Bipartisan Rejection of Eagle Forum Hysteria

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The Texas Eagle Forum strolled into the wrong committee hearing last month (video below).

It was on Feb. 17 when the Texas House Committee on Public Education met in Austin to take up interim charges at a hearing on charter schools. Speaking at the hearing, TEF Vice President MerryLynn Gerstenschlager asked lawmakers to pass legislation requiring charter school operators to be U.S. citizens.

Why? Fethullah Gulen.

We’ve seen this song and dance before. When your goal is to stoke irrational fears, it’s always best to have a bogeyman you can point to. And for a few years now, far-right pressure groups like TEF have settled on Gulen and Harmony Charter Schools.

It goes like this: Fethullah Gulen, who is a billionaire Turkish Muslim living in Pennsylvania, funds numerous charter schools across the country — including some in Texas — under the name of Harmony Charter Schools. Ergo: Muslim+schools+children=Indoctrination. At least, that’s the way TEF sees it.

But to hear TEF tell it, the problem is not that Gulen is Muslim. Says Gerstenschlager:

“There is an emphasis on Turkish culture. And that is fine. But it seems to be a common thread throughout these schools. And I wonder if they spend as much time teaching about American culture. That is my concern, that young impressionable children will become sympathetic towards Turkey and I wonder where their allegiance will lie.”

And that’s really the only evidence TEF has offered to support the claim that Gulen aims to indoctrinate — that Gulen is Turkish. As you’ll see, Gerstenschlager repeatedly denies that Gulen’s faith has anything to do with it, but she also claims that Gulen is tied to radical Islamism. Which begs the question: Would TEF even be at this hearing if Gulen were, say, a Christian born in Turkey?

But when Gerstenschlager testified at the committee hearing, both Republicans and Democrats would have none of it.

Who says the parties can’t agree on anything these days?

Far-right activists in Texas are so obsessed with Gulen that during the last legislative session they were willing to shut down government in order to push their divisive propaganda.

Whether they have a problem with all foreign-born billionaires allegedly using their wealth to influence America from within, or just the Muslim ones, is unclear. But we think it’s just the Muslim ones. All other ones (see Murdoch, Rupert) are probably fine.

8 Responses to “Bipartisan Rejection of Eagle Forum Hysteria”

  1. Doc Bill Says:

    I don’t know why Gerstenschlager (is that an American name?) is so concerned about students learning about the culture of Turkey. After all, the only country in the world that whose population is more fervently creationist is Turkey!

    It seems to me that it would advance the Eagle Forum’s creationist agenda to be MORE like Turkey, not LESS.

    Talk about a double standard, Ms Gerstenschlager, check out a mirror!

  2. Charles Says:

    If I had been on the government panel, I would have asked her, “Are you some kind of fruitcake?”

    And while we’re at it, what was she doing in Turkey on a United Nations trip? If I recall correctly, the Eagle Forum people (I hesitate to call them folks) believe that the United Nations is an evil organization appointed by Satan to achieve his goal of “One World Government” under the Anti-Christ, which we now will be a citizen of Pennsylvania with a highy suspicious “Latin sounding” name that evokes the belief that he arises from seat of ancient Rome. Well, sure, I made up that last part, but i expect them to figure out that what I have said is true sometime before November.

  3. CH Says:

    If the UN did indeed send this Gerstenschlager headcase anywhere under its auspices, all I can say is that the UN needs to tighten up its criteria.

    If she could find Turkey on a map, I’d be gobsmacked.

  4. Ed Darrell Says:

    Harmony Schools teach creationism? I called them a couple of summers ago, and asked about that. Their main office connected me with a guy who had an Oriental name, who said they teach biology straight up. Then they used Ken Miller’s text, and the guy said they teach evolution.

    Maybe that’s what has Eagle Forum so up in arms.

  5. Jo Says:

    Five will get you ten TEF is familiar with PNAC.

  6. R. Anthony Steele Says:

    Two of my children have attended Harmony Charter Schools, on two different campuses. While I do have issues with the schools (high turnover rate of instructors being the most concerning, and that probably not the schools fault, but more likely the underfunded charter system) the one thing I can say for certain is that my children were exposed to less religion in those schools, and that they both received better math and science instruction than they have in Texas public schools or other private schools. Their track record as some of the best schools in Texas proves that they are superior.

    …So by all means, lets punish Harmony schools rather than emulate them, because of the bogeyman of Islam. Makes about as much sense as anything else this State does.

  7. Bilal Erbal Says:

    That is why you need Turkish peoples teaching you children . Turkey is far superior to your American Schools. Turkey does great at everything we do. That is why you children need us. Master Prophet Fethullah Gulen will someday allow your children too to become part of the next Golden Generation of a race that will reclaim and unify the entire world under Allah. The is coming soon when Mohammad (peace be upon him)will bring Jesus to the mountain to become Muslim and for those who reject Islam and only through our prophet Futhullah Gulen will be forever perished. Only through our Master’s teaching will we have a world of peace where religion, science and mystic understanding can merge into one belief will there be ever lasting peace on Earth. These are exciting times for us all.

  8. Ben Says:

    Bilal Erbal, you scare me.

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