Op-Eds

  • Baltimore’s disgrace is its history of police violence

    Opinions April 28, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: AlJazeera. After Saturday’s full day of peaceful protests in Baltimore calling for justice for Freddie Gray — the 25-year-old who recently died of a spinal injury suffered while in police custody — some protesters opted Saturday evening and Sunday to pursue more hands-on expressions of frustration. On Monday, the day of Gray’s memorial service, public tensions led to rioting in West Baltimore that continued into the evening. The media also ran riot. As of Saturday night, the protests were said to have turned “violent” and “destructive.” . . .Finally, the media found, the protesters were behaving according to the script — the one that casts black communities in America as powder kegs that can be contained only by the cops. Never mind that chucking hot dog buns and condiments at police and smashing up police vehicles and store windows is inherently less destructive, at least in terms of human life, than fatally severing a person’s spinal cord or shooting an unarmed man multiple times in the back. The latter two operations were performed under the sanction of U.S. law enforcement, whose behavior, no matter how outrageous, is still defended from public outrage by media and politicians alike

    Photo: Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

     
  • We are holding American Muslims to an unfair standard

    Opinions April 27, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Huffington Post. Anti-Muslim violence and sentiment remains all too common in the United States. In recent months, we have seen the slaying of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C., arson at an Islamic community center in Houston, threats issued against mosques and Islamic centers in Iowa, Ohio and elsewhere, vandalism of an Islamic school in Rhode Island, and bigoted legislation targeting Muslims in several states. Does the fact that certain Americans have committed these acts in the name of “protecting America” make this American violence? Most Americans know on an intrinsic level that while people among us may commit violent acts, this violence does not define our national identity. Yet, when extremists carry out violent attacks in the name of a religion that largely denounces them, the debate begins again of whether Islam is a violent religion.

     
  • How FBI informants do their dirty work

    Opinions April 27, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Counterpunch. Finally we have a visual testimony of how FBI informants do their dirty work. Americans who experienced COINTELPRO understand the treachery involved. During the 1960s African Americans were targeted and Black organizations infiltrated, intimidated and disrupted. Today’s main targets of US intelligence plots, Muslims, were completely naïve about COINTEL strategies; and much of the US media today act as if they’d never heard of it. . . . After Sept. 2001, 13,000 mainly Muslim men were put into detention proceedings; we don’t know the precise number of resulting deportations. We also don’t know how many people were recruited as ‘informers’ to identify or entrap suspect Muslims, although it may be as high as 15,000. . . . “(T)ERROR”, a newly released film, is the result of painstaking work over a 10 year period by Cabral. . . .We get a first hand view of the clandestine nature of an FBI ‘sting’. . .This film takes our understanding of this disagreeable process of entrapment to a new level, adding credibility to earlier reports of questionable FBI practices.

     
  • What explains the power of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s middle finger?

    Opinions April 23, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. There are reasons the U.S. is the world’s largest penal state, and among its most oppressive, and those reasons reside in the political and cultural character of the country, and specifically in its desire to impose maximum amounts of pain and suffering under the guise of justice. That’s why even opponents of the death penalty frequently argue that life in prison is worse: it’s always a contest as to how the most suffering can be inflicted. Tsarnaev’s middle finger provoked seemingly as much disgust as the murders for which he has been convicted because it represented his refusal to submissively play the role assigned to those who are to be punished.

     
  • American outcasts: US prisons and modern day banishment

    Opinions April 22, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. According to the Sentencing Project, nearly 50,000 Americans are currently serving life without the possibility of parole (LWOP), a punishment that has been called “the other death sentence,” and which, like capital punishment, is unknown in Europe. In excess of 100,000 more are serving life sentences — many, like Patty Prewitt, with minimums so long that they will die before their potential parole date arrives. About 10,000 of these lifers were sentenced before they reached the age of 18. Nearly half are African American — a number even more disproportionate than the total number of African Americans in prison. Thousands of them have been further buried in the tomb of prolonged solitary confinement, removed even from the meager community that the prison might offer — another practice virtually unique to the United States.

