Archive for United States

Sean Hannity Interview Geert Wilders About Radical Islam (FOX NEWS)

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Is it a happy coincidence that both Geert Wilders and Robert Spencer are out hawking their books for sale?

(h/t: Haywood)

Sean Hannity Interview Geert Wilders About Radical Islam (FOX NEWS)

What’s Never Trending on Twitter: U.S. Has Killed Way More People than the LRA’s Joseph Kony

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on March 12, 2012 by loonwatch

(Updated below)

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve seen Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 YouTube video which has now gone viral:

We posted it ourselves on LoonWatch.  We wondered what if Joseph Kony, a self-avowed Christian leading a group called the Lord’s Resistance Army, had been a Muslim with the name Yusuf Qani?  What if he was leading a group called Allah’s Resistance Army?

The article generated a healthy discussion, and we benefited from the input of Ruth DeSouza, who posted a link to a very thought-provoking article she wrote:

The  documentary repeats the colonial imperative for Africa to be saved by white people. This video smacks of yet another colonial “civilising” project,  where the old binaries of colonialism are revived. These frame Africa as backward, while the west is modern; “we” are positioned as free while “they” are oppressed and so on. In this binary of good and bad, Africans are represented on the not so good side of the binary. Therefore, the solution must be a good one, a white one, and in this hierarchy Africans lose out. Local efforts and voices go unacknowledged in favour of the white saviour complex, which as Teju Cole suggests “supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening”…

I abhor the white saviour narrative, where vulnerable children or women of colour must be rescued from men of colour by “culturally superior” white men or women.

Her complaint with the documentary is most certainly valid.  The documentary could have benefited from featuring some local African protagonists, of which there exist no shortage of.  In fact, I would hazard a guess that the people most involved in the effort to protect the local population would be from within the community itself.

Dispatches’ documentary on Africa’s child witches managed to give a more balanced picture of the situation by including African heroes alongside Gary Foxcroft, such as Sam Itauma.  By so doing, they decreased the chances of sending the wrong message.  One must be cautious in this regard, especially in the backdrop of a long history of colonial humanitarianism.  The West has–and continues to–use humanitarian “concerns” to imply their superiority over darker peoples, as well as to justify military occupation.

Having said that, I do not think one can be too critical of Invisible Children’s documentary. They were in a bit of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation.  If they depicted the suffering of Africans, they could be accused of portraying Africa as backward.  If they ignore African plight, then they could be accused of racism (do you only care about white people dying?).

Even so, it is very true that Westerners, especially Americans, have a much easier time seeing a black African like Joseph Kony as the ultimate villian.  Certainly, Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have killed thousands of individuals, abducted tens of thousands, and displaced countless more innocent people.  No reasonable person could deny the wickedness of Kony or his cohorts.

Yet, all of this pales in front of the crimes committed by the leaders of the United States, most of whom are “good, white Judeo-Christian folk.”  I know even the thought of this seems offensive to all Serious, Decent People, who would be quick to cast this off as some sort of conspiracy theorist talk.

But, the evidence speaks for itself.  The Christian Science Monitor estimates that the LRA has “killed an estimated 2,500 people” over an 18-month period.  I couldn’t find a cumulative tally for the last two decades, but it seems safe to say that we’re talking about thousands or at most tens of thousands.  Meanwhile, “a reasonable upper bound for Muslim fatalities [caused by the United States]…is well over one million.”  That’s just Muslim victims.

Who then is the greater villain?  Pure numbers would indicate the United States.  Admittedly, there are other considerations, but the huge disparity in numbers of corpses speaks volumes.

It’s unlikely that a YouTube video calling to stop the United States from its history of virtually non-stop war and killing would ever go viral like the Kona 2012 documentary did.  Granted, it’s harder to criticize one’s own nation, but it seems more reasonable to channel one’s energy towards one’s elected government.   As our generation’s most important intellectual Noam Chomsky said in an interview:

My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences.

Furthermore, pointing to the atrocities committed by people of other nations while remaining silent about one’s own country’s crimes reeks of hypocrisy of the worst order.  Chomsky continued:

It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.

