Archive for 9/11

Glenn Greenwald: More Federal Judge Abdication

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by loonwatch

More federal judge abdication

The branch designed to be insulated from political pressures has been the most craven of all in the post-9/11 era

BY , Salon.com

The abdication of U.S. federal judges in the post-9/11 era, and their craven subservience to Executive Branch security claims, has been a topic I’ve written about several times over the past couples of weeks. Yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the argument of the Obama DOJ that John Yoo is — needless to say — fully immune from any and all liability for having authorized the torture of Jose Padilla, on the ground that the illegality of Yoo’s conduct was not “beyond debate” at the time he engaged in it. Everything Iwrote a couple of weeks ago about the identical shielding of Donald Rumsfeld by federal courts and the Obama DOJ from similar claims applies to yesterday’s ruling, and The New York Times has a good editorial today condemning this ruling as “misguided and dangerous.”

In sum, this yet again underscores that of all the American institutions that have so profoundly failed in the wake of 9/11 to protect the most basic liberties — Congress, both political parties, the establishment media, the Executive Branch, the DOJ specifically — none has been quite as disgraceful as the federal judiciary, whose life tenure is supposed to insulate them from base political pressures that produce cowardly and corrupted choices. And yet, just consider these two facts:

(1) not a single War on Terror victim — not one — has been permitted to sue for damages in an American court over what was done to them, even when everyone admits they were completely innocent, even when they were subjected to the most brutal torture, and even when the judiciary of other countries permitted their lawsuits to proceed; and,

(2) not a single government official — not one — has been held legally accountable, either criminally or even civilly, for any War on Terror crimes or abuses; perversely, the only government officials to pay any price were the ones who blew the whistle on those crimes.

That is how history will record the behavior of American federal judges in the face of the post-9/11 onslaught of anti-Muslim persecution and relentless erosions of core rights.

Even worse, if you’re a Muslim accused of any Terror-related crime, your conviction in a federal court is virtually guaranteed, as federal judges will bend the law and issue pro-government rulings that they would never make with a non-Muslim defendant; conversely, if you’re a government official who abused or otherwise violated the rights of Muslims, your full-scale immunity is virtually guaranteed. Those are the indisputable rules of American justice. So slavish and subservient are federal judges when it comes to Muslim defendants that if you’re a Muslim accused of any Terror-related crime, you’re probably more likely at this point to get something approximating a fair trial before a Guantanamo military tribunal than in a federal court; that is how supine federal judges have been when the U.S. Government utters the word “terrorism” in the direction of a Muslim or any claims of “national security” relating to 9/11.

Just to underscore the point a bit further: the Justice Department fileda report this week setting forth its 2011 eavesdropping activities under FISA. Here’s the summary (h/t EPIC):

# of DOJ requests to the FISA court to eavesdrop on and/or physically search Americans/legal residents: 1,745

# of FISA court denials:  0

The DOJ filed close to 1,800 requests for FISA court permission to eavesdrop on the electronic communications of Americans or legal residents or to physically search their property (the vast majority, more than 90%, were for eavesdropping), and the FISA court did not deny a single request, though they did “modify” 30. This is a perfect expression of how the federal judiciary, in general, behaves in the face of claims of National Security from the Executive Branch: as an impotent, eager rubber-stamping servant.

* * * * *

Just by the way: the 1978 FISA law that required court approval before the U.S. Government could eavesdrop on Americans has produced this sort of blindly accepting rubber-stamping from the FISA court since its inception. Nonetheless, it was this FISA process that the Bush administration claimed was too significant of an obstacle to its eavesdropping powers when it decided to violate the law by eavesdropping without asking for FISA court permission, and it’s the same claim which the Democratic-led Congress and then-Sen. Obama made in 2008 when they enacted a new FISA law that dramatically expanded the U.S. Government’s warrantless eavesdropping powers. A 100% victory rate in court is apparently too low for those who see presidential powers as monarchical, and our nation’s federal judges seem all the time to be eagerly attempting to increase that rate.

Karen Armstrong: Islamophobia: We need to accept the ‘other’

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Islamophobia: We need to accept the ‘other’

A decade after 9/11, the West seems more bitterly divided from the Muslim world than ever. In Afghanistan, there’s been a violent explosion of anti-Western sentiment after last month’s Koran burning at a U.S. base and the slaughter of 17 Afghan civilians by an American soldier two weeks ago. But this hatred is not confined to distant parts of the globe. We’re witnessing a surge of virulent Islamophobia in Europe, especially in the Netherlands and some parts of Scandinavia. And sadly, this seems to have crossed the Atlantic.

In 2002, a survey of Canadian Muslims by the Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations found that 56 per cent of respondents had experienced at least one anti-Muslim incident in the 12-month period since 9/11. Mosques or mosque construction sites in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, Waterloo and Vancouver have been targeted by vandals. In January, anti-Islamic graffiti were spray-painted on the walls of the Outaouais Islamic Centre in Gatineau, Que. – the third such attack in four months.

These hate crimes are committed by a small minority, of course. But unfortunately, on both sides of the divide, extremists set the agenda. The news media, for example, inform us of terrorist attacks but don’t give much coverage to those Muslim leaders who regularly condemn them. Between 2001 and 2007, Gallup conducted a massive survey representing the views of more than 90 per cent of the world’s Muslim population. When asked if the 9/11 attacks were justified, 93 per cent of respondents said they weren’t – basing their arguments on religious grounds. This finding wasn’t widely reported and could, therefore, make no impression on the widespread view that Islam is an inherently violent faith.

This belief is deeply engrained. It dates back to the Crusades, when Western Christians were fighting holy wars against Muslims in Syria and Palestine; their brutal ferocity stunned the people of the Near East. Even though Islam had a far better record of tolerance than Christianity at this time, European scholar-monks depicted Islam as a fanatical religion of the sword that was violently opposed to other faiths. They were, perhaps, projecting buried anxiety about their own behaviour onto their victims – Jesus, after all, had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them.

As Europeans fought their way out of the Dark Ages, Islam, a great world power that dwarfed Christendom for centuries, became their shadow self, arousing in them the same kind of complicated resentment as the United States inspires in some regions today – an image of everything that they were not (or feared obscurely that they might be). This distorted image of Islam became one of the received ideas of the West.

During the 12th century, anti-Semitism also became a chronic disease in Europe. It seemed absurd to the Crusaders to travel to the Middle East to liberate Christ’s tomb when the people who had killed Jesus – or so the Crusaders mistakenly believed – were alive and well on their very doorsteps. Those who couldn’t go on Crusade would often do their bit by attacking Jewish communities at home. Jews were said to kill Christian children and use their blood to make matzo at Passover. This image of the Jew as child-slayer, representing an almost Oedipal fear of the parent faith, persisted well into the modern period and regularly inspired pogroms in Europe. Without a thousand years of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe, the Holocaust would have been impossible.

We now know what can happen when unexamined prejudice is allowed free rein. 9/11 was a terrible crime. But if it has stained the reputation of Islam, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have equally tainted the image of the West. Islamophobia is also a violation of essential Western values: tolerance, liberalism and egalitarianism. Founded on fear and ignorance, it also flies in the face of Western rationalism. We have created a global market in which, whether we like it or not, we’re interconnected as never before. If we want a peaceful, stable and sustainable world, we have to learn to live with those we instinctively regard as “other.”

Karen Armstrong, a historian of religion and founder of the Charter for Compassion, received Simon Fraser University’s Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue last week.

The ex-FBI Informant with a Change of Heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Craig Monteilh

Craig Monteilh

The ex-FBI informant with a change of heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’

 in Irvine, California

Craig Monteilh describes how he pretended to be a radical Muslim in order to root out potential threats, shining a light on some of the bureau’s more ethically murky practices

Craig Monteilh says he did not balk when his FBI handlers gave him the OK to have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting. Nor, at the time, did he shy away from recording their pillow talk.

“They said, if it would enhance the intelligence, go ahead and have sex. So I did,” Monteilh told the Guardian as he described his year as a confidential FBI informant sent on a secret mission to infiltrate southern Californian mosques.

It is an astonishing admission that goes that goes to the heart of the intelligence surveillance of Muslim communities in America in the years after 9/11. While police and FBI leaders have insisted they are acting to defend America from a terrorist attack, civil liberties groups have insisted they have repeatedly gone too far and treated an entire religious group as suspicious.

Monteilh was involved in one of the most controversial tactics: the use of “confidential informants” in so-called entrapment cases. This is when suspects carry out or plot fake terrorist “attacks” at the request or under the close supervision of an FBI undercover operation using secret informants. Often those informants have serious criminal records or are supplied with a financial motivation to net suspects.

