I am not going to have time to write until Sunday night more than likely because I will be working like a maniac to get this money from the New Years drunks and insha’Allah I will come home with some good money over the weekend, with no one throwing up in my cab, and then I will take a few days off and go to New York. Like I said before; if you act crazy on New Years Eve you are a really like that all year round but put up a front otherwise and if you are gettin banged by half the team on New Years Eve do not balme it on the booz. Sat safe tonight everyone, the nuts will be out.
Over the weekend there will be countless year in review specials on TV, radio, internet and print publications. In this spirit I would like to include my own year in review. The first part focuses on the year in review from a Muslim perspective and the second is juts some general stuff.
The Muslim Year in Review
The main thing I will remember from 2005 is Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The hurricane exposed the huge poverty and class differences that exist in America, something the mainstream media routinely tries to ignore, and the particular horrific situation that exits in New Orleans. After the hurricane we saw a completely incompetent response from the federal government to the tragedy as people in America did without food and water for days and it took Kanye West to call out the Bush Administration. The White House may not have cared all that much about the people of New Orleans; but they hit the roof when the American people lost confidence in Bush by the millions because of Katrina and opened up the federal treasury to the situation with conditions ( like removing the prevailing wage conditions for the affected areas).
This will also go down as the year where we all found out, for certain, that if you exercise your rights and disagree with the government and especially if you are Muslim, you will be monitored by the federal government and thus the promise of America that all the immigrants who came here believed in has turned out to be a lie at this time.
American Muslim Community
We are still living under siege and getting knocks on the door, our charities scrutinized and seized and our places of worship (and maybe even our homes) are under surveillance. Despite this activism is at an all-time high in the Muslim community and Muslims have taken an active role in the anti-war movement and political campaigns. In addition to this new Masjids are being opened and Americans continue to embrace Islam. While Islam and Muslims are being routinely vilified in the media, and are being attacked by all sides, and many operate as a 5th Column within the community, American-Muslims are developing alternate ways of information sharing such as blogs, Islamic magazines, websites and micro-publications. In Chicago there is now a Muslim radio station and in Buffalo, NY a Muslim TV station. On a personal level, this is a very sad year, because my dear Sheikh and brother Ali al-Timimi was sentenced to life in prison plus seventy years in one of the most vile and unjust prosecutions and convictions in the history of this nation. May Allah preserve Sheikh Ali and our other brothers behind bars.
Latin American has said no to neo-liberalism, economic exploitation, racism and American domination this year by electing Evo Morales in Bolivia, Tabare Vazquez in Uruguay and upholding the leadership of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Néstor Kirchner in Argentina. 2006 may be the year where populism sweeps our neighbors to the South and a new paradigm is made in Latin America where the nations are not ruled by small bands of wealthy elites in the cities who bow to America and brutalize the poor while stealing the nation’s wealth.
Africa and Caribbean
This has not been a good year for Africa; conflicts in Dafur, Congo, Uganda and other nations have left many dead as other nations like Sierra Leone and Angola try to regroup after years of conflict. AIDS and poverty remain the big issues in Africa and if anyone is looking for a cause then working in anyway to help the suffering in Africa, where entire nations are being crippled by AIDS, is a good one.
Europe is struggling with its Muslim immigrants (and other non-European immigrants). The riots which lasted for days in France highlighted the issue that the young Muslims of France are being discriminated against and excluded form French society. In firing a shot of its own France banned the hijab in public schools and other nations, particularly the Netherlands, are attempting to go even farther in their anti-hijab measures. Instead of turning inward and looking at their own lifestyles (low birth-rates, extreme secularism, moral relativism, etc.) and their own failed economic polices many Europeans are looking for a scapegoat, just as they did sixty years ago; but this time it is Muslims that Europe has managed to blame the ills of their society on. Pope John Paul II died, a man a greatly admired and agreed with almost completely in his social vision, and made Europe get religion for a few days. A new Pope was elected and the beat goes on.
Iraq is still under occupation, Saddam is standing trial, Americans continue to come home in body bags, carnage is everywhere, and all sides are preparing for a civil war in Iraq which has been made a little bit closer by recent elections. There was a so-called Cedar Revolution in Lebanon that removed the Syrians from Lebanon; but has not brought democracy to Lebanon as it is not calling for the removal of the undemocratic constitution which it makes it that by law the president must be a Christian. The murderous regime of Bashar al-Asad is getting weaker by the day and many say it will not make it past 2006. Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak decided he would give democracy a try; until he found out that he is not very well-liked in his own theifdom and the Muslim Brotherhood would take power in the parliament. These elections proved that the Ikwaan have transformed into a non-violent democratic organization and that the Arab World is ready to remove the tyrants it has suffered under. Sudan continues to be the target of those who are using the problems of Dafur and other civil conflicts to advance their own agendas that have nothing to do with Africa. Somalia remains a mess where those who cannot find a way to St. Louis to become cabbies are apparently taking up being pirates (I always had a fondness for pirates myself).King Fahd of Saudi Arabia died, giving way to his brother Abdullah, who was really running things anyway and well, change is not all that near in the KSA. Jordan suffered from horrific terrorist bombings at luxury hotels in Amman that led to street demos. Palestine and Israel remain depressing but there are some signs of hope in my opinion with the Palestinian elections and the restructuring of Israeli politics. Turkey is still struggling with trying to get into the EU while the economy is improving and the human rights record remains awful. In Nigeria Muslim provinces continued to try and introduce more Sharia law, and continued to face opposition. Elections were held in Afghanistan, and slowly but surely this nation that has suffered from so many things for so long, is trying to find a way out of extreme poverty.
Asia had its hands full dealing with the aftermath of the Tsunami which hit last December and the earthquake that hit Kashmir and the wider Himalayan region this year. It was a year of natural disasters and while much can be aid about the lack of support the international community gave to the earthquake victims compared to the tsunami victims we can also say that many people, including many Western Muslims, stepped up to the plate in a big was for the earthquake victims. The economies of China and India continued to rapidly develop.
The riots in the Cronulla Beach area aimed at Australians of Lebanese heritage shocked the world. Several thousand young white Australians gathered in the beach area and beat anyone who didn’t look like them and attacked all middle-eastern looking people which included women in hijab. This could be a sign of things to come or Australia could learn its lesson and deal with the problems of a multi-cultural society. For us in America who may feel cozy in our nice homes I suggest we take a lesson from what happened in Australia and realize that this can happen here too.
And Other Stuff…
Zab Judah of Brooklyn came to St. Louis and knocked the hometown hero Cory Spinks out in front of 22,000 home fans. After twenty successful defenses of his middleweight crown Bernard Hopkins finally fell, twice, to the young Jermain Taylor. Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo treated us to one of the best fights in years. Ricky Hatton of Manchester, England shocked the world by beating the legendary Russian-Aussie Kostya Tszyu and Muslim brother Zahir Raheem pulled a major upset by beating the Mexican legend Erik Morales. Floyd Mayweather shined, Muslim brother Kassim Ouma was exposed for the moment, Winky Wright embarrassed Felix Trinidad , Roy Jones is done (please), Mike Tyson is done (please) and Wladimir Klitschko redeemed himself against the hard-hitting Nigerian Samuel Peter.
