Archive for the racism today Category

Tolerance is good for everyone: an insightful look at racism

Posted in race, racism, racism today with tags , , , on April 15, 2010 by sweetangel16175

“Tolerance is good for everyone: an insightful look at racism
by Josh Chicarelli

WARNING: The following blog contains racial slurs but they’re not used in a racist manner. So don’t take them out of context. They’re used to educate and give some insight into my background for those that don’t know.

You know, it never occurred to me until last night when I was watching comedienne Lisa Lampanelli on Comedy Central. I’ve never touched upon this topic before and some of the stuff I say about myself in here will be the first time that most of yous ever heard it. If you’re familiar with the comedy of Lisa Lampanelli or Carlos Mencia, you’d know that they do a lot of race related material. For instance, Lisa takes every stereotype about every race, sex, and creed and pokes fun at it. Carlos takes these same stereotypes and does the same thing but he puts it in perspective usually. I remember him saying once on his No Strings Attached special that “If you got a joke about a particular group of people, then you have no right to tell that joke unless you can tell that joke to the people that it pokes fun of.” He said this when he was telling a story about how the handicapped called him out on not doing handicap jokes in front of them because he didn’t wanna offend them but he learned first hand that it’s ok to do those jokes for the audiences that it pokes fun of because they have a sense of humor too.

Now with that said, no there will be no race related jokes from me here. I don’t really know if I could ever have the courage that Lisa or Carlos has. Something you all probably don’t know is that I, myself, have been a victim of racism. I can laugh at race related jokes and stuff like many other people when they’re not meant to be mean. Just laughing at the stereotypes that stupid people have pigeonholed on people. But when you attempt a joke that’s cold-hearted and absolutely racist, then there’s where I draw the line.

Imagine being 4-5 years old in kindergarten. Your only friend is a little black girl named Latoya and your so-called father starts calling you a nigger lover and saying shit about, “Do you want people to see you with a nigger? Do you want to be called a nigger lover by the church and everyone else?” Imagine having to go through that at 4 and 5 years old. …..It doesn’t end there. I’ve been dealing with racism my entire life and being a mix of Native American and Italian doesn’t help shit much. My skin is a little bit darker than everyone else’s. When we had those culture days in elementary school, imagine having a teacher, of all people, think you’re making a racist statement when you wear a Native American headdress to class to show off your culture and she doesn’t realize that you are Native American. As for me, I took offense to her doing that because I started feeling discriminated against.

…It still doesn’t end there. Fast forward to a few years ago. I was at my uncle’s house and he made pasta but I had food here that I wanted to eat and I hate pasta. My cousin Andrew asked me why I hated it and before I could get anything out my so-called uncle said this and I quote, “It’s that fuckin’ Indian in him!” I don’t know about you guys that’s reading this, but when he said that to me, I seriously wanted to punch him in the fuckin’ mouth for that. That shit pissed me the fuck off like you wouldn’t believe! Right after that, I just got up, left and walked home from Millersville by Pleasant Valley to Colfax. ….Not done yet people! Many of you know about my love of Asian cinema, food and culture. Well those that know me also know that my eyes don’t open as wide as everyone else’s either and that’s not because I’m Asian cause I’m not. It’s just I don’t have wide eyes. Well by my own father, yet again, I’ve been called chink-eyed, chinky, rice man, and pigeonholed with every Asian stereotype and slur you can imagine.

Because of all of that, I’ve grown to actually downright, not dislike or loathe my dad’s side of the family, but I’ve more or less grown to just hate them with a passion. That’s the Italian side of the family and thankfully I take more after my mom’s side which is the Native American side. They’re more tolerant of everyone and everything probably due to what the Europeans did when they first came here all those years ago and slaughtered our ancestors. Like a couple of years ago, I had a black girlfriend and that side knew about it but I had to keep it a secret from his side of the family to avert more racism.

And you know, there’s something I learned from the few black friends I have. They hate being called African-Americans and I asked them about that once and they told me that it was because they find that political correctness nonsense to be insulting to them. They just wanna be treated like everyone else. They want people to talk to them normally and not try to sound like they’re smarter than them or anyone else because they viewed the political correct terms as more racist than calling them black. I thought that was interesting, but you know, they were right. They are fucking right! If I was black, I’d probably be thinking the same thing.

There’s one thing though, I can’t apply that same way of thinking to being Native American because we actually do prefer to be called Native Americans rather than Indian. It mostly has to do with the fact that Indians are people from India, not people from this country originally. I can make fun of the Native American stereotypes because those don’t bother me that much and they are kinda funny. Like when someone pisses me off and they’re like, “Uh oh, don’t scalp me!” I seriously laugh at that because we don’t scalp people and when they’ve said it to me. Another stereotype I find hilarious, about Italians, is that we all smell like fish and garlic. Where that one comes from, I have no clue, cause I hate seafood and garlic, let alone all Italian food except pizza and I’m half Italian! So it’s funny to me when someone makes that joke. They aren’t saying them in a harsh, “I fucking mean it!”, kind of manner. They were joking, so yeah, I can take the joke, but blatant, flat out racism…. You better hope I don’t find you.

So hopefully you all learned something valuable about me today and learned something about racism too. That’s the reason why I wrote this blog is to educate a little bit and tell people about my experiences in doing so. So hopefully I made a difference to someone or some people out there with this insightful outlook. Take care everyone!”

This is from my friend’s blog.

When I asked him about it, he said this is all true.

“yeah, so when I say I know what it’s like to be discriminated against, I mean I really know how those people feel cause I went through it.”

It’s sad, pathetic, and disgusting to have even your father and your uncle say that to you.

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Discrimination and Hate Crime Against Arab Americans

Posted in anti semitism, anti-islamism, effects of stereotyping, identifying against, if you open your eyes, ignorance, ignorance of people, islamophobia, muslim, muslims, racism today, religion with tags , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2008 by sweetangel16175

http://www.adc.org/index.php?id=3388

ADC RELEASES REPORT ON HATE CRIMES AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ARAB AMERICANS


Washington, DC | December 4, 2008 | http://www.adc.org | Today, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) released the 2003-2007 edition of its “Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination Against Arab Americans.” This definitive report on the condition of the Arab American community was made possible by The Ford Foundation and The Carnegie Corporation of New York, and can be read at: . www.adc.org/PDF/hcr07.pdfwww.adc.org/PDF/koury.pdf

In simply announcing the release of this report, ADC’s Communications Director received a number of hate email messages. One such message read, “Why do we not hear of these “hate crimes”. NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN all are in the pockets of the politically correct. Why not ONE news story? Could it be an overly sensitive Arab population who really doesn’t give a damn about the U.S.S. Cole, 9/11/2001, Khobar Towers? If you folks are so “hated” here why not go back to your own kind? Simple solution and I seriously doubt you’d be missed in this, the greatest of all countries.”

