Category Archives: Islam

Monday Morning and The Press

There are several things of note this morning, probably the least important of which is the Blunder at the Oscars, although that’s one of the more entertaining.  Added to this is the current administration’s rather bombastic squabble with the press, however, this too is of more interest to the media itself than an actual matter of national interest.  In fact, some of the best political reporting is that which is done outside the confines of news conference spin sessions.   For example, in 1902-03 Ida Tarbell didn’t need to attend press conferences to expose the machinations of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. Nor did Upton Sinclair need a gaggle to write about the meatpacking industry in 1906.  In 1953 reporter Murrey Marder followed the serpentine trail of Senator Joe McCarthy and helped expose the duplicity of the Senator’s charges against the Army. Surely, the administration wasn’t applauding David Halberstam’s coverage of the war in Vietnam. Woodward and Bernstein weren’t following White House press gaggle threads to uncover the Watergate story, nor was Dana Priest relying on press releases about black sites in eastern European countries, or when she revealed conditions at Walter Reed Hospital.

In short, some of the very best reporting has resulted from investigations outside the walls of various and sundry executive offices.  There are stories still unfolding which may have an extraordinary effect on American politics and governance, and the information essential to their explication won’t come from anyone’s gaggle, no matter who is invited.

Suggestions?

#1. The Trump Russian connections.  As the Boston Globe opined:

“The issues raised by Trump’s Russia connection are some of the most serious that this country has ever confronted. We could have a president who is vulnerable to blackmail from Moscow and even worse, one who has committed treasonous offenses. As long as these questions go unanswered there will be a permanent black cloud over the White House — and the country.”

We could have a president subject to blackmail? We could have a president whose financial ties to Russian interests impact his decision making? We could have an administration so entangled with Russian financial and political entities that we have allowed an infringement on our own sovereignty?  Investigative journalism is necessary if we are to avoid that “permanent black cloud.”

#2. The rise of white nationalism/supremacism and the nature of Antisemitic acts and the assaults on Muslims and their mosques. If anything tears at the fabric of American civic life it’s the demonization of ethnic and religious minorities, and the tacit support for the demeaning and desecration of religious institutions.  No, the conservative white Christian establishment is not under “attack.” However, synagogues, mosques, and cemeteries  definitely and physically are.  Does the current administration bear some responsibility for emboldening the hateful people who commit these acts?  What steps must the federal government take to discredit and diminish the organizations which seek to perpetrate them?  We know a great deal about the membership, publications, and activities of these organizations, however we’re missing more essential writing on the impact these groups have in terms of radicalizing white nationalists. What motivated the current administration to shift law enforcement focus away from domestic terrorists and pay almost exclusive attention to foreign sources?  We may think we know the answers, but more reporting would be extremely useful.

#3. The impact of anti-immigrant fervor on American economic growth.  As noted in a previous post, the anti-immigrant plus anti-Muslim posture of the current administration could have significant effects on the tourism, agriculture, housing, and food service sectors. It’s going to take some research and analysis from business reporters to fully understand the impact of this posture on our economy.

#4. The assault on the institutions of democracy by those who promote vote suppression and gerrymandering.  Again, we have had more than enough examples of the blatant attempts to restrict the Right To Vote. The story is NOT about vote fraud, it’s about the fraudulent attempts to prevent people from voting.  The story is about a nationwide attempt, to deliberately freeze out qualified voters, eliminate them from the rolls, and prevent them from voting in convenient polling places, by a national political party and its myrmidons.

I need to immediately acknowledge that my list may not be everyone else’s list, and that I’ve left out topics like women’s reproductive health issues, health care access. and climate change, but there’s always room for MORE investigative journalism and more topics of national and international interest. Indeed, investigative journalists could turn the “tennis ball machine” back on the White House, and give the Oval Office a daily dose of its own distraction.  After all, a good offense is often a good defense.  Every session in which the administration has to justify its ties to Putin, has to explain the rise of white supremacists, has to speak to the economic impact of anti-immigrant policies, has to find ways to excuse vote suppression, is a session in which it has less opportunity to promote the Trickle Down Hoax and its embrace of Wall Street.  For that matter, why not add in more reporting about the administration’s efforts to promote Wall Street interests at the expense of Main Street?

Politics is, indeed, a contact sport and the sooner this administration finds out the truth of that old saw the better.

1 Comment

Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Immigration, Islam, Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans, Vote Suppression

Our Own Reality Show: Late Night Version

Nightmare Trees Dems

We have a presidential candidate who gets up at odd hours of the night to tweet insults to former beauty pageant winners, and who expended a great deal of time and energy bemoaning the categorization of his White Supremacist followers as “deplorable.”  If these are one’s priorities so be it, but there’s a difference between nightmares and issues – a differentiation not tackled all that efficiently by his supporters and surrogates. 

Republicans appear to be beset with nightmares, not the least of which is we, as a nation, might seem weak in the eyes of others.  Strength is Action. Action is Strength. We must, like a Hollywood B-Movie production complete with car chases and explosions, appear strong.  As we do when bombing some location into gravel and small piles of rubble. This is the nightmare of the small man in the bar just before closing time, well liquored up, who decides to demonstrate his masculinity by punching some fellow who has offer some vague (and probably misinterpreted) insult.   Should these people wake up and read the information available they’d find that the United States spent some 54% of its discretionary spending on the military.

Military Spending Discretionary And, how does this compare to military spending by other nations?  The U.S. spends approximately $2.77 for every dollar spent by the Chinese.

Military Spending Comparisons So, this ought to give some comfort to those whose sleep is disturbed by dreams of military annihilation at the hands of the nefarious.  We have the best equipped, best lead, most professional military in the world.  There are issues here – not nightmares.

