In 2014, Congressman Bill Young, State Senators Jeff Brandes and Jack Latvala, State Representatives Larry Ahern and Kathleen Peters, as well as the Republican nominees for dozens of offices will be on the ballot in Pinellas County — a county which trended Democratic during the last election.
Yet, the Pinellas Republican Executive Committee, the organization responsible for helping elect and re-elect these candidates believes the best use of its time is not to fundraise or organize precincts or train volunteers.
No, what the Pinellas GOP will be doing on Monday is hearing from Dr. Jonathan Matusitz, who will be speaking about “The Islamic Threat to America.”
Matusitz, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida, will explain, according to a flier, how Islam is “Not a religion of Peace” and represents a threat at the “local,” “academic,” and “political levels.”
Already, Matusitz’s planned appearance is drawing a fierce reaction from those inside the party.
In the days that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush and Congress prepared their response, starting to work on stronger counterterrorism measures and preparing for a war in Afghanistan, where the Taliban had housed al Qaeda networks for many years.
Eleven years after 9/11, there is a lot for Americans to contemplate as they remember those times. Although people have focused a lot of attention on Bush’s appearance before a group of New York firefighters at ground zero, another highly significant moment took place on September 17.
That day, at the Islamic Center in Washington, the president delivered a powerful message about the need to keep America’s response to 9/11 from turning into a war against Muslims. This message was as important to his war on terrorism as the strategy of regime change, or pre-emptive war.
Unfortunately, this is a principle that has been slowly and dangerously undermined in recent weeks as a result of the controversy over a proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque a few blocks from ground zero.
Speaking at an emotionally charged moment, just six days after the attacks, Bush told the audience that it was vital for Americans to understand that the terrorists did not represent the Muslim tradition.
“Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America; they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior,” Bush said.
The president reiterated his firm commitment to protecting the constitutional rights and honoring the important role of the Muslim community in the United States.
In no uncertain terms, Bush said: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”
Evidently, the leaders of the PCREC did not heed Bush’s message.