Friday, March 25, 2005
This past weekend, President Bush interrupted his relaxation at his Crawford, TX ranch and flew back to Washington DC in the middle of the night to sign a bill to allow federal courts to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of brown lives go ignored.
Unfortunately, Bush has recently had opportunity to lead or comment on tragedies affecting all of Asia, African Americans and Native Americans. Those communities saw his reactions as apathetic, cynicism and silence.
Native American leaders are openly condemning President George Bush after his continued silence on the school shooting ranking only behind Columbine in casualties. Ten Natives died in Red Lake this week and the pain from the silence has been agitated by the very public and vocal intervention in the Schiavo case.
We can also see an apathy when comparing the subdued response to the more than 100,000 lives lost in the tsunami affected several Asian and African nations. Bush remained at his Crawford ranch and only made substantive remarks and more reasonable donations to aid after he thought he was being criticized as stingy.
In another series of events giving many the impression of cynicism or a total devaluing of Black life, is when President Bush tried to drive home the point of Social Security reform affecting African Americans. He and his staff have repeatedly mentioned that African Americans don't live as long as whites and so they don't collect as much Social Security. His conclusion was to fix Social Security.
African American groups, however, seem to think improving longevity might be a more noble goal.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Jeff Weise, described as a 16 year old "baby face", recently killed his grandfather and then went to his school where he killed several children and adults.
Like other youth who have become mass murderers, he felt isolated and experienced behavior problems and social withdrawal. In the Spring of 2004, he finally found a group who encouraged his separation in the most extreme ways - this group of Nazi's praised this Native American on a reservation for embracing racial nationalism. Jeff Weise created the user name "Todesengel," which is German for "Angel of Death", and logged on to a discussion forum for a group of National Socialists. After a few exchanges, he changed his user name to NativeNazi.
Nazi and other hate groups often complain of being misunderstood or misinterpreted. In this case, they have a point. A lot of common reaction has been "How can a Native American believe in White Supremacy?" One key element of Nazi philosophy encourages racial nationalism. An animalist level of separating races quite literally in the sense that wolves don't run with a pride of lions. The white supremacy is often more visible in their rhetoric than mission statement.
The discussion forum has since been removed, but the internet has ways of keeping history. Reading the exchange between this young man and folks who appear to be adults, we see these Nazis encouraging the anti-social behavior and ideas we've come to look for since Columbine. Besides bantering about how a famous epithet should be changed to apply to Native kids who act Black, he forum condoled him and reinforced his feeling of alienation.
" I respect your open-mindedness; not everyone is so brave to think the way you do," says one of the first responses. It is followed with others embracing him with "There is a place for you, I hope you stick with us" and "We welcome you, brother." After adopting a philosophy of race based separation and one that sees "each race superior in its own way," he enters a discussion forum which behaves quite typically of how hate groups and cults embrace susceptible children and adults. After seeing himself as harassed and misunderstood, he has those ideas endorsed, is accepted as special and is praised.
In his message to the group, he asks about age requirements. There are none. He goes on to mention his problems at school and reiterating he was young. There doesn't appear to be any hesitation to keep encouraging him to stick with the group.
Is the group responsible for his actions? They didn't pull the trigger. They behaved as they do. Encouraging an atmosphere of perceived oppression, hindered victory, a glorious task ahead and brotherhood. They endorsed his negative view of the race mixers around him adopting Black culture.
Then again, on the actual web site for the Nazi group, their FAQ asks, "Killing innocent people is wrong, isn't it?" We all know the real answer, but this group goes on to describe society as "individuals..part of the social movements that produce them.. who can be out of place." It doesn't say no and dismisses the idea of innocence or guilt.
There are a lot of questions raised by tragedies like this. One overlooked question is the perennial topic of hate groups in schools and intolerance among youth. It's easy to feel queasy over the Nazi's encouragement aimed at our youth, but it's also a reminder that these groups see themselves in a light of righteous legitimacy where they have no more of an obligation to keep young people away than the Democrats or Republicans. It's up to us, not them.
Tolerance.org is one of many sites with information for parents, teachers and teens on understanding the importance of tolerance. TalkingWithKids.org specializes in communicating with kids on tough issues in general.
