Sunday, March 31, 2013

Could You Be A Criminal?

US Supports UN Anti-Free Speech Measure

While you were out scavenging the Wal-Mart super sales or trying on trinkets at Tiffany and Cartier, your government has been quietly wrapping up a Christmas gift of its own: adoption of UN resolution 16/18. An initiative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly Organization of Islamic Conferences), the confederacy of 56 Islamic states, Resolution 16/18 seeks to limit speech that is viewed as “discriminatory” or which involves the “defamation of religion” – specifically that which can be viewed as “incitement to imminent violence.”

Whatever that means.

Initially proposed in response to alleged discrimination against Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11 and in an effort to clamp down on anti-Muslim attacks in non-Muslim countries, Resolution 16/18 has been through a number of revisions over the years in order to make it palatable to American representatives concerned about U.S. Constitutional guarantees of free speech. Previous versions of the Resolution, which sought to criminalize blasphemous speech and the “defamation of religion,” were regularly rejected by the American delegation and by the US State Department, which insisted that limitations on speech – even speech deemed to be racist or blasphemous – were at odds with the Constitution. But this latest version, which includes the “incitement to imminent violence” phrase – that is, which criminalizes speech which incites violence against others on the basis of religion, race, or national origin – has succeeded in winning US approval –despite the fact that it (indirectly) places limitations as well on speech considered “blasphemous.”

What’s worse, the measure codifies into the UN agenda support for the very notion democracies now wrestle with, and which threatens to destroy the very fabric of our culture: tolerance of the intolerant, or rather, the question of whether a tolerant society must also tolerate ways of life that are intolerant – that oppress women, say, or advocate violence against homosexuals, or force strangers to marry against their will. It is, in fact, this very concept that the OIC has long pressured Western governments to adopt in other ways, and that those supporting the adoption of Sharia law in the west have emphasized. Yet if we fall into that trap – as it appears we are – we will have lost the very heart of who we are.

The Good, The Bad…

Those who support the new measure rightly laud its recognition of the importance of free debate. and the inclusion of new clauses that call for “speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” and “[fostering] religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion, and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society.”

What opponents (rightly) find distressing are calls to adopt “measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief.”

(Additional clauses that call for countering religious profiling are also questionable, however civil rights organizations may feel about this, given the problems of Islamic terrorism in the real world. But that’s another matter.)

Oddly, Human Rights First, which previously loudly opposed the initiative for its limitation on “blasphemous speech,” is among those who now praise the newer version. In a statement, the organization opined:

Rather than imposing new restrictions on freedom of speech, which it does not, the new consensus resolution opens the door to an action-oriented approach to fighting religious intolerance. That is very consistent with the U.S. policies and practices – combat violence, discrimination and hatred without restricting freedom of speech. Resolution 16/18 urges states to train government officials to address religious tensions, to harmonize actions at local and national level, to raise awareness of negative stereotyping of persons, to promote interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue, to foster religious freedom and to speak out against intolerance (among other recommendations). The only limitation on speech that is in the operative part of the resolution is incitement to “imminent violence”, which is in accordance with US law.

But others are less forgiving, noting, among other things, that the resolution does nothing to prevent the continued use of anti-Jewish materials in the schools of Saudi Arabia (where the Protocols of Zion are treated as fact, thereby absolving Saudis of charges of “racism”) or the ongoing persecution of Jews and Christians in numerous Muslim countries. And yet, ironically,it was exactly those same countries who initiated the motion, as put forth in its initial drafts by the General Assembly, with expressions of concern for “cases motivated by Islamophobia, Judeophobia, and Christanophobia.”

Indeed, as M. Zuhdi Jasser, an observant American Muslim and the founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, remarked in an e-mail, “Anyone who believes that Resolution 16’18 is some kind of a breakthrough is sadly being duped by the most obvious Islamist double discourse. The shift from defamation to incitement does nothing at all to change the basic paradigm where Islamist nations remain in the offense, continuing to put Western, free nations on the defense.” Rather, said Jasser, “We should be putting Islamist autocracies on the defense and then simply reiterate that our First Amendment principles already protect the rights of all minorities — whether Muslim or otherwise — and that the best standard of free speech is the American one. Beginning to categorize speech as ‘incitement’ is a slippery slope that could open the floodgates for any post-tragedy analysis to indict what would otherwise be free speech absurdly as incitement in some far-fetched cause-effect analysis that would depend on proving that speech causes violence.”

