ROXBURY — Bernie Sanders’ neighbors are outraged that an Army veteran has put up a “Muslim Free Zone” sign on the outside of his home, but officials say there’s nothing they can do about it because it falls under his First Amendment rights.
Times Argus Troy Maxham tacked the sign onto his Roxbury home very close to Route 12A a couple of weeks ago because he says he doesn’t trust Muslims. Maxham, who claims he’s served in the U.S. Army in the past, said he doesn’t believe “towelheads,” a racial slur against someone wearing a Muslim headrag, should be allowed to take over the United States.
Also, he said he believes President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Maxham, a self-described supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, said he will leave the cardboard sign up until it rots away, and then he’ll replace it with another. He argued he is protected under the First Amendment, regardless of what others think of his message.
Regina Logan of Braintree said she is offended by the sign. In a letter to the editor submitted to The Times Argus, Logan said she was appalled and ashamed a Vermonter would put up such a sign. “While the sign is on private property, it is in public view, and its message is in direct conflict with the values we as Americans are supposed to hold dear,” she wrote. (You mean values like ‘freedom of speech?’)
Roxbury Town Clerk Tammy Legacy said town officials were recently made aware of the sign, and it was also discussed at town meeting last week. Legacy said the Select Board agreed the sign falls under free speech as it’s displayed on private property.
Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for the designated terrorist group CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), agreed with Legacy that there isn’t much that can be done. Hooper said all that can be done is to try education and outreach for individuals involved to help them learn more (whitewashed lies and propaganda) about Islam and Muslims. He said the goal is to get them to interact with ordinary Muslims who reside in America.
Some businesses around the country have made their properties “Muslim free zones” but those companies can be sued for discrimination. One such lawsuit was brought against a gun store in Florida last year, but a federal judge dismissed the suit in November stating there were no facts presented that would show that Muslims would be harmed by the ban.
“This is just systemic of the unprecedented rise in anti-Muslim bigotry nationwide,” Hooper said. “In large part due to the mainstreaming of Islamophobia by public figures like Donald Trump and Ben Carson and others.” Trump has been the most vocal of the presidential candidates when it comes to talking about Muslims, including his calling for a ban on Muslims traveling to the U.S. out of fear that the travelers might be terrorists.
When told that his sign could be seen by some as offensive, Maxham said he didn’t care. “If they don’t like it, they can kiss my American ass,” he said.
Vermont restaurant ‘Sneakers Bistro’ was forced to remove its sign that read, “Yield for Sneakers Bacon,” citing opposition to the reference to ‘bacon’ from a perpetually outraged Muslim bitch.