Category Archives: Religion

Republicans Condemn ‘Hate and Bigotry’ But Don’t Mention President Trump

Image: Time Magazine

One after another, the nation’s most powerful Republicans responded to President Donald Trump’s extraordinary remarks about white supremacists. Yet few mentioned the president.

The Senate’s top Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, condemned “hate and bigotry.” House Speaker Paul Ryan charged that, “White supremacy is repulsive.” Neither criticized the president’s insistence that there were “very fine people on both sides” of a violent weekend clash between white supremacists and counterdemonstrators.

The nuanced statements reflect the party establishment’s delicate dance. Few top Republican officeholders defended the president in the midst of an escalating political crisis. Yet they are unwilling to declare all-out war against Trump and risk alienating his loyalists. And as the 2018 elections begin to take shape, the debate over Trump’s words appears to be taking hold in GOP primaries.

Trump on Thursday attacked some of the Republicans who have directly criticized him.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who doesn’t face re-election until 2020, said the president “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally” and the people demonstrating against them.

“Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world,” Graham added, referring to the former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Trump shot back on Thursday on Twitter: “Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists and people like Ms. Heyer.” He was referring to Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed when she was struck by a car driven into the crowd.

“Such a disgusting lie,” Trump said of Graham’s remarks. “He just can’t forget his election trouncing. The people of South Carolina will remember.”

More from Time Magazine

Posted by Libergirl

Most Of America’s Terrorists Are White, And Not Muslim

Right-wing terror is real, and it’s a problem.

When it comes to domestic terrorism in America, the numbers don’t lie: Far-right extremists are behind far more plots and attacks than Islamist extremists.

There were almost twice as many terrorist incidents by right-wing extremists as by Islamist extremists in the U.S. from 2008 to 2016, according to a new report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal.

Looking at both plots and attacks carried out, the group tracked 201 terrorist incidents on U.S. soil from January 2008 to the end of 2016. The database shows 115 cases by right-wing extremists ― from white supremacists to militias to “sovereign citizens” ― compared to 63 cases by Islamist extremists. Incidents from left-wing extremists, which include ecoterrorists and animal rights militants, were comparatively rare, with 19 incidents.

When it comes to right-wing extremism, attackers are also ‘mostly men’ and ‘almost purely white.’Reporter David Neiwert

While the database makes a point of distinguishing between different groups within right-wing extremism, lead reporter David Neiwert told HuffPost that “those are all gradations of white supremacy, variations on the same thing.” When it comes to right-wing extremism, attackers are also “mostly men” and “almost purely white,” Neiwert said.

Attacks by right-wing extremists were also more often deadly, with nearly a third of right-wing extremist incidents resulting in deaths compared with 13 percent of Islamist extremist cases resulting in deaths. However, the sheer number of people killed by Islamist extremists ― a total of 90 people killed ― was higher than the death toll at the hands of right-wing extremists ― 79 people killed.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has focused his rhetoric and policies almost entirely on countering Islamist extremism, and not white supremacist extremism.

“As with a lot of things related to Trump and the Islamophobic right, the reality is viewed through an upside-down looking glass,” Neiwert said. The reality is the most significant domestic terror threat we have is right-wing extremism.

The Investigative Fund’s findings reflect those of previous studies of domestic terrorism. The New America Foundation, for instance, which has been tracking deadly terror incidents on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks, also finds an almost two-to-one ratio of attacks by far-right extremists to Islamist extremists, with 21 deadly attacks by far-right extremists, compared to 11 by Islamist extremists.

Despite the facts, many Americans still associate terror attacks with Islamist extremistsrather than far-right extremists, Neiwart noted.

“I think the larger perception in the public ― and this includes many progressives and liberals ― is the inversion of the reality: that the greatest threat we face is Islamist radicals,” Neiwert said. “And it’s reflected in the way the press report upon various kinds of domestic terror attacks: When it’s a white domestic terrorist, they underplay it, write it off to mental illness.”

The reality is the most significant domestic terror threat we have is right-wing extremism.Reporter David Neiwert

The media has a long history of double standards when it comes to covering terrorism ― starting with how slow mainstream media is to label attacks by white perpetrators as “terrorism,” and quick to label them as such when attackers are perceived as nonwhite or “other” ― and specifically, Muslim.

