As the saying goes, "correlation does not imply causation." But one wonders if Todd Starnes' journalistic abetting of Christian based Islamophobia and fear-mongering contributed to a climate of hatred in which an entire school district closed down?!
One of the perpetually outraged Christian right's latest outrage is a Virginia high school geography assignment in which students wrote, in Arabic script, the Islamic Shahada (statement of faith) in order to appreciate the art of Arabic calligraphy. But what was intended as a harmless lesson about Middle Eastern culture was deemed "indoctrination" by some Jesus loving, Muslim hating parents.
Naturally, the hate filled media megaphones of the religious right were immediately cranked up to full volume. So it wasn't a surprise that Fox's hate filled media mouthpiece, Todd Starnes, provided a "report" on this faux outrage. On Tuesday, Fox website readers were treated to his reporting (?!) on the issue.
Starnes began with the basic backstory. After noting the school's response, Starnes hit the agitprop button by describing the assignment as "Muslim friendly." He noted that parents were upset because students had not been given the translation (if they didn't understand it, how could they be indoctrinated?) and OMG "there were more than likely a few Christian teenagers in that room who had no idea they were writing, 'There is no god but Allah'."
After he provided statements from the school district, he editorialized "and out of sheer coincidence -- out of all the Arabic words and phrases the teacher could have selected, she picked the Islamic statement of faith?" He concluded with the quip that underscored his not so subtle Islamophobic message: "Perhaps the next time the kids at Riverheads High School practice their calligraphy skills they can learn a new word — 'indoctrination" - a word used by one of the parents who said that the teacher "gave up the Lord's time" to Mohammed.
Today, the entire Augusta County School District is closed "after a deluge of calls and e-mails from outside the school community" and calls for the teacher to be fired. The school district cited, in particular, the "tone and content" (another word for nice, Christian death threats) of the communications. The school has agreed to use a non-religious Arabic phrase in future assignments.
So while Starnes wasn't the only media hate monger, his voice was part of the cacophony of hate in which a school district was threatened.
The Baby Jesus must be so happy....
The teacher could have chosen a different context but if the kids didn’t know what it was I don’t see much harm.
But leave it to Faux to turn a spark into a raging forest fire.