Commissioner Karl Peterjohn usually ends Sedgwick County Commission meetings with a recount of what happened on that day in American history.
But not this week.
Peterjohn ended Wednesday’s meeting with a 13-minute speech as a “public warning for our citizens” about the threat of Islamic terrorism. You can watch it here.
“I’ve heard some folks say, ‘Well, not all Muslims are terrorists.’ True but irrelevant,” Peterjohn said. “Not all Russians were communists. Not all Germans were Nazis.”
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“The Islamist threat in this country is inside our gates,” he said. “Be prepared.”
Earlier in the meeting, Peterjohn introduced two resolutions that offered condolences to Russia and France for recent “evil events created by Islamic illegal combatants.”
A Russian airliner crashed in Egypt less than a month ago, and Paris was hit by a string of coordinated terrorist attacks late last week.
Commissioner Tim Norton voted against both resolutions, saying they go “a little too far for me.”
But Peterjohn said Kansans should be prepared because extremist groups like the Islamic State want to attack the United States at home.
“Kansans are a hardy stock and they know how to get prepared during the storm season, and, depending on what type of storm they’re facing, I think an awful lot of them know how to get prepared,” Peterjohn said.
“There’s a Sedgwick County connection ultimately to these factors and that’s why I made the comments,” Peterjohn said.
Peterjohn was also highly critical of the Obama administration, including President Obama’s personal history.
“We live in a time when our leadership cannot identify Islamic terrorism as Islamic terrorism,” Peterjohn said.
“Unlike the president, my father was a Christian, not a Muslim, did not have a Muslim stepfather, or educated in a Muslim school overseas,” Peterjohn said.
At the meeting, Peterjohn narrated a slide show of people named Muhammad who have committed acts of terrorism around the world.
He said the point of the slide show was to show the faces behind terrorist attacks.
“A lot of people struggle to identify Islamic terrorism and I figured Muhammad is not a name for anyone who is not a Muslim, in my experience, so there is an awful amount of Muhammads who have engaged in a whole host of heinous and vile and despicable acts,” Peterjohn said.
Muhammad is one of the most common names on the planet, particularly in countries with major Muslim populations.
Peterjohn said he was concerned about atrocities committed against religious minorities, like Christians and Yazidis, in territory held by the Islamic State. He also acknowledged that Muslims have been victims of attacks directed by groups like al-Qaida, the Islamic State and the Nigerian-based group Boko Haram.
“When Muslims were killed on September 11, 2001, I don’t think that the intent of the Muslim attackers was to kill Muslims, the intent was to kill freedom-loving Americans,” Peterjohn said Thursday.
Asked if there was a difference, he said, “In some cases there may and may not be. It depends. That’s why you’ve got to look at individual cases.”
He says he’s received plenty of feedback since his speech on Wednesday.
“There have been plenty of calls and e-mails. Some love me, some hate me,” he said.
Peterjohn said Thursday that he stood by his comments.
“My discussion was an attempt to hopefully try and convince the folks who do not understand the clear and present danger our country and the Western civilization faces,” Peterjohn said. “I take my oath of office seriously and also I take the responsibility of trying to keep this community safe seriously.”