A better idea for a Homeland Security hearing

Sadly, it appears we have attracted a commenter who would like to have a tiny (in so many respects) Loudoun version of Rep. Peter King’s execrable hearings, hearings that further target a minority community already in the crosshairs of a profoundly ignorant hate movement. The small-minded individual in question has been placed on moderation for using exactly the kind of slurs that are the premise of those hearings, scheduled to begin on Thursday.

Eugene Robinson calls this exactly what it is:

Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is about to convene hearings whose premise offends our nation’s founding ideals and whose targets are law-abiding members of a religious minority. King has decided to investigate Islam.

Robinson goes on to point out what’s not being investigated by this misleading and dangerous exercise:

The irony is that it would be perfectly appropriate for King and his committee to look into any and all potential sources of domestic terrorism, emphasis on any and all. Before the Sept. 11 attacks, people seem to forget, the deadliest single act of terrorism on U.S. soil had been perpetrated by a right-wing loser named Timothy McVeigh – who was not, as it happened, a follower of Islam. For more than a century, the most remorseless and violent terrorist organization in the nation was the Ku Klux Klan. Watchdogs such as the Southern Poverty Law Center would be happy to share with King voluminous information about heavily armed militia groups out in the backwoods, training for some imagined Armageddon.

Why, for example, the refusal to investigate the Seven Mountains Movement – a genuine analog to Islamist ideological fundamentalism – which is preparing for a literal holy war and is infiltrating evangelical Christian communities worldwide?

The legitimate-sounding goal of this exercise, King explained Sunday on CNN, is to investigate “self-radicalization going on within the Muslim community” and the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism. Who doesn’t want to uncover al-Qaeda sleeper cells? Who doesn’t want to do everything that is possible – and legal – to prevent terrorist attacks?

But King further alleges that Muslim Americans have failed to demonstrate “sufficient cooperation” with law enforcement in uncovering potential terrorist plots. With this libel, King casts doubt on the loyalties of millions of Americans solely because of their faith. This is religious persecution – and it’s un-American and wrong.

This is what it looked like one recent day in Orange County, CA:

It doesn’t look like that in Loudoun. We are blessed with an active and diverse community of faith here, with leaders taking steps to provide the opposite example of what King has in mind. From a press release dated Tuesday, March 8:
 

Twenty-six faith leaders in Loudoun County, Virginia sent a letter today to Peter K. King, Jr. registering a deep concern about hearings into what he is calling “Islamic radicalization in America.”   
 
The faith leaders, representing a diversity in religious traditions, expressed concerns that “at a time in history when concerns for mutuality and respect are more urgent than ever, it is our feeling that the nature of these hearings will have just the opposite effect..

.. We are deeply troubled by the negative statements made to the media, statements that make the hearings appear designed to provide “evidence” for conclusions that have already been reached.

We note with sadness how such tactics have been used in the past in the United States – and how they have been used throughout world history in a variety of contexts – and feel that rather than making a contribution to ‘homeland security’ these hearings will do just the opposite.”
 
The letter concludes:  “We believe there is a more positive way to deal with some of your concerns, and that we should seek opportunities for people to come together in a way that,  out of the diversity of religious and ethnic traditions, explores those elements of justice and peace we hold in common.  Such an approach could plant the seeds of a genuine ‘security’ that would model the United States as a ‘homeland’ for everyone.”

This letter is just the beginning.

On a personal note: A lot of words were used here and here to tell me to do something, or to not do something, but my partners in this conversation won’t quite come out and tell me what it is. I think I’m supposed to just uncritically accept that the act of wearing an article of clothing is offensive, and that I am being terribly rude by doing it.

I’m really being very uncooperative – and that’s because I believe they need to be much more explicit and honest about what it is they want me to do. Here’s what I think it is: Shut up. Don’t confront the premise of these hearings. Don’t question the idea that anything from the Arab world is scary and threatening. Agree that associating Islam with terrorism and fear is natural and acceptable, and that subjecting that idea to ridicule is “intolerant.” Isn’t that what you’re telling me to do? I refuse.

This man is one of my heroes. I’m not going to accept the horrible things you are trying to associate with his memory, may he rest in peace, and his faith. I’m not going to tell you to shut up, but I’m not going to be silent about it, either. That is simply a factual statement. Don’t expect me to be silent while my friends are being defamed. I agree with Rep. Michael Honda, who as a child was one of the 110,000 Japanese Americans confined to internment camps during World War II:

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to stay quiet and not say something,” Honda said in an interview this week. “We have to show people that as Americans, we’re not going to put up with this kind of nonsense.”

I hope this clears things up.

17 thoughts on “A better idea for a Homeland Security hearing

  1. Barbara Munsey

    David, I’m not trying to get you to do or not do anything, other than perhaps acknowledge that any symbol is not under the total control of anyone who chooses to use it for whatever purpose.

    You have replied that anyone who questions your particular current symbol needs to examine their own bigotry.

    I replied that you may perhaps need to acknowledge that your symbol is bigger than you are, in that you have no control over how it is perceived both by those who find it positive and those who find it negative, and as such, perhaps limits you yourself in any attempt at a “teachable” moment.

