Archive for TSA

Gun Parts, Ammo Found Hidden Inside Stuffed Animals at Rhode Island Airport, Suspects are Free to Go

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2012 by loonwatch

TSA via AP

This photo provided by the Transportation Security Administration shows pistol parts hidden in a stuffed animal found at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I.

Can you imagine if a Muslim or “Muslim looking” person had stuffed animals with gun parts and ammo? You can bet he would be on a one way ticket to Guantanomo! (via. What If They Were Muslim?)

Gun parts, ammo found hidden inside stuffed animals at Rhode Island airport

By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news services
(msnbc.com)

WARWICK, R.I. — Gun components and ammunition were found hidden inside three stuffed animals carried by a passenger at Rhode Island’s T.F. Green Airport on Tuesday, federal transportation officials said.

Authorities later allowed the 4-year-old boy and his father to continue their travel to Detroit after concluding the man didn’t pose a risk, authorities said. He told police that he didn’t know the parts were inside the stuffed toys — which included a Mickey Mouse and a teddy bear.

“It appears to be the result of a domestic dispute,” Rhode Island Airport Police Chief Leo Messier said. “It was jointly investigated by the RI Airport Police, FBI and the RI State Police and it was determined that there was no threat at any time to air safety.”

NBC News station WHDH reported that a magazine loaded with two .40-caliber rounds was discovered inside a bunny and a firing pin was inside Mickey Mouse.

‘Artfully concealed’
Officials with airport police and the Transportation Security Administration declined to comment further, saying the incident remained under investigation.

A TSA officer noticed the disassembled gun components “artfully concealed” inside three stuffed animals. The stuffed animals were inside the child’s carry-on bag, which had been put through an X-ray machine as part of normal security screening.

The parts could have been assembled to make a full firearm, authorities said.

The items were confiscated. Police have not released the man’s name.

Passengers at T.F. Green told WHDH they were thankful the system worked.

“I know a lot of people don’t like the screening procedure, but I’m thankful that they really screen people and we feel much safer because of it,” one woman told the station.

NBC News station WHDH and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Who are the Victims of Civil Liberties Assaults and Endless War?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by loonwatch

Opponent of war and advocate of civil liberties  (Credit: AP)

Opponent of war and advocate of civil liberties (Credit: AP)

Who are the victims of civil liberties assaults and Endless War?

BY GLENN GREENWALD

(updated below)

In The Washington Post yesterday, Law Professor Jonathan Turley has an Op-Ed in which he identifies ten major, ongoing assaults on core civil liberties in the U.S. Many of these abuses were accelerated during the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11, but all have been vigorously continued and/or expanded by President Obama.  Turley points out that these powers have long been deemed (by the U.S.) as the hallmark of tyranny, and argues that their seizure by the U.S. Government has seriously called into question America’s status as a free nation: “They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian.” All ten of these powers are ones very familiar to readers here: Assassination of U.S. citizens; Indefinite detention; Arbitrary justice; Warrantless searches; Secret evidence; War crimes; Secret court; Immunity from judicial review; Continual monitoring of citizens; and Extraordinary renditions.

I’ve written volumes on all of those powers over the last several years, but — especially today — I want to focus on one narrow but vital question: who are generally the victims of these civil liberties assaults? The answer is the same as the one for this related question: who are the prime victims of America’s posture of Endless War? Overwhelmingly, the victims are racial, ethnic and religious minorities: specifically, Muslims (both American Muslims and foreign nationals). And that is a major factor in why these abuses flourish: because those who dominate American political debates perceive, more or less accurately, that they are not directly endangered (at least for now) by this assault on core freedoms and Endless War (all civil liberties abuses in fact endanger all citizens, as they inevitably spread beyond their original targets, but they generally become institutionalized precisely because those outside the originally targeted minority groups react with indifference).

To see how central a role this sort of selfish provincialism plays in shaping political priorities, just compare (a) the general indifference to Endless War and the massive civil liberties assaults described by Turley (ones largely confined to Muslims)  to (b) the intense outrage and media orgy generated when a much milder form of invasiveness — TSA searches — affected Americans of all backgrounds. The success of Endless War and civil liberties attacks depends on ensuring that the prime victims, at least in the first instance, are marginalized and easily demonizable minorities.

The fundamental interconnectedness between war and civil liberties abuses on the one hand, and the targeting of minorities as part of those policies on the other, is, of course, nothing new. It was most eloquently emphasized in the largely forgotten, deliberately whitewashed 1967 speech about the Vietnam War by Martin Luther King, Jr. (who himself was targeted for years with abusive domestic surveillance by the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover). Dr. King devoted that extraordinary speech generally to the way in which the war in Vietnam was savaging not only the people of that country but also America’s national character. He specifically sought to answer his critics who were objecting that his increasingly strident opposition to the Vietnam War was a distraction from his civil rights work; instead, he insisted, his war opposition and advocacy of civil rights are, in fact, causes that are inextricably linked:

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. . . .

It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through [Lyndon Johnson’s] poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such . . . .

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent. . . .

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land. . . .

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

King notably added another reason why he felt compelled to prioritize issues of war: “another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission.” As he put it: “ This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.” If only that award were similarly understood today. His essential point was that nothing good could possibly happen in America so long as it continued on its path of warfare and bombing and invading foreign countries, and it was therefore necessary to prioritize protests against the war on at least equal footing with every other issue.

Over the weekend, I recorded a BloggingheadsTV session with The Nation‘s Katha Pollitt in which several of these same themes were discussed; it was a good, civil, constructive discussion, and the video is below. Part of the debate over the last couple weeks among progressives regarding political priorities, the Obama presidency, the Ron Paul candidacy and the like has entailed a litany of accusations — smears — hurled at those of us who insist on the prioritization of issues of war and civil liberties abuses, and who vocally highlight the ways in which the Democratic Party generally and President Obama specifically have been so awful on these matters. Some Democratic loyalists have explicitly argued that contrasting Obama with Ron Paul on these issues is warped because issues of war and civil liberties are, at best, ancillary concerns, while others have gone so far as to claim that only racial and/or gender bias — white male “privilege” — would cause someone to use the Paul candidacy to highlight how odious Obama has been in these areas.

Leaving aside the fact that (as I detail in the discussion with Pollitt),numerous women and people of color have made the same points about the vital benefits of Paul’s candidacy — voices which these accusers tellingly ignore and silence — these accusations are pure projection. Those who were operating from such privilege would not seek to prioritize issues of war and civil liberties; that’s because it isn’t white progressives and their families who are directly harmed by these heinous policies. The opposite is true: it’s very easy, very tempting, for those driven by this type of “privilege” — for non-Muslims in particular– to decide that these issues are not urgent, that Endless War and civil liberties abuses by a President should not be disqualifying or can be tolerated, precisely because these non-Muslim progressive accusers are not acutely affected by them. The kind of “privilege” these accusers raise would cause one to de-prioritize and accept civil liberties abuses, drone slaughter, indefinite detention and the like (i.e, do what they themselves do), not demand that significant attention be paid to them when assessing political choices.

As I noted the other day,  it isn’t white males being indefinitely detained, rendered, and having their houses and cars exploded with drones — the victims of those policies are people like Lakhdar Boumediene, or Gulet Mohamed, or Jose Padilla, or Awal Gul, or Sami al-Haj, or Binyam Mohamed, or Murat Kurnaz, or Afghan villagers, or Pakistani families, or Yemeni teenagers. In order to get the full depth of the oppression and injustice of these ongoing War on Terror policies, one has to do things like listen to this amazing — and tragically rare — interview conducted by Chris Hayes this weekend with Boumediene, as the former GITMO detainee explained in Arabic how his life was devastated by indefinite detention. It’s easy to convince yourself that these abuses are not an urgent priority if, like those above-linked accusers, your non-Muslim privilege (to use their accusatory terminology) enables you to be shielded from their harms.

