A grossly exaggerated and noxious brand of faux-patriotism has had the United States in its grips since at least September 11, 2001. The nefarious engine of this jingoistic phenomenon is uber-patriotic, religion-infused exceptionalism. Nowhere is this unconstitutional sickness clearer than on the grounds of the once-prestigious institutes of higher learning under the command of the United States Department of Defense.
It is on these campuses that an insidious blend of abject racism and fundamentalist Christian supremacy, sometimes subtle and sometimes explicit, warps the minds of the servicemen and women who are being groomed to lead present and future generations of American war fighters. Indeed, by PowerPoint and by lectern, the future leaders of the U.S. military are being inculcated in a deranged martial spirit which sees the nuclear bombing of civilian populations as not only justified, but consecrated by a grotesquely distorted, weaponized version of Jesus Christ. The course material similarly commands the unquestioning application of internationally infamous Abu Ghraib-like interrogation tactics more befitting an aggressive, marauding military dictatorship than a Constitutionally-grounded democracy.
“This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.” These vile and genocidal words were taught at the venerable Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) in Norfolk, VA by faculty member and instructor Army Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley in a course entitled “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism.” Dooley also taught officers from all four branches of the military that the U.S. should take “war to a civilian population wherever necessary,” applying the precedents of “Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, [and] Nagasaki” to the two foremost holy cities in the Muslim world, Mecca and Medina. Such statements from this United States military officer, under the colorable authority and aegis of the prestigious JFSC, are beyond the pale of acceptability and their consequences will be extraordinarily severe.
Ominously, slide 15 of Dooley’s “Counter-Jihad Op Design Model” called for the eventual “elimination” of any influence that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) may have within the United States. CAIR, an NGO headquartered in Washington, D.C., have almost single-handedly advocated on behalf of the Muslim community in the face of widespread Islamophobic hysteria and incitement. The fact that such words as “elimination” are being spoken in regards to domestic civil liberties groups by the most lethal killing machine devised by mankind, i.e. the U.S. military, brings to mind Pastor Martin Niemöller’s prescient warning which may perhaps be updated to reflect the present climate: “First they came for the Muslims…”
The course materials truly depict a sinister picture. An anonymous whistle-blowing soldier, who provided one of the two presentations to Al Jazeera, truthfully remarked that it was the work of “this bigoted conspiracy cabal [which] is both disgusting and so deeply un-American.” What comprises this bigoted conspiracy cabal? An unholy alliance of fundamentalist evangelicals, neoconservatives, and sectarian bigots imported from the Middle East.
Reports indicate that the anti-Muslim curriculum at JFSC was prepared by the Arlington, Va.-based non-profit Strategic Engagement Group, Inc. (SEG), a virtual one-stop shop for modern-day “Crusaders” among the highest echelons of our military, intelligence, and civilian law enforcement bodies. SEG was formed in 2010 for what it claims is “the purpose of exposing and defeating efforts to subvert the United States Constitution and subjugate the American People,” referring to what they claim is “Shariah Law.”
John Guandolo, a disgraced former FBI agent and current Vice President with SEG, has spoken at Christian Fundamentalist conferences in Murfreesboro, TN, in support of local Christian extremists’ efforts to halt Muslim-Americans’ efforts to practice their constitutionally assured right to construct a mosque. Guandolo had previously told an anti-“Sharia” gathering in Nashville that “Muslims do not have a First Amendment right to do anything,” and that regional mosques are front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Another VP with SEG, Major Stephen Coughlin (US Army Reserve), is described on the group’s website as “the leading expert in the United States on Islamic Doctrine.” He has also personally spoken before the JFSC in his capacity as a one-time intelligence analyst for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Coughlin’s “expertise” boils down to a wildly conspiratorial world outlook wherein Muslims are hell-bent on a quest to “destroy western civilization from within.” In 2008, Coughlin was let go from his position when the Pentagon caught wind of the pathologically Islamophobic paranoia evident throughout the entirety of his work. The Washington Times, the right-wing newspaper owned by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, described Coughlin as “one of the first casualties in the war of ideas with Islamism.”