The point is that the useful and significant political actions are those that have consequences for human beings. And those are overwhelmingly the actions which you have some way of influencing and controlling, which mean for me, American actions.

For most citizens, however, the situation is exactly reversed.  Indeed, American interest in human rights abuses falls into one of three categories:

1. They are most vocal about the inequities of their enemies, especially when there is a national interest involved and the villain is a Muslim (i.e. Iran).

2. They are generally silent about (or merely pay lip service to) the human rights abuses committed against people belonging to nations where no national benefit can be expected (i.e. many parts of Africa).

3. They are wholly ignorant about, adamantly deny, or justify the crimes committed by their own government (i.e. the United States) or stalwart allies (i.e. Israel).

George Orwell famously said:

All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency.  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

We always wonder how it was that the Germans claimed not to know what Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were doing.  Yet, how similar is our general state of apathy today toward what our own government commits on a daily basis.  The reality is that the American can never come to grips with the wickedness of the crimes his nation commits.

American indifference and willful ignorance of the hundreds of thousands of lives our government brings to an end is also due to the fact that we don’t witness the effects of what we’re doing.  Whereas Europe and Russia experienced the horrors of war firsthand, the United States has remained relatively safe and secure on the North American continent, not having seen war on its shores for a very long time.  War to Americans means little more than increased gas prices–not bombs dropping from the skies while filling gas.

The victims of American foreign policy reside some hundreds and thousands of miles away in countries and continents we’ve never seen.  The dead remain nameless and faceless.  Even our soldiers oftentimes don’t see who they kill.  Imagine if a pilot of a bomber plane had to actually attend the funerals of the peoples’ lives he extinguishes with the press of a button?  This situation has become even worse with the advent of remote-controlled drones.  Americans are becoming increasingly protected and distant from the violence that they spread throughout various parts of the globe.  Our way of killing is just cleaner (and more efficient).

But, it hardly matters to a victim if his relative died from being hacked to pieces by a machete or having a bomb dropped on his head from the skies.  The result is the same: death.

There is of course another issue: those “bad guys” we criticize, like Joseph Kony, look like villains.  Meanwhile, the perpetrators of American crimes wear suits and ties, look and talk in a courteous, cool, and calm manner.  As Glenn Greenwald put it:

There are all kinds of people who advocate extremely heinous ideas, but do so in a very soft-spoken and civil manner. Bill Kristol comes to mind, John Yoo, as well. These are people who can go on and be extremely polite in conversation.

Their mannerisms do not change their deeds, which are heinous.  The U.S. presidents have killed more Muslims than Kony has killed Africans.  Noam Chomsky opined:

If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.

How much easier it is to express indignation over Joseph Kony or, better yet, some Muslim villain?

Update I:

Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks spoke about the criticism Kona 2012 has been receiving.  To be clear, I largely agree with Uygur’s analysis.  I have an overall positive impression of Invisible Children’s documentary and their efforts.  My article should not be seen as criticism of them, but rather, of us Americans in general.

Additionally, I’d like to respond to a question raised by a reader, who asked:

you guys are living in the U.S.A. yet you criticize it. Why?

It is precisely because I was born, raised, and live in the United States that I speak out against what the government does in my name.  Please refer to Noam Chomsky’s quote above.

Update II:

It has come to light that Invisible Children may be advocating direct U.S. military intervention in the region (see here and here).  Because of this, I withdraw my words of approval for the group (at least for now).

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Dutch Mosques Defaced 117 Times

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2011 by loonwatch

Dutch mosques defaced 117 times

Between 2005 and 2010 mosques in the Netherlands were defaced 117 times, according to research by social researcher Ineke van der Valk. The acts of vandalism were motivated by a hatred of Islam, the researcher is quoted as saying on VPRO radio programme Argos.

In 43 cases, the mosques were daubed with offensive symbols or slogans. In 37 instances, the mosques sustained material damage. In 99 of the incidents the police failed to find any of the culprits. In the United States there were 42 similar incidents during the same period. Most of the vandalised mosques in the Netherlands are located outside the major cities.

There are some 450 mosques in The Netherlands, which has a population of more than 16.5 million. Some five percent of the population is believed to be Muslim, some 44 percent Christian and over 41 percent agnostic. As a percentage of the population, the Netherlands has Europe’s second-largest Muslim community, inferior only to France, which has a Muslim community of more than nine percent.