This is the primary point made so brilliantly by Falguni Sheth, the Political Theory and Philosophy Professor, in arguing that white progressives throwing around these accusations are themselves the ones guilty of it by virtue of their willingness to subordinate these issues to partisan gain — in other words, no longer desiring that these abuses be vested with prime political priority now that it’s their Party and their President guilty of them:

But HERE FOLKS! I am a brown woman (in case my bio didn’t clue you into that), and I am downright livid at policies passed during the Obama administration (which a number of folks will attest that I anticipated before the 2008 election), which are even worse than expected. I am as livid with progressives who affect a casual? studied? indifference to the Administration’s repeated support for warrantless wiretapping (remember Obama’s vote during the 2008 election season when he took a break in campaigning to return to Washington to vote for the renewal of FISA; for his support of the Justice Department’s withholding of evidence (and even habeas corpus) from detainees on grounds of national security; his commitment to indefinite detention (NDAA was not the first time it’s arisen. We saw his support in the gesture to move Gitmo detainees to a federal prison in Illinois—with only a casual suggestion that they might receive civilian trials—only to watch it die quickly under even modest resistance. Guantanamo is still open with detainees languishing); the expansion of troops into Afghanistan in the first part of his term; the unceasing drone attacks in Pakistan, etc. . . .

Here’s my other question: Why does this have to turn into a “guilt by association” debate? Why can’t we discuss the questions that are being raised as serious and important questions, rather than referendums on voters’ or pundits’ moral character? I don’t have to like Ron Paul (and why do we need to LIKE our politicians?). I don’t have to have dinner with him. He doesn’t need to be a friend. He is raising the questions that every other liberal and progressive and feminist (yes, including you, Katha) should be raising and forcing the Democrats to address. As Greenwald has pointed out, these issues only become outrage-worthy when the Republicans are spearheading human rights violations, because it gives the libs and progs a lever by which to claim political superiority. The silence on the Democrats’ record of human rights violations is deafening. And they’re more than cherries on a blighted tree. They’re dead bodies on the blighted conscience of Americans.

As I said the other day, I don’t run around accusing progressives who have different political priorities than I do of being driven by racial and religious bias. I genuinely recognize that there are all sorts of benign and even noble reasons why one might have different political priorities or might even value partisan loyalty more than I do. But there is one thing I know for certain: to smear with this kind of innuendo those insisting on the prioritization of war and civil liberties issues or devoting oneself to these causes is indescribably irrational and reckless. One driven by racial or other forms of privilege would seek to de-prioritize or ignore these issues, not highlight them. Indeed, a primary reason why these fully bipartisan policies of Endless War and civil liberties assaults largely go unchallenged is precisely because their primary victims are anything but privileged. That’s exactly why these issues are not a distraction from the cause of equality; they are an embodiment of it.

* * * * *

On a related note, International Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller reviewsthe debate raised here and elsewhere last week about the murder of Iranian scientists and argues that these acts, definitively and without question, are acts of Terrorism.

Here is the 55-minute discussion I had with Pollitt this weekend, one which, as I indicated, I thought was quite constructive and helpfully illuminated the key points:
ttp://bloggingheads.tv/videos/8737?in=00:00&out=54:55
UPDATE: The always smart Freddie De Boer has some poignant insights on all of this – on progressives, war and civil liberties — that are well worth reading.

Fired from TSA, Mpls. Man gets Prison Term for Off-Duty Hate Crime against Somali

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2011 by loonwatch

Fired from TSA, Mpls. man gets prison term for off-duty hate crime against Somali

Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune

A Minneapolis man who lost his job with the Transportation Security Administration for an off-duty assault of an elderly Somali man has been sentenced to six months in prison for the hate crime.

George Thompson, 64, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Thompson’s case was the first prosecuted under the act.

Signed into law in October 2009, the act was named after Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teen who died after being kidnapped and beaten in 1998, and James Byrd, Jr., a black man who was dragged to death in Texas that same year.

“Physical violence motivated by racial or religious hatred exacerbates fear and tears at the fabric of our society,” B. Todd Jones, U.S. attorney for Minnesota, said in a statement issued after Thompson’s sentencing. “Here in Minnesota, we have vibrant and diverse communities and should be celebrating that fact, not assaulting people because of it.”

Thompson also was charged in state court about three months after the May 4, 2010, assault in another bias-inspired attack on the same street as the earlier incident, but that allegation was dropped once the federal case was filed.

According to the criminal complaint in the dismissed case:

Thompson approached a man and asked him whether he was Somali. The man said he was, prompting Thompson to chase and threaten to kill him. The man found refuge with police officers who were nearby.

Thompson then went into a neighborhood bar, where he was arrested. He was drunk and had two loaded firearms with him and a permit to carry them.

Both incidents cost Thompson his job with the Transportation Security Administration. He worked for eight years with the federal agency that provides security to the nation’s airports.

According to court documents in the federal case:

Thompson was leaving a bar in his Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and “punched or shoved” an 82-year-old Somali man without provocation. The man nearly fell.

“You Muslims, go back to your country,” witnesses reported Thompson as saying, along with, “You Somali, go back to your country.”

The defense acknowledged that Thompson was embarrassed and sorry for the assault, but also noted that the defendant was frustrated by trouble that Somali youth had been causing in his neighborhood.

The defense pointed out that Thompson and others were subjected to threats, assaults, robberies and indecent exposure from Somali youth.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

O’Hare TSA Employee Fired over Racist, Homphobic, Anti-Muslim Facebook Posts

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2011 by loonwatch
Roy Egan

Roy Egan was fired due to violating the TSA code of conduct.

O’Hare TSA Employee Fired Over Racist, Homphobic, Anti-Muslim Facebook Posts

Sun-Times Media Wire

Chicago – Roy Egan, an O’Hare Airport baggage handler who allegedly spewed racist and bigoted rants against Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and homosexuals on his Facebook page has been fired, according to the Chicago Council on American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR said Egan had worked at the airport for nine years, was suspended in October and terminated this month.

Egan used his Facebook page, where he openly identified himself as a TSA officer, to post comments such as: “FILTHY MUSLIM,” Muslims “need to be exterminated”, “BURN ISLAM”, “Islam, a cult that glorifies death,” and ”Does anything at all make you smile more than a Muslim burning by his own hateful hand.”

He also posted remarks about President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Attorney General Eric Holder.

CAIR-Chicago representatives met with Transportation Security Administration leadership in Chicago three weeks ago to voice the concerns of the Muslim community about the incident and to ask that more be done to prevent future incidents from happening.

“We made it clear that Egan’s discourse was as much an embarrassment to the agency and the values it stands for, as it was an affront against Muslims and other minorities,”

“By the end of the meeting, we felt convinced that the TSA leadership takes such violations of its code of conduct very seriously and that they genuinely set out to do their utmost to ensure that all constituents are treated with fairness and respect.”

“The TSA works hard everyday to keep Americans safe,” Amina Sharif, TSA communications coordinator said in the release. “When such egregious behavior is flagged on the part of one of their agents, it breeds confidence in us as passengers that it is dealt with as swiftly and as seriously as it was in the case of Roy Egan.”

Egan was in violation of the TSA code of conduct which stipulates that its employees — on or off duty — behave in a manner that avoids causing the public to raise questions about their judgment and ability to enforce the mission of the agency, the release said.

