Legislation in Virginia and Washington aims to punish human rights activists for engaging in boycott activities.
The Rohingya suffered for decades under a brutal military regime in Myanmar, and now despite a “democratically” elected civilian government headed by so-called “human rights icon” Aung San Suu Kyi, the “slow-burning” genocide (as one Burmese scholar described it several years ago) has accelerated.
Since October, the Burmese military has been conducting a horrific “clearance operation” targeting the Rohingya that has displaced nearly 100,000. Reports and action alerts by rights groups, Rohingya activists and media organizations have been sounding the alarm to war crimes and crimes against humanity for years now. These calls while gaining some attention have failed to garner the requisite awareness in proportion to the magnitude of the issue; it often gets swept under the carpet.
The UN recently published the most damning and devastating report on the Myanmar military’s crimes against Rohingya that I have ever read. The response has been one of categorical dismay from many who were unaware of the Rohingya cause.
The flash report – released today by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) based on its interviews with people who fled Myanmar after attacks on a border post in early October, the ensuing counter military operations and a lockdown in north Maungdaw – documents mass gang-rape, killings, including of babies and young children, brutal beatings, disappearances and other serious human rights violations by the country’s security forces.
“The devastating cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable – what kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother’s milk. And for the mother to witness this murder while she is being gang-raped by the very security forces who should be protecting her,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
“What kind of ‘clearance operation’ is this? What national security goals could possibly be served by this?”
Today, Reuters has another horrific exclusive report stating that the death toll has been under reported, according to them upwards of 1,000 Rohingya have been killed in the military onslaught.
In response, Pope Francis today made a powerful rebuke of the Myanmar government. The Pope has been a consistent voice opposing oppression. In 2015, he visited the Central African Republic and urged Christians to end religiously inspired hate attacks against Muslims who were in the last throes of being genocided from the country.
The Pope’s call is important as Myanmar not only persecutes the Rohingya but other minorities as well: the Kachin, Shan, Karen and Mon people among others.
Pope Francis made his comments during an unprepared section of his weekly address. He appeared to be referring to a UN rights office “flash report”, issued last week, detailing allegations of abuse, rape and murder of Rohingyas at the hands of the Burmese military.
The Rohingyas were “good people”, Pope Francis said. “They are not Christians, they are peaceful people, and they are our brothers and sisters.”
He then urged the 7,000 people present in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall to join him in prayer for all migrants who have been exploited and humiliated, and in particular for the Rohingyas who, he said, “are being chased from Myanmar and are fleeing from one place to another because no one wants them”.
Palestinian prisoner refused food for more than 90 days last year.
The speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, has made himself unpopular (again) with a number of Tory MPs for announcing that he will not allow Donald Trump to address the Commons if and when he makes a state visit to the UK later this year. That he is has been invited as soon as he took office is a scandal; previous US presidents who made state visits did so after years in office. But Tory MPs insist that he has broken with convention by taking a ‘partisan’ view rather than maintaining neutrality or (as where there is a tie) voting with the government, and that maintaining relations with the “democratically elected leader of our closest ally” is vital.
The fear in the line the Tories are taking in cosying up to Trump is obvious: Britain is about to take a leap in the dark and once we have isolated ourselves from Europe, Trump and Putin become the nearest things we will have to friends in the world. Ever since 9/11, British leaders have treated angry and volatile US presidents like angry gods to be appeased at all costs. It is clear that they are doing this as a display of subservience, not because they really want to honour him. And I would dispute the suggestion that the Americans are really our ‘closest ally’ anyway; that title should surely go to our neighbours, who allow British citizens to freely live and work there. The US does not.
Many are calling Bercow a hypocrite for refusing to allow Trump to address Parliament but allowing some outright dictators such as the Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The difference is that Xi never claimed to be anything other than the leader of a Communist state; he governs as part of the system he inherited from his predecessors. Trump is introducing the characteristics of fascism and tyranny to what was previously a representative democracy with at least nominal respect for the rule of law (though some citizens did not enjoy it fully). A ruler who threatens a democracy is not comparable to one who never claimed to believe in or practise democracy, at least as it is known of here.
The issue which should prevent Trump from addressing Parliament is not his view on the Trans-Pacific Partnership or even immigration. It is his attitude to — his contempt for — the rule of law both before and after his election; his attack on law-abiding legal immigrants designed to appeal to his ignorant voter base, and the threatening language he used towards the judiciary when they frustrated him. Surely, the idea of the rule of law is what peace as we know it is founded on; people’s freedom from capricious expulsion or imprisonment. Until Trump learns to respect this, he has no business addressing any parliament in any democracy.
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Breitbart claims that they are “friends” of the Jews. In reality they are not. They often claim that “Jews control everything,” and talk about Jews as responsible for “multiculturalism” and the “Muslim invasion.” Individual Jews like George Soros are smeared and demonized.
The myth that Jews are behind “multiculturalism” and the alleged “Muslim invasion” is one that Nazis and white supremacists have spread for decades. What is worrying is that Breitbart and its former head, Steve Bannon, agrees with this and Bannon is now the main adviser to President Donald Trump.
