Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's wrong with these conservative Americans?

The right wing conservatives within the Republican Party are known for their conservative views on social and political issues. One can understand and empathize with them on many social issues, after all, things are not good within the fabric of American society. With easy access to arms, violence has become ingrained within the American society. Just two days ago, a young University of Texas, Austin, student fired shots in the campus, and finally killed himself. Drugs are also easily available, which are responsible for much of the gun violence plaguing this country. The TV programs are increasingly pushing the bar on tolerating shows that can't be seen in a family setup. And with the internet, nothing is closed to anyone. Pornography is just that easy in the fingertips of any computer user.

With cell phones and i-phones, etc. available to most kids, studies suggest that they spend more time on those gadgets than with their books and home-works. No wonder that American students are outperformed by students from Asian countries.

And then homosexuality and other kind of abnormal practices, erstwhile perceived to be immoral and thus unacceptable, are becoming more common these days with legislation passed to make such practices legal and part of mainstream lifestyle.

Surely, one can understand why the conservatives are crying out foul saying enough is enough, and trying to pull the electorates towards electing more conservative personalities that would put the clock back in time, and stop this, what they call with some justification, madness. They seem to believe that they have the answer to all the social perversions and excesses with 'liberal' experiments within the American society. Given their front-line and unabashed crusade against such social ills, one would naturally assume that they are personally a moral people. But the fact belies that widely held perception.

As I have shown in the past, none of these guys - Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and other conservative hawks - are what they portray them to be. They are outright hypocrites with lifestyles that are antitheses of what they propose or propagate. Look at the Republican/tea party candidate Carl Paladino contesting for the gubernatorial seat in the state of New York. Published reports now show that he had fathered a daughter during an extramarital affair with a former employee 10 years ago. He is angry over press inquiries on the matter.

We have already seen the hypocritical lifestyles of many Christian priests and bishops that are guilty of sodomy, adulterny, and other types of immorality. Many of these perverts entertain a holier than thy view of the world that they live in.

Worse still, these conservatives (whether or not affiliated with church) more often than not are bigots and racists. They are also gungho about wars and personal rights that go beyond their personal and national security, bordering into abuses and incursions and occupations of foreign countries. It is a sick and sick mentality altogether!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The 65th Annual UN General Assembly Session

This time of the year, with many world leaders arriving to attend the United Nations General Assembly session, New York City becomes busier than ever. It is difficult to find empty cabs in Manhattan close to the UN building. Security is extra vigilant and airports are under Orange alert. Occasionally, there are rowdy protests against some world leaders held in front of the UN building that make it even difficult for passersby. So while the city’s hotel and restaurant industry considers these few weeks as their bonanza period, it is surely not a pleasant time for most local New Yorkers.

The 65th annual General Assembly started formally on Thursday, September 23, with dozens of presidents, kings and ministers expected to address the gathering over the next few days. The speeches often fail to break new ground, so the infrequent theatrics predictably attract considerable attention.

Neither the Libyan leader Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi nor the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez came this time to grace the UN General Assembly (UNGA) podium. But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has come. He is another such world leader whose visit to New York City always draws much curiosity from the media. Every word of his is analyzed and reanalyzed to finding faults with it. Because of his unkind words for the Zionist regime of Israel that has forcibly displaced the indigenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes he is often treated very harshly by the western media. This time was no different.

In his address on September 23, Dr. Ahmadinejad focused on what he called the collapse of the capitalist world order. He cited two main causes of this failure – attitudes & beliefs and global management & ruling structures. He said there were three theories about the origins of the 9/11 attacks, including “that some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime.” The comments prompted a walkout by the representatives of the United States and dozens of other nations and criticism from world leaders.

The next day, President Obama called President Ahmadinejad’s comments “hateful” and “offensive.” In an interview with the BBC’s Persian-language news service, Nick Clegg, the British deputy prime minister, said they were “bizarre, offensive and attention-grabbing pronouncements” aimed at deflecting the dialogue away from concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Mr. Clegg was oblivious of Dr. Ahmadinejad’s proposal that the year 2011 be proclaimed the year of nuclear disarmament and that there should be 'Nuclear Energy for all, Nuclear Weapons for None'. Obviously, the Nuclear Brahmins like the UK and the USA would not allow either option to come to fruition, and would rather hold monopoly on those, if necessary through unfair and criminal sanctions and bullying tactics that deny countries like Iran that want to exploit the nuclear technology for peaceful purpose.

Such condemnation of the Iranian leader from the western leaders, who after all, had invaded two Muslim countries in the months following the 9/11 tragedy, is understandable. This, in spite of the fact that there are many in the western world (so conveniently dumped as ‘conspiracy theorists’) who refuse to accept the official version in the Bush-Cheney era. Whatever may be the truth, including the official version that OBL and his group al-Qaeda were behind the event, there is no denying that a considerable segment of the population, both inside and outside the USA (e.g., one in four Germans), believe that 9/11 was an inside job, and that the so-called 9/11 inquiry report was a whitewash and derisory to explain who were behind and what had prompted the tragedy.

