• 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.”

  • 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.

  • Mouth wide shut

    Opinions October 8, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Huffington Post. Barack Obama was, in 2008, the anti-torture candidate. It’s a sad comment on the state of U.S. democracy that such a thing ever existed. After all, it would be startling to hear appeals from a pro-oxygen or an anti-apocalypse candidate (though, of course, if the Republicans field a climate-change denier who uses the Book of Revelations as a policy guide, such a future scenario is not entirely beyond the realm of possibility). As Barack Obama tries to nail down his legacy in the next year, he’ll make many references to foreign policy victories like the deal with Iran and the opening with Cuba. He’ll hold up domestic successes like the Affordable Care Act. But in basement offices in Washington, DC, secure locations in northern Virginia, and listening posts in suburban Maryland, the high priests and priestesses of a secretive cult are quietly toasting the president for a very different legacy: his fierce defense of a lawless and destructive fraternity that has only grown more powerful on his watch.

  • The selectivity of American “Countering Violent Extremism” policies

    Opinions September 30, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Cato Institute. The White House press release on the “Leader’s Summit to Counter ISIL and Violent Extremism” lauded the administration’s efforts to prevent the radicalization of Muslim-American youth at the hands of ISIS. An unpleasant truth avoided by the Obama administration is that CVE is not an “equal opportunity” program aimed at all kinds of violent extremists. The federal CVE focus is squarely on Arab- and Muslim-Americans, even though right-wing American political extremists have killed almost twice as many U.S. persons in the post-9/11 era as have American Salafist-oriented terrorists. The taxpayer-funded CVE program is little more than a rhetorically dressed up race-and-religion-profiling counterterrorism campaign. That it is failing should surprise none of us.