Thursday, March 17, 2011
The King Hearings were Taboo-Busters
It is not everyday that Congress breaks a major taboo and, in so doing, performs a real service to the nation. Last Thursday, however, was one such day: Representative Pete King (Republican of New York) demonstrated impressive leadership in convening and conducting a four-hour-long hearing on "extremism" in the American Muslim community.
For his efforts, the Homeland Security Committee's chairman was subjected to tremendous personal attacks and partisan sniping - the wages of taboo-busting. While those responsible for inflicting such slanderous criticism claim, in the words of one group, to have "defeat[ed] a major threat of Islamophobia," the real story is that Mr. King began a conversation about an issue that has long been deemed politically untouchable. He also established that there is, indeed, a problem of "extremism" within the American Muslim community.
One manifestation of that problem was the determined effort made by the so-called "leadership" of the Muslim population in this country not only to impugn the chairman and several of his witnesses, but to suppress these hearings altogether. For example, groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) lined up fifty-five House Democrats to insist that Rep. King "reconsider the scope of these hearings and instead examine all forms of violence motivated by extremist beliefs, rather than unfairly focusing on just one religious group."
One of the reasons for this demand became clear as Pete King's witnesses shed light on the true nature of such self-appointed Muslim "leaders": They do not speak for American Muslims and are either directly tied to the Muslim Brotherhood - an organization whose mission is to "destroy Western civilization from within" - or sympathetic to its goal of bringing shariah to the United States.
Relatives of two young men who were recruited, indoctrinated and sent to engage in jihad provided frightening insights into the ways in which Muslim organizations, mosques, cultural centers and Islamic societies stealthily advance this objective. One means is via dawa - the proselytization of the politico-military-legal doctrine of shariah.
Particularly chilling was the account of a Somali-American living in Minnesota by the name of Abdirizak Bihi. His nephew, Burhan Hassan, was among those who joined and was killed fighting on behalf of the Islamist terrorist group al Shabab in Somalia. He relayed how his family was warned by community "leaders" not to go to the authorities for help lest they wind up in Guantanamo Bay or facing "eternal fire and hell."
Was this an isolated incident? Hardly. At least since the immediate aftermath of 9/11, prominent Muslim American organizations have encouraged their co-religionists not to cooperate with law enforcement. Among the most recent examples was a message on a CAIR website calling on its members to "Build a Wall of Resistance. Don't Talk to the FBI."
Of course, this narrative contrasts sharply with that promoted by the Muslim Public Affairs Council and its ilk who take credit for successfully inseminating into the U.S. media the meme that they are actively "engaging" with law enforcement. Notably, MPAC takes credit for getting Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca called to testify at the King hearing for the purpose of attesting to their good citizenship.
Unfortunately for both the officer sporting a uniform with five stars and his Islamist friends, freshman Rep. Chip Cravaak (Republican of Minnessota) asked whether the sheriff was aware of CAIR's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood's franchise in Palestine, known as Hamas. The sheriff professed to know nothing of those associations. When Rep. Cravaak pointed out that the Department of Justice has demonstrated in federal court that such ties do exist, Sheriff Baca demurred and simply said, if there is that evidence, then such individuals, such organizations ought to be prosecuted.
Well, no kidding. They certainly should be prosecuted. And here is a question that future hearings of the Homeland Security Committee should address: Why hasn't the Council on American Islamic relations been prosecuted for being tied to Hamas, for working on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood and specifically for fostering the efforts to bring shariah to America? After all, shariah is a seditious ideology and totalitarian program explicitly designed to hollow out, and ultimately to destroy, representative government and the civil liberties that are enshrined in our Constitution. There is every reason for such a prosecution to go forward, and we need to know why has not it happened to date.
There was one other evident reason why the Muslim Brotherhood's front groups were so determined to shut down the King hearings and excoriate him for having as witnesses anybody other than their hand-picked candidates - the blubbering first-Muslim-in-Congress Rep. Keith Ellison (a Democrat from Minnesota) and the clueless Sheriff Baca: Rep. King helped credential Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a former naval officer and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, as a credible and inspiring voice for pro-American Muslims and Islamic reform.