REPORT FINDINGS

The report examines: hate crimes and discrimination; civil liberties concerns; discrimination and bias in primary and secondary educational institutions; discrimination and political harassment campaigns in higher education; defamation in the media; communication and cooperation between community organizations and government agencies; and recommendations for the future.

ADC’s report found that while the rate of violent hate crimes against the community (or those perceived to members of the community) has continued to decline from the immediate post 9/11 surge, but remains elevated from the years prior to 9/11. However, Arab Americans continue to face higher rates of employment discrimination in both the public and private sectors. At the press conference, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Lance Koury, a long-time member of the Alabama National Guard who for years has been subjected to a hostile and abusive work environment shared his story. Read his account here:

Discrimination at airports based on stereotyping, over-zealousness or prejudice by airline personnel or even other passengers is now one of the main sources of discrimination facing Arab-American air travelers. Arab-American travelers face serious issues with border crossing detentions and delays, especially on the U.S.-Canada border.

Arab-American students continue to face significant problems with discrimination and harassment in schools around the country. Arab-American students and faculty have faced increased levels of discrimination and political harassment campaigns, especially involving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and efforts by right-wing groups to stifle debate on U.S. foreign policy in academia.

Defamation in popular culture and the media remains a very serious problem facing the Arab-American community. In spite of a far better record from the film and television industry in 2003-2007, defamation spread wildly in the non-fiction world of television, magazines, radio, newspapers and websites. A campaign of relentless vilification against Muslims and Islam has been the single biggest contributor to the collapse in American public opinion of Islam during this period.

Civil liberties concerns remain serious, including the some aspects of the discourse on a homegrown terrorist threat, the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, aspects of the REAL ID Act, secret evidence provisions, warrantless wiretapping and elements of immigration reform, among other issues.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENT -It is imperative that the government continues to resist calls for racial or religious profiling, and recognize that counter-terrorism policies based on stigmatizing broad identity groups have failed, and will not provide reliable security in the future.

-Terrorism watch and “no fly” lists should be consolidated and rationalized between all agencies and kept to a manageable size. Effective mechanisms for challenging inclusion or distinguishing between persons supposed to be included as opposed to those with similar names, as well as processes allowing persons routinely falsely caught up with these lists, should be instituted to avoid unnecessary problems.

-The Customs and Border Protection (CBT) agency should create a civil rights division or a similar wing to deal with complaints and concerns, and the government should make every effort to explain customs and border procedures to the public whenever appropriate.

-The government should avoid any form of preventative detention, which has no place in the American legal system.

-All relevant agencies need to take steps to ensure that unnecessary naturalization and immigration status adjustment petitions are not unnecessarily delayed.

-In considering any potential homegrown terrorist threat, Congress and executive branch agencies should take every effort to avoid stigmatizing entire communities.

-Congress should also act to preserve civil liberties by repealing sections of the PATRIOT Act, curbing executive branch excesses such as warrantless wiretapping, and by ensuring that measures such as comprehensive immigration reform and immigration law enforcement generally do not violate the fundamental rights of any individual.

-The leaders of both parties in Congress should ensure that members of the House and Senate do not make bigoted or stereotyping remarks without censure or disciplinary action, whether formal or informal.

-Since this would be the single most positive step that the United States could take in promoting better relations with the Arab world and reversing the alienation between Arab and American societies, American foreign policy should prioritize resolving the conflict in the Middle East by at long last ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a Palestinian state to live alongside Israel in peace.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES
-Secondary and primary schools around the country should ensure that Arab-American students are not subject to any discrimination, abuse or harassment based on their ethnicity and that Arab culture or Islam is not the subject of disparaging or biased characterizations by faculty or in the curricula.

-Universities should protect faculty, especially untenured professors, from politically motivated campaigns of harassment and should resist outside efforts to interfere with tenure and promotion processes plainly designed to enforce political orthodoxy and stifle academic freedom and dissent.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE MEDIA

-The entertainment industry should make every effort to continue the pattern of more balanced representations of Arabs and Muslims in American popular culture since the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place, and not revert to the unbalanced ethnic stereotyping that characterized earlier decades.

-The news media and publishers should employ a single standard of basic respect for all identity groups and communities regarding commentary that promotes racism, ethnic or religious intolerance and stereotyping. Censorship is unacceptable, but respectable news outlets properly draw limits on the kind of expression they deliberately invite for inclusion in public debates and quite appropriately maintain standards regarding fundamental propriety. Arab Americans and American Muslims should be treated with the same level of respect and decency as all other communities, within the context of a society that properly chooses to maximize the range of free speech. Needless to say, government should play no role in defining these standards and practices.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE ARAB-AMERICAN COMMUNITY

-Arab-American organizations and government agencies should continue to explore all available mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation whenever appropriate.

-Arab Americans should redouble their efforts to organize themselves as a community and engage the political system of our country at every level, both individually and as a collective.

-Arab Americans should expand their efforts at building coalitions with like-minded communities and organizations on all major issues of concern.

-Arab Americans, while vigilant in fighting stereotyping and discrimination, should be sensitive to and vehemently reject any extremism that may emerge from fringe elements within the community.

-Arab American parents should encourage their children to pursue professions in government service and the media if they are so inclined.

-Arab Americans should passionately promote public service within the community, and emphasize that they are proud and enthusiastic Americans when communicating with our fellow citizens.

Bill O’Reilly’s Lynching Party

Posted in black and white, colorblind, colorblind racism, crimes against humanity, identifying against, ignorance, ignorance of people, obama, racism, racism today with tags , , , on November 24, 2008 by sweetangel16175

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyPNDS6TRvw&feature=related

Bill O’Reilly talks about lynching Michelle Obama.

“And I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts that say this is how the woman really feels. If that’s how she really feels– that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever– then that is legit. We’ll track it down.”

bill o’reilly still has the same mentality, the same mindset as we did a hundred years ago.
i feel really bad for him.

America is not a country. the united states, canada, and mexico are countries, but america is not a country.
there’s a big difference between flawed and bad. they both are making mistakes. bad is just intentional and flawed is unintentional. the united states is a flawed nation, but its not a bad nation. i mean, the united states is run by people and people are flawed, they make mistakes. for michelle obama to mention that is a good thing. she’s accepted that there’s room for change. O’Reilly is in denial that the united states is a flawed nation. Get over it, O’Reilly. Get over it.

