A Turning of the Tide: Tennessee Passes Anti-Terrorism Bill

The passage of SB1028/HB1353 (Material Support to Designated Entities Act of 2011) in the Tennessee Legislature on May 21, 2011 after months of controversy, and inaccurate and misleading reporting in local and national media marks a sea-change moment in America’s awareness and understanding of, and response to, the threat of Islam and its doctrine of jihad.

The bill passed the Tennessee Senate with 26 Yes, and 3 No; the vote in the House was 76 Yes, 16 No, and 1 Present/Not Voting. This bi-partisan support for a bill that does nothing if not increase the ability of the legal and law enforcement authorities of Tennessee to better protect the citizens of that state from terrorist threats (including organizations/entities that encourage/support terrorism) shows that a certain rationality has returned to public discourse, and re-focused the response of government, at least in Tennessee, from politically correct falsehoods and multicultural wishful thinking, to a more pragmatic acceptance of threats and a realistic approach to terrorism prevention.

When the bill is signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam once an entity has been designated as a terrorist organization, it is a felony for anyone to knowingly help that entity with money, advice or any other aid.

Previous versions of the bill had included the words “jihad” and “Sharia” but the passed version of the bill does not. In fact, there is no differentiation made in the passed legislation between any specific ideology, or religious views that might encourage terrorism, or violence. All those who might support “entities” or “organizations” designated as a terrorist organization whatever their religious or ideological views might be, will fall under the purview of this new law.

The bi-partisan passage of the “Material Support to Designated Entities Act” in Tennessee is an official acknowledgment of realities and a long overdue response on the part of high level politicians in America that threats (and actions) of jihad and terrorism are the results of a specific ideology. The bill did not pass in a political vacuum.

Less than two weeks before the bill’s passage, Geert Wilders, the persecuted Dutch Freedom Party leader, drew thousands to his “A Warning to America” speech in Nashville on May 12, 2011. Wilders can see in his own country what it means to be losing a civilizational war against Islam.

Tennessee is a hotbed of resistance to political Islam. The Middle Tennessee ACT (Act for America) chapter is the largest in America and has brought in monthly speakers on the nature and danger of political Islam. Their events routinely draw hundreds.

Nearby, the city of Murfreesboro has also recently started an ACT chapter. Murfreesboro has been the site of a spirited and lengthy resistance to Islam by opposing the construction of a local huge mosque/Islamic center.

In the political background of the bill’s passage were the lobbying efforts of the Tennessee Eagle Forum, led by Bobbie Patray (known as “Ms. Bobbie” to every politician who sits in the Tennessee Legislature or the governor’s mansion). She is a political force unto herself and was involved in the passage of three other bills that resist Islam.

Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron and House Speaker Pro Tem Judd Matheny have proven to be strong leaders by weathering a full court press against the bill by the “main stream” media at the local and national levels. Nashville’s mainstream newspaper, The Tennessean, ran a Sunday front page article creating the “Big Lie” that the bill would prohibit Sharia law and make it illegal to practice Islam in Tennessee.

The “Big Lie” resulted in a small media storm that caused Al Jazeera, New York Times, Fox and others to show up and record what they apparently hoped would be the modern day equivalent of the Scope’s “Monkey Trial“, held in Dayton, TN in 1925.

CAIR organized a protest at the Legislature. The ACLU weighed in to oppose the bill (for many, reason enough to support the bill). Adherents of Islam packed committee meetings and attended sessions with the bill’s sponsors – to no avail.

When the votes were counted, it was a bipartisan group of concerned Americans who won over an energized Muslim Brotherhood, the ACLU, and a biased newspaper. The passage of this bill is a significant step by the state of Tennessee in resisting the Islamic attack on our civilization.

It has often been suggested since 9/11 that any discussion of Islam in which the doctrine of jihad was criticized was an offense against religious tolerance, multiculturalism, (and political correctness) mainly due to the contra-rational concept so prevalent after the jihadist attacks in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, Bali, Mumbai, Kenya, Israel, Beslan, London, Madrid and hundreds of other places, that Islam is a hijacked “religion of peace.”

