Category Archives: Terrorism

KASICH SAYS PROMOTE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN VALUES—GUESS THAT MEANS MORE WAR

wardead

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich says he’d set up an agency with a “mandate” to promote what he calls “Judeo-Christian values” overseas to counter Islamist propaganda.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kasich-judeo-christian-values-agency_564bc6d9e4b08cda348b6727

The Ohio governor says he would create the new agency to promote the values of human rights, democracy and the freedoms of speech, religion and association. Kasich says the information would be distributed in the Middle East, China, Iran and Russia, to compete with the propaganda and misinformation purveyed by Islamic militants.

And here I thought Kasich was one of the saner GOPers. He’s out of his mind. I believe there already exists such an agency. It’s called the Christian Church and Judaism. And they’ve been promoting their “values” for thousands of years.

Christian nations began both World Wars which together killed over 100 MILLION people!

A Christian nation embroiled its citizens in a four year long Civil War that sometimes literally pitted brother against brother and resulted in about 700,000 deaths.

A Christian nation pursued expansion that resulted in the deaths of most of its native population…many by disease and starvation…with perhaps at least a few hundred thousand killed by hostile action.

A Christian nation fought in an unnecessary and futile war in Southeast Asia and was responsible for—by conservative estimates—ONE MILLION deaths, the majority civilians.

A Christian nation invaded Iraq  under false pretenses and was responsible for as many as ONE MILLION deaths.

A Jewish nation illegally appropriated land from Palestinians and while claiming to act solely in self-defense kills nearly 4000 of the supposed aggressors (since 2008) while suffering fewer than 100 deaths of its own. Some defense, eh?

DAESH (ISIS) has by best estimates killed about 170,000 people. We’ll grant that Islamic terrorists as a whole perhaps can claim as many as ONE MILLION victims, but the number is probably not even close to that figure.

The deaths caused by Christian nations in these conflicts include millions of civilian non-combatants of both genders and of all ages, most notably the SIX MILLION dead in the Holocaust.

Pray tell precisely what values does Kasich expect to convey? These examples demonstrate little concern for human life. Besides the deaths millions of people were displaced…sorta like the current Syrian refugees, you know? And how many more have had their lives torn apart while suffering physical and psychological injuries is impossible to know.

Furthermore if Kasich’s creation is intended to be an official government agency he’s getting into First Amendment territory where such actions would be prohibited.

Let’s face it. Contrary to what Kasich apparently hopes to accomplish, pushing Judeo-Christian “values” is simply telling the rest of that world that violence, death, and destruction are the preferred methods in attempting to achieve geographicl-political goals.

Examining the history behind the troubling current events plainly shows those “values” are what got us into this mess.

I am invoking my inner Nancy Reagan. Just say, NO!

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HERE WE GO AGAIN

mindless-drone

“We’ll always have Paris.” Those words from the movie Casablanca may have taken on an entirely new meaning on Friday the 13th. With the co-ordinated attacks in Paris by sympathizers or members of DAESH (now the preferred term for the artist formerly known as ISIS since it reportedly pisses them off), the anti-Muslim rhetoric and threats of revenge are reminiscent of the hysteria after 9/11, in tone if not quite in degree.

More bombing is needed, let’s send troops in, keep the Syrian refugees in pens not fit for the animals we slaughter for our table, shut down the mosques…all are demands made by politicians and ordinary citizens alike. Of course the one about refugees has not been said literally but the tenor of the words several governors have uttered evoke that picture as they declare no Syrian refugees are welcome within their borders.

Never mind that the cowardly murderers responsible for Paris have mostly been identified as home-grown Europeans to date, several from Belgium, and did not enter France with any refugees it may have accepted. That all still needs to be sorted out but jumping to the conclusion that the violence was due to the refugees is unjustifiable now.

And since some were from Belgium one wag suggested that Belgian waffles and Brussels sprouts be re-named in protest.

But isn’t it odd that Americans and the Western World express such outrage over Paris and promise solidarity while adding a subtle tri-color effect to their Facebook profile picture, but no such love match has been made with Beirut which saw a series of car bombings the day before Paris or with Garissa, in Kenya, where the university saw nearly 150 students murdered by terrorists last April. Do we even know what the colors of their flags are, let alone display them in empathy? And the bombings in Beirut last week were merely the latest of a series of such attacks tormenting the citizens of that city.

