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 Kaber 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.”
The local xenophobes club is bringing another anti-Islam rant session to Aberdeen tonight. The session with Clare Lopez will do nothing to advance Aberdeen’s economy or culture. It certainly will not advance fact. Part of a cluster of fact-free celebrations of bigotry happening around the state this month, this “Americans First, Task Force” program seems to serve no purpose other than to stoke an angry conservative voter base just in time for another election.
Just as at the strip club, a woman will stand before a leering audience and peddle lies. She will tease her audience into believing that behavior that would be unacceptable in most public settings is perfectly fine in this darkened room. She will tease her viewers into thinking they are viewing deep, exotic truths that make them stronger and more manly.
Observing this spectacle serves little good; it only degrades the observer.
The viewers will go home with some vague sense of manly achievement, but they will awaken surrounded by the same disillusion, the same details of their same pathetic lives that somehow cannot be resolved by the fantasies they imbibed the previous night. And they will continue to look for opportunities to objectivize, to otherize, and to subjugate to make themselves feel better about lives that a thousand slideshows about Sharia will never change.
So go ahead, Aberdeen, let Clare Lopez hypnotize you with her twirling pasties about Muslim conspiracies and Joseph McCarthy. Let her stroke your dark, sweaty fears. And be sure to let us know when you wake up tomorrow how listening to these lies makes you a better person and Aberdeen a better town.
But understand if the rest of us look away from your embarrassing lies.
Update 18:30 CST: In my original report, I cited Facebook friends who said they had found copies of the white-supremacist propaganda sheet The Stampede in Cenex stores in Belle Fourche and Philip. I spoke with a spokesperson for the communications and marketing division at CHS, which oversees the Cenex brand. CHS notes that the Philip store is no longer Cenex branded but owned by a CHS affiliate. CHS checked with the general manager and the store manager at each site, and those managers say The Stampede has never been displayed at their stores. CHS also checked all available Stampedes online to verify that no Cenex store has advertised in Rudy Stanko’s publication. I have edited the below text to make clear that Cenex should not be implicated in the distribution of this white-supremacist, anti-semitic material.
Update 19:05 CST: CHS provides this statement:
At CHS we take our company values and our commitment to being responsible stewards of the community very seriously and do not condone or support hateful speech of any kind. We have investigated this matter and have confirmed that neither of the retail locations mentioned in the article handle or distribute the publication in question. As a corporation, we have not participated in any form of advertising with the publisher [CHS, statement to Dakota Free Press, 2017.03.20].
Friends report this white-supremacist disinformation in Hot Springs, Caputa, Whitewood, Belle Fourche and Philip. Perhaps more alarmingly, Stanko appears to receive financial support from some South Dakota businesses who advertise in Stanko’s rag. The Philip, Belle Fourche, and St. Onge livestock yards appear as sponsors in the online PDF of March 13 Stampede:
I won’t put anyone in jail for spreading racist, anti-semitic propaganda. But I’ll have a conversation with any shopkeeper who displays Stanko’s white-supremacist propaganda about how that makes their business look. And if I had cattle to sell, I’d ask the sale yard managers at Philip, Belle Fourche, and St. Onge just how much of my fees will go toward spreading Stanko’s lies.
The SDGOP spin blog and I agree that the gun radicals who lobby under the banner “South Dakota Gun Owners” go too far with their propaganda flyers against any and all perceived enemies of their guns-everywhere policies. Spinster Powers features SDGO’s latest leaflet littering Pierre homes telling citizens that Sheriff Mike Leidholt is anti-gun, just because he testified against House Bill 1072, the plan on the Governor’s desk to repeal the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed pistol.
The Orange flyer also suggests that Sheriff Leidholt slaps women:
Never mind that, as a law-enforcement expert, Sheriff Leidholt understands better than anyone the implications of deregulating concealed weapons. Never mind that there’s a good argument that the Constitution does not guarantee a right to sneak around with a firearm hidden in your pants. Oppose gun absolutism (remember, SDGO calls itself “South Dakota’s only no-compromise gun rights organization,” which means they can justify any tactics in the cause they imagine to be inviolable), and SDGO will craft its words to tell your neighbors that you “want to slap a woman….”
Interviewer: You travel to countries where the Islamic State has a hold on many areas. Rumor has it that ISIS is getting funded by Western states like the US. What do you have to say about that?
