Islam and the U.S.

Yahoo news posted this as one of their “Pictures of the Day” on their Facebook feed:

Not in My Name

It is part of the Not in My Name viral movement of Muslims protesting the acts, and existence, of ISIL/ISIS.

(Not quite as fun as the Burning the ISIS Flag movement, but same worthy goal.)

Anyway, the responses of Yahoo News readers was simply appalling:

“For the better part of two decades, Americans have been murdered by Islamists and then lectured that they are to blame for what has befallen them. We have been instructed in the need for special sensitivity to the unceasing demands of Islamic culture and falsely accused of intolerance by the people who wrote the book on intolerance”

“BS a small minority my ASS!!! A majority polled showed they would blow their selfs up in the name Islam!!

“RE YOU AWAKE YET? AMERICANS? As i stated before . . . The Koran demands that Muslim make any country they live in adapt to them and participate in Sharia Law. The last thing they plan to do is assimilate.
I present to you ~ The “MODERATE ISLAMICS” outside the place the woman was beheaded in Oklahoma. Shouting PRAISES to to their TWISTED goat fu*ker god. Now Happening in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and NOW IN AMERICA ~ Oklahoma. Coming to a city or town near you.”

“Islam is the religion of hate torture and murder. There I said it.”

“Your right Colette. No other religion in modern day is so destructive to humanity. Islam is like ebola of humanity. And the people that are infected don’t know the difference!”

“Trust not a one of these Muslims!!!! They will stab you on the back or cut your head off every time!!!!”

“All Muslims must go.Don’t get sucked in by the nice ones.Remember the crusades and how they came to be.We are the infidels.Read satanic versus by Salmon Rushdi”

You sir…are a blistering moron! But then I suspect this isn’t the first time you have been told that! The only good muslim is a dead muslim and the best muslims are the good-n-dead muslims. A happy “allahu ahkbar” to you, sir!

It’s time to defend ourselves cause the police are not obligated to protect us they show up after to make out the reports we have to defend ourselves as you can see with that poor woman that was killed tg for the owner who had his gun today there could have been more i will tell you I am locked & loaded. I will never give up my guns!!!!”

“darlene you are right and so are several others with comments on here. they are not going to adapt to our country and never planed on it when they came here; there aim is to get rid of us whatever it takes. it is imperative that all muslims be deported from this country and i dont care if they have a green card, passport visa or have gotten citizenship. they cant live here. we will never have the same belief they do and they know it, they just want our money and plan on taking over our entire country. i for one will go down killing as many of them as i can before i will just lie down and let them kill me.”

(I’ll skip the “raghead” comments.) When I pointed out to the last commenter that her rant could have been cribbed straight from Hitler, this was her response:

“i dont know what he said and neither do you–we were not there. i live in the present and try to prepare for the future for my children and i see what is happening and ill do everything i can to stop it.”

That…that is beyond a facepalm, that is just…how is this person even smart enough to breathe?

This was my comment:

“The ignorance and violent racism in these comments are astounding. I am literally reading stuff that could have easily been cribbed from Hitler. Islam is no more founded on “hatred and torture and murder” then Judaism or Christianity. Go actually read the Old Testament (which is the Torah in Judaism) sometime. The “god-sanctioned” genocide, murder, rape, women brutally put down, and then come back and tell me how the Qur’an is “different.”

Any zealot can twist the words of a holy book to rationalize murder. Any zealot could twist the words of a candy bar wrapper to rationalize murder.

The Middle East is a cauldron of political enmities cased in religious rhetoric. Just like the conflict in Ireland was framed in religious terms (Catholic vs. Protestant) , only the root cause was that of throwing off a foreign occupation.

Adendum: Note how the solutions in Ireland were political, not mass conversions? That’s because religion wasn’t the real problem.

And here is the joke all you ignorant twerps: The largest population of Muslims in the world? Is in Indonesia. Funny how you don’t hear a lot about Indonesia wanting to kill all non-Muslims. Maybe because we have such a great business relationship with Indonesia (and we do). Or maybe because its political history is entirely different than that of the countries of the Middle East and so they do not have the same resentment against Western meddling, sometimes brutally violent Western meddling. (Seriously, read about the fall of the Ottoman Empire and how the Western powers carved up the Middle East for themselves and have never left it alone since.)

I am not saying that ISIS is right. They are pack of rabid dogs that need to be put down. (Though that is an insult to dogs.) But blaming all 1.6 billion Muslims across the planet for ISIS is just ignorance, childish hysteria and bigotry. The kind of bigotry the United States of America was specifically founded to avoid. So all of you that want to kill all the Muslims need to get the f- out of the U.S. because that is not what this country was founded on. (And before you try to go down *that* road- Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11.)”

