Opposition to Texas GOP Official Shahid Shafi Is Not Due to Bigotry

Texas has an ongoing controversy over Shahid Shafi, vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party. In a National Review piece last week entitled “There’s No Coherent Argument Against Texas GOP Official Shahid Shafi,” Jim Geraghty summed up what Shafi’s defenders have maintained all along: Opposition to Shafi is all about anti-Muslim bigotry, from beginning to end.

It isn’t.

Wrote Geraghty:

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.

In reality they have, but Geraghty, like so many others, seems to have overlooked those arguments. Substantive points have been made about Shafi; you can find many here. Some highlights:

  1. In 2012, after being a Republican delegate to state conventions since 2010, he “contributed $1750 to a Democrat ‘Voter Values Fund.’”

Any Republican official who contributed to the Democrats would be questioned about it. But in Shafi’s case, to do so is apparently “bigotry.”

  1. “[Shafi] attended an Islamic ‘high holy night’ Iftar Dinner hosted by Democrat Mike Rawlings in 2015 in Dallas” with operatives from the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

Politicians of both parties frequently pander to CAIR and ISNA, both of which enjoy mainstream status despite their demonstrable links to Hamas. Yet “everyone else does it” is a weak defense.

Why can’t Shafi be questioned about this? CAIR has come out in support of Shafi, and Shafi has not renounced its support. Trump rightly had to disavow David Duke; why doesn’t Shafi have to renounce CAIR? Why can’t he be subject to the same standards that every other politician has to meet?

  1. “He has yet to give, beyond a weak, ‘Israel has a right to exist,’ any true support for many of the planks in the [Republican Party of Texas] Platform.”

Even the Palestinian Authority once affirmed that Israel had a right to exist, although it later rescinded this -- and it never acknowledged that Israel had a right to exist as a Jewish state.

This is not just a quibble, and Shafi’s critics are right to think his statement doesn’t go far enough. Recognizing Israel, but not as a Jewish state, leaves the door open for it to be overwhelmed by “Palestinians” exercising the “Right of Return,” turning it into a “Palestinian” state. Mahmoud Abbas has said that no Jews would be allowed to live in a “Palestinian” state, as has Sheikh Hammam Saeed, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. Fatah has also called upon Jews to leave the area.

If the Tarrant County Republican Party wants to come out in support of the Jewish state, why can’t it demand clarity on one of its official’s views on this issue?

Yet Geraghty declares: “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.”’”

The arguments against Shafi do not boil down to this belief. The Facebook post in question was not presented as a comprehensive case against Shafi; it was merely a response to statements in a Newsweek hit piece.

Meanwhile, why can’t Shafi be asked what his views are regarding Sharia? In its classic formulations Sharia denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the equality of rights for women, and far more. Is there any circumstance in which Geraghty or Shafi’s other defenders would not want a Muslim in a Republican Party position?

Of course we must avoid bigotry -- just as we must avoid practicing virtue-signaling and “Islamo-pandering” rather than the pursuit of facts. That practice has led to placing people in positions they shouldn’t be in simply because we are anxious to show we’re not bigoted or “Islamophobic.” Mohamed Noor is a good example of the dangers of that Islamo-pandering.

“In the worldview of Shafi’s critics,” Geraghty continues, “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.”

Have any of those people addressed the three numbered points above? They have not.

Geraghty quotes Shafi saying: “Look, I believe in freedom of speech.” That’s wonderful, but it presents another question regarding Sharia: Sharia forbids criticism of Islam. Shafi says he is a practicing Muslim. How does he reconcile that prohibition with his affirmation of the freedom of speech?

And why is this yet another one of those questions that only supposed “bigots” dare to ask?

Geraghty concludes: “Who in their right mind would want to get rid of this guy?” Good question. The answer is: Anyone who sees that the issues here are not about religious discrimination. They’re about whether Shafi is really a Republican and whether he supports Republican Party principles.

This pursuit of truth has been, as Geraghty’s piece demonstrates, obscured by the charges of “bigotry” and “Islamophobia” that ensue whenever anyone dares say anything remotely negative about an individual Muslim -- or about Islam itself. Shafi’s defenders are calling the concerns about him “Islamophobia” at a time when the defense against jihad is a consuming issue for the U.S. military and foreign policy analysts around the world.

The fear of being charged with “Islamophobia” appears to trump everything, even legitimate concerns about jihad terror and Sharia oppression. Would Shafi’s defenders be willing to explain under what circumstances, if any, concerns about a Muslim politician would not be “Islamophobia” or “bigotry?”

If a Muslim candidate arose who really did support CAIR, oppose Israel, and give money to Democrats, should Republicans support him simply so as not to be seen as “anti-Muslim"?