I am not the Tsarnaevs


Salon.Com

Wajahat Ali

The Tsarnaevs have nothing in common with me or other Muslims. But don’t tell that to the political opportunists

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So, the Boston bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are Muslim.

When the news broke, snarky Twitter trolls – are there any other kind? – launched the rhetorical gauntlet of questions, those predictably designed to confirm a biased, flawed narrative that casts “Islam” as the quintessential anti-American antagonist in the endless “War on Terror.”

First, I was asked how I felt knowing “Islam” was behind the bombing?

I felt the same way I did before the suspects were identified: devastated and saddened at the needless loss of life and the chaos that paralyzed a nation for a week. I prayed that the capture of the alleged suspects brings much needed peace and catharsis to the victims, their families and the entire city of Boston.

As far as Islam goes, I’ve never met Islam.

Islam has never asked me out on a date.

If it did, one day it might take me to eat Hyderabadi biryani followed by chai and kheer as dessert. Another night I might be treated to fried chicken, collard greens and bean pies. Islam might even try to make a move at the end of the night or abstain from all physical relations until marriage. Islam might toast me with a glass of champagne or order an overpriced, non-alcoholic mojito. Islam might ask me to pray the late-night Isha prayer or skip ritual acts of worship altogether and go to the local club to holler at some women (or men, or both). Islam might listen to Jay-Z before playing Nusrat or renounce music considering it haram and recite Quran instead. In fact, Islam might want to kick me to the curb for being a heathen because I don’t sport a beard, or label me a fundamentalist for fasting during Ramadan and not eating ham sandwiches.

Islam doesn’t speak – Muslims do.

The Tsarnaev brothers’ criminal and perverse actions do not speak for me or the overwhelming majority of Muslims. I am not compelled to apologize for them or explain their actions. Muslims are not a monolithic, Borg-like collective, who possess a shared consciousness, specializing in counterterrorism knowledge with a telepathic understanding of the perverse mind-set of radicals in their “community.” This is like asking Republican Christians to apologize for Timothy McVeigh or expecting young white males to explain why individuals like Adam Lanza, Jared Loughner and James Holmes used assault rifles to unleash terror on innocent civilians.

Before brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were even identified as the Boston bombing suspects, the media announced the usual villains: a “dark-skinned suspect,” a 21-year-old Saudi “jihadi” whose only crime was to run away from a violent explosion, and a 17-year-old Moroccan high school track star who attended the marathon carrying a bag. There was also a clarion call from conservative columnist (and sometime Fox News guest) Erik Rush to murder all Muslims.

We now know the suspected brothers were born in Kyrgyzstan, are ethnically Chechen, and lived in America for several years. They are literally Caucasian since their family originates from the northern Caucasus region. Neither of them were dark-skinned, “Saudi,” bearded or brandished a fiery red trident or horns on their head.

The profile of these two brothers highlights the conclusions of the British Intelligence Agency MI5 report that states Muslim terrorists in the West “are a diverse collection of individuals, fitting no single demographic profile, nor do they all follow a typical pathway to violent extremism.” In the words of Olivier Roy, a French scholar on Islamic societies, “the process of violent radicalization has little to do with religious practice.” In fact, most Islamic fundamentalists are “religious novices” and “there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalization.” A MAPOS study found that Muslims’ religiosity curbs anti-American extremism and “that mosques and religiosity are associated with high levels of civic engagement and support for the American political system.”

Undeterred, the Twitter tribunal persisted and asked why Muslims do not renounce and actively discourage violent extremism? Well, 40 percent of all extremist plots in America were thwarted as a result of Muslim American help. Also, Muslim Americans continue toaid law enforcement, are more likely to reject violence than any other U.S. religious community, and overwhelmingly renounce the extremist ideologies of al-Qaida. A Muslim American community in Virginia proactively tipped off the FBI and turned in five radicalized youths. A Senegalese Muslim vendor was the first to mention the burning car bomb in New York’s Times Square incompetently engineered by Faisal Shahzad.  Muslims in Orange County received a restraining order against a mosque attendee who advocated jihad against America. Ironically, he turned out to be a mosque crawler: Craigh Monteilh, an FBI informant, who said he was paid to infiltrate the local community and entrappotential radicals.

Just three months ago, Tamerlan was kicked out during Friday prayer at the Islamic Society of Boston Culture Center for acting “crazy” by standing up and shouting at the imam whose sermon praised Martin Luther King Jr. as an example worth emulating. U.S. imams are currently debating whether to hold Islamic funeral services for Tamleran. “This is a person who deliberately killed people. There is no room for him as a Muslim. He already left the fold of Islam by doing that,” says one Boston imam.

Last Monday, before the brothers’ capture, a few friends and I wondered what the reaction would be if the suspect was a white Muslim. I often joke with my white Muslim friends that they are like the vampire superhero Blade, known as the “Daywalker,” gifted with “all of our strengths and none of our weaknesses.” As long as they hide their Muslimyness, their Whiteness serves as a protective cloak that mainstreams them as “American” shielding them from public interrogations regarding their loyalty and “otherness.”

The emotional press conference with Ruslan Tsarni, the suspects’ estranged uncle, proved that the privileges of Whiteness are lost when the individual is Muslim or born abroad. We all empathized with the uncle who said the suspects brought “shame” to his family. He volunteered to passionately defend his ethnicity, religion and patriotism in front of a sensationalistic court of public opinion for the alleged misdeeds of two family members,whom he called “losers” and not deserving to live on Earth. A reporter then asked, “What do you think of America?” – a question never posed to family members of white criminals. Tsarni passed the loyalty test by responding, “I respect this country. I love this country.”

Muslim mass murderers excluded from “Whiteness” are usually labeled “terrorist” as opposed to being categorized as “lone wolf,” “lone radical/gunman ” or “deeply disturbed.” The latter applies to white men, such as mass murderers Wade Page, Jared Loughner, Adam Lanza, James Holmes and Anders Breivik.

This raises the legitimate question: What’s the difference between the “terrorism” of the Tsarnaev brothers and the “lone radical” violence of white supremacist Wade Page, who shot and killed six Sikh Americans at their temple? What are the definitions and standards for “terrorism”? Who decides?

Apparently, it’s new media, which covered the police hunt for the brothers as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel scripted by amateur Hardy Boys and “CSI” aficionados. Overnight, the world witnessed the birth of a great career opportunity for self-proclaimed experts on Chechnya, jihad, radicalization and counterterrorism, who emerged instantly using Google and Wikipedia to obtain their dubious scholarship.

This includes Chuck Woolery, self-identified conservative and a relic of ’80s game shows, who displayed brilliant, evidence-based, sociological insights with this helpful tweet: “Muslims can’t seem to live in peace with anyone. Even each other. FACT.” He continued his love connections with Muslims by adding, “All Muslims are not terrorists. Most, if not all terrorists are Muslims. Please dispute that.”

Sure, Chuck, I will. In the U.S., 56 percent of terrorist attacks and plots have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists, 30 percent by eco-terrorists and 12 percent by Islamic extremists. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently reported the highest number of extremist hate groups ever recorded in U.S. history, with the sharp rise attributed to massive growths in white supremacist, anti-immigrant and radical anti-government groups. Anti-Muslim hate groups have also increased by 300 percent.

No one denies that radicalized Muslim violence is a problem, as evidenced by Nidal Hassan Malik, the unhinged Army major who killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood and injured 31, and Faisal Shahzad, the failed Times Square bomber.

When minority groups highlight double standards in language, labeling, media representation and government prosecution, we are accused of whining and espousing victimhood. However, Mr. Woolery, a privileged white male, implies America is still more oppressive to white, Christian Republicans: “If these guys [Boston bombing suspects] were white southern, christian, conservative, tea partiers we would know what they had for breakfast 3 yrs ago on May 16th.”

That explains why Daryl Johnson, a former counterterrorism expert for the government, submitted a study on the rise and danger of right-wing extremists and white supremacists only to be pressured, criticized, repudiated and ultimately sidelined by conservative members of Congress and the Department of Homeland Security.

