Alpha Brewing Aims to Use Islamophobia to Strike it Rich

The craft beer industry is very competitive these days.  In the St. Louis area alone I’ve lost count of how many local breweries we have. 

Alpha Brewing is located in downtown St.  Louis on Washington Avenue.  It’s not a big player in the local market like Urban Chestnut or Schaffly.  It’s also located in an area hurting for business.  Due to a mostly false perception of crime many are choosing to party at Ballpark Village and Wheelhouse which they perceive as safer options.  I’ve been told in the last week that business at Dubliner is down 40% from two years ago and the pizzeria on Washington and Tucker is on the verge of closure.

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In this climate comes Alpha Brewing with a label highly offensive to Muslims.  The label itself borrows on tired stereotypes of Muslims.  The label isn’t funny. Nor is it harmless.  The offensive label comes in a climate of hate and fear of Muslims.  There is an Islamophobia industry in America that works on this full time. 

The goal of the campaign of otherizing and dehumanizing Muslims is ultimately political and racial. The political aim of dehumanizing Muslims is to gain either silence or support for drone strikes against Muslims,  wars against Muslims,  support for Israel, and the erosion of civil-liberties of Muslims in America. 

The racial goals are the product of otherizing Muslims in opposition to Euronormative belief and practices. Instead of complaining about immigration and jobs being taken by non-whites the critic or jokester can hide behind the religion isn’t race card.

Alpha Brewing has shown the ugly side of St. Louis.  The St. Louis with centuries of racial oppression and turmoil perpetuated by a white elite. The St. Louis we saw light up after the killing of Mike Brown. 

There is a much better side to St. Louis.  Last night I broke my Ramadan fast at the Dar al-Jalal Mosque on Dunn Road in Hazelwood. The mayor of Hazelwood,  the city manager,  the fire chief,  and members of the city council joined us. Thursday night there will be a similar open house at the Dar al Islam mosque in West St. Louis County. 

You can always win a few friends by dividing people just like you can always get laughs by picking on the unpopular kid at school. If that’s how Alpha Brewing wants to operate that’s their right. I’d ask the beer buying public to not support a company that deliberately seeks to offend an already marginalized segment of the population. 

A Response: ISIS, The Sword, and My Critics

In recent days I have came under attack from a vitriolic and hateful group of right-wing bloggers and Twitter trolls upset about my advocacy for justice for Mike Brown in Ferguson. A smear campaign ensued which included many lies, distortions and half-truths. Allow me set the record straight.

ISIS

Just as bigots cannot see any other non-white grouping in nuance and group everyone as one big menacing threat they see ISIS as representative of all Muslims. No amount of Muslim apologies and PR can change any minds. ISIS is a murderous group whose primary victims are Muslims. Muslims are fighting and dying everyday in the war against ISIS. Yet these facts don’t seem to matter to Islamophobic bigots.

I have personally been speaking against ISIS way before FOX News viewers had ever heard of ISIS. I have taken on their “takfiri” ideology in both writings and personal debates and last year was physically attacked by those sharing the ISIS ideology less than 2 miles from where Mike Brown was killed.

If you read my book the Rise and Fall of the Salafi Movement in America you will also find my positions clearly stated. 20 years ago as a very young many I may have held some radical beliefs and that was a by-product of many social factors; but the record shows thats not where I’m at today.

Critics also mentioned my proposed trip to Iraq and Syria. This is still something I want to do. The trip is designed to highlight the atrocities of ISIS and to produce writings and videos that could help to counter the appeal of ISIS in the English-speaking world. In this effort I reached out to State Department consultant Shahed Amanullah amongst others. Are any of these critics hiding behind fake Twitter names in a hurry to go to Iraq and Syria?

Al Qaeda

The same bigots drop the al-Qaeda slur. Nearly a decade ago I debated al-Qaeda member Samir Khan on his beliefs ( a debate which was covered in the New York Times) and challenged him. I received a number of death threats as a result of that. Khan went on to be killed in a drone strike in Yemen.

Islam and Islamophobia

Islamophobia is an irrational fear of Muslims. You’ll discover that most of those in America who hate Muslims also hate African-Americans, Latinos, and anyone else who doesn’t look and believe just like them.

One ignorant statement has been said to me time and time again is “you’re not a real Muslim you’re white” ( and normally nigger loving fat wigger will be added on). Just like Christianity Islam is not a race. There are Muslims of all colors just as there are Christians of all colors. A Muslim doesn’t have to be a certain color and a Muslim doesn’t have to have an “Islamic” name.

There are around 100,000 Muslims in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Nearly 30 mosques serve the local Muslim community along with schools, halal restaurants and stores. Muslims are a valuable asset to the St. Louis community. Muslims are also diverse. Some mosques I enjoy attending and others I don’t. There is a mosque on West Florissant just blocks from where the command center for the Missouri Highway Patrol was in previous weeks. There is also a mosque on Dunn Road and another on Shackelford both just short drives from Ferguson..In addition to that Muhammad’s Mosque #28 of the Nation of Islam is also on West Florissant. Muslims are no stranger to this area.