Homeland Security TSA Agent Exposed As Anti-Muslim Bigot

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

Roy Egan, “a veteran officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Chicago” and a TSA agent, was confronted by a reporter for his rabid anti-Muslim Facebook comments.  Right now, the story is limited to local ABC News.  I wonder if this will be aired on national and cable news networks.

A word of caution is in order: Roy Egan is just one part of a much larger problem.  He is a cog in a much larger Islamophobic machine.  The Department of Homeland Security and the TSA are operating inherently racist, bigoted, and fear-mongering policies.

(cross-posted from ABC)
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=8389894

October 12, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) – A veteran officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Chicago is being disciplined after posting hundreds of racist and derogatory comments on Facebook.

His name is Roy Egan. Not only were Officer Egan’s racial and religious rants open for anyone to see, for years he openly identified himself by name on Facebook and listed his employer as U.S. Homeland Security-TSA, the Transportation Security Administration.

For the past nine years, Egan has worked as a TSA baggage screener at O’Hare Airport. The 46-year-old has noted on his Facebook page, “I look for bad stuff going on airplanes.”

But it wasn’t Egan’s personal data that caught the eye of the I-Team. It was his public postings calling “Islam a cult that glorifies death…and a filthy religion.” It is a theme Egan repeated in postings just about every day: that Muslims should be exterminated.

In the garage at Egan’s southwest suburban home, the I-Team questioned the nine-year TSA officer about his anti-Muslim statements.

Goudie: “You posted those, didn’t you?
Egan: It was common stuff I picked off the web and made comments on.
Goudie: What does it say that a TSA officer is saying these kinds of things about Muslims?
Egan: I don’t refer to it in my job.”

Egan’s job is to screen baggage at O’Hare. Since 9/11, the treatment of Muslim travelers and allegations of Middle Eastern profiling, have dogged Homeland Security agencies.

Officer Egan recently posted, “does anything at all make you smile more than a Muslim burning by his own hateful hand.” He maintains such beliefs don’t interfere with his work.

Goudie: “How about if some Muslim name, on a piece of luggage comes by you? Does it get extra scrutiny?
Egan: No, no. That’s against the rules. I wouldn’t do it. There’s no reason for me to open it unless we’re mandated to open it via the machine telling us to. I would never discriminate against a passenger.
Goudie: Do you understand why this attracted our attention?
Egan: I suppose…I don’t hide what I do. I don’t think anything I’ve said is illegal. I don’t think, I definitely don’t do anything illegal.”

“It made me sick. It’s chilling to know that someone who is a federal employee and works at TSA of all places can hold these views with such hatred and such intensity, and to hold them publicly on his Facebook page unabashedly without any sort of regret. It really, it’s scary,” said Ahmed Rehab, Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Egan also posted against gays, Hispanics and blacks. He called President Obama “Muslim-in chief,” made racial comments on Obama’s skin color and said he hopes to “live long enough to see him die.” He described Michelle Obama as a “ghetto snipe” and other names unsuitable to print. And to Attorney General Eric Holder he posted, “die tasting your own blood.”

Egan: “If you read the comment, and it was based on an article that was written, and I’m just commenting on an article. I think he’s committing crimes against our citizens.
Goudie: And he should be dead.
Egan: I didn’t say that. I don’t like the guy.”

TSA officials would not speak on camera, but after learning of our findings TSA officials placed Egan on administrative leave and are moving to fire him.

In a statement, a spokesman said, “TSA has management directives in place governing employee conduct. We hold our security officers to the highest professional and ethical standards. TSA learned of the situation and took immediate steps to initiate the individual’s removal from federal service.”

In my conversation with Egan, conducted before he was suspended, the veteran TSA officer seemed immovable.

Egan: “I don’t do anything against policy, I’ve never done anything against policy that I’m aware of.
Goudie: You’re OK with the things that you’ve posted here, for the public to see?
Roy: I don’t know what you’re fishing for but I’m not trying to do anything against anybody. It’s commentary. It’s freedom of speech commentary.
Goudie: Why would you put this up for the public to see, though?
Roy: I’m not the only one. It’s all over the Internet.”

“We’re going to be in touch with TSA to work with them in order to ensure that this is not a situation that is replicated and that it’s not a deeper problem,” said Rehab.

TSA officials in Chicago declined to answer our questions about screener training and evaluation and whether authorities monitor social media in an attempt to weed out bigoted employees. TSA does have a code of conduct that requires its employees on or off duty to conduct themselves in a way that doesn’t cause the public to question their judgment or harm the agency’s mission.

Transportation Security Administration www.tsa.gov

TSA management directive on employee conductwww.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/foia/TSA_MD_1100_73_5_FINALv2_090521.pdf

Council on American-Islamic Relations www.cairchicago.org

U.S. Department of Homeland Security www.dhs.gov/index.shtm

(Copyright ©2011 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

LoonWatch’s Response to Asra Nomani

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2010 by loonwatch

Asra Nomani responded to my article with the following message:

Dear Friends,

Thanks for the time that you spent discussing the ideas that I’ve presented in my writings. I see that there are many differences of opinion with readers of this site, but, nonetheless, I appreciate the conversation.

It’s interesting to me how often readers of this site use the term “whore” to describe me, and I’m sorry that so many of you feel such anger. I understand that many of these issues from religion to intimacy are sensitive ones.

I would gently say to you that many of the assumptions that are made here are, I understand, an effort by some folks to make sense of ideas with which you don’t agree. Sometimes the truth is a lot less sensational. I’m not self-hating. I’m not gaining riches, and, as a journalist, I can tell you that the “fame” of a TV appearance here or there is most certainly fleeting.

I sincerely care about how Islam expresses itself in the world, and I care about our world. We may differ in opinion, but I would also gently suggest to you that, while anger and insults may be an authentic expression of your frustration, I do wish for all of us a day when we can be in more civil conversation.

If anyone would like to personally write to me, I invite you to do so at asra(a)asranomani.com.

Otherwise, I wish all of you well.

Warmly, Asra

My response is follows:

Dear Ms. Nomani,

You are certainly correct in stating that “civil conversation” is important.  However, I’d like to raise a few points with regard to this:

1)  It should be understood that this is the internet, and people tend to “say” things with less inhibitions than they would in the “real” world.  I myself have been called horrendous things on the internet.  Hence, the “colorful” language in the comments section needs to be understood in this context and as a product of this phenomenon.  I did not–and neither did any LoonWatch writer–refer to you as a “whore”.  Neither do we endorse such language.  As a progressive, I cannot condone the use of such a misogynistic word that is often hurled at women.  As for the few Muslim users who used this term, they ought to be reminded that in their faith the levying of such a charge is considered strictly prohibited (see Quran, 24:23).

2)  At the same time, I suspect that you will transform this into another piece of evidence against “the Muslims”, as if Muslims alone hurl such insults.  Yet, female personalities of all creeds are routinely called “whores” by random people (ever seen the comments on YouTube!?).  This is very unfortunate, but it is not a Muslim-specific issue.  But I’m sure you will make this all part of your anti-Muslim paradigm.  You might also feel the urge to boast about the insults you have received here, as you did with the “Uncle Tom” label in your article on profiling, and as Robert Spencer (your fan and loyal supporter) does with the e-death threat he supposedly received on some random forum (he put the quote on the cover of his book, just as the Uncle Tom quote was highlighted in your article).