The Statue of Liberty called. She wants her country back.

And the fact is, the greater muslim community has been speaking out against acts of terrorism and brutality by “Muslim” extremists since at least 9/11. (Here’s more.) The problem is, the western media has been studiously ignoring them.

I remember reading in an article in Newsweek a tiny, single sentence mention of a 2002 meeting called by the King of Jordan of religious leaders from all over the Muslim world who came together and, in essence, excommunicated the imams of al Qaeda, basically taking away any religious validly al Qaeda had within Islam.

Did anyone else hear anything about that? Why not? That was huge!

This rampant racist hatred is one of the most frightening aspects of the right-wing to me. You can’t Godwin these people because they are going there all by themselves.

My Dad was an amateur astronomer and in his later years, he took part in number of astronomy message boards. Astronomy is big in Islam since much of their religious calendar is based on astronomical cycles, like the moon. (I remember him commenting that many were especially keen for the first sighting of the new moon to end Ramadan. :D) And he conversed with them so easily, many did not realize he was an old white guy in Arizona. And when they did one of them asked them why, while the rest of the U.S. was so paranoid of Muslims, Dad was so comfortable interacting with them.

And I can’t remember his exact words, but he said, “Well, I figure if there is something fundamentally wrong with a religion, time will wash it away anyway. If Islam is still here, it must be doing something right.”

He did read the Qur’an too. Thought it was interesting. Liked the Muslim idea of heaven which is NOT the 72 virgin’s B.S..

It was a gift of his. You could set him down anywhere in the world, and he would fit in. One of the classic “Dad stories” was that he was in Marseilles on leave, translating drink orders for the French Foreign Legionareres one of which spoke Spanish. You could set him down in the mountains of Afghanistan and find him a couple days later sharing dinner with some tribal family. He was just an open, easy-going guy and people liked him. And he got so much from life through that gift of being open to experiences, new people, new cultures.

We need to take back our country, before it becomes something truly abhorrent. Every group that has come to our shores have brought value. We need to recognize that this nation has NEVER been only for White Christians of European decent and we drastically limit our nation, our economic power and our culture by pretending that it is.

I look at my father, born of a family that arrived here in 1635 and worked the land (lumberjacks), who had tremendous integrity, who was the first in his family to go to college, who was a Navy Pilot, who was rabidly passionate about science and the space program, who loved road trips, who researched and wrote American Civil War history, who was plain-spoken, and who loved exploring the world. And he is where I get my image of an ideal American from: Intelligent, hard-working, honorable, curious and eager to learn, yet inherently down-to-earth. I am fine with immigrants of all stripes and creeds. Every immigrant group that has come to our shores has brought material and cultural value. As I said before, the instant a culture tries to freeze itself in time is the instant that culture begins to die.

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Sometimes, It’s Not Just Americans…

Daily Fail: Tempest Over Obama’s Tea-Cup Salute: Obama Sparks Anger By Saluting Marines with a Cup in His Hand

“Saluting military personnel is something presidents are expected to do since they’re at the top of the Pentagon’s chain of command.”

No, they are not. Despite being the Commander-in-Chief, the President is still a civilian and therefore is not expected to salute military personnel. That is the point: The military works for the people, not vice-versa. No president saluted the military until Reagan (and we can make comments about a senile actor thinking he is in the army all day on that one). Since then it is has been expected by the conservative public, but not the military itself. (Some of whom might actually have a problem with someone who never served acting like they did.)

But then I ran into another Brit who thought the First Lady is addressed as “First Lady.” No, she is addressed by her formal last name: “Mrs. Obama.” The term “First Lady” is only used in the third person.

Sometimes it’s gratifying to know we’re not the only ones who can be ignorant of foriegn cultural traditions.

Well, One More Thought

Islam is about 1400 years old.

When Christianity was 1500 years old, it underwent the Protestant Reformation. Now, that Protest Reformation was not the earliest criticism or even the earliest outward rebellion against the Catholic Church. There had always been “heretical” sects the Church put down. The Reformation was just the first one that found legs.

And it only found legs after the Popes could no longer focus discontent outward at the Muslims through the Crusades. The external pressure was off and people started to look at the real problems they had and the real reasons for them.

I can’t help but wonder if the Western powers just got out of everyone’s hair in the Middle East, took off the external pressure, Islam would go through its own reformation, tossing out all the pre-Islamic tribal shit they have enshrined in various forms Sharia Law. Most Muslims I know don’t agree with it’s more extreme sexism, xenophobia, murderous punishments, etc.. Much of that stuff is just not in the Qur’an.