And really if DAESH stuck to bloodshed against fellow Muslims instead of occasionally adding some beheadings of Christians or journalists to the mix would Americans give as much a shit about them?

The reality is that DAESH, claiming a Muslim jihad as its goal, kills mostly Muslims in its poisonous quest. Many more Muslims than anyone else.

But I’m hearing echoes of the days after 9/11, when images of the carnage remained stark in our minds, and the drumbeat of naked revenge gained power, eventually leading to two wars and numerous other mis-steps that have done more to destroy American freedoms and ideals than anything any terrorist or groups of terrorists could ever hope to accomplish from their vicious tactics alone.

Tom Engelhardt is a blogger and writer whose work I have read in several on-line publications. This piece appeared in The Nation a couple of months ago.

http://www.thenation.com/article/14-years-after-911-the-war-on-terror-is-accomplishing-everything-bin-laden-hoped-it-would/

In the essay Engelhardt writes from the viewpoint that everything Al-Qaeda hoped to accomplish by its 9/11 masterstroke has been accomplished by our own hands with wars, suppressive laws, warrantless searches, and otherwise. All have torn the fabric of our nation to a damaging degree.

I have often thought in similar terms but Engelhardt pulls it all together in a cohesive  way. I may not be totally in accord with all his opinions but the exceptions are not important for this discussion. It is worthwhile reading. If you do peruse it, make of it what you will.

My main concern post-Paris is the ugliness in the reactions of us Americans. Even usually sensible people sound as if they could be swept up in the militaristic tone taken by Trump, Cruz, Carson, et al as they pimp for votes in the upcoming primaries and caucuses.

Post-9/11 was a scary period  to me, not because I feared an attack that could touch me or my loved ones directly, but because I could smell war brewing and being transported by a runaway train whose passengers in their past rational lives would never have been talked into the inglorious adventures ahead. Yet, there they were, all the liberal dirty news rags endorsing the wars and  pretty much accepting  any imprudence that survived illogic and unreason and became policy and practice.

Though not as hot and raunchy as those regretful days, it’s getting pretty warm here as the guns are oiled, warheads are loaded, drones are programmed, and anyone with somewhat darker skin wearing headgear not conforming to the requisite sports team logo ball cap worn backwards (itself a sign of a society in decline) or trendy fedora but which instead suggests some possible religious signifigance should beware treading the streets. After all, with many yahoos out there who cannot tell their right foot from their left, how can we expect them to distinguish Muslim from Sikh?

Much of what is said is intentionally aimed at causing fear. Fear often makes one use bad judgment, especially when it is a fear that is not visible at the moment. And the fearmongers want you to be afraid, be very afraid, so they can get their way to compel America to contribute ever more carnage to the piles of stinking corpses it has already produced around the world in numbers far more than any loss we have ever suffered due to the terrorists they warn us about.

And despite the total failures of our “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Afghanistan there continues to be a call for more American boots on the ground.

You know what? I will accede to that on one condition. That condition is that those who express this demand loudest fill those boots with their own damned feet.

 

THE DEAD

james-joyce

The photo here, if you did not recognize it, is of the great Irish writer James Joyce. The Dead is the conclusive entry to Joyce’s 15 short story collection The Dubliners published in 1914.

I am particularly fond of this story as it was the vehicle to my greatest accomplishment as a freshman at Washington & Jefferson College in 1965-66. The Dead was part of the anthology of short stories and poetry used in my freshman English class. It is a longer story considered by some to be a novella, and took up forty full pages in our anthology.

Our class was assigned a term paper to be written over our Christmas break. (At that time the semester extended to the end of January). It was to be twenty typewritten pages and was to discuss, not he story as a whole, but rather focusing upon one scene in the story which described the table setting at a post-Christmas holiday celebration.

A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a great ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on which lay a solid rectangle of Smyrna figs, a dish of custard topped with grated nutmeg, a small bowl full of chocolates and sweets wrapped in gold and silver papers and a glass vase in which stood some tall celery stalks. In the centre of the table there stood, as sentries to a fruit-stand which upheld a pyramid of oranges and American apples, two squat old-fashioned decanters of cut glass, one containing port and the other dark sherry. On the closed square piano a pudding in a huge yellow dish lay in waiting and behind it were three squads of bottles of stout and ale and minerals, drawn up according to the colours of their uniforms, the first two black, with brown and red labels, the third and smallest squad white, with transverse green sashes.

http://www.online-literature.com/james_joyce/958/

At first glance that might seem to be an insurmountable task. But Professor William Stein was heavily into imagery…especially religious imagery… and symbolism and manifestations of mythology. So over the break a classmate and I, fellow Washington High School graduates, spent hours in the city library with books on mythology and symbolism surrounding us. We poured through them with increasing zeal as we would try to discern the hidden meanings of the food described in the paragraph above and relate them to the characters with names such as Michael and Gabriel and Kate and Mary Jane, all of whom could be fictional stand-ins for Biblical characters, for instance.