We owe Pete King a debt of gratitude for defying those who would have shut him up and shut his hearings down. In so doing, he has laid bare important truths about the threat posed by shariah and its adherents, empowered those like Dr. Jasser who are courageously standing up against it and broken a taboo in a way that cries out for many more hearings, as soon as possible, on these and related subjects, by his committee and by others.
Affirmative Action Since Obama Shattered the Highest Glass Ceiling
A little over two years ago, a black man educated at Ivy League schools was democratically elected to the most powerful office in the world. Most people saw the election of Obama to the U.S. presidency as decisive evidence that affirmative action policies are no longer necessary, if they ever were.
Obama seemed to agree with that; while running for president he admitted that when his daughters apply to college, they “should probably be treated by any admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged.” Yet in spite of a slight trend in high court decisions striking down affirmative action, and ballot initiatives spearheaded by Ward Connerly passing around the country banning affirmative action, the Obama administration has taken the opposite route, continuing to mandate and expand affirmative action policies.
The Obama administration is aggressively using federal agencies to expand affirmative action. Hospitals and healthcare providers recently received notice from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) that they are “federal contractors” based on their TRICARE participation and must provide OFCCP with an affirmative action plan or risk being audited and fined. This surprised many hospitals, since they do not have contracts with the federal government in regards to TRICARE.
Obama is working with Democrats in Congress to implement more affirmative action. The Obamacare legislation contains race-based preferences. Contractors who demonstrate efforts to train individuals from underrepresented minority groups will receive preferences when applying for contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services. The federal stimulus funds also include preferences. Since the Recovery Act dollars come from the federal government, they are subject to federal law set-asides for “Disadvantaged Business Enterprises,” which include minorities and women.
Two years ago, Obama rejected a proposed federal rule that would have reduced gender preferences for women in contracting. The reduction was proposed due to finding that women were only underrepresented in contracting agreements in four out of 140 recognized industries. Obama signed a spending bill instead that affirmed federal law requiring that at least five percent of federal contracts go to women-owned businesses. This goes against a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruling handed down just a few months earlier in 2008, which struck down a Defense Department rule that funneled billions of dollars annually into defense contracts for minority and women-owned firms.
The Obama administration has proactively intervened in high-profile lawsuits defending affirmative action. In 2008, the Obama administration filed an amicus brief in federal court in favor of upholding a race-conscious admissions system at the University of Texas at Austin. That case is currently at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Department of Justice again intervened in the Ricci v. DeStefano lawsuit, defending the City of New Haven’s race preferences against the white firefighter plaintiffs. The Supreme Court came down on the side of the white firefighters in 2009 – reversing the decision by the Court of Appeals of which Obama’s Supreme Court appointee Sonia Sotomayor had previously been a part of.
Obama is implementing his own unofficial form of affirmative action by appointing minorities and women who support race and gender preferences to top posts in his administration, ensuring its perpetuation. Most of them were educated in Ivy League schools and did not come from disadvantaged backgrounds - providing more evidence that affirmative action is not necessary. Sotamayor graduated from Princeton and Yale. Eric Holder, Obama’s Attorney General, graduated from Columbia. Jacqueline Berrien, a graduate of Harvard Law School and former Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was appointed by Obama to head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
There are indications that the Department of Justice is engaging in reverse discrimination by selectively enforcing voting rights. Last year, the DOJ dropped charges that had been brought by the Bush administration against two New Black Panther Party members for voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008 – even though the court was likely to rule against the defendants. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was asked to investigate the dismissal, and their final report is about to be released. The DOJ has also made it clear that it intends to use outdated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to favor minorities when redistricting Congressional districts, even though there is no longer evidence of real discrimination.
When affirmative action was first set in place by presidential Executive Orders in the 1960s, it was intended to ensure that qualified minorities and women were not being overlooked. “Affirmative action” was never designed to give them preferences over others who were equally qualified. The far left and their counterparts in the courts have taken the plain wording of these orders and used it to justify preferences and quotas. Ironically, that same wording is now used in ballot initiatives Ward Connerly runs in various states to ban affirmative action.
By continuing to promote affirmative action, Obama is catering to a radical constituency on the left. Polling reveals that substantial majorities of Americans want to end affirmative action. If there was any issue where it would make sense for Obama to diverge from the left, it is affirmative action. Obama’s father comes from a powerful Kenyan tribe, and had the wealth and connections to send him to Harvard. There is speculation that ancestors of both Obama’s father and mother may have been slave owners. It is a disappointment that someone with such a privileged upbringing and success in life would ironically perpetuate increasingly irrelevant and harmful practices.
Pathetic British police again
Thirty police officers, an arsenal of guns and a lion expert... all to catch two dangerous dogs. Dogs must not be shot, apparently. But they killed them all the same
More than 30 police officers in riot gear surround a suburban house. Some are carrying rifles. But this was not a deadly stand-off with an armed gang or a lone gunman. Instead the huge police operation was aimed at two dogs. It went on for 30 hours and is estimated to have cost £30,000.
It only ended when a vet more used to tranquillising lions finally went into the house with two officers and subdued the dogs. They were later put down.
The animals had turned on a teenage friend of their owner while he was looking after them. Daniel Boardman, 19, was badly bitten on the legs, arms and bottom but somehow managed to dial 999.
Two armed officers arrived to find Mr Boardman being pulled in opposite directions by each dog. They broke down the door and shot the dogs with Taser stun guns to free him and drag him to safety.
But then, because of the danger they posed, the dogs were left in the boarded-up house in Rishton, Blackburn, for 24 hours with a guard outside.
The next morning, police in riot gear, armed officers, the RSPCA, and a zoo vet arrived. The team began trying to lure the dogs out of the open back door into the rear yard. The dogs were called by their names – Coco and Dekker – whistled for and, at one point, food was thrown into the yard.
Perhaps the dogs had some idea what was waiting for them if they did emerge – two marksmen on ladders – so the siege dragged on and shifts changed. Finally an officer climbed a ladder and banged on an upstairs bedroom window to attract the dogs’ attention.
While they were in the bedroom, officers in padded ‘dog suits’ entered the house and shut them in. A panel in the bedroom door was removed and the vet shot each animals with a tranquilliser dart. They were then both given a lethal injection and their bodies finally brought out on Tuesday – 30 hours after the incident began.
Mr Boardman has been left with what police have described as ‘life-changing’ injuries which will require major surgery.
The dogs’ owner, Mark Rowland, 24, from Accrington, was arrested on suspicion of possessing a banned dog and has been bailed pending further inquires. Last night he insisted: ‘They are not dangerous dogs, they are bull mastiffs. They are insured, registered and have never fought in their life. This has just been an accident.’
Mr Rowland said he had visited his friend in hospital and added: ‘He told me the dogs were fighting and he’s gone to pull them apart.’
First they came for the faux fascists
Left-wing groups now cheering on the state as it restricts the freedom of an EDL member could well be next
Last week, a man was hauled up before Doncaster Crown Court for using ‘offensive’ language. As punishment, he was banned from attending or helping to organise any demonstration, meeting or gathering held by his political organisation or even visiting its website for 10 years. In addition, he was banned from travelling by train anywhere in the UK and from entering a mosque, meeting room, school or cultural centre.
Leaving aside the specifics of the case for a minute, it’s worth reflecting upon what this means: there are certain words that you can utter that, if they offend someone, can mean that a Crown Court can slap a Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order - ‘Crasbo’ - on you and place hefty restrictions on your freedom of assembly, freedom of movement and freedom of expression to the extent that you’re not really free at all.
So for unemployed 38-year-old Shane Overton, the UK has effectively become an open prison for the next 10 years, one in which he can no longer play any role in the (perfectly legal) activities he was previously engaged in with his political organisation, the English Defence League (EDL).
