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Letters to the Editor

Political reflection

Dave Butler October 19th, 2011

Rep. Paul Wesselhöft’s letter of Oct. 5 (“Rep. Paul Wesselhöft questions Islamophobia,” Oklahoma Gazette) was both refreshing for its level of honesty coming from an elected official, and surprising for the arguments chosen to advocate his position.

I agree that Sheryl Siddiqui’s Commentary (“The post-9/11 Muslim experience”) lacked a clear point, needlessly alluded to the War on Terror and was an essay more about feelings than facts. However, I did not vote for her, nor do my tax dollars pay her salary. It is saddening to see an elected official, namely Rep. Wesselhöft, engage in the same kind of appeals to emotion over reason.

Three main rebuttals he offers to Siddiqui’s Commentary are: (1) accusations of Islamophobia are unfair, (2) Muslims building a mosque near Ground Zero demonstrates a need for suspicion toward Oklahoma Muslims and (3) Muslims in the Arab world cheering the attacks on 9/11 show a need for suspicion toward all Muslims.

I am willing to take Rep. Wesselhöft at his word that Oklahoma’s lawmakers draft their laws with complete objectivity, in a spirit of honoring the common good and their constitutional duties.

But the idea that the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” reflects in any way on Muslims in Oklahoma, or indeed on American Muslims as a whole, is absurd. In the first place, the mosque was not sponsored by the New York Muslim community, which wasn’t even aware of Feisal Abdul Rauf until after he announced the project. Secondly, there was a deep divergence in opinion among American Muslims as to the mosque, including right here in Oklahoma. Many were against building the mosque, and many advised Rauf and the Park51 backers to engage in meaningful dialogue with the New York community as a whole.

Rep. Wesselhöft must surely be aware that Muslims do not think and act as one unit. Muslims in Oklahoma don’t have control over Muslims in New York, and to hold all Muslims culpable for Rauf’s incompetence and intentions is unfair.

Rep. Wesselhöft then alludes to Muslims in the Arab world applauding the 9/11 attacks. Please be aware, Rep. Wesselhöft, that even if you gathered every video recording of every Muslim celebrating 9/11, and counted up every participant, you would reach a finite number: Let’s say 10,000, to be generous. Simply because videos of these criminals and losers were played constantly in the media following the terrorist attacks, does this mean that all Muslims must have been celebrating 9/11? Not in the least.

Oklahoma’s Muslim population is comprised of professionals — physicians, lawyers, engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs and scientists — who do much good for the state. To equate them with terrorists or supporters of terrorism, or to hold them responsible for such actions, demeans their contribution to Oklahoma and reflects poorly on Rep. Wesselhöft as an elected official of the people.

—Dave Butler
Oklahoma City

Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to or sent online at, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

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10.19.2011 at 06:34 Reply

I more or less agree with you, but this statement caught me off guard.

"I am willing to take Rep. Wesselhöft at his word that Oklahoma’s lawmakers draft their laws with complete objectivity, in a spirit of honoring the common good and their constitutional duties."

My only response to that is....  Really?


10.19.2011 at 01:30

imautobot: I chose that statement because accusing Oklahoma's legislator's of impropriety or bias isn't central to my point, and because it disarms any claims of persecution or slander Rep. Wesselhoft could claim in a rebuttal.  Readers can construe the meaning any way they please :)

Thanks to the Gazette for publishing my letter with minimal editing.  One thing that I would like to emphasize is that anyone - anyone - can use Google or Lexis to find literally hundreds of thousands of condemnations of terrorism by Muslims.  These include press releases, essays, and personal statements and some come from Oklahoma Muslims as well.  It is just plain sad to see the argument that "because I saw Muslims cheering terror on TV, it must be universally true."  

In addition, one other point that needs to be stressed with a capital S is that there is no consensus among American Muslims, and even less among Muslims globally.  Please pardon the crude expression, but Muslims did not just get off the boat and immediately form a cohesive community.  American Muslims come from dozens of racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and have not progressed beyond loosely associating with their local mosques.  There is no national board of leadership, no elections, and certainly nothing compelling Muslims to participate in their own religious community.  

Advocacy groups like CAIR have done a fine job of convincing the American public and the media that a single consensus exists where in reality there is disarray and broad acceptance individuality, which is one reason I have such a big problem with them.  And by and large, American Muslims agree with me.  See the latest Gallup poll, page 25, for evidence that fewer than 12% of American Muslims say that any national Muslim organization represents their viewpoint (in polling conducted from 2008-2011.)  Therefore any organization claiming to represent even a plurality of Muslims is lying, which was the impetus for me to write my letter as an individual and an American in the first place.


10.19.2011 at 04:08

dbutler:  I doubt the Rep. could use what would clearly be an opinion as the basis of a slander case.

I find it hard to believe there are lawmakers in Oklahoma who view their laws objectivily.  The anti-Sharia law is an excellent of a law that never needed to exist simply because religion is not used as any basis for legal judgements in our country.  That law, in my opinion exists for the sole purpose of giving the finger to Oklahoman Muslims.  

But perhaps you're right.  I am not in Wesselhoft's head, I can only interpret this words and form my opinion from that.  In which case I think your response is well measured and on point.  My response would have been much more flippent.