However, Republican U.S. Rep. Peter King exploited the Boston tragedy to justify his five congressional hearings that focused solely on the rise of radicalization in Muslim communities. Last week, he rejected “political correctness” and pushed for “increased surveillance” of Muslim communities despite Tamerlan Tsarnaev having already beeninterviewed and released by the FBI in 2011. Furthermore, King’s inflammatory hearings were criticized by law enforcement officials and counterterrorism professionals as being misguided, ineffective and potentially dangerous. Apparently all acts of terror are not equal to Mr. King in light of his past rationalization and defense of IRA terrorism.

Republican Rep. Steve King also exploited the tragedy to delay immigration reform,referencing the national origin of the bombing suspects. If King really cares about national security, then he should insist on profiling and deporting several angry, white males in light of numerous recent shooting massacres.

There are significant casualties in moments of national panic and tragedy. As history has reflected, people would sacrifice the rights and civil liberties of minorities, and in turn their own freedoms, for the illusion of safety. We don’t need more policing, we need effective and intelligent policing that does not automatically transform millions of its Muslim citizens into perpetual suspects.

This includes dangerous and ineffective racial and religious profiling and wasteful andbroad surveillance and spying of innocent Muslim communities by the NYPD. In addition, there is now a 50 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims, nationwide protests against mosques, and introduction of anti-Shariah bills to 31 states, which are a solution in search of a problem.

The casualties also wear a human face, ones that are often not “Muslim.” The first post 9/11 hate murder was of Balbir Singh Sohdi, a Sikh American, whom the murderer chose because he was “dark-skinned, bearded and wore a turban.” This past week a Bangladeshi man was beaten up by Latino men outside a Bronx Applebee’s restaurant. In Massachusetts, a man shouted, “F_ you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions! F_ you!” to a Palestinian American woman. Also, new media is to law enforcement investigations what Scooby Doo’s Mystery Inc. is to detective work: messy, ad hoc, prone to mistakes, but sometimes reliable and effective. Like so many others, I retweeted unverified information by Reddit and news agencies falsely identifying missing Brown student Sunil Tripathi as a suspect. I sincerely apologize to him and his family, who are still searching for Sunil and have launched a new Facebook page requesting supporters to write messages of encouragement.

The Boston Bombing tragedy highlights our intense obsession to know a suspect’s ethnicity, religion and “Americanness” to profile and cast them in our reductive but reliable War on Terror narrative. The resulting collateral damage, aside from thousands killed, includes hysteria, scapegoating and the voluntary exchange of our liberties and freedoms for the transient feeling of safety.

However, the tragedy affords a nation of many faiths and ethnicities an opportunity to pen a new narrative that recasts its diverse citizens as fellow protagonists committed toward healing and mutual understanding. Our actions must live up to the hopes and opinion Uncle Ruslan has of America, his emigrated homeland:

“This country, which gives chance to everybody else to be treated as a human being. That’s what I feel about this country.”

 

What’s my name?!


Ali-Whats-My-Name-FightNames are important to their bearers and generally to the society at large.  They are a source of pride and at other times scourge; people invest themselves with names of meaning or shed their names because  of its meaning.  We’ve seen people mercilessly pummel others for not recognizing their names and calling them by the chosen name, and we’ve seen others brutally whipped to acknowledge a name give to them by people in order to strip the name bearer of any sense of cultural identity or self worth and replace it with whatever value the name giver is trying to impart. kunta-getting-whipped-1

There are some people who intimidated by the idea that their name is identified with a certain ideology or belief chose to change it of their own accord in order to fit in and not be singled out, while some people change their names willingly to hide their cultural identity to avoid religious or cultural persecution. Others tonycurtiscolortake on names because of careers whereby the name distinguishes them from all others in the performing arts.  “Sting”, “Prince” come to mind to name a few. Such decisions are made artistically and usually enhance the image of the name bearer in the eyes of an adoring public.

People have denigrated entire classes of their fellow mankind by grouping them under one name, nigger, cracker, spic, kike, sandnigger, cockroach, gook are just a few examples that come to mind.  These names are meant to hurt; they come with their own invective; even the pronunciation rolls off the tongue with a certain inflection that’s meant to hurt the ears as much as the hearts and minds of the subjects of such abuse.  By using such language it’s meant to dehumanize and weaken the resolve of a person, to soften them up for the inevitable. We have not gotten over this ability to harm with the spoken word, or name.  When applied enough times to groups of people the result is systematic and relentless oppression, subjugation or intended and eventual annihilation.

AlexWhile I was  a freshman in college Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was the rave in American literary circles.  His book, The Gulag Archipelago had recently been released and became required reading in universities across the West, no less so where I studied. His was the first exposure many of us in my English literature class had to someone with a name like his and as we discussed his work, quite a few of us awkwardly pronounced or made fun of while attempting to pronounce his name so much so that our English teacher stopped the class and with all the seriousness and indignation appropriate for the moment declared, ‘young people every human has the RIGHT to have his/her name pronounced correctly’.  With that declaration he (I wish I could honor that teacher by recalling his name, but unfortunately I have forgotten it) made every student stand one at a time in class and pronounce Solzhenitsyn’s entire name until we got it right.  No student was spared as time was suspended until we said S-O-L-Z-H-E-N-I-T-S-Y-N correctly, no matter how many times it took for us to do so. I left that class with a deep sense of the importance of names and how its bearer should be honored with the correct application of that name to him or her. I realized no matter how hated by me a person or no matter how difficult the name I owed it to its bearer to honor them with their name, no suffixes or prefixes attached, no racial or cultural tags added. Such things could be done in a separate sentence but never immediately juxtaposed with the name….unless that person wanted it so.

During the late 70s toward the end of Jimmy Carter’s term in office when the Nation was gripped by the Iranian hostage crisis, America began its assault on Muslims.  American Muslims who showed any support for the revolution in Iran came under fire, scrutiny by a federal government bent on flexing its muscle to resolve the crisis and cap a ground swell that was boiling in America (which we survived and have since gone on to greater heights of prosperity).  During that time I ran across a young Muslim American who related how he was caught up in the turmoil of the time and indicted by the federal government.  He was told, he said, by officials if he would only agree to have the name “Al” affixed to his indictment instead of “Abdullah” the name he had on all his legal documents  they would eventually drop or reduce the charges. He was faced with a modern day horse whipping much like the character Kunta Kinte in the movie Roots, except in his case he refused and was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit.  Finally after his appeal reached and was decided on by appeals court where he was awarded a new trial, the government having extracted its pound of flesh from him and countless others and satiated its blood lust, refused to re-try him and released him with time served.  Six years he languished in prison because he refused to go by any  name other than his name. That young man’s story reinforced to me the importance of one’s name and how authority sees the importance of names.

CAIRFoleySqIt came as no surprise, therefore, for me to read that names were being used AGAIN by the government to determine guilt or innocence or even if criminal activity or the THREAT of criminal activity existed.  Too often we in America especially and  the West in general rely too much on social schemata to define who a person is instead of listening to or watching how that person defines himself.  In today’s age of instant gratification, and sound bite, bumper slogan ideology, no time is given to evaluating the person beyond that brief first impression that usually starts with one’s name.  We are conditioned to make credible or inconsequential that person’s existence just by the sound of their name, whether it is anglicized or latin, mono or polysyllabic, foreign or American.  Everything after the name is totally irrelevant; it is why people today at the start of  Obama’s second term still think he is an illegitimate president and therefore nothing he says or does is American.  As a result there’s now talk of secessionist movements gaining ground in some parts of the country where such notions weren’t even whispered during the time of any other contemporary president.