During the BDR tragedy in Bangladesh in 2009, we saw similar ‘conspiracy’ theories that suggested the ruling Awami League was behind the deadly massacre of army officers in Pilkhana. Some Bangladeshis even suggested that the prime minister and her son were heavily involved in the heinous crime as were some other local MPs (Taposh and Nanok). An official report, prepared after a year-long inquiry by the government, has failed to put a stopper to that ‘conspiracy’ theory.

As we all know by now the so-called conspiracy theories cannot be hushed up by inquiry commissions that are not perceived as being independent. It is high time to heed to Dr. Ahmadinejad’s proposal to the United Nations ‘to set up an independent fact-finding group’ to conclusively identify the elements involved in the 9/11 attack and then map out a rational plan to avoid such tragedies from repeating.
In his speech at the UNGA, Mr. Ahmadinejad offered an alternative worldview that is rooted in the logic of justice and compassion instead of the logic of force, domination, unilateralism, war and intimidation. He said, “Justice is the basic element for peace, durable security and the spread of love among peoples and nations. It is in the justice that mankind seeks the realization of its aspirations, rights and dignity, since he is wary of oppression, humiliation and ill treatment.” He also called for the restructuring of the UN.
Democracy has lost its luster in our time, especially since 9/11 when former President George W. Bush of the USA lodged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of removing tyrants and planting democracy by force. Emboldened by the midget fascist Natan Sharansky’s disingenuous thesis that democracies don’t go to war, Bush wanted to change the geography of the Middle East so that Sharansky’s adopted country Israel -- an apartheid state with a corrupted form of democracy -- would remain the uncontested Goliath in the region. These invaders simply chose to ignore that the occupation of other countries under the pretext of freedom and democracy is in itself an unforgivable crime.

While the democratic West, which, by the way, is increasingly represented by the big business and interest groups and not the electorate, went to war to implant democracy in those invaded countries an undemocratic China, buoyed by stability and peace, emerged onto the world stage delivering ten percent annual growth. In spite of the government stimulus packages, the American economy is in serious crisis, and so are the economies of many western liberal democracies.

But the worst harm has been done to the UN whose very charters were violated to invade two sovereign countries one after another. The very institution which was supposed to be a forum to resolve world problems and seek peace instead of the curse of war was exploited to make our world less secure and as a launching pad to justify and lodge what appears to be perennial wars. Worst still, the UN was made the least democratic place in our planet. The UN Security Council (UNSC) -- or more accurately, its veto-wielding power block -- was made the actual citadel of new world order while the UNGA has simply been relegated to the no-good debate club for the entertainment of the audience. Simply put, the UNGA has been turned into a toothless and clawless tiger.

While one may disapprove of the Iranian President’s remarks against Israel or his apparent lack of emotional intelligence, there is no denying that the cause of the United Nation's ineffectiveness is in its very unjust structure. Its structure needs an overhaul that allows all independent states and nations to participate in the global governance actively and constructively. The veto privilege should be revoked and the UNGA should be made the highest body. The Secretary-General should be the most independent official and all his/her positions and activities should be taken with the approval of the General Assembly and should be directed towards promoting peace, justice and eliminating discrimination. We are repeatedly told that in spite of its gargantuan faults and deficiencies, democracy is still an idea worth the fight. What better place to demonstrate that theory than the UN? As long as the UN structure is kept undemocratic by the very state powers that preach democracy, the latter is an untenable and ludicrous proposition.

This year’s UN General Assembly session, which often serves as a stage for ambitious countries to project a new image, none has grabbed that opportunity this year with as much vigor as Turkey. In a flurry of speeches and meetings the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, defended his country’s close ties to Iran, proclaimed Turkey’s intention to become a leader in the Muslim world, and snubbed an attempt to mend fences with Israel over its deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza. He refused to meet Israeli President Shimon Perez in New York without a formal apology coming from the Israeli leaders for the gruesome murder of Turkish human rights activists. It is worth noting here that the United Nations Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission recently concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was unlawful because of the humanitarian crisis there, and that the military raid on an aid flotilla in May, killing nine activists, was brutal and disproportionate, and that it violated international law.

With a vibrant economy that is the envy of much of Europe, Turkey is surely not the “sick man” of Europe any more. It is actually “the only healthy man of Europe.” With its location at the hinge of Europe and Asia, Turkey is in a unique position to play a central role in resolving problems like the Iranian nuclear program and the Middle East conflict. “If you look at all the issues that are of importance to the world today,” Mr. Gul said in an interview on Tuesday, “they have put Turkey in a rather more advantageous position.” Turkey, Mr. Gul said, was the “only country that can have a very important contribution to the diplomatic route” with Iran — a clear reference to its effort, along with Brazil, to head off the last round of United Nations sanctions against Iran.

