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Saturday, April 2, 2011

U.S. Muslims Scapegoated

This editorial in the New York Times notes, as other media have, that a great number of tips that have led federal authorities to U.S. based terror cells-- in so far as any of them have really deserved such characterization-- have come from U.S. Muslims. Yet still, conservatives persist in the claim that U.S. Muslims are not doing enough to aid the war on terror. The truth may more accurately be that conservatives pay no attention to anything U.S. Muslims actually say unless it's something they can complain about. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

These Are the People Training our Law Enforcement Personnel About Terrorism?

This is a lengthy article but I recommend your reading it in full-- it's both interesting and a rather shocking revelation of the kinds of things those training our local law enforcement personnel about Islamic terrorism are teaching and an embarrassing account of how easy it seems to be to become a certified instructor. In a nutshell, it seems as though the only qualifications are that one adopt a strongly anti-Muslim world view and create a semi impressive sounding resume-- whether or not it's accurate or made up-- read the article to see what I mean by that.

I hope to do a more detailed analysis of this article and its claims, and more importantly, the claims made by some of the individuals who are teaching our law enforcement personnel, but for now, I have two initial observations: First, that we can solve the easier of the two problems rather simply if we adopt a realistic set of standards for those who teach our cops about how to spot actual terrorists within the Muslim community in America. This  might raise a constitutional issue related to the 10th amendment which you can explore by reading the article, but I'm confident it would not be difficult to create a set of standards which the federal government could impose on the states that would survive judicial review. The more difficult issue relates to the fact that the curriculum of the teachers cited in the article tends to be a conservative and anti-Muslim view that a majority of the nation's law enforcement officers seem receptive to since it comports with the world view they already hold. The article notes that officer feedback provides one of the only metrics for evaluating instructor competence, and officers tend to review most positively those instructors who tell them what they most want to hear, no matter how racist or untrue such instruction may be.

Like I said above, this article is well worth your consideration. I hope to get back here to write more about it in the next few days. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Arizona and Birthright Citizenship

What frustrates me most about this is that while there is no historic precedent supporting this move, and while the phrase in the 14th amendment "subject to the jurisdiction of" the sponsors of this move claim supports their objective has, not quite but almost on its face, no application to what they wish to "make" it say-- in fact, the very phrase supports the granting, and not the denial of "birthright" citizenship, as does all legal precedent related to this-- I still sense, as I think the sponsors of this bill also sense, that the only thing they need to prevail here, even in spite of everything I've just cited, is five SCOTUS justices who would like to put the brakes on the growth of the Latino population in the U.S. That is to say that if five such justices exist, a way can and will be found, no matter how brazenly extra-constitutional it would be, to say, as the sponsors of this bill mean to: "This will be so;" and it will. 

I don't even care about the hypocrisy of the whole "judicial activism" claim so frequently made by the right, which is what this effort is. Rather, I care only that five such individuals could do this. I hope I'm being too cynical in thinking that they would-- and it's possible I am; I mean, it's one thing to break with 10+ decades of precedent when the court means to expand the rights of a group-- but it would be another thing ENTIRELY to do so when the aim was to restrict and limit someone's rights, and though the justices are appointed for life, they are not above the influence of public opinion, and of the conscience of the American people, and of individuals who, in this instance, would lock eyes and point a figure of derision at them-- but I'm thinking of the confusion, and the entirely unproductive waste of energy it will take to reverse such a ruling, and of the bitterness which it will fill so many of us with at the worst time for us to have yet another issue pumping such toxicity into the body politic.

And to those who would retort that the current state of the immigration policy has embittered them, I reply that the growth of the Latino population can only be slowed, it cannot be stopped, and it would not even be stopped much via this effort, should it succeed: Latino Americans add something like 400,000 new Americans a year simply by virtue of the births to Latino citizens and those Latinos married to non Latino Americans. Thus, a success of this effort, while it will bring about an emotional satisfaction, one akin to a sugar high, for those who support it will, as a result, shine a spotlight on what most of the rest of us believe-- regardless of what supporters SAY is their reason for supporting such legislation; regardless, even, if the reason in fact IS what such people claim it to be-- that the true motivation, which is to say, the central and most operative one in those who would amend or reinterpret our constitution this way, is to gratify an anti-Latino impulse.

If it is true, then, that the growth of this community is by now an unstoppable force of history, then you on the right cannot do anything but harm your own long term interests by giving the members of this new community and its supporters reason to believe your rejection is of THEM.

Friday, January 14, 2011

GOP to Meet to Discuss Outreach to Latinos

I have to say I'll be interested to see what they come up with on this. They're making a smart, but obvious move by having the event in Florida, since Cuban Americans have always leaned right politically. It's also true that no segment of Latino Americans, not even Mexican Americans, are as reliably democratic as are, say, Black Americans, though considering how different the histories of the two groups are from each other, this is unsurprising. Still, as a total entity, Latino Americans definitely tilt left, and even when the GOP has a good year, it garners maybe 40% of the cohort's votes.

Much in the whole immigration debate is more nuanced than many realize, and since I've been preparing a comprehensive piece of the DREAM Act and the larger issue of immigration reform, for now I'll simply note that I chuckle as I wonder what they're planning to talk about in Florida; for me, it's one of those "I don't envy them that" situations.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Year of Anti-Islamic Bigotry in the United States

This is another subject I've got more to say about-- I'll get to it in the next few months. This article, though, highlights the major incidents in the U.S. The Qu'ran burning event was big in the weeks leading up to it but was otherwise not so significant-- the most important story of 2010 was the "Ground Zero Mosque" story. The worst thing about it was it never should have been a story, for many reasons-- it's not a Mosque, it's not headed by radicals, and most importantly because there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, and they're as different from one another as are any 1.3 billion people.

Ultimately, this entire sorry mess of a protest reflected America not perhaps at its worst-- because we have even darker chapters in our history, but certainly at one of its uglier moments, in which two of our worst traits-- our celebration of ignorance and our desire for easy wins-- were in control of the agendas of tens of millions of Americans.

More to come.