Hate groups infiltrate through , video games and perhaps most importantly, through a lack of communication and supportive social structure.
Friday, March 18, 2005
I spent a small amount of time today addressing the question, "Why Muslims don't condemn terror?"
The short answer is - because of Islamophobia encouraging ignorance among some and willful hateful dishonesty by others - because Muslims do.
If you hear or read a public figure stating this question or presenting it as a statement of fact, especially someone with a staff and resources to do a basic search or read the newspaper - they are blatantly lying.
Here are some statements against violence. I didn't include the condemnations of violence specifically against Muslims, like Diallos murder, the burning of Mosques and killing or beatings of Muslims in western societies.
I hope everyone understands how bizarre the statements are in context. Imagine the NAACP being asked to apologize for violence in the Zimbawbe, or NCLR/LULAC for kidnappings in Colombia. Imagine these groups needing to condemn acts of foreign extrmist groups regularly and some to even compile lists of the condemnations to prove they happened.
Here is a good set of sites that actually collect statements. More than 200
Various condemnations of Nick Berg killing (including by conservatives and extremists)
Islamic Statements Against Terrorism in the Wake of the September 11 Mass Murders
Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks
Some by British Muslims
Muslims Around the World Condemn the Kidnapping of 2 French Journalists
Statement Of British Imams And Scholars On The September 11 Tragedy And Its Aftermath
Fight Terrorism, But Not Through Draconian Laws (1998)
MCB expresses total condemnation of terrorist attacks
MCB expresses total condemnation of terrorist attacks in US
MCB Condemns Attacks In Bali
MCB Condemns Bombings in Istanbul
Partnership Needed to Defeat Terror Threat Facing Us All
MCB condemns terrorist atrocities in Madrid
Muslims condemn reprehensible Nick Berg killing
Saudi Fatwas and statements against various specific acts and general acts of terrorism
19 fatwas against Sucide Bombings
Fatwa for Jihad to help Afghan civilians
Fatwa on Hijacking planes and kidnapping
4 Fatwa regarding 911
Fatwa to cut off hijackers, bombers, etc
Fatwa seeing martyrdom in those combatting drug dealers
250 Talked Out of Terrorism (discusses efforts to combat people going to terrorism)
Don't Abuse Jihad
Condemnation of some attacks in Saudia Arabia
Similar statement as above
Saudis Stand United Against Terrorism
American Muslim leaders ask that Jamil Al-Amin surrender to FBI
American Muslim group responds to bombinb of Iraq
U.S. Muslims condemn Church attack in Pakistan
CAIR condemns attacks on civilians
Don't link Hajj to terrorism say Muslims
CAIR condemns Istanbul bombings
U.S. Muslims meet Spanish ambassador to offer condolences
CAIR condemns mutilation of bodies in Iraq
CAIR launches 'Not in the name of Islam' petition drive
CAIR Condemns Iraq Church Bombings
CAIR Joins 'Call to Action' on Darfur Crisis
California Muslims Honor Author of Hate Crimes Resolution
ISNA Peace Mission to Sudan Meets with Sudanese Civic Organizations
CAIR-CAN Condemns Anti-Semitic Graffiti
CAIR'S 'Not in the Name of Islam' Petition
CAIR Condemns School Killings in Russia
CAIR Calls for Release of All Hostages in Iraq
CAIR-FL Takes Part in Civil Rights Summit
CAIR Condemns Attack on Baghdad Mosque
U.S. Muslims Urged to Help Tsunami Survivors
CAIR-NJ Offers Condolences to Coptic Community
Calif. Muslims Demand Release of U.S. Hostage in Iraq
CAIR-LA Co-Sponsors Civil Liberties Forum
CAIR-Houston Condemns Anti-Semitic Incidents
Official Linked with Book Praising Hitler to Speak in FL, NY
CAIR-NJ: Muslims Applaud Arrests in Slaying of NJ Family
Friday, March 11, 2005
On March 11th of last year, Al Qaeda bombed a train station in Madrid, Spain. In the few weeks to follow, the ruling party would be voted from the government and Bush would be wailing about how Al Qaeda changed Spain's elections.
One the one year anniversary, Spain's Muslims issue a fatwa specifically condemning Osama bin Laden.
