The Centennial Institute conservative think tank at Colorado Christian University is hosting a “Tribute to the Troops” Monday, where the featured speakers will be Sarah Palin and General William “Jerry” Boykin. Although both figures in the past have been associated with an aggressive Christian politics known as Dominionism, Boykin is one of the people at the heart of post-9/11 U.S. religious militarism. For years he has been giving talks in which he conjures a Christian America targeted by hundreds of millions of violent Islamic jihadists, rallying support for the most hawkish variety of anti-terror U.S. foreign and domestic policies. If Boykin’s past presentations are any measure, attendees at Monday’s rally are in for tough talk peppered with statistics that sound official and scary but that fail to stand up to the kind of mathematical fact checking you can do in your head as you listen to him speak.
In one YouTubed radio appearance, for example, Boykin rattled off figures on the population of Islamic terrorists around the world and in the United States. He said the “best estimates” suggest there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and that 15 percent of them are violent jihadists. He said that there are 2.4 million Muslims in the U.S. and that 15 percent of them are also jihadists. Boykin would have listeners believe that there are 225 million radical violent Islamists around the world seeking to kill Americans and that there are 360,000 of them here in the U.S., half the population of Palin’s Alaska.
But Boykin has not only drawn heat for his provocative talks. He also drew sanction from the Army when, as a top Pentagon official in the months after 9/11, he cast the War on Terror as a religious war, in part by recruiting “Christian warriors” to fight for God’s kingdom on Earth during a speaking tour of Baptist churches.
Boykin was also a key figure in putting the torture techniques practiced at Guantanamo Bay to work at the notorious U.S. detention facility at Abu Ghraib in Baghdad.
Writing at Salon, Sydney Blumenthal in 2004 said Boykin was “at the center of the secret operation to ‘Gitmo-ize’ Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison” and he details Boykin’s travels through Bush-era anti-Islamic Christian America.
Just before Boykin was put in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden and then inserted into Iraqi prison reform, he was a circuit rider for the religious right. He allied himself with a small group known as the Faith Force Multiplier that advocates applying military principles to evangelism. Its manifesto, “Warrior Message,” summons “warriors in this spiritual war for souls of this nation and the world … God has given us the stewardship and accountability of FAITH as our strategy for this time to mobilize an exceedingly great army.”
As the head of the Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, N.C., Boykin invited Southern Baptist ministers for prayer meetings that would be highlighted by demonstrations of Special Forces hand-to-hand combat and guided tours of the “Shoot House” and “Snake Room.”
Boykin staged a traveling slide show in which he displayed pictures of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein around the country. “Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army,” he preached.
Here’s Boykin on YouTube:
He said hundreds of millions of jihadists are determined to destroy our liberties and reestablish an international caliphate, that the Saudis are pouring money into our school systems and universities to undermine democratic thinking, and that radical madrasas are multiplying “right here in America.”
He refers to a terror trial in Dallas where “they determined… that almost every Islamic organization in America is a front for fundraising for Islamic extremism.”
More Boykin quotes from the radio appearance:
Law enforcement has been unwilling to address the issue to do what was necessary in terms of arresting and incarcerating these people…
These activist judges, there’s a history of leniency with these people, and many of [the alleged terrorists] have been released after committing crimes only to be rearrested later for being involved in some sort of terrorist activity…
There exist 35 Muslim compounds scattered across America, and the activities that are going on inside those compounds I think it’s safe to say are not in the best interest of our liberties and our freedoms and, in many cases when people have tried to get into these compounds to see what is going on, they’ve been held away at gunpoint…
I’m afraid the attitude of Americans is one of capitulation. There seems to be an attitude that, if we just allow them to worship as they please under the concept of freedom of religion, they will enjoy their life in America, when the fact of the matter is the jihadists have every intention of destroying the nation as we know it and establishing it as a Muslim nation… It is time for America to awaken… What we need to do as Christians and as Americans, we need to do what God’s called us to do, and that is get our armor on and get into battle.
In the weeks after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Arizona, Palin defended herself for targeting Giffords with gun-sight cross-hairs on a midterm election map. News that Palin was coming to Colorado to talk sparked some controversy at the time. The fact that Palin will share a stage with Boykin for that talk has always been more controversial news.