(cl)

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Ron Paul Video: IMAGINE! China Invades America!

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2011 by loonwatch

Some of the readers on the site have expressed concern that I have been focusing too much on U.S. foreign policy instead of Islamophobia.  However, I believe that bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands–our foreign policy in a nutshell–is the Greater Islamophobia.  It represents not just the apex of Islamophobia but is also the main source of it.  It is the result of Islamophobia and it results in Islamophobia.  It perpetuates a vicious cycle of hatred.

Studying anti-Japanese sentiment during World War II–without recognizing the connection to the war itself–would be seen as absurd.  Similarly, talking about Islamophobia–without placing that in the context of the so-called War on Terror–would be foolish.  It is impossible to explain “why they hate us” without taking a critical look at “what we do to them.”

No sane person would argue that American Indians fought white people–even engaging in violent acts that could be classified as terrorism against civilians–because of their inherent hatred for white people or because of their religion.  Clearly, they hated white people because white people invaded their land, killed them, and occupied them.  Similarly, with regard to Muslims today, the standard answers to the question of “why they hate us”–such as “they hate us for our freedoms” or because of their religion–will in the future not be taken seriously.

Ron Paul is the only well-known presidential candidate to recognize this fact.  As a liberal/progressive, I may strongly disagree with Dr. Paul’s domestic policies, but I also recognize that all the other presidential candidates from the two parties are–and will be–warmongers.  One may cast out Ron Paul as a fringe candidate, a libertarian “nut”, etc.–this fact alone speaks volumes about how widespread warmongering is among our political class and national discourse that I, as a liberal and peace-loving voter, cannot find anyone else to vote for.  In the last election, my choice was between one warmonger who hinted at war against Iran (John McCain) and another warmonger who hinted at war against Pakistan (Barack Obama).

[Note: I’d like to point out that I am not sure who I will vote for in the upcoming election (I’m ambivalent toward Ron Paul), and–to be extremely clear–LoonWatch has not endorsed any candidate.]

In any case, there is a Ron Paul video going around called “IMAGINE!  China Invades America!”  Let’s leave aside the standard flame-wars about Ron Paul and instead focus on the subject matter in the video:

If you understand this video, you will have understood almost everything you need to know about Islamophobia.

Rick Perry: Hamas And Hezbollah Working In Mexico

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by loonwatch

If you didn’t know by now, Hamas and Hezbollah hablan mucho Español. If you also didn’t know by now, GOP candidates like Rick Perry are retrying to combine the fear of immigrants and Mooslims taking over the country. Apparently, it is a tried and true method to win the GOP candidacy.

Rick Perry: Hamas And Hezbollah Working In Mexico

Texas Gov. Rick Perry warned viewers of CNN’s Republican debate on Tuesday that Hamas and Hezbollah were working out of Mexico. Perry’s answer came in response to a question about securing the southern border.

“We’re seeing countries start to come in and infiltrate. We know that Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico as well as Iran with their ploy to come into the United States,” Perry said.

He continued: We know that Hugo Chavez… and the Iranian government has one of the largest — I think their largest embassy in the world is in Venezuela. So the idea that we need to have border security with the United States and Mexico is paramount to the entire western hemisphere.”

The DOJ’s escalating criminalization of speech

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

BY GLENN GREENWALD

Over the past several years, the Justice Department has increasingly attempted to criminalize what is clearly protected political speech by prosecuting numerous individuals (Muslims, needless to say) for disseminating political views the government dislikes or considers threatening.  The latest episode emerged on Friday, when the FBI announced the arrest and indictment of Jubair Ahmad, a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, charged with “providing material support” to a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)).

