Posted in C-Haze, Race, Racism, Terror, Terrorism, War on Terror

Fear & Bigotry has become Our Culture

I’m heartbroken by recent events. The terror attacks in Beirut, Paris, Mali… the state of affairs in the Middle East… our own country’s failed policies where “fighting terror” is concerned… the racial strife I see everyday here in the US… the fear mongering and outright bigotry I see from many of our own elected “Christian” officials.

My views aren’t popular, and as soon as I speak them, people tend to tune me out. That’s ok, though. It won’t shut me up. Small as it may be, this is my forum. My place to say what’s on my mind.

Our hands – the hands of the United States – are not clean where any of these tragedies are concerned. We cultivated wars in the Middle East, we worked with others to kill millions in that region, and we now have the audacity to act confused, scratching our heads, wondering, “What caused so many people to hate us? Why are so many in the Middle East so radical these days?”

Those are stupid questions. The US didn’t consciously create ISIS and its sympathizers, but to pretend our foreign policy of the last 20 years had nothing to do with it is dumb.

Yes, dumb.

We made orphans of a lot of kids in the Middle East over the years. Those babies aren’t babies any more, and now that they’re grown, they have an axe to grind.

I don’t defend ISIS, I don’t defend evil, and I for damn sure don’t defend the death and destruction of innocent people. The thing is, I don’t defend those things in any circumstance. I don’t defend it when it’s ISIS chopping off heads, or deploying suicide bombers in crowded arenas, and I don’t defend it when it’s government-sanctioned drone attacks or boots-on-the-ground action in the Middle East either.

As a nation, we’ve messed up. That’s not an anti-American sentiment. It’s an honest opinion. I love my country. I love being an American, and I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere but here. That doesn’t mean I can’t speak out when I believe our government has acted foolishly, and it doesn’t mean I have to agree with or support the current climate among my fellow Americans.

What’s happening overseas is depressing enough, but that’s not the full story, either. Our own nation is turning against each other. Turning against fellow citizens of the United States of America. Racial turmoil is the highest I’ve seen in my 37 years of life. In some places, such as where I live, we seem poised for all-out war. A civil war, with sides chosen based on the color of one’s skin.

The hypocrisy of it all is astounding. Just. Astounding.

In one breath, I hear people taking rioters to task after the killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and others. Screaming about how vile, vicious and violent the black community is. In the next breath, these same people are cheering Donald Trump’s stump speeches, while he deliriously yells that we should “bomb the shit out of Syria!”

We have people doing their best to refuse Syrian Refugees in their states, but those same people support the NRA. This wouldn’t be surprising, except that the NRA wants us to continue allowing people whose names are on the No Fly List to legally purchase assault rifles in this country.

Let me get this straight: You don’t want the refugees in this country because they might be terrorists… but if they happen to make it here, you want them to have the ability to purchase weapons?

What kind of sense does that make?

The answer is that it makes the same kind of sense that allowing people deemed too dangerous to board a passenger jet to purchase assault weapons makes.

As in, none whatsoever.

The common thread in all of it – whether ISIS and refugees from the Middle East, or people of color in our own neighborhoods – is fear. We justify our hateful, bigoted policies – domestic and abroad – by pointing to our fears. Fear of a religion we don’t understand, fear of people we don’t respect because their skin color is the wrong hue.

My heart is heavy.

 

Posted in Fort Hood, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, Politics, Terror, Terrorism

Fort Hood- A Terrible Tragedy

fthoodMany people have asked my thoughts on the tragedy that unfolded in recent days at Fort Hood, TX. I have received telephone calls, e-mails, and even a comment on another post on this particular blog, all wanting to know if I was going to post about the tragic events that cost 13 people their lives, wounding many others. At last count, 17 people remained hospitalized.

Some people were merely curious, legitimately wanting to know my thoughts on the subject. Others have asked their questions as if daring me to politicize this event, baiting me to write up a post that is sympathetic to the shooter.

For those who thought I’d have sympathy for Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a mass murderer and coward, you are wrong, and obviously do not know me nearly as well as you seem to think you do.

I have nothing to offer with regards to this subject other than that my thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of the families that have been impacted by this heinous act.

I pray that justice is served.

In the meantime, I will not attempt to comprehend what drove a man, a soldier, to take the lives of fellow Americans. Some of the victims had recently returned from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. That they survived in a war zone simply to be gunned down back at home by one of their own is outrageous and heartbreaking. Others were preparing to deploy overseas, and were ready to face the dangers the war offered, not realizing that the real danger, for them at least, existed here at home.

I have seen some news outlets referring to this as mass homicide, with others calling it a terrorist act.

I feel it is both of those, though I will never truly grasp it as anything that can possibly have a rational explanation.

For me to attempt to understand this type of needless bloodletting is futile. That’s why I didn’t write about it to begin with. I realize Hasan was a Muslim, but were he a true Muslim, he would not have behaved in this fashion. I realize he was a psychiatrist, someone who was continuously subjected to the horror stories of his fellow soldiers. Perhaps the nightmares became too real. If, however, this is the case, he wasn’t any more a real soldier than he was a true follower of Islam.

Did he snap due to the harrassment he received as a result of his religion?

Did his impending deployment to go fight a war he did not believe in cause him to lose his mind?

Most likely, we will never know the answer to those questions, and many more like them.

Personally, I don’t care about the why.

There is no answer, no conclusion I can come to about this incident that will make me understand what has just occured in Texas, nor can any excuse for this man’s behavior justify his actions.

What is important are the lives lost at Fort Hood. The soldiers- the mothers, the fathers, the brothers, the sons, daughters, husbands and wives- who were brutality murdered by a man who was supposed to be one of them.

It is sad that many of us will forever remember the name Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

How many of us will remember the names of the victims?

I will.

I won’t forget Francheska Velez, Capt. John Gaffaney, Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, Pfc. Michael Pearson, Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, Michael Grant Cahill, Spc. Frederick Greene, Staff Sgt. Justin M. DeCrow, Sgt. Amy Krueger, Pfc. Kham Xiong, Juanita Warman, Major L. Eduardo Caraveo, and Russell Seager.

May they rest in peace, and God bless them all.

Posted in 9/11, Barack Obama, Birther Movement, C-Haze, Change, Congress, Conservative, Current Events, Democrats, Environment, Extremists, Fox News, George Bush, Glenn Beck, Liberal, News, Police Officers, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Republicans, Socialism, Terror, Terrorism, Truther Movement, Van Jones, War on Terror

Van Jones, Truthers, Birthers, and an Ugly Reality

We need to talk about Van Jones. We need to talk about his past, we need to talk about his resignation as the White House’s environmental advisor- and we really need to talk about whether or not he’s been victimized by the GOP.

Van Jones was made a household name by right-wing Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck. I’m not a regular Glenn Beck watcher- he’s way too emotionally unstable for me to be able to take seriously. Listening to him induces extreme anxiety, and I’m always afraid he’s this close to having a colossal meltdown. The net result is something akin to a child, trying to bravely sneak a horror movie that she has no business watching. She’s sitting in front of the TV, hands covering her face, peaking through her fingers at the screen…

… Should she watch?

But oh!

What if something happens!

Blah!

That’s me when Beck is on the air. He’s a trainwreck, and I find myself waiting for the whole show with him in tow to derail in front of my very eyes.

Quite stressful.

It’s for this reason I wish I could say Glenn Beck has finally lost his marbles, and is oh-so-wrong about all things Van Jones. Unfortunately, in some ways, the guy (Beck, that is), nutty as he may be, actually made some good points about Mr. Jones.

Van Jones, as no one in their right (err… correct, that is) mind would argue, is a polarizing character. To say he’s controversial would be an understatement. His radical views have been well-documented in the past- he is a bona-fide Truther, among other things (I don’t care what he claims, people- evidence is evidence). He feels that the Bush Administration, along with other high-level government officials either knowingly instigated 9/11, or through purposeful gross negligence allowed it to happen, all to give Bush and cronies an excuse to start an oil war in Iraq.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I think the current downturn this country is experiencing can be traced back to that cluster-fuck we like to call the Iraq War. Do I blame the Bush Administration? Yes I do. I also, however, blame Bush Sr.’s Administration for not toppling Saddam Hussein during Desert Storm, when he was all but handed to us on a silver platter… I blame the Clinton Administration as well, for not taking down Bin Laden when a similar opportunity presented itself… and above all, I blame each and every member of Congress- both Democrat and Republican- who voted to send our men and women into that country to begin with.

Need I remind any of you that we have lost more soldiers in the War on Terror than we lost on 9/11? For what? The answer, sadly, is that we lost them for nothing, other than the need of some politicians to settle a score that they, themselves, were responsible for creating at the start.

There is plenty of blame to go around. None of it, however, centers on a vast conspiracy, but instead was created by a bunch of short-sighted people who at the end of the day couldn’t tell their asses from a hole in the ground.

It is common knowledge today that Van Jones signed a petition in 2004 that asked for hearings to determine whether politicians had knowingly allowed the events on 9/11 to occur. Personally, I think politicians did allow the terror attacks to occur, but realize that they didn’t knowingly do so. They ignored a whole lot of signs that pointed to a colossal attack, instead preferring to believe that as the Good Ol’ U.S. of A, we were invincible.

Costly mistake, but an honest one nonetheless.

Van Jones has tried to back pedal on this petition he signed… claiming that while he allowed his name to be placed on the form, he does not subscribe to any conspiracy theories regarding 9/11 or our subsequent invasion of Iraq.

It was at this point that Jones became a liar.

You see, he didn’t just sign a Truther petition in 2004. A full two years prior to that,  in 2002 he organized a march for the Truther Movement.

Yet this college educated lawyer wants us to believe he had no idea what the hell he was signing when it came to this particular petition?

Doubtful.

With regards to the actual truth, here’s what we really know about Van Jones:

Jones was born in 1968. He is an environmental activist, a civil rights advocate, author and lawyer.

After graduating from Law School, rather than take an offered job in Washington, DC, Jones instead moved to San Fransisco. He joined a controversial organization called STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement). This organization was decidedly Marxist, sympathizing with Mao-ist peasants, and was in part created to combat the issue of police brutality.

He was famously arrested for his role in the Rodney King protests, though charges were later dropped. It was during this same time period, in 1995, that Jones began actively identifying himself as a Communist.

Jones is also responsible, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for starting Color of Change, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving a larger political voice to Black America. That year he also began actively advocating for a Green America, becoming an environmentalist, and starting an organization called “Green for All”. Green for All promotes environmentally-friendly jobs in poor communities.

In 2008 he found moderate success when his book, “The Green Collar Economy” hit the New York Times top 12 list.

In March of 2009, Van Jones joined the Obama Administration as the environmental czar.

I would argue that Mr. Jones has done some wonderful things in his life. He has advocated for a greener world, and has worked tirelessly to help minorities succeed in this country. The problem is that he does not have the gift of words. While doing great things for millions of people worldwide, he simultaneously suffers from a terminal case of foot in mouth disease, which has proven to be his downfall.

Honestly, I don’t even care that the man once identified himself as a communist. I wish my biggest college-era transgession was to pick the wrong political party to align myself with. People change, and with age, we mature. That’s the general idea, anyway. I don’t even have a huge problem with the fact that Jones once famously claimed that white people and white corporations were purposely dumping their waste and polluting communities that predominantly consisted of people of color. Personally, given some of our nation’s history, that isn’t difficult for me to believe.

I applaud the fact that at some point, realizing that his more extreme views were not affecting the change he desired within the U.S., he decided to work within the system as it’s designed… no longer calling for revolution, no longer trying to make waves on the outer fringes of society.

It doesn’t even bother me that he recently referred to Republicans as assholes.

I live in a country where it isn’t supposed to phase me that people are calling my President a terrorist, a communist, a Marxist, a socialist… and are bringing guns to townhall meetings in hopes of shooting our Commander in Cheif like he’s a wild animal, and it’s deer season. I live in a nation where outright calls for our leader’s death, and pastoral prayers hoping he’ll keel over from brain cancer are the norm. Someone calling the GOP a bunch of assholes honestly doesn’t get me too excited.

What I cannot reconcile are the similarities between The Truthers and The Birthers. Van Jones’ affiliation with the Truther movement is exactly why he needed to resign. And every jerk Birther needs to do the same.

These two groups- they are both extreme, they are both radical, they both promote dangerously false claims, and they have no place in our government.

The problem in Van Jones’ case is that he did not convincingly leave radicalism, nor did he wholeheartedly embrace a more follow-the-rules, mainstream approach to getting the job done.

If he was honestly appalled that his name was attached to a petition espousing nonsensical conspiracy theories about our nation’s largest tragedy, he should have made those views known before he got caught by the likes of Glenn Beck.

Unfortunately for us, Jones certainly isn’t the only whacko we have our hands full dealing with.

There are Republicans in Congress (Representative Bill Posey, Florida) today that subscribe to the dangerous vitriol being spewed by the Birthers… and there are (former) Democrats in Congress (Cynthia McKinney) who subscribe to the nastiness being put forth by the Truthers.

For every lame-brained Truther petition out there, an equally ridiculous Birther petition, claiming Barack Obama is really the son of Al Qaeda, in cahoots with every terrorist known to man is in existence as well.

Prominent people are buying into both brands of idiocy.

Every last one of them needs to go.

If they won’t go willingly, we need to boot them- all of them- out the door.

We are living in terrifying times… polarizing times… where political discord is no longer an opportunity for open, honest, intelligent conversation, but is instead giving rise to left-and-right-wing maniacal idiots. It is only a matter of time before real violence erupts, and the regular people of America… you and I… need to be getting pissed off about it.

Van Jones is nobody’s victim… the only regret I have is that we aren’t kicking more radicals just like him- on both sides of the political spectrum- to the curb.