“The U.S Jews” are behind the “Muslim invasion,” Steve Bannon claimed 2007. This is an entrenched trope among White supremacists and many Islamophobes, as Garibaldi has pointed out in a previous Loonwatch article.
In Bannon’s version of this trope Jews are “enablers,” that albeit with the “best intentions” are paving the way for those that want to create “The Islamic States of America.” This was a view Bannon presented in a script for a film, that never was made.
Jews behind “Muslim invasion”
“The Islamic States of America.” It would be comprised of interviews of people who, like Bannon, believe that the threat posed to the West is broader than Islamist extremist terrorists, embracing an array of Muslim advocacy groups. It describes as “enablers among us” – albeit with the “best intentions” — major media outlets, the CIA and FBI, civil liberties groups, “universities and the left” and the “American Jewish Community. It also describes “front groups and disingenuous Muslim Americans who preach reconciliation and dialogue in the open but, behind the scenes, advocate hatred and contempt for the West.” (Source)
This concept of “enablers” is one that Bannon shares with the Nazis. It actually originates from Nazis and antisemites. The first time ever I heard these allegations was when visiting the USA in 1992. The now defuct Liberty Lobby and Willis Carto spread these lies.
I am from Sweden. Here the Nazis have published a book: “Hur Sverige blev Mångkulturellt” (How Sweden became multicultural). In it they claim that the Swedish Jews created multiculturalism and opened the door for Muslims to migrate to Sweden. In all countries they have published similar books and articles. The Danish Nazis claim that Danish Jews are behind the immigration of Muslims. In Great Britain they talk about the conspiracy of the British Jews to bring in Muslims, etc, etc.
The same with white supremacists and Nazis in the USA. On Stormfront angry Nazis discuss the “Jewish” enablers of the “Muslim invasion”. The antisemitic New Observer claim: Jews Push Muslim “Refugees” on US and Jews at “Forefront of Welcoming” Invasion. The KKK Grand Wizard David Duke states the same, as do “Real Jew News“. And so on, and so forth.
The one person the Nazis and the antisemitic alt-Right hates more than any other Jew is the Hungarian-Jewish-American businessman George Soros. The antisemites claim that he funds the “Muslim invasion”, as well as the opposition against Donald Trump, and everything else that they don’t like.
It is troublesome that Breitbart propagates the same thing. Soros funds the “Muslim invasion” in the USA and Europe, illegal immigration, and opposition to Trump, according to it. A coincidence? Hardly!
As a matter of fact, spokespersons of Breitbart constantly downplays the threat of antisemitism. Milo Yiannopoulos, a Catholic with Jewish descent, downplays “white” antisemitism and even claims that antisemites are right(!). “Jews run the banks, Hollywood and Media” (3:15), he states.
It is equally troublesome that he claims that all nazis and antisemites on the internet just are spoiled kids that wants to provoke people. (7.00)
If you open the comment section of Breitbart you find much antisemitism. Direct attacks on Jews and classical Jewish objects of hatred, like the Rothschild family. But the most striking thing is the hatred against George Soros and the insane number of comments by people that want to shoot, strangle or hang him. (The comments below are a few examples of it from one article about Soros.)
Jews have many reasons to be worried about Steve Bannon and Breitbart.Click to view slideshow.
Read more here: The Jews Are Helping Muslims Take Over The West
South Korean firm has ignored evidence of Israel’s use of its equipment for ethnic cleansing.
See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories.
February 5, 2010
I prayed Fajr and went back to sleep, only to be awakened by the gnawing emptiness in my stomach. I rolled out of the small cot I kept in my office and stretched my lean (bordering on skinny) 5’9” frame. I’d been shot in the right shoulder on a previous case, and it was stiff and sore this morning.
My fondest wish was to somehow earn enough money to buy something to eat. That might seem like a modest wish, but I’d eaten nothing but an old, wrinkled apple and a small bottle of sour chocolate milk the previous day – both items left over from my daughter Hajar’s last visit. If you think there’s no hunger in America, think again.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have a job. Technically, I was self-employed as a private investigator. But work had dried up recently, and I’d run out of cash. Every bill on my desk was overdue, my estranged wife wouldn’t let me see my daughter because I missed the last child support payment, my office rent was ten days past due, and the electricity was about to be cut off.
If you’d told me that by lunchtime I’d have enough cash in my pocket to make all my financial problems disappear, and that the money would have come from the Anwars of all people, I’d have laughed out loud and called you looney tunes.
I’m getting ahead of myself, however. Before the Anwars came in, Shaytan tried to tempt me with a curveball. The curveball strode through the door in the form of a tall white man with thinning gray hair and an expression so hard it could break bricks. I’ve seen expressions like that before, on the faces of men whose hearts have turned as cold as dry ice from either seeing or inflicting suffering on a daily basis, until the horror no longer touches their hearts in the smallest way. The faces of convicts and cops, career criminals and prison guards.
His double-breasted trench coat looked expensive, as did his shiny black shoes. He carried a fat white envelope in his left hand.
“Mr. Zaid Karim?” His voice was as monotoned as a flatline on a heart monitor.