As we dug more deeply into our references it became apparent that what we were really reading about was a veiled reference to the conflicts among the Irish and the British with three distinct factions. You had the Irish Catholics, the Irish Protestants, and the British oppressors. The subtleties of the colors of the various foods also shed light on the conflict, most notably in the green for Irish Catholics and orange for the Protestant supporters of England.

Now, mind you, whatever clashes between these parties prior to publication of The Dubliners, it was still not until 1916 when the Easter Uprising occurred and Michael Collins gained prominence/notoriety and that event begat several decades of violence until Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams gained credit for bringing The Troubles to a close with an accord with the British Government.

My friend and I gathered and absorbed all this information and hashed it over till we had a basic agreement on a logical scenario that would allow for a narrative that would be right up Professor Stein’s alley. That there were other interpretations or nuances somewhat beyond our relatively unsophisticated young minds we thought of as possible but, with the wealth of material we had, exploring further would mean a paper far longer than what was demanded of us.

Despite our mutual research and similar mindsets, we still had to produce our papers individually. When we returned from break we handed them in and awaited our grades. At the end of our semester the Professor informed us of the grades we earned and selected me for specific praise, revealed my A to the class, and announced he was having my paper published in the college’s literary magazine. But he was a tough grader and my friend received only a B.

Yes, I’m bragging here but let me lay a little more foundation. Gerry Adams now reappears as a possible, even probable villain. He is accused of being much more than a political operative for Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, but a military leader within that radical group who can be truthfully named a murderer. That is if you buy everything Patrick Radden Keefe writes in the upcoming issue of The New Yorker in a story titled Where The Bodies Are Buried.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/16/where-the-bodies-are-buried

Keefe focuses on a widowed mother of ten in West Belfast named Jean McConville who was kidnapped by the IRA in front of her brood of children in December of 1972.and “disappeared”. her body not being discovered until 2003, nearly thirty-one years later.

Along the way Keefe introduces a colorful cast of characters and events entailing bombings, hunger strikes, torture, unredemptive admissions of IRA atrocities, a marriage to a well known actor, and the deterioration of the ten children Jean McConville left behind.

While reading this I found myself drawing parallels to more recent and current events in other parts of the world where religious rivalries, resentment of and rebellion against repressive government, and long standing intractable differences between otherwise homogenous populations have bred violence and terrorism that, unlike the Irish Troubles, is often directed outside the parameters of these smoldering relationships.

Think Iraq, first of all. Faced with domination from outside forces and then having a murderous and treacherous dictator thrust upon them and then suffering the indignity of an invasion based on a trumped up rationale and witnessing the killing of hundreds of thousands of citizens, the upheaval of that dictator with resultant instability, and the chaotic destruction of infrastructure and economy alike, is it any  wonder that this middle Eastern nation erupted in insurgency against its occupiers and festering religious extremism has now devolved into the ISIS phenomenon?

I am often struck by how many in the leadership ranks of American politicians…of both major parties…stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that, just as the British accepted no responsibility for Irish revolutionary acts, so, too, are the actions of our own government a huge factor in the atmosphere of what we have termed Muslim terrorism. Instead it is a product, not so much of proclaimed religious superiority or its manifest destiny or envy of the “American Way” as it is a predictable reaction to our own decades of morally fallible interference in the affairs of a group of nations who we value for their oil and our ability to manipulate them while being openly disdainful of their religion and culture, such disdain being driven by ignorance and our own mistaken avowals that our expressions of faith are the only true way.

But  the scornful and rabidly paternalistic British fomented violent acts by properly resentful Irish that spiraled downward into terror and the killing and maiming of innocents, ultimately unjustifiable. But these tactics were no more…or less…horrific than the beheadings by ISIS or the widespread use of IEDS against American occupiers. Indeed, we haughtily and arrogantly carried out secretive missions and “disappeared” many of those we declared enemies without proof or substance, holding them unlawfully while torturing them. How is that different from what the British did in Ireland with the outcome being the IRA attacks and bombings and murders? Ironically in America we have a lot of Irish sympathizers who not only commiserated with the plight of the Irish but countenanced acts of terror we deplore elsewhere and even providing the financial backing and provisions of arms that are now subject to the Patriot Act if perpetrated by Muslims or in their cause.