Overton does not appear to be a sympathetic character. His actions, which led to his criminal ASBO, are indeed reprehensible. On his way home following an EDL demo in Newcastle, he came across an Asian family at Doncaster rail station. Taking ‘exception to them speaking in Urdu’, he ‘used racist abuse and told them to “get out of our country”’.
Overton certainly deserves to be challenged and chastised for his disgusting language and contemptible treatment of the family. But while he reportedly scared the family’s children, there is no suggestion he used violence in the attack. He didn’t throw punches at these individuals; only words. If we hope to live in an open and free society, feeling free to say what we think - even if it causes offence to some - is of primary importance. When the state has the power to deprive you of democratic freedoms because it disapproves of the ‘offensive’ words you use, this can have disastrous consequences upon the ability of all of us to speak freely.
This is not the first time such legislation has been used against EDL members to restrict their freedom of expression. In Birmingham, last December, two individuals pleading guilty to ‘disorderly conduct’ at an EDL march were given bans preventing them from engaging in EDL activities (including on the internet) and restricting them from attending any protests anywhere in the UK that weren’t within a 10-mile radius of Birmingham. So even if they attended the – completely unrelated – anti-cuts demo in London on 26 March, they could face arrest or imprisonment. The judge reportedly didn’t consider this to be a free-speech issue because he deemed EDL events to have ‘no purpose’, claiming: ‘You each have a right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly’, but ‘I am persuaded that the only reason for [going on the protest] was to provoke, encourage and enjoy public disorder’.
Of course, the fact we’re talking about ‘fascist’ EDL members – as many leftie organisations will tell you – seems to mean that they shouldn’t be granted the democratic freedoms of right-thinking, middle-class liberals steeped in New Labour’s multiculturalist agenda. The members of this largely white working-class group are regarded as relics from a bygone era, Neanderthals needing to be re-educated or kept isolated from the rest of society, by force of law if necessary.
Despite the severe, illiberal punishment inflicted upon him by the courts, Shane Overton’s case has hardly registered as a blip on the radar of the national press. Perhaps if Overton had been a member of Unite Against Fascism, Hope Not Hate, or another such group there would have been outcry from people defending his civil liberties and trying to get his case noticed.
But there has been no outcry. Because left-leaning groups disagree with what Overton said, then not a word is spoken in his defence. Working-class ‘thugs’, it seems, don’t deserve a right to free speech. Indeed the ‘anti-Fascist’ publication Searchlight has (ironically) shown just what an authoritarian bent it has, by claiming that it will snitch to the state if it sees him breach his ASBO: ‘Searchlight will be watching closely to make sure Overton stays away from future EDL events.’
So blinded by their faux war against Fascism that they actively encourage the use of the state’s illiberal legislation, left-wing groups miss the fact that they could well be next. Police have made it clear they will be indiscriminate in also slapping similar restrictions on left-wing ‘extremists’. As DC Andy Haworth from the National Domestic Extremism Unit puts it: ‘We are working to support all police forces with Crasbo applications against any individual who persistently commits criminal acts at (or travelling to and from) Defence League demonstrations, regardless of whether they profess to support the Defence League or oppose it, in order to ensure future demonstrations are peaceful and lawful.’
As has been argued previously on spiked, much of what the EDL says may be unpleasant, but they are not a fascist organisation. In the name of tackling ‘right-wing’ extremism, both left-wing groups and the state are actually advocating and implementing far more authoritarian measures than the EDL has so far suggested.
The unsavoury language and appearance of some EDL members is obscuring the fact that fundamental democratic freedoms that affect us all are being eroded in the name of countering extremism. With the rise of criminal ASBOs, anyone who says something the state deems to be offensive, or engages in a protest that some judge believes has ‘no purpose’, could be prevented from being members of political organisations, protesting, moving across the country freely or associating with colleagues.
In short, for those the state disagrees with and finds offensive, Britain could soon start to resemble an open prison. This is a far greater threat than anything posed by so-called extremist groups like the EDL.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.