It is, indeed, galling to think that we would enter into negotiations of any kind, with anyone, about the freedom of expression that is so central to our very way of life and the core of the founding of America. Ever.

The background to all of this, unsurprisingly, is an effort on the part of Muslim countries to limit what they consider to be defamatory and blasphemous speech: criticism of Islam, say, or insulting the prophet Mohammed – which, as we've learned, can mean anything from drawing a cartoon or making a joke in a comedy sketch to burning a Koran. Such acts – according to some readings of the Koran and, indeed, according to law in some OIC countries – are punishable by death. Hence the riots that met the publication of the so-called “Danish cartoons,” the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the murder of Theo van Gogh, and on and on.

… And The Deceptive

And here’s where Resolution 16/18 gets tricky.

Because who, exactly, arbitrates what is “incitement to imminent violence”? Violence by whom? If drawing a caricature of the Prophet incites violence by Islamic radicals to the tune of riots, arson, and murder, all sanctioned by the IOC itself – then drawing such a caricature (or writing a book like the Satanic Verses) will now constitute a criminal act. And that is exactly what the OIC was aiming for. It is also in direct violation of the principles of Western democracy – and the First Amendment. (Though it is crucial to note that any resolution passed by the General Assembly remains non binding, which makes you sort of wonder what the point of all this is, anyway.)

Moreover, since many would claim that the persecution of blasphemers is mandated by their religion, conflicts emerge between guarantees of free expression and the guarantee of freedom of religion and the practice of ones faith. In other words: your free speech allows you to insult my prophet: my freedom of religion compels me to kill you for it.

What was that about “incitement to violence”?
Whose violence?

This is how the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation plays “Gotcha.

This is how the American government, however unwittingly, subsumes its own Constitution in deference ot the demands of the Islamic state.

It's a dangerous game.

True, the Human Rights First position on the issue is significantly more optimistic:

“The U.S. will always enforce its own standards on freedom of expression; these are enshrined in this country’s Constitution. But its legal exceptionalism on freedom of speech does not necessarily mean that the U.S. administration needs to be diplomatically isolated when it comes to promoting globally the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, which many in the U.S. perceive to be core and founding American values. On the contrary, since the U.S. joined the U.N. Human Rights Council, the Obama administration has openly expressed its ambition to exert leadership within the U.N. body.

The U.S. demonstrated that leadership by securing the passage of Resolution 16/18 at the Human Rights Council and by moving immediately to show through the Istanbul Process Conference that states have tools at their disposal to combat violence, discrimination and hatred without restricting free speech.”

But note that word: “combat.” That same word appears in Resolution 16/18, which states “Understanding the need to combat denigration and negative religious stereotyping of persons, as well as incitement to religious hatred, by strategizing and harmonizing actions at the local, national, regional and international levels through, inter alia, education and awareness building.” (Emphasis mine.)

“Combat” implies warfare. Is that the language we want here? Is that one of the options under the vague and wide-open term “inter alia”? And are the “tools at their disposal” – education, interfaith dialogue, and debate — really going to “combat” hatred, especially when that hatred is disguised as proper adherence to one’s faith? When racist myths are taught as historical fact to children across a large swath of the globe?

As for that “faith” thing: it strikes me that those of no faith – atheists – are not addressed anywhere in this resolution. Are they also to be protected from hate crimes? Is atheism among the ideas to be debated and taught in these awareness-raising sessions? If so, why is that not so stated? If not, why not?

Then there is the ongoing whimpering about the “targeting” of Muslims in non-Muslim countries. Actually, that “targeting” is largely mythical, or at the very least, heavily exaggerated. Throughout the world, from France to the Netherlands to Germany to the United States of America, the majority – by a large margin – of those hate crimes and incidents of discrimination perpetrated on the basis of religion target Jews. (another resource available here) And in virtually every case, the “extremism” in question has been Islamic extremism. (Though recent reports of the despicable behavior or ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel puts a new perspective on the matter.)

The Bigger Picture

But here’s the biggest problem: when the exercise of free speech leads to violence far beyond our control. It’s called “terrorism.” And neither the U.N. General Assembly nor the United States of America has the power to stop it. More importantly: by agreeing to curb speech that could lead to “imminent violence,” we in essence accept the blame for any terrorist acts against America (and the West). We agreed not to provoke, after all.

This, of course, is an unacceptable paradigm, and one we cannot allow to stand.