In the case of the Newburgh Four – where four men were convicted for a fake terror attack on Jewish targets in the Bronx – a confidential informant offered $250,000, a free holiday and a car to one suspect for help with the attack.

In the case of the Fort Dix Five, which involved a fake plan to attack a New Jersey military base, one informant’s criminal past included attempted murder, while another admitted in court at least two of the suspects later jailed for life had not known of any plot.

Such actions have led Muslim civil rights groups to wonder if their communities are being unfairly targeted in a spying game that is rigged against them. Monteilh says that is exactly what happens. “The way the FBI conducts their operations, It is all about entrapment … I know the game, I know the dynamics of it. It’s such a joke, a real joke. There is no real hunt. It’s fixed,” he said.

But Monteilh has regrets now about his involvement in a scheme called Operation Flex. Sitting in the kitchen of his modest home in Irvine, near Los Angeles, Monteilh said the FBI should publicly apologise for his fruitless quest to root out Islamic radicals in Orange County, though he does not hold out much hope that will happen. “They don’t have the humility to admit a mistake,” he said.

Monteilh’s story sounds like something out of a pulp thriller. Under the supervision of two FBI agents the muscle-bound fitness instructor created a fictitious French-Syrian altar ego, called Farouk Aziz. In this disguise in 2006 Monteilh started hanging around mosques in Orange County – the long stretch of suburbia south of LA – and pretended to convert to Islam.

He was tasked with befriending Muslims and blanket recording their conversations. All this information was then fed back to the FBI who told Monteilh to act like a radical himself to lure out Islamist sympathizers.

Yet, far from succeeding, Monteilh eventually so unnerved Orange County’s Muslim community that that they got a restraining order against him. In an ironic twist, they also reported Monteilh to the FBI: unaware he was in fact working undercover for the agency.

Monteilh does not look like a spy. He is massively well built, but soft-spoken and friendly. He is 49 but looks younger. He lives in a small rented home in Irvine that blends into the suburban sprawl of southernCalifornia. Yet Monteilh knows the spying game intimately well.

By his own account Monteilh got into undercover work after meeting a group of off-duty cops working out in a gym. Monteilh told them he had spent time in prison in Chino, serving time for passing fraudulent checks.

It is a criminal past he explains by saying he was traumatised by a nasty divorce. “It was a bad time in my life,” he said. He and the cops got to talking about the criminals Monteilh had met while in Chino. The information was so useful that Monteilh says he began to work on undercover drug and organised crime cases.

Eventually he asked to work on counter-terrorism and was passed on to two FBI handlers, called Kevin Armstrong and Paul Allen. These two agents had a mission and an alias ready-made for him.

Posing as Farouk Aziz he would infiltrate local mosques and Islamic groups around Orange County. “Paul Allen said: ‘Craig, you are going to be our computer worm. Our guy that gives us the real pulse of the Muslim community in America’,” Monteilh said.

The operation began simply enough. Monteilh started hanging out at mosques, posing as Aziz, and explaining he wanted to learn more about religion. In July, 2006, at the Islamic Center of Irvine, he converted to Islam.

Monteilh also began attending other mosques, including the Orange County Islamic Foundation. Monteilh began circulating endlessly from mosque to mosque, spending long days in prayer or reading books or just hanging out in order to get as many people as possible to talk to him.

“Slowly I began to wear the robes, the hat, the scarf and they saw me slowly transform and growing a beard. At that point, about three or four months later, [my FBI handlers] said: ‘OK, now start to ask questions’.”

Those questions were aimed at rooting out radicals. Monteilh would talk of his curiosity over the concepts of jihad and what Muslims should do about injustices in the world, especially where it pertained to American foreign policy.

He talked of access to weapons, a possible desire to be a martyr and inquired after like-minded souls. It was all aimed at trapping people in condemning statements. “The skill is that I am going to get you to say something. I am cornering you to say “jihad”,” he said.

Of course, the chats were recorded.

In scenes out of a James Bond movie, Monteilh said he sometimes wore a secret video recorder sewn into his shirt. At other times he activated an audio recorder on his key rings.

Monteilh left his keys in offices and rooms in the mosques that he attended in the hope of recording conversations that took place when he was not here. He did it so often that he earned a reputation with other worshippers for being careless with his keys. The recordings were passed back to his FBI handlers at least once a week.

He also met with them every two months at a hotel room in nearby Anaheim for a more intense debriefing. Monteilh says he was grilled on specific individuals and asked to view charts showing networks of relationships among Orange County’s Muslim population.

He said the FBI had two basic aims. Firstly, they aimed to uncover potential militants. Secondly, they could also use any information Monteilh discovered – like an affair or someone being gay – to turn targeted people into becoming FBI informants themselves.

None of it seemed to unnerve his FBI bosses, not even when he carried out a suggestion to begin seducing Muslim women and recording them.

At one hotel meeting, agent Kevin Armstrong explained the FBI attitude towards the immense breadth of Operation Flex – and any concerns over civil rights – by saying simply: “Kevin is God.”

Monteilh’s own attitude evolved into something very similar. “I was untouchable. I am a felon, I am on probation and the police cannot arrest me. How empowering is that? It is very empowering. You began to have a certain arrogance about it. It is almost taunting. They told me: ‘You are an untouchable’,” he said.

But it was not always easy. “I started at 4am. I ended at 9.30pm. Really, it was a lot of work … Farouk took over. Craig did not exist,” he said. But it was also well paid: at the peak of Operation Flex, Monteilh was earning more than $11,000 a month.

But he was wrong about being untouchable.

Far from uncovering radical terror networks, Monteilh ended up traumatising the community he was sent into. Instead of embracing calls for jihad or his questions about suicide bombers or his claims to have access to weapons, Monteilh was instead reported to the FBI as a potentially dangerous extremist.

A restraining order was also taken out against him in June 2007, asking him to stay away from the Islamic Center of Irvine. Operation Flex was a bust and Monteilh had to kill off his life as Farouk Aziz.

But the story did not end there. In circumstances that remain murky Monteilh then sued the FBI over his treatment, claiming that they abandoned him once the operation was over.

He also ended up in jail after Irvine police prosecuted him for defrauding two women, including a former girlfriend, as part of an illegal trade in human growth hormone at fitness clubs. (Monteilh claims those actions were carried out as part of another secret string operation for which he was forced to carry the can.)

What is not in doubt is that Monteilh’s identity later became public. In 2009 the FBI brought a case against Ahmad Niazi, an Afghan immigrant in Orange County.

The evidence included secret recordings and even calling Osama bin Laden “an angel”. That was Monteilh’s work and he outed himself to the press to the shock of the very Muslims he had been spying on who now realised that Farouk Aziz – the radical they had reported to the FBI two years earlier – had in fact been an undercover FBI operative.

Now Monteilh says he set Niazi up and the FBI was trying to blackmail the Afghani into being an informant. “I built the whole relationship with Niazi. Through my coercion we talked about jihad a lot,” he said. The FBI’s charges against Niazi were indeed later dropped.

Now Monteilh has joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the FBI. Amazingly, after first befriending Muslim leaders in Orange County as Farouk Aziz, then betraying them as Craig Monteilh, he has now joined forces with them again to campaign for their civil liberties.

That has now put Monteilh’s testimony about his year undercover is at the heart of a fresh legal effort to prove that the FBI operation in Orange County unfairly targeted a vulnerable Muslim community, trampling on civil rights in the name of national security.

The FBI did not respond to a request from the Guardian for comment.

It is not the first time Monteilh has shifted his stance. In the ACLU case Monteilh is now posing as the sorrowful informant who saw the error of his ways.

But in previous court papers filed against the Irvine Police and the FBI, Monteilh’s lawyers portrayed him as the loyal intelligence asset who did sterling work tackling the forces of Islamic radicalism and was let down by his superiors.

In those papers Monteilh complained that FBI agents did not act speedily enough on a tip he gave them about a possible sighting of bomb-making materials. Now Monteilh says that tip was not credible.

Either way it does add up to a story that shifts with the telling. But that fact alone goes to the heart of the FBI’s use of such confidential informants in investigating Muslim communities.

FBI operatives with profiles similar to Monteilh’s – of a lengthy criminal record, desire for cash and a flexibility with the truth – have led to high profile cases of alleged entrapment that have shocked civil rights groups across America.

In most cases the informants have won their prosecutions and simply disappeared. Monteilh is the only one speaking out. But whatever the reality of his year undercover, Monteilh is almost certainly right about one impact of Operation Flex and the exposure of his undercover activities: “Because of this the Muslim community will never trust the FBI again.”

