Beating a dead horse


I keep saying the Republican Party is the party of racists and bigots.  That’s not to say that all members of the Party are bigots; many are law abiding, patriotic Americans who honestly believe in the diversity of this great Republic but have serious political differences in the way  things are done.  Unfortunately, many others have wrapped themselves in these differences with racial polemic like that which has come from the lips of Donald Trump, despite  his protests to the contrary that he has such a great relationship with ‘the blacks’.   Now he will claim that his recent publicity is due to his belief Obama is not qualified to be President because he’s not really a US citizen….in other words he’s a birther.  It doesn’t matter that Obama showed his birth certificate during the presidential campaign, it wasn’t the “right” birth certificate, which forced Obama to produce the one birthers really wanted.  So once he did that what was Trump’s response?  Of course nothing will satisfy Trump or the others in the GOP as long as Obama is black which will be for some time to come.  But Trump isn’t the only guilty party rattling the GOP cage of bigotry.

Sally Kern from Oklahoma the state with the distinction of being one of the first in America to pass “anti-Sharia” legislation, which will undoubtedly be deemed unconstitutional took to that infamous legislative chamber to rant and rave against the lack of initiatives African-Americans, reverting to that age old racist diatribe of the lazy, shiftless black man or woman who is a drain on an otherwise perfect society.  Of course Kern is a Republican and of course she apologized, but why I’ll never know, when she lives in a state that wants to distinguish itself with divisiveness and fear.  It seems wherever you go on the American political landscape you will find people who have such extraordinary and extreme views about their fellow citizens that seem to get so much air time from main stream media, it’s enough to get even the likes of Bob Schieffer of CBS News to call them out on their bigotry.  We’ve said time and again America has a racial problem…it’s not simply a black and white problem, but one where we demonize and sow discord and distrust among ourselves towards people who are different from ourselves.  This is racism and this is something we must deal with as a society if we are to flourish.

“Rev.” Jones and other Michigan news


We all wish he would go away but psychosis inflates people’s sense of themselves and they just don’t get the hint that no body really wants them around.  Such is the case with media hound, Terry Jones.  You remember him, the guy who wanted to burn Qurans last summer in Florida to protest the building of the  Park51 masjid in New York city, who later reneged on that threat after intervention by some folks down in Florida, Jones’ home state…only to burn a Quran early this year.  Well he’s back and this time he wants to protest radical Islam in front of a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan of all places.  You can read about Jones’ latest escapade on the pages of that excellent blog, Loonwatch here.

Jones is certifiable and I really don’t care what he does, but what I do care about is the reaction the Muslims have to this sad fellow who really should be committed for his sake as well as ours.  For too long, the Muslim community in America has withered under the criticism directed towards them post 911, almost accepting the blame for one of the largest atrocities to happen to our Nation that they, Muslim Americans had nothing to do with.   Instead of asserting their claim to this country in much the same way as others who’ve populated America’s shores, Muslims have been reeling from claims they sponsor or are responsible for terrorism, or harbor terrorists or any of a number of racist and bigoted comments America is known for making towards those who are different than the one spewing the offensive venom and invective.

What Muslims need to do in the face of Jones’ latest threat is to invite him to Michigan, politely disagree with his premise that they are any more responsible for acts of terrorism than he himself is, acknowledge his citizenship rights to free speech and the right to keep and bear arms, thank him for his pledge to honor the citizenship rights of good peaceful Muslims (or whatever paternalistic inane phrase he wants to use to take a side swipe at the Islamic community of America) and assure him that they too will stand outside the mosque in Dearborn and any and every able bodied Muslim adult, male of female, who is legally capable of purchasing and carrying a firearm will assert their constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms and to free speech; that they too will respect the rights of people to disagree with them in their act of protest but they have just as much right to that protest as Jones himself.  Should he want to enter their place of worship or talk to one of the worshippers of the mosque he is most welcomed, but that he will be escorted by people who are just as heavily armed as he and who believe as much as he that as American citizens they have nothing to fear from the assertion that their rights are as important to them as his.  They should proclaim that gone are the days when they will answer any more supercilious claims of bigotry and hatred that are thrown in their direction and that rather they proclaim proudly they have just as much right to the rights Jones hold dear for himself as every other American.  In that respect they are brothers with Jones, citizens of the same Republic, but they do not share nor indulge in the demagoguery with him and other Islamophobes that are for now so prevalent, nor do they choose to denigrate  any person who lays claim to the rights of citizenship America gives to those who live legally on her shores.  That is the very least the Muslim citizens of Dearborn should do in the face of the Jones media circus that is headed their way.  Anything less than that is a waste of the US Constitution.