Integral to the greatness of America is the simple fact that no other country in the world places so sacred a value on free speech – indeed, on free expression – as does the United States. Holocaust denial, for instance, is verboten in Germany. Mein Kampf is banned in the Netherlands. France last week criminalized the denial of the Armenian genocide in Turkey (an act that resulted in widespread condemnation by the OIC, whose Secretary General, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, had the audacity, days after the ratification of 16/18, to bluster that those who defend cartoons that mock Mohammed as “freedom of thought and expression” have no business limiting the speech of those who deny the Armenian genocide. “This is an indisputable and unacceptable paradox,” he declared). And so on.

Yet in all of this, America has stood strong in its defense of free speech – even blasphemous, hateful, racist, sexist, Pentecostal, homophobic, and ignorant speech. We must continue to do so, no matter what pressures we may face. Because in the end, limiting our rights to self-expression and – above all – the questioning of religious beliefs – will never help to make the world more peaceful – or more free.

Abigail R. Esman, Contributor

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

High court weighs Arizona voter-registration law

-Posters notes-

I find this curious that the Federal Government would ignore the states when they pretty much beg for any help on any thing, yet when they want their way, they instill their “dominance”  over the states when the states try to govern themselves after it’s clear the Federal Government brushes off the states to the back burner. It’s clear the Federal Government cares nothing for others outside of D.C. but let us not forget this country is formed with “STATES” not one big land mass that’s equal to the bases of oh lets say the former Soviet Union, this country is made up of many states, yet the many states have different laws. Ok well mostly the same laws, but there are differences in each state that make up what that state stands for. For instance, it’s ok to have casinos in Nevada, but not ok for most other states to even allow any form of gambling. There are dry county states, while other states allow alcohol to be sold and served 24 hours a day. Were not called “United States of America” for nothing; It’s time for the Federal Government to allow the “States” to govern themselves on issue that interfere with each state, and stop dictating and pushing the Governments agenda onto states that are being torn apart by issues that tear at the very foundation of what makes this country America.

Arizona needs to be left alone, allowing that state to pass laws to “help” the state is the only way to keep the state sound. The laws are already on the books, yet it’s the Government that refuses to allow police to enforce the laws that have been on the books for years. Arizona has a right to put laws to a vote for the “people” to decide on, and it’s been very clear that people voted into law the new immigration bill, allowing police to make sure residents, travelers, and visitors if they are legal to be in this country to begin with. The “racist” card has been played out so many times it’s like drinking water, the only people that think it’s racist to be asked for an I.D. card or green card are those in this country illegal or those that are trying to get illegal relatives into this country.

Before I go any further I want to stress to my readers that I’m not a racist, I care nothing about what race others are, I admit to being prejudice against those that come to this country illegally, refuse to truly become green card holding citizens, prostitute themselves to low paying jobs, and send most of the money back to their home, paying the “coyotes” they’ve become slaves to, or for promises to get more of their family members into this country. My feelings about immigrants are the same no matter what country you come from. You want to come to this country, make a better life for yourself, have better opportunities then what you had in your country, then come to America. However come here legally, get your green card, become a productive citizen, pay your taxes, learn this countries language, don’t live off of welfare, demand this country change or even erase American holidays to accommodate you. Remember you left your country and came to a new one, it’s your responsibility to acclimate yourself to this country, not demand this country bend over backwards to placate you.

Now onto this new so called “questionable” law that Arizona is trying to get passed.


The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, better known as the federal "motor-voter law," allows people to register to vote while renewing drivers licenses or applying for social services. As part of the documentation process, folks have to say that they're American citizens.

Arizona, however, approved something called Proposition 200, which gave the federal law a little touch-up -- those registering can't just say they're American citizens; in this state, folks are expected to prove it.

And this, in turn, has led to an interesting Supreme Court case.

Supreme Court justices expressed some skepticism on Monday about an Arizona law that requires people registering to vote in federal elections to show proof of citizenship.

The legal question before the nine justices is whether the voter registration provision of the 2004 state law is trumped by a federal law, the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which outlines various ways in which people can register to vote in federal elections.

That law requires no proof of citizenship. Would-be voters simply sign a statement saying they are citizens.

The case comes just two weeks after the Supreme Court heard a challenge to the Voting Rights Act. (Curiously, Justice Scalia appears to have been obnoxious during oral arguments in both cases.)

The legal question today was a little different, and arguably more straightforward: are states able to create new voter-registration restrictions under the motor-voter law? Arizona says yes; the Obama administration says no.

