Ramadan Kareem


Ramadan mubarak to the Muslims around the world.  I hope your month of fasting is spiritually, emotionally and materially rewarding.

Coming out of vacation to post this brilliant piece by Glen Greenwald


As vacations go this is one of my better ones to date, but the shootings in Norway and the typical missteps by main stream media to cast blame on the culprits has made it just too unbearable for me.  Thankfully, Glen Greenwald’s piece sums it all up for me and it’s a must I post it here in its entirety.

For much of the day yesterday, the featured headline on The New York Times online front page strongly suggested that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on Oslo; that led to definitive statements on the BBC and elsewhere that Muslims were the culprits.  The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin wrote a whole column based on the assertion that Muslims were responsible, one that, as James Fallows notes, remains at the Post with no corrections or updates.  The morning statement issued by President Obama — “It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring” and “we have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks” — appeared to assume, though (to its credit) did not overtly state, that the perpetrator was an international terrorist group.

But now it turns out that the alleged perpetrator wasn’t from an international Muslim extremist group at all, but was rather a right-wing Norwegian nationalist with a history of anti-Muslim commentary and an affection for Muslim-hating blogs such as Pam Geller’s Atlas Shrugged, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch.  Despite that, The New York Times is still working hard to pin some form of blame, even ultimate blame, on Muslim radicals (h/t sysprog):

Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking Al Qaeda’s brutality and multiple attacks.

“If it does turn out to be someone with more political motivations, it shows these groups are learning from what they see from Al Qaeda,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Al Qaeda is always to blame, even when it isn’t, even when it’s allegedly the work of a Nordic, Muslim-hating, right-wing European nationalist.  Of course, before Al Qaeda, nobody ever thought to detonate bombs in government buildings or go on indiscriminate, politically motivatedshooting rampages.  The NYT speculates that amonium nitrate fertilizer may have been used to make the bomb because the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, owned a farming-related business and thus could have access to that material; of course nobody would have ever thought of using that substance to make a massive bomb had it not been for Al Qaeda.  So all this proves once again what a menacing threat radical Islam is.

Then there’s this extraordinarily revealing passage from the NYT –first noticed by Richard Silverstein — explaining why the paper originally reported what it did:

Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.

There was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible.

In other words, now that we know the alleged perpetrator is not Muslim, we know — by definition — that Terrorists are not responsible; conversely, when we thought Muslims were responsible, that meant — also by definition — that it was an act of Terrorism.  As Silverstein put it:

How’s that again? Are the only terrorists in the world Muslim? If so, what do we call a right-wing nationalist capable of planting major bombs and mowing down scores of people for the sake of the greater glory of his cause? If even a liberal newspaper like the Times can’t call this guy a terrorist, what does that say about the mindset of the western world?

What it says is what we’ve seen repeatedly: that Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target.  Indeed, in many (though not all) media circles, discussion of the Oslo attack quickly morphed from this is Terrorism (when it was believed Muslims did it) to no, this isn’t Terrorism, just extremism (once it became likely that Muslims didn’t).  As Maz Hussain — whose lengthy Twitter commentary on this event yesterday was superb and well worth reading — put it:

That Terrorism means nothing more than violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes has been proven repeatedly.  When an airplane was flown into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, it was immediately proclaimed to be Terrorism, until it was revealed that the attacker was a white, non-Muslim, American anti-tax advocate with a series of domestic political grievances.  The U.S. and its allies can, by definition, never commit Terrorism even when it is beyond question that the purpose of their violence is to terrorize civilian populations into submission.  Conversely, Muslims who attack purely military targets  — even if the target is an invading army in their own countries — are, by definition, Terrorists.  That is why, as NYU’s Remi Brulin has extensively documented, Terrorism is the most meaningless, and therefore the most manipulated, word in the English language.  Yesterday provided yet another sterling example.

One last question: if, as preliminaryevidencesuggests, it turns out that Breivik was “inspired” by the extremist hatemongering rantings of Geller, Pipes and friends, will their groups be deemed Terrorist organizations such that any involvement with them could constitute the criminal offense of material support to Terrorism?  Will those extremist polemicists inspiring Terrorist violence receive the Anwar Awlaki treatment of being put on an assassination hit list without due process?  Will tall, blond, Nordic-looking males now receive extra scrutiny at airports and other locales, and will those having any involvement with those right-wing, Muslim-hating groups be secretly placed on no-fly lists?  Or are those oppressive, extremist, lawless measures — like the word Terrorism — also reserved exclusively for Muslims?

