BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
You wouldn’t recognize William “Jerry” Boykin if you were sharing a pole with him on the subway or sitting next to him on a bus. While he isn’t one of the brightest stars in the conservative Christian right’s constellation, he has certainly tried – and in some cases succeeded – to raise his profile. For Boykin, now executive vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, the path to right wing stardom has revolved around a protracted and vicious anti-Muslim campaign: Shtick that he’s been purveying for more than a decade.
In February, Boykin, one of the original members of the US Army's Delta Force and a former United States Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, appeared on a panel, led by radio talk show host Janet Parshall, at the National Religious Broadcasters convention. According to People for the American Way’s Brian Tashman, Boykin, the co-author of Sharia, the Threat to America railed against the so-called Sharia threat, and “cited a report from Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy that claims that judges in fifty court cases have used Islamic law in making their decisions and that Sharia ‘has been insinuated into our legal system.’”
The ACLU has pointed out that “the CSP report consists mostly of 50 judicial opinions, which the authors copied and pasted word-for-word simply because they mention Islam or involve claims brought by Muslims, contending that these cases serve as evidence of the so-called ‘Sharia threat.’” The CSP “report doesn’t even attempt to prove that Sharia law is being used in courts, but merely finds that there are some court cases which ‘happen to involve Islam or Muslims.’”
Tashman noted that “Boykin went on to cite Oklahoma’s unconstitutional Sharia ban and insisted that the media is refusing to reveal ‘the true nature of Islam.’”
According to Tashman, “Later, Boykin called for people to support Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert and Trent Franks over their role in leading the witch hunt against Muslim-Americans serving in government, which he said proves that they are ‘standing on the word of God’ and ‘their belief in Christ.’”
Boykin has plowed these fields before. In 2002, he told a church in Daytona Beach, Florida that he was able to pursue a Muslim fighter in Somalia because he knew that "[my] God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."
The following year, Boykin hit the headlines related to visits he had been making to fundamentalist Christian churches around the country dressed in full military gear and delivering speeches sprinkled with anti-Muslim bigotry. At the time, Boykin was equating the "war on terrorism" with the "war against Satan," disparaging Islam, and claiming that then President George W. Bush was "appointed by God."
After stirring up a significant controversy, Boykin later apologized to "those who have been offended by my statements," and maintained that he was "not anti-Islam or any other religion." Boykin said in a statement that he was "neither a zealot nor an extremist, only a soldier who has an abiding faith." Bush quickly rebuked Boykin, claiming that he was not speaking on behalf of the Bush administration.
In 2009, a now-retired Boykin, was a featured speaker at a 9/11 event titled "The Threat of Radical Islam and the Church's Response," which, according to the Christian Post, "sought to inform churches about radical Islam and teach Christians how to reach out to their Muslim neighbors."
Last year, the FRC – labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010 -- hired Boykin as its executive vice president. According to his FRC bio, Boykin is responsible “for overseeing day-to-day operations including policy, church ministries, finance, development, communications, human resources, facilities, information technology, constituent communications and customer service.”
Over the years, even before he was hired, the FRC has been an unflagging Boykin supporter. According to People for the American Way’s The Mythical Martyrdom of Jerry Boykin: A Case Study in Religious Right Propaganda Techniques, several FRC leaders, including Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski, have argued that there have been attempts to marginalize and discriminate against him “because of his Christian beliefs.”
As PFAW’s report pointed out: “No one has challenged [his] … freedom of religion or freedom of speech. He is like all Americans free to speak, preach, and proselytize. He is free to continue to travel around the country promoting religious bigotry and calling for legalized discrimination against some Americans based on their religious beliefs. He is free to make his case in the media, as he has continued to do since withdrawing from the West Point prayer breakfast. And he is even free to claim that criticizing his outrageous statements is the equivalent of an attack on his personal freedom.
“But General Boykin has no ‘right’ to be free from criticism. And he has no ‘right’ to have his irresponsible positions promoted by public officials. Indeed, Americans who value free speech and religious liberty have good reasons to challenge Boykin’s assertions, and to hold accountable public officials who give his extremism credibility it does not deserve.”
Boykin likes to fashion himself as a modern day Christian martyr. Critics peg him a modern day Joe McCarthy.
(Photo: NBC News)