Our hypocrisy and moral ambiguity is there if you choose to see it. But we would rather remain blind.

But even worse, The Dead will forever remain that way.

THE ISIS WARS—MEDIA EDITION

isis

With apologies to Oscar Hammerstein, “How do you solve a problem like ISIS?”

That is not an easy question to answer. A popular suggestion is akin to the militant cry often expressed in identical or similar terms, “Bomb ’em back to the Stone Age!” The difficulty with that position vis a vis ISIS is that there is a salient argument that the organization has never really left the Stone Age.

But strategic and tactical and practical solutions cannot exist without an understanding of what…precisely…ISIS is. (And please do not invoke the common pro athlete’s cop out, “It ISIS what it is”)

I’m not really sure I trust the government…ours or any other nation’s…to determine and act on this forthrightly. To do so would be to delve into self-interest, self-righteousness, and self-delusion.

On the other hand we have many honest, hard-working journalists with apparently vast amounts of time on their hands. If they did not we would not have witnessed a plethora and effusion of stories about Brian Williams’s war lies, and now Bill O’Reilly’s emulation of Williams which, curiously, took place much more than a decade prior to the foggy mind of war Williams experienced in Iraq.

Just today I have read a friend’s praise for a well-researched essay in The Atlantic by Graeme Wood which, beneath the story’s title, What  ISIS Really Wants, summarizes Wood’s findings as “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/?fb_ref=Default

That immediately called to mind a headline I had read on Salon titled “The Atlantic’s Big Muslim Lie: What Muslims Really Believe About ISIS”. Obviously a negative critique of Wood’s work, it was written by American Muslim scholar and frequent contributor to many media outlets, Haroon Moghul. (For more background on him visit this: http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/12/exclusive-loonwatch-interview-with-haroon-moghul/)

Moghul attacks Wood for his over-reliance on learning what ISIS is  from ISIS members and supporters themselves.

Imagine a group of people who rape.  Enslave.  Maim.  Murder.  Ethnically cleanse.  Extort.  Burn.  Behead.  But then imagine this—they don’t lie?  Can’t lie.  Won’t lie. That’s what Graeme Wood…really wants us to believe.

That a movement that has earned the world’s nearly universal opprobrium for its grotesque violence and wickedness is nevertheless honest in describing why it does what it does.  I beg to differ.  The only Muslims who think ISIS represents Islam, or even Muslims, are ISIS themselves.

http://www.salon.com/2015/02/19/the_atlantics_big_islam_lie_what_muslims_really_believe_about_isis/

But is Moghul’s piece in any way definitive?

Well, the common response to perceived Islamaphobia is to deny that it is a hateful violent religion but is at heart a peaceful one, and that the Jihadists are outliers.

Then along comes President Barack Obama, at the National Prayer Breakfast, making note of the overall peacefulness of Islam, with very notable exceptions. In that manner Obama likened it to Christianity while highlighting that faith’s iown violent past both distant—the Crusades and the Inquisition—and more recently in America supporting slavery, Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan. All that in stressing that his approach to ISIS, among other issues, is that we are fighting extremists and their religious background is of relative unimportance.

“But not so fast there, Mr. President”, Jeffrey Tayler seems to be saying in his criticism of Obama’s speech, very different from the other criticism Obama generated.

The chief impetus for all this bloodshed and mayhem is, obviously, religion – the commonality Obama conveniently skirted. Had religion not existed, had it waned by our time, all this violence would just not have happened. If some of these people would have found other reasons to fight, the religious aspect of the conflicts renders them intractable, even insoluble.

and adds later regarding Christianity

Straightaway, remember that both the Old Testament and the New sanction and even sanctify slavery, as well as proffer helpful advice to slave masters. The Catholic Church embarked on the Holy Inquisition not to do inexplicable violence “in the name of Christ,” but to rid its “flock” of unclean “sheep” – most notably “secret Muslims” and Jews, heretics and witches.

http://www.salon.com/2015/02/15/faith_fueled_forces_of_hatred_obamas_religion_speech_was_troubling_but_not_for_

And, of course, for the “lighter side” of attacks on Islam as a religion per se, we always have Bill Maher.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/09/bill-maher-doubles-down-on-islam-terrorists-and-the-mainstream-share-a-lot-of-these-bad-ideas.html

Are any of these opinions 100% correct? Is there any sense attempting to make religious sense of ISIS?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

This piece appeared in Slate recently

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/02/20/might_isis_collapse_before_america_can_destroy_it.html?wpsrc=fol_fb

Here Joshua Keating posits that the funding mechanisms for ISIS have been interrupted severely enough that it may possibly collapse or implode of its own accord before the United States or any other power can dispose of it through force.