I sat up straight and tried to pretend I hadn’t just been fruitlessly rifling through my desk drawers, trying to find enough loose change to buy a loaf of bread or a few bananas. I studied the man’s clothing for the telltale bulge of a holstered gun, and spotted it on his lower right, just about where the liver would be. I knew where the liver was located because I knew a hard uppercut to that spot would drop a man, and a knife thrust would finish him. For a moment I wished I hadn’t led the kind of life that would enable me to know that.
The man dropped the thick envelope on my desk. It made a thud like a cooked steak.
“I want to hire you,” he said without preamble. “Routine surveillance case. I want someone located. That’s five thousand dollars. You’ll get another five when the job is done.”
“Okaaaay,” I said slowly. As much as the words five thousand dollars made my heart beat faster, a stranger offering me a large sum of cash elicited immediate suspicion. “And your name is?”
“Anadale Peterson. I’m head of security at Chukchansi Gold. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.”
Anadale? Was that really a name? It sounded made up. Wasn’t that the name of a Star Wars character?
Hefting the envelope, I opened it and studied the crisp bills inside, riffling them with my thumb. Five thousand dollars. SubhanAllah. It wasn’t the first time I’d held that much money in my hand, but the thrill never got old.
I imagined finally getting out from under the mountain of debt that felt like chains dragging me down. I could pay pay most of my child support, buy a new computer – the current one crashed more often than a bumper car – and buy gifts for my wife Safaa and daughter Hajar for the upcoming Eid al-Adha.
With this much money… I actually licked my lips as I imagined buying myself a large fish burrito from the Mexican food truck that parked out front at lunchtime. Best of all, I could buy food for Safaa and Hajar. Not that they were hungry. Safaa’s nursing job paid well enough. But I could surprise her with an Alaskan salmon, or several pounds of halal lamb. Maybe she’d even let me take her and Hajar out to dinner at Chevy’s or Red Lobster.
Just as quickly as this mental train began to roll, it derailed. My heart sank as I realized that I was going to have to turn this money down.
I was the first to admit that I was no great shakes as a Muslim. At one time I knew ten ajzaa’ by heart – a third of the Quran. Noow I remembered half of Juz ‘Amma – maybe. I performed most of my daily prayers, though I sometimes missed one. I fasted in Ramadan, but rarely prayed taraweeh. Now and then I prayed sunnah, but not regularly. Outside of Jum’ah and Ramadan, I rarely visited the masjid.
I wasn’t proud of any of that. I wished I were a stronger Muslim. I wanted to be sincere with Allah. I wanted to be a good example for my daughter Hajar, and a good partner to my wife, even in our current situation. But I couldn’t seem to figure out how to achieve that goal.
In spite of my torpid faith, there were a few rules I didn’t break. Alcohol and pork were verboten. I didn’t deal with interest if I could possibly avoid it. And I didn’t gamble.
Of course I’d heard of Chukchansi. The massive Indian-owned casino sat just off Highway 41 in the rolling hills near Coarsegold, about an hour north of Fresno, where I lived. That particular stretch of cattle country belonged to the Picayune Rancheria Tribe of Chukchansi Indians.
I’d visited the casino once on a job. I was following a man who claimed to have suffered a serious neck injury after apparently being struck by a security patrol car in the parking lot of a shopping mall. Using an expensive body cam that masqueraded as a tie pin, I took photos and a even few video clips as the supposedly injured man danced and drank with two overly made-up middle aged women that he picked up at the bar.
Never having been to a casino before, I was amazed to see that the place had thousands of slot machines and hundreds of hotel rooms, not to mention roulette, cards, an entire collection of four-star restaurants, and a spa. They must have been soaking up money like rain.
If this guy was offering five large right off the bat, he’d probably go double if I pressed him. Not that I intended to. It was just… man, that was a lot of money.
I knew this was Shaytan coming at me, tempting me. Sometimes Shaytan was more subtle than a black ant on a black rock, until you thought the evil impulse was your own; but this play was obvious as day. Knowing this, however, made it only marginally easier to resist.
“How’d you get my name?”
Setting the money down on the desk and reclining in my chair, I gave the man a hard stare. “Who?”
Five thousand or no, I wasn’t playing games with this breadstick. Did I think the FBI was above walking in here and trying to entrap me on a tax beef? Did I think the local FPD – the Fresno Police Department – wouldn’t try to jack me up, take away my license? No and no.
“Mike Estevez. You helped him when he was charged with assault a few years back. He works for me now.”
I relaxed a bit. “Yeah. I remember Mike.” I slid the money across the desk, pushing it toward him. “Afraid I can’t take your case, though.”
“You haven’t heard the details.”
I shook my head. “I don’t do casino work.”
The man looked around pointedly, surveying my dilapidated office. “You’re doing well enough to turn down five grand?”
Ever since my wife Safaa threw me out of the house, I’d been living in this cramped office on a crime-ridden stretch of Belmont Avenue in central Fresno. It consisted of one small room, a closet and a bathroom. My sleeping cot was folded against one wall. A small table in the corner bore a hot plate stacked atop a microwave oven. Next to it a mini-fridge sat on the floor, humming quietly. A tall bookshelf with ten cubbies held a variety of books, from private investigation manuals to novels and two different Quran translations, along with some children’s books and games for the few occasions when Safaa would let me take Hajar for a day.