Dogan: Yes, that is the truth. When it comes down to it, it is all about the oil. While travelling, I met several persons all saying that they had witnessed the US helping the Islamic State in different ways. One thing stood out because there have been so many people who had remarked on it: When the US dropped aid and weapons over the Iraqi city of Mosul that had been in the hands on ISIS since 2014. They simply said that they had made a mistake. The people I have spoken to, soldiers fighting ISIS in that area, told me that they had witnesses similar things around 8 times.
That the minorities that get attacked like they do in Iraq, are of course partly because of religions differences. But mostly it is because there are substantial amounts of oil in the areas where they live. Therefore it is very important for the US to divide as much as possible, making the areas unstable in order for them to come in and “rescue” the situation. This we saw in Libya, and we see it all over again in Syria. The US would like to tell us that they only want the “bad Bashar al-Assad” out, but it is not about that. Everything is about who controls the oil.
I spoke to a Turkish truck driver from north Iraq who said that he and four other drivers drove trucks full of weapons from Europe to the Islamists in Mosul. The weapons he told me was from Germany, but whether the German government has any knowledge of that I don’t know. But it is worrying when you hear such things over and over again [Sanna Hill, “Aid Worker Hatune Dogan: ‘ISIS Is Getting Help from the West,” Free West Media, 2017.01.03].
The mission of (Abu Bakr) Baghdadi, of ISIS, is to convert the world completely to the Islamic religion and bring them to Dar Al Salaam, as they call it. And Islam is not peace, please. Whoever says ISIS has no connection to Islam or something like this is, he’s a liar. ISIS is Islam; Islam is ISIS [Sister Hatune Dogan, in Erick Stakelback, “Nun: ‘Islam Is ISIS. Whoever Says Otherwise Is a Liar’,” Christian Broadcasting Network, 2016.01.02].
Jensen and Dogan display the kind of fear, exaggeration, and willful falsehood motivating many of our Republican legislators.
…while we need not waste our time disproving every last conspiracy theory, however outlandish, we must be unwavering in our commitment to a politics based on the truth. One part of this is to dispense with the false neutrality that has long prevailed in American media. When two reasonable political parties make diverging yet reasonable arguments for diverging yet reasonable policies, it makes sense to treat their claims with equal respect. By contrast, when some politicians have started to invent claims at will, without bothering to produce evidence for them or to make their lies internally coherent, it is a retreat from truth-based politics to treat them as though they were equivalent. Big newspapers should beware becoming political partisans—but lest they cease serving any real function, they must become proud partisans of the truth [Yascha Mounk, “How to Resist Propaganda,” Slate, 2016.12.13].
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—that should be the easiest thing in the world to write and defend. And if Republicans offer us a President who ignores the truth, while Democrats have the pesky tendency of speaking the truth, journalists can still objectively report, “The Republican President is lying to us, and Democrats are telling us the truth.”
The payday lenders have adopted the same offensive, fact-free strategy as Pat Powers and the South Dakota Republican Party: when you can’t win a campaign on facts and policy, shout “Liberal!” For good measure, throw pictures of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the screen.
“Obama and Hillary—they’ve been lying for years,” says the video. “Obamacare, Benghazi, emails—” none of which pertain in the least to the 36% rate cap placed on our ballot by South Dakota activists Steve Hickey, Steve Hildebrand, and Reynold Nesiba.
“Measure 21 does not provide protection from greedy lenders”—yes, it does. A hard 36% rate cap prevents Rod Aycox, Chuck Brennan, et al. from charging desperate low-income folks 574% interest and worse.
“It has huge loopholes benefiting special interests”—no, it doesn’t IM 21 applies to all payday lenders and other short-term loan sharks. IM 21 does not apply to normal banks, who don’t dare charge the payday lenders’ exploitative triple-digit interest.
“Under Measure 21, borrowers interest rates can skyrocket, leaving them under a mountain of debt”—no, payday loan interest rates cannot skyrocket. IM 21 caps rates at 36%. Period.
“Don’t believe the lies”—That’s the only useful sentence in this video, and it applies squarely to what Rod Aycox and the payday lenders are saying. Give Us Credit’s video is one big lie. If you don’t like Hillary Clinton, don’t vote for Hillary Clinton. If you don’t like lies, you can’t vote for Donald Trump, either; Gary Johnson is your only acceptable alternative. And if you don’t like lies, reject Rod Aycox’s propaganda, and vote to protect your South Dakota neighbors from loan sharks: vote Yes on 21 and vote No on U.
