Given an audience, this is how people will behave. Is there anyone who will disavow the sentiments of this American citizen? Anyone?
Category: free speech
Keith Ellison has it right
In an interview with the BBC, US congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison said ‘those spearheading the effort against the Park51 project were not adequately represented as families of 9/11 victims rejecting the proposal on emotional ground, and were rather anti-Obama, xenophobic types who wanted to suppress Islam throughout the country.’
The real driver of it are people who openly proclaim that Barack Obama is not a citizen. The real organizers of this thing are people who are just proponents of religious bigotry. Nothing more, nothing less.
Around the country, this thing is emblematic of a larger issue… There have been anti-mosque efforts in Kentucky, one gentleman who wants to burn a Qur’an in Florida, there have been efforts in Wisconsin and in the Chicago area and others.
It’s not difficult to know who these proponents of religious bigotry are; and Ellison should be the keenest among us in knowing who they are for they launched personal attacks against him. Indeed they are people who openly oppose every Muslim/Islamic attempt at engagement in American public life using the tactic of linking American Muslims to any and every terrorist incident that has taken place on the world’s stage. Their rhetoric is easy to spot, ‘not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims’, or this time worn phrase of ‘radical Islam’ and equating even the most passive of Muslims, such as Faisal Abdur Raouf as a follower of “radical Islam”. So let’s spotlight some of these useful idiots and hang their names and photos on America’s wall of racist shame, who have plagued our history.
Martin Peretz, the editor of The New Republic actually had the following words attributed to him
But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.
It should be apparent to all that Peretz is in the throes of Alzheimer’s or has succumbed to it completely. He is supposed to be one of the more intelligent among American voices having taught at Harvard University, with scores of honorary degrees, but that just goes to underscore the difference between book sense and common sense is sometimes as stark as night and day. He is somewhat well connected however, among Democrats, which might be the reason why both Harry Reid and Howard Dean have taken more subdued positions than Peretz’s but with the same outcome, the demonization or marginalization of American citizens. Oh, and I neglected to mention how Peretz, a Jew, making statements that sound so like those made against his fellow coreligionists over the centuries now using the same diatribe is the height of chutzpah/hypocrisy. Peretz is a self-admitted racist however so having his name on the racist wall of shame is a no brainer, in my opinion. And we think we don’t have a racial problem in this country or that it was solved with the election of Obama? Think again America!
Germany AND Ron Paul get it
While America burns with its religious animosity/racism against Muslims, Germany gives another, more tolerant view of how religious minorities should be treated. Funny that…..after its past, but Germany,it’s politicians and social institutions are showing far more tolerance and leading by example far better than America is right now. How?
A German television station is broadcasting the start and end times of the daily fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The broadcaster says it wants to promote integration and sensitize non-Muslim viewers to the issue. It does the same kind of thing for its other religious communities as well, however, so for the Islamophobes who might claim German television has gone over to the Sharia side, German TV could respond it’s religiously inclusive.
Germany’s political parties, read that plural folks, are breaking the fast with Germany’s Muslims as a sign of our respect for all Muslims who live in the country. They consider such action as embracing the multi-ethnic nature of the country’s population, and as normal as celebrating Christmas or any other religious holiday and not as a “concession” to Muslims. What’s different about the German approach is this cultural acknowledgment cuts across political parties, and is not just something the party in power does. Each American president has done the same thing, but his political rivals at the time did not and that is the difference.
Finally, Republican Ron Paul of Texas put the political nail on the coffin of the 51 Park Street mosque with this clear, definitive statement (red emphasis mine)
“Is the controversy over building a mosque near ground zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?
“It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”
“The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.
“Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be “sensitive” requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from “ground zero.”
“Just think of what might (not) have happened if the whole issue had been ignored and the national debate stuck with war, peace, and prosperity. There certainly would have been a lot less emotionalism on both sides. The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?
“In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.
“They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers from in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice.
“The claim is that we are in the Middle East to protect our liberties is misleading. To continue this charade, millions of Muslims are indicted and we are obligated to rescue them from their religious and political leaders. And, we’re supposed to believe that abusing our liberties here at home and pursuing unconstitutional wars overseas will solve our problems.
“The nineteen suicide bombers didn’t come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. Fifteen came from our ally Saudi Arabia, a country that harbors strong American resentment, yet we invade and occupy Iraq where no al Qaeda existed prior to 9/11.
“Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque. They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.
“This sentiment seems to confirm that Islam itself is to be made the issue, and radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to demonize Islam would be difficult if not impossible.
“There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?
“If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.
“The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer.
“Conservatives are once again, unfortunately, failing to defend private property rights, a policy we claim to cherish. In addition conservatives missed a chance to challenge the hypocrisy of the left which now claims they defend property rights of Muslims, yet rarely if ever, the property rights of American private businesses.
“Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.
“It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty.
“The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservative’s aggressive wars.
“The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding a Congressional investigation to find out just who is funding the mosque—a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law—in order to look tough against Islam.
“This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.
“We now have an epidemic of “sunshine patriots” on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there’s no controversy and nobody is offended.
