Gaza and The Cheapness of Human Life

As I started to write this post I got a call. It was to pick up at the Barnes-Jewish hospital emergency room. Pulling up I saw a large group of grieving family members.  Have witnessed the exact same scene many times at the Barnes-Jewish ER. Always tears, always a tension with security,  and unfortunately almost always African-American. 

If you read the Evening-Whirl you can know the stories of these victims.  In most other local media outlets murder victims get passing mentions….unless the victim is white. When the victim is white look forward to relentless in-depth media coverage coupled with a vigorous investigation by the police. 

Not just a race issue though. It is also class. If you’re poor, white and strung out on dope you might get a little more attention than the young black males filling the city morgue on the regular;  but you won’t become a household name like Megan Boken or Nicholas Kapusniak. 

Some people rush to STLtoday and other local news outlets to make sure the recent homicide victim wasn’t a friend or family. Others complain even recognizing the humanity of victims and reporting their deaths in the media gives St. Louis a bad image which in turn leads to their derision at cocktail parties out of town. 

This isn’t just a St. Louis story.  The same can be said of Chiraq,  Killadelphia, or any number of cities. 

It’s no wonder that a nation with such a mentality takes little time to reflect on those we kill in our name. Vietnam,  Iraq and Afghanistan are remembered in America in terms of the numbers of dead American troops.  Of course I share in this remembrance of these mostly working-class Americans who gave their lives at the command of older men directing these less than honorable missions.

Our last President,  George W Bush,  had little regard for the lives of those serving under his command and even less regard for the lives of others.  Our current President,  Barack Hussein Obama,  has demonstrated he cares deeply about the lives of Americans, he just doesn’t seem to give a damn about the lives of anyone else.

Just as St. Louis only seems to get worked up about victims of murder if they’re white and aren’t perceived as Hoosiers our President only is moved by the prospect of losing American lives. The drones he loves so much, a weapon of cowards, routinely take the lives of innocent men, women,  and children. The stories of the dead in Yemen,  Somalia, Pakistan,  and Afghanistan are just as meaningful as the deaths of Americans.  Yet, how often do we hear them? How often do reflect upon those loses?

Which brings me to Israel.  There is no nation which values the lives of her citizens more than Israel.  The death of each soldier is mourned by the entire nation. Victims of terror attacks become household names and the homes of their families become shrines visited by thousands.  For the remains of dead Israeli soldiers the government is willing to release hundreds of prisoners and pay large sums of money.  Every Israeli military action is designed to minimize Israeli casualties. 
Having lost 6 million Jewish lives in the Holocaust and countless more in crusades,  pogroms,  riots, and ethnic-cleansings in the past every Jewish life is seen as precious by the Jewish State. 

Every Jewish life.

As Israelis in Sderot sit in their lawn chairs enjoying BBQ cheering as bombs land in civilian areas what respect are they showing for human life? Israeli media figures, politicians and thinkers are on an all-out offensive defending Israeli agression in Gaza and minimizing the significance of the loss of life of so many Palestinian children. 

In St. Louis if you’re white and not a Hoosier your death has meaning and no one else’s does,  in the White House only the lives of American soldiers has meaning, and in the Jewish State only the lives of Jews matter.

If even one Jewish child were to die in a terrorist attack the nation would be in mourning for years. Israelis are still mourning those teenagers killed in the horrific suicide bombing attack of a pizzeria more than a decade ago. Yet when it comes to Palestinian children blown to bits in their sleep all many Israelis can respond with is jingoistic my side is right sloganeering. Israel has a right to exist: but not Palestinian children. 

Of course we need not look across the world to the lynching parties in Sderot. Right here in America there have been Pro-Israel rallies supporting the campaign in Gaza. Curiously enough the Israeli right-of-retutn remains on the books and yet those young American Jews tweeting and cheering for the Israeli bloodbath in Gaza seem to be more comfortable cheering from the sidelines. 

While both Obama and Israel seem to view Muslim blood as cheap many Muslims also seem to share this view. While nearly all Muslims are united in grief and disgust over the carnage in Gaza how many cheer for carnage in other places?

How many Sunnis cheer on their side in the bloody civil wars in Syria and Iraq even as their side commits the most heinous acts? How many Sunnis are indifferent at the bombing of mosques and buses full of Shia in Pakistan? 

How many Shia cheer on the agression of their own side even when it goes over the top and becomes indiscriminate? 

How many screaming human rights in Gaza today supported blatant violations of human rights such as the coup in Egypt,  the oppression of the junta since that time, and the complicity of the Egyptian Dictatorship in the plight of Gaza?

While the entire Ummah cries for Gaza ( rightfully so) where are the cries for the dead black Muslims in the Central African Republic,  the impoverished Rohingya and so many others?

Not valuing human life starts local and spreads global.  If we value human life starting at the local level surely that can go global too.

Posted in Umarisms | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watch “Umar Lee at the St. Louis MTC Opposing Uber” on YouTube

Umar Lee at the St. Louis MTC Opposing Uber: http://youtu.be/bMLDPbAP_A0

Posted in St. Louis | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2014 Ramadan Pix Part 1

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Posted in Umarisms | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Letter to Chris Sommers on Uber and Questions for Nebula

Chris Sommers ( one of the owners of Pi Pizzeria) is a great citizen of St. Louis. Committed to making this city a better place with a strong sense of social-justice our city could use more people like Chris Sommers.

I first met Chris as a passenger in my cab. I told him I was boycotting Pi. Chris was patient and asked me why. I told him I was upset over the “no provel” shirts and the “green is the new black” shirts worn by employees. 

