Sharia panic has emerged as a primary issue for Republican presidential hopefuls, but New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie is having none of it. At a recent press conference that deserved far more attention than it received, Christie defended his appointment of a Muslim lawyer to the state bench by saying that the Islamophobic smear campaign he had been subject to was “crazy”:

Sharia law has nothing to do with this at all. It’s crazy. It’s crazy. The guy’s an American citizen who has been an admitted lawyer to practice in the state of New Jersey, swearing an oath to uphold the laws of New Jersey, the constitution of the state of New Jersey, and the Constitution of the United States of America…this sharia law business is crap. It’s just crazy. And I’m tired of dealing with the crazies. It’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious backround.

Christie came under fire from conservative bloggers months ago when he nominated Sohail Mohammed, a Muslim lawyer who represented several individuals detained in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, to the state bench. The sharia panic crowd went full bore, accusing Mohammed of being “a longtime mouthpiece for radical Islamists,” merely because he represented people suspected of terrorism who were never actually charged. One conservative blogger wrote, “The attorney’s name is Mohammed, first name Sohail — Sohail Mohammed.” The guy’s name is Mohammed, Case closed!

At a time when many Republican presidential candidates are aggressively competing for the segment of the conservative base that’s convinced that American Muslims are part of a vast conspiracy to institute Taliban-style Islamic law in the U.S., it’s refreshing to see a Republican as beloved by GOP and media elites describing this for what it is — crazy.