Did Spain give in to Al Qaeda, or are they showing us what happens when the citizen's think critically and respond to bad government?
It's worth noting that on 3-11 the governing Popular Party and the soon to be successful Socialist Party were in a statistical dead heat. Those media members who reported the the Popular Party led in the polls ignored the margin of error in any poll. Four points was the spread largest spread followed by more saying it was a straight tie.
José María Aznar, the sitting president, was elected on his promise to combat ETA (The Basque separatist terrorists). He vowed to continue doing the same in the next term. He also put Spanish troops in Iraq against 90% of the public will.
Then Al Qaeda attacks.
I woke up and during the morning hours read the letter from Al Qaeda claiming responsibility on El País. There was a van filled with various types of evidence - writings, tapes - and Al Qaeda taking responsibility. In a furious race, the Spanish government lobbied the local media with pressure, and used the emotional collateral to get the UN to condemn ETA for this attack by name. All of this with zero evidence supporting the theory and confessions contradicting it.
Accusing ETA was a lie to the public. More than that, it was a danger to national security to consciously divert resources away from the actual attackers. With police agencies and others reporting evidence of Al Qaeda, Spain's Popular Party officials were selling people n the idea that ETA was responsible.
So what do you do if your government who has already committed yoru nation to violence the population was very much against uses about 200 lost lives and a national tragedy in a lie (or incompetent delusion) for political gain?
I'll ignore that we're in Iraq because of non-existent WMDs and I'll ignore the campaign commercials using 9-11 images in the US for a second. I'll ignore the money we gave to the Taliban over the protest of women's groups not too long before we bombed them. Anyhoo..
The correct answer is - you fire them.
Bush, still facing election himself, needed public opinion to be ready to be spiteful towards Al Qaeda. Don't cave in - vote for the warhawk. I expected the right wing pundits to push the idea Spain punked out - but the president joined in as well.
Bush on Aznar: "He is a man that understands the war on terror, clearly knows the stakes and knows that we must never give an inch to the terrorists."
This was before the Spanish elections. The message - vote for Aznar or you're a punk.
I considered this an attack on our own national security. Spain was clearly responding to a particularly disturbing government, but Bush used his clout to push the idea that Al Qaeda could affect national elections.
The full delivery sounded like another "Bring it on" challenge. He and others seized on the pre-existing promise by the Socialists to do what the public wanted in the first place and bring the troops home and twisted it to make it seem like a knew response to the bombings.
Everyone ignored the specific plans to fight terrorism that was also on the Socialist Party platform (which they have acted on since then).
Aznar was also among the first of Bush's allies to face re-election. A lost ally would mean people might start to question Bush more. A retained ally would be another kind of mandate for him.
This is an episode where two groups used human life for politcal collateral. Spain's ruling party and ours.
This year, Spanish Muslims reflected on the anniversary and passed the first fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden. And, to address another myth - there has been widespread condemnation of terrorism and terrorism activities.
I've compiled links to over 250 incidents of Muslims condemning various forms of terrorism (in English) here.
Some additional information form Media Matters:
magazine indicating that the election was a "dead heat" hours before the attack occurred. Other evidence suggests that the terrorist attacks may have had some effect on the outcome of the election -- but only indirectly and not in the manner that the terrorists purportedly intended. After the bombings, the Populist Party was greatly weakened by public accusations of a cover-up when
Aznar and his government sought to blame the attack on regional Basque separatists, even after evidence of Al Qaeda's connection to the attacks surfaced.
Friday, March 04, 2005
In 1858, Lincoln jokes that his opponent, Douglas, seems to have the fear that if the law weren't there to stop them, he might run out and marry a Negro woman. To "great laughter" laughter, Lincoln assures the audience that he is safe from such urges.
Lincoln: I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone.
Looking at the "Party of Lincoln" clamoring to amend the Constitution to prevent gay marriage and phrasing it as "preserving marriage" - one has to worry what the urges and fears of the GOP are - especially if they are so tightly bound to Lincolns ideals (except when in the south).
Will George leave Laura if he has the option to marry James Guckert?
Lincoln's humor was revealing and particularly nasty. While hesitant to extend this to gay marriage, the example is good for showing the insecurities, presumptions and the Phobia in the homophobia behind their policies.