One issue is the tendency toward militarism, the notion that all problems have a military solution and thus the military must be accorded a prime place in national planning and policy.  This topic was explored here about eight years ago:

“Evidently lost on the militarists is the notion that one can be supportive of the military without adopting militarism. In fact, a “muscular” militarism that posits the application of military force to each and every conflict is counter-productive to long term military interests. The ‘whack-a-mole’ Bush Administration/McCain policies have the U.S. Armed Forces stretched to the limit, with used and abused equipment, and over-deployed troops, who are facing serious obstacles to receiving comprehensive care and benefits after their service. A cogent, less militaristic, policy would recommend the continual evaluation of our deployment ramifications, sentient assessments of our capacities, and a rational review of our own recruiting and remuneration standards. A less militaristic policy would allow us to employ the diplomatic tools in our arsenal to spare the unnecessary exploitation of our military. When we ‘wise up’ we’ll realize which Party’s candidates can deliver these policies.”  [DB]

In short, if we’ll stop all the posturing and flag waving pseudo-patriotism and start thinking about how and when the use of military force is applicable without draining our resources and putting our diplomatic efforts in jeopardy, then we can all sleep a bit better.

The second nightmare which seems to be grabbing hold of the sweat soaked sheets of our Republican friends is that someone, somewhere, is cheating us out of what is rightfully ours.  Taxation! Tax money being spent on Welfare Queens and Food Stamp cheats!  Oh, the misery.   Waking up and using The Google will solve one part of the nightmare – we really aren’t “taxed to death.”

“The tax burden is lower in the U.S. than in many other developed nations. Of 34 OECD countries, the U.S. tax rate for the average single American with no children ranks No. 17. The tax burden on a single person with two kids ranks 27th. Comparing tax rates across countries is difficult, however, without taking into account how much people benefit from their tax payments in college tuition, retirement income, or more intangible rewards, such as security and the social safety net.” [BlmbNews]

The reality is that there is no monster under the bed.  We aren’t even in the top ten OECD countries in terms of taxation.  But, but, but, how about welfare cheats?   If we look at the SNAP program from the USDA we find that: “The SNAP national payment error rate for fiscal year 2014 is 3.66 percent.  This indicates a 96.34 percent accuracy rate of providing benefits to low income people.  In fiscal year 2014, over 99 percent of participating households  were eligible for SNAP as determined by income and other program criteria.” [USDA]  I can’t speak for anyone else, but if I could get my total financial records into the 96.34% accuracy category I’d be one happy camper in sweet dream land. 

However, nightmares aren’t made of rational ruminations about fiscal accuracy and accounting practices.  They come from anecdotal renditions and repetitions of ‘stories’ about seeing some guy drive up in a new pickup and toting out a case of Budweiser.

“The Act precludes the following items from being purchased with SNAP benefits:  alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot food and any food sold for on-premises consumption. Nonfood items such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, medicines and vitamins, household supplies, grooming items, and cosmetics, also are ineligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.” [USDA

Under the terms of the 2002 legislation, no “illegal immigrants” are eligible for SNAP assistance. [USDA]  Further, ‘non-qualified aliens’ are not eligible for a host of other benefit programs, as specified in bureau or agency rules:

“Federal public benefits include a variety of safety-net services paid for by federal funds. But the welfare law’s definition does not specify which particular programs are covered by the term, leaving that clarification to each federal benefit–granting agency. In 1998, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a notice clarifying which of its programs fall under the definition. The list of 31 HHS programs includes Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare, TANF, Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, the Child Care and Development Fund, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.” [NILC]

Sleep well Republican friends, the undocumented are not eligible for support,  and we are being most parsimonious in regard to our bestowal of benefits. 

Democrats might sleep more comfortably if the following situation were improved:

“Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the onset of the Great Recession, about 17 percent of those eligible go unserved and SNAP is missing nearly six in ten eligible elderly persons. SNAP policies that improve program access and increase staff capacity to process applications as well as SNAP outreach can help communities, families and businesses maximize federal dollars.” [FRAC]

We should not forget the other monster in the closet. Others.  If slavery was America’s Original Sin, and segregation its phalanx of myrmidons, then racism is the residual.  However, demonization is not necessarily the exclusive domain of people of color – we’ve demonized Irish and Eastern European immigrants, Asian and Chinese immigrants, Jews, Catholics; and lest we forget “commies” during the McCarthy Era. 

Perhaps some right wing individual tosses and turns on the mattress because the phone answering service wants to know if he’d like the message options in Spanish?  This is America, Speak English!  The immigrants will, like most others before them, and the native language will be lost in three generations:

“The authors found that although the generational life expectancy of Spanish is greater among Mexicans in Southern California than other groups, its demise is all but assured by the third generation. Third-generation immigrants are American-born with American-born parents but with three or four foreign-born grandparents.
In the second generation, fluency in Spanish was greater for Mexican immigrants than for other Latin American groups, and substantially greater than the proportions of Asian immigrants who could speak their mother tongue very well. In the third generation, only 17 percent of Mexican immigrants still speak fluent Spanish, and in the fourth generation, just 5 percent. The corresponding fourth-generation figure for white European immigrants is 1 percent.
What is endangered, said the authors, is not the dominance of English but the survival of the non-English languages immigrants bring with them to the United States.” [Princeton Edu/Massey 2006]

If we’re looking for some reason to lose sleep it might be because by the 4th generation we’ve lost 95% to 99% of the language facility we might have had in this increasingly shrinking world.

But, wouldn’t we all sleep more peacefully if we’d just SAY we need to fight “radical Islam?”

First, there’s a little problem defining “radical.”  Do we mean what might be considered conservative Islam, men with beards, women in burkas?  This leaves us with a problem – what to do with the Muslim family who wants the daughter to go to medical school because there’s a need for women doctors to treat women patients?  What to do with the millions of practitioners  of Islam who are not conservative? And the millions more who have a special word for the ISIS thugs who flout their disregard for the basic tenets of Islam – daesh. (That stuff you scrape off the bottom of your shoes.)

Sleep well, the odds against an American being killed in a terrorist attack are 1: 25,000,000. [TechJuc] Another comforting (?) thought is that an American is far more likely to be shot by a toddler than a terrorist. [Snopes]

But that is another nightmare we don’t like to talk about.  I’d sleep better if we could do something about keeping firearms out of the hands of toddlers…

Comments Off on Our Own Reality Show: Late Night Version

Filed under anti-immigration, anti-terrorism, conservatism, Federal budget, Gun Issues, Immigration, Islam, Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans, Taxation, terrorism, White Supremacists

GOP’s State of Confusion: Anti-LBGT or Anti-Muslim or Both

Confused

OK, I am officially confused. Which is it, does the GOP want to be seen as the champion of conservative religious tenets which hold homosexuality as sin and corruption; or, does the GOP want to be thanked as the protector of homosexuals from the evil-doing nasty folks of IS/Daesh?