I posted that story on Facebook together with my own brief commentary.

ISIS is not another terrorist group a la Al Qaeda. It is not really a terrorist group at all but instead a form of rebel army with territorial aspirations seeking to establish its status as a true Caliphate. It mirrors the regular tactics of war while occasionally committing horrific acts of intimidation akin to the terrorism we know and hate. You know, like the KKK and Timothy McVeigh.
But that also makes it more vulnerable to traditional military opposition than have been Al Qaeda and other known terrorist organizations. If indeed its funding mechanisms have been interrupted, perhaps irreparably so, then the utterly misguided idealists flocking to join the “cause” from many corners of the Earth are going to be rapidly disillusioned when they learn they have left the comforts of home for near starvation and only a hole in the desert, not a pot, to piss in.

I’ll reconsider my remarks to this extent. I am not in total agreement with any of the assessments above regarding Islam as irredeemably violent or simply a peaceful ideology perverted beyond reason.

Rather I would offer this.

There are evil people in this world, some of whom only demonstrate those tendencies in a small way…one-on-one murders, spousal abuse, and certain professional sports come instantly to mind. Each of them has a distorted rationale as justification for their actions.

But those with more grandiose ambitions of achieving glory through mass annihilation or war often are not creative enough to develop these more mundane rationales and so revert to the teachings that were inherent in their upbringing or were fervently adopted at more mature stages of their lives, and those teachings are religious in nature.

Yet, in the end, evil is evil and ultimately is due to greed. Whether that greed manifests as financial, territorial, sexual, or religious is irrelevant as to determining motivation. It is relevant as to determining counter-measures.

In applying these counter-measures we must caution ourselves not to become who we deem evil. That has frequently not been too easy for us to accomplish.

t

ISIS IN AMERICA

atrocity

For the past eight months,or so,as ISIS/ISIL/The Islamic State has wreaked havoc in Iraq with both pure military action and pure craven horrific terrorism in the form of murders of civilians, especially public executions of journalists or other foreigners chosen to be examples of the power of ISIS. Those executions have notably included beheading and immolation.

And these actions have drawn the usual panic stricken outcry from the right for the most extreme, militaristic response possible. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) among others have warned the American people that if proper measures are not taken ISIS will be in America and “killing us all”.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/sen-graham-obama-must-stop-isis-before-we-all-get-killed-here-at-home/

I’ve got news for you, Senator, ISIS has been present in America for well over one hundred years. Only it has been known by another name—the Ku Klux Klan.

What ISIS has done to its opponents of innocent victims ensnared by its sleazy tentacles is no different than the havoc wreaked by the Klan upon thousands of black people in the late 19th and the 20th centuries. While nooses were the lethal weapon of choice sometimes the criminals, many of who would have been described as productive upstanding citizens in their normal lives. acted out the motto “hangin’s too good for ’em”. As you can see in the photo above this man was hanged AND burned.

Graham’s own state of South Carolina has its own ugly history of lynchings. Okay, some were in response to murders and the lynchees may have even been guilty of such crimes themselves, but they were not convicted in our courts in a trial of any kind though if they had been tried it’s doubtful the proceedings would have been fair.

Even more so, a great number of the lynchees were murdered for alleged offenses that would not have invoked the death penalty. You can find on the list linked to below the capital “crimes” were for “quarreling”, “seditious utterances” (whatever they are), “intimate with white woman” (presumably consensual since it is not listed as rape as are so many).

There was even one man summarily executed having “shot the sheriff”. Funny, neither Bob Marley nor Eric Clapton suffered that fate.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~sctttp/lynchings.htm

So while ISIS does pose a genuine threat to the areas where it operates, and in a none too gentle way, the possibility of ISIS being able to produce a physical presence within our borders is so remote as to be laughable. Not that a few stray sympathizers, home grown at that, may take it upon themselves to misguidedly emulate their heroes, but if they do it by acquiring some AK-47’s and blasting their way through the matinee showing of Fifty Shades of Gray at their local cineplex, the NRA will be staunch defenders of their right to do so.

