Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tennessee Freedom Coalition listed by U. S. Army as a hate group

The Tennessee Freedom Coalition is a conservative organization headquartered here in Nashville. Recently, a Fort Campbell Army colonel advised his subordinates to be on the lookout for soldiers who might be members of “domestic hate groups.” "When we see behaviors that are inconsistent with Army Values," he wrote, " – don’t just walk by – do the right thing and address the concern before it becomes a problem."  On his list of "domestic hate groups" was the Tennessee Freedom Coalition. (link)

Who is TFC?  On their website they respond to the question, "who are we?" like this:

The Tennessee Freedom Coalition is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization designed to educate Tennesseans on policy matters relating to equitable tax structures, education reform, vibrant economic paradigms, immigration issues, limited government, health care, Islamic radicalization, job creation, and our proper constitutional relationship to the federal government.
There Chairman and Executive Director is Andrew Miller.  Andy Miller is well known to local conservative political activist. He is a wealthy individual and a major Republican  fundraiser and well-connected in Republican circles. Second in command and also holding the title of "Executive Director" is Lou Ann Zelenik. Zelenik has ran in a Republican primary twice against Diane Black in very continuous, hotly contested races. She was also a leader in opposition to the establishment of the Muslim Mosque in Murfreesboro.

Another well know members of Board of TFC is Jeff Hartline who  ran in the 5th District Republican Primary for the U.S. Congress in 2010 and who led Kerry Roberts’ successful 18th District Senate campaign. Another name you may recognize is that of Glen Hughes who was, until recently, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Assembly, a group that thinks they are the only real Republicans and all other Republicans are RINOs.

The list of advocacy issue that TFC focuses on is below: 
  • Educate citizens on the realities of Sharia and stop the growth of Radical Islam
  • Promote Positive education reform
  • Promote a fairer and flatter tax structure for America
  • Promote cultural cohesion by opposing Illegal Immigration
  • Promote market-based healthcare reform
  • Promote job creation In Tennessee by reducing government interference
  • Promote a return to the Constitutional principles which made America the land of individual liberty
  • Promote citizens rights to keep and bear arms
  • Promote the Sanctity of Life for the unborn 
I agree with TFC on many issue. The issue that TFC has focused on most however, as far as I can tell, is the anti-Sharia movement. They sponsored  Geert Wilders'  appearance at the Cornerstone Church in Nashville last year. Wilders is controversial Netherlands politician know for his campaign against the "Islamisation" of the Netherlands. He attempted to ban the Quran in the Netherlands and he was, for a while, banned from entry into the United Kingdom because he was considered "a threat to society."

In addition to making the Army's list as a hate group, TFC is also on the list of the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

Is TFC a "hate group?" Are they a danger to society? Not in my opinion.  I take issue with their anti-Islam zealotry and think it borders on spreading irrational fear.  In my view, TFC and others in the anti-Sharia movement tend to paint all Muslims with the same brush.  I recognize a broad spectrum of Islamic thought. There is diversity among Muslims. I believe that most Muslims can assimilate into American society and be good Americans and I do not believe all Muslims are fundamentalist Jihadist.  Neither do I thing that we are in any danger of waking up one day soon living under Sharia law.

On the other hand, I recognize that there are terrorist sympathizers among some in the Muslim community. We should be concerned about the establishment of schools that teach a radical brand of Islam. I hope the FBI is keeping tabs on potential terrorist and I support restricting the immigration of undesirables. However, I believe Muslims have as much right to build a Mosque as do Mormons to build a temple. I am not comfortable with the tone of the anti-Muslim message of TFC.  That however does not make them a "hate group"  I know some of these people. Jeff Hartline is a good guy.  I would vote for him for US Congress and would prefer Jeff Hartline representing me in Congress over Jim Cooper. While I think TFC is off-base on some things, they are not a "hate group."

Another "hate group" on the Army's list and the list of the Southern Poverty Law Center is the Family Research Council. Apparently FRC made the list because they believe they homosexuality is a sin. View there website. This is a group of good Christians who take their faith seriously.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a private group and can name anyone they want as a hate group. I can start my own list of "hate groups" and I can list the Southern Poverty Law Center if I should want to do so. Unfortunately, much of the mainstream press gives credence to the SPLC list and if a group makes that list they are considered a hate group by many.  I, however, take making the SPLC list with a grain of salt.  Along with neo-Nazis the SPLC include many who are simply politically incorrect by mainstream liberal standards.

Being on an Army list is a different matter than being on the SPLC list. I think it is dangerous when the Army can create a list of "hate groups" and have on that list groups like the FRC and TFC along side violence-prone groups like the Ku Klux Klan. The army's list may become a standard that is use by others to label as subversives those who belong to or attend functions of groups like the FRC or TFC. A list like this can be used to stifle descent. Will churches that teach homosexuality is a sin be added to the list?  Will those that have views outside of politically correct mainstream liberalism live in fear of being added to the list?  Will conservative activist monitor what they say in order to avoid being added to the list?  A government list of "hate groups" is dangerous. A greater threat to our liberty than TFC or FRC is for the Army to arbitrarily, without any standards for doing so, and without due process, to create a list of domestic hate groups.

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