Fanning the Flames of Bigotry in Texas

by Dan Quinn

The Texas Eagle Forum’s verbal attacks on American Muslims are growing ever more paranoid and shrill. A new e-mail from the group’s president, Pat Carlson, brings another example.

Wednesday’s e-mail featured an article from The Torch, the group’s online newsletter, in which Carlson promotes absurd fears that Muslims are working to take over the United States by imposing Sharia law. Indeed, Carlson’s article — “Identifying Radical Islam” — reads like a long screed based on the most paranoid rantings of anti-Muslim bigots in America today. For example:

“Political correctness has blinded many to the growing threat of Islam in the United States. September 11, 2001, should have been the wake-up call. Instead, Sharia law is becoming part of the American landscape as Christianity is being systematically removed.”

Of course, Carlson offers no real evidence for this claim. She goes on to recite a list of urban myths, inflammatory generalizations and gross misconceptions that now pass for fact on the fringe right in America. Her readers are expected to accept the absurd notion that a relative handful of Muslims are imposing Islamic law and control over a country in which the overwhelming majority of the population is Christian. And in tying such nonsense to the horrors of the 9/11 terror attacks, Carlson smears all Muslims for the actions of a murderous few.

If that’s not enough to inflame the passions of her readers, Carlson moves on to a shameful tactic many demagogues have used to promote hate and bigotry in the past:

“Sharia is being implemented in the U.S. today through neighborhood mosques claiming to be community centers of peace and brotherhood bringing all religions together. This is only a front for dawa (deceptive proselytizing). Once the center or mosque is established then the demands begin to change the community.”

In Carlson’s mind every Muslim is someone to be feared. There is no real attempt to separate true extremists from others who simply share the same religion. A place where Muslims go to worship together, then, becomes a devious source of alien subversion — or worse. This is a classic rhetorical weapon the forces of intolerance have used to bludgeon religious and other minorities throughout human history.

It’s alarming, of course, that such rants unjustly smear and target an entire group of people simply because of their religion. But it’s equally troubling when elected leaders ignore such trash while seeking the approval and support of its purveyors. Indeed, there are elected officials in Texas today who have proudly promoted endorsements from Carlson and other Texas Eagle Forum leaders in their election campaigns. Will they now speak out against such intolerance? Don’t hold your breath.