“Political demagoguery rules when truth and liberty are ignored.”
I’d say Paul has pretty much nailed it!
Another Empty Talking Head that ruins America’s airwaves
I usually don’t give much credence to the many pundits and talking heads on television and radio, because they are full of nothing but hot air and don’t have anything of substance to add to the general discourse taking place in America. They are prominent because of their personality….the ability to turn a phrase as it were, or because of their appearance and a lot of people connect to them in a way that brings advertising to the medium on which they pontificate. That’s their job, to attract listeners and sponsors and they do an excellent job of it, but they don’t do much in the way of enlightening people or making them think about the topics of the day.
Dr. Laura (Schlessinger) is no exception and has managed to stay off the pages of Miscellany101 because she is as inane as the others. I didn’t even care when I read she had used the word “nigger” several times while talking to a caller who was offended because in keeping with the idiocy which drives such on air people, her excuse for doing so was because others do it and the principle of frequency implies legitimacy is pretty much par for the course for such brain dead air heads. I felt pity and empathy for the caller who thought she could find some solace in this “Dr’s” comments, when all she got was ridicule and contradiction from someone whose life has been full of the same.
What really got my goat was this comment of hers
All right. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Can’t have this argument. You know what? If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race. If you’re going to marry out of your race, people are going to say, “OK, what do blacks think? What do whites think? What do Jews think? What do Catholics think?” Of course there isn’t a one-think per se.
because for me I’m trying to figure out what race did the caller marry that was different from her/his own? Was it another species of animal….dog, cat, snake, rat because for the “Dr” to dispense advice on an issue of concern to a caller to say something like that implies to me the object of the caller’s concern, her husband, is not HUMAN and therefore incapable of understanding the feelings the HUMAN caller had about the particular subject at hand. Indeed the “Dr” catches herself and realizes her mistake by saying ‘of course there isn’t a one-think per se’. Duh, “Dr.” Laura…most people ask the question what do YOU think; the art of generalizing is usually known as stereotyping which implies objectifying people based on superficial notions of color or ethnicity thereby denigrating the individual which was the point the caller was trying to make! Brilliant, “Dr.” now do us a favor and get a real job please because this one just isn’t working for you or for the people who listen.
There is no race problem in America!
…..’and the cow jumped over the moon…the little dog laughed to see such sport, and the dish ran away with the spoon’, such is the fantasy land we live in here in America. That there are people who still believe there is no race problem in America, after years of Arab bashing and Islamophobia that has seen images of a female, Jewish Supreme Court nominee, dressed in Muslim garb, or torture imposed solely on people of Arab/Muslim decent, stereotypical images of a black US president dressed in scanty clothes with bones through his nose, and on and on, then the nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle is completely within the realm of possibility.
In just a few short weeks we’ve had people fired because they expressed respect for a dead Muslim, the MSM pick up and run with the false story (more here) of the Obama Administration’s racism and fear of prosecuting the New Black Panther Party, and that same Administration react to the story by firing a black government employee because it was erroneously alleged she didn’t want to help a white farmer. We could dredge up more examples of how race and the fear and distortions surrounding it are the impetus for politicizing a segment of the population.
The Lebanese Muslim cleric who received condolences from so many riled the “establishment” we’ve already covered. We simply as a country cannot express any respect for Muslims, they are only to be defiled and defamed like so many other races and ethnic groups that grace American soil and have gone on to contribute just as much to its fertility as any other.
FoxNews ran with a story about how the Obama Administration didn’t want to prosecute a black nationalist group, hoping one would draw the conclusion, because Obama himself along with his Attorney General is black they are not fit to run or govern the country because of their obvious prejudices. Preying again on peoples’ fears and prejudices, the people who carry these stories hope you won’t immerse yourself in the details which as the links above points out, proves the story is just that, a story with no truth to it. It does serve the purpose of imposing doubt and suspicion of people against one another, the typical tactic of people whose motives and interests have nothing at all to do with the Nation’s interest or security. But because this is America, it sells!
Obama didn’t help himself any when he had fired a woman after a 2:36 tape tape surfaced of her remarks courtesy of right wing political hack Andrew Breitbart which supposedly showed her making disparaging and even racist comments about her job duties to a white farmer client of hers. It didn’t matter to Breitbart, Obama, the NAACP or the other news media outlets that the tape was edited from a 43:15 tape where Shirley Sherrod pointed out she came to the realization it was her duty to help poor people no matter their color. Equally unimportant so it seems, to race baiters and those easily intimidated by them were the words of the white farmer who said Sherrod was helpful and is not a racist, nor did they feel this way during their interaction with her. What matters to people who use race as the standard for conduct in society is an entire group must pay for personal offenses! We too quickly believe the lies, because like the previous examples mentioned above, we have been bred to, led to, raised to indeed are expected to believe; all Muslims/Arabs are terrorists, that a black President and Attorney General want to rule by the street and gangs of marauding New Black Panther Party members or even impose Islamic law, that people who talk of redemption and social cohesion are a threat to the moral fabric of this country and should not be allowed exposure to the rest of us. We are a nation made up of racists, and the sooner we come to grips with that, ALL of us, the sooner we will be able to fix it, for without acknowledgment that we are sick, we are far less likely to seek a cure. That has been the call for as long as I’ve been alive and it seems we are no closer to realizing it now than we were before.