Racism Unfiltered in France

Posted in black and white, categorizing people, classifying people, colorblind racism, concept of racism, identifying against, ignorance, ignorance of people, race, racism, racism in france, racism today, Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 16, 2008 by sweetangel16175

If the problem of racism in American discourse is typified by the N-word outburst of comedian Michael Richards followed by his abject apology, the French variant is altogether more toxic. The latest outrage came from second-string TV personality and self-appointed social commentator Pascal Sevran, whose recently published book included the obscenely racist idea that the “black [penis] is responsible for famine in Africa.” Elaborating in a newspaper interview, Sevran said, “Africa is dying from all the children born there” to parents supposedly too sexually undisciplined or dumb to realize they could not feed them all. The answer to the problem? “We need sterilize half the planet,” Sevran emphatically replied. Known as an relentless attention-seeker, the defiant Sevran drew only limited fire for his comments, and a public rebuke from his public television employer — though not the cancellation of his Sunday program that many demanded. Appalled at the light punishment, the government of Niger (itself a victim of recent famines) announced it would file libel charges against Sevran in French courts.

Sevran’s prurient opinions are but the latest addition to the growing racist chatter in the French mainstream. A month earlier, a Socialist political kingpin in the Montpellier region sparked fury — and possible expulsion from the party — by lamenting that France’s national soccer team fielded “9 blacks out of 11” starting players. “I’m ashamed of this country,” in which “the whites are lousy,” he groused, and would soon be fielding teams “where all 11 players are black.” That echoed a comment a year earlier by philosopher Alain Finkelkraut, who — seeking to explain the 2005 rioting by youths descended from immigrants in France’s suburbs — made allusion to France’s “white-black-Arab” soccer side that won the 1998 World Cup and became an icon of French social integration. ” Today, [the team is] black-black-black, and it’s the laughingstock of Europe,” Finkelkraut complained.

Even some black Frenchmen have joined the bigoted chorus: In November, the black comic known as Dieudonn� made a conspicuous appearance at the annual congress of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front party — much to the pleasure of extreme-rightists looking to lose their racist stigma without changing their xenophobic positions. For the last two years, the self-described leftist Dieudonn� had outdone even Le Pen in Jew-baiting, delivering a series of brazenly anti-Semitic remarks, belittling the Holocaust and depicting Jews as racist persecutors of blacks and Arabs. Though that earned him general condemnation, Dieudonn�’s high-profile fraternizing with a party treated as a pariah by most French minorities and voters indicated that he, too, was looking for a more effective manner to promote his divisive positions. His flirtation with Le Pen found support from Ahmed Moualek, a blogger and influential voice from France’s blighted suburban housing projects who said he’d rather debate with “an intelligent racist than with a stupid anti-racist,” noting that while Le Pen’s “language can at times shock people, he’s an honest man.”

The rising torrent of racist language and publicly expressed racist attitudes may be a sign less that racism is spreading, than that the boundaries of mainstream tolerance are changing. As in the U.S., France has seen an increase in provocative shock content in entertainment and commentary, whether for comic effect or political impact. Interior Minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy drew protests when he used a racially loaded term to denounce young men rioting in the suburbs last year — an outcry that also coincided with his jump in polls. The street patois of those ethnically diverse projects, meanwhile, has also long contained its own racially aggressive “shock” element, with the rejoinder “ta race” (your race) a kind of generic, all-purpose slight. Clearly, the political “filter” in the U.S. public square that prompts a Michael Richards or a Mel Gibson to grovel apologetically following publicly recorded racial insults is considerably less developed in France. Indeed, last year’s riots were a stark reminder of how poorly France has done in integrating its diversity, remaining locked in an officially “color-blind” national ideology that often simply avoids confronting the problems of racial inequality. France counts no blacks or Arabs as members of parliament, and its corporate boardrooms don’t fare much better.

France rejects affirmative action as incompatible with its republican ideals of color-blind equality for all citizens. Nice in theory, but that’s not working in practice: discrimination continues, inequality is rife, and notions of color-blindness don’t square with the rising chorus of racially loaded commentary. Color-blindness may also function to keep France blind to racial discrimination and inequality, but the rising tide of anger in the projects and racist chatter in the mainstream suggests that the French may soon have no choice but to openly confront what color-blindness prefers not to see.

Why is France Burning?

Posted in african, anger, anti-islamism, black and white, categorizing people, children suffering, classifying people, concept of racism, crimes against humanity, discrimination, forms of racism, hate, identifying against, ignorance, ignorance of people, images in the media, islam, islam and violence, lack of understanding, muslim, muslim is not a race, muslims, muslims are not terrorist, no respect, police brutality, politicallly correct dream of racism, prejudice, race, race is a social concept, racism, racism and the concept of identifying against, racism in france, racism today, stereotypes, stereotypes of islam, terrorism, violence, violence and islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2008 by sweetangel16175

WHY IS FRANCE BURNING?

WHY IS FRANCE BURNING?

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Saturday night was the 10th day of the spreading youth riots that have much of France in flames — and it was the worst night ever since the first riot erupted in a suburban Paris ghetto of low-income housing, with 1295 vehicles — from private cars to public buses — burned last night, a huge jump from the 897 set afire the previous evening. And, for the first time, the violence born in the suburban ghettos last night invaded the center of Paris — some 40 vehicles were set alight in Le Marais (the pricey home to the most famous gay ghetto in Paris, around the Place de la Republique nearby, and in the bourgeois 17th arrondissement, only a stone’s throw from the dilapidated ghetto of the Goutte d’Or in the 18th arrondissement.

 

As someone who lived in France for nearly a decade, and who has visited those suburban ghettos, where the violence started, on reporting trips any number of times, I have not been surprised by this tsunami of inchoate youth rebellion that is engulfing France. It is the result of thirty years of government neglect: of the failure of the French political classes — of both right and left — to make any serious effort to integrate its Muslim and black populations into the larger French economy and culture; and of the deep-seated, searing, soul-destroying racism that the unemployed and profoundly alienated young of the ghettos face every day of their lives, both from the police, and when trying to find a job or decent housing.

 

To understand the origins of this profound crisis for France, it is important to step back and remember that the ghettos where festering resentment has now burst into flames were created as a matter of industrial policy by the French state.

