The Corner

Politics & Policy

There’s No Coherent Argument Against Texas GOP Official Shahid Shafi

(Richard Carson/Reuters)

If there’s a serious argument for why surgeon and Southlake, Texas councilman Shahid Shafi should not be vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican party, his critics should offer it.

As it is now, the argument boils down to the belief that a Muslim should not be in a Republican party position. As one of his most vocal critics put it in a Facebook post, “Shafi IS a practicing Muslim, so yes, he IS a ‘proponent of Shari’a law.’”

Ergo, every practicing Muslim should be automatically disqualified from ever holding a position in the GOP. She has also declared, “ISIS is Islam with all the public fakery removed.” This argument contends that there is negligible difference between the Muslim family living down the street and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or Osama bin Laden.

She went on to write “Right or wrong, those who oppose Dr. Shafi feel very passionately that it is a big mistake to advance a practicing Muslim to a visible party post. It’s not that he, himself, is going to affect party policy, it’s the symbolism of the act.” Yes, it symbolizes that practicing Muslims and that people of any religious belief are welcome in the Republican party. The fact that some people so vehemently disagree with that is greatly clarifying.

Shafi’s foes have set up a classic heads-I-win, tails-you-lose scenario by citing the Islamic concept of taqiyya (basically a moral justification for strategic lying) and declaring, “Shafi is following the law and tenets of his theocracy, which includes lying to the non-Muslim because it advances the cause of Islam.” This means that no amount of denials or counter-evidence produced by Shafi will ever be enough. His work as a surgeon, his community service with the Lions Club, historical society, nature center, schools, churches, his family — everything he’s done in his life will be dismissed as just an ever-more elaborate disguise for his nefarious intentions.

In the worldview of Shafi’s critics, everyone who likes and supports him staying in this role is a gullible sucker, including notable softies and squishes such as Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, Travis County Republican party Chairman Matt Mackowiak, the state Republican party, and the gang at The Federalist.

Appearing on CNN, Shafi said that he’s “always been welcomed with open arms” by Republicans. When anchor Jim Sciutto asked, “Do you think the president’s sometimes critical, sometimes bigoted, some have said, language about Muslims, rhetoric about Muslims — do you think that has given license to people like you’ve encountered here, who are expressing this bigotry about your faith?” Shafi did not blame the president. Instead, he succinctly encapsulated what was at stake here, and why his broad spectrum of supporters are standing by him:

“Look, I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in freedom of expression and I think diversity of opinion within any group is good for the group, is good for the party. But what we cannot do and what we don’t do is discriminate against a specific person based on their religion, caste, creed, color, ethnicity, or country of origin. Our party has very specific rules that prohibit religious discrimination. Our country has specific rules and our Constitution prohibits it. So when this controversy arose because of a small number of people at the fringes of our party … it’s really been very — they’re doing a disservice to our party. That’s not what the Republican Party is about. That is not what I have encountered. Some of my biggest supporters within the party are pastors and military veterans. And the reason they always tell me, especially the military veterans, that they are supporting me in my role, is because number one, they put their life on the line to protect the Constitution. And our Constitution defends religious freedom, and they cannot see that being violated in our own country. And the second reason is, quite frankly, that these are veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. They have served overseas with hundreds of thousands of Muslim soldiers and civilians in those countries, who have helped America and who have helped our soldiers perform their duties.”

Who in their right mind would want to get rid of this guy?