More Fadlullah News
The uproar over first Octavia Nasr’s post about this Muslim-Lebanese and the removal of a respectful tribute about him from the British delegation in Lebanon’s website reveals the hold the occupation regime of Israel has on international politics. To a disinterested observer, Fadlullah was a nationalist who wanted to improve the condition of his people….all of his people, who lived in his country and he was universally respected, outside of zionist circles that is.
For more than 50 years, he worked at “modernizing” the Shari’a and rendering it accessible to modern day youth, addressing their concerns, expectations and fears in a fast-changing world. He was truly the Mufti of the youth and of women, their guide who never oppressed their dreams and always simplified rulings. He was available for questions regarding the most taboo of social and political subjects. He was also the enemy of stalemate and a rejecter of tradition in its inflexible sense. He insisted on subjecting all ideas to discussions, debates and reassessments and was much more interested in human beings than doctrines.
His followers revered him for his moderate social views, openness and pragmatism. Fadlullah issued religious edicts forbidding female circumcision, condemning domestic violence-even allowing women to wear cosmetics and finger nail polish which some clerics opposed, and insisting that women could physically resist abusive husbands. He strongly supported female-male equality. He rejected the blood-letting at Ashoura events and like Hezbollah encouraged his followers to donate blood to the Red Crescent Society instead of cutting themselves. He also opposed the call to “jihad,” or holy war, by Osama bin Laden and cruised the Afghan Taliban, which he viewed as a sect outside Islam and he was among the first to condemn the 9/11 attacks…….
He also founded or help establish scores of schools, orphanages and medical treatment facilities for his people. He fiercely resisted Israeli aggression or encroachment into his country and that was the sore spot which landed him and those who respected or eulogized him in trouble. Considering the benefit he sought to bring to the world’s stage, the people who insisted on Nasr’s firing or those behind the removal of words of respect from the British government’s Lebanese delegation’s web page ought to be the ones fired or dismissed. Once again it underscores the hypocrisy in the notion that free speech exists or one is entitled to it in all things except matters related to Israeli occupation and racism.
Octavia Nasr is gone
There appears to be another fatality in the war on free speech and no it’s not some Danish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet of Islam, nor is it a tea party/birther who insulted the lineage of today’s President of the United States. Rather it was a CNN Middle East correspondent, Octavia Nasr who had worked for that network for 20 years all because of a less than 140 word expression of regret at the death of a prominent personality from her country of birth, Lebanon. There is no free speech among American institutions when it comes to views about the Middle East that do not conform with convention.
Ms. Nasr didn’t ask anyone on CNN to air her views, nor did she express them during a report she made on the air, rather she “tweeted” her expressions of regret or sorrow in a medium that doesn’t accept more than 140 characters and for that her 20 year career came to an end. Her employers probably didn’t blink an eye when they told her, albeit circuitously that she has no right to freedom of expression or belief if it contradicts corporate media’s own. This act of censorship, along with the furor created over Helen Thomas’ words, highlights the thought control which permeates corporate media when it comes to issues regarding the Middle East.
At the very same time Larry King is interviewing an Israeli Prime Minister in an attempt to soften his country’s image where very little if any rebuttal will be made to Israel’s claims of righteousness in the face of overwhelming proof of their murder, Nasr was handed her walking papers because she expressed her sorrow over the death of a man with whom she had personal contact during a very tumultuous time in Lebanon’s history. She isn’t the only one to have felt that way about Fadlallah.
Frankly, no one is able to express sympathy towards an enemy of Israel, the darling of US media, nor against Israel itself. Nasr’s firing was another among many shots across the bow to those who dare oppose the demonization of Israel’s enemies, be they Lebanese, Palestinians, Iranians, Syrians and on the list goes. Free speech is not free within the ranks of corporate America and perhaps, to paraphrase Glen Greenwald, all institutions should just tell everyone in the beginning you have no right to expect the 1st amendment applies to you; rather you must accept what others consider acceptable and not acceptable to utter, even in your private life, in order to avoid any further illusions of freedom.
Another Face of Terrorism
There’s no doubt about it in this observer’s mind Joe Stack was a terrorist, and his act of flying an airplane into a building which contained the offices of a government agency (and I don’t care which acronym like agency it was) was straight out of the book of terror that this Nation went through a decade ago, yet very few people in corporate media or in government want to label him as such. Wonder why?
There’s been a certain amount of self-righteous discussion among media types why this is the case but in the end those who are self-indulgent simply say Stack doesn’t meet the criteria of a terrorist. There are even some who claim, such as Stack’s daughter that he was a hero of sorts, protesting against government. Wonder why?
