A Tale of Two Americas


We are all familiar with the alphabet language, DUI, DWI and one of the latest acronyms  DWB (driving while black).  They all have to do with the transportation industry and the perils of being on the wrong side of the law while going from one place to the other.  In the case of the first two, DUI or DWI the physical condition of the person in question is what puts them in the legal spotlight.  DWB however is different because no matter how physically fit or in shape one is, how sober or mentally competent one may be or no matter how physically attractive to any law enforcement official if they fit a racial profile they are fair game to have the full force of the law applied against them designed to intimidate, threaten, or harass them not for any specific goal other than the pleasure of the law official on hand to administer such harassment.

DWB is an offense that has nothing to do with any violation of the law. Rather it is a response to society’s stereotypes towards a certain race of people and given the innocuous name racial profiling to make the practice more socially acceptable.  The intent however is to make the victim and by extension all others like him/her aware of their place in society and society’s perception of them; that even if they are not violators of the law at the moment, they are viewed as having a propensity to break the law and thus should fear the full weight of the state could be brought to bear against them at any given moment.

FWM, Flying While Muslim, is the latest anachronism to be inflicted on a group of people, obviously this time Muslims, with the added twist that it can strip a person of his citizenship depending on the time of its imposition. For those Muslims who are outside the US, and you’ve got to wonder how  were they able to “leave” by a plane, but not be allowed to return the same way, being put on a ‘no fly list’ or ‘terrorist watch list’ means not being able to return to your country and if necessary  to defend oneself under the legal system of your citizenship; the State’s way of killing two birds with one stone.  Being able to claim the guilt or innocence of someone without the necessity of that being proven in court and simultaneously perpetuating the canard that ‘all terrorists are Muslims’ is the modus operandi of a racist policy that predates even DWB. So when the government, who is solely responsible for placing people on a list that prohibts them from flying, is called out on this what do  they say?

the government has argued in court that placing somebody on the no-fly list does not deprive them of any constitutional rights. Just because a person can’t fly doesn’t mean they can’t travel, the government lawyers argue. They can always take a boat, for example. “Neither Plaintiff nor any other American citizen has either a right to international travel or a right to travel by airplane,” government lawyers wrote

but the government’s response doesn’t address the reasons why the person was put on the list in the first place nor does it say whether a plaintiff will be allowed back into the country no matter how he/she arrives at its borders.  Indeed, there are allegations that US authorities have argued or persuaded neighboring countries like Canada and Mexico not to let people on an American no fly list into their country and into forced exile

we have other plaintiffs in this lawsuit who tried to travel to the U.S. through Mexico but were turned back, who tried to travel to the U.S. through Canada, but were turned back…… plaintiffs who have tried to fly through Canada or Mexico have not been allowed to board those planes either.

Pastor Steve Stone of HeartSong Church is a breath of fresh air on an otherwise stale public inundated with hatred and fear towards Muslims.  Instead of giving in to all the hysteria about Islam, Stone and members of his congregation have decided to conduct themselves as Christians in answer to the question What Would Jesus Do

Two years ago, the pastor of Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tennessee, on the outskirts of Memphis, learned that a local mosque had bought property right across the street from the church. So he decided some Southern hospitality was in order.

A few days later, a sign appeared in front of the church. “Heartsong Church welcomes Memphis Islamic Center to the neighborhood,” it read.

The friendship between Heartsong and the Memphis Islamic Center comes at a time when Muslim-Christian relations have been testy. In communities from New York to California, from Wisconsin to Tennessee, proposed mosques have run into angry, organized opposition.

In Cordova, things have been peaceful.

There have been no marches against the mosque or other public opposition. Aside from some angry emails, the two congregations have gotten mostly positive feedback about their relationship.

Pastor Jones is to be congratulated for being a leader, turning swords into plow shares and sowing peace and harmony with his neighbors and fellow citizens of both faith communities. He deserves an attaboy from his country for doing the right thing when it hasn’t been popular to do so.  Perhaps he should run for President in ’12.

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Where’s the waterboard?