Only after adherents of Islam (i.e., Muslims) gave non-adherents real cause to fear Islam (9/11) and those who implemented its doctrine of jihad did the termIslamophobia” enter common usage. The passage of the Material Support bill in Tennessee overturns the false concept that legitimate discussions of the threat of Islamic jihad doctrine are somehow inherently bigoted by acknowledging, through bi-partisan supported legislation, that such discussions are based on facts and critical reasoning.

Tennessee is famous across the country for its friendly and hospitable people. In fact, the United States is known across the world for these same traits of culture. Adherents of Islam in Tennessee are allowed to freely practice their religion; this bill does not in any way interfere with the legal practice of any faith.

The Tennessee Material Support bill is not about religious intolerance or bigotry nor is open discussion about Koran, Sira, and Hadith, and what some adherents of Islam do on account of these sacred Islamic texts. The continued tolerance for Islam in the United States in this post-9/11 world is a significant commentary on the openness and decency of the American people and our ongoing difficulty in accepting that a religious ideology could be the source of so much hatred, violence, and intolerance.

Those who commit violence due to the Islamic doctrine of jihad have been telling us clearly – through their videos, publications, public statements, writings, organizational charters, and acts – that their motives are entirely in line with the ideology of Islam and that they are meeting their jihad obligations as laid out to them (as adherents) in the doctrine to which they adhere. Bin Laden himself was quite clear on this point, as were his jihadist minions on 9/11 and afterward. We have not been very good listeners.

Since the horror of 9/11 many Americans continue to refuse to accept that our world now is riven by an ideological conflict on account of which the fate of the United States and of the entire West now is at stake. We are still a House divided.

Abraham Lincoln, in his famous “House Divided” speech, delivered in Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858, regarding a different matter (“slavery agitation”) said:

In my opinion, it (slavery agitation) will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.

Now, in our own great ideological war brought upon us (due only to the fact that we exist), and not caused by us – it is clear that our country (and the West in general) cannot long endure half realist/learned, and half denialist/ignorant.

It seems altogether fitting and proper that the former Confederate state of Tennessee should set the pace for realistic engagement in this civilizational war to defend our freedoms and Constitutional Republic.

Who could have known that ten years would be required for reality to shatter our dreams of what we want the world to be, and replace our fantasies of coexistence and global brotherhood with the truth of the existence of people and ideologies whose purpose is nothing less than our destruction and all those who live and think as we do?

This acceptance of the lessons of distant and recent history and of our finally paying attention to the words, actions, and foundational doctrines of our enemies is nothing more and nothing less than a culture-awakening “moment of truth.”

There should be no calumny associated with speaking the truth. There ought to be an acceptance of reality for what it is, rather than a rejection of it because it is not what we’d prefer.

The actions of the Tennessee legislature in passing SB1028/HB1353 are laudable for many reasons first and foremost that it accepts reality for what it is, and takes concrete legal steps to secure the people of that state from ongoing threats of terror and violence. There is no civilization that can sustain itself with passive denialism and Utopian wishful thinking.

Perhaps it is not excessive rhetoric at all to suggest that the passage of the “Material Support to Designated Entities Act” in Tennessee marks a turn-of-the-tide moment in recent American history. Perhaps more rational voices – supported by history, evidence, and the actions of those whose purpose is our destruction – will be heard with more patient and open ears in halls of learning and law across the country, and Tennessee’s model of acceptance of the truth will sweep the land from east to west and north to south.

What remains now is for Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to sign the bill into law.

Please consider sending Governor Haslam a note via email (bill.haslam@tn.gov) mentioning that you support Tennessee bill SB1028/HB1353 (Material Support to Designated Entities Act) and that you strongly hope that he will affix his signature to it.

Co-authored with Dr. Bill Warren

DL Adams is an analyst and historian.

Dr. Bill Warner is Founder and Director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam. Dr. Warner’s website is PoliticalIslam.com.

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