Age of Jahiliyah

A blog of wide and varied interest, including Islam, Muslims, Poetry, Art and much more.

Archive for the month “May, 2011”

Getting it Right about Islam and American Muslims

From Huffington Post

John L. Esposito

Founding Director, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding

American Muslims deserve a break. There are as many as 6 million to 8 million Muslims living in the United States and contributing to the country as doctors, engineers, artists, actors and professionals, but for a decade many have found themselves and their religion wrongly equated with the acts of terrorists like Osama bin Laden. Many have been the victims of fear, suspicion, prejudice, Muslim-bashing, unlawful surveillance, illegal search, arrest and imprisonment.

Efforts to build Islamic centers and mosques in New York, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Tennessee have been equated with building monuments to terrorism. Prominent American public figures and politicians — including Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin, Rep. Peter King and Newt Gingrich — openly spoke against Muslims and encouraged unfounded social suspicion of them. The net result is an increase in anti-Islam and anti-Muslim bashing, witnessed in the hysteria that has led to a movement across some 20 states in America to ban sharia.

Today’s historic changes, the death of Osama bin Laden and the Arab Spring offer an opportunity to redress anti-Islam and anti-Muslim bias (Islamophobia) and to reaffirm that American Muslims, like other mainstream Americans, desire a secure and democratic America. Despite the fact that American Muslims years have had to explain that neither they — nor their religion — sanction terrorism.

Major polls have consistently shown American public opinion of Islam plunging. The furor over the proposed Islamic center (Park 51) in New York City resurfaced hostility toward Islam and Muslims. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, large minorities said they could not think of anything positive to say about Islam. In one study, 38 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam, compared to 30 percent who reported a positive view. Another study conducted by The Washington Post found Islam’s unfavorable image creeping up to 49 percent among Americans.

This fear and hostility has been reinforced by the American public’s basic ignorance and misunderstanding of Islam: The Pew Forum’s September 2010 survey of religion literacy found that only about half of Americans know that the Quran is the holy book of Islam. It also found that less than a third know that most people in Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation — are, in fact, Muslim. What many did know and fear were stereotypes based on misinformation.

Mainstream American Muslims have too often been equated inaccurately with terrorists and people who reject democracy. Muslim Americans cherish the freedoms guaranteed by the American Constitution as much as others and, as the Gallup World Poll of 35 Muslim countries reported, like all Americans, majorities of Muslims globally desire democracy and freedom and fear and reject religious extremism and terrorism.

Failure to recognize and appreciate these facts continues to feed a growing Islamophobia in America that threatens the safety, security and civil liberties of many American Muslims despite the fact that, as Gallup and Pew polls have shown, they are as educationally, economically and politically integrated as other Americans. It is time to remember and act on the words of President George W. Bush in calling upon all American to distinguish between the religion of Islam and the acts of a fraction of Muslims who commit acts of terrorism and President Barack Obama’s words reminding Americans that: “the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. … Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.”

It’s time to turn a deaf ear to our preachers and politicians of hate and get it right with our American Muslim fellow citizens.

John L. Esposito, the author of ‘The Future of Islam,’ is the founding director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. Sheila B. Lalwani is a research fellow at the center.

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Is Fear of Sharia the New Red Scare?

From The Mark

by Hamed Aleaziz Journalist.

A proposed Tennessee law could criminalize religious gatherings of two or more Muslims.

In the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden, an outpouring of hope and relief swept across the United States. After 10 years, the U.S. had finally found the man responsible for 9-11, and, naturally, people were in a celebratory mood. For American Muslims, bin Laden’s death marked an opportunity for people to move past the suspicious, often xenophobic attitudes toward Islam in the U.S. One American Muslim, a college student named Umar Issa, told The Associated Press, “His death brings an opportunity for understanding between Americans and Muslims. I’m happy about that. The discrimination I’ve faced, my friends have faced – it’s time for that to come to an end.”

Unfortunately for Issa and other American Muslims, the election in 2012 could make the coming year an even worse time to be a Muslim in the U.S. A select group of politicians and media outlets are dividing Americans, painting Muslims in the U.S. as a “threatening” group. This type of suspicion and prejudice threatens the American ideal, which relies on its diverse citizenship working together, rather than against one another.