3)  My own article was not nearly as “courteous” as your reply was.  But let’s be real for a second: my reply was at least more honest.  Your reply, on the other hand, is disingenuous (and as lame as Mr. Rogers).  “Dear Friends.” Are we really your friends?  “Thanks for the time you spent discussing the ideas that I’ve presented in my writings.”  Am I to believe you are actually thankful for the article we wrote about/against you?  C’mon, can’t we be real for a second?  We’ve accused you in our article of being a fake, not the real thing…and here you reply exactly that way: in a fake way.  You certainly could have responded in a courteous manner without being so blatantly fake, but I guess fake comes easier to some people than others.

4)  You said: “Sometimes the truth is a lot less sensational.”  Ahhh, if only you yourself understood this point.  You (and the right-wing loons who agree with you) sensationalize everything about Muslims and Islam.  Instead of having serious and nuanced discussion about Muslims and Islam, you engage in sensationalism and fear-mongering.

5)  While it may be commendable to respond with courtesy (although in your case I think it is simply an act), it should be noted that some very vile people make sure to respond to critics courteously.  For example, David Duke oftentimes sounds like an absolute gentleman, but his ideas are vile.  Even Robert Spencer attempts to portray himself in this way.  It is not simply the way in which a person responds that matters, but more importantly what they believe and say.  In your case, your ideas are horrendous, not the manner in which you deliver them.  You are not the “liberal and progressive” you pretend to be; you are a right-winger just like the people who you admire and/or who admire you, including Robert Spencer, Wafa Sultan, etc.

6)  On that note, you should be proud that the anti-Muslim website BareNakedIslam has come to your swift defense.  That vitriolic website responded with a post entitled LEFT WING LOONIES hating on a Muslim woman who most Americans would love.  They praise you as “a one in a billion Muslim author.”  On the very same page, they are selling shirts saying “War on Terror Islam” and “Infidel” and links saying stuff like “Islam’s Rules for Having Sex with Animals”, etc.  The site boasts a logo that reads “Proud Right Wing Extremist.”  If you are really a “liberal and progressive” Muslim as you pretend, then why is a “proud right wing extremist” infatuated with you?  You are in fact honored on their page entitled Pro-America Muslims, with such ex-Muslim luminaries as Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, etc.  Why care what we at LoonWatch think about you when you have such a great fan base at BareNakedIslam and JihadWatch?

7)  You have offered the opportunity for readers to write personally to you via email.  This makes it appear as though you are one who is willing to discuss your views.  Yet, your response is completely devoid of substance.  You have not responded to a single one of my arguments.  If you think that my article is not worthy of response, then why go through the charade of offering to respond to people privately?  Surely if you have the time to respond to people individually, you then should have the time to respond to our site.  Once again, this is all mere posturing.

You seem to enjoy being interviewed on the “Fair and Balanced” Fox “News” channel.  Why not speak with us and actually field some critical questions for once?

Warmly, Lovingly, and Cherishingly,
Danios.

 

Self-Hating Loon Asra Nomani Calls for Profiling Muslims

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2010 by loonwatch
Asra Nomani on Fox “News”, fear-mongering about Muslims

Hat tip: to all the countless people who sent us tips about Asra Nomani’s lunacy.

Islamophobia is a big business.  From pretend-scholars of Islam to pretend-apostates from Islam, it seems like every other person is trying to cash in on the cash cow that is anti-Muslim bigotry.  All sorts of opportunists have made six-digit salaries and full-time careers out of Muslim-bashing.  So it shouldn’t surprise us that some Muslims would want to get in on the action.  And so, I introduce to you one very prominent self-hating loon, namely Asra Nomani.

Nomani has become the “Muslim-for-hire”, selling out her religious community in exchange for fame and money.  Like other anti-Muslim bigots, she arose out of obscurity and shot to national prominence by fear-mongering about the Evil Muslims.  Now, she has a very steady career out of doing the neo-con bidding.  Nomani is very useful to the right wing, as she provides them with the “voice from the inside.”  She says the same things as the Islamophobes do, but when she says them, then the Islamophobes can point and say: “Look, even one of their own–a real life Muslim–says the same as we’ve been saying all along!”

This self-hating loon has consistently taken positions that are anti-Muslim.  For example, she came to the swift defense of anti-Muslim bigots who opposed the construction of an Islamic cultural center two blocks away from Ground Zero, arguing that “their fears are legitimate.”  When Juan Williams stated that he discriminates against people who “look Muslim”, it was none other than Nomani whocame to his defense.  (One wonders how she’d feel about an old woman being “worried” about a young black man walking towards her on the street?  Would Nomani defend a white person admitting being fearful of blacks–and on top of that arguing that it was a justifiable fear?)  Notice how she prefaces her statement with “I am Muslim.”  Well then, you must automatically be a spokesperson for Muslims everywhere, and whatever you say about Islam and Muslims must be true.  You are, after all, a real life Muslim!  In fact, Asra Nomani can hardly ever write an article or argue a point without injecting herself into it, such is her self-absorbed nature.

When anti-Muslim bigots began burning the Quran, Nomani couldn’t get herself to say a word against these lovely people.  (One wonders how she’d feel if people were burning Torahs?  Remember how that ended up in Europe?)  Instead, she came out on the side of bigotry once again, writing an article fit for Pamela Geller’s hate site.  When right wing bigots need a Muslim voice, who better to do their bidding than Asra Nomani?  By so doing, she allows people to say “well, there are Muslims on both sides of the aisle.”  She might be one of the only voices chanting anti-Muslim talking points, but HEY A REAL LIFE MUSLIM SAYS WHAT WE’VE BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG!  Suddenly there is an equivalence: “there are Muslims on both sides of the issues!”

Asra Nomani is marketed as a “progressive Muslim” and argues that what “we need [is] an expression of institutional Islam that is moderate, progressive and liberal.”  Yet there is absolutely nothing progressive about her.  Instead, she actually finds herself agreeing with right wing loons.  In the very same article, she states that “the Tea Party activists actually express the sentiments of Muslims such as myself…”  She criticizes liberal and progressive Americans like myself, saying:

Liberal and progressive Americans and their organizations have dropped the ball in having a nuanced, intelligent critique of extremist Islamic ideology, currying pluralism points instead in the name of interfaith relations.

So on the one hand, Muslims should be liberals and progressives…And on the other hand, she always is on the side of right wing loons and against real liberals and progressives.  Nomani’s so-called “liberalism and progressivism” is akin to colonial feminism.  Colonial feminism is when people with no connection to feminism suddenly become indignant about womens’ rights in Foreign-Looking Peoples and Countries.  For example, many right wingers in America became the world’s most ardent defenders of womens’ rights when it came to invading and occupying Afghanistan.  Those People Over There need to be conquered by Us, so We can show them how to treat women.  (Lost on them of course is that they are dropping bombs on the heads of women.)

In the same way, Asra Nomani is far removed from liberalism and progressivism, having no relation to it whatsoever.  Womens’ rights is nothing more than a great big stick with which to bash Muslims over the head with.  Nomani is, allow me to coin a new term (albeit a cheap rip-off of the previous neologism), a colonial liberalist.  Her liberalism and progressivism only comes in the flavor of Muslim-bashing. Her liberalism and progressivism goes into overdrive when it comes to the ultraconservative Saudi Arabia (so does mine), but meanwhile she remains silent when this Goodly Judeo-Christian Beacon of Light Country imprisons and tortures Muslims without charge.  Iran’s belligerence is then seen as the Ultimate Evil, but meanwhile our own country’s multiple unjust wars cannot be questioned.  When it comes to criticizing Muslims, she dons the mantle of liberalism and progressivism.  When liberalism and progressivism would mean standing up for Muslims against right wing nut jobs, she’ll be sure to write a piece chastising Muslims.