Stack’s singular act of protest doesn’t even begin to meet the definition of the legally acceptable form of dissent, but it fits perfectly into the definition of terrorism. Yet there are people who are determined to not call it that and the simple reason why is because the West has been gripped by a virulent form of racism that is ethnocentric in nature towards people of color. This indignation attempts to dress itself in a cloak of preserving a Judeo-Christian ethic, but when the results of such preservation have included diminishing the progress of that ethic, subversion of the rights of those who enjoy that ethic, such as privacy rights, free speech, et.al that excuse too falls by the wayside and is as hypocritical as media’s refusal to be inclusive in the terrorism appellation.
The refusal of corporate media to label Stack the terrorist he was has allowed all the other fringe groups to come out in support of his action in their opposition to the Nation’s first black president. The Tea Party movement is nothing more than the 21st century Ku Klux Klan dressed up with the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, et.al who are used to give such a movement legitimacy. There is this symbiotic relationship, therefore, between corporate media and these racists. They give rationale to one another; the racist relish the media attention to their cause of opposing the first black, “foreign born”, “Muslim” president and the media loves the sound bites such idiots the likes of Stack, and Scott Roeder (the murderer/terrorist who stalked legally licensed American physicians) give them ignoring their, media’s, own responsibility to this collective hypocrisy and morass. At the same time corporate media plunges headlong into their racist diatribe against Muslims, Arabs and especially Palestinians justifying any and all forms of state sponsored oppression against them because to media types the designation “terrorist” is appropriate and they have no hesitation at all using that term to describe them.
This way of doing business means the Joseph Stack story is merely a mention in the headlines of the day, social titillation at best not worthy of any real consideration or reflection about the role of government, the impact of violence in society, the responsibility of citizens to social cohesion, the role of media if any in all of this, nothing to see just move along. We should now expect this social irresponsibility from a upper middle class mostly white media with a strong affection for power and those who wield it in defense of their, corporate media’s interest. However, the public, infinitely smarter than given credit by that same media, has to realize the impact media’s dereliction has on the over all society, in the form of their, corporate media’s, justification for wars of occupation and the sublimation of the rights of citizens, legal residents, and yes, even foreigners living in America to the wishes of government and corporate entities.
A Nation that is immersed in healthy not stifled debate is much more informed and enlightened. Corporate media mimics its forefathers of old who sought to keep people in the dark by allowing only those deemed worthy the right or ability to read and get an education. That dispensation of rights and responsibilities by the wealthy and often oppressor class became a rejected standard of living, and societies were better off for doing away with such notions. Joseph Stack was a terrorist, no more and no less, who committed the same heinous act as those on 911, in his rejection of government policy and it resulted in the loss of human life, his and other(s) and that’s that. Corporate media’s refusal to simply say that says more about them than Stack. Perhaps its time we did away with them.
In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Dick Cheney loudly proclaimed, ‘I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques’ and forever cast himself as an indictable war criminal who will never be indicted. He has been assailed by the progressive side of the political spectrum for not only putting his foot in his own mouth but also for so clearly incriminating himself. Cheney however knows he won’t be indicted and the simple reason is his logic is far more pervasive in the American body politic than any of us would care to admit. It would appear the only opposition coming to his remarks is from people outside of government and politics who might possess the last vestiges of decency still have left in America; those people who believe in the American system and ideals and not those who merely spout them as a means to assuming a really nice paying job in government at taxpayer expense.
On all the websites that feature articles about Cheney so prominently one can always find letters or comments from people who ask why isn’t Cheney in jail, or why hasn’t he been indicted. I myself have asked that question a time or two, but when reading another reporter’s take on Cheney’s remarks ran across this snippet
The “torture memo” and related legal opinions were considered so unprofessional that Bybee’s replacement to head the OLC, Jack Goldsmith, himself a conservative Republican, took the extraordinary step of withdrawing them after he was appointed in October 2003.
However, Goldsmith was pushed out of his job after a confrontation with Cheney’s counsel Addington, and the later appointment of Bradbury enabled the Bush White House to reinstate many of the Yoo-Bybee opinions.
Last month, Newsweek reported that Yoo and Bybee had avoided any disciplinary recommendations because a draft report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had been rewritten to remove harsh criticism that the two lawyers had violated professional standards, softening the language to simple criticism of their judgment.
The weaker language meant that the Justice Department would not refer the cases to state bar associations for possible disbarment proceedings.
Despite the really sophomoric job that Yoo and Bybee did in supporting the Bush administration’s desire to torture, a job done so poorly that it was immediately tossed out by someone who replaced them, someone who was also a lawyer, who knew the law and knew that the legal brief written didn’t have a leg to stand on and would not hold up to judicial review, members of the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility would not phrase their criticism of such low standards in such a way as to punish Yoo and Bybee. Instead those two gentlemen have gone on to lucrative careers, Bybee as a federal judge who might very well adjudicate terrorist cases he was responsible for jeopardizing with his justification for torture, and Yoo as law professor at UC-Berkeley without any consequence for advising a US administration to break the law! That eventuality was made possible by career government officials who are not accountable to all the voices of disgust and anger at obvious Bush-Cheney illegality who have made it possible for all concerned to evade and escape punishment. But there’s also this admission by Cheney himself
The reason I’ve been outspoken is because there were some things being said, especially after we left office, about prosecuting CIA personnel that had carried out our counterterrorism policy or disbarring lawyers in the Justice Department who had — had helped us put those policies together, and I was deeply offended by that, and I thought it was important that some senior person in the administration stand up and defend those people who’d done what we asked them to do.And that’s why I got started on it. I’m the vice president now — ex-vice president. I have the great freedom and luxury of speaking out, saying what I — what I want to say, what I believe. And I have not been discouraged from doing so.