What is the “material support” he allegedly gave?  He produced and uploaded a 5-minute video to YouTube featuring photographs of U.S. abuses in Abu Ghraib, video of armored trucks exploding after being hit by IEDs, prayer messages about “jihad” from LeT’s leader, and — according to the FBI’s Affidavit – “a number of terrorist logos.”  That, in turn, led the FBI agent who signed the affidavit to assert that ”based on [his] training and experience, it is evident that the video . . . is designed as propaganda to develop support for LeT and to recruit jihadists to LeT.”  The FBI also claims Ahmad spoke with the son of an LeT leader about the contents of the video and had attended an LeT camp when he was a teenager in Pakistan.  For the act of uploading that single YouTube video (and for denying that he did so when asked by the FBI agents who came to his home to interrogate him), he faces 23 years in prison.

Let’s be very clear about the key point: the Constitution — specifically the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment — prohibits the U.S. Government from punishing someone for the political views they express, even if those views include the advocacy of violence against the U.S. and its leaders.  One can dislike this legal fact.  One can wish it were different.  But it is the clear and unambiguous law, and has been since the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1969 decision inBrandenburg v. Ohio, which overturned the criminal conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had publicly threatened violence against political officials in a speech.

In doing so, the Brandenberg Court struck down as unconstitutional an Ohio statute (under which the KKK leader was prosecuted) that made it a crime to “advocate . . . the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform.”  Such advocacy — please read the part in bold — cannot be a crime because it is protected by the First Amendment.  The crux of the Court’s holding: ”the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force“ (emphasis added; for more on the First Amendment law protecting this right to advocate violence, see my discussion here).

To put this less abstractly, and as I’ve noted before, a person has — and should and must have — the absolute free speech right to advocate ideas such as this:

For decades, the U.S. Government has been engaging in violence and otherwise interfering in the Muslim world. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslim men, women and children have died as a result. There is no end in sight to this American assault on the Muslim world and those of its client states. Therefore, it is not only the right, but the duty, of Muslims to engage in violence against Americans as a means of self-defense and to deter further violence against Muslims. That is the only available means for fighting back against the world’s greatest military superpower. The only alternative is continuing passive submission to this onslaught of violence aimed at Muslims.

One may find that idea objectionable or even repellent, but does anyone believe that someone should be prosecuted for writing that paragraph?  Anyone who would favor prosecution for that doesn’t understand or believe in the Constitution, as those ideas are pure political speech protected by the First Amendment, every bit as much as: the climate crisis now justifies violent attacks on polluting corporations; or capitalism is so destructive that the use of force in service of a Communist Revolution is compelled; or “if our President, our Congress, our Supreme Court, continues to suppress the white, Caucasian race, it’s possible that there might have to be some revengeance taken” (Brandenberg); or such is the tyranny of the Crown that taking up arms against it is not merely a right but the duty of all American patriots (The American Revolution).  The Jerusalem Post justfired one of its columnists, a Jewish leftist who wrote that Palestinian violence against Israel is ”justified” because they have the “right to resist” the occupation; is he guilty of a crime of materially supporting Terrorism?  Should Ward Churchill, widely accused of having justified the 9/11 attack (or Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who did the same) have been indicted?

Judging from the description of Ahmad’s video in the FBI Affidavit (Ahmad’s YouTube account has been removed), the video in question does not go nearly as far as the clearly protected views referenced in the prior paragraph, as it does not explicitly advocate violence at all; indeed, it appears not to advocate that anyone do anything.  Rather, the FBI believes it is evocative of such advocacy (“designed as propaganda to develop support for LeT”), which makes this prosecution even more troubling.  Apparently, if you string together video and photographs (or words) in a certain way as to make the DOJ think that you’re implicitly trying to “develop support” for a Terrorist group — based on the political ideas you’re expressing — you risk decades of imprisonment.  Is it possible to render the ostensible right of “free speech” more illusory than this?

This case is not an aberration; as indicated, prosecuting Muslims for pure political speech is an increasing weapon of the DOJ.  In July, former Obama OLC official Marty Lederman analyzed the indictment of a 22-year-old former Penn State student for — in the FBI’s words – “repeatedly using the Internet to promote violent jihad against Americans” by posting comments on a “jihadist” Internet forum including “a comment online that praised the [October, 2010] shootings” at the Pentagon and Marine Corps Museum and ”a number of postings encouraging attacks within the United States.”  He also posted links to a bomb-making manual.