SEG’s President, Edward Kimball, previously served as Foreign Policy Counsel to US Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-NC), a member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Myrick has in the past acted as Stephen Coughlin’s personal guardian angel following calls for the Pentagon to relieve him of his duties. Myrick gained nationwide notoriety after making the ridiculous claim that Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps agents were learning Spanish in Venezuela for the purpose of infiltrating the United States while disguised as undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Latin America (see video here). Myrick has also signed documents supporting allegations that CAIR is an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian Hamas.
According to correspondence obtained by WikiLeaks and the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, Myrick has recently joined forces with James F. Smith, former director of the notorious dominionist mercenary outfit Blackwater, and Walid Phares, a shady character with a history of collaboration alongside the fascistic Israeli-backed Christian militias of the Lebanese Civil War. Phares, who frequently appeared on Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network as a “terrorism expert,” currently co-chairs Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group.
“Bigoted conspiracy cabal” indeed. These characters’ bizarre concoctions make the wildest Cold War-era “Reds Under the Beds” tales seem almost like Bible truth.
While Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Dempsey feigns shock regarding this “news” of rabid Islamophobia emanating from the Pentagon, we at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) don’t buy it. Gen. Dempsey could merely have switched on his television set five years ago to see the bigoted filth issued forth from the JFSC instructors’ podiums. In June 2007, Brigitte Gabriel spoke at JFSC as a guest “expert” on Islam in a lecture broadcast by C-SPAN. Gabriel, a Lebanese Maronite Christian and career sectarian, stated that the average “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.” She also disgustingly stated, as C-SPAN cameras rolled, that the Muslim-American community is “good at nothing but complaining about every single thing instead of standing up and working with us in fighting the enemy in our country.” Like her compatriot Mr. Phares, Gabriel is a professional mountebank. As such, she is a member of the Hasbara Fellowships, an Israeli propaganda and apologist front with ties to Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party. The Hasbara Fellowships, who specialize in training street-level PR cadres on behalf of the most aggressive sections of the Israeli establishment, played a crucial role in the mass distribution of the virulently anti-Muslim DVD, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. “Who pays the piper, calls the tune.”
Throughout the media, blogosphere, and security conference circuits these figures buttress one another’s narratives, cover each other’s flanks, and add pieces of fabric to a carefully woven patchwork quilt depicting a vast Islamic plot of violent insurgency and overthrow. And so, as details emerge in this “Bigoted conspiracy cabal,” the plot of unadulterated shame grows thicker still.
While 2004’s hellish photos from Abu Ghraib seem almost like ancient history, eight years later the extrajudicial detentions and incidents of torture and abuse still remain a matter of course for those held at Guantanamo Bay and at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. These outrages, among countless others, are the direct outcome of dehumanizing curricula which are produced by the Islamophobia industry and eagerly lapped up by both the military and civilian bureaucracy.
This latest revelation from JFSC constitutes an open call for the genocide of over a billion and a half men, women, and children. An “elect nation” arrogance, wrought from the insuperable alloy of fundamentalist Christian extremism and American exceptionalism, systemically bathes the halls of the Pentagon, military academia, and our approximately 1,000 military installations scattered around the world in about 150 countries. Let us call it what it is: a racist, bigoted repugnance. It catalyzes a ubiquitous doctrine within the U.S. military which dictates that Muslims around the globe, be they combatant or civilian, should be viewed as simply less than human. We have been here before. Many times. We have seen the oceans of blood that flow from this abyss of base prejudice. Who or what is the source for this pernicious and criminal posture towards one of the world’s largest religions and its mosaic of men, women, and children practitioners? The answer is clear: the enormous, sinister force which is fundamentalist Christianity.
What can be done to make amends? Besides the actual aggressive and expeditious trial by courts martial of Lt. Col. Dooley and all others who knew or should have known of the blood libel he was “teaching,” DoD Secretary Leon Panetta can do two more things. He must immediately issue formal written apologies to all U.S. service personnel who were forced, as students at the JFSC, to listen to Lt. Col. Dooley’s vile, Islamophobic rantings. Lastly, it is his clear duty to invite them back to JFSC to be “retrained” on American-Islamic issues, absent the blood-drenched calls for genocide via PowerPoint and lectern.