I love the Chicago White Sox and why you ask? Because they are the blue-collar team of the Chi as opposed to the yuppie Cubs of the North Side and I was glad to see them win the World Series ( especially given the fact that thy were playing a team from Texas). I hate the Patriots, Tom Brady makes me sick, but you have to give them their props for winning another Super Bowl and now having another good season. Tim Duncan and the Spurs showed that you can still be classy and win in the NBA.
One.be.lo came out with the stuff of legends with his s.o.n.o.g.ra.m CD, Kanye West was not a sophomore flop with his Late Registration, and Dilated Peoples produced one more classic. In an almost miraculous turn of events The Fugees also got back together.
Film and TV
On TV didn’t see much good outside of news programming such as Frontline on PBS, HBO documentaries and shows such as Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and Costas Now with Bob Costas, and some other news specials. The Sopranos and The Wire were off, and will be back next year, but HBO got it done with Real Time with Bill Maher while Rome has been a flop in my opinion. It was a weak year for film but I enjoyed Ushpizin, Keane, Syriana, Paradise Now and a few other choice flicks.
In the mood of sharing photos (blame Abu Sinan, he has got me in the mood) I am sharing a group photo I took along with Ismail Royer (click here to read more on the plight of Ismail and what he is doing while serving a twenty-year prison sentence) back in 1993. Amongst those also included in the photo are youth worker Naji Lawrence Adams, cabbie Pi and the late Maurice “Abdul-Muqit” Herd.
The African-American brother, with his young child, is Hammad Abdur-Raheem, a DC area Muslim brother who is in jail as a part of the Virginia 11 paintball case. The photo was taken when I visited him while he was on house arrest before his trial. Click on the link to learn how to help this brother.
The photo of me was taken on a rooftop of the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Anatta. You can see the beautiful Palestinian backdrop behind me. The rooftops of Palestine are a popular place for congregation and socializing amongst friends and family.
I once spent New Years Eve with a group of Somalis who had just arrived in the United States and as the year was about to end we sat on the couch and watched TV and chatted away. Just before midnight I asked everyone if they could walk to the other room with me without thinking they didn’t know why I asking them to get away from the window. When the stroke of midnight hit the Somalis heard something they were familiar with; automatic gunfire mixed in with good old America shotgun and pistol blasts.
The brothers asked what was going on. Was there a fight raging in the streets? No, I told them, this is how many Americans celebrate the New Year (unlike my grandmother who beats pots and pans together).
As a cabbie I love New Years Eve because Ill make a lot of money (and this week is slow as hell, last night alone I had to come home early because I kept falling asleep in the cab), but as a rule I hate this holiday which gives otherwise normal people the excuse to act like maniacs. People act crazy and blame it on the booze; but no you got into a fight because you wanted to fight and you had sex because you wanted to – don’t blame it on the alcohol.
The worst thing about this day is the shooting and not to seem holier than thou; because when I was younger I used to fire off a few rounds myself at the stroke of midnight (and that was after I had a schoolmate of mine killed on New Years Eve by such a thing). This is also not unique to Americans as many Arabs love to fire weapons on celebratory occasions; the joke in Israel is that the Palestinians will be firing weapons in the street and taking over the country and Israelis will turn to one another and say “don’t worry, its just another Palestinian wedding”.
Most people are just celebrating and having a good time by shooting and others are just using this time to use the weapons they own. I once saw a group of niqqaabi Muslim sisters firing off AK’s on New Years Eve but they wouldn’t let me take pictures. However, others have different motivations, they seek to use the chaos of New Years Eve to fire their guns while committing robberies and this is what worries cabbies. So, while I will be driving, I am also going to be conscious of the crazy stuff that can happen on New Years Eve. I was reminded of this by Sister Umm Adam, a Chi-Town Native now living in Saudi Arabia with her husband Abu Adam (a Northern Virginian) when she emailed me a story yesterday along with some of the experiences she had while working at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago.
Sheikh Ali Legal Strategy
This is from Abu Sinan (he put it in a comment);
Defence lawyers in several terrorism cases in the United States are planning to appeal against the convictions of their clients on the ground that evidence may have been garnered from illegal wiretapping by a federal government surveillance agency.
The threat is the latest repercussion of the disclosure two weeks ago that the Bush administration had used the National Security Agency (NSA) – supposed to go after foreign targets – to conduct electronic surveillance without warrants inside the US, and against American citizens.
Among the cases is that of Ali al-Timimi, a Muslim scholar, who is serving a life sentence for involvement with an alleged “Virginia jihad” cell, and for inciting his students to wage war overseas against the US.
The Daily Times of Pakistan is reporting that FBI agents are asking inappropriate questions to Muslims such as their opinions on the war, how they feel about President Bush and other political opinions. In a memo to the Justice Department we should tell them that as Americans we have a secret ballot, and it is none of their damn business what anyone thinks about the war or Bush if they don’t want to talk about it. Law-enforcement officials have no business asking Americans about their political opinions. They are also asking Muslims what mosque they attend and again that is none of their business. The only requirement you have to them is to tell the truth and not lie, and you must do that, and if you feel you cannot do that then you have to call a lawyer and it is that simple. Under Bush; federal law-enforcement has become the armed-wing of the Republican Party and with what we now know you cannot call us conspiracy theorists. One more thing, and I almost forgot this, from a legal perspective you do not have to talk to them at all.
I took some photos today of my favorite spot in St. Louis which is the Delmar Loop which extends from the inner suburb of University City into the City of St. Louis on Delmar. The area is kind of interesting and Delmar is the traditional dividing line of segregation in that part of St. Louis. The Loop itself is full of interesting shops, ethnic and eclectic eateries, an indie bookstore and music store as well as a theater that shows indie and foreign films. The two things I love most about the Loop are the facts that in pedestrian unfriendly St. Louis it is pedestrian friendly and that it is one of the few places in St. Louis where you can find people of different races socializing with one another. The Loop caters to everyone from the bourgeois liberal crowd to hip-hoppers and the reggae crowd. Part of the unique nature of U City and the Loop is due to its proximity to Washington University which has a diverse student population from all over the world (but a heavy concentration of New York, Boston and DC are students). Also within proximity to the Loop is the vibrant Orthodox Jewish enclave, upscale neighborhoods, African-American neighborhoods, apartments from low rent to high rent, and a growing Chinese population just a few blocks away off of Olive. A hidden gym of the Loop is the University City Library, which in my opinion, is one of the best neighborhood libraries in America. I have included a photo of myself to show all the suckas out there what I have for them if they keep messin with me…LOL
I hope that as Muslims we are not deceiving ourselves into believing that the only ones hostile to us are those on the Right who are seeking a crusade against the Islamo-fascists in defense of a supposed Judeo-Christian civilization. There are those on the Left, who will never pick up a gun (but don’t mind others fighting and dying for them), who are conducting just as viscous of a campaign of lies and deceit against Muslims.
