I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The GOP base in Missouri warns of the Grand Muslim Invasion Plot

(updated below)

The Missouri Baptist Convention's annual meeting was held this week and political concerns were, as so is often the case these days, at the top of the religious agenda. Scheduled to speak to the Convention were Republican Senators Jim Talent of Missouri and Mike DeWine of Ohio. The opening address was delivered by the Convention's Executive Director, Rev. David Clippard.

As reported by The St. Louis Dispatch, Rev. Clippard's speech emphasized that the greatest threat America faces is the Grand Plan of Muslims to take over the United States, establish a Caliphate inside our country, and then either force everyone to convert to Islam or kill those who refuse:

"Today, Islam has a strategic plan to defeat and occupy America," he told the 1,200-strong crowd of delegates (called "messengers"), pastors and lay people, many of whom cheered his words.

Clippard said the Saudi Arabian government and royal family had funded teaching positions and 138 Muslim student centers on university campuses across the United States, three in the University of Missouri system in Columbia, Rolla and St. Louis. "What they are after is your sons and daughters," Clippard said. "They are coming to this country in the guise of students, and the Saudi government is paying their expenses" . . . .

Clippard said that Muslims were hoping to take over the United States government one city at a time, and that they were starting with Detroit, where there is already a large Muslim population. "They are trying to establish a Muslim state inside America, and they are going to take the city of Detroit back to the 15th century and practice Sharia (or Islamic) law there."

In an interview Tuesday, Clippard said he believed the Islamic "strategy for taking over America" was to wait until there was a Muslim majority here and then "eradicate those who don't conform to their religion."

On Monday night, he told the crowd that "your freedom is on the floor with their foot on it, with their sword raised, and if you don't convert, your head comes off."

Usama K. Dakdok, an Egyptian Christian and founder of Straight Way Ministry who calls himself a "Muslim evangelism specialist," said Tuesday that "every word (Clippard) said is true. It's time for us to wake up. They are not here to be in our welfare system, they are here to take over our country."

That's a pretty scary vision, and it isn't surprising that people who operate from that premise will support virtually every war that can be dreamed up which entails going over to the Middle East and killing large numbers of people in order to impose our influence there. Of course, the premises are completely deranged when compared to reality:

Bob Sample, a spokesman for the University of Missouri at St. Louis said that the school did have a Muslim Student Association but that it was one of 150 student associations on campus and one of six considered "faith-based." He said neither the university nor any of its student associations were receiving subsidies from the Saudi government.

Andrew Careaga, a spokesman for the University of Missouri at Rolla, said his school also had a Muslim Student Association, one of 14 religious student associations. He said he was not aware of any complaints from other students that Muslim students had been recruiting them.

Nonetheless, nobody should interpret Rev. Clippard's as expressing hostility towards Muslims -- perish the thought -- because buried beneath all of the dire war rhetoric and hysterical warnings about "Muslims" is some deep and warm love:

"I don't hate Islamic people," he said. "We need to love these folks, go after them and love them, one at a time. We need to crucify them with Christ."

It is easy and tempting to mock things like this but it is also foolish. This mindset is pervasive in the dominant wing of the political party that rules our country, which is why Sen. Talent and Sen. DeWine -- both fighting to stay in office -- are spending time in the last week of their campaign visiting with and addressing them.

A still woefully unexamined question in our country is to what extent Bush followers' support for endless militarism and wars in the Middle East is religiously motivated -- i.e., based on premises similar to those espoused by Rev. Clippard that we are defending Christianity against Islam. The President's dwindling though still deeply loyal base remains steadfast in its support for militarism in the Middle East, and that group is composed of three primary (sometimes overlapping) segments -- run-of-the-mill warmongers, devotees to Israel (for a variety of reasons), and evangelicals.

It seems clear that a substantial though difficult-to-quantify number of Bush supporters are motivated by the types of "ideas" expressed by Rev. Clippard. It still remains unknown to what extent those ideas are the ones fueling the President himself. If he has two more years as Commander-in-Chief with no checks or safeguards of any kind, we will likely find out the answer.

UPDATE: Ted Haggard, the subject of the latest public-moralizer sex scandal, seems to share most views with the President, with whom he maintained a close relationship: "Pastor Ted, who talks to President George W. Bush or his advisers every Monday, is a handsome forty-eight-year-old Indianan, most comfortable in denim. He likes to say that his only disagreement with the President is automotive; Bush drives a Ford pickup, whereas Pastor Ted loves his Chevy" (h/t sysprog).

I wonder whether Rev. Haggard (about whom Harpers says: "No pastor in America holds more sway over the political direction of evangelicalism"), or the President, finds much to disagree with in Rev. Clippard's remarks. The President has been admirably consistent about proclaiming that we are not at war with Islam, so he'd likely quibble with that, but the rest of it seems more or less consistent with the "Caliphate-is-coming-to-takeover" fear-mongering emanating from the White House more and more as the election approaches.


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