First They Came for the Muslims

And then they stopped, because we said ENOUGH. You come for the Muslims you come for all of us and we will not stand silently by and just let you:

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, has promised to launch a series of investigations of Muslim Americans beginning in February. “I’ve made it clear that I’ll focus the committee on counterterrorism and hold hearings on a wide range of issues, including radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism,” he told Newsday. King has repeatedly said that he only wants to single out “Islamic terrorism” in his hearings on domestic security, and has even claimed that there are “too many mosques in this country.”

This man should not be in public office, he belongs in a museum on pre-World War 2 fearmongering in the leadup to the holocaust.  I say that as a Jew who lost a section of his family to the nazis.  How do you think it started?  Launching investigations into the target community, attacking their patriotism, their honor.  Establishing them as a dangerous other.

This is of course utter bullshit, but what else do we expect coming from a Republican like King?

As of 2006, some 212 Muslim-American soldiers had been awarded Combat Action Ribbons for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and seven had been killed

Remember the attempted Times Square bombing?  I do.  Foiled by a Muslim.

Why does a man slinging bullshit at the entire Muslim community have any responsibilities regarding our security?  Instead of a phobic hate filled lunatic, a sane, intelligent and experienced person ought to be the chairperson of the Homeland Security Committee.  You know, someone who will go after actual terrorists and not spend his time huddled in a corner asking law enforcement to rough up some Muslims for him.  Is that really too much to ask?  While I’m at it – asking for sensible things – why isn’t a prominent politician on the air right now pointing out that Rep King is a nutjob, unqualified for his position, and utterly full of shit?

When Religious Insanity Maims and Kills Children

Religion – throughout history – has on occasion stoked the fires of ignorance, hate, and violence.  The attacks on witchcraft – often a cover for overt misogyny or the elimination of competing religions – are a particularly brazen example.  Witch hunts continue to this day in NigeriaSpecifically targeting children (nytimes – may prompt you for registration – if so visit bugmenot.com):

Those disturbed by the needless immiseration of innocent children should beware. “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” follows Gary Foxcroft, founder of the charity Stepping Stones Nigeria, as he travels the rural state of Akwa Ibom, rescuing children abused during horrific “exorcisms” — splashed with acid, buried alive, dipped in fire — or abandoned roadside, cast out of their villages because some itinerant preacher called them possessed.

some have read her book “Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft,” where she confidently writes that “if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.”

in her sermons, Ms. Ukpabio is emphatic that children can be possessed, and that with her God-given “powers of discernment,” she can spot such a child. Belief in possession is especially common among Pentecostals in Nigeria, where it reinforces native traditions that spirits are real and intervene in human affairs.

Since “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” was first shown in Britain, in 2008, Mr. Itauma’s home state has adopted a law against accusing children of witchcraft. But Ms. Ukpabio went on the offensive by suing the state government, Mr. Foxcroft, Mr. Itauma and Leo Igwe, a Nigerian antisuperstition activist.

In the lawsuit, Ms. Ukpabio alleges that the state law infringes on her freedom of religion. She seeks 2 billion naira (about $13 million) in damages, as well as “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents” from interfering with or otherwise denouncing her church’s “right to practice their religion and the Christian religious belief in the existence of God, Jesus Christ, Satan, sin, witchcraft, heaven and hellfire.”

In other words, in the name of religious freedom, Ms. Ukpabio seeks a gag order on anyone who disagrees with her.

This is Christianity at its very worst.  The strategies employed by Ms. Ukpabio mirror those we see in the US from conservative Christians – claim persecution and vigorously defend their “right” to persecute and vilify others – often with violent results.

In general one wants to say people have a right to preach and spread ignorance.  One’s will to defend this right begins to erode when that ignorance clearly leads to violence.  What is absolutely clear is that we do have a right to criticize that ignorance and do our best to counter it.  That means everything from explaining the difference between autism and witchcraft to tackling a belief system that was founded on bronze age fears of the unknown – and fears of competing belief systems.

Ignorance and Incompetence Mar Sex Crimes Battle

This article at the BBC bears reading:

“Ignorant” officials are obsessed with punishing victims of trafficking rather than targeting those behind the crime, a report claims.

They cite specific examples, this looks like more than mere claims.  Until we make viciously and effectively prosecuting slavers, pimps, and rape organizers a priority over attacking sex workers and immigrants without documentation, we will not make progress stopping slavery.

