I don’t support Ehab Jaber’s brandishing of guns and f-bombs, but he didn’t say anything on Facebook as truly threatening to the safety of our nation as the lies of anti-Islam speaker Shahram Hadian. A group of South Dakotans armed with only their critical thinking skills attended the April 9 fear fest document Hadian’s lies in an open letter in today’s Sioux Falls paper:
Hadian gave several examples from scripture, taken out of context to build an argument that the Prophet Muhammed actively incited violence, and that all Muslims today intend to do the same. Hadian spoke from his experience escaping from Iran with his family during the Iranian Revolution. This traumatic event clearly and understandably had a great effect on him, but it is illogical to conclude that all Muslims should then be characterized as violent people intending to take over our government. That is true paranoia [Pam Naessig, Sister Lynne Marie Welbig, Samantha Spawn, The Rev. Michael Carlson, Jack Billion and Scott Moeller, letter to the editor, that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.04.23].
I offer no defense of Islam—that’s up to its adherents. But Hadian’s apparent conclusions from the Iranian Revolution could lead to problematic conclusions about the American Revolution: may descendants of Tories who left for Halifax and London justifiably conclude that all descendants of Revolutionary Americans are hell bent on violently overthrowing governments?
Hadian said that he would “bet [his] life” on the fact that the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls is part of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic organization. The truth is that the founders of the ICSF have no out-of-state connections nor have they ever received any money from any organization supported by the Brotherhood. Their mission is to serve the local community and build bridges with other faith groups in the area [Naessig et al., 2017.04.23].
And like our Aberdeen liars, Hadian accuses some local Christians of conspiring with jihadists:
Hadian also stated, falsely, that Lutheran Social Services, which is active in South Dakota and in many other states, receives $2 billion in taxpayer dollars to resettle refugees and that there is “no vetting process” for those refugees. This statement is similar to our state legislature’s Senate Bill 124 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 15, legislation that initially expressed “no confidence” in our state’s only refugee resettlement agency. The truth is that refugees are vetted by UNHCR and multiple federal government agencies in a 20-step process that can take up to 2 years to complete [Naessig et al., 2017.04.23].
Ehab Jaber was stupid to go online and wave his guns around. But far more South Dakotans are listening to conspiracy theorists wave lies around and hailing those lies as truth. That embrace of lies poses more danger to our community than any of Jaber’s words that the state has labeled a “terroristic threat.”