Terrorism


Repercussions of the Norway Attacks

It has been just over a week since the brutal Norway terrorist attacks and it is not at all surprising to see that the news of the attacks have completely disappeared off the western media front. It’s all about debt ceilings, celebrity deaths and anything else that comes to mind ever since it was found out that the terrorist wasn’t Muslim or hadn’t converted to Islam. It is embarrassing and pathetic. Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if the terrorist attacks weren’t carried out by a blue-eyed, blond haired, Norwegian? It certainly wouldn’t have dropped off the news this quickly, that’s for sure.

There was a piece titled “Why Norway Could Happen Here” by Peter Beinart a few days after the attack which stated that “the same anti-Muslim bigotry that influenced Anders Breivik in Norway is widespread among right-wing extremists in America, and could trigger a similar attack here” and you saw that in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Sure the attacks can happen any where and it is not necessarily just limited to the United States but the tendency to allow military ideology to prey on mentally vulnerable people fosters a hostile culture towards anything that is different.

There were reports left and right that this had the hallmark signs of Al-Qaeda or Muslim extremists but that just wasn’t the case. In a matter of days, the Crown Prince of Norway did apologize in person to the Muslim community there at the World Islamic Mission Mosque in Oslo that there were some in Norway that immediately thought this was an act of a Muslim. That kind of humanity and sincere gesture is something you would never see here in the immediate aftermath.

In the clip below, Stephen Colbert walks through the American media’s early coverage as the news of the attacks were unfolding.

“These journalists were able to get the story they wanted and scoop reality,” Colbert joked. “Even if there was a rush to judgment, we must not repeat that mistake by rushing to accuracy. Just because the confessed murderer is a blond, blue-eyed Norwegian-born anti-Muslim crusader doesn’t mean he’s not a swarthy, ululating Middle-Eastern madman.”

Even more embarrassing than the media’s rush to judgment, though, were the half-hearted retractions that came after. Colbert played a clip of a CNN guest attempting to explain how a Nordic-looking person could have a committed such an attack. “Maybe it was a good disguise?” the guest theorized.

“Yes,” Colbert said, “which is more plausible? That a non-Muslim did this or that Al-Qaeda has developed Polyjuice Potion?”

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Celebrating Eid Around September 11th

This year, Ramadan started on August 11th 2010, and is expected to end either on September 9th or September 10th (29 or 30 days from the day it started depending on the sighting of the moon via several methods) and there are mounting fears that Muslims all around America may suffer a backlash on Eid al-Fitr. It just so happens that this joyous Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan coincides with the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.

For those who may not know, the Islamic calendar uses the lunar system and that is why it rolls back 11 days each Gregorian year. The average length of a 12-month lunar year is 354.37 days, which is 10.8751 days short of the average length of the solar year (365.2422 days). Most lunar calendars (ie. Hebrew, Chinese, etc.) add a 13th “leap” month every 24 to 36 months. They do so to maintain the synchronization between lunar years and the four seasons. This is not the case with the Islamic Hijri calendar.

Eid al-Fitr, expected to be on either Sept. 9th or 10th 2010, celebrates the completion of the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast and increase their spiritual devotions. On this day, Muslims all over the world thank Allah for his blessings upon them and for the gift of fasting.

Although, there is the sense of excitement between Muslims in America about this Eid, there is also a great sense of fear. These fears do not seem unreasonable in the current climate of heightened attention and sensitivity with the media fiasco surrounding Muslims, the “ground zero mosque” and the “National Burn the Quran Day” sponsored by the “Dove World Outreach Center.”

These recent events and the adverse media coverage have left some second generation Muslim Americans feeling like pariahs in their only land. Some of us have come to realize with certainty that there are Americans who are publicly and subliminally promoting the idea that Muslims are outsiders in our own lands and are unwelcome to stay here.

In light of these current events, some leaders of Islamic centers around the nation are worried and many ordinary Muslims fear celebrating our post-Ramadan festival as normal as in every other year. Some have even gone as far as to cancel their annual carnival held the Saturday after Ramadan because it falls on September 11 and they do not want to be seen celebrating on that day. There is a difference between canceling their carnival due to the sensitivity of this event versus canceling it due to fears of violence. One is being considerate of the situation while the other is being terrorized and scared!

Fears of aggressive violence and retaliation against centers and places of worship are rising to new levels given some of the aggressive protests and vandalism that has taken place at various mosques around the country in the past few weeks.

In the face of such terrorizing events, we the Muslims are left with one of two solutions, a) just don’t show up to the Eid prayer and stay home in fear of any aggressive confrontation, or b) disregard those threats and show up and celebrate our Eid as we normally do. It is my opinion that if we don’t show up, we will be declaring our defeat to bigotry and xenophobia. That is why I highly recommend that everyone show up and encourage other Muslims around him/her to make an extra effort to show up this year. As a matter of fact, please invite one or two of your non-Muslim friends or coworkers. Also make sure you bring your camcorder or have the video recording option on your cell phone ready, in case any bigoted event takes place.

