An Open letter to America from James Baldwin


The day after Super Tuesday, 2016 when America is on the verge of seeing a known racist, xenophobic Islamophobe become the titular head of a major American political party James Baldwin‘s words ring clearer and truer today than they did over 45 years ago.

Angela Davis
Angela Davis

Initially he wrote this open letter to Angela Davis in response to her arrest stemming from a prison escape attempt made by Jonathan P Jackson.  In it he alludes to the handcuffs plainly visible in the photos of her arrest. The details regarding her arrest are still today shrouded in controversy but irrelevant to the contents of Baldwin’s letter. The letter written during the height of the civil rights struggle which included the murder of countless people dedicated to that struggle, those known and lesser know, uses symbolism that strikes a cord in today’s political climate.  It is an indictment of an atmosphere that cultivates fear and hatred, insecurity and desperation.

 

November 19, 1970

Dear Sister:

One might have hoped that, by this hour, the very sight of chains on black flesh, or the very sight of chains, would be so intolerable a sight for the American people, and so unbearable a memory, that they would themselves spontaneously rise up and strike off the manacles. But, no, they appear to glory in their chains; now, more than ever, they appear to measure their safety in chains and corpses. ………

You look exceedingly alone—as alone, say, as the Jewish housewife in the boxcar headed for Dachau, or as any one of our ancestors, chained together in the name of Jesus, headed for a Christian land………

I am trying to suggest that you—for example—do not appear to be your father’s daughter in the same way that I am my father’s son. At bottom, my father’s expectations and mine were the same, the expectations of his generation and mine were the same; and neither the immense difference in our ages nor the move from the South to the North could alter these expectations or make our lives more viable. For, in fact, to use the brutal parlance of that hour, the interior language of that despair, he was just a nigger—a nigger laborer preacher, and so was I. I jumped the track but that’s of no more importance here, in itself, than the fact that some poor Spaniards become rich bull fighters, or that some poor black boys become rich—boxers, for example. That’s rarely, if ever, afforded the people more than a great emotional catharsis, though I don’t mean to be condescending about that, either. But when Cassius Clay became Muhammed Ali and refused to put on that uniform (and sacrificed all that money!) a very different impact was made on the people and a very different kind of instruction had begun.

The American triumph—in which the American tragedy has always been implicit—was to make black people despise themselves. When I was little I despised myself, I did not know any better. And this meant, albeit unconsciously, or against my will, or in great pain, that I also despised my father. And my mother. And my brothers. And my sisters. Black people were killing each other every Saturday night out on Lenox Avenue, when I was growing up; and no one explained to them, or to me, that it wasintended that they should; that they were penned where they were, like animals, in order that they should consider themselves no better than animals. Everything supported this sense of reality, nothing denied it: and so one was ready, when it came time to go to work, to be treated as a slave. So one was ready, when human terrors came, to bow before a white God and beg Jesus for salvation—this same white God who was unable to raise a finger to do so little as to help you pay your rent, unable to be awakened in time to help you save your child!

There is always, of course, more to any picture than can speedily be perceived and in all of this—groaning and moaning, watching, calculating, clowning, surviving, and outwitting, some tremendous strength was nevertheless being forged, which is part of our legacy today. But that particular aspect of our journey now begins to be behind us. The secret is out: we are men!

But the blunt, open articulation of this secret has frightened the nation to death. I wish I could say, “to life,” but that is much to demand of a disparate collection of displaced people still cowering in their wagon trains and singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” The nation, if America is a nation, is not in the least prepared for this day. It is a day which the Americans never expected or desired to see, however piously they may declare their belief in “progress and democracy.” These words, now, on American lips, have become a kind of universal obscenity: for this most unhappy people, strong believers in arithmetic, never expected to be confronted with the algebra of their history.

One way of gauging a nation’s health, or of discerning what it really considers to be its interests—or to what extent it can be considered as a nation as distinguished from a coalition of special interests—is to examine those people it elects to represent or protect it. One glance at the American leaders (or figure-heads) conveys that America is on the edge of absolute chaos, and also suggests the future to which American interests, if not the bulk of the American people, appear willing to consign the blacks. (Indeed, one look at our past conveys that.) It is clear that for the bulk of our (nominal) countrymen, we are all expendable. And Messrs. Nixon, Agnew, Mitchell, and Hoover, to say nothing, of course, of the Kings’ Row basket case, the winning Ronnie Reagan, will not hesitate for an instant to carry out what they insist is the will of the people.

But what, in America, is the will of the people? And who, for the above-named, are the people? The people, whoever they may be, know as much about the forces which have placed the above-named gentlemen in power as they do about the forces responsible for the slaughter in Vietnam (or Iraq, or Afghanistan or Syria or Kosovo). The will of the people, in America, has always been at the mercy of an ignorance not merely phenomenal, but sacred, and sacredly cultivated: the better to be used by a carnivorous economy which democratically slaughters and victimizes whites and blacks alike. But most white Americans do not dare admit this (though they suspect it) and this fact contains mortal danger for the blacks and tragedy for the nation.