Last year when President Hugo Chavez of Bolivia joined the UN General Assembly, he entertained the audience with his remark "The smell of sulphur is gone” (an obvious reference to former President Bush whom he equated with the devil). “It smells of hope," he said, adding cheekily that President Obama should "come over to the socialist side...come join the axis of evil over here". That smell of hope is increasingly proving to be misplaced. President Obama has failed to come out clean from the failed legacy of his predecessor. He has failed not only to provide hope for the millions of jobless Americans inside the USA but has utterly disappointed billions outside who had such a high hope in him. They wanted a world leader who is serious about change for the better, away from the warmongering days of Bush and Cheney.

If Mr. Obama cares about the long-term interest of the USA and world peace for which he was unduly awarded the Nobel Prize, albeit as a down payment, he better listens to Mr. Gul. Peaceful resolution is always better than the path of war that brings the worst in mankind.

Lauren Booth's must-read letter to Tony Blair

Last week I was traveling Georgia and Florida and failed to post my article on the Tea Party before heading out. Today, while going through my mail I found an excellent letter sent to me that provided a link to Lauren Booth's letter to Tony Blair. As you know Blair is popularly known in the west as former president Bush's lapdog. He earned that title diligently. Few people know however that he is also a Zionist lapdog with a worldview that is colored by his extreme prejudice against everything Islamic and Muslim. In Booth's letter you will see the proof. It is a must read for everyone desiring to know the truth about Iran and the Middle East.

By the way, Lauren Booth is Tony Blair’s sister in law, and is a peace activist like me.

Tea Party – Ominous Sign for America?

Many states across America are having primary elections these days to allow the registered members to choose their party candidates for the coming mid-term election in November. [With very few exceptions, most states don’t allow independents or non-registered members to participate in such primary elections where the party candidates are chosen.] From the election results thus far, it has been a shocking outcome for both the major parties where they see that some old guards have been replaced by new faces, and the tea party candidates (vastly Republicans) are winning against candidates preferred by their own party establishment.

Rick Lazio, the New York Congressman, who tried to exploit the near-Ground Zero Muslim center controversy as a political trump card, was rejected and lost to businessman Carl Paladino in the Republican gubernatorial race. Christine O'Donnell, a tea party favorite, endorsed by Sarah Palin, defeated veteran Republican Michael Castle in Delaware.

