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Town Talk Publishes Letter Claiming Islam is a Threat to America Yesterday, the Town Talk published an opinion piece written by Donald Fuhrmann, Sr opining on the "threat" of Islam to the freedoms we all share as Americans. The senior Fuhrmann's letter was written in response to an opinion piece published and authored by Cynthia Jardon, editor of the editorials for the Town Talk, concerning America's multiculturalism. Ms. Jardon's column was actually written in response to another story: that Representative Keith Ellison would be using the Koran in his swearing-in ceremony. Although I accept Ms. Jardon's thesis that America should embrace her future as a multicultural and inclusive society, unfortunately, the story about Representative Ellison is a hoax that was created and perpetuated by conservative talk show radio host Dennis Prager. As previously reported, the Bible is not used during the House of Representatives swearing-in ceremony, and therefore, this story, however captivating, is not accurate. (By the way, the Town Talk published yet another article about this fake story today, an op-ed piece written by Jack Daniels, not the one of whiskey fame). Perhaps most interesting is the way mainstream media has run with this story in its op-ed sections, without any editorial oversight or fact-checking. See, the truth is that Ellison will be carrying the Koran; he won't be including it in the official swearing-in ceremony. The Christian Science Monitor may clear it up a little bit. Jane Lampman writes:

In Congress, newly elected representatives do not put their left hands on any book. They raise their right hands, and are sworn in together as the speaker of the House administers the oath of office. Some do carry a book, according to House historians, and some choose to photograph a private swearing-in afterward with their hand on the Bible. One senator is known to have carried an expanded Bible that included the Book of Mormon.

The Constitution says: "The senators and representatives ... shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Some confusion may come from the long-standing tradition of presidents taking the oath with a hand on the Bible. But this is a choice and matter of custom, as is the phrase, "so help me God." President John Quincy Adams took the oath on a law book including the Constitution. President Theodore Roosevelt didn't use a book.

"The United States is not a Christian state or even a generically religious state," says Derek Davis, a church-state expert at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. "We've worked hard for 200 years plus to uphold a principle of religious freedom for all citizens."

Somehow, though, despite the facts, radio talk shows, conservative bloggers, and the editorial sections of newspapers throughout the country have been using this fake story as a means for engaging in a discussion about Islam's role in American society. Perhaps this fake story speaks to a collective fear about the extent of "multiculturalism," and perhaps the senior Fuhrmann believed that this fake story represented a fake threat of Islam impeding on a fake tradition. Either way, Fuhrmann Senior is wrong and so is the Town Talk, though Fuhrmann's opinions are much more reactionary and misguided. Mr. Fuhrmann writes, in entirety:

I feel compelled to respond to Cynthia Jardon's Dec. 10 column in The Town Talk regarding her definition of "Our greatness lies here: with liberty, justice for all." Her apparent understanding of Islam is no better than her understanding of the Judeo-Christian history of the United States of America.

Americans have fought and died for our liberty and justice for all which Islam opposes with their teaching and practices. Islam opposes religious freedom and only recognizes the teachings and writings of Allah. If you want proof of this truth, you only have to look at the nations where Muslims control the government. Where is the religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and other nations under Shiriah Law? Would Ms. Jardon be allowed to walk around in Saudi Arabia in Western garb and writing editorials criticizing Islam? I think not! The Nazis also, like the Muslims, wanted world domination and the citizens of the United States would never have stood for an elected American official taking his oath to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States while placing his hand on "Mein Kampf."

World Islam does not plan to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States. They want Shiriah Law to rule America. Islam must be understood that it is not just one of the many religions of the people of America. A Muslim can be assured of paradise after death only if he dies in a war, Jihad, with infidels. Infidels are all non-Muslims, such as Christians and Jews. Ms. Jardon seems to believe by her words that, "The Koran and the Muslim religion are not things to fear." If she would just spend a little more time studying the history, beliefs and goals of Islam, she would then understand that we are not facing just a mere religious affiliation but a religion, a way of life and a way of governing.

It is not just a matter of respecting the rights of Muslims with whom we disagree but recognizing the threat of a religion bent on world domination, including the United States of America. Our test is one of protecting our way of life from an evil empire determined to eradicate Judaism and Christianity.
Mr. Fuhrmann's opinion represents the extreme radical right, and I find it to be xenophobic, ignorant, and intolerant. As a side note to this, I have a degree in Religious Studies and an extensive academic knowledge of the Islamic faith, and therefore, I feel confident, speaking on behalf of a body of knowledge, that Mr. Fuhrman's understanding of the "history, beliefs, and goals of Islam" is completely misinformed. Mr. Fuhrmann expresses his ignorance in each and every sentence. I can only imagine what a Muslim family must have thought when, yesterday, they read in bold in their local paper (or on the Town Talk's internet site, of which his letter was a featured editorial) that their faith represents the extension of an evil empire. Unfortunately, Mr. Fuhrmann confuses religious belief with political freedom, while, at the same time, he asserts that the world is locked into some type of religious war. I understand that there are many people who prefer to conflate religion with politics; it's a convenient habit. I suppose, however, we should hold the Town Talk most accountable. Earlier this week, it was noted that the Town Talk has allowed a handful of habitual, reactionary writers to become "de-facto" columnists. They frequently fail to check their facts. They frequently express racist and bigoted opinions. One has to wonder about the prerogatives of the Town Talk's editorial staff. Why do they continue to publish the opinions of a small handful of misinformed and bigoted individuals? Does this sell newspapers? Should the Town Talk press for more letters from a more representative cross-section of our community? Is there an agenda at work here? What's going on?