And speaking of the US Constitution, have you heard this news?  It appears Michigan State police are swiping phone data from anyone they stop for a traffic violation!  If you are pulled over in the state of Michigan police for any traffic related offense you will be asked to surrender your cell phone and a device, Cellebrite UFED can then extract a wide variety of data from it including contacts, text messages, deleted text messages, call history, pictures, audio and video recordings, phone details including the phone number and complete memory file dumps on some handsets.  Sounds mighty Orwellian to me.  I’m glad to see the ACLU is on the case claiming such tactics are in violation of 4th amendment protections against unreasonable searches, and  no doubt many an opponent of the Obama administration is secretly happy too that organizations like the ACLU in a time when their ardent political foe is in power are available to fight the encroachment of government on our rights.  Let’s not forget that under the Bush administration the government was given broad powers to conduct searches even without warrants from judges if they thought a criminal act was imminent.  What’s happening in Michigan is even where there is no probable cause law enforcement is implying that if you have nothing to hide you should surrender your phone to them to have all its data transferred in a matter of seconds.  Unless you are black, which means the police will stop you whatever you do or don’t do, my advice is dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s when you’re driving out and about in the state of Michigan if you don’t want your cell phone data in the hands of law enforcement officials.

Uh, Geert? Is anybody home in your country?


Geert Wilders,  the Dutch politician who seems to attach every act of evil perpetrated on the earth to Muslims, Islamist, or whatever else he calls members of the Islamic faith and has won the support of such American racist bigots as Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney, et.co will have a stretch to explain the latest news out of Holland regarding the death and destruction visited upon the citizens of his country by some whacked out white dude who was from Holland who wasn’t Muslim but was a member of a gun club and used a “machine gun” to kill 7 people including himself.

Racists xenophobes like Wilders accentuate the most minute details or imperfections in everyone but themselves or “their kind” so no doubt this horrible act of murder will not even get an honorable mention from him.  My sympathies to the victims of this crime and I don’t believe that all white males are homicidal, evil people hell bent on destroying civilization, although that case might be made by some.  However, this is the type of fear mongering that Wilders and people of his ilk engage in everyday to the whoops and cheers of many who have fallen prey to the dark side of human division and racism.  I’m reminded that two world wars were fought on the soil of Europe because someone over there engaged in just such rhetoric.

So we have one of the most tragic events to happen in the Netherlands where 7 people died and it wasn’t done at the hands of a Muslim.  Geert, do you get it yet?  Evil is an equal opportunity destroyer.  The seven deadly sins, which “murder” is not considered one but pride is,  are color blind.  You are a good example of that.

A Reminder of the GOP’s platform


Don’t think the Republican Party is the party of racists and bigots? You don’t think America still has a long way to go before it fully realizes the dream of most of the people who elected Obama, or to realize this country’s potential?  Take a look at the video below!

Why bring this up now you ask?  Sarah Palin is still commanding attention and speculation about whether she will run in 2012; Donald Trump has decided to throw his hat into the politcal ring and he began with the same time worn cliches about Obama that defeated the GOP in 2008 and he’s had a strong showing in polls of Republican voters.  The tea party was formed in response to the GOP loss in 2008 and many of its members, a few we’ve talked about here, have continued the racist rhetoric that is evident in the video below.

No doubt the GOP will present itself as the party of fiscal conservatives, responsible government, etc.. but that’s a facade.  The real face of the Republican Party is the one that pushes people to the brink of fear and panic with overt and indirect references to race, religion and offers itself as a panacea for all that ails the country.   They see nothing wrong with doing that and have enlisted the help of women, like Palin and blacks like Herman Cain, Allen West, et.al who can make the ridiculous claim that because they are saying such dastardly demagogic speech  it’s not racism or bigotry.  In reality, such people, photogenic, sophisticated looking people are nothing more than lipstick on a pig.  No matter how you dress it or who you use to spout it it’s still ugly, virulent and yes protected free speech, that is xenophobic and divisive.  What such forces of darkness are counting on is an ignorant, fearful, wanting to be led by the nose electorate who will believe anything they are told and produce the desired results at the polls.  Aren’t we better than that?   America, deal with your problem!

 

Dead NYPD Officer’s Body Snatched By New York City To Deny Link To 9/11 Related Illness


NYPD patch, first introduced in 1971

Image via Wikipedia

An interesting tidbit discovered while browsing the web. First it shows the ethnic diversity of the New York City police department…a good thing, but it also shows a rather heavy handed approach by New York City towards the issue of 911 and associated illnesses.