The obvious implication is that Cheney’s reach inside the bowels of government is long; anyone not willing to accommodate those who have signed on to his belief in the validity of torture as a tool of foreign policy risks losing his or her job. Similarly, if you are willing to cover for those who have broken the law there is some temporal reward for you. Bybee was appointed to his seat as a circuit court judge by Bush. While he may be at the end of his political career Cheney still has access to many others who depend on politics, political good fortune, appointments and corruptible politicians and he seems quite intent on keeping those who agree with his torturous politics from any harm, professionally or legally, and they in turn are intent on protecting him. So the fix is in and despite our protestations to the contrary, Cheney will not face prosecution because career diplomats, lawyers, intelligence agents and agencies have too much at stake and will do everything possible to protect themselves and their titular heads, i.e. the Cheneys and the Bushes, Obama’s pledges of change and transparency nothwithstanding. It’s sad that a constitutional lawyer now president like Obama has had his hands tied up by criminal politicians like Cheney who have no regard for the Constitution but such is the situation he finds himself. Realistically, there is no way out; Obama’s position is intractable and for us progressives, the sooner we realize that the better. Such is the cost of doing business with evil.
The Feminist Hypocrisy
While faux pas French feminist criticize the candidacy of one of their own because of an article of clothing, America’s other allies, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have figured out how to make the best use of all of their human resources, men and women, those who wear a scarf and those who don’t but still want to serve their country. Why a country would want to deny participation of one half of its citizens because of a scarf or a religious belief, even while the very same people want to serve, participate, protect is a study in racism and a mindset that takes people backwards in time we decided was counterproductive or worse. No forward thinking country should countenance such a philosophy neither should a country support one that does. A new America would do well to cast its lot with the likes of Pakistan and the UAE and shun the homophobia that is overtaking Europe, and countries like France and Denmark and clearly and emphatically make a statement that the religious rights of a citizen of a country and that’s citizen’s desire to serve his or her country are the basis of solid, long lasting relationships America will honor. Anything less than that is contributing more to the problem than to the solution.
France’s Fascism Rears it’s Ugly Head Again!
Twenty-first century France has replaced 20th century Nazi Germany as the European hotbed of political fascism, climbing on the backs of its Muslim population to claim this distinction much like German socialism climbed on the graves and skeletons of the European Jewish minority in the 30s and 40s. Nationalism and secularism are the reasons given for this decision on the part of French government to curtail the rights of a vibrant Muslim minority, making a mockery of the French motto of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ while inciting its citizens to turn against one another based on the clothes they wear and the religion they profess. While the tombstones of French Muslims are desecrated, French feminists, who claim advocacy of a woman’s right to choose, bemoan and denounce the candidacy of a French women who supports contraception and abortion rights because she chooses to wear a scarf on her hair! The hypocrisy of the French position, so steeped in bigotry and irrational hatred have led Ilham Moussaid to point out
It is with great sadness that I watch … my life reduced to my headscarf. It is with great sadness that I hear that my personal beliefs are a danger to others while I advocate friendship, respect, tolerance, solidarity and equality for all human beings.
It would appear based on what she says above, Moussaid is more French than any of her detractors. Touche!
European Racism=War on Islam
I received a letter from a friend which said the editor of the Danish newspaper who published the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist died in a fire. While there was no rejoicing about the matter on the part of my friend, he did seem to indicate that’s what happens to people who abuse religious figures, an act of retribution from God Almighty and that he was satisfied, not rejoicing, with what he thought was the end of this editor’s life. I had to break the news to him that it was just a rumor and that no one associated with the cartoon fiasco had died a terrible death; indeed it appears no one at the newspaper, Jyllands-Posten , had died at all. I think he’ll get over his disappointment, but I began to wonder about that whole issue of the cartoons for it was meant to trigger an emotional response from people in order to highlight an already preconceived notion the editors and owner of the paper had about Muslims. Unfortunately, some Muslims reinforced the stereotypes brewing in the heads of the folks at JP, but what happened at that newspaper also underscores the terrible hypocrisy employed by them and their martyrdom complex of freedom of speech.
It must be noted the newspaper published this set of 12 cartoon panels about the Prophet twice, in late 2005 and again in 2008. It’s kind of interesting the publications occurred during campaigning season for American elections, but it took almost six months for the controversy to come to a boiling point and become an international issue after the first cartoons were published in ’05. The Muslims in Denmark handled it quite well for the most part, organizing and holding peaceful protests to make their feelings known on an issue of importance to them, but with regards to all things dealing in religion, anti-religious forces came into play and distorted what is a very real issue. The newspaper said it was a free speech issue, but it wasn’t. Earlier the paper had declined to publish a cartoon about Jesus, the son of Mary, offering as an “excuse” the quality of the cartoon wasn’t good enough for their paper. (Shouldn’t that have been up to the readers of the paper to decide?)