That’s my theory anyway. Thoughts?

“It’s Our Traditional Way of Life”

I was reading about how the Japanese just countered the U.N. Ban on their hunting whales off Antarctica by killing 30 Minke whales off their own coast and their PM swearing to restart commercial whaling.

Despite the fact that whale meat has grown so unpopular in Japan, they have to give it away.

My first response was anger of course. Japan has long been giving the world the one-finger salute over international whaling ban by taking whales for the “scientific purpose” of selling whale meat. In the end, the only defense they have for this and things like the dolphin slaughter in Taiji Cove is “It’s our traditional way of life.”

What a bunch of B.S..

The same argument is being made by communities that mine coal in order to protect the coal industry, despite the number of ecological disasters it causes. Putting Global Climate Change aside, let’s talk slurry spills and the other effects of mountain top removal coal mining.

Yes, it is an industry that exports millions of tons of coal…to China, but the principal defense of coal mining seems to be “It’s our traditional way of life.”

Oh, give me a break…

But then I thought of the post I have in my “Drafts” cue about the Open Carry Twats. It begins, in good conscience, by addressing the unusual passion for firearms in the U.S., trying to find the rational line been responsible gun owners and those hysterics that require guns as an ego prop so much they go into public places to implicitly threaten others with assault rifles. Now, I do believe in the Second Amendment. I was raised in a hunting culture in rural America and I know there are still people who reply on wild game to feed their families. But when I came to the  “armed citizens keep the government from becoming a tyranny” argument, which is the only valid reason why anyone would own an assault rifle, I ran up against the examples of other developed nations with unarmed populaces who seem to keep their countries from becoming tyrannies just fine. Including Japan.

Well, damn.

The only argument for our cultural attachment to firearms I found to fall back on was “It’s part of American culture.”

“It’s our traditional way of life.”

Shit.

“We need to do it because we always did it” is a circular argument, an argumentative fallacy.

The adherence to cultural tradition is one of the most powerful forces in history, America had a Civil War over the “tradition” of slavery after all. The bloodbath of the Protestant Reformation was a war between a new concept of religion vs. the tradition of the Catholic Church.

(And as a side, note, I think it is because the United States has no cultural memory of such a bloody upheaval as the Reformation that we are so tolerant of religious zealotry in our midst.)

And not all traditions are bad. I was discussing with someone that of all the things our culture is not good at, one of the things we got right was our concept of childhood as a protected time, an extended protected time. That seems to be slowly taking hold across the world in cultures where infanticide, child workers/slaves, child soldiers and child brides are slowly being stomped out. Thank the Gods. And Japan has a tradition of public service that would be good for Americans to learn from.

As an Anthropology major (I double majored) I know how vital it is for a people to hang on to a cultural identity. In the U.S. Anthropology and Archaeology have their roots in trying to document the swiftly fading AmerIndian cultures of the Americas. It was incredibly vital to the aboriginal peoples to hang onto their lifeways and cultural identities in the face of genocidal devastation.

But there has to be a certain point where clinging to an aspect of a cultural identity is simply wrong in the harm that it does. Child brides and female genital mutilation, for instance. Antisemitism was a major part of European culture for a thousand years culminating in one of the worst acts of genocide seen in all of human history. America is facing numerous mass murders and yet we can’t move on any form of gun control, even just a background check system that actually works, because of a large part of our society screaming “Guns are our traditional way of life!”

And I know part of the hysteria over gun control is part of the fear many conservative Americans are facing in a changing world.

But life is change.

In fact, I believe the instant a culture tries to freeze itself in time, it is on the decline.

We no longer live on a frontier that requires everyone to own a firearm. So is the ability to walk into a store and walk out with an AR15 an hour later *really* necessary to one’s cultural identity as an American? I am immensely proud of my family’s 379 year history on these shores. I culturally identify myself as an “American” full stop. And I do not own a gun. My cultural identity is not reliant on owning a firearms. It’s bigger than anything I can hold in my hand.

Most things we think of as “traditional” are harmless; holidays, rituals, music, dances and so on. And what is important in all cultural traditions is that they are outward reflection of the inner, innate ideals, beliefs, morals and attitudes of their culture. Things that do slowly change over time, but I think that process does not eliminate them. It refines them. Accepting homosexual marriage does not mean that we no longer believe in the monogamous marriage. It just means we have opened that cultural tradition to everyone. If we enacted stricter gun control laws, that does not mean Americans are no longer a valiant people. It just means that we don’t need to wave guns around to prove it. It means we realized that guns undercut the idea of true courage because any bully can threaten someone with superior force. The brave person is the one that stands up to superior force and says, “No, you are wrong.”