Those on the Right and the Left who are anti-Muslim share a lot in common in their hatred towards Islam; both believe that Western is synonymous with good and that any rejection of complete Westernization is bad, they both at heart are imperialists who wish to tell others how to live for the most part and while the Right will do it with the gun the Left will do it through the media and NGO’s, and neither of them in their actions has any respect for the culture and traditions of Muslims and the aspirations of the ummah.
After that the issues become a little more complicated; for the Right the issues with the Muslim World are those of economic domination and exploitation and/or religious grievances. The Left has another set of issues; they believe that Muslims are misogynistic, homophobic, repressive, backwards, uneducated, not sufficiently educated in the ways of secular humanism, and the like.
With George W. Bush in office, and American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Right in this country has a man in office who for the most part will pursue their agenda and take it to the Muslim World ( although there are those on the Right who believe that Bush is soft on Muslims and hasn’t gone far enough). To compliment Bush you have a host of anti-Muslim magazine articles, newspaper editorials, cable TV programs, lectures, conferences, websites and blogs dedicated to the Rights war against Muslims and many times it goes above and beyond support of Bush and advocates total warfare against Islam.
The Left has no real political power in America these days as they do not control any branch of the federal government. The Left is also sorely underrepresented in the military and law-enforcement so they may see themselves as those sitting on the sidelines during the so-called War on Terror or they may be opposed to the Bush campaign entirely.
Left on the sidelines the Left has two choices; they can either actively disagree and campaign against anti-Muslim policies and the Bush War or they can join their brothers and sisters on the Right by doing what they do best in writing essays and making speeches. Many are choosing to oppose Bush and are in the anti-war movement and others are opposing the war but seek to keep their Western street-cred by dissing Muslims.
Mother Jones, a publication that I enjoy reading but have not always agreed with in the past (and I took great joy out of hearing Michael Moore talk about how the people at the magazine went crazy when they found out he was going to let actual union members write about labor-issues), has an article about the Muslim Brotherhood in its current addition that I feel is way off base.
The basis of the article is the visit of the Muslim Brotherhood official Said Ramadan to the White House in 1953 to meet with President Dwight David Eisenhower. Ramadan was in America for a Princeton seminar on the Muslim World, and part of it was dedicated to reform in the ummah, but the author of this piece Robert Dreyfuss, who seems to be in a bad mood because the Soviets lost the Cold War, is convinced, and he may be right, that Ibrahim was in America in order to facilitate a greater connection with America and a support for the movement.
What a quick review of history will show us is that both the allies of the Soviets and the Americans were merciless in their crackdowns against the Muslim brotherhood from the 1950’s on. So, if America was supporting the Ikwaan, as Dreyfuss insinuates, then America was not doing a very good job. Dreyfuss also calls Ibrahim someone with a “plan for global jihad” and seems to ideologically link Ramadan with the likes of Usama bin Laden. If the writer would have done his research he would have discovered that the Ikwaan, and the likes of bin Laden, have serious religious and philosophical disagreements and that today the Ikwaan represent moderation in Muslim religious politics.
Dreyfuss goes on to bemoan the fact that communism did not succeed in the Muslim World and in a sinister way quotes American officials saying Islam was a buffer to Marxism. Where communism did take hold in the Muslim World, or was popular, in places such as Yemen, Sudan and Afghanistan it was to murderous consequences and we should be thankful that Islam served as a buffer to those failed ideologies. He then points out that the Ikwaan have been the organizational sponsors for Muslim groups all over the world and brings up the historical ties between the Ikwaan and the Ayatollah Khomeini; but he neglects to mention the parting of ways that the Ikwaan had with the Iranian government or the fact that today, with the acceptation of Palestine, all Ikwaan based organizations in more than eighty-countries, are behaving in a non-violent and lawful manner. Today, the Ikwaan is a force for democracy in the Muslim World, and is working towards democratic reforms and religious moderation and because of that they are the target of religious extremists. When Dreyfuss mentions the fact that Islamic Jihad in Egypt and others grew out of the Ikwaan; he fails to mention they were forced out of the Ikwaan and they hate the Ikwaan because they feel the brothers are too soft and moderate.
Like many on the Left Dreyfuss also looks back at the Muslim liberation of Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion and their puppets as a bad thing and faults the Ikwaan for their involvement and the US support of the mujahudeen. What the Left constantly ignores is the fact that the mujahudeen movement was extremely splintered and that most of the groups had their own unique ideologies and that those groups the Ikwaan supported and those that bin Laden supported were separate organizations. I was once told by a Leftist at a meeting at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan that “your friends were used in Afghanistan” and my response was “yea they were used, but so what, America was used as well.”
This is a lazy piece done by someone who put a couple of facts together and then ran with a story based on limited knowledge that those in the latte and tofu set who read Mother Jones at the local coffee shop in their gentrified neighborhoods can nod heads to.
I encourage everyone to talk to the elders in their families as much as possible as I did last night. Not only do such talks give you a greater understanding of who you are as a person and your roots; but they can offer you a glimpse into a history that you may know little about and otherwise would have to rely on history books. Last night we were discussing movies and my grandmother began to complain that Hollywood movies today are all filthy and full of sex. I told her that is true; but that sex is a part of life and sometimes sex plays an important role in films and sometimes it is just cheap. Somehow that got us on the subject of war movies and of World War II.
My grandfather is a veteran of World War II and served in the First Marine Division which saw action in the Pacific theater fighting Japanese troops. I told my grandparents “ look at the WWII movies, they all showed American soldiers who looked like they had just stepped out of The Plaza they were so clean fighting battles against the enemy, always winning, coming home in one piece and getting the pretty girl. But, how many young men came home after the war with no legs, without an arm or blinded? How many didn’t come home to the pretty girl; but came home to mental hospitals or nursing homes where they stayed the rest of their lives?”
This prompted my grandmother to join in and say that a lot of men came back from the war with mental illnesses but back then they just threw people into a home. In Vietnam, where her son and my uncle fought, it was well publicized that a lot of soldiers came back and were shell-shocked; but what Americans do not realize is that many came back from WWII the same way and many are probably coming back from Iraq in the same condition.
In 1945, between April and June, my grandfather was a part of the American invasion of Okinawa, the last major Pacific battle of the war, and this battle proved to be the bloodiest battle of the war for the Americans. In one battle America lost more than 12,000 men, Japan and its Okinawan transcripts lost 107,000 and according to reports there may have been 100,000 civilians perish. The battle utilized all branches of the American armed forces and the Japanese responded by air, land and sea. My grandfather told me as he told me before, of seeing the beaches, for as far as you can see, full of dead young men piling up. He told me of friends of his who left the battle blinded and crippled and then he posed the question “what did they ever do about those dumps?” I didn’t know what he was referring to; but apparently the bodies of American and Japanese soldiers where just bulldozed into holes and left in Okinawa. There were too many dead too quickly to do anything else. From an American perspective let’s look at it like this; in three months four more times the America troops died in Okinawa then have dies in three years in Iraq. In my grandfathers opinion; the generals and the politicians had a disregard for the value of the lives of the enlisted men and often would use them as cannon-fodder and he told me of seeing row after row of young American being gunned down on pointless missions.