Aside from that, there was the small desk I sat at, my practically fossilized desktop computer, a variety of surveillance equipment stashed in a locked drawer of the desk, and my framed private investigator’s license, which hung on the wall behind me.
Morning light streamed through a single barred window, illuminating a galaxy of dust particles that drifted lazily through the air.
“No,” I said finally. “But I’m turning it down anyway.” I didn’t trust this guy and didn’t like him. Coming in here, dropping cash on my desk and acting like my working for him was a done deal. He reminded me of men who had humiliated me and treated me like a subhuman when I was incarcerated.
The man snorted and looked at me as if I had sand for brains. He reached into his jacket pocket.
For some reason the motion alarmed me. My hand shot beneath the desk for the little .25 caliber automatic pistol that I kept beneath the desktop. The holster was screwed into the underside of the desktop with the butt of the gun facing me. I set my hand on the grip and fingered the trigger guard, not touching the trigger itself, but ready. The pistol was loaded and the safety off. I could draw and fire in a second. If the target happened to be standing in front of my desk, I could even fire without drawing.
Not for the first time, the thought came that when you’re prepared to shoot the people who walk into your office, you might be in the wrong line of work.
Putting my hand on the gun was an irrational and stupid thing to do. If this guy truly was an LEO – law enforcement officer – then I’d get myself either killed or locked up again. As an ex-felon, even being in proximity to a firearm was a crime. And though I’d been burglarized twice, and robbed of a princely $15 at gunpoint last year by a strung-out stickup man who jittered in off the street jonesing so hard he almost dropped his gun (he caught me in the act of microwaving a frozen burrito, and took the burrito along with the cash), I knew this guy wasn’t here to rob me.
The man’s eyes flicked to the spot on my desk immediately above the gun, as if he had x-ray vision. He froze. “My card,” he said in a drawl, as if talking to an idiot. His hand resumed its motion – though more slowly – and emerged with a business card. He dropped it on the desk and picked up the envelope full of cash. “Call me if you change your mind. Don’t delay.” He turned to walk away.
I released my grip on the gun that I was not legally allowed to own. As an ex-felon, possession of a firearm would get me an automatic five years behind bars. In my profession, however, it was a necessary risk.
The bell on the door jangled as he walked out.
I rubbed my neatly trimmed beard, thinking of the hefty chunk of change that had just strolled out the door. I could have done so much with that money. But… sitting there at my desk, reclining in my secondhand office chair with faux leather peeling off the arms, I nodded my head, as if trying to reassure myself that I’d done the right thing.
Allah would provide for me in some other way. I’d messed up everything else in life. All I had left was sincerity with Allah, sincerity with the people who loved me, and sincerity with myself. Perhaps the most important thing I’d learned in prison was that when you had nothing left – no home, friends, property or money – you had to hold on to your integrity as if it were your only garment in a snowstorm.
No matter what, I had to hold on to sincerity, or the being that was me, Zaid Karim, a Muslim, husband, father, P.I., and a man with an anchor around his neck who just wanted to get free, would dissolve into nothingness. I’d lose myself in the modern sea of moral subjectivity and apathy, and my life would have no more meaning than a grain of salt in a rising tide.
Next Tuesday: Zaid Karim, P.I., Part 2 – Private Defective
P.S. Please comment after reading. Constructive criticism is welcome as well. – Wael.
An American reverend born into slavery was one of the many acquaintances made by Palestinian tour guide Solomon Negima.
Donald Trump’s policies strike against the cultural fabric of the United States and embolden racists and revisionist groups such as KKK
I woke up last Monday in India to a tweet by Dr David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. ‘Greatest. Year. Ever. #MuslimBan.’ Underneath was an image of my green card cancelled out with a large red cross. The text read: ‘Homeland confirms Trump Immigration Ban Will include Green-Card Holders.’
The image was from a piece I had written for an American newspaper the year before. It was for a Fourth of July special, and it was about feeling at home in America. “My life,” I wrote, “had been a strange combination of deep roots and homelessness, and America seemed like the obvious answer.”
DAVID DUKE loves Trump Muslim Ban. pic.twitter.com/jqfbqiWTF5Continue reading...
Trump’s White House adviser Steve Bannon, and Breitbart, share the same worldview as ISIS and Al Qaeda. According all of them the “Muslims” are at war with the “Christians” and the Western world as a whole. The enemy, all Muslims or all Christians are evil they claim.
Trump’s, senior adviser, Steve Bannon, believes that there is a war between Islam and the Christian world. The Muslims hate Christianity, he claims. He also believes that there will be a war between “the Chinese” and the U.S.A. within a few years. The reason is that the Chinese, too, fear Christianity.
“You have an expansionist Islam and you have an expansionist China,” he claims. “They are motivated. They’re arrogant. They’re on the march. And they think the Judeo-Christian west is on the retreat… The one thing the Chinese fear more than America … they fear Christianity more than anything.” (source)
The Muslims wants to de-christianize the USA, conquer it and turn it into “Islamic States of America.” That was the topic of a proposed movie he wrote the manuscript for in 2007. This is something he has repeated often in his speeches. The “Christian West” is in “war” and “struggle against Islam“.Breitbart and ISIS
If you look at Breitbart, which Bannon headed for many years, they have published many, many articles claiming that “Muslims” or “Islam” is at war with the “Christians.” It is one of the central themes of Breitbart.