Invisible Victims

No matter how hard some conservatives may try to avoid saying LGBT, the attack in Orlando, Florida was made on a GAY nightclub.  As noted previously Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1) was capable of observing this fact; while, on the GOP side of the aisle Representative Cresent Hardy (R-NV4) just couldn’t quite resist the temptation to generalize the victims.  Somehow, Representative Hardy’s lights couldn’t illuminated the fact that the victims were in a GAY nightclub.  He’s not alone.

The Republican National Committee’s first response mentioned “lifestyles,” but even that was edited out of their second edition – now the terror attack was made on “any American.”  Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX)  publically denied Pulse was a GAY nightclub immediately before blocking attempts to provide LGBT protections in a bill before his committee. [TP]

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was blunt: “This body should not be engaged in political games,” Cruz said. “We should be focused on the threat and keeping America safe and defeating radical Islamic terrorism.” [BusIns] Against whom?  Once again, the victims of the horrendous attack were invisible.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was just as vague in remarks made on the Senate floor yesterday — “This week in Orlando, Americans were targeted deliberately and taken  forever from their families by a terrorist ISIL has claimed is “one of  the soldiers of the caliphate.” It is clear from his behavior that this was not a random act of  violence. This was a calculated act of terror.” [LoC pdf]  Scrolling down the entirety of the  Majority Leader’s comments yields exactly Zero references to the victims of the Orlando attacks – patrons of a GAY nightclub.

Yes, it was obviously calculated, and yes, it was an act of terrorism – against the patrons of a GAY nightclub.

Squirrel Logic

But wait, after making the victims of the assault on the Pulse nightclub almost perfectly invisible in their comments about the attack, the GOP would now have us believe they champion GAY rights? Excuse my confusion – I would have thought these people were invisible to you but…

Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) appears on the scene with this bit of baffling political analysis:  “Democrats are in a perplexing position. On the one hand, they’re trying to appeal to the gay community, but, on the other hand, they’re trying to also appeal to the Muslim community, which, if it had its way, would kill every homosexual in the United States of America,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)” [TPM]

And, far be it from Mr. Trump to pass up an opportunity to stick his oar in the muddied waters:

Donald Trump, in his first major speech after the weekend’s tragedy suggested that Hillary Clinton “can never claim to be a friend of the gay community.”  “She can’t have it both ways,” Trump said. “She can’t claim to be supportive of these communities while trying to increase the number of people coming in who want to oppress them.” Ask yourself, who really is the friend of women and the LBGT community: Donald Trump with his actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?” [TPM]

There seems to be more than a little political semantic gamesmanship here.  The message to the heretofore invisible LGBT community seems to be either you are anti-Islam or you have to be anti-LGBT, there is no middle ground.  This conflation of all practitioners of Islam as anti-gay is as inaccurate as it is distasteful divisive rhetoric.   Those unsure of this might want to consider the following comments by an Islamic scholar in the Dallas Morning News:

“As Muslims we believe there’s no compulsion in religion. That’s actually a Quranic verse. Everyone adheres to their own set of values, their own set of morals. But that should not lead to the oppression of another person or to harming another individual. The way that we talk about that is the way that we talk about anything in the Quran or in the prophetic tradition.

Yes, you’re going to find Muslims that would offer revised interpretations of the Quran. But I think one thing that’s important to stress is that conservative is not the same thing as radical. If a person has conservative views that they uphold within their own family life, so long as that does not lead to denying, belittling, or dehumanizing someone else, then I don’t think that’s particularly problematic.”

Thus much for the lack of middle ground.  Doing a quick inventory – Islam is not a compulsive religion (check), Islam has conservative followers (check), Islam teaches that one’s beliefs may not “deny, belittle, or dehumanize” someone else. (check) Conservatives are not necessarily radicals. (check) Only in the most bigoted way imaginable could a person decide that all members of the Islamic faith are radicals. Only in the most prejudicial manner could a person proclaim that all followers of Islam are necessarily so anti-gay that they could excuse or rejoice in the killing of their fellow citizens.

There may be a second message in the dog whistling coming from these Republican remarks.  It’s  message to their own base.  If the actual victims of the massacre are invisible, and if they can be generalized out of the picture, then it’s possible to believe that all Muslims are radical, and it’s acceptable to “monitor, screen, place them under surveillance, and restrict their freedom and liberty” in the name of public safety for “all Americans” (except the ones we won’t name.)

A third screech from the dog whistle may be aimed at a more general audience.  By creating an artificial “either/or” proposition the GOP can seek to associate Democrats with Muslims.  The inference is that Muslims are dangerous, Democrats support Muslims, ergo Democrats are dangerous.  Their’s is a simple but demonstrably false syllogism which depends on the acceptance of the initial false proposition that ALL Muslims are dangerous. I’m fond of calling this Squirrel Logic: Squirrels have hair on their heads. That man has hair on his head. Therefore, that man is a squirrel.

A Broader Perspective

While the GOP may wish to fixate on the terrorism facet of the attack on the GAY nightclub, what happened seems far more complex.  The horrific massacre had more than one element – it had a very disturbed radicalized young American man wielding military weaponry with a high lethality rate, in a GAY nightclub, who intended to kill GAY people.  It really isn’t hard to unpack the elements.  A marginalized person (self or otherwise?) who attached himself to a radicalized version of a religion, and who had easy access to a military weapon and enough ammunition to launch a killing spree in a GAY nightclub, the victims in which have themselves been marginalized in anti-LGBT rhetoric. 

Taking any one of the elements out of the toxic equation shouldn’t lead us to conclude that there is any single policy change that would have prevented the tragedy.  However, removing at least one certainly wouldn’t hurt and might help avoid subsequent attacks.