 

Black is white and up is down


Cover of January, 1915 National Geographic Mag...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve just seen the Nic Robertson interview with Imam al-Obeidi, the Libyan woman who says she was gang raped by Qaddafi‘s thugs and I’ve got all these swirling emotions going on in my head that I have to put down on paper.First of all, I was more than a little put off by Robertson’s calm assertion that Obeidi seems to be healing physically rather well from her assault. Let’s remember she was held for several days and repeatedly raped and brutalized by several men only three short weeks ago, during the week of the 21st of March. If you believe as I that rape is a crime of violence, then platitudes about how well she’s doing are too paternalistic for my stomach. Yes, it’s amazing she’s gone on and done an interview with him, and she was very calm throughout it, but her ordeal is far from over as she stated, and her wounds are much deeper than Robertson could know.

His attitude reminds me of the National Geographic types who have no problem showing pictures of naked female aborigines or Africans while claiming to be sterile and clinical in their approach to female nudity but would recoil at the prospect of doing something similar with women from Western society because it’s simply not appropriate. Obeidi’s motives have also been rather suspect in the eyes of some…..even I have cast a sideways glance at her when her story first appeared. We have been bamboozled by people who claim to have been victims, in an attempt to get what some consider the correct foreign policy response, as a result of a pleading victim…in most cases a woman. The Kuwaiti kid who went before Congress to lie about babies and incubators and the the female military service members captured by the Iraqi Army in the beginnings of the last Iraqi campaign all come to mind. Even the Libyan government called into question its victim’s motives, calling her a drunk, a whore and every conceivable name we usually toss at women who are the victims of sexual assault…….especially those women we don’t like and think somehow deserved what they got. But it’s altogether conceivable that this is what it seems, a woman who was brutalized by a brutal dictator who’s been around for a very long time who is completely indifferent to the everyday life of his people. As far as Qaddafi and his supporters are concerned, Obeidi merely was in the wrong place at the wrong time, like countless others in Libya and if she doesn’t look after herself no one else will either, certainly not the leaders of Libya.

While I watched the interview at the hands of a condescending Robertson, I couldn’t help but think if that were Lara Logan, would his tone be any different? You remember Logan, don’t you, the television reporter who said she was raped while covering the Egyptian uprising in February. We wrote about her previously. Since returning to America and her family, Logan has been neither seen nor heard from and I don’t know of any efforts to secure an interview with her to get her side of her story of Tahrir Square. Rather, it seems the “story” of Logan’s rape is the news about Nir Rosen’s tweet that looked sideways at what happened to her and the employment ramifications for him that Logan’s claim of rape has been. Rosen has been hounded or had to resign from two different jobs as a result of reminding people that Logan has been a water carrier for America’s wars of empire in the Middle East AND for quite frankly minimizing her rape as a groping, which others have asserted is really what happened in the first place. So what we have is the National Geographic type attitude towards rape….we can be clinical and far removed enough from the ugliness of rape to conduct an interview with a Libyan rape victim, still kept apart from her family and support structure by  an oppressive dictator, and ask all the right questions because it’s in the interest of journalistic integrity…..questions we might never ask someone who looked like Lara Logan nor even dare assert we have the right to ask. In the end however, both women, al-Obeidi and Logan, are asking us to do the same thing; take a look at the people behind the violence that was committed against them. Unfortunately the supporters of both women have perverted that message and made it a political rather than a criminal message they aim to convey. At least Obaidi has been more honest about it than Logan. Obeidi has come out squarely against the Qaddafi regime and pointed, indirectly, a finger at him for who is responsible. Logan’s supporters, particularly those among the press have made their points too, but it has been a finger of aspersion at Arabs, Muslims, Egyptians, men…the baby and the bath water. This is what has made what happened to Logan disingenuous and cheapens and diminishes her. So maybe Robertson, CNN indeed Logan’s own network ought to insist with as much vigor as they can muster that she be interviewed on television too to provide her side of the story and remove all doubt. No one will insist that, and some may even castigate me for saying that they should. Meanwhile I applaud the courage of all women who stand up to their attackers and demand justice!

 

Some Common Misconceptions laid to rest


Feisal Abdul Rauf

Image via Wikipedia

This is a very good article by the man who was at the center of the Park 51 masjid, or the euphemistically named World Trade Center mosque.  Feisal Abdul Rauf  addresses many of the concerns Americans may have legitimately had which blew up into large scale myths that took on a life of their own that have no basis in reality.  Take a look

 

I founded the multi-faith Cordoba Initiative to fight the misunderstandings that broaden the divide between Islam and the West — each perceived as harmful by the other. Millions of American Muslims, who see no contradiction between being American and being Muslim, are working hard to bridge this gap. It is therefore not surprising that they have become the target of attacks by those who would rather burn bridges than build them, and the subject of recent congressional hearings exploring their “radicalization.” What myths are behind the entrenched beliefs that Muslims simply do not belong in the United States and that they threaten its security?

