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The Mayor’s anti-Islamic email is a major embarrassment

 
eidstamp

The stamp in question

Clarksville Tennessee’s Mayor, Johnny Piper has sent an inflammatory anti-Islamic email to employees of the city, encouraging them to boycott a stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, the stamp in question commemorates the two most important festivals—or eids—in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. On these days, Muslims wish each other “Eid mubarak,” the phrase featured in Islamic calligraphy on the stamp. “Eid mubarak” translates literally as “blessed festival,” and can be paraphrased as “May your religious holiday be blessed.” This phrase can be applied to both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

The email in question is the equivalent of a chain letter, which according to the Snopes Urban Legends web site was first seen in 2002. The letter was modified in August 2009 to falsely accuse President Barack Obama of ordering the U.S. Postal Service to issue a 42 cent first class stamp in honor of these Islamic holidays. In fact the stamp was first issued on September 1st 2001, and has been re-release several times since then. Mayor Piper’s email painted everyone of the Islamic faith with the same brush as those who carried out the various terrorist bombings over the years.

Several questions arise regarding the Mayor’s actions in sending this email that must be answered….

  • Did the sending of this email by an elected official violate any local, state, or federal laws.
  • Did this email violate city policies.
  • What action would have been taken under current city personnel policies had another city employee sent the same email.
  • Did the sending of this politically oriented email using city computers, on city time, to city email addresses constitute misuse of city computing resources.
  • What was the cost to the city in time and resources from this incident, and will the Mayor reimburse the city for these costs.
  • How do we prevent this from happening again.

Mayor Piper has since attempted to defend his actions, but they are simply indefensible. Muslims are a integral part of this country. They serve honorably in our armed forces, defending our nation, and our freedoms. No one should be treated like a second class citizens based on their religious beliefs, or the actions of a radical fringe. This incident created by our Mayor  has been an embarrassment for our City, our State, and our Country.

It is time for the City of Clarksville to establish a clear policy of non-discrimination, and to prohibit the City of Clarksville, the municipality’s elected officials, and city employees from engaging in activities or personal conduct which discriminates, or directly encourages discrimination by others on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, age, medical condition, ancestry, marital status,sexual orientation, citizenship, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran or special disabled veteran. The penalty for the violation of this policy this should be termination for employees; and removal from office for our elected officials, who should be held to a higher, not lower standard of behavior.


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16 Responses to “The Mayor’s anti-Islamic email is a major embarrassment”

  1. A Patriotic American Says:
    September 5th, 2009 at 12:04 am
    Bill Larson

    Reading the reports of the email that Clarksville mayor Johnny Piper sent to various council members is beyond disturbing. The mayor’s complete lack of tact, truthfulness and morality is boarder-line horrendous and I hope that the Clarksville press and media will condemn these statements about Muslims. It shouldn’t take a concerned reader to point out the fact that the Islamic religion is the most popular belief system in the world. America by definition is an all-inclusive society that promotes Christianity, Judaism and all other world religions, including Islam. For an elected official to take this stand is no different than taking a stand against stamps celebrating Christmas because Catholics took a platform of non-involvement during the Holocaust, or that Hanukkah should not be celebrated because of their attacks against the Palestinians. Both of these arguments are flimsy and contextually inaccurate, just like the statement that “Muslims bombed the World Trade Center in 1993.”

    Piper is an elected official and by definition an extension of the people of Clarksville. Please do the right thing and make sure that the people of your town understand that this type of bigotry is dangerous, irresponsible, and above all, just plain ignorant.

    Sincerely,
    A Patriotic American

    This is the contact information for the Mayor

    Mayor John E. Piper
    One Public Square 4th floor
    Office (931) 645-7444
    Fax (931) 552-74799
    mayorpiper@cityofclarksville.com

  2. Clarksville Citizen Says:
    September 5th, 2009 at 11:51 am

    If I read the email right, he did not say you must boycott, he said you should as an opinion. On the eve of one of the most horrible attacks on this country, it may resonate in people’s minds that many of these men were muslim and in fact, we are at war with many people of muslim faith now. It does not mean hate Muslims or their belief, but be concerned, be careful and be vigilant of whoever wants to breed hate here on American soil. Muslims in the purest sense are not evil people but somehow “some”, not all of them and many other religions, races, sexes, veterans, non-veterans and more have hateful and evil intentions upon the American people and our way of life. This is an email, this is not a speech, this is not a platform, this is not what people get voted out of office for; Remember, this is an email. An old email at that. Also, remember your fellow Americans and those that lost their life just a few days from now, just a few years ago. In additions, do not bring Muslim soldiers into this battle, there are all faiths in the military. If you are, you surely remember Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait, 2003, when a Muslim soldier threw grenades in a military tent at night killing his own, his own military brothers that had granted him the right to change his religion and still be counted on on the battlefield. I have my eyes open, but an old email that is forwarded, not commented on, is the last of our concerns. It is vigilance that sets you free, not scorn.