UPDATE:  The original version of the NYT article was even worse in this regard.  As several people noted, here is what the article originally said (papers that carry NYT articles still have the original version):

Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking al-Qaida’s signature brutality and multiple attacks.

“If it does turn out to be someone with more political motivations, it shows these groups are learning from what they see from al-Qaida,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Thus: if it turns out that the perpetrators weren’t Muslim (but rather “someone with more political motivations” — whatever that means: it presumably rests on the inane notion that Islamic radicals are motivated by religion, not political grievances), then it means that Terrorism, by definition, would be “ruled out” (one might think that the more politically-motivated an act of violence is, the more deserving it is of the Terrorism label, but this just proves that the defining feature of the word Terrorism is Muslim violence).  The final version of the NYT article inserted the word “Islamic” before “terrorism” (“even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause”), but — as demonstrated above — still preserved the necessary inference that only Muslims can be Terrorists.  Meanwhile, in the world of reality, of 294 Terrorist attacks attempted or executed on European soil in 2009 as counted by the EU, a grand total of one — 1 out of 294 — was perpetrated by “Islamists.”


UPDATE II:  This article expertly traces and sets forth exactly how the “Muslims-did-it” myth was manufactured and then disseminated yesterday to the worldwide media, which predictably repeated it with little skepticism.  What makes the article so valuable is that it names names: it points to the incestuous, self-regarding network of self-proclaimed U.S. Terrorism and foreign policy “experts” — what the article accurately describes as “almost always white men and very often with military or government backgrounds,” in this instance driven by “a case of an elite fanboy wanting to be the first to pass on leaked gadget specs” — who so often shape these media stories and are uncritically presented as experts, even though they’re drowning in bias, nationalism, ignorance, and shallow credentialism.

Here ya’ go, corporate media, suck on this!

Doing the needful


I’ve heard that expression a time or two in my travels, doing the needful, and like everyone else this time of year, I need to recharge my batteries and take a break from any serious, exhaustive thinking and reflection.  Some of you probably are saying serious and exhaustive is NOT something you’ve found in this blog, so I’ll simply say my brain is hurting me, as my younger family member often says when tasked to do something slightly at or below their age level and I need a break.  However, I have my trusty Blackberry with me, well it’s not really a Blackberry, and I will make an occasional  tweet now and then which you can follow here at Miscellany101, God willing.

‪”We Don’t Know Where That 2.3 Billion went and a lot of people don’t seem to care‬‏


We’re in the middle of one of the worse economic crisis of modern times,and much if not most of that is because of the careless nature of expenditure within the Defense department, according to some estimates as much as the deficit we are now hampered with. Yet the opposition party doesn’t seem at all interested in reducing the deficit by reigning in Defense department spending, instead opting to impose tax hikes on the middle class over the wealthiest Americans, and by cutting social services whose waste is a drop in the bucket compared to the Defense department. So while millions of Americans are without jobs…jobs that if you believed trickle down economics should be generated by the massive wealth accumulated by corporations like Exxon Mobile, GE, and yes our very own Defense Department, these very same entities are not being held accountable by members of government. Can anyone take elected officials seriously anymore?

Native Deen Video by My Faith My Voice


A succinct, and perhaps much more palatable way of saying what we’ve tried to say so many times before, American Muslims are NOT America’s problem! For the rhythmically challenged feel free to snap your fingers and dance around in the privacy of your own home. Enjoy.

 

He’s Baaack, and still mad as hell!


Keith Olbermann continues his assault on the faux pas journalism of Fox News. His attacks are well deserved and he along with Jon Stewart seem to be the only ones willing to point out the hypocrisy of the Murdoch machine. In the light of what happened in the UK with a Murdoch enterprise infringing on the rights of British citizens one has to wonder what is being done to viewers, readers and listeners here in the name of journalism by Fox News minions. Stay tuned.

