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I saw the tragedy in Nice yesterday and like everyone else with a conscience, I despaired. My prayers are humble but I offered them regardless for the victims and their families, and the people of France. I hope that the investigation concludes with real answers as to why the driver of the lorry acted and provides a path forward to prevent such a horrific tragedy again. This was France’s Oklahoma City.

Newt Gingrich saw the tragedy in France and thought to himself, how can I leverage this tragedy for my own ambitions? The result was an impromptu audition for Donald Trump’s VP on Fox News, where he called for “deporting” Muslims who believe in Shari’a:

“You have to monitor the mosques,” Gingrich said Thursday evening on Fox News’s “Hannity.” “Where do you think the primary source of recruitment is? We should … test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Shariah, they should be deported… Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia — glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door.”

Since he is a valid contender for the office of the Vice President of the United States, we are obligated to respond to him rather than dismiss him as the unprincipled opportunist that even his political allies know him to be. So, a few thoughts.

1. Which Shari’a?

Gingrich’s knowledge about Shari’a likely comes from Fox News. If we are going to establish a test, then we need to define what Shari’a means in context. If we are talking about the actual Shari’a that Muslims follow, it has 4 sources, in the following rank of priority: The Qur’an, The actions and words of the Prophet Mohammed SAW (The Sunnah), consensus from the community of scholars, and legal reasoning. At every stage of this chain of authority, there are different interpretations, compilations, schools of jurisprudence, and analyses. The result is not a linear, black and white ideology as some fringe Muslim sects insist, but a diverse tapestry of thought and practice, that spans the globe and time and race and culture.

When you ask a Muslim if they believe in Shari’a, they will probably answer yes, not because they support ISIS but because they are part of that global tapestry and they have their own unique position within it. The only answer is yes.

2. The First Amendment

It is painful to admit that a potential candidate for the Vice President of the United States needs schooling on this, but here is the full text of the First Amendment, which is part of the Bill of Rights ratified as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States on December 15th, 1791.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

3. Which Muslims?

Gingrich did not specify which Muslims he would subject to his test. Donald Trump’s infamous Muslim Ban only applied to Muslim non-citizens, either seeking immigration status or already here. But taking Gingrich at his word, given his reputation as the thinker and intellectual he is, suggests no such distinction. Without clarification from him, we must assume given the context of his remarks about “incompatibility” that he means all Muslims, regardless of citizenship status.

4. The Fourteenth Amendment

The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified after the US Civil War, on July 9, 1868. The relevant part of the Amendment is the Due Process clause, which reads as follows:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Note that “any person within its jurisdiction” applies to citizens and non-citizens alike.

5. Which mosques?

Gingrich blithely states that mosques are the centers of radicalization, but the truth is that Muslims are radicalized online, not in mosques. Muslims with access to mosques are exposed to the full scope of the tapestry of Shari’a and traditional teachings by trained imams and scholars, which overwhelmingly condemn terrorism and violence. Further, Muslim American communities in the United States are cohesive and a bulwark against radicalization – in fact, Muslims themselves have a long history, gratefully acknowledged by the FBI, of assisting authorities and informing on radicals to prevent terror attacks. Contra Gingrich’s assertion, having a mosque next door full of Muslims who will say they believe in Shari’a, is a good thing for preventing terror.

6. Which Western civilization?

ISIS and other radical Muslim groups are not acting randomly. They are acting deliberately. To paraphrase Marco Rubio, let’s dispel once and for all with the fiction that ISIS doesn’t know what they are doing, they knows exactly what they are doing. ISIS is undertaking a systematic effort to change this civilization, to make the West more like the rest of the world… it is a systematic effort to change the West – by eliminating the Gray Zone.

Fools like Gingrich play right into ISIS’ hands. Comments like his are the true “fifth column” in our midst.

7. Muslim Go.

To Newt Gingrich, this is all an augmented reality video game, like Pokémon Go. Gingrich thinks he can just run around and capture all the Muslims in his Poke-ball. It won’t be as easy as all that. The United States fought a war of Independence and a Civil War for the Amendments that he so casually tramples on – he devalues an immeasurable sacrifice paid in blood by true American patriots for these rights.

I stated it in the title of this essay and I conclude with it here. Mr. Gingrich, I believe in Shari’a. Come at me, then, and make your attempt to deport me or do unto me as you will. My ally is the Constitution and the American People. Yours is Donald Trump and a legion of red hat-wearing racists and xenophobes. Even if you prevail over me, you won’t prevail over America or the West, because you don’t understand what America is, or what the West really is. For all your erudition and intelligence, you don’t understand what the Founders or the North or the Allied Powers were really fighting for. And that is why you will lose. I’m honored to be your target. Let’s play Muslim Go, Mr. Speaker. Your turn.

UPDATE:

Well, Mr. Gingrich, looks like your hail-Mary gambit backfired:

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