Articles like this engender a certain natural rage and helplessness.  How can we help?  There’s a lot we can all do to help fight slavery and human trafficking.  In addition we can organize campaigns from the grassroots to start dialogues and set the tone.  Criminals who force adults and children to have sex for their gain, and who bring in slaves to do unpaid or low paid work under threat, should face the same penalties as cross state kidnappers and murderers.  The crimes are that serious.  We need to recognize their victims as just that, victims.  Thus make every effort you can to set the priority to supporting trafficking victims and taking down slavers.  Every tool for PR is open to you: letters to the editor, blog posts, emails, word of mouth, and social networking status updates.

We need to electrify public opinion so that there is a real demand to end these crimes, rather than the current status quo of prosecuting the victims and letting the criminals escape to prey on more innocents.

Mitt Romney Doesn’t Understand the Courts

Mitt Romney’s weak attack on Sotomayer shows a startling failure to understand her statement or our judicial system.  And this guy wanted to be President?!

Romney said (via CNN):

“The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is troubling. Her public statements make it clear she has an expansive view of the role of the judiciary. Historically, the Court is where judges interpret the Constitution and apply the law. It should never be the place “where policy is made,” as Judge Sotomayor has said. Like any nominee, she deserves a fair and thorough hearing. What the American public deserves is a judge who will put the law above her own personal political philosophy.”

Her comment in full context (emphasis mine):

“All of the legal defense funds out there, they are looking for people with court of appeals experience because the court of appeals is where policy is made,” she said, laughing a bit through the next part: “And I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. Okay, I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I know.”

The thing is, she’s right (Huffington Post):

“She’s not wrong,” said Jeffrey Segal, a professor of law at Stony Brook University. “Of course they make policy… You can, on one hand, say Congress makes the law and the court interprets it. But on the other hand the law is not always clear. And in clarifying those laws, the courts make policy.”

As Segal noted, one of the most recent cases heard by the Supreme Court — itself a court of appeals — involves the strip search of a 13-year-old who school officials believed was carrying ibuprofen. “There is no clear knowing statement whether officials can be sued for that sort of behavior,” he noted. “So when justices come up with a decision on that, they would be making policy.”

What Sotomayor was doing was acknowledging a reality of our current legal system.  She wasn’t advocating for it.  That’s a pretty important distinction Mitt Romney failed to grasp.

Handling Threats in Comments

I have a comment hanging around in my moderation queue.  It reads like an angry 8th grader’s racist bathroom graffiti.   It contains a threat against President Elect Obama, exhorting readers to “give him the MLK lesson”.

In keeping with the comment policy at this blog, I’ve decided to allow it.  However, I’ve also decided, given its nature, to publish the exact time of the comment, as well as the originating ip address and given email address (though clearly fake).

If racists and bigots want to use this blog to vent, that’s fine.  It showcases their ignorance in marked contrast to the liberals they foam and rant against.  But I want to make clear:

Any comment that can be construed as a violent threat may get your ip published.

Here is the offending comment:

Time to get moving…give him the MLK lesson.

Remember: Let as nigger out of the back of the bus and he wants to drive!

One more democratic vote for a dead nigger.

[EDITED: Removed]

Racists like this particular little maggot can scream all they want, in the end they are simply spineless cowards who lack real power and legitimacy.

UPDATE: Upon Reflection (and Christopher’s excellent suggestions), I’ve decided reporting is the way to go.

Please Let Palin Speak More

Given Palin’s strong support for Bush/Cheney executive power grabs, it isn’t clear whether this is her usual ignorance or lust for power on display.  Via Think Progress:

Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sat for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. In response to a question sent to the network by a third grader at a local elementary school about what the Vice President does, Palin erroneously argued that the Vice President is “in charge of the United States Senate“:

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”

PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

She doesn’t belong anywhere near public office.

Every time she speaks she makes this clearer.

Fight Racism in Dulles VA

Are any readers near Dulles Virginia?  Want to take a stand against racism and white supremacy?  This weekend cowards and haters are holding their meeting in Dulles, near the airport (via Pam):

I guess the Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport Hotel is hard up for bucks if it’s decided that hosting a conference for white supremacists is a good business move.

The three-star Herndon, Virginia hotel will welcome the benign-sounding American Renaissance Conference (no, I’m not linking)  Feb. 22-Feb. 24. Subtitled “In the Name of Our People,” attendees can gather for an extraordinary weekend on “racial-realist thought” (I guess the whole supremacy thing has fallen out of favor). Read about it and see some of the speakers after the jump.

Resistance and Solidarity plans to fight back:

Resistance and Solidarity, a DC-based collective, plans to show up at the conference.
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