But let's not brush past the potential significance of the answer. Rick Hasen, an elections-law expert at UC-Irvine, told Sahil Kapur the "implications of this sleeper case could be profound." If the justices rule in Arizona's favor, and states can bypass the existing federal voter-registration form, "it could have a major effect on the power of the federal government to impose rules on states for running congressional elections."

Supporters of the federal law seemed cautiously optimistic after this morning's arguments. Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, said in a statement, "A majority of the Court, including Justice Kennedy, appeared to recognize that the entire point of having a single Federal form was to streamline the voter registration process, and that approving Arizona's law would pave the way for a patchwork of 50 state forms. We are optimistic that that recognition will lead the Court to strike down Arizona's law and respect Congress' power to protect the right to vote in Federal elections."

Whether that optimism is misplaced is unclear.

As is often the case, the most ambivalent was Justice Anthony Kennedy, who channeled the views of both sides during different parts of the argument.

At one point, Kennedy wrestled with whether Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship requirement crosses a line. He asked the state’s attorney general, who was defending the law, whether states may also require proof of one’s address or date of birth when registering to vote. If so, he posited, then the federal requirement “is not worth very much.”

At another point, he launched a defense of Arizona’s actions in principle and took issue with some of the reasoning by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled against Arizona.

A ruling is expected over the summer.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Know YOUR Rights!

This is a very informative video, included is basic information we sometimes forget. Know YOUR rights, and stay informed.

Remember stay calm, and clearly unemotional, while you exercise your rights to the police. NEVER show any aggressive body language or any aggressive vocal tones. Your not kissing up to them, your showing them you have the knowledge and brain power to remain civil and calm in any situation.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Call to change our National Anthem?

The War of 1812 is known for many things, but one of the most memorable is the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 at Fort McHenry to write the song that would become our national anthem.  Knowing the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" is one thing, but how much do you know about the song itself? Here are five historical facts about our national anthem that may surprise you.

1. It was written with its current melody in mind.
It is commonly believed that Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" as a poem that was later set to music, but this is not the case, according to Dr. David Hildebrand, the director of the Colonial Music Institute.

"The structure doesn't match any poem," Hildebrand says about Key's words.

Early copies of "The Star-Spangled Banner" simply included the lyrics because the tune was already so well known, Hildebrand explains.

Another interesting fact: Key's original title was called the "Defence of Fort McHenry."

2. It has male glee club origins.
Some rumors suggest that "The Star-Spangled Banner" was set to the tune of an old drinking song, but the tune has nothing to do with the consumption of alcohol, Hildebrand says. In fact, the drinking songs of yesteryear were more aristocratic male glee club and less "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

The origins for "The Star-Spangled Banner" came from "The Anacreontic Song" -- a theme song of sorts composed by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, an 18th century amateur musicians' club for men. "The Anacreontic Song" is also sometimes called "To Anacreon in Heaven," which is also the opening line.

3. It is one of many songs written to the same music.
About a hundred different songs have been written to the melody of "The Anacreontic Song," Hildebrand says.

Key himself had already written words to the melody about nine years before the Battle of Baltimore, and this version opened with:

"When the warrior returns, from the battle afar, To the home and the country he nobly defended..." A patriotic ditty called "Adams and Liberty" was popular around the turn of the 19th century.

After Thomas Jefferson took power, a set of lyrics entitled "Jefferson and Liberty" were penned.

4. The smaller flag was likely flying "at the twilight's last gleaming."
Historians believe that the famous flag -- incredibly large at 30 by 42 feet -- wasn't flying the night of the attack. Hildebrand explains that it was pouring rain, so Fort McHenry was probably displaying a smaller storm flag (17 by 25 feet long).

Mary Pickersgill was asked to sew the two flags for the fort, making her, not Betsy Ross, the woman behind the star-spangled banner flag.

Hildebrand says this does not undermine the significance of the flag or the anthem, and the grand flag was flying "by the dawn's early light."

The large flag is now part in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., but the whereabouts of the storm flag are unknown.

5. It didn't become the official national anthem until 1931.
While "The Star-Spangled Banner" was popular during the 1800s, the song didn't become the national anthem until the early 1930s. The military had adopted it for ceremonial purposes decades earlier, but it took legislation signed in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover to make it official.


Want To Change The National Anthem To R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)”?

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. For example, if you think that Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner” is hackneyed and unsingable and no longer fit to represent our great country, you have the right to petition the government to change the National Anthem to something more appropriate.