Fleming Rose, the cultural editor of the paper at the time of the publication of the caricatures of Islam’s prophet, went on to say later his paper would publish Holocaust denial cartoons in conjunction with an Iranian newspaper, but that idea too was nixed by the editor in chief of Jyllands-Posten, although they did go on to publish the winning and runner up submissions of the “contest” sponsored by the Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri. Quite naturally, this opened up the newspaper to accusations of a double standard, it is, and hypocrisy on freedom of speech, which again it is. Of course the editors of the paper don’t see it that way, and they never will. That Muslim groups were not given the right to edit or decide what should have been printed in the paper about their religion should be given the say weight as it was given to Christian and Jewish groups, otherwise talk of freedom of press and or freedom of an editor to decide what he/she puts in their newspaper is only lies. Europe is awash in anti-social behavior from religions and religious extremists across all divides; hyping one group’s extremists while ignoring another’s is demagoguery at its finest and all at the hands of an active, partisan press. That said, I’ve found the perfect cartoon to express all the 600 plus words of this post. Enjoy.
Historical Revisionism-Changing the meaning of Words
People are fond of saying words have meaning, and indeed that’s true. Perhaps this notion of changing the use of words to serve a political purpose is something that’s been going on in America for some time, I don’t know, but with the onset of the war on terror, the politicization of words, applying them or changing them to mean something else and with a different value has been stark. The first instance that comes to mind is the use of the word “insurgent” in place of the word “resistance fighter” because the latter signified opposition to American imperialism which in all of its form and substance is intended to be benign and beneficial for the people on whom it is imposed while the former was meant to signify an illegal opposition to authority, in this case ours. Of course that is a subjective application of words, with a definite western leaning lexicography and Americans eventually applied the term to all who fought against American and Iraqi forces on the ground which by default meant they were enemies of the State. It was a nifty trick which seeped into our consciousness and made it possible for us to feel good about ourselves while fueling a rage for a people we went both to liberate as well as fight.
Now comes word of the change from the use of the word “torture” to “enhanced interrogation”. In an attempt to deny history the chance to note the United States as a country that used torture, which is in and of itself criminal, many in media are now using words that don’t signify American culpability in criminal behavior. Glen Greenwald does an excellent job dismantling this bizarre slow evolution from an America that used torture, and lied, to forge a new Iraq to a country that “interrogated: suspects, and I strongly recommend you read his piece here and here. That the media seems to be in lock step with this idea that torture doesn’t apply to what America does, but only to what our enemies do is nothing less than historical revisionism that puts the proponents of that idea on the same level as those who question the Holocaust or those who assert present day America has the right to its exceptionalism; meaning the United States is somehow “above” or an “exception” to the law, even those laws which it drafts and codifies. The people who accept and pass on this change in the meaning of torture versus interrogation have made a mockery of themselves and the institutions they work for, ignoring all the treaties and laws the country has signed which obligates it to follow as well as prosecute those among us who break these laws. Any claim America has to moral relevancy or legitimacy is diminished each time we change the meaning of words through omission or otherwise to further political agendas that are not at all based in fact. It is only a matter of time, as America becomes increasingly engaged in wars of aggression, before the same rationale and language will be used by America’s enemies against us as they straddle and cross lines of legal and illegal behavior.
The French Government and Hypocrisy- One and the same
Let me see if I understand this correctly, the French government can impose limits on what a person can wear or not wear in order to attend government schools, yet a private company cannot say who it can hire to be sales staff for its products, even when the people appearing in those products are people of color?
France can ban the wearing of religious symbols even when those wearing them are doing so of their own free will in an expression of their religious beliefs in a society thatsupposedly promotes, liberty, fraternity and equality, while insisting at the same time that companies do not have the right to determine who they can employ in selling their products? No one sees the slightest bit of hypocrisy in the French position?
People, who of their own free will, practice a faith that may be different and not customary to the wider society and choose to wear clothes that express themselves in ways different than the majority, but who are at the same time law abiding citizens who do not frighten or intimidate others, should not have laws legislated which seek to limit or curtail that expression. In fact the beauty of liberty and freedom means acts of social interaction are interpreted based on the law, which should should not be enacted to deny expression, but rather the acts of illegality that expression may or may not encourage. Therefore, if a school girl walking down a French street is the victim of sexual harassment or assault it is the perpetrator of that action who should be limited not the girl wearing an article of clothing. What the French want to do is take the act of discipline off their hands by removing the object of people’s ire, and in the process limit the freedom of its citizens.
Likewise, companies who have broadly used women of color in their advertising campaigns but choose to hire a sales staff they think may be able to sale their product to a broad based clientele should not have the weight of the State descend on them in a punitive way. L’Oreal in France has to have the support of a majority of women of color in order to be profitable. If hiring people that reflect a certain demographic will give them that market, how can the State justify changing that dynamic and jeopardizing the viability of the Company? Will the State then say that the public MUST buy certain products in order to insure the success of a company so that it doesn’t go under because of the financially oppressive measures of the State? Don’t be surprised if that happens next.