It would help if we could tone down the anti-LGBT rhetoric. Just as it is no longer socially acceptable to make a joke of someone’s ethnicity, wouldn’t it be nice if the mocking, demeaning, and dismissal of a person’s sexual orientation were no longer acceptable in polite society.  This isn’t “political correctness,” it’s merely fine old fashioned good manners.  It would be even more helpful if we could enact statutes protecting the rights of members of the LGBT community and being as concerned about their rights as we are our own.

It would help if we toned down the anti-Islam barrage.  Those whose image of Muslims, and especially of Muslim Americans, is composed of TV footage of Daesh outrages, or foreign cultural practices commonly abhorred, should take note of the many resources available for better understanding their Muslim neighbors.  They should consider the following statements from Muslim community leaders:

Dawud Walid the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan says Mateen doesn’t represent Muslims in the U.S. His message to the public; Muslims are American and as all other Americans, they are loyal to their country even if they disagree with certain issues.The rule of American Muslims is to abide by the laws of the land and to be peaceful and this recent extremist act that took place this morning, is the rare exception and in no way embodies our morals or our values as Americans citizens who just happen to be Muslims,” said Walid. [CBS Detroit]

Or, this:

“We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” [CAIR]

A little more mutual understanding should certainly help more than vilifying the American Muslim community.

It would help if we made it less likely that a disturbed or deranged individual could  get access to a military style weapon of war, which were never designed for civilian use.   There are listings of weapons by lethality. The AK-47 style; the M-16 (AR-15) “family”; the M240 machine gun; the PK machine gun; the QBZ 95 assault rifle.  It would seem reasonable that if a gun is listed as one of the five most lethal weapons in the world that common sense implies its ownership should be restricted.  Perhaps restricting the magazine capacity would assist in diminishing the lethality of these weapons when they are misused by civilians? That, too, sounds like common sense.

It would help if we de-stigmatized those who are harboring feelings which are anti-social and the antithesis of stability.  Who missed the signals that the Orlando shooter was demonstrating troubling personal behavior? Were the signals and warnings acted upon appropriately? Who could have warned authorities that the Aurora, Colorado theater shooter was exhibiting disturbing behavior – do we need to emphasize the necessity of giving local authorities a warning about those who combine disturbed thinking with fixations on violence?  Who might have warned authorities about the intentions of the Colorado Springs PPA facility shooter?  We are fond of saying “If you see something, say something,” why not practice what we’re preaching? And, why not support the funding and increased resources of our mental health services?

If we persist in seeing only those elements of mass shootings which conform to our pre-existing ideologies then we’ll miss the opportunities available to diminish the likelihood of further mass tragedies. A broader perspective is required to reach better horizons.

Comments Off on GOP’s State of Confusion: Anti-LBGT or Anti-Muslim or Both

Filed under anti-terrorism, gay issues, Gun Issues, Islam, Mental Health, Nevada politics, public safety, terrorism

Monday Morning Roundup

The DesertXpress high speed rail now has more problems.  Problems exacerbated by the recent Congressional budget cutting spree.  [LVSun] More at Vegas Inc.  The Baltimore Sun questions why conservatives think government has no role in HSR infrastructure development.  If memory serves, governments were heavily involved in the financing and functioning of America’s rail system when the GOP was the Party of Lincoln.

There’s a good “one stop shopping place” for news from Carson City, Nevada and surrounds.  If you haven’t clicked on Carson Now, you may want to, and might even want to add it to your bookmarks.  There’s still time to catch this OpEd on the Legislature: “Sorry, but that isn’t working. All that keeping the sessions shorter does is to create the environment where lobbyists push half-baked bills through the sausage machine of government at the last minute, and you don’t want to eat most of what comes out the other end.”

Everything you’d want to know about Nevada’s Redistricting — except of course what the courts are going to do — at Nevada Progressive.   Ray Hagar (RGJ) explains more about the role of the judicial branch in recent months. More on the redistricting issue from Steve Sebelius.

Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) is having a tough time climbing down from his Pyramid (Scheme) and related comments, the Nevada Spectator takes a closer look at one of Heck’s recent efforts at public communication.   The Gleaner weighs in on Congressman Heck’s triple face maneuvering on the subject of Social Security…the comments are worth reading too.

Someone isn’t on the same page as the American public.  Pew Research reports 62% of us want to limit tax deductions for large corporations, 66% of us agree with idea of increasing taxation on those earning over $250,000 annually, and 73% disagree with the idea of reducing funding to states for roads and schools.  [The Gavel]  The Atlantic explains why giving more tax breaks to employers won’t necessarily create more jobs.

Current Republican presidential contenders are having some trouble  explaining themselves on economic issues.  There’s Romney, who would like to tout his business acumen, but whose record on job creation is dismal.  There’s Pawlenty whose economic plan was launched, only to draw significant fire, and now he’s trying to back-pedal into “it’s aspirational.”  Aspirational in this instance appears to be synonymous with completely and utterly unrealistic.  [Think Progress]  Michelle Bachmann has a lovely idea (recall poll numbers above) we should tax millionaires and billionaires less and the middle class and working poor more.  [Think ProgressTalking Points Memo provides a guide to the New Hampshire debate among the GOP class of ’12.   Make popcorn?

Islamaphobia may not be on the NH debate schedule, but it’s still on the minds of Congressional Republican leadership.  Representative Peter (the IRA isn’t a terrorist organization)  King (R-NY) scheduled another hearing on radicalized Muslims.  [The Hill] Islamophobia does have practical consequences for U.S. relations with the rest of the world, as pointed out by this article in the  Huffington Post.

We are what we eat?  Then what of the arsenic laced poultry feed additive Pfizer just announced it was taking off the market? No sooner does the FDA run some tests than Pfizer voluntarily removes the product.   More at Mother Jones.

Comments Off on Monday Morning Roundup

Filed under 2012 election, Food Safety, Heck, Infrastructure, Islam

>The King’s Hearing: Have We A Sense of Decency?

>

And so this morning “the hearings” from Rep. Peter King’s committee begin their genuflection to the radical right and T’puppet elements with the Other Du Jour as the target. Back in the ’50s and ’60s we slogged through the Red Menace, although Senator Joe McCarthy could never seem to find any major infiltration of American institutions by members of the Communist Party, and he definitely over-reached in his attacks on the U.S. Army.  Now, we revert to the religious conflicts that periodically rend our social fabric. We’ve been here before, and this is not territory appropriate for a 21st century democracy.