We keep hearing from the “Right” how our country is built on Christian principles, which they, the “Right” seem all too eager to dismiss or disregard whenever it suits them


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

Hat-tip to FRWritings who tweeted, ‘Conservative Christians dont have a Christian Problem, Conservative Christians Have a Reading Problem; Bible doesnt it say to Crush the Poor‘ and indeed it doesn’t.  First some background.  Over the past decade we, the People, have been besieged with the notion that our world is in a clash of civilization with, most notably Muslims, who want to destroy our religious traditions and foundation and replace it with this encroaching and evil “sharia law” that will plunge us into darkness, insolvency and eventual death.  Even when there is no external or internal threat from a belief system that is indeed different from America’s majority, we manage to conjure it up and exaggerate it into life threatening proportions which have become easily believable by most Americans.

However, the potential for death and destruction come not from those sources the “Right” claims oppose a Christian ethos, but rather from those who falsely promote that Christian tradition.  The “Right” having taken up the cause of the economy and the necessity to increase revenue through budget cuts and tax increases has decided to attach itself to budget cuts and tax increases that disproportionally affect the middle class to the exclusion of the more well off and rich of society. Companies and corporations that have reaped tremendous profits at  the expense of the 90% of the US tax bracket, have refused to accept any responsibility for the US economy and have been enabled in their denial by the same Right which claims an alliance to Christian principles. These very same conservative politicians that tout the virtue of America in its clash with other civilizations have bet   against America during her times of economic hardship, making hypocritical their claims of American  exceptionalism and grandeur.  As FRWritings said in his tweet they haven’t read the Bible at all or rather have forgotten what it says in Luke 12:48- Much will be required from everyone to whom much has been given. But even more will be demanded from the one to whom much has been entrusted. Did you read that part folks?

 

Finally! An ally who embraces, at least in part, some of our principles and DOES NOT want our money! Imagine that!


We talked before about how many in the newly emerging Egypt have said no to US funds because they see such money as a way to negatively influence their burgeoning “new” democracy.  It’s not that these Egyptians don’t like America, what’s not to like about America the leader of the free world, it’s just that they want to define their social movements and institutions and not have that done for them by others.

“There are development partners that have for some time now been pushing the democracy and human rights agenda,” said Talaat Abdel Malek, an advisor to the Ministry of International Cooperation, which overseas foreign aid. “And I understand that and I understand the need for it, but there comes a point when there is something that is called national sovereignty that has to be respected.”

Every nook and cranny of Egyptian society, except for the marxists, has called for a democratic Egypt so their reasoning goes, there is no need to make that such a strong push by outside forces.  There are even some in Egypt who sound like today’s American GOP

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is campaigning for September’s parliamentary elections on a platform to trim the country’s budget deficit.

“It’s always better for any country to build on the basis of investment and not loans,” Khairat el-Shater, 61, deputy leader of the Brotherhood, said in an interview in Cairo.

“A lot of investors have been very nervous of the prospects of a government with a strong Brotherhood representation,” said Elijah Zarwan, a Cairo-based senior analyst at the International Crisis Group research group. “The Brotherhood is aware of this and they are trying to reassure foreign investors by saying ‘look, we are businessmen, we are business owners and professionals.’” The Brotherhood is also proposing to cut spending, sell state-run media, link subsidies to job creation and slow inflation.

All of the above sounds like talking points for any candidate running for office in America.  To further underscore the convergence of American ideals with a surfacing Egyptian “democracy” explained in its own terms comes this

The rector of what is arguably the world’s oldest university, a bastion of Sunni scholarship with international influence, has come out in favour of a modern, democratic, constitutional Egyptian state…Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the grand sheik of Al-Azhar University in Cairo  denies that Islam permits a “priesthood state” – an implied criticism of Iran. (The Al-Azhar) document is not apolitical, however; it endorses the separation of powers and equal rights for all citizens…it says that the principles of sharia should be the basic source of law. But at least this is not new; since 1981, the Constitution of Egypt, under an ostensibly secularist regime on the Kemal Ataturk model, has a clause saying the same thing. For some reason, perhaps in an attempt to compete with the Muslim Brotherhood, Anwar Sadat added a mild version of this clause in 1971; Hosni Mubarak took it further in 1981.

The Al-Azhar document is, however, based on the work of a broad range of scholars and activists, including Coptic Christians, several of whom signed it. The paper says that Christians and Jews should be free to govern their own lives with guidance from their own authorities.