In the meantime, until ISIS embarks upon a warship building frenzy or manages to procure military aircraft (Hey! A new market for American weapons dealers! Talk about increasing the export prowess of the United States!) my sleep is unlikely to be disturbed by anything more than the increased volume of commercials as I doze while enjoying the latest dramatic recreation of a murder story on Investigation Discovery.

The knocking on my door will be a neighbor complaining of noise, not some Muslim fanatic wielding a scimitar.

EVERETT DIRKSEN WAS RIGHT

Senator Everett Dirksen (R. Ill.) served as Senate Minority Leader in the 1960’s. Distinguished for other reasons as well, his greatest legacy…or the one most cited…was his statement about government spending “A billion here, a billion there and soon you’re talking real money”. Or perhaps not. According to the nonpartisan center developed in his name designed to promote better understanding of Congress, he probably never uttered those words or anything remotely close to them.   http://www.dirksencenter.org/print_emd_billionhere.htm

The lack of a credible basis for that quote has failed to impede billions of pundits from using the quote to focus attention on any other presumed societal excess that is cumulative but has an effect equal to it occurring all at once even, .I suppose, in reference to tooth decay.

Did you hear about 9/11? You recall, the despicable act of al Qaeda terrorists flying four airliners into buildings or the ground, killing nearly three thousand people in the doing.

There is no argument that that was horrific on so many levels but yet it is a singular event in American history because of the depth and breadth of its immediate, sudden, and unfathomable occurrence that affected so many real victims in one fell swoop and millions more watching in despair and/or being frightened of a similar doom for themselves. And our government has exploited and perpetuated that fear through ill-conceived laws and two destructive utterly unnecessary wars.

I bet you also vividly recall the bombs set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last year perpetrated by two young Russian immigrants who had developed an obsession with Islamic terrorism. There have been other killings attributable to Muslims in the U.S. since that fateful day in 2001 that have drawn enormous media attention while at the same time only served to increase the ill treatment of American Muslims often to the point of violence and very often to craven politicians advocating the violation of the very Constitutional privileges they have vowed to uphold with their oaths of office and which they purport to adhere to in their emotional irrational rhetoric.

But, just as the two wars we instigated killed more Americans in total than the 9/11 crimes as well as many times the number of innocent civilians eradicated on that day, so have home-grown terrorists been more destructive in this country than any alleged Jihadists.

So goes the point of this Op-Ed piece arising from the weekend shootings at a Jewish Center and retirement community in Kansas by a KKKer that brought three needless deaths.

In fact, since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).

http://us.cnn.com/2014/04/14/opinion/bergen-sterman-kansas-shooting/index.html?sr=sharebar_twitter

And while we verbally and editorially assail Syria for its use of chemical weapons in its Civil War and fear Iran developing nuclear weapons to be unleashed on Middle America, with some in Congress willing to vote for war, we ignore the folks who have seemed to possess a tendency to employ chemical and biological weapons to kill their fellow American citizens.

From the same op-ed:

Moreover, since 9/11 none of the more than 200 individuals indicted or convicted in the United States of some act of jihadist terrorism have acquired or used chemical or biological weapons or their precursor materials, while 13 individuals motivated by right wing extremist ideology, one individual motivated by left-wing extremist ideology, and two with idiosyncratic beliefs, used or acquired such weapons or their precursors.

In other words, Ladies and Gentlemen, our right wing extremists give us more reason to fear than do Jihadists or left-wing fanatics. And the toll the right wing nuts have taken could have increased several fold if the idiots supporting Cliven Bundy’s illegal grazing had had their way this past weekend, having sent a veritable written and embossed invitation to federal law enforcement officials to attempt to enforce the law and remove Bundy’s cattle so they could respond in a deadly manner.

Not only was that defiance a matter of potential terrorism it would also have been an act of treason.

Not that all far right wingers are so depraved but these folks had a huge rooting section cheering them on across the country. Imagine if a few Muslims had committed a violent act and the fallout against their millions of members here would have been  unjustifiable accusations of complicity if not outright revenge attacks for their “conspiracy”.

While the op-ed particularly addresses the media failure to cover most of these right wing acts with the same emphasis they do Islamic terrorism the American public eats it up largely due to their own preconceived notions, reinforced in various ways, that they need to fear the Muslims, leading to illogical profiling.

