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Sharia Law is coming to Augusta County: It’s all in the lesson plans

augusta-county2editsFox News is reporting on a World Geography class assignment at Riverheads High School. That’s one way to define lesson plan gone wrong.

It’s also a sign of the times here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Some parents of students in teacher Cheryl LaPorte’s class expressed outrage over an assignment that involved practicing writing in calligraphy by copying the Muslim statement of faith, the shahada, which translates as “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

The lesson included scarves that represent traditional Islamic garb for females.

It’s a day and age when anything even remotely touching religion in public schools can spark a controversy. Case in point: news reports are raising issue with a vaguely Judeo-Christian prayer led by a former teacher at another Augusta County school, Hugh K. Cassell Elementary, as county school leaders marked the groundbreaking at the school’s future home site.

We’re also in a time when the Muslim faith and its adherents are political fodder for candidates running for the Republican Party presidential nomination, with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump calling for a ban on Muslim tourists and others attempting to enter the United States, and his challengers not exactly making loud noises in their tepid criticisms of the plan.

The context of the day includes media reports that have turned a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., earlier this month into the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11, because its perpetrators were Muslims, one American-born, the other a legal resident on the path to becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.

(Only angry white guys can perpetrate mass shootings, of course. If it’s people of color who aren’t Christians, it’s a terror attack. As if that needed to be explained.)

And that San Bernardino shooting came on the heels of a terror attack in Paris last month that killed 130 people that has been directly attributed to ISIS, which also claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt in October that took the lives of more than 200.

The world is a bit on edge right now, is one way to put it.

And this somehow results in controversy in a World Geography class in sleepy Augusta County. Actually, it’s not all that hard to see how and why.

Augusta County is among the more Republican parts of the United States. Mitt Romney got 70 percent of the vote here in 2012; Jim Gilmore, who is only getting 0.0001 percent of the vote in the GOP presidential race right now, outpolled popular Democrat Mark Warner in the 2008 Senate race that Warner won statewide with more than 65 percent.

Whatever the brightest red is in the color palette, Augusta County is it.

So you’re in red meat country, and you have a teacher trying to teach kids about Muslim culture. This was doomed to fail, and that’s not considering the failure in communication. Parents who have raised issue with the assignment have wondered aloud why students weren’t told what they were being asked to copy, leading to suggestions that her motives included “indoctrination,” because of course teachers are liberals who are secretly working for the imposition of Sharia Law on our freedom, because that’s what Fox News tells them every night.

Communication, of course, would have resulted in a different outrage: that a teacher was trying to get students to copy a Muslim statement of faith, and only failed because the forces of good stopped her before she could sign their kids up for ISIS summer camp.

The local media has done a solid job in reporting on the lesson itself as being very much in context with accepted curriculum standards for a World Geography class, how it makes sense in trying to teach students about the different parts of the world that you’d cover topics like culture, arts, religion and the like.

School system leaders have similarly defended the teacher by pointing out that upcoming lessons on other cultures (clumsily referencing China and Africa) will highlight their unique arts and cultural and religious attributes.

Which is all well and good, but America isn’t mad at China (though maybe it should be, since China is our looming existential threat, not radical Islam, the fight that we for some reason picked), and how many of us if spotted two hemispheres could find Africa on a globe?

Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering our country, and for all we know, those who are here know had better watch their backs. The Islam that folks know from watching Fox News is a religion that sanctions killing in the name of, as if there isn’t more than enough sanctioned murder and mayhem in the Judeo-Christian holy text to justify a Crusade or two.

Facts and context be damned, it was time for somebody to put their foot down, and a group of parents in Augusta County decided that the foot was them.

Bless their hearts, they think they’re fighting the good fight, against Islamic indoctrination, Sharia Law, liberals and other inimical interests, and according to media reports, they’re even praying for the poor liberal teacher that they at the same time want fired, along with everybody else, because that’s what we do these days, is demand that people are fired at the slightest provocation.

The fact that Google will identify attach this nonsense story to the keyword Augusta County for the eternity of the Internet is of no mind nor matter to them: because they didn’t have their own personal Google machines back when they were in school, and they turned out OK.

– Column by Chris Graham