A Muslim civil liberties group is opposing the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s pick for Army secretary due to his history of deeply disparaging remarks about Islam and Muslims.
The White House announced last week that Trump will nominate Republican Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green for the role. Green ― a physician, Iraq War veteran and Bronze Star recipient ― would oversee all matters relating to the U.S. Army if confirmed by the Senate.
But the Council on American-Islamic Relations says Green’s “past Islamophobic statements” should disqualify him from the role.
In a press release this week, CAIR highlighted remarks Green made about Islam and Muslims at a tea party meeting in Chattanooga in the fall of 2016.
“Great question,” Green said when someone asked him about an armed insurrection in the U.S. staged by people “who don’t belong here, like Muslims…”
Green, who did not respond to a request for comment on this story, describes himself as Christian on the official Tennessee state senate website. At the tea party meeting, he made it clear he didn’t want students in Tennessee learning about Islam.
When an audience member read a passage from a school textbook that correctly stated that Muslims believe in all the prophets in the Old and New Testament, Green replied, “When you start teaching the pillars of Islam … we will not tolerate that in this state.”
But if students did have to learn about Islam, they should only learn “the history of the Ottoman Empire” and “the assault of Islam out into the Levant and North Africa and into Constantinople,” Green said.
When speaking about his missionary work in a Toronto Pakistani community, Green also incorrectly claimed that Muslims don’t believe Jesus was “born from a virgin.”
CAIR, in its press release, stated that “Muslims worldwide love and revere the Prophet Jesus.” The organization also cited a couple of passages in the Quran:
“Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.’” (The Holy Quran, 3:45)
“How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?” (Mary in The Holy Quran, 3:47)
At another point in the tea party meeting, Slate notes that Green agreed with an audience member who said former President Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen. And when asked if Obama was secretly a Muslim ― an Islamophobic conspiracy theory ― Green refused to answer.
“I think, standing alone, [Green’s] nomination is one thing,” Ibrahim Hooper, a national spokesman for CAIR, told The Huffington Post on Friday. “But coming as it does after all of these other Islamophobes and white supremacists who have been nominated and confirmed ― Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Frank Wuco ― it just sends a very negative message to the American Muslim community and to Muslims worldwide: People with these kind of extremist views are now in the halls of power in our government.”
LGBT rights groups have also raised alarm over Green’s nomination. Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, an LGBT organization for military families, said in a statement that Green has made “a shameful political career out of targeting L.G.B.T. people for discrimination.”
Asked once about transgender members of the military, Green said that “if you poll the psychiatrists, they’re going to tell you that transgender is a disease.”
Being transgender is not a disease.
If confirmed, according to the Department of Defense, Green would have “statutory responsibility for all matters relating to the United States Army: manpower, personnel, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, weapons systems and equipment acquisition, communications, and financial management.”