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Fear Over Islam In Schools Draws A Crowd In Kalispell

An screen capture from the ACT! For America website.
A screen capture from the ACT! For America website.

Almost 200 people gathered at the Outlaw Convention Center in Kalispell on Thursday night to talk about Islam, public school curriculum, and American values.

The event was put on by the Flathead Chapter of ACT! For America, a national nonprofit whose website boasts more than 1,000 chapters across the country. On their business cards, the ACT! slogan reads: “Rising in defense of our security, our liberty, and our values.”

The speaker of the night was retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roy White, from Texas. He’s chairman of the Truth in Textbooks Coalition, part of the ACT for America Education program. According to its website, the group aims to have 500 trained reviewers across 22 states by the end of 2016.

“One-hundred-and-fifty schools are receiving a half a billion dollars worth of federal money and grants for charter schools, which basically is an influence operation for indoctrinating children," White told the crowd, adding, sarcastically, "So, happy news.”

Truth in Textbooks works to keep what White called, “soft and gentle” depictions of Islam out of public school curriculum and textbooks.

“If you write about Islam in a way that’s positive to deceive those, then you are performing Jihad by the pen.”

White says that a few volunteers can make a big difference when it comes to challenging public school curriculum, especially when local school boards are approaching review season. He said he’d teach Montanans those effective tactics.

“We’re going talk about how 50 volunteers, just about this side of the room here, how 50 people changed what 5 million children are going study for the next ten years," he said.

The Flathead Chapter of ACT! For America recently won the Chapter of the Year Award.

“Who was with us two years ago in September for our first ACT! For America meeting in Flathead?" Chapter Leader Caroline Solomon asked the crowd. "Thank you all. We wouldn’t be here without you ... We have our work cut out for us for the coming year.”

Last week, Solomon went to ACT! For America’s annual conference in Washington D.C. She said that attending the conference and meeting with senators was powerful, but challenging.

“I also can share with you that they all got messages from CAIR asking them to not meet with us," Solomon said. "Some of them canceled even their appointments they had in the afternoon with their constituents. I have the list.”

CAIR is the Council on American-Islamic Relations. They, as well as the Southern Poverty Law Center, say that ACT! is one of the biggest anti-Muslim hate groups operating across America today.

The crowd was eager to ask questions and make statements towards the end of the event. Among them was Republican Derek Skees, a candidate for House District 11 on the west side of Flathead Lake.

“When they call you a xenophobe, that means you're afraid of the outside or the unknown," Skees said, "well, call them an oikophobe, which means fear and loathing of the known or the familiar, which is what they’re destroying. They can’t argue with that fact.”

Kalispell resident Pat Arnone, who described herself as a concerned grandparent, also spoke up.

“Sharia law goes against our constitution, goes against the laws of our land," Arnone said. "It’s being practiced in 20 states in this country. It goes against everything we as Americans and Christians have been taught. If they believe in the Qu’ran, and that makes them Islam. They are not peaceful people. They want to convert us or they want to kill us.”

Missoula resident Tom Wing is a longtime supporter of ACT! in Florida and Montana.

I asked him why he thinks this event was important to have in Montana.

“That’s a great question," he said, "and the people who are probably much more qualified than I am are the people in Europe. The women that are getting raped. All the other problems that Europe’s having with the immigration into Europe.”

Refugee resettlement is weighing heavily on Wing’s mind.

"All of this really can be referred to as a Trojan Horse effort on the part of radical Islam," he said. "And unfortunately there’s a lot of good Islamists, but they get sucked in by the bad guys. That’s a problem … I thought this event was good. I’d like to see it done in Missoula. Missoula’s a lot bigger community than here. But this community is really well represented. So, I think you’re going see more and more and more of this.”

The Flathead Chapter of ACT! For America is planning more events and rallies throughout the fall in Kalispell and Missoula.

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