Noted constitutional scholar and Republican primary candidate Herman Cain is doin' what they do in Republican primaries — moving to the right. Specifically, he's giving shoutouts to the folks who are concerned that Muslims are going to impose Sharia Law on us and burquatize our supermodels and cut the hands off our investment bankers and stuff. Asked about a protest over a mosque in Tennessee, he cheerfully went full crazy, articulating a theory under which the mere existence of another faith in the community is a violation of the freedom of religion of adherents of other faiths:
In an exchange on “Fox News Sunday,” the Republican presidential contender said that he sided with some in a town near Nashville who were trying to prevent Muslims from worshiping in their community.
“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” he said. “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it.”
Asked by host Chris Wallace if any community could ban a mosque if it wanted to, Cain said: “They have a right to do that.”
If this sounds familiar, it ought to be: it's basically a variation on the speech is tyranny! theme we encounter occasionally — the notion that other people exercising their First Amendment rights thereby infringe upon the rights of those who disagree with them.
Cain is pandering. That's barely news — it's what primary contestants do. He's pandering to a particularly silly wing of his party: the view that Sharia Law threatens to take over our legal processes is extremely unserious nonsense. But here's the funny part: he can't even pander competently. In the course of pandering to the OMG SHARIA LAW wing of his party, he explicitly articulates a concept that is anathema to it: the idea that the constitution provides for the separation of church and state (not to mention the idea that it's wrong for a group to use a church to "infuse" their morals in a community).
Not that anyone from the Sharia-panicking wing will call him on it.