Last month, the Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), General Martin Dempsey, issued a mandatory edict that all training and educational materials throughout the military must be immediately reviewed within one month’s time to ensure that no anti-Muslim or anti-Islam references or content remain.
The edict followed a series of news reports that officers and enlisted members were being taught and institutionally indoctrinated that “the United States is at war with Islam and we ought to just recognize that.”
Last week, Wired.com revealed that a defense department class for U.S. military officers urged soldiers to prepare for a “total war” against Muslims. An instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia was teaching that “Hiroshima”-style tactics would be needed.
The instructor, army lieutenant colonel Matthew A Dooley, brought in several ideological allies to support his conclusion, including Shireen Burki, who in 2008 told future military decision makers that “Obama is bin Laden’s dream candidate.”
General Dempsey described the course as “counter to our values of appreciation for religious freedom and cultural awareness” and “just objectionable, academically irresponsible.”
Last year, Wired revealed that FBI counter-terrorism agents were taught that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a ‘cult leader’; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”
A six month review the FBI launched into agent training material uncovered 876 offensive or inaccurate pages that had been used in 392 presentations, including a PowerPoint slide that said the bureau can sometimes bend or suspend the law in counterterror investigations.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said: “It does us no good to have personnel who are trained with inadequate materials or misguided materials.”
The FBI’s effort to remove factually inaccurate materials and training has been predictably attacked by some members of the GOP.
Such teaching runs the complete opposite to repeated statements by U.S. officials, under this administration and the last one, that America is at war with extremists and not with the religion of Islam. The idea of America being at war with Islam is what al-Qaida is telling Muslims across the world.
Mikey Weinstein, President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, writes for Alternet of a series of exposes, leading up to General Dempsey’s edict, of courses and presentations to officers where they’re told “we have to kill Islam” or “America and the West are doomed to failure in this war unless they stand up and identify the real enemy: Islam.”
Anti-Muslim hatred … has warped the cultural competence of United Staes service members, leading to grim results in combat theaters within which the U.S. has been engaged since 9/11. In 2012 alone there have been reports of bodies being urinated on by U.S. Marines, the proud and brazen display of the Nazi Waffen-SS banner by U.S. Marines, soldiers posing with corpses, and most insultingly, the burning of copies of the Qur’an at Bagram Air Field. Most recently, the Beaufort, South Carolina-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122) renamed themselves the “Crusaders” (a phrase which literally means “taking up the cross”) and adopted the iconography of the crusading, medieval Knights Templar.
In a poor, strife-ridden nation such as Afghanistan, people have little to hold on to beyond strong familial and tribal bonds and a firm sense of national, ethnic, cultural and religious dignity. Sadly, racist and dehumanizing indoctrination by America’s own war machine has transformed all too many American war fighters into arrogant, marauding crusaders.
Those who allowed for these egregious violations of DoD-sponsored Islamophobia to take place must face stern and swift discipline for their complicity in the dissemination of bigoted disinformation that has placed American lives at dire risk.
Photo credit: The U.S. Army