Power, politics and religion-how race is still very much a problem in America


This article resonated so deeply with me I had to share it.

nypd-muslims-350

Recently news broke of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) unbridled, secret surveillance of Muslim communities and organizations, monitoring intimate aspects of people’s lives and designating entire mosques as terrorist organizations without evidence. I reacted to this with a familiar combination of rage and fatigue.

In an interview on Huffington Post, Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York expressed a similar lack of surprise, while calling these police practices a “new low.”

The NYPD’s approach to counterterrorism policing seems to start from a place that all Muslims are inherently suspect, raising serious civil rights and safety concerns… Subjecting whole communities to blanket surveillance because of their faith is not good policing. These tactics alienate law-abiding Muslims and deepen mistrust between law enforcement and communities. That breakdown in communication puts all New Yorkers at risk.

The criminalization of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities has become appallingly, shockingly normalized in the War on Terror. For a decent yet disturbing roundup of the policies of terror waged against AMEMSA communities since 9/11, check out this article. The writer does a pretty good job of summarizing, but he also makes a common mistake, attributing the origins of this story to 9/11. In reality, the beginnings are much older.

Nineteenth Century western imperialism created false human hierarchies to justify white supremacy. It used these racial hierarchies to rationalize war, genocide, and slavery – strategies that led to the buildup of wealth and power for some through the hyper-exploitation and destruction of others. The criminalization of AMEMSA communities today is rooted in the idea of a permanent, foreign threat to American interests that demands a constant state of war. This is a centuries-old, divided view of the world into two realms: civilized and uncivilized, friend and foe. In claiming to protect the civilized realm from harm, the United States manipulates ideas of “freedom” and “democracy”, while in fact putting these goals out of reach for entire groups of people through militarized violence, criminalization and policing.

The NYPD’s police practices are also rooted in slavery and anti-black racism. After the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments, slavery had officially ended and blacks were granted citizenship. But brutal legal systems of racial control in the South granted broad police powers to regulate all aspects of black life. States throughout the South passed so-called Black Codes – laws restricting black people’s right to own property, conduct business, buy and lease land, and move freely through public spaces.

Fast forward a century later, to Nixon’s War on Crime and War on Drugs, declared after the passage of federal Civil Rights legislation. Just as the federal government yielded to demands for an end to racial discrimination, these domestic wars kicked off the massive expansion of a racialized criminal justice system that scholar Michelle Alexander now aptly calls The New Jim Crow. Today, there are more black people under the control of the criminal justice system than there were enslaved in 1850, and the United States is by far the largest jailor in the world. As for the reasons behind Nixon’s War on Crime, contrary to popular belief, scholar Naomi Murakawa points out, the “US did not confront a crime problem that was then racialized[;] it confronted a race problem that was then criminalized” – a race problem rooted in the formation of the United States. Throughout U.S. history, every step toward black liberation has been met with a countering surge in anti-black violence and criminalization.

This history raises important questions for the racial justice movement about the meaning of words like democracy, freedom, and security, when U.S. projects claiming to advance these aims clearly undermine them in reality. As acts of self-defense, we are often tempted to fall back on phrases like “law-abiding” and “hard-working” to distinguish ourselves and assert our rights, or to make overly visible gestures of patriotism like flag-waving and participation in U.S. wars. But these very words and actions feed into the divisions between “us” and “them,” between “friend” and “foe,” between “deserving” and “undeserving” – divisions that have life-threatening impacts for the most vulnerable peoples of the world, both within and beyond U.S. borders.

From the War on Crime to the War on Drugs to the War on Terror, increasingly, this us-versus-them way of sorting humanity is what “makes” race today, by dictating whose lives are safeguarded by the alleged American promise of freedom and democracy, and whose are not; and by normalizing the brutality of criminalization, mass incarceration, and war.

 

A Christian reflects on why he’s fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan


I thi

dates and a glass of milk during Ramadan to br...

dates and a glass of milk during Ramadan to break fasting at sunset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

nk his heart is in the right place, although I don’t know if I agree with the the conjugal background for  his reason but that’s for another blog.  However, Huffington Post has a blog devoted to people who are reflecting on why they are or are not fasting during Ramadan….not all of the people who write are Muslim it appears, and it’s worth a look now and then.  I chose this one for reasons of my own.

Why A Christian Is Fasting For Ramadan:

My girlfriend is Muslim, but she is also very supportive in all of my endeavors. So, I decided to do half-day fasts for six days out of the week, and one full day. We live in a pretty rural area where Muslims are few and far between. It’s the closest thing she has to fellowship, aside from her family.

