Hawaii’s state Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday to celebrate “Islam Day” _ over the objections of a few lawmakers who said they didn’t want to honor a religion connected to Sept. 11, 2001.
The Senate’s two Republicans argued that a minority of Islamic extremists have killed many innocents in terrorist attacks.
This is a profoundly stupid reason to oppose this proposal—for one because it essentially endorses the conceit of murderous lunatics that they somehow represent Islam as a whole, or at least “authentic” Islam. The much better rationale for opposing it—which apparently motivated only one Democrat in the Senate to vote against it—is that it’s not supposed to be the job of state governments to declare which religions are deserving of special celebration. The AP article unfortionately characterizes this view as “church-state separation fears,” which makes it sound like people are lying awake at night worrying about shariah being imposed on Hawaii. I feel pretty comfortable that this is not a proximate threat. But I’d be fairly peeved as a Hawaiian to be told that my representatives had taken it upon themselves to prounce—in the name of the state, and so on behalf of myself and my neighbors—that this or that faith get our collective approval, while others are passed over in silence. There’s no associated expenditures or formal, organized celebration, so the bill would appear to be wholly symbolic, but it’s terrible symbolism.