However, in order to turn the latest “menace” into a cottage industry feeding political purposes [RD] The radical right has to perform some very careful maneuvers.  (1) The perceived threat must be carefully defined to exclude other threats from other sources, making the Islamphobics comfortable with their religious bigotry. (2) The perceived threats must be characterized as systemic, and therefore worthy of national attention.

There’s nothing new about the first process, and we can find precedent for it in the persecutions of a variety of religious organizations.  Western Europeans periodically found reasons to burn one another at stakes when a particular religious subset threatened to create instability in governance — even somewhat tolerant regimes like that of Elizabeth I in England resorted to persecution of the Anabaptists as being too radical and therefore too likely to cause problems for the monarchy. [link] Elizabeth’s monarchy was definitely the object of very real  threats from Catholic Spain, but even with those over-arching and realistic fears at their doorsteps, her ministers still found the time to take on those who believed in re-baptism.  Thus, in order to be socially acceptable (at least in some quarters) the “heretics” must be declared a menace to society. However, menaces come in a variety of forms, and Islamophobes find it necessary to carefully exclude any violence associated with other forms of menace. 

Carefully crafted messages are necessary in order for monarchs like Elizabeth I, or modern day radicals like Rep. Peter King, to narrow the definition of the perceived threat such that the social unacceptability of the target group is emphasized. “Their” radicals, say the Islamophobes, are “organized, false followers, capable of infiltrating and destabilizing” our institutions and bringing violence to our citizenry. “Our” radicals, say the right wingers, are “lone wolves, the disturbed and the deluded,” and are therefore outside the pale of comparison.

That this definitional process is illogical and a priori emotional isn’t a consideration for Islamophobes. At a metaphysical level, the followers of Representative King’s parade appear to define themselves oppositionally. They only know who they are by what they are not. Their epistemology is equally subjective. Since they know who they are by what they are not, then Truth must be attached to what they are and cannot be asserted by those unlike themselves. Adopting this world-view obviates the need for any reflection on the doctrines, social utility, or indeed, even the humanity, of those who hold disparate views. 

Sarah Posner summarizes the current Islamophobes myopic focus on Shar’ia Law: “If one untangles what that cottage industry is saying, one can detect five claims of the shari’ah conspiracy theory: that the goal of Islam is totalitarianism; that the mastermind of bringing this totalitarianism to the world is the Muslim Brotherhood, the grandfather of all Islamic groups from Hamas to the Islamic Society of North America; that these organizations within the United States are traitors in league with the American left and are bent on acts of sedition against America; that the majority of mosques in the United States are run by imams who promote such sedition; and that through this fifth column shari‘ah law has already infiltrated the United States and could result in a complete takeover if not stopped.”   This summation fills the subjectivist bill: The Other Is A Systemic Risk.  Catholics will find this reminiscent of the anti-Catholic components of the NINA Signs, the New York Riots, and the 1844 Nativist riots in Philadelphia. [source] As late as 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy was required to address the “religious” issue in a speech to Houston ministers. [video]

What could separate Representative King’s hearings from their McCarthyite predecessors would be the extension of attention to other threats to American institutions and liberties, roughly analogous to Elizabeth I paying attention to the designs of Essex and his allies and well as the Anabaptists.   If this hearing is to be more than mere grandstanding for the sake of slating the Islamophobic thirst for self-affirming political theater, then the sessions should be more inclusive.

For example, would Representative King’s committee address the findings of the Department of Homeland Security – Intelligence and Analysis Unit’s April 2009 report? “DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Information from law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terrorist cells have shown intent—and, in some cases, the capability—to commit violent acts.  — (U//LES) DHS/I&A has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate from any formalized group—which hampers warning efforts.  — (U//FOUO) Similarly, recent state and municipal law enforcement reporting has warned of the dangers of rightwing extremists embracing the tactics of “leaderless resistance” and of lone wolves carrying out acts of violence.  — (U//FOUO) Arrests in the past several years of radical militia members in Alabama, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania on firearms, explosives, and other related violations indicates the emergence of small, well-armed extremist groups in some rural areas.” (emphasis added)

The alarm with which this report was treated in conservative quarters illustrates the extent to which right wing radicals have internalized their self definitions as oppositional to The Others. No, cried the conservative press, this report must be dismissed because it came from a Democratic Administration (a variation on ad hominem arguments) and it unduly vilified “patriots” and “veterans.”  This is almost tantamount to arguing that Elizabeth I should have ignored the threats from Spanish agents and later from the adherents of Essex to focus on the Anabaptist threat. However, arguments by analogy aren’t the crux of this message. If we are to address, in Congressional committee hearings or otherwise, the “most dangerous domestic terrorism threat,” then someone — perhaps Representative King? — may wish to hear from local and state law enforcement officials concerning how the federal government can best assist their efforts to spot and prevent Lone Wolf attacks on police officers, Martin Luther King Day parades, women’s clinics that provide abortion procedures, night clubs that cater to gay and lesbian citizens, shootings at the Holocaust Museum, a bombing in an Olympic Park, and a church which supports progressive or liberal social policies.

It really doesn’t do to assert that the destruction caused by the hijackers on September 11, 2001, the attempts by the Shoe and Underwear Bombers, the shootings at Fort Hood, a failed plot in NYC, and the rather pathetic Times Square bombing effort are the only terrorist actions worthy of national attention, while omitting discussion of what led to the death of the 3 police officers in Pittsburgh, the death of the security guard at the Holocaust Museum, the deaths in the Tennessee Unitarian Church, the bombings in Alabama and Atlanta, and the recently solved  bombing attempt at the Spokane Martin Luther King Day  parade [TPM].  Radicalism is radicalism.  Representative King’s hearing should be judged not only on its context in terms of Islamic radicals, but on whether he and his committee members have the political courage to investigate all forms of domestic terrorism — or if he and his followers will conveniently omit right wing radicals from their subjective definition of the term terrorism itself.

