• Americans are increasingly skeptical of Muslims. But most Americans don’t talk to Muslims.

    Opinions November 24, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Washington Post. Americans are more skeptical than ever of how Islam squares with their values and way of life — and yet very few Americans actually seem to interact with Muslims at all. Those are findings from separate surveys from the Public Religion Research Institute that suggest that how Americans perceive Muslims is tied more to headlines than personal experiences. The nonprofit just released its annual American Values Survey, which found that Americans’ perceptions of Islam have turned “sharply negative over the past few years.”

  • First, Donald Trump came for the Muslims

    Editorials November 23, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Daily Beast. I have never truly feared for the well-being of my family or friends because of the words uttered by an American politician. But that has changed after Donald Trump’s comments over the past few days about Muslims. During his rally Saturday deep in the heart of Dixie, Trump told the crowd of thousands in no uncertain terms what Muslims could expect if he leads our nation. “Just to set it clear,” Trump stated, pausing slightly for dramatic effect. A sternness then came over his face as he declared emphatically: “I want surveillance of these people.” Trump then implored the crowd to cheer for his plan that would strip the constitutional rights of a minority group in America with the call, “Are you ready for this? Are you ready?” And on cue, thousands in the crowd cheered as their leader beckoned. Then something else happened at the event that should give all Americans pause. In this sea of adoring Trump fans stood a black man by the name of Mercutio Southall Jr., a well known local activist. Southall had been shouting “Black Lives Matters,” which had so upset Trump supporters that some began to assault him.

  • US governors are wrong: Syrian refugees are no threat to national security

    Editorials November 16, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Quartz. Following a series of terrorist attacks on Paris, which has so far left 129 dead, a number of US state governors have vowed to block Syrian refugees from settling within the borders of their states. Most attempted to downplay any notions of racial or faith-based prejudice. But putting aside the logistics for a second, these types of harmful overreactions exaggerate stereotypes, exacerbate interfaith and interracial tensions, and, above all, denies safe haven to the Islamic State’s principal targets: actual Syrians. It is painfully obvious that very few, if any Syrians seeking resettlement in the United States (or frankly any reasonably safe country that will have them) are terrorists or potential terrorists. Politics are not a priority for these refugees. Surviving is.

  • Paris: you don’t want to read this

    Opinions November 15, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Common Dreams. I join the world in grieving for the dead in Paris. I have grieved for the dead from 9/11 forward — the Australians who died in terror attacks on Bali in 2002, Londoners who died in terror attacks in 2005, the French citizens who died in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January of this year, the Russians whose plane went down over the Sinai a week or so ago. So many more non-Western deaths barely noticed in the U.S. media. But it has to be said, especially looking at the sick repetition of the same story, that despite fourteen plus years of a war on terror, terror seems to be with us as much as ever, maybe even more. It is time to rethink what we have done and are doing. If I had exactly the right strategy, I’d tell you what it is. . . But I don’t have the exact thing to do, and I doubt they’d listen to me anyway. But I do have this: stop what we have been doing for the last 14 years. It has not worked. There is nothing at all to suggest it ever will work. Whack-a-mole is a game, not a plan. Leave the Middle East alone. Stop creating more failed states. Stop throwing away our freedoms at home on falsehoods. Stop disenfranchising the Muslims who live with us. Understand the war, such as it is, is against a set of ideas — religious, anti-western, anti-imperialist — and you cannot bomb an idea.

  • Our terrorism double standard: After Paris, let’s stop blaming Muslims and take a hard look at ourselves

    Opinions November 14, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Salon. Any time there is an attack on civilians in the post-9/11 West, demagogues immediately blame it on Muslims. They frequently lack evidence, but depenAny time there is an attack on civilians in the post-9/11 West, demagogues immediately blame it on Muslims. They frequently lack evidence, but depend on the blunt force of anti-Muslim bigotry to bolster their accusations. Actual evidence, on the other hand, shows that less than two percent of terrorist attacks from 2009 to 2013 in the E.U. were religiously motivated. The vast majority of terrorist attacks in these years were motivated by ethno-nationalism or separatism. These facts, nonetheless, have never stopped the prejudiced pundits from insisting otherwise. On Friday the 13th of November, militants massacred at least 127 people in Paris in a series of heinous attacks. There are many layers of hypocrisy in the public reaction to the tragedy that must be sorted through in order to understand the larger context in which these horrific attacks are situated — and, ultimately, to prevent such attacks from happening in the future.

  • Cops working with anti-Muslim activists

    Opinions November 11, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Daily Beast. Imagine a white supremacist being paid with taxpayer dollars to teach police officers about Black Lives Matter. Or a person with a long history of demonizing the LGBT community being hired by your local police department to warn officers about the “homosexual agenda.” The response to either of these scenarios would be an explosion of outrage. And rightfully so. However, a scenario very similar is repeatedly happening across our country with law enforcement agencies teaming up with two anti-Muslim activists, John Guandolo and Walid Shoebat, to teach them about Muslims.

  • How the F.B.I. can detain, render and threaten without risk

    Opinions November 3, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The New York Times. Amir Mohamed Meshal of Tinton Falls, N.J., alleges that he was illegally taken to Ethiopia, where he was threatened with torture by American officials. In 2009, Mr. Meshal sued four F.B.I. agents who he claimed had detained and threatened him, violating his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. Both the district and appeals courts that have thus far heard Mr. Meshal’s case have accepted the government’s framing of the case and denied his claim. These arguments are legal dodges that deny Mr. Meshal his constitutional rights and institutionalize detention and rendition. Using the cloak of ‘national security’ is particularly egregious since Mr. Meshal has never been charged with any federal crime… Mr. Meshal has fallen into a legal black hole, where the light of justice is extinguished in the name of national security.”

  • If you’re not paranoid, you’re crazy

    Opinions October 27, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Atlantic. How could you anticipate the ways in which insights bred of spying might prove handy to some future regime? New tools have a way of breeding new abuses. Detailed logs of behaviors that I found tame—my Amazon purchases, my online comments, and even my meanderings through the physical world, collected by biometric scanners, say, or license-plate readers on police cars—might someday be read in a hundred different ways by powers whose purposes I couldn’t fathom now. They say you can quote the Bible to support almost any conceivable proposition, and I could only imagine the range of charges that selective looks at my data might render plausible.

  • The pre-terrorists among us

    Opinions October 27, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Atlantic. The idea that there is no single, all-encompassing terrorist profile is now something of a conventional wisdom among scholars. Yet the notion that terrorists, like mythical demons, take on a recognizable shape, however spectral, is strongly implicit in CVE preventive thinking, Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) doesn’t license the mass imprisonment of would-be terrorists. But it does promote interventions that are intrusive and stigmatizing, targeting those who, to echo Anderton, have broken no law—but, as U.S. President Barack Obama recently put it, are “vulnerable … to violent extremist ideologies.

  • The NYPD fails to learn the lessons of past bigotries

    Opinions October 20, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Atlantic. “All legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect,” Justice Hugo Black wrote for a majority of the Supreme Court during the waning days of World War II. “Pressing public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism never can.” With those reassuring words, the Court majority briskly approved the arrest of 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry—a majority of them American-born citizens—and their internment in prison camps far from their homes. In 2011 and 2012, the AP revealed the details of a program as focused as the Japanese Internment—a special “Demographics Unit” of the NYPD, set up after 9/11 and managed with the help of an on-loan CIA officer. The unit systematically targeted Muslims of any origin (even “American Black Muslims”), for systematic surveillance—even without any indication of disloyalty or criminal activity.