Well, the Tarrant County (Ft. Worth) Republican party voted to keep Dr. Shafi in his position as Vice-Chairman of the party. By a vote of 139-49, the precinct chairpersons voted to keep the doctor in his position. I previously wrote about this vote here. A lady named Dorrie O’Brien and others had pushed the idea that because he was Moslem, he had some connection to jihadists. That notion would be humorous if it was not so serious. See CNN news report here.

Dr. Shahid Shafi is finding much support among the Republican party in his quest to remain vice-chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party. Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz have both issue statements supporting the doctor. The vote to remove Dr. Shafi is set for next week. I previously rote about this discriminatory attempt to remove the doctor here. See CNN report about this attempted removal here.

That really is the silliest thing, thinking just because he is Moslem that he must be a jihadist. I fought jihadists in Iraq. Trust me, Dr. Shafi is not a jihadi person.

If it was not so serious, the story in Tarrant County, Texas would be humorous. A small community near Ft. Worth has a City Councilman who is Muslim. Shahid Shafi has served as a Republican Councilman in Southlake since 2014. He is a doctor. He has served as delegate to state Republican conventions. In July, 2018, he was appointed vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party. Within days of that appointment, a couple of precinct chairs have sought his removal. Dorrie O’Brien and others believe Dr. Shafi represents an attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood organization to infiltrate the Republican Party. Based on no evidence, these precinct chairpersons believe Dr. Shafi seeks too impose the dreaded Sharia law in Texas (and the hordes will multiply!) and that he has some unspecified connection to Jihadi groups. I previously wrote about this story here.

In Facebook posts, Ms. O’Brien has complained often about his appointment as Vice-chairman. She has offered no evidence, says the Texas Tribune, of her assertions about Dr. Shafi. Ms. O’Brien and another precinct chair, Dale Attebery, have asked an anti-Muslim activist, John Guandolo, to come to Tarrant County and conduct training on the dangers of Sharia law. His training will occur on Dec. 29. A vote regarding Dr. Shafi will be held on Jan. 10, 2019. See Texas Tribune story here.

Dr. Shafi came to this country from Pakistan. He has been here 29 years. He says the Republican Party’s belief in small government appeals to him, especially after coming from a country like Pakistan. Leading Republicans in the state have affirmed their support for the doctor. It is ironic that the Muslims who come here are probably the ones most familiar with the horror of actual jihadis. Persons like Ms. O’Brien are attacking the wrong Moslems.

As I have mentioned here, I am continually appalled at the bigotry applied to persons who happen to be Moslem. It is comparable to blaming Presbyterians for acts committed by Methodists. Yes, they are all Moslem, but within the very large Muslim faith, there are infinite variations of adherence to one’s faith and one’s interpretation of that faith. It is silly to generalize all some 1.5 billion Moslems based on the actions of some hundreds in Iraq and Afghanistan. That sort of ignorance would be laughable, were it not so serious.

It is safe to say no one ethnic or religious group has a monopoly on patriotism. Yet, some Republican precinct chairs in Tarrant County believe just the opposite. Some Tarrant County Republican precinct chairs are trying to remove Shahid Shafi as Vice Chairman of the GOP party in Tarrant County. The chairman, Darl Easton, appointed Mr. Shafid to the post last Summer. Some Republicans have been trying since August to remove Mr. Shafid. Said one of the leaders, Dorrie O’Brien, “We’re patriots who don’t allow jihadists to play in the fields of the Lord.”

In August, some members of the board posted messages on social media claiming Mr. Shafid did know what sharia was, even though he would claim otherwise. They claimed he is a practicing Moslem. (Oh no!)  Many Republicans in Tarrant County oppose the move. Mr. Easton has rightly noted this is pure religious discrimination. Mr. O’Brien insists they did not oppose Mr. Shafid because he is Muslim, but because they oppose the global jihad to conquer nations and make them subject to sharia law. See Ft. Worth Star Telegram report for more information.

Ok, I get that. We should all oppose jihadis who seeks to impose anything on unwilling persons. I served in one war to help stop them from killing people in Iraq. But, what does global jihadism have to do with Dr. Shafid? He is a doctor in Southlake and sits on the City Council there. Somehow, I doubt he has spent time in the forces of ISIS or Al Queda…….

 

It is a strange ruling in Alkhwaldeh v. Dow Chemical Company, 851 F.3d 422 (5th Cir. 2017). The three judge panel consistently refers to Mr. Alkhwaldeh by his first name, Ammar, not by his last name. The opinion also recognizes  that the employer provided inconsistent explanations for the termination, but disregards those inconsistencies. Dow Chemical claimed it fired Mr. Alkhwaldeh because of poor performance in 2009 and because he failed to complete a Performance Improvement Plan in 2010. But, as Dow employees pointed out, Mr. Alkhwaldeh would not still be employed if he did not successfully complete his PIP. The court disregarded that inconsistency by pointing to “numerous” other factors, such as the strength of his prima facie case, the probative value of the proof that the employer’s claim was false and “any other” evidence that supports the employer’s case.

