Blogger’s Notes: As smoke clears from the series of terrorist attacks in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota, the political quagmire of defining our enemy has resurfaced in the Presidential Campaigns. At the heart of this issue lies the question of vetting Syrian refugees to prevent the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from infiltrating U.S. soil.
Insider Presidential Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton insists on fighting a “War of Narratives” with ISIS, while outsider Donald J. Trump has taken the position that “Talk is Cheap” and its time we become more proactive in taking down ISIS, and serious about protecting the Homeland. True to their conviction of being ruled by their emotions rather than governing with facts, California lawmakers passed, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed, Assembly Bill 59 last month, a resolution declaring August “Muslim Appreciation Month.” In this post I pose the following questions:
- Does this legislation really promote understanding and bridge differences?
- Or does it hinder California’s Homeland Security systems and place Californians lives and property at risk? and
- Isn’t the real purpose of this bill to attack Trump’s proposals for vetting Syrian refugees?
Was Muslim Appreciation Month Necessary?
What did Assembly Bill 59, declaring August 2016 Muslim Appreciation Month accomplish that Interfaith Religious Groups, Muslim Advocacy organizations, and Organized Religion are already doing?
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) actively confronts the ideologies of political Islam and openly counters the common belief that the “Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic State (Islamism).” The Interfaith Alliance ” rejects the use of religion as a weapon against others in the 2016 party platforms.” And Pope Francis addressed the Islamic State during World Youth Day saying, “We have no desire to conquer hatred with more hatred, violence with more violence, terror with more terror.”
With so much proactive outreach at work, why did California lawmakers insert themselves and interfere with AB 59? Was it necessary?
Perhaps Religious leaders and advocates understand something California lawmakers don’t: that a Nation under God needs the Muslim community’s cooperation to exorcise radical Islam from American Mosques and cultural politics, if we’re not to become a Nation going under.
Revisionist History of Muslim role in US History
Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) sponsored AB 59 on behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The Bill’s premise is that Muslims have been victims of discrimination since 9-11. This is untrue and arguably revisionist history that CAIR shaped.
As the assistant editor of the California National Guard’s Grizzly Magazine, I wrote an article titled, “Weapons-of-Mass Education.” The article’s purpose was to educate our audiences that radical Muslim fundamentalists who hijacked the religion for their Jihad was our enemy, the Muslim Faith was not. I wrote the article as part of President George W. Bush’s strategy of uniting all Americans of all Faiths in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).
AB 59 overstates the Muslim heritage in the United States and their contributions to U.S. and California history. The Bill floats the notion that Muslim beliefs somehow influenced U.S. Constitutional Founding principles. Former U.S Ambassador Michael B. Oren sets the record straight in his book Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present.
Oren illustrates how Christian Missionaries established Middle Eastern Universities that introduced Muslim scholars and clerics to Western Christian philosophies, teachings, and science. The universities created a hub for confluence of Western, European, Christian, and Islamic thought, challenging medieval Islamic customs, traditions, second and third hand interpretations of the Qur’an, Hadiths, and Fatwas. He masterfully illustrates how American diplomacy contributed to Arab Nationalism, breakup of the Ottoman Empire’s Muslim Theocracy, sidestepped European Colonialism, and played a role in restoring the State of Israel–collectively opening the path for Moderation in Islam.
It was Arab Nationalism and American Universities in the Middle East that nurtured the great Muslim clerics and scholars that author Jonathan A.C. Brown speaks about in his book, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy. Able to shed the shackles of these medieval concepts, the Muslim Faith grew exponentially. Huda Sha’arawi broke from irrational interpretations of the Qur’an to find the Egyptian feminist movement. Muhammad Abduh, an Egyptian Islamic jurist, religious scholar and liberal reformer, is regarded as one of the key founding figures of Islamic Modernism. And Mohammed al-Ghazali, the scholar who dedicated his life to interpreting Islam and its holy book the Qur’an in a modern light.
