Yet the message they deliver is so far from the Beatitudes found in The Sermon on the Mount, the cornerstone of my family's historical religious beliefs, that I wonder if they understand just how hard and vain their hearts have become, and just how much hate they embrace. Do they not see how much it conflicts with their supposed belief system?
Do they not understand why so many of us see so many parallels between them and the old Fascist and Nazi movements of pre-WWII Europe that demonized the Jews, Communists, intellectuals and homosexuals? Or that we call them theocrats because of the religious inflexibility that we in them that mimics that of the Ayatollahs of Iran today? But beyond that, I wonder if they they understand the potential long-term consequences of letting this particular genie out of the bottle:
Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani are the three stooges of the Christian right. These self-described former Muslim terrorists are regularly trotted out at Christian colleges -- a few days ago they were at the Air Force Academy -- to spew racist filth about Islam on behalf of groups such as Focus on the Family.This is no accident. Focus on the Family has one of the biggest hate-rackets-disguised-as-piety operating in the United States. Yet, despite the obvious odious behavior of FoF, Dobson's endorsement is craved by the Republican Presidential candidates while their hate-speech is supported and enabled by the hate-and-fear-mongers at Faux News and ignored by the rest of the media:
Of course, though many have pointed out that the fictional claims of the three-liars are fabrications and should not be heeded, it's as if the truth doesn't matter. The old-boy media club has an attitude that is "why should anyone report the vile hatred that is festering in the hearts of so many power-brokers in the religious right?" But why do I ask such a silly rhetorical question of the Fourth Estate? We live in a country with a "faith-based" Presidency in which facts and fact-based policies are quaint, old-fashioned are as irrelevant as the Constitution has become:
These men are frauds, but this is not the point. They are part of a dark and frightening war by the Christian right against tolerance that, in the moment of another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, would make it acceptable to target and persecute all Muslims, including the some 6 million Muslims who live in the United States. These men stoke these irrational fears. They defend the perpetual war unleashed by the Bush administration and championed by Sen. John McCain. McCain frequently reminds listeners that "the greatest danger facing the world is Islamic terrorism," as does Mike Huckabee, who says that "Islamofascism" is "the greatest threat this country [has] ever faced." George W. Bush has, in the same vein, assured Americans that terrorists hate us for our freedoms, not, of course, for anything we have done. Bush described the "war on terror" as a war against totalitarian Islamofascism while the Israeli air force was dropping tens of thousands of pounds of iron fragmentation bombs up and down Lebanon, an air campaign that killed 1,300 Lebanese civilians.
"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, ..."
Yes, in our conceit and arrogance, too many of us have listened to a siren song that speaks of the glories of empire. We have forgotten, or just plain set-aside, what we were for this great dream of Pax Americana under the heels of our armed world hegemony. As a country, we are stuck in an unending nightmare of propaganda that is fostering delusions of a benevolent American empire creating a global democracy behind which lives a voracious appetite for power and dominance where we sit at the head of the table -- first among "equals." This new America, one at decided odds to the old America which aspired to modesty and self-restraint in the exercise of power, gives rise to the unabashed denigration and exploitation of others (and it's own citizenry, but that's for another day). And no tale is too sordid, for some, to advance that perverted dream of America:
The three men tell lurid tales of being recruited as children into Palestinian terrorist organizations, murdering hundreds of civilians and blowing up a bank in Israel. Saleem says that as a child he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights, although no incident of this type was ever reported in Israel. He claims he is descended from the "grand wazir" of Islam, a title and a position that do not exist in the Arab world. They assure audiences that the Palestinians are interested not in a peaceful two-state solution but rather the destruction of Israel, the murder of all Jews and the death of America. Shoebat claims he first came to the United States as part of an extremist "sleeper cell."That they're phonies and it's known matters not. Because they play their parts well for their masters:
"These three jokers are as much former Islamic terrorists as 'Star Trek's' Capt. James T. Kirk was a real Starship captain," said Mikey Weinstein, the head of the watchdog group The Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The group has challenged Christian proselytizing in the military and denounced the visit by the men to the Air Force Academy.
The speakers include in their talks the superior virtues of Christianity. Saleem, for example, says his world "turned upside down when he was seriously injured in an automobile accident."Yes, appeal to our chauvinism and inflated egos. Tell us we'd be doing the world a favor if we eliminated the Muslims. Whip up the irrational hatred. Dehumanize others so you can't feel their pain and reflect on the evils you have done. Make them cockroaches in our eyes. Just don't forget to cash those checks as you hurry out of town. Because if you don't hurry out, you'll be headed to the camps, with the blessings of the jailers who were your former masters.
"A Christian man tended to Kamal at the accident scene, making sure he got the medical treatment he needed," his Web site says. "Kamal's orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist were also Christian men whom over a period of several months ministered the unconditional love of Jesus Christ to him as he recovered. The love and sacrificial giving of these men caused Kamal to cry out to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob acknowledging his need for the Savior. Kamal has since become a man on a new mission, as an ambassador for the one true and living God, the great I Am, Jehovah God of the Bible."
Sadly, our political system is corrupt and we can no longer discuss the middle east or Muslims rationally. Even people whom I respect tend to lump all Muslims in with the few, like some on the religious right, who demand the rest of the nation grant them special privileges for their religious beliefs, such as the dominionists in South Carolina. Or the constant push against the First Amendment Separation of Church and State that has kept the peace amongst the diverse religions for so long in America.
These three con artists are not the problem. There is enough scum out there to take their place. Rather, they offer a window into a worldview that is destroying the United States. It has corrupted the Republican Party. It has colored the news media. It has entered into the everyday clichés we use to explain ourselves to ourselves. It is ignorant and racist, but it is also deadly. It grossly perverts the Christian religion. It asks us to kill to purify the Earth. It leaves us threatened not only by the terrorists who may come from abroad but the ones who are rising from within our midst.And like Cassandra, our warnings will be ignored until it is too late. The terrorists blew up a building. We destroyed our country from within. They could never have done it, they were never powerful enough.
Only we were capable of destroying America, not through our strength or our bombs or our guns, but through our weakness, arrogance and fear.