The court then explains that the ultimate question is not about pretext but whether a reasonable fact-finder could conclude that the employer would have fired the employee “but for” his opposition to discrimination. Mr. Alkhwaldeh had expressed that he believed he was the victim of discrimination back in November, 2009. The plaintiff is Moslem, so doubtless he was subject to many anti-Moslem jokes.

But, the decision is simply wrong. Pretext alone is sufficient basis upon which a jury can conclude that an improper motive played a role. We have known that since the decision in Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 147 (2000) (Even if a plaintiff offers only indirect evidence, that may be sufficient basis on which a jury may infer discriminatory motive. Proof that the employer’s explanation is unworthy of credence is one form of of circumstantial evidence that is probative of intentional discrimination, and it is one form that can be quite persuasive). It is also unfortunate that the court essentially engaged in fact-finding when it concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence of pretext was not sufficient to overcome the alleged “other evidence” in the employer’s case. Weighing evidence is not appropriate for summary judgment.

But, it appears the employee received his low performance rating in October, 2009, just a month before he was subjected to overt comments about his religion. So, his complaint about discrimination came after the poor rating. That timing issue may have affected the rest of the court’s analysis. This decision reminds us that some courts are reticent about relying too heavily on inconsistent explanations for a firing. Ito seems to me that some courts sympathize with HR departments in responding to EEOC charges. Perhaps, some judges see those departments as over-worked. I think any such sympathy would be discounted if those judges had met with terrified victims of those HR departments and managers who acted with illicit motives. And, one has to wonder how careful the panel was if the court did not understand which name was the employee’s last name. This was also one of those very rare cases in which the EEOC found in favor of the employee. Such a finding is almost as rare as snow in July. One would think such a case would be impervious to a motion for summary judgment. See the decision here.

I do not know whether I should laugh or cry as a lawyer at the latest antics of the Trump administration. They have been litigating the Moslem travel ban for some time. Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia heard oral arguments about the ban. One of the key issues is whether the ban intentionally targets a religion, the Muslim religion. The judges asked several pointed questions about past statements by Pres. Trump advocating a Moslem ban. The DOJ lawyers argued the Executive Order was not intended to apply to Muslims in particular. The judges even noted that on Pres. Trump’s campaign website, he still advocates a Moslem immigration ban.

Then, on Monday, a reporter asked Sean Spicer at a press briefing if the Trump Pence website still included the language advocating a ban on Moslem immigration. Mr. Spicer said he was not aware of any such language on the website. There was at the time a link that said, “DONALD J. TRUMP STATEMENT ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION.” Within minutes of that question to Mr. Spicer, the link and the language disappeared. It became a blank URL. Within minutes. See CBS news report.

As a lawyer, I do not know whether I should laugh or cry. Fudging with evidence within minutes of a question like that almost guarantees a conclusion of guilt. It just highlights a web page that might have been ignored for a little longer. How can the administration claim in court that the ban is secular when it has language targeting Muslims on its website? If it has language targeting Muslims, how can it seriously bring attention to that language by making it go away so suddenly? From the Administration’s perspective, this is no way to manage a lawsuit.

Sid Miller, Texas’ new head of the Department of Agriculture, is kind of amusing. At the beginning of his term, he announced with apparent relish that cupcakes were now allowed back onto school menus. He made his announcement while biting into a very tasty looking chocolate cupcake. A few months later, he announced the fryer was allowed back into school cafeterias. I did not even know fried food had been banned. His department changes the rules, to allow fryers back. Imagine the relief I felt….

Now, he has posted on Facebook a cartoon suggesting that we should “nuke” the Moslem world. See CBS news report. Not that nuking anyone has anything to do with the Agriculture department. But, really, the whole Moslem world? What about those tens of thousands of Moslems who helped us in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? As I have mentioned here before, we could not have done what we did in those wars without some dedicated, very able Moslem interpreters. They did more than just interpret. They were cultural guides for us Americans. We knew so little about these societies we had to work so closely with. Truly, a few unknowing mis-steps here and there, and we would have had many more Americans killed by insurgents.Those interpreters saved many American lives.

And, now the cupcake guy wants to nuke every single Moslem?

Since my time in Iraq, I have noticed many instances of anti-Muslim discrimination. It was surprising to me back in 2006 and 2007, when I first returned how often we castigate all Muslims.  Rick Casey discusses a T.J. Fabby of Red Oak, near Dallas, who accuses his political opponent of accepting money from an "admitted" Muslim. Say what? Businessman Ali Sharaf has given to many Republicans. Mr. Fabby, however, sees Mr. Sharaf as the "enemy." Mr. Fabby says Rick Perry, for one, is an "enemy of the state, ours" because he accepted money from Ali Sharaf. Mr. Fabby is running for the Texas House of Representatives. See KLRN Rick Casey post

I disagree with Rick Perry on many issues. But, I always appreciate that he served in the U.S. Air Force. Looking at Mr. Fabby’s website, it appears that he has never served in the U.S. military. He has apparently never learned the value of serving with someone who might have a strange last name, but is rock solid when the moment counts. So, perhaps, it is not too surprising that Mr. Fabby lost his election. 