I’m against waterboarding because I believe it’s illegal, but many on the right clamored for it when we were fighting our war on terror against people with Arabic names who, it was said, posed a threat to our Republic.  The waterboard, that instrument of death, was pointed to as something needed to extract information from even the most diehard terrorist in order to save lives.  When it was presented in those stark terms even some “progressives” demurred in their protests afraid they would be seen as anti-American, traitors or worse, threats themselves and singled out for persecution.  (Regrettably, the latter  may have happened a time or two.)  It didn’t matter that America was a signatory to a law that said we were against torture and would prosecute anyone who committed it, we were told waterboarding was necessary.

After the latest assault on a sitting member of Congress and the murder of a federal judge at the hands of an assassin who resembles a skinhead in all appearances and who had made references to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, there comes news that another congressman has received ominious  threats from places unknown, raising the specter that more death and destruction might be visited on members of Congress.  How can we stop what looks like certain carnage?  Waterboarding and profiling are two solutions offered up by those on the right when they spoke of Muslims and jihadists who were threats to the American way of life and yet not once, except on the pages of Miscellany101 have these tools not too long ago embraced by many Americans, been mention in the latest discourse.  Unfortunately, neither has the matter of whether what Loughner commited is terrorism been discussed much in the media and for obvious reasons.

Terrorists can’t be white, non-Muslims and waterboarding or profiling (racial profiling) can’t be applied to them because it obscures the debate about what’s good and what’s bad for America.  White crime is tolerated and ostensibly good for America…we can build case law around it, institutionalize it and put people to work combating it yet maintain a civil society, or so it seems.  Terrorism many on the right maintain is the purveyor of dark skinned or Muslim people who  threaten  our very civilization and we must fight them by any means necessary, even illegal means that we visit upon them and sometimes ourselves. We have bemoaned that double standard time and time again here on Miscellany101. The right seems to relish, embrace it and heap scorn on those who point it out.

The “wingnuts” on the right have for the past decade managed to escape responsibility for any miscalculations on the political stage.  The WMD fiasco was dismissed because Saddam was a bad guy and we needed to get rid of him anyway, the encroachment on our civil liberties was proposed because it’s government’s job to take care of us, during the administration of Bush, and during Obama because liberals elected him into office and he is a socialist and that’s what socialists do.  The spiteful and intemperate political rhetoric is necessary because it’s a “war” of ideas and too the hearts and minds of the people.  It seems every excuse is made that absolves the right from any responsibility for any misfortune that has occurred over the past decade even though they were the party in power for over half the time.

Now comes the political assassination in Tuscon, Arizona right after the virulent election campaigning of 2010 where the political opposition rode on the backs of people who believe in conspiracy theories that rival those concocted after 911.  This murder didn’t come in a vacuum; it was sparked by a constant barrage of speech that equated a democratically elected  political party  with the equally repugnant foe of terrorists, jihadists and Muslims; some even calling the President a secret Muslim, whose goal is to promote a socialist agenda.  It was against these policies that the right was shaped and the makers of these policies were the focal point of everyone’s  rage.  Loughner who it was claimed by neighbors/friends targeted Congresswoman Giffords wasn’t the only one.  Byron Williams who had a shootout with authorities after planning acts of violence against the ACLU, a favorite target of the right and the Tides Foundation, said he wanted to spark a civil war and he pointed to a radio head pundit as being a primary source of his information and motivation.   Yet the right, the more vocal among them, claim no responsibility for this violent swing in politics even while others among them are asking for de-escalation in the rhetoric. Fat chance.

This is the group that claims when it comes to their enemies that everyone of them is responsible for the crimes committed by one of them; that the idea of collective punishment, something practiced by the Israelis against Palestinians, is a legitimate way of dealing with a threat, not just the kind that a Loughner, or a Williams or the unknown assailant threatening Congressman Renny Davis pose.  So there will be no talk of waterboarding anyone to get information from them about the impending murder of another Congressman, now will there be calls for profiling white males who look like Loughner, or Williams and we won’t hear not one suggestion that the motivating factors behind their rage be investigated  or asked to condemn their murderous impulses because in almost every case they, these perpetrators of terrorism against the homeland are just like the pundits and politicians who use these acts of government coercion on others.  That is the story of America and her injustices and it will plague us for as long as we continue to ignore it.

 

Can we go any lower?


I hope this guy has an epiphany before he passes on and much like former Alabama governor George Wallace, takes retracts all the idiotic, stupid things he’s said in his lifetime.  I can’t believe he can possibly say anything more stupid than this

Now, I think it’s wrong to use racial profiling for the reasons of discriminating against people, but it’s not wrong to use race or other indicators for the sake of identifying that are violating the law.