notAmerica is a country made of people from all over the world, each of them, those who are law abiding, are citizens of this Republic with all the rights and responsibilities due by the Constitution and no one person can have that fact denied because of their name, yet such denial is becoming increasingly more prevalent.  We come from races and tribes with different and yes even unusual names but none of that allows us to deny or curtail the rights of such people because we cannot pronounce or don’t like a person’s name.   Nor should we expect people to conform to the names we want to bestow on them.  I was sitting with a friend a few years ago when we were approached by an elderly African-American with a soft, appealing  southern accent.  His voice was  melodic like that of a Sunday preacher as were his manners.  When he made eye contact with me and my friend he approached the two of us and introduced himself.  We in turn told him our names, but my friend’s name was a bit difficult for this gentleman to pronounce.  He prodded my friend several times to say the name and each time my friend pronounced his name slower and with more elaborate intonation.  Finally after the fourth or fifth time, the elderly gentleman scratched his name and said to my companion ‘do you mind if I call you Willie?’

sittingbullWe are uncomfortable with names that require effort to say and translate that difficulty into stereotyping the bearer negatively…especially if that person insists on us calling them by their name correctly.  As a society we don’t have an English teacher who will make us pronounce and honor a person’s name until we get it right….we give in too easy and suggest ways to call(define) a person that are acceptable to us.  But that is no longer acceptable in a pluralistic society such as America and it’s not desirable either.  Our names are European, African, Asian, Semitic, Latin, Oceanic and many times a mix of all of them and they all are as valuable, meaningful AND American as any other name you may find in the white pages of your local phone book.  If we are as exceptional as we claim to be, as great a Nation as we say we are, we will learn to respect the names of our countrymen and the diversity of these names that are brought to our society, otherwise we are no better than the tin pot despots, the banana republics we have supported and then invaded because of their perceived inhumanity to their fellow man.  Are we up to the task, America? Then, what’s my name?

I’ve tried to make this point several times here, so I’ll let someone else do it more eloquently than I could


Radically Wrong: Misstated Threats – Terrorism isn’t an American-Muslim Problem

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office

blog-muslimprofiling-500x280-v01None. Zero. That’s the number of fatalities or injuries from terrorist acts by American Muslims over the last two years, according to a recent report from the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. Here are some other numbers from the report worth noting: In the United States in 2012, there were nine “terrorist plots” by American Muslims—only one of which led to violence. Of those nine plots, only 14 suspects were indicted. Separately, six suspects were indicted for support of terrorism.

Terrorism is not a “Muslim” phenomenon. Indeed, last year, the author of the report called terrorism by American Muslims “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Yet far too many policymakers assume the opposite is true, and too many policies are predicated on the false and bigoted assumption that Muslims are more likely to engage in terrorism than other Americans. The numbers above show how false the premise is. So why are we willing to undermine civil liberties, target an entire religious community, and devote countless resources to this “minuscule threat?”

The answer: a widely debunked “theory” on describing the “process” that drives people to become terrorists. This “theory” is based on the mistaken notion that adopting “radical” ideas (which, under the theory, includes religious beliefs) is a dangerous first step toward committing terrorist acts. Countering terrorism, the thinking goes, begins with countering “radicalization.”

Although it’s been refuted, the “theory” continues to drive policy. Recent Congressional Research Service reports cite it, and the White House issued a plan to counter violent extremism based on it. While the White House deserves some credit for using more careful language and for emphasizing the need for community engagement, it still perpetuates the notion that “how individuals are radicalized to violence” is something we can and should study and understand. And the number of agencies, task forces, working groups, and committees across government that are engaged in the White House’s plan is, well, staggeringly high.

Not surprisingly, when flawed theory drives policy, implementation of the policy is flawed too. If counterterrorism officials believe that adopting radical beliefs is a necessary first stage to terrorism, they will obviously target religious communities and political activists with their enforcement measures.

Take for example, the practice of “preventive policing” by which law enforcement doesn’t focus on crime, but rather tracks legal activities. It has a real and negative impact on individuals: the FBI conducts “assessments” or uses informants, conducts interviews, and surveils people based on their ideas or religious beliefs, or whether they are a certain religion, race, or ethnicity rather than information suggesting they might be involved in criminal activity. Preventive policing also affects entire communities. Through “domain management,” the FBI monitors and tracks entire religious, ethnic, and racial communities based on false stereotypes that ascribe certain types of crimes to entire minority communities. Targeted groups include Muslim- and Arab-Americans in Michigan, and also African-Americans in Georgia, Chinese- and Russian-Americans in California, and broad swaths of Latino-American communities in multiple states.

The FBI has increasingly relied on another tactic based on this flawed theory: the agent provocateur. Remarkably, most of the nine terrorist plots carried out by American Muslims uncovered in 2012 involved informants and undercover agents. According to a recent investigation, undercover agents and informants have targeted “Muslims who espouse radical beliefs, are vocal about their disapproval of American foreign policy, or have expressed sympathy for international terrorist groups”—otherwise known as First Amendment-protected activity. The investigation shows that these targets are fairly unsophisticated and “clearly pose little real threat” on their own. With all essential materials (like money and weapons) coming from government agents and informants, these plots are more manufactured by the government than interdicted.

It’s also clear that preventive policing won’t be tied to an empirical analysis of where significant violence occurs. According to West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, violent acts by far-right extremists significantly outnumber those by American Muslims, but have been virtually ignored by policy makers (though the report has its own problems). While there have been multiple congressional hearings on so-called radicalization of Muslims, there have been none on political violence emanating from the Far Right.

When we implement law enforcement practices that say those who hold “radical” political ideas or religious beliefs, for instance, are dangerous, we could all be in danger. What’s a “radical” idea or belief? It’s one that “reject[s] the status quo.” It’s not hard to imagine that almost all of us hold some “radical” beliefs, which is why it’s not surprising that so many groups come under government suspicion. Anti-government militiamen, misfit anarchists, PETA, Greenpeace, and the Catholic Worker have already been targeted. Who’s to say the group you belong to won’t be next.

Scared yet? You shouldn’t be!


scared_faceThere’s good news on the horizon for all of you who have believed the news pounded in the Nation’s subconscious since 911 that there’s some sort of Muslim plot to terrorize the homeland into submission.  We’ve always said such notions simply don’t exist among Muslim citizens of America and each year we’ve been proven right.  Well the trend keeps supporting that notion, with the latest news describing the prospects of terror from America’s Muslims as “nil”.

Try as al-Qaida might to encourage them, American Muslims still aren’t committing acts of terrorism. Only 14 people out of a population of millions were indicted for their involvement in violent terrorist plots in 2012, a decline from 2011′s 21. The plots themselves hit the single digits last year.

So much for a widespread stereotype. According to data tracked by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in North Carolina and released Friday (.PDF), there were nine terrorist plots involving American Muslims in 2012. Only one of them, the attempted bombing of a Social Security office in Arizona, actually led to any violence. There were no casualties in that or any other incident. And the Triangle study tracks indictments, not convictions.

……The sample of Muslim Americans turning to terror is “vanishingly small,” Kurzman tells Danger Room…..Yet the scrutiny by law enforcement and homeland security on American Muslims has not similarly abated. The FBI tracks “geomaps” of areas where Muslims live and work, regardless of their involvement in any crime. The Patriot Act and other post-9/11 restrictions on government surveillance remain in place.

So while you don’t have anything to fear from your Muslim neighbors, you still have an intrusive, bloated, super secret, covert government that is finding ways to insert itself into your daily routines at your expense.  What the government and most Americans fail to realize is America’s Muslims are busy living their lives and finding their niche on this multi-cultural landscape like this Muslim American8424302590_8c1284e1c2 , Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim woman to compete on behalf of the United States in international competition.

Ibtihaj, a two-time U.S. National Fencing Champion and a member of the U.S. National Fencing Team since 2009, began fencing at the age of 13. She was raised in an athletic household with four siblings and played many recreational sports growing up. After searching for a sport that would enable her to comply with the Muslim requirement of modesty by remaining fully covered, her mother pointed out students fencing in full body uniforms while driving by their local school. Muhammad said because of this chance moment, “I’d like to think fencing found me.” Reminding students again of the ability to find a passion regardless of circumstance she added, “Don’t let anyone tell you no. There’s nothing you can’t achieve.”

America, it’s time to throw off your shackles of fear and embrace those who make up a part of the American fabric, albeit with different names and clothing than your own, but who are your equal in their fealty to the rule of law and the pursuit of happiness.  You can do it America if you stop being afraid.