As a colonial feminist and colonial liberalist, Asra Nomani provides the U.S. government with the proper environment for it to continue waging endless wars against the Muslim world, and to continue occupying their lands. This is no different than what the colonialists aforetime did.  And the Arabs, Africans, and Asians are well aware of it.  The British would always find some chump from amongst the natives to chant the colonialist line.  Back then they used to shower that chump with gifts, money, and positions of power.  In exchange, that person would sell out his own people.  Today, the same dynamic exists: Asra Nomani says what they want her to say, and in exchange she gets media appearances on Fox News, sells her books for millions, and gains positions of prestige.  (How Yale took her as a fellow amazes me.)

Whilst claiming to be the voice of progressive and liberal Islam, she remains chummy with the right wing nuts who find her ever the useful tool.  As a proud progressive myself, I cannot understate the degree of harm that her type of self-hating Muslim-bashing “liberals and progressives” have done.  Due to people like her, the term “liberal and progressive” has a negative connotation in the Muslim world.  And why shouldn’t this be the case, when all the Muslims have heard from such so-called “liberals and progressives” is how barbaric they are, and how great the West is compared to them?  People like her make it harder for true liberals and progressives to market themselves in the Muslim world.

Interesting is the fact that despite saying what they want her to say, many extreme right wing characters hate Muslims to such an extent that they can’t tolerate Asra Nomani because she still refers to herself as a Muslim.  And so, the colonial analogy comes full circle: the chumps-for-hire were generally hated by their own people and scorned by the colonialists themselves.  This oneYouTube conversation between bigcherry99 and bronco200005 is accidentally very insightful:

bigcherry99: asra is a really nice lady, but i cannot believe she hasn’t completely denounced islam. what the hell is wrong with her?

bronco200005: @bigcherry99 well if she denounces islam wat will she be left to milk?? Christianity?? Judaism maybe?? I dnt fink so

I don’t “fink” so either.  Her utility is only in that she is a Muslim.  That’s what she milks.  Her article promoting racial and religious profiling would hardly have gotten such significance had she been another non-Muslim calling for profiling of those Dark-Skinned Bad People.  But because she plays (and exploits) the I’m-a-Muslim card, her writings are thus pushed to the forefront.

Career bigot and hate blogger Robert Spencer, who advocated a militant video calling for the genocide of Pakistanis and joined a genocidal Facebook group against Muslims of Turkey, gave high praise of Asra Nomani, saying: “why are voices like this so rare among Muslims in the West?”  And he lauds her as “courageous.”  She is praised elsewhere on his vitriolic website.  Why is it, Ms. Asra Nomani, that one of the world’s leading Islamophobes is praising you so? If you are really a “liberal and progressive” Muslim, why is an extreme right wing website speaking so fondly of you?  Is it perhaps because you say the exact same things that they normally do against Muslims?

Thankfully, almost no Muslims are buying what Asra Nomani is selling.  Instead, her fans consist of right wing non-Muslims, who love the fact that A REAL LIFE MUSLIM is saying exactly what they say.  One article critical of Nomani asked (perhaps rhetorically):  “Are her remarks given any more weight or legitimacy by the fact that she herself is Muslim?”  The answer to that question is obvious: if she wasn’t a Muslim, nobody would have heard of her.  She’d have to get a real job then, or at least struggle for a job in the already saturated I-am-an-ex-Muslim-writing-a-book-against-Islam market.

And so, with the latest anti-Muslim controversy, Nomani once again sides with the voices of bigotry.  As many of you know, many Americans are protesting the TSA (Transit Security Administration) and their invasive ways, including “touching [your] junk” and using XXX-ray scanners to see you naked. But as the ever astute Glenn Greenwald (a real liberal and progressive, unlike the right wing loon Asra Nomani) notes:

[The] American People. They’re not angry that the Government had adopted inexcusably invasive and irrational security measures.  They’re just angry that, this time, it’s being directed at them — rather than those dark, exotic, foreign-seeming Muslims who deserve it, including their own fellow citizens.  And if there were a successful bombing plot against a passenger jet, many of those most vocally objecting now would be leading the way in attacking the Government for not having kept them Safe, and would be demanding even more invasive measures — just directed at those Other People, the Bad Dark People over there.

Asra Nomani, ever the self-hating loon, tries to reassure Good Judeo-Christian Folk that they shouldn’t need to get screened like that, and that it’s better to just target Her People.  This then is her “difficult solution” that “we need to consider”, namely “racial and religious profiling.”  In other words, the “cop-a-feel strategy” (her words) ought to be used only against Muslims and Muslim-looking peoples.

Her article is full of weak arguments to prove her point.  The article starts out with the following introduction (emphasis is mine):

In the wake of yet another Muslim terror plot, we can’t ignore the threat profile any longer–or the solution.

Which “Muslim terror plot” is she referring to?  She clarifies in her article:

…the Somali-born teenager arrested Friday night for a reported plot to detonate a car bomb at a packed Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Oregon.

It amazes me that this loon was allowed to blog for Salon.com (which is one of my favorite sites).  Another writer for Salon, the epic blogger Glenn Greenwald, wrote an excellent piece about how “the Somali-born teenager” was in fact set up by the FBI:

The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot

…The FBI — as they’ve done many times in the past — found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a “Terrorist plot” which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI’s own concoction.  Having stopped a plot which it itself manufactured, the FBI then publicly touts — and an uncritical media amplifies — its “success” to the world, thus proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government’s vast surveillance powers — current and future new ones — are necessary.

How Asra Nomani’s conclusion from this entire escapade was that we need to adopt racial and religious profiling against Muslims (an essentially more right wing position than is currently in place, at least officially)–instead of reflecting on the backwards approach of the authorities in combating terrorism–only a self-hating loon could explain!  But this indeed is where Nomani misses the mark entirely.  Terrorism to her is the fault of “literal interpretations of the Quran” which supposedly sanction “terrorism, militancy, and suicide bombings in the name of Islam.”  The Somali-born teenager was ready to kill children because of “literal interpretations of the Quran”, or at least so the argument goes.  See!, argues the Islamophobe, even a Muslim herself says that the Quran is to blame for terrorism, militancy, and suicide bombing!

Of course, the reality is that the Quran forbids terrorism, suicide, and targeting of civilians.  No literal interpretation of the Quran could justify such things.  Neither did traditional Islam ever tolerate such.  In fact, ultraconservative traditionalists–including the Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia–have declared terrorist tactics to be strictly prohibited in Islam, a view that is entirely consistent with the Islamic tradition.  Contrary to popular misconception, Al-Qaeda types justify such deeds not in the Quran or Islamic tradition, but based on the political situation today, wherein the West (the United States and Israel in specific) invade, occupy, and bomb Muslim countries.  Greenwald writes:

Finally, there is, as usual, no discussion whatsoever in media accounts of motive.  There are several statements attributed to Mohamud by the Affidavit that should be repellent to any decent person, including complete apathy — even delight — at the prospect that this bomb would kill innocent people, including children.  What would drive a 19-year-old American citizen — living in the U.S. since the age of 3 — to that level of sociopathic indifference?   He explained it himself in several passages quoted by the FBI, and — if it weren’t for the virtual media blackout of this issue — this line of reasoning would be extremely familiar to Americans by now (para. 45):

Undercover FBI Agent:  You know there’s gonna be a lot of children there?

Mohamud:  Yeah, I know, that’s what I’m looking for.

Undercover FBI Agent:  For kids?

Mohamud:  No, just for, in general a huge mass that will, like for them you know to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays.  And then for later to be saying, this was them for you to refrain from killing our children, women . . . . so when they hear all these families were killed in such a city, they’ll say you know what your actions, you know they will stop, you know. And it’s not fair that they should do that to people and not feeling it.