 

If France’s population of immigrant origin — mostly Arab, some black — is today quite large (more than 10% of the total population), it is because there was a government and industrial policy during the post-World War II boom years of reconstruction and economic expansion which the French call “les trentes glorieuses” — the 30 glorious years — to recruit from France’s foreign colonies laborers and factory and menial workers for jobs which there were no Frenchmen to fill. These immigrant workers were desperately needed to allow the French economy to expand due to the shortage of male manpower caused by two World Wars, which killed many Frenchmen, and slashed the native French birth-rates too. Moreover, these immigrant workers were considered passive and unlikely to strike (unlike the highly political French working class and its Communist-led unions.) This government-and-industry-sponsored influx of Arab workers (many of whom saved up to bring their families to France from North Africa) was reinforced following Algerian independence by the Harkis.

 

The Harkis (whose story is movingly told by Dalila Kerchouche in her Destins de Harkis) were the native Algerians who fought for and worked with France during the post-war anti-colonial struggles for independence — and who for their trouble were horribly treated by France. Some 100,000 Harkis were killed by the Algerian FLN (National Liberation Front) after the French shamelessly abandoned them to a lethal fate when the French occupying army evacuated itself and the French colonists from Algeria. Moreover, those Harki families who were saved, often at the initiative of individual military commanders who refused to obey orders not to evacuate them, once in France were parked in unspeakable, filthy, crowded concentration camps for many long years and never benefited from any government aid — a nice reward for their sacrifices for France, of which they were, after all, legally citizens. Their ghettoized children and grandchildren, naturally, harbor certain resentments.

 

France’s other immigrant workers were warehoused in huge, high-rise low-income housing ghettos — known as “cités” (Americans would say “the projects”) — specially built for them, and deliberately placed out of sight in the suburbs around most of France’s major urban agglomerations, so that their darker-skinned inhabitants wouldn’t pollute the center cities of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille, Nice and the others of white France’s urban centers today encircled by flames. Often there was only just enough public transport provided to take these uneducated working class Arabs and blacks directly to their jobs in the burgeoning factories of the “peripherique” — the suburban peripheries that encircled Paris and its smaller sisters — but little or none linking the ghettos to the urban centers.

 

Now 30, 40, and 50 years old, these high-rise human warehouses in the isolated suburbs are today run-down, dilapidated, sinister places, with broken elevators that remain unrepaired, heating systems left dysfunctional in winter, dirt and dog-shit in the hallways, broken windows, and few commercial amenities — shopping for basic necessities is often quite limited and difficult, while entertainment and recreational facilities for youth are truncated and totally inadequate when they’re not non-existent. Both apartments and schools are over-crowded (birth control is a cultural taboo in the Muslim culture the immigrants brought with them and transmitted to their children, and even for their male grandchildren of today — who’ve adopted hip-hop culture and created their own French-language rap music of extraordinary vitality (which often embodies stinging social and political content) — condoms are a no-no because of Arab machismo, contributing to rising AIDS rates in the ghettos.

 

The first week in December will mark the 22nd anniversary of the Marche des Beurs (Beur means Arab in French slang). I was present to see the cortege of 100,000 arrive in Paris — it was the Franco-Arab equivalent of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Justice The Marche des Beurs was organized from Lyon’s horrific, enormous suburban high-rise ghetto, Les Minguettes, with the help of a charismatic left-wing French Catholic worker-priest, Father Christian Delorme, and its central theme was the demand to be recognized as French “comme les autres” — like everyone else … a demand, in sum, for complete integration. But for the mass of Franco-Arabs, little has changed since 1983 — and the integrationist movement of “jeunes beurs” created around that march petered out in frustration and despair. In recent years, its place has been taken by Islamist fundamentalists operating through local mosques — the mediatic symbol of this retreat into a separatist, communitarian-religious politics is the slick demagogue Tariq Ramadan, a philosophy professor who uses one cosmetically democratic discourse when he’s speaking on French TV, and a fiery, hard-line fundamentalist discourse in the Arab-language cassettes of his speeches that sell like hotcakes to Franco-Arab ghetto youth. (Ramadan’s double language has been meticulously documented by the Arab-speaking journalist Caroline Fourest in her book published last fall by Editions Grasset, “Frere Tariq: discourse, methode et strategie de Tariq Ramadan,” extracts from which have been published in the weekly l’Express.) But the current rebellion has little to do with Islamic fundamentalism.

 

In 1990, Francois Mitterrand — the Socialist President then — described what life was like for jobless ghetto youths warehoused in the overcrowded “cités”:

 

“What hope does a young person have who’s been born in a quartier without a soul, who lives in an unspeakably ugly high-rise, surrounded by more ugliness, imprisoned by gray walls in a gray wasteland and condemned to a gray life, with all around a society that prefers to look away until it’s time to get mad, time to FORBID.”

 

Well, Mitterrand’s perceptive and moving words remained just that — words — for his urban policy was an underfunded, unfocussed failure that only put a few band-aids on a metastasizing cancer — and 15 years after Mitterrand’s diagnosis, the hopelessness and alienation of these ghetto youths and their “gray lives” has only become deeper and more rancid still.

 

The response to the last ten days of violent youth rebellion by the conservative government has been inept and tone-deaf. For the first four days of the rebellion, Chirac and his Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin decided to let the hyper-ambitious, megalomaniacal Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, lead the government’s response to the youth’s violence and arson. Chirac and Villepin detest Sarkozy, who has been openly campaigning to replace Chirac as president in 2007 (Villepin was made P.M. in the hopes that he could block Sarkozy for the right’s presidential nomination), The President and his P.M. thought that “Sarko,” as he’s commonly referred to in France — who won his widespread popularity as a hardline, law-and-order demagogue on the issue of domestic insecurity — would be unable to stop the violence, and thus damage his presidential campaign.

 

But Sarkozy only poured verbal kerosene on the flames, dismissing the ghetto youth in the most insulting and racist terms and calling for a policy of repression. “Sarko” made headlines with his declarations that he would “karcherise” the ghettos of “la racaille“– words the U.S. press has utterly inadequately translated to mean “clean” the ghettos of “scum.” But these two words have an infinitely harsher and insulting flavor in French. “Karcher” is the well-known brand name of a system of cleaning surfaces by super-high-pressure sand-blasting or water-blasting that very violently peals away the outer skin of encrusted dirt — like pigeon-shit — even at the risk of damaging what’s underneath. To apply this term to young human beings and proffer it as a strategy is a verbally fascist insult and, as a policy proposed by an Interior Minister, is about as close as one can get to hollering “ethnic cleansing” without actually saying so. It implies raw police power and force used very aggressively, with little regard for human rights. I wonder how many Anglo-American correspondents get the inflammatory, terribly vicious flavor of the word in French? The translation of “karcherise” by “clean” just misses completely the inflammatory violence of what Sarko was really saying. And “racaille” is infinitely more pejorative than “scum” to French-speakers — it has the flavor of characterizing an entire group of people as subhuman, inherently evil and criminal, worthless, and is, in other words, one of the most serious insults one could launch at the rebellious ghetto youth.