The difference today, as he tells it, is that the American public will stand up to the government and expect accountability. If Americans believe that soldiers are dying in the pursuit of an unwise cause or that the welfare of the soldier is not respected then they will stand-up and make their voices heard and in WWII there was no such concept amongst the public at-large. It wasn’t just WWII I might add; for thousands of years kings, sultans, and rulers sent young men to die by the thousands with no regard for the humanity of the soldiers. Why is this? Well, for one it can be attributed to the goals of the ruler and the people, secondly to the inability for current warfare technologies to adequately protect soldiers and thirdly due to the fact that the bulk of the dead would normally come from the ranks of the poor in most societies and the noblemen who did die became legends.
When I asked my grandmother about Hitler she said “we knew he was bad but we didn’t know he was extemiating people; we just thought he was out to take over the world.”
Today Americans look back at WWII with some kind of nostalgia, as if it was a fairy tale and everyone did the right thing, and not the brutal and bloody conflict that it was. Like almost all Americans, I do believe that my grandfather fought in a just and essential war, but that does not mean one cannot analyze the history and learn lessons from it. Any comparison between WWII and Iraq is laughable; the world was at danger then due to imperial powers that had the desires, and the capability, of world domination, and they were the aggressors; no such equivalent exists today. It must also be noted that the homefront was then actively involved in the war with air raids drills, neighborhood and school drills, rations, factory conversions and the like. Today no one is being asked to sacrifice, as a matter of fact taxes are being cut, and the public follows the war like a bad soap opera.
Which brings me the greatest president tin the history of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In my grandparents narrative; they were surrounded by poverty, misery and near starvation in the 1930’s during the devilish presidency of Herbert Hoover (a Republican) and it was FDR and his New Deal that saved the masses of the people from lives of ruin and despair. So, until today, the are FDR populist Democrats, who have supported the Democratic Party because of issues of class (support of unions, raises in the minimum wage, workers rights, health care issues, social security, etc.) and like a lot of FDR Democrats, including myself, they don’t care for the cultural elitist issues the Democratic Party has now chose to make the top priority while shunning labor and the poor.
It seems as if a Pakistani man, from the same Pakistan as Mukhtar Mai, murdered his eldest daughter for marrying against his will and slit the throats of her three younger sisters because in the future they might do the same. Can someone tell me why this keeps happening in Pakistan? Can someone tell me why is it that Pakistan is supposed to a modern state then why are tribal leaders allowed to give out their own version of corrupt justice? Can someone tell me why the ulama of Pakistan are not more involved in combating this sort of savage treatment against women? It seems as if many fathers in Pakistan do not love their daughters, or if they do that love plays a lesser role to other impulses such as fear, possessiveness, jealousy and group-think.
What will be done? President Musharraf will make a statement condemning the act, the man will be sentenced, and Pakistan will try to ignore the issue. Some mullah may condemn it in a speech; but that will be about it. Amongst Progressive Muslims and the West papers will be written and speeches will be given by people no one in Pakistan has ever heard of that will have about as much effect as shouting on top of a mountain. To combat these types of acts you need education; but you also need the stick. This guy needs to die, in public, and to shame him and his tiny brain he should be forced to walk nude to the center of town with everyone watching before his throat is slit by a female police officer or official.
One more thing, and I can guarantee this, when I go to the Masjid and discuss this with some of my Pakistani friends, they will be in denial. They will say it did not happen, that the Jews in the media are exaggerating it, and they will say this is very rare. The praises of Pakistan will be sung and they will then say, “well this guy went overboard, but most of the time they are killing the zanni.”
On Another Note
Shia political parties are holding rallies in Iraq supporting the election results, the results that anyone who can do math knows are fraudulent, and counter-rallies are occurring in which Sunnis, secular Iraqis, Kurds and others are joining together in calling for an investigation and recount of the elections.
Muslims Under Survelliance Without Warrants
It seems as if the US government has hundreds of Muslim Masjids, homes and places of business under surveillance all across the nation according to a report by US News and World Report. Now that part of the story really didn’t surprise me, and lets say for example that there was a major terrorist threat in America from the Muslim community (which there is not) it might make sense do have some of these places under surveillance given that the government adheres to the law, after all law-enforcement is supposed to follow the law (Bush however, believes he is king and should have to adhere to no laws and that he should have the robust authority that Dick Cheney tells him of). Now, what surprised me, and literally made me laugh for minutes, is when they said they had Masjids under surveillance (such as Dar al Hijrah and the ADAMS Center in Virginia) not because they are investigating certain Muslims, but because they are looking for nuclear bombs!!!
Man is this real? Have the people who put this program together been tested for drugs? Are they smoking crack? Are they so geeked up and on Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Savage and Hannity that they actually believe that neighborhood mosques are housing nuclear weapons? Is it ignorance, gullibility, bigotry or stupidity or a combination of all?
If there is such a Muslim terrorist threat in America then why aren’t Muslim doctors intentionally killing their patients? Muslim pilots crashing planes? Muslim truck-drivers driving into buildings? Individual Muslims going to their jobs and killing co-workers and bosses? Muslim cabbies driving off of bridges? Why hasn’t any of this happened? If there is such a Muslim threat then why haven’t there been a campaign of terrorist attacks in the US? Even after the US has invaded and occupied and killed the people of Iraq by the tens of thousands, arrested and imprisoned innocent Muslims here, kidnapped Muslims abroad and done everything possible to vilify the Muslim community there has been no terrorist campaign in America? Is it because of law-enforcement? The same people who cant tell Muslims from Sikhs and an Ikwaanee from a Salafi and though the Jamat Tablique was connected to al-Qaeda? Can you point to any verifiable cases where law-enforcement has thwarted a terrorist attack in America? There is no Muslim terrorist threat in America!!!! Are there Muslim terrorists, yes indeed, do they constitute a substantial threat to America? No they do not; they are a minor threat and much less of a threat than the white-right? So why aren’t the feds after the white-right? They are the white-right. Any Muslim, African-American, Latino or many others who thinks that federal-law enforcement and the police are here to protect them is fooling themselves; they are hear to watch, contain and neutralize your communities and to serve the rich and powerful ( mostly white) and that can be documented. No person today can say that we believe in conspiracies, after what has been revealed, and that we as Muslims, and others, are not the target of a repressive from of surveillance and intimidation at the hands of the federal government.
In this land of milk and honey I was released from prison with ten bucks, a bus ticket and a redneck telling me not to come back.
In this land of milk and honey I had no roof over my head making my home the stars at night, Prospect Park, and subway cars.
In this land of milk and honey I experienced hunger sleeping in a dark room with five other men surrounding a space heater in the dead of winter. No utilities on and only cold water to throw over ourselves in buckets.
In this land of milk and honey you can be a CEO and take home fifty million and be a hard worker and not have a place to sleep.