Part of problem is the complex nature of how officials choose to categorize attacks as terrorism. The FBI has specific criteria its uses to classify terrorist incidents ― but the public doesn’t always agree with officials’ labels. For instance, many people condemned the government for not labeling Dylann Roof a terrorist after he killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, even though he specifically said he was there “to shoot black people,” according to witnesses.

“There’s actually a debate over whether what Dylann Roof did was domestic terrorism, when it so plainly is domestic terrorism,” Neiwert told HuffPost. “A lot of this has to do with embedded judgements about where these threats come from ― and that has to do with fear-mongering around Islamophobia.”

Investigative Fund’s interactive map showing terrorism incidents by ideology since 2008. 

The solution, according to Neiwert, lies with the government first acknowledging the scale of the problem of far-right extremism, and then dedicating resources to fighting it.

So far Trump has shown a clear double standard in his response to terrorism: After Islamist extremists attacked London on June 3, for instance, Trump condemned the violence on Twitter the same day ― but after an attack in Portland, Oregon, by a white supremacist on May 26, Trump waited more than two days before tweeting about it. After the London attack, Trump also called on the courts to reinstate his travel ban on certain Muslim-majority countries ― which was roundly criticized. After the Portland attack, Trump made no calls to change policy to prevent future attacks.

The Trump administration also reportedly just dropped funding for nonprofit Life After Hate, a group that helps people leave the white supremacist movement.

Trump administration has dropped funding for a group dedicated to de-radicalizing neo-Nazis and stopping white extremism. via @playbookplus

But it’s not just Trump that’s the problem. The Fund’s database goes back to 2008 and shows clearly how government resources have been disproportionately dedicated to tackling Islamist extremism over right-wing extremism. The government succeeded in interrupting the vast majority of Islamist extremist terror cases since 2008, for instance: 76 percent of incidents tracked were “foiled plots,” which the group noted showed “a significant investment of law enforcement resources.” When it came to right-wing extremism, only about a third of incidents were interrupted ― 35 percent ― and the majority of the cases included acts of violence that led to deaths, injuries or damaged property.

At the end of the day, it’s not only on the government to acknowledge the reality of the growing threat of far-right extremism, according to Neiwert, it’s on everyone from members of the media to average Americans.

“First thing we need to do is recognize that it’s there, it’s a problem, it’s a threat ― as great a threat as Islamists,” Neiwert said. “And it needs to be taken seriously.”

By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman/HuffPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?

The lack of a coherent anti-terrorism strategy in Washington and by extension the West, as emergency services deal with the devastating aftermath of yet another terrorist atrocity in Europe – this time a suicide bomb attack at a concert in Manchester, England – has been thrown into sharp relief during President Trump’s tour of the Middle East.

Specifically, on what planet can Iran be credibly accused of funding and supporting terrorism while Saudi Arabia is considered a viable partner in the fight against terrorism? This is precisely the narrative we are being invited to embrace by President Trump in what counts as a retreat from reality into the realms of fantasy, undertaken in service not to security but commerce.

Indeed those still struggling to understand why countries such as the US, UK, and France consistently seek to legitimise a Saudi regime that is underpinned by the medieval religious doctrine of Wahhabism, which is near indistinguishable from the medieval religious extremism and fanaticism of Daesh and Nusra in Syria – those people need look no further than the economic relations each of those countries enjoy with Riyadh.

The announcement that Washington has just sealed a mammoth deal with its Saudi ally on arms sales – worth $110 billion immediately and $350 billion over 10 years – is all the incentive the US political and media establishment requires to look the other way when it comes to the public beheadings, crucifixionseye gouging, and other cruel and barbaric punishments meted out in the Kingdom on a regular basis.

The sheer unreality of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, as he stood shoulder to shoulder with President Trump during the latter’s state visit to the country recently, lamenting the chaos and carnage in Syria, which he described as having been “one of the most advanced countries” prior to a conflict that has wrought so much death and destruction, the sheer unreality of this is off the scale – and especially so considering the role the Saudis have played in providing material, financial, and ideological and religious support to groups engaged in the very carnage in Syria as has just been unleashed in Manchester.