The media, always eager to stir up sensationalist drama, are particularly keen on controversy during election seasons. If the events of the past year are any indication, Sharia law and its “threat” to Americans could become another fringe issue that receives undue media attention. (Remember the situation with Rev. Jeremiah Wright?) The presumed threat is that Sharia law, or Islamic jurisprudence, could somehow be implemented in the U.S., leading to a Taliban-like takeover of the American justice system. This ludicrous idea has members of the GOP increasingly concerned about “radical” Muslims and their supposed potential to violently shift U.S. politics. What’s lost in the debate is that the American Constitution already guards against the implementation of religious law in any form.

On May 10, Politico reported that “invoking Sharia and casting it as a growing danger at odds with American principles has become a rallying cry for conservatives.” Candidates like Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Michele Bachman, and Rick Santorum have already singled out “creeping” Sharia as a serious threat to the U.S. The media have been quick to join the conversation, making the “fear” seem more real and widespread than it actually is. Unfortunately, the supposed fear is being manipulated to pave the way for draconian laws that pose significant consequences for American Muslims’ civil liberties.

Even members of Congress, like Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), have held congressional investigations into the threat posed by “radicalized” Muslims in the U.S. Such debates perpetuate xenophobia. In March, two Muslim men on their way to a conference on Islamophobia were kicked off of a Delta Air Lines flight because the pilot was uncomfortable with them being onboard. In the same week, a Muslim woman was kicked off of a Southwest Airlines flight in a similar manner. A dozen American states have proposed legislation to “curb the influence” of Sharia law. In the case of Oklahoma, such legislation has passed – though a judge temporarily prevented the state from enforcing the law.

Tennessee recently passed a law in both chambers of its legislature that would make practising Islam in groups of two or more a “Sharia organization.” The proposed law would render such a practice illegal, with a punishment of up to a 15-year prison term. While it still needs to jump through additional hoops in order to become law, the proposition of such legislation in the first place suggests the ease with which American Muslims’ civil liberties could be infringed upon given the current climate. With the country’s current high unemployment rate, the conspiratorial hallucinations of the Republican candidates may win the attention of frustrated, unemployed Americans.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilder’s anti-Islam party used similar tactics to gain seats in the Dutch parliament in 2010. If the GOP follows suit, the debate could set the U.S. back to the 1950s, when the “Red Scare” enveloped the U.S. in a debate over presumed “threats” to American ideals.

Such debates are leaving American Muslims feeling the scorn of an enflamed sector of American society. But, like in the Netherlands, xenophobic legislation and rhetoric will do nothing to alleviate the economic pains plaguing the country. Given the real challenges facing the U.S., fringe-level, bigoted discussions about irrational fears seem particularly out of place. When will the U.S. return its focus to the things that matter?

Jewish Groups in US Backing Sharia Law

From the Jewish Chronicle Online

By Ellen Tumposky, May 26, 2011
Schwartz: “Jews and Muslims want to protect religious freedom”
Schwartz: “Jews and Muslims want to protect religious freedom”

American Jewish groups are fighting a proposed ban of Sharia law in the state of Oklahoma.

A coalition of organisations that include the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) are backing a legal appeal against a measure that would prevent Islamic law from being used in the state’s courts.

The AJC filed a brief last week with the US Court of Appeals arguing that the ban is an attack on religious freedom.

The AJC said the provision – called the “Save our State law” by its supporters and adopted after a referendum which delivered a 70 per cent “yes” vote last November – is unconstitutional, violating a clause in the First Amendment which bars a state preference for one religion over another.

“In a nation that treasures religious freedom and whose constitution forbids government to have favoured or disfavoured faiths, the Oklahoma provision cannot stand,” wrote AJC Associate General counsel Marc Stern.

The Anti-Defamation League and the Union of Reform Judaism supported the brief, as did the Centre for Islamic Pluralism and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

A judge issued an injunction in November putting the law on hold while the challenge is being heard.

Stephen Schwartz, who converted to Islam as an adult and is the executive director of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism, said both Jews and moderate Muslims are interested in protecting religious freedom. “This is not American, to pass a law in any state that’s against the practising of a religion,” he said.