If nothing follows King’s hearings then it wouldn’t be hard to conclude that they are simply fodder for the Islamophobes and radical elements of nativist groups, and equally easy to conclude that the hearing is little more than a distraction from a Congressional agenda that has been about everything except job creation and economic issues since the gavel lifted on the 112th Congress.  If nothing else follows the King hearing, then we may well ask, “Representative…have you no sense of decency?….”

1 Comment

Filed under Islam, terrorism

>The Good Old Days In The Land That Never Was: Angle, Heck, and the dangers of ungrounded sloganeering

>Nevada voters are being asked this November to support a slate of candidates who offer a vision, not of the future of this state or any other, but of an idyllic “state,” an artificial concoction of mythology, misogyny, and “rugged individualism” that forms a pure fantasy. Given these parameters (and perimeters) it isn’t at all surprising voters are being offered slogans instead of solutions.

Give Me That Old Time Religion

Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle spoke to the role of government in terms of “individualism,” saying, “… all entitlement programs built to make government our God. And that’s really what’s happening in this country is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government.” [LVSun] [DB 8/06/10]

Lest we forget, even Bronze Age residents of the Middle East were advised to worship the Supreme Deity and to keep the contract with him by abiding by community rules. Even before Moses presented the Most Important Ten Rules For Getting Along In Your Community, the rules for celebrating the Passover were established, just as soon as the Israelites got Egypt in the rear view mirror. (Exodus 12:43) Establishing rituals, and intoning commandments, aren’t indicative of a “go it alone” philosophy — they imply the need to create a sense of community and to have the members of that community obey fundamental precepts designed to encourage the sustenance of that community. Nothing will destroy a sense of community faster than wholesale killing, adultery, stealing, lying, wife stealing, and unalloyed envy.  Just as certainly, nothing will sustain a community longer than following the proverb, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the poor honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31). Following such precepts gets one good ratings from the Almighty; leaders who are respectful, resourceful, protective, wise and just get high marks in the Biblical record. Others…not so much.

At this juncture, candidate Angle sounds more like a devotee of Ayn Rand than of Moses et. alia. Rand’s version of Capitalism requires “free and sovereign individuals,” with all trade being an entirely free and self-interested endeavor, because if we allow for such components as “self sacrifice” and “charitable acts” we encourage what are, essentially, losing propositions. In an ideal capitalist state, there are no losing propositions — everyone works toward his own, individual, self interest. In the idealized version of free market capitalism there is no community, not even the one Moses cobbled together to get the Israelites out of Egypt, nor the one advised by the author of the Proverb, nor the one advised in Mark 12:17 to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…”  The perspective provided by candidate Angle presumes a religion supporting a specific economic theory, rather than a set of religious precepts informing economic practices. Frankly, it’s easier to believe that a man got instructions for the betterment of his tribe from a burning bush than to believe that communal improvement will automatically flow from the abandonment of any sense of community.

Finding Succor In Slogans

If the generalized vision of what is beneficial to the public in Nevada, or what might be of benefit to the nation at large, is a bit murky in the Free-Marketeering land of candidates Sharron Angle and Joe Heck, then their issue statements become even more so when placed in a practical context.

Exhibit A: Nevada 3rd Congressional seat candidate Joe Heck can’t seem to remember his initial position concerning the elimination of the Department of Education. [Examiner] The first department to come to mind for him when asked about departments that could be eliminated was the Department of Education: “I believe all agencies should be evaluated. Certainly I have some ideas that come to mind: The Department of Education was created by the Department of Education Organization Act in 1979 under Jimmy Carter and our students were performing better before the Department’s formation than they are today—so what has 30 years of D.C. involvement in local education done for the students of America? Adding thousands of Washington D.C. bureaucrats to help direct the education of Nevada’s children is an ineffective answer – education should be left to the states, to principals, parents and teachers.”  [NNV]  Candidate Heck has all the right buzz words, “Jimmy Carter,” “thousands of bureaucrats,” and “ineffective answer.” However, notice there is no tangible program or proposal endorsed in this statement.

One of the problems with speaking in slogans and buzz words, especially without a sound philosophical foundation, is that fact checking become all too easy for one’s opponents. For example, there’s this classic: “our students were performing better before the Department’s formation than they are today.” First, we’d have to ask what’s the time line involved here? Is Heck generalizing everything from 1789 to 1979? If so, he has opened the door to other questions. Yes, “students” in high schools and colleges might have been doing better at some point in time, especially if we push that time back to The Gilded Age or beyond.

The National Assessment of Adult Literacy tells us, “Progressively fewer adults have limited their education to completion of the 8th grade which was typical in the early part of the century. In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had completed no more than an eighth grade education. Only 6 percent of males and 4 percent of females had completed 4 years of college. The median years of school attained by the adult population, 25 years old and over, had registered only a scant rise from 8.1 to 8.6 years over a 30 year period from 1910 to 1940.” We could easily demonstrate that students in high school and college “did better” in those decades prior to 1940, because only the top continued beyond the 8th grade. Let’s bring the assessment closer to the present.

Most conservatives are inclined to view the 1960s as a period of social unrest, even upheaval, that shook the foundations of our society. Another way to view the era from an educational perspective is that we made significant progress in the numbers of students who continued their schooling. Again, from the NAAL: By 1960, 42 percent of males, 25 years old and over, still had completed no more than the eighth grade, but 40 percent had completed high school and 10 percent had completed 4 years of college. The corresponding proportion for women completing high school was about the same, but the proportion completing college was somewhat lower.  During the 1960s, there was a rise in the educational attainment of young adults, particularly for blacks. Between 1960 and 1970, the median years of school completed by black males, 25- to 29-years-old, rose from 10.5 to 12.2. From the middle 1970s to 1991, the educational attainment for all young adults remained very stable, with virtually no change among whites, blacks, males or females. The educational attainment average for the entire population continued to rise as the more highly educated younger cohorts replaced older Americans who had fewer educational opportunities.”

