My Mind’s a Muddle on Immigration

On most matters political I come down pretty firmly on one side or the other. One exception is abortion where I am a man without a country. Liberals hate me because I abhor abortion on demand and conservatives hate me because I can’t condone the government violating the sovereignty of a woman over her body.

Now another entry in my straddle list. The immigration debate has me in a muddle. On the one hand I understand the offensive nature of the phrase “illegal immigrant”. People are themselves not illegal. Their acts are. “Illegal immigrant” objectifies these people.

I also understand that many of the 11 million here illegally have raised families here and love this country for its opportunities. I hesitate to engage in any dialog that demonizes them.

I also get that the GOP has created a bit of a straw man by trying to solve at great expense a problem we really don’t have right now. Because of our economy net illegal immigration is about zero. Obama has deported a record number of undocumented folks.

But there are still two things that bother me about this debate:

Why Do Minorities Defend Their Criminal Element?

Republicans believe that promoting comprehensive immigration reform will win them Hispanic votes, essentially a shameless pander. My question is why would law-abiding Hispanics who have paid their dues be offended by a crackdown on illegal immigration? Why would law-abiding Hispanics be seduced by a party “sympathetic” to undocumented workers who are by definitions criminals? Why are Hispanics not the most outraged at their brethren taking shortcuts to get the rewards that non-criminal Hispanics have worked hard for? It reminds me of blacks turning Trayvon Martin into a civil rights hero when he was at best a very foolish child and at worst a thug-in-training (more on that later). It reminds me of moderate Muslims who stand by silent while their nutjob radical brethren wreak havoc all over the world. I know from experience that when we condemn our own we open the door to bigots who will take our condemnation one step too far. That still shouldn’t keep us silent. That still should not make us accept the lowest common denominator. Law abiding Hispanics should be as interested in secure borders and fair labor practices as everyone else.

Who Needs Immigrants Right Now?

While watching “Face the Nation” last week, I saw Dan Stein, President of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) discuss the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill. If you get past his gripes about special interests and his skepticism about increased border security there remains one resonating point. Why do we want to increase job competition in a country with almost 8% unemployment (not including those who have dropped out of the workforce out of despair and those working part-time who want full-time jobs)? Just today I heard an argument about folks coming here to get an education and then taking their skills back home. Our solution? Encourage then to stay here! No, no, no.

We need to be training OUR citizens for the jobs available in this country right now. We need to be employing our citizens. We don’t need to be bringing more folks on board to compete for jobs. We have plenty of Americans for the jobs available. We don’t necessarily have the skills and that is what needs fixing. And once again — I’m a broken record on this subject and I don’t care — we need corporations and even small employers to start treating workers with dignity. That means not only hiring but paying them a decent living wage. We can beat unemployment in this country by training people and then making the jobs worth having. Many of the folks currently on food stamps are gainfully employed and can’t make enough money to pay for food. That’s a disgrace in the richest country in the world.

If anything, we should be restricting immigration right now across the board and getting our house in order with the folks who are already here.

A Final Few Words on Trayvon Martin

Last night the jury in the George Zimmerman trial declared Mr. Zimmerman not guilty of 2nd degree murder in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. A few observations come to mind:

Amazing What Happens When You Ignore Race

Despite a lead up to the trial that was extremely racially polarized, the prosecution chose not to focus on racism. Yes, profiling was mentioned but there was very little focus on the notion that Trayvon ended up dead because he was a black man.The predominant focus of both the defense and the prosecution was the scuffle itself and not much on what lead up to it. When you just focus on one man beating the crap out of another and whether the dude getting beaten up might be afraid of great bodily injury it becomes a bit easier to say “yeah I would have shot him too.” For those, mostly conservatives, who were angry at the race baiters, the prosecution was pretty restrained it its use of race as an emotional tactic. When you take racial motivation out of the equation, it’s just a matter of a man wanting the beating to stop.

The Worst Prosecution Evah

I admittedly watched more trial analysis than the trial itself but damn that was one sad prosecution. Nearly every prosecution witness was transformed into a witness for the defense. The coroner, Dr. Bao, was so slick and shifty I wouldn’t trust him with the dead much less the living. The expert on use of force, Dennis Root was allowed to testify on state of mind, outside his area of expertise,  without any objection from the prosecution. And most damning of all, the prosecution never made an issue of the position of Zimmerman’s gun (behind him out of view of Martin) until closing arguments. I had to wonder as I watched analysis of the trial whether the state really wanted to win this case or not.