He said American Jewish groups often work with mainstream Islamic organisations. “The AJC has organised three trips for moderate Muslims to visit Israel,” Mr Schwartz said.

In the original lawsuit against the Oklahoma measure, Muneer Awad of the Council on American Islamic Relations said the law would infringe the rights of Oklahomans to wear religious head scarves, choose Islamic marriage contracts or to be buried according to Islamic practices.

He said the purpose of the law was made clear by Oklahoma Representative Rex Duncan, who said on television that “America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles”.

14 Signs that the Collapse of our Modern World Has Already Begun

Monday, May 02, 2011
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com

(NaturalNews) A lot of people believe the world as we know it is going to end on December 23, 2012. Nonsense, I say. The far more honest answer is that the end of the world as we know it has already begun. And it doesn’t mean the end of the world; it means the closing of one era and the birth of a new one. It is a transition between the ages. This particular transition, however, promises to be the most tumultuous and costly transition humankind has ever seen.

But don’t wait around for December 2012 to look for the signs. Here are 14 signs that the world as we know it is unraveling right now. We are living through the end of one era and the birth of a new one. In the future, they’ll look back and call this all one moment in history, but when you’re living through it, it seems to move forward at almost a snail’s pace. But make no mistake: We are living through the opening chapters of the end of the world as we know it, and on the other side of all this will emerge a new world that’s very different from the one we know today.

#1 – Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis – At first it seemed like a fluke; but now it’s a pattern. The weather is becoming increasingly extreme. Over 120 tornadoes recently struck the U.S. Midwest. Texas is on fire and suffering through an extreme drought. And where there aren’t fires and droughts, there are floods. This is only the beginning… watch for more freak weather over the next 18 months.

#2 – The silence of the bees – Colony Collapse Disorder continues to accelerate across North America. We already know it’s being caused in part by chemical pesticides (and possibly worsened by GMOs), but the chemical industry is engaged in a full-on cover-up to deny this truth while the pollinators of our world suffer a devastating population collapse. (http://www.naturalnews.com/028218_p…)

#3 – The failure of nuclear science – The Fukushima catastrophe proves one thing: Scientists are dangerously arrogant in their planning of large-scale projects, and they fail to account for the awesome power of Mother Nature. Nuclear science promised us clean, green energy — but now it has delivered a silent, invisible poison that’s infecting our planet.

#4 – The vicious pursuit of Wikileaks – In an age of such rampant deceit, there is no room for the truth. So those who tell the truth (Wikileaks) are viciously pursued as if they were criminals.

#5 – The rise of the medical police state – The armed SWAT raids on Maryanne Godboldo in Detroit are only the beginning (http://www.naturalnews.com/032091_M…). The truth is that the medical system uses guns to force its vaccines and chemotherapy onto children and teens across America. The medical system has become so utterly useless, corrupt and dangerous that it must actually invoke guns in peoples’ faces just to “convince” people to take its medicine. This is a gunpoint-enforced medical monopoly that exists as a threat to our health and our freedoms.

#6 – The increasing frequency of food shortages and crop failures – Notice the spike in food prices? That’s just the beginning: Food prices will continue to skyrocket in the years ahead due to extreme weather, the loss of pollinators and the global contamination of crops by GMOs. Real food is becoming increasingly scarce in our world. You might want to think about starting a home garden…

#7 – The runaway destruction of the world by energy companies – The radioactive fallout from Fukushima isn’t the only way in which energy companies are destroying our world: Don’t forget about the Deepwater Horizon and the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — a spill that isn’t over, by the way. They’re still spraying Corexit in the Gulf one year later!

#8 – The continued GMO contamination of our planet – This may be the worst chapter in the coming collapse: The widespread genetic pollution of our planet through GMOs. This is a crime against nature and against humanity. It is a “gene spill” that may never be contained as it spreads its deadly DNA across the world’s food crops, leading to crop failures and starvation (http://www.naturalnews.com/032167_g…). The use of GMOs is the closest thing to “Satanic” that you’ll find in modern agriculture. The agenda behind this is pure evil.

