Karen Lugo

Head Sheriff of Los Angeles, Lee Baca has cultivated relationships with Muslims and has cemented close ties to CAIR and other Muslim political action groups. He claims that “diplomacy should be the primary mission of all Americans” and he assures Muslim groups that he understands that “when one religion is under threat, all religions are under threat.” Baca believes that American public officials “are in a dilemma with the educating of America about what the law is all about.” He urges Americans to “reach out to those who they fear and engage in a sensible dialogue.”

If Baca’s responsibilities were chiefly diplomatic, this would all be fine -- except the part about the dilemma on what the law is all about. However, Baca’s job description is far from that of diplomat. During a recent Muslim-hosted summit on sharia and the Constitution, he did not once challenge applications of sharia in America that undermine free speech, freedom to leave a religion, the equal rights of women or those honor- and shame-based sharia tenets that promote violence. Nor did he define his department’s obligations to monitor radicalization cells; he did not even note the threat from radicalization. Rather, he implied that political candidates who would confront these issues “do not even know the American Constitution” to be able to correct their anti-Constitutional stances.

LAPD Counter-Terrorism Chief Michael Downing says that last year “a small number of people spread a hate campaign across America to create untruths about American Muslims.” He has declared that Muslims “recognize the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution through the principle of sharia” and that sharia “is not a threat to Americans.” He also defines the threat as “the other side of extremism which perpetuates hate against a small number of people.” (The remarks by Baca and Downing were made at a February 19, 2012 Garden Grove, CA, Islamic Center panel session on Sharia and the Constitution. There is no published videotape for linking purposes so I have transcribed a private recording.)

Downing’s ignorance of sharia and his attempt to shift focus from threatened Islamist violence and extremism to Americans who press for the exact debate that Downing shirked at this meeting was unconscionable. These remarks would not be appropriate from a diplomat or an ordinary police officer and they certainly are not fitting when spoken by the counter-terrorism chief of one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.

Karen Lugo

Karen Lugo is the Founder of the Libertas-West Project and a co-director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.