But then there were some exceptions, too. Former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte narrowly won her state's Republican Senate primary against Ovide Lamontagne, to the relief of the party officials in Washington. Seemingly more extreme elements within the party, supported by the tea party, are winning. In Minneapolis, former President Bill Clinton said the Republican Party was pushing out pragmatic voices in favor of candidates that make former President Bush "look like a liberal."
So, what is this tea party all about that is trying to change the political landscape in America? Tea party, of course, is a reference to the Boston Tea Party of 1773—a protest by American colonists against various acts by the British Government. Today’s Tea Party, however, is a politically conservative movement that emerged in 2009 through a series of locally and nationally-coordinated protests, which invokes themes, metaphors, and slogans similar to those used in the past.
Eighteen percent of Americans identify as Tea Party supporters. To many of the supporters, the tea party is not a political party; it’s neither a red party nor a blue party; it is a movement of disgruntled voters who are fed up with politics as usual in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, it has failed to become what it portrays itself of being. According to a CBS poll conducted among a random sample of 881 adult supporters of the movement nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 5-12, 2010, the vast majority of them -- 89 percent -- are white. Just one percent is black. More than one in three (36 percent) of the supporters hails from the South, far more than any other region. Twenty-five percent come from the West, 22 percent from the Midwest, and 18 percent from the northeast. They are better educated than most Americans: 37 percent are college graduates, compared to 25 percent of Americans overall. They also have a higher-than-average household income, with 56 percent making more than $50,000 per year. More than half (54 percent) identify as Republicans, and another 41 percent say they are independents. Just five percent call themselves Democrats, compared to 31 percent of adults nationwide. Nearly three in four describe themselves as conservative, and 39 percent call themselves very conservative. Sixty percent say they always or usually vote Republican. Forty percent say the United States needs a third party, while 52 percent say it does not. They are more likely than American adults overall to attend religious services weekly (38 percent do so) and to call themselves evangelical (39 percent). Sixty-one percent are Protestant, and another 22 percent are Catholic. More than half -- 58 percent -- keep a gun in the household.
To these tea baggers, the most popular political figure is Sarah Palin, who is viewed favorably by 66 percent of people in the movement. Fifty-nine percent of Tea Party supporters have a favorable impression of Glenn Beck, the talk-show host. Nearly as many, 57 percent, have a favorable impression of former President George W. Bush, despite his role in raising the deficit and overseeing TARP bailout of the financial sector. Sixty-three percent of the tea party supporters say they get the majority of their political and current events news on television from the Fox News Channel, compared to 23 percent of Americans overall. These tea baggers are overwhelmingly against the president. Ninety-two percent of Tea Party supporters believe President Obama's policies are moving the country toward socialism. Thirty percent of Tea Party supporters believe Mr. Obama was born in another country, despite ample evidence to the contrary. They are also rabidly anti-foreigners and against other minorities. A University of Washington poll of 1,695 registered voters in the State of Washington reported that 73% of Tea Party supporters disapprove of President Obama's policy of engaging with Muslim countries, 88% approve of the controversial immigration law recently enacted in Arizona, 82% do not believe that gay and lesbian couples should have the legal right to marry, and that about 52% believed that "lesbians and gays have too much political power."
Many political pundits see the win of the tea party candidates in recent primaries as an intra-party rivalry within the Republican Party. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who chairs the House congressional Tea Party Caucus, however, defends the tea party and predicts a Republican takeover of Congress in 2010. Speaking at the Values Voter Summit last Friday morning, she said, “I am so eager for November to come I can’t wait!” Not surprisingly, she lashed out at Democrats, pointing out excesses by President Barack Obama and speaker Nancy Pelosi. “These high and mighty types, part of the ruling class here in Washington, D.C. — they live at wine and cheese parties. As for me, I prefer tea parties, just so you know.” Like most politicians, Bachmann is a liar and neglected to mention the $500-per-person fundraiser she held in July 2009 at Washington’s Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar. It’s worth mentioning here that when Sarah Palin appeared at the National Tea Party Convention she was apparently paid $100,000 for her appearance.
Republicans will have to pick up 40 seats to win control of the House. They need 10 to gain a Senate majority. The November election will show whether or not the tea party is truly a grass root movement.
The movement is financed by billionaires like Koch brothers – Charles and David -- and is actively promoted by Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets, e.g., Fox News.
Tea Party leaders have made offensive remarks that show that they are outright racists, bigots and polarizing figures. Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams, for instance, has referred to Allah as a "Monkey God". Typical of most bigots, Williams is an ill-bred, badly informed person who did not know that Hanuman is worshipped by Hindus and not Muslims. So, when corrected, in a subsequent blog posting, Williams wrote, “I owe an apology to millions of Hindus who worship Lord Hanuman, an actual Monkey God.” On March 21, 2010, Springboro Tea Party founder Sonny Thomas posted racist slurs against Hispanics on the group's Twitter webpage. A Tea Party group in Iowa had at one time posted a billboard comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin. They definitely don’t like a Black American president, and surely not one whose parental grandparents are Kenyan Muslims. Their hatred of Obama and Islam or Muslims is all part of that sickening equation, a toxic mixture of racism and bigotry, which can only be erased by dumping their hateful candidates in the coming election. It is not difficult to appreciate Bill Clinton’s comments about tea party candidates.
One can understand people’s anger with the deflational economy, loss of jobs, etc. They want solutions to their problems. Instead, they find their government paralyzed and unable to solve all of the problems. Simply put, Washington isn’t working. But to disconnect the current economic reality with the Bush-Cheney era of mismanagement and warmongering is inexcusable. And that is what tea party is doing in a disingenuous way blaming the Obama administration for all those inherited problems. Supported by bigots like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, they are essentially laying the foundation stones for fascism.
As wisely noted by New York Mayor Bloomberg, “Anger, however, is not a government strategy.” He said, “It’s not a way to govern.” Mr. Bloomberg has endorsed a Democrat, John Hickenlooper, for governor of Colorado, whose rival, Dan Maes, has called for the deportation of illegal immigrants and decried a bicycle-sharing program as a threat to personal freedom. The mayor supports Senator Michael F. Bennet, another Colorado Democrat, who is running against the Tea Party-backed Republican Ken Buck. The mayor has endorsed Mark S. Kirk, an Illinois Republican running for the Senate who beat back a Tea Party primary candidate, and he is supporting Joe Sestak, a Pennsylvania Democrat, for the Senate. Mr. Sestak faces an uphill fight against Pat Toomey, a Tea Party challenger.
America needs independent thinkers like Mayor Bloomberg, away from the nasty partisanship that has sadly become the hallmark of Washington D.C. It needs people like late Senator Kennedy (D) and Orrin Hatch (R) who despite their party differences went into the Senate together and were the closest of personal friends for 40 years. They were everything that democracy says a senator should be.
Whatever may be the election results in coming days there is little doubt that extremist, racist and bigoted wing within the Republican Party is becoming a powerful voice to be reckoned with. This is an ominous sign for the USA and must be treated seriously by every concerned American voter. They must defeat these reactionary forces before it is too late.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Time magazine report on Islam in America

The Time magazine had a series of articles on Islam in America, e.g., Islamophobia: Does America Have a Muslim Problem? It can be read here.

