• To combat Islamophobia, Hollywood needs more Muslims. Here’s why.

    Opinions June 29, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Bustle. When you think of famous Muslim Hollywood actors, a few comes to mind: Maz Jobrani, Aasif Mandvi… and that’s about it. That’s a problem. For decades now, Muslims have been so misrepresented in Hollywood that it’s affected every aspect of how the rest of the United States views Muslims — and there haven’t been enough members of the Muslim community in the industry to make a real change. In TV shows and films like Homeland, 24, and even Argo, you might come across certain stereotypes of Muslims without even noticing what’s referred to as the three Bs: Billionaires, Belly Dancers, and Bombers. Since, according to a 2010 TIME poll, a whopping 62 percent of Americans have never met a Muslim, much of the information and perception about Muslims are largely based on cable news and entertainment television. So, for these Americans, their knowledge on Islam comes from ISIS’ latest attacks, the Saudi billionaires featured in Adam Sandler’s Click, and a young suicide bomber’s chants before he blows himself up.

  • Refusal to call Charleston shootings “terrorism” again shows it’s a meaningless propaganda term

    Opinions June 19, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. That is the crucial backdrop for yesterday’s debate over whether the term “terrorism” applies to the heinous shooting by a white nationalist of nine African-Americans praying in a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Almost immediately, news reports indicated there was “no sign of terrorism” — by which they meant: it does not appear that the shooter is Muslim. The examples proving the utter malleability of the term “terrorism” are far too numerous to chronicle here. But over the past decade alone, it’s been used by Western political and media figures to condemn Muslims who used violence against an invading and occupying force in Afghanistan, against others who raised funds to help Iraqis fight against an invading and occupying military in their country, and for others who attack soldiers in an army that is fighting many wars. In other words, any violence by Muslims against the West is inherently “terrorism,” even if targeted only at soldiers at war and/or designed to resist invasion and occupation. By stark contrast, no violence by the West against Muslims can possibly be “terrorism,” no matter how brutal, inhumane or indiscriminately civilian-killing.

  • Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists’ and ‘thugs.’ Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’?

    Opinions June 18, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source:The Washington Post. The Charleston shooting is a result of an ingrained culture of racism and a history of terrorism in America. It should be covered as such. On Friday, Department of Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce acknowledged that the Charleston shooting “was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community” (though terrorism is not among the nine murder charges brought against Roof, so far). And now that Roof has admitted to killing those people to start a “race war,” we should be calling him what he is: a terrorist.

  • Charleston church massacre: The violence white America must answer for

    Opinions June 18, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Salon. The historic African-American Emanuel AME Baptist Church was assaulted by at least one white gunman on Wednesday evening in Charleston, South Carolina. At least nine people have been confirmed dead. The story is still developing. At present, Charleston authorities are reporting that this mass shooting and likely right-wing domestic terrorist assault is a hate crime. White right-wing domestic terrorism is one of the greatest threats to public safety and security in post 9/11 United States of America. Such a plain-spoken fact is verboten in mainstream American public discourse. As such, there are several phrases and words that are likely to not be used by the corporate news media in the discussions of the Charleston mass murders at the Emanuel Baptist Church. They include: 1. What is radicalizing white men to commit such acts of domestic terrorism and mass shootings? Are Fox News and the right-wing media encouraging violence?

  • What to be afraid of

    Op-Eds, Opinions June 5, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Timothy Egan in The New York Times. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: You are much more likely to be struck dead by lightning, choke on a chicken bone or drown in the bathtub than be killed by a terrorist. Any number of well-known diseases — cancer, diabetes, the flu — take the lives of far, far more people. Yet, by one estimate, the United States spends $500 million per victim of terrorism, and a piddling $10,000 per cancer death. Since the 9/11 attacks, taxpayers have squandered about $1.6 trillion in the so-called global war on terror — which doesn’t include money for the feckless Department of Homeland Security.

