Archive for Melvin Bledsoe

Melvin Bledsoe: King Witness’ Story Undermined By Reality

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on March 18, 2011 by loonwatch

A very interesting piece on Melvin Bledsoe.

King Witness’ Story Undermined By Reality

The Tennessean’s Bob Smietana has another blockbuster story, this time questioning the premise of one of Peter King’s star witnesses, Melvin Bledsoe.

Bledsoe testified yesterday that his “happy-go-lucky” son Carlos became a different person after converting to Islam. He claimed Carlos, who changed his name to Abdul Hakim Muhammad, was “brainwashed” by his conversion. Muhammad has admitted to attempting to burn a Nashville rabbi’s home and shooting an Army private at a recruiting station in Arkansas in 2009.

Bledsoe was just one one of just two witnesses called by King in his attempt to prove that young men are susceptible to recruitment, radicalization, and violence in their local Muslim communities. As was evident yesterday at the hearing, these individual stories were inadequate to prove any sort of broader phenomenon. But now Smietana’s piece demolishes King’s argument. Muhammad, it turns out, had quite a bit of trouble even before his conversion, and was not “radicalized” in mosques.

While the elder Bledsoe claimed his son was radicalized and made violent in mosques, local Muslim leaders in Tennessee don’t remember the young man. From Smietana’s piece:

“Something is wrong with the Muslim leadership in Nashville,” Melvin Bledsoe said, testifying in Washington. “What happened to Carlos at those Nashville mosques isn’t normal.”

But local Muslim leaders say they don’t tolerate any violent behavior or rhetoric in their communities. They say Muhammad attended prayers at two Nashville mosques — the Al-Farooq Islamic Center and the Islamic Center of Nashville — for a short period of time.

Then he disappeared.

What’s more, although Bledsoe blamed his son’s conversion to Islam for his mental health problems, records show those issues pre-dated his conversion:

On Feb. 24, 2004, according to police reports, Muhammad was arrested in Knoxville after police found a shotgun and a loaded assault rifle in his car. During a mental health evaluation to see if he was fit to stand trial for the Little Rock shooting, Muhammad said that he had been a gang member and had used alcohol heavily and marijuana regularly before converting to Islam in late 2004.

This is what King said yesterday, of Bledsoe and another witness who said his nephew was radicalized:

Their courage and spirit will put a human face on the horror which Islamist radicalization has inflicted and will continue to inflict on good families, especially those in the Muslim community, unless we put aside political correctness and define who our enemy truly is.

I’m not holding my breath on a correction from him.

UPDATE: My coverage of the hearing is over at the Nation, in which I report on how the proceedings were an effort to portray American Muslims as clueless and “not intellectually equipped.”

Peter King’s “Muslim Hearings” are Political Theater to Target Muslims

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by loonwatch

Loonwatch was live blogging the controversial (anti)-Muslim Hearings being chaired by bigoted ex-IRA terrorist supporter Peter King. It was a circus. It devolved along partisan lines with Republicans predictably falling behind the rhetoric and narrative of Peter King. Democratic Congressmen/women issued strong rebukes: Rep. Sheila J. Lee, Rep. Al Green, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Andre Carson, Rep. Laura Richardson, Rep. Sanchez, and others delivered the message home that these Hearings were nothing more than political theater meant to castigate and intimidate a minority group and most importantly they were bereft of facts and therefore unbeneficial.

The leading witnesses for King were non-experts, Zuhdi Jasser, AbdiRizak Bihi and Melvin Bledsoe, all of these individuals were bereft of any credentials or expertise in the field of radicalization, terrorism or extremism. Zuhdi Jasser is considered an apologist for Neo-Cons and is viewed with suspicion amongst American Muslims for his close association with Islamophobes and war-mongerers. AbdiRizak was incomprehensible at times and much of what he and Bledsoe said were anecdotal and not factual evidence.

King began the hearings with what can only be classified as a bigoted comment, he said, “Moderate leadership must emerge from the Muslim community.” He said this to set up a straw man argument for what would become a recurring attack on CAIR, almost making it into a hearing about CAIR.

After getting its name wrong, calling it the “Committee of American Islamic Relations,” he and other Congressmen labeled CAIR a Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood group. This is the usual trope brought forth by Right-wingers and anti-Muslims such as Robert Spencer and co., the best response came from Sheriff Lee Baca (one of the anti-Loons of 2010) when he said, ‘If CAIR is this terrorist group or has terrorist links then why hasn’t the FBI prosecuted them? Why haven’t they charged them? They wouldn’t be around if they were terrorist or terrorist sympathizers.’

Some highlights included:

Keith Ellison made three important points: 1.) Security is important to all American Muslims, 2.) Hearings threaten our security and 3.) We need increased engagement with Muslims.

Ellison also got quite emotional while mentioning the story of a Muslim first responder who died saving people but was the victim of a smear campaign by Islamophobes who attempted to link him to the 9/11 attacks.

Andre Carson brought up an excellent point about the fact that cooperation between law enforcement and communities such as the American Muslim community is endangered by the backdoor actions and methodologies of  organizations such as the FBI when they send agent provocateurs into Muslim mosques. Such actions cause distrust and engender fear that Muslims’ civil rights and liberties are being violated. One really only has to look at the example in California of the criminal Craig Montielh who was later arrested and confessed that he was sent by the FBI on a fishing expedition to entrap Muslims.

There were also other quite interesting WTF moments: Such as when Peter King mentioned Kim Kardashian and CAIR in the same sentence. Or when non-expert witness Melvin Bledsoe told Rep. Al Green “you don’t know what these hearings are about.” There was also the earlier moment when Peter King denied making the comment that “there are too many mosques in America.” A blatant falsity.

We will have more in depth coverage but it is safe to say that American Muslims are in for a rocky Islamophobic time with these hearings.