There are times when the truth is not enough, when only the unvarnished truth will do, and in the wake of the Manchester attack – in which at time of writing 22 people have been killed and 60 injured – we cannot avoid the conclusion that neither principle nor rationality is driving Western foreign policy in the Middle East, or as it pertains to terrorism.

Instead it is being driven by unalloyed hypocrisy, to the extent that when such carnage occurs in Syria, as it has unremittingly over the past 6 years, the perpetrators are still described in some quarters as rebels and freedom fighters, yet when it takes place in Manchester or Paris or Brussels, etc., they are depicted as terrorists. Neither is it credible to continue to demonize governments that are in the front line against this terrorist menace – i.e. Iran, Russia, Syria – while courting and genuflecting at the feet of governments that are exacerbating it – i.e. Saudi Arabia, previously mentioned, along with Qatar, Kuwait, and Turkey. Here, too, mention must be made of the brutal and ongoing injustice meted out to the Palestinians by an Israeli government that shares with the Saudis a doctrine of religious exceptionalism and supremacy, one that is inimical to peace or the security of its own people.

Ultimately a choice has to be made between security and stability or economic and geopolitical advantage, with the flag of democracy and human rights losing its lustre in recent years precisely because the wrong choice has been made – in other words a Faustian pact with opportunism.

As the smoke clears, both literally and figuratively, from yet another terrorist atrocity, we are forced to consider how we arrived at this point. And when we do we cannot but understand the role of Western extremism in giving birth to and nourishing Salafi-jihadi extremism. Moreover, in the midst of the understandable and eminently justifiable grief we feel at events in Manchester, it behooves us not to forget the salient fact that Muslims have and continue to be the biggest victims of this terrorist menace, unleashed in the name of religious purity andsectarianism, and that it is Muslims who are also doing most to confront and fight it, whether in Syria, Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan. It should not escape our rendering of the issue either that what each of those countries have in common is that they have all been victims of the Western extremism mentioned earlier.

It bears repeating: you cannot continue to invade, occupy, and subvert Muslim and Arab countries and not expect consequences. And when those consequences amount to the slaughter and maiming of your own citizens, the same tired and shallow platitudes we are ritually regaled with by politicians and leaders intent on bolstering their anti-terrorism and security credentials achieve little except induce nausea.

Enough is enough.

By John Wight/Projectcensored

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Man Arrested Over Threats To Jewish Centers In Texas, Across Nation

Image: CBS Dallas/Fortworth

A jilted ex-boyfriend is behind at least eight of the scores of threats made against Jewish Community Centers nationwide, plus a bomb threat to New York’s Anti-Defamation League, in an effort to harass and vilify his former girlfriend, federal officials said Friday.

Juan Thompson, 31, was arrested in St. Louis and will appear in federal court in Missouri on Friday afternoon on a charge of cyberstalking, authorities said. There was no information on an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Federal officials have been investigating 122 bomb threats called in to nearly 100 Jewish Community College schools, child care and other similar facilities in three dozen states. The first wave of calls started January 9. Thompson made threats in his name and in the woman’s name, and his first one was Jan. 28 to the Jewish History Museum in Manhattan, authorities said. Federal authorities say Thompson made up an email address to make it seem like the woman was sending threats in his name. He made threats this way to Jewish schools in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and Manhattan and to a JCC in Manhattan, authorities said.

He also made threats in the woman’s name, authorities said. An email sent February 21 to the Anti-Defamation League said the woman was behind threats made against “jews,” authorities said.

“She lives in nyc and is making more bomb threats tomorrow,” the email said, according to federal authorities.

More from CBS Dallas

Posted by Libergirl

Donors Raise Over $200,000 For Historic Black Church Defaced By Vandals

A GoFundMe account set up to help restore a historically Black Mississippi church defaced by vandals has raised over $200,000.

On Tuesday Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church congregants in Greenville, Mississippi found their sanctuary set ablaze with the words “Vote Trump,” spray painted on one of the church walls, ABC News reports.

According to the outlet, no one was harmed in the fire, but the blaze left behind charred pews and inside structure damage.