Outside Agitator?

I was born in and have lived most of my life in north St. Louis city and county. I attended McCluer North High School and was educated in the Ferguson-Florissant School District from kindergarten up. My cousin is on the Ferguson fire department. My former step-children stayed with a friend of mine in Ferguson while there little sister was born. My family used to be members of First Baptist Church of Ferguson. Had my first car accident in Ferguson, had high school girlfriends in Ferguson and I have a lot of Ferguson memories including busting my ass working at Mueller’s Farm. I am far from an outside agitator.

Racism

Not a single email I have received and almost none of the tweets I have gotten do not contain racist language. The real beef many have with me is that I’m not playing my racial-role. They think I am supposed to be with them but through my sheer lunacy I ended up a ‘Murica hating niggerloving commie Muslim wigger.  If this is their position I am fine with that. We shall never meet on any point of agreement and shall remain enemies. There vision of America is a nation where the only real Americans are white Christians who also happen to share their political beliefs. That’s not patriotism that’s White Christian Nationalism. As the father of bi-racial children, as the brother of bi-racial siblings, as the uncle of bi-racial and African-American nieces and nephews, as a person of good conscious, and as someone trying to do the right thing that is not a version of America I can ever support. Their role models in history held slaves and mine freed slaves.

The Sword

As a part of this smear critics published a photo of mine taken several years ago at a convention in Chicago posing with actors. It was just a silly pic. Nothing more and nothing less.  Many of these same critics have photos of automatic weapons and pistols combined with hate-speech on their Twitter profiles so they have zero room to talk.  The words attached to the photo have nothing to do with the actual photo.

Words

The words that are attached are taken out of context. In 2010 I heard about a Muslim writer who was challenging older Muslim brothers to fights and wrestling matches. As a former wrestler and boxer who has had even more fights on the street I was more than happy to call this individual out. When he didn’t respond I decided to ratchet it up to try and goad him into a fight. I used a very poor choice of words and I later apologized. I also discovered this guy was never really interested in physical combat and was just a hipster-writer who was pretty wimpy with no fighting-experience and had no intention of fighting anyone. We all can make mistakes and that was certainly one of mine. I am obviously against beheadings and what happened to Daniel Pearl and have been at the forefront of interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims ( just recently hosting a social in North St. Louis attended by members of Central Reform Congregation).

In Closing
I do not have any respect for the people conducting these smears against me and other activists. Their paranoia is a factor in the police targeting of specific activists (not just me). There is also strong evidence to suggest many of these people conducting the attacks are police officers and their family members. They hide behind fake Twitter names living out in St. Charles County and beyond like their ideological ancestors hid behind the hoods of the KKK. With their personal attacks on me they have also created a climate of Islamophobia which has led to the police profile and targeting of Muslim activists including myself, Talal Ahmad and Bassem Masri. This was written to set the record straight for the general public and not for the trolls.

Lesson From Islamophobic Teacher Firing

It is important to remember when we are discussing issues of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias in America that there are real consequences to Islamophobia and they are often felt most by Muslim children. Take this story as an example out of Michigan City, IN where a teacher by the name of John Scheimann was fired after he called a Muslim student’s father a terrorist and made other unsubstantiated claims about the man. The lesson of this is two; number one it is that teachers, doctors, cops, nurses, judges, and many others in positions of relative power over us may listen to right-wing talk radio, read Islamophobic sites, and watch FOX News, and then in turn they will act on the hate they have been filled with often to the most vulnerable, and second we should also recognize that while there are many full of hate there are many others who are not and in this case the system did the right thing.

A Bogus Allegation, Insincere Email and a Quran School Burns

Just a couple of hours ago I was forwarded this email below from the discredited hate-monger David Gaubatz . Yes, the same Gaubatz that Tariq Nelson and I caught in a fake conversion at the Dar al Hijrah Masjid and yes the same Gaubatz who believes Islam should be made illegal in America and that conversion to Islam should be punishable to up to 20 years in prison and yes the same Gaubatz who still defends slavery and Jim Crow while claiming to have found WMD’s in Iraq.  In this episode  Gaubatz claims he found a “manual” instructing Muslims to commit terrorist attacks in America and kill Olympians at the Halalco Islamic bookstore and supermarket in Falls Church, VA. Now, we all know that this is pure fiction and if such a manual does exist it is more then likely forged by Gaubatz himself.

 

Normally I would ignore such a thing as it is so absurd and Gaubatz is a minor figure with very little credibility outside of the right-wing fringe in which he trolls. However, as I have just gotten word that a Quran school in Northern Virginia was burned and it was possibly arson, I am reminded that all of those hate-mongering and scapegoating Muslims are creating a cycle ends in violence against our community. It is incitement. Below is the email sent to the editors of the Muslim Link;

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