As I noted elsewhere as a result of Islamophobia, many local communities within the USA are now opposing mosques in their neighborhoods. Here is another example of such bigotry against Islam.

9/11 - Nine Years Later

By any measure, 9/11 was a seminal event in American history. No time before since 1812, especially in the post-World War II period, has an attack of this magnitude, killing so many, been brought to the doorsteps of the USA. Even the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor some six decades earlier pail in comparison to the casualties and devastation wreaked by this particular event. It was shocking and unbelievable that America’s symbols of prosperity and power – the twin towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon – could be attacked by passenger airplanes which were reportedly hijacked and diverted from their scheduled paths to strike those sites.

From published reports some 2752 people died in those two WTC towers. Forty people (all passengers of the United flight # 93) are believed to have died in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and 184 in Washington D.C. (including 59 passengers of the American flight # 77).

For too long the USA appeared simply immune to attacks on its mainland, protected on the two sides by the two great oceans. Its lone uncontestable hyper power status has given that aura of immunity, and with that the hunter spirit and hauteur that is oblivious of the pains it inflicts on others. To many neutral observers of history, 9/11 appeared to be a slap to that very sense of pride and overconfidence – the hunter itself was attacked by those hunted for years. Interestingly, the coordinated attacks were not perpetrated by a hostile country, but reportedly by non-governmental actors of a militant group – al Qaeda -- that had been at war with the USA and its allies in the Muslim world since 1998. Its architect was a former CIA operative! And so were some other planners!

It was not a state sponsored terrorism, and yet the hunter – the USA -- bruised and embarrassed from 9/11 attacks, quickly decided to invade Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 to set scores right. Drawing support from the Bible, Bush and Cheney even called the invasion “just” war. No nation was so savagely and sadistically attacked as those two countries were where more than a million innocent civilians, who had nothing to do with 9/11, were murdered, churned or pulverized by the brutal power of the USA and its NATO allies. Millions of Iraqi and Afghan civilians – old and young – were injured and their towns and villages destroyed or obliterated. That savagery, conveniently termed the “Global War on Terror” continues to this very date, spreading beyond the original targets!

Of all the years since the seminal day of 9/11 in 2001 I can’t recall any year when the event was more profoundly and solemnly observed than this year. The tragic day is not observed as a national holiday yet here in the USA but is observed as a day of national mourning with moments of silence. Nominally, the day would be observed with the names of those who had died in the tragic event read in the three sites where the four airplanes, reportedly hijacked by 19 terrorists, struck – the WTC towers (now called the Ground-Zero), Shanksville and the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

This year, however, 9/11 fell on Saturday, which made it possible to commemorate the day with added emphasis that was simply impossible on weekdays. But what made this year’s 9/11 more significant than ever before was that the event this year at one time appeared to be hijacked or, mildly speaking, exploited by right-wing extremists, fascists and bigots within the American population. More problematic is the criminal and highly despicable role of many Republican leaders who are in the business of selling fear and hatred against Muslims and Islam.

For the terrorist attack by the few the entire faith of the alleged perpetrators was attacked. Islam, the faith of nearly one-quarter of humanity, was equated with terrorism. Its scripture – the Qur’an – which had united people to the worship of One True God (Allah) away from the insinuation of the devil (Satan), and freed billions of people from the tyranny and despotism of the few, and emancipated former slaves and women, considered the lowest of the low with little to no rights, was depicted as the 21st century’s Mein Kampf. In that lunatic hysteria, the accusers were amnesic about their own government’s complicity to terrorism; how their governments used abduction, torture, assassination, corruption and wars as means to occupying one Muslim country after another and killing and terrorizing millions of innocent Muslims who refused to become happy slaves and occupants and would rather defend freedom, dignity and sovereignty against true terrorism.

On the ninth anniversary of the attacks a Christian Church - the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida - planned to burn hundreds of the Qur’an. Terry Jones, the media-hungry pastor and bigot of an obscure church with records of unethical practices, said, "We are not hateful toward Muslims. We are not aiming this at Muslims, we are aiming this at Sharia law." With support from the right-wing media and hateful priests and bigots like Franklin Graham, John Hagee, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich and others, he soon was able to hijack the agenda of 9/11. Islamophobia and anti-Muslim passions were aroused by these bigots to paint a distorted image about Islam and its eight million Muslim Americans whose 40% members are native White, Black and Hispanics. Poisoned by such hatred and animosity, many communities are objecting to having mosques or Muslim community centers in their midst. A proposed Muslim cultural center in Lower Manhattan was claimed to be a “threat” to American values and an abomination or insult to the so-called hallowed Ground-Zero.

Hatred sells, especially when mainline politicians exploit it to further their ignoble political aims. Hatred against Islam and the Muslim community has entered political discourse and is now spewed by mainline politicians; it is not an isolated issue or the act of a remote fringe group. Scores of Muslim houses of worship were attacked in the days leading up to this year’s 9/11. No time before in the last few years has the Muslim community in the USA felt this vulnerable and insecure.