Hat tip to @ZahraBillo

“….with liberty and justice for all” unless you’re an American Muslim


kafka-justice-for-muslims

If you thought DWB, ‘driving while black’ was bad for those American citizens who are of African descent, you can expect if you are a Muslim you will not receive any justice under the American judicial system.  In fact it is SO bad for American Muslims the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal asserts in an oped entitled ‘Liberty and Justice for non Muslims‘,

Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, genuine concerns about national security as well as politicking and fear have led to a shift in the balance between civil liberties and law enforcement. That much is indisputable, and widely discussed. Yet it’s rarely acknowledged that the attacks have also led to what’s essentially a separate justice system for Muslims. In this system, the principle of due process is twisted and selectively applied, if it is applied at all.

he then concentrates on special detention centers, due process and the lack thereof as it applies to Muslim defendants and extra judicial surveillance by government law agencies.

It is unfortunate to witness that in the second term of a “progressive” president we have seen the steady, unabated encroachment of the exclusion of due process for Muslim Americans.  This dates to the Clinton administration’s special administrative measures, SAM, which ended calls, letters and visits with anyone except attorneys and sharply limited contact with family members.  Bush introduced the dreaded Patriot Act which further muddied the waters and made due process even harder for people who came under government scrutiny by expanding government’s role in the rather nefarious and broadly defined “terrorism prosecutions”.  Glen Greenwald has  adroitly gone on to show how charges of “terrorism” make it a cinch for the government to win against defendants so charged

…when someone is accused of terrorism, the rules governing trials and law completely change. All sorts of things that the state is normally barred from doing on the grounds that it is unjust suddenly become permissible when someone faces terrorism charges. Indeed, so “prejudicial” are these special rules of “justice” for terrorism cases that anyone convicted under these rules is, by definition, treated unfairly if terrorism is inapplicable.

…It’s a separate system of justice so intrinsically unjust and unfair – designed to ensure that Muslims accused of “terrorism” have basically no chance of acquittal…

It is hard to overstate the centrality of the term “terrorism” when it comes to state power, policy and law. It is the term that launches wars and sustains the US posture of endless war..

Yet this term, arguably in the abstract and certainly as applied, has no fixed meaning. It’s just a manipulative slogan legitimizing all forms of American violence against Muslims…it’s the overarching foundation for a completely separate system of justice for Muslims that is in exactly the same category as the most shameful episodes of US history.

President Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act, NDAA, another heinous piece of legislation all but ensures that American citizens can be held indefinitely without legal recourse for as long as the “controlling legal authority” outside of the judiciary deems appropriate.  It strips a citizen’s access to due process and isolates him to a labyrinthine parallel system of government restrictions that can go on in perpetuity.  This is the kind of system people fled from before the formation of this country and until very recently it is this kind of randomness that has escaped us, but now it seems to be much more common than not.

If there’s any doubt about that ask Saadiq Long, an American Muslim and Air Force veteran with no criminal record who was denied the possibility of returning to America because he was placed, unbeknownst to him, on the dreaded no-fly list.  He lived and worked in the Middle East for America’s allies in places like Egypt and  Qatar, both of them countries of stability that have managed to avoid or eliminated, you choose the term, radicalism that has plagued the area, and it’s pretty safe to say that Long had too.  So it was, although because of recent history should not have been, a surprise that he was told he could not fly back to America from Qatar. Publicity and the advocacy of lawyers and civil rights groups, notably among them the Council of American Islamic Relations were able to secure a remedy for him…..seven months after initially being told he could not fly into American air space. Even now, Long does not know why he was told he could not fly back in April, 2012.  Unfortunately, his troubles  did not end there.

In a recently held press conference, Long claims the FBI has harassed him since his return to Oklahoma that led to a dramatic standoff between him and federal agents in front of his hometown police department.  Long claims reason given by one of the agents for the standoff which ended with guns being drawn on Long and his party, was Long’s refusal to speak with the FBI without legal counsel being present.  Had he agreed to meet with agents without a lawyer, so goes the theory, none of the dramatic, heart stopping action of the encounter would have taken place; but isn’t it a right of American citizens to have a lawyer present when talking to law enforcement officials? Evidently that right does not exist if you are an American Muslim, and why should it, if over the past decade an enormous amount of legal maneuvering has made it possible for what was formally known as rights to due process available to ALL citizens are now being denied people of the Islamic faith.  Common knowledge and wisdom about a person’s rights to legal access and the necessity thereof seem to be irrelevant and inapplicable to America’s Muslims, and this seems to be continuing into the second term of America’s latest progressive president who happens to have been a constitutional professor.

America must stop this decline into the illegal abyss because if it’s possible to make this step with one group of American citizens it can extend to each and every one of us; once precedent is accepted it becomes the rule of law and there is very little likelihood of retreat from the abuses that will arise thereof.   I hope that EVERY American can see the disadvantage of remaining silent as this happens to a very disliked, despised group of Americans and support them even if it’s to keep the same abuses from happening to them.  Wake up America, please.

Memory hole material-Muslim Americans are not extremists and don’t support it


Muslim Americans

Muslim Americans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite news and opinions to the contrary, Muslim Americans are just as normal as any other American citizen and NOT inclined to the violence we are all told they engage, but the negative image of Islam is  not for lack of trying.  Pundits have been pounding the message that Muslims in America are a threat to the American fabric ad nauseam; public officials have jumped on the bandwagon with congressional hearings and campaign speeches that are simply demagoguery that have lead to violence against Muslims or those who were mistaken for Muslims.  However, the facts do not support these rather erroneous conclusions.  Rather they point to an entirely different conclusion altogether. (The emphasis in red is mine)

As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, a comprehensive public opinion survey finds no indication of increased alienation or anger among Muslim Americans in response to concerns about home-grown Islamic terrorists, controversies about the building of mosques and other pressures that have been brought to bear on this high-profile minority group in recent years. There also is no evidence of rising support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans.

On the contrary, as found in the Pew Research Center’s 2007 survey, Muslims in the United States continue to reject extremism by much larger margins than most Muslim publics (countries) surveyed this year by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. And majorities of Muslim Americans express concern about the possible rise of Islamic extremism, both here and abroad.

…..Nonetheless, Muslim Americans have not become disillusioned with the country. They are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way things are going in their lives (82%) and continue to rate their communities very positively as places to live (79% excellent or good).

At a personal level, most think that ordinary Americans are friendly (48%) or neutral (32%) toward Muslim Americans; relatively few (16%) believe the general public is unfriendly toward Muslim Americans. About two-thirds (66%) say that the quality of life for Muslims in the U.S. is better than in most Muslim countries.

…..As in 2007, very few Muslim Americans – just 1% – say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam from its enemies; an additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified in these circumstances. Fully 81% say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are never justified.

A comparably small percentage of Muslim Americans express favorable views of al Qaeda – 2% very favorable and 3% somewhat favorable. And the current poll finds more Muslim Americans holding very unfavorable views of al Qaeda than in 2007 (70% vs. 58%).

….Opposition to violence is broadly shared by all segments of the Muslim American population, and there is no correlation between support for suicide bombing and measures of religiosity such as strong religious beliefs or mosque attendance. Yet opposition to extremism is more pronounced among some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others.

….

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Muslim Americans endorse the idea that most people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard; just 26% say hard work is no guarantee of success. Among the general public, somewhat fewer (62%) say that most people who work hard can get ahead.

U.S. Muslims are about as likely as other Americans to report household incomes of $100,000 or more (14% of Muslims, compared with 16% of all adults), and they express similar levels of satisfaction with their personal financial situation. Overall, 46% say they are in excellent or good shape financially; among the general public, 38% say this. Muslim Americans are as likely as the public overall to have graduated from college (26% of Muslims vs. 28% among the general public). Because as a group Muslim Americans are younger than the general public, twice as many report being currently enrolled in a college or university class (26% vs. 13%). Similar numbers of Muslim Americans and members of the general public report being self-employed or owning a small business (20% for Muslim Americans, 17% for the general public).