Or, to put it another way, as long as white Americans take refuge in their whiteness—for so long as they are unable to walk out of this most monstrous of traps—they will allow millions of people to be slaughtered in their name, and will be manipulated into and surrender themselves to what they will think of—and justify—as a racial war. They will never, so long as their whiteness puts so sinister a distance between themselves and their own experience and the experience of others, feel themselves sufficiently human,sufficiently worthwhile, to become responsible for themselves, their leaders, their country, their children, or their fate. They will perish (as we once put it in our black church) in their sins—that is, in their delusions. And this is happening, needless to say, already, all around us.

……….White lives, for the forces which rule in this country, are no more sacred than black ones, as many and many a student is discovering, as the white American corpses in Vietnam prove. If the American people are unable to contend with their elected leaders for the redemption of their own honor and the lives of their own children, we, the blacks, the most rejected of the Western children, can expect very little help at their hands: which, after all, is nothing new. What the Americans do not realize is that a war between brothers, in the same cities, on the same soil, is not a racial war but a civil war. But the American delusion is not only that their brothers all are white but that the whites are all their brothers.

So be it. We cannot awaken this sleeper, and God knows we have tried. We must do what we can do, and fortify and save each other—we are not drowning in an apathetic self-contempt, we do feel ourselves sufficiently worthwhile to contend even with inexorable forces in order to change our fate and the fate of our children and the condition of the world! We know that a man is not a thing and is not to be placed at the mercy of things. We know that air and water belong to all mankind and not merely to industrialists. We know that a baby does not come into the world merely to be the instrument of someone else’s profit. We know that democracy does not mean the coercion of all into a deadly—and, finally, wicked—mediocrity but the liberty for all to aspire to the best that is in him, or that has ever been.

We know that we, the blacks, and not only we, the blacks, have been, and are, the victims of a system whose only fuel is greed, whose only god is profit. We know that the fruits of this system have been ignorance, despair, and death, and we know that the system is doomed because the world can no longer afford it—if, indeed, it ever could have. And we know that, for the perpetuation of this system, we have all been mercilessly brutalized, and have been told nothing but lies, lies about ourselves and our kinsmen and our past, and about love, life, and death, so that both soul and body have been bound in hell.

The enormous revolution in black consciousness which has occurred in your generation, my dear sister, means the beginning or the end of America. Some of us, white and black, know how great a price has already been paid to bring into existence a new consciousness, a new people, an unprecedented nation. If we know, and do nothing, we are worse than the murderers hired in our name.

If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.

Therefore: peace.

Brother James

 

We are all Muslim- says Michael Moore


….and he’s asking for your help to get that point across to the members of the #demonicGOP and Donald Trump since his increased Islamophobic rhetoric

Dear Donald Trump:

You may remember (you do, after all, have a “perfect memory!”), that we met back in November of 1998 in the green room of a talk show where we were both scheduled to appear one afternoon. But just before going on, I was pulled aside by a producer from the show who said that you were “nervous” about being on the set with me. She said you didn’t want to be “ripped apart” and you wanted to be reassured I wouldn’t “go after you.”

“Does he think I’m going to tackle him and put him in a choke hold?” I asked, bewildered.

“No,” the producer replied, “he just seems all jittery about you.”

“Huh. I’ve never met the guy. There’s no reason for him to be scared,” I said. “I really don’t know much about him other than he seems to like his name on stuff. I’ll talk to him if you want me to.”

And so, as you may remember, I did. I went up and introduced myself to you. “The producer says you’re worried I might say or do something to you during the show. Hey, no offense, but I barely know who you are. I’m from Michigan. Please don’t worry — we’re gonna get along just fine!”

You seemed relieved, then leaned in and said to me, “I just didn’t want any trouble out there and I just wanted to make sure that, you know, you and I got along. That you weren’t going to pick on me for something ridiculous.”

“Pick on” you? I thought, where are we, in 3rd grade? I was struck by how you, a self-described tough guy from Queens, seemed like such a fraidey-cat.

You and I went on to do the show. Nothing untoward happened between us. I didn’t pull on your hair, didn’t put gum on your seat. “What a wuss,” was all I remember thinking as I left the set.

And now, here we are in 2015 and, like many other angry white guys, you are frightened by a bogeyman who is out to get you. That bogeyman, in your mind, are all Muslims. Not just the ones who have killed, but ALL MUSLIMS.

Fortunately, Donald, you and your supporters no longer look like what America actually is today. We are not a country of angry white guys. Here’s a statistic that is going to make your hair spin: Eighty-one percent of the electorate who will pick the president next year are either female, people of color, or young people between the ages of 18 and 35. In other words, not you. And not the people who want you leading their country.

So, in desperation and insanity, you call for a ban on all Muslims entering this country. I was raised to believe that we are all each other’s brother and sister, regardless of race, creed or color. That means if you want to ban Muslims, you are first going to have to ban me. And everyone else.

We are all Muslim.

Just as we are all Mexican, we are all Catholic and Jewish and white and black and every shade in between. We are all children of God (or nature or whatever you believe in), part of the human family, and nothing you say or do can change that fact one iota. If you don’t like living by these American rules, then you need to go to the time-out room in any one of your Towers, sit there, and think about what you’ve said.

And then leave the rest of us alone so we can elect a real president who is both compassionate and strong — at least strong enough not to be all whiny and scared of some guy in a ballcap from Michigan sitting next to him on a talk show couch. You’re not so tough, Donny, and I’m glad I got to see the real you up close and personal all those years ago.

We are all Muslim. Deal with it.