At a Wednesday news conference, Hopewell’s pastor, Carolyn Hudson, said parishioners were “heartbroken,” but was faithful that “God would allow us to build another sanctuary in that same place.”

Blair Reeves, a New York Native who organized the GoFundMe campaign, told ABC he felt “compelled” to act and was overwhelmed at the response.

“The animus of this election cycle combined with the potent racial history of burning black churches as a political symbol makes this event something we must not ignore,” Reeves wrote in the campaign’s description. “Only two weeks ago, the internet came together to help repair a North Carolina GOP field office that had been burned by thugs. Justice demands we do the same now.”

More from NewsOne

Posted by Libergirl

 

FBI investigating arson, ‘Vote Trump’ tag at black church

The FBI opened a civil rights investigation into the arson and vandalism of an African-American church in Mississippi, where someone spray-painted “Vote Trump” in what the mayor called a “heinous, hateful, cowardly act.”

Image: AP

The pulpit and pews were burned, and soot stained the brick around some windows. Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown Sr. said the fire was set by someone and estimated the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church was 80 percent destroyed.

“We consider it a hate crime,” Mayor Errick Simmons said. “Because of the political message which we believe was intended to interfere with worship and intimidate voters.”

More from WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery

BEFORE A PRESEASON GAME on Friday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When he explained why, he only spoke about the present: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Twitter then went predictably nuts, with at least one 49ers fan burning Kaepernick’s jersey.

Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.

Few people know this because we only ever sing the first verse. But read the end of the third verse and you’ll see why “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not just a musical atrocity, it’s an intellectual and moral one, too:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. But we don’t ever talk about how the War of 1812 was a war of aggression that began with an attempt by the U.S. to grab Canada from the British Empire.

However, we’d wildly overestimated the strength of the U.S. military. By the time of the Battle of Fort McHenry in 1814, the British had counterattacked and overrun Washington, D.C., setting fire to the White House.

And one of the key tactics behind the British military’s success was its active recruitment of American slaves. As a detailed 2014 article in Harper’s explains, the orders given to the Royal Navy’s Admiral Sir George Cockburn read:

Let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the Black Population than with a view to any other advantage. … The great point to be attained is the cordial Support of the Black population. With them properly armed & backed with 20,000 British Troops, Mr. Madison will be hurled from his throne.

Whole families found their way to the ships of the British, who accepted everyone and pledged no one would be given back to their “owners.” Adult men were trained to create a regiment called the Colonial Marines, who participated in many of the most important battles, including the August 1814 raid on Washington.

Then on the night of September 13, 1814, the British bombarded Fort McHenry. Key, seeing the fort’s flag the next morning, was inspired to write the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

So when Key penned “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.

With that in mind, think again about the next two lines: “And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The reality is that there were human beings fighting for freedom with incredible bravery during the War of 1812. However, “The Star-Spangled Banner” glorifies America’s “triumph” over them — and then turns that reality completely upside down, transforming their killers into the courageous freedom fighters.

After the U.S. and the British signed a peace treaty at the end of 1814, the U.S. government demanded the return of American “property,” which by that point numbered about 6,000 people. The British refused. Most of the 6,000 eventually settled in Canada, with some going to Trinidad, where their descendants are still known as “Merikins.”

Furthermore, if those leading the backlash against Kaepernick need more inspiration, they can get it from Francis Scott Key’s later life.

By 1833, Key was a district attorney for Washington, D.C. As described in a book called Snowstorm in August by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, the police were notorious thieves, frequently stealing free blacks’ possessions with impunity. One night, one of the constables tried to attack a woman who escaped and ran away — until she fell off a bridge across the Potomac and drowned.

“There is neither mercy nor justice for colored people in this district,” an abolitionist paper wrote. “No fuss or stir was made about it. She was got out of the river, and was buried, and there the matter ended.”

Key was furious and indicted the newspaper for intending “to injure, oppress, aggrieve & vilify the good name, fame, credit & reputation of the Magistrates & constables of Washington County.”

You can decide for yourself whether there’s some connection between what happened 200 years ago and what Colin Kaepernick is angry about today. Maybe it’s all ancient, meaningless history. Or maybe it’s not, and Kaepernick is right, and we really need a new national anthem.

By Jon Schwarz

Posted by The NON-Conformist