Have you ever considered this?


Robert Salaam of the blog The American Muslim (yes there are two blogs by that name and  both are excellent) asks an interesting question that should be raised in light of the recent terrorist bombings in Boston.  His question is the media responsible for some of the anti-Islamic backlash directed towards Muslims and Muslim organizations and places of worship.  Take a look at a brief excerpt

What caused a 52-year-old former Marine to leave his home in Indiana and drive for 2 hours to a Mosque in Ohio, with the intention to burn it down? According to Randy Linn, it was television’s constant portrayal of Muslims as wanting to do nothing more than kill Americans. After some heavy drinking, Linn made his way to the Mosque, carrying a firearm. He broke in and started the fire. He went room to room presumably to do God only knows what. Fortunately no one was at the Mosque at the time. Also fortunately, the sprinkler system kicked in and extinguished the flames. Randy Linn was later caught after being identified in surveillance photos.

In court, when asked whether he thought all Muslims were terrorists, Linn responded in affirmation.

As a Muslim and former Marine, this hate crime disturbs me. It disturbs me not so much because Randy Linn—by his own actions and admissions—betrayed that sacred trust and dedication to the values we Marines hold so dear. Instead, it disturbs me because his reasoning behind the betrayal of not only our Marine Corps values, but also the boundaries of common decency and citizenry.

It’s telling and worth noting that Randy Linn, like many others who use terrorism as means of vengeance against Muslims, often cite the Media as a major source in the influence of how they perceive members of the Islamic faith. Some anti-Muslim terrorists like Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people because of his anti-Muslim beliefs, go so as far as quoting and identifying popular anti-Muslim antagonists by name in their writings such as Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Geert Wilders, and many others as the inspiration behind their beliefs. Each of these individuals has found television, print, and political success with their extremist ideologies.

 

Pamela Geller

Pamela Geller

Salaam’s point is a good and valid one. Muslims are always on the defensive, pushed  to deny and condemn even the slightest indiscretion made by any Muslim anywhere in the world.  Even if the condemnation is accepted it rarely finds any traction in major media, and even more rarely are Muslims given a platform to weigh in on matters that affect the national conscience.  However, people with very definite patterns of hate speech and really incendiary rhetoric that borders on hysteria, designed to take the country over the edge to brink of civil war, are given repeated voice in media to promote division among Americans which in the case outlined above drives people to violence.  Yet they are not held responsible for this invisible crime and are given a “pass” by the media….nay, some would say an audience.  Such is the hypocrisy of American politics and news reporting; be careful America.  Don’t give voice to hatred and division.  Fix 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.

 

 

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!

Uh, Geert? Is anybody home in your country?


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

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

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

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Beating the War Drums


Those nutty neocons are at it again, calling for the US to enter into a war with Iran, on behalf of Israeli hegemony.  It matters not to them that America is undergoing one of the worst financial crisis in modern history, unemployment is at double digits, foreclosures at an all time high, and the war effort, especially in Afghanstan has been rocked by scandal and even charges of war atrocities, neocons don’t care about any of that, or about their pretty disastrous track record on the wars they have called for in the not too distant past with predictions that weren’t even close.  These people think Americans are dumb enough to forget all that and believe anything they say. 

Daneil Pipes’ interview with the oddly named Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, whose ministry has been pretty much disavowed by the churches in Israel/Palestine makes the point that negotiations, diplomacy, sanctions are meaningless; he will accept nothing short of all out annihilation

DP: If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, it changes the dynamics – not just in the Middle East, but worldwide. If the Obama administration has in mind to do something, it’s not about to broadcast it. So we don’t know. But I’m not optimistic. But I also would not conclude at this date that the Iranians will get the bomb. There is still pressure that can be brought.

EMQ: Can sanctions really accomplish anything?

DP: I don’t think so. I don’t think sanctions have any value beyond window dressing. I don’t think agreements have any value. I don’t think threats have any value. It boils down to whether we accept the Iranian nuclear program or we destroy it.

EMQ: How should Israelis feel about this?

DP: I think it’s realistic for the Israelis to attack and do real damage. Now, what constitutes success, I’m not exactly sure. There are many, many questions. If I were [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin]Netanyahu, I would say to [U.S. President Barack] Obama, “Why don’t you take out the Iranian nukes? Or else we will And we will not do it by trying to fly planes across Turkey and Syria or Jordan or Saudi Arabia. We will do it from submarine-based, tactical nuclear weapons. You don’t want that; we don’t want that; but that’s the way we can do this job for sure. You do it your way so we don’t have to escalate to that.” That would be a way of applying pressure. There are so many details which I’m not privy to. But that would be my kind of approach if I were the Israelis.

It’s too bad the leader of the ‘only superpower’ left in the world today….I like how neocons like to build up US presidents in order to get America to do the dirty work for Israel, doesn’t have the courage to say to any Israeli leader acting out Pipes’ scenario, ‘go right ahead and attack Iran with your sub based tactical nukes…you’re on your own, while we try to work out details through negotiations’, because the Iranians have been signaling since 2003 their willingness to negotiate with America.  Pipes almost seems to threaten the US…..we don’t want that and you don’t want that (i.e. a sub based strike on the part of Israel) so why don’t you do it your way’.