All my best,
Michael Moore

P.S. I’m asking everyone who reads this letter to go here and sign the following statement: “WE ARE ALL MUSLIM” — and then send post a photo of yourself holding a homemade sign saying “WE ARE ALL MUSLIM” on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #WeAreAllMuslim. I will post all the photos on my site and send them to you, Mr. Trump. Feel free to join us.

michaelmoore

To some Muslim readers of this blog, Moore’s stance may be considered blasphemy….after all they might posit, Moore is NOT a Muslim and to that I would say how do they know, but if people abdicate their obligation to protest racism and demagoguery we will be victims of the likes of Donald Trump and the GOP.  At the bottom of Moore’s piece is a petition directed at Trump that reads in part,

In desperation and insanity, you call for a ban on all Muslims entering this country. I was raised to believe that we are all each other’s brother and sister, regardless of race, creed or color. That means if you want to ban Muslims, you are first going to have to ban me. And everyone else.

We are all Muslim.

Please sign it. I did.

Netanyahu is in town


CongressInvited by the US congress to speak and influence American policy no less, Netanyahu is enjoying the right to free speech and possibly usurp American foreign policy but his own country is not broadcasting the speech Americans will hear without a FIVE minute delay and after removing all references to campaigning in order to “keep the address from influencing the upcoming election”. (That also happens to be one of the reasons why Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu during this visit; it appears Obama is more Israeli than Bibi) But that’s hardly the reason why Netanyahu is receiving resistancenetanyahu from his own country towards his speech and visit here….it probably has more to do with the fact even his own citizens can’t stomach the lies he’s telling to a very gullible US congress and Main Stream Media.

When the Israeli prime minister argues that his speech will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he is not only misleading Israel, he is strengthening Iran,  Amnon Reshef, former head of the army’s armored corps, said at a news conference Sunday.

Boo yoow anyone??

 

North Carolina’s good and pretty damned bad news


NC

North Carolina state government is run solely by Republicans, known for being the party of family values and tough on crime.  Today it is neither, instead if you’ve got business you want to conduct and need the help of the Republican controlled government you can hire call girls to convince the State’s legislators to do your bidding. The opinion of the State’s  “Ethics Committee has just opened up a major problem for their state — they just made it legal for lobbying firms to purchase prostitutes to service politicians.” In a ruling that’s just as bad as the Citizen’s United case decided on by the $50KUS Supreme Court which gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other ‘political tools’ to defeat or promote individual candidates or policy. Legally armed it seems the Republican party will go to any lengths to pursue it’s agenda even when the means are totally against the Party’s claims of standing for moral, traditional values. That shouldn’t come as any surprise, politicians in general and Republican governors in states bordering North Carolina have come under recent scrutiny for unethical, sometimes illegal behavior. (I’m speaking of Bob McDonnell in Virginia and South Carolina’s Mark Sanford) What’s even depressing is that it seems given the chance the electorate prefers morally corrupt Republican officials to sanitized Democratic policy…….NOT GOOD.

the 3's silhouetteThe good news coming out of North Carolina is the prosecutor’s office handling the murders of three young American Muslims has said it will seek the death penalty against Craig Hicks who had confessed to the crimes. There is no doubt he did it; he turned himself in immediately after killing his victims and it was clearly a capital murder case which the prosecutor confirmed with this decision.  There are still those who claim this was about a neighborly dispute, i.e. parking and that insistence might strengthen the DA’s case for seeking the death penalty judging on what has been found in Hicks’ possession;

A search of Hicks’ computers showed he kept pictures and notes on parking activity in the lots around his condo, police said in the warrants.

which would surely prove intent and premeditation but it’s also equally clear from

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks
46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

Hicks’ own Facebook posts he hated religion and or religious expression.  The clearest manifestation of religion, indeed the in-your-faceness of the Muslim women who wore hijab were his Muslim neighbors who he killed.  Hats off to the Durham county district attorney.  North Carolina trends towards a conservatism stronger than the Nation’s and with the current Islamophobia prevalent on the national stage whether the DA can prosecute towards a death penalty will depend on the judge accepting his evidence for such a ruling.  Stay tuned; it ain’t over yet.

 

Muslims of the world, listen up!


If you are thinking of coming to America, you should know there is a political party that is not interested in you keeping or practicing your religious identity. If you want to identify as a Muslim you are not wanted in America. Just so you know.

Media’s role in dumbing down America


Gavin-Ellzey

I can’t imagine how incredibly stupid this guy is or how he’s been lead so astray by the folks who’re supposed to provide us with information. It’s one thing to believe everything you hear but then to respond to it in such incendiary ways that are or bordering on criminality is inexcusable.  In any event it is sad to hear, see people in positions of policy or authority make such comments; they should forfeit such places in society or be made to resign.

Gavin Ellzey, the vice chairman of the Kansas Republican 3rd Congressional District Committee, advised on Twitter in early July that “offending Muslims is the duty of any civilized person.”

Ellzey added, “Especially with a .45.”

In an interview with The Star, the Overland Park resident acknowledged writing the tweet in response to television news reports about Christians being “crucified” overseas

Here’s the issue. The report he read or saw was most likely false, made up out of thin air, and Ellzey living in 21st century America was not able to know that or didn’t care to.  Ignorance is one thing, apathy or indifference that causes one to incite others towards acts of violence is another. Both Ellzey and the media reports he listened to are guilty of the latter.  We don’t know or can blame that media outlet that led Ellzey to say such insane things but we can hold his feet to the fire.  If one thinks that media can’t possibly be so irresponsible, here’s an excellent case in point.

