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Having elected former State Rep. John Bennett as its new chairman, the Oklahoma Republican Party is now a hate group. 

During its annual convention Saturday at the Oklahoma City Convention Center — a terrible and possibly inexcusable use of this publicly funded facility — OKGOP made a conscious decision by elevating Bennett. The state party embraced Islamophobia and white nationalism, the absolutely worst that Oklahoma offers. 

Bennett and his family might like to pose with their guns while wearing American flag-inspired shirts, as if both acts combined into a show of ultra-patriotic fervor, but Bennett’s ideas are insanely anti-American. 

George Lang

OPINION by George Lang

In 2017, Bennett made national news when, during the third annual Council for American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Oklahoma Muslim Day at the state Capitol, he gave three students who visited him in his office a questionnaire drafted by the anti-Muslim hate group ACT! For America. The questionnaire asked the following: “The Koran, the sunna [sic] of Mohammed and Sharia Law of all schools say that the husband can beat his wife. Do you beat your wife?”

But at that point, Bennett had been at this for a while, working closely with anti-Islamic bigot Frank Gaffney on anti-Sharia law legislation as early as 2013. In 2014, he called Islam a “cancer” that needed to be “cut out” of America’s body politic. 

This is the language of white nationalism, plain and simple. There is no threat of the U.S. being subjected to any religious hegemony other than perhaps Christianity. The irony, of course, is that Bennett and his ilk are essentially Christian jihadists. Given the opportunity, he would establish America as a theocracy. 

Now, Oklahomans who are still GOP members must decide whether they can be members of a hate group. There will be no “holding your nose” while voting — the stench from Bennett and the OKGOP is too strong to ignore. 

Yes, there are good Republicans working at all levels of government, but Bennett’s ascendance means you cannot be good and be Republican any more than you can be good and be a member of the Ku Klux Klan or the John Birch Society. Once Bennett took over, his views became the OKGOP’s views. 

We are no longer at a point where individual counties in Oklahoma are national embarrassments, as when Canadian County GOP chair Andrew Lopez called for the defunding of public education. 

We cannot disassociate from the behavior of bumpkins like Cleveland County GOP chair Dave Spaulding, who posted January 6 on Facebook that he did not “understand my conservative Christian friends who say violence is unacceptable. What the crap do you think the American revolution was? A game of friggin pattycake? Blood was shed and rightfully so! And Christ didn’t politely and kindly ask the money changers to change locations. Are you content to allow this country that our fathers fought and died for to become another banana republic?”

No, we are no longer talking about isolated counties. This is the state GOP now. 

Oklahoma voters are notoriously terrible at turning out to vote. In 2020, only about 55 percent of eligible voters in the state cast a ballot in the general election. It is pathetic, and it is this kind of apathy that allows rancid political ideas from Lopez, Spaulding and Bennett to take root.

But this is the time for Oklahomans of good conscience to vote against the homegrown fascists. We are at a crisis point in this state in which the Republican majority is bent on allowing its own Christian jihadists free reign to deny rights to transgender Oklahomans and make plowing your car into protesters both a right and a privilege. 

Every Oklahoman who cares about this state’s future must make their voices heard not just on social media, but at the polling place.

Bennett and his fellow travelers do not care about Oklahoma’s future. Oklahomans who want only prosperity and good will for our state must leave the OKGOP. It will never be a vessel for progress in Oklahoma, let alone an organization for good people. Bennett and the Oklahoma Republican Party will only stand for white conservative bigots. 

Everyone else must vote against this scourge with strength and conviction. 

Last Updated April 13, 2021, 9:16 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor