Seriously: A Disgrace Before All the Nations

If you wrote this scene for the cartoon villain in a genre movie, it’d be rejected as ‘too broad’. If your grandfather reacted this way during a serious event, you’d be looking at assisted living facilities with memory-care components. I don’t know if this event was scheduled well in advance, or if the Oval Office Occupation slapped it together to reassure the Talibangelicals that Jeffrey Epstein’s friend Trump still had their backs. But as an American, I’m genuinely ashamed that this is the face we’re showing the world.

When President Trump this week met human rights activist Nadia Murad, an Iraqi who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for speaking out about her agonizing torture and rape while in Islamic State captivity, he seemed unaware of her story and the plight ofher Yazidi ethnic minority.

For several minutes in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Murad stood beside a seated Trump, who mostly avoided eye contact with Murad, and implored the president to help her community return to Iraq. She explained that the Islamic State, or ISIS, may be gone but that Iraqis and Kurds are fighting for control over Yazidi lands…

Murad, who lives in Germany, told Trump that she never wanted to be a refu­gee but that ISIS murdered her mother and six brothers.

“Where are they now?” Trump asked.

“They killed them,” she repeated. “They are in the mass grave in Sinjar, and I’m still fighting just to live in safety.”

“I know the area very well that you’re talking about,” Trump responded.
Read more








The Assassination of Congresswoman Omar Has Already Been Planned, Many Times Over, and One of The White Christian Men Who Have Planned Her Assassination Will Carry It Out

I wish that headline was hyperbole, but it isn’t. And I wish I didn’t have to write it, but somebody does. And I want to make it clear that it is unacceptable that there are several men, all of them white, who self describe themselves as “patriots” and good “Christians”, and unfortunately, probably a few who self describe as “good Jews”, who are right now thinking about assassinating Congresswoman Omar, including how they would personally go about doing it. Unfortunately the simple truth is that in the United States, in 2019, this is most likely happening. The only good news, if you even want to call it that, is that the vast majority of these political snuff fantasies are just that: snuff fantasies. They will never be attempted. Unfortunately, there will be at least one, if not more than one, of the men who are fantasizing about striking a blow for America, the flag, mom, apple pie, and God in order to cleanse the Republic of the Islamic menace that they believe Congresswoman Omar poses who will actually try. And unlike Patrick Carlineo, the self described “patriot” and lover of the President, they won’t call in a threat first and, because they’re considerate in regard to the busy lives of the US Capitol Police Department, give their names to whichever staffer happens to answer the phone.

Congresswoman Omar is a target right now because one of her colleagues, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, decided to retweet a fake imam who both took Congresswoman Omar’s quote out of context in order to amplify and weaponize it against her and other Muslims and who, because he does this type of thing regularly, has become a darling of hard right politicians who would normally not give him the time of day.

Mohamed Tawhidi never completed his clerical training, he isn’t even a Hujat al Islam, which is the lowest rank of cleric within Twelver Shi’ism, but he does have a really big turban* He is, however, a self righteous fraud used by non-Muslim politicians to beat up on Muslims. Basically, Mohamed Tawhidi is the Candace Owens of Stephen Millers. (emphasis below is mine)

In the space of just 12 months, a man called Mohammad Tawhidi has come out of nowhere to become one of the most prominent Muslim voices in the Australian media.

Imam Tawhidi claims to be a Muslim leader — and a brave Muslim reformer.

Through his appearances in the mainstream media, Imam Tawhidi has warned that Australia is being “infested by extremist Muslims”.

“When I am worried about what I see is happening from my community and religion, trust me that there is something going on,” he told the Seven Network’s Today Tonight program on February 27, 2017.

On social media, his supporters, some from right wing groups, support his calls to shut down Muslim schools and ban Muslims from the Middle East coming to Australia.

But strangely for a Muslim leader, he has very few supporters in the Muslim community.

He has no mosque, and only a handful of followers. And just as curiously, he only appeared in the media for the first time just over a year ago.

So who was he before he became a media star?

This is what Imam Tawhidi claims about his educational qualifications:

“I travelled to Iran, to the holy city of Qom, in 2007, and I engaged in my Islamic studies from there. I received my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree in Islamic theology from the Al-Mustafa University.”

– Mohammad Tawhidi, 2GB, May 25, 2017

But Al-Mustafa International University in Iran says Imam Tawhidi has no bachelor’s degree from their university, let alone a master’s.

He started at the university, but dropped out.

In a letter, Al-Mustafa International University said:

“In spite of given warnings and notifications, the above-named person did not take heed of them each time and had not satisfactory academic record in his courses … he was placed on probation and [dropped] out on March 27, 2012 … the aforesaid person has no educational degree (or any given score) in his profile … Al-Mustafa University does not recommend Mohammad Touhidi for lecturing in any way. Accordingly, he has no competency to do religious activities or to preach sermons.”

His own teacher seems to contradict his teachings

Imam Tawhidi says he is a moderate Muslim reformer — but his very recent past shows he has connections to a religious leader who is anything but moderate.

After Imam Tawhidi dropped out of university, he fell in with a fringe seminary school in Iran, run by a controversial religious family known as the Shirazis.

Imam Tawhidi studied under its senior cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Sayid Sadiq Husseini Shirazi, and later went to work in one of the Shirazi-run TV stations in Iraq.

In February 2016, when Imam Tawhidi set up his Islamic Association of South Australia in Adelaide, Ayatollah Shirazi put out a press release in Iran claiming a connection with Imam Tawhidi and this new Australian-based organisation.

However, the beliefs of Ayatollah Shirazi are not at all aligned with the moderate brand of Islam that Imam Tawhidi calls for when he appears on Australian television.

For example, central to Ayatollah Shirazi’s teachings is the insistence on an Islamic system of government, not a secular democracy.

Ayatollah Shirazi also teaches that women should be covered head to toe, and are not suited to holding positions in government, and that it is permissible for a girl to marry from the age of nine.

There is much more exposing the fraud that is Mohamed Tawhidi at the link. Unfortunately, all Congressman Crenshaw saw was someone claiming to be a Muslim cleric bashing Congresswoman Omar for saying something she didn’t say, which gave him both an excuse and a rhetorical weapon to go after Congresswoman Omar to score political points. This was, unfortunately, all Congressman Crenshaw was actually interested in.

So what did Congresswoman Omar actually say? Not the barbered clip taken out of context, but the actual remarks? I’m glad you asked. Here are the full set of the remarks before the barbered clip put out by Tawhidi and then amplified by Congressman Crenshaw. This portion of her remarks begin around the 12 minute mark of her speech and immediately follow Congresswoman Omar discussing how Muslims, in regard to fully claiming their civil liberties, can liberate themselves.

Muslims for a really long time in this country have been told that there is a privilege. That there is a privilege in that we are given and it might be taken away. We are told that we should be appropriate. We should go to school, get an education, raise our children, and not bother anyone. Not make any kind of noise. Don’t make anyone uncomfortable. Be a good Muslim. But no matter how much we have tried to be the best neighbor people have always worked on finding a way to not allow for every single civil liberty to be extended to us.

(Aside to someone in the audience: you can clap for that…)

So the truth is you can go to school and be a good student. You can listen to your dad and mom and become a doctor. You can have that beautiful wedding that makes mom and dad happy. You can buy that beautiful house. But none of that stuff matters if you one day show up to the hospital and your wife, or maybe yourself, is having a baby, and you can’t have the access that you need because someone doesn’t recognize you as fully human.

It doesn’t matter how good you were if you can’t have your prayer mat and take your 15-minute break to go pray in a country that was founded on religious liberty. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you one day find yourself in a school where other religions are talked about, but when Islam is mentioned, we are only talking about terrorists. And if you say something, you are sent to the principal’s office. So to me, I say, raise hell; make people uncomfortable.

Because here’s the truth — here’s the truth: Far too long, we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange, that I am going to try to make myself look pleasant. You have to say, “This person is looking at me strange. I am not comfortable with it. I am going to go talk to them and ask them why.” Because that is a right you have.

And here’s the video so you can watch the entire speech and draw your own conclusions:

It is well documented that Muslim Americans, as well as those mistakenly identified as Muslims in America, such as Sikhs and non Muslim Arab Americans and non Muslim Americans whose families originated on the sub-continent/southeast Asia and from parts of sub-Saharan Africa, faced serious threats to and violations of their civil rights and liberties from all levels of government and law enforcement after 9-11. The NY Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights actually conducted an investigation into these issues. Among their conclusions were (emphasis mine):

1. In the aftermath of 9/11, it was important that law enforcement authorities at all levels of government take steps to respond to the threat of terrorism. However, some actions have adversely affected the civil rights of immigrants and nonimmigrants, particularly members of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. Policies of particular concern are the federal government’s expanded authority to detain nonimmigrants without charge, to hold detainees with no possibility for release on bond, and, when final deportation orders have been issued, to subject detainees to prolonged confinement. Other policies of concern are the federal government’s Call-In Special Registration program and sharing of national databases on immigration status with state and local police.

2. There are parallels between the racial profiling of Japanese Americans during World War II, pre-9/11 profiling of African Americans and Hispanic Americans, and post-9/11 profiling of Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. Racial profiling has been statistically proven by government studies, including the New York State Attorney General’s 1999 study of stop-and-frisk practices, to be an ineffective law enforcement tool for identifying criminal conduct. Much racial profiling of African Americans and Latinos continues unnoticed in the post-9/11 law enforcement environment. Beyond law enforcement acts of racial profiling related to drug prevention and street crime, racial profiling has taken on new dimensions targeting Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians regarding business license violations, financial transactions abroad, and international travel at airports.

3. There is a perception that local law enforcement authorities did not take seriously the complaints of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian residents who were subjected to hate crimes in acts of misplaced retaliation for the events of September 11. This has been an issue in the taxi industry, where many drivers are South Asian in origin. In the immediate months following 9/11, South Asian taxi drivers found themselves particularly vulnerable to attacks and in need of police protection.

4. The federal Call-In Special Registration program requiring male nationals 16 years and older from predominantly Muslim countries to register is seen by some as a form of racial profiling, targeting Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. The program ceased after nationals from predominantly Muslim countries had registered.

5. In New York City, implementation of the Call-In Special Registration program was marked by a lack of community education on the program’s requirements, excessive processing times lasting 14 hours or more, lack of sufficiently trained interviewers and translators, and inconsistent application of policies.

6. Persons required to undergo special registration in New York City were deprived of the right to counsel while interrogated by the investigations unit of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service), when they were most vulnerable. If registrants were placed in detention, families were not informed of their whereabouts.

In sum, the law enforcement policies and practices described above pose a threat to civil rights and civil liberties, especially within New York’s Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. These programs may be counterproductive. They fuel distrust of law enforcement authorities among many members of affected communities, hinder local reporting of crimes, and diminish the cooperation between local police and community members necessary to identify and thwart future terrorists.

The entire report is at this link.

Unfortunately Congressman Crenshaw’s political and rhetorical attack was picked up and transmitted by Brian Kilmeade, the left boob of Fox News’ morning show A Blonde with Two Boobs on a Sofa, which is also doing business as the President’s Daily Briefing. And that’s how it got to the President who then decided to take the gasoline pump, turn it on, pump gasoline all over, light a match, and throw it in. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post decided that wasn’t a visible enough conflagration, so they threw a crate of fire crackers onto the pyre.

All of this, from the fake imam who conservatives and extremists on the right love to quote to Congressman Crenshaw doing exactly what you’d expect him to do in amplifying and weaponizing Tawhidi’s rhetorical hit job to the President finding a way of making it all about him because he cannot stand it if anyone else is getting any coverage to Rupert Murdoch’s minions making it worse, the die has been cast. Right now, somewhere in the United States, at least one white man who most likely describes himself as both a “patriot” and a “good Christian”, but possibly a “good Jew”, is planning to assassinate Congresswoman Omar in order to save the Republic from her. And at least one of these white men will be smart about what they are doing. They will hold their planning close. They will not make a threatening phone call and leave their real names with a staffer. They won’t tweet that they’re going to shoot her or cut her throat or whatever other snuff fantasy gets them off. They will, instead, quietly plan all while stewing in their own juices until their own internal pressure has built to the point where they decide to take action. And that day, which will, unfortunately, eventually come, will be a very, very, very bad day for America.

Finally, this is the creed of the Navy Seal. The creed that Congressman Crenshaw adopted professional fealty too as a Navy Special Warfare Officer. It might be a good idea for Congressman Crenshaw to reread the creed and take it to heart. (emphasis mine)

SEAL Ethos/Creed

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

Congressman Crenshaw: you have failed!

Open thread.

*  Having a really big turban is a common insult within the Twelver Shi’a community regarding clerics who have an overinflated sense of themselves and their authority. Drawings of Twelver Shi’a clerics with enormous turbans are often used in political cartoons lampooning them and their pronouncements.

 



The Original Sin

A lot of people are screaming at the tech companies because the attacks in Christchurch were streamed. I’m not an expert on the matter, but I just don’t know how they are supposed to track every live feed. Maybe shutting them down could have been done faster. I don’t know.

To me, though, the real sin is that they have allowed these toxic communities to grow and prosper. Not only have they allowed it, they have monetized it and profited from it. It shouldn’t take a fucking groundswell of public anger to shut down /incel.








Ralph Northam Press Conference Live Feed

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is scheduled to give a press conference today at 2:30 PM. The live feed is at the bottom of the post.

As late yesterday afternoon turned to night and then morning, Governor Northam has apparently decided he won’t resign. From the reporting, Northam no longer believes, despite yesterday’s apology by video, that he is in the offensive picture. Specifically, he doesn’t remember the photo, nor does he believe that he is the man in blackface, nor the man in the Klan costume. And he has been contacting his former classmates to ask if they know who the two men are who are in the picture.*

All of this may be true: that it is not Northam in the picture and that the picture was put on the wrong page. It doesn’t matter. He’s had that yearbook for almost 34 years. So have others who were in medical school with him at the time. Had he come out, during his first run for office or even his run for governor when the Virginian Republican Party and his Republican opponent, Ed Gillispie who went all in on xenophobia, accused him of turning his back on his own family’s history with the Confederacy, disclosed the picture, explained that it was coming to an understanding that going to a costume party in blackface and/or in a Klan costume was both wrong and morally unacceptable, and that is why he’s denounced his forebears service to and support of the Confederacy, there would be a very different discussion about the photo, the yearbook, and whether Northam should remain in office. This is, however, not what happened.

It doesn’t matter whether he’s in the photo or not. It doesn’t matter if it was put on the right yearbook page or not. It doesn’t matter if this accurately represents who Northam is in 2019. Right now America, both state and society, are subjected to a non-stop barrage of bigotry, prejudice, and lying from the President of the United States. Every time he gives remarks, off the cuff or prepared, whether from the Oval Office, the Roosevelt Room, the Cabinet Room, the Rose Garden, the White House lawn, one of his rallies, or, as I fully expect to happen, from the dais of the House of Representatives next Tuesday, Americans are confronted with a President who lies about his own bigotry and prejudice, then makes more bigoted and prejudiced statements, and then delivers more lies on a wide variety of topics. Right now one political party, the Republican Party, goes out of its way to cozy up to, play footsie with, and tolerate bigots. It’s why Senator McConnell can condemn Congressman Steve King’s remarks, while never being held to account for his own longstanding relationship with neo-Confederate organizations. It’s why Congressman Scalise can do the same thing despite campaigning for Congress as “David Duke without the baggage”. And that’s before we get to the President’s political appointees, such as Stephen Miller and Kirstjen Nielsen, who are just as bad if not worse.

Right now there is a need in the US for both formal and informal leaders, and this includes Northam, to stand up, tell the truth, and do the right thing. American state and society are in desperate need for more of this, not less. And Northam can do America a great service today if he stands up at his press conference and provides one last act of formal leadership and resign. He needs to resign not because he or anyone else may be sure that he is actually either the man in black face or the man in the Klan costume or that the picture is on the right page, but because American needs to see examples of leaders who take responsibility, even if they’re not 100% sure that they are the responsible party, when something bad happens, and then take the hard and important first steps to fix the problem. Which, in this case, would be to resign. The real question about whether Northam is a real leader, and is even morally fit to be a leader, is less about the picture in his yearbook from 1985. It is really about whether he leads today by giving up power and seeing it peacefully and efficiently transferred to his lieutenant governor or whether he tries to petulantly cling to power in the hope that an explanation for the photo surfaces that exonerates him and allows him to brazen this out. You can’t teach character, despite what the knuckleheads at the Combined Arms Center think. You can identify it, you can nurture it. You can mentor it. You can reinforce it. But you either have it or you don’t. At 2:30 today we will learn if Governor Northam has character and is actually fit to lead, even as he gives up formal leadership, or if he doesn’t.

Update at 3:55 PM EDT

Governor Northam has announced that he won’t be resigning. Here’s the response from the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus:

 

Open thread.