For now, France is following in the tradition of other western countries that seek to use expressions of liberty and freedom as slogans which fall quickly when government wants to intervene in the lives of its citizens. The tools the state uses for this intervention are usually fear and loathing of opponents who are unknown or unfamiliar. Civilized people should recognize such tactics for what they are. Ignorant people are too easily persuaded and succomb to the deceit. The two cases above highlight how France is counting on the latter with its citizens! Que sera, sera!
Islam is here to stay, so let’s move on
Americans, and those who live within its borders, come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and while some of the American dream and the meaning of the words, ‘send me your tired and your poor; your huddled masses yearning to be free’ has not always turned out the way those huddled masses wanted at the time, America has been a largely successful experiment.
It is however, a work in progress, continually defined, reshaped, molded in a way that meets the needs of most of the 300 million plus who live within its borders. America has seen all sorts of people come and go. Many have blended and integrated themselves into the social fabric, indistinguishable from the whole, while others have chosen to retain their identities. The common thread has always been the rule of law that’s kept the entire cloth from unravelling.
Sure there are times in the Nation’s history we can point to when the administration of the law has not been equitable, but social agitation (something sorely missed in today’s citizenry) always corrected that inequity which resulted in a better mix of brown, whites, reds, and yellows. We discovered along the way that it wasn’t necessary to lose those colors or attitudes in the elixir of America; that sometimes it was healthy to keep them distinguished not seperated, visible, not homogenized, ‘in order to form a more perfect union.’
So it is that now we have black, white, Jew, Gentile, Muslim unbeliever living, perhaps askew, but in relative peace and with the knowledge they can take their grievance to the Law should the need arise. This is what happened to Amal Hersi a Somali American Muslim woman who was told service at a credit union was only possible if she blended and forsake her Muslim identity.
For Amal this was not an option, so she took her case to a higher authority, in this instance the people in charge of the credit union. No doubt the employee of the bank forgot their roots, forgot that despite the finely coiffed hair and contemporary styled clothes they wore that day, they most likely had an acestor, perhaps not too far in their past who looked like Amal and chose to stay that way…….or not. Most likely that distant relative decided when he/she ran into an obdurate public servant bent on defining their place in the American fabric they weren’t going to bend and that act of resistance made it possible for Amal to refuse today, which made the quilt that much more pretty and pliable for the common good.
Muslim women in the West have defined their role as one of modesty wrapped in clothes they’ve chosen to express their identity. In most cases, if not all, it is their conscious choice to wear hijab just as they also choose to obey the law and just as there is no penalty for embracing the latter, neither should there be for the former. The officials of the credit union, more in touch with the spirit of the Law than the wayward employee who started this all, recognized that instantly and issued a statement which said in part:
Navy Federal values and respects all its members. Working with the law enforcement community, we have recently implemented a policy to make sure we can positively identify everyone we serve in our many branches.
Navy Federal weighed very carefully the need to accommodate religious and cultural customs, as well as medical conditions. Our policy does not prohibit nor discourage the use of headscarves, and will make sure it’s thoroughly understood to all employees.
I salute them and nothing further needs to be addressed to them. To the employee who lost her way I would encourage a quick visual primer on American history. Perhaps they will see someone they know or someone who looks like them. While they’re at it they’ll most likely see someone who looks like Amal Hersi too.
American academics stand up to be counted
Joining a growing list of people who are protesting the Israeli genocide in Gaza, American members of academe have come out to call for a cultural boycott of Israel, with five goals it wants to achieve.
“Refraining from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions that do not vocally oppose Israeli state policies against Palestine,” “promoting divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions,” and “supporting Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.”
The group’s press release continues,
“We believe that non-violent external pressure on Israel, in the form of an academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel, can help bring an end to the ongoing massacres of civilians and an end [to] the occupation of Gaza and Palestine” — with “Palestine” referring to the West Bank land occupied by Israel since the 1967 war
explained David Lloyd, a professor of English at the University of Southern California. I am glad to see Americans joining in the initiative and I note that they very clearly say they are interested ina non-violent form of protestation, not something that is designed literally to exterminate the Jewish state. What this boycott is asking for is a modification of Israeli behavior that will ensure its existence as well as that of its neighbors, the Palestinians. It is NOT a zero sum game but you can expect the Israelis will portray it that way.
My heroes of the day
I want to congratulate two men who took a principled stand at the risk of their careers and even their lives when you look at who they are and what they represent, to categorically denounce positions taken that were detrimental to the people suffering in Gaza.