Yes these right wing acts of violence add up. A body here, a body there and soon you’re talking real terrorism.

It turns out that the right wingers especially who want to condemn all Muslims and find nothing wrong with profiling them would have better results from profiling potential terrorists if only they would look in the mirror.

THROUGH THE PRISM DARKLY

Given all the scandals plaguing the Obama administration lately it would not surprise me if some of my regular readers had not pondered my silence on possibly the biggest and most serious one, the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance of phone records and internet traffic.

I suppose a few of my critics may surmise this is due to my “Messiah”…Obama….having it occur on his watch, maybe literally.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Drone attacks on suspected terrorists off the battleground
  • Drug sniffing dogs at ostensibly routine traffic stops
  • New York City’s “stop and frisk” campaign that is racist and a highly ineffective police tactic.
  • Police departments morphing into paramilitary organizations
  • The Patriot Act
  • The War On Terror
  • The wanding of patrons entering PNC Park for baseball games
  • Guantanamo Bay
  • The Supreme Court broadening the powers of police to search and seize sans warrants
  • The Pittsburgh Marathon’s undue security concerns in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.
  • The question as to whether to interrogate Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev without providing the requisite Miranda warning.
  • The war in Iraq
  • The war in Afghanistan

Folks, these are all related to each other and to the NSA surveillance activities. How are they related? Because each of them tests Americans’ willingness to have its Constitution twisted to achieve the illusion …more a mirage actually…of greater security in the wake of 9/11.

Yet, there is no consensus among politicians, professional pundits nor the American public that all of these are bad. Review the comments on these pages anent drone strikes or the Miranda issue. Some of my readers who generally share my point of view were adamantly opposed to my positions on those topics.

Even the NSA surveillance has drawn mixed reviews with some polls showing that the majority of Americans are not troubled by these actions and even such natural political enemies of Obama like Lindsey Graham figuratively shrugging them off.

Importantly most of these measures did not sudenly pop up under Obama save for any issues that have arisen due to specific events during his Presidency.

PRISM is the system that the NSA uses to access information from nine internet services. It is now probably the cause of the greatest upset. Why who knew that stuff we put on the internet could be seen by others?

In fact PRISM has existed since the waning days of the Bush administration and the access NSA has is

…governed by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was enacted in 2008. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper tacitly admitted PRISM’s existence in a blog post last Thursday. A classified PowerPoint presentation leaked by Edward Snowden states that PRISM enables “collection directly from the servers” of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and other online companies.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/12/heres-everything-we-know-about-prism-to-date/

That article also relates the tale of YAHOO’s failed anti-PRISM lawsuit in a secret case from 2008.

Objections to these policies and actions are frequently dependent upon who holds title to the ox and/or the political identity of its gorer.

Case in point. The brilliant and visionary Sean Hannity saw the value in the NSA surveillance in a land and time far far away from the one we inhabit at this moment. But, given the change in the powers that be in the interim this surveillance now is destined to destroy life as we know it. Just view the video found in this link.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/12/sean-hannity-nsa_n_3431346.html

Nonetheless when we have reason to believe the targets of these extra security measures are members of a suspect group our hackles are in complete retreat.

Thus you see support for needless and unjustified wars, for unlawful inprisonment of persons suspected of but not charged with terrorism, for intrusions upon our personal space when in public, and all the other offenses committed in the name of our protection.

Yeah, the Boston Marathon bombing was a horrible thing but the two incompetent misfits managed to kill two people with their bomb. In the past week or so we have witnessed two instances of a lone nut killing at least four people in Santa Monica and St.Louis without generating any belief we should cower under our school desks or head for the air raid shelter in the basement..

Walter Pincus has a piece in the Washington Post in which he briefly explores  the history of surveillance in the U.S.

I have never forgotten one thought in a lecture I heard at Yale University back in the early 1950s when Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wis., was carrying on his anti-communist witch hunt. Professor Harry R. Rudin declared that the two peoples most willing to trade civil liberties for personal security were the Germans and the Americans. Sixty-plus years later, I think the reaction to 9/11 that we still see proves again that Mr. Rudin was right.

 http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/a-surveillance-history-lesson-americans-are-ok-with-it-691835/#ixzz2WN6edWtT

Professor Rudin was a wise man.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

After the bombs exploded Monday at the end of the Boston Marathon, speculation began almost immediately about who had perpetrated this cowardly act.