As I have mentioned on this blog, I do not understand this prevalent prejudice against Muslims. It continues to surprise me. See my prior post here. I served in Iraq with many, devout, wonderful Muslims. Some were fine, humble, very decent persons. One, my own Salma, was a pain-in-the-neck. But, none of them were terrorists. Indeed, they risked their lives and those of their families to work with U.S. forces and to improve their country. Salma, who worked for me, was kidnapped, tortured and killed, only because she worked with U.S. forces. Her brother visited her once at our base and was almost kidnapped only because he was suspected of working for U.S. forces. 

So, where do we get that all Muslims are bad? Rick Casey says its a leftover from the Crusades. I do not know. But, I know my comrades-in-arms. And, they were alright. In a combat situation, there is no higher praise. 

Maj. Nidal Hasan killed a dozen soldiers and one civilian as they worked on paperwork or waited for their turn in preparation for a deployment to Afghanistan.  I previously wrote about the incident here and here.  A jury of senior Army officers deliberated for two hours and found that he should be put to death, that he should forfeit all pay and allowances and that he be dismissed from the service.  See San Antonio Express news report.  

In his attack, Maj. Hasan expended hundreds of rounds.  He shot many victims multiple times.  There was hatred behind his actions.  He targeted persons in uniform, but shot Michael Cahill, a civilian worker, when Mr. Cahill attacked the shooter with a chair.   That was the sort of people Maj. Hasan killed, people selfless enough to risk everything for one slim chance at helping another soldier.  The victims were much the better persons than their killer.  Maj. Hasan, however he cloaks his actions, was just another thug with a pistol.  As Maj. Hasan’s Imam said, his actions were not the actions of a good Moslem.  Or, as Salma would have said, this was not "islam."  Salma would say that the same way we would describe some heinous act as "not Christian."  The names change, but the values remain the same. 

Months before the trial, the Army psychiatrist insisted on growing a beard in accordance with his interpretation of Islamic rules.  He was, however, still a member of the US Army.  The Army does not allow full beards.  So, that turned into one long battle over a beard.  Eventually the judge who ordered that Maj. Hasan be forcibly shaven, was replaced.  Maj. Hasan was then allowed to grow his beard. 

Maj. Hasan represented himself during his trial.  He fired his lawyers just a couple of weeks before the trial.  This was his second or third set of lawyers.  His lawyers said he was trying to become a martyr.  He did not put up much of a defense.  He never cross-examined a witness.  He proclaimed himself the shooter on the first day of trial.  When his turn came to put on evidence, he called no witness.  He may have been trying to lose.  Or, he may be narcissistic enough that he would not bother himself with the actions of persons he considers beneath him.  

Automatic appeals will follow that will take years.  The military form of criminal justice provides substantial safeguards for criminal service members.  Indeed, unless a jury finds different, convicted service members retain their rank and pay until their sentence is concluded.  Maj. Hasan’s jury would take that away.  The man who swore an oath to help his fellow soldier will lose all benefits of that oath.  Even if he retains his life.

One of the major surprises for me after returning from twelve months in Iraq was the anti-Moslem bias in my country.  Now, five years later, I suppose that is to be expected.  Very few Americans know any Moslems.  And, of course, we are all very faimiliar with the eighteen murderous Moslems that attacked us on 9/11.  I served with some remarkable persons in Iraq who happened to be Moslem.  So, my perception is now different.  I flinch when I hear anti-Moselm rhetoric.  Moslem jokes are not funny to me.  And, I have disputed with several of my fellow citizens that Moslems are anymore violent than anyone else.  

No, I have not read the Koran.  I have been told that the Koran teaches Moslems to be violent.  A devout Christian friend has read the Koran in Arabic and says different.  Whatever.  As I have mentioned here before, I knew some wonderful persons in Iraq who happened to be Moslem.  In fact, we could not prosecute these two wars without some very brave and very decent Iraqis and Afghanis who happen to be Moslem.  

Egyptian society is roiling and turning.  Egypt has had a visible Christian minority for the last couple thousand years.  They have existed in uncertain peace with their Moslem neighbors.  With the current revolutionary fervor, one would expect religious strife.  One Christian church was burned when a romance between a Moslem girl and a Christian boy was discovered.  The boy and the girl were seen together.  The village elders decided the girl must die.  Her father refused.  Extremists killed him and strife began.  At some point, the extremists believed the boy was in a Christian church called Soul.  The Moslem extremists burned down the church.  

 Christians had been protesting already.  They protested more when this one church was burned.  One or two leading Moslem clerics supported the Christians and denounced the church burning.  The Egyptian Army promised to rebuild the church.  Moslems came to the Christian protests to say they supported the Christians.

At a memorial service, a Coptic Christian priest said the Muslims and Christians are brothers.  See NPR news report.  The priest himself stopped a Christian from seeking revenge at a prior protest.  Moslems cannot be categorized anymore than Christians can be.