Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold’s next move, logically, would be to hire the KKK to teach his deputies how to deal with the “black problem.”
Arnold recently allowed the Strategic Engagement Group to provide “training” on “the dangers of Islam” for his employees and officers of the Murfreesboro, Smyrna and La Vergne police departments. SEG has been accused of “painting Muslims as violent believers” and greatly exaggerating the danger of “Shariah law” to Americans. The “training” seminars were unsurprisingly held at a church, the World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro. So much for separation of church and state.
WOC pastor Allen Jackson is a vocal opponent of Islam who was quoted by ABC News as saying, “We have a duty to investigate anyone under the banner of Islam.” That statement singles out millions of Americans for “special attention” and sounds suspiciously like what Hitler said about the Jews.
SEG vice president John Guandolo, who conducted the seminar, recently said of American mosques, “They do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.” So much for the Constitution, religious freedom and the right of American citizens to assemble peacefully.
It is disturbing and disheartening to think of Tennessee police officers going to a church to be indoctrinated into Islamophobia by evangelists of intolerance.
What does the SEG “teach”? One way to verify what such groups believe and teach is to visit their websites. Here’s what I found prominently displayed on SEG’s home page: “The Global Islamic Movement includes the fifty-seven member states of the Organisation (sic) of the Islamic Cooperation ... Islamic Jihadi organizations like al-Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Whoever wrote the sentence above knows little about the world outside American borders, since the proper English spelling of “civilization” replaces the “z” with an “s.” Hence, there should be a “sic” after “sic” (and perhaps a “sick” also).
The statement is false, as the “member states” oppose rather than agree with al-Qaeda, an organization they see as a threat to their own sovereignty and stability. If they agreed with al-Qaeda they would obviously be waging all-out war on Israel and the U.S.
The website goes on to describe the “unified” threat presented by a “global” Islamic movement that doesn’t really exist. Islamic extremists are relatively few in number and only loosely organized. And there is no evidence that Muslim countries like Morocco are actively trying to “take over the world” or force Americans to submit to Shariah law. Even if they were, they lack the air forces, navies and amphibious landing vehicles necessary to conquer Cuba, much less the United States. Nor is there any danger of Shariah becoming the law of our land, because of a little thing called “democracy.”
And of course it is patently unfair to paint more than a billion people with an absurdly broad brush, accusing them of being involved in some sort of cosmic plot. I know many Muslims personally who believe in compassion and good works, not armed jihad. Mohammed himself said that the most important jihad (“struggle”) is the one waged with oneself.
But how many Christians who damn Islam out of hand have ever taken a Koran in hand and studied its better teachings? Of course most ancient religious texts contain highly dubious ideas, including the Bible, which in a plethora of verses commands or condones racism, intolerance, slavery, sex slavery, infanticide, matricide, ethnic cleansing and genocide.
How would Christians feel, if they, their loved ones and their religion were judged by the worst Bible verses and the beliefs and actions of extremists like Hitler and Timothy McVeigh? Should Christians who continue to practice bigotry cast the first stone at another religion, before they attend to the gigantic beam of hypocrisy clouding their eyes and obscuring their vision?
If Christians want peace, they need to look squarely in the mirror, face reality, and realize that 9/11 was primarily the result of a half-century of terrible racial injustices inflicted on Palestinians and other Muslims by the governments of Israel, Great Britain and the United States. The way to achieve peace is to correct those injustices, not go on yet another religion-inspired witch hunt against the victims. If a Muslim here at home has committed a crime, by all means enforce the law of the land, but guilt by association and collective punishment are the methods of fascists, not the American Way.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.