“The central role that Islam plays in the war on Christians”. (source)
“Where Islam reigns, Christianity is dying… Such anti-Christian activity by Muslims… Despite the effort to eradicate Christians in the Muslim world, all we hear from their Muslim persecutors and naïve non-Muslim supporters of Islam are wails of “Islamophobia”—just by questioning Islamic dogma’s impact on human rights. An Islamic crusader mindset seeks to make Christians extinct.” (source)
By claiming that “Muslims” and the whole of Islam is at war with the “Christians” they share the worldview of ISIS.
ISIS too generalizes about its “enemy.” Breitbart claims that all Muslims, and Islam as a whole, are evil. ISIS uses the same method and describes all Christians, and Christianity as a whole as evil.
The “Muslim Conquest of Italy”
“The Crusaders can read into why Muslims hate and fight them, why pagan Christians should break their crosses… In essence, we explain why they must abandon their infidelity and accept Islam”. (ISIS magazine Dabiq 15)
Breitbart and ISIS have another thing in common. ISIS wants to conquer Rome and Italy to “break down Christianity.” Breitbart has published an article where it makes the same claim, but of course it is “the Muslims,” not only ISIS, that wants to conquer it.
In 2015 Breitbart published this article: “The Coming Muslim Conquest of Italy: Will We Have to Ransom the Treasures of the Vatican from ISIS-Type Vandals?” (Please note that Breitbart does not differ between ISIS and “Muslims.” They are the same for them.)
The author (Virgil) talks about the flow of immigrants to Italy from Africa, “There’s an African invasion of Italy… going on every day in the Mediterranean, as much of the population of Africa (home to 1.1 billion people, about half of them Muslim) seeks to transplant itself to Italy”, Virgil claims.
Virgil asserts that the “Muslims” will destroy the Christian heritage in Italy and Rome. He asks:
“What will be the psychic toll if and when the Muslims of Italy start defacing or destroying the cultural and artistic treasures of their new home? It’s worth noting that the cultural destruction practiced by ISIS in the Middle East is not a new phenomenon; the Muslim impulse to destroy or transform Western creations is, indeed, long-standing…
If you read through the propaganda of ISIS you find that they have exactly the same worldview as Breitbart but in reverse. True friends think alike!
There is a war between the Muslims and Christians, and Italy has to be conquered and the churches destroyed, ISIS claims.
“We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted. This is His promise to us; He is glorified and He does not fail in His promise. If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.
So mobilize your forces, O crusaders. Mobilize your forces, roar with thunder, threaten whom you want, plot, arm your troops, prepare yourselves, strike, kill, and destroy us. This will not avail you. You will be defeated… We fight you with it. So die in your rage… And those who have disbelieved – unto Hell they will be gathered}…
You will pay the price as you are afraid of travelling to any land. Rather you will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning right and left, fearing the Muslims. (ISIS magazine Dabiq 4)
What a coincidence. Breitbart and ISIS think alike!Not all Muslims, just a few
Contrary to the claims of ISIS and Breitbart Muslims generally don’t hate Christians and Christians generally don’t hate Muslims. Those that hate are the extremists. Those that believe there is a war are few, and even fewer want a war.
The proponents of co-existence and peace among Muslims base their worldview on the Qur’an directly.
“To you be your religion, to me be mine.” (The Quran)
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion.” (The Quran)
This is an idea that both ISIS and Breitbart hate. They don’t want understanding and tolerance.
It is the haters that claim that all Muslims, or all Christians, are evil. It is the haters that claim that all of Islam or all of Christianity are evil. Steve Bannon and Breitbart have more in common with ISIS and Al Qaeda than normal peaceful Muslims have.
Norwegian and Dutch pension funds have huge holdings in Israeli banks that finance illegal settlements.
Measure seen as major step towards outright annexation of West Bank.
Documents reveal how Israel and its supporters acted to thwart cultural boycott during 2014 Gaza attack.
In yesterday’s Observer, there is a piece by one John Daniel Davidson, identified as “a senior correspondent for the Federalist” who lives in Austin, Texas, defending Donald Trump from claims that he is a fascist and offering the standard defence that his election represents “a rejection of the elites” and that the real divide in America today is not between “fascists and Democrats” but between “the elites and everybody else”. He claims that Trump’s supporters cheer at such actions as ripping up trade deals, threatening Mexico with invasion and withdrawing from a deal to accept refugees Australia refuses, alleges that “For years, millions of voters have felt left behind by an economic recovery that largely excluded them, a culture that scoffed at their beliefs and a government that promised change but failed to deliver”, and alleges that the protesters and the “elites” do not understand why Trump and his policies are popular. It’s a familiar argument, also articulated on this side of the Atlantic by the Daily Telegraph columnist Charles Moore who claimed on the BBC Radio 4 Media Show the other week that BBC news programming is characterised by ‘groupthink’ on issues such as climate change (!) and immigration which blinded it to the popularity of Trump and Brexit and the reasons behind it, and a staple of the Right going back at least as far as the Bush years, and it’s wrong.
