By Davi Barker
August 24, 2011, originally published on SF Muslim Examiner
Muslims are terrorists that hate America’s freedom… right? And the Tea Party are right-wing Christian extremists that hate Muslims… right? So, “Tea Party Muslim” must be a contradiction in terms, like “military intelligence” or “honest politician.” Well, that may be what the mainstream media would have you believe. After all, conflict sells. But one group is proving that Muslims and the Tea Party may have more in common than you think.
William Coley describes himself as “your average camo wearing, bow hunting, East Tennessee redneck,” except… he’s also the director of Muslims for Liberty, a group of Muslims and non Muslims of a liberty minded ideology fighting to change the perception of Islam in America, and offer tools to conservatives and libertarians who want the facts about Islam without all the sensationalized rhetoric we get in the mainstream media. Coley told Examiner:
“We push libertarian ideas, constitutionalist ideas and voluntaryist ideas in the Muslim community, and we do outreach to other Tea Party groups to say, ‘look, we’re here, we’re not going anywhere, and we are fighting for liberty just like you. We should be fighting side by side, not against each other.’”
Coley has established his credibility in both camps. He is a long time activist in Tea Party movement, currently active in East Tennessee, and former co-host of “Tea Party Patriots Live” on WORL 660 Orlando, the first Tea Party radio program in America. He has also lectured at Valencia Community College and the University of Central Florida on Islamic history, interfaith relations, and Islamic law (Sharia). He is completing his training in Islamic studies and Sharia through a WebCT program in Qatar.
Muslims for Liberty has already achieved tremendous success in East Tennessee by launching educational classes at their local library including a comparative study of Sharia and the US Constitution which shows that they follow almost exactly the same guidelines, not only in form but in function. So far 12 of the 14 Tea Party groups in East Tennessee actually voted that the anti-Muslim hysteria should not be part of their message after Muslims for Liberty reached out to them. But Coley says the media isn’t acknowledging their success. He said:
“The liberal media doesn’t want to talk to us because we’re Tea Party. The left doesn’t want to admit that Muslim communities can work together with libertarians and conservatives and Republicans. The right wing media isn’t interested because we are Muslims and we believe in the principles of liberty as part of our faith. So we are the antithesis of this bogey man they say we are. Basically our very existence challenges the narrative that both sides are using to create division in our society and maintain control.”
Coley blames what he calls, “The Jerry Springer Affect.” The media is not genuinely interested in the truth. They are interested in selling advertising, so they will always focus the camera on the most provocative spectacle. When Ron Paul, regarded by many as the grandfather of the Tea Party, devotes his entire Congressional career to correctly predicting the economic and foreign policy quagmire we are in now he is consistently ignored, or ridiculed by the media. But when Jared Loughner kills a federal judge, and has even a tenuous connection to the Tea Party, that’s the headline. Similarly, when extremist Anjem Coudary came to Washington DC to organize “Sharia Law in the USA” rallies, he got four days of royal treatment from the media, even though all three of his events were canceled when no one showed up except counter protesters. But when 100 American Imams organized an Anti Terrorism Rally the following weekend, which was attended by over a thousand Muslims, they get the Ron Paul treatment from the media. Nobody covered it. Not even the local media.
So, the Tea Party is dealing with the same problem as the Muslim community. They’re struggling to wrestle their own narrative away from the media’s agenda. But Coley is not taking rejection lying down. He is currently on a national tour of talk radio shows. He says:
“You have to keep trying. That’s the trick. You make one call and you find friends. You make another call and you find enemies. But you gotta keep making that next call.”
Coley insists that libertarianism is spelled out in Sharia over and over again, from a constitutionally limited federal government and self-governed independent states, to the principles of free market economics and the protection of individual liberty. He calls what Anjem Coudary and others advocate “Saudi Law” because there are no Sharia compliant countries on Earth today, just places that drape a cloak of Sharia over their own corrupt unIslamic systems.
He says Muslims support the ideas of the US Constitution because most of them came from English Common Law, which historically borrowed these ideas from the Saracens, the Muslims in Palestine. Legal concepts like the presumption of innocence, the inadmissibility of circumstantial evidence and trial by jury have their origins in Sharia law. Even the Supreme Court has tremendous commonality with a court called the Qadi Mazlema in the Islamic system which has the power to nullify law and protect the people from the overreach of government.
Muslims support the free market because Muhammad himself was a merchant and practiced free market economics in his daily life. Muhammad taught that prices were set by God through the market, an uncanny parallel to Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market. In addition many Muslims advocate what they call “sunnah money” which is identical to the gold standard advocated by libertarians.
In 2000 Muslims overwhelmingly voted for George W. Bush. in part because as a community they traditionally voted for conservatives, but also because Bush originally promised a “humble foreign policy with no nation building.” Well… that didn’t exactly work out. So, in 2008 Muslims backed Barack Obama who promised to close Guantanamo (still open) and to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (still going). That didn’t work out either. In fact Obama had killed more civilians in Muslim countries in 18 months than Bush had in 7 years.
Coley reports that Muslims are defecting from both parties in droves because they have seen that they are both willing to throw them under the bus the moment it’s politically expedient. A portion of Muslims have become politically apathetic because they feel unrepresented, unwelcome and as if they are not part of society. But another portion of are joining libertarian groups, agorist groups and voluntaryist groups. In fact, you may not even know when you’re talking to a libertarian Muslim because the libertarian philosophy is not about collectivism. Race and religious preference don’t really matter in libertarian circles where you are judged by your principles and the content of your character.
Muslims for Liberty is currently focused on confronting the most vociferous anti Muslim voices in America, like Pam Geller, Zuhdi Jasser, Robert Spencer and others, and demanding that they prove what they claim. Coley says:
“We have people on our staff with knowledge of Islam, knowledge of fiqh, knowledge of Sharia… We want an opportunity to expose these people for the fraud that they are, and show that they are spreading anti Muslim hysteria for profit in our society.“
So far, most of these so called “Sharia experts” have rejected his invitations which he believes is because they know that if they debate anyone with credentials it will expose them as charlatans.