Four Myths that Led to the NYPD’s Attack on Muslim Civil Liberties

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch
Daniel Tutt
Daniel Tutt

(Via IslamophobiaToday)

Four Myths that Led to the NYPD’s Attack on Muslim Civil Liberties

by Daniel Tutt, Bio

Over the last month, multiple scandals have leaked that show the extent to which the NYPD has violated the civil liberties of thousands of New York Muslims under the banner of counterterrorism efforts. Protecting the homeland must remain central in all of our policing and intelligence-gathering efforts, but it should not, and does not have to result in the alienation of hundreds of thousands of New York Muslims. Equally important, counterterrorism efforts must operate on sound and factual analysis of the threat posed by the Muslim community, and collaboration with Muslim community leaders and citizens should be a top priority.

The damage that these scandals have caused in severing the lines of trust between law enforcement and the Muslim community may be irreparable in the short term, but it is not too late for the NYPD to begin assessing the policies that led us to where we are today.

In a recently exposed white paper published by the NYPD entitled, “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” we find the basis of an entire philosophy of counterterrorism that operates on several myths that must be addressed.

Let’s examine each of these myths in turn.

1. Extremist Muslims have permeated New York Muslim communities. The white paper states:

“New York City has a diverse Muslim population of between 600,000 and 750,000 within a population of about 8 ½ million–about 40% of whom are foreign-born. Unfortunately, extremists who have and continue to sow the seeds of radicalization have permeated the City’s Muslim communities.”

To suggest that the Muslim community of New York is being overran with violent extremism is far from the truth. The New York Muslim community makes up an estimated 1 million people throughout the entire state. The community has incredible racial, socioeconomic, and ethnic diversity, and is very well integrated into the larger society.

The threat this community poses is similar to the threat that American Muslims pose nationwide: very little to none. Since 9/11, over 40% of the cases where criminal charges were brought upon an American Muslim for suspicion in a terrorism related case, the Muslim community was responsible for turning that individual, or individuals, over to the authorities. Muslims see counterterrorism as their duty according to recent public opinion polls, and they are more concerned about preventing terrorism then are the rest of the non-Muslim American public per capita. Don’t we want to increase this trend of Muslims serving on the front line of counterterrorism efforts? Increasing it has the dual benefit of making Muslims an integral part of the solution, and making them feel like a valued collaborator in the war on terrorism.

According to the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s comprehensive terrorism database, of the 49 Muslim domestic and foreign based plots against the U.S. since 9/11 – there were over 105 terrorist plots from non-Muslim groups and individuals – nearly 1 in 3 of these plots were turned over to the authorities by the American Muslim community.

2. A Muslim’s level of religiosity is a sign of radicalization and support for terrorism. The second myth that the document supports is the so called “conveyor belt theory” of terrorism, which argues that terrorism is based on a continuum of religiosity, where the more religious a Muslim gets, the greater likeliness they may adopt violent extremism. This is a major misnomer that has unfortunately been taught to hundreds of thousands of police and intelligence agents nationwide as exposed in a recent investigative report by Political Research Associates entitled Manufacturing the Muslim Menace.

The white paper describes the ideology that supports terrorism as “jihadi-Salafi Islam” but never defines these terms, especially what they mean for Muslims. Instead, they exaggerate what a “Salafi Muslim” is, and neglect to point out that the majority of Salafi Muslims in western Europe and in America are not in favor of using violence and are generally peaceful. It also refuses to look at competing studies of radicalization. For example, Quintan Wiktorowicz, National Security Agency Director learned in anextensive empirical research project he headed up on radicalization of Muslim youth, that there is no correlation between religiosity and a willingness to become radicalized. In other words, the more religious Muslims became, the less likely they would be to join radical movements.

Wiktorowicz insight supports what Policy Analyst Alejandro Beutel has recently discovered in his careful analysis of Osama bin-Laden’s recruitment rhetoric. In a careful analysis of the content of each lecture that bin-Laden gave, MPAC discovered that al-Qaeda’s recruiting “pitch” was overwhelmingly political/policy-oriented, not religious.

Let’s be realistic. The threat from al-Qaeda is concerning. Despite the controversial nature of his assassination, Anwar Awlaki’s death and disappearance from the scene is a welcoming sign in the ongoing recruitment that Al-Qaeda is attempting, mainly online, to American Muslims. The fact that we no longer have a charismatic, English speaking figurehead of al-Qaeda to brainwash American Muslims to commit acts of violence is a great thing. Awlaki’s model seemed to be fairly effective in turning about two-dozen American Muslims towards a commitment to violent radicalization against the west andAmerica in particular. Importantly, this was happening in anonymous chat rooms online, not in mosques, or mainstream religious institutions in America.

3. Profiling Muslims is possible and necessary. The third myth that the white paper supports is that Muslims must be profiled; suggesting not only is it necessary, but that it is possible. Here is an excerpt from the paper:

“Radicalization makes little noise. It borders on areas protected by the First and Fourth Amendments. It takes place over a long period of time. It therefore does not lend itself to a traditional criminal investigations approach.”

When we analyze the homegrown cases of Muslim terrorists since 9/11, we find vastly different ethnic origin, age, ideological affiliation, and motivations. While the policy grievance remains consistent in each case, the idea of profiling based on religiosity or the outward expression of religiosity is just plain wrong and nonsensical. Like we saw from Wiktorowicz’s research, religious Muslims should be seen as allies, as there is no empirical relationship between religiosity and support for terrorism.

4. Muslim community leaders and citizens do not need to be consulted in counterterrorism efforts. Nowhere in the 90 plus page report do we find details or best practices for policymakers and intelligence officers in building partnerships with New York Muslims.

In an ironic way, the controversies coming out of the NYPD, while they hurt the relationship between Muslims and law enforcement, they help engage Muslims in the political process and in speaking up for their rights. The New York Muslim community is fed up, and many point to the rising trend of Islamophobia as the cause for this wanton disregard for Muslim civil liberties.

One of the key recommendations that Charles Kurzman, a leading expert on Muslim radicalization of the Triangle Center for Terrorism Research proposes is that Muslim Americans be given the means to express themselves politically in American society. The fight against Islamophobia as a healthy way for Muslim Americans to stand up for their rights and in the process demand equal respect. Like the civil rights movement for Black Americans, many politically engaged Muslims feel that the fight against bigotry and misunderstanding of their faith will result in a greater level of integration into the American experience.

From 2005 to 2011 we have witnessed an increase in the so-called “lone wolf” phenomenon of extremism – an isolated individual becomes indoctrinated by a charismatic pseudo religious leader and seeks to act out violence against the American populace. Thankfully, this threat is relatively minor, and unfortunately often caused by FBI entrapment.

What we have not yet seen is the climate of growing Islamophobia serving as the cause for a lone wolf attack on America, or even the turn to radicalization itself. Since it is always best to be ahead of the storm, we must encourage large-scale movements against Islamophobia because they help to further a healthy civic alternative to American Muslims that are somewhat prone to lunatic false prophets on YouTube like Anwar Awlaki. It is through fighting Islamophobia and standing up for civil rights that we can create a vehicle whereby Muslims can vent their anger and develop a new language that ties the values of Islam to a unique American and democratic narrative. This sort of action has already begun, and when scandals emerge like these, Muslim Americans should be vocal and demand justice.

Rick Santorum’s Islamophobia Problem

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by loonwatch

Rick Santorum’s Islamophobia Problem

By Ali Gharib

GOP presidential hopeful and former senator Rick Santorum found himself amid a flurry of new attention after placing a close second in the Iowa caucuses. One of the fiery right-wing politician’s views coming under increased scrutiny is his attitude toward Islam. Already in this campaign, Santorum endorsed profiling in airport security and, when pressed, said, “Obviously, Muslims would be someone you’d look at.

Now, journalist Max Blumenthal unearthed a 2007 speech Santorum gave to a Washingtonconference at the invitation of David Horowitz. In the speech (audio can be found at anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller‘s site), Santorum outlined the “war” against “radical Islam”:

What must we do to win? We must educate, engage, evangelize and eradicate. …

The other thing we need to do is eradicate, and that’s the final thing. As I said, this is going to be a long war. There are going to be pluses and minuses, ups and downs. But we have to win this war to — fight this war to win this war.

Santorum insists that he’s “not suggesting that we have to go in there and blow them up.” But, later in the speech, he compares the “long war” to World War II, adding, “Americans don’t like war. They don’t like suffering and dying. No one does.”

