Remember that scene in Field of Dreams when the locals gather to discuss banning the work of author Terrence Mann? A little known fact about the scene is that it wasn’t filmed using Hollywood actors, but a gathering of people from Ravalli County. Here’s a refresher if you don’t remember the great film:
Well, a similar scene is likely to play out in Ravalli County on Monday, when the Darby School Board will hold a special meeting to discuss the dangers of teaching their kids. Not satisfied with a hate-filled gathering at a school to stop the fearsome specter of imaginary Muslim refugees coming to their valley, some good conservatives are outraged that the local library and school in Darby plan to host talks from a UM professor about the heritage and history of Islam.
According to the Ravalli Republic, the professor, Samir Bitar, has not only taught at UM for over fifteen years, but has trained members of the Montana National Guard. They write:
Bitar is a professor of Arabic languages and cultures at the University of Montana. A native Palestinian, Bitar moved to Montana when he was 16. He has been teaching at UM since 1999. He has a master’s degree in linguistics, teaching methods and cultural geography. Bitar has trained members of the Montana National Guard in essential Arabic language and culture.
The idea that a professor would teach young people about one of the world’s largest religions is apparently so threatening to the people of Darby that the local school superintendent is going to provide a forum for community members to spew more ill-informed, vile hatred before the event, even though parents will need to sign a permission slip for students to attend the class.
Confronted with a genuine opportunity to learn about Islam from someone who came to the United States as a teenager and who plans give back to the place he calls home with accurate information, the “patriots” in the Montana & Conservative Values Facebook group responded with the reason and Christian decency that so often characterizes their discourse. A sampling of the comments on their page includes the following:
- Everything I know about I learned on 9/11.
- Why? Why do people keep shoving Islam in our face? Islam is not a religion. It is a form of government . America already has a government. They lie and cheat and steal from us….will Islam do that better?
- Whatf?? They trying to indoctrinate kids?? I hope Darby shuts that down before they start doing homework on their book or where black clothing with the hole for the face.
- Sad is that so many mis guided Women think that refugee coming here is human, wait till they are looked upon as nothing more than a invitation to sexual assault…then what?
One can only assume that these fine men and women, whose anonymity I am respecting, will not be teaching any English or Civics classes themselves any time soon, but it is almost certain that they will be making a mockery of the religious values they preach and the rights they pretend to uphold when they speak this Monday in an effort to silence the professor.