With such proclamations coming from a post Mubarak Egypt, what could only be construed as assurances to the West that embrace Western concepts of governance, rights and responsibilities,  it’s easy for this observer to understand the unease Egyptians have with continued attempts of foreign institutions and governments to change the course of Egyptian “democracy” into something else.  By not accepting funds, Egyptians seem to be saying while they like what we stand for, they don’t want us telling them how to do it themselves.  In America’s present state of budget deficits, lost and or stolen money and calls for more austerity on the backs of the poor and middle class, ordinarily one would welcome such a friend who says thanks but no thanks to offers that neither help them or us.  We should do more to encourage such friendship among our international allies.

 

 

 

 

I thought Greece was facing an economic meltdown? So how are they able to afford hassling non-violent members of the Gaza flotilla


with silly useless charges like disturbing sea traffic and disobeying orders to LEAVE Greece?  As a Gaza flotilla prepares to set off for Gaza it seems they’ve become the center of Greece’s attention, despite the fact the country is nearly bankrupt and economically insolvent.  Greece is still able to find the money and the man power to prevent a group of people from leaving the country….(at who’s expense?) and set sail for Gaza.  Of course we know the answer to this cui bono, but it underscores two realities.  One, when you’re facing money problems you risk the potential for interference in your internal affairs by an opportunistic entity such as Israel, and two the maniacal obsession Israel has for eliminating any opposition, peaceful or otherwise to anything it does.

 

 

Abdul-Jabbar makes a slam dunk, and in doing so deserves his props


Lew Alcindor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reaches over ...

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Most likely this is NOT the kind of publicity Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wants.  He’s been used to publicity all his life, but the news that he decided to cancel his appearance in Israel where he was to promote a film he was heavily involved in probably is not good for business.  Living in Holloywood, after New York, the publicity capital of America and perhaps the world, Abdul-Jabbar puts himself at the mercy of contacts and people who are available to sell good news as long as that news is good for Israel.  Abdul-Jabbar’s cancellation of his appearance at the Jerusalem Film Festival is not good news for a country that prides itself in spin while brutally murdering  people who oppose it.  Despite  that, Abdul-Jabbar risked the possibility of negative publicity, something he surely doesn’t want while hawking a film.  In spite of that he pursued a principled position of not acquiescing to Israeli oppression of Palestinians.  Be prepared to see a coordinated effort to seesAbdul-Jabbar denigrated and he and his reputation soiled by the Israeli propaganda machine; for now, hats-off to him for his courage.

All those cowering in fear about an impending sharia take over of America, ignore the fear mongerers and fear no more


GOP Presidential Debate June 13, 2011 in New H...

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

It’s all a “myth”, but that’s something I’ve been telling you many times here and at the same time highlighting the incendiary, racist and seditious nature of those who are trying to scare the Nation into enforcing a pogrom against Muslims in America. So, read carefully

If you are not vitally concerned about the possibility of radical Muslims infiltrating the U.S. government and establishing a Taliban-style theocracy, then you are not a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. In addition to talking about tax policy and Afghanistan, Republican candidates have also felt the need to speak out against the menace of “sharia.”

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum refers to sharia as “an existential threat” to the United States. Pizza magnate Herman Cain declared in March that he would not appoint a Muslim to a Cabinet position or judgeship because “there is this attempt to gradually ease sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government.”

The generally measured campaign of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty leapt into panic mode over reports that during his governorship, a Minnesota agency had created a sharia-compliant mortgage program to help Muslim homebuyers. “As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue,” spokesman Alex Conant assured reporters, “he personally ordered it shut down.”

On Religion
Faith. Religion. Spirituality. Meaning. In our ever-shrinking world, the tentacles of religion touch everything from governmental policy to individual morality to our basic social constructs. It affects the lives of people of great faith — or no faith at all. This series of weekly columns — launched in 2005 — seeks to illuminate the national conversation.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has been perhaps the most focused on the sharia threat. “We should have a federal law that says under no circumstances in any jurisdiction in the United States will sharia be used,” Gingrich announced at last fall’s Values Voters Summit. He also called for the removal of Supreme Court justices (a lifetime appointment) if they disagreed.

Gingrich’s call for a federal law banning sharia has gone unheeded so far. But at the local level, nearly two dozen states have introduced or passed laws in the past two years to ban the use of sharia in court cases.

Despite all of the activity to monitor and restrict sharia, however, there remains a great deal of confusion about what it actually is. It’s worth taking a look at some facts to understand why an Islamic code has become such a watchword in the 2012 presidential campaign.

