A decade ago, when Operation Rescue announced that it had
changed its name to Operation Save America, leader Flip Benham made sure to
distinguish the new entity from other anti-choice efforts. Rather than focus on
the single issue of abortion, he announced, OSA would also work to promote school
prayer and the teaching of creationism. What’s more, OSA would oppose assisted
suicide, sex education, and efforts to promote LGBTQ rights.
Now, OSA’s scope has broadened to include a new bogey, Islam,
and the group has aligned itself with an international team of fear-mongers to
fight the religion’s spread. The
impetus for this involvement was a late-September outdoor prayer service in
Washington DC which brought hundreds of Muslims to the nation’s capital. Called
by the Dar-ul-Islam mosque in Elizabeth, New Jersey, organizers told the press
that they wanted “to show that not all Muslims hate America.” They further
stated that they’d been inspired by President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim
While these hardly seem like fighting words, OSA saw the
event differently. “We can be killed by them. We can kill them. We can convert
them to Christ. Which will you choose?” screamed the OSA website’s banner
headline in the days leading up to the worship service. Should OSA’s message still
not be clear to readers, the webpage continued: “Islam has been at war with
Christianity for 14 centuries. There is no dialogue, no common ground. No
reaching across the aisle in this battle. We are not called to build bridges to
Islam. We are called to storm the Gates of Hell—to defeat the false God of
Islam with the unsheathed word of God.”
OSA’s blatant racism got a boost from a 15-minute film
called FITNA, created by Dutch politician Geert Wilders in 2008, and subsequently
posted on OSA’s website. A lightening rod in his own right, Wilders was named
2009’s Man of the Year by the ultra-rightwing FrontPage Magazine but was barred from entering any part of the United
Kingdom in mid-February. The reason?
According to Britain’s Parliament, Wilder’s work incites hatred and
Among Wilder’s pronouncements: “Islam is not a religion,
it’s a political ideology. It’s heart lies in the Qur’an, a book that calls for
submission, hatred, and war and orders all Muslims to kill non-Muslims…The
purest joy in Islam is to kill and be killed…Islam should be compared with
other totalitarian philosophies like Communism and Nazism.” Laughably, Wilders
concludes by stating that he “has no hatred toward any person whatsoever.”
For its part, OSA goes one further, revving up a holy war
between “the true God of the Bible versus the false God, Allah.” While most folks believe the Crusades
ended 700 years ago, this memo has apparently not reached OSA’s in-box. “Any
attempt to declare God and Allah are one and the same—they are not!” their
website bellows. “Islam will not be tolerated by God and it certainly must not
be tolerated by Christians. Any attempt at dialogue or finding common ground
with this enemy is a ruse by the devil himself.”
And that’s not the worst of it. OSA liberally sprinkles
phrases about Islam’s alleged intent—conquering the Judeo-Christian world and
imposing Shar’ia Law—in its missives, and weaves footage of carnage from
September 11 and the heinous London and Madrid terrorist attacks to
stomach-churning, if disingenuous, effect.
It seems so over the top that it’s tempting to ignore these OSA
histrionics. After all does anyone really believe that a religious war is
imminent or even possible? I, for one, would surely support this approach if
the group’s efforts reflected the isolated ramblings of a small circle of cranks.
But they do not.
Although OSA is the only anti-abortion group to have jumped
on the anti-Muslim bandwagon thus far, a broad network of organizations—Atlas
Shrugs and Jihad Watch are among the most prominent—aided by FOX News, Newsmax, FrontPage, National Review, and columnists Ann Coulter and Michelle
Malkin, are working overtime to present Islam in the worst possible light. Jihad Watch, for example, last month posted a lurid article called
Romeo Jihad about young girls being
kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam by male Internet predators. The
message—they’re coming for “our” women—is reminiscent of Klan attempts to stir
up race hatred during much of the twentieth century.
And don’t forget Newt Gingrich. His Newsmax ramblings about American “efforts to drive the Cross off
public lands” are intended to bolster the notion of Christian victimhood and
inspire fear and loathing in his readers. “You actually have schools today that
will have a class on Islam but refuse to have a class on Christianity,” he rails.
Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director of the
DC-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that he is not surprised
that an antiabortion group like OSA has joined the anti-Muslim fray. ”People
who promote bigotry and extremism often don’t limit themselves to one issue,”
At the same time, OSA’s foray into anti-Muslim racism has caused
unprecedented rifts within the anti-choice community. Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition
has made the schism clear. “The church should not run from Muslims in America
but begin reaching out with God’s love…The heart of Christ is to build bridges
to all people regardless of what their faith tradition or beliefs might be.
For the first time ever, we’re in complete agreement.
THE COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS HAS LAUNCHED SEVERAL CAMPAIGNS
AGAINST HATE. FOR MORE INFORMATION
GO TO WWW.CAIR.COM.