It’s just a common sense thing. Law enforcement needs to use common sense indicators. Those common sense indicators are all kinds of things, from what kind of clothes people wear – my suit in my case – what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accident [sic] (he meant accent….)they have, um, the, the type of grooming they might have, there’re, there’re all kinds of indicators there and sometimes it’s just a sixth sense and they can’t put their finger on it. But these law enforcement officers, if they were going to be discriminating against people on the sole basis of race, singling people out, that’d be going on already.

Is there any more to say here? You can read more about King’s bouts with diarrhea of the mouth here.

Profiling the Religious Right-A Necessary Evil?


A lot has been said lately about profiling Muslims, either those in the US military or ordinary citizens, because some fear their presence on American soil presents a threat to the safety and security of Americans and their way of life.  It doesn’t matter to those who make that call, most recently like  Sarah Palin, that those Muslims themselves are prosperous members of the same society, their religious preference and acts which have been associated to them by an obsequious press have stuck to them and made them visible, likely targets by society.  Undeserved targets, it might be added, but the idea that an entire group of people are responsible for the same crimes committed by 19 hijackers or one lone gunman, resonate in a hate filled and drenched society in much the same way that some say  President Barack Obama is not really a citizen of America, is a racist or a secret Muslim.  In fact the genesis for this idea of racial profiling comes from a source that now implies it is ok to get rid of unlikeable  people, such as Obama, by having them murdered.  If you think this is an unfair jump from a Biblical verse to death threats on the President just look at the 400% increase in death threats against this president versus his predecessor  who was seen as a “born again” Christian.  One of the common elements in the vitriol directed towards a sitting President is Christianity and its religious scriptures.  Indeed, some of the slogans voiced in opposition to Obama are steeped in religious references; “The Anti-Christ is living in the White House”, “Oppressive Bloodsucking Arrogant Muslim Alien”, just to name a few.

That said, why aren’t there more calls for profiling Christians, and especially Christian members of the Republican party who have justified every turn of their opposition to Obama in some way or another to their religious principles.  If you think that is too extreme, then is it too much to ask those in the opposition to at least condemn the tactics of their “brothers” to the rhetoric directed towards the President?  With the exception of the about face made by Rupert Murdoch to Glen Beck’s anti-white tirade against Obama, no one from the “opposition” has said such extreme rhetoric is out of place or inconsistent with the  ideals of a Judeau-Christian society.  The silence from the Right has been deafening and only serves to encourage the fundamentalists to even greater heights of hyperbole and violence.  Where are the calls for a more systematic government approach to Christians’ opposition to Obama, and ensuring his safety from their menace?  Where are the calls from members of other faiths to stop the tide of Christian fundamentalism that endangers the life of our elected officials and in turn the political process we hold so dear?  Why is political expediency what keeps people silent in the face of such threats against the Republic, while the very same silent voices encourage the deafening roar of calls to profile others of the society who have not expressed such incitement, but for whom lone individuals have become the standard by which they and their faith are judged?

One bright side of all this is the ACLU has been consistent in their opposition to stemming free speech, even if it borders on threats to the President of the United States.  Quoting biblical verses whose meaning they consider ambiguous is not reason enough, in their mind, to prosecute people who use them in ways others of us consider threatening.  The very people who in years gone by usually threw scorn on the American Civil Liberties Union for their liberal approach to litigation are now being shielded by the organization from calls that they, abusers of free speech, be held accountable for their speech.  I applaud the ACLU for being predictable even though their position vis-a-vis these latest scoundrels on Americas political landscape hardly deserve their succor.  Regrettably, one can only come to one conclusion and that is no group is responsible for the actions of individual members of that group……no matter how relevant the scriptures they may all believe in inspire the acts of those individuals.  The idea of collectivisim…mentioned before here in this blog, have no place in American discourse but people with political agendas that have nothing to do with American ideals of justice will never say that because they want to use government to suppress those they dislike or mistrust.  Such manipulators of government are the true enemies of the State yet the ones whose profiling is the most difficult to achieve.  It is not altogether an impossible task and the sooner we get on with it, the safer the Republic will be for everyone.