Category Archives: Islamophobia

THE “GREAT REPLACEMENT”. 60% of Britons believe in conspiracy theories – Esther Addley * Critical Thinking Skills. Why more highly educated people are less into conspiracy theories – Christian Jarrett.

Leavers are more likely to doubt immigration figures and think there is a plot to make Muslims the majority in UK.

Sixty per cent of British people believe at least one conspiracy theory about how the country is run or the veracity of information they have been given, a major new study has found, part of a pattern of deep distrust of authority that has become widespread across Europe and the US.

In the UK, people who supported Brexit were considerably more likely to give credence to conspiracy theories than those who opposed it, with 71% of leave voters believing at least one theory compared with 49% of remain voters.

Almost half (47%) of leave voters believed the government had deliberately concealed the truth about how many immigrants live in the UK, versus 14% of remain voters. A striking 31% of leave voters believed that Muslim immigration was part of a wider plot to make Muslims the majority in Britain, a conspiracy theory that originated in French far-right circles that was known as the “great replacement”. The comparable figure for remain voters was 6%.

The disparities between those who voted for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the US was even more stark, where 47% of Trump voters believed that man-made global warming was a hoax, compared with 2.3% of Clinton voters.

The figures were the result of a large-scale international project conducted over six years and in nine countries by researchers at the University of Cambridge and YouGov, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The study was the most comprehensive examination of conspiracy theories ever conducted, and marks the first time academics have explored questions of conspiracy beliefs, social trust and news consumption habits across different countries.

. . . The Guardian

Conspiracy and Democracy: History, Political Theory and Internet Research

The Leverhulme-funded project based at Cambridge University at CRASSH

Directors: Professor Sir Richard J Evans (History), Professor John Naughton (CRASSH), Professor David Runciman (Politics and International Studies)

Theories and beliefs about conspiracies are an enduring feature of modern societies. This is partly a reflection of the fact that real conspiracies do exist, and have existed in the past. But the pervasiveness of conspiracy theories in the twenty-first century suggests that many other factors are also at work, And studying them provides opportunities for understanding how people make sense of the world and how societies function. What does the prevalence of conspiracy theories tell us about trust in democratic societies, and about the differences between cultures and societies? How have conspiracies and conspiracy theorising changed over the centuries and what, if any, is the relationship between them? Have conspiracy theories appeared at particular moments in history, and why?

This ambitious, five-year, interdisciplinary research project aims to explore these and related questions. It sets out not to debunk particular theories but to provide a “natural history” of conspiracy theorising. To do that, the project combines the perspectives, investigative methods and insights of historians, political theorists, network engineers and other disciplines to produce what we hope will be a deeper and richer understanding of a fascinating and puzzling phenomenon.

Conspiracy and Democracy Study

Also on TPPA = CRISIS

Critical Thinking Skills. Why more highly educated people are less into conspiracy theories – Christian Jarrett

Debunking the Conspiratists. The Federal Reserve System, Illuminati and The New World Order. Real Facts.

ORIGINS OF HATE. Bring the War Home. The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America – Kathleen Belew.

“WE NEED EVERY ONE OF YOU,” proclaimed an anonymous 1985 article in a major white power newspaper. “We need every branch of fighting, militant whites. We are too few right now to excommunicate each other…. Whatever will save our race is what we will do!”

White power activists increasingly saw the state as their enemy. Many pursued the idea of an all-white, racial nation. The militant rallying cry “white power,” which echoed in all corners of the movement, was its most accurate self-descriptor.

Movement leader Louis Beam urged activists to continue fighting the Vietnam War on American soil. He referred to two wars: the one he had fought in Vietnam and the white revolution he hoped to wage in the United States.

In the wake of military failure in Southeast Asia, masculinity provided an ideological frame for the New Right, challenged antiwar sentiment, and idealized bygone and invented familial and gender orders throughout American society. The white power movement capitalized on this wave of broader cultural paramilitarism for its own, violent ends.

Conventional politics was unsalvageable and signaled a state of emergency that could not be resolved through political action alone. Their paramilitary infrastructure stood ready; the war could not wait.

The white power movement sought revolution and separation, the founding of a racial utopian nation.

A large contingent of white power activists in the post-Vietnam moment believed in white supremacy as a component of religious faith. Christian Identity congregations heard their pastors explain that whites were the true lost tribe of Israel and that nonwhites and Jews were descended from Satan or from animals.

White power violence reached a climax in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

War is not neatly contained in the space and time legitimated by the state. It reverberates in other terrains and lasts long past armistice. It comes home in ways bloody and unexpected.

The article spoke of emergency and government treachery. It foretold imminent apocalyptic race war. It called to believers in white supremacist congregations, to Klansmen and southern separatists, and to neoNazis. The white power movement united a wide array of groups and activists previously at odds, thrown together by tectonic shifts in the cultural and political landscape. Narratives of betrayal and crisis cemented their alliances.

Though often described by others as “white nationalist” and by its members as patriotic, this movement did not seek to defend the American nation, even when it celebrated some elements of US. history and identity. Instead white power activists increasingly saw the state as their enemy.

Many pursued the idea of an all-white, racial nation, one that transcended national borders to unite white people from the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and beyond. The militant rallying cry “white power,” which echoed in all corners of the movement, was its most accurate self-descriptor.

At the end of the tumultuous 1970s, in the wake of the Vietnam War and in the midst of economic turmoil and widespread distrust of public institutions, the white power movement consolidated and expanded. In these turbulent years, many Americans lost faith in the state that they had trusted to take care of them. Loss in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal undermined their confidence in elected officials and besmirched the presidency itself. As legislation dramatically increased immigration, many worried that the arrival of immigrants would change the very meaning of American identity. They saw the rights movements of the 1960s redefine race and gender relations at home and at work. They noted with alarm the government’s failure to help those who lost their farms to the banks or their factories to faraway places. As the mainstream right and left took up these concerns in a variety of ways, so did this troubled social and political context incubate white power activism.

PeopIe from all regions of the country answered the white power movement’s call to action, bridging the divide between rural and urban. They were men, women, and children. They were high school dropouts and holders of advanced degrees; rich and poor; farmers and industrial workers. They were felons and religious leaders. They were civilians, veterans, and active duty military personnel.

From its formal unification in 1979 through its 1983 turn to revolutionary war on the government and its militia phase in the early 1990s, the white power movement mobilized adherents using a cohesive social network based on commonly held beliefs. These activists operated with discipline and clarity, training in paramilitary camps and undertaking assassinations, mercenary soldiering, armed robbery, counterfeiting, and weapons trafficking.

White power violence reached a climax in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

A holistic study of the white power movement reveals a startling and unexpected origin: the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

The story activists told about Vietnam and the response to the war on the right were major forces in uniting disparate strands of American white supremacism and in sustaining that unity. As narrated by white power proponents, the Vietnam War was a story of constant danger, gore, and horror. It was also a story of soldiers’ betrayal by military and political leaders and of the trivialization of their sacrifice. This narrative facilitated intergroup alliances and increased paramilitarism within the movement, escalating violence.

In his speeches, newsletters, and influential 1983 collection Essays of a Klansman, movement leader Louis Beam urged activists to continue fighting the Vietnam War on American soil. When he exhorted readers to “bring it on home,” he meant a literal extension of military style combat into civilian space. He referred to two wars: the one he had fought in Vietnam and the white revolution he hoped to wage in the United States.

White power activists would also engage in other wars. Some would become mercenaries in military interventions ranging from Latin America to southern Africa. Others would fight in the Gulf War. Although they comprised only a small number of the combatants in these conflicts, their mercenary and active-duty soldiering assimilated them into the broader militarization and paramilitary culture that was more prominent in American society. Their ventures set the stage for later encounters, such as the sieges of separatist compounds at Ruby Ridge and Waco by militarized police forces, which would, in turn, spur the movement to its largest mass casualty.

The white power movement that emerged from the Vietnam era shared some common attributes with earlier racist movements in the United States, but it was no mere echo. Unlike previous iterations of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist vigilantism, the white power movement did not claim to serve the state. Instead, white power made the state its target, declaring war against the federal government in 1983. This call for revolution arrived during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, which many historians have considered the triumph of the mainstream New Right.

Antistatism in general, and hostility toward the federal government in particular, had motivated and shaped earlier conservative and reactionary mobilizations as well as the New Right itself, but white power capitalized on a larger current of discontent among conservatives.

By 1984, Time magazine had noticed a “thunder on the right”: a growing dissatisfaction, especially among evangelicals, with the distance between Reagan’s campaign promises and his policies, particularly concerning social issues that galvanized voters, such as abortion.

White power activists responded to Reagan’s first term with calls for a more extreme course of action. Reagan’s moderation, as activists saw it, revealed conventional politics as unsalvageable and signaled a state of emergency that could not be resolved through political action alone. Their paramilitary infrastructure stood ready; the war could not wait.

After declaring war, activists plotted to overthrow the government through attacks on infrastructure, assassinations, and counterfeiting to undermine public confidence in currency. They armed themselves with weapons and matériel stolen from military installations. They matched this revolutionary work with the publication and circulation of printed material, recruitment drives aimed at mainstream conservatives, political campaigns, talk show appearances, and radio programs.

These activities both disseminated a common set of beliefs, goals, and messages to the movement faithful and worked to recruit new members. In the late 1980s, many activists reorganized into militias. Although some militias disclaimed white supremacy in public, many shared funds, weapons, and personnel with white power organizations.

While white power was certainly a fringe movement, it surpassed earlier mobilizations such as the anticommunist John Birch Society. Membership alone is a poor measure of white power activity, with records often hidden, distorted, or destroyed, but nevertheless illuminates the movement’s relative size. Scholars and watchdog groups who have attempted to calculate the numbers of people in the movement’s varied branches, including, for instance, Klansmen and neoNazis, who are often counted separately, estimate that there were about 25,000 “hard-core members” in the 1980s. An additional 150,000-175,000 people bought white power literature, sent contributions to groups, or attended rallies or other events, signifying a larger, although less formal, level of membership. Another 450,000 did not themselves participate or purchase materials but read the literature. The John Birch Society, in contrast, reached only 100,000 members at its 1965 peak.

With the 1983 turn to revolution, the movement adopted a new strategy, “leaderless resistance.” Following this strategy, independent cells and activists would act without direct contact with movement leadership. The aim was to prevent the infiltration of groups, and the prosecution of organizations and individuals, by formally dissociating activists from each other and by eliminating official orders. Popularized throughout the underground, leaderless resistance changed recruitment goals, emphasizing the importance of enlisting a small number of fully committed activists rather than large groups of the less committed. This is another reason membership counts alone could not accurately convey the movement’s impact, activity, or capacity for violence.

Yet to the degree that there is power in numbers, the movement reached a new peak during its militia phase. At the height of its mainstream appeal in the mid-1990s, the militia movement counted some five million members and sympathizers, according to one watchdog analyst. That number certainly represents the upper bound of possibility, and it is likely that the white-power-identified cohort of militia members and sympathizers was significantly smaller. However, five million places the militia movement in line with the largest surge of the Ku Klux Klan, whose membership peaked in 1924 at four million.

While white power activists held worldviews that aligned or overlapped with those of mainstream conservatism, including opposition to immigration, welfare, abortion, feminism, and gay and lesbian rights, the movement was not dedicated to political conservatism aimed at preserving an existing way of life, or even to the reestablishment of bygone racial or gender hierarchies. Instead, it emphasized a radical future that could be achieved only through revolution. While some white power activists might have longed for the reinstatement of Jim Crow laws, white-minority rule as in Rhodesia and South Africa, or slavery, most agreed that such systems could not be resurrected through electoral politics alone but would have to be achieved by more drastic measures.

This abandonment of the political process reflects a profound shift in the American electorate wrought by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which barred disenfranchisement on the basis of race. Reactionary politics, conservatism, and American nationalism had characterized the Klan in the early part of the twentieth century. The white power movement sought revolution and separation, the founding of a racial utopian nation.

Many activists connected ideas of a radical political future with belief in imminent apocalypse. The theologies espoused by white power activists in this period differed significantly from the Protestantism of the reactionary second-era Klan that peaked in the 1920s. White power religious radicalism emerged in part from Cold War understandings of communism as a threat to Christianity. At the same time, a large contingent of white power activists in the post-Vietnam moment believed in white supremacy as a component of religious faith. Christian Identity congregations heard their pastors explain that whites were the true lost tribe of Israel and that nonwhites and Jews were descended from Satan or from animals. Other racist churches adopted similar theologies that lauded whiteness as holy and sought to preserve the white race. Activists also adopted Odinism and other forms of neoPagan white supremacy that posited a shared, pan-European white cultural heritage.

The movement’s religious extremism was integral to its broader revolutionary character. While increasingly politicized evangelical congregations espoused belief in the rapture, a foretold moment when the faithful would be peacefully transported from the world as the apocalyptic end times began Christian Identity and other white theologies offered believers no such guarantees of safety. Instead, they held that the faithful would be tasked with ridding the world of the unfaithful, the world’s nonwhite and Jewish population, before the return of Christ. At the very least, the faithful would have to outlast the great tribulation, a period of bloodshed and strife.

Many movement followers prepared by becoming survivalists: stocking food and learning to administer medical care. Other proponents of white cosmologies saw it as their personal responsibility to amass arms and train themselves to take part in a coming end-times battle that would take the shape of race war.

A war of this scale and urgency demanded that partisans set aside their differences. The movement therefore was flexible in its adoption of racist symbols and beliefs. A Klansman in the South might participate in burning crosses, wear the white robe and hood, and embrace the Confederate battle flag alongside a Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War. A neo-Nazi in the North might march under the banner of the swastika and don an SS uniform. But the once disparate approaches to white supremacy represented by these symbols and ideas were drawn together in the white power movement. A suburban California skinhead might bear Klan tattoos, read Nazi tracts, and attend meetings of a local Klan chapter, a National Socialist political party, the militant White Aryan Resistance, or all three. At the Aryan Nations compound in northern Idaho, Klansmen and neo-Nazis ignited both crosses and swastikas as they heard Christian Identity sermons and speakers from an array of white power groups. Activists circulated among groups and belief systems, each of which might include theological, political, and pseudoscientific varieties of racism, antisemitism, and antifeminism.

Amid this multiplicity of symbolic presentations and beliefs, most white power activists found common ground. They believed in white supremacy and the need for a white homeland.

They feared that the government would eradicate the white population through interference with the birth of white children, through interracial marriage, rape, birth control, abortion, and immigration. The antisemitism long espoused by the Klan was reinforced by neo-Nazis. And the movement adopted a strict set of gender and familial roles, particularly regarding the sexual and supportive behavior of white women and their protection by white men.

Another unifying feature of the movement was its strident anticommunism, which at first aligned with mainstream Cold War conservatism and then transformed into an apocalyptic, antiinternationalist, antisemitic set of beliefs and conspiracy theories about what activists called the Zionist Occupational Government (ZOG) and, later, the New World Order.

