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Republican activists denounce leader's anti-Muslim remarks

Oklahoma Republican Party

EDMOND, Okla. -- As you might be well aware, State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) made some hateful comments about Muslim Americans, stating that we should be wary of them.

Understandably, the Executive Director of CAIR-OK, Adam Soltani, requested that the leaders of the GOP denounce these anti-Muslim comments.

In response, the Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, Dave Weston, defended Bennett stating that Soltani is attacking State Rep. Bennett and that he should not be held accountable for his extremist views. Weston further made demands of the Muslim community in Oklahoma that they meet to discuss their legitimacy before they are allowed to discuss the situation with him.

What is it that Dave Weston and John Bennett and others in the GOP have against Muslims or the religion of Islam?

I understand not being all “shiny happy people” about ISIS but ISIS is not Islam. ISIS is a minority group of Muslims that happen to be terrorists. Terrorists that were funded by our government before they became ISIS by the way. But that's a story for another time. Again, ISIS is not Islam.

Saying that ISIS is the de facto representatives of the religion of Islam is like saying abortion clinic bombers Operation Rescue or the Westboro Baptist Church are the de facto representatives of the Christian religion.

There are some extremist Christians that do stupid, violent things. There are some extremist Muslims that do stupid, violent things.

So apparently the leadership of the OKGOP has decided that all Muslims are bad people.

It really should come as no surprise though that there are some in the Oklahoma GOP that are out there demonizing minority groups like Muslims. These are the same type of people that said homosexuals should be stoned to death.

On the bright side, however, in response to these events, several GOP activists have actually come forward to denounce the comments of Bennett and Weston.

For example:

"...I'm writing to express my belief as a Republican activist in Oklahoma, that such bigotry has no place in the Republican Party and is totally unbecoming someone of your position [referring to Weston]. Do you honestly believe that ISIL militants are representative of Muslims as a whole....Do Ander Breivik and Westboro Baptist Church represent Christianity in your mind as well?

The OKGOP's incessant hatemongering toward Muslims is a perfect example of why the GOP is hemorrhaging supporters....I defy you to explain from where you derive the legitimacy to condemn 1.6 billion people in this world simple because they adhere to a faith you don't like. Most of all, I defy you to explain to me what tens of thousands of Oklahoma Muslims are supposed to think of a Republican Party that shows them nothing but hatred and ignorance....

...That the Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party can't even be counted on to refrain from doubling down on such hateful and anti-liberty rhetoric, let alone speak out against it as a decent American and human being, is immensely troubling to me....”

These comments were made by Adam Bates, Treasurer of Precinct 035.

Tina Kelly, the Chairman of Precinct #32 for the GOP, had these words to say:

As an active member of the Oklahoma Republican Party, I am dismayed that you as our chief representative to those outside the party would defend the Islamophobic remarks of anyone, much less an elected official bearing our brand. We as members of the party, should be vigilant in the calling out of all persons who seek to deny the rights of liberty and justice to entire categories of people, but as important as this is in our dealings and messaging with society at large, how much more so inside the party's own business and direct sphere of influence? If we don't react with integrity to ignorance and bigotry within our own ranks, then we lose the kind of moral high ground that would make us the more trustworthy choice when deciding who should be in positions of power over others....

...As an American, I am incensed that you would perpetuate hateful ideas against peaceful people living side by side with me in this the ‘land of the free’.....

....As a lover of liberty, I object to the idea of grouping and classifying individuals for the purpose of making judgments on them based on that categorization. No one will argue with the fact that evil has been and is being done in the name of Islam, but to take the actions of disturbed fanatics and use it to condemn all Muslims is beyond unjust....

Also, the Chairman of the Carter County Republican Party, and former candidate for Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District, Anna Flatt, had these words to say:

“...these kinds of statements from Representatives and officials are ignorant and unacceptable from a purely liberty perspective...How would you like it if the Christian religion were the minority and your elected representatives were inciting people to “be wary” of you?....

...I would encourage readers to instead be wary of people who attempt to make you afraid, when they should be promoting peace among all peaceful citizens. Telling someone to be “wary” of another who has done nothing to hurt anyone serves no purpose but to fear monger and inflame prejudice. The same is true of going out of your way to label the religious beliefs of other citizens as false and demonic. Issuing religious edicts is not a proper role for government and it's not a proper role for the Republican Party.....

....I am Anna Flatt, Chairman of the Carter County Republican Party, and I hereby stand up against anyone, anywhere, and in any position who attempts to incite others to be afraid of whole segments of people, of a particular religion, race, sexual orientation, etc... by stereotyping individuals....”

Lastly, here are some comments from John Bates, another Republican activist in Oklahoma:

I find myself in the unenviable position of once again having to remind an elected official of the OKGOP that they represent all Republicans in Oklahoma. Your statement that appeared in The Daily Oklahoman in support of Representative Bennett’s outrageous attack on Muslim Americans was both bigoted and downright wrong.....

...Your job is to present the Republican Party in Oklahoma in the best possible light in order to grow the party. We have hundreds of Muslim Republicans in Oklahoma......

Your comments were intolerant, patronizing and, to tell you the truth, untrue........I expect more from the GOP Chairman.”

It gives me hope for the GOP to see people like these four standing up against the leadership and working to make the Oklahoma Republican Party a better organization to be a part of.

Unfortunately, the lack of public outcry from the rest of the Republican base leads me to believe that they are a minority within the OKGOP and people like Dave Weston will remain in control.

Under his leadership, and if the rest of the membership does not speak out against his xenophobic comments, the Party will continue with its deviant, intolerant behavior toward minority groups like Muslims.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow, CAIR is holding a press conference at the Oklahoma State Capitol to call on Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to renounce Bennett and Weston's comments. Red Dirt Report will be there to cover it. 

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Steve Long
Steve Long is a freelance writer that moved to Oklahoma from Seattle, Washington in 2010. He... read more

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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