Someone’s coming to Winner this week to make a buck off the Trump vote:
Usama K. Dakdok has been living in an RV and running an anti-Islam medicine show for quailing Americans for over a decade. Dakdok claims to have produced the only accurate English translation of the Qu’ran… because of course, a guy with degrees in Christian theology and missiology for whom English is a second language is best qualified to write the only accurate English translation of the Qu’ran.
But Dakdok appears to be wrapped up in the Fox-shouting anti-Obama nuttiness that hucksters like Annette Bosworth, Ben Carson, and, most alarmingly and successfully, Donald Trump have used to grasp for attention and money. Like Annette Bosworth, he appears to exploit fearful old folks who are easily separated from their money:
A majority of the listeners were elders. They stuffed a jar with free-will donations, $10s and $20s removed from pockets and purses. Most had never heard Dakdok speak before–he asked for a show of hands as he started–and a few had a hard time hearing, asking “What did he say?” to their neighbor. He requested they come–to the First Assembly of God church at 7 p.m. Thursday–when he speaks again [Kyle Farris, “‘Islam Is a Barbaric, Savage Cult,’ Usama Dakdok Tells Crowd in Bemidji,” Grand Forks Herald, 2015.09.09].
Dakdok frequently wears a suit and tie in his speeches and media appearances, and he certainly makes an effort to be a smooth speaker. What shall we conclude from those facts about his true religion?
Dakdok’s argues that Islam errs because it contradicts the Bible. That’s like arguing that the Millennium Falcon‘s hyperdrive can’t work because it doesn’t use the Enterprise‘s warp technology.
Dakdok doesn’t talk about practical policy—what logical conclusion and action are we supposed to draw from his cries that Muslims are all terrorists?—rather, he just shouts the wild accusations that he knows a certain audience will pay good money to hear.
He also doesn’t mind inciting those certain audiences to menacing behavior. At his second performance in a three-day June 2014 event in Bagley, Minnesota, Dakdok tried to throw a Muslim woman out of the audience:
The audience members said the Muslim woman, who wears a religious headscarf, was part of a peaceful protest outside the hate event. She, along with others, entered the auditorium after the silent protest finished to listen to the speech. Their “Love Thy Neighbor” signs were lowered and not facing anyone inside. As the Muslim woman was quietly walking down the aisle looking for a seat, Dakdok stopped his presentation and singled her out. He asked her to leave, allegedly yelling, “Sister, I will give you one last chance to leave or I will throw you out myself!”
One attendee described an angry mob of Dakdok supporters who then began harassing the Muslim woman: “People were yelling at the Muslim woman, ‘Get out’ and ‘You weren’t invited.’ Men were getting to their feet and moving towards her to lay hands on her.”
The audience member announced he was calling the police out of concern for the Muslim woman’s safety. Godwin allegedly tried to interfere with the police call by attempting to intimidate the Good Samaritan by telling him, “Don’t you dare [call the police]. This will be on your soul.”
At the following day’s event in Bagley, Dakdok laughed at criticism of that thuggish behavior and told audience members, “We all must be Islamophobes.” He then asserted that good Christians should replace the liberal pro-Muslim brainwashing in our school textbooks with Dakdok’s brainwashing:
Dakdok railed against “liberals,” who in his view allow Muslims to enter the country. He spent much of the lecture citing excerpts from various textbooks he said he disagreed with. Some implied the Bible was not literal fact, but a religious text and others referenced Jesus as originating from Palestine, not Israel. These, Dakdok assured the audience, were “lies.”
“We need to move this trash out of our public school and replace it with Jesus’ teaching,” he said. “Muslims are trying to use (it) to brainwash your children.”
He also claimed as lies excerpts from textbooks that pointed out there have been other examples of terrorism in world history besides that perpetrated by Muslim extremists and that the reasons for modern terrorism are complex.
Dakdok said the reason most of the people in the audience were older was because young people have already been exposed to the lies and thus didn’t believe in the Bible. The next time Dakdok would come to Bagley, he said, he wanted to see the audience filled with young people.
Dakdok will come to Winner Tuesday. He’ll preach Islamophobia. He’ll peddle lies about the President of the United States. He’ll sell a couple books and get some gas money in his jar from some nervous old ranchers and grey-haired ladies who think they’re helping do the Lord’s work. And no one in the Winner Middle School gym will go home any wiser or better equipped to do real practical political problem-solving.