1. American Muslims are foreigners.

Islam was in America even before there was a United States. But Muslims didn’t peaceably emigrate — slave-traders brought them here.

Historians estimate that up to 30 percent of enslaved blacks were Muslims. West African prince Abdul Rahman, freed by President John Quincy Adams in 1828 after 40 years in captivity, was only one of many African Muslims kidnapped and sold into servitude in the New World. In early America, Muslim names could be found in reports of runaway slaves as well as among rosters of soldiers in the Revolutionary War. Muslims fought to preserve American independence in the War of 1812 and for the Union in the Civil War. And more than a century later, thousands of African Americans, including Cassius Clay and Malcolm Little, converted to Islam.

Currently, there are two Muslim members of Congress and thousands of Muslims on active duty in the armed forces. Sure, some Muslim soldiers may have been born elsewhere, but if you wear the uniform of the United States and are willing to die for this country, can you be really be considered a foreigner?

2. American Muslims are ethnically, culturally and politically monolithic.

In fact, the American Muslim community is the most diverse Muslim community in the world.

U.S. Muslims believe different things and honor their faith in different ways. When it comes to politics, a 2007 Pew study found that 63 percent of Muslim Americans “lean Democratic,” 11 percent “lean Republican” and 26 percent “lean independent.” Ethnically, despite the popular misperception, the majority of Muslims in the United States (and in the world, for that matter) are not Arabs — about 88 percent check a different box on their U.S. census form. At least one-quarter, for example, are African American. Anyone who thinks otherwise need look no further than the July 30, 2007, cover of Newsweek magazine, which featured a multicultural portrait of Islam in America.

Muslim Americans are also diverse in their sectarian affiliation. And whether they are Sunni or Shiite, their attendance at religious services varies. According to the State Department publication “Muslims in America — A Statistical Portrait,” Muslim Americans range from highly conservative to moderate to secular in their religious devotion, just like members of other faith communities.

With above-average median household incomes, they are also an indispensable part of the U.S. economy. Sixty-six percent of American Muslim households earn more than $50,000 per year — more than the average U.S. household.

3. American Muslims oppress women.

According to a 2009 study by Gallup, Muslim American women are not only more educated than Muslim women in Western Europe, but are also more educated than the average American. U.S. Muslim women report incomes closer to their male counterparts than American women of any other religion. They are at the helm of many key religious and civic organizations, such as the Arab-American Family Support Center, Azizah magazine, Karamah, Turning Point, the Islamic Networks Group and the American Society for Muslim Advancement.

Of course, challenges to gender justice remain worldwide. In the World Economic Forum’s 2009 Gender Gap Index, which ranks women’s participation in society, 18 of the 25 lowest-ranking countries have Muslim majorities. However, as documented by the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality , Muslim women are leading the struggle for change through their scholarship, civic engagement, education, advocacy and activism in the United States and across the world.

4. American Muslims often become “homegrown” terrorists.

According to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, more non-Muslims than Muslims were involved in terrorist plots on U.S. soil in 2010. In a country in the grip of Islamophobia — where Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) can convene hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims — this has been overlooked. In 2010, the Triangle Center also found, the largest single source of initial information on planned terrorist attacks by Muslims in the United States was the Muslim American community.

As an American Muslim leader who worked with FBI agents on countering extremism right after Sept. 11, 2001, I fear that identifying Islam with terrorism threatens to erode American Muslims’ civil liberties and fuels the dangerous perception that the United States is at war with Islam. Policymakers must recognize that, more often than not, the terrorists the world should fear are motived by political and socioeconomic — not religious — concerns.

5. American Muslims want to bring sharia law to the United States.

In Islam, sharia is the divine ideal of justice and compassion, similar to the concept of natural law in the Western tradition. Though radicals exist on the fringes of Islam, as in every religion, most Muslim jurists agree on the principal objectives of sharia: the protection and promotion of life, religion, intellect, property, family and dignity. None of this includes turning the United States into a caliphate.

For centuries, most Islamic scholars around the world have agreed that Muslims must follow the laws of the land in which they live. This principle was established by the prophet Muhammad in A.D. 614-615, when he sent some of his followers to be protected by the Christian king of Abyssinia, where they co-existed peacefully. Not only do American Muslims have no scriptural, historical or political grounds to oppose the U.S. Constitution, but the U.S. Constitution is in line with the objectives and ideals of sharia. Muslims already practice sharia in the United States when they worship freely and follow U.S. laws.

In his 1776 publication “Thoughts on Government,” John Adams praised Muhammad as a “sober inquirer after truth.” And the Supreme Court building contains a likeness of the prophet, whose vision of justice is cited as an important precedent to the U.S. Constitution.

“nuff said!

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