To start with, Donald Trump may not identify as a fascist as such, but the manner of his campaigning and his behaviour since certainly have some of the characteristics, much as have some genuine dictators who also do not identify as such, or are commonly called fascist — Assad of Syria being a classic example, more than some straightforward autocrats such as Pinochet. In any case, very few people identify as fascist; even the likes of the National Front (and its successor, the British National Party) have used terms like “nationalist” as the word ‘fascist’ has rightly become toxic. What’s not a secret is the violence that accompanied his rallies, which is not a characteristic of a politician who intends to govern as part of a democratic system, nor the wave of police and vigilante violence against minorities that marked Barack Obama’s second term, nor the appointment of unqualified men with clearly stated opinions consistent with fascism to positions of great importance. And the fact that he is popular with “heartland” Americans does not mean he is not a fascist; it may just mean he represents fascism in terms and behaviour that is familiar and acceptable to them.
Second, there is the claim that he is a “champion for the forgotten millions”. It is true that he won votes in some mid-western “rust belt” states that had previously voted Democrat (in some cases right throughout the Bush and Obama eras) with promises to tear up trade agreements that destroy American industry and bring jobs back. However, he is not previously known as a businessman who supports American manufacturing himself, as a Daily Mirror reporter found when he stayed in one of Trump’s hotels recently; it has also been observed that Trump campaign paraphernalia, such as hats and ties, were not made in the USA but in Far Eastern countries. In trying to restore manufacturing to places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, Trump will be ham-strung by Republican opposition in Congress, politicians who have their base in southern “right-to-work” states where unions are weak and companies were attracted by more “liberal” (for them) labour markets (ironically, Democrats are more likely to support him here). Davidson notes that Trump has promised a “border tax” to hit companies that move American jobs abroad and try to import the goods made there; he will not be able to do that by executive order. He will need congressional support.
Trump is, in addition, not one of the “forgotten millions”. He is a billionaire who did not build his empire from scratch, but developed it from his father’s. This fits a pattern with the sort of people the pissed-off American provincial middle class turn to to “save them” from the “liberal elite”; they are always extremely wealthy, though they will put on a common touch when out campaigning, and generally support reducing the tax burdens on the wealthiest and on business, reducing environmental regulations that stop companies polluting the environment that everyone else has to live in (though rarely do they pollute their own), cutting public services that benefit everyone so as to facilitate tax cuts, while focussing public discussion away from economics and onto moral issues like abortion. As Thomas Frank described it in his book, What’s the Matter With Kansas? (reviewed here; published in the UK as What’s the Matter With America?):
The angry workers, mighty in their numbers, are marching irresistably against the arrogant. They are shaking their fists at the sons of privelege. They are laughing at the dainty affectations of the Leawood toffs. They are massing at the gates of Mission Hills [a suburb of Kansas City], hoisting the black flag, and while the millionaires tremble in their mansions, they are bellowing out their terrifying demands. “We are here,” they scream, “to cut your taxes.”
It is tempting to compare the invocation by Trump’s supporters of the angry, overlooked millions, combined with anti-intellectualism and anti-Semitism (and other open bigotry) with Poujadism, the populist movement of 1950s France, but Poujade was a small shopkeeper from southern France, not a big-city property magnate. Trump is from New York; the Bush family, although both the Bush presidents had been governor of Texas, actually originates from Massachusetts. Trump, therefore, is not one of the “forgotten millions” and is a poor champion for them.
It was not, of course, only the “rust belt” that voted for Trump. All the states that had supported Republicans since 2008 supported Trump, both in the South and the midwestern “heartland”. In the South especially, voters had to overlook Trump’s manifest foulness of character and his lack of any previous interest in their politics (he had supported Hilary Clinton’s previous presidential campaigns, for example) as well as Hilary Clinton’s personal connections to Arkansas. One can only assume that many voted for Trump out of blind partisanship, having been persuaded by 20 years of propaganda from the church and media that the Democrats were godless liberals who would not protect the unborn and would raise taxes — and they did not let the displays of thuggery, Trump’s contempt for women or the obvious shallowness and undeliverability of Trump’s promises deter them.
Davidson alleges that “the crowds of demonstrators share something in common with our political and media elites: they still don’t understand how Trump got elected, or why millions of Americans continue to support him”. Actually, they know why Trump was ‘elected’ despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes: because an electoral college system originating in the time of slavery reduces the voting strength of populous states while inflating that of smaller ones, allocates block votes regardless of turnout which usually all go to the single biggest candidate in the state, and so on. Trump ‘won’ an election that was biased in his favour, although it is true that Trump’s and Gary Johnson’s votes combined outnumbered Clinton’s, so perhaps a more credible Republican might have beaten Clinton, especially in the (unlikely) event of his embracing Trump’s trade policies. I’m sure most of them are well aware of why millions voted for Trump, but it was really not that significant; what mattered was that the misogyny, xenophobia, contempt for disabled people and contempt for the rule of law that Trump and his movement represented (and continue to represent) was not going to be accepted and would be resisted, and that the now-dominant faction knew they had a fight on their hands. Disabled people are not the élite; they are a generally impoverished group which had difficulty getting healthcare until Obama’s healthcare reforms, are often institutionalised even as mentally-competent adults, something that Obama actively opposed and which Trump’s allies have not, and are widely treated with contempt and abused, especially if they look or sound ‘odd’. Why should these people expend time on understanding why people voted to impoverish them?
