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Sorry, Conservatives: Dearborn Isn't a No-Go Zone for Anyone

January 30, 2015

This week, the Hindu-turned-Catholic Bobby Jindal doubled down on his bogus "no-go zones" claim at the center of his anti-Muslim crusade for the White House. He quickly had company in the form of Iraq war cheerleader and anti-Islamic xenophobe Frank Gaffney, who declared that Dearborn, Michigan is already one of those no-go zones in America.
Of course, these right-wing myths aren't just an insult to the Muslim residents of Dearborn. The slanders are an affront to all. Just ask Pastor Dustin Weber of the Dearborn Free Methodist Church. After all, he was just one of the many Christian ministers to deliver a prayer to open a meeting of the Dearborn city council.

Following the footsteps of disgraced Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, Gaffney took to the airwaves to make the charge:

Not only did anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney use his interview on "Washington Watch" last week to compare President Obama to Osama bin Laden, but he also claimed that Sharia law has popped up in the U.S.
According to Gaffney, Dearborn, Michigan -- a regular target of debunked claims about Sharia law that Gaffney calls "Dearbornistan" -- has become a "ghetto enclave in which it's Muslim-only and others, if they are not effectively proscribed or prevented from going in, know that it is too dangerous to go."

For over a hundred years, Dearborn has had a large and thriving Arab American community. While the greater Detroit area per capita has the largest Muslim population in the nation, Dearborn is also home to Lebanese and Iraqi Christians as well. But in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the diverse city of 97,000 has become the place "where Americans come to hate Muslims." As Daniel Denvir explained in 2012, whether it is Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones, the California-based Bible Believers or RenewAmerica:

Dearborn is a must-visit location on 21st-century America's newly established anti-Muslim protest circuit.

Coming to fight in their imaginary battle against Sharia law, the Bible Believers protested the city's annual Arab International Festival. In 2013, the Christian missionaries brought a pig's head and signs insulting Islam's prophet. The 2014 event over Father's Day weekend was cancelled.
After the failure of a previous lawsuit to stop local mosques from broadcasting the call to prayer five times each day, incendiary blogger Debbie Schlussel is spearheading a new campaign to silence Muslims' First Amendment rights in Dearborn. Schlussel, who lives in nearby Southland, is representing a group of Dearborn residents suing the city to prevent any Muslim cleric from delivering the rotating invocation to open city council meetings.
As it turns out, the Supreme Court in the 2014 case of Town of Greece v. Galloway ruled that sectarian prayers at town council meetings do not violate the Constitution's religious establishment clause. That's a good thing for the clergy members like Pastor Weber and Father John Kopson of the Church of the Divine Child. After all, their prayers opened the last two meetings of the Dearborn city council presided over by Muslim attorney Susan Dabaja. Those invocations were followed by the Dearborn councilors doing what their counterparts do all over the country.
They rose to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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