And here’s what he allegedly said in a video he made shortly before he thought he would be detonating the bomb (para. 80):

…For as long as you threaten our security, your people will not remain safe. As your soldiers target civilians, we will not help to do so.  Did you think that you could invade a Muslim land, and we would not invade you..

We hear the same exact thing over and over and over from accused Terrorists — that they are attempting to carry out plots in retaliation for past and ongoing American violence against Muslim civilians and to deter such future acts.  Here we find one of the great mysteries in American political culture:  that the U.S. Government dispatches its military all over the world — invading, occupying, and bombing multiple Muslim countries — torturing them, imprisoning them without charges, shooting them up at checkpoints, sending remote-controlled drones to explode their homes, imposing sanctions that starve hundreds of thousands of children to death  — and Americans are then baffled when some Muslims — an amazingly small percentage — harbor anger and vengeance toward them and want to return the violence.   And here we also find the greatest myth in American political discourse:  that engaging in all of that military aggression somehow constitutes Staying Safe and combating Terrorism — rather than doing more than any single other cause to provoke, sustain and fuel Terrorism.

Even Asra Nomani’s article itself betrays this point, as she quotes Usama bin Ladin as follows (emphasis is mine):

Our response to the barbaric bombardment against Muslims of Afghanistan and Sudan will be ruthless and violent,” he said in a statement. “All the Islamic world has mobilized to strike a prominent American or Israeli strategic objective, to blow up their airplanes and to seize them.”

Naturally, pointing out the obvious–that nothing promotes Terrorism more than us “invading, occupying, and bombing” their countries–would be anathema to a fake “liberal and progressive” like Asra Nomani.  Instead, she’d rather agree with the likes of the Tea Party and other right wing nuts who–even though the United States has killed way more Muslims than “the Muslims” have killed Americans–wonder mysteriously why a few Muslims would want to attack us.  It’s much easier to blame The Other for being so violent, and then have a self-hating loon affirm this for them.  It is only by removing this key element–our invading, occupying, and bombing their countries–that we can condescendingly discuss what’s wrong with Islam.  The truth is, however, that terrorism is directly related to our own foreign policy.  As Nomani herself says (except she’s talking about racial and religious profiling):

I know this is an issue of great distress to many people. But I believe that we cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore.

Yes, it does cause great distress to many people that we dare cogitate that we are responsible for our own plight.  But I believe that we cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore.  How the media completely blacks out the obvious–and how any politician who dares argue this point must be immediately ostracized–is indicative of its truth.

Not only is Asra Nomani’s article ethically repugnant, she deceitfully cites “studies.”  She cites the Rand Corporation’s study entitled “Would-Be Warriors.”  Only a self-hating loon could read that entire report and only glean the point that she did!  In fact, I wrote an article summarizing the Rand Corporation’s findings here:

Rand report:  Threat of homegrown jihadism exaggerated, Zero U.S. civilians killed since 9/11

The “threat profile”, as Nomani asserts, is defined as follows by Rand:

[Of the] 83 terrorist attacks in the United States between 9/11 and the end of 2009, only three…were clearly connected with the jihadist cause.

Fifty of the 83 terrorist attacks were committed by environmental extremists and animal rights fanatics, “which account for most of the violence.”  Five civilians were killed by the anthrax letters.

The Rand study states:

There are more than 3 million Muslims in the United States, and few more than 100 have joined jihad—about one out of every 30,000—suggesting an American Muslim population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence. A mistrust of American Muslims by other Americans seems misplaced.

Only a self-hating loon could argue that 3 million Muslims should be profiled for the crimes of 100.  In fact, the Rand study blasts people like Asra Nomani who fear monger about the “threat profile.”  Says Rand:

Public reaction is an essential component of homeland defense. Needless alarm, exaggerated portrayals of the terrorist threat, unrealistic expectations of a risk-free society, and unreasonable demands for absolute protection will only encourage terrorists’ ambitions to make America fibrillate in fear and bankrupt itself with security…Panic is the wrong message to send America’s terrorist foes.

Nomani argues for widened governmental power, including invasive security measures.  Yet, the Rand report argues the opposite.  As I wrote in that previous article:

Americans have ceded their civil liberties to the government due to the misplaced fear of terrorism.  The first group affected by these heavy-handed laws are Muslim Americans, which hampers anti-terrorism efforts by alienating the very community whose cooperation is so necessary.  The report declares:

In response, the country has conceded to the authorities broader powers to prevent terrorism. However, one danger of this response is that revelations of abuse or of heavy-handed tactics could easily discredit intelligence operations, provoke public anger, and erode the most effective barrier of all to radicalization: the cooperation of the community.

We argue that the loss of civil liberties and rise in xenophobia have a more significant and longer lasting effect than acts of terrorism.

In any case, the Rand study is an excellent one, and enough to refute loons like Asra Nomani.  I urge our readers to read my summary of it as well as the original study.

Asra Nomani writes:

According to a terrorism database at the University of Maryland, which documents 60 attacks against airlines and airports between 1970 and 2007, the last year available, suspects in attacks during the 1970s were tied to the Jewish Defense League, the Black Panthers, the Black September, the National Front for the Liberation of Cuba, Jewish Armed Resistance and the Croatian Freedom Fighters, along with a few other groups.

In each of these groups’ names was a religious or ethnic dimension. For that time, those were the identities that we needed to assess. Today, the threat has changed, and it is primarily coming from Muslims who embrace al Qaeda’s radical brand of Islam.

So, terrorism was before linked to Jews, blacks, and Hispanics in the 1970′s.  But now it is linked to Muslims.  Hence, we should racially and religiously profile Muslims.  OK, so would Asra Nomani have agreed to racially and religiously profiling Jews, blacks, and Hispanics in the 1970′s?  (Notice how the “threat profile” is always The Other, never Good Christian White Folks, but Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and now the Evil Muslims!)  I suspect Nomani will issue a response to my article, and if she does, then I want a direct yes/no answer from her: would she agree that it would have been the right thing to do at that time to racially and/or religiously profile Jews, blacks, and Hispanics?

But we need not restrict this to a hypothetical in the 1970s.  Rather, it can be applied to the situation today.  Nomani’s argument is very simple: Muslims are (according to her) the number one terrorists, therefore it makes sense to racially and religiously profile them.  Extending that logic, one could easily sanction racial and religious profiling of blacks and Hispanics by police.  One could cite studies and statistics just like Asra Nomani did against Muslims.  For example,the government released a report which showed that “more than three times as many black people live in prison cells as in college dorms.”  And: “The ratio is only slightly better for Hispanics, at 2.7 inmates for every Latino in college housing.”   The same study found that the percentage of U.S. inmates that are black is 41%, and the percentage that are black and Hispanic is 60%.   The same is the case in the UK, where the Metropolitan Police found that 54% of those who committed street crimes were blacks, 59% of robberies were by blacks, and 67% of gun crimes were by blacks.

One racist website breaks it down for us:

The chilling report by The New Century Foundation, called The Colour of Crime [PDF], shows in unflinching statistical detail, that in the USA:

  • Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.
  • The single best indicator of violent crime levels in an area is the percentage of the population that is black and Hispanic.
  • Of the nearly 770,000 violent interracial crimes committed every year involving blacks and whites, blacks commit 85 percent and whites commit 15 percent.
  • Blacks commit more violent crime against whites than against blacks. Forty-five percent of their victims are white, 43 percent are black, and 10 percent are Hispanic. When whites commit violent crime, only three percent of their victims are black.
  • Blacks are an estimated 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.
  • Blacks are 2.25 times more likely to commit officially-designated hate crimes against whites than vice versa.