In that wave of hatred and Islamophobia, forgotten in the calculation were potential reactions of such sacrilegious activities like the Qur’an-burning in the Muslim world, especially in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, where a sizeable number of U.S. armed forces continue to stay, even nine years after the American tragedy. Thus, within hours of the anniversary came outrage and condemnation of the intended bonfire with the Qur’an from many concerned groups, including the Obama administration. Even the Secretary Gates had to make a call to this nut Jones to reason with him that his hateful activity, although constitutionally acceptable, was going to be counterproductive and would harm members of the U.S. armed forces. Eventually the pastor, much to the relief of the Pentagon and the White House, relented and said that he had dropped the plan of burning the Qur’an.

This drama with the Qur’an burning showed how flawed the western liberal democracy is. It is insensitive to religious bigotry. A hateful bigot or a crazy nut can entice people to do things that are offensive or blasphemous to a religious community, and create an atmosphere for intolerance and bigotry, which may inevitably lead to violence, and yet he or she is protected by a “liberal” constitution where the right to free speech is enshrined. A greedy and depraved writer or author can write an article or a book selling hatred, promoting bigotry and intolerance, stoking fear against a community or create an environment which can lead to violence, and yet these “intellectual” terrorists are not only protected by the constitution, they are often times honored (including knighted) and bestowed citizenship in those countries. These intellectual pimps and prostitutes can toy with the lives of so many individuals around the world and nothing can be done for their accountability to the harm that they bring about. The same liberal democracy has no problem in making pre-emptive strikes, killing not only the suspected or potential ‘terrorists’ that unmask the obvious hypocrisy of the West without the process of a fair trial in an open court but also many innocent people around them who had nothing to do with those human targets.

If these bigots, merchants, messengers and promoters of Islamophobia think that they can erase the Qur’an, the last revelation of God to mankind, by simply burning or banning it, they ought to know that there are millions of Muslims who have memorized the entire Qur’an by heart. From the very first days of Islam in Arabia when the Prophet Muhammad (S) received the revelation from Allah, there has never been a shortage of such memorizers of the Qur’an. No bonfire of the Qur’an can destroy that memory and erase the last revelation from God.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Imam Feisal Abdur Rauf on the Cordoba Initiativel

The near-Ground Zero Muslim cultural center project has been the hottest political issue in America for the last couple of months, thanks to bigots like Spencer. The Imam of the center has written an article in the New York Times which explains his reasons for the proposed center. He reiterates, "Our name, Cordoba, was inspired by the city in Spain where Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed in the Middle Ages during a period of great cultural enrichment created by Muslims. Our initiative is intended to cultivate understanding among all religions and cultures."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Another hate crime - Waterport, NY mosque targeted

Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise throughout the USA. It is no longer an isolated event centered on a single issue like the proposed Muslim cultural center in Lower Manhattan but it seems that all the Muslim centers and mosques are now vulnerable to attack, vandalism, arson, and other forms of hate crimes.
The New York Times has a piece on this latest hate crime which targeted an Islamic center in rural Orleans County, which hugs the shore of Lake Ontario between Buffalo and Rochester. Many such crimes are direct results of poisonous anti-Islam sermons preached by hateful christian preachers. One of the criminals Mark Vendetti, a 17-year teenager involved in the hate crime, said that "I’m a good Christian kid; I go to church every Sunday.”

You may like to read this.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sarah Palin – a Modern-day Medusa?

At the very outset I must admit that I did not vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin in the last U.S. presidential election. Forget her kowtowing to the neo-conservative, Likudnik, Christian Zionist cause, and harmful divisive views on everything that mattered from internal politics to international affairs, she appeared so vague and so damn stupid in her interview with Katie Couric that I could only take pity on those brain-dead supporters that voted for her and McCain. Well, I am not alone in that evaluation of Palin’s performance.

In her new book “Dirty Sexy Politics,” Meghan McCain, daughter of Senator McCain, says that Katie Couric’s interview with Palin before the vice presidential debate had been disastrous. Meghan writes, "Unhappy with her performance, Palin seemed to blame the interview on the campaign. And she continued to blame other poor interviews and snafus on the campaign too.”

The selection of Palin as a running mate for McCain itself was a blunder and shocked many voters and pundits. McCain’s daughter reveals the choice caused plenty of behind-the-scenes drama, too. She says that Palin brought “stress, drama, complications, panic and loads of uncertainty” to the campaign, and “she was turning out to be somebody who leaves a wake of confusion and chaos - to the point of dizziness - wherever she went.”