In this land of milk and honey the rich pimp the poor everyday.
In this land of milk and honey black people still are riding at the back of the bus, except now the driver is listening to Hip Hop.
In this land of milk and honey Republicans with names like Van Brooklyn fuck their Mexican maids and then vote to throw the illegals out.
In this land of milk and honey you can work full time your entire life and die of a disease that every Canadian and European would have been treated for.
In this land of milk and honey we cannot afford to care for our old and sick but we can afford useless instruments of mass murder.
In this land of milk and honey we consume nature like an addict consumes their drug of choice.
In this land of milk and honey I am tired of the bullshit.
In this land of milk and honey my blood is boiling.
In this land of milk and honey I really don’t give a fuck anymore.
In this land of milk and honey I’m thinking about taking what’s mine.
In this land of milk and honey I am having revolutionary thoughts.
In this land of milk and honey I am headed for the suburbs.
In this land of milk and honey I see red.
In this land of milk and honey I have revenge on my mind and I walk with the spirit of the native, the mind of the Panther and the body of an avenger.
Umar ben-Ivan Lee
I originally published this in 2003 as a part of a book I was working on.
“Muslims are violent religious fanatics who dream of getting to heaven by killing infidels by and then going to meet virgin maidens in Paradise”. How many times have you heard that ignorant statement or something similar since the tragedy of 9-11?
As we have seen before in this country; when a minority commits an unlawful or violent act the entire group is then targeted and hated by many, while the same does not apply to White Christians.
When Tim McVeigh, a White-American right-wing extremist murdered 168 Americans as he set-off a truck bomb at the Oklahoma City Federal Building including dozens of children, we did not see the type of reaction that we are now seeing against American-Muslims.
Indeed American-History is full of right-wing terrorism from the Civil War, to the Post-Confederacy Southern Organizations, to the Ku Klux Kan, to Neo-Nazi groups and last but not least to the many times in this country that Law Enforcement has been used as a criminal gang to terrorize minority groups and those that may have been out of the mainstream at the time.
However despite this; law enforcement immediately began seeking Muslims after the Oklahoma City bombing only to find that two rednecks committed the crime.
An investigation was launched in a professional manner and the guilty were brought to justice. Unlike what we are seeing now with the Muslim community; right-wing Churches such as Southern Baptists did not start getting bugged, rednecks in pick-up trucks and NRA stickers were not profiled, the audience of Rush Limbaugh wasn’t investigated and nobody asked the Christian Coalition or the Family Research Council to open up its books.
Even those groups that had armored compounds, stockpiled weapons, printed inflammatory publications and openly called for the death of President Clinton were treated with kid gloves. The message is clear; there is one set of rules for White people and one for everyone else. Muslims as a rule are not White, and are never Christians therefore we find ourselves vilified in this society in a way like groups that have terrorized this nation for centuries are not.
Islam is neither a violent religion nor a pacifist religion. Muslims are allowed to use violence in self-defense or in a case of a Muslim state (and there are no purely theocratic Muslim states at this time) when it is necessary.
The word jihad that has been so overused by the media since 9-11 is a word that has multiple meanings. In the Mufradat of Raghib, a classical dictionary of Quranic terms jihad is giving three basic categories;
“To exert one’s power in repelling the enemy. Jihad is of three kinds: against a visible enemy; against the devil; and against self.”
This is in line with the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) where he said that “you should oppose evil with your hand and if you cannot do it with your hand then speak out against it with your tongue and if you cannot speak out against evil with your tongue then hate it in your heart and after that there is not even a mustard seed of faith”.
A Muslim may stop an evil with his hand if the Muslim sees evil and it is an emergency to stop it immediately. Such as if a Muslim encounters someone being physically attacked or a child being abused. However, Muslims are not permitted to act violently to others due to any political or religious grudges and are definitely not permitted to form vigilante groups with no authority from the Islamic ruler and conduct their own foreign policy for the Muslim State and begin attacking others.
These individuals, such as those involved in terrorist attacks against the United States, first of all have no Islamic authority to attack anyone in any manner because as groups they have no legal legitimacy. Secondly, they do not have the right to invent their own methodology for physical jihad.
The Quran and the Sunnah (example of the Prophet) has already set the guidelines for Jihad, just as the West has operated by the Just War Theory for centuries.
The examples for fighting jihad where laid out by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), the Messenger of Allah. During his lifetime, and has been the Muslim ideal since, Muslim mujahudeen were forbidden to kill women, children, the elderly, animals or harm nature. Did the US bombers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki live up to such a standard? Did the bombers of Vietnamese villages follow such a standard? Does the modern doctrine of imposing sanctions against nations such as Cuba and Iraq follow such standards? I think not!
Muslims are now being associated with suicide bombings and it is seen as something that Muslims invented. That is not historically correct as the Japanese committed suicide bombings during World War II and the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, a Hindu group, have committed dozens of suicide bombings.
Political violence in general is also said to be a Muslim problem alone today. The many people who propagate this theory for their own ideological gain do this knowing full well that they are spreading lies. The majority of political violence at this time is happening in Latin America, by secularists and Catholic. Yet secularism and Catholicism are not labeled violent by nature. If a Protestant terrorist in Ulster murders Irish Republican sympathizers his faith does not get a black-eye in the media, rather people understand that they represent a mutant branch of the faith.
Once again we find that there is a different set of rules for White Christians than what you see for the rest of humanity when it comes to popular opinion, the media and government policy in America. Many Presbyterians and other American Evangelicals have funneled money and supported extremist Protestants in Northern Ireland for decades, yet how many times have you heard of a Presbyterian randomly getting a knock on the door from the authorities just because he attends Church.
A lie that is commonly spread over and over by the media is “if there are moderate Muslims why haven’t they come out and condemned suicide attacks and terrorism?” Whoever makes this statement either speaks out of darkness or is a liar. There have been numerous speeches, rulings and statements from Muslim leaders in recent years condemning vigilantism and suicide bombings.
For those who constantly use the word “Wahabi” and vilify Salafi Muslims I have included the fatwa of one of the two great scholars of that methodology of the Twentieth-Century, and that scholar is Sheikh Muhammad Naseer-Udeen Al-Albani, an Albanian scholar who taught in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Jordan;
From the Fatawa of the Muhadith by Al-Albani, this is a vehement condemnation of suicide bombings on theological grounds….
It is uniformly known amongst the Scholars that it is not permissible for a Muslim to commit suicide to relieve himself of a calamity – financial, painful illness that is terminal or any other thing that has befallen him. Suicide to relieve oneself from these types of hardships is without a doubt Haraam.
There are Hadeeth reported in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim that imply that a person taking his own life by consuming poison or piercing himself or any other means (that result in his death) shall result in him being punished with that same mode of death until the Day of Resurrection.
Some of the scholars have understood that the person who commits suicide dies as a Kaafir or an unbeliever since the one who commits such an act has malice and distain for His Lord because of the calamities he has faced without patience. Without a doubt, a (true) Muslim could never reach the level whereby he contemplates such a heinous act, let alone carry out the act of taking his own life. In most cases the individual who takes his own life is not a Mu‘min – true believer.