Increasingly, white power activists believed that the Jewish-Ied ZOG controlled the United Nations, the US. federal government, and the banks, and that ZOG used people of color, communists, liberals, journalists, academics, and other enemies of the movement as puppets in a conspiracy to eradicate the white race and its economic, social, and cultural accomplishments.

To confront this grave threat, activists organized as a paramilitary army and adopted masculine cultural forms. The article that levied the plea “We Need Every One of You” was titled “White Soldier Boy” for a reason. It targeted young white men, not women, for recruitment into the presumptively male world of camouflage fatigues, military-style camps and drills, and military-grade weapons. It also spoke directly to combat veterans and active-duty military personnel.

In this respect, white power can be understood as an especially extreme and violent manifestation of larger social forces that wed masculinity with militancy, in the form of paintball, war movies, gun shows, and magazines such as Soldier of Fortune that were aimed at armchair and weekend warriors. This is not to suggest that such cultural forms were coequal with white power, or with conservatism more broadly. But it is not by coincidence that white power gathered steam amid the wider post-Vietnam “remasculinization of America.” In the wake of military failure in Southeast Asia, masculinity provided an ideological frame for the New Right, challenged antiwar sentiment, and idealized bygone and invented familial and gender orders throughout American society. The white power movement capitalized on this wave of broader cultural paramilitarism for its own, violent ends.

However, the white power movement departed from mainstream paramilitary culture in carving out an important place for women, relied on as symbols of the cause and as activists in their own right. As bearers of white children, women were essential to the realization of white power’s mission: to save the race from annihiiation. More concretely, their supporting roles, auxiliary organizations, and recruiting skills sustained white power as a social movement. They brokered social relationships that cemented intergroup alliances and shaped the movement from within.

In all these ways, its unity, revolutionary commitments, organizing strategy, anticommunist focus, and Vietnam War inheritance, white power was something new. Yet it has often been misunderstood as a simple resurgence of earlier Klan activity. Historians divide the Klan into “eras,” with the first following the Civil War, the second in the 1920s, and the third dedicated to opposing the civil rights movement. To understand white power as a Klan resurgence rests upon an artificial distinction between nonviolent and violent activism, in which the socalled fourth era refers to nonviolent, publicsphere activities, such as rallies and political campaigns, and the fifth era to the criminal activity of a secret, violent underground. This terminology arose from the white power movement itself and evokes previous surges in Klan membership that occurred one after another with lulls between. But the supposed fourth and fifth eras occurred simultaneously. This terminology therefore hinders an understanding of the activism it attempts to describe.

White power should be recognized as something broader than the Klan, encompassing a wider range of ideologies and operating simultaneously in public and underground. Such an understanding is vital lest we erroneously equate white power with covert violence and thereby ignore its significant inroads into mainstream society, which hardly came under cover of night. Activists such as David Duke mounted political campaigns that influenced local and national elections. They produced a vibrant print culture with crossover appeal that reached more mainstream readers. They traveled from church to church, linking religious belief with white power ideology. They created a series of computer message boards to further their cause. They pursued social ties between groups, cementing their political affinities with one another through marriages and other intimate bonds.

These political activists were often the same people who trained in paramilitary camps, plotted race war, and carried out criminal and terrorist acts. The death toll included journalists, state and federal employees, political opponents, and white power activists themselves. The Oklahoma City bombing, undertaken by movement activists, killed 168 people, making it the largest deliberate mass casualty on American soil between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks of September 11 , 2001.

But the body count alone cannot fully account for the effects of white power violence. That number ignores the lives disrupted by the movement’s rage. The dead left behind grieving, struggling families. And while many were physically attacked, many others were threatened. It would be impossible to tally those who were harassed and wounded emotionally, left too afraid to speak or work. But these wounds, too, bear out the long and broad ramifications of the movement’s violence.

Although the movement’s militancy, and therefore its violence, owes much to the rightwing framing of the Vietnam War, other elements of the 1970s also infused the movement. White power also responded to the changing meaning of the state, sovereignty, and liberal institutions in and after that decade. The dramatic, hard-won gains of feminism, civil rights, secularism, and gay liberation left the 1970s ripe for conservative backlash.

Another factor was emerging economic threat. The post-World War II welfare state had promised jobs, education, and health, but, beginning in 1973, a series of economic shocks displaced the expectation of continued growth and prosperity. An oil crisis brought about the realization that natural resources would not always be cheap and plentiful? Wealth inequality grew and unemployment rose. For the first time since the late 1940s, the promise of prosperity stalled.

Dwindling economic prospects became bound up with cultural backlash. Volition and need alike drove more women into the workforce, threatening both men’s exclusive access to certain jobs and the Cold War-era vision of the suburban, white nuclear family with a wife who stayed at home. The successful civil rights mobilizations of the 1960s gave way to white resistance as news coverage turned to black radicalism, urban riots, and integration. Forced busing of children to integrated public schools became a heated issue, and whites fought back both through school privatization and in heated public protest.

In this context, defense of the family intertwined with defense of free-market ideology. As the stark limitations of New Deal liberalism became clearer, and as civil rights laws made it more difficult to deny opportunities and benefits to nonwhites just as an economic downturn set in, the state could be recast as a menace to morality and prosperity? For many Americans, the state became the enemy. White power activists, driven by their narrative of the Vietnam War, took this sentiment to the extreme in calling for revolution.

Some have argued that white power did not properly constitute a social movement. This claim typically turns on a supposed disconnect between white power and the militia wave, or on a narrow definition of social movements that rests on centralized leadership and harmony among members. But social movement theorists attuned to the grassroots mobilizations of the mid to late twentieth century make the case for a more encompassing definition.

While white power featured a diversity of views and an array of competing leaders, all corners of the movement were inspired by feelings of defeat, emasculation, and betrayal after the Vietnam War and by social and economic changes that seemed to threaten and victimize white men.

White power also qualifies as a social movement through its central features: the contiguous activity of an inner circle of key figures over two decades, frequent public displays, and development of a wide reaching social network. White power activists used a shared repertoire of actions to assert collectivity. They rallied openly, formed associations and coalitions, and gave statements to the press. Public displays of uniformed activists chanting slogans and marching in formation aimed to demonstrate worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitment to both members and observers.

Activists encouraged dress codes and rules about comportment and featured the presence of mothers with children, Vietnam veterans, and active-duty military personnel. Members showed unity by donning uniforms and by marching and chanting in formation. They made claims about their numbers. They underscored their commitment with pledges to die rather than abandon the fight; preparing to risk their lives for white power; and undertaking acts that put them at legal and physical risk. A regular circulation of people, weapons, funds, images, and rhetoric, as well as intermarriages and other social relationships, bound activists together. These actions produced common “ideas and culture,” what social movement theorists have called “frames,” that served to “legitimate and motivate collective action.”

The primacy of the Vietnam War among these frames is clear in the cultural artifacts that inspired and coordinated the movement. These included uniforms, language, strategies, and matériel derived from the war itself. Activists adopted terminology, such as “gooks,” associated with US. soldiers in Vietnam; camouflage fatigues; civilian versions of the era’s military weapons, as well as the genuine articles, sometimes illegally obtained; and training and combat methods modeled on soldiers’ experience and US. Army manuals.

Also essential in binding the movement together was the 1974 white utopian novel The Turner Diaries, which channeled and responded to the nascent white power narrative of the Vietnam War. The novel provided a blueprint for action, tracing the structure of leaderless resistance and modeling, in fiction, the guerrilla tactics of assassination and bombing that activists would embrace for the next two decades. Activists distributed and quoted from the book frequently. It was more than a guide, though. The popularity of The Turner Diaries made it a touchstone, a point of connection among movement members and sympathizers that brought them together in common cause.

Writing the history of a subversive movement presents archival challenges. White power activists routinely attempted to hide their activity, even when it was legal. Documentary resources are scattered and fragmentary. This is especially true of the period after 1983, when white power activists worked particularly hard to avoid being depicted as a coherent movement. They used old Klan strategies such as maintaining secret membership rolls, as well as new ideas such as cell-style organizing. Such strategies foiled government informants and forestalled public awareness of violence, obscuring the scale and intentions of the movement and limiting opposition. Activists understated or denied their involvement to protect themselves and their allies. But when they felt it useful, they also overstated their influence and membership in order to boost their apparent strength.

This deliberate obfuscation has clouded many journalistic and scholarly accounts. Press coverage too often portrayed organized white power violence as the work of lone gunmen driven by grievance and mental illness. Sensational truecrime and undercover reporting in pulp magazines and one-source interviews in small-town newspapers kept activists safely ensconced within their cells and depicted every case of violence as uniquely senseless. Thus groups went undetected, and the motivations underlying violence were rarely taken seriously. Accounts after the Oklahoma City bombing concluded that if white power had ever constituted a social movement, it had become so riddled by interand intragroup conflicts and personal vendettas that it no longer deserved the designation. Yet infighting had been a constant feature of white power formation and activity. White power organizing did change in the late 1990s, but this resulted from large-scale historical shifts such as increased pressure and expanding online activity, not internecine feuds.

Not all journalistic accounts of white power were so flawed. Veteran reporters from the Christian Science Monitor, the Oregonian, and the Houston Chronicle, among others, spent years covering white power on their beats and began to connect local episodes to activity elsewhere. And even the one-off accounts can be useful to the historian because white power activists sometimes spoke to undercover reporters directly and contemporaneously about their motivations.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), U.S. Marshal Service, and Department of Justice monitored the white power movement during this period, generating another source of archival materials. Authors of these records range from undercover agents who had deep familiarity with white power groups to clerical staff at the tail end of a long game of telephone, who sometimes misunderstood crucial details. The motivations of federal agents, some prevented crimes and mounted major prosecutions; others declined to report, prevent, or prosecute such groups; yet others unleashed their own violence upon separatist compounds, shaped these records as well, affecting their reliability. Government documents also vary widely in their level of redaction. Many such sources are accessible only through Freedom of Information Act requests, which means that not everything the government collected is available to researchers. Even full access would provide but a partial glimpse of white power activity, filtered through state interests and the perspectives of individual state actors.

When it comes to the flourishing of white power activism in prisons, sources are especially limited. Groups such as the prison gang the Aryan Brotherhood are largely absent from the archive.

We can detect some effects of their mobilizations, such as monetary contributions sent beyond prison walls. Members who joined the movement while incarcerated and continued their activism after release also have greater presence in available sources. But much less is known about white power mobilizations within prison walls.

Legal documents, too, provide less information than we might hope, particularly because the white power movement flourished between the end of excellent paper record keeping and the beginning of effective digitization of documents. While several acts of white power violence and harassment have resulted in civil and criminal prosecutions, many resources from those trials have been lost or destroyed, in whole or in part. Some of what remains can be obtained only at prohibitive expense. And what is available comes with the same complications as any trial record. Some people who testified about their roles in the movement, especially women, may have done so under the threat of separation from their families. Several activists made plea deals in return for testifying against the movement. Legal documents, especially testimonies, must be read with such motivations in mind.

An important source of information about the movement is the opposition. Watchdog groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Center for Democratic Renewal collected material on white power activists as part of their mission to combat intolerance. Some compiled extensive databases including biographical information, photographs, news clippings, and legal records. They also obtained photographs, transcriptions of conversations from undercover informants, journalists’ notes, and other items outside the published record. Although these files are rich with information, they, too, must be treated cautiously. Watchdog groups can have motives that reach beyond simple documentation: they exist through fundraising, and donations may increase when there is a sense of urgency. Watchdog groups may have sometimes overestimated the movement’s influence and level of organization.

A final, essential resource is the archive created by the white power movement itself. This includes correspondence, ephemera, illustrations, autobiographies, books, printed periodicals, and “zines.” Some printed material circulated widely and had a transnational readership. Activists selfpublished their writings on presses, mimeograph and Xerox machines, and the Internet. Large collections of these published materials are housed at three university libraries in the United States. Although these collections are fundamentally different, one assembled by a journalist writing on an episode of movement violence, one by an archivist who asked political extremists from across the spectrum for contributions, and one by collectors who obtained literature at meetings of extremist groups, the materials in these three archives are remarkably similar. They offer, therefore, a fairly complete picture of the movement’s printed output.

At the same time, one must be mindful of what an archival study of white power cannot reveal. Military service records, for instance, are not publicly available, nor are the membership rolls of each white power group. In their absence, one cannot make a quantitative study of the levels of veteran and active-duty-military participation in the movement. The archive offers very little information on the childhood and early life of most activists. Information on marriages and divorces, particularly involving those who, as part of their antistatist activism, refused to register unions, cannot always be corroborated by official documents. Nor can an archival study stray from the stated beliefs and concrete actions of white power actors in an effort to attempt a psychological assessment. In most cases, the historian has neither the training nor the access to enter this discussion. However, one can grapple with the record of speech and action to offer an approximation of a historical actor’s motives and actions.

Given these limitations, I have assumed that each document might reflect a particular agenda and have taken certain precautions as a result. When possible, I use multiple sources to corroborate information. If, say, a fact appears in a redacted FBI file, an undercover reporter’s interview with a white power activist, and a mainstream press report, it probably can be relied upon. I present unverifiable statements as such and identify those that are demonstrably false.

When relevant, I include information about sources, their biases, and possible alternative interpretations of the material in question.

That the archive is imperfect should disturb neither historians nor readers. Indeed, it is precisely the work of the historian to assemble an account based upon the information available, even if it is scattered, incomplete, and sometimes contradictory. In many ways, this approach enables a better understanding of how historical actors experienced their own moment, without the veneer of hindsight that clouds other kinds of accounts, such as interviews and memoirs produced years after the fact.

A sizable literature, both academic and journalistic, has engaged with portions of the white power archive, but this book is the first work to attempt a comprehensive approach. Unlike studies focused on one segment of white power, particular activists, events, locations, symbols, ideological discourses, or disputes-this one captures the entire movement as it formed and changed over time.

I find in the archival sources the story of the emergence, rise, and fall of a unique, cohesive effort to build a new nation on the ashes of a state accused of having abandoned its own. To understand the impact of this effort on American society, politics, and culture, and to take stock of its relationship with mainstream conservatism, requires engaging it synthetically, not piece by piece.

Bring the War Home follows the formation of the white power movement, its war on the state, and its apocalyptic confrontation with militarized state power. Part I documents the role of violence in motivating and constituting the movement. Chapter 1 traces the creation of a Vietnam War narrative that united the movement and inspired its paramilitary culture and infrastructure. Chapter 2 shows how paramilitary training camps worked to form white power groups and augmented their capacity for violence. In Chapter 3, I discuss the formal unification of the movement through a common experience of violence: the 1979 mass shooting of communist protestors in Greensboro, North Carolina. Chapter 4 documents the intersections between white power and other forms of paramilitarism by focusing on transnational antidemocratic paramilitary combat by mercenary soldiers, some with movement ties.