The other chest beating neocon is Sir John Bolton who likes to use the neocon meme of questioning the manliness of American presidents; something is wrong with them, they lack the courage to stand up to an intractable foe if they don’t do the neocon shuffle.

As Tehran and Pyongyang can plainly see, President Obama’s nonproliferation strategy is intellectually and politically exhausted. But U.S. exhaustion will not lead to stasis. North Korea and Iran will continue their nuclear and ballistic missile programs in the face of our feeble policy.

So are we consigned to two more years of growing danger? Not if Congress and opinion leaders take steps without White House leadership, beginning with these three initiatives:

First, they must demand increased intelligence collection on the North Korea-Iran connection……..

Although North Korea and Iran may be slipping off the front page, their nuclear and ballistic missile cooperation is almost certainly progressing….. Stepped up intelligence gathering and enhanced congressional and public discussion might even awaken the Obama administration.

A second step is to increase political support for an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile facilities…. Arab states have understood this for some time and have hoped for a pre-emptive U.S. strike. But that will not happen under Mr. Obama absent a Damascene conversion in the Oval Office.

What outsiders can do is create broad support for Israel’s inherent right to self-defense against a nuclear Holocaust and defend the specific tactic of pre-emptive attacks against Iran’s Esfahan uranium-conversion plant, its Natanz enrichment facility, and other targets. Congress can make it clear, for example, that it would support immediate resupply and rearming to make up for Israeli losses in the event of such an attack. Having visible congressional support in place at the outset will reassure the Israeli government, which is legitimately concerned about Mr. Obama’s likely negative reaction to such an attack.

There you have it, America’s problem is an intellectual midget occupies the White House who is usually asleep and not aware of the threat a non nuclear possessing country now poses to our client state Israel, so Bolton and other like minded neocons along with those members in Congress who are agreement must  sidestep the President and take the bull by the horns to rectify this situation. During the days of the GW Bush administration there was a word tossed around a lot for people who went against the grain of a sitting US president during America’s time of war. That word was ‘traitor’. I think it’s appropriate for the two gentlemen mentioned above. Anyone?

Good government, bad government


Sometimes there is reason to be hopeful that our Nation can self-correct and return to the principles it has finely tuned over the generations, of liberty, social responsibility and good citizenship.  The decision of the US Department of State to overturn the ban on academics Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib are examples of hope and perhaps light at the end of the tunnel of darkness we have surrounded ourselves in over the last decade.  We’ve written extensively about Ramadan in the pages of Miscellany101 in what can only be termed an act of revenge against him and his family to keep him out of the mainstream of political, social and contemporary  dialogue.  When given the full weight of a judicial system, albeit imperfect, but still forming and trying to correct itself while being universally applicable, Ramadan’s visa revocation was first overturned by the judicial system in 2009  and then by the US Department of State just last week.  Initially he had been hired for  the Henry R. Luce Chair at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, but extremists who managed to infiltrate policy making positions in government were able to get the US government to revoke a visa they had originally granted him.  The reasons for it were spurious at best, lies at worse and so transparent that when given the light of day were thrown out post haste.  You can read one of Ramadan’s more recent musings here.  Good government.

Along with Ramadan’s decision the State Department overturned the revocation imposed on Adam Habib, a South African academic who is Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation & Advancement at the University of Johannesburg. It goes without saying the case against him was as empty and irrational as the one made against Ramadan. In fact, it seemed the only people afraid of Habib, besides American Islamophobes, were South African communists, which should have made Habib a significantly important figure with a right wing conservative administration the likes of George  Bush’s.  Habib’s case, like that of Ramadan, was wrapped up in the Islamophobic notions of Campus Watch, the Daniel Pipes led organization. You can read about them here and here.   It didn’t take a Clinton led State Department very long to overturn her predecessor’s revocation for either of these two men; in fact less than a year after being in office.  Says alot about a fanatically led Bush administration and even more about “good government”.

Euphoria however is quickly dashed when one reads about the US Justice Department’s quick reaction to the story of the three “suicides” at Guantanamo Bay and especially the reporting of that story by MSNBC’s  Keith Olbermann.  Olbermann reported on his show how Justice was upset with his coverage of the story that was reported extensively by Scott Horton of Harper’s magazine and picked up by a lot of people on the blogosphere, including here at Miscellany101.  It seems the Justice Department is only willing to comment negatively about the story, that is, to say Olbermann did a sloppy job of reporting it, but doesn’t see the need to comment on the essence of the charges made by US military men who have gone on record to say the series of events are not consistent with what they observed or were told later when promised an investigation.  This is the worse case scenario for bad government.  The leader of the free world, a designation we have heaped upon ourselves and which we wear proudly,  and which is acknowledged by others the world over, doesn’t need to engage in this type of intimidation and stonewalling with a free press.  Transparency, something promised by the Obama administration, means making all the facts available of  investigations and going on record to actively and judiciously clear the name of government when tarnished by accusations the likes of which are in the Harper’s story.  To do anything less than that is bad government….something  we’ve been used to for the last decade.