When it comes to many other aspects of American life, Muslim Americans look similar to the rest of the public. Comparable percentages say they watch entertainment television, follow professional or college sports, recycle household materials, and play video games. About one-in-three (33%) say they have worked with other people from their neighborhood to fix a problem or improve a condition in their community in the past 12 months, compared with 38% of the general public.

When asked to choose, nearly half of Muslims in the U.S. (49%) say they think of themselves first as a Muslim, while 26% see themselves first as an American; 18% volunteer that they are both. In a 2011 survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 46% of Christians in the U.S. say they identify as Christian first while the same number identify as American first. White evangelicals are much more likely to identify first as Christian (70%).

The survey also finds that compared with Muslims elsewhere, Muslim Americans are more supportive of the role of women in society. Virtually all Muslim Americans (90%) agree that women should be able to work outside of the home. Most (68%) also think that there is no difference between men and women political leaders. These are not the prevailing views of Muslims in most predominantly Muslim countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

And on a key foreign policy issue, Muslim Americans are far more likely than Muslims in the Middle East to say that a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of the Palestinians are addressed (62% say this; 20% disagree). In this regard, the views of Muslim Americans resemble those of the general public, among whom 67% say a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist while protecting the rights of the Palestinians; 12% disagree.

….Many Muslim Americans are highly religious: 69% say that religion is very important in their lives, and about half (47%) report at least weekly attendance at a mosque for prayer. Similarly, about half (48%) say they make all five salah prayers daily, and another 18% report making at least some salah daily.

….Overwhelming numbers of Muslim Americans believe in Allah (96%), the Prophet Muhammad (96%) and the Day of Judgment (92%). Yet the survey finds that most reject a dogmatic approach to religion. Most Muslim Americans (57%) say there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of Islam; far fewer (37%) say that there is only one true interpretation of Islam. Similarly, 56% of Muslim Americans say that many different religions can lead to eternal life; just 35% say that Islam is the one true faith that leads to eternal life.

What the study shows is American Muslims are engaged in their communities, optimistic about their future and the future of the country in which they live, have strong bonds to America and its way of life, eschew violence overwhelmingly, yet identify with their religion and are productive members of the society. I remember as a 9th grade student studying civics being told all of the characteristics above were examples of good citizenship, yet today despite having embraced life in America, Muslim Americans are condemned for the very attributes we hold dear.  Stop the hypocrisy America, you can do better than this!

Another homegrown massacre and the best analysis of why


Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Juan Cole’s Informed Comment blog has put forth the best take on the murder in Milwaukee of members of the Sikh community as an I’ve seen advanced.  America wants to forget this latest reminder of her violent nature, coming so soon after the massacre that took place in Aurora, but Cole nails down what it is that’s taking place with this latest episode of mass murder. Below is just an excerpt. Please take the time to read the entire article here.

We still have only rumors about Wade Michael Page, the gunman who walked into a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin near Milwaukee and opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon (weapons that should be illegal) on men women and children beginning to gather for a day of worship, singing and feasting…..

Page is said to have served in the military, discharged for misconduct in 1998.

He is said to have had a 9/11 tattoo.

He likely thought he was targeting American Muslims. He operated in an atmosphere of virulent hate speech against American Muslims. A discourse of Islamophobia has plagued the United States in the past decade, pushed by unscrupulous bigots in public life and by entire media organizations such as Fox Cable News and other media properties of billionaire yellow press lord Rupert Murdoch.

Among the hatemongers are Frank Gaffney, and his acolyte Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), Rep. Peter King (R-NY) Daniel Pipes, James Woolsey, Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson, John Bolton, and sometimes Rudi Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and others, most associated with the Republican Party. The push for hate speech against American Muslims is funded by a small group of billionaires through their foundations. Some of the Muslim-haters are connected to the US arms industry and are hoping for profits from further wars in the Middle East. Others are Israel-firster fanatics. Others are looking for a bogey man to scare Americans with, so as to convince them to vote against their interests, as they used Communism during the Cold War to convince ordinary Americans to give up their constitutional rights.

Page is said to have served in the military, discharged for misconduct in 1998.

He is said to have had a 9/11 tattoo.

He likely thought he was targeting American Muslims. He operated in an atmosphere of virulent hate speech against American Muslims. A discourse of Islamophobia has plagued the United States in the past decade, pushed by unscrupulous bigots in public life and by entire media organizations such as Fox Cable News and other media properties of billionaire yellow press lord Rupert Murdoch.

Among the hatemongers are Frank Gaffney, and his acolyte Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), Rep. Peter King (R-NY) Daniel Pipes, James Woolsey, Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson, John Bolton, and sometimes Rudi Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and others, most associated with the Republican Party. The push for hate speech against American Muslims is funded by a small group of billionaires through their foundations. Some of the Muslim-haters are connected to the US arms industry and are hoping for profits from further wars in the Middle East. Others are Israel-firster fanatics. Others are looking for a bogey man to scare Americans with, so as to convince them to vote against their interests, as they used Communism during the Cold War to convince ordinary Americans to give up their constitutional rights.

 

 

The cat is outta the bag


Loonwatch says the NYT article below is an understatement and they do a pretty good job of substantiating the claim with citations of other sources that make the case that violence by Muslim is miniscule at best or non existent.   I’m just glad to see it in a major print medium even though the NYT is responsible for a lot of the hysteria.  However, with headlines like ‘Radical Muslims little threat, study says’, it lays to rest the notion that there are bad Muslims who want to hurt us; there has always been this conflation between terrorists and radical Muslims, but the Times article points out the radical Muslims haven’t been doing such a good job of being terrorists after all and the folks at Loonwatch make that case even more soundly.

A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized, with plots and arrests dropping sharply over the two years since an unusual peak in 2009, according to a new study by a North Carolina research group.

The study, to be released on Wednesday, found that 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots or attacks in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and a spike of 47 in 2009.

Charles Kurzman, the author of the report for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, called terrorism by Muslim Americans “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Of about 14,000 murders in the United States last year, not a single one resulted from Islamic extremism, said Mr. Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina.

The report also found that no single ethnic group predominated among Muslims charged in terrorism cases last year — six were of Arab ancestry, five were white, three were African-American and two were Iranian, Mr. Kurzman said. That pattern of ethnic diversity has held for those arrested since Sept. 11, 2001, he said.

Forty percent of those charged in 2011 were converts to Islam, Mr. Kurzman found, slightly higher than the 35 percent of those charged since the 2001 attacks. His new report is based on the continuation of research he conducted for a book he published last year, “The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists.”

The decline in cases since 2009 has come as a relief to law enforcement and counterterrorism officials. In that year, the authorities were surprised by a series of terrorist plots or attacks, including the killing of 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., by an Army psychiatrist who had embraced radical Islam, Maj. Nidal Hasan.

The upsurge in domestic plots two years ago prompted some scholars of violent extremism to question the conventional wisdom that Muslims in the United States, with higher levels of education and income than the average American, were not susceptible to the message of Al Qaeda.

Concerns grew after the May 2010 arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen, for trying to blow up a sport utility vehicle in Times Square. Mr. Shahzad had worked as a financial analyst and seemed thoroughly assimilated. In a dramatic courtroom speech after pleading guilty, he blamed American military action in Muslim countries for his militancy.

The string of cases fueled wide and often contentious discussion of the danger of radicalization among American Muslims, including Congressional hearings led by Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

But the number of cases declined, returning to the rough average of about 20 Muslim Americans accused of extremist violence per year that has prevailed since the 2001 attacks, with 193 people in that category over the decade. By Mr. Kurzman’s count, 462 other Muslim Americans have been charged since 2001 for nonviolent crimes in support of terrorism, including financing and making false statements.

The 2011 cases include just one actual series of attacks, which caused no injuries, involving rifle shots fired late at night at military buildings in Northern Virginia. A former Marine Corps reservist, Yonathan Melaku, pleaded guilty in the case last month in an agreement that calls for a 25-year prison sentence.

Other plots unearthed by law enforcement last year and listed in Mr. Kurzman’s report included a suspected Iranian plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, a scheme to attack a Shiite mosque in Michigan and another to blow up synagogues, churches and the Empire State Building.

