Big in Somalia

Online Somali pirates have hijacked my May Harper’s feature, “Jesus Killed Mohammed,” excerpted “exclusively” (no more) here on Killing the Buddha. A publication called Garowe has re-published the piece — without my permission! Break out the sound cannons.

Actually, I’m delighted that Garowe has republished the excerpt. It’s almost always a pleasure when someone borrows work you’ve already been paid for. One writes to be read, and I’m especially glad the piece is being read by some Somalis, who for three decades now have been on the receiving end of American militarism merged with imperial evangelism. “Three decades?” you ask. “Wasn’t it Bush the First who sent the marines into Somalia?” Yes — after the U.S. had already spent a decade building up the arsenal of one of the most murderous dictators in Africa, Siad Barre. As I wrote in my book, The Family, it was American conservative evangelical activists who forged that awful friendship — guns for the dictator in return for his prayers. It was that crudely evil.

I’ll be talking about “Jesus Killed Mohammed” and the crusade for a Christian military today (Monday; 1-1:30 pm eastern time) on “The Leonard Lopate Show,” broadcast from NPR’s New York City affiliate, WNYC, and available online anytime. Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5 pm Pacific time I’ll be discussing the story with Michael Slate of Pacifica’s Los Angeles affiliate, at 90.7 on the dial and streaming live, I believe, at KPFK’s website.

If what you hear disturbs you, be an activist. The hero of “Jesus Killed Mohammed” is Mikey Weinstein, president of an organization called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that’s dedicated to the defense of First Amendment freedoms — of and from religion — within the U.S. armed forces. Mikey, a former Air Force lawyer with three kids who graduated from the Air Force Academy, was made for this fight, but he needs help.

Jeff Sharlet is a founding editor of Killing the Buddha, coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible (2004) and co-editor of Believer, Beware (2009). Sharlet is also the author of Sweet Heaven When I Die, (2011), C Street, (2010), and the New York Times bestseller The Family (2008).