Both in this speech and in other writings and remarks, Santorum often specifies that he’s speaking of “radical Islam.” But what does “radical Islam” mean to Santorum? In fact, the former senator often times conflates extremists with the entire Muslim faith at-large and, at other times, he states outright that radicals dominate Islam. In the 2007 D.C. speech, Santorum compared Muslim wars from hundreds of years ago to 9/11: “Does anybody know when the high-water mark of Islam was? September the 11th, 1683,” he said to gasps from the audience.

As to what “losing” the war with “radical Islam” looks like, Santorum discussed Europe. “Europe is on the way to losing,” he said. “The most popular male name in Belgium — Mohammad. It’s the fifth most popular name in France among boys.” The other data point he cited was larger birthrates among “Islamic Europeans” as opposed to “Westernized Europeans.” Nowhere did he indicate a growing “radical” threat in Europe.

In October 2007 at his alma mater Penn State, Santorum gave a speech and failed to break out the radical strain from the faith at-large: “Islam, unlike Christianity, is an all-encompassing ideology. It is not just something you do on Sunday. … We (as Americans) don’t get that.” The quote is particularly ironic from someone who, among other such statements, has said, “[O]ur civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God’s law.

In a January 2007 speech, Santorum suggested Islam at-large was responsible for religious freedom issues and put the onus Muslims to deal with these issues to end the “war”:

Until we have the kind of discussion and dialogue with Islam — that democracy and freedom of religion, along with religious pluralism, are essential for the stability of the world and our ability to cohabit in this world. Unless Islam is willing to make that conscious decision, then we are going to be at war for a long time.

If Santorum’s discourse sounds like some of the Islamophobia network outlined in CAP’s Fear, Inc. report, that should be no surprise. Horowitz has repeatedly hosted Santorum for “Islamo-fascism Awareness Week” events and Geller and her associate Robert Spencer cite his work approvingly.

In a 2008 appearance at the Christians United For Israel confab, Santorum outflanked even Daniel Pipes. When Pipes mentioned that radicals only constituted about 10 to 15 percent of Muslims worldwide, Santorum, before wondering whether Muslims are capable of making moral decisions at all, challenged him:

It’s not a small number. OK? It’s not a fringe. It’s a sizable group of people that hold these views. [Pipes’ notion of ‘moderate’ Islam] is the exception, I would argue, of what traditional Islam is doing.

No decent American — or anyone across the globe — should oppose “eradicat(ing)” extremist ideologies like militant, “radical Islam.” But Santorum’s history of statements raises questions about just exactly what and who he’s targeting for eradication.

Amnesty International: Happy World Travel

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on December 15, 2011 by loonwatch

Amnesty International: Happy World Travel


Indefinite detention, torture, Islamophobia, Guantanamo, the “war on terror”. Ten years after 9/11 this remains the new normal that we live in, and there’s nothing funny about it.

But humor can be powerful — so we at Amnesty International USA invite you to check out our new short video “Happy World Travel”, featuring Dileep Rao (Avatar, Inception). What happens when a normal dude named Rob (or is it Raj?!) heads to a travel agency looking for a relaxing vacation? Will he be eligible for the “Not-so Geneva Package”? Could Rob’s story be yours if we continue to allow the US to flout the rule of law?

What can you do? Join us on January 11th in Washington, DC for a day of action to close Guantanamo. http://www.amnestyusa.org/jan11

And visit Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights campaign to learn more about ending torture and indefinite detention, once and for all.
http://www.amnestyusa.org/security

Islamophobia: ‘Vanguard’ Trailer

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by loonwatch

Islamophobia: ‘Vanguard’ Trailer

In “Islamophobia,” Vanguard correspondent Adam Yamaguchi examines the rising tide of Islamophobia on both sides of the Atlantic. Ten years after 9/11, the fear of future attacks paired with the growing number of Muslims across Europe and America has given birth to an aggressive new network of anti-Muslim alarmists.

Watch the premiere of Vanguard’s “Islamophobia” on Monday, November 7, at 9/8c.

“Vanguard” is Current TV’s no-limits documentary series whose award-winning correspondents put themselves in extraordinary situations to immerse viewers in global issues that have a large social significance. Unlike sound-bite driven reporting, the show’s correspondents, Adam Yamaguchi, Christof Putzel and Mariana van Zeller, serve as trusted guides who take viewers on in-depth real life adventures in pursuit of some of the world’s most important stories.
http://current.com/e/93519706/en_US

For more, go to http://current.com/vanguard.

Muslim Scholars Issue Fatwa Declaring No Conflict Between Islamic Law And U.S. Constitution

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by loonwatch
President Obama hosts Iftar dinner at White House for American Muslims during Ramadan.President Obama hosts Iftar dinner at White House for American Muslims during Ramadan.
http://www.5min.com/Video/Study-Muslim-Americans-Experience-a-Mixed-Bag-517153474

Muslim Scholars Issue Fatwa Declaring No Conflict Between Islamic Law And U.S. Constitution

Islamic scholars tired of conservative charges that Muslims in the United States constitute a radical fifth column bent on subverting American values and obligated by their religion to launch jihadist terror attacks are fighting back by issuing a fatwa.

The Islamic religious ruling, a “Resolution On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans,” is a response to what its authors call “erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda” that has built up for a decade following the 9/11 attacks and subsequent terrorist plots by adherents of al-Qaida and other extremist groups. It was issued in Virginia late last month by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), a group of Islamic scholars who meet several times a year to draft opinions on issues of concern to American Muslims.

“As a body of Islamic scholars, we the members of FCNA believe that it is false and misleading to suggest that there is a contradiction between being faithful Muslims committed to God (Allah) and being loyal American citizens,” the fatwa declared.

“Islamic teachings require respect of the laws of the land where Muslims live as minorities, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so long as there is no conflict with Muslims’ obligation for obedience to God. We do not see any such conflict with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The primacy of obedience to God is a commonly held position of many practicing Jews and Christians as well.”

Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the nation, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, yet the fast-growing community has been a constant target of right-wing groups. From protests against the so-called “ground zero mosque,” to efforts in more than a dozen states to ban Sharia lawin courts, to recent Capitol Hill hearings on Islamic radicalization that brought comparisons to McCarthyism, Muslims have had to assert their loyalty.

And that troubles members of the Los Angeles Police Department, who in recent years have been at the forefront in building bridges to the Muslims in order to combat radicalization and enlist the community in the fight against terrorism.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and other law enforcement officials will attend a meeting Thursday at the Islamic Center of Reseda to talk about the new fatwa as part of his department’s Muslim Community Forum. Muzammil Siddiqi, director of religious affairs of The Islamic Society of Orange County and the president of the Fiqh Council of North America, will be on hand to discuss the origins of the fatwa.

For many non-Muslims, perhaps the best-known fatwa was the one against authorSalman Rushdie for his book ”The Satanic Verses.” Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared it blasphemous and called for Rushdie’s death.

This new decree might face a warmer welcome.

“We’re always fighting two sides of extremism. There’s the violent ideological side and the neo-conservative side that is creating hate campaigns against American Muslims …which is a bunch of BS,” said Michael Downing, commander of the LAPD’s Counter Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau. “The majority of American Muslims are as patriotic as you and I. This declaration says it is not a conflict to be a faithful Muslim and loyal American.”
http://www.5min.com/Video/Muslim-Event-Condemns-Terrorism-517166793

Anti-Muslim Coloring Book Gets Microwaved and Turned into Art

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2011 by loonwatch

Muslim artist Kenny Irwin has been featured on our site in the past when he unveiled he “Ultra Christmas Decorations” on Conan O’Brien’s show. This time he microwaves an anti-Muslim 9/11 coloring book and turns it into the “anti-bigotry slug.” (hat tip:pigeonyolk)

Artist microwaves “The We Shall Never Forget 9:11 The Kids’ Book of Freedom” coloring book by Publisher Wayne Bell.
In response to Wayne Bell’s islamophobic coloring book geared at impressionable young children called “The We Shall Never Forget 9:11 The Kids’ Book of Freedom” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nJlk_Em7xY , nationally & internationally acclaimed artist Kenny Irwin & founder of the famous dOvetastic Microwave Theater series has produced Episode #602 in which the coloring book gets microwaved inside a powerful hand built giant microwaving robot called the MALIK 11000 Five Ton Microwaving Robot standing twenty feet tall. The resulting art is transformed into the “AntiBigotSLUG” available on Ebay.
The artist makes a anti-hate statement explaining the hateful content issues at hand in the video & the real facts that the villains that caused the 2001 attacks were not representives of islam. That muslims condemn the attacks whom also lost loved ones & were also first responders. Muslims have been plagued for years by false stereotyping, bigotry & hate as a result of the attacks that occurred in 2001. The artist feels the book is inflammatory showing a narrow perspective of the 2001 attacks, that is hateful against muslims & has included educational links with the video that will hopefully educate people more about muslims & the faith of islam.