* It is possible, though not probable, given what we know of them, that this is PJ and Squi in the picture after brewskis at Timmy’s with Brett, Judge, Tom, and Bernie because they were all black out drunks in high school at Georgetown Prep and this is the type of things they would do. But I think this is highly unlikely.








In Remembrance of Fred Korematsu

100 years ago today, Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, California. After being turned down for military service in 1940 for health related reasons he lost several jobs due to his Japanese heritage after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He underwent plastic surgery in order to pass as Latinx so he could work. Finally, Korematsu went into hiding to evade the internment camps. He was arrested in San Leandro and jailed in San Francisco. It was there that he was approached by the ACLU and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today is Fred Korematsu Day in a number of states:

Several states celebrate Fred Korematsu Day on January 30, Korematsu’s birthday. Established in 2011, the “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties & the Constitution” honors the legacy of Korematsu, who resisted Japanese American incarceration during World War II. He was one of three who legally challenged imprisonment, all the way to the Supreme Court.

The issuance of Executive Order 9066 in February 1942 allowed for the removal of any persons from Western coastal areas. Although EO9066 did not specifically target Japanese Americans, it paved the way for the forcible removal of those of Japanese descent from their homes and into camps. In March, “Civilian Exclusion Orders” were posted for all those of Japanese ancestry in Washington, Oregon, California, and southern Arizona. The majority of those of Japanese descent in the US lived in these areas and two-thirds were native-born citizens of the United States. When faced with having to report to an assembly center, Oakland, California-born Fred Korematsu chose a different path. Korematsu, a 23-year old welder, stayed in Oakland with his Italian American girlfriend. He even had minor plastic surgery on his eyes and changed his name in an attempt to avoid recognition.

For those interested, there are more resources at The Fred Korematsu Institute.

It is especially important to remember Korematsu, as well as what he and other Japanese-Americans went through given the current travel ban, attempts to change immigration law and end asylum by executive order, and build a wall solely because the president’s advisors needed a way to make sure he’d talk about immigration while campaigning and because the idea of immigrants, legal or undocumented, makes Stephen Miller feel icky.

From The Washington Post:

Long ago, Fred Korematsu was arrested in San Leandro, Calif., his home town, for defying an executive order that led to the expulsion or imprisonment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

He later went to the Supreme Court to fight it, much as others now oppose President Trump’s executive order barring people from seven mostly majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. Korematsu lost in 1944 and, although his criminal conviction was vacated in 1983, the case was not overturned.

Until Tuesday.

More than 30 years after Korematsu challenged, for the second time, what is widely considered one of the most unjust government actions in U.S. history, the country watched another legal battle conclude this morning, when the Supreme Court issued its decision in Trump v. Hawaii. The court upheld Trump’s travel ban and overturned Korematsu’s case.

The irony is that Korematsu’s vindication came as the Supreme Court actualized his worst fear by “racially profiling of a group because they looked like the enemy,” according to Fred Korematsu’s daughter, Karen.

“The Korematsu court presumed people were dangerous because they were of Japanese descent. Today, it is because they are from a particular country,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, who is dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School and once called the Supreme Court’s ruling against Korematsu “one of the worst decisions in history.” Neither assumption, he said, is rooted in equal protection of the law.

“In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote, ‘Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided.’ I think a future court will one day say [today’s decision] was a huge mistake,” Chemerinsky said.

“Korematsu may be overruled, but it’s not to be celebrated,” said Karen Korematsu. “Unfortunately with this decision, we are continuing to repeat history.”

For months, Karen Korematsu heard echoes of her father’s old warnings in the way Trump’s order cast suspicion on an entire class of people, and the way its defenders in court made claim to national security without citing any evidence against the people the order affected.

She was reminded that during the campaign, Trump promised a broader ban on Muslim foreigners — as well as a registry of Muslims living in the United States.

She was reminded that one of his top backers cited her father’s case as legal precedent for such things.

“Racial profiling was wrong in 1942 and racial profiling and religious profiling is wrong in 2018,” Karen Korematsu lamented. “The Supreme Court traded one injustice for another 74 years later.”

Much more at the link.

Korematsu was sent to the Central Utah War Relocation Camp in Topaz, Utah.

(Topaz Internment Camp Historic Marker)

(Topaz Internment Camp)

Never again must mean never again!

Open thread.