With such dismal performances in interviews which only highlighted how little she knew on anything, and how dull she was, it is a miracle that Palin did not have her political Waterloo. She is alive and kicking. In the post-election era, thanks to the media, she has been transformed into an iconoclastic voice within the neo-conservative and disgruntled section of the population, including the so-called Tea Party movement, and has emerged as the de facto Republican leader to resurrect the party. She endorses candidates, who appear to be winning. She’s got her own TV show. She appears in the Fox News. In November, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” is set to premiere on TLC. Her daughter Bristol Palin, who gave birth to a child out-of-wedlock, will be competing on “Dancing With the Stars” this fall. Sarah is also going to Iowa to be the headliner at a Republican fundraiser. That state will be the first state to hold a contest in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Obviously, Sarah Palin has become a celebrity these days. In her spare time, she is charging $75,000 for each speaking engagement, to which she must be flown first class, as per her standard contract, or in a private plane that “must be a Lear 60 or larger.” And excuse her typos, she even Twitters!

Just as with any celebrity, people are interested to learn more about this former Miss Congeniality from Alaska. In a recent Vanity Fair profile, Michael Joseph Gross provides more than a glimpse to satiate people’s cravings. The author says he wanted to write a positive piece, but was shocked by what he learned as he researched his story on Sarah Palin.

“The worst stuff isn’t even in there,” Gross said on “Morning Joe” Thursday; “I couldn’t believe these stories either when I first heard them, and I started this story with a prejudice in her favor.” In the profile, Gross paints Palin as an abusive, retaliatory figure with an extreme ability to lie. “Her on-the-record statements about herself amount to a litany of untruths and half-truths… This is a person for whom there is no topic too small to lie about,” he said. “She lies about everything.”

Gross says, “Warm and effusive in public, indifferent or angry in private: this is the pattern of Palin’s behavior toward the people who make her life possible.” A onetime gubernatorial aide to Palin said to Gross, “The people who have worked for her—they’re broken, used, stepped on, down in the dust.” On the 2008 campaign trail, one close aide recalled, it was practically impossible to persuade Palin to take a moment to thank the kitchen workers at fund-raising dinners. During the campaign, Palin lashed out at the slightest provocation, sometimes screaming at staff members and throwing objects. Witnessing such behavior, one aide asked Todd Palin if it was typical of his wife. He answered, “You just got to let her go through it… Half the stuff that comes out of her mouth she doesn’t even mean.” When a campaign aide gingerly asked Todd whether Sarah should consider taking psychiatric medication to control her moods, Todd responded that she “just needed to run and work out more.” Her anger kept boiling over, however, and eventually the fits of rage came every day. Then, just as suddenly, her temper would be gone. Palin would apologize and promise to be nicer. Within hours, she would be screaming again. At the end of one long day, when Palin was mid-tirade, a campaign aide remembers thinking, “You were an angel all night. Now you’re a devil. Where did this come from?”

Palin gives the impression she is serious about family and promotes family values. According to Gross, some details of the Palins’ private life, however, suggest a reality at odds with Sarah’s image. In speeches, Palin pays tribute to the man she still calls “the First Dude” (husband Todd), but the reality is that the couple has considered a divorce.

Sarah Palin is nasty with everyone including her husband Todd with whom she had fought many times. Quoting a frequent houseguest of the Palins,’ Gross says that the couple began many mornings with screaming fights, a fusillade of curses: “‘F**k you,’ ‘F**k this,’ ‘You lazy piece of shit.’ ‘You’re f**n’ lucky to have me,’ Sarah would always say.” (This person never saw Todd and Sarah sleep in the same bed, and recalls that Todd would often joke, “I don’t know how she ever gets pregnant.”) According to Gross, whatever the nature of the relationship, “Todd is now as much a part of Sarah as Hillary Clinton is of Bill. Whether they like it or not, the Palins, like the Clintons, are probably stuck with each other.”

Palin presents her family as a religious family that finds strength in the teachings of the Bible. Of course, we know better from her teenage daughter’s sinful life! Sarah is now a grandma of a bastard child Tripp! Levi Johnston, the father of the kid, has posed nude for the Playgirl, and has trashed Palin for her hypocrisy. Gross tells us that even her children saw hypocrisy in her. A campaign aide is quoted by Gross as saying that one of the Palin children found her mother’s public displays of piety especially annoying. Though Palin prayed and read the Bible every night, aides never saw the family join her for devotionals. “You’re just putting on a show. You’re so fake,” one of the children said when Palin made a point of praying in front of other people. “This is not who you are. Why are you pretending to be something you’re not?”