 

Purchase the anti-bigotry slug on E-Bay.

Young Turks: Michael Moore vs. Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Osama bin Laden

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon TV, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by loonwatch

Cenk, posing as a Bollywood hero

Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of the Young Turks analyze the debate between Michael Moore and Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck makes almost absolutely no sense:

Once Again: “Police Blotter Bob” Not Interested in Facts

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by loonwatch

Once again, “Police Blotter Bob” shows that he could care less about facts when it comes to Islam and Muslims. In his “response” to the Center for American Progress report on Islamophobia, Bob claims that he is not attacking all of Islam, but just the “radicals” and the “jihadists.”

My work…has never been against Muslims in the aggregate or any people as such, but rather against an ideology that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people.

Yet, statement after statement, and post after post on his website talks about “Muslims” and “Islam” as just that: an aggregate. Take this latest post:

The fact that Muslims do not like Jews and Israel, I know, because many of my correspondents, Islamic leaders, Emirs, the heads of armed groups and ordinary Mujahideen talked about this at every meeting and every interview with me.

The fact that Islam is a nation and that Muslims have no other nationality is what I also heard from religious leaders supporting the Jihad.

The fact that Muslims can adapt and play by the political process more than once I saw myself.

They know how to do represent themselves as the victims of inhumane aggression through the media. And the same information is transmitted to the Islamic world in a different manner — as a victory for Jihad and death for the sake of Allah.

No nuance, no teasing out the particular…no, rather ”Muslims do not like Jews and Israel.” That is a general statement. That is what Spencer and his minions do again, and again, and again.

Yet, the facts tell a completely different story:

A World Public Opinion (WPO) survey done in collaboration at that time with the University of Maryland reported that 51 percent of Americans believe “bombings and other types of attacks intentionally aimed at civilians are sometimes justified,” while only 13 percent of American Muslims hold a similar view, with a full 81 percent saying violence against civilians is never justified.

A recent Gallup survey (2011) asks the same question separately — first for a “military attacks against civilians” and then “individuals and small groups attacking civilians.” Muslim Americans came out as the staunchest opponents of both overwhelmingly as compared to their neighbors.

In response to military attacks against civilians, 78 percent of Muslim Americans said such attacks are never justified as compared to 39 percent of Christians and 43 percent of Jews. Only 21 percent Muslim Americans approve of it “sometimes” as compared to 58 percent of Christians and 52 percent of Jews.

Eighty-nine percent of Muslim Americans surveyed by Gallup rejected violent individual attacks on civilians as compared to 71 percent of Christians and 75 percent of Jews. Muslims are the least likely to justify attacks on civilians. Only 11 percent of Muslims justified that sometimes such attacks are acceptable as compared to 27 percent of Christians and 22 percent of Jews.

The same is true when it comes to opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muslim Americans are way ahead in their opposition to wars as compared to their neighbors.

However, when the Pew survey first came out in 2007, it did not provide any relief for Muslim Americans from Islamophobic media frenzy. Most reporters used it as an opportunity to fan hatred against Muslim Americans, focusing on the smaller number of Muslim Americans who justified attacks on civilians without comparing it to Christian Americans, who did the same even in a larger numbers.

Right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin proclaimed in the National Review that the poll “should be a wake-up call.” Mark Steyn said it demonstrated the existence in America of “a huge comfort zone for the jihad to operate in,” and on CNN, Anderson Cooper was horrified — just horrified — that “so many” American Muslims would support such violence.

Well, I was also horrified myself until I checked what our neighbors are saying about intentionally targeting civilians. As a peacemaker, I will only be satisfied fully when all Muslims and people of other faiths oppose killing civilians fully, whether that is by a military or a terrorist group. But these statistics do offer me comparative relief.

FBI Evidence

The same evidence of a peaceful Muslim community was provided by Michael E. Rolince, former FBI Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism, D.C. Field Office. He said the FBI conducted about 500,000 interviews without finding a single lead which could have helped the agency prevent the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

That number means that almost 40 percent of all Muslim households in the United States were probably touched by this investigation. Here is what this presidential award recipient with 30 years of counterterrorism and counterintelligence experience said on Dec. 17, 2005, one month after his retirement, at the Muslim Public Affairs Committee’s annual convention in a panel titled, “Muslim Americans & Law Enforcement Partnership” (Here is an mp3 of his speech. His statement appears in the Q & A section):

“We conducted about a half a million interviews post 9/11 relative to the attacks of 9/11, and this is important because your community gets painted as not doing enough and you could have helped. I’m not aware — and I know 9/11 about as well as anybody in the FBI knows 9/11 and that’s not bragging that’s just the reality — I’m not aware of any single person in your community who, had they stepped forward, could have provided a clue to help us get out in front of this. The reality of that attack is that 19 people came here with what they needed. They spoke the language well enough to order meals and rent cars and hotel rooms. They had money coming in from overseas. Four people knew how to fly planes and 15 others were willing to be the muscle. They didn’t need any witting help from anyone to do what they did. And thus far, and I’m not saying this is conclusive because 10 years from now someone might find something that changes it, we’ve not found a sitting single witting individual in your community, and that’s a fact that gets overlooked because you get painted and that’s why I’m so committed and remain committed to projects like this because what we are in the business of is facts and the truth.”Anxiety about Muslim Americans is at an all-time high thanks to a well-funded campaign of Islamophobia.

Rand Corporation Findings

A 2010 Rand Corporation report rightfully states that “The volume of domestic terrorist activity was much greater in the 1970s than it is today. It is important to note that Rand is mostly a Defense Department-funded think-tank. This report has a whole section called “The 1970s Saw Greater Terrorist Violence.” The report asserts that, “Thus far, there has been no sustained jihadist terrorist campaign in the United States.” And one possible reason for this, according to this Rand report, is, “The local Muslim community rejected al Qaeda’s appeals and actively intervened to dissuade those with radical tendencies from violence.”

But, facts mean very little to “Police Blotter Bob”…

Nutjob Robert Spencer Suggests Barack Obama is an “Islamist Jihadist” with a “remarkable, unqualified and obvious affinity for Islam” who believes that 911 was “an act of God”

Posted in Feature, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by loonwatch
Robert Spencer

Terrorist inspirer Robert Spencer’s proclivity to engage in anti-Muslim Islamophobic conspiracy theories is well known. Recently, he dallied once again in the nutty conspiracy that Barack Obama is a ‘radical undercover Mooslim’ hell bent on destroying America.

In a post titled, Obama reads Biblical passage at 9/11 ceremonies implying that 9/11 was an act of God Spencer writes,

Obama reads Psalm 46, including verse 8: “Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has wrought desolations in the earth.”

The only people who think that 9/11 was an act of the Supreme Being wreaking desolations on the earth are…Islamic jihadists.

Robert Spencer, just like his comrade Pamela Geller believes Obama is a Muslim. They have repeated this claim numerous times, both implicitly and directly, though Spencer has reverted again to not saying it clearly.

Spencer, unlike his friend Geller knows that such a belief is bats*** loony so he attempts to couch his language in euphemism and hints.

It is interesting to note Spencer’s false claim that the “only people who think that 9/11 was an act of the Supreme Being are Islamic jihadists.” Spencer isn’t that stupid, just a week ago he was on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, the same loon pastor who “in the wake of 9/11, had a now (in-)famous exchange with the late Jerry Falwell in which the two religious leaders suggested that the United States ‘deserved’ the attacks for its tolerance of secularism, gays, abortion, feminists and pagans.”

Maybe Spencer thinks that Robertson is an Islamic Jihadist?

However, when have facts ever stopped Spencer in the past? So, with single-minded drive to prove Obama’s radical Islamic Jihadism he continues:

So why did Barack Obama pick this psalm out of 150 psalms, and out of innumerable appropriate Biblical passages, to read at the 9/11 ceremonies? 9/11, after all, was a day when there were indeed wrought desolations on the earth. Did Obama really mean to say that God did it, that it was an act of divine judgment, rather than a monstrous and unmitigated evil?

Or is this just another one of those funny coincidences, of which there are so very, very many when it comes to Barack Obama and his remarkable, unqualified and obvious affinity for Islam?

Robert Spencer long ago went off the rails when he solidified his alliance with Pamela Geller and the fascist anti-Muslim Right-wing network. Ever since then it has been downhill for the anti-Muslim polemicist. No longer does he care to present the facade of impartiality, scholarliness or truth. He has been savaged for it in the mainstream media, it only remains for the national security complex, which still allows him to instruct its employees to catch up to this soon to be bygone “counter-jihad” blogger.