“Fortunately, very few of these people are competent and very few get to the stage of preparing an attack without coming to the attention of the authorities,” Mr. Kurzman said.

If the radical Muslims aren’t terrorists, what does that say about the non radical Muslims….who even by the most xenophobic accounts are probably the majority of the practitioners of the faith?  America wake up….we’ve been had.

American Muslim voices-Things you might not have heard from them before


Racism and Islamophobia are hideous, counterproductive, provincial inventions that afflict our society and reduce its effectiveness.  It is meant to nominalize the voices of its victims and dehumanize them and de-value  anything they have to say.  The following article written by an American Muslim expresses a view probably shared by a majority of non Muslim Americans which they might never hear coming from an American Muslim, and while it should not be a deal clincher, should emphasize the commonality that Americans have with one another.

What’s Up With Muslims and Dogs?
I’m not a big follower of reality television, but was happy to hear about TLC’s new reality show “All-American Muslim.” We know that personal contact is the best way to break down stereotypes, but with Muslims less than 2% of the U.S. population, many Americans will never get to know a Muslim. Meeting us through reality television might not be ideal, but it’s better than nothing.

After watching “All-American Muslim” for a few weeks, I now believe that the show is good for our community beyond the way it might lessen prejudice against Muslims. The additional benefit is that the show has engaged our community in discussing some of the many challenges we face making distinctions between critical religious values and flexible cultural practices. In the fourth episode, the issue of Muslims having dogs in the home came up, and this is worth further discussion.

In this episode, newlywed Arab-American Shadia tells Jeff, her Irish-American convert husband, that she does not want his dog to move with them to their new home. Shadia has allergies, and her asthma is exacerbated by the dog’s hair. This is an understandable and common dilemma. But Shadia bolsters her position with statements about the impermissibility for a Muslim to have dogs in the home. Her father will not pray in the house if the dog is there, she says, because dog hair is impure and a prayer space needs to be pure. Later, Shadia backs off from the religious argument, admitting that the main reason she doesn’t want a dog in the house is “I wasn’t raised with dogs; I’m not used to them.” I appreciated this moment of honesty. The use of a religious norm as a trump card in an argument we want to win is a temptation we all face.

So what is the Islamic position about dogs? In fact, there are a variety of opinions according to different legal schools. The majority consider the saliva of dogs to be impure, while the Maliki school makes a distinction between domestic and wild dogs, only considering the saliva of the latter to be impure. The question for Muslims observant of other schools of law is, what are the implications of such an impurity?

These Muslims should remember that there are many other impurities present in our homes, mostly in the form of human waste, blood, and other bodily fluids. It is fairly common for such impurities to come in contact with our clothes, and we simply wash them off or change our clothes for prayer. When you have children at home, it sometimes seems you can never get away from human waste. But we manage it, often by designating a special space and clothing kept clean for prayer.

Some Muslims object to having a dog in the home because of a prophetic report that angels do not enter a home with dogs in it. If a Muslim accepts this report as authentic, it still requires an analysis of context to determine its meaning and legal application. Ordinary people are not recipients of divine revelation through angelic messengers, so it is possible that this statement, although in general form, might suggest a rule for the Prophet’s home, not all homes. This interpretation is strengthened by the fact the Qur’an states that angels are always present, protecting us and recording our good and bad actions.

Whatever the implications of this report, there is no doubt that the Qur’an is positive about dogs. The Qur’an allows the use of hunting dogs, which is one of the reasons the Maliki school makes a distinction between domestic and wild dogs – since we can eat game that has been in a retriever’s mouth. But most compelling is the Qur’anic description of a dog who kept company with righteous youths escaping religious persecution. The party finds shelter in a cave where God places them in a deep sleep; the Qur’an (18:18) says:

You would have thought them awake, but they were asleep And [God] turned them on their right sides then on their left sides And their dog stretched his forelegs across the threshold

This tender description of the dog guarding the cave makes it clear that the animal is good company for believers. Legal scholars might argue about the proper location of the dog – that he should stay on the threshold of the home, not inside – but home designs vary across cultures. In warm climates, an outdoor courtyard is a perfectly humane place for a dog – its physical and social needs can be met in the yard. This is not the case in cold climates, where people stay indoors most of the day for months at a time.

Extreme concern about the uncleanliness of dogs likely arose historically as Islam became more of an urban phenomenon. In medieval cities, as in modern cities in underdeveloped countries, crowding of people and animals leads to the rapid spread of disease and animal control is not a priority. A few run-ins with an aggressive or diseased animal can result in excessive caution, fear and negativity.

I have long felt badly that many Muslims fear dogs as a result of negative experiences and that they resort to confused religious reasoning to shun them. It is one of the reasons why I try to introduce my students and friends to my very sweet, very large dog Ziggy.

2011-12-13-Ziggy.jpg

Ziggy came into our home to be like the dog in the cave: to keep company to my child who lies in exile from the world because of a debilitating illness. He has been nothing but a blessing – guarding the house while we sleep, forcing me to exercise daily, and showing us, as he happily follows our tiny cat around the yard, that if cats and dogs can get along so well, then we people have no excuse.

There is another reason why I love having my dog around. Ziggy came from Tennessee. He was rescued by an animal control officer who uses her own resources to save dogs who would otherwise be destroyed in a few days. Tina saves as many dogs as she can by bringing them home and putting them up for adoption on the internet. When I called Tina to speak about adopting Ziggy, she had 65 dogs she had rescued out in her yard. After being disheartened by some terrible things that have come out of Tennessee lately – mosque burnings and anti-Shari`ah legislation among them – I love looking at Ziggy and thinking about the woman with the thick southern accent and big heart who saved his life.

 

All American Muslim


A lot has been said and written about the TLC channel’s new reality television show, All American Muslim.  TLC claims the show’s intent is to “look at life in Dearborn, Michigan–home to the largest mosque in the United States–through the lens of five Muslim American families….offering an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community” and in this day and age of Islamophobia and bigotry becoming so acceptable and widespread a phenomenon, such goals are noble, righteous and worth pursuing.  Being categorized as aa ‘reality television show’ has already put the show at an extreme disadvantage for such ambitious objectives.  A look at the reality shows lists that are are now or have been on television is a rather dismal look at American society….not necessarily because America is bad, but because the track record of reality television certainly is.  Reality shows are staged, scripted and heavily edited to offer to the viewing public a sleazy, seedy slice of human life.  Staged means producers and those who put such shows together encourage cast members to take on personae meant to either enforce stereotypes or appeal to as wide a segment of the population in order to keep such shows financially profitable.  In other words acts of violence, nudity, sex or simulated sex become the mainstay of such shows in order to keep viewers which in turn prompts advertisers to buy advertisement on such programs, no matter how deleterious the effects such programming may have on the public.  Already web denizens have been treated to fatuous discussions and pictures about one of the cast members’ change of hair color and other assorted body parts; this is what reality tv brings to the table, in order to quench the insatiable appetite for sex and titillation for which we in America have become accustomed.  No one should be happy that a value system, belief, faith, culture, heritage, ethnicity to which they belong has found a home in such a genre considering its track record.  Moreover, why do we need television to drive home the point that American Muslims are just like any other group of Americans; that they encompass a wide spectrum of ideals, loyalties and types of people like any other group of people who’ve inhabited our shores.