The first day of Ramadan was July 19. It is now July 27, and I am starting to understand why folks fast. I do feel like my thought process changes, and I feel much closer to God. Religion is religion. Christianity and Islam have very similar underlying themes, and most don’t notice we do worship the same God. Just because we call Him a different name doesn’t mean we’re not talking to the same person.

Fasting food every day is easy, but the liquids are what really kill me. I have been very tired during my morning anatomy class, and every time I pass Arnold Palmers in the beverage section in Speedway, a little part of me dies. But, I believe I will come out of the other side of this a better man.

— Matt Schiffbauer

The Jesse Ventura op-ed Huffington Post refused to publish


For some, the search for what happened on 9/11 isn’t over
Jesse Ventura

You didn’t see anything about it in the mainstream media, but two weeks ago at a conference in San Francisco, more than one thousand architects and engineers signed a petition demanding that Congress begin a new investigation into the destruction of the World Trade Center skyscrapers on 9/11.

That’s right, these people put their reputations in potential jeopardy because they don’t buy the government’s version of events. They want to know how 200,000 tons of steel disintegrated and fell to the ground in 11 seconds. They question whether the hijacked planes were responsible – or whether it could have been a controlled demolition from inside that brought down the twin towers and Building 7.

Richard Gage, a member of the American Institute of Architects and the founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, put it like this: “The official Federal Emergency Management [Agency] and National Institute of Standards and Technology reports provide insufficient, contradictory and fraudulent accounts of the circumstances of the towers’ destruction.” He’s especially disturbed by Building 7, whose 447 stories came down in “pure free-fall acceleration” that afternoon – even though it was never hit by an aircraft.

This is a subject I take up in my new book, American Conspiracies, published this week by Skyhorse. An excerpt follows:

Some people have argued that the twin towers went down, within a half hour of one another, because of the way they were constructed. Well, those 425,000 cubic yards of concrete and 200,000 tons of steel were designed to hold up against a Boeing 707, the largest plane built at the time the towers were completed in 1973. Analysis had shown that a 707 traveling at 600 miles an hour (and those had four engines) would not cause major damage. The twin-engine Boeing 757s that hit on 9/11 were going 440 and 550 miles an hour.

Still, we are told that a molten, highly intense fuel mixture from the planes brought down these two steel-framed skyscrapers. Keep in mind that no other such skyscraper in history had ever been known to collapse completely due to fire damage. So could it actually have been the result of a controlled demolition from inside the buildings? I don’t claim expertise about this, but I did work four years as part of the Navy’s underwater demolition teams, where we were trained to blow things to hell and high water. And my staff talked at some length with a prominent physicist, Steven E. Jones, who says that a “gravity driven collapse” without demolition charges defies the laws of physics. These buildings fell, at nearly the rate of free-fall, straight down into their own footprint, in approximately ten seconds. An object dropped from the roof of the 110-story-tall towers would reach the ground in about 9.2 seconds. Then there’s the fact that steel beams that weighed as much as 200,000 pounds got tossed laterally as far as 500 feet.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) started its investigation on August 21, 2002. When their 10,000-page-long report came out three years later, the spokesman said there was no evidence to suggest a controlled demolition. But Steven E. Jones also says that molten metal found underground weeks later is proof that jet fuel couldn’t have been all that was responsible. I visited the site about three weeks after 9/11, with Governor Pataki and my wife Terry. It didn’t mean anything to me at the time, but they had to suspend digging that day because they were running into heat pockets of huge temperatures. These fires kept burning for more than three months, the longest-burning structure blaze ever. And this was all due to jet fuel? We’re talking molten metal more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Probably the most conclusive evidence about a controlled demolition is a research paper (two years, nine authors) published in the peer-reviewed Open Chemical Physics Journal, in April 2009. In studying dust samples from the site, these scientists found chips of nano-thermite, which is a high-tech incendiary/explosive. Here’s what the paper’s lead author, Dr. Niels Harrit of the University of Copenhagen’s chemistry department, had to say about the explosive that he’s convinced brought down the Twin Towers and the nearby Building 7:

“Thermite itself dates back to 1893. It is a mixture of aluminum and rust-powder, which react to create intense heat. The reaction produces iron, heated to 2500 degrees Centigrade. This can be used to do welding. It can also be used to melt other iron. So in nano-thermite, this powder from 1893 is reduced to tiny particles, perfectly mixed. When these react, the intense heat develops much more quickly. Nano-thermite can be mixed with additives to give off intense heat, or serve as a very effective explosive. It contains more energy than dynamite, and can be used as rocket fuel.”

Richard Gage is one of hundreds of credentialed architects and structural engineers who have put their careers on the line to point out the detailed anomalies and many implications of controlled demolition in the building collapses. As he puts it bluntly: “Once you get to the science, it’s indisputable.”