     
  • There is no ‘suspected terrorist activity’ exception to the Constitution

    Opinions April 21, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: MSNBC
    The truth is that the federal government has stubbornly refused to change the policies that enable racial and ethnic profiling on airplanes and in airports. For one thing, the Department of Justice issued new guidance prohibiting racial profiling in law enforcement investigations, but the new guidelines still allow racial profiling when federal agents investigate national security or border integrity cases. Those are pretty glaring loopholes. It’s also a missed opportunity to send a message to law enforcement that people of color don’t forfeit their constitutional rights when they arrive at the airport. Moreover, the Transportation Security Administration’s pseudo-scientific and absurd SPOT behavioral profiling program remains in force. This program sends TSA “behavior detection officers” to airport screening areas to suss out suspicious people based on facial “micro-expressions” that those harboring “mal-intent” supposedly make for milliseconds at a time. And, because there’s no real way to determine who is suspicious by watching facial expressions, SPOT becomes just another mechanism for racial and ethnic profiling.

     
  • Don’t ignore the homegrown terror threat

    Source: Politico. Twenty years after Timothy McVeigh destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and much of downtown Oklahoma City, the American radical right is again large and dangerous, comprising close to 1,700 groups and hundreds of thousands of individuals. Terrorism has risen again to the levels of the 1990s, with many afraid that the next attack on the scale of Oklahoma City could come at any time. And radical ideas have permeated much of our increasingly polarized political process, distorting our thinking and deflecting efforts to make ours a better country. These threats to democracy are not the only ones we face as a nation. There is no question that, among many other dangers, the specter of jihadist violence is entirely real. But we must avoid being swayed by ideologues and discredited “terrorism experts” who obsessively point to their own particular bêtes noires while ignoring or dismissing the very real prospect of domestic terror.

     
  • Sure, Idaho, child support bill will lead to Sharia Law. What? No, you’re not crazy at all

    Opinions April 15, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Wonkette. The Idaho Legislature’s 2015 session came to an exciting end Friday with a small group of nutjob Republicans killing off a bill to enforce child support judgments so Idaho wouldn’t have to fear living under the yoke of radical Islamic law. The decision to kill the bill endangers the state’s access to about $46 million in federal funding and to programs that help with processing child support payments and tracking down delinquent parents. But isn’t that a small price to pay to remain free of the taint of Sharia?

     
  • Anti-Islam rhetoric poses a threat to all people of color

    Source: Seattle Globalist. Overzealous scrutiny of a perceived fault or weakness of a disadvantaged group not only undermines their quality of life, but also puts them under a threat. This age-old tactic, used in the past to spread myths like the one about minority groups benefiting from food stamps, is now being used against Muslims under the guise of intellectual criticism of religion. . . .Anti-Islam rhetoric doesn’t only feed hate crimes. It’s also dangerously simplistic and parochial. It almost always has racist undertones, placing targets on less powerful ethnic groups, including my own. So as much as I value a healthy intellectual debate, I no longer partake in what criticism of Islam has become: a malicious campaign with dangerous consequences.

     
  • Tsarnaev prosecution employed flawed theory of radicalization

    Opinions April 10, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: AlJazeera America. Two years after planting bombs at the Boston Marathon that killed three people, a federal jury found Dzokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts against him. Now the trial goes to the sentencing phase, in which jurors will decide whether to impose the death penalty. To bolster their case against Tsarnaev, 21, prosecutors portrayed him as a textbook case of religious radicalization. The strategy was clear: Link Tsarnaev to global jihad to sway the jury to find him guilty. Jurors trying to understand his unthinkable crime could easily latch onto this explanation. The only problem is that the government narrative rests on the flawed premise that religion is the key force that drives people to violence. Friends of Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s say he smoked (and sold) a lot of weed, chased girls and otherwise showed no signs of deeply held religious belief. The case against Dzokhar Tsarnaev reflects a much bigger problem: the prevalence of theories of radicalization that have facilitated surveillance, criminalized religious belief and free speech and stigmatized Muslim communities.