 

As the rebellion has spread beyond the Paris suburbs as far south as Marseilles and Nice and as far north as Lille, Sarkozy has been thundering that the spreading violence is centrally “organized.” But on the telephone this morning from Paris, the dean of French investigative reporters — Claude Angeli, editor of Le Canard Enchaine — told me, “That’s not true — this isn’t being organized by the Islamist fundamentalists, as Sarkozy is implying to scare people. Sure, kids in neighborhoods are using their cellphones and text messages to warn each other where the cops are coming so they can move and pick other targets for their arson. But the rebellion is spreading because the youth have a sense of solidarity that comes from watching television — they imitate what they’re seeing, and they sense themselves targeted by Sarkozy’s inflammatory rhetoric. The rebellion is spreading spontaneously — driven especially by racist police conduct that is the daily lot of these youths. It’s incredible the level of police racism — they’re arrested or controlled and have their papers checked because they have dark skins, and the police are verbally brutal, calling them ‘bougnoules’ [a racist insult, something like the American “towel-heads”, only worse] and telling them, ‘Lower your eyes! Lower your eyes!’ as if they had no right to look a policeman in the face. It’s utterly dehumanizing. No wonder these kids feel so divorced from authority.”

 

A team report in today’s French daily, Liberation (where I was once a columnist), interviews ghetto youths, and asks them to explain the reasons for their anger. And, the paper reports, “All, or almost all, cite ‘Sarko’….a 22-year old student says, ‘Sarkozy owes us his excuses for what he said. When I see what’s happened, I come back to the same image: Sarkozy when he went to Argenteuil, raising his head and thundering, Madame, we’re going to clean all that up. Result? Sarko sent every body over the top, he showed a total disrespect toward everybody” in the ghetto.” A 13-year-old tells the Liberation reporters: “‘It’s us who are going to put Sarkozy through the Karcher…Will I be out making trouble tonight?’ He smiles and says, ‘that’s classified information.'” Another 28-year-old youth: “Who’s setting the fires? They’re kids between 14 and 22, we don’t really know who they are because they put on masks, don’t talk, and don’t brag about it the next day … but instead of fucking everything up where they live, it would be better if they held a demo, or went and fucked up the people and the stores in Paris. We’ve got minister, Sarko, who says ‘You’re all the same.’ Me, I say non, we all say non — but in reply we still get, ‘You’re all the same.’ That response from the government creates something in common between all of us, a kind of solidarity. These kids want to get attention, to let people know they exist. So, they same to themselves, ‘If we get nasty and create panic, they won’t forget us, they’ll know we’re in a neighborhood where we need help.”

 

Yesterday, when Sarkozy — who is Minister of Religion as well as Interior Minister — wanted to make an appearance at the Catholic Bishops’ conference in Paris, they refused to let him speak — and instead, the Bishops issued a ringing statement denouncing “those who would call for repression and instill fear” instead of responding to the economic, social, and racial causes of the riots. This was an unusually sharp rebuke directed squarely at Sarkozy.

 

Under the headline “Budget Cuts Exasperate Suburban Mayors,” Le Monde reports today on how Chirac and his conservatives have compounded 30 years of neglect of the ghettos by slashing even deeper into social programs: 20% annual cuts in subsidies for neighborhood groups that work with youths since 2003, cuts in youth job-training programs and tax credits for hiring ghetto youth, cuts in education and programs to teach kids how to read and write, cuts in neighborhood police who get to know ghetto kids and work with them (when Sarkozy went to Toulouse, he told the neighborhood police: “You’re job is not to be playing soccer with these kids, your job is to arrest them!”) With fewer and fewer neighborhood cops to do preventive work that defuses youth alienation and violence, the alternative is to wait for more explosions and then send in the CRS (Compagnies Republicaines de Securite, hard-line paramilitary SWAT teams). Budget cuts for social programs plus more repression, is a prescription for more violence.

 

That’s why Le Monde‘s editorial today warned that a continuation of this blind policy creates a big risk of provoking a repeat of 2002, when the neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen made it into the runoff.

 

And a majority of the country, empoisoned even more by racism after the violence of the last ten days, seems willing to accept more and more repression: a poll released last night on France 2 public TV shows that 57% of the French support Nicolas Sarkozy’s hard-line approach to the ghetto youths’ rebellion, now spreading right across France. Sarko’s demagogy seems to be working — at least with the electorate — but it won’t stop the violence, it will only increase it.

 

 

Doug Ireland, a longtime radical journalist and media critic, runs the blog DIRELAND, where this article appeared Nov. 6, 2005.

Clarksburg women charged for hate crime

Posted in black and white, concept of racism, conflict, hate crime, identifying against, kkk, racism, racism and the concept of identifying against, racism exists in the united states, racism in america, racism today, the kkk, the klu klux klan, violence, white supremacy with tags , , , , on November 13, 2008 by sweetangel16175
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Clarksburg police say a white woman wearing a sheet with “KKK” written on it came out of an apartment building and attacked a 15-year-old black girl on Sunday. The woman is expected to be charged with a hate crime, said Clarksburg Police Chief Marshall Goff. Names were not yet being released, he said.

“She came out of the building and was yelling obscenities and racial stuff at the juvenile,” Goff said. “Charges are pending; she could be served as early as tomorrow.”

Goff said police haven’t ruled out the possibility that the woman has mental problems.

The woman slapped the girl and kicked her in the stomach, he said.

The incident happened outside an apartment building on West Pike Street in downtown Clarksburg, he said.

“The girl was visiting a friend with her mother at the apartment building,” Goff said. “It is a very unusual occurrence in this area. It’s something we are not going to tolerate and will prosecute to the full extent of the law.”

Clarksburg Woman Arrested After Racial Incident
Posted Tuesday, October 7, 2008 ; 06:06 PM


Rebecca Lowe is facing a felony charge. CLARKSBURG — The police have arrested a Clarksburg woman for allegedly yelling racial slurs at a fourteen-year-old black girl.

Officers say the girl was walking past an apartment building on West Pike Street, when Rebecca Lowe, 32, came outside wearing a white sheet over her head.

The sheet had the initials K-K-K written on it in black marker.