And when the federal money dries up—there’s the fundamental lie of the ad. When—I invite Pat and the Koch Brothers and everyone else out there to tell me when in the last 50 years the money for Medicaid has dried up.
Show me an instance in the 50 years of Medicaid’s existence when Congress and the President have said, “Surprise! States, you’re funding Medicaid on your own this year!”
I’m still waiting.
As we wait, I note that the only Washington folks I’ve seen who have threatened to break the Medicaid promise appear to be Paul Ryan and other Republicans whom the Koch brothers like.
Ancillarily hilarious is AFP’s claim to be concerned that they are worried about cuts to funding for public education. Ha! The Kochs want cuts to public education so they can privatize the education system.
We managed not to be fooled by Big Loan Shark Money on the payday lenders’ bill yesterday; let’s not be fooled by Big Koch Money on Medicaid expansion. Medicaid isn’t going away… at least not as long as we stop the Koch brothers from buying Congress. Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Medicaid/Indian Health Service plan swap is unnecessarily complicated, but it saves South Dakota $158 million over the first five years. We can fund a fair amount of teacher pay and pothole-patch with that money.
Americans for Prosperity is lying to us. Ignore them and support real prosperity for all South Dakotans.
We know which Republicans are doing the Koch Brothers’ bidding. Rep. Don Haggar (R-10/Sioux Falls) and Senator Ried Holien (R-5/Watertown) are sponsoring House Bill 1234, which would strip the Governor of the authority to expand Medicaid and subject any state Medicaid plan amendment or waiver to a vote of the Legislature. HB 1234 would treat any such vote “as an extraordinary expense in a special appropriation separate and distinct from the General Appropriations Act,” meaning that Medicaid expansion would have to receive a two-thirds vote.
The Koch Brothers aren’t the only ones with money to spend on this issue. Someone is paying to distribute buttons and other materials promoting Governor Daugaard’s plan under the slogan, “It Makes Sense for South Dakota.” (That’s a nice generic slogan, applicable to almost any proposal not originating from the South Dakota Legislature’s Republican caucus.) That someone also has the money to pay Sioux Falls ad agency Epicosity to whip up Sense4sd.com, a quick little website promoting Medicaid expansion and touting Governor Dennis Daugaard’s role in bringing South Dakota that sensible policy:
Join Gov. Daugaard in his support for expanding federal funding of Medicaid in South Dakota. Why? Because it just makes sense.
It’s a no-brainer – here’s why:
1,000s of hard-working South Dakotans need coverage to stay healthy and productive
Expanding Medicaid in SD will have zero impact on the state’s budget
Increasing Medicaid access helps 50,000 facing tough times who don’t qualify for Medicaid
S.D. counties would see savings through poor relief
Let your legislators know you support expansion [author unknown, home page, Sense4sd.com, downloaded 2016.02.08].
Governor Daugaard is seizing a unique opportunity to solve a long-standing reimbursement issue with Indian Health Service and expand Medicaid to cover an additional 50,000 South Dakotans at no additional cost to state taxpayers [author unknown, FAQ, Sense4sd.com, downloaded 2016.02.08].
Whoever’s bankrolling Sense4sd.com also had just enough spare change to throw together a crappy slideshow with a sales pitch from Governor Daugaard and some gentle grandma-petting-a-puppy-on-a-spring-day music (next time you’re watching some dreary PowerPoint, fix your eyes on the screen, then rock back and forth and side to side in your seat and hum softly—presto! it’s a movie!):
Medicaid expansion makes sense for hard-working South Dakota families and our economy. Support Governor Daugaard’s plan and learn more at www.sense4sd.com [Sense4SD, Facebook About, downloaded 2016.02.08].
…and a long description:
Support Governor Daugaard’s common-sense proposal for expanding health care coverage to more hard-working South Dakotans. Learn more and contact your legislators at www.sense4sd.com [Sense4SD, Facebook About, downloaded 2016.02.08].
In just 44 words, we see the Governor’s name twice and the phrases “hard-working” and “common-sense.” That smells like political speech-writing to me, as much about promoting the person as the plan.
The Facebook page has 300 likes; Sense4SD’s Twitter presence is nearly as attractive, so far garnering just 5 likes and 25 followers, several of them state employees.
I’m glad someone is pushing back against the Koch Brothers and the legislators big-money can cow into bad legislation. I just wish I knew who was defending Governor Daugaard’s plan to fully embrace the hard-working President Obama’s common-sense Medicaid expansion.