#9 – The tyranny and criminal crackdowns targeting real food (raw milk) – When you can’t even sell honest farm food to your neighbors without being targeted and arrested by the cops, something is terribly wrong with the world. But this is happening today, all across America. Now the feds are even targeting the Amish! (http://www.naturalnews.com/029322_r…)

#10 – The escalation of the counterfeiting of the money supply – In a failed economic system approaching collapse, the moronic leaders can only think of “solutions” that actually accelerate their own downfall. The runaway counterfeiting of money by the Federal Reserve (with its “quantitative easing” and other counterfeit methods) is a classic sign that the end of our current system is fast approaching. The economic insanities are obvious to anyone who can still do math.

#11 – The plummeting intelligence of the masses – One of the most disturbing signs that we’re already in the collapse is the great dumbing-down of the masses. The drooling, CNN-watching television zombies who dominate our landscape offer absolutely nothing of value to the world. They are the “mindless consumers” who get vaccinated, watch television and eat processed, pasteurized junk food. They’re on psychiatric meds and believe everything the government tells them. Most of these people, of course, won’t make it through the collapse.

#12 – The complete and utter fabrication of the mainstream news – Much of the mainstream news is now utterly and completely fabricated these days: The reporting on Obama’s long-form birth certificate; the news about the war in Libya; the coverage of the economy and the U.S. debt… it’s all so utterly false and unbelievable that an intelligent person watching the news can’t help but explode with laughter. It is a sign of this collapse that the information sources relied upon by the masses are unable to report the truth anymore and must resort to weaving politically expedient fictions on everything from health care and medicine to the fate of the U.S. dollar itself.

#13 – The ongoing pharmaceutical pollution of our world – Beyond the GMO contamination and the radiation contamination of our world, we are also experiencing the mass pharmaceutical contamination of our planet. It’s not just the pharma factories that dump their products into the rivers (http://www.naturalnews.com/025415_w…); it’s also the fact that well over half the population is now taking drugs almost daily, and those drugs pass right through their bodies and end up in the water supply where they contaminate the fish (http://www.naturalnews.com/025933.html). Even beyond that, the drugs end up in the human sewage sludge that’s packaged and sold as “organic soil!” (http://www.naturalnews.com/029504_o…)

#14 – The radioactive contamination of the global food supply – Here’s one that’s really insidious: The global food supply is now contaminated with the radioactive fallout from Fukushima. We’re told the levels are “low,” but we’re not told the truth of how radioactive cesium isotopes persist in the food supply for centuries. How is the human race going to survive its exposure to CT scans, radioactive food, chest X-rays, TSA body scanners and even the secret DHS mobile X-ray vans that can penetrate your body with X-rays as you’re walking into a football stadium? The total radiation burden on the human race is now reaching a point of mass infertility. That may be the whole idea, actually.

It’s accelerating, too

December, 2012 may be a useful date as some sort of mid-point in the crisis, or perhaps as a trigger date for some further acceleration of society’s rapid unraveling. But make no mistake: We are already living in the collapse of our modern world. And you have a front-row seat! (Exciting, huh?)

Think about what’s happening around you these days. These are the signs of the last, desperate clutches of a civilization built on utterly unsustainable practices that don’t value life on our world. These are the End Times of the corporate oligarchy; the monopolistic for-profit corporation machine that destroyed everything in our world in exchange for a slightly higher quarterly earnings report.

In the quest for more money, humanity has sacrificed its food supply, its pollinators, it’s oceans, forests and soils. Greed-driven humans have used other humans as medical experiments and cannon fodder. We have created wars to sell more bombs, and we’ve invented disease to sell psychiatric chemicals.

These are the practices of a failed civilization… and one whose days are numbered. Watching it all crumble is far more interesting than watching it continue its destructive ways, of course, because those of us paying attention realize a future civilization must rise up in the place of this one after the collapse.

Say goodbye to the false power of institutions

It would be nice if our future leaders remembered the importance of liberty and personal responsibility, of course. The answer to all the world’s problems, it turns out, is freedom — freedom in medicine, freedom in economics and freedom from government tyranny.

Because, let’s face it: The root cause of most these problems that are bringing down our world right now is bad government. It is bad government (Big Government) that approved the GMOs. Bad government enforced the medical monopoly and allowed the pesticides to kill the honeybees. Bad government drove us into inescapable debt and costly foreign wars. Bad government outlawed health freedom and protected the monopolistic practices of the food companies, drug companies and chemical companies.