Finally, there is the usual narrative of a “liberal metropolitan élite”, based in the USA’s case on the two coasts (the upper Midwest always getting left out), who looks on the rest of the country with snooty contempt; it has been a regular trope of the conservative persecution narrative since the Clinton years. Trevor Phillips, in his 2015 documentary “Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True” (reviewed here), makes the same claim about that so-called élite when depicting a man refusing to talk to him at a UKIP conference, suggesting that he was typical of the “ordinary white people” that vote UKIP. In fact, the ruling class of this country was not ‘metropolitan’ but based in the suburbs and south shires and its voting base was in rural and provincial England, and it was ‘liberal’ only on gay rights. Phillips was also praised by the Daily Mail for saying “things that nobody will say” about race, yet such claims had been the Mail’s stock in trade for decades. The same is true of conservatives in the US; they have ample access to the media via TV, talk radio and many newspapers, even if the New York Times, Washington Post, and other ‘establishment’ big-city papers don’t give their views priority. In the case of the recent election, where the mainstream media largely did not anticipate Trump’s nomination, let alone victory, one could say that they gave Middle America some credit by imagining that they would not vote for an openly racist, vulgar lout, possibly a criminal, with no political experience. It was once observed during the Civil Rights era by the first Black student in a hitherto all-white university in South Carolina that “if you can’t appeal to the morals of a South Carolinian, you can appeal to his manners”; whose manners could Trump possibly have appealed to?
It’s actually possible to understand why millions of Americans voted for Trump without justifying it: they are racist, blindly partisan, ignorant and resentful of people who know better than them. So he boasts that more Americans support than oppose Trump’s orders on immigration; what this demonstrates is that these people are racist ignoramuses, given that the order targeted the law-abiding and had no justification in security, terrorism prevention or anything else and was struck down by the courts almost immediately (pending appeal), resulting in Trump throwing one of his many Twitter tantrums and showing outright contempt to the judiciary. The contempt for the law, the use of the language of enmity and betrayal, the use of violence in political campaigning, as well as vicious and libellous verbal assaults on other nations, are characteristics of fascism, of tyranny, not of democracy or statesmanship. Whether “the people love him” or not is irrelevant, and in any case, they will not be so happy when Trump’s caprices result in companies moving their money or whole departments abroad — though whether they take it out on the government or on their fellow citizens, or immigrants, time may well tell if he does not learn his lesson nor is deposed quickly.
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Tech companies, politicians and universities are among the US groups citing religious bias, immigrant achievements and national security as reasons to overturn the ban, which has been temporarily suspended
Several groups and businesses have waded into the dispute over Donald Trump’s travel ban, adding their voices to the mounting opposition to the executive order, which is currently blocked pending a decision by the ninth circuit court of appeals in San Francisco. The court has set a deadline for briefs of 6pm ET (3pm PT) on Monday, and may rule within days. Here are some of the most outspoken comments drawn from “amicus briefs” – legal arguments lodged in court by interested parties, known legally as “amici” (friends) – calling for the ban to be overturned:
America proudly describes itself as “a nation of immigrants”. Immigrants make many of the Nation’s greatest discoveries and create some of the country’s most innovative and iconic companies. Immigrants are among our leading entrepreneurs, politicians, artists and philanthropists. The experience and energy of people who come to our country to seek a better life for themselves and their children – to pursue the “American Dream” – are woven throughout the social, political, and economic fabric of the Nation.
[Trump’s executive] order effects a sudden shift in the rules governing entry into the United States, and is inflicting substantial harm on US companies. It hinders the ability of American companies to attract great talent; increases costs imposed on business; makes it more difficult for American firms to compete in the international marketplace; and gives global enterprises a new, significant incentive to build operations – and hire new employees – outside the United States.
The United States faces real threats from terrorist networks and must take all prudent and effective steps to combat them, including the appropriate vetting of travelers to the US. We are nevertheless unaware of any specific threat that would justify the travel ban. We view the order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United States, rather than making us safer. In our professional opinion, this order cannot be justified on national security or foreign policy grounds.
It does not perform its declared task of “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States”. To the contrary, the order disrupts thousands of lives, including those of refugees and visa holders all previously vetted by standing procedures that the administration has not shown to be inadequate. It could do long-term damage to our national security and foreign policy interests, endangering US troops in the field and disrupting counterterrorism and national security partnerships.
Over the course of the past week, amici institutions have seen their students stranded abroad and their faculty members prevented from travelling to and from foreign countries. Scholars based abroad have expressed a determination to boycott academic conferences in the United States, and potential faculty recruits have expressed serious doubts about teaching at amici’s schools. These consequences undermine amici’s bedrock commitment to serving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the United States, and the world through innovative teaching and research.
[The executive order] undermines the values and contributions of open academic exchange and collaboration. At bottom, those adverse impacts impair the cross-border exchange of ideas that is critical to amici’s success as educational institutions – and to the success of the country as a whole.