It might be a bit too uncharitable to infer that candidate Heck is advocating a return to the “good old days” when the number of ethnic minorities and females didn’t “dilute” the academic performances of young, white, males among the 58% of the student population who continued past the 8th grade in 1960.  Even if candidate Heck doesn’t find our educational progress commendable, NAAL did: “In 1991, about 70 percent of black and other races males and 69 percent of black and other races females had completed high school. This is lower than the corresponding figures for white males and females (80 percent). However, the differences in these percentages have narrowed appreciably in recent years. Other data corroborate the rapid increase in the education level of the minority population. The proportion of black and other races males with 4 or more years of college rose from 12 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 1991, with a similar rise for black and other races females.”

If not attendance and graduation rates, then surely we must be seeing a decline in standardized test scores that would substantiate candidate Heck’s generalization? No, there’s not much joy there either. In 2000, some 29 years after the establishment of the Department of Education, there was more reason for hope than fear from the College Board’s SAT trends.

Before getting extraordinarily excited about any standardized test results like the SATs, it’s well be remember that there are problems associated with generalizing the results about school “quality.” First, not all students take the tests, which tends to skew the results because the test is taken by those who are looking to be admitted to eastern colleges and universities. Secondly, the “minority factor” is a problematic for school critics  because “In 1976, when scores were first reported by race, the number of black SAT and ACT test-takers combined was equal to 20 percent of all black 18-year-olds. By this year, it nearly doubled, to 38 percent. This big growth in black students aiming for college should result in lower average scores, because test-taking is no longer restricted only to the brightest black students. Yet average black scores have risen while the share of the age group taking tests has also grown.” [EPI] Someone must have been doing something right.

The scores also trended positively for white students: “The picture is also positive for whites. White SAT and ACT test-takers have climbed from 32 percent to 57 percent of all 18-year-olds. So even if schools improved, average score declines should be expected. Yet white scores, math and verbal combined, have gone to 1,058 from 1,043 on the SAT, and to 21.8 from 21.1 on the ACT. (An ACT score of 21.8 is similar to 1,022 on the SAT.) Again, both verbal and math scores have gone up.” [EPI]

So, it would perfectly silly to argue that all test scores show declines since the founding of the U.S. Department of Education when the trends during the first 29 years of its existence demonstrate gains for both minority and white students who take college admission related standardized tests. In short, there is very likely no causal relationship that can be demonstrated. In fact, perhaps one of the better arguments that can be made is that the facilitation of student loans, via the offices of the Department of Education, might be one of the reasons more youngsters are taking the standardized college admission tests because they perceive the possibility of attending a college or university.

If not college admission testing? What about the NAEP scores? Once more before launching into “causal relationships and standardized test reporting” there ought to be a disclaimer: “The NAEP long-term trend scales make it possible to examine relationships between students’ performance and various background factors measured by NAEP. However, a relationship that exists between achievement and another variable does not reveal its underlying cause, which may be influenced by a number of other variables. Similarly, the assessments do not reflect the influence of unmeasured variables. The results are most useful when they are considered in combination with other knowledge about the student population and the educational system, such as trends in instruction, changes in the school-age population, and societal demands and expectations.”  With this disclaimer tucked under one’s belt it’s time to look at Nevada’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. And, what do we find? Both mathematics and reading lines moving upward. We could be doing better, but — the lines are moving up.

Positive trends in reading and math scores in Nevada schools, not to mention the increases in national scores, don’t offer any support at all for candidate Heck’s generalization that “our kids were performing better” before 1979. In fact, they undermine the “evidence” he cites for his conclusion.  There is no succor in slogans when the slogans don’t fit reality.

Exhibit B: Republican/Tea Party candidate Angle got caught in her own generalization trap during the now infamous “Sharia Law” statement in Mesquite. “My thoughts are these, first of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas, are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don’t know how that happened in the United States,” she said. “It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States.”

This statement has come as something of a shock to Jack O’Reilly, mayor of Dearborn, MI who has volunteered to give candidate Angle a tour of his city.  [NY mag]  Angle’s statement is even more incredible because it appears to be related to the arrest of 4 members of an evangelical group who were attempting to get their message (Islam is a false religion) across to attendees at an Arab International festival on Father’s Day in Dearborn — the four were acquitted of disturbing the peace charges. [M-LiveNews] Mayor O’Reilly had another message: “Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly said Friday he respected the decision, but told the Free Press he believed the evangelists videotaped their interactions at the festival in the hopes of creating a publicity stunt.  “It’s really about a hatred of Muslims,” he said. “That is what the whole heart of this is. … Their idea is that there is no place for Muslims in America. They fail to understand the Constitution.”

Frankford, TX as referenced, is harder to pin down, “The city of Dallas annexed the area in 1975, and in 1990 local children attended the Plano schools. All that remained of the community in 1990 was the Frankford Church and Cemetery, adjoined by residences on three sides and by the Bent Tree Country Club to the south.” [HBTXonline] The residential area is known locally as “Bent Tree,” one of the more affluent neighborhoods in the area. [frB] There is a possibility that candidate Angel has conflated the FBI’s investigation of the Holy Land Foundation in Texas with a Texas neighborhood. Five people associated with the organization were recently convicted for supplying material support to Hamas by a federal District Court in Dallas. [FBI-Dallas]  The Holy Land Foundation was headquartered in Richardson, TX, which is located in Dallas County.

Thus we have the following confusion, Christians in Dearborn were arrested for disrupting an Arab festival in Dearborn, MI but were acquitted of local charges by a local jury, and Muslims in a Dallas suburban area which was probably not Frankford (which doesn’t exist) but might have been from somewhere in the general vicinity of Frankford Road, in Garland, Texas (conveniently close to the George W. Bush Highway)  near Richardson, TX, were convicted in a Federal District Court of supplying aid to Hamas. Nothing in this entire tangle comes anywhere near proving we have places in which any kind of foreign law is “taking hold” on American soil, nor that candidate Angle has much of a clue about the geography of suburban Dallas, TX — much less its form of government.  There is no succor in slogans when the slogans don’t fit reality.

Finis

When the underpinning of a person’s philosophy doesn’t incorporate a sense of community, then it is altogether too easy to find slogans an appropriate substitute for substance. They can be inserted at any point in civic discourse, and if there is no framework for including them in an overall view of how a society is supposed to function, they float freely — to be easily adopted by those who prefer their information in sound bites and their solutions in slogans.

