Enough is Enough: The anti-Muslim Training Tide Must Turn
Last week, Wired.com’s Danger Room reported a course repeatedly taught at the U.S. Joint Staff Forces College, included vitriolic and hateful language about Islam and Muslims as part of its instruction material. Sadly, this latest report shows history does indeed repeat itself, and the Muslim American community has suffered repeatedly because of it.
In the last year alone, there have been at least five high profile instances of anti-Muslim training to law enforcement and military personnel sponsored and financed by the federal government.
First, there were reports last fall of the Department of Justice (DOJ) using training material that warn of Muslims in America engaging in “civilizational jihad”—a concept “stretching back from the dawn of Islam and waged today in the U.S. by ‘civilians, juries, lawyers, media, academia and charities’ who threaten our values.’”
Then, we learned our tax dollars were going into the pockets of Walid Shoebat, an anti-Islam activist who fraudulently claimed he was an ex-terrorist during his training of law enforcement officers on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
As if that wasn’t enough, the New York Police Department (NYPD) decided it would be a good idea to screen for its officers “The Third Jihad,” a blatantly anti-Muslim film that insists the “true agenda of much of Islam in America” is to infiltrate and dominate America. According to reports, nearly 1,500 New York police officers were shown the film.
In addition to the screening, NYPD’s widespread spying on Muslims in New York and beyond also have come to light. We learned the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy financed a specific part of NYPD’s surveillance against Muslim American communities – from libraries, restaurants and markets to university student whitewater rafting trips – without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
When reports surfaced last week of the Pentagon using training materials (read the PDF presentation for yourself) advocating for a “Hiroshima solution” to target the Muslim “civilian population wherever necessary,” in a “total war” against Islam, that was the final straw.
At this point, the community has had enough.
Letters were sent to those officials who have blatantly violated civil liberties and basic moral principles, meetings on Capitol Hill took place and civil society groups have spoken out against the corrosive mishandling of national security efforts. Policy circles stressed the importance of partnerships rather than confrontation between local communities and law enforcement agencies, but the damage has been done. The bridges of partnership that took so long to build were being challenged with walls of distrust that were erected overnight.
Why are our tax dollars being used to train Americans to hate other Americans? Why are our political leaders not publicly denouncing the hate-filled training materials our law enforcement and military students are receiving? Simply put, this is wrong, and at this point in our nation’s history, we should be above putting down any group in the name of national security.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, condemned the bigoted Pentagon training materials. While this is a positive first step, serious reforms need to be implemented into the education of the agency, and we need to hear from Secretary Leon Panetta that this type of problematic training will never happen again. While we are spending treasures in both lives and finances overseas trying to win hearts and minds, here at home we are training our young servicemen and women to fill their hearts and minds with hate.
Pursuing national security measures by training military and law enforcement officials to hate their fellow Americans only weakens our national strength. Together we stand, divided we fall – these words have never been more appropriate.
It’s time for our political leaders to speak out publicly against anti-Muslim training taking place within their own federal agencies. Anything less than intervention and serious reform is unacceptable, given the stakes.