The downfall of modern human civilization is, as you probably guessed, also the downfall of the very idea that Big Government creates a better society. Because if there’s one idea that needs to stay dead after the collapse, it’s the idea that We the People somehow need another group of people (government workers) to live off our hard work while hounding us with their false authority, directing every little detail of our lives.

What we need in our world isn’t more government, but more freedom. If we had freedom, integrity and personal responsibility, we wouldn’t even be facing the global collapse that has already begun. But alas, the human race is an infant species and it must learn some lessons the hard way, it seems.

This lesson should be long remembered: If you let the corporations, the banks and the governments run your economies, your farms and your lives, they will enslave you and steal your future while you sleep; they will inject silent poisons into the very world around you until you awaken one day to find that all you created has been destroyed. They will promise you paradise but deliver only death. Beware of any entity that is not a living person — no government, no institution, no corporation has a soul, nor a heart, nor a conscience. They are forces of organized destruction that decimate those things we hold dear while delivering to us things that will only enslave us or harm us.

Beware the corporation; the government; the non-profit institution working as a front group for private industry. Never allow yourself to be ruled over by any institution which exists only as a fictional construct organized from the projection of human greed.

And be ready for the acceleration of the collapse. Because if you are reading this, you are the future of the human race. You have a duty to stay alive, keep your genes intact, and be around to help create the Next Society after this one crumbles into history.

Your Taxes Fund Anti-Muslim Hatred

From Truthdig

Posted on May 9, 2011
Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

News personalities, politicians, self-appointed experts on the Muslim world, and law enforcement and intelligence officials, as well as the Christian right, have successfully demonized Muslims in the United States since the attacks of 2001. It is acceptable to say things openly about Muslims that could never be said about any other ethnic group. And as the economy continues to unravel, as we face the possibility of revenge attacks by Islamic extremists, perhaps on American soil, the plight of Muslims is beginning to mirror that of targeted ethnic minority groups on the eve of the war in the former Yugoslavia, or Jews in the dying days of the Weimar Republic.

The major candidates for the Republican nomination for the presidency, including Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee, along with television personalities such as Bill Maher, routinely employ hate talk against Muslims as a way to attract votes or viewers. Right-wing radio and cable news, including Christian radio and television, along with websites such as Jihad Watch and FrontPage, spew toxic filth about Muslims over the airwaves and the Internet. But perhaps most ominously—as pointed out in “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace,” a report by Political Research Associates—a cadre of right-wing institutions that peddle themselves as counterterrorism specialists and experts on the Muslim world has been indoctrinating thousands of police, intelligence and military personnel in nationwide seminars. These seminars, run by organizations such as Security Solutions International, The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, and International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association, embrace gross and distorted stereotypes and propagate wild conspiracy theories. And much of this indoctrination within the law enforcement community is funded under two grant programs for training—the State Homeland Security Program and Urban Areas Security Initiative—which made $1.67 billion available to states in 2010. The seminars preach that Islam is a terrorist religion, that an Islamic “fifth column” or “stealth jihad” is subverting the United States from within, that mainstream American Muslims have ties to terrorist groups, that Muslims use litigation, free speech and other legal means (something the trainers have nicknamed “Lawfare”) to advance the subversive Muslim agenda and that the goal of Muslims in the United States is to replace the Constitution with Islamic or Shariah law.

“You would not expect a Democratic administration to fund right-wing groups,” Thom Cincotta, a civil liberties attorney and the author of the Political Research Associates report, told me, “and yet we continue to have hard-right, Islamophobic speakers and companies being paid taxpayer dollars to promote racist doctrines that undermine U.S. national security policy concerning Islam and the Muslim world. Policy expert after policy expert point out that framing our counterterrorism efforts as a war against Islam is a recipe for building increased resentment among Muslims, as well as a potent recruiting tool for those who would like to carry out violent attacks against us. This kind of demonizing breaks down communication between law enforcement agents and Muslim communities, which have proven to be strong allies in the rare instances of domestic extremism. Not only does it threaten to erode basic civil liberties, it threatens freedom of expression and freedom of worship.”

