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Oct 22 2014

Ebola, Islam, Immigration, and Oklahoma’s Politics of Fear

Last night Muslims 4 Liberty Oklahoma’s Priscilla Galstaun-Khader attended the Securing America Town Hall in Tulsa OK, hosted by Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine. Here is a summary of her experience, and thoughts on the event.

Securing-America-Town-Hall_Page_2

Herodotus: “In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war, fathers bury their sons.”

Congressman Jim Bridenstine, representing Oklahoma’s First District and a Navy pilot and combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan held a town hall yesterday titled “Securing America” where he addressed the “crisis” in the Middle East, i.e., ISIS and Hamas, illegal children immigrants from “our Southern Border”, the imperative need for the drug war, Ebola and “Russian aggression”.

Seeing how these topics directly impacted me and my communities, both in faith and in humanity, I decided to attend. It was a pleasant surprise to see how Rep. Bridenstine’s staffers were courteous and cordial to me and my friend. We were welcomed most warmly and informed we could sit anywhere we liked.

Once seated, however, things started to go down hill. The row we chose to sit in had three occupants already seated in front of it. All seemed well, until the lady in that row turned around, took a look at us and what seemed like a spontaneous decision, decided to move along with her two companions to another area in the auditorium. I was left wondering if they just wanted a better view of the proceedings, or perhaps if my hijab and my friend’s niqab played a part in their decision to relocate or was it that we were suspected of waging biological warfare by walking in with the Ebola virus.

Anyhow, my attention was soon drawn to the stage where there was a band and a choir present playing a mix of some golden oldies, patriotic serenades and what sounded to me like a hymn. This seemed odd seeing this was a town hall open to the public which I’m sure comprises of more than one culture, religion or ethnicity but later considering that it was being held in Oklahoma, it made logical sense. Inevitably, at some point an elaborate gesture of obeisance was made to the three armed forces of the American military.

The event was kicked off with a prayer beseeching Jesus (pbuh) to act in the White House, the Congress and in Washington D.C., followed by the national anthem, neither of which I stood up for, which earned me the wrathful glare of pretty much everyone around me. C’est’ la vie

Then Rep. Bridenstine came on and talked about everything and nothing for about 15-20 minutes. He spoke about his history as in where he went to school, college, prior job positions etc and then proceeded to praise his staffer, and talk about the band and choir in attendance. I tried hard to not zone out incase I missed something critical and was quickly redeemed by his declaration, “Our country is in peril!”

Now that totally got my attention but not for the reasons that Mr.Bridenstine would have hoped for, as you will see below.

Briefly alerting all in the room to our impending doom, he proceeded to educate us about the economy, the Federal Reserve, taxes, Medicaid, Medicare and so on and so forth which was getting to be really tedious. Not because I wasn’t interested in those topics but because he was frankly, insulting my intelligence.

However, I soon observed that his fan base (which pretty much included everyone in that auditorium, save a few) were agreeing with every word he elicited and the applause and ovations that followed were increasing in intensity and length which proved to be more frightening and more nauseating as compared to Mr. Bridenstine’s rhetoric.

Much to my exasperation, his lauding of American exceptionalism, jingoism, military power and might and appeals to the Christians in the room (nearly all of them?), by invoking Jesus every now and then and quoting Romans:33 and 39, to continue to heavily invest in the American military industrial complex and continue to think inside of that box, (thereby perpetuating the exact same errors of the last 13 years of American foreign policy) made me think he was no different from Abu Bakr alBaghdadi, the head of the so called ISIS/IS. Only in this case, the religion and region were in reverse.

Pardon me if I felt like it wouldn’t be long before my head would be on the chopping block. My friend who wears the niqab (face veil) was sneered at, scoffed and mocked and rudely commented on during her entire time there and when we were leaving that theater of warmongering, ignorance and discrimination, the people around us were verbally relieved.

By fear mongering about Ebola and Africa, claiming that Russia is enhancing its military, asserting that the U.S. navy is winning the war on drugs, emoting over abused children immigrants from our “southern border” and calling them “illegal” all in one breath and stating in the next, that he is in favor of sending them back to the same life threatening hellhole they are escaping and emigrating from, condemning Palestine and extolling Israel, invoking defense spending, asserting that ISIS and Al Qaeda are one and the same and most damning of all; that they exist in a vacuum, weeping (literally) over the increasing number of tombstones at Arlington cemetery with it’s crosses and the stars of David etched on them, thereby completely mitigating those of other faiths who are just as dead as those who lie beside them; prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the militancy of Congressman Bridenstine, toward the very monsters he helps create and his deeply held ‘Judeo-Christian’ ethic that he overtly invoked throughout his town hall proceedings.