For the last decade we’ve been besieged with notions of our exceptionalism, which should include among other things our excellence in intelligence and enlightenment, but it seems we are below average in exhibiting these characteristics which are essential in building and maintaining an exceptional society.  Rather we are plagued with the Islamophobic notions expressed by politicians and pundits alike which incite Americans to ever lower depths of bigotry and fratricide, racism and depravity that encouraged a fringe group of bigots and extremists, the Florida Family Association to pressure some advertisers, notably Lowes, to withdraw advertising from All American Muslim.  FFA is practically irrelevant to 99% of Americans and that fact, along with inherent prejudice compelled it to send letters to advertisers on the program complaining about the lack of negative portrayals of Muslims on a show entitled, All American Muslim.  The name itself speaks to positive values and shared interests, something bigots and racists rarely extend to anyone or anything different from themselves, and so it is that some advertisers bought FFA’s argument and stopped advertising on the show.   The very notion that All American Muslim must show jihadists and sharia minded Muslims is as ridiculous as asserting any other reality tv show must showcase the errant behavior of members of its group in order to be more life like, especially when that group is a tiny microcosm, but this is what is expected, what must be done when talking about Muslims. ‘When did you stop beating your wife’ is the cornerstone of such an illogical argument that says in order to be socially acceptable you must show us all of your adornment in order to accept your totality, even down to your underwear.  This is an age old, biblical concept that extends to the whole body the ignominy of a few.  In today’s climate….it is simply too easy for Lowes to reject the argument and cave in.  Being headquartered in North Carolina, a state which had for 30 years Jesse Helms as its US senator, who too was  anachronistic  made it even easier.

FFA’s David Caton, the one who spearheaded this advertising ploy didn’t’ take into consideration the fact that not EVERYONE agrees with his backward values.  His track record as an author should have toned down his proclivity for social activism, since his attempts to get people to forgo his own former passions of pornography and masturbation did more harm than good, judging by reviews written about his book, Overcoming the addiction to pornography.  However, media, by design is a very powerful aphrodisiac and Caton, just like the cast members of All American Muslim is unable to see the pitfalls of being so vocal AND so wrong when thrust in front of the bright television lights.  The backlash to the Lowes announcement to stop advertising has been swift and immediate AND productive.  Now, Caton is faced with the proposition that advertising is sold out for the show which insures it will stay on the air espousing the very message he doesn’t want seen.  It has also led to a boycott by some citizens of conscience of Lowes at a time of year when retailers make most of their money in sales.  Ouch! Whether the Lowes boycott will be successful or not won’t be known, if ever, until after the Christmas season’s sales figures are released, but the effectiveness of boycotts as a means of social protest is highlighted by this  boycott and its organizers.  Lowes, caught in the middle of two opposites is a loser as long as it stays in this current position while those who are calling for a boycott of Lowes are going to have to prove it has adversely affected the company’s bottom line. The FFA has already lost the ideological fight because the show will air its scheduled 8 episodes and advertising picked up after they inserted themselves into this ideological fight, but the fact they even got this far is a side commentary on where this country is.  Two cast members had this to say about what’s happening surrounding their show and addressed their comments to the well known racist Islamophobe Pamela Gellar

Gellar’s response was equally deadly obsequious, pointing out how much she has in common with them. The fact that a predatory persecutor like Geller can find something in common with a despised, taunted, hunted persecuted religious minority is the essence of reality television.

 

 

 

 

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….the true and authentic teachings of Islam promote the sanctity of human life, dignity of all humans, and respect of human, civil and political rights. Islamic teachings uphold religious freedom and adherence to the same universal moral values which are accepted by the majority of people of all backgrounds and upon which the US Constitution was established and according to which the Bill of Rights was enunciated.

……we the members of FCNA (Fiqh Council of North America) believe that it is false and misleading to suggest that there is a contradiction between being faithful Muslims committed to God (Allah) and being loyal American citizens. Islamic teachings require respect of the laws of the land where Muslims live as minorities, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so long as there is no conflict with Muslims’ obligation for obedience to God. We do not see any such conflict with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. The primacy of obedience to God is a commonly held position of many practicing Jews and Christians as well.
We believe further that as citizens of a free and democratic society, we have the same obligations and rights of all US citizens. We believe that right of dissent can only be exercised in a peaceful and lawful manner to advance the short and long term interests of our country.

The Fiqh Council of North America calls on all Muslim Americans and American citizens at large to engage in objective, peaceful and respectful dialogue at all levels and spheres of common social concerns. We call upon all Muslim Americans to be involved in solving pressing social problems, such as the challenge of poverty, discrimination, violence, health care and environmental protection. It is fully compatible with Islam for Muslims to integrate positively in the society of which they are equal citizens, without losing their identity as Muslims (just as Jews and Christians do not lose their religious identity in doing the same).

 

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!

‘Nuff Said!


I have the “No Comment” section but this video deserves a comment and an ‘attaboy. Cardinal McCarrick has gone on record, when others have shirked the responsibility of calling for justice, in calling for the equal rights of  Muslim Americans like any other religious group in America.  His statement was clear and unequivocal in asserting that Muslim Americans have the same rights as any other religious group.  For many that statement is a given, but in today’s America hatred has relieved people of their moral compass and courage and too many have decided to stay silent in the face of bigotry’s steamrolling over the American conscience.  I am happy that there are still a few people who, to paraphrase Sarah Palin, have decided to ‘put their man pants on’ and face the problem of religious bigotry head on.  For that reason merely posting this video under the No Comment doesn’t do  justice to the Message.  The Cardinal deserves a heart felt thanks from the rest of us who have decided to sit this battle out; perhaps what he says here will give one the push they need to join the fracas.  There’s a lot of work to do before we can say America has realized its potential.

The King Charade


The folks at Loonwatch.com have called Rep. Peter King’s hearings Thursday political theater.  I think it’s something much more sinister than that; rather it is an attempt of bigoted King to legitimize legal oppressive measures against America’s Muslims, much like what is trying to be enforced by several state legislatures throughout the country.  Yet, for all the impressive pomp and ceremony of a congressional hearing that King could muster, there is no, absolutely no substance to his premise that there is any radicalization of America’s Muslim population by American enemies, perceived, imagined or real.

First comes this bit of news totally overlooked by King and his Republican colleagues on the committee that the number of incidents of “terrorism” is not at all worth the effort and tax payer money King has invested for his charade

The number of Muslim-Americans engaged in terrorist acts aimed at the U.S. declined in 2010 from 18 to 10. Including domestic and international targets, the figure dropped from 47 to 20….

“We have a tremendously efficient system of international and national news services that sift through all of the violence that occurs around the world every day and finds hints of Islamic terrorist intention, and then sends news of those incidents to the news services and to our TVs and newspapers and blogs,” Kurzman said. “The result is we end up with a skewed perception of the prevalence of Islamic terrorism.”

In total, he says, 11 Muslim-American terrorists are responsible for killing 33 people since Sept. 11. Per capita, Muslim Americans are more likely to engage in terrorism than the general population, but the threat is still miniscule in the context of the more than 15,000 homicides that occur in the U.S. each year.

Perhaps it might be more accurate to say that per capita Muslims are more likely to be “charged” with committing acts of terrorism as the news of the arrests of the “terrorist” cell in Alaska underscores, where instead of being charged with terrorist related acts, these defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, arson and kidnapping instead.  What has happened and what King’s hearings help further is the notion that only “Muslim Americans” commit terrorism and are or should be charged with the offense, making it politically correct to associate the charge only to that group of Americans while anyone else  seen as committing similar offenses are less threatening to the existence of the body politic.  King therefore, despite his pleas to the contrary has given in to political correctness of American bigots by underscoring a myth, not a reality as the first link above demonstrates.

However, it’s nice to see that there are some, besides the Muslim community and in some cases in spite of it, who are resisting the temptation offered by King to become bigots like himself.  It’s very heartening to see that two minorities, Asians and Jews,  once tarred with the brush of American racism still remember its lessons and are asking King to be as civic minded as they in respecting citizenship.

Last week, Rep. Michael M. Honda (D-Calif.), who as a child spent several wartime years living behind barbed wire at Camp Amache in southeastern Colorado, denounced King’s hearings as “something similarly sinister.”

“Rep. King’s intent seems clear: To cast suspicion upon all Muslim Americans and to stoke the fires of anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia,” Honda wrote in an op-ed published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

and again, here

Jewish historical experience remembers that not too long ago, we too were the victims of suspicion and hatred based on our religion and ethnicity. The actions of the few should not condemn the many, and every religion has its teachings both of violence and of peace. Jewish tradition demands that we remember the heart of the stranger, because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. If one minority can be singled out for congressional hearings or restrictions on places of worship, anyone can be.