Part II turns to the white power revolution declared in 1983. At this point, the movement definitively distinguished itself from previous vigilante mobilizations, such as the earlier Ku Klux Klan, whose perpetrators claimed to act for the good of the state or to uphold its laws. In Chapters 5 through 7, I examine the movement’s declaration of war, use of early computer networks, and deployment of cell-style organizing. Critical to these efforts were attempts, some successful, to obtain stolen military-grade weapons and materiel from the state. I also recount the acquittal of thirteen movement activists on federal charges including seditious conspiracy. Their defense, based on a purported need to protect white women, demonstrates that even though white power broke away from earlier white supremacist movements, it maintained a degree of ideological and rhetorical continuity with them, even as it turned to newly violent antistatism in its revolutionary actions.

Part III describes the crescendo and climax of white power revolution in which groups both confronted and participated in events characterized by apocalyptic, world-destroying violence. Although many were killed and others were harmed, the effort never achieved the biblical scale activists had anticipated. The movement was inflamed by encounters with state power, such as the standoff between federal agents and a white separatist family at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.

Cataclysmic, militarized state violence helped to inspire the growth of militias, leading to the Oklahoma City bombing. That act stands as the culmination of two decades of white power organizing and is the most significant single event in the movement’s history.

The bombing destroyed an edifice, lives, and families, but not only those. It also shattered meaning, wiping out a public understanding of the white power movement by cementing its violence, in public memory, as the act of a few men. Despite its many attempts to disappear, and despite its obscurity even at the height of its strength during the militia phase, the movement left lasting marks on mainstream American politics and popular culture. It has continued to instigate and shape violence years after the Oklahoma City bombing.

The story of white power as a social movement exposes something broader about the enduring impact of state violence in America. It reveals one catastrophic ricochet of the Vietnam War, in the form of its paramilitary aftermath. It also reveals something important about war itself.

War is not neatly contained in the space and time legitimated by the state. It reverberates in other terrains and lasts long past armistice. It comes home in ways bloody and unexpected.

1 The Vietnam War

Forever trapped in the rice paddies of Vietnam. -Louis Beam, 1989

LOUIS BEAM SPENT eighteen months in Vietnam. He served an extended tour as a gunner on a UH1 Huey helicopter in the U.S. Army’s 25th Aviation Battalion. He logged more than a thousand hours shooting at the enemy and transporting his fellow soldiers, including the injured and fallen, to and from the front. By his own account, he killed between twelve and fifty-one “communists” before returning home to Texas, decorated, in 1968. But he never stopped fighting. Beam would use his Vietnam War story to militarize a resurgent Ku Klux Klan and to wage a white power revolution.

He brought many things home with him: his uniforms, virulent anticommunism, and hatred of the Viet Cong. He brought home the memory of death and mutilation sealed in heavy-duty body bags. He brought home racism, military training, weapons proficiency, and a readiness to continue fighting. His was a story about government betrayal, soldiers left behind, and a nation that spat upon his service and would never appreciate his sacrifice. Indeed, he brought home the war as he fought it, and dedicated his life to urging others to “bring it on home.”

On both the right and left of the political spectrum, the war worked to radicalize and arm paramilitary groups in the post-Vietnam War period. On the left, veterans played instrumental roles in groups organized around politics and labor, and in militant groups that fought racial inequality, such as the Black Panther Party. Occasionally these left and right-wing mobilizations would overlap and feed off one another, with white power activists robbing the same Brinks armored car company hit by the leftwing Weather Underground a few years earlier, and with the paramilitary Latino Brown Berets and the Klan Border Watch focused on the same stretch of terrain in South Texas.

Throughout the twentieth century, many veterans of color understood their postwar activism as an extension of their wartime combat. Veterans played key roles in fostering the civil rights and armed seIf-defense movements. The influence of key veterans upon the white power movement, therefore, is part of a longer story about veterans’ claims on society, and about the expansive aftermath of modern war.

Just as some veterans fought for racial equality, others fought to oppose it. Indeed, Ku Klux Klan membership surges have aligned more neatly with the aftermath of war than with poverty, anti-immigration sentiment, or populism, to name a few common explanations.

After the Civil War, the Confederate veterans who formed the first Klan terrorized both black communities and the Reconstruction-era state. World War I veterans led second-era Klan efforts to violently ensure “all American” racial, religious, and nationalist power. Third-era Klansmen who had served in World War II and Korea played key roles in the violent opposition to civil rights, including providing explosives expertise and other skills they had learned in the military.

After each war, veterans not only joined the Klan but also played instrumental roles in leadership, providing military training to other Klansmen and carrying out acts of violence. The effect of war was not simply about the number or percentage of veterans involved, but about the particular expertise, training, and culture they brought to paramilitary groups. Significantly, in each surge of activity, veterans worked hand in hand with Klan members who had not served. Without the participation of civilians, these aftershocks of war would not have found purchase at home. The overspills of state violence from wars, therefore, spread through the whole of American society; they did not affect veterans alone.

So, too, did the Vietnam War broadly affect American culture and politics. Narratives of the war as a government betrayal and as a source of grievance laid the groundwork for white power activism. Once again, the war story drew in both veterans and civilians. But the Vietnam War was also historically distinct; it represented loss, frustration, and doubt.

By intervening to support South Vietnam, the United States sought to halt the spread of communism, and to stop the Soviet Union, which supported North Vietnam and revolutionaries in the South, from amassing global power in the midst of the Cold War. In practice, the United States found itself intervening in a local, civil conflict, one shaped by the legacy of French colonial rule. American soldiers entered a morally ambiguous proxy war and faced an enemy comprising highly motivated guerrillas, partisan soldiers, and supportive or ambivalent civilians. This, together with enormous differences in culture and climate, created high levels of despair among the troops.

Combat in Vietnam often took a form unfamiliar to a generation of soldiers raised on World War II films that depicted war as righteous and tempered depictions of its violence. In Vietnam, American soldiers waged prolonged, bloody fights for terrain that was soon abandoned. They often described enemies and allies as indistinguishable. Infantry patrols embarked on long, aimless marches in the hope of drawing fire from hidden guerrillas. “Freefire zones” and “strategic hamlets”, designations that labeled as enemies anyone who did not evacuate from certain areas, placed civilians in the path of war.

And because success was often measured in the number of people killed, rather than in terrain held, a mix of circumstances in Vietnam created a situation in which violence against civilians, mutilation of bodies, souvenir collecting, sexual violence, and other war crimes were not just isolated incidents but ubiquitous features of war that permeated the chain of command.

The United States and its people had understood the wars of the first half of the century as shared civil projects, but the Vietnam War undermined this notion. When the commitment of soldiers, bombs, and money failed to produce decisive victories in Southeast Asia, civilians at home grew increasingly disenchanted with the war, helping to foster the narrative of abandonment that white power activists such as Beam would later exploit.

Mobilizations of protest in the United States, particularly the mass antiwar movement, openly questioned the war’s morality by critiquing American involvement as an imperialist exercise. Television broadcasts of wartime violence created what the writer Susan Sontag called a “new tele-intimacy with death and destruction.” Many returning veterans denounced the quagmire of war both in the streets and in the halls of government, and journalists documented wartime atrocities. As the war dragged on, victory in the realm of public perception seemed less and less possible.

*

from

Bring the War Home. The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America

by Kathleen Belew

get it at Amazon.com

“By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis” Inspired by Trump, the world could be heading back to the 1930s – Jonathan Freedland.

The US president tears children from parents, and in Europe his imitators dehumanise migrants. We know where such hatred leads.

“Infest” is a word reserved for rats and insects. This is the language of those seeking to choke off human sympathy, by suggesting those suffering are not even human.

‘Where’s my seven-year-old? This is a long bath.’ And the officer says, ‘You won’t be seeing your child again?” It’s not the same as telling Jews about to die they are merely taking a shower, but in the use of deception the echo is loud.

You’ll remember Godwin’s law, which holds that the longer an online debate goes on, the likelier it is that someone will mention Hitler or the Nazis. It was an amusing observation and one that served a useful purpose, guarding against hyperbole and fatuous comparison. Except last August, as the American far right staged a torchlight parade in Charlottesville, Mike Godwin suspended his own law. “By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis,” he tweeted. “Again and again. I’m with you.”

Despite that dispensation, I’ve tended to abide by my own version of Godwin’s law. I try to avoid Nazi comparisons, chiefly because they’re almost always wrong and because, far from dramatising whatever horror is under way, they usually serve to minimise the one that killed millions in the 1940s. And yet, there’s a cost to such self-restraint. Because if the Nazi era is placed off limits, seen as so far outside the realm of regular human experience that it might as well have happened on a distant planet Planet Auschwitz then we risk failure to learn its lessons. That would be to squander the essential benefit offered by study of the Third Reich: an early warning system.

So yes, when Donald Trump ordered US government agents on the southern border to separate migrant children from their parents, to tear screaming toddlers from their fathers and even to pull a baby from its mother’s breast, he was not re-enacting the Holocaust. He was not ordering the eradication of an entire people or sending millions to their deaths.

But there were echoes. And we must hear them.

For one, there’s the elemental act of separation itself. If you interview survivors of the Holocaust, one thing you notice is that even those who’ve grown used to describing events of the most extraordinary cruelty, and who can do so without shedding a tear, often struggle when they recall the moment they were parted from a parent. Mostly now in their 80s or older, they are taken back to that moment of childhood terror, one that never leaves them.

The parents ripped from those 2,300 children on the Mexican border were not led off to be murdered. But there are grounds to believe they may never again see their sons or daughters, some of whom were sent thousands of miles away. There is no system in place to reunite them. The children were not properly registered. How can a two-year-old who speaks no English explain who she is? Eighty years from now, perhaps, old men and women will sob as they recall the mother taken from them by uniformed agents of the US government, never to be seen again.

But the echoes don’t end there. The wire cages. The guards telling weeping children they are forbidden from hugging each other. And then this chilling detail, reported by Texas Monthly. It turns out that US border guards don’t always tell parents they’re taking their children away. “Instead, the officers say, ‘I’m going to take your child to get bathed.’ The child goes off, and in a half-hour, 20 minutes, the parent inquires, ‘Where is my flve year old?’ ‘Where’s my seven-year-old?’

‘This is a long bath.’ And the officer says, ‘You won’t be seeing your child again?” It’s not the same as telling Jews about to die they are merely taking a shower, but in the use of deception the echo is loud.

And if the mechanics of this operation strike a familiar note, so too does the rhetoric and propaganda deployed by those behind it and defending it. You don’t have to go to back to 1930s Germany to know that the first step towards catastrophe is the dehumanisation of a reviled group. It happened that way in Rwanda and the Balkans in the 1990s, and it’s happening in today’s United States. “These aren’t people, these are animals,” the US president said last month.

They want “to pour into and infest our country”, he tweeted this week. “Infest” is a word reserved for rats and insects. This is the language of those seeking to choke off human sympathy, by suggesting those suffering are not even human.

Trump’s defenders reinforce the message. It was a jolt to see Steve Hilton, one time shoeless guru of David Cameron’s Downing Street, now reinvented as a Fox News host, grinning away as pundit Ann Coulter called the crying infants “child actors”. Her message was repeated on Fox by Nigel Farage, who similarly urged Trumb not to be swayed by the “screams coming from the liberal media” and to “stay tough”.

Farage is a reminder that this phenomenon is not confined to the US. Referring to refugees, Italy’s new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has called for a purification, or perhaps a cleansing, of his country, “neighbourhood by neighbourhood, street by street”. His plan is to draw up a register of Roma living in Italy. Those with Italian citizenship, “we’ll have to keep, unfortunately”, he said.

The signs are there, if only we can bear to look. Something is happening to our world. Others have noted the way the post-1945 global architecture is beginning to crumble, as Trump undermines the western alliance in favour of authoritarian tyrannies. But the postwar order is unravelling in another, more insidious way too.

Put starkly:

The norms and taboos established after the world witnessed the Holocaust are eroding before our eyes. For 70-odd years, roughly the span of a human life, they endured, keeping the lid on the darker impulses that, we had seen, lurked within all of us.

It steadily became taboo to voice undiluted racism and xenophobia. Those fears, those loathings of the stranger, never went away, of course. But they were held in Check, partly by the knowledge of where such hatred, unrestrained, could lead.

Now, in the US, Italy, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere, the restraints are off. There even seems to be a macho thrill in breaking the taboo, in echoing the words and deeds of that darkest era in human history. It’s as if the boundaries that were drawn after 1945, demarcating acceptable human behaviour, were mere lines in the sand and now the tide is coming in.

It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens bit by bit, word by word, each step taking us lower into the pit. It’s why every one of us has to fight today’s horror. Because if we don’t, who knows what terrors lie ahead?

American Islamophobia. Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear – Khaled A. Beydoun.

I remember the four words that repeatedly scrolled across my mind after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. “Please don’t be Muslims, please don’t be Muslims,”

These four words reverberated through the mind of every Muslim American that day and every day after, forming a unifying prayer for Muslim Americans after every attack.

This system of inculcating fear and calculated bigotry was not entirely spawned in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks but is a modern extension of a deeply embedded and centuries old form of American hate.

Now more than ever, Islamophobia is not limited to the irrational views or hateful slurs of individuals, but is an ideology that drives the president’s political worldview and motivates the laws, policies, and programs he seeks to push forward.

Crossroads and Intersections

“Nobody’s going to save you. No one’s going to cut you down, out the thorns thick around you. . . . There is no one who will feed the yearning. Face it. You will have to do, do it yourself.” Gloria AnzaldUa, Borderlands/La Frontera

“If you know who you are, nobody can tell you what you are or what you are not.” My momma, Fikrieh Beydoun

I took my seat in the back of the Uber car, plugged in my phone and reclined my head to recharge on the way to the hotel. The road ahead is going to be a long one, I thought as I sank into the backseat, settling in for a temporary respite from the oncoming storm. “As-salamu ‘alaikum,” the young driver greeted me in Spanish-inflected Arabic, abruptly ending my break.

“Wa ‘alaikum aI-salam,” I responded, thoroughly surprised that these familiar words came out of the mouth of my tattooed Latino Uber driver, Juan. Was he Muslim? I pondered, wondering whether his neat beard signified more than a recent fad or fashionable grooming.

“It’s an honor to meet you, Professor,” he said, and continued, “I’m very familiar with your writing and work, and I’m happy you’re here speaking at Cal State LA. I wish I could’ve been there to hear your talk.” Another sign that Juan might in fact be Muslim, given that my work centers on Muslim American identity and, increasingly, Islamophobia.

“Thank you so much,” I responded, taken aback by the fact that he knew who I was, and still contemplating whether he was a recent Muslim convert or born into a Muslim family. As a longtime resident of Los Angeles and a scholar familiar with Muslim American demographics, I was well aware that Latinx Muslims were the fastest growing segment of the Muslim American population. I had attended Friday prayers with sermons delivered en espanol in California and in Florida, where I lived and taught law for two years, and prayed alongside brothers from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico as often as I did next to Muslims from Egypt, Syria, or Pakistan. However, I was still unsure about Juan’s religious identity, and to which destination he might steer this conversation.

