There has been a lot of optimism and hope from young people about the campaign of Barack Obama. Particularly I know of a lot of young Muslims who are very excited about the Obama campaign. In fairness I am one of those people. I think Obama represents change and a breath of fresh air. Obama is a man of big ideas and I think he just may be the man to bring about some of the significant changes we need in this society and put away the old America and usher in the new era.
Having said that I do not necessary look at politics as something that can deliver everything the people need in order to make change. True change comes from the bottom up. Change can be nudged along or inspired from the top at times and there are certain things that can only be done from the top but change is something from the bottom up.
There are a lot of Muslims, and non-Muslims, who are waiting on some messianic figure to rise in order to make everything alright. Muslims are looking for a khalifah who cannot make salaah, fast or worship for us and cannot from the top down reorganize dysfunctional Muslim societies without Mao-like massive brutality. Americans are looking for one man who can redo some of the ills that have plagued this society from its inception and it is not possible for one man or a group of men to do all things in the system that we have. I except very little from politicians I vote for and if I get anything I’m surprised.
Tomorrow I am driving from the East Coast to St. Louis and as I have been following the news in St. Louis there are two huge stories. One story is the Midwestern flooding and people in St. Louis are worried about a reoccurrence of the Great Flood of 1993 which took so much in terms of property damage, economic losses and of course human lives.
While a flood could be damaging to the low areas of St. Louis and the surrounding suburbs (particularly on the Illinois side) there is another story that has become much larger than the floods. St. Louis is famous for three things; beer, baseball and the Gateway Arch (and one may argue its reputation for being a dangerous city and the 1904 Worlds Fair of St. Louis and Olympic Games).
St. Louis is famous for beer because America’s largest brewer and what some believe is the largest brewery in the world is located in Da Lou. Of course I am referring to Anheuser-Busch brewery which makes all Budweiser, Busch, Michelob and other products I do not even know the names to.
The impact that AB has on the community is enormous. It pays tens of millions in taxes to a struggling city every year. It donates further millions to local charities on a yearly basis. Whenever the community water supply has had problems AB has quickly donated water to those who needed it, and it operates Grants Farm which is open and free to the public. The baseball stadium that is home to the Cardinals is Busch Stadium and until 15 years or so back AB owned the Cardinals and in the 1970′s and 80′s it was a famous site to see August Busch, the then owner of AB, drive his Clydesdales in a carriage on to the outfield.
St. Louis, being the blue-collar city it is, was hit hard after the general trend of closing American manufacturing sites down so that they can be moved to places with no environmental or labor standards. There are a handful of places where people without a college degree dream of getting hired; General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Boeing, the government and more than any of them AB. To put this into perspective GM moved way out to the St. Charles County suburbs years ago and laid off a lot of people, the Ford factory is scheduled for closure, Chrysler has laid off a lot of people and workers there are facing major cuts, Boeing in St. Louis was McDonnell Douglas at one time and a world headquarter and in my lifetime tens of thousands have lost their jobs their devastating the North St. Louis County economy. AB has been the only place to hire consistently and pay their workers well till this day.
WASHINGTON, DC (MASNET) June 17, 2008 – MAS Freedom (MASF), the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), has learned that numerous individuals and organizations on the political right have recently embarked upon a campaign, through various internet-based “news” sources, to openly vilify both MAS and MASF by falsely associating the MASF voter registration, mobilization and education campaign, Voting is Power (VIP), to an investigation of possible election fraud in the state of Louisiana.
The campaign, through no fewer than 16 separate cross-postings of similarly accusatory articles, began surfacing on the internet June 12, 2008, directly identifying MAS/MASF as having contracted with the national Democratic Party to register voters in Louisiana.
An article posted on the web forum of conservative FOX news host Sean Hannity, displayed a headline reading: “Democrats Hire Radical Islamic Group to Register Voters – Fraud Ensues”. Other headlines read, “Islamic Group Hired to Register Voters – Result, Fraud” and “Muslim American Society Committing Voter Fraud in Louisiana”, which also incorporated unauthorized* use of the MAS logo. These allegations are absolutely false.