Meanwhile, over here in Our Country the pattern appears to be much the same

  • Blacks are 5 times more likely to commit violence against the person.
  • Blacks are 4 times ‘more likely’ to commit sexual offences.
  • Blacks are fifteen times ‘more likely’ to commit robbery.
  • Blacks are over six times ‘more likely’ to commit fraud and forgery.
  • Blacks are over twice as likely to commit criminal damage.
  • Black are five times ‘more likely’ to commit drugs offences.

Source: The UK Government

This is of course all “threat assessment.”  Another racist website argues that we are curtailing the government’s ability to Protect and Keep Us Safe by prohibiting racial profiling of blacks (emphasis is mine):

Data suggest ‘racial profiling’ may have scientific basis

1. African-Americans commit 90% of the approximately 1,700,000 interracial crimes of violence that occur in the United States every year, and are more than 50 times more likely to commit violent crime against whites than vice versa.

Study: blacks commit 90% of interracial crime

2. Blacks are so much more likely than Americans of other races to commit crimes that police may be justified in stopping and questioning them more frequently – just as they stop men more often than women and young people more often than old people.

These are some of the controversial findings of a new think tank report based on extensive cross-analysis of government crime statistics. The study finds that Asians consistently commit the smallest number of crimes, followed by whites. Hispanics commit violent crime at approximately three times the white rate, and blacks are five to eight times more violent. In one of its most startling conclusions the report finds that blacks are as much more violent than whites as men are more violent than women.“This is the painful reality that gives rise to ‘racial profiling,’ “ said Jared Taylor, the report’s author. “Police quickly learn who the bad guys are. When there is a murder they don’t look for little old ladies. They look for young men – unfortunately, they are often justified in looking for young black men.”

Why should you stop my grandma instead of that young black man?  Isn’t that wasting resources?  Any argument that Nomani and other right wingers make against Muslims in support of racial or religious profiling could be applied even more so to blacks and Hispanics.  In fact, violent crime on the streets accounts for a hundreds times more American deaths than from terrorists.  So if there is an urgency that must be met–if we simply just cannot avoid racial or religious profiling of terrorists due to the imminent threat–then surely there is an even greater urgency to apply such standards to our domestic police force.

This is Asra Nomani’s logic to justify racial and religious profiling.  There is no logical way for her to support the racial and religious profiling of Muslims, and to be against it when it comes to black people and Hispanics.  My point here is not to argue for the profiling of blacks and Hispanics.  Rather, it is to show that we all immediately have a visceral reaction to the mere thought of this (as we should).  But when people on national media routinely suggest the profiling of Muslims, then it’s something that is seriously debated.  This proves that although blacks and Hispanics are certainly low on the social totem pole, the Muslims are the absolute lowest.

On the other hand, even passingly mentioning the idea of racially and religiously profiling Jews would be met with absolute shock. Yet, if we were to use Asra Nomani’s logic (and that of the right wing in general), then wouldn’t Iran be justified in racially and religiously profiling Jews in their country?  After all, logic dictates that a Jewish guy is much more likely to be an Israeli spy than anyone else.  Wouldn’t this be justified in light of the fact that Israel has repeatedly threatened Iran?  Shouldn’t national interest trump everything else?  So I’m sure we wouldn’t have a problem if the Iranians racially or religiously profiled Jews, right?

Racial and religious profiling is immoral.  Our nation had already come to this conclusion.  It is sad that Islamophobia has reintroduced this ugly evil.  Asra Nomani, like all bigots, has to justify her bigotry with the necessary disclaimer: “I’m not racist, but…”  She states:

I realize that in recent years, profiling has become a dirty word, synonymous with prejudice, racism, and bigotry…

Yes, she is correct.  It is certainly synonymous with prejudice, racism, and bigotry.  Too bad she didn’t stop there.  Nomani concludes (emphasis is mine):

We have to choose pragmatism over political correctness, and allow U.S. airports and airlines to do religious and racial profiling.

Pragmatism?  Perhaps Asra Nomani is a “racial realist”?  Racial realists are just being “pragmatic” when they argue for racially profiling young black men.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with pragmatism, or any desire to actually stop terrorism.  Terrorists do not fit one mold, and in fact come in all different shapes, sizes, and races.  TheUnderwear Bomber was a black guy, and so was the recent Somali would-be bomber…Show both pictures to any random person on the street, and see how many of them would recognize them as “Muslim.”  On the other hand, most people would see two black guys.  Asra Nomani argues not just for religious profiling, but racial profiling.  So is she arguing for racial profiling of black people?  Or perhaps just young black men?  The Underwear Bomber was Nigerian and the Oregon would-be bomber was Somali.  Nomani states that “they trace their national or ethnic identity back to specific countries.”  So, are we to screen out only Nigerians and Somalis as opposed to other black people?  How many people could make that fine distinction?  I’m sure there are plenty of black people–born and bred here in the United States–who could pass off as Nigerian or Somali.  Should we also profile them?

(Many Islamophobes will chime in that they oppose racial profiling but support religious profiling…Would it then be OK to religiously profile Jews in the 1970′s or for Iran to do so today?  The famous line “you-can’t-be-racist-against-Muslims-since-Muslim-is-not-a-race” is debunked by simply asking “would it be OK to discriminate against Jews in a similar fashion?”)

Asra Nomani came to Juan Williams’ defense, arguing that Williams was justified in fearing passengers who wore “Muslim garb.”  Yet, Al-Qaeda operatives are told to blend in.  They are not dressed in stereotypical “Muslim garb.”  Oftentimes, they are as clean-shaven as they come, and wearing Western clothes just like you or I.  Does Asra Nomani think that Al-Qaeda cannot recruit blue-eyed blond-haired terrorists?  They sure can, and they have.

There are certainly times when we must choose between the ideologically sound choice and the expedient one.  Even if that were the case here–even if we had to choose between being racially/religiously equal vs Being Safe–then our moral conscience should choose the former.  Evenif racial or religious profiling made us safer, we should not opt for that route, since it goes against our moral character.  Benjamin Franklin famously said: “The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.”

But in this case, racial and religious profiling of Muslims does not make us safer at all. Andrew Curry wrote an excellent article on Salon.com (why on earth did a great website like Salon.com ever hire a right wing Tea Party sympathizing loon like Asra Nomani!?) on how a recent study found that “such profiling is not only ineffective, it’s counterproductive.”  (Not like the proponents of racial and religious profiling actually care about keeping us Safe; if they really did, they would be the first to oppose U.S.-led invasions, occupations, and bombings of Muslim countries.) The article reads:

In a study released on Tuesday, the Open Society Institute — a think tank and democracy-promotion organization funded by billionaire George Soros — argues that racial profiling of Muslims is essentially a public relations tool designed to make people feel safer in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack. After the 2006 bus and subway bombings in London, for example, highly publicized raids on mosques or ID checks in Muslim areas gave the public the impression the police were taking action.

There is also the desire to use racial and religious profiling to single out and blame Muslims.  Yourpeople are to blame.  And Asra Nomani, the ever eager self-hating loon, chants: my people are to blame for all this.  But just because she is Muslim, it does not give her the right to cede Muslim rights to the majority population.  She cannot be allowed to speak for all Muslims, no more than Uncle Tom was allowed to speak for black people.  Neither should Nomani be thought of as some Muslim “liberal and progressive”, when in fact she has nothing to do with liberals and progressives.  Liberals and progressives stand for all minority groups, be they Christians being targeted in Iraq by Muslim extremists or Muslims being targeted by Jewish extremists in Israeli Occupied Territories.  We stand up for them not to score cheap political points, nor to reinforce the Team Muhammad vs Team Jesus mentality.  The last thing we tolerate is the demonization and singling out of one community, which is what Asra Nomani facilitates.  She is not a liberal or progressive Muslim; she is a self-hating loon and self-absorbed opportunist.