  3. aclem63 Says:
    September 5th, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you, Patriotic American! I couldn’t have said it better. It’s reassuring to know that there is at least one intelligent voice in our community, speaking for many of us who agree with you.

  4. Bill Larson Says:
    September 5th, 2009 at 4:19 pm
    Bill Larson

    Clarksville Citizen, it was inappropriate for any city employee including the mayor to send this type of email to other city employees using city computers, city internet, and on city time.

    Next you appear to espouse the same type of bigotry expressed in the email in question. The actions referenced in the email and that you bring up in your email to justify the sentiment is based on the acts by a few.

    Using your justification Christianity should be shunned and boycotted because Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Christian anti-abortion protesters bombed abortion clinics, and assassinated doctors who performed abortions. Christian Ku Klux Klan members committed horrible crimes against African Americans, Jews, Catholics and other minorities all in the name of protecting their race. Jim Jones and the massacre in Jonestown. The Salem Witch Trials.

    If we go outside the United States we have the church sanctioned Inquisition, the Crusades, Christian Emperor Charlemagne’s execution of 4500 people who refused to be baptized.

    This is by no means a complete listing.

    In the world there are 2.5 Billion Christians and 1.5 Billion Muslims, none of whom should be painted as terrorists due to the actions by a fringe group.

    So this email’s content can not be defended unless of course you wish to see the same reasoning applied to Christianity.

  5. Capri Says:
    September 5th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    He might as well yell from the rooftops that he believes in the Bloody Mary chain letter. Regardless of content, passing on chain letters is the quickest way to completely ruin one’s credibility and reputation. http://chainletters.pbworks.com

    And I’m sick of Christianity’s rep getting tarnished by chain letters, and by people continuing to believe Jim Jones-ites were Christians, Timothy McVey was Christian, the crusaders and witch-hunters were Christians. They were not…They were egomanics and idiots. Real Christians do not bomb buildings, put poison in koolaid, or commit torture and murder and call it religion. Terrorists and the stupid do that. Christians should not pass on chain letters at all, because then they are dissing their own religion and reputation by doing so. Also, Christians are not the only people passing on chain letters, I think this point really needs to be made. Because no one ever seems to squawk about chain letters unless and until it’s a chain letter that twists and exploits religion, and the unthinking religious people buy into it and do exactly what all viral schemes are designed to make people do, spread them.

  6. Bill Larson Says:
    September 5th, 2009 at 8:00 pm
    Bill Larson

    I know and my point wasn’t that they were, it was that they weren’t representative of Christianity, and those Muslims practicing terror against innocent people, are not representative of Islam as a whole..

  7. Capri Says:
    September 6th, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Yes, thanks. I get really frustrated over this sort of thing.

  8. Clarksville Citizen Says:
    September 6th, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Nor was I saying that this is a Christian or Muslim hate crime….my end state was that it was probably not the best choice to send a chain letter anyway as an elected official, however, the rebuke that the people want the elected official to receive does not fit the crime. But, while we are on the subject.. why is it offensive for someone to send this email and wants punishment to the highest and then we can not even say Christmas or have a Christmas party and we are told to say nothing..Hhmmm!.. Either way, the original statement was meant to establish that we have many issues going on in this community and nation to worry about an old email probably sent out of emotional thought of the upcoming memorial for the tragedies of 9/11, not that it was right. Slap the hand and get on with the mission.

  9. Bill Larson Says:
    September 6th, 2009 at 1:22 pm
    Bill Larson

    I think he should pay restitution to the city, and issue an public apology to the entire community.

    Other than that this time it should be it. Now since we have had the benefit of this experience to learn from, I do strongly feel that the city should establish a non-discrimination policy to ensure that this type of situation does not arise in the future.