The United States Constitution forbids the government from discriminating on the basis of religion. The order is motivated by bias against Muslims, as confirmed by the President’s own public statements, as well as the absence of any rational justification for the categorical exclusion of individuals from the seven identified nations or the complete ban on refugees from around the world. The religious discrimination involved in the Executive Order is inconsistent with the bedrock Establishment Clause and equal protection principle that the government should never favor one religion over another.
The order profoundly, directly and irreparably harms people throughout the United States, destabilizing the lives of thousands of individuals and their families – including those seeking to live, find refuge, visit, study or work in the State of Washington. Under the Order, US citizens and legal permanent residents are unable to maintain their relationships with their families when their family members are denied entry at our borders. Those fleeing persecution cannot find a safe harbor here. And workers and students with valid visas will lose their right to live, work, and study here if they travel abroad.
There is no rational basis for the suspension of the Refugee Program because refugees trying to enter the United States are already subject to an intensive investigation, which can last for as long as two years, and which includes personal interviews and biometric analyses, and vetting by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center and the departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security.
The Executive Order has fractured many refugee families whose safety and desire for unification were already fragile, and risks the lives of many who relied on the promises of the United States when they received their visas. Those people made irreversible plans to leave the countries in which they were residing, and followed established procedures to obtain their visas and permission to enter the United States. The Executive Order closes the door to their hope of avoiding the immense dangers that they currently face, leaving them in the perilous situation.
The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality with respect to religion. This principle, contained in the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses and reflected also in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, secures the right to religious freedom by straightforwardly forbidding official discrimination on the basis of religion. Ignoring the clear constitutional command, however, the government has singled out a religious group – Muslims – for official disfavor and maltreatment. By instituting a wide-ranging, punishing ban on immigrants, the government has run roughshod over core First Amendment protections.
The Executive Order is exactly what President Trump promised all along – a “Muslim ban”. No amount of rebranding will change that. People from seven countries are refused entry to the United States for no reason other than their deity and preferred holy book. Beyond failing every applicable legal standard, the Executive Order is an insult to the fundamental principles of our Constitution. It cannot stand. It should not stand even for a day.Continue reading...
Trump and company have been getting brutally ridiculed on SNL for quite some time. I agree with the Atlantic article, this is one of the best SNL sketches in a long time; Melissa McCarthy knocked it out of the park.
Readers please follow Sapelo Square: An Online Resource on Black Muslims in the U.S. on Facebook. It is a great page that posts relevant topics, facts and events on Black Muslim history in the United States.
“Seminoles in Florida claim that some of their number are descended from African slaves who before emancipation managed to escape and mingle in their ranks, even converting some of the Seminoles to Islam. The Algonquian and Pima languages are said to contain words with Arabic roots. Cherokees claim that a number of Muslims joined their ranks and say that the chief of the Cherokees in 1866 was a Muslim named Ramadhan Ibn Wati.” (Smith, Islam in America, 68) Black and native Seminoles joined forces against the U.S. army during two wars in 1812 and 1835.
Such were the cheers protesters chanted as thousands across the US gathered at airports to express their disapproval of Trump’s unprecedented travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries. The executive order, disguised as a security measure, only affected innocent families and vulnerable refugees fleeing war and looking for safety.
Almost immediately following the ban, protesters rushed to occupy all major airports in the country to demand the release of innocent travellers with valid travel documents. One of the unintended outcomes of these demonstrations was the public acceptance of the Muslim ritual prayer at airports. As times of the five daily prayers entered, dozens of Muslims at the protests joined together to pray in congregation; the prayer somehow managed to become a form of protest itself at that point. This was a stark contrast to the usual circumstance where Muslims generally try to find secluded spots at airports and pray anxiously with hopes of avoiding too much attention. Moving images of protesters circling around Muslims as they say their prayers have gone viral on the internet; we share a few below that capture this historic moment.
Today, at Detroit Metro Airport, protesters made room for Muslims to pray.
— Diana Hussein (@heyadiana) January 30, 2017
— N. J. Burkett (@njburkett7) February 3, 2017
— Smiley Pool (@SmileyPool) January 30, 2017
Banning refugees is un-American. Prayer in protest at Denver Airport. (photo sent by a friend – I'm home, calling reps) pic.twitter.com/EAeV4c2Ip6
— Angie Pendergrass (@apuffycloud) January 29, 2017
— DLW (@Dlw20161950) January 29, 2017
— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) February 3, 2017
For Muslims in Trump's America, prayer itself is a form of protest.
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) January 31, 2017
Visit My Mosque day helps educate people about Islam to combat rising Islamophobia. Readers tell us about their experiences
More than 150 UK mosques opened their doors on Sunday for the third annual Visit My Mosque day, an event aimed at fostering a better understanding of Islam.
It came after Donald Trump banned people from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees from entering the US. Many saw the open days as an opportunity to counter rising Islamophobia.
The guy was talking about the overlap between the Bible and Qur’an. I had no idea about this
People seemed to enjoy themselves and it was a great way for us all to get together and share stories
Muslims are just normal people. That’s how they should be treated.
In the current climate I wanted to show my support. I have no suspicions and concerns about Muslims.Continue reading...