An elected official and a clutch of protesters shared their views about this year's Texas Muslim Capitol Day. Take a wild guess how things went. (Hint: it's possible there was even a pair of jeggings involved.)
The event, organized by the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations was meant to be a chance for Muslim community members to learn about the democratic process and how to advocate for important issues. Well, those who showed up certainly got a bit of education on the current state of democratic process from at least one lawmaker and some motivated protesters.
Republican state Rep. Molly White got the ball rolling with a Facebook post outlining how she planned to approach the incoming Muslim constituency. With the House not in session until next Monday, the freshman congresswoman was back in her home district in Bell County doing home district-type things. However, she didn't want to miss an opportunity to let everyone know where she stands on the question of Texas Capitol Muslim Day, so she instructed her staff to greet anyone from Texas Muslim Capitol Day who swung by her office with warmth and enthusiasm, and to take notes on any concerns Muslim community members of her district might raise.
Ha. Just kidding.
White started off by leaving an Israeli flag on the reception desk in her office. In case that was a little too subtle for any Muslims running around the building, she also left her staff with very special and oh-so-tolerant instructions for any Muslim individuals who might stop by. Or in White's words, because, honestly, paraphrasing can't do this particular set of instructions justice:
"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. "
Yep, White is totally willing to hear from any of her constituents who happen to be of the Muslim faith, just so long as they renounce all terrorism and jihad and whatnot. Because unless we've been assured otherwise, we should assume Muslims support terrorism, and anyone that looks like they might be even partially of Arab descent should clarify his or her position on the whole Holy War thing before talking with the staff of an elected state representative. Taking this logic to its logical (or whatever one would call it) conclusion, apparently we should assume everyone who is anti-abortion is totally fine with blowing up abortion clinics or shooting up abortion doctors. You know, unless they assure us otherwise.
Not that we should have been surprised by White's firm stance on all of this. Hours before the event kicked off, she shared some more enlightened and nuanced and generally all-around encouraging thoughts Facebook about Muslim people:
Remember, in the Koran, it is ok to lie for the purpose of advancing Islam. Texans must never allow fringe groups of people to come here so that they can advance their own culture instead of becoming an American and assimilating into the American way of life. That, I can assure is not the intent of most Muslims who move to America
Also, it's worth noting that an elected state representative -- or whatever minion she has in charge of her Facebook updates -- doesn't know the difference between "capitol" (as in the state capitol building in which White is supposed to work) and capital.
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Anyway, White had a grand time making her gesture, but she wasn't alone in her noble fight to keep Muslim community members interested in learning about how to take a more active role in state government from lingering in the halls of the state capitol building.
About 25 protestors gathered outside the capitol building to alternately chant against any implementation of sharia law while also chanting for Jesus. As if that weren't enough, one of the protestors, identified as Christine Weick by the Austin American-Statesman, marched up to the podium during the press conference for Texas Muslim Capitol Day, shoved one woman away from the podium and started yelling into the microphone.
The woman who had been speaking tried to get the microphone back -- she was a little thing and barely came up to Weick's shoulder -- but Weick grabbed hold of the podium and wouldn't move. Then a tall man came up and, with a smile fixed firmly on his face, tried to wrestle the microphone away from her. The pair tousled for a few seconds before Weick gave up and stalked off, law enforcement trailing behind her as she went. Only then did we notice that she appeared to be wearing skinny jeans or possibly jeggings (it somehow made the whole incident seem worse in retrospect).
In short, Texas really out-Texassed itself on Texas Muslim Capitol Day.