Wallowing in his own self-righteousness, Spencer declares the President of the United States Barack Obama, a professed Christian, the commander-in-chief of forces occupying two Muslim nations and bombing the hell out of several more of being an “Islamist Jihadist.”

Is that called “chutzpah” or just plain right-wing anti-Muslim loonacy?

Brown-Skinned Lady Sits Next To Two Indian Men On Plane, Gets Strip-Searched And Detained For ‘Suspicious Activity’

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by loonwatch

(from ThinkProgress)

By Tanya Somanader on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm

On the same day the country gathered together to recognize the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) launched two F-16 jets to tail a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver after the crew reported “suspicious activity on board.” That “activity”? The existence of three dark-skinned passengers. Two Indian men and one self-described “half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife” from Ohio — all unknown to each other — made the mistake of boarding a plane on Sept. 11, 2011.

After the crew reported that two people had spent “an extraordinarily long time” in the bathroom, the jets escorted the plane to its destination in Detroit, Michigan. Then, according to reports and the “half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife” Shoshana Hebshi, a SWAT team of about 10 police boarded the plane with machine guns and three dogs, approached Hebshi and the men’s aisle, handcuffed them, and escorted them off the plane:

Before I knew it, about 10 cops, some in what looked like military fatigues, were running toward the plane carrying the biggest machine guns I have ever seen–bigger than what the guards carry at French train stations.

My last tweet: Majorly armed cops coming aboard

Someone shouted for us to place our hands on the seats in front of us, heads down. The cops ran down the aisle, stopped at my row and yelled at the three of us to get up. “Can I bring my phone?” I asked, of course. What a cliffhanger for my Twitter followers! No, one of the cops said, grabbing my arm a little harder than I would have liked. He slapped metal cuffs on my wrists and pushed me off the plane. The three of us, two Indian men living in the Detroit metro area, and me, a half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife living in suburban Ohio, were being detained.

After interrogating and strip-searching the three passengers, the FBI determined hours later that “there was no real threat,” excusing the wildly disproportionate response by stating, “The public would rather us err on the side of caution than not.” When Hebshi asked her interrogator what sparked the concern, he replied “that someone on the plane had reported that the three of us in row 12 were conducting suspicious activity.” Hebshi noted that the “activity” was two Indian men “going to the bathroom in succession.”

Hebshi’s situation is an all-too-common example from one of 9/11′s salient legacies: racial and ethnic profiling. Multiple minorities — Muslim or not — have been banned from flights or subjected to humiliating searches solely because of their appearance. Indeed, U.S. officials even spurred diplomatic tension with India last year for detaining its U.N. envoy and demanding to physically check his turban.

Living through this era of Islamophobia, Hebshi wondered whether the mere fact that three minorities “who didn’t know each other” but were dark-skinned will always be “suspicion enough.”

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller Lead SIOA Anti-Muslim Hate Rally on 9/11

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by loonwatch

That SIOA is an anti-Muslim hate group is well known. After we published our expose on their hateful antics the SPLC designated them a hate group.

Predictably, Geller and co. used the tenth anniversary of 9/11 to fear-monger and spread hate of Islam and Muslims:

(via. Islamophobia Watch)

Geller and friends commemorate 9/11

“There is no smiley face, no whitewash on what happened here ten years ago today. What happened, was murder!” As she peppered her speech with soundbites, Pamela Geller was occasionally forced to pause for chants of “U-S-A!” from the smattering of supporters who had turned out for her Freedom Rally yesterday in Lower Manhattan. It was doubtful that there were any “smiley faces” at the official commemoration at the 9/11 Memorial that morning, but if you spoke with attendees of the Freedom Rally, one might have gotten the impression that Presidents Obama and Bush presided over a mass burning of Bibles and bald eagles.

“This country has become communist,” Sheepshead Bay resident Patricia Randolph told us. “A good way to fight for freedom is to know your history, to know that Muslims build victory mosques in places that they have conquered.” She was referring of course to Park51 a cultural center and mosque that may be built blocks from the World Trade Center site. “And have you heard about that mosque they’re building in Sheepshead Bay near a school? Those women that walk around my neighborhood with black nails? They’re Taliban wives.” Her friend Elizabeth of Midwood added, “The Muslims rape little girls, we have to make it safe for the kids.”

Gothamist, 12 September 2011

See also Media Matters, 12 September 2011

Ten Years After 9/11 Attacks, Exploitation of “Patriot Day” Continues

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by loonwatch

(Update I below)

Disclaimer:  I would like to point out that the views expressed below are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Salon’s indefatigable Glenn Greenwald recently wrote (emphasis added):

Worship of the American military and all that it does — and a corresponding taboo on speaking ill of it except for tactical critiques (it would be better if they purchased this other weapon system or fought this war a bit differently) is the closest thing America has to a national religion.

If worship of the military is America’s national religion, then the U.S. soldier is this religion’s holy warrior.  Greenwald noted that the Navy Seals are “a member of the most sacred and revered religious order.”  Those who die in “the line of duty” are martyrs who must be remembered for all “they have done for this country.”  Any criticism against the rank-and-file holy warrior is considered blasphemous.

There can be no possible profession that is more highly praiseworthy to the American than soldier in the military.  Many U.S. airlines will let soldiers board the plane even before women with children and the disabled.  Being part of the war machine is more respectable than being a doctor, a social worker, a teacher for the disabled, or a volunteer at the local orphanage.  Saving people (what a physician does) can in no way, shape, or form be considered better than killing people (what a soldier does).

A person foolish enough to say that “a soldier kills people” will be beaten into submission and subservience by jingoist mantras such as “you should be thankful that you are able to express such views, because it is only due to the sacrifices of those in uniform–who protect your freedoms–that you are free to say what you want.”  This, even though no rational mind could possibly believe this: how does bombing, invading, and occupying Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, or Yemen “protect my freedoms?”  That is, unless one is naive enough to think that any of these Evil, Foreign Brown People were about to conquer the United States, topple its government, and take away my freedoms.

In any case, I have my own government to do that for me.  Far from “fighting for my freedoms,” the military-industrial complex and those in authority who wage these wars are responsible for clamping down on my civil liberties.  With the rise of the Orwellian-named Patriot Act and its like, there has been a sustained war waged not just against Al-Qaeda but against civil liberties, with dedicated assaults on the First and Fourth Amendments.

Worship of the military and the holy warrior runs so deep that even the most ardent critic of the war must never utter a single word against those who wage it.  Such a common sense thing to do is completely off-limits and beyond the scope of decency and propriety.  To do so would be to open oneself up to the criticisms of being “unpatriotic” and “disloyal.”  Criticism of the war must be couched in “patriotic language:” war critics must ceremoniously acknowledge their support for U.S. troops, arguing that I support the troops which is why I want to bring them home.  It is simply unacceptable to just clearly say: I don’t support the troops because they are shooting at, bombing, and killing people.  To do such a thing would be to commit the highest of sins in the American national religion.

The fact that even war critics would hush you up for saying something against America’s cherished holy warriors says something of how deeply ingrained militarism is in our society.  How can it be that opponents of America’s wars will criticize the war as unjust on the one hand but not be anything but absolutely reverent towards those who wage it?  The United States, after all, uses an all-volunteer military; by joining the military is not one making an active choice to take part in these unjust wars?  And certainly, one can choose not to fight, as many brave soldiers and ex-soldiers have done.

Noting with what absolute reverence Americans speak of their soldiers of war, one wonders how it is that they are simultaneously amazed at how unbelievably warlike those Foreign, Other People are for revering their own men of war.  We are taken aback by how “primitive” the North Koreans are when they mindlessly revere their soldiers, yet somehow mystified when we do the same with our troops.  The North Korean soldiers have certainly killed far fewer and waged far fewer wars than our own military.  But alas, those North Koreans are so primitive, whereas we are so advanced, civilized, and peaceful.

I don’t malign or vilify soldiers in the military (as I partially do accept the idea that “they are just doing their job”), but must we continue to speak of our holy warriors with such absolute reverence, awe, and worship?  Our mindless idolization of the military profession is what is to blame for so many of our impressionable youth choosing to join the military to kill people abroad instead of spending those years going to college to expand their minds.  Placing the military and its soldiers on a pedestal is the only way a society can convince its young boys to risk their lives to go to war for the country–something so illogical, so contrary to the biological drive to save oneself from harm or death, that absent the most compelling of reasons one can hardly find it worthwhile to do so.