This entire “I’m a Muslim, Please Profile Me” nonsense is theatrics.  Nomani knows she would be immune from scrutiny due to her fame.  Subjecting her fellow Muslims to such treatment–which she herself calls “cop-a-feel strategy” and knows is an outrage to The Real Americans (Good Judeo-Christian White Folks)–this she has no problem with.  She has no qualms about selling out her religious community for the fame and money it provides her.

Update #1:

It seems that the last article Asra Nomani wrote for Salon was in 2003.  Perhaps she realized that a right wing nut like herself has no reason to write for such a website.  In light of the fact that Nomani’s last article on Salon was so many years ago, it might be making much ado about nothing to question that site about this.  Nonetheless, I think it might behoove people to message Salon and especially people like Glenn Greenwald to give them a heads up that Asra Nomani does not in any way, shape, or form represent Muslims.  This is not to say that a Muslim is not allowed to give a dissenting opinion from the Standard Muslim Line…I’m all for that.  But, notice how she seems to use her Religious Affiliation as an immunity card, always making sure that it is known that she is a Real Life Muslim.  Furthermore, she posits herself as a representative for Muslims, using such constructs as “The Tea Party activists actually express the sentiments of Muslims such as myself…”  A Muslim supporting the Tea Party is as much of a political oddity as a gay black man supporting the Republican party.  Ms. Nomani, try making an argument without seeking to validate it with the “I’m-a-Muslim” routine.

Update #2:

Asra Nomani’s support for the right wing Islamophobia machine was highlighted in a previous profile of the loon Wafa Sultan by our very own Garibaldi. Sultan, like Nomani, lives off of the anti-Muslim cash cow–the “I’m a real life (former?) Muslim” canard–and she uses it to deliver speeches and write books declaring Islam a greater threat to civilization than Nazism.  Amongst other things, Sultan is friends with and is admired by career Islamophobe Pamela Geller, who she often lectures with.  Sultan was seen at a synagogue calling for nuclear strikes on Muslim countries.

Asra Nomani, the so-called “liberal and progressive”, has expressed her deep admiration for Wafa Nuke-the-Muslims Sultan, referring to her as a fellow “bad girl of Islam.”  From Garibaldi’s article on Sultan:

Another good example of her (Sultan’s) tale of woe is the profile carried by self-described “bad girl of Islam” Asra Nomani in TIME magazine. Asra Nomani, who can’t pen anything without including herself writes,

I connected with her (Sultan’s) anger and pain. She questioned Islam in 1979, when, she says, she witnessed the murder of a professor by men with alleged ties to the ultraconservative Muslim Brotherhood political group.

One wonders if Nomani was so moved by her “connection” with Sultan that she (and her editors) forgot to fact check whether or not Sultan actually could have witnessed the murder of her professor in her classroom. InFocus, a California based magazine did more thorough research into the matter than TIME in a piece titled Wafa Sultan: Reformist or Opportunist,

As to the claim that her professor (thought to be Yusef Al-Yusef) was gunned down before her eyes in a faculty classroom at the University of Aleppo, Halabi said the incident never took place. “There was a professor who was killed around 1979, that is true, but it was off-campus and Sultan was not even around when it happened,” he added.

InFocus contacted the University of Aleppo and spoke to Dr. Riyad Asfari, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who confirmed Halabi’s account. “Yes, the assassination took place off-campus,” he said. Dr. Asfari was keen to add that no one had ever been killed in a classroom anytime or anywhere at the university.

Syrian expatriate Ghada Moezzin, who attended the University of Aleppo in 1979 as a sophomore, told InFocus that she never heard of the assassination. “We would’ve known about the killing if it had happened,” she said. “It would have been big news on campus and I do not recall ever hearing about it.” Moezzin, who lives in Glendora, Calif., added that government security was always present around the university given the political climate in Syria at the time.

Update #3:

Anyone read Asra Nomani’s article entitled “My Big Fat Muslim Wedding?” In it, she uses her n=1 experience to stereotype Pakistani men as brutish.  A great reply to her silly article was written by G. Willow Wilson:

Asra Nomani’s recent essay in Marie Claire, My Big Fat Muslim Wedding, lays out a scenario that has become familiar to everyone in the post-9/11 world: despairing Muslim woman is forced to choose between her (literally) white knight and a traditional marriage to a boorish, vaguely ominous Muslim man. Losing love to Islam has become as universal a theme as finding love in Paris. It’s the subject of high art, low art and everything in between: Samina Ali’s Madras on Rainy Days springs to mind, as does the much-hyped failed marriage of Princess Meriam Al-Khalifa and Lance Corporal Jason Johnson. The implication of Nomani’s story, like those I’ve just listed, is that there are no decent Muslim men on planet Earth–or, if by some miracle they do exist, they are so difficult to find that it’s not worth the bother. This is the crux of the argument that Shari’a law should be changed to allow Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and perhaps the reason even liberal Muslim groups can be defensive and traditionalist when it comes to this point. It is an implicit condemnation of Muslim men everywhere: in the eyes of women, they do not measure up in any way that counts.

Nomani’s complaints about her Muslim ex-husband are indeed cringeworthy: he is cold, withdrawn, childish, and sexually worse than useless. But this litany of failings is not limited to Muslim men–not by a long shot. The story of a passionate woman in a stale marriage is as old as Helen of Troy. The theme is so perennial that without the specter of Islam to dress it up, it’s almost boring. This is a case of cultural amnesia: as soon as a Muslim man enters the picture, women everywhere forget about Thelma and Louise,The Good Girl and The Divorcee, and pretend that sullen oafish husbands are an Islamic phenomenon. If this was really true, poor Shakespeare–along with hundreds of thousands of modern divorce lawyers–would have been out of a career.

Out-marriage is an issue religious groups have been wrestling with for some time. Of course men and women fall in love. Of course it’s not always convenient to their respective cultural and spiritual norms. Out-marriage is of such concern in the Jewish community that its leaders have gone to extraordinary lengths to encourage romantic relationships between young Jews. If they are successful, it is because they are not up against the same barrier: Jewish men are not perceived (by Jewish women or anyone else) as inherently threatening and perverse. In western culture, Muslim men start the marriage process with a handicap–because of the way they are portrayed and the example that is made of them, even Muslim women have begun, consciously or unconsciously, to view them with suspicion.

This puts those of us in healthy Muslim marriages to good Muslim men in a difficult position. On one hand, there is an onus on us to provide a counterexample, and inject a little hope into the grim picture of Islamic marriage. On the other hand, people in happy marriages are usually (and for good reason) unwilling to write about the intimate details of their sexual and domestic lives in magazines. So I will close with the conclusion I’ve come to after years of listening to girlfriends Muslim and non complain about men: the reason Asra Nomani discovered a dirth of eligible Muslim men is the same reason Carrie Bradshaw discovered a dirth of eligible Manhattanite men. The good ones go first, and they go fast. The battle of the sexes–love gained and lost, marriages failed and personalities mistaken–was raging long before the demonization of Muslim men became fashionable. Choosing a spouse with religion in mind is not always a mistake, especially if your heritage and your faith are important parts of who you are. The trick is, as always, to recognize a good thing when you see it–and never mistake the bad for something more.

G. Willow Wilson is author of the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series AIR. Her memoir The Butterfly Mosque is forthcoming from Grove Press.