The Sickening Canonization of Trayvon Martin

I actually heard Travyon Martin compared to Medgar Evers last night. I threw up in my mouth a little. Are we serious? Medgar Evers devoted his life to racial equality and was killed by a white supremacist. Trayvon Martin devoted his last months to smoking dope, possibly stealing jewelry, calling himself No-Limit-Nigga on Twitter, being suspended twice from school and was killed by a half white half Hispanic Barney Fife. Trayvon Martin is no hero. He is a cautionary tale of what a child should do when confronted by a crazy stranger. You don’t respond with gangsta attitude. You run the hell away and tell your parents.

Last night MSNBC’s Joy Reid implied Trayvon was accosted by a gun wielding George Zimmerman. The facts as revealed in the case do not support that. Trayvon didn’t know George had a gun until after a scuffle had already ensued. She should be ashamed of herself for making up facts. Melissa Harris-Perry said all black families are holding their kids a bit closer after the verdict. Well damn right Melissa. Maybe if Trayvon was held a bit closer, as in properly counseled on his life choices, he might be alive today. I am reading folks on Facebook say they fear for their black children’s safety because big bad whitey may kill them and not go to jail. Have we lost our minds? The lesson in this verdict is not that a white (or half white) man can shoot you in the back and get away with it. The lesson is that a white man can shoot you if you punch him in the face and jump on top of him and try to beat the crap out of him. Was giving an ass whupping to George Zimmerman the only choice Trayvon had that night?

Look, I am not happy that George Zimmerman brought a gun to a fist fight. I also don’t doubt the terrible loss felt by Trayvon’s family. But despite the media’s insistence on showing photos of a 13-year-old angelic child (they’re still showing those photos today), if we are honest we know better. Trayvon was developing into an ignorant punk who was headed for trouble. He needed intervention, just not in the form that he got from George Zimmerman. Trayvon is no hero, civil rights or otherwise. He is another sad statistic in a culture that favors confrontation and bravado over common sense. It’s a damn shame.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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The Need for a New Muslim Narrative

Several weeks ago a representative from Unity Productions Foundation sent me a video and asked me to feature it on this blog. After viewing it, I told her I would indeed write about the video but there was a missing ingredient that had to be addressed.

The video juxtaposes images of every day Americans who happen to be Muslims with a soundtrack of Islamaphobic hate speech. To anyone with an ounce of empathy, the video is extremely powerful.

There is only one problem. The empathetic folks who would find the video powerful are not the folks who need convincing. Islamaphobia is not the byproduct of some psychosis. It is the byproduct of seeing a small but conspicuous minority of one particular religion use violence as a “normal” reaction to achieving political ends and addressing grievances. The folks featured in the UPF video are not the folks inspiring fear of Muslims.

So what is missing from the video? What is missing from the video is the condemnation of religious violence by Muslims from Muslims. You see, after years on this blog defending Islam, the one thing I can no longer defend is the sound of crickets from the lawful Muslim community every time a follower of Islam blows himself up and kills innocents.  If UPF wants to really make a difference they need to publish videos of Muslims denouncing the violent aspects of Sharia law as well as the reprehensible behavior of radical Muslims worldwide.

Very simply and with all due respect to Unity Productions Foundation, fair-minded people know that the grocer, cab driver, research scientist, teacher and soccer coach might be Muslims and they live and love and cry and bleed just like any non-Muslim. What remains to be seen is will they work toward a more peaceful religion and publicly condemn their brothers and sisters who have brought shame upon their religion? That is the new Muslim narrative that we must see if minds and hearts are going to change.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Some Thoughts on Life Post-Osama

It is almost two weeks since a team of Navy SEALs found and killed Osama bin Laden a mere 20 or so miles from the capital of Pakistan. Here are some thoughts in no particular order on the current state of affairs.