Commentators who were not there provided chilling descriptions of an alleged attack on the Roquette Synagogue in the Bastille area of Paris last month. Evoking the Nazi Holocaust, they described hordes of thugs desecrating the building as they tried to harm those inside. According to the reports those responsible were Muslim, pro-Palestinian demonstrators consumed by anti-Semitism, inflamed by the slaughter of civilians in Gaza by Israel.

“Worshippers barricaded themselves inside the Synagogue de la Roquette as demonstrators tried to storm the building with bats and chairs,” is how The Independent’sabsent Paris correspondent chose to put it. The seemingly authoritative claim was followed up around the world.

An alleged testimony was published by a US-based news site called The Tablet. With a mixture of blood-curdling melodrama, murderous threat and pure racism it recounted how “Parisians from Arab countries” used an axe and even firearms. The writer – allegedly a Jewish woman solely identified as ‘Aurélie A’ – says of one: “I want to leave him for dead!”

Now, more than three weeks since the 13 July incident, the international current affairs magazine Newsweek is running a cover story on the Synagogue ‘attack’ claiming it has contributed to a new “Exodus” of Jews from Europe. Elaborating on the picture of vengeful Islamists, writer Adam LeBor quotes another “trapped” witness – who is not identified at all – maintaining that the alleged siege was “like an Intifada.”

Mr. LeBor opens his piece with the words: “The mob howled for vengeance, the missiles raining down on the synagogue walls as the worshippers huddled inside. It was a scene from Europe in the 1930s, except this was eastern Paris on the evening of 13 July, 2014.”

Except it wasn’t. Such reports are pure fabrication. Nobody attacked the synagogue, nobody was trapped inside, no worshippers were hurt and there were no missiles thrown at it. Comparisons with the kind of demonic crimes committed against European Jews in the pre-war years, and during the occupation of Paris, are profoundly wicked.

I was in rue de la Roquette on 13 July and what actually happened was that a vigilante group called the LDJ (Ligue de Défense Juive, or Jewish Defence League) stormed away from the synagogue towards a largely peaceful protest in Place de la Bastille. Armed with metal batons, gas canisters and café chairs and tables, they initiated street fights with their enemies while chanting ‘F*** Palestine’.

The truth was not only recorded on film, but Serge Benhaïm, the President of the Synagogue, confirmed categorically that there had been no attack on his place of worship, and no damage caused to it or those inside. He said that none of the opposing groups had got within 150 metres of his synagogue……

If you ever want to express your outrage as I have, you can write him here: gavingop@gmail.com

You know it’s bad when it’s written about by non-Muslims


islamophobiaThe “it” here is Islamophobia and it’s rearing its ugly head again in circles of the GOP.

Yesterday I wrote about the danger of demonizing Muslims. I cited remarks fromseveral Republican politicians who argued a couple of years ago that no mosqueshould be allowed near the site of the 9/11 attack in New York.

Today I looked at a speech given last night in California by Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. Jindal’s speech, which asserted a religious right to practice anti-gay policies in private business activity, echoed the argument made 14 years ago by Bob Jones University in defense of its policy against interracial dating. The resemblance is uncanny. You can read the whole article here.

But Jindal’s speech raised another problematic theme as well: the idea of a war between Islam and Christianity. Here’s what he said:

In nation after nation, Christians are being slaughtered by radical Islamists for their beliefs. … Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that “The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. … When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” And today, around the world, many Christians are living out that calling. That is a shooting war over religion, not a silent one.

In targeting Islam, Jindal is hardly alone. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another likely Republican candidate for president, asserted two years ago that “Sharia law is an enormous problem.” And last fall, a third likely candidate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, told an overwhelmingly Christian audience at the Values Voters Summit:

Today I want to tell you about a war the mainstream media is ignoring. From Boston to Zanzibar, there is a worldwide war on Christianity. …

Ever since 9/11, commentators have tried to avoid pointing fingers at Islam. While it is fair to point out that most Muslims are not committed to violence against Christians, this is not the whole truth and we should not let political correctness stand in the way of the truth. …

We send billions of dollars a year to Pakistan and Egypt. We helped put new Islamic regimes in place in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama now sends arms to Islamic Rebels in Syria. In Egypt the mob attacked our embassy and burned our flag. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that terrorists who kill Americans tend to do so in the name of Islam. It’s quite another thing to accept them as representatives of their faith, to affirm their message of enmity between Christianity and Islam, and to portray Islamic law as a threat within this country.

Do the Republicans running for president really believe that? Do they think such talk will make this country safer? Do they think it will make us more free?

The answer to the last three questions is no but demagoguery has never been about truth, it’s about power and that’s why members of the Republican Party do it to reclaim power from the party of the first black President.

This man deserves his props


Jason R. ThigpenI don’t know him, but I like what he’s written

After discussing it with my wife and family, I’ve decided to run as a Democrat rather than a Republican. I simply cannot stand with a Party where its most extreme element promote hate and division amongst people. Nothing about my platform has, nor will it change. The government shutdown was simply the straw that broke the camels back. I guess being an American just isn’t good enough anymore and I refuse to be part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line. We’ve received some wonderful support by numerous leaders and members within the NC GOP, as the vast majority of Republicans are wonderful, hard-working people that don’t agree with those radical nut-jobs either but unfortunately the extremists in the party, with their ‘burn it all down’ philosophy, appear to be the ones turning out the majority of voters in the primaries and mid-term elections. And I want the people to know there is a choice.

