The quote at the end is worth reading if nothing else. History purportedly helps us to come face-to-face with our humanity, perhaps in the hopes that we may replicate that which in hindsight was “good”, and even predict and thus avoid that which we have determined is “bad.”
Thanks to my former husband/current friend, I know of a news outlet called Al-Jazeera. I have partaken of Al-Jazeera as access allows for some years now, simply for the fresh view and unique story priority they present. Case in point: the Oscars is not headlining their front page. Al-Jazeera is winning awards and becoming more widely known, however, the streaming newscast (similar to CNN 24 hour) is not permitted on American television at this time.
To cut to the chase, I have just read an article in Al-Jazeera English online for Monday February 27, 2012. I am concerned that we are living this very day, today, a moment in history that our children will study in hindsight, a moment where an entire “race” or “group” of people was targeted for the acts of a few, and “oh how awful,” and “we will not ever let that happen in our time.” I recall saying that as a young 5th grade student while watching a subtitled movie about Hitler called something like Night and Fog.
I also recall in history times where entire groups were targeted as “bad”, on more than one occasion in fact and repetitively over centuries. Do you? Does your own recall allow you to remember when entire groups of people were targeted and subsequently watched, controlled (using the law and/or the military), imprisoned, removed, and even eradicated just because they had a belief system that frightened the power majority, and the power majority made certain that the masses became afraid and moved towards mob rule? The group ate differently, spoke different languages, danced and dressed differently, saw God differently, and perhaps lived in a different kind of society? Because they represented the thing to be feared, they had to be stopped ….. to save everyone else you see.
The article, “Documents expose NYPD ‘mosque crawlers'”, contains a video stream I have not watched. The story tells about New York City’s efforts to make certain that the tragedy we know as September 11th does not happen again. Fair enough. We as a country have every right to protect ourselves; New Yorker’s have every right to protect themselves specifically because it happened to them, though we all share some sense of the tragedy.
Fast forward more than ten years, and we see the implementation of that need to protect. It is here that I believe hindsight down the road will shed light on the slippery slope we have begun to traverse. A few excerpts from the article at this point will help (though I will have to restrain myself from editing some spelling and grammar):
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has targeted Muslim places of worship using tactics normally reserved for criminal organisations, according to newly obtained police documents.
The files, obtained by the Associated Press news agency, show police collecting license plates of worshippers, monitoring them on surveillance cameras and cataloguing sermons via an informant network.
New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, using the 1993 bombings of the World Trade Center as a precedent, called the secret operation monitoring Muslims was “legal,” “appropriate” and “constitutional” on Friday.
“We cannot let our guard down again. We cannot slack in our vigilance. The threat was real. The threat is real. The threat is not going away”, said Bloomberg.
NYPD spokesman, Paul Browne, also defended the tactics, telling reporters a day earlier, that the New York Police Departments’ officers may go wherever the public goes and collect intelligence, even outside city limits. . . .
Oh really? Expanding the jurisdiction of the city police to monitor an entire group in this manner is legal and consistent with constitutional principles? Imagine if this was applied to Black Americans. Oh wait….. ok, onward:
“It seems horrible to me that the NYPD is treating an entire religious community as potential terrorists,” said civil rights lawyer Jethro Eisenstein, who reviewed some of the documents and is involved in a decades-old class-action lawsuit against the police department for spying on protesters and political dissidents.
I’m giggling because the attorney’s last name emanates from Judaic roots, whether in fact he is Jewish or not. The idea of Jewish people supporting Muslim people warms my heart.
Al Jazeera’s Cath Turner, reporting live from Patterson, New Jersey, where a local mosque has been targeted by the NYPD, said the Muslim community of New Jersey, “feel betrayed by the NYPD because they say they are citizens in this country and go about living their lives and feel they have been vilified based soley because of their religion”. . . .
When New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor were killed on October 11, 2006, after their small plane crashed into a Manhattan bulding, the NYPD’s mosque crawlers reported to police about what they heard at sermons and among worshippers though terrorism was ruled out as a cause hours after the crash.
At the Brooklyn Islamic Centre, a confidential informant “noted chatter among the regulars expressing relief and thanks to God that the crash was only an accident and not an act of terrorism”, one report reads.
“The worshippers made remarks to the effect that ‘it better be an accident; we don’t need any more heat,'” an undercover officer reported from the Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Of course they made remarks like that. These citizens of the United States of America have lived as outcasts and “untouchables” for years. They do not, nor did they ever, subscribe to bombings and mass murder as a means to get their religious-political views expressed.
Of COURSE they made those remarks. To construe and then vilify such a remark just astounds me, but then again I mingle with people of the Muslim faith. I eat meals with them. I marry them and have babies with them. I ask them questions about how they view things and what September 11, 2001 felt like to them. On some level it destroyed my marriage, but I am not afraid any more. Perhaps it enlightened me to how I can propogate such a witch hunt if I am not careful. The Imam (similar to the pastor or priest of a church) at one of the mosques (like a church or congregation) commented pretty pointedly:
They’re viewing Muslims like they’re crazy. They’re terrorists. They all must be fanatics”, said Abdul Akbar Mohammed, the imam for the past eight years at the Masjid Imam Ali K. Muslim in Newark. “That’s not right.”
No Imam Mohammed, that is not right. Our Constitution pretty much makes it clear as a bell that this outcome is not right, unless of course we re-interpret that document to say otherwise.
History is repeating itself again me thinks. Be warned. I think I am going to teach history… global human history mixed with some political theory and governance… to the younglings… often and with great passion.
… and even as I write, a school shooting in Chardon, Ohio is breaking news, and a female reporter speaking to a dad, with a line of questioning that appears to have an agenda…to get him to place blame on the school for not having metal detectors at the school. He keeps saying he believes the school does an excellent job, this kind of thing does not happen in Chardon, and she finally concedes and lets him go get his high school daughter…
Listen people, fear makes us do crazy things. I get that. I fight it all the time in my own personal life. I heard about a guy named Ambrose Redmoon on the radio a few days ago. Here is Wikipedia’s entry on him: James Neil Hollingworth (1933–1996) was a beatnik, hippie, writer, and former manager of the psychedelic folk rock bands Quicksilver Messenger Service and Ace of Cups. He wrote under the pseudonym Ambrose Redmoon.
I offer his words relatively intact as my parting thought:
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”