Yet it is conceivable that a Muslim may be affected by a contagious evil ideology that may lead him to commit suicide. It is conceivable that such an act could take place. Due to this we say with full conviction and certainty that he (the one who commits suicide) is not a true believer. This is similar to the one who abandons prayer out of Juhood (stubborn rejection) of its legislation and passes away a Muslim named Ahmad bin Muhammad. But if it was known that he denied/disavowed prayer then he is not to be buried within the Muslim burial ground. The same (conditions and verdict) is for the one who commits suicide and it becomes known that his suicide was due to malice and distain for His Lord because of the calamities he faced.
We now turn our attention to suicide missions. These suicide missions became infamously known (around the world) because of the Japanese practice of Kamikaze. A man would hurl his warplane towards an American naval vessel, effectively destroying himself along with the plane and as many enemy soldiers as he could muster.
All suicide missions in our current time are unsanctioned deeds that are all to be considered Haraam (prohibited). The suicide missions may be of the type that renders its practitioner eternally in the Fire or it could be the type that renders its practitioner to be from those who shall not reside eternally in the Fire as I have just explained.
But to view these suicide missions as a being a means to draw near to Allaah (praiseworthy act of worship) by killing oneself today for his land or his country then we say No (it is not an act that is praiseworthy).
These suicide missions are not Islamic – period! In fact I say today that which represents the Islamic reality – not the reality that is sought by a few of the (improperly) overly active Muslims – that there is no Jihaad in the Islamic lands at all. Surely there is combat in numerous Muslim countries, but there is no Jihaad that is established under a (solely) Islamic banner, and that is established upon Islamic regulations. From these (missing) regulations are that a soldier is not permitted to act as he (individually and singularly) wishes. He is not permitted to decide for himself what it is that he is to do. Rather he is to be bound to an order from a commander. In turn this commander is not an individual who claims the position (of leadership) for himself and makes himself commander. Rather the commander is delegated the authority from the Khaleefah of the Muslims. So where is the Khaleefah for the Muslims today? Where is the Khaleefah, or for that matter a ruler who raises (solely) the banner of Islaam and calls Muslims to draw near him and perform Jihaad in the way of Allaah (alone)?
As long as (we affirm) that Jihaad, according to Islamic (regulations), must fulfill the prerequisite of it being (solely) under the banner of Islaam and (we find that) this banner does not have a commander (during the current era), then we (state) that an Islamic suicide is not permitted (as it is performed today).
I am well aware of the fact that suicide was known in the past generations of those who fought with spears, swords and arrows. Some of the forms of that warfare resembled suicide (dueling to the death). Examples of this was when an individual would surge forward and face a large contingent of unbelievers and polytheists – striking them from the right and the left – and (all the while knowing) that few would escape this predicament safely. Therefore is that action permitted? We answer that at times it would be permitted and other times it would not be permitted.
If the commander of the army is the Messenger of Allaah and he gave permission to that individual, then it is permitted for him. But for that individual to decide for himself then it is not permitted because it is considered a perilous, hazardous action (at the least) if we do not say that it is a gamble (as well).
(Therefore) such an act is not permitted without the explicit order of the Muslim ruler or the Khaleefah of the Muslims.
What should be done is that the ruler or the Khaleefah should assess the situation with great care. He is the one who has the knowledge of when it is most appropriate to attack the enemy – 100 Muslims facing 1000 (or more or less of) the enemy. He is the one to order the advance, knowing that from them there may be tens who shall die, and knowing that the eventual victory is for the Muslims. Therefore when the commander of the army of Muslims – delegated that duty by the Muslim Khaleefah – orders a single soldier to employ a particular action from the contemporary means of suicide (missions during the battle) then this is to be considered Jihaad in the way of Allaah.
But for a young man, blind (to the realities and intricacies of war) to decide on his own, – as we often hear – to climb the face of a mountain and enter into a fortified location used by the Jews and kill some of them and be killed in the process…what is the benefit of such a deed? These are solely individualized acts that do not have a positive consequential result that is benefiting to the Islamic Call.
Therefore we say to the Muslim Youth, “Protect your lives, on the condition that you (use it) in learning your Deen and your Islaam. Become acquainted with it properly and act according to it to the best of your abilities.”
This course of action and deed, slow and tedious as it may seem, is the deed that shall bear the desired fruit that is sought after by all Muslims, regardless of their varying ideologies and methodologies. All are in agreement that Islaam should be what (we use) to govern, but they dispute in the path (to that objective).
We see from the Sheikh that under Islamic Law such behavior as what was done on 9-11 is completely unlawful in Islam.
It is also important to not that jihad is not only something physical. The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) taught the believers that Jihad al-Nafs, or the jihad of the desires was a great jihad and that to strive to do right and purify ones self in life was in fact a jihad.
Apparently there is a new translation in the works, or maybe it is already published, of the Quran by “progressive Muslims”. What will this Quran look like? Instead of instructing men that we can marry up to four women will it say we can marry four men or women or a combination of the two? Or will it just delete the verse altogether? To be gender-sensitive will it make a few of the prophets women? It might as well since it plans to remove other masculine terms in the translation.
Of course if you are going to go down this road then you are leaving Islam; period. There is one Islam that has been revealed and the Prophet Muhammad (s) is the Seal of the Prophets. Alhamdudilah the believer accepts the Quran as the words and book of Allah and the Sunnah as the tasfeer and implementation of the Quran and we are protected by those two things. Once you start from a point where you believe that your mind is superior to that of Allah, or maybe you are an atheist or something, then you are not approaching the Quran with pure intentions and are not even a believer. To believe you have to submit and not dictate from your own mind what is good and bad.
It is clear that many Muslims in the West are becoming a 5th Column within the Muslim Ummah. These are mostly second and third generation children of Muslim immigrants but the 5th Column is increasingly finding a home amongst white converts and the wealthy-elites in Muslim countries. The progressive 5th Column movement exists for these reasons;
- These Muslims are on the defensive after 9-11 and do not want to be associated with their ignorant brethren and want to create as much distance as they can from the Muslims seen on TV.
- They want to be socially accepted amongst their secular and liberal friends who will not invite them out for latte and wine if they don’t drink or if they hold views that are unacceptable amongst the cultural elite such as an adherence and belief in the Islamic prohibition against homosexuality.
- They believe the Quran is a fabrication that came from the Prophet Muhammad(s) and they can do a better job
- The knowledge of Islam to them is inferior to the knowledge of the modern West and in particular the teachings and thoughts coming from liberal Western secularism.
- Like the Christians before them who took their priests as lords, as the Quran states, these people are taking professors and philosophers as lords.
It would be a lot easier if these people would simply state that they do not want to be Muslims instead of trying to invent something out of thin air and then call it Islam and then spread it.