Jason R. Thigpen

Is the GOP’s Islamophobia in retreat or is the whole of the GOP screwed?


3711525790_41aac3d736Mother Jones came up with the article, The GOP’s Anti-Muslim Wing Is in Retreat with several anecdotes they say point to such a decline, in which they claim

…after a November election that saw three of the party’s loudest voices on “creeping Shariah” defeated—and the GOP presidential nominee ignore the issue entirely—the anti-Islam movement within the Republican party may have peaked. Wary of further alienating a once-promising conservative constituency, mainstream Republican leaders have sought, publicly and behind closed doors, to distance themselves from the loudest of the Muslim-bashers in their midst.

…Randa Fahmy Hudome, a former Bush administration official, Washington lobbyist, and prominent Muslim Republican, notes: “There is a self-policing factor in the Republican party, when some members get a little off base on some of these issues. That’s the state of play right now.”

However the problem is not that racists are on the wane in the GOP and thus not able to mount an offensive against America’s Muslim population, the issue is one of the GOP’s own inadequacy in dealing with ANYTHING related to policy.  From issues of women’s reproductive rights, where GOP candidates for office put their foot in their mouths regarding rape and abortion, to issues of the economy where a disorganized GOP saw its House Majority Leader vote against a bill that the Speaker of the House voted for, the GOP is to today’s politics the equivalence of the Keystone Cops, bungling over themselves without any design or purpose.  It’s no wonder Islamophobia has escaped them……they can’t agree on anything nor make any effective statement about anything else!  And if you think this is hyperbole, watch how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did what has never been done before in the halls of Congress…filibuster his own motion in the Senate.

Even more recently Speaker of the House John Boehner was reamed a new one by Islamophobe Peter King over Boehner’s refusal to put on the floor of the House for a vote a bill for funds for Hurricane Sandy relief that directly affects King’s constituency.   King went so far as to say, the day after the bill didn’t appear, that he would urge everyone not to make  any financial contributions to his own Party’s coffers.  He’s  since ameliorated his remarks after being called an a$$hole by Boehner and being reasured the House would vote on relief funds; a really strange conflated way of dealing with matters of policy and collegiality if there ever was one. King as you remember was one of the Party’s stalwarts who led House hearings on the “threat” radical Islam posed to the Homeland and it seems almost like poetic justice that he would be snubbed and then insulted in much the same way he did to many of his Muslim constituents.  However, this points to the dysfunction of the Republican party in ways not seen in recent history.

There is still plenty of kindling available on the American landscape for the GOP to ignite as they gather allies in their march towards power.  In fact inciting racial animus has been a mainstay of political ascendancy in America and there’s no reason to think the party, once it gets its act together won’t resort to that tried and true tactic called demagoguery and whether you agree or disagree that hate crimes, i.e. those against Muslims, are on the wane or not, it’s still true that Muslims are targets of hate in America. A brief look at the headlines here, here and here are anecdotal evidence enough to point to the gold mine the GOP can cultivate when they have the presence of mind to get their act together and do so.

 

The latest alteration to the hate campaign advertisement


First there was this

then this

and now this

Keep them coming America.  It’s free speech and it’s constitutionally complaint!

Spineless


, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.
Image via Wikipedia

Rick Santorum is another one of the GOP candidates for president who should be roundly and openly “refudiated” for lacking the moral courage to confront and correct a lie when given the opportunity.  You can read about his cowardly approach to a questioner’s assertion that President Obama is a “Muslim” here. The article goes on to say even John McCain corrected someone when faced with a similar situation during the 2008 campaign, but Santorum chose to play to the fear of the crowd and let the statement go unanswered.  His even lamer excuse that it’s not his responsibility to correct every misguided claim only leads one to wonder if elected how would he address lies that affect the national interest.  Would he be as pusillanimous with them as well?  Would he lead the country into war because he is unable to correct mistaken notions about adversaries, or believe that the people on the other end of the lie  should be thick skinned enough to withstand US military intervention?  America, these are the choices the GOP has presented us;  the likes of people who aspire to be our leaders and lead based on racial animosity, loathing, hatred, and fear.  Perhaps the GOP has become irrelevant to the life of this Nation….perhaps it’s time to “refudiate” the entire Party of people who want to take the country in this direction.  Then of course, there’s Ron Paul……..

Watching the GOP implode


Gingrich just won the SC GOP primary and the rats can’t distance themselves fast enough from him.  A quick look at the GOP’s unofficial news rag, The Drudgereport,  found banner headlines…..ALL of them disparaging Gingrich in such language as to leave no doubt where the allegiances of the “real” conservatives of the party are:

Romney is the most electable candidate not only because it will be nearly impossible for the media to demonize this self-made Mormon square, devoted to his wife and church, but precisely because he is the most conservative candidate.  Ann Coulter

Conservatives should not be surprised by the scandals that lie ahead, if they stick with him(Gingrich). Those of us, who raised the question of character in 1992, were confronted by an indignant Bill Clinton, treating the topic as a low blow. To listen to him, character was the “c” word of American politics. It was reprehensible to mention it. By now we know. Character matters. Paul, Santorum, and Romney have it. Newt has Clinton’s character. R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr.

Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong. Elliott Abrams

All of the folks above have bona fide conservative credentials….as much if not more so than Gingrich himself and they’re telling people that Gingrich….in so many words is a joke!  It doesn’t help Gingrich any that all of this criticism is coming out before the GOP primary in Florida which is less than a week away where polls had shown Gingrich in the lead.  It’s clear this criticism is meant to influence the outcome of that primary and slow Gingrich’s momentum. But it’s not even subtle any more; conservatives and especially those who idolize Reagan are coming out with their fangs bared against Gingrich in a way not seen too often in the GOP and it’s rather entertaining to watch.

Gingrich does have issues, but he is conveniently ensconced in the right party for them.  He’s a demagogue and a race baiter…something he shares with Santorum and Cain and some would say Paul, and he’s a liar. Something he shares with the last Republican administration in the White House.  Check out his latest lie, exposed by CNN regarding his defense against the coming out by his ex-wife  of Gingrich’s alternative lifestyle

“Tonight, after persistent questioning by our staff, the Gingrich campaign concedes now Speaker Gingrich was wrong — both in his debate answer, and in our interview yesterday,” King said on tonight’s edition of John King USA. “Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the only people the Gingrich campaign offered to ABC were his two daughters from his first marriage.”

Producers, sponsors, news directors must be cutting a jig on all the newsroom floors of CNN over this news, especially since Gingrich publicly embarrassed John King to thunderous applause for posing the question about Marianne’s claims in the debate before the SC primary.  Somewhere the God of Justice has just put a smack down on Gingrich’s smugness but like most megalomaniacs Gingrich will neither be humbled or bowed…he’ll merely plod along against the tide of many within his party and outside of it too.  One has to wonder whether the two, Democrat and Republican, won’t team up to get rid of this thorn in everyone’s side.  I could possibly see a bipartisan dirty tricks/black bag group dedicated to spreading  salacious stories emanating of Gingrich’s dark side.  It seems for the moment, Gingrich has even overtaken Obama in raising the ire of conservatives.  Ahh…sometimes payback can be entertaining to watch/read as well as rewarding.

Serve and Protect? If you’re a Muslim in New York city don’t expect it!


Imagine if you lived in a city whose police department regularly looked at films that claim members of your race or religion shoot and terrorize people and showed photographs of victims of terror imposed by your special group of people while stating emphatically every of you was like that and therefore a threat to the security of the country.

Such is the case with the New York City police department which for over a lengthy period of time screened for its officers a film entitled, The Third Jihad.

This is the feature-length film titled “The Third Jihad,” paid for by a nonprofit group, which was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department.

In January 2011, when news broke that the department had used the film in training, a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened “a couple of times” for a few officers.

A year later, police documents obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Law reveal a different reality: “The Third Jihad,” which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was shown, according to internal police reports, “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training.

During that time, at least 1,489 police officers, from lieutenants to detectives to patrol officers, saw the film.

News that police trainers showed this film so extensively comes as the department wrestles with its relationship with the city’s large Muslim community. The Police Department offers no apology for aggressively spying on Muslim groups and says it has ferreted out terror plots.

But members of the City Council, civil rights advocates and Muslim leaders say the department, in its zeal, has trampled on civil rights, blurred lines between foreign and domestic spying and sown fear among Muslims.

“The department’s response was to deny it and to fight our request for information,” said Faiza Patel, a director at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, which obtained the release of the documents through a Freedom of Information request. “The police have shown an explosive documentary to its officers and simply stonewalled us.”

Tom Robbins, a former columnist with The Village Voice, first revealed that the police had screened the film. The Brennan Center then filed its request.

The 72-minute film was financed by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group whose board includes a former Central Intelligence Agency official and a deputy defense secretary for President Ronald Reagan. Its previous documentary attacking Muslims’ “war on the West” attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has helped reshape the Republican presidential primary by pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Newt Gingrich.

…….Repeated calls over the past several days to the Clarion Fund, which is based in New York, were not answered. The nonprofit group shares officials with Aish HaTorah, an Israeli organization that opposes any territorial concessions on the West Bank. The producer of “The Third Jihad,” Raphael Shore, also works with Aish HaTorah.

The people behind this nefarious production, The Clarion Fund and Aish HaTorah should be enough to call into question the integrity of such a video.  Both organizations are deeply involved in the spread of Islamophobic notions of Muslims in America in a manner consistent with the strategies mentioned in a previous Miscellany101 post here.  I’m also not surprised, but note with more than a bit of sarcasm the presence of a GOP candidate for President being affiliated somehow in this macabre alliance of xenophobes.

the Clarion Fund,……(I)ts previous documentary attacking Muslims’ “war on the West” attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has helped reshape the Republican presidential primary by pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Newt Gingrich.

In addition, the NYPD’s denial then admission that the film was ever aired by them and their subsequent position that they did nothing wrong means precisely that they did something wrong.  This adversarial attitude, along with the equally omnipotent  alliance between the NYPD and the CIA has raised more than a few eyebrows, plenty of suspicion and the ire of New York Muslims, some of whom participated in an interfaith boycott last month to protest the city’s increased surveillance of area Muslims after it was revealed the NYPD in coordination with the CIA gathered information on city Muslims who were neither suspected or charged with any crime.  All this is what we KNOW about, albeit with a great deal of diligence at gathering the information and difficulty at getting authorities to respond; no doubt there’s plenty more we don’t know about.  Stay tuned.

