Explain how this wins election: Pinellas GOP to hear speech on “The Islamic Threat to America”

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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. 

“I am deeply disappointed in your decision to have a speaker Monday night talk about the “Islamic Threat to America,” said Chris Latvala, a GOP stalwart who has worked on dozens of local campaigns, in an email to Michael Guju, the chair of the PCREC. “Our job as a party should be to encourage every voter whether they are Christian (which I am), Atheist, Buddhist, Scientologist, Muslim, Agnostic, or whoever, to vote Republican.”
Behind-the-scenes, the reaction to Matusitz’s speech has been met with derision, as several party leaders are complaining that the invitation to Matusitz is an ‘olive branch’ to the far-right elements in the local party.
“This isn’t even from the Tea Party folks; this isn’t even the anti-fluoride crowd,” said one PCREC committee member. “The people who listen to this guy are from the crazy wing of the party. And they’re the reason why we lost the last election.”
Matusitz’s speech is a far cry from the tolerant message espoused by the last Republican president to occupy the White House.

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.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.