They say Lowe slapped and kicked the girl, while yelling the slurs.

Police have charged her with prohibiting the girl’s civil rights.

It is a felony charge.

Lowe was arraigned Tuesday morning and released on $20,000 bond.

 

Anti-Arab Racism, Islamophobia, and the Anti-War Movement

Posted in racism, racism today, religion, Uncategorized with tags , on June 20, 2008 by sweetangel16175
Published on: October 01, 2006
    Racism against Arabs and Muslims long preceded the 9-11 terrorist attacks and has much of its roots in Western imperialism in the Middle East, especially Israel’s colonization of Palestine. Yet, the escalation that we witness today can be traced to the war on terror launched after 9-11 by Bush and his neoconservative ideologues with the backing of the Democrats. Anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism has helped sell the detentions, wars, gulags, and occupations of US imperialism’s latest and boldest venture into the Middle East and South Asia. In turn, this imperial venture has further inflamed racist views of Arabs and Muslims. 

What makes this growing racism so frightening is its wide acceptance in US society, particularly by the left. With the latter, it is not as much conscious racism as not doing enough to fight it. Part of this may be due to ambivalence, but it also stems from a lack of a dynamic understanding of Islamism. Broad support gives anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism a sense of legitimacy and respectability that makes building a mass movement that can end the war and occupation of Iraq difficult, if not impossible, since so much of the support for the war is fueled by fear and racism.

We thrash, curse for air
As our strangler declares, look
How violent the Arab
-Haiku for the Head Locked by Zein El-Amine

According to an ABC-Washington Post poll taken in March 2006, a majority of people in the US believe that “Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence,” with 46 percent expressing a negative view of the religion, 7 percent higher than in the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The poll also found that 25 percent of people in the US admitted to “harboring prejudice towards” Muslims and Arabs. The institutional effect of this racism is stark. The earnings of Arab and Muslim men working in the US dropped about 10 percent since 9-11, according to a new University of Illinois study. The drop in wages was most dramatic in areas reporting high hate crime rates. Robert Kaestner, co-author of the study said there was “an immediate and significant connection between personal prejudice and economic harm.”

This should not come as a surprise when you consider the extent of anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism being perpetrated by governments and the media around the world. The past year has seen the mass publication of Danish cartoons ridiculing Islam, police brutality and repression against North Africans in France, and a riot against mostly Lebanese immigrants in Australia—all of which led to mass protests and, in the case of France, riots by Arabs and Muslims in response.

While such blatant racism has not yet provoked a similar response in the US, it has not been because of any shortage of incidents:

• Last year a Washington, DC, radio host continuously referred to Islam as a “terrorist organization” on his show.
• The Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License started a campaign to put up “Don’t License Terrorists” billboards depicting an Arab holding a hand grenade in one hand and a driver license smeared with blood in the other.
• Republican Congressman Tancredo of Colorado openly called for the US to preempt a terrorist attack by attacking Muslim holy sites like Mecca.

Anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism is an indispensable part of the so-called “war on terror” or “the long war,” as it is now referred to, and US plans to dominate the Middle East. By dehumanizing those that the US is waging war against, this racism makes their death and the destruction of their countries more palatable to the US public and quells domestic resistance to the war. Today it helps numb people to the deaths of dozens of Iraqis per day and the mass murder of Lebanese and Palestinians by Israel.

Fomenting anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism has not been difficult because, as Noam Chomsky puts it, such racism has “long been extreme, the last ‘legitimate’ form of racism in that one doesn’t even have to pretend to conceal it.” I do not want to minimize all the other forms of racism that run deep in this country, but there is indeed a certain legitimacy and respectability given to anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism that is not found with other forms of racism. This legitimacy stems from the fact that anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism cuts across the entire political spectrum, from right to left. It is accepted and even practiced by those who would not tolerate other forms of racism. While the anti-racist record of liberals and some on the left is not the best, it is particularly bad when it comes to Arabs and Muslims.

Green menace
Arabs have historically been more the targets of this racism than Muslims. This began to change in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution because it was no longer just Arabs who were the enemy. The end of the Cold War and resistance to US hegemony, particularly by Muslims in the Middle East, made Islam a useful scapegoat for US imperialism—its new bogeyman now that communism was gone. Books by the Orientalist Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations became popular because they gave “scholarly” backing to the idea that Islam was the main threat to Western “civilization.”
Many have drawn parallels between this scapegoating of Muslims to the red scare during the Cold War, referring to it as the “green menace.” While the comparison is appropriate, the concept of the green menace is, in many ways, much more insidious because it relies on racism rather than ideology. It is a more effective means of instilling fear in people, deflecting their attention from their everyday problems, and mobilizing them against some supposedly powerful enemy. That is not to say that the red scare was not (and still is not) used in a racist manner in countries like Vietnam, North Korea, China, and Cuba. It is just that the main communist bogeymen, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, were white Europeans.

The specter of the green menace, on the other hand, relies on the fact that Muslims look different and, even if they do not look different, they have distinct names, places of worship, dress, and customs that can be easily exploited to portray them as the “other”—different, prone to violence, and barbaric. Also, in the age of “full spectrum dominance,” this racism can be used to justify and mobilize attacks on a huge swath of the world’s poor because Muslims are not only present in large numbers in the Middle East, but in Africa, Asia, South Asia, and most urban centers in Europe, the United States, and Canada.

Having said that, I have chosen to use the term “anti-Arab/anti-Muslim” rather than just one or the other because both groups—and many others, including Sikhs, who are neither Arab nor Muslim—are the targets of the racism we are seeing today. The piercing words, physical assaults, and flying bombs and bullets do not know nor care that we are not all the same.

Republicratic racism
The racist hysteria around an Arab company, Dubai Ports World (DPW), managing six US ports is a good example of both the uniqueness and pervasiveness of anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism in the US. During the public debate over the deal, it was those who traditionally have at least paid lip service against racism, the Democrats, who were the most xenophobic and, in some cases, downright racist. At a rally in Newark, New Jersey, attended by a number of Democratic Congressmen, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) described the port deal as an “occupation.” He added that “we wouldn’t transfer the title to the Devil; we’re not going to transfer it to Dubai.”
The liberal group MoveOn.org was less blatantly racist but still contributed to the hysteria. On its website it asked people how it should respond to the “port security scandal.” In their summary of the issue, they regurgitated the same distorted arguments politicians from both parties had been using, like “Dubai is…known as an international money laundering hub for Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.” Such use of unsubstantiated generalizations only feeds into the stereotype that the Middle East is crawling with terrorists.