Alhamdudilah, I have not been around these people that much and didn’t really know of their deviancy until I started blogging. I believe these people are few in numbers within the community but because they come from the educated and affluent ranks they have a greater exposure then that of what they deserve.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of white converts are falling into this deviancy. These white converts, who mostly come from secular liberal backgrounds, are embarrassed in particular about the Islamic teachings on gender relations and homosexuality (two big taboos amongst their latte sippin buddies) and seek to appease them rather than seeking the pleasure of Allah.
Reasons like this are why I have always preferred living in the ghetto or at least in working-class areas. In these places you can find believers with a pure love of Allah and His Messenger (s) who are not embarrassed by Muslims or feel the need to come out with a new version of the Quran; they hear and obey like the Sahabah. Some of these brothers and sisters may have problems in their lives; but at least they do not think they are smarter than Allah and the Prophet(s) and they are not challenging what every Muslim-generation before them has accepted to be correct and they are not joining others in declaring war on the natural ways. These Muslims entered Islam without ever being under the spell of academia while others have taken academia as their lords and it is them who they most seek to please. When I went to college (briefly before quitting) I had the understanding that it wasn’t the Haqq I was learning, the Haqq is Allah, the only reason for me being in college was being able to get a better job. I didn’t think the teachers were in a position to teach me much, and they didn’t, and I was there not for the sake of knowledge but for the sake of money. Having said that I do believe that my attitude was probably a little too negative and that you can learn a lot of academic settings; but that knowledge should never supercede the knowledge of Islam it can only compliment it.
The progressive Muslim exists mostly in affluent suburbia and gentrified urban neighborhoods (you know, the places where they are all so liberal but have driven out all the poor people and people of color). In these areas traditional marriage is taboo, there is no such thing as cheating on your spouse, the mere act of being a homosexual is virtuous, masculinity is to be vilified, femininity is to be glorified, children don’t need two-parent families, disciplining children is out, caring for pets is more important than caring for the poor, condoms will stop AIDS completely, eating meat or fast food is a greater sin than having sex with children and it is normal to go to the dominatrix or to defecate and urinate on one another during sex acts. That is the Sunnah they are following and that lifestyle is what they worship.
I always tell myself that there must be a lot of good blogs out there that I have just not found yet. Of course there are many good blogs, and most of those that I really like I have included in my links, but there is a shortage of good blogs. I mean, I did a New York search for blogs and all I came out with was a bunch of self-absorbed yuppies complaining about the temperature of their latte and bitchin about the upcoming transit-workers strike that could shut the subway down (if these assholes were really progressive, on issues more than abortion and gay rights, they would be trying to find ways to support the striking workers; but being the phony liberals they are they are railing against the workers and calling on their Republican Mayor Bloomberg, who they voted for, to step in and stop this atrocity that will keep them from getting to the club on time and they are showing their true colors)
In my search for blogs by cabbies I only found a few (two particularly good ones I have listed in my links) but I ran across a lot of people who complain about cabbies in their blogs and in general have negative attitudes towards taxi drivers.
One ridiculous story I found was from a guy who complained that he tried to have a conversation with a Pakistani driver in New York; but the driver didn’t want to talk to him. What did the guy want to talk to the Pakistani driver named Muhammad about? He wanted to discuss the Oscar potential of the gay cowboy flick Brokeback Mountain and now he wonders why the driver didn’t want to talk to him?
First of all let’s put this in a little cultural perspective. At least 80% of all Americans don’t give a shit about Brokeback Mountain and probably about 70% would rather drink bleach than see this film. Next we move to taxi drivers, or say the working-class in general, and the numbers will be even smaller for those who want to view such a film. Then we go to Pakistani immigrant drivers named Muhammad and you will be lucky to get one hundredth of one percent who would see such a film.
This disgruntled passenger seems to live in a cultural bubble where everyone he knows is dying to see Brokeback Mountain, follows who the Sex in the City girls are fuckin, listens to Moby tunes, reads fashion magazines (and actually follows the advice) and looks in the mirror and pinches themselves and goes on a crash diet if they no longer look like they belong in a Dafur refugee camp. When your average cabbie goes to the pet store they are looking for a pet for themselves or the kids; the disgruntled passenger and his buddies go to the pet store in search of a sex partner.
Now I am a big fan of independent film and I see dozens of indie films and documentaries a year. Often I have the theatre to myself and this has been true of any city I have lived in. In New York most indie flicks on Astor are scantily attended while the masses of Gothamites are breaking down the doors to get to the next big-budget Hollywood production. Per-capita St. Louis has one of the best selections of indie films, an excellent film festival and a large base of regular indie filmgoers (which isn’t that big really but better than most cities). Even still I never talk to anyone about indie films unless I know that they are into them. When it comes to cabbies most of the guys never go to the movies and almost no driver gives a shit about the Oscars. The immigrant driver, who drives seventy-hours a week and doesn’t spend any excess money on frivolous things probably hasnt even heard of big budget film such as the Lord of the Rings and King Kong much less Brokeback Mountain.
On another cabbie note it seems as if driving a taxi has been listed as the tenth most dangerous profession in America.
My recent article in the Arch City Chronicle about residents of the Alexian Court Building in South St. Louis living under siege as they have been victimized by local gangs has gotten a lot of attention and ACC publisher Dave Drebes has told me that some interesting parties have been enquiring about the article. On that note I attended the ACC Holiday party briefly at the Royale last night and ran into Jeff Smith (D) who is running for Missouri State Senate and I got the chance to pick his brain on a few topics and congratulate him on the endorsement he received from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
If you want to know what neo-Nazis are saying about the riots in Australia I will direct you to this forum. This has given them hope that they are capable of doing more than jerking off to posters of the Fuehrer. They see this as a show of force by white Aussies and a sign that whites are capable of uniting against people of color once again and driving them out of their lands.
I will say that I have always liked Australia and found Aussies to be pleasant people for the most part and I know that these racist incidents don’t represent the hearts and minds of all Aussies. What they do is give a graphic picture of the serious problems of race that exist in that society which the government doesn’t want to recognize.
It is unfortunate that some Muslims (see the comments section and Umm Zaids eloquent rebuttal), of the progressive mode, have joined in with some in the Australian media and provided some kind of justification to the rioters because the Lebanese immigrants “don’t want to integrate into society” or Lebanese men are “raping white women” and these same apologist would have been attacked and beaten and their families if they would have been on the scene. Does that sound familiar to anyone in America? Study the history of the Tulsa Riots and the Zoot Suit Riots.
I opposed the execution of Tookie Williams because I thought he could do more good to society alive than dead. He was not the co-founder of the Crips and he was no angel so I’m not really sad that he is dead, I just think that the execution was ill-advised. Why not let him live and work towards gang-truces and steering the kids away from gangs? What would that have hurt?
As a child there are no books that I enjoyed more than the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. I am excited about the film adaptation of the first of these books and am looking forward to seeing it while knowing that the film can’t possibly match the excitement that I had as a kid in reading them and imagining for myself what the characters looked like. Because a lot of the book has a Christian undercurrent, a lot of Christian groups in America are supporting the film; and because of this, and the fact that it is a book with a moral fiber and pits good versus evil, much of the secular-elite are railing against Lewis, the books and the film while trying in vain to disguise their hatred for religion.