What was most baffling to me was how the baby boomers in the room were in unanimous agreement with Rep. Bridenstine’s call for more war, more annihilation, more militancy and thereby more “crosses” and “stars of David” at their cemeteries. If their version of patriotism can blind fathers and mothers to such an extent where they proudly seek the deaths of their children and grandchildren, then I can’t help but recall what Rev. Clarence Waldron said in condemnation of Kaiser Wilhelm’s regime in Germany, “If this is patriotism, to hell with patriotism.”

How could the people in that room weep over their dead one minute, only to seek more deaths of their loved ones the next? How were the fathers (and mothers) able to applaud burying their sons (and daughters) in the future and yet not see how aligned they are in blind obedience with the very monsters they proudly vote to send their children to kill?

Herodotus was right and I’m sure the people in that town hall would agree. They just may not see how his insight applies to them.

1 comment

  1. Phillip Slepian

    Oh, whoa is me! Ms. Galstaun-Khader is such a victim!

    Where to start? Let’s see. People see your hijab and, without saying anything that might, heaven forbid, “offend” you, they quietly move away. Here’s a bit of news for you: For the intended victims of jihad, those who reject the prophetic status of Mohammad and whose Christian and Jewish brethren are being attacked all over the world, seeing visible signs of Islam is not unlike visible signs of Nazism and Japanese Imperialism would have been during WWII. Imagine in 1943, with the war raging on, a person dressed in full Nazi uniform visits the local Acme to shop. Can you imagine the horror of the other shoppers? Well, whether you like it or not, that is the quite natural reaction of Christian and Jewish Americans, at least those who have become familiar with Islam, when they see visible signs of Islam. Those folks who moved their seats broke no laws. Try to deal.

    As for the “hymns” you suspect were being performed in public (the horror!), again, try to deal. This is, and always has been, a nation populated predominantly by Christians. To demand that they keep their faith a secret, with no public displays of it, is simply as un-liberal and oppressive as one can get. And yes, if you chose not to rise for public prayer or the National Anthem, that was your choice. It is also the choice of others to give you a nasty look. It’s called freedom of expression, and violates no laws. Try to deal. If you want everyone to love Muslims, standing for our National Anthem might be a good place to start.

    So, most of the people that attended, that is, who went out of their way to take the time to listen to Bridenstine, support him. Why do you have a problem with that? I would think that, like any other public event, the people that attend want to hear what the featured speaker or performer has to say. If you hate pop music, would you attend a Beyonce concert? In other words, what’s your point?

    Sure, Bridenstine was “no different from” al-Baghdadi, because Bridenstine frequently beheads children who dare not to have been born into the exact sect of the religion which he prefers, and displays their heads on spikes throughout Oklahoma, as a warning to non-Christians and Christians of other denominations to submit to him and his beliefs. And yet, you made it home alive. Go figure.

    “So-called ISIS”. Please. ISIS calls itself ISIS, or at least IS. What do you call it?

    As for your friend in the niqab, let me explain something to you: Americans can express themselves freely, and will. Just like your friends can stand outside the Israeli embassy in New York and shout “from the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free”, so, too, can Americans say things that might upset you. The right to live without ever being offended by anyone is not a part of the Republic or its constitution. And likewise, they are free to express relief at your departure (refer back to my Nazi in the Acme example).

    And those who have broken the law to cross our border illegally are indeed illegal. No amount of political correctness changes the fact that they violated the law by their crossing the border. I know that in Islam, the Uma does not recognize man-made political or national borders, but in the non-Muslim world, nations are defined by borders, culture and religion. And, at least for now, America is not part of the Uma.

    The war that Bridenstine saw so much support for is nothing more than the defnding of our ability to live outside the Uma. The jihadists, not all Muslims, have made clear that they intend to destroy the Great Satan, and replace our constitution with Islamic law. Some, like Bridenstine and his supporters, have chosen to fight back, rather than submit. Will that mean more die in the defense of our Republic and our liberty? Sure. Freedom isn’t free, and never has been. Submission is easy. Liberty is hard. But many think it’s worth the fight. And we’d rather fight our enemies overseas than on our own streets, amongst our own families. Better military casualties than civilian casualties who were simply going about earning a living for their families in an office tower. Game on.

    Yes, what you saw is patriotism. If it really bothers you, Ms. Galstaun-Khader, feel free to move to any of the 57 Islamic states where offending Islamic sensibilities is illegal and dealt with forcefully. You will find no Bridenstines, or his supporters, holding town hall meetings there. But if you desire to enjoy the beauty and richness of America, and still retain your faith, there are some things you will simply have to accept, like the Bill of Rights and the people that freely use those rights, even if it offends you. And that is what the people in that hall understood that you clearly do not.

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