  10. Clarksville Citizen Says:
    September 6th, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Agree, an updated policy on discrimination to ensure that it is in effect. In addition, talking to his staff about his actions. Not a public apology, it does not affect me, did not come on my computer nor would I have known about an internal issue until someone brought it to the papers/online attention. No pay in restitution, what does that really do in a situation like this, how do you say how much money goes to what offense. I think it would be more effective to talk to the people that it directly affected. In addition, do not forget, we can still talk to people directly before going to the paper :) Whoever brought this about, obviously offended, should have talked to him directly.. maybe he did,,not sure.. but sometimes that helps clear up issues before they become an enormous resource maker.

  11. Bill Larson Says:
    September 6th, 2009 at 5:44 pm
    Bill Larson

    Well the city has a press representative who is paid to deal with media and I am sure they have had quite a few contacts on this matter. The Mayor’s time spent dealing with this matter. His staff’s time answering phones and emails relating to this matter. The bandwidth and storage used by this email and all the response emails from the public.

    The total amount would most likely would not be much, but it would discourage this from happening again.

    The public apology because this has spread far beyond Clarksville:

    http://news.google.com/news/more?pz=1&ncl=dZ-pEDTxijIWTgMUxKSqcRl1JHRzM

    Read the comments at the various sites, and see how it reflects on our community. A real apology would go a long way towards starting to repair the damage to our communities reputation.

  12. Clarksville Citizen Says:
    September 6th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    PA, I read that he has already apologized to the personnel that he sent the email too. I also read the info you sent, however, it is from the Baltimore Sun (one of the articles) which would have never taken his side in the first place. :) He also did not encourage this, it was not his words, but a forwarded email. Maybe his restitution could be to pay for any over time a city employee had to perform assisting in helping with this issue. I understand there are many things he could Pay for, but in this case, we should look at all forwarded emails from all city employees. I imagine no bandwith or extra storage for this short email would have been used, blocked or disturbed in any way.

    It is an unfortunate situation/issue, that in it’s normal every day email world would have been another email you discard, but it seems that for some reason this resurrected email has gained legs in this emotionally intense nation we live in right now. It was not nice for the President to say what he did about the Police Officer and no apology was ever sent out, said or even mentioned. Maybe this is the atmosphere that as a leader, he is encouraging from other officials that work hard for our communities.

    So, I think we agree to disagree, which is a positive thing. Pay overtime, if any and talk to all city employees about anti-discriminitory policies. What do you think?

  13. Scott Beasley Says:
    September 7th, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Biil, McVeigh is a bad example, for he did not blow up the Oklahoma city bombing because of his faith. While there are plenty of horrible acts done throughout history in the name of Christianity, this was not one of them. While Piper’s e-mail forwarding was tasteless, and a raging display of ignorance, we do have the freedom of speech in this country, even on the taxpayer’s dime. While we may not agree with his decision and his stance, I’ll defend to the death his freedom to say what he feels. The key is voting him out of office when his term is up, although I believe its for much greater reasons than this e-mail.

  14. isa kocher Says:
    September 9th, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I am a 100% service connected disabled US American veteran. I am also a Fulbright Fellow. I have served my country loyally with distinction my whole life. Every single Islamic community in the world condemns formally and officially acts of terrorism as anti-Islamic. Insulting Islam insults me, and my sacrifice for my country. Muslim American patriots have fought in every war we have ever fought and have defended this country with their blood and it is unAmerican to to pit one religion against another in this country. We have all fought for religious freedom and died for it. We should thank god and live in peace. ‘Eid is the celebration of peace and god’s mercy for all humans.

  15. Nabiyah1 Says:
    September 10th, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    We are in a time and process of constant transition and growth. We (all peoples of the planet) have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to our neighbors, to extend our vision beyond common sight and understanding. American culture connotes a strong embrace of cultural diversity. Albeit the US does provide a platform for such an experience, not everyone has arrived. Many of our citizens are still in a phase of tolerance rather than acceptance. As an introspection of our inner-selves, it would be beneficial to realize how we speak and express ourselves (body language, usage of terms, phrasing of ideas, etc.) sheds light on the psychological recesses of our subconscious minds. We (all people) have our moments when we make loose, somewhat benign statements, that we do not equate to a real issue. However, our need to trivialize and justify our actions or ways of thinking, lends evidence to our consciousness, as least to some level, of its inappropriateness. This is true, though we may not be fully aware of all the layers of emotion that pad our conscious thinking surrounding the subject(s) at hand.