Over the weekend I had the chance to view two films that both addressed important topics.
Syriana deals with oil politics and the middle-eat while following three characters; George Clooney who plays a CIA agent who ran undercover operations in Lebanon in the 1980’s and is currently doing operations in Iran before he is asked to go back to Lebanon, Matt Damon who plays a financially analyst whose child dies in a Gulf Arab state where he is working for a Swiss firm and becomes involved in royal family politics, and Jeffery Wright who plays the part of an investigator working for a big oil company in order to who is helping to try and ease problems with a Senate investigation over the issue of bribing the government of Kazakhstan.
There are some interesting issues at play; there is a radical young Muslim sheikh who preaches against the West, and the film shows two of his young and unemployed followers (falsely giving the impression that the majority of people join such movements out of poverty), there are meetings with Hezbollah leaders in Beirut (the Hezbollah leader says “I Like America; there are ten-million Muslims in America”) and there are the politics within the Gulf riyal family (which I guess is supposed to be Saudi Arabia).
Matt Damon challenges the elder prince who is more statesmanlike as to why the Arabs are wasting their money. He tells the prince that the West thinks that one-hundred years from now the Arabs will live just like they did one-hundred years prior; scraping by and living a harsh desert life. The prince agrees, but reminds Damon that it is America who has encouraged the insane financial polices of the Arab States because their mass-consumption of their products. Because this prince supports a greater-relationship with China the US opposes him and supports the corrupt younger prince who is completely in the hands of America. Does this sound familiar anyone? Can anyone say King Faisal or Mohammad Mossadegh? The US today pompously criticizes the finical-policies of the rich oil thiefdoms while they have been the ones who have encouraged and facilitate such habits and this has been done, as the film highlights, in particular by big oil; the home of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
The film is worthwhile and it connects the dots pretty well. It has its shortcomings and feeds in to a number of stereotypes at times; but it does a good job in giving the viewer some facts and letting us think them through ourselves and come to our won conclusions.
Protocols of Zion
Marc Levin, along with his father, does a good job in exploring anti-Semitism in America in this film which starts at ground-zero and takes us all over the US and the world. For those of you unfamiliar; the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is a famous forgery against Jews that was more than likely produced by the secrets service of the Russian Tsar in the late nineteenth-century. The protocols tell of a diabolical plot for Jewish world-domination using a variety of means and this forgery has been accepted as fact by many in the West and in the Muslim World. In the US it was first published by Henry Ford (of automobile and the Ford Motor company fame) in Dearborn, MI. The protocols were made into a TV mini-series in Lebanon as well and have been printed prominently in the Egyptian press.
Levin states that he was inspired to make this film by hearing constantly about the 4,000 Jews who did not show up for work on 9-11 and about other stories of that nature that has become increasingly popular all over the world. He particularly was inspired by a conversation with a young and articulate Egyptian cabbie in New York who told him: don’t you know its all in the book (referring to the protocols)”.
Levin interviews the National Alliance leader Sean Walker from the neo-Nazi groups headquarters in West Virginia. Walker, a fairly intelligent young man, gives the moderate face of the version of violent version of anti-Semitism that is preached (and sometimes practiced) by the National Alliance and Levin fails to call him on this; but of course he was at their compound. The leader proudly shows off the Nazi flags, boots with swastikas on the back of them, Mein Kampf copies, and the Protocols of Zion which was sold out.
Traveling to St. Louis, where I currently live, Levin interviewed Frank Weltner aka/ the Couch Potato who hosted a radio show for years on WGBU radio were he promoted anti-immigrant views, anti-black views, and anti-Jewish views. Weltner operates the Jew Watch website that promotes a variety of conspiracy theories and has been linked to the National Alliance, the Council of Conservative Citizens and other white-radical groups in the past. His show is no longer on WGNU, but he continues to be prominent in white-right circles.
Young Muslims are interviewed in Paterson, NJ (where I used to work) and in Sunset Park Brooklyn, NY (a few blocks from my old home). It is here where Levin manages to find a group of hyper young men who are full of rage and more than willing to act stupid in front of the camera. Can I blame these young men? No, not really, since I know that they are full of rage and at that age I couldn’t have articulated myself that well either. In Brooklyn Levin is attending a rally called in order to address the Israeli assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yasin (the former spiritual leader of Hamas). Several hundred people attended the rally at a catering hall in Brooklyn and emotions were high and Levin was able to capture that spirit. A newspaper publisher in New Jersey is also interviewed who published the protocols in Arabic in his publication and an interfaith Muslim leader is interviewed. The interfaith guy spoke very well of himself and addressed the issues of a double-standard when it comes to anti-Semitic and Islamophobic speech; the newspaper publisher made an ass of himself.
In the film Levin frequently shows footage of the Lebanese mini-series on the protocols and footage of Islamic rallies in places like Baghdad calling for the death of Jews. Mixed in with this are the stories of Daniel Pearl and his beheading and other stories of the like. Here I believe there are some shortcomings as Levin fails to put much of this into context. There is no doubt, the Arab media is irresponsible in its promotion of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and this should be addressed, but the rallies in Baghdad and other places should be seen in more of a political context that does not accept the spirit of what was aid but puts it into context. The footage of the famous speech of former Malaysian Prime Minster Mahatir Muhammad is also shown in which he alleges that Jews run the world.
All of this is shown to take us back to New York. In New York Levin interview people on the street, and this is so New York. The people he interviews are real New Yorkers, which remind me of New York, and are not some latte drinking and tofu eating Woody Allen groupies in Manhattan or Williamsburg. An African-American group is interviewed who claims that Jews run America, oppress the black man and run New York and one of them asks who is the mayor, who is Michael Bloomberg of course who is a Jew, and when Levin asks about Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was mayor for eight-years, the guy responds “ listen to his name Jew-liani”. Anti-war protesters are interviewed, most of them Jewish, and Levin shows scuffles and arguments at ground zero between various groups. He also talks to the man in charge of the recovery of bodies from Ground Zero, who happens to be a cantor at a local synagogue, and they give the names of a number of Jews who were killed on 9-11 and talks to the widow of one of them.
A group of Evangelical Christians are interviewed at the end of the film and historical Christian anti-Semitism is addressed. We also hear the words of Mel Gibson, and his father (who said all the Jews in Poland didn’t die because they were in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Sydney) and the discussions of a group of Evangelicals, who have just watched The Passion of the Christ, who tell Levin that he is doomed to hell if he doesn’t accept Evangelical Protestantism, but they love him.
The film is emotionally concluded at a Brooklyn cemetery where Levin, along with his father, stand at the family tomb where his grandparents are buried.
Race Riots Down Under
I am also keeping an eye on the race riots in Australia aimed at people of midle-easetrn descent in Sydney over the weekend where thousands of white Aussies gathered on beaches and attacked anyone who looked different including Muslim women. Do you think they asked these Muslims if they were “wahabbis” before attacking them?