What is sharia?

More than a specific set of laws, sharia is a process through which Muslim scholars and jurists determine God’s will and moral guidance as they apply to every aspect of a Muslim’s life. They study the Quran, as well as the conduct and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, and sometimes try to arrive at consensus about Islamic law. But different jurists can arrive at very different interpretations of sharia, and it has changed over the centuries.

Importantly, unlike the U.S. Constitution or the Ten Commandments, there is no one document that outlines universally agreed upon sharia.

Then how do Muslim countries use sharia for their systems of justice?

There are indeed some violent and extreme interpretations of sharia. That is what the Taliban used to rule Afghanistan. In other countries, sharia may be primarily used to govern contracts and other agreements. And in a country like Turkey, which is majority Muslim, the national legal system is secular, although individual Muslims may follow sharia in their personal religious observances such as prayer and fasting. In general, to say that a person follows sharia is to say that she is a practicing Muslim.

How and when is it used in U.S. courts?

Sharia is sometimes consulted in civil cases with Muslim litigants who may request a Muslim arbitrator. These may involve issues of marriage contracts or commercial agreements, or probating an Islamic will. They are no different than the practice of judges allowing orthodox Jews to resolve some matters in Jewish courts, also known as beth din.

U.S. courts also regularly interpret foreign law in commercial disputes between two litigants from different countries, or custody agreements brokered in another country. In those cases, Islamic law is treated like any other foreign law or Catholic canon law.

What about extreme punishments like stoning or beheading?

U.S. judges may decide to consider foreign law or religious codes like sharia, but that doesn’t mean those laws override the Constitution. We have a criminal justice system that no outside law can supersede. Additionally, judges consider foreign laws only if they choose to — they can always refuse to recognize a foreign law.

So if sharia is consulted only in certain cases and only at the discretion of the court, why has it become such a high priority for states and GOP candidates? One answer is that sharia opponents believe they need to act not to prevent the way Islamic law is currently used in the U.S. but to prevent a coming takeover by Muslim extremists. The sponsor of an Oklahoma measure banning sharia approved by voters last fall described it as “a pre-emptive strike.” Others, like the conservative Center for Security Policy, assert that all Muslims are bound to work to establish an Islamic state in the U.S.

But if that was true — and the very allegation labels every Muslim in America a national security threat — the creeping Islamic theocracy movement is creeping very slowly. Muslims first moved to the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, for example, nearly a century ago to work in Henry Ford‘s factories. For most of the past 100 years, Dearborn has been home to the largest community of Arabs in the U.S. And yet after five or six generations, Dearborn’s Muslims have not sought to see the city run in accordance with sharia. Bars and the occasional strip clubs dot the town’s avenues, and a pork sausage factory is located next to the city’s first mosque.

Maybe Dearborn’s Muslims are just running a very drawn-out head fake on the country. It’s hard to avoid the more likely conclusion, however, that politicians who cry “Sharia!” are engaging in one of the oldest and least-proud political traditions — xenophobic demagoguery. One of the easiest ways to spot its use is when politicians carelessly throw around a word simply because it scares some voters.

Take Gerald Allen, the Alabama state senator who was moved by the danger posed by sharia to sponsor a bill banning it — but who, when asked for a definition, could not say what sharia was. “I don’t have my file in front of me,” he told reporters. “I wish I could answer you better.” In Tennessee, lawmakers sought to make following sharia a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison — until they learned that their effort would essentially make it illegal to be Muslim in their state.

During last year’s Senate race in Nevada, GOP candidate Sharon Angle blithely asserted that Dearborn, as well as a small town in Texas, currently operate under sharia law. And Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann used the occasion of Osama bin Laden’s death to tie the terrorist mastermind to the word: “It is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”

The anti-communist Red Scare of the 1950s made broad use of guilt by innuendo and warnings about shadowy conspiracies. If GOP candidates insist they are not doing the same thing to ordinary Muslims, they can prove it by explaining what they believe sharia is and whether they’re prepared to ban the consideration of all religious codes from civil arbitration. Anything less is simply fear mongering.

fear mongering has become a tenet of the Republican Party and many of those who’ve run for political office in that party; by promoting a non-existing threat Republicans have relegated themselves to a party of irrelevance.  Vote for them at your and the Nation’s peril.

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