    I have pasted some of Mayor Piper’s comments shared above… “I was surprised at a stamp being developed, and would have thought others would be, too.” He added that he did not know what the stamp was commemorating. Piper also said he was struck by the reminder of several terrorist attacks against Americans.

    “I read it and thought about the bombings of our buildings, of our national buildings,” Piper said. “In my mind, it presented an image of mass death at the hands of Muslims.” Wow, not at the hands of Muslim radicals, but Muslims. This is a very irresponsible statement. I wonder if he feels the same upset about home-brewed terrorism on our own soil when he sees a Christian stamp. Millions died during the TransAtlantic/American Slave Trade, in the name of being a “good” Christian. After slavery many continued to die, churches were burned and churches are still being burned by clan groups that claim to be good, God-Fearing Christians. Is Mayor Piper reminded of those horrors and injustices every time he sees a symbol of Christianity? I hope not because both responses would be equally as ignorant. You cannot label a people or a faith based on a few.

    He went on to mention… “I don’t believe, just for the record, that all Muslims are linked together with radical Muslims that are out to harm Americans … I have several good Muslim friends.” Again, all these statements are indicative of unresolved cultural/religious issues regarding the Muslim community, as well as his ignorance as to what an American is.

    There are several things that I would like to examine with you and your audience.

    ~ There is no country called Islam
    ~ There is no country called Muslim
    ~ A Muslim simply means: One of who is of peace. It also refers to one who has ascribed to the beliefs of Islam.
    ~ A Christian/Buddhist/Jew/Hindu/Muslim etc. can be an American born citizen of the US, a naturalized citizen of the US, a resident of the US or a resident/citizen (naturalized or born) of any other nation. Your religious or spiritual indoctrination/affiliation does not define your citizenship/country of allegiance.
    ~ An American is anyone who is born within the United States of America or became a naturalized citizen through the process of US Immigration. These are legal terms. However, I personally view legal residents as Americans as well, since they have chosen to be a part of our national makeup.

    The term American and the term Muslim are not mutually exclusive. I point these things out because these distinctions are tantamount to how many of us tend to take varioius ideas (independent and codependent) and blend them together as one. This soupish-like thinking is really the overlapping of unresolved emotional issues which distort our view of the world and ourselves. We should all be careful with such thinking, as these displaced perceptions only exacerbate our personal wounds.

    Without revisiting the specifics of Mayor Piper’s feelings/thoughts of disdain, I question why he refers to the Muslim community as a whole, both American and those of other nations, rather than that of the radicals, which he only references when defending his bigoted thinking. Piper goes on to say, (paraphrased) that he does not link “all” Muslims to the radicals. However, his protests and urgency speak of Muslims as a whole. Piper also stated that he has “good” friends that are Muslims, if that is true, then I pose these questions: Why wouldn’t you speak with your Muslim friends to learn more about Eid before circulating such a profoundly damaging and misinformed email? Why would you, a man of presumed intelligence, fail to research the history of the stamp before purporting that it was ordered under Obama’s administration, when in fact is was under George W. Bush?

    As mayor, one should be careful how they express themselves to others. The position of mayor alone, illustrates an ability to influence others. Therefore, the perceptions and perspectives of such an influence can be pivotal in infusing or defusing a situation or the spread of an idea.

    Mayor Piper’s reaction is disturbing and shameful. However, his unmindful response is not uncommon. We are all human and we all make mistakes. However, certain positions as we know, says that you are capable of exercising discernment beyond the common mind and therefore express an ability to lead in a particular area. Mayor Piper, being a public official, has assumed a certain amount of responsibility. He is not only responsible for representing himself as a man, but he is also a representative of his city, and on a larger scale he is representing America. A mayor should be a figure that illustrates higher thinking and a viable interest in honoring public policy. With respect to this situation Mayor Johnny Piper has seriously failed himself and his public.

    To be clear the “….singular threat to Western civilization…” and the world at large is FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). Fear breeds bigotry, prejudice, ignorance, intolerance, hatred, etc.

    I invite all of you reading this to explore your feelings, to be present in the moment and to identify the truth and relativity of your beliefs. These type of stories are simply mirrors for our own inner truths. Let us use this example to make higher, healthier choices where we too, can oftentimes fail.

    Namasté
    Nabiyah


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