With Democrats and liberals taking such a right-wing stance, it’s no wonder that Bush and some Republicans were portrayed as supporting the deal on the basis that opposition involved anti-Arab discrimination. In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, liberal Richard Cohen says, “Maybe because Bush is a Bush—son of a president who got to know many Arabs—or maybe because he just naturally recoils from prejudice, his initial stance on this controversy has been refreshingly admirable.”
Yes, remarkably, Bush may indeed be a defender of Arabs.

However, he is selective in which Arabs he defends. Bush is more than willing to protect the rich Arab monarchies that lord over the Gulf, but certainly not the thousands of Arabs and Muslims that his racist war on terror has maligned, detained, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Nothing captures this and the dehumanizing role of racism better than the following words from a letter Guantanamo Bay detainee Jamah Dossari gave his lawyer before attempting suicide:
The detainees are suffering from the bitterness of despair, the detention, humiliation, and the vanquish of slavery and suppression. I hope you will always remember that you met and sat with a “human being” called “Jamah” who suffered too much and was abused in his belief, self, dignity and also in his humanity. He was imprisoned, tortured, and deprived from his homeland, his family, and his young daughter who is in the most need of him for four years . . . with no reason or crime committed.

Sadly, Jamah Dossari is only one of thousands of Arab and Muslim prisoners, many of them nameless, being “detained” in US prisons and unknown “black sites” around the world, including here in the US at places like the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York.

The anti-war movement
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and others in the anti-war movement, as well as generally perceived progressive groups such as the Green Party sat out the DPW deal “controversy” and, more importantly, the whole anti-Muslim cartoons debate. There were protests on every continent, led mostly by Muslims who saw this as part of a broader war on Islam by non-Muslims—one that they were actually finally allowed to act on, as opposed to more egregious aspects of the war on terror like torture, imprisonment, and occupation that their rulers do not want to rock the boat over. The failure of anti-war groups in the US to organize any events in solidarity with Muslims worldwide, let alone even put out statements condemning their publication, helped reinforce the perception that the anti-war movement is not concerned with anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism.

On the positive side, some of the anti-war groups who are part of UFPJ have been organizing speaking tours of Iraqis. US Labor Against the War (USLAW) organized a tour of six Iraqi trade unionists around the country in June 2005, and in early 2006, Code Pink brought several Iraqi women to the US on a powerful tour involving Cindy Sheehan and other families of US soldiers killed in Iraq. Such events are very effective in combating racism because they humanize Iraqis and help break down stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims. The Green Party has also been good about issuing statements condemning the government’s targeting and racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims. However, if groups are genuinely concerned and committed to bringing about a just peace in the Middle East, then an explicit strategy of confronting anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism needs to be a central and consistent part of their work.

The failure of some anti-war groups to take anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism head-on may be due to the small number of Arabs and Muslims involved, and organizations’ lack of movement on these issues then reinforces the lack of Arab and Muslim involvement. For example, there is only one Muslim (and no Arabs) on UFPJ’s Steering Committee. While UFPJ does manage to have Arabs and Muslims speak at their actions and events, they are generally not involved in organizing with UFPJ on any consistent basis.

Worthless Arab lives
The tragic consequences of the failure of the anti-war movement in the US to challenge anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism were laid bare during Israel’s bloody invasion of Gaza and Lebanon. The public support for or, at best, indifference to such massive loss of innocent life and virtual destruction of entire countries and territories can only be fathomed in the context of a racism that basically says that Arab and Muslim lives are worthless and dispensable. In what other situation would the blatant targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure and the carrying out of not one but three massacres in the span of a week by a close US ally—with explicit US approval and military support—be tolerated? Add to this the fact that something similar continues to take place in Gaza and dozens of Iraqis are dying every day under the US occupation in Iraq.

Nothing exemplifies this dehumanization better than the case of Private Steven D. Green, the US soldier who raped a young Iraqi girl along with several other soldiers and then killed her and her entire family in the town of Mahmudiyah. Well before this incident, Green had said in an interview with an embedded AP reporter that he came to Iraq to kill people. He said, “I shot a guy who wouldn’t stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing…. Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it’s like ‘All right, let’s go get some pizza.’” I’m not sure what’s more problematic—what Green said or the fact the reporter never reported it until charges were filed against Green.

Of course such racism is dismissed as the words and actions of some crazed individual. But Green’s comments—like those of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who fought in the first Gulf War and said similar things—are the logical outcome of the racism being espoused at the highest levels of government and in the media. In response to the dozens of Lebanese civilians that were being killed in the early days of Israel’s assault, US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said with no regrets, “There’s no moral equivalence between the civilian casualties from the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and those killed in Israel from malicious terrorist attacks.” Meanwhile the mainstream media portrayed the war as being between equals even though over 1200 Lebanese, almost entirely civilians, and only 157 Israelis, more than two-thirds soldiers, were killed.

Instead of immediately challenging this and other lies, UFPJ reinforced the perception of a symmetrical war propagated by the media by mentioning first in communications their concern for “the loss of life on all sides…all attacks on civilians” and front-loading condemnations of Hezbollah, without necessarily even getting to the point of the grossly uneven death and destruction in Lebanon and Palestine caused by Israel. Although, the statements UFPJ released improved as the slaughter of Lebanese and Palestinians continued unabated (partially due to feedback from Palestine-solidarity activists), they did not even call for a day of decentralized protests around the country.

To get a sense of how conservative UFPJ was around the invasion of Lebanon, one need only compare their statements and actions to anti-war groups and individuals in other countries. A widely distributed and lauded internet video during the fighting was British MP George Galloway’s interview on Sky Television (Britain’s Fox) in which he not only exposes the media’s bias toward Israel but challenges the widely accepted view in the West that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. This argument needs to be made because after 9-11 most people in the US don’t need to hear anything beyond “this is a terrorist organization” to make up their mind about who is right and who is wrong. Therefore, challenging the US government labels of “terrorist” would go a long way in shifting the debate in this country on issues related to the “war on terror.”

The reason no one in the US has done what Galloway did is that in addition to Islamophobia there is a level of acceptance of the lies about Islamism by radicals. For example, the anti-capitalists who blog at http://www.threewayfight.blogspot.com posted an entry titled “Defending my enemy’s enemy” during Israel’s recent invasion of Lebanon in which they argued that while Israel is the clear aggressor in the conflict and needs to be opposed, it doesn’t mean the left should support Hezbollah. The bloggers argue:

…Hezbollah is essentially a right-wing political movement. Its guiding ideology is Khomeini-style Islamic fundamentalism. Hezbollah’s political ideal, the Islamic Republic of Iran, enforces medieval religious law, imposes brutal strictures on women and LGBT people, persecutes religious and ethnic minorities, and has executed tens of thousands of leftists and other political dissenters.