Lincoln sat in front of an audience where his presumptions, fears, and dislikes could be well matched and the "absurdity" of him desiring a Black woman and running off to marry one was instantly understood.
Likewise the quivering fear filled rooms of GOP seem a comfortable enough setting where they can override reality and change the United States Constitution to prevent them from rushing out to marry other men.
Meanwhile a good portion of the United States is holding on to what are supposed to be Republic values - Lincoln's values - that is "let them alone." Don't get married to them. If they decide to marry themselves, it's their lives.
While I think homophobia is sometimes overused to described simple bigotry, Lincoln's obervance of the fear rooted in his opponent or his attempt to manipulate the insecurities of Douglas provides some insight for identifying real fear of homosexuality in he current debate of marriage.
"Protection" of marriage. "Saving" marriage. All fear and security based language.
Personally, seeing two men happy together will have very little impact on my marriage.
If not having a law banning you from marrying the same sex threatens your marriage, you probably should be for gay marriage rights so you can eventually find happiness.
Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas
at Charleston, Illinois
September 18, 1858
MR. LINCOLN'S SPEECH.
know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality
between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not
proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as
the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes
in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor
ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and
political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am
not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes,
nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white
people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical
difference between the white and black races which I believe will
forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and
political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do
remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior,
and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior
position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not
perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position
the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that
because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want
her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can
just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never
have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me
quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or
wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my
knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a
perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.
I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so
frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness-and that is
the case of Judge Douglas's old friend Col. Richard M. Johnson.
[Laughter.] I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not
going to enter at large upon this subject,) that I have never had the
least apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes if there
was no law to keep them from it, [laughter] but as Judge Douglas and
his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there
were no law to keep them from it, [roars of laughter] I give him the
most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of
this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes.
[Continued laughter and applause.]
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Central figures in the Iran-Contra affair and other human rights disasters are being rewarded and promoted.
To make a long story short in the beginning - here is the John Negroponte timeline:
- There were atrocities known about in Honduras by our ambassador under President Carter
- Reagan appoints Negroponte to replaces that ambassador
- Suddenly our new ambassador doesn't know about atrocities - for four years
- Areas directly managed by Negroponte become known for torture centers, like El Aguacate, where 185 bodies would be dug up later
- Known associates of Negroponte are known to be leaders of violence. Some trained at the School of the Americas
- Death squad leaders are permitted to retire in the US after the conflict
- George W. Bush apoints Negroponte to be UN ambassador
- Before any real dialog can take place, the death squad leaders were all deported from the US where they couldn't be questioned easily
- The man who claimed to be oblivious to the wave of murder around him wants to lead out whole intelligence community
In his 2001 hearings for ambassador to the UN, Negroponte said, "To this day I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras."
Al Gonzales skated past his memos okaying torture and overriding due process to become the first Hispanic Attorney General of the United States.
Elliot Smith has recently been named as the man who will lead democracy efforts abroad as President Bush promoted him to deputy national security adviser. Smith pleaded guilty in 1991 for lying to and withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair. President George H.W. Bush pardoned him in 1992 just before leaving office.
During the Iran-Contra era, during Negroponte's era, US military aid to Honduras expanded from $3.9 million to $77 million. Atrocities during this time period which Negroponte knows nothing about includes 32 nuns who were kidnapped and reportedly thrown from helicopters.
Here are a few scenarios to consider when reviewing these men. These men are simply opressed and deeply misunderstood, to the tune of screaming men and women in dark rooms. They actually are so ignorant and unaware that they didn't notice that the world around them was being slaughtered, in which case they are totally unqualified to hold any job protecting public interests.
Or, they were aware of the policies they were actively involved in and knew about the mass murder and human misery next to them that the world knew about from afar.
Since the confirmation process seems to be simply a formality, people should educate themselves about the the people who are being passed into power. We should also ask ourselves what message this sends about the value of human life and dignity, respect for Latin America or the future plicies of this country towards it's own citizens and others?
Thse questions become more important when we remember that just a couple of months ago, the "Salvador Option", introducing death squads to Iraq, was being explored. This appointment would basically say the debate is over.
Here is 1995 coverage from the Boston Sun on Negroponte and what happened under his watch.