I learned, en route from the East Los Angeles campus to my downtown hotel, that Juan was neither born to a Muslim family nor a convert. He was, rather, a man on the cusp of embracing Islam at a moment of unprecedented Islamophobia and rabid xenophobia, of imminent Muslim bans and Mexican walls.

“I have been studying Islam closely for some time now, and try to go to the mosque on some Fridays,” he shared. “I am considering making my shahada,” Juan continued, referencing the oath of induction whereby a new Muslim proclaims that “there is only one God, and Mohammed is his final messenger.” “Everybody assumes that I am a Muslim already,” he said, with a cautious laugh that revealed discomfort with his liminal status. Juan turned down the radio, and the voice of Compton native Kendrick Lamar rapping, “We gon’ be alright,” to engage in a more fluid conversation. And, it appeared, to seek a response from me about his spiritual direction.

“That’s wonderful,” I responded to Juan, who was likely no more than twenty-three or twenty-four years old, trying to balance my concern for the challenges his new religious affiliation would present with the answer that I thought he wanted to hear, and perhaps expected, from a Muslim American scholar and activist whose name and work he recognized.

As he drove, we discussed the political challenges posed by the Trump administration, and specifically, the policies that would directly or disproportionately target Muslim and Latinx communities. Indeed, Trump capitalized heavily on demonizing these vulnerable groups, as evidenced most clearly by the two proposals, the Muslim ban and the Mexico Wall, that became the rallying cries of his campaign. We also discussed how our kindred struggles with poverty complicated our pursuit of education, and how Trump’s economic vision exacerbated conditions for indigent Americans, including the 45 percent of Muslim Americans living below, at, or dangerously close to the federal poverty line. The city’s infamous, slow moving traffic enabled a fast paced conversation between my new friend and me and gave rise to an LA story seldom featured in newspapers or on television.

Juan’s responses focused on his everyday struggles living in LA and the stories of family and friends from his Pico Union neighborhood. He pointed out that the onslaughts on Muslims and Latinx communities were hardly separate and independent, or parallel and segregated. Rather, they were, and are, overlapping, intersecting, and, for him, very intimate.

“As an undocumented Latino from El Salvador living in Pico Union”, a heavily concentrated Latinx community on the margins of downtown Los Angeles, “I am most fearful about the pop-up checkpoints and the immigration raids,” he told me. These fears were more than imminent under the administration of President Obama, dubbed the “Deporter in Chief” by critics who opposed the accelerated mass deportations carried out during the final stages of his second term. But without question, Juan’s fears have become more visceral, more palpable during the Trump administration.

“I think about this every time I drive to school, work, or visit a family member,” Juan recounted, reminding me of the debilitating fear that comes over me after any terror attack. Yet his fear was far more immediate and frequent than mine, and loomed over him at every moment, including this one while he and I weaved through Los Angeles traffic, talking animatedly about politics, faith, and fear. He could be stopped at any time, whether alone or while whizzing customers through the city he knew better than the life lines on his palms.

I thought about the very imminent dangers these xenophobic policies and programs posed for Juan and people in similar situations in Los Angeles and throughout the country. I knew this city well and understood that the armed and irrational fear directed at nonwhite, non-Christian people was intense in LA, descending (among other places) on the city’s galaxy of dense and large Latinx neighborhoods. This armed xenophobia was aimed particularly at those communities gripped by poverty, where Spanish was spoken primarily, and was concentrated on people and families lacking legal documentation, indeed, the very intersection where Juan began and ended each day, and lived most of his hours in between.

Years before I rode with Juan, Los Angeles was my home away from my hometown of Detroit, the city where I began my career as a law professor, earned my law degree, and only two weeks into my first year of law school at UCLA, the setting from which I witnessed the 9/11 terror attacks. I remember the events of that day more clearly than I do any other day, largely because every terror attack that unfolds in the United States or abroad compels me to revisit the motions and emotions of that day.

For Muslim Americans, 9/11 is not just a day that will live in infamy or an unprecedented tragedy buried in the past; it is a stalking reminder that the safeguards of citizenship are tenuous and the prospect of suspicion and the presumption of guilt are immediate.

My phone kept ringing that morning, interrupting my attempt to sleep in after a long night of studying. As I turned to set the phone to vibrate, I noticed that my mother had called me six times in a span of fifteen minutes. My eyes widened. Was something wrong at home? Three hours behind in California, I called her back to make sure everything at home in Detroit was alright, still in the dark about the tragedy that would mark a crossroads for the country, my community, and indeed, my life.

“Turn on the TV,” she instructed, in her flat but authoritative Arabic that signaled that something serious was unfolding: “Go to your TV right now.” I had an eerie sense of what she was alluding to before I clicked the television on and turned to the news, but I could not have imagined the scale of the terror that unfolded that early Tuesday morning. My eyes were glued to the screen as I awoke fully to what it would mean for me, my family, and Muslim Americans at large if the perpetrators of the attacks looked like us or believed like us.

I recall the surreal images and events of that day as if they happened yesterday. And just as intimately, I remember the four words that repeatedly scrolled across my mind after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. “Please don’t be Muslims, please don’t be Muslims,” I quietly whispered to myself over and again, standing inside my small apartment, surrounded by bags and boxes not yet unpacked, a family portrait of my mother, sister, and brother hanging on an otherwise barren white wall. I was alone in the apartment, far from home, but knew in that very moment that the same fear that left me frozen and afraid gripped every Muslim in the country.

The four words I whispered to myself on 9/11 reverberated through the mind of every Muslim American that day and every day after, forming a unifying prayer for Muslim Americans after every attack.

Our fear, and the collective breath or brace for the hateful backlash that ensued, symbolize the existential tightrope that defines Muslim American identity today. It has become a definitive part of what it means to be Muslim American when an act of terror unfolds and the finger-pointing begins.

Indeed, this united state of fear converges with a competing fear stoked by the state to galvanize hatemongers and mobilize damaging policies targeting Islam and Muslims. That state stoked fear has a name: Islamophobia.

This system of inculcating fear and calculated bigotry was not entirely spawned in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, I have gradually learned, but is a modern extension of a deeply embedded and centuries old form of American hate.

Following 9/11 it was adorned with a new name, institutionalized within new government structures and strident new policies, and legitimized under the auspices of a “war on terror” that assigned the immediate presumption of terrorism to Islam and the immediate presumption of guilt to Muslim citizens and immigrants.

Thousands of miles away from home and loved ones, my world unraveled. Islamophobia and what would become a lifelong commitment to combating it were thrust to the fore. Although raised in Detroit, home to the most concentrated, celebrated, and scrutinized Muslim American population in the country, my activism, advocacy, and intellectual mission to investigate the roots of American Islamophobia and its proliferation after the 9/11 terror attacks were first marshaled on the other side of the country. For me, 9/11 was both a beginning and an end, putting to rest my romantic designs on an international human rights law career for the more immediate challenges unfolding at home.

I left for Los Angeles a wide-eyed twenty two year old in the late summer of 2001. I was the first in my family to attend university an graduate school, the first to pack his bags for another city, not knowing what direction his career or life would take. After three years and three wars, those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the amorphous, fluidly expanding war on terror on the home front, I was fully resolved to take on the rising tide of Islamophobia ravaging the country and ripping through concentrated Muslim American communities like the one I called home. I learned about the law at a time when laws were being crafted to punish, persecute, and prosecute Muslim citizens and immigrants under the thinnest excuses, at an intersection when my law professors, including Kimberlé Crenshaw, Cheryl Harris, and Devon Carbado, were equipping me with the spirit and skill to fight Islamophobia in the middle grounds it rose from, and even more importantly, at the margins.

On February 22, 2017, more than a decade and a half after 9/11, I found myself back in Los Angeles. I was now a law professor and a scholar researching national security, Muslim identity, and constitutional law. I was to give a series of lectures on Islamophobia at several colleges and community centers in the LA area. My expertise was in high demand as a result of the 2016 presidential election and the intense lslamophobia that followed. I delivered the lectures roughly one month after newly elected President Donald Trump signed the executive order widely known as the “Muslim ban.”

Seven days into his presidency, Trump delivered on the promise he first made on the campaign trail on December 7, 2015, enacting a travel ban that restricted the entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority nations: Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. To me, the Muslim ban was not merely a distant policy signed into law in a distant city; it was personal in a myriad of ways. First, I am a Muslim American, and second, I had close friends from several of the restricted nations and had visited several of those nations. Moreover, since the war on terror had been rolled out in 2001, all of the countries on the list had been either sites of full-scale American military aggression or strategic bombings.

“The bombs always precede the bans,” my mother said out loud as she watched the news one day, observing a truism that ties American foreign policy to immigration policy, particularly in relation to Muslim majority countries.

The Muslim ban was the first policy targeting Muslims enacted by the man I formally dubbed the “Islamophobia President.” It certainly would not be the last law, policy, or program implemented by the man who capitalized on Islamophobia as a “full-fledged campaign strategy” to become the forty-fifth president of the United States.

President Trump promised a more hardline domestic surveillance program, which he called Countering Islamic Violence; a registry to keep track of Muslim immigrants within the United States; legislation that would bludgeon the civic and advocacy programs of Muslim American organizations; and other measures that would threaten Muslim immigrants, citizens, and institutions. He was poised to integrate Islamophobia fully into the government he would preside over and to convert his bellicose rhetoric into state sanctioned policy.

If Trump demonstrated anything during his first week in office, it was an ability to follow through on the hateful promises most pundits had dismissed as “mere campaign rhetoric” months earlier. He kept his promises. Islamophobia was not merely an appeal for votes, but a resonant message that would drive policy and inform immigration and national security policing. His electioneering was not mere bluster, but in fact a covenant built on Islamophobia, an Islamophobia that motivated large swaths of Americans to vote for him. In exchange, he delivered on his explicit and “dog whistle” campaign messaging by generating real lslamophobic policies, programs, and action.

Trump, like many candidates before him and others who will follow, traded a grand narrative of nativism and hate for votes, which registered to great success at the ballot box.

Memories of the trials and wounds Muslim Americans endured in the wake of 9/11, which I witnessed firsthand and examined closely as a scholar, and those unfolding in this era of trumped-up, unhinged Islamophobia raced through my head as I walked to the Uber waiting for me outside the California State University, Los Angeles campus. Scores of mosques vandalized, immigrants scapegoated and surveilled, citizens falsely profiled and prosecuted, the private confines of Muslim American households violated in furtherance of baseless witch hunts, immigration restrictions and registries imposed, and innocent mothers and children killed.

Yesterday, and with this intensified third phase of the war on terror, again today. I set my bag down in the car, thinking about the turbulent road ahead. I thought about how the challenges ahead compared and contrasted with those that ravaged Muslim Americans following 9/11. More than fifteen years had passed, and the face of the country, the composition of the Muslim American population, and I myself had all undergone radical, transformative change. I had recently bid farewell to and buried my father, Ali, who in 1981 brought his three children and wife to the United States in search of all the things Donald Trump stood against, values his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” sought to erode. Life after loss is never the same, and my season of mourning was punctuated by the fear and hysteria that followed Donald Trump all the way to the White House.

The world and the country were spinning faster and more furiously than ever before, it seemed. Locked in between the two, my life raced forward at a rate I had never experienced. The Black Lives Matter movement unveiled institutional racism that was as robust and violent as ever, as evidenced by the killing of Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, and a rapidly growing list of unarmed black children, men, and women gunned down by police, all of them memorialized and uplifted as martyrs by youth and adult, black and non-black activists marching up and down city blocks or taking protests to the virtual sphere on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Black Lives Matter inspired mass actions across the country and an ongoing march of social media protests that spawned new generations of activists and trenchant thought leaders. I saw this unfold, in dynamic fashion, on city blocks, in neighborhoods, on college campuses, and on social media feeds. It left an indelible impression on my activism, writing, and worldview.

In the face of a political world seemingly spinning out of control, I decided to write this book. I hope to provide general readers, students, and activists an intimate and accessible introduction to Islamophobia, what it is, how it evolved, how we can combat it in Trump’s America, and most importantly, how to fight it beyond the current administration.

As a Muslim American law professor and civil rights activist, I hope to help readers view Islamophobia through a unique lens. I draw on a range of sources, from court cases, media headlines, and scholarship to my own experiences in walking the walk every day. Along the way, I make links and assertions that might be new to many readers: pointing out how Islamophobia has a long, notorious history in the United States, for example, and showing how the Black Lives Matter movement intersects with, and inspires, activism against Islamophobia. My aim is to offer a succinct, informed handbook for anyone interested in Islamophobia and its prolific growth at this definitive juncture in our country’s history.

I wrote this book at a time when American Islamophobia was intensifying at a horrific clip, giving immediate importance to my research and expertise and simultaneously endangering the people I love most. In addition to examining the roots and rise of American Islamophobia, this book also looks to humanize the individuals and communities impacted by it, so they can be seen beyond the frame of statistics. Many stories are interwoven, some are well known and others are not, to facilitate an understanding of Islamophobia that treats Muslim Americans not as distant subjects of study or analysis, but as everyday citizens. Citizens who, like members of other faith groups, are not only integral and contributing members of society, but are also part of a group that will define the future of the United States moving forward.

The United States is indeed at a crossroads. The rise of mass social protest movements fueled by calls for dignity, justice, and an end to structural racism have been met by an opposing front galvanized by demographic shifts toward a majority minority population and eight years of scapegoating and systematic obstruction of the first black president. Echoing through it all is the dread of an “end of white America,” a fear that politicians on the right readily stoked and fervently fed to the masses.

Much of this opposing front is fully wed to racism and xenophobia, and it backed a businessman who peddled a promise to “Make American Great Again”, a promise that was not just a campaign slogan, but was also a racial plea evoked at a time when whiteness was the formal touchstone of American citizenship and white supremacy was endorsed and enabled by law. Trump dangled before the electorate studies that project that people of color will outnumber whites by 2044, and that over half (50.2 percent) of the babies born in the United States today are minorities, and he inflamed the ever present fear that foreigners are stealing our jobs.

As a cure for these supposed ills, Trump’s campaign offered to a primed and ready audience a cocktail of nativism, scapegoating, and racism; his campaign met with resounding success and helped polarize the nation along the very lines that colored his stump speeches. Much of Trump’s fearmongering centered again on Islam and the suspicion, fear, and backlash directed at its more than eight million adherents living in Los Angeles, Detroit, and big and small American towns beyond and in between.

Islamophobia was intensifying throughout the country, relentlessly fueled on the presidential campaign trail, and after the inauguration of President Trump on January 20, 2017, it was unleashed from the highest office in the land.

Now more than ever, Islamophobia was not limited to the irrational views or hateful slurs of individuals, but was an ideology that drove the president’s political worldview and motivated the laws, policies, and programs he would seek to push forward.

This had also been the case during the Bush and Obama administrations, but the Trump moment marked a new phase of transparency in which explicit rhetorical Islamophobia aligned, in language and spirit, with the programs the new president was poised to implement.

I found myself wedged between the hate and its intended victims. Muslim Americans like myself were presumptive terrorists, not citizens; unassimilable aliens, not Americans; and the speeches I delivered on campuses and in community centers, to Muslims and non-Muslims, cautioned that the dangers Islamophobia posed yesterday were poised to become even more perilous today. The road ahead was daunting, I warned audiences after each lecture, hoping to furnish them with the awareness to be vigilant, and the pale consolation that today’s Islamophobia is not entirely new.

I was feeling alarmed for Juan, my Uber driver, even as I felt I should celebrate his being drawn toward Islam. I could not help but fear the distinct and convergent threats he would face if he embraced Islam. As an undocumented Latino Muslim in Los Angeles, Juan would be caught in the crosshairs of “terrorism” and “illegality.” Los Angeles was not only ground zero for a range of xenophobic policies targeting undocumented (and documented) Latinx communities, but also a pilot city where, in 2014, the Department of Homeland Security launched its counter radicalization program, Countering Violent Extremism, in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department.

This new counterterror program, which effectively supplanted the federal surveillance model ushered in by the USA PATRIOT Act, deputized LAPD members to function as national security officers tasked with identifying, detaining, prosecuting, and even deporting “homegrown radicals.” Suspicion was disproportionately assigned to recent Muslim converts, particularly young men like Juan, keen on expressing their newfound Muslim identity by wearing a beard, attending Friday prayers, and demonstrating fluency in Arabic, the language tied to Islam, and in line with Islamophobia, terrorism.

I feared for Juan’s wellbeing, whether Muslim or not. I knew that the dangers he dodged every day would be far greater in number and more ominous in nature if he embraced Islam. The president, from inside the White House, was marshaling islamophobia and mobilizing xenophobia to inflict irreparable injury on Muslims, Latinx communities, and the growing population of Latinx Muslims that Juan would be part of if he walked into a mosque and declared that “there is only one God, and Mohammed is his final messenger.” He would be vulnerable to the covert counter-radicalization policing that was descending on Los Angeles mosques and Muslim student associations and simultaneously exposed to the ubiquitous threat of immigration checkpoints and deportation raids. He would also be a prime target for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE, the new catchan-“illegal-alien” hotline installed by President Trump.

This seemed far too much for any one person to endure all at once, and the boundary Juan contemplated crossing by becoming a Muslim, during the height of American Islamophobia, might very well be one that he should drive far away from.

All of this rushed through my head as Juan drove me to my hotel, sharing with me his concerns and fears about the country’s current condition. I remained silent, gripped by the desire, if not the responsibility, to advise Juan to reconsider embracing Islam at this time. I tried to muster up the courage to tell him to postpone his conversion for a later time, when Islamophobic attitudes and policies were abating, when, and if, that time should come. I feared that if he did convert, the ever expanding and extending arms of the state would find him at once, brand him a radical, and toss him from the country, sending him far from the only home he has ever known, and the second home that summoned me back during a fateful moment in his life and mine.

*

Before my conversation with Juan, I’d been gripped by memories of the post 9/11 period. But for those moments in the car, I felt overwhelmed by the dangers that would encircle Juan if he took his shahada. Islam in America has never been simply a religion one chooses. From the gaze of the state and society, Islam was and still is an indelible marker of otherness, and in war-on-terror America, it is a political identity that instantly triggers the suspicion of acts of terror and subversion. The urge to advise Juan against converting reached its climax when the car came to an abrupt stop near Grand Avenue and 11th Street, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, not far from Pico Union.

Juan stepped out to greet me on the right side of the car. “It was an honor to meet and speak to you, Brother Khaled,” he said, extending his hand to bid me farewell.

“Likewise Juan, I wish you the best,” I told him, extending my hand to meet his. I then turned away from the stranger who, after a thirty minute drive through grueling city traffic, had pushed me to grapple with my most pressing fears and had given me an intimate introduction to new fears that I could not turn away from.

I stopped, turned back toward Juan, and mustered up the strength to implore him, “But I ask you to think about whether now is the right time to become a Muslim,” attempting to cloak a desperate plea with the tone and language of evenhanded guidance. This was more difficult than any lecture or presentation I had given during the past several months, and the many more I would give later. “Your status already puts you in a difficult position, and falling victim to Islamophobia would put you in a more dangerous place,” I pled.

Voicing the words released a great weight off my shoulders. At the same time, they felt unnatural because they clashed with the spiritual aim of encouraging interest in Islam. The paradox mirrored the political confusion that gripped the nation. But the challenges and perils I lectured about in university classrooms, community centers, and mosques had to be extended to the street, and to the most vulnerable. My words were met with a look of utter surprise by Juan, who stood there and said nothing.

“Either way, you are my brother,” I closed, before we walked off in opposite directions. He thanked me, circled back to the driver’s seat, and turned right on 12th Street, in the direction of Pico Union, perhaps feeling disappointed in or spurned by the individual whose activism he admired.

I often wondered what decision Juan made, and whether he made his shahada. I also feared the worst, wondering whether he was still in the country. Was he profiled on the grounds of his Latino identity and detained because he was undocumented? Did he embrace Islam and fall victim to the counter-radicalization policing unfolding in Los Angeles? Or had he become a victim of the intersecting xenophobic backlash and Islamophobic violence authorized by Trump’s rhetoric and policies, inflicted by a bigot on or off campus?

My fears were stoked daily by bleak headlines and backward actions taken by the Trump administration, but I tried to remain optimistic. I hoped that Juan was still enrolled in classes, zigzagging his car through the maze of Los Angeles traffic to help his mother make rent, to pay his college tuition, and to drive toward his goal of becoming the first member of his family to earn a college degree. And most importantly, I prayed that he was safe and sound while working toward realizing this and other aspirations, academic, professional, and spiritual, in a country where informants and officers, bans and walls threaten to crush these very dreams and the people precariously holding onto them.

*

from

American Islamophobia. Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear

by Khaled A. Beydoun

get it at Amazon.com

How Australia ended up with a neo-fascist propounding his views on immigration on national television – Jason Wilson. 

Australia doesn’t need a Breitbart, our conservative media does the job just as well.
Australia’s ‘African gang crisis’ has been brewing for years.

How do you end up with a neo-fascist propounding his views on immigration on national television? To answer this question, you need to understand how a racially motivated moral panic has brewed in right-leaning media over months, and even years. You then need to see how such a panic is part of a political project, which includes state and federal politicians.
The panic over Sudanese immigrant gangs has reached fever pitch in this new year of 2018. Even though it’s rooted in selective distortions, both of crime rates, and the concept of a “gang”, it’s triggered a hasty policy response.

This month, it has dominated the news in Victoria to such an extent that it seems that premier, Daniel Andrews, is unable to talk about much else. After his immigration minister, Peter Dutton, inflamed the situation, the prime minister has recently chosen to weigh in on an issue which is clearly not on his constitutional patch.
But if the panic has only come into bloom in recent weeks, it has been nurtured like a delicate sapling for two years. This long-term effort has been made by the rightwing outlets that still dominate print and online media in Australia.

If you search Australia’s news archives, there are relatively few mentions of the “Apex gang”, a group which has increasingly come to stand in for the Sudanese-Australian community as a whole, before 2016. On 13 March that year, people identifying as members of the group were involved in a brawl in Melbourne’s CBD, during the Moomba Festival.

That led to an initial flurry of coverage. Some of this was in the Age, but the story was led by News Corp’s Melbourne tabloid, the Herald Sun, and the Australian edition of the Daily Mail, which presented the brawl in populist terms.
By 14 March, the Mail and the Hun had established the habit of referring to the young men in these groups as “thugs”, a term which has, in the USA, been described as a “nominally polite way of using the N-word”.

The same day, Andrew Bolt wrote in a column that “there seems almost a conspiracy to stop the public knowing that our refugee and immigration policies have become a threat, introducing new levels of violence and gun crime to our cities”.
This take was dutifully, and approvingly, reposted on several far right forums. That’s unsurprising – the idea that refugees are in themselves social poison, and that this is being covered up, is a central claim of the contemporary far right.

From this moment on, the “Apex gang” became a way for right-leaning media to establish a connection between crime, immigration, race, and even terrorism.
While Fairfax, the ABC and Guardian Australia gradually turned to other matters, rightwing outlets continued their focus on the gang over the succeeding two years.

According to Nexis searches, the Australian edition of the Daily Mail has published the largest number of articles on the “Apex gang”, with 344 in the last five years. But the Herald Sun is close on its heels with 320. Each have run more than four times the number of articles that the Age has run, with a mere 76. The Age only just beat out News Corp’s national daily, the Australian, with the quantity of its coverage.

Many of the Age’s articles came around specific incidents. But the combined News outlets and the Daily Mail kept things bubbling along even when there was little to write about.

News and MailOnline breathlessly reported run of the mill property crimes as the work of “Africans”. The Australian took the opportunity, to try to connect the Flinders Street car attack to Sudanese youth, as did Peta Credlin in News tabloids. Stories about ”African” crime persisted in the face of efforts by police to point out that the story had been blown out of proportion, and the refusal of local residents to say there was a problem.

On the other hand, the same outlets soft-soaped far right vigilantism when it emerged in 2016. When the Soldiers of Odin, a white supremacist group, announced that they would be the patrolling Melbourne’s CBD, the Daily Mail ran their comments uncritically, including the idea that they were representing “old-school Aussie values”.

In a way, Channel Seven’s uncritical interview with Blair Cottrell was just following the precedent set in moments like this, and in the fawning coverage given to Milo Yiannopoulos late last year.

Rightwing politicians picked up this ball and ran as far and fast as they could with it. Their interventions show the symbiotic relationship between racial politics, ginned up in conservative newspapers, and conservative politics. Last November, federal liberal MP Jason Wood was calling for 16 year olds who had offended to be deported to their home countries. In December, Liberals worked hard to insert a discussion of Sudanese crime into a parliamentary committee report on immigration late last year. So the ground was well prepared for Peter Dutton to threaten deportation of young offenders, too.

This is all part of the normal, repetitive functioning of Australia’s conservative media and its conservative politics. The reason Australia has never given birth to a Breitbart-style far right outlet is that there is no niche for them to occupy. The country’s print media market is dominated by outlets whose politics – on immigration, culture wars, and the “war on terror” – are indistinguishable from websites that elsewhere, dwell on the margins.

So we shouldn’t be shocked when far right ideologues, whose views on immigration don’t really differ much from the conservative consensus in Australia, get on TV. Tabloids and mainstream politicians have worked long and hard to push ideas that, as a by-product, accord legitimacy to the far right. All sides benefit from a project that leads to heightened fear, demands for a crackdown, and political problems for a Labor government.

The reason that Channel Seven felt that Blair Cottrell’s views on Sudanese crime needed to be aired – despite his history of far right street activism, and his criminal history – is that by degrees, Australia’s right-leaning media have come to frame the issue in terms of reactionary populism for some years.

This is what they do.

The Guardian 

    Empirical Facts * Comparing Islam – Hunter Stuart. * Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world – Pew Research Center. 

    A Religion of Peace? Comparing Islam – Hunter Stuart.

    Just because medieval Islamic scripture decrees certain things doesn’t mean that contemporary Muslims do them. The vast majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are peaceful people. Indeed, Islam itself is based on peaceful values: the word “Islam” comes from the Arabic word for peace (salaam). Muslims’ primary way of greeting each other is salaam alaykum, or “Peace be upon you.”


    The Koran also contradicts itself about the whole accepting-people-of-other-religions thing. Though some verses advocate killing infidels, others say the opposite. “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith,” says the 2nd sura, for example. The Koran also encourages its followers time and again to be kind, generous and loving to each other. “Compete with each other in doing good,” says one verse. “Allah is with those who are of service to others,” says another.

    The Koran says that those who “wage war against Allah” should be punished with execution, crucifixion, or the “cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides,” which sounds particularly unpleasant. Again, “waging war against Allah” is vague. That very vagueness is exactly what terror groups like the Islamic State or Al Qaeda exploit to increase their own power.

    The Koran was written in the 7th century in the Arabian Peninsula during a time of war. The prophet Muhammad and his early followers had to fight constantly for survival in a brutal desert environment where various tribes were competing for resources. In other words, the first Muslims were a scrappy, persecuted crew in a dog-eat-dog world and this experience almost definitely influenced the way they wrote the holy texts that later became Islamic scripture.

    Knowing the historical context of the birth of Islam helps us understand why parts of the Koran and other Islamic texts are so brutal. There are over 100 verses that appear to condone violence in one way or another in the Koran alone — and that’s not even getting into the hadiths, or sayings, of the prophet Muhammad, which include some pretty gruesome stuff, too.

    Some Koranic verses are explicitly violent. “Kill [nonbelievers] wherever you find them,” says a line in the 2nd sura, or chapter. “Strike off their heads and strike from them every fingertip,” says another, also referring to what Muslims should do when they encounter someone of another faith.

    Other verses in the Koran do not explicitly condone violence but could be interpreted that way. One widely quoted (and sometimes misquoted — even by Obama) verse occurs in the holy book’s 5th sura. It states that murder is bad unless someone has “spread mischief in the land.” Obviously “spreading mischief” or “villainy” (as it’s sometimes translated) in “the land” can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, which has proved problematic for Islam over the years.

    In Islamic scripture, it’s not just infidels who deserve to die. The hadiths (which are the second-most important piece of Islamic scripture after the Koran) contain stories of gay people and adulterers being put to death for their abominable crimes — and some people have taken this to mean that Islam allows for homosexuality and adultery to be punished by execution.

    It’s also important to remember that Islam is a younger religion than Christianity or Judaism and therefore may just be going through a kind of rebellious adolescent phase. Christianity was the age that Islam is now about 1300 years ago. Remember what Christianity was doing 1300 years ago? Gearing up to savage the Western world with the systematic rape-pillage-and-murder campaign known as The Crusades — that’s what.

    But don’t think Christianity has since grown up and stopped mass murdering people since then. The Holocaust, after all, happened in Europe — one of the most Christian and supposedly enlightened places in the world — a mere 70 years ago. Radical Christians have committed contemptible crimes more recently, too. Look at the dozens of Christians who have murdered abortion doctors or bombed abortion clinics, for example. Most of those killers believed they were following Christian doctrine the same way a suicide bomber from Libya or Pakistan believes he’s acting in accordance with Islam.

    What’s more, many of the white American men who’ve committed horrifying mass shootings in the US in recent years — from Dylann Roof to Adam Lanza to Jared Lee Loughner — came from Christian backgrounds, but the media rarely scrutinizes their religious heritage when searching for a motive. Instead, news outlets choose to employ the very morally problematic double standard of suggesting that black and brown killers are terrorists while white people are “mentally ill” or merely “lone wolves.”

    The Bible, like the Koran, contains plenty of violent stuff. The book of Deuteronomy is clear about what Christians should do if they encounter someone who believes in another god: “Take the man or woman who has done this evil deed … and stone that person to death.” The Pentateuch in the Old Testament notoriously suggests that gay people should be executed. “If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” Sheesh!

    Judaism has plenty of violence in it, too. Like Christianity and Islam, Judaism also suggests that homosexuals should be punished with death for their “detestable” acts. Jewish law also prescribes violent punishment for women who cheat on their husbands (controversially, it doesn’t consider a married man cheating on his wife to technically be adultery).

    Headlines are dominated by stories of Muslim terrorism; stories about Jewish terrorism are few and far between. That’s partly explained by there being far fewer Jews in the world than there are Muslims (16 million Jews compared to 1.6 billion Muslims). So to some extent, you not hearing about Jewish terrorism is just statistical: Since terrorists come from all religions and all cultures, it follows that the larger ones will have more terrorists, numerically speaking.

    But Jewish terrorism still happens. In fact, the Jews were masters of guerrilla warfare thousands of years before Al Qaeda was even born. More recently, in the 1930s and 40s, Jewish militant groups in pre-state Israel, like the Irgun and the Stern Gang, carried out insurgent attacks on the British military and government workers who were in charge of Palestine at that time. Some of the leaders of these underground Jewish militias went on to occupy top roles in the government of Israel when the country was created in 1948.

    Jewish terrorism still happens in Israel today. In Israeli settlements in the disputed West Bank, a secretive ultra-Zionist group called The Hilltop Youth carries out assaults on Muslim and Christian Palestinians and their property. They also attack the IDF, which they view as illegitimate. The gang has perpetrated hundreds of attacks in recent years. In July 2015, for example, suspected Hilltop Youth members firebombed the home of the Dawabshes, a family of Palestinian Muslims, and spray-painted Jewish stars on the side of the house before fleeing the scene. The attack destroyed the home and killed both the Dawabshe parents and their 18-month-old baby.

    So are we right to be wary of Islam? Yes, but no more so than all of the Abrahamic faiths, all of which are rooted in scripture that at times condones violence. Islam is no exception. But are Muslims innately more violent than anyone else? No. And singling them out that way is misguided and dangerous.

    *
    Hunter Stuart, Dose.com

    I’m a 34-year-old writer in Chicago, working as a senior editor at Dose, a digital media agency. 
    I have nine years of experience as an editor, journalist and video producer. I recently spent 1.5 years working as a reporter in Jerusalem, where I covered conflict, culture and technology for Vice, Al Jazeera English, The Jerusalem Post and others.
    From 2010-2015, I was a staff editor at HuffPost in New York City, where I worked in a number of different roles, including as a business reporter, a video producer and a social media editor.

    ***

    Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world

    By Michael Lipka, Pew Research Center.

    Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – have said they know little or nothing about Islam.
    Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Center reports published in recent years:

    How many Muslims are there? Where do they live?

    There were 1.8 billion Muslims in the world as of 2015 – roughly 24% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.

    Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where the religion originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims. A majority of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.

    Indonesia is currently the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, but Pew Research Center projects that India will have that distinction by the year 2050 (while remaining a majority-Hindu country), with more than 300 million Muslims.
    The Muslim population in Europe also is growing; we project 10% of all Europeans will be Muslims by 2050.

    How many Muslims are there in the United States?

    According to our estimate, there are about 3.45 million Muslims of all ages in the U.S., or about 1.1% of the U.S. population. This is based on an analysis of census statistics and data from a 2017 survey of U.S. 
    Muslims, which was conducted in English as well as Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. Based on the same analysis, Pew Research Center also estimates that there are 2.15 million Muslim adults in the country, and that a majority of them (58%) are immigrants.

    Our demographic projections estimate that Muslims will make up 2.1% of the U.S. population by the year 2050, surpassing people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion as the second-largest faith group in the country (not including people who say they have no religion).

    A 2013 Pew Research Center report estimated that the Muslim share of immigrants granted permanent residency status (green cards) increased from about 5% in 1992 to roughly 10% in 2012, representing about 100,000 immigrants in that year.


    Why is the global Muslim population growing?

    There are two major factors behind the rapid projected growth of Islam, and both involve simple demographics. For one, Muslims have more children than members of other religious groups. 
    Around the world, each Muslim woman has an average of 2.9 children, compared with 2.2 for all other groups combined.

    Muslims are also the youngest (median age of 24 years old in 2015) of all major religious groups, seven years younger than the median age of non-Muslims. As a result, a larger share of Muslims already are, or will soon be, at the point in their lives when they begin having children. This, combined with high fertility rates, will fuel Muslim population growth.
    While it does not change the global population, migration is helping to increase the Muslim population in some regions, including North America and Europe.


    How do Americans view Muslims and Islam?

    A Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2017 asked Americans to rate members of nine religious groups on a “feeling thermometer” from 0 to 100, where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating. Overall, Americans gave Muslims an average rating of 48 degrees, similar to atheists (50).

    Americans view more warmly the seven other religious groups mentioned in the survey (Jews, Catholics, mainline Protestants, evangelical Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons). But views toward Muslims (as well as several of the other groups) are now warmer than they were a few years ago; in 2014, U.S. adults gave Muslims an average rating of 40 degrees in a similar survey.

    Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party gave Muslims an average rating of 39, considerably cooler than Democrats’ rating toward Muslims (56).

    This partisan gap extends to several other questions about Muslims and Islam. Indeed, Republicans and Republican leaners also are more likely than Democrats and those who lean Democratic to say they are very concerned about extremism in the name of Islam, both around the world (67% vs. 40%) and in the U.S. (64% vs. 30%). In addition, a December 2016 survey found that more Republicans than Democrats say Islam is likelier than other religions to encourage violence among its believers (63% vs. 26% of Democrats). And while most Americans (69%) believe there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S. today, views are again split by party: 85% of Democrats and those who lean Democratic and 49% of Republicans and GOP leaners hold this view.

    Republicans also are more likely than Democrats to say that Islam is not part of mainstream American society (68% vs. 37%) and that there is a natural conflict between Islam and democracy (65% vs. 30%).

    About half of Americans (49%) think at least “some” U.S. Muslims are anti-American, greater than the share who say “just a few” or “none” are anti-American, according to a January 2016 survey. Views on this question have become much more partisan in the last 14 years (see graphic). 
    But most Americans do not see widespread support for extremism among Muslims living in the U.S., according to a February 2017 survey. Overall, 40% say there is not much support for extremism among U.S. Muslims, while an additional 15% say there is none at all. About a quarter say there is a fair amount of support (24%) for extremism among U.S. Muslims; 11% say there is a great deal of support.


    How do Europeans view Muslims?

    In spring 2016, we asked residents of 10 European counties for their impression of how many Muslims in their country support extremist groups, such as ISIS. In most cases, the prevailing view is that “just some” or “very few” Muslims support ISIS, but in Italy, 46% say “many” or “most” do.
    The same survey asked Europeans whether they viewed Muslims favorably or unfavorably. Perceptions varied across European nations: Majorities in Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece say they view Muslims unfavorably, while negative attitudes toward Muslims are much less common in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Northern and Western Europe. People who place themselves on the right side of the ideological scale are much more likely than those on the left to see Muslims negatively.

    What characteristics do people in the Muslim world and people in the West associate with each other?

    A 2011 survey asked about characteristics Westerners and Muslims may associate with one another. Across the seven Muslim-majority countries and territories surveyed, a median of 68% of Muslims said they view Westerners as selfish. 
    Considerable shares also called Westerners other negative adjectives, including violent (median of 66%), greedy (64%) and immoral (61%), while fewer attributed positive characteristics like “respectful of women” (44%), honest (33%) and tolerant (31%) to Westerners.

    Westerners’ views of Muslims were more mixed. A median of 50% across four Western European countries, the U.S. and Russia called Muslims violent and a median of 58% called them “fanatical,” but fewer used negative words like greedy, immoral or selfish. A median of just 22% of Westerners said Muslims are respectful of women, but far more said Muslims are honest (median of 51%) and generous (41%).


    What do Muslims around the world believe?

    Like any religious group, the religious beliefs and practices of Muslims vary depending on many factors, including where in the world they live. But Muslims around the world are almost universally united by a belief in one God and the Prophet Muhammad, and the practice of certain religious rituals, such as fasting during Ramadan, is widespread.

    In other areas, however, there is less unity. For instance, a Pew Research Center survey of Muslims in 39 countries asked Muslims whether they want sharia law, a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scripture, to be the official law of the land in their country. Responses on this question vary widely. Nearly all Muslims in Afghanistan (99%) and most in Iraq (91%) and Pakistan (84%) support sharia law as official law. But in some other countries, especially in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – including Turkey (12%), Kazakhstan (10%) and Azerbaijan (8%) – relatively few favor the implementation of sharia law.


    How do Muslims feel about groups like ISIS?

    Recent surveys show that most people in several countries with significant Muslim populations have an unfavorable view of ISIS, including virtually all respondents in Lebanon and 94% in Jordan. Relatively small shares say they see ISIS favorably. In some countries, considerable portions of the population do not offer an opinion about ISIS, including a majority (62%) of Pakistanis.

    Favorable views of ISIS are somewhat higher in Nigeria (14%) than most other nations. Among Nigerian Muslims, 20% say they see ISIS favorably (compared with 7% of Nigerian Christians). The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, which has been conducting a terrorist campaign in the country for years, has sworn allegiance to ISIS.

    More generally, Muslims mostly say that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam are rarely or never justified, including 92% in Indonesia and 91% in Iraq. In the United States, a 2011 survey found that 86% of Muslims say such tactics are rarely or never justified. An additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified and 1% say they are often justified.

    In a few countries, a quarter or more of Muslims say these acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, including 40% in the Palestinian territories, 39% in Afghanistan, 29% in Egypt and 26% in Bangladesh.

    In many cases, people in countries with large Muslim populations are as concerned as Western nations about the threat of Islamic extremism, and have become increasingly concerned in recent years. 
    About two-thirds of people in Nigeria (68%) and Lebanon (67%) said in 2016 that they are very concerned about Islamic extremism in their country, both up significantly since 2013.


    What do American Muslims believe?

    Our 2017 survey of U.S. Muslims finds that Muslims in the United States perceive a lot of discrimination against their religious group. Moreover, a solid majority of U.S. 
    Muslims are leery of President Donald Trump and think their fellow Americans do not see Islam as part of mainstream U.S. society. At the same time, however, Muslim Americans overwhelmingly say they are proud to be Americans, believe that hard work generally brings success in this country and are satisfied with the way things are going in their own lives.

    Half of Muslim Americans say it has become harder to be Muslim in the U.S. in recent years. And 48% say they have experienced at least one incident of discrimination in the past 12 months. But alongside these reports of discrimination, a similar – and growing – share (49%) of Muslim Americans say someone has expressed support for them because of their religion in the past year. And 55% think Americans in general are friendly toward U.S. Muslims, compared with just 14% who say they are unfriendly.

    Living in a religiously pluralistic society, Muslim Americans are more likely than Muslims in many other largely Muslim-majority nations to have a lot of non-Muslim friends. Only about a third (36%) of U.S. Muslims say all or most of their close friends are also Muslims, compared with a global median of 95% in the 39 countries we surveyed.

    Roughly two-thirds of U.S. Muslims (65%) say religion is very important in their lives. About six-in-ten (59%) report praying at least daily and 43% say they attend religious services at least weekly. By some of these traditional measures, Muslims in the U.S. are roughly as religious as U.S. Christians, although they are less religious than Muslims in many other nations.

    When it comes to political and social views, Muslims are far more likely to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party (66%) than the Republican Party (13%) and to say they prefer a bigger government providing more services (67%) over a smaller government providing fewer services (25%). And about half of U.S. Muslims (52%) now say homosexuality should be accepted by society, up considerably from 2011 (39%) and 2007 (27%).


    What is the difference between Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims?

    Sunnis and Shiites are two subgroups of Muslims, just as Catholics and Protestants are two subgroups within Christianity. The Sunni-Shiite divide is nearly 1,400 years old, dating back to a dispute over the succession of leadership in the Muslim community following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. While the two groups agree on some core tenets of Islam, there are differences in beliefs and practices, and in some cases Sunnis do not consider Shiites to be Muslims.

    With the exception of a few countries, including Iran (which is majority Shiite) as well as Iraq and Lebanon (which are split), most nations with a large number of Muslims have more Sunnis than Shiites. In the U.S., 55% identify as Sunnis and 16% as Shiites (with the rest identifying with neither group, including some who say they are just a Muslim).

    *
    Note: This post was updated on Aug. 9, 2017. It was originally published Dec. 7, 2015.

    Correction: U.S. Muslim population estimates in this post, including the chart “Number of Muslims in the U.S. continues to grow,” were corrected on Nov. 14, 2017. For details, see Appendix B: Survey Methodology, note 37, of the report “U.S. Muslims Concerned About Their Place in Society, but Continue to Believe in the American Dream.”
    Michael Lipka is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center

    Pew Research 

    GUANTÁNAMO DIARY – Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

    Mohamedou Ould Slahi was born in a small town in Mauritania in 1970. He won a scholarship to attend college in Germany and worked there for several years as an engineer. He returned to Mauritania in 2000. The following year, at the behest of the United States, he was detained by Mauritanian authorities and rendered to a prison in Jordan; later he was rendered again, first to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and finally, on August 5, 2002, to the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was subjected to severe torture.
    In 2010, a federal judge ordered him immediately released, but the government appealed that decision. He was cleared and released on October 16, 2016, and repatriated to his native country of Mauritania. No charges were filed against him during or after this ordeal.
    Larry Siems
    *
    Mohamedou Ould Slahi
    Every time we had a hurricane warning in Guantánamo Bay, I had the same daydream. I imagined the prison camp wiped away and all of us, detainees and captors alike, fighting side by side to survive. In some versions I saved many lives, in others I was saved, but somehow we all managed to escape, unharmed and free.

    This is what I was imagining on October 7, 2016, when Hurricane Matthew was building in the Caribbean. The forecast was predicting a direct hit on Guantánamo, so the camp command decided to move all the detainees, about seventy of us, to Camp 6, the safest facility in GTMO. I was told that my belongings might not survive the hurricane, so I took my family pictures, my Koran, and two DVDs of the TV sitcom Two and a Half Men. The NCO in charge, a sympathetic Hispanic sergeant first class in his forties, arranged for another detainee to lend me his portable DVD player, but the machine died within minutes.

    Outside my cell, an argument broke out between one of the detainees and the guards over the temperature in the block, an argument we all knew was futile, but the detainee had started and now couldn’t stop. “You Americans, even if I treat you as human beings, you don’t respect me,” he was yelling. “We can do this the easy way or the hard way,” the guards were yelling back.

    I did my best to tune them out, and I spent the night listening for the sound of the heavy wind battering the cell, daydreaming another dramatic escape. The structure was so strong that I never even heard the storm.

