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The very thin line between caution and discrimination

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Two news items this week have led me to ask if governments aren't going overboard in the "War against Terror" (in quotes, because it should be "terrorism", IMO).
First: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4557224.stm
I simply can't believe that the program doesn't target Muslims, and the numbers being floated make it appear that this is being done without concrete suspicions of a threat posed by specific individuals.
Second: The "land" of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, announced this week that all people from Muslim countries applying for naturalization would have to submit to a one to two-hour interview to determine whether they were willing and able to assimilate and accept German/Western values. Okay, I have no real objections to the interview, but it should then be required for applicants from all foreign countries. Being a foreign national living in Germany, I'm well aware that there are "classes" of foreigners, but this is just plain discrimination on the part of a state government.
Have we allowed 9/11 to change our values, especially respect for civil rights, too much? If so, then the terrorists have "won", haven't they?
post #2 of 24
I'm really of two minds on this issue. First, if it is supposed to be a covert operation...well it's been beyond compromised now! This is such a polarized political landscape right now that I have absolutely no doubt that some people would have no qualms about compromising security to get the desired political outcome up on top.

Second, Al Quada IS a Muslim sect. Of course, it is not the mainstream Muslims, but they do ascribe to Islam as the basis of their beliefs. There is no denying that, no matter how skewed they have made the religion to fit their agenda. What that report does not say is what kind of intelligence led to the surveillance of those specific sites. With credible suspicions, is it still discimination? I'm sure they did not target every Mosque in the 5 major metropolitan areas listed. But at the same time - it's not like there is a real credible threat from Catholic churches, or Lutherans, or Quakers ( ), or even Satanists.

Third, I totally agree with you that EVERY individual seeking naturalization should be given the same treatment, regardless of where they come from. If they are going to make it more difficult for one group, it should be that way for all.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb
I'm really of two minds on this issue.
That's my problem, too, and I'm sure most people living in primarily non-Muslim countries see it the same way. Westerners are being targeted by Muslim terrorists, so it seems to "make sense" to scrutinize Muslims, but ... in doing so, aren't "we" alienating Muslims who themselves condemn such radicalism?
I see the same thing happening with Christian fundamentalists. Many people view them with suspicion, because a small minority of them go too far and, for example, bomb clinics where abortions are performed, call for boycotts of retailers that stress "Happy Holidays", or try to get Intelligent Design taught in science classes.
Just think of the reactions to the Schiavo case. Radicals do their best to polarize society, and so many moderates suffer because of it. Their suffering can very well lead to resentment, and radicalization.
post #4 of 24
I have no problem with the government keeping tabs on Muslims. I recently read statement and can't remember who made it: "Not all Muslims are terrorists but ALMOST (emphasis mine) all terrorists are Muslims.

The attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II - a MUSLIM

The bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut - MUSLIMS

The hijacking of the Achille Lauro and murder of Leon Klinghoffer - MUSLIMS

The bombing of the U.S.S. Cole - MUSLIMS

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing - MUSLIMS

Numerous suicide bombings in Israel, Iraq and elsewhere - MUSLIMS

The recent bus/subway bombings in London - MUSLIMS

9/11 - MUSLIMS

THAT'S just a small sampling of terrorist acts, committed by MUSLIMS over the past 25 years or so. If these acts had ben perpetrated by Jews, Mormons, voodoo practioners or any OTHER religious group, I'd say keep THEM under surveillance.

If self-professed "peaceful" Muslims don't want to be regarded with distrust, then they should turn against their murderous co-religionists and join in the fight to eliminate them.
post #5 of 24
Try the current rash of attacks is mainly agains one group, but what about christians in medeivel times? Looking back, they weren't nice at all.

What relegions can we say that have not at one time had violent tendancies toward others soley on religous ideals?

Pagan religious are the only ones that come to mind.
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb
First, if it is supposed to be a covert operation...well it's been beyond compromised now! This is such a polarized political landscape right now that I have absolutely no doubt that some people would have no qualms about compromising security to get the desired political outcome up on top.
That is what really concerns me about this story. The fact that there is surveillance going on to keep us safe does not surprise me. I am certain that if there was not, we would have had at least one more terrorist attack in the US in the past 4 years!

But that someone, for political brownie points, will compromise this program. The idea that if we are just "nicer" and more "accepting" of murderous terrorists, and they will begin to love us, is insane.

I am not opposed to Muslims, I work very closely with a Pakistani woman who is a practicing Muslim. I am very certain she is no threat to us. Not all Muslims are. But it is not only ok, but totally appropriate to watch out for terrorists. As posted by Katl8e, that is who the terrorists are right now. The fact that Christians did wrong in medieval times? So we should investigate Christians, in case there are medieval terrorists? Certain Muslims are trying to kill people NOW. I say we focus on stopping that, and not worry about crimes from thousands of years ago.
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by katl8e
"Not all Muslims are terrorists but ALMOST (emphasis mine) all terrorists are Muslims.
Id disagree with that statement there are hundreds of terrorist groups that are not Muslim just do a search on Google.

The Real IRA
UDA
INLA
The Red Brigade
Tamil Tigers
ETA (basque sepretists)
Front de Libération du Québec
Animal Liberation Front


I could continue. I believe Statements like that above reinforce racism and stereotypes and do not help in any way. The word ALMOST just makes everyone assume that it is unlikely that a terrorist act could be caused by someone else, its a get out in someones argument just incase its questioned. I could real off lots of terrorist acts in the past 25 years that weren't done by Muslims.

Yes there are muslim terrorist groups but there are many that aren't stereotypes like this do not help they put blinkers on people so they cannot see outside the prescribed box.
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by xDx
Id disagree with that statement there are hundreds of terrorist groups that are not Muslim just do a search on Google.

The Real IRA
UDA
INLA
The Red Brigade
Tamil Tigers
ETA (basque sepretists)
Front de Libération du Québec
Animal Liberation Front


I could continue. I believe Statements like that above reinforce racism and stereotypes and do not help in any way. The word ALMOST just makes everyone assume that it is unlikely that a terrorist act could be caused by someone else, its a get out in someones argument just incase its questioned. I could real off lots of terrorist acts in the past 25 years that weren't done by Muslims.

Yes there are muslim terrorist groups but there are many that aren't stereotypes like this do not help they put blinkers on people so they cannot see outside the prescribed box.
Political correctness be hanged, when security is at issue. The fact of the matter is, MOST terrorists acts ARE committed by Muslims. Yes, there ARE other trerrorist organizations but, none of them are as large and/or as widespread as the Muslim groups.

The US government has long kept tabs on the white separatist groups, who masquerade as churches. I have no problem with that, either. Believe me, if I start noticing a lot of white males sporting swastikas, in my neighborhood, I'm calling the cops.
post #9 of 24
Well put, katl8e, in both posts.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by katl8e
MOST terrorists acts ARE committed by Muslims
Im still unsure about this statement where are your figures? I dont believe its political correctness just realism. By assuming all terrorists are muslim there is a danger of overlooking other terrorists. As you were quoting acts in the past twentfive years worldwide i'll quote some more.

Oklahoma bombing 168 killed. (Christian)
The Una Bomber 16 bombs in 18 years (christain)
The Brighton Bombings (catholic)
President Reagan shot (1981) christian

I could go on. What worries me about this statement its a bit like saying most Cat owners are stupid because you once met some stupid cat owners. Its a generalisation made on a small sample. yes we should watch out for muslim terrorists the same way we watch for jewish and christian ones. