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Islam is of the Devil? Students wear anti-Islam t-shirts

By Davi Barker

Originally published on SF Muslim Examiner http://www.examiner.com/article/islam-is-of-the-devil-students-wear-anti-islam-t-shirts on August 28, 2009


Dove World Outreach Center‎
5805 NW 37th St, Gainesville, FL‎

Controversy struck in Gainesville Florida where The Dove World Outreach Center put itself on the map with a little sign which read “Islam is of the Devil.” When interviewed Dr. Terry Jones, Senior Pastor of the Church said, “The purpose of the sign is to expose Islam for what it is. It is a violent and oppressive religion that is trying to masquerade itself as a religion of peace.” Now, I don’t want to devolve into polemics just yet, and I hope I will be as critical of Muslim leaders when the opportunity presents itself, but I just felt this was a real “teaching moment.”

The people of Gainesville came out in droves to protest the sign. People of all faiths and backgrounds came out with their own signs such as, “Who Would Jesus Hate?” “Love Thy Neighbor,” and “God is Great. Love not Hate.” The protestors have pledged to stay there until the sign comes down. When interviewed Gainesville residents espoused a perspective that I would share.

Heather Simpson said, “I believe in the first amendment so they have the right to say whatever they want.”

Anthony Hardy, a local Muslim said of the crowd, “It’s beautiful. You have people from all walks of life. You’ve got Christians, you’ve got Jews, you’ve got Muslims. There might be some secular humanists out here. They’re not having this. Especially in a country were freedom of religion is one of our basic rights.”

Pastor Eve MacMaster, of the Emmanuel Mennonite Church, said of the crowd of protesters, “I am blessed by these good people. They’re great. Secularist, Muslim, Jewish, Christian whatever. This confirms my belief that this is a pretty good place to live.”

I don’t want to go too far down this direction. I think any person of conscience, whatever their faith or non-faith, can agree with that message. I want to introduce you to some of Dr. Terry Jones’ flock.

Meet Wayne Sapp, a Pastor from the Dove World Outreach Center, his 10 year old daughter Faith and his 15 year old daughter Emily. But before we continue let me be clear. It is not my intention to imply that these people’s bigotry is a symptom of Christianity. What I intend to do is expose their fallacious reasoning as an example of false ideology, and then turn that laser back on you, my dear reader, and myself, to ask whether or not we make these same mistakes. I’m speaking specifically to Muslims, but hopefully this will be useful to everyone. Now, I’m inferring a lot from a relatively short video, but hey, I’m just some guy on the Internet. I could be way off, and you can let me know what you think.

The first thing that occurred to me was how passive aggressive this man is. Wayne is clearly the instigator here. He uses these sweet innocent children as billboards for his bigotry by sending them into public school wearing a message which is deliberately provocative to Muslims. “Islam is of the Devil” in a military font. Then the family takes a defensive stance when confronted by the media. What kind of parent allows his children to be made a spectacle of like this?

Either Wayne believes his propaganda or he doesn’t. If he is sincere than he believes Muslims are violent demonic fanatics and he is sending defenseless little girls into a war zone with a target on their back. What negligence! If he doesn’t believe it then he is a liar and a hypocrite willing to deceive his children in order to compensate for other anxieties, which we’ll cover later. If the girls believe this message they live in a world where they told by their father to fight murderous savages with T shirts. And if they don’t then they have been intellectually brutalized into espousing bigotry they don’t feel. Because they have been raised in full knowledge of the aggression Wayne is willing to bring down upon people who disagree with him. And, I guarantee you a man with this much rage is not a quiet lamb in the home.

Nothing demonstrates this mental fog better than the response Faith gives when asked why she wanted to wear this shirt. “Because I thought it would give people a change in reality and in what they think of God and what they think of Islam.” Ok… that’s nonsense. And it’s not because she’s stupid. We’re all born geniuses. I firmly believe this girl is brilliant. It’s nonsense because she is echoing the rhetoric of her father, which she doesn’t fully understand. Faith has been propagandized and is seeking the good favor of her father to avoid being the target of the aggression.

So, we can now derive our first principle. Intellectual brutality is necessary to transmit false ideology to future generations. Children are born rational and curious. In order to convince them of falsehood we have to intimidate them. So, we must ask ourselves, “do we frighten our children this way?” Do we threaten them into obedience? Do we rage in their presence? Do we teach our children what to think, or how to think? Because, if our beliefs are True the child will accept them of their own volition.

Emily’s answers are very telling as well. She begins with the same rhetoric, “our generation needs to wake up,” “change the nation,” “a future worth fighting for.” Pure brainwashing. But when asked if she knew any Muslim children she said something really interesting. “I don’t have any contact with them at the moment. I don’t know why that is. I guess we’ve just never become friends.” Do you see? My dear reader! Do you see? She said, “I don’t know.” That is an incredibly difficult thing for corrupt people to say, which means there is hope for this girl. She is aware of her ignorance, and that awareness is the beginning of knowledge. She just discovered a huge hole in her ideology, which is she doesn’t know anything about the people she’s talking about. And soon as she begins to realize why she doesn’t have any Muslim friends, the whole house of cards comes down.

So, we can now derive our second principle. Ignorance is necessary for bigotry. Collectivism is false. In order to hold bigoted opinions of large groups of people we must be ignorant about them. So, we must ask ourselves, “do we slander people this way?” If you’re one of these Muslims who goes on and on about the Jews you should ask yourself, “do I have any Jewish friends?” If you’re one of these Americans who buys all the propaganda about Muslims, do you have any Muslims friends? When we meet people from these different religious and ethnic categories it quickly becomes apparent that our stereotypes do not conform with reality.

And finally there’s Wayne. I think this is pretty dense, so I’d like to go over it slowly and really decompress what’s going on here. He said, “What kind of stand would you take if today I said that the person you believed all this time is your mom, that’s not your mom. So don’t believe that. And you had a shirt that had a picture of your mom and it said, ‘this is my mom and I love her.’ Would you just take that thing off because someone says it’s not true and you can’t wear it here? It’s almost that kind of a response.”

I mean… wow… I had to go back and listen to that five or six times to really get it. What’s going unsaid here is that Wayne considers Islam the aggressor here. Islam is saying something as hurtful to Wayne as telling him that his mother is not his mother. I can only assume he’s upset that Muslims say that Jesus is not God. So, according to Wayne, wearing a shirt that says, “Islam is of the Devil” is akin to wearing a shirt that says, “This is my mom and I love her.” And asking Wayne to change his shirt is as egregious an injustice as telling him he doesn’t really love his mother. Wow! From Wayne’s perspective… this is an act of defense.

There’s a lot of psychological issues embedded here, so I’m going to have to approach it from a couple angles. First, the rational. Saying I don’t believe Jesus is God is absolutely nothing like saying your mom is not your mom. But even if we accept that for the moment, according to this analogy his shirt should say, “Jesus is God and he loves me.” A shirt that says “Islam is of the Devil” is hostile. It is juvenile. Most importantly this statement makes it clear that Wayne has absolutely zero capacity for empathy. He is incapable of stepping outside his own thoughts and feelings and seeing it from someone else’s perspective. Because if he could he would immediately see this offense he imagines himself the victim of, that someone would insult his deeply held beliefs, is exactly what he is doing. He is the one saying to Muslims, “you’re mom is the Devil.”

So, let’s derive our third principle. A lack of empathy is necessary to commit aggression which we also condemn. To truly have compassion for our neighbors or our enemies we must be willing to see the world from their perspective. So much evil in the world rests upon this shortcoming. So, before we condemn someone we must ask ourselves, “do we behave this way?” Do we imagine their suffering? Do we imagine their joy? When Muslims riot about cartoons do they ask themselves, how do non Muslims feel about our cartoons? When Americans call for blood after an attack on their soil do they ask themselves, how do foreigners feel about our military on their soil? If one has empathy for those who are affected by their behavior it becomes virtually impossible to perpetrate evil in the world.

Next, I’d like to approach this emotionally. Wayne is deeply hurt. It’s always interesting psychologically when people invoke their mother in strange places. Wayne is basically saying, “Don’t you talk about my mama!” It is clear when someone says this they are telling you to tread lightly. It is a veiled threat. Wayne is warning us that this topic makes him emotionally volatile, and his open aggression is close to the surface. Deep down this can’t be about Islam… it’s probably about his mother. I’m going to posit two possibilities, and I could be totally wrong. I’d venture a guess that Wayne is adopted, and that someone did actually tell him that his mom was not his mom. That can be incredibly painful for a child and I have the utmost sympathy if that is the case. In that case challenging his core beliefs would emotionally return him to the moment in childhood when his core beliefs about his mother were challenged, and he would re-experience that repressed anger. My second guess would be that Wayne’s mother intellectually brutalized him with religion. In this case, Wayne is continuing a cycle of violence, and like his children, he learned to be an unquestioning mimic. Children processes this kind of aggression by telling themselves that they are bad (original sin) and their parent’s aggression is actually love. So, when Muslims challenge Wayne’s beliefs about Jesus, he experiences that as someone saying that his mother did not love him, but brutalized him. That she didn’t teach him the truth about God, but lied to him. And he was not bad, but good. The emotional content of this is no different from saying, “Your mom is not your mom.” But it carries the added blow of saying, “And you are doing this to your children.” This is too much for most people.

Wayne is probably not conscious of what’s going on. Most people keep these kinds of things buried so deep they can’t feel it day to day. But like a volcano it always erupts. Any way you slice it Wayne is misdirecting unprocessed rage from his childhood. Fundamentally this is precisely why he is incapable of empathy. Because if he were the first person he should feel empathy for is himself as a child, which would collapse the illusion.

So, what’s our fourth principle? If we don’t process our negative emotions as children we project them on the world and inflict them on our children. This is an incredibly difficult thing to do, and for many it requires years of therapy. But we can start by processing our sincere emotions as adults, and encouraging that kind of honesty in our children. When we have an intense emotional reaction to something we should stop and ask ourselves, “Is this emotion appropriate for this situation?” and if it isn’t we should examine our histories and see if we can’t find something buried we are trying not to re-experience. And when we find it, we should process it. Because, if we don’t we are only going to teach this behavior to our children.

Or maybe I’m way off. My deepest apologies to Wayne and his family if I’ve completely missed the mark here. I’d be happy to talk to any of them in public or in private if any of this struck a chord with them. But ultimately this is not about Wayne. It is about you, my dead reader, and me. So, I’d like to humbly thank Wayne and his family for awakening these ideas for me, which hopefully continue to be instructive. To review, our four principles of false ideology are:

1) Intellectual brutality is necessary to transmit false ideology to future generations.

2) Ignorance is necessary for bigotry

3) A lack of empathy is necessary in to commit aggression which we also condemn.

4) If we don’t process our negative emotions as children we project them on the world and inflict them on our children.

I know that’s a lot to chew on. But please think it over. I believe it can result in a lot of good for all people. And I pray that we all continue to learn and love and grow both mentally and spiritually. That we can help one another, whatever our religious background, to develop into more compassionate people. I know I didn’t analize Dr. Terry Jones’ comments at the end of the video, but he has a you tube channel called “The Brave Heart Show” where he has a three part series titled “Islam is of the Devil” and a handful of other videos about Islam, so I will be going into detail on that in the future. If you enjoy this kind of analysis please subscribe.

May God guide our hearts to the Truth and protect us from false ideology. May He facilitate our understanding of others. May he give us empathy for those who offend us. And may He grant us honest and upright children and forgive you and me for any deviance. Everything right and true is from Allah. Any mistake is from myself.Astaghfirullah, wa alhamdulillah, wa lahaula wala quwata illa billah.

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