There's a lot to be said about how things work here in South Carolina, mostly that things often don't work here at all. Yes, there are a lot of jokes that could be made about our state, but I'm beginning to think they just aren't fair. South Carolina, in particular its governing class, has shown in the last year that it knows how to get things done.
For instance, in her State of the State speech last month, Gov. Nikki Haley talked about the steps that had been taken by her administration and the General Assembly that would end the disparity in education funding. Now, whether or not these steps would fully address the needs of rural schools — or even aging urban schools — is something only time will tell. And taking their time is very important to the men and women of our state government. After all, those steps to address South Carolina's education funding woes were only addressed after a 2014 ruling on a court case filed in 1993 about a 1977 funding formula.
While I could make jokes about this kind of glacial-pace, perhaps this sort of slow, cautious approach to governance is the best way to go. After all, it wouldn't serve the public interest if state legislators spent their time introducing and promoting hasty, rash, or even downright reactionary legislation just because of some "crisis" or another. No, the men and women of the Statehouse aren't the sort of people to take that path.
Except, of course, when it suits their purposes.
You see, the Legislature decided to start its year off right with a series of hasty, rash, reactionary — and utterly ignorant — bills. One, a measure to keep Sharia law from being practiced in South Carolina, is so utterly laughable and pointless that it doesn't really even merit the 44 words I'm wasting on it. Needless to say, state and federal law trump Sharia law any day.
Such obvious and bogus pandering to a fictional threat serves almost as much purpose as would a resolution commending, oh, I don't know, Taiwan for its democracy.
Oh, wait. There is a resolution for that.
Another piece of, ahem, legislation requires Syrian refugees to register with the state and forbids any government body, whether at the state or local level, to spend public money on caring for the refugees without the General Assembly's OK. This bill is equally as superfluous as the one mentioned above, yet it merits discussion if only as it pertains to a real, rather than an utterly fever-drenched, sweat-stained, and imagined threat. Unfortunately, the threat isn't actually to us as much as it is to the people the bill is aimed at, namely the Syrian refugees who are victims of violence and persecution in their native lands.
Then again, I guess that's not really true either. This bill isn't aimed at the refugees, per se. The federal government has already assured them, and those of us who aren't terrified of them, that they will be relocated in this country after a thorough vetting process, regardless of whatever actions are taken by state legislatures.
So, what's the purpose of this sort of law? It's simple: To give the Legislature something to do, so they don't have to address actual, important issues such as — oh, pick one — education, domestic violence, poverty, a crumbling infrastructure, the environment, healthcare — you know, real issues that impact South Carolinians every single day.
Even more troublesome is the notion that the residents of this state can no longer even look to our national representatives in Congress for some measure of sanity. Last week Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan appeared before a state Senate committee hearing to address this nonsense piece of legislation. Duncan repeated the oft-heard claim that "radical Islamic terrorists" want to use the refugee crisis as a cover to get into the U.S., as though somehow he's forgotten that terrorists have never, ever used a crisis to get into our country. They simply legally applied for a visa and walked right in. That's how it works.
But it was Mulvaney who stole the show with a variation of the old "well, as a member of a minority" routine. For some strange reason, Mulvaney thought his "fourth-generation" Irish-American roots meant he could say, "If you let in the wrong Irishman, the downside is really not that serious. You let in the wrong Syrian refugee — one — and people could die as a result," and nobody would see the absurdity of his analogy.
Perhaps Rep. Mulvaney had no idea there was a terrorist group called the Irish Republican Army, and that these men would most definitely have been considered "the wrong Irishmen" since they had a fondness for making car bombs. Worse still, Mulvaney was probably unaware that there was a time in American history when Irish immigrants were viewed with as much public disdain as today's Syrian refugees. Then again, it could be that the Congressman is well aware of that fact, but he believes that his constituents aren't. Either way, not only was his comment an asinine thing to say, but you can't use your ethnicity as a shield to disparage members of another nationality or ethnicity. That's just plainly ignorant.
I don't know about you, but it makes me wish our state leaders would just follow their typical MO and take a step back, dilly-dally for a few years or a maybe even a few decades, and then finally do something to address this problem.