Either way, whether peaceful Eid celebrations go on as planned or are interrupted by protesters, please go to the Eid prayer, dress nicely, exchange gifts and take this as an opportunity to educate the majority of our American neighbors that are misinformed about our religion and celebrations.

An excellent post from MuslimMatters.org.


Howard Zinn: Hero and Historian

I had first heard about him back in 10th when a teacher of mine, Ms. Pfeffer (who I still consider as one of the two best teachers I had of all time), introduced our class to a chapter from a book called “A People’s History of the United States.” I had never heard of either the book or the author named Howard Zinn prior to that moment but I can safely point to that day in 2002 that changed me. Until earlier today, I don’t think I ever thanked Ms. Pfeffer for that brief introduction but I took care of that and let me thank her here again.

I think we only read one chapter for our class regarding how the farmers of the Shay’s Rebellion should be considered the real heroes in the true history of the United States of America. It certainly peaked my curiosity and I went on to read the whole book which questioned why the initial union organizers did not receive much credit over the course of history or why the founding fathers, for all the good they did, still were considered with such glamor since they were slave owners themselves.

At a time when few politicians dared even call themselves liberal, “A People’s History” told an openly left-wing story. Zinn charged Christopher Columbus and other explorers with genocide, picked apart presidents from Andrew Jackson to Franklin D. Roosevelt and celebrated workers, feminists and war resisters.

During the civil rights movement, Zinn encouraged his students to request books from the segregated public libraries and helped coordinate sit-ins at downtown cafeterias. Zinn also published several articles, including a then-rare attack on the Kennedy administration for being too slow to protect blacks.

The attached quote above and the one below is from this NPR article and a lot of the stuff about him, I am learning now but already could have figured he would have had a rich history given his take from just a single book. I plan on reading You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times some day, hopefully sooner rather than later, and most certainly it will give be an even better perspective.

One of Zinn’s last public writings was a brief essay, published last week in The Nation, about the first year of the Obama administration.

“I’ve been searching hard for a highlight,” he wrote, adding that he wasn’t disappointed because he never expected a lot from Obama.

“I think people are dazzled by Obama’s rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president — which means, in our time, a dangerous president — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.”

His critical views of President Obama are pretty damning to say the least but it definitely brings to light the type of reality we all may be hiding from and need to wake up to. I’ll end the post with three quotes from Howard Zinn regarding what he worried about most and what he thought about politics and war.

“I’m worried that students will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel – let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they’re doing. I’m concerned that students not become passive acceptors of the official doctrine that’s handed down to them from the White House, the media, textbooks, teachers and preachers.”

Terrorism has replaced Communism as the rationale for the militarization of the country [America], for military adventures abroad, and for the suppression of civil liberties at home. It serves the same purpose, serving to create hysteria.

It’s not right to respond to terrorism by terrorizing other people. And furthermore, it’s not going to help. Then you might say, “Yes, it’s terrorizing people, but it’s worth doing because it will end terrorism.” But how much common sense does it take to know that you cannot end terrorism by indiscriminately dropping bombs?


Man Who Lived Hiroshima And Nagasaki Dies

The only man recognized in history to have been at the epicenter of both of the nuclear bombs that the United States dropped on Japan passed away this past Monday at the age of 93. Tsutomu Yamaguchi had been hospitalized since November due to stomach cancer.

Yamaguchi had been away on business in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 when the first bomb “Little Boy” was dropped. He reportedly suffered burns on his upper body, eye damage and radiation in the ear which would later on lead to a loss of hearing in his left ear. Over the years, he was also diagnosed with acute leukemia, cataracts and other bomb-related illnesses.

As his injuries were not as severe as those around him, he was moved to a local hospital in his hometown which just happened to be in Nagasaki where just 3 days later, “Fat Man” was dropped.

Until early last year, there was no official record of what Yamaguchi had been through. In March 2009, well over 60 years after the terrorist attacks by the United States, the Japanese government certified that Yamaguchi was indeed at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “My double radiation exposure is now an official government record,” Yamaguchi said last year as quoted by The Mainichi Daily News. “It can tell the younger generation the horrifying history of the atomic bombings even after I die.”

Over the last few years, even before being officially recognized, Yamaguchi had finally began to share his personal story with the public. He was invited to speak at the United Nations, went on to write a couple of books and was featured in the documentary “Twice Bombed, Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”.

As the Nagasaki mayor said earlier this week, “I’m very sorry that we have lost one of the very valuable witnesses of the atomic bomb experience. His harsh experience to be bombed twice has been made known to the world and his activities have made people aware of the foolishness of war and he also appealed for the elimination of nuclear weapons.”

It was just remarkable to hear this story earlier today and is yet another sad reminder of what war, unchecked ego and reckless use of force can ultimately do. The ethical justifications of dropping the bomb will continue to be debated until the end of time along with what role Japan’s potential surrender could have played but what has happened is in the past. It is only to serve as a reminder for our generation and those that follow of the responsibility one takes by serving in public office and that it is not some partisan game to score points.