  • How to lock up fewer people

    Opinions May 23, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The New York Times. Ending mass incarceration will not be easy. Opposition will come from rural community leaders who see prisons as economic development, legislators who still respond emotionally to the “crime of the week” and prosecutors who measure success by convictions and incarcerations, rather than by resolving conflict. But the recent tragic police shootings of young black men have, for the moment, focused our attention on the imperative for reform. Today, at long last, a consensus for reform is emerging. The facts that no other Western European nation even comes close to our incarceration rates, and that all have lower homicide rates, show that there are better ways to address crime. The marked disparities in whom we choose to lock up pose one of the nation’s most urgent civil rights challenges. But we will not begin to make real progress until we face up to the full dimensions of the task.

  • The dangerous militarization of our police

    Opinions May 14, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: CNN. Yet the militarization of the police should concern everyone. Resisting the abuses of an oppressive government is an issue that should resonate with opposite ends of the political spectrum. Dismissing the victims of police brutality as violent black thugs who deserved their fate is delusional.Ultimately, no one is safe if any one of us is not safe. As in any police state, when the police become the army, they need an enemy, and the enemy ends up being us. “To serve and protect” is becoming “to suppress and control.” And with billions of dollars in military surplus, the police will find a way to use it.

  • CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling sentenced to prison: The latest blow in the government’s war on journalism

    Opinions May 12, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Nation. The successful prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling has given more leverage to the information clampdown that the Obama administration continues to implement. With a multi-count Espionage Act conviction, it serves as yet another warning shot—not only against whistleblowing and disclosure of classified information, but also against basic communication with journalists by government employees and contractors. For prospective whistleblowers, the Sterling case is yet more proof that they can “go through channels” to express concerns only at their peril. Particularly in security-state realms—as the experiences of NSA whistleblowers William Binney, Thomas Drake, Edward Loomis and Kirk Wiebe have shown—using the much-ballyhooed official channels to report concerns is a flag that draws official retribution. During Sterling’s trial, the prosecution repeatedly used against him—as supposed indications of hostility toward the agency and motive for wrongdoing—the fact that he had gone through legal channels to file suit alleging racial bias and to report his concerns about Operation Merlin to Senate Intelligence Committee staffers.

  • Why NSA surveillance is worse than you’ve ever imagined

    Opinions May 11, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Reuters. In a long-awaited opinion, the three-judge panel ruled that the NSA program that secretly intercepts the telephone metadata of every American — who calls whom and when — was illegal. It’s now up to Congress to vote on whether or not to modify the law and continue the program, or let it die once and for all. Lawmakers must vote on this matter by June 1, when they need to reauthorize the Patriot Act. With NSA fatigue setting in, and the American public unaware of many of the agency’s long list of abuses, it is little wonder that only slightly more than half the public is concerned about losing their privacy. For that reason, I agree with Frederick A. O. Schwartz Jr., the former chief counsel of the Church Committee, which conducted a yearlong probe into intelligence abuses in the mid-1970s, that we need a similarly thorough, hard-hitting investigation today. Until the public fully grasps and understands how far over the line the NSA has gone in the past — legally, morally and ethically — there should be no renewal or continuation of NSA’s telephone metadata program in the future.

  • Pamela Geller and the professional Islamophobia business

    Source: Huffington Post. But the real story isn’t about freedom of expression. It’s about the hatred of Islam for personal and professional gain. That’s the business that Geller and Spencer are in. That’s the business that propelled Wilders from an obscure Dutch politician into an Islamophobic rock star on both sides of the Atlantic. And it’s the reason that journalists are talking about all three of them this week. We wouldn’t know who Pamela Geller is if it weren’t for her hatred of Muslims and her ability to channel this hatred for financial profit and the media spotlight. The same holds true for Spencer and Wilders. We only know who they are because they have devoted their lives and their careers to bigotry. Their hatred for Muslims led the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League to condemn the American Freedom Defense Initiative as a hate organization. It also led the British government to prevent Geller and Spencer from entering the country back in 2013. If we are at war, it’s not a war against Islam. It’s a war against hatred in all its forms, including anti-Muslim hatred.