If it’s not already, this argument will one day become part of one of Hillary Clinton’s or even George Bush’s (minus the part about LGBT people) speeches justifying a war on Lebanon and Iran. Even though the entry is insignificant in terms of the number of people who probably read it, it articulates a political view that a lot of the left, particularly anarchists and anti-authoritarians, agree with but are not as open about—hence their conspicuous absence from a lot of the organizing against Israel’s invasion.

These kinds of arguments ignore the fact that Hezbollah gave up on fighting for a theocracy long ago. It is an established political party in a multi-ethnic and religious state in which they have the support and admiration of the other ethnic and religious groups and work closely with those on the left as well as the right. Additionally, Hezbollah’s recent victory was not just a victory over the Israeli apartheid state but a major blow to US imperialism, the main source of oppression and exploitation in the world. It could possibly have a libratory effect not just in the Middle East but also in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Understanding Islamism
In short, proponents of anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism can be broken down into several groups. One consists of the Pipes and Krauthammers of the world who see Islam as inherently violent, authoritarian, intolerant (anti-Semitic, misogynist, etc.), and therefore a natural breeding ground for terrorists.

Another group says that it is not Islam but political Islam or Islamism that is the source of terrorism—that Islamists have twisted what is otherwise a “good” religion for their own fanatical purposes. Fluctuating between these two groups is the majority of people in the US, who, according to the Washington Post-ABC poll cited earlier, have for now apparently bought into the first group’s blatant racism.
This is not surprising since Pipes et al. are given free reign in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post and New York Times and appear extensively in the media. They also have the ears of a large number of politicians, including their fellow neocons in the administration. But the main reason for the growth in the number of people who feel Islam is inherently prone to terrorism is the paucity of people exposing and combating these ideas. Even those who say Islamism is the problem and not the religion itself end up feeding into stereotypes of Muslims because their arguments are based on generalizations—that all Islamists are reactionary and even fascistic—and the false belief that there are other stronger secular forces and factors that are being ignored by the media.

A good example of this could be seen on the USLAW tour of Iraqi trade unionists. A number of people stressed that the tour was a good way to show that there was a more progressive alternative to the Islamists and Baathists when it came to opposition to the US occupation. One problem with this is that it overstates the role unions play in the opposition to the occupation. But the bigger problem is that the leaders of one of the unions doing the best work against the occupation, the General Union of Oil Employees in Basra (GUOE), clearly sympathize and have close relations with the Islamist Moqtada Al Sadr. I would even venture to say that the majority of the Basra oil workers—who have gone on strike several times, including most recently in February 2006, over economic as well as political issues like privatization and the occupation—are supporters of Al Sadr.

The GUOE and its leaders are a perfect example of why a more dynamic understanding of Islamists—one that does not lump them all into one homogenous group and dismiss them as reactionaries—is needed. While only a minority of Muslims might consider themselves Islamists, a large number, maybe even a majority, support them. This is especially the case among the poor and marginalized. As the Islamists have steadily filled the vacuum created by the disintegration of the left (a direct result of US intervention in the region), they have taken on some of the language and politics of the left, becoming the main force in resisting the ravages of poverty, imperialism, and authoritarian rule. As a result, they have also gained the support of some non-Islamist political activists and co-opted others, becoming the hegemonic force in opposition to the ruling regimes and their imperial backers.

This is not to say that all Islamists are progressive, but that they are not uniformly reactionary. Moreover, each Islamist group or party differs from the other in significant ways. They are products of their own distinct histories, shaped by different colonial experiences, class struggles, and imperialism.

For example, Hamas and Hezbollah reflect the experience of a much poorer and oppressed population than Al-Qaeda. As a result of not being based in any one country and who its leaders are, Al-Qaeda says and does very little for workers and the poor. Hezbollah takes positions against privatization and neoliberalism and for workers rights that have historically been taken up by the left in Lebanon. Moreover, like some of their fellow Shiite Islamists in Iraq, Hezbollah is not trying to create a theocracy through an Islamic revolution but work within a democratic system to ensure the rights and aspirations of the Shiites, the most downtrodden in Lebanese society.

In contrast, those groups who hold or have held state power like the Islamists in Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan are more right wing and authoritarian, ruthlessly suppressing any resistance. Almost all the groups that are allowed to operate openly—or in the case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, semi-openly—provide a wide range of social services to the poor.

Hamas and Hezbollah have also been shaped by a resistance struggle against Israeli occupation and US imperialism. In Iraq, the Sadrists took up arms against the US occupation while their fellow Shiite Islamists in the Dawa Party and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) supported it. Hezbollah, and now Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, all participate in elections while Al-Qaeda and other Islamists reject them.

Even on the question of women’s rights there are differences, with the level of involvement of women in the day-to-day activities of each group being an indicator of how supportive they are of women’s rights. With Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and most of the Islamist groups in Iraq, Sunni and Shiite, there is little or no involvement of women and little or no support for women’s rights. On the other hand, Hamas and the Egyptian Brotherhood ran women candidates; some even won. And women are openly involved at many levels in Hezbollah.

They’ll never win
Exposing and ending anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism needs to be a priority in the anti-war movement and the left in general. Doing so will not only bring more Arabs and Muslims into the movement, but also undercut the racist basis of support for the war. It will also alleviate the sense of isolation and powerlessness that so many Arabs and Muslims feel as a result of being the targets of war and racism.

Such blatant injustice combined with a lack of any effective mass opposition to the US-backed murder of so many innocent Arabs and Muslims is, ultimately, what pushes people to resort to terrorism. On the other hand, what the resistance in Lebanon has accomplished shows a successful alternative to such desperate and, ultimately, counterproductive tactics. It has also shown how quickly things can turn in this seemingly overwhelming struggle to stop the US war machine.

Most importantly, however, Lebanon has shown that we, Arabs and Muslims, can be locked up, tortured, and bombed but we will never stop resisting US and Israeli efforts to beat us into submission. Nothing captures this better than the words of Kamel, a shopkeeper who refused to leave Nabatiyeh, one of the hardest hit towns in south Lebanon: “Look around you. They have destroyed much of Nabatiyeh, but that is all they can do—destroy people’s homes and livelihoods. They can’t destroy our spirit and that is what they don’t understand and why they will never win this war.”