A recent petition on the White House website, titled “We petition the Obama administration to: change the national anthem to R. Kelly’s 2003 hit “Ignition (Remix)” lays out the following proposal:

We, the undersigned, would like the Obama administration to recognize the need for a new national anthem, one that even a decade after its creation, is still hot and fresh out the kitchen. America has changed since Francis Scott Key penned our current anthem in 1814. Since then, we have realized that after the show, it’s the afterparty, and that after the party, it’s the hotel lobby, and — perhaps most importantly — that ’round about four, you’ve got to clear the lobby, at which point it’s strongly recommended that you take it to the room and freak somebody. President Obama: we ask you to recognize the evolution of this beautiful country and give us an anthem that better suits the glorious nation we have become.

This cause only needs 95,329 more signatures to meet the goal of 100,000 by Apr. 2. At that point, the White House will have to respond, just as it had to respond to the petition to begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.


-Posters notes-

This is truly ridicules; I can understand young people seem to HATE old things. However, this is the National Anthem of this country, there is a reason why Francis Scott Key choose the words he did. It was after all the war of 1812, and America was a budding nation that was still trying to find ground to stand on and become a nation not ruled by a king. Do we really want something such as the National Anthem that means so much, changed to something that means so little?

Music is a form of self expression, and is a right covered by free speech, but does that right give us the right to change the National Anthem? To many countries were already the laughing stock of the world, changing the National Anthem to a rap song will only add fuel to the fire of nations that already hate us because were a nation of freedom.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I smell a secession of the states on the horizon.

Alaska shouldn't challenge federal gun laws

As an Alaskan, I'm no stranger to guns - there was actually a shooting range in the basement of my elementary school (to be fair, it was closed during school hours). I've never had very strong feelings about the gun issue because I can see merit in both sides of the debate.

That said, I think some gun rights advocates have completely lost their minds.

Last week, the Alaska House of Representatives, with bipartisan support, passed what's called a nullification law. Essentially, the bill says that federal gun laws are unconstitutional and therefore do not apply to Alaskans (something like how Californians believe that federal drug laws don't apply to them). It would authorize Alaskan law enforcement officers to arrest any federal agents who attempt to enforce those laws.

Guns are an important part of many Alaskans' identity, so the prospect of distant bureaucrats interfering with them is unpopular. And lest you think it's just those wackos in Palin-land who are trying this stuff, similar bills are on the move in 15 states. There's a bill in Montana that would allow county sheriffs to arrest federal agents on the charge of kidnapping if they try to enforce federal laws that the sheriff doesn't like.

Wherever you fall in the gun debate, you have to admit that Alaska's bill goes too far. (And, as the Alaska legislature's own attorneys advised, probably is unconstitutional.) Worse, such extreme state laws make it just more difficult to have an honest national debate about guns.

Proponents of the Alaskan bill say that the medical marijuana policies in states like California demonstrate that these states-versus-federal issues are not so cut and dried. However, it's one thing for medicinal pot growers to go to jail for violating a federal law - they do choose to grow an illegal drug for a living, after all. But nobody in California is asking state or local cops to bust federal drug enforcement agents.

I can understand why gun rights advocates would not want federal gun control laws enforced, but we live in a democracy. A recent Pew survey showed that 83 percent of Americans support background checks on gun buyers, and majorities back bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. It's not as if federal gun laws would be some Obama conspiracy to pacify and control the people - these proposed measures are broadly popular.

In a democracy, you can't always get your way; sometimes you have to accept the will of the majority. If you disagree, then you should fight to change the public's view and bring Congress around to your side. Or vote the bums out and elect a Congress which will pass the legislation you want. But we ultimately have to accept the results of that process, even if we don't like them.

What's especially galling about these nullification bills is that they put law enforcement officers in the middle of a political game. Their job is tough enough without politicians using them as pawns in the battle over who controls government - the states or the feds. The democratic process should not create victims among the people tasked with carrying out our decisions.

So what's going to happen if this Alaskan bill becomes law? We could have a state trooper arrest a federal agent, then get thrown into federal prison himself for enforcing a clearly unconstitutional law. Or the trooper could ignore the state law. That's not a choice we should force them to make.

What's the best way to prevent future tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre? Would restrictions on gun ownership be more or less effective than armed guards? That's the debate we should have as a country. Instead, state lawmakers are pre-emptively condemning Congress and narrowing options for any kind of compromise.