Oh That McCain is Such a RINO

Just when decent human beings are ready to totally give up on Senator John McCain, he goes and does something honorable. On the floor of the Senate on Thursday, McCain repeated information obtained from CIA Director Leon Panetta. Various Bush administration alumni have been beating their chest about the role “enhanced interrogation techniques”, i.e. torture, played in the capture of Osama bin Laden. Sadly, even folks from the White House have been ambiguous about this role, including statements from NSA Tom Donilon suggesting that any torture was part of a grand mosaic of techniques leading to Osama. McCain, long an opponent of torture, having been a victim of it while in Vietnam, set the record straight stating definitively that the trail to Osama did not begin with any enhanced interrogation by Americans. In fact, the interrogation that identified the courier who eventually led to bin Laden, was not even conducted by Americans.

Of course, we know that McCain couldn’t possibly have any credibility on this subject since he is and always has been just a RINO. Any true red-blooded American knows that if you want to get a Muslim terrorist to talk, you torture him.

Kill the Man, Then Embarrass Him

I don’t know about you but I find it a little odd after you kill a guy to then go on a campaign of humiliation. In the aftermath of bin Laden’s death, we’ve seen an old weathered bin Laden pathetically watching himself in his glory days on TV, drinking Viagra juice and loading up on Coca Cola and pornography. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking for any sort of “respect for the dead” regarding bin Laden but it seems to me once you shoot a guy in the eye, subsequent attempts at humiliation are anticlimactic.

Pakistan Taliban Avenges bin Laden Murder by Killing … Muslims

This week over 80 people were killed when suicide bombers struck a paramilitary center in Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban took credit for the incident claiming it was revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden. As of this writing, there is no proof of any connection between the bombers and the Taliban but if we are to take their word for it, it just underscores what many of us have known for a while now. Far more Muslims have been killed by al Qaeda and its sympathizers than any other group of people. It makes you wonder why more decent Muslims do not decry the terrorist behavior of their radical brothers.

The Ultimate Insult: Treating Muslims like the Mentally Ill

I had an epiphany of sorts this week while watching my usual dose of MSNBC. Since his murder, a debate has raged about whether or not to release photos of the dead bin Laden. Proponents of  releasing the photos say this will send a message to the world that you don’t mess with the United States of America. Opponents of the release say it will inflame the Muslim world and feed anti-American propaganda. As someone who vociferously condemned the behavior of Pastor Terry Jones when he burned a Koran recently, I have had a bit of an about-face.

There is only one good reason not to release the photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse and that is simple common decency. The man still has relatives in several countries who have never threatened the United States, many of whom have disowned him. They do not deserve to see their relative with a gaping head wound. It also lowers us to the level of ancient Roman attendees at the Coliseum to engage in such blood-lust.

One reason that should be dismissed however is that these photos will inflame the Muslim world. For some reason, listening to my favorite liberal pundits on MSNBC this week, I thought, wait a minute, if we substituted black for Muslim, how would I feel about blacks being portrayed as savages who cannot control their behavior and will be set off into crazed violence by a photograph? Indeed I have had a reader or two in an attempt to bait me, suggest that if Obama loses the 2012 election there will be riots in the streets, carrying the not so subtle suggestion that blacks cannot control themselves.

The time has come to stop treating Muslims like the mentally ill and make them accountable for their behavior. Is it impolite to burn a Koran? Damn straight it is. Is it proper provocation for the insulted to go on a killing spree? Not just no, but hell no! I am beginning to find it fascinating that decent Muslims seem to stand by and not be offended by a media that portrays them as hair-trigger lunatics. I think we have moved from respect and consideration to condescension. Do we think Muslims are somehow lesser than we? We can control our behavior and they can’t? When a mentally disturbed person or a mentally disabled person commits a violent crime we usually give him a pass of sorts. It is what the mental deficiency, insanity defense is all about. Are we now really saying that Muslims are mentally disturbed? Isn’t this a far greater insult than a disrespectful caricature of Mohammed?

I think in the name of ending Islamaphobia, it’s high time we stop referring to “radical Muslims” and start calling them what they are, common criminals. We should feel free to express ourselves, no matter how offensively, and expect lively debate and possibly condemnation to ensue. When the insulted party turns to violence, he loses his status as righteous victim and earns the title of thug.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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