Editorials

Tarrant County GOP leaders, act worthy of yourselves

‘I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive,’ says Shahid Shafi on being American and a Muslim

A small group within the Tarrant County Republican Party has been calling for Dr. Shahid Shafi to be removed from his post as vice chairman because he is a Muslim. Many more have come out in support of Shafi.
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A small group within the Tarrant County Republican Party has been calling for Dr. Shahid Shafi to be removed from his post as vice chairman because he is a Muslim. Many more have come out in support of Shafi.

Compromise is generally a good thing. It’s something Washington is desperately in need of.

But at what point do you compromise with “wrong”?

That’s something Tarrant County Republicans are considering doing: reaching some sort of face-saving deal with the local party’s fanatical fringe that wants to oust Vice Chairman Shahid Shafi for doing nothing more than being a Muslim. The talk of compromise is an apparent attempt to avoid the showdown vote on his ouster scheduled for Thursday.

Proposals include eliminating the local party’s two vice chairman positions, which are picked by party Chairman Darl Easton, and replacing them with one vice chairman chosen by the entire executive committee, made up of precinct chairmen. Another idea is to have a committee chairman resign and relegate Shafi to that lesser chairmanship — where the esteemed surgeon and Southlake city councilman would, his opponents must presume, be less of an international Islamic terror threat.

Someone must think shuffling the chairs on the Titanic would keep it afloat. But dodging the Thursday vote won’t make this problem go away; it will only send the message that bigots in the party must be accommodated, not confronted.

How can Republican leaders even consider reaching a settlement with something they know to be completely wrong and antithetical to both GOP and American values of religious liberty? And why would the party want to help folks save face who should, in fact, be red-faced by their own raging prejudice and paranoia?

Rest assured, this grotesque battle over whether a Muslim — any Muslim, evidently — can be a good American or party functionary has done more damage to the Tarrant County GOP than any external threat ever could.

Fact is, this gut-check vote for or against blanket bigotry is an existential threat the local party is facing, and which it must face down. Head on, boldly and publicly.

If party leaders won’t stand up for what’s right now, then when will they?

There is no escape hatch, and none should be hoped for, when standing up to wrong and wrongheadedness. Party leaders simply must exhibit the undiluted grit they have so far failed to demonstrate: They need to stand up and be counted on Thursday, with moral compass in hand.

The best way to do that is for precinct leaders to vote openly by roll call — not secret ballot — and in full view of the public, not in a closed session. If those who want to shun Shafi for his religion truly believe in their seriously flawed cause, they should be willing to do so under the public’s gaze.

There are also murmurings that the vote may be preceded — or perhaps even preempted indefinitely — by more debate and more maneuverings, even after an endless marathon behind closed doors Nov. 10. Why? What more is there to say? How much more must irrational suspicion be indulged and appeased?

There is no compromising with something that is plainly wrong.

Revolutionary War hero Joseph Warren exhorted his compatriots to “act worthy of yourselves” in the battles to come.

It’s time for Tarrant County GOP leaders to do the same.

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