    But in the morning the camp was buzzing with rumors about detainees who were going to leave. One rumor said that there was a comprehensive plan that I was going be resettled along with Abdul Latif Nasir, a Moroccan detainee, and Soufiane Barhoumi from Algeria. We had all heard so many rumors over the years that turned out to be just that, rumors, that we knew not to celebrate; this would prove to be another.

    For me, though, the real news came that afternoon. The bearer was our brand-new officer in charge. She had just taken over and I had not even met her yet, but now this army captain was sticking her head through my bin hole and giving me the broadest smile I’d seen in many years. “Do you know that you’re going to leave soon?” she said.

    It was the best introduction to a new OIC ever: I’m taking over, and you’re going home. I was moved to a different cellblock. I met with representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross, who officially informed me that I was to be transferred.

    The U.S. government dreads the mention of detainees being freed, so it uses its own vocabulary of “transfer” and “resettlement,” as if we were cargo or refugees. Yazan, a Jordanian representative I knew from previous ICRC delegations, asked if I would accept resettlement to my home country of Mauritania. I told him I would take any transfer I was offered, quoting the title of a Chris Cagle country song: “Anywhere but Here.”

    The next day, my attorneys Nancy Hollander and Theresa Duncan called me from the United States to confirm the news. Only then I could say to myself, Now it’s official: I’m leaving this prison after so many years of pain and humiliation.

    “You have the Gold Meeting tomorrow,” the new OIC told me when I got back to my cell after the call. Her smile still hadn’t faded. The “Gold Meeting” takes place in Gold Building, a structure that was built for interrogation. At first, the interrogations there were not so bad by Guantánamo standards. We answered all kinds of questions from FBI, CIA, and military intelligence officers, as well as investigators who came from around the world at the invitation of their American colleagues. But the building was given a face-lift in 2003 and then was used along with the so-called Brown and Yellow buildings for torture sessions. It was in this same Gold Building that I spent many sleepless and cold nights that year, shivering in my shackles, eating countless tasteless MREs, and listening to “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light” in an endless, repeating loop.

    Now the bushes around the building were growing out of control, and the old Delta Three camp next door looked like a graveyard. Romeo block, where I spent my last days before I was dragged into a boat in a fake kidnapping, existed only in bits and pieces. Everything was old and rusted and dirty. It looked like a scene after one of my hurricane daydreams.

    Inside Gold Building, though, nothing had changed. Its rooms were now assigned for FBI and Army Forensics, for phone calls to lawyers, and for meetings with the ICRC. But they were still set up the same way, with their one-way mirrors and the adjacent control rooms where a bunch of idle Joint Task Force (JTF) personnel would sit chewing on their cold cheese-burgers, watching me, and asking themselves how I’d ended up in this place. Even the smell was the same: at the first hint of it, I was hearing the sound my heavy chains made the day I was dragged down the corridor to a room where I would meet Sergeant Mary, one of the main interrogators on my so-called Special Projects team.

    One night in August 2003, I sat shackled in one of those rooms listening to a phone conversation one of my interpreters was having. She was calling her family back in the United States, and she had forgotten to close the door behind her. English seemed like her first language, but she was speaking to her family in Arabic, with a soft Lebanese or Syrian accent. To hear her casually sharing mundane stories about life in GTMO, very relaxed, completely oblivious to the man suffering next to her, was surreal, but it was just what I needed on that cold, unfriendly evening. I wished her soothing, musical conversation wouldn’t end: she was my surrogate, doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself. I saw in her a physical and spiritual conduit to my own family, and I told myself that if her family was doing well, my family must be doing well, too.

    That I was mitigating my loneliness by listening to someone else’s intimate, personal conversation posed a moral dilemma for me: I needed to survive, but I also wanted to keep my dignity and respect the dignity of others. To this day I am sorry for eavesdropping, and I can only hope she would forgive my unintentional transgression.

    Now, for the “Gold Meeting,” my interpreter was a small brown Arab-American in his early thirties, with short, receding black hair. “Are you from West Africa?” he asked in Arabic as I was led into a room and shackled to the floor. My ankle chains provided a musical backdrop to our conversation, echoing throughout Gold Building.

    What do other people think about us being shackled? I always wondered in these situations. Do they find it normal to interact with a restrained human being? Do they feel bad for us? Do they feel safer?

    “Yes, Mauritania,” I answered in Arabic, smiling. “Do you understand when I speak?” The room was packed with people I didn’t know, mostly high-ranking military officers, and he seemed eager to show how essential he was to the proceedings. My escort team pushed the desk close enough that I could lean on it and hide my shackled feet underneath, giving the impression of a relaxed, free man. A recent picture of me adorned the door.

    We waited. Like everywhere on earth, the big boss did not need to show up on time. Finally the voice of a service member, shouting as if an assault was under way, roused the room to its feet. “Colonel Gabavics, JDG Commander, on site.” The door opened and there he stood, in the flesh. It was the first and last time this man would speak to me. “You will be transferred to your country in one week. Do you have any questions?”

    Because I could hardly imagine life outside Guantánamo after so many years of incarceration, I had no idea what questions to ask. I made a request instead. I told the colonel that I wished to bring my manuscripts with me—I wrote four in addition to Guantánamo Diary during my imprisonment—and some other writing and paintings I had made in classes I took in GTMO. I said I would also like to take several chessboards, books, and other presents I had received from his predecessors and from some of my guards and interrogators, gifts that had great sentimental value. I named those who had given me these presents, hoping he would honor my request for the sake of his friends. “I’ll talk to the people in charge,” he said. “If it’s okay, we will send them with you.”

    I thanked him, smiling, wanting the meeting to end on that good note and not to screw things up by saying things I wasn’t supposed to say. The colonel disappeared as quickly as he came. The escort team took me to the room across the hall, where I found two women in uniform. A skinny brunette Army sergeant sat in front of an old Dell desktop that was running Windows 7. She kept smiling, even though her computer was a classic recipe for frustration; she typed everything at least twice, and the PC kept passing out on her.

    On her right sat a woman who seemed to be her boss, at least by rank, a short blond Navy lieutenant with a neat ponytail. She was friendly, too, and even asked my escort team to remove all my shackles. There followed a photo shoot that had me posing five different ways: face the camera, face right, face left, and forty-five degrees to both sides. I had to give my fingerprints in about a dozen ways on an electronic pad. They recorded my voice as I read a page written in English: “My name is fill in the blank. I’m from fill in the blank. I love my country,” and the like. That was as literary as it got. I must have been nervous, because I passed this voice recognition test only on the second try.

    Through it all, the sergeant struggled to save my biometric data into the old computer. My escorts restrained me again and took me to another room, this one with an FBI team. “If you promise to behave, I’ll let them take off your restraints,” a Turkish-American agent said with an honest smile. The FBI team fingerprinted me, using the old method of sticking my fingers in ink and pressing them on a paper. It was a long, tedious process, which gave me time to try out my Turkish with the agent. As we talked, his finger slipped and made its own print on the paper. He freaked out, grabbed a fresh paper, and we started again. “I hope this will be the last time you ever have to do this,” he said, laughing and handing me some sandy soap to clean my fingers.

    There were four other standard-issue FBI agents in the room, two middle-aged women and two other men. The whole team was having a good time with me. “You don’t need to hope,” I assured him. “You can bet your last penny.” I was taken to my new home, the transfer camp. I had seen this camp a million times: it was right next to the Camp Echo isolation hut, where I lived for twelve years. If I believed in conspiracy theories, I would have said that the government purposely put the transfer camp right next to my cell for all those years to make me suffer even more. So many detainees were transferred out during those years, and I would be the last one to bid them farewell. We would speak to each other through the fence that separates the two camps. It was comforting to see innocent men finally being freed, and I was happy for every detainee who passed through the transfer camp, but it stung to watch them leave.

    Now that detainee was me, and I couldn’t help but feel guilty. It hurt to think of leaving other innocent detainees behind, their fates in the hand of a system that has failed so badly in matters of justice. “We missed you, 760,” one of my old regular Camp Echo guards greeted me as I was unstrapped from the seat of the transport van.

    As we walked through the camp, a small, blond female sergeant with a southern accent went over the new rules. “You can go anywhere you like in the camp, but you’re not supposed to cross that red line. Honestly, I don’t care if you do, but don’t hang out long, because if they see you on the camera, we could get in trouble,” she told me as she led me to my new home. “We push the food cart all the way to the white line,” she went on, going over procedures I would be hearing for the last time. In one of the strange tricks of Guantánamo, the sergeant and I walked and conversed like old friends, completely overlooking the fact that I was shackled.

    Because of the hurricane, many of the mesh sniper screens on the windows had been removed from the Camp Echo huts, and the contractors—mostly so-called Third Country Nationals, who make very low wages and struggle to maintain the facilities—had not finished putting them back up. From my cell, I saw a whole world that had been surrounding me for many years, so close but so elusive: the maze of interrogation rooms; Camp Legal, where detainees meet their lawyers; the hut where the translators and teachers watched TV, waiting for their next encounter with detainees; and the two buildings where detainees come to call and Skype with their families. In a parking lot nearby, people parked their big American vans and climbed out of them, looking bored and sick of their tedious jobs.

    Through the fence that separates my old Camp Echo Special hut from the transfer camp, I could see that my garden was gone, except for the untended grass and the few trees whose resilience is matched by those of us detainees who had managed to remain in one piece.

    For the next several days, JTF staff kept pouring in to brief me about what was happening with my transfer. The news was coming thick and fast, from guards, from the OIC, the NCO in charge, from an officer from the Behavior Health Unit, and from the senior medical officer.

    Everyone brought good news. I was told that my items were packed and had been sent to the transport people and that they would be loaded onto the plane with me. An Air Force captain from the BHU said that she had been planning to see me the following Monday, but she now doubted I would still be here. The senior medical officer, a Navy captain, came in person to hand me malaria medication, a sure sign that my departure was imminent.

    In between these visits, I spent most of my time talking with the guards about what kinds of electronic gadgets I would need to acquire when I got out, and the best ways to watch all the movies I had been forbidden to watch in GTMO. They taught me about streaming sites like Netflix and Putlocker, and even about illegal downloading.

    And then the day came: Sunday, October 16, 2016. All day, people in uniform kept coming and going, most saying little, if anything at all. It was surreal—as if the whole base now had only one detainee to worry about. My new favorite OIC showed up again and again with her broad smile. My night shift didn’t show up at all. “Where’s the other shift?” I asked one of the guards, a guy who had been tutoring me on how to deal with the new technologies that were waiting to overwhelm me.

    “I would love it if they let me be the one leading you out of here, and the last one to say goodbye to you,” he said. The specialist’s prayer was answered; he would put the shackles on me for the last time. He grew less talkative as the afternoon wore on. Everyone seemed solemn, and a complete and utter silence descended when the smiling captain came to me and said, “You have two hours left. We’re going to lock you down.”

    “Now it’s for real,” I told myself. I went inside the cell and heard one of my guards trying to lock the door manually, a very familiar sound. Whenever civilians like teachers or contractors would come from outside the camp, we would be locked like this inside our cells. I took a shower and shaved. I dressed in the new detainee uniform I had been given. My old clothes, like all my belongings in the cell, had to be left behind.

    I tried to watch TV, then read a book, but I could do neither. I just kept pacing inside my room, praying and singing quietly. It was the longest two hours of my entire life. “Are you ready?” the captain finally said as she looked through my bin hole. “Yes.” “Can you stick your hands outside the bin hole?” one of the guards asked. I offered my hands, and the guards put the shackles on my wrists, gently yet firmly, asking whether the cuffs were too tight. I shook my head. After my hands were restrained, the guards opened the door to finish my upper body and my legs.

    I was shocked to see how many people could fit in that small place. I saw people in uniform everywhere I looked, including the overeager translator from my meeting with the colonel. But this time he watched and said nothing. The only place I’d ever seen such solemnity was when I attended funerals. I hardly spoke, just nodding when someone asked a question. The female captain was guiding the guards, telling them what to do next. “Take him to the red line.” The red line was about sixty steps away from my door. I felt as though I could hear people’s hearts beating as clearly as the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.”

    My escort team seemed nervous, and they went too far. The captain had to shout at them, “Do not cross the red line. Step back. Step back.” The guards obeyed, leading me backward and stopping just in front of the line. A huge gate opened, and a new escort team emerged. They quietly took control of me from my guards. They did not do the usual inspection of my restraints; they did not say anything as they led me outside the gate.

    Another group was gathered there, including the senior medical officer and a very tall white man in uniform who was wearing a backpack and whose rank I couldn’t see. It was dark outside, but I could see that he was holding a printout with a recent picture of me. He placed the picture beside my face, looked back and forth, and shouted, “Identity confirmed.” The whole team looked as if they’d just arrived from a long trip. They all seemed sleepy, even the small black woman who’d been pointing her video camera at me from the moment I left my cell. A skinny blondish specialist would join her in the bus that transported us to the airport, and they would take turns on the camera all the way to Nouakchott.

    “Do you have any complaints?” the senior medical officer asked. I shook my head. “No.” A slight smile broke across his face, and he almost shouted,

    “760, I declare you fit to fly.”

    We passed through two more gates. We boarded a bus that drove onto a ferry, and the bus danced like a dervish in a trance as the ferry crossed the bay. We pulled out onto the airstrip and up to the back door of a cargo plane big enough to drive a truck inside. The engines were roaring, and everyone had to shout to convey the simplest message. I was led up a long cargo ramp. As soon as we stepped inside the plane I was earmuffed and blindfolded, just as I had been when I was taken from Bagram Air Base to Guantánamo Bay. This time, though, there was no beating, harassment, or degradation.

    I was strapped into a hard seat that was set nearly at a right angle and that did not recline. I didn’t dare to complain for fear someone would change his mind and take me back to the camp. I lost track of time during the flight, fighting against the pain that began in my back, spread to my ears and head, and soon overwhelmed me from all directions.

    The plane landed with a heavy thump, and I felt someone peeling off my blindfold and my earmuffs. The first thing I saw was a digital clock on the wall of the plane in front of me—a little past 14:00, it read—and a bunch of half-asleep recruits who looked like they had not had their best night. I felt gentle hands playing with my shackles, starting from the middle and working up and down. “Did we arrive? I asked tentatively, barely in a whisper. “Yes,” a guard beside me said. “Is this the local time?” “Yes.”

    There was no mistaking the Mauritanian weather. It was a good day, not too hot—just the right, warm welcome I needed. I was escorted, unshackled, down the ramp and onto the tarmac, where several Mauritanian government officials and an American official waited. We exchanged casual greetings, and my U.S. service member escorts went directly to stand in formation near their countryman.

    After a few pleasantries, the American started toward his car. “Who’s that?” I asked one of the Mauritanians. “The U.S. ambassador,” he said. “Can I say hello to him?” I asked.