Interestingly, even that religious and ethnic minority that is the target of America’s wars is itself affected by this national religion.  Muslim-Americans will often bend over backwards to point out that they too “proudly serve this country” by being a part of the military.  (Even the phrase “serve this country” can only mean one thing: soldiering.)  In order to be accepted as Full Citizens, Muslim-Americans must prove their dedication to America’s war machine.

And so, Muslim-Americans–many of them immigrants or children of immigrants–beg to be included in the same institution that wages endless wars in their ancestral homelands.  It is that same institution that is rife with racism and bigotry against Arabs and Muslims, yet so desperately do Muslim-Americans want to be included in it.

*  *  *  *  *

In this national religion, 9/11 is America’s Karbala.  The Battle of Karbala involved the slaughter of the Prophet Muhammad’s descendants by a tyrannical government–an event that is religiously commemorated each year by Shia Muslims, who will often make a religious pilgrimage (ziyarat) to the site of the battle or to the graves of the victims.  With vigor just short of this, Americans commemorate Patriot Day, the holy day of the American national religion.

Ground Zero, meanwhile, is the “hallowed ground”–a trip here is the ziyarat (religious pilgrimage) of the American religion.  The American flag becomes a symbol not to be disrespected, our nation’s holy book, waved high by people chanting “USA! USA! USA!”, which can only mean one thing: war!  The flag has become a raised symbol of war.

The military is our national religion, its soldiers are our holy warriors, the Navy Seals are our highest religious order, those soldiers who died in war are our martyrs, 9/11 was our Karbala, Patriot Day is our annual holy day, the flag is our holy book and symbol, Osama bin Laden is Lucifer, Terrorism is the greatest Evil, supporting the troops is our greatest religious obligation, and failure to do so is the greatest blasphemy and the highest of sins.

*  *  *  *  *

The problem I have with the cult-like remembrance of 9/11 is that it was the devotion to this day that was used to launch wars of vengeance that killed ten times as many people.  This date, 9/11, has been militarized.  It is a memory we are told that we must never forget lest we slacken in our resolve to wage war against the Forces of Evil, the Satan of our religion: radical Islam and Terrorism.  It is a memory that is invoked to remind the American people why they need to spend more of their taxpayer money to sustain their country’s illegal occupations and immoral wars.

Furthermore, the singling out of this day above all others (including days on which worse acts of violence were perpetrated by the United States), exudes the tribalistic mentality that infects people with strong feelings of national or religious identity–wherein only blood shed against one’s own national or religious group is remembered (and in fact, it is obsessed over), whereas that shed by one’s own national or religious group against others is ignored, denied, or justified.

Lastly, one cannot help but feel that 9/11 would hardly have been considered as important to the national religion had it not been Muslims who were implicated in the attack.  They attacked us.  The deaths of the victims of 9/11 are less relevant than the fact that they–those Foreign, Dark-Complexioned Moozlums–are the ones who caused these deaths.  The horrendous attacks of 9/11 have special significance due to the fact that the perpetrators were radical Muslims, an Existential Threat to our Safety and Freedoms.

The victims of 9/11 certainly ought to be remembered, as should all the victims of war and terrorism (whether the culprit be our enemies or our own country and whether the victims be American or not), but should their memory really be exploited to feed the national religion of warmongering?  Is it not deeply disturbing that an act of violence and the deaths of three-thousand innocents are being used to justify even greater acts of violence and even more civilian deaths?

Disclaimer: I would like to point out that the views expressed above are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Update I: An interesting Facebook status that is making the rounds:

On 9/11, I’ll mourn the nearly 3,000 lives lost, over 6,000 injuries, the infrastructural carnage and devastation in NYC, and the humiliation of my country, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my religion

On 9/12, I’ll mourn the nearly 1,000,000 lives, the 10′s of millions of injuries, the infrastructural decimation in 3 countries, and the humiliation of my religion, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my country.

Update II:  Many readers and fellow LoonWatch writers have pointed out that many young people join the military due to financial reasons.  Additionally, many of them are “trying to serve their country” and “are just following orders.”  I do not completely disagree with these statements.  As I said, I do not malign or vilify soldiers, nor encourage that.  What I am opposed to is the glorification of what they do.

9/11: A Day of Remembrance

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by loonwatch

10 years have passed since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Let this day be one of remembrance for the victims, their families and loved ones. Let it not be a day used as political football to divide, fear-monger and justify war and aggression.

Anders Breivik’s spider web of hate

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by loonwatch

Anders Breivik’s spider web of hate

Anders Breivik’s manifesto reveals a subculture of nationalistic and Islamophobic websites that link the European and American far right in a paranoid alliance against Islam and is also rooted in some democratically elected parties.

The Guardian has analysed the webpages he links to, and the pages that these in turn link to, in order to expose a spider web of hatred based around three “counter-jihad” sites, two run by American rightwingers, and one by an eccentric Norwegian. All of these draw some of their inspiration from the Egyptian Jewish exile Gisele Littman, who writes under the name of Bat Ye’or, and who believes that the European elites have conspired against their people to hand the continent over to Muslims.

As well as his very long manifesto, Breivik also laid out some of his thoughts on the Norwegian nationalist site Document.no. In his postings there, Breivik referred to something he called “the Vienna school of thought”, which consists of the people who had worked out the ideology that inspired him to commit mass murder. He named three people in particular: Littman; the Norwegian Peder Jensen who wrote under the pseudonym of Fjordman; and the American Robert Spencer, who maintains a site called Jihad Watch, and agitates against “the Islamisation of America”.

But the name also alludes to a blog called Gates of Vienna, run by an American named Edward “Ned” May, on which Fjordman posted regularly and which claims that Europe is now as much under threat from a Muslim invasion as it was in 1683, when a Turkish army besieged Vienna.

All of these paranoid fantasists share a vision articulated by the Danish far-right activist Anders Gravers, who has links with the EDL in Britain and with Spencer and his co-conspiracist Pamela Geller in the US. Gravers told a conference in Washington last year:

“The European Union acts secretly, with the European people being deceived about its development. Democracy is being deliberately removed, and the latest example being the Lisbon Treaty. However the plan goes much further with an ultimate goal of being a Eurabian superstate, incorporating Muslim countries of north Africa and the Middle East in the European Union. This was already initiated with the signing of the Barcelona treaty in 1995 by the EU and nine north African states and Israel, which became effective on the 1st of January, 2010. It is also known as the Euro-Mediterranean co-operation. In return for some European control of oil resources, Muslim countries will have unfettered access to technology and movement of people into Europe. The price Europeans will have to pay is the introduction of sharia law and removal of democracy.”

Spencer’s jihadwatch.org is linked to 116 times from Breivik’s manifesto; May’s Gates of Vienna 86 times; and Fjordman 114 times.

Spencer and Geller were the organisers of the protest against the so-called 9/11 mosque in New York City. They also took over Stop Islamisation of America, a movement with links to the EDL and to a variety of far-right movements across Europe. Of the two, Spencer is less of a fringe figure. He has been fulsomely interviewed by the Catholic Herald in this country and praised by Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion, who called him “a profound and subtle thinker”. Damian Thompson, a leader writer on the Telegraph, once urged his readers to buy Spencer’s works, especially if they believed that Islam was “a religion of peace”. Last week, Spencer’s blog re-ran a piece from Geller’s Atlas Shrugged website claiming that Governor Rick Perry, the creationist rightwinger from Texas, is actually linked to Islamists via Grover Norquist, the far-right tax cutter whom Geller claims is “a front for the Muslim Brotherhood”. Geller also once republished a blogpost speculating that President Obama is the love child of Malcolm X.

As well as the “counter-jihad” websites such as Spencer’s and May’s, analysis of Breivik’s web reveals a dense network of 104 European nationalist sites and political parties. Some of these are represented in parliaments: Geert Wilders’s Dutch Freedom party; the French National Front; the Danish People’s party, the Norwegian Progress party (of which Breivik was briefly a member before he left, disgusted with its moderation); the Sweden Democrats. Others, like the EDL, are fringe groupings. Then there are those in between, such as the Hungarian far-right party Jobbik. But they range all across Europe. They are united by hostility to Muslims and to the EU.

One place where these strands intertwine is the Brussels Journal, a website run by the Belgian Catholic MEP Paul Belien, a member of the far-right Vlaams Belang party. The British Europhobic Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan appeared for three years on the Brussels Journal’s masthead. Hannan has since denounced the European neo-fascist parties as not really rightwing at all.

To appear on this list is not to be complicit in Breivik’s crime. Peder “Fjordman” Jensen was so shocked by it that he gave himself up to the police and gave an interview to a Norwegian paper in which he appeared genuinely bewildered that his predictions of a European civil war should have led anyone to such violence.