The effects of this campaign of racial hatred are being felt throughout the Muslim community. Those with Muslim names are routinely harassed at airports, and many who wear traditional Muslim dress report mounting cases of verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Muslim children endure taunts in schools. Muslims complain of intrusive surveillance, unconstitutional profiling and frequent mistreatment by law enforcement. The practice of Islam, especially in its traditional forms, is now viewed by many as a sign of criminal intent. And with the rise of the surveillance and security state—we now have 854,000 people working in our domestic security apparatus and 800,000 more employed as police and emergency personnel—national law is being turned into an instrument of overt repression against a religious minority.

Those making war on Islam are ignorant of the practices and beliefs of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims. The Muslim community is not a monolith. It is composed of numerous ethnic, national, cultural and racial groups that often have little in common and in some cases are antagonistic. Of the some 6 million Muslims in the United States, only 5 to 10 percent define themselves as religious. And those groups that express political versions of Islam—the Jamaat al-Islamiyya out of South Asia and the Salafis—are a tiny and marginalized minority.

There is now an industry of well-funded hatemongers producing seminars, courses and books on Islam. Walid Shoebat, one of the stars of the circuit, gives a presentation titled “The Jihad Mindset and How to Defeat It: Why We Want to Kill You.” Shoebat, who bills himself as a reformed terrorist and who speaks to law enforcement officials around the country, tells his listeners that mainstream Muslim organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are terrorist fronts and that Islamists are by nature violent extremists and pedophiles. Shoebat, like most of the other “reformed” Muslims trotted out to speak at these events, has embraced fundamentalist Christianity. He denounces Islam as the religion of the Antichrist. Shoebat is scheduled to be one of the featured speakers Wednesday at the 2nd Annual South Dakota Homeland Security Conference in Rapid City, sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

The poison of this rhetoric was on display a few days ago when a trustee of City University of New York blocked the playwright Tony Kushner, who is Jewish, from receiving an honorary doctorate because of Kushner’s criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The trustee, Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, labeling Kushner “an extremist,” told The New York Times that the Palestinians “who worship death for their children are not human.”

I had dinner in Berkeley recently with my friend Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an Islamic scholar and the co-founder of Zaytuna College, who has watched the steady deterioration of Muslims’ civil rights since the 2001 attacks. He argues that the stereotypes employed against Muslims mirror, with a different iconography and language, the Cold War Red-baiting that dismantled the militant labor movement and ended all serious challenges to unfettered corporate capitalism. The Red-baiting disempowered a dissident segment of American society and legalized its persecution. Red-baiting turned socialists, anarchists, populists, communists and radicals, who relentlessly challenged the orthodoxies of the permanent war economy and assault on civil liberties, into pariahs and scapegoats. It worked once. It could work again.

The portrayal of Muslims as mortal enemies serves the interests of the expanding security state and the war industry, which consume half of all federal discretionary spending. The “Muslim threat” propagates the culture of fear and ensures our political passivity. Yusuf calls the attacks on American Muslim leadership and Islamic charities “Swiftboating,” in reference to the right-wing smearing of John Kerry’s war record when the senator was running for president in 2004. Create doubt in people’s minds about the allegiances of Muslim leaders and you effectively undermine the entire community. He says these caricatures of Muslims as evil terrorists become effective tools in justifying the ongoing occupations and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the proxy wars in Yemen and Pakistan, and the suspension of basic civil liberties at home. Israel, as well as its supporters in the United States, routinely employs the same racist cant to excuse Israeli war crimes and deny the legitimate rights of Palestinians.

Nazi portrayals of Jews, Yusuf points out, bear a disturbing resemblance to modern portrayals of Muslims. The goal that some of these demagogues have, he said, especially in a time of economic collapse, is to divert widespread rage toward Muslims, just as the leadership of Serbia diverted rage toward Muslims and Croats when that nation’s economy collapsed.