But maybe the democratic process is overrated? A Missouri legislator introduced a bill that would actually make it a felony for a legislator to propose any gun control bill, the legislative equivalent of the Unbreakable Vow in the Harry Potter books. Perhaps the always tenuous distinction between "state legislature" and "fantasy world" finally has crumbled.

Alexei Painter
Published 4:54 pm, Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Alexei Painter is a master's candidate at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy and a student in the Graduate School of Journalism's opinion writing class.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

State Investigation Launched After Students Dress in Burqas

A Texas mom became outraged after she discovered
a Facebook photo of her child wearing Islamic garb.

A Texas lawmaker is launching an investigation after a teacher reportedly invited female students to dress up in Islamic garb and then told her classroom they should call Muslim terrorists – freedom fighters. State Sen. Dan Patrick, chairman of the senate education committee, told Fox News he is very disturbed by the photograph as well as reports that students were exposed to a story that blamed Egypt’s turmoil on democracy – rather than the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Parents are very sensitive to any issue that seems to be anti-American – that blames democracy for some sort of trouble in the world,” he said. The lesson on Islam was taught in a world geography class at Lumberton High School. The teacher brought burqas and other Islamic clothing for the female students to wear. They were also assigned to write an essay based on a Washington Post story that blamed Egypt’s troubles on democracy – instead of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“I am outraged,” one of the parents, who asked not to be identified, told Fox News. “I felt my blood pressure go through my head.” The parent said she was not aware of the lesson until she discovered a photograph of her 14-year-old daughter wearing a burqa on Facebook. “As parents we should have been made aware this and I felt like the line had been crossed,” she told Fox News. “Christian kids who want to pray have to do it outside of school hours – yet Islam is being taught to our kids during school hours.”

Sen. Patrick said he understands why the parents are upset. “Could you imagine if someone asked a Muslim student to dress up as a priest,” the senator asked. “The parents of a Muslim student might be rather upset about that.” The young girl’s father wondered why the teacher was giving children lessons about Islam in a geography class. “She went from learning about Mexico to learning about Russia to learning about Islam,” he said. “Islam is not a country. Islam is not a continent.” 

The parents said they confronted their daughter and told her to explain exactly what she had been taught. “They were asked about their perception of Islam,” she said. “Most of the class said they thought about terrorism. And her response was, ‘we’re going to change the way we perceive Islam." The teacher reportedly told the students that she did not necessarily agree with the lessons –but she was required to teach the material. The Lumberton Independent School District released a statement to Fox News defending the class. 

“The lesson that was offered focused on exposing students to world cultures, religions, customs and belief systems,” the statement read. “The lesson is not teaching a specific religion, and the students volunteered to wear the clothing.” The school district said Judaism and Christianity were also part of the lesson. However, the parents said Christianity was not discussed in the classroom. “The Christian perspective was not taught,” she said. “They went in-depth into Islam and I’m not comfortable with it.”

The district said the photograph does not reflect the entire aspect of the lesson. “The lesson encompassed diversity education so students receive a firm understanding of our world and why people are motivated differently,” the statement read. The parents said they immediately contacted the principal of the high school who defended the program and said it was required under CSCOPE – a controversial electronic curriculum system that provides online lesson plans for teachers. “The principal told me it was world geography and they have to learn this stuff,” she said. However, the school district said the lesson taught at the high school was not part of written CSCOPE lesson.

“This is the normal answer from every school using CSCOPE,” said Janice VanCleave, a vocal critic of the program and the founder of Texas CSCOPE Review. “They are definitely promoting the Islamic religion.” VanCleave said the trouble is that teachers are not giving students the full story. “They are not telling students how these young women are treated in this religion,” she told Fox News. “In the Islamic countries women are not treated well at all.” 

Last month, evidence was presented at a state hearing showing that CSCOPE offered a number of lessons about Islam. One particular lesson instructed teachers to provide classroom readings of selected texts from the Koran. Students were also taught that Allah is God. CSCOPE offered no comparable lessons on Christianity or Judaism, VanCleave told Fox News. “I do think CSCOPE promotes the Islamic religion,” she said. “I don’t think it’s right to be proselytizing the Islamic religion in our schools.” Patrick said every time they’ve asked CSCOPE leaders about the lessons on Islam, lawmakers were told “those were old lessons.” “In this particular case – there’s a photograph and there’s a letter from the school district and there’s another companion lesson,” he said. “You start adding these issues up and it puts CSCOPE under the microscope more.”

Feb. 25, 2013
By Todd Starnes