of our country and stand up for our military. If you can’t do that then go where people are sensative (sic) enough for you – I guess that would be Afghanistan – where they still live like they are in the Stone Age – but still very sensative.

And just to round out her bigotry, she suggested trans people's problems could be solved if they would look in a mirror after a shower. The good news is that, like White, she lost her primary this year. The bad news is that her opponent, Valoree Swanson, isn't much better on the question of Islam. We look forward to including her in an updated version of this list in the future. 

10 Most Islamophobic Texas Politicians
Photo courtesy of texasagriculture.gov

7. Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R)
At least Riddle and White were just offensive and condescending. Commissioner Miller, on the other hand, decided to take things to a whole new level online. To quote from CBS new coverage of an outrageous post on Miller's Facebook...

The post shows a mushroom cloud and says Japan has "been at peace" with the U.S. since the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki. The end of the caption reads, "It's time we made peace with the Muslim world."

It was subsequently deleted. Miller himself was in China at the time of the post, but declined to apologize or seek out the member of his staff who made the post, calling it "thought-provoking." 

6. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R)
Well, you knew this was coming, though to be fair, Patrick's best work in the anti-Islam arts comes from his time as a state senator. In 2007 he boycotted the first Muslim prayer ever delivered in the Texas Senate, only to return at the end of the session to talk about how awesome freedom of religion was. Patrick was also apparently part of an investigation into Lumberton High School's allegedly teaching Islam to students, but a fair amount of digging has failed to turn up anything but far-right and alt-right conspiracy writings. Even in the Todd Starnes story for FOX linked in the previous sentence (and Starnes's problematic relations with the truth have been noted by both myself and The Atlantic), in which parents say a course on different cultures failed to mention Christianity, the picture that sparked a parent backlash clearly shows Christianity as one of many focuses. These days Patrick works mostly at offending the victims of LGBT hate crimes and mass shootings

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