I doubt King will listen.  He’s far to emboldened by the insulated cocoon of racists, Islamophobes who have taken him under their wing to advance a political reality he is too eager to carry out, but it’s nice to see that the spirit of liberty and the resistance to this part of our culture still lives.  These are indeed dark times for our country….I’m glad Jon Stewart is around to liven and lighten things up……..even if it’s momentary.

 

 

Rep. Peter King gets caught in one of his lies


So we’re off.  The congressional committee hearings on Muslims in America, run by NY Republican Peter King have begun and already they are full of false assertions.  King, caught in one of many lies outlined below, has found a way to appeal to the fear and hatred of Americans for other Americans, fostering and encouraging it.  In doing so he has exposed himself for the race baiter, demagogue and Islamophobe he really is.  Don’t think so?  Take a look

 

On the eve of Peter King’s hearings on Islam


Photo image of Zaid Shakir

Image via Wikipedia

King’s committee hearings on Islam are another politician’s pandering to the racist Islamophobes in American culture even when his hearings, which will be stacked against Muslim Americans, have no merit in fact.  King seems to think Muslims aren’t helping America in its war on terror.  False again.  Muslims have been active in fighting extremism, and here is just one example.

(Zaid) Shakir (Islamic activist and teacher at Zaytuna College, pictured above) answered critics who say that the violent extremists are only following a literal reading of the Quran with the verse, “Allah does not forbid you concerning a people that have not fought you over your religion nor expelled you from your homes that you have amicable and just relations with them and Allah loves those who are just.” Some may respond by saying that “the Americans are driving people out of their homes” but Shakir countered this by saying “most Americans I know haven’t driven anyone out of their homes.” Rather, he advised Muslims, especially frustrated and angry young Muslims that want to do something to join forces with those Americans like Michael Ratner and Chris Hedges that have dedicated their careers to shutdown the Guantanamo Bay prison and oppose the invasion of Iraq.

“Michael Ratner has dedicated the last 8 years of his career with others in trying to shutdown Guantanamo Bay. What have you done to help him in this effort, did you go to law school or learn about the political mechanisms of this country and add your voice, organize your community, educate your neighbors, use the media…Where were you when Chris Hedges and Veterans for Peace chained themselves to the White House fence and were arrested while trying to draw attention to those veterans protesting the war? Had Shakir, a military veteran been here, he says he would have a joined them.

Most likely, Mr. Shakir will not be called to testify before Peter King’s committee because frankly King is not interested in hearing anything that counters his subversive notions of the role Muslims play in American life.  But Shakir, et.co aren’t the only ones saying that American Muslims don’t deserve this negative attention.  Time magazine ran this story in one of its recent editions claiming this

Though acts of violent extremism by U.S. Muslims appear to have grown, their potency has not. American Muslims remain more moderate, diverse and integrated than the Muslim populations in any other Western society. Despite the efforts of al-Qaeda propagandists like al-Awlaki, the evidence of even modest sympathy for the enemy existing inside the U.S. is minuscule. The paranoia about homegrown terrorism thus vastly overstates al-Qaeda’s strength and reflects our leaders’ inability to make honest assessments about the true threats to America’s security….

A comprehensive report by the Rand Corporation last year concluded that just one out of every 30,000 American Muslims could be said to have joined jihad, “suggesting an American Muslim population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence.”……

So why does the myth of homegrown terrorism persist? In part because, like every hardy political meme, it serves the interests of loudmouths on both ends of the ideological spectrum. To the right, the threat of homegrown terrorism helps to perpetuate the notion of a ceaseless, civilization-wide struggle against Islamic extremism. To the left, the prospect of American Muslims taking up jihad fits with the idea that the U.S.’s foreign policy is creating a new generation of terrorists.

In other words, Muslims in America are a political football that’s used to influence foreign policy or advance a politician’s career, which is also known as demagoguery.  King fits the latter profile and that should come as no surprise in today’s political climate.  Instead of being a leader, a statesman for his constituents, he’s become a follower of political crosswinds that ostensibly serve to minimize the effect of Islam in America and abroad.

More Peter King news


Sorry folks, but I have a real problem with demagoguery and Congressman Peter King, R of New York is at the center of my ire at the moment for exemplifying the untruthfulness typical of today’s politicians.  Where do you begin with him?

After the latest terror attack on America this past weekend, King has now taken the liberal side of the  crime in America argument to propose gun control legislation to limit carrying a firearm within 1000 feet of of certain high-profile government officials.  Typical big government solution and one I wouldn’t expect from a Republican member of Congress, but there was no word from King, who’s set to take over the position of the Homeland Security House committee, when gun toters like the man in the picture above were seen walking around during an Obama rally in 2009, in of all places the state of Arizona.  Everyone touted the rights of such individuals as “Chris” to carry openly the firearm of his choice even in the vicinity of a sitting US President.  As a firearm owner myself, I was somewhat mixed about this brazen display of chutzpah, but King’s pronouncement now makes me wonder whether he would consider Obama, should he be re-elected a high-profile government official worthy of having the ban imposed for him or not?  Most likely not…..since King is obliged to the ‘birther’ wing of his party for any future political aspirations.

The news that’s most upsetting about King is his intent to have hearings on the radicalization of Islam in America.  The author of this piece calls it a show trial, I couldn’t agree with him more.  Read on

It is just about certain that the new Republican House will hold hearings on the “radicalization of the American Muslim Community.” The hearings will be called by Peter King, the Republican representative from New York who is now the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

This move on the part of Rep. King will reveal more about him than it will about American Muslims.

Why so? Because King’s publicly expressed prejudices will shape the hearings he will hold, thereby giving us an accurate view of where he is coming from. Simultaneously, they will only supply an inaccurate and skewed view of American Muslims.

To date, what do Peter King’s public positions look like? Here are some examples:

1. King has publicly asserted, without evidence, that most of the leaders and organizations of the American Muslim Community are dangerous radicals. They are to be judged so because, allegedly, they are purveyors of “radical Islam.”

He has made the accusation that “80 to 85% of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists.” He here conflates radicals and fundamentalists. He has even written a novel, Vale of Tears, about Muslims plotting against the United States.

2. He has asserted that mainstream American Muslims, their leaders and organizations, have “not come forward and denounce(d), officially denounce(d), officially cooperate(d) with police against extremists and terrorists.” This accusation happens to be demonstrably false.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, the first Muslim American elected to the House, has spent a good bit of time documenting the efforts of Muslim Americans to do just what King says they don’t do. Among other things Ellison points out that “about one third of all foiled al-Qaida related plots in the U.S. relied on support and information provided by members of the Muslim community.”

A recent attempt at such terrorism, the placing of a car bomb in Times Square, was foiled by a Senegalese Muslim immigrant.

3. When Peter King is asked about his sources of information on American Muslims he names Steve Emerson and Daniel Pipes. Emerson is one of those journalists turned self-proclaimed “experts” on security matters. He has written a number of books on “radical Islam” which, in turn, have been criticized by real Middle East experts.

Pipes is a devotee of Israel and rarely deviates from a right-wing Zionist line. Both men have been described as aggressive enemies of Muslims and Islam. It is to these sorts of people that King looks to confirm his own biases. No wonder Peter King now regards American Muslim leaders as “an enemy living amongst us.”

4. Just to round out this picture we can add that, quickly after 9/11, King became a staunch supporter of the invasion of Iraq. Having taken this stand, he never addressed the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, nor has he ever publicly considered the fact that American foreign policy in the Middle East did have a lot to do with that event.

King was a strong defender of George W. Bush’s policy of torture, claiming that the Bush should be given a medal for authorizing water boarding. He supports a strict application of the “USA Patriot Act.” He says that Guantanamo Bay prison should not be closed, and the proposed “mosque” near “ground zero” should not be opened.

King has all the right credentials to qualify as a demagogue and a racist demagogue at that, for all of the reasons stated in the article above.  Please read it in its entirety at the link,  ConsortiumNews.com, home of investigative reporter Robert Parry, and one of the best damned news website currently operating anywhere in the world.

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