Before you comment yes I know the video quality is low.
I occasionally watch the Penn and Teller program on Showtime. This show can be raunchy but it is also very informative at times in how it dissects a lot of issues. The two magicians have a libertarian bent and on previous episodes have demonstrated such things as the fact that car seats actually do very little to protect children and should not be mandated by government for small children.
When I was flipping through the on-demand programs for Showtime yesterday (which I normally use to watch boxing and HBO shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, and Curb Your Enthusiasm) I saw an episode of Penn and Teller discussing anger management programs.
Now, I agree with the basic premises that anger management is basically BS to begin with and the fact that people are ordered to attend by the court is absurd. What I did not agree with, and what made me extremely upset, is the fact that one of the anger management counselors was made fun of repeatedly for wearing a kufee which was referred to as a “stupid hat” more than once while saying “bacon is nature’s perfect snack”.
These comments were obviously derogatory towards Muslims in nature and I cannot imagine under any circumstance Jews being made fun of for wearing kippas in the same manner. What is bizarre to me is that as men with a libertarian outlook should they not have the attitude that what each individual chooses to wear and believe is their prerogative?
LGF and MAS VIP
Little Green Footballs and several other anti-Muslim sites have a little egg on their faces after running a piece accusing the Louisiana Democratic Party of working with the Voting is Power program of the Muslim American Society for voter registration when in fact no such relationship exists and they had the basic facts wrong.
It seems that Joe Kauffman does not respond well to being legally prohibited from harassing Muslims mothers and children at Six Flags in Texas. His anger at having a restraining order put on him in Texas seems to have gotten to his head as he has now accused the Muslim American Society and Islamic Circle of North America of engaging in child abuse.
In his most recent ranting Kauffman has accused MAS and ICNA of engaging in child abuse due to the fact that, of all things, they are having a children’s program at the upcoming convention. This is such a bizarre and baseless allegation that I would not even think it has to be responded to; but in this climate we live in today when baseless allegations against Muslims often carry weight with many this cannot be ignored.
In responding I will first say that Kauffman during his rant does not provide any evidence to support his argument that ICNA and MAS are abusing children. Not one example does eh provide of a child actually being abused and he does not detail how in fact children will be abused at the convention.
He begins his argument by rehashing the old allegations that ICNA and MAS are a front for the Muslim Brotherhood (without getting into any specifics of what this would actually mean) and alleging that the mere fact that the two organizations want to work with one another and not against each other represents some kind of intrinsic threat to the public.
He then presents as an example of the buzz word “terrorist” connections of the two organizations incidents surrounding a handful of people, some of whom with no connection to either MAS or ICNA and others with minimal or brief connections, as somehow being evidence that children will be abused.
Next Kauffman “nut picks” from ICNA-related message boards, cites hadith sued on the MAS Minnesota site, and takes things out of context such as when he takes Amir Sahib, a well-known moderate brother, out of context and uses his words to make it looks like he is supporting violence.
Since 9-11 many in American politics and the public have turned to the old “Fortress America” mentality (a term that was coined for Pat Buchanan due to his anti-immigration positions).
The typical arguments against America letting fewer into this nation are three; a massive amount of low-wage earning immigrants drives the wages down for working-class Americans, overcrowding has a negative effect on the environment and immigration from the Muslim World can lead to terrorism. Some of these arguments are stronger than others. It is obvious that America needs to balance our labor needs with the needs of workers already here and that while we should be accommodating we are charged with being stewards of the environment. With regards to terrorism being a result of immigration from the Muslim World this is a charge without merit given the fact that of the millions of immigrants to come to America from the Muslim World only a handful have ever been involved in any activity that can even be remotely connected to terrorism.
While America has been tightening her borders it has also kept people out who could have been beneficial to this society and while America has closed the borders other nations are opening them. If America is limiting the number of IT professionals and financers from South Asia; Great Britain, Australia and Canada are opening their doors. College students from the Muslim World on government scholarships who are no longer finding a hospitable climate in America are opting for other nation’s with top universities.