Though most politicians seemed to shy away from such speculation, the pundit nation was out in full force. Depending on their overall perspective the bombings were attributed…probably…to Muslim terrorists (the go to choice for any accusations of terrorism) or perhaps to some right wing extremists with ties to the Tea Party or militias or even rogue independents building off those groups’ expressed credos. After all it was Tax Day and Patriots Day and there is a sad history of violence attached to these dates in recent U.S. history.

My reaction, which instinctively I knew would be ignored by most everyone, was to post the following on my Facebook wall:

Can the media and everyone else cease speculating on who is responsible for the Boston bombing? The FBI, ATF, Boston Police and I’m sure other more than competent agencies are investigating and such investigations can be a tedious process.All any speculation will accomplish is to inflame sentiment against the parties preseumed to have done this criminal act.Remember after the Atlantic Olympic…s bombing a man named Richard Jewell was publicly deemed a “person of interest” and was hounded beyond belief, though never charged. It then turned out that one Eric Rudolph was the guilty party but it took more nearly two years after the bombing, plus several more bombings, for him to be charged and another five years until he was arrested.
 Be patient.
In reality, or honesty if you prefer, I recognized the possibility that Muslims would be blamed for this act as they are the first people to come to most Americans minds when they learn of a horrific crime that is perceived as terrorism.
 
But the fact is that most of the occasions of mass murder, with far more fatalities than any act of Jihadists other than 9/11, have been performed by home grown, apple pie eating, mom loving, Chevy driving, baseball playing, Christian church going, red-blooded American males. 
 
The difficulty with this speculation, or even the reality if it does develop that Muslims were responsible, is that Muslims will be unfairly targeted who had nothing to do with the crime and no association with the criminals, either personally or philosophically.
 
Especially since 9/11 Americans have proven they don’t give a shit about these facts. Muslims are Muslims and “all of them are dirty murderers”. Doubt me? One has only to recall the well-documented cases of attacks against Muslims or mosques in the years since 9/11. Or…just maybe not so well-documented.  http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/08/19/a-quiet-campaign-of-violence-against-american-muslims.html
 

…On Aug. 4, teenagers pelted a mosque in Hayward, Calif., with fruit. On Aug. 5, Wade Michael Page murdered six congregants and wounded a police officer at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, quite possibly because he thought the Sikhs were Muslim. That same day, a man vandalized a mosque in North Smithfield, R.I. On Aug. 6, a mosque in Joplin, Mo., was burned to the ground. On Aug. 7, two women threw pieces of pork at the site of a proposed Islamic center in Ontario, Calif. On Aug. 10, a man allegedly shot a pellet rifle at a mosque near Chicago while people prayed inside. On Aug. 12, attackers fired paintball guns at a mosque in Oklahoma City, and a homemade bomb filled with acid was thrown at an Islamic school in Lombard, Ill. On Aug. 15, assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at the home of a Muslim family in Panama City, Fla.

Except for the Sikh temple attack, little of this has made the national press (other than Salon.com, which has chronicled it well), in part because it doesn’t fit the prevailing media narrative.

 There were other violent acts against innocent Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11 and the intervening years are notable for efforts to ban the building of Mosques or to pass laws banning the application of Shariah law.
 
Law enforcement officials are not shy about singling out Muslims for investigation with no probable cause. In fact, the incident that probably led to false reports of an arrest in the Boston bombings is described here.
 

A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units. He was the one whose belongings were carried out in paper bags as his neighbors watched; whose roommate, also a student, was questioned for five hours (“I was scared”) before coming out to say that he didn’t think his friend was someone who’d plant a bomb—that he was a nice guy who liked sports. “Let me go to school, dude,” the roommate said later in the day, covering his face with his hands and almost crying, as a Fox News producer followed him and asked him, again and again, if he was sure he hadn’t been living with a killer.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/04/the-saudi-marathon-man.html

So unfounded speculation can have real deleterious consequences, especially for those who fit the very broad profile programmed into our minds.

I suppose most folks will continue to postulate on the identity of the guilty varmints in Boston. Frankly I hope they are all wrong and it turns out the bomber was a space alien who made a wrong turn at Venus.

Oh, the “pressure cookers bombs” that were used  are said to have been copied from instructions in a Jihadist publication. Well they were also a topic in the Anarchist Cookbook, published in 1971.

Kinda makes you rethink some assumptions don’t it? At least I hope so.