Who is driving the anti-Shariah legislation in state legislatures


We’ve often spoke here about people whose views and opinions about their fellow Americans are so outdated and beyond the pale such dialogue belongs in the dust bin of American relics.  David Yerushalmi’s name needs to be added to the list.  He is one of the forces behind the emergence of this latest American phenomenon popping up in state legislatures across the country, called anti-Shariah legislation.  Yerushalmi and his minions have managed to frighten people in state governments into thinking their citizens want to “impose” Islamic law on others, the US Constitution notwithstanding, and therefore a clear and definite curtailment of the rights of Muslims to practice their religion is necessary to stop a threat that only exists in the minds of Yerushalmi, et.al.  The et.al who agree with this xenophobe is the Republican Party who has taken up the banner of Islamophobia in trying to enact this legislation.  If anyone has any misgivings about the GOP, they should dispel them now; it has gone over to the dark side and become the party of racists and war mongers.  How else can you account for them embracing someone as avidly racist as Yerushalmi.

this is a guy who endorses the principle that “Caucasians” are superior to blacks and that Jewish liberals are a cancer in the U.S. body politic.  The nearest Jewish “intellectual” antecedent I can determine would be Meir Kahane.  But Yerushalmi’s views are far more radical than Kahane’s.  The only difference is that Kahane embraced violence as a tool in his campaign against Arabs and anti-Semites.  The latter-day Jewish Islamophobe, an attorney, is far too slick for that.  He merely suggests that all non-citizen Muslims in the country be deported and many of the rest thrown in concentration camps. In Yerushalmi-world, any Muslim who espoused Sharia would earn him or herself a 20 year stay in the federal pen.

But there’s more

Stop the Madrassa leader David Yerushalmi also condemns democracy in the United States and, in comments that evoke classical anti-Semitic stereotypes, says he finds truth in the view that Jews “destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite.”

Yerushalmi, a national advisory board member, counsel and de facto treasurer for Stop the Madrassa, wrote regarding conservative criticism of Israel, Zionism and Jews: “Much of what drives it is true and accurate.” Conservatives’ primary “critique,” he said, “is that the Jews of the modern age are the most radical, aggressive and effective of the liberal Elite.”

“One must admit readily that the radical liberal Jew is a fact of the West and a destructive one,” he wrote. “Indeed, Jews in the main have turned their backs on the belief in G-d and His commandments as a book of laws for a particular and chosen people.”

In Israel, he said, other than the ultra-Orthodox, “Most Israelis are raging Leftists, and this includes the so-called nationalists who found a home in the ‘right-wing’ Likud political bloc or one of the other smaller and more marginal right wing parties.”

In Yerushalmi’s world, there is no room for dissent, even from his anti-semitic, fascist ramblings.  His  organization, Society of Americans for National Existence, SANE, declares, it  ‘is dedicated to the rejection of democracy and party rule and a return to a constitutional republic’.  You can read more about this darling of the Republican party who is more worthy of legal remedies to stop the spread of his anti-democracy message than even the strongest al-Qaida operative, here and here.  The fact that his ideas have found traction in todays America is both troubling and an indication of how backwards American politics have gone.

GOP=Government Oppressive Prosecution



The GOP is the next thing to America’s march on towards a Gestapo.  Inspite of the fact talking heads like to tie the GOP to the Lincoln administration of the 19th century, it more closely resembles the McCarthyism of the 20th century in its approach to citizenship and social issues.  Nothing more clearly underscores that fact than this story.  Peter King, republican from New York,  is a demagogue from way back; you can read about some of his more fascist thoughts here and here.  He’s a throwback to his American predecessors, Joe McCarthy, George Wallace, and my favorite Jesse Helms and takes America back to a time when it was asked to fight in a war abroad against Germans who said and did the same kind of things King wants to do.  Notice how he even wants to break the Constitution to do it, i.e. establish a state religion and officially denigrate or delegitimize another.  Moreover, what’s this constant raising and lowering the bar that Islamophobes do?  Since when did good citizenship mean being a spy on your fellow congregants at your house of worship?  Does government demand all Catholics turn in abusive priests to the feds, or that Jewish worshipers turn in any junk bond dealer or swindler who might be robbing pension funds dry and that doing less than that means they should come under the scrutiny of the federal government, and it’s not that Muslims haven’t responded to calls for good citizenship.  The latest bomber exposed by the FBI on the west coast was first turned in to law officials by his own father….and he was ignored.  The 2009 Christmas bomber too was turned in by his dad…to no avail.  It seems scoring points only happens when the authorities play the game and not when citizens participate.  But what it does do is insure King will  be re-elected in two years from now when people will be demanding to hold the GOP responsible for the continuing economic fiasco to result due to their policies which began with the tax cut extension.

America tends to elect people who are not the least bit concerned with her interests, but only their own.  King, Gingrich, Palin, McConnell, Boehner, Cantor, et.al are all opportunists who are willing to sacrifice the good of the country to their own priorities of personal fortune and ego.  We elect them every year and this past election cycle ended with them increasing their wealth, through tax cuts and pitting the federal government against a religious minority which has until now been a peaceful and cooperative partner in good citizenship.  We get what we deserve.