The other day I wrote a short post as a result of Senator. Hillary Rodham-Clinton bowing out of the Democratic race for the presidential nomination in which I referred to her as the “White Witch”. Apparently a lot of people were offended by this reference thinking it was racial in nature. It was not racial but rather a comical reference to the White Witch character in the Chronicles of Narnia books by CS Lewis.
This story is one that needs to be discussed more. It seems as if American-Muslims only focus on the suffering of Muslims in one or two places and neglect the plight of Muslims in China and the former Soviet Union. Read this story from the AP on the calls by US lawmakers to release Uighur Muslim prisoners from GTMO. Read the story at this link.
What do you get when you get an American soldier geeked-up on Steve Emerson, David Horowitz, Robert Spencer and the like? You get this guy who has claimed that he killed plenty of Iraqis and desecrated the Quran. Of course I doubt he has done all that he says he did and more than likely he is just an Internet Crusader
Alhamdudilah I became Muslim before I ran into some of the people I do today or I may not have entered the deen. Islam was presented to me and it was understood as a radial alternative to the way of life here. Islam is not a religion it is a way of life I was told. Indeed after taking my shahadah at the age of seventeen I quickly realized that the beliefs of the Muslims in many areas are radically different than what I was raised with.
The brothers who first taught me and nurtured me into the deen were good brothers with a love for the Sunnah and they allowed me to make a slow transition into the lifestyle of a Muslim.
Alhamdudilah, I met these brothers, but the other day I asked myself another question; if I would have met “progressive” or “modernist” Muslims would I have ever became Muslim?
What would have happened if I would have went to a masjid whose only religious activity is interfaith and where there is a minimal observance of the Sunnah? What if I was told Muslims, Christians, and Jews are one big happy family? That essentially we all believe the same thing we just call God by different names? That on matters of the family we refer to child psychology and not the Sunnah? That on gender relations we refer to feminism and not the Sunnah? That on business matters we refer to the Wharton School instead of the Sunnah school? That yes we believe in Tauheed but those who believe the Creator had a son are also believed in Tahheed?
I do not think I would have ever become Muslim. If there was no unique difference between Islam and kufr why become Muslim? If I was just as good and believed the same thing when I was going to church why become a Muslim?
I told my wife that I would never live in the State of Texas. Good things never come from Texas. It is the state that has given us President Bush and where he had something like an 80% approval rating as he sent the mentally challenged to the death chamber and slashed government aid to the poor.
It is also a state that when I am there I see pickup and SUV after pickup and SUV and there are so many W stickers attached to the back of these trucks you would think they came with the car.
Texas is not all bad; the people are more traditional and religions than those on the Coasts, men act more like men, there is a large Muslim population, the weather is nice and warm, and the cost of living is low. Those good things though cannot outweigh the overwhelming sense of hostility towards outsiders and those who do not look and act like Texans.
For Muslims in America it is very important to live in places where there are large concentrations of Muslims so that we can build institutions and establish a good environment for Muslim children to grow and this can only occur where we have numbers. To some extent Muslims in Dallas and Houston have done that with their large populations and MAS has been particularly active in Dallas where they have just opened a MAS Youth Center and organizations like Texas Dawah in Houston have done a lot to establish the deen in the Lone Star State.
Having said all of that the Muslims in Texas are still swimming upstream. They are surrounded by people hostile to Muslims and in a state which will not allow Muslims to achieve any large degree of political success on the state level. To the extent that MAS, Texas Dawah, and others are doing good work it will mostly be local in nature and not statewide.
As an example of this overall climate I am speaking of I will point you to an incident that happened a few days ago at the Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport. My wife was wearing a jelbab and hijab and walking through airport security with her two small children. The two kids were pulled to the side and frisked for bombs or whatever. The oldest boy just thought he was getting a hug and tried to hug the TSA agent. A TSA female agent told my wife that she would be searched automatically because she was not wearing “form fitting” clothing.