Comments Off on >The Good Old Days In The Land That Never Was: Angle, Heck, and the dangers of ungrounded sloganeering

Filed under Angle, education, Heck, Islam

>Sharron’s Creeping Sharia

>

Nevada senatorial candidate Sharron Angle’s response to a question during her appearance in Mesquite provides a bit of evidence that she’s bought into the Islamophobic rhetoric abounding in the Republican/Tea Party campaign season: “One of the last questioners asked about “Muslims taking over the U.S.,” including a question about Angle’s stance on the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York.  “We’re talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe isn’t a widespread thing, but it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it,” Angle said.  “Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas are on American soil, and under Constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don’t know how that happened in the United States. It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States.” [Mesquite Local News

The argument, such as it is, appears to be that if you have Muslims in your community they will supplant U.S. statutes and ordinances with Sharia. Sadly, Mrs. Angle isn’t alone in this misguided belief. Voters in Oklahoma will decide on State Question 755 this November, a proposition to ban Sharia in the Sooner State. Precisely why this might be necessary is a complete mystery since no one on any side of the issue can point to any instance in which Sharia was ever applied to any case. [TP] [ABC

The controversy surrounding the proposed construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, TN caused Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey to tell an audience: “Now, I’m all about freedom of religion. I obey the first amendment as much as I obey the second amendment, as much as I obey the tenth amendment, and on and on and on. But you crossed a line when they start trying to bring Sharia Law into the state of Tennessee — into the United States. We live under our Constitution. … I’ve been trying to learn about Sharia Law, I’ve been trying to learn about what’s going on; it is not good if that’s what’s going on. You could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion or is it a nationality, way of life, or cult, whatever you want to call it. But we do protect our religions, but this is something we’re going to have to face.” [TP]  This seems to be the crux of the latest outcry of Islamophobia — build a mosque or community center and the adherents of Islam will bring Sharia to your local town council meetings?

A person COULD argue about whether Islam is a religion, nationality, way of life, or cult…and end up looking completely silly when the next person COULD argue whether Christianity is a religion, nationality, way of life, or as the Romans believed — a dangerous cult. For that matter, is Judaism a religion, nationality, way of life, or a cult? Hinduism? Buddhism? 

Nor is the questioner in Mesquite alone in his or her phobia — town officials in a small upstate New York community have demanded that the Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani order (Sufi) remove two bodies from the order’s cemetery (on order property). A spokesman for the Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani order claims the town okayed the burial ground five years ago and is singling them out now simply because they’re Muslims.“I think it’s out of bigotry,” said Hans Hass, who also is the head of the local EMS unit. “They don’t like us being here, even though we’ve been here since 2002.”  [NYDN] Interestingly enough, Republican supervisor Bob McCarthy raised his objections to the Sufi cemetery immediately after the flap about the Not-A-Mosque which is Not-At-Ground-Zero in New York City. [NYDN] The order has a letter from the supervisors which approved the use of part of the order’s grounds for use as a cemetery five years ago — Supervisor McCarthy could only respond, “I’m not a lawyer.” [NYDN]
It’s readily apparent Supervisor McCarthy is no expert on Islam, any more so than Lt. Governor Ramsey, or Nevada senatorial candidate Angle. If those individuals knew anything of Islam they’d understand the following summary of the religion: “Muslims believe in One, Unique, and Incomparable God. They believe in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets beginning with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus. God’s eternal message was reaffirmed and finalized by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them all). One becomes a Muslim by saying, “There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” By this declaration, the person announces faith in all of God’s messengers.” [CAIR] (emphasis added)  Monotheistic? Check. Day of Judgment? Check. Individual accountability? Check. Chain of prophets? Check. Jesus as a great teacher? Yes, but not part of the Deity — a view shared by Jews and a great many others. 
As for “creeping Sharia,” feared by candidate Angle [TPM] and other Islamophobes, the first thing they should note is that there isn’t a single, completely accepted version of what that might be applied within Islamic countries themselves. For example, the Hanbali version is associated with Saudi Arabia and parts of northern Nigeria; Hanifi is the most liberal version and is open to modern ideas; Maliki is the version based on the practices of the people of Medina during the lifetime of the prophet; and, Shafi’i is a version based on the interpretations of the companions of Muhammed. Thus, before illustrating a press account about Sharia with a photograph of a pregnant woman being punished for adultery, an editor would be well advised to note that other versions of Sharia do not accept this Maliki school conclusion of proof as valid. [RT]  However, the self-righteous Islamophobe isn’t likely to notice the nuances, and the xenophobes in Oklahoma would quickly toss the Hanifi out with the Hanbali.

Also lost on the Islamophobes is the pertinent fact that Sharia is intended to apply only to Muslims. The most strict interpretations are applied in Saudi Arabia and northern Nigeria, while Malaysia has adopted a much more liberal interpretation of Sharia in its statutes. What most western accounts tend to emphasize are the Haram offenses, with strict punishment for pre-marital sexual intercourse, sex by divorced persons, post-marital sex, adultery, false accusation of unlawful intercourse, drinking alcohol, theft, and highway robbery. [RT] The majority of modern middle eastern states such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria have not adopted the Hadd (Haram) codes in their statutes. [GuardianUK
If, indeed, those perpetrating the latest Republican/Tea Party xenophobic motif, were to find something objectionable about Sharia it might be that Islamic law allows abortions in cases in which the life of the mother is at stake. The law supports the abortion in this instance because the mother is held to be the source of the fetus, the mother’s life is well established, the mother has duties and responsibilities in her family and community, the mother is part of a family, and allowing the mother to die could easily lead to death of the fetus as well. An abortion for economic, social, or lifestyle considerations is not justifiable. [BBC] The Quran speaks directly to the sanctity of life: “Whosoever has spared the life of a soul, it is as though he has spared the life of all people. Whosoever has killed a soul, it is as though he has murdered all of mankind.” Quran 5:32  Who disagrees with that?
The “creeping Sharia” theme isn’t a legitimate political argument, it’s merely a tantrum composed of xenophobia, fear-mongering, nativism, intolerance, and opportunism. The sooner it’s eliminated from our civil discourse the better. 

1 Comment

Filed under Angle, Islam