Tayyip Erdogan, whose country Turkey is trying to get admitted into the European Union as well as NATO probably jeopardized those chances when he made an impassioned plea at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland against the Israeli aggression and genocide in Gaza. He criticised the audience of international officials and corporate chiefs for applauding Peres’s emotional defence of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. Not sparing any measure, Erdogan said what needs to be said to an Israel that seems to think it is above reproach. You can view his comments, translated into English, here
Imagine all the things in store for Turkey now that he, its prime minister, did what he did? Threats will be made against the country’s application to the world bodies it wants to enter, as well as against Erdogan himself and the usual cries of anti-semitism will come from every corner of the world, but the substance of his remarks, that Israel engaged in wholesale slaughter of a population, much like that which occured between Turkey and Armenia which will be thrown in Erdogan’s face, will be ignored. Nevertheless, kudos for Tayyip Erdogan for being principled.
My other hero is Mohammad Baredei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who said a BBC decision not to air an aid appeal for victims in Gaza violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people, irrespective of who is right or wrong. The BBC said it wasn’t airing the appeal because, now hold on to your seats, it would get in the way of their objectivity in covering the events in Gaza. Several other channels in England aired the appeal, but the BBC and SkyNews, owned by James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, *ahem* refused to do so. As a result Baradei has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC, without mentioning how long such a boycott would last. Kudos to him as well. He too chose principle over political expediency, taking a position in light of today’s news which is necessary to stem the Israeli juggernaut that refuses to accept any criticism or consequences of and for its actions. Here is the highly milquetoast ad the BBC refused to air.
America’s Iran jones
What is it with US policy makers that they have to go off and antagonize Iran at every chance they get, even when it’s not necessary? Two threads have appeared in news stories today centered around Iran with this trend as if to anticipate and undermine what Obama is going to say in a letter he’s putting together to send to that country’s leaders.
Before getting onto those two themes, let me say I’ve always been distressed at how government has this seamy undercurrent that works to under cut what official Washington is doing, and both the official and unofficial seem to like the give and take in this relationship of setting, revising, ignoring, cancelling policy. It would seem to me once you get your marching orders from the CiC you take them and run with them, not go off and rub his nose in them with your own pronouncements, but that’s what it seems Robert Gates, Defense Secretary has done.
When U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of “subversive activity” in Latin America Tuesday, it raised the question whether he is trying to discourage President Barack Obama from abandoning the hard-line policy of coercive diplomacy toward Iran he has favored for nearly three decades.
In his Senate armed services committee testimony Tuesday, Gates said Iran was “opening a lot of offices and a lot of fronts behind which they interfere in what is going on.” Gates offered no further explanation for what sounded like a Cold War-era propaganda charge against the Soviet Union.
Gates has made no secret of his skepticism about any softening of U.S. policy toward Iran. In response to a question at the National Defense University last September on how he would advise the next president to improve relations with Iran, Gates implicitly rejected what he called “outreach” to Iran as useless.
Gates’ 1992 sabotage of the Bush plan for reciprocating Iran goodwill relied in part on making public charges against Iran that created a more unfavorable political climate in Washington for such a policy.
It will be interesting to see what Obama’s reaction to all this political posturing Gates is making so early in the Administration’s efforts towards rapprochement with Iran. We will be able to take measure of Obama depending on his response; if he lets Gates continue with his “subversive” activity he can be viewed as a weak President undeserving of a second term, the nation’s trust, or respect of his “underlings”. If he kicks Gates out so soon after asking him to stay on as Defense Secretary he’ll find himself facing criticism for not being a stable administrator or able to hold his people in check, preferring to give in to his impetuous side and getting rid of them whimsically. The perfect damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
The second salvo against Obama comes from of all places the Likud party’s boisterous and wrong Benjamin Netanyahu who says the Iranian nuclear weapons are more a problem than the global economy. Netanyahu is great for hyperbole, probably something he picked up as a result of his public school education in Cheltenham, Pa. back in the day. This we expect from Bibi who likes to somehow challenge the masculinity of America’s leaders by questioning their ability to take on his enemies for his benefit. Using his typical adroit slight of foot maneuvers he turns everything that has to deal with anything into Iranian nukes.
Asked about achieving peace in Gaza, Netanyahu swiftly turned his answer to Iran, which he said is in a “100-yard dash” to get nuclear weapons.
“We have had two wars with two Iranian proxies in two years and Persia has now two bases on the eastern Mediterranean,” said Netanyahu, referring to this month’s brutal fighting in Gaza against Hamas and Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“I think we are going to have to deal with neutralizing the power of the mother regime,” he said. “The Hamas stronghold would be about as important, if Iranian power was neutralized, as Cuba was when the Soviet Union became irrelevant.”
What Netanyahu doesn’t tell you about his metaphor is while the Soviet Union became irrelevant because American ideas triumphed a military dictatorship without the US having to fire a single shot at the Soviet Union, Iran’s leadership and in fact all of that country has to be laid to waste militarily, according to the Netanyahu school of thought in order for his enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah, to become irrelevant. Typical. In any event, this kind of bluster is to be expected from this quarter, and Obama would do well to ignore it and press on with his agenda, not that of an intractable and petulant “ally”. Unfortunately, he can’t so easily dismiss Netanyahu, and if Gates continues with his own agenda as well, it might be even more difficult. Bush may be gone, but the neocons are still lurking and haven’t given up hope of re-establishing themselves in policy making positions or of somehow influencing policy.