TW: islamophobia, coercive conversions, US military occupation, “manifest destiny”, demonization of indigenous cultures
The past decade has been a windfall for all of the members of the “clash of civilizations” crowd, but radio show host and frequent political commentator Bryan Fischer really takes the cake. His statements on the subject of potential and actual US occupations of Muslim-majority countries make Ann Coulter seem sensible. His main argument is that the United States should cleanse the world of the totally homogeneous Muslim population, by conversion or force:
“if we want to see freedom come to those darkened, benighted lands, we should be sending missionaries in right after we send in the Marines to neutralize whatever threat has been raised against the United States. So we say to them, look, if you don’t want our missionaries, fine, that’s your choice, we’ll take our missionaries and our Marines, we’ll take them home, but we’re gonna let you know we have no hesitation about returning with lethal force if the forces in your country threaten us again. This time it’s Marines and missionaries, next time it’ll be Marines and missiles.“
This would be the same “reasoning” behind US military contractors putting biblical quotes on sniper scopes.
(A reference to Corinthians II 4:6 which discusses Christians being God’s light on earth, on a contractor-produced scope used by the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq. Originally from here.)
You’ll notice, in this narrative how there’s only three overlapping options the US can take with Muslims: occupy their countries, coercively convert them, and eradicate them with the incredible might of the US military. All of those potential approaches share the trait of effectively erasing Muslim people from existence either by making them something other than Muslim or by killing them. Fischer likewise speaks of Muslims as living in some distant location which the United States has every pretext to invade for no reason other than their Muslim identity. So how does Fischer feel about Muslims in the US? He thinks we should ban immigration of Muslims, since they’re so utterly politically dissonant:
“Islam, all the values in Sharia law, are absolutely, fundamentally contrary to all of the values and freedoms that we cherish in the West, and so I’ve suggested we need to rethink whether we can afford any more Muslim immigration into the US, whether we can afford to have more mosques built [in the United States…]“
Of course, this incompatibility is rarely explained in terms other than a vague affiliation between all of the millions of Muslims in the world and terrorism. For instance, Fischer complained that a vaguely-Muslim-friendly event which roughly coincided with Eid (the celebration at the end of Ramadan) which was in mid-September, was insensitively close to 9/11. Unless all Muslims everywhere constantly apologize for what one small segment of the world’s Muslim population has done, Fischer can’t view any of them as compatible with his country, and consequently has repeated talked about bans on Muslim immigration.
Fischer’s still not content with a draconian ban on a specific religious group immigrating. He explicitly wants to reduce their quality of life in the United States – ostensibly to facilitate conversions or repatriations. On his program, he’s aired guests who have argued that if Muslims don’t like being banned from, for instance, serving in the military, as Fischer’s advocated for before, “they can go back to where they came from”. This sort of argument for second class citizenship is about more than military service, as Fischer’s called for the revocation of Muslims’ rights to be free of a religious test to be President, to be free to build properly zoned mosques, to express their faith publicly, or even basic First Amendment rights. There’s a couple of indications too, that Fischer doesn’t want this to just be a passive process of mass discrimination, where new mosques aren’t built and new Muslims don’t arrive or convert, but where his prayers for the destruction of mosques are answered.
While he had the propriety to mask his prayer for the destruction of mosques as something God would (vaguely) do, Fischer has been quite clear on how he views Anders Breivik’s massacre of 77 Norwegian liberals for their toleration of Muslim immigration. Fischer labeled the violence in Islamic terms, calling Breivik’s logic “jihadist” – so even a violent islamophobe is rhetorically understood as “Islamic” in some sense. In spite of his criticism of the use of violence, however, he admitted that in his opinion, “[m]uch of his [Breivik’s] analysis of cultural trends in Europe and the danger created by Islamic immigration and infiltration is accurate“. So he views violence as uncouthly “Islamic,” but legitimizes the motives for doing so among his listeners – both shielding himself from culpability, equating political violence and Islam, and rationalizing political violence against Muslims and tolerant non-Muslims.
Discontent with only chanting “ASSIMILATE, ASSIMILATE” at Muslims the world over, Fischer also levies this garbage at Native Americans. Aside from the standard racist view of Native Americans as a uniform and monolithic group, he has popularized a lovely “compassionate conservative” sentiment which erases the experiences of discrimination for many Cherokee among other Christian converts:
“[Native Americans] were, virtually without exception, steeped in the basest forms of superstition, had been guilty of savagery in warfare for hundreds of years, and practiced the most debased forms of sexuality […] The native American tribes ultimately resisted the appeal of Christian Europeans to leave behind their superstition and occult practices for the light of Christianity and civilization. They in the end resisted every attempt to “Christianize the Savages of the Wilderness,” to use George Washington’s phrase […] Many of the tribal reservations today remain mired in poverty and alcoholism because many native Americans continue to cling to the darkness of indigenous superstition instead of coming into the light of Christianity and assimilating into Christian culture.“
The original post at the American Family Association has since been taken down, but Right Wing Watch still has their excerpts up, as well as a clip from his radio show where he reiterated these points. What prompted this racist rant, of course, was the inclusion of indigenous as well as Christian invocations at the funeral service in the wake of the shooting of Representative Giffords, which killed six attendees to the public event she was speaking at. As with Muslims building mosques or having imams that shared opinions, any non-Christian viewpoint expressed in public in the United States is treated as a target for assimilation by Fischer. He states in this rant, Native Americans “rejected Washington’s direct counsel to the Delaware chiefs in 1779” at which Washington told them, “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ.” This refusal apparently “morally disqualified” all indigenous people from sovereign control of their own land, in Fischer’s own words.
It’s irrelevant to him that other Native American tribes responded differently and faced the same waves of violence and disenfranchisement. The forced assimilation and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of the United States, according to Fischer, is a justified and inevitable result of some Native Americans’ non-compliance with Fischer’s brand of Christianity, which to him is the greatest sin. He’s content to judge a diverse population for the actions of the few, provided it allows him to appeal for coercive mass conversion to Christianity.
This is the first of four posts as part of Bryan Fischer Week, in which I hope to lay out that Bryan Fischer is among the worst human beings on the planet, a terrifying influence on the United States’ body politic, and a threat to the security of a sizable chunk of the country’s population