In San Angelo, a Tea Party backtracks from a night of Muslim-bashing

Posted Saturday, Sep. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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kennedy A San Angelo author and Tea Party member has learned that he can bash Islam if he wants.

But even in San Angelo, that doesn’t mean anyone else will listen.

In an bold move defying the stereotype of xenophobic Texas towns, the San Angelo Tea Party has disavowed comments by former President Terry M. Campbell and Grand Prairie activist Dorrie O’Brien at a Sept. 10 meeting on “radical Islam.”

Somewhere along the way, the topic of jihad switched to all people of quiet faith.

According to the news site San Angelo Live, Campbell said the city has “four Muslim families” and “I don’t trust any of them.”

He denied saying, as the news site reported, “and that’s four too many.”

After national criticism, Tea Party officers told the newspaper their only concern is jihadism and that Campbell’s and guest speaker O’Brien’s comments swiped with too broad of a brush.

“We see a big difference between radical Islam and Muslims,” Tea Party President Nathan Boates told the news site.

Civic leader Lyleanne McClellan-Thee, the Tea Party vice president, said: “We obviously don’t think that they should all be lumped together.”

Campbell, 74, a General Dynamics retiree from Florida who moved to San Angelo eight years ago, has repeatedly written to the San Angelo Standard-Times opposing Islam.

Another San Angelo news site, ChristianReporterNews.com, dropped his column and deleted his video commentaries after the Tea Party meeting report, he said.

“I’ve been called all kinds of stuff,” he said by phone from San Angelo.

He said he was only joking about the number of families and never said the “too many” part.

Although he has written and spoken broadly against followers of Islam, he said: “Personally, I’ve never met one.”

O’Brien, a freelance book editor and Tarrant County Republcan Party activist, leads the Grand Prairie chapter of Florida-based Act! For America, a 501(c)(4) which “educates” against “radical Islam.”

She has been making the rounds of Tea Party and Republican groups selling a self-published book and also drumming up opposition to Christian churches’ interfaith community projects with mosques.

San Angelo Live quoted O’Brien in her presentation as calling Islam a “poisoned well.”

Boates, the Tea Party president, said the meeting was meant to focus on jihad and O’Brien “could have maybe stated it a little better.”

Maybe that’s a topic for the next Tea Party.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy

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