Chicken-Fried News: Economic hate 

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Everyone agrees that Oklahoma has money issues and we don’t need any more. What we can’t agree on is what is most important to Oklahoma citizens.

Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Tulsa Regional Chamber members recently spoke out against the ways legislators spend their time at the Capitol, multiple local media recently reported.

Their comments were made after Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) accused Adam Soltani, executive director of Oklahoma’s office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK), of being a terrorist.

Bennett also claimed Imam Imad Enchassi of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City trained terrorists.

A group of legislators and local Muslim officials attended Bennett’s Oct. 25 interim study, “Radical Islam, Sharia Law, the Muslim Brotherhood and the radicalization process,” at the State Capitol.

Soltani reminded the bloviating Bennett that there is no evidence to support the lawmaker’s accusations or his “biased agenda,” the Tulsa World reported.

Leaders of OKC and Tulsa chambers of commerce are concerned that legislators’ focus on a “social agenda” will adversely affect state economic and business development.

“When we even talk about criminalizing physicians or seem intolerant on diversity or things like that, it doesn’t help us,” Tulsa Regional Chamber senior vice president Brien Thorstenberg told the House Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Real Estate in the days after the interim study, KFOR.com reported. “Even if those things don’t pass or don’t happen, it can take years for those things to be overcome.”

Kurt Foreman, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber executive vice president, agreed.

KFOR.com reported chamber leaders believe legislators should instead focus on legitimate issues like education and transportation.

“Their attention to social issues can be a factor in whether our economy is going to grow or not,” Foreman said. “We think you need to focus on the things that make a difference in the long run, not a little issue here or there.”

Some lawmakers disagreed.

“It’s unfortunate that the chambers are looking just at an economic impact, whereas we, in the Legislature, are looking at the impact on the children,” Sen. Gary Stanislawski (R-Tulsa) told NewsChannel 4 in May, when many legislators were focused on a controversial bathroom bill that discriminated against transgender people.

Soltani told Red Dirt Report that CAIR-OK is considering legal action against Bennett after his public attacks.

“We’ve always protested when elected officials use their power and state resources to propagate hate,” Soltani said. “This took it to a whole new level; the blatant lies and accusations are disturbing.”

Print headline: Economic hate

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