Regarding the part of the indictment based on “encouraging violent attacks,” Lederman — who, remember, was an Obama DOJ lawyer until very recently — wrote: it “does not at first glance appear to be different from the sort of advocacy of unlawful conduct that is entitled to substantial First Amendment protection under the Brandenburg line of cases.”  As for linking to bomb-making materials, Lederman wrote: ”the First Amendment generally protects the publication of publicly available information, even where there is a chance or a likelihood that one or more readers may put such information to dangerous, unlawful use.”  Lederman’s discussion of the law and its applicability to that prosecution contains some caveats (and also raises some other barriers to these kinds of prosecutions), but he is clear that the aspect of the indictment based on the alleged advocacy and encouragement of violence in the name of jihad “would appear to be very vulnerable to a First Amendment challenge.”  That’s government-lawyer-ese for: this prosecution is attempting to criminalize free political speech.

Perhaps the most extreme example of this trend is the fact that a Pakistani man in New York was prosecuted and then sentenced to almost six years in prison for doing nothing more than including a Hezbollah news channel in the package of cable channels he offered for sale to consumers in Brooklyn.  On some perverse level, though, all of these individuals are lucky that they are being merely prosecuted rather than targeted with due-process-free assassination.  As I documented last month, that is what is being done to U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki due — overwhelmingly if not exclusively — to the U.S. Government’s fear of his purely political views.

If the First Amendment was designed to do anything, it was designed to prevent the government from imprisoning people — or killing them — because of the political ideas they promote.  Yet that is clearly what the Obama administration is doing with increasing frequency and aggression.

There is one last point that bears emphasis here.  Numerous prominent politicians from both political parties — Michael Mukasey, Howard Dean, Wes Clark, Tom Ridge, Ed Rendell, Fran Townsend, Rudy Giuliani, and many others — have not only been enthusiasticaly promoting andadvocating on behalf of a designated terrorist organization (MEK of Iran), but they have been receiving substantial amounts of cash from that Terrorist group as they do so.  There is only one list of “designated Terrorist organizations” under the law, and MEK is every bit as much on that list as LeT or Al Qaeda are.  Yet you will never, ever see those individuals being indicted by the Obama DOJ for their far more extensive — and paid – involvement with MEK than, for instance, Ahmad has with LeT.  That’s because: (1) the criminal law does not apply to politically powerful elites, only to ordinary citizens and residents (indeed, many of those MEK-shilling politicians cheer on broad and harsh application of the “material support” statute when applied to others), and (2) MEK is now devoted to fighting against a government disliked by the U.S. (Iran), so they’ve become (like Saddam Hussein when fighting Iran and bin Laden when fighting the Soviet Union) the Good Terrorists whom the U.S. likes and supports.

Nonetheless, MEK remains on the list of the designated Terrorist groups, and lending them material support — which certainly includes paid shilling for them — is every bit as criminal (at least) as the behavior in the above-discussed indictments.  As usual, though, “Terrorism” means nothing other than what the U.S. Government wants it to mean at any given moment.  The evisceration of the rule of law evidenced by this disparate treatment is as odious as the First Amendment assault itself.

(source: Salon)

Thomas Jefferson’s Iftar

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2011 by loonwatch
Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson’s Iftar

“Ramadan,” said President Obama at a White House iftar dinner in 2010, “is a reminder that Islam has always been a part of America. The first Muslim ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was hosted by President Jefferson, who arranged a sunset dinner for his guest because it was Ramadan — making it the first known iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago.”

The dinner to which the president referred took place on December 9, 1805, and Jefferson’s guest was Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an envoy from the bey (chieftain) of Tunis who spent six months in Washington. The context of Mellimelli’s visit to the United States was a tense dispute over piracy on American merchant vessels by the Barbary states and the capture of Tunisian vessels trying to run an American blockade of Tripoli.

Mellimelli arrived during Ramadan, and Jefferson, when he invited the envoy to the president’s house, changed the meal time from the usual hour of 3:30 p.m. to “precisely at sunset” in deference to the man’s religious obligation.

Jefferson’s knowledge of Islam likely came from his legal studies of natural law. In 1765, Jefferson purchased a two-volume English translation of the Quran for his personal library, a collection that became, in 1815, the basis of the modern Library of Congress.