Gross is not alone in unmasking Palin who is not the hockey-mom that people heard about during the last presidential election campaign. In an October 2009 issue, Levi Johnston mentioned, “The Palin house was much different from what many people expect of a normal family, even before she was nominated for vice president. There wasn’t much parenting in that house. Sarah doesn’t cook, Todd doesn’t cook—the kids would do it all themselves: cook, clean, do the laundry, and get ready for school. Most of the time Bristol, now 18, would help her youngest sister, Piper, 8, with her homework, and I’d barbecue chicken or steak on the grill. I only saw Sarah help Piper—the youngest before Trig—with homework a few times, and I’ve only seen her read a book to her once. I actually never saw Sarah reading much at all—once in a blue moon, I’d see her reading a book, and I’ve never seen her read a newspaper. The Frontiersman and the Anchorage Daily News were always there in the morning, but the only one who looked through them was Todd. The Palins didn’t have dinner together and they didn’t talk much as a family… Sarah was always in a bad mood and she was stressed out a lot. Sometimes she would wonder why she took the job as governor. It was too hard, she said; there was so much going on. Todd was always out in the garage working on his snow machines and drinking beer or screwing off… They’re good on television, but once the cameras would leave they didn’t talk to each other. In all the time Bristol and I were together, I’ve never seen them sleep in the same bedroom. (I don’t know how she got pregnant.) Even during the Republican National Convention they slept in different bedrooms at opposite ends of her suite… If Sarah and Todd did talk—they really don’t communicate at all—they were fighting… Sarah Palin has said she’s a hockey mom and a hunter, but that’s really not the case. She pays no attention to her kids when the cameras aren’t around.”

If you think that you have heard enough about Sarah Palin’s personal life, here are some more gems from Levi: “After Tripp was born, Sarah would pay more attention to our son than she would to her own baby, Trig. Sarah has a weird sense of humor. When she came home from work, Bristol and I would be holding Trig and Tripp. Sarah would call Trig—who was born with Down syndrome — “my little Down’s baby.” But I couldn’t believe it when she would come over to us and sometimes say, playing around, “No, I don’t want the retarded baby—I want the other one,” and pick up Tripp. That was just her—even her kids were used to it.”

Sarah Palin is vindictive and mean. Gross informs us that when Palin was mayor, she made life for one low-level municipal employee so miserable that the woman quit her job, sought psychiatric counseling, and then left the state altogether to escape Palin’s sphere of influence—this according to one person with firsthand knowledge of the situation. The woman did not want to be found.

This latest revelation from Gross should not come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the Troopgate – when Palin dismissed Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Monegan’s crime: he had resisted persistent pressure from Palin, her husband, and her staff, including State Attorney General Talis Colberg, to fire Palin’s ex-brother-in-law, Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten; Wooten was involved in a child custody battle with Palin’s sister after a bitter divorce that included an alleged death threat against Palin's father.

For any politician, such true narratives in the Vanity Fair should have been enough to commit a political hara-kiri. But don’t expect such hara-kiri from Palin. She is a perennial politician who continues to amuse and amaze gullible voters. As I have noted earlier about the near-Ground Zero Muslim cultural center controversy, with the right-wing media, morons, bigots and extremists behind her, she can transform a local issue into a national issue, and who knows may be an international one into making!

Like Gingrich, Giuliani, Lazio, Pat Toomey, and many Republican leaders today, Sarah Palin is a political opportunist who knows how to stoke fear and bank on fear-mongering. Politics with racism and bigotry is always easy by painting the “other” group (often a minority) as sub-humans or harmful beings that are bent on taking “control”. But as every student of history knows by now fear-mongering is a way of the fascists and Nazis. It does not lead to peace and security. It does not belong in a society that claims to be open, plural and forward-looking, a model of a modern liberal democracy that integrates and not divides. The likes of Sarah Palin are an anathema to that very principle and must therefore be defeated.

Asked about Palin’s political future, Gross said it depends on what the media lets her get away with. “If we decide to let her keep lying and getting away with it, she’s gonna still be around,” he said. “But if we start returning to the standard that a politician has to talk with people, and a politician has to tell the truth, then she’s outta here, because she can’t stand up to that.” Gross is right.

But will American public listen and disown the modern-day Medusas, Hecates, and fork-tongued hypocrites?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal was an Israeli Mossad Agent

The September 2 issue of the New York Times has a very interesting piece on Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi-hunter. For too long he was considered the lone Nazi hunter having no connection with the Israeli government. But some of us always entertained doubt with that narrative. My view was that he worked intimately with the Israeli secret service - the Mossad. The NY Times article now confirms that suspicion.

Tom Segev, the author of the new book “Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends,” says that Mr. Wiesenthal was first employed by the political department of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, a forerunner to the Mossad, and then by the agency itself. It financed his first office in Vienna in 1960, paid him a monthly salary and provided him with an Israeli passport, the biography says. Mr. Wiesenthal’s codename was “Theocrat.” His main task was to help locate Nazi criminals, including Eichmann, one of the architects of the Final Solution, and especially to watch out for neo-Nazis and provide information on the activities of former Nazis in Arab countries, the book says. Mr. Wiesenthal’s role in the 1960 capture of Eichmann has been a matter of dispute. Isser Harel, the former Mossad head, now dead, claimed that the Nazi hunter deserved no credit.