I see the “no provel” shirts as hipster snobbery fueled by crusading transplants and self-hating St. Louisans.  If you don’t like St. Louis-style pizza there is a very simple solution…..get the hell out of St. Louis. 

The “green is the new black” slogan (probably made up by white trust-fund babies) is also bullshit. Black is the new black. No green ghettos,  no young green men murdered in the streets on a daily basis, no crisis in the green family, no driving while green. I will go even further and say there is much hostility towards African-Americans and other people of color by many green thinkers and writers.

Now, having said that to Chris he patiently responded and then explained his side of the story.  He told me he didn’t hate provel and agreed there is a difference between black and green. I agreed to rescind my boycott. 

A short time later I took my niece and her parents to Pi in the Central West End after a basketball game. I went back one more time. The pizza is good and the environment is nice; but I still prefer Omar’s, Pironnes,  Faraci’s,  BJ’s,  Imos, and Cecil Whittaker’s St. Louis-style pizza. For New York style pizza Omar’s is also good and I like La Pizza. Chicago style ( lasagna sandwiches) actually my least favorite but it’s still pizza and tastes good.

To the matter at hand….

Chris Sommers with great foresight and courage agreed to voluntarily raise the minimum-wage for his employees to a decent-wage. This was something Chris didn’t have to do. The Tea Party dominated Missouri state legislature isn’t about to raise the minimum-wage. President Obama isn’t about to get an increase through Congress.  Chris just did it because it was the right thing to do.

Just this past week Chris has fought for a crosswalk at Forest Park and Euclid.  Again, he didn’t have to do that. Owning a rapidly growing fancy pizza chain, living in a mansion on Lindell, and probably driving a luxury car ( no less than a Prius and that would be for liberal street-cred) Chris never has to walk anywhere.  Again Chris is just looking out for the people. 

So, I ask this question;  are cabbies not people too? Do we not also deserve a living-wage? Are our families not as dependent on us as the families of those making pizzas? 

Uber ( like Lyft) is designed to drive the wages down for drivers flooding the market with cheap and unprofessional and unregulated labor.  Kind of like cheap ingredients in a pizza. You could pay 5 bucks for a pizza at Little Cesar’s but you pay 30 at Pi for the quality ingredients.  Lyft and Uber want to flood St. Louis with what is the equivalent to Aldi’s frozen pizzas.

I know Chris supports locally-owned businesses.  In fact many  ride-share proponents are Locavores. Cherokee Street,  the hotbed of Lyft support,  prides itself on being all about locally owned businesses. Yet that all gets thrown out the window when it comes to the cab business.

Laclede Cab is owned by Dave McNutt.  Dave rose up from a childhood of poverty in south St. Louis to become a successful businessman.  The vice-president of Laclede spent over 30 years with the St. Louis County police.  The general-manager is a minister in North St. Louis and a former city cop. If that’s not local I don’t know what is.

The owners of County-Yellow,  ABC-Checker,  and the other local companies are also St. Louisans.

Lyft is a San Francisco based company fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars from international bankers. Uber is also not a St. Louis outfit and is also flush with cash from international financiers. 

If Chris Sommers supports local businesses he should support locally-owned cab companies and drivers. Instead of this he has become the front man for Uber in St. Louis.  Disappointed.  Uber is not only bad for cabbies it’s bad for St. Louis.  If Chris wants to really help our city he needs to rethink his position. 

Nebula and The Share Economy

Lyft and Uber are a part of the “share economy”. This bogus trend isn’t about sharing at all. It’s about making money. This economy,  probably invented by some Ayn Rand fanboy,  is about skirting regulations designed to protect the public and workers. It’s also about the new Jim Crow and a way for people to only interact with those who look like them and minimize contact with those outside of their race or social-class.

Go to any article written on Ride-Share then go to the comments section.  Or just search Twitter.  Or pop in a bar and strike up a convo. The biggest complaints about cabbies are xenophobic.  Complaints about the race, religion or attire of drivers are most common. Ride-Share supporters instinctively know that Lyft and Uber drivers will not be professional drivers. They’ll be whiter and more similar to them and that’s what they want.

If Nebula, Chris Sommers,  Alderman Scott Ogilvie and others support taxi chains why not support other chains?  Like Dollar General.  You see Dollar General,  a chain just like Lyft and Uber, is trying to open on South Jefferson at the old Hoods location.  The prospect of a dollar store opening has caused a great uproar from the exact same people who support taxi chains.

Is it about locally-owned versus chains? Or something else. Are these same people in an uproar over Dollar General also against Ikea? Ikea is a chain.  It’s not even American.  Yet Ikea Is getting much love from many in the “shop local” crowd.

So, is it about the stores? Or is it about the customers?  Are you really saying we don’t like who shops at Dollar General and we like who shops at Ikea? Our future vision of the neighborhood is tied to the removal of Dollar General customers.  Is that the message?  Cabbies pick up and take folks from dollar stores all the time.  How many ride-share drivers will be able to say that?

Posted in St. Louis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watch “Palestine, Hipsters, Mipsterz, and Colonialism” on YouTube

Palestine, Hipsters, Mipsterz, and Colonialism: http://youtu.be/wlOzIDN_0dY

Posted in American-Muslims | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birds of a Feather: Hipsters, Mipsterz, Zionists, Colonialists, Settlers, White-privalege and American Exceptionalism

Article coming soon. This very long title is just a reminder for my lazy butt to write it

Posted in American-Muslims | Leave a comment

Ramadan 2014 -Resurgence, Renewal and Keeping it Real

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/altmuslim/2014/07/ramadan-2014-resurgence-renewal-and-keeping-it-real/

My Ramadan essay for Patheos 30 for 30 anthology. 

Posted in Islam | Tagged , | Leave a comment