    He dispatched a man standing near him. The ambassador came back to me and we shook hands. “Welcome home,” he said.

    *

    from GUANTÁNAMO DIARY

    by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

    get it at Amazon.com

    .

    Over 30,000 Muslims in the UK Marched Against ISIS, Of Course You Didn’t Hear About It – Sarah A. Harvard. 

    More than 30,000 Muslims from around the world congregated at a farm in the United Kingdom for a three-day event protesting ISIS and religious extremism.

    The protest was part of the 50th annual Jalsa Salana, an annual convention and gathering for Ahmadiyya Muslims.

    The Ahmadiyya sect was founded in India in 1889 and faced persecution and violence from religious extremists in countries abroad. Despite their plight, the religious movement’s official motto is “Love for all, hatred for none” and their philosophy is rooted in tolerance over extremism.

    Mic

    Why do some young people become jihadis? Psychiatry offers answers – Kamran Ahmed. 

    There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, the overwhelming majority of whom abhor Isis and the evil it represents. So what is driving a handful of extremists to commit horrific acts of mass murder in the name of Islam?

    One contributing factor might be a concept drawn from the world of cultural psychiatry: acculturation – the process of balancing two competing cultural influences.

    There can be a number of possible outcomes to this process:

    Deculturation, when a migrant loses all touch with their culture of origin.

    Assimilation, when they retain some loose association with it but fully adopt the culture of the host nation.

    Integration, when they retain strong ties with their culture of origin but are fully functioning members of society.

    Rejection, when they reject the host-nation culture completely in favour of their culture of origin.

    Trying to meet the cultural expectations of parents while trying to fit in with peers; dealing with experiences of racism; balancing religious and western values, it poses a challenge for many Muslim youths living in western countries today.

    For those who find themselves at odds with the culture of their parents, and yet are met with hostility from the culture of the society they live in, exiting the acculturation paradigm to embrace a third culture that provides them with a sense of belonging may be an appealing option. In this case their minds become fertile ground for radicalisation.

    This is akin to the pathway into gang culture for young people around the world – a sense of alienation from family and society at large delivers them into the hands of older gang leaders. The counterculture for young Muslim men at odds with society nowadays is not gang culture but radical extremist factions that offer self-esteem and identity in exchange for allegiance to a violent and morally bankrupt manifesto. Once they are members of the subversive peer group, alarming ideas and behaviours can become normalised very quickly indeed.

    Perhaps the low self-esteem brought on by marginalisation is the mediator here, traded readily by some disaffected Muslim youths for the perceived sense of purpose and status associated with being a jihadi.

    Those most likely to make the transition from radical to terrorist are the exceedingly vulnerable, who are highly susceptible to jihadi rhetoric, and narcissistic psychopaths, who might revel in the notoriety of being a terrorist.

    Collective community action has been a prominent feature in anti-gang strategies around the world, and may prove effective in opposing this new type of thuggery, starting with closer ties and cooperation between Muslim and non-Muslim communities and a concerted effort to open a dialogue with at-risk individuals.

    The media must present a counter-narrative to Isis propaganda, showing young Muslims they are accepted in the west and can find their sense of belonging here.

    Muslim parents should be flexible in their demands that their children follow their cultural values and traditions where these are unlikely to lead to a favourable acculturation outcome for them.

    Nothing can be worse for a Muslim immigrant parent who builds a new home in the west, with hopes and dreams for their family, than to see their child become a murderous suicide bomber.

    We must take action to address the factors that underlie this problem if we are to prevent further suffering.

    Terrorists seek to divide us; the only way we can defeat this evil is by working together.

    ***

    Kamran Ahmed, psychiatrist and filmmaker

    The Guardian

    New Zealand can stand up against racism – Dame Susan Devoy, NZ Race Relations Commissioner. 

    New Zealand can stand up against racism.

    Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy has called on New Zealanders to stand up against racist taunts and attacks, drawing an apparent contrast with President Donald Trump’s America.

    “The world is at a crossroads when it comes to race relations. The way we treat each other will decide what path New Zealand goes down,” she said, marking Race Relations Day today.

    She said people from ethnic minorities reported an increase in the number of personal racist attacks in recent times, “in step with events taking place overseas”.

    “What we do now matters and that’s why we want people to be prepared to stand up for what they believe in. Whether we let our country become a place where abusing someone because of their race is normal or not, that part is up to us, all of us,” she said.

    “We want people to record attacks, to support people who are being attacked and to ensure attacks are reported.

    “When we see yet another racist attack on the news we need to ask ourselves: is this us? Is this the kind of country we want to be? If the answer is no, then we need to do something.

    “What we do today is our insurance policy for the future of our nation.

    “This year we are focused on encouraging New Zealanders to answer these two questions: what do you stand for? What do you stand against?”

    Race Relations Day marks the Sharpeville Massacre when 69 black South Africans, including 10 children, were shot to death by police for protesting against apartheid laws on March 21, 1960.

    A series of events in provincial and urban communities to celebrate Race Relations Day are being held throughout this month.

    The Human Rights Commission has produced a short video highlighting what people can do if they experience or witness a racist attack.

    Simon Collins, NZ Herald

    Donald Trump’s executive order means he is now officially gunning for Muslims –  Moustafa Bayoumi. 

    Donald Trump is now officially gunning for the Muslims. On Friday, he signed an executive order titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States. The order is nothing short of a Muslim ban by another name. It is cruel and callous, espouses positions contrary to the professed values of the United States, and will certainly produce more problems than it purports to solve. In other words, it’s exactly like Donald Trump.

    I cannot tell you how livid these scant pages of bureaucratic language make me. In them, Trump is returning the country to the dark days of excluding masses of people on the basis of our national prejudices. It’s as if we’ve reverted to the late 19th century when laws were passed to bar Chinese entry to the United States, but this time the action is by executive fiat and trained on Muslims. Not incidentally, the case law for Chinese Exclusion also established the legal authority for the National Security Entry-Exist Registration System (Nseers), the US government’s previous incarnation of a Muslim registry.

    We’re never far away from our demons.

    The Guardian

    Sign George Takei’s Petition: Stand Up for Muslims in the U.S.

    When I was just 5, my family was rounded up at gunpoint and forced from our home in Los Angeles into an internment camp.

    We were prisoners in our country, held within barbed wire compounds, armed guards pointing guns down at us. It was an egregious violation of our rights under the U.S. Constitution, all in the name of “security.” During that time, fear and racism drove government policy, creating a living hell for over 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans, most of whom were U.S. citizens.

    I have spent my life trying to ensure something like this never happens again. But dark clouds once more are gathering.

    A Trump spokesperson recently stated the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II “sets a precedent” for Trump to do the same today.

    And Trump continues to stand by his plans to establish a Muslim registry and ban immigrants from “certain” Muslim countries from the U.S. It starts with a registry, with restrictions, with irrationally ascribed guilt, and with fear. But we know well where it might lead.

    National security must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections.

    If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles. Without that, we are no better than our enemies.

    Please sign this petition to let the Muslim community know you support them and oppose any policy targeting them based on their religion or national origin. Help send a message to Trump and his ilk that this will never again happen in America.
    George Takei 

    Please sign the Petition

    Trust Test: Heart-Warming Display of Love and Politics Outside a Trump Hotel – AlterNet. 

    Karim Sulayman is a an Arab-American tenor and activist from Chicago. 10 Days after Donald Trump was elected president, Sulayman teamed up with filmmaker Meredith Kaufman Younger for a different kind of trust test.

    Blindfolded outside Trump International Hotel in New York City, Sulayman held a handwritten poster board type sign. It read: 

    “Hello, my name is Karim and I am Arab-American. Like many people who are black, brown, women, LGBTQIA, Latinix, Muslim, Jewish, Immigrants and Other, I am very scared. We are anxious and uneasy in our own country and it’s difficult to see what lies ahead for US. But, I hope that I am safe with you. Together, we can build a community of caring, rather than one of fear. You can trust me to care for you no matter who you are. Will you shake my hand and/or take a photo with me and post it as a sign that I am safe here with you? I trust you.” 

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    Alternet

    Far-Right group attacks refugee camp on Greek island of Chios. Molotov cocktails and rocks as big as boulders. 

    Dozens of people have been driven out of a refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios after two successive nights of attacks by a far-right group.

    The Guardian

    Muslims in Trump’s America: realities of Islamophobic presidency begin to sink in. – The Guardian. 

    Pity it didn’t ‘sink in’ before the election. Half of them didn’t even vote! 

    As a Muslim, Fariha Niamey was concerned about the newly minted president-elect and his campaign promises that targeted Muslims, immigrants and women. But it wasn’t until an older white couple began yelling at her, 10 minutes into her weekly commute to her internship, that the reality of Trump’s America set in.

    “I didn’t believe it until the moment this incident occurred,” she said of Trump’s victory. “I don’t think I absorbed it and felt the reality of it, I didn’t. I kept myself distracted all of Wednesday and then Thursday happened and then it hits me, this is actually what’s going on and it was not OK.”

    The Guardian 

    Refugees in Greece. ‘We’re never getting out of here’. European Solidarity?

    On June 26, 2015, as asylum seekers were rushing into Europe in growing numbers, EU leaders met until the wee hours in Brussels. Two countries were bearing the brunt of the crisis – the Mediterranean entry points of Greece and Italy. In what leaders heralded as a remarkable show of “solidarity,” the rest of the EU agreed to share the burden.

    The EU would relocate 40,000 refugees – mostly Syrians – to member countries from Portugal to Finland. They would be given shelter, aid and a chance to rebuild their lives. As the number of asylum seekers surged, the EU later boosted its pledge – promising to relocate up to 160,000.

    But 16 months after its initial decision, the EU has lived up to only 3.3 percent of that pledge, relocating 5,290 refugees – 4,134 from Greece and 1,156 from Italy. NZ Herald 

    Tories accused of Lurch to the Right. 

    Parts of Theresa May’s speech were however very ‘Keynesian’. 

    “People with assets have got richer. People without them have suffered. People with mortgages have found their debts cheaper. People with savings have found themselves poorer. A change has got to come. And we are going to deliver it.”

    Earlier in the week Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed the Government would also ditch Mr Osborne’s target of balancing the budget by 2020 – a symbol of the austerity era – adding that he was instead willing to borrow more to invest in infrastructure.

    The shift in economic policy dovetailed with the broader message of her speech, in which she pledged a more interventionist Government and put big business and the rich “on warning” that she would chase them if they broke rules. The Independent 

    Balancing the budget a symbol of the Austerity era? Does that imply that the Austerity era is over, at least in Britain? I am very suspicious. 

    Paris is opening a space for nudists because being naked is OK in France but wearing a burkini will get you arrested. 

    It will come as a kick in the teeth to the women who were forced out of their clothes across beaches by armed police in France this summer that a nudist park in Paris has been approved, because the rights of those who would rather eschew their clothes must be respected. The hypocrisy is absurd. The Independent 

    A Moral Duty to Help.

    New fears for 1,000 lone children in Calais refugee camp.

    Up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors will be left to fend for themselves when the so-called jungle camp for refugees in Calais is bulldozed next month. The French authorities have made no plans to rehouse the children, the Observer has learned, because it is hoping to force Britain to honour a promise to help child refugees.

    The French interior ministry has informed charities and aid organisations that it intends to destroy the camp in less than four weeks. 

    Almost 400 unaccompanied youngsters in the camp, some of whom have relatives in the UK, have already been identified as having a legal right to come to Britain.

    In May, David Cameron announced that Britain would accept as many as 3,000 unaccompanied minors. James Brokenshire, immigration minister at the time, said Britain had “a moral duty to help”. 

    However, Home Office figures reveal that by mid-September, only 30 children had arrived under the scheme. The Home Office did not respond to queries over whether it intended to help lone child refugees once the Calais camp was destroyed. The Guardian

    Why is it our response to any problem is always brute force? The West has created this refugee flow with seven decades of misguided and greedy meddling in the Middle East. 

    Hijab wearer appears in Playboy. 

    Playboy magazine and a hijab-wearing Muslim woman don’t usually go hand-in-hand. But American journalist Noor Tagouri has changed all that, appearing in the magazine’s October “Renegades” issue wearing her hijab proudly. NZ Herald

    My neighbors? They taught me how to shoot guns.

    GUN TOOTIN LOGIC. 

    “Instead of mocking rural Americans for owning twice as many guns as their urban counterparts, ask why they’re really afraid.”
    They made a day of it. Two men came over, along with three boys and one teenage girl, and set up swinging targets in the field behind my house. They brought probably 10 guns between them, ranging from a revolver to a semi-automatic. We fitted ourselves with earmuffs, and one of the men, who’d built a number of the guns himself and kept a home arsenal of at least 60 firearms, carefully showed me and the boys the safety features of each gun: touch here, never here. Treat every gun as if it’s loaded. Arms strong and straight. Wide stance. Fire. The Guardian

    Rednecks Awakened. Racial issues involving Somalis heightened after Minneapolis mall attack. 

    The day after a young Somali-American man stabbed 10 people at a central Minnesota mall, pickup trucks were spotted driving through predominantly Somali neighborhoods, honking and waving Confederate flags ” highlighting the precarious bond between the thousands of Somalis who live in St. Cloud and other city residents. NZ Herald

     

    Trump’s Behavior Similar To Male Chimpanzee. – Jane Goodall

    “In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals.  In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.” Huffington Post

    The character and temperament of a sewer rat. –  Robert Reich

    ​What Trump said last night raised the specter of violence against Hillary Clinton to a new level:

    “She goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm. Right? Right? I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. … Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It would be very dangerous.”
    This is even further than Trump went with his “Second Amendment people” quip in August: “If she gets to pick her judges: Nothing you can do, folks … Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know. But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”
    Trump knows exactly what he’s suggesting. This man has the character and temperament of a sewer rat.

    If by some fluke Donald gets the nod on November 8 I think he could be the first ever president to be assassinated before even taking office. 

    How Religion Drove George W. Bush’s Decisions

    ​An Interview with Biographer Jean Edward Smith

    The bulk of the book is devoted to Bush’s presidency and his disastrous foreign policy.
    Bush, not his seasoned advisors, made the decisions to invade Iraq and to prolong the war after “Mission Accomplished,” and then to allow, among other actions, widespread surveillance, torture, and rendition of suspected terrorists, all while testing the bounds of domestic and international law and often ignoring the concerns of military and diplomatic experts. Huffington Post

    CIA torture report. A portrait of Extreme Hypocrisy. 

    ​Taking power drills to the heads of captured men; making them stand with their arms stretched above their heads for days at a time; leaving at least one of them naked until he froze to death; waterboarding them to the point of catatonia as bubbles rose from their open mouths; and inserting pureed food into their rectums while claiming it was necessary for delivering nutrients. The Guardian

    Hate and Misinformation.

    ​The “racist” anti-Muslim rants included in a pamphlet circulating in Whanganui have upset some locals but been defended by the group posting them.
    http://bit.ly/2caUGqC