It is still more unfair to blame Melanie Phillips. Although she was cited by Breivik at length for an article claiming that the British elite had deliberately encouraged immigration in order to break down traditional society and she has written that “Bat Ye’or’s scholarship is awesome and her analysis is as persuasive as it is terrifying“, she has also argued, with nearly equal ferocity, against the “counter-jihad” belief that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim.

The world view of the counter-jihadis echoes that of the jihadis they feel threatened by. The psychological world of the jihadis has been described by the British psychiatrist Russell Razzaque, who rejected recruitment by Hizb ut-Tahrir when he was a medical student. It is not just a matter of a black-and-white world view, he says, though that is part of it. “It’s a very warm embrace. You felt a sense of self-esteem, a sense of real embrace. Then it gives you a sense of purpose, which is also something you’ve never had so much. The purpose is a huge one. Part of a cosmic struggle when you’re on the right side: you’re another generation in the huge fight that goes back to the crusades.”

This clearly mirrors Breivik’s self-image. What makes him particularly frightening is that he seems to have radicalised himself, just as jihadis do, before he went looking for advice and guidance on the internet. But he was able to take the last few steps into mass murder all alone, so far as we know. Jihadi groups also withdraw from the world into a cramped and paranoid universe of their own. Suicide bombers such as the 9/11 and 7/7 groups spent months psyching each other up before the crime, talking obsessively for hours every day. But Breivik, though he withdrew from society to his farm, seems to have spent his time alone with the internet. It allowed him to hear his own choir of imaginary friends, and hear inside his head their voices cheering him on to murder and martyrdom. Here they are, mapped.

To Commemorate 9/11 Allen West Says: “Islam is not a Religion”

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Pretty self-explanatory if you ask me. West is at war with Islam:

This took place in the Capitol, September 7, 2011.

9/11 Coloring Book Influences Kids With Islamophobia

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2011 by loonwatch

911coloringbook

9/11 Coloring Book Influences Kids With Islamophobia

By Tanya Somanader on Aug 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Believing that the upcoming 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 is best memorialized in crayon, Really Big Coloring Books, Inc. is publishing a new coloring book entitled “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom.” In offering kids the option of coloring the Twin Towers burning, mourning survivors, or the Navy SEALs shooting Osama Bin Laden, publisher Wayne Bell insists that “the doodles represent patriotism,” a “simplistic, honest tool” to “help educate children on events on 9/11.” But many Muslims describe it as, in a word, “disgusting.”

Pointing out that Muslims are already dealing with an environment of increasing Islamophobia, Michigan Council on American Islamic Relations representative Dawud Walid noted that “nearly all of the mentions of Muslims in the book are accompanied by the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘extremist.’” Indeed, the page depicting a Navy SEAL aiming at bin Laden cowering behind is veiled wife reads “Children, the truth is, these terrorist acts were done by freedom-hating Islamic Muslim extremists. These crazy people hate the American way of life because we are FREE and our society is FREE.” Bell’s response? “The truth is the truth“:

“Little kids who pick up this book can have their perceptions colored by those images … it instills bias in young minds,” said Walid. He says that some of the narrative and photos aren’t even correct, noting that Bin Laden wasn’t hiding behind a wife when he was shot.

Bell stood by the book as an “honest depiction”.

“The truth is the truth,” Bell said, adding, “It’s unfortunate that they were all Muslim and that’s the part people want to erase … I don’t know what else you can call them.”

Noting that one page depicts a woman mourning with a cross chain dangling from her neck, Walid says “Muslims mothers lost sons too.” He also noted that he’s not an advocate of showing children violent images — a sentiment that many military families share. Shariah Gibbs, a military spouse in Germany, said “This should not be a coloring book.” Another said, “I would not buy a coloring book [about 9/11]…To me, coloring books should be fun….this is not!”

It is important to note that Bell has published other coloring books on topics “from dinosaurs and zoo animals to African-American leaders, President Obama, superheroes of the Bible and even the Tea Party.” He even said that, if asked to print a book reflecting positive images of Muslim Americans, “I’d print it tomorrow.” To which Walid said, “Well, I’m asking him to do it right now.”

James Kirchick: What About all the “Christianist” Support for Killing Civilians?

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by loonwatch

In an August 2nd piece in the New York Daily News, James Kirchick a contributing editor for The New Republic wrote that ‘Islamist terror dwarfs Breivik’s brand because almost nobody supports Christianist violence.’ He implies in the piece that there is more support amongst Muslims for the targeted killing of civilians than groups in the West.

Kirchick is not the first, and probably will not be the last to express such a sentiment. To buttress his point Kirchick cites the familiar Pew Poll research and celebrations on Palestinian streets after the 9/11 attacks as evidence that there is a large wellspring for terrorism, while claiming that, excepting some mad bloggers, Breivik was universally condemned in the West.

It goes without saying that Kirchick’s analysis is simplistic for more than one reason.  Firstly, Breivik’s terrorism did not emerge out of nowhere, there is an anti-Muslim movement from which his thoughts were gleaned. Secondly, there are many in the anti-Muslim movement who share Breivik’s ideas about the “Muslim threat.” Thirdly, while many in the anti-Muslim movement are not willing to kill to reach their ends they do share in a radical and anti-Democratic path to “solve” the “Muslim problem.” Fourth, there is a significant group of individuals who do support aggressive and violent action to “save the West from Muslims” (see: SIOA is a Hate Group).

Fifth, the Islamist terror threat is overblown, (see: “All Terrorists are…”). Sixth, Kirchick conflates anti-Americanism and opposition to American foreign policy with  those who express a willingness to join “Islamist terror.” Seventh, he is unaware or ignores the fact there is a disproportionately large amount of support and acceptance for the killing of civilians amongst non-Muslims in the West, but lets keep it brief.

Support for Breivik’s Brand of Terror vs. Islamist Terror vs. Professional State Terrorism

Breivik’s brand of terror may not elicit as much support as ‘Islamist terror,’ but that is not to say there isn’t a pool of acceptance for the murder of civilians in the West. In fact, what would Kirchick’s response be to the fact that many more non-Muslims condone and justify the murder of civilians than Muslims?

58% of Catholics and Protestants believe the targeted military killing of civilians is sometimes justified (would that be considered “Christianist” support?), while 52% of Jews and 64% of Mormons believe it is sometimes justified. That dwarfs Muslims, 21% of whom say it is sometimes justified, while 78% say it is never justified.

What would Kirchick make of the evidence that Americans and Israelis are more likely to justify the murder of civilians than Muslims in almost every country?

Mormon-Americans 64%
Christian-Americans 58%
Jewish-Americans 52%
Israeli Jews 52%
Palestinians* 51%
No religion/Atheists/Agnostics (U.S.A.) 43%
Nigerians* 43%
Lebanese* 38%
Spanish Muslims 31%
Muslim-Americans 21%
German Muslims 17%
French Muslims 16%
British Muslims 16%
Egyptians* 15%
Indonesians* 13%
Jordanians* 12%
Pakistanis* 5%
Turks* 4%

*refers to Muslims only

It would seem that Professional Terrorism of the statecraft kind dwarfs the meager in comparison threat of “Islamist terror.”

Perhaps Kirchick wrote this piece before the publication of the Gallup Poll survey and was therefore the victim of horrible timing?

Homework for James Kirchick

Kirchick would do well to read a new book from Charles Kurzman, “The Missing Martyrs.”

“The Missing Martyrs” is an accessible scholarly work that addresses the overlooked and often ignored question of: if as we are told, there is a lot of support for terrorism amongst Muslims, why out of 1.5 billion Muslims are there so few Muslim terrorists? Why does fear of the bogeyman of “terrorism” continue to haunt us when the threat from so-called “jihadists” is just not that great?

Aaron Ross in his book review for MotherJones writes,

As it turns out, there just aren’t that many Muslims determined to kill us. Backed by a veritable army of fact, figures, and anecdotes, Kurzman makes a compelling case. He calculates, for example, that global Islamist terrorists have succeeded in recruiting fewer than 1 in 15,000 Muslims over the past 25 years, and fewer than 1 in 100,000 since 2001. And according to a top counterterrorism official, Al Qaeda originally planned to hit a West Coast target, too, on 9/11 but lacked the manpower to do so.

While Arabs and Muslims continue to repudiate Al Qaeda and its allies by toppling dictators and pushing forward towards Democracy, it is high time that US journalists, analysts and think tanks stop beating the dead horse of “Islamist terror” and catch up to the changes shaking the world.

Terrorism is not confined to non-state actors alone, if this is accepted than the narrative of greater support for terrorism amongst Muslims must not only be revised but should properly be dumped in the garbage bin of history.