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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gary Crooks: Liberty for all, except Muslims?

After the terrorist attack in Belgium, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called for patrolling “Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Donald Trump reiterated his call to block Muslims from entering the country.

Where does this fit with the conservative complaint of a “war on religion”? In that supposed conflict, it’s considered an abridgment of religious freedom to halt discrimination against gay and transgendered Americans if the reason is Bible-based. To some, the requirement to cover contraceptives and birth control pills in health care plans is a religious assault.

But it’s fine to target Muslims before they’re radicalized? It’s acceptable to pursue guilt by association, as we did with the internment of Japanese Americans?

Which takes us to this week’s question: “Do we need to make an exception for Muslim Americans when it comes to the principle of religious freedom?”

Send me an email, and be brief.

NOTE TO READERS: First, when answering questions in this column, please send emails, not voicemails. I simply don’t have time to transcribe phone messages. Apologies for not making that clearer. Second, I love the passion, but I can’t print profanity.

PROPOSITION 1: Last week, I asked: “Should the U.S. Senate hold confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland?”

The abridged versions of your replies:

“No ‘should’ about it. It’s the Senate’s duty to carry out its part of the selection of members of the federal judiciary. That this must be done in a timely matter is so obvious the framers of the Constitution likely never thought to specify it. To the extent the majority members of the Senate refuse this duty, they reveal themselves to be Republicans first and Americans second.” – Michael Cain, Spokane

“The Senate should definitely hold the confirmation hearing if they wish to differentiate between themselves and President Obama, Vice President Biden, Sen. Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Reid and other Democrats that all espoused similar policies when Democrats held the majority in the Senate. The fact that Republicans are not holding hearings tells me there is concern that some Republican senators up for re-election would have problems if they voted no on Garland. Harry Reid withheld numerous votes to protect senators and even the president from bad publicity. Where was the outrage then?” – Hal Dixon, Spokane

“Of course it should, and for purely pragmatic reasons. First, does the GOP expect to do better with either Trump or Clinton sitting in the White House? Second, given how the Senate is currently grounding its inaction on the rationalization that, ‘the people must be given an opportunity to speak!’, how will the Senate rationalize any nominee put forth by the in-coming president? The People will have spoken, won’t they? What will the rationalization for rejection be then? Third, what’s the worst that could happen if the Senate does hold hearings? Why not just hold a ‘show trial’ and then, at the end of the day, manufacture an at least barely plausible reason to reject Garland? It shouldn’t be that hard to do. The Dems would be infuriated, but they already are.” – Jeffrey Grey, Spokane

PROPOSITION 2: “What should be the subject of the next emphasis patrol by traffic enforcers?”

Answers were:

“Noisy vehicles. Bad mufflers, boom cars, macho mufflers.” – Ralph Laws, Cheney

“Hands down, tailgating. It’s both rampant and the single most dangerous practice I encounter regularly in our community. And from what I can tell, the police do nothing to penalize or discourage it.” – Michael Cain, Spokane

Thanks for contributing. See you next week.

Opinion Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.