“I was completely humiliated by one of these Homeland Security officials at the San Francisco Airport recently,” Yusuf told me. “He knew who I was. He got more and more antagonistic. He searched all my things. It was one question after another. ‘Who were you visiting?’ he asked. ‘Where were you?’ It was done in front of my wife and children. He would not let up. We had somebody else’s bag who was traveling with us and who had just gone through security. He said, looking at the bag, ‘What kind of a name is that, Hussani?’ I said, ‘It is an American name.’ He looked at me and said: ‘Don’t get smart with me. You’re a big-shot guy. You’re not stupid. You know exactly what I mean. What is that? Is it an Arab name?’ I said, ‘Look, it could be many, many nationalities.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I’m asking you about this one.’ He was talking to me like this. After about 30 minutes of this, and I don’t know why I was putting up with this, I guess I was hoping each time would be the last, I finally said, ‘You can arrest me. You can do whatever you want. But I’m not answering another one of these inane questions.’ He tossed my passport at me and said, ‘Have a nice day.’ And I am wondering, did he just go through one of these training seminars?”

Yusuf filed a complaint with his senator and the Homeland Security Department. Homeland Security officials told him they would investigate the matter, and that if he could notify them in advance they would escort him through the airport security line. “But,” he said, “the problem with that approach is it essentially turns us into a Third World country where influential people are treated well, but others suffer the brunt of a regime’s brutality if they are suspect. That’s what happens when I go to counties in the Arab world. They meet me at the airport. I get treated like a VIP. But then Gulam, the little greengrocer from Peshawar, who came here as a refugee 15 years ago from the Afghani war, he gets treated like crap, because he doesn’t have friends or influence. Our creed is supposed to be ‘Liberty and justice for all’ and that’s all I want.”

Yusuf tells Muslims in the United States that they should attempt to understand those who readily embrace these stereotypes. “We can’t demonize those who attend rallies where they demonize us, because in the end the people who attend these rallies are also victims,” he said. “They are victims of these demagogues with bully pulpits. People are scared. They are losing their jobs. Their mortgages have gone into foreclosure. They are angry. Demagogues always arise in these situations to use and direct anger. The Muslim community is just an easy target.”

Suheir Hammad Performs “What I Will” on Def Poetry

Uploaded by kfc123

The Listeners by Walter De La Mare

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,

Knocking on the moonlit door;

And his horse in the silence champed the grasses

Of the forest’s ferny floor:

And a bird flew up out of the turret,

Above the Traveller’s head

And he smote upon the door again a second time;

‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.

But no one descended to the Traveller;

No head from the leaf-fringed sill

Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,

Where he stood perplexed and still.

But only a host of phantom listeners

That dwelt in the lone house then

Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight

To that voice from the world of men:

Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,

That goes down to the empty hall,

Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken

By the lonely Traveller’s call.

And he felt in his heart their strangeness,

Their stillness answering his cry,

While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,

‘Neath the starred and leafy sky;

For he suddenly smote on the door, even

Louder, and lifted his head:-

‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,

That I kept my word,’ he said.

Never the least stir made the listeners,

Though every word he spake

Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house

From the one man left awake:

Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,

And the sound of iron on stone,

And how the silence surged softly backward,

When the plunging hoofs were gone.

Artichoke by Joseph Hutchinson

O heart weighed down by so many wings.


Taken Up by Charles Martin

Tired of earth, they dwindled on their hill,

Watching and waiting in the moonlight until

The aspens’ leaves quite suddenly grew still,

No longer quaking as the disc descended,

That glowing wheel of lights whose coming ended

All waiting and watching. When it landed

The ones within it one by one came forth,

Stalking out awkwardly upon the earth,

And those who watched them were confirmed in faith:

Mysterious voyagers from outer space,

Attenuated, golden—shreds of lace

Spun into seeds of the sunflower’s spinning face—

Light was their speech, spanning mind to mind:

We come here not believing what we find—

Can it be your desire to leave behind

The earth, which even those called angels bless,

Exchanging amplitude for emptiness?

And in a single voice they answered Yes,

Discord of human melodies all blent

To the unearthly harmony of their assent.

Come then, the Strangers said, and those who were taken, went.

The Beautiful Changes by Richard Wilbur

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides

The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies

On water; it glides

So from the walker, it turns

Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of

you

Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed

By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;

As a mantis, arranged

On a green leaf, grows

Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves

Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that

says

They are not only yours; the beautiful changes

In such kind ways,

Wishing ever to sunder

Things and things’ selves for a second finding,

to lose

For a moment all that it touches back to

wonder.

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