Driving While White


During the height of L.A.’s Rampart scandal–in which a rogue unit of anti-gang cops orchestrated the deportation of hundreds of illegal immigrants and then used deportation threats to elicit all kinds of phony informant testimony and to cover up their own brutally criminal behavior in a heavily immigrant neighborhood–I happened to take a slow drive through the Rampart area to gawk at the few remaining Victorian mansions still standing amidst the graffiti-strewn stucco and open-air smack dealers. Through distracted confusion at a semi-tricky intersection I ended up running a red light, right in front of an LAPD patrol car.

“What are you doing in this neighborhood?” one of the cops asked. I told them, apologized for my mistake, and they…sent me on my way. “Be more careful next time!”, etc. It was the most memorable data point in something I’ve noticed ever since cutting off my hippie hair and losing all the terrible earrings: When you look “normal,” interaction with police–or “lawful contact,” in the Arizona parlance–tends to go much smoother. Better yet, it rarely takes place at all.

You can observe this phenomenon not just behind the wheel, but out on the street. I jaywalk probably every day (though only when the coast is totally clear), and frequently do so right in front of The Man (him being so prevalent in the District of Columbia). Though I got ticketed once during the longhair days, the only time a cop has said boo ever since was when I blatantly crossed over to the D.C. Convention Center in front of a half-dozen policemen standing there looking at me. “Use the light next time,” one said, and I was on my way. Good thing I wasn’t some dude walking in L.A.’s Skid Row.

I mention this trivia because Steve Chapman had an important point this morning about the question over what could constitute “legal contact” or probable cause in Arizona. “On the average car,” Chapman said a cop once told him, “he could find half a dozen reasons to write up additional citations if provoked. Any of those would serve equally well to justify a stop.” When you have thousands upon thousands of criminal laws, chances are non-trivial that you’re breaking one of them as we speak, or at least can be seen as possibly breaking one of them, in case you happen to cross paths with a motivated law enforcement officer. The “driving while black” phenomenon is not some Al Sharpton urban legend.

Of all the misguided apologia I’ve seen for Arizona’s papers-please law, chief among them has been the notion that somehow, some way, this won’t lead to selective enforcement based on personal appearance. For instance, American Spectator writer (and Reason contributor) W. James Antle III:

Far from authorizing local police officers to pull Hispanics from crowds at random and demand to see proof of legal residency, the law requires a prior “legal contact” — that is, there needs to already be something going on, like an arrest or a traffic stop. The law specifically bans race and ethnicity as the sole grounds for a “reasonable suspicion” of illegal presence in the United States.

Or the American Conservative‘s Daniel Larison:

[T]he only people who have reason to complain about this law are those who are here illegally and those who believe that immigration laws should simply not be enforced.

The whole only-people-with-reason-to-fear argument, to put it mildly, has not been a historical friend of liberty. Nor is it usually accurate. If you are a legal resident immigrant from Mexico, you have plenty of “reason to complain” about this law, because now it’s more likely that you are going to be pulled over by an Arizona cop. And every transaction with a cop, especially if you are viewed as non-normal, is an opportunity for a negative outcome, from detainment to car impoundment (even if you’re never charged with a crime!) to something worse.For those clinging to the fantasy that the law’s “may not solely consider race, color or national origin” provision will somehow prevent profiling of Mexican-looking people, three points: 1) Steve Chapman’s six likely infractions by every driver is a built-in workaround for that “may not solely.” When you have thousands of laws, it’s not hard finding one that justifies the profiling. 2) Even in jurisdictions that didn’t just pass new laws targeting illegal immigrants, when you lower the bar for “legal contact” you increase the likelihood of targeting minorities. In the police empowerment zone that is New York City, a “stop-and-frisk” policy that has averaged 1,260 legal contacts per day has been enforced thusly: “A disproportionate 84 percent of […] stops involved blacks or Hispanics; only 10 percent involved white people.”

But the biggest blind spot in conservatives’ trust-the-government approach concerning Arizona is the easily discoverable fact that local law enforcement has already been engaging in the behavior that the apologists say won’t happen. Here’s a Phoenix New Times story from two years ago:

[Maricopa County Sheriff Joe] Arpaio began sponsoring “crime suppression sweeps” earlier this year, bringing hundreds of deputies and volunteer posse members to heavily Hispanic areas. Residents were pulled over for minor traffic offenses and questioned about their immigration status.

I have sympathy for people who are freaked out by desperate immigrants and ruthless smugglers trampling over their property in southern Arizona, and as I’ve said elsewhere, us pro-immigrant types too easily skate over rule-of-law objections. Federal immigration policy is a failure, and poses real public policy challenges that no amount of righteous indignation and/or handwaving makes disappear.

But anti-illegal immigration crackdowns almost always end up restricting freedom for the rest of us. And giving cops more power is almost always felt more on the receiving end by people–including people just as law-abiding as you and I–who don’t look like the norm. Remember, the stated goal of the new law is “to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.” Those who think you can surgically accomplish “attrition” without inflaming and driving out legal residents, too, are kidding themselves. I doubt that many Arizonans themselves believe it.

Matt Welch