Posted in Attorney General, C-Haze, Current Events, Eric Holder, Extremists, Hate, Hate Crimes, Holocaust, Politics, Race, Terror, Terrorism, War on Terror

Eric Holder, Hate Crimes and Terrorism

During my habitual morning perusal of national headlines, this one caught my eye:

AG Holder Urges New Hate Crimes Law

Curious, I started reading the article, and quickly found myself getting annoyed.

Attorney General Eric Holder wants new federal hate crimes laws created to put a stop to what he refers to as “violence masquerading as political activism”.

Specifically, he’s referring to a recent rash of extremist violence– the unsolved bombing of a New York City Starbucks coffee shop in May (rumored to be caused by an anti-globalization group), the shooting of two soldiers at an Army recruitment center in Arkansas by a loony anti-American, the shooting of three Pittsburgh police officers in April by a white supremacist, the arrests of four extremists- also in April- in connection with their plot to blow up synagogues and down airplanes, the assassination of an abortion doctor while attending church, and the shooting at the holocaust museum.

Whew.

That’s quite a list.

Now please don’t misunderstand- I am all about ending violence- in all its forms, most especially the kind of violence that stems from political extremism.

What annoys me is the fact that we already have a term for this type of violence… there are federal laws already on the books to combat it. It’s not that we need new hate crime legislation, rather the more logical path would be to utilize the laws that are already in place.

The type of violence Holder is referring to already has a name. We need to stop side-stepping around this issue and call it exactly what it is.

Terrorism.

According to Congress, the definition of terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents.”22 United States Code 2656f(d)(2).

Congress breaks this down further by identifying five criteria for an act to be considered terrorism:

  1. The act must be premeditated
  2. It must be politically motivated
  3. The act must be violent
  4. The act must be carried out against non-combatants
  5. It must be carried out by sub-national or clandestine agents (not at the bidding of the U.S. Government)

Let’s review.

Eric Holder wants to create federal legislation that would end “violence masquerading as political activism”… and yet… we already have federal laws on the books making just such a thing not only illegal, but physically defining it as terrorism.

The shooting at the Holocaust Museum, for example, neatly fits all five criteria… as does the Murder of Dr. George Tiller, the killing of the Pittsburgh police officers, and the the plot to blow up synogogues and shoot down airplanes would have, had the plans not been thwarted (thankfully).

What is mind-boggling to me is the fact that to-date, the only  two of these incidents to result in actual terrorism charges are the cases in which the two soldiers were shot (one fatally) at the Army recruitment facility in Arkansas, and the case in which the terrorists were attempting to blow up synagogues and shoot down airplanes.

It is interesting to note that these two cases are also the only two on the list that involve both black men and Muslims.

The soldier shooter has been charged with 16 counts of committing a terrorist act.

The charges against the men who tried to kill jews by blowing up synagogues and planes include conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles.

Don’t get me wrong- I am not claiming, even for an instant, that the black terrorists deserve any more of our sympathy or compassion than the white terrorists do. I fully support the decision to charge them using federal terrorism laws.

Fully.

I simply don’t understand how it’s terrorism to target jews in a plot to blow up synagogues, but not terrorism to target jews by shooting up the Holocaust Museum.

Similarly, I don’t get how it’s terrorism for a Muslim extremist to kill an Army recruiter and wound another soldier, but not terrorism for a white supremist to shoot three Pittsburgh police officers.

The Department of Homeland Security, for example, when discussing the Holocaust Museum shooting, flat-out referred to that incident as an act of “domestic terrorism”.

Um…

… Then why are we not charging the gunman with terrorism?

There is no point in creating new laws- hate crime laws- that make an act illegal that is…

Uh…

… Already illegal.

How about we actually utilize the laws that are already on the books, and start recognizing these extreme, politically motivated, violent acts for what they really are?

Simply passing a law that contains the exact same verbage, albeit uses  a different name (this time it’s a “hate crime” as opposed to “terrorism”), is a redundant waste of taxpayer dollars.

Besides, we all know how well the original Federal Hate Crimes bill fared in Congress back in 2007. The president threatened to veto the legislation, and the only way Congress could manage to get it passed was to shove it into one of Bush’s much-needed war spending bills.

Sneaky, sneaky.

I don’t necessarily consider hate crime legislation a bad thing… I just think it’s a stupid waste of both time and money when the hatred one is attempting to combat is already quite illegal.

Especially when it appears the only reason the current law is not being used is because of some as-yet unexplained fear that our federal prosecutors apparently have when it comes to actually using that ever-so-dirty word- terrorism– as it pertains to citizens of our own country.

How absolutely ridiculous for Attorney General Eric Holder to act as if he needs a new bill to pass in Congress before he can effectively go after these whack jobs.

He already has everything he needs to get the job done…

… He’s simply unwilling to do it.