Former envoy to Honduras says he did what he could
When a wave of torture and murder staggered a small U.S. ally, truth was a casualty, Was the CIA involved? Did Washington know? Was the public deceived?
Now we know: Yes, Yes and yes.
Glimpses of the 'disappeared'
Now in exile, these CIA-trained Hondurans describe their lives -- and the deaths of their victims
A survivor tells her story Treatment for a leftist:
Kicks, freezing water and electric shocks. In between, a visitor from the CIA.
How a journalist was silenced
More coverage at The Nation this week:
Since the early 1980s, Negroponte has denied that his partners in Honduras perpetuated deliberate and extensive human rights abuses. Yet this CIA report concluded, "The Honduran military committed hundreds of human rights abuses since 1980, many of which were politically motivated and officially sanctioned." According to the report, the US-backed Honduran army was linked to "death squad activities." The report quoted an official in Negroponte's embassy saying that "the embassy country team in Honduras wanted reports on subjects such as [human rights abuses] to be benign" because such reporting "would reflect negatively on Honduras and not be beneficial in carrying out US policy." The heavily redacted CIA report said that in one case the embassy discouraged reporting on a particular human rights matter because of Negroponte's concern that it would "create human rights problems for Honduras."
More Resources on this appointment:
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
After passing legislation to benefit companies targeted by class action lawsuits (those pesky lawsuits where a large number of public citizens are injured and need legal representation against large companies), our representatives are considering laws limiting bankrupcty.
In effect, it would give credit card companies the same protection as child support payments.
Call me naïve and presumptuous (and many might call me worse) but I'm going to assume that when I pay credit card fees and interests I am paying into the following factors:
- Others have declared bankruptcy and the loss needs to be recuperated
- The risk that I will declare bankrupcty must be part of the fees I pay
- If I declare bankruptcy, my increased interest rate covers part 2 for the far future when I might do it again and covers some of my presumed "lost debt"
Typically, you get few protections when you file for Chapter 7. Federal student loans and child support are two.
So who are these people shirking their personal responsibility? Reports over the past couple of years indicate that as many as half of them are due to accumulated medical bills.
More on their profile after bankrupcty:
His report shows that during the two years prior to filing for bankruptcy:
- 40% lost telephone service
- 19% went without food
- 54% went without needed doctor or dentist visits because of cost
- 43% did not fill prescriptions because of cost
- 15% had taken out second or third mortgages to pay for medical expenses
- 1/3 continued to have problems paying their bills following
bankruptcy, including paying their mortgage/rent and utility payments
- Even after filing for bankruptcy a number (3.1%) were turned
down for jobs, 5% were turned away on apartment rentals, and 9% were
rejected for car loans
The response from our legislature is to protect the credit card companies as if they were a child. So now, while continuing to spiral downward or struggle upward, folks can shore up even more profit for credit card companies.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Frank Luntz has an organization dedicated to forming the words that present conservative policy. His document analyzing 2004 elections and planning for victory in 2006, has been leaked. It starts with such strange gems as:
The answer? Credibility. George W. Bush had it. John Kerry did not.
So, if you're interested in seeing how you're being manipulated, it's a good start.
This leaked document you'll find such ultra-conservative insights as:
desperate belief that Bush won because he waged a campaign of fear. The
exact opposite was the case. Americans turned to him precisely because
they saw him as the antidote to that fear.
at which point I wonder how you can be the antidote without an atmosphere of fear.
Other suggestions include:
The Dems have adopted the phrase "undocumented worker" but you shouldn't. Call them exactly what they are. In fact, instead of addressing "immigration reform, " which polarizes Americans, you should be talking about "border security" issues. Securing our borders and our people has universal support.
It is hard to distrust a trial lawyer because we see them portrayed so favorably on L.A. Law and Law & Order. But personal injury lawyers, also known as ambulance chasers, remind people of those annoying, harassing commercials we see at 1 :00 am cajoling us to sue someone. If you want to get the full bang for the buck, call them "predatory personal injury lawyers. '"
You can see the conscious effort not to cause "division" by simply rephrasing the issue. Same plan, same motives, same people. They say a different word and want you to react differently.
Will it work on you?
You can download the report from the Daily Kos Blog