  2. Paradox13

    I think the issue is the assumption that the symbol needs explanation. That implies that the symbol’s default use is one that is negative.

    No one is asked to to “explain in context” the use of a cross, or U.S. Flag, even though those symbols have equally – and frequently – been used for hate and division by groups advocating for, and committing, violent acts.

    Teachable moments are for those willing to listen and be convinced. The whole idea of explaining and teaching is predicated on the assumption that the people listening are willing to change their minds in the first place. I humbly submit that for those willing to listen, and have their minds changed by reasoned argument and evidence, what David has been doing with his symbol(s) has been teaching and explaining.

    It may be the case that those on the other side have simply not been listening.

  3. Barbara Munsey

    Paradox, of COURSE the use of a flag or cross or any other symbol used in either positive or negative advocacy must be explained IN THE CONTEXT of the advocacy.

    Has David or anyone else using the scarf symbol acknowledged any negative uses to which it has been put by however small a minority?

    Personally, I think the most likely response from the majority, and even some in the camps on either end who actively view it as either exclusively positive OR exclusively negative, might merely be “oh look, a(nother) metropolitan American progressive intellectual in a keffeiya”.

    Symbols are used precisely because they transcend speech.

    The amount of speech necessary to explain any individual’s meaning in choosing a symbol will not transcend the symbol itself.

  4. Paradox13

    I, for one, had not seen “a(nother) metropolitan American progressive intellectual in a keffeyia” before, and became more educated as a result of David’s actions.

    But then again, my mind was open in the first place. Again, perhaps those unwilling to examine and understand the symbol are not the audience for the symbol.

  5. Barbara Munsey

    Thank you for acknowledging that the use of the symbol is intended for an audience.

    Why do you assume my mind is closed?

    (you don’t have to answer–you may not actually assume so, but in this context, the script may dictate it IS so)

  6. Paradox13

    In terms of closed minds, I am not assuming yours is, and if that was inferred, please accept my apology for not parsing my phrasing more carefully.

    I do, however, submit that there are those whose minds are closed regardless of evidence and logic. And many of those are often participants in debates such as these.

  7. Epluribusunum Post author

    “..acknowledge that any symbol is not under the total control of anyone who chooses to use it for whatever purpose.”

    Which I do, and did in the previous thread.

    “You have replied that anyone who questions your particular current symbol needs to examine their own bigotry.”

    The question I replied to was how I expect someone with a vague “negative association” at the sight of a keffiyeh to respond to my ridicule of the statement that I must be trying to offend or scare people by wearing one. I believe that I have fairly characterized your question. This was my response:

    “Ideally? They should probably respond by examining their assumptions. I give no quarter to bigotry, regardless of the source, and don’t plan to change that.”

    In that response, ‘assumptions’ do not necessarily equal ‘bigotry,’ although they can. Furthermore, I acknowledge that the source of bigotry can vary (i.e., it may be the result of faulty assumptions, or something else), but that in no case will I consent to it with my silence.

    As you’ve acknowledged elsewhere, I’m very precise with my words. What I said and how you characterized it here do not have the same meaning – and that meaning matters.

    I think Paradox has described the situation very well. Not everyone is open to examining their assumptions or changing their minds, and for those who are not it doesn’t matter what I do.

  8. Barbara Munsey

    Sorry David, you past tense “did” post linking to another thread appeared after this post.

    Maybe my browser is slow.

  9. Epluribusunum Post author

    I’m not sure what is meant here by “intended for an audience,” if the arena is simply the world. What I have said, in a comment above, is that for those unwilling to examine their assumptions, it doesn’t matter what I do. Again, what you have said seems to have a very different meaning.

    I conclude from all this that my words at the podium offended you, or offended your friend, or both. While it’s not my purpose to offend you, I would ask that you do make an effort to examine what offends you, and what premises you may be accepting in light of what has been said here. I still have not seen you articulate the source of the offense, apart from vague references to negative and/or positive associations and perceptions. It would enhance the clarity of your points, I think, if you would just say what you mean.

  10. Barbara Munsey

    Not offended david.

    As I said originally, surprised you would devote some of your limited time to not discuss redistricting, and surprised you would call attention to your scarf to make a dismissive joke about people having associations with it.

    People WILL.

    Maybe even the whole world! lol

    (And maybe not.)

    Either way, fine with me.

  11. Epluribusunum Post author

    No worries. It’s not as if I ran out of time. And I thought it was important to say what I said.

    For what it’s worth, a few people asked me what I was talking about. They were offended – not by me, but by the events causing me to say it in the first place. This is not Orange County.

    Anyway, good discussion.

  12. Barbara Munsey

    Paradox, your comment from the other thread: “This begs the question: How do you take offense at someone wearing a keffiyeh without making a negative, sweeping generalization about the pan-Arab world?”

    As I said to David, I’m not offended.

    I’m simply wondering what it is all supposed to mean, and how any individual, operating from their own constructs within a world of conflicting interpretations of symbols they don’t create or own, can insure a specific meaning in a random audience.

    As David said–good discussion.

    I’ve learned from it.

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