Haven’t we, as a species, advanced enough to be self-aware enough to look at aspects of our culture and see them objectively, to be able to weigh the harm they do vs. the true cultural impact of letting them go? Is our identity as Americans going to vanish because we enact stricter gun laws or stop mining coal? Will the 1500 year old Japanese culture collapse if they stop whaling?

Of course not. A culture is stronger, or at least it should be stronger, than a single outward aspect of its traditions.

Ferguson, MO: We Should Be Better Than This…On So Many Levels

Protests Again Roil Ferguson, MO over Michael Brown Shooting

If accounts are true, what the police did to Michael Brown is appalling and inexcusable, and sadly not the first. This is in the immediate wake of the strangulation of Eric Garner by an off duty police officer. And also the “Not Guilty” verdict of George Zimmerman. And the Marissa Alexander case.  And the disgusting displays of xenophobia at our country’s border. And the Supreme Court declaring that racism no longer exists in this country to strike down the Voting Rights Act and within days, states putting Voter I.D. laws in place aimed at disenfranchising minority groups. (The reality of Voter fraud vs number of people who now can’t vote.)

Can you imagine how enraging that must be? To have the government say that your experiences and concerns are not valid, and then to immediately turn around and start down the path of your worst fears?

I am part of the white majority, so I can’t knowledgeably speak of the depth and pervasiveness of racism in this country. To be honest, on this one I feel like I am stumbling around, mostly blind. But it seems pretty damn plain to me it exists. I have to say that living so long in L.A., I got used to an amount of ethnic equality and intermingling. It wasn’t utopia by any means, but people worked together, went to school together and mixed socially with more ease than, say, the South where I am now.

(And moving to the more socially segregated South, where I was asked “Do you have a problem with racial jokes?” as part of a job interview, was a shock.)

But even in Los Angeles, I don’t think I and many WASP types really get the different American cultural experiences of the minorities in our society and how that effects their world view. While there, I was speaking with a friend of mine who was black about my trip to NYC and how seeing the Statue of Liberty was one of the greatest moments of heart-swelling patriotism in my life. To me, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” was the essence of what the U.S.A. was about.

There was quiet moment.

“Well, my people had a different experience of coming to this country.” And she told me of the slave markets that you can still go and see in South Carolina. She wasn’t being angry, uptight or oversensitive. She was just trying to make me understand that the Ellis Island experience was not the universal one for people who came to this country, that she had a slightly different cultural context.

I’m not saying that we need to overcompensate with guilt, or maybe we do. That is a worthy topic of discussion as America has a lot of AmerIndian (which considering their conditions now is an imperative discussion as well), African American, Asian American, Latino American etc. historical blood on its hands.  But at the very least we need to be aware that people in American subcultures have different perceptions and different experiences. We do not need to single them out. They are still American, part of our rich cultural fabric, but we need understand that the threads of their experiences are slightly different.

There is racism in our society. Some police departments, certainly some officers, do racially profile and have acted with unwarranted violence. Our justice system is often too ready to convict members of a minority group and sentence them unjustly. Even the highest court in the land is directly damaging their essential rights as Americans.

The economic situation in many of these cities, the pressure on the Middle Class and the number of people now slipping below it, the growing difficulties hauling oneself above the poverty line, has to have an effect as well.

There are legitimate reasons for these people’s anger that need to be addressed in a systemic way.

However, rioting is not only illegal, it’s stupid. It does nothing but damage property, invite injury and makes racists’ arguments for them. It solves nothing, but reinforces the other side. On that score, the African American community has to do better.

But the police response to the peaceful protests is completely out of line as well.

We all have to do better.

Waiting Until the Evidence is In

Doubts Grow Over ISIS “FGM” Edict in Iraq

Stay your rage for a moment. Female Genital Mutilation is mostly confined to Africa where it has a (despicable) pre-Islamic tribal tradition, much like most of the mysoginst crap Shariah law in the Middle East. However, there is little tradition of FGM in Middle Eastern cultures. ISIS maybe filled with sons of bitches who make the trains run on time, and it is possible they did make this edict, but I am holding off on my rant until this is verified.

I will add that it interests me that Islam is now approximately 1470 years old.  When Christianity was about 1500 years old, it went through the Protestant Reformation. I think Islam is due for a similar purge of ideas, and left to their own devices (rather then Western nations presenting Islamic leaders with outside scapegoats to blame) they just might.