CAIR is the antithesis of these Moderate Muslim pioneers; they’re not remotely interested in promoting understanding or bridging religious differences. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has linked CAIR to a network funding Palestine Terrorists attacking Israel; only able to dodge prosecution and being placed on the Terrorist Watch list because of slick attorneys and a strong political action committee (PAC) lobby.
California’s Cultural Politics and Quirk’s Theocracy
Quirk’s Legislation gives CAIR a pulpit to preach radical Islamic fundamentalist views in California’s public workplaces and schools. It overshadows AIFD‘s ongoing campaigns “to preserve the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of Mosque and state.” An organization striving to educate the public, and bolster respect, understanding, and appreciation for the Muslim Faith by marginalizing radical Muslims, and employing education to promote understanding and facilitate working relationships. They refrain from using “self victimization” and “shame” tactics.
Quirk apparently didn’t think through his legislation and he obviously had an agenda. He squandered taxpayer dollars to process and publish AB 59 with the intent of attacking Republican Candidate Donald J. Trump’s proposal to “extremely vet” Muslims, brand him “racist,” and advance the narrative that Trump’s afflicted with “Islamophobia.” In their angst to pander to the Muslim community and attack Trump, however, California’s elected bodies have revealed their own hypocrisy and ignorance of the of status of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threat in California.
Was the California legislature even paying attention when ISIS promised to launch attacks in 15 American States, including California, in the wake of the Garfield, Texas terrorist attacks in May 2015? Or does Quirk and California lawmakers somehow think the Garfield, Texas attacks were justified as retaliation for a controversial event that featured cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed? Do they not believe creditable intelligence that ISIS is embedding cells among Syrian refugees to carry out attacks in the United States? Did they bother to research that CAIR provided assistance to the families of the attackers’ behind the San Bernardino Terrorist attacks? Or investigate CAIR’s contention that U.S. policy was partly to blame for the San Bernardino Jihad?
I tend to believe that Quirk, Gov. Jerry Brown, former Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are in denial that ISIS and individual actors pose a credible threat to California. That California’s governing parties are more consumed by “cultural politics,” and are out of synch with the facts governing Homeland Security policies.
Price of Cultural Politics
California lawmakers buried their heads in the sand in 2005 when Sen Joe Dunn scandalized California National Guard Adjutant General, MAJ. Gen. Thomas Eres’, “Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion Center” (Fusion Center) as a secret spy unit. Allegations investigated by the United States Army Inspector General and the California Department of Justice culminating with both concluding that the California National Guard neither spied on nor kept “secret files” on private citizens as Dunn insisted.
But Dunn persisted in perpetuating the myth in the Court of Public Opinion, enabled by career politicians like Steinberg, trying to expand it into a full-fledged National Scandal. Dunn alleged more than nine state National Guards had “secret spy units.” Discredited nationally, Dunn settled for facetious legislation–SB 1696–California Posse Comitatus Act Prohibiting the “Use of National Guard as a Posse Comitatus.”
Like AB 59, Dunn’s legislation was nonsensical and redundant since Posse Comitatus is already in the Federal Codes with heavy fines and imprisonment for violators. If Eres and the officers implicated in the legislative analysis of Dunn’s bill had violated Posse Comitatus, they would have been prosecuted and convicted.
Senate Bill 1696 served no purpose, therefore, other than for Dunn to avoid public humiliation for a fictitious scandal so he could save face in California. An act of lawmaker charity that’s costing Californians their blood and their lives. Dunn’s “Posse Comitatus” law instilled a “Senator Joseph McCarthy-like fear among California’s Homeland security professionals, fracturing California’s intelligence sharing community, and creating a vacuum of military intelligence property and skill sets that Eres’ Fusion Center was designed to fill.
A hub intended to give civilian law enforcement military intelligence and operational resources they need to prevent and mitigate the incidents like: the sniper attacks on the Metcalf Power Grid in 2014; the San Bernardino County terrorist attack in 2015; the Mexican drug Cartel’s infiltration of San Diego-area California National Guard armories to steal guns, military ammunition and body armor in 2015; and the military support necessary to monitor human and drug trafficking through the Border Field State Park and state’s Southwest Border.
California’s Career Politicians are out of Touch with Reality
The State desperately needs an intelligence center like that Eres initiated in 2005 to fuse overseas military intelligence with domestic intelligence now that the World is a more dangerous place. The poor timing of U.S. Troop withdrawals from Iraq, and the hesitant removal of American forces from Afghanistan have dried up human intelligence from overseas that law enforcement needs to monitor and track terrorist cells.
A “no feet on the ground” mentality has whipped up a maelstrom of confusion and created a vacuum that Russian President Vladimir Putin has exploited to gain the foothold in the Middle East that he’s long coveted; usurping more than two centuries of American Diplomacy that helped bring some semblance of stability to the volatile Middle East.
Iran is quickly establishing the hegemony it’s seeking to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and export terrorism to their so-called “Great Satan” nemesis–America. And ISIS has carved out its caliphate, a safe haven in Syria and Iraq, taking control of city, town, and provincial courthouses and civic buildings where birth certificates and passport-making machines are stored; Making it easy for them to counterfeit passports and falsify identification for its cells that they are infiltrating into the thousands of refugees fleeing Syria for sanctuary inside Europe and the United States.
The conditions are ripe for a Worldwide Jihad to force us infidels and the moderate Muslims AIFD represents, to submit to radical Islamic beliefs, or die. Unless, of course, our elected leaders get smart and enact policies that effectively prevent, disrupt, and mitigate this threat.
While it’s true that ISIS cells constitute roughly two percent of Syrian Refugee populations, it’s also true that authorities have no credible means for validating whether a Syrian is a legitimate refugee or an ISIS combatant. Trump’s plan to include the Muslim community in the vetting process of Syrian refugees, and proposal to create safe zones inside the Middle East for displaced populations is sound, and humane, public policy. Quirk’s AB 59 is not.
Like Dunn, Quirk’s bill is self-serving and distracts from shoring up the State’s Homeland Security policies and operations that potentially risks Californians’ lives and infrastructure. And the Golden State’s elected leaders are apparently straying from their responsibility by wasting precious legislative resources to pass the resolution, and Gov. Brown splurged Executive Branch capital when he signed it into law. AB 59 is unnecessary. Inter Faith ministries, religious leaders, and legitimate advocacy groups are already bridging misunderstandings and hatred.
Target Hate Crimes, Don’t Emulate a Muslim Theocracy
So what other rationale does Quirk and California lawmakers offer for promulgating a Muslim Appreciation month to the exclusion of all other Judeo-Christian Faiths? Because of a spike in hate crimes against Muslims in California? A spike that the California Department of Justice’s 2015 Hate Crimes in California Report acknowledges, but also shows that Jews remain the main target of hate crimes. Give law enforcement and the Courts the resources they need to prosecute hate crimes, don’t waste money on frivolous legislation.
California lawmakers invaded the Constitutional sanctity of the First Amendment respecting separation of Church and State with AB 59. They are promulgating policies of Theocracy and failing in their responsibilities as lawmakers. It’s time for California lawmakers to get out of the Theocracy business and rebuild its credibility with the citizens of California. They can begin by repealing AB 59.
And the voters of California’s 20th Assembly District can begin by recognizing the political oddity of their assemblyman, vote him out of office, and rid the Golden State of this “Quirk in Theocracy.”
Epilogue: California’s Home Game sends its prayers and expedient recovery to the recent victims of the Minnesota mall stabbings and the bombings in New York and New Jersey. We join California and the Nation in thanking the federal and local law enforcement agencies that responded to all these recent suspected acts of terrorism–a “beyond the call of duty effort” given the vanishing intelligence and shrinking resources available to them during these times.