The Mythical Martyrdom of the Religious Right's Favorite Islamophobic General
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Diana West, one of Boykin’s co-authors on the “Team B II” report, argued that the issue was about freedom of inquiry: “Boykin’s opinion about a legitimate topic of discussion is cause for ejecting him from West Point. The effect is to marginalize further the quest for open debate about Islam and its threat to liberty – and to marginalize further those who seek it.” Boykin himself pushed this line of attack, saying “The message is that people of faith and conservative Americans are losing our voice to a very well-organized and very well-funded group of very passionate people – those being the atheists and the Muslims. They want to change the nature of our culture – and they are succeeding.”
On a radio show with Religious Right leaders Tony Perkins and Tim Wildmon, Boykin said:
This is going to get worse unless the American people -- and particularly people for faith, Christians -- rise up and say that we’re going to draw a line in the sand ... They contact their congressman, they let their congressman know that this is not their values, that they believe in the First Amendment, not only free speech, but the freedom of religion. And I think they have to get the leadership involved in this and I think that the Administration needs to hear through the Congress that there are a lot of Americans who do not endorse this sort of thing. Where’s it going to stop?
Propaganda Technique 2: Mischaracterize the opposition.
Gaffney’s Washington Times op-ed pushed a silencing-of-Christians interpretation of the controversy by focusing only on opposition to Boykin by the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which he described as “the organization demanding that [Boykin] be silenced.” Todd Stearns of Fox News & Commentary headlined an article “ Muslims, Atheists Pressure Military to Remove Christian Speaker.”
The Family Research Council told its activists: “The Academy moved Boykin to pull out of the event when a handful of atheist and Muslims cadets complained about Boykin’s beliefs. The message to this elite, three-star warrior was obvious: You and your faith aren’t welcome.” These claims ignore the vigorous and well-articulated opposition to Boykin’s appearance from VoteVets, the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, and a group of 27 West Point faculty and 74 cadets working with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the vast majority of them self-identified as Christians.
Boykin has even blamed the media, claiming that the nation’s leaders are afraid to take on radical Islamists “because of the liberal media. The media is going to support the enemy. That’s the bottom line -- the mainstream media is.”
Propaganda Technique 3: Whitewash history.
After his Ocean City speech, Boykin told a reporter, “The Muslim people are a precious people and I respect them and their right to worship, so long as they don’t fall into the category of a radical who wants to destroy the Constitution.” When asked by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly about his past statements, including his view that Muslims should be barred from immigrating to, and building mosques in America, Boykin claimed he had misspoken and that he had merely been opposing the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” He complained to the Christian Broadcasting Network that his views “have been grossly misrepresented.” Unfortunately for Boykin, whitewashing history is a little harder in the YouTube era; People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch has full documentation of Boykin’s statements.
Propaganda Technique 4: Blame Obama.
Since the primary goal of the Religious Right political movement today is the defeat of President Obama, and Religious Right leaders routinely and falsely characterize the administration as anti-religious and anti-Christian, it is not surprising that Religious Right officials have tried to blame the controversy on the president. Tony Perkins said, “There seems to be pressure coming from within the administration to sweep Christianity off the face of military bases.” Ken Blackwell echoed the charge: “This sad episode is yet another example of the Obama administration’s ongoing hostility to people of faith, especially Christians.” The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins wrote, “The Obama Administration is advancing an environment of religious disarmament among the military – and it must be stopped quickly for the sake of our solders’ spiritual lives.” Boykin himself has joined in, saying that the administration has “shown favor to Islam at the same time that they have denigrated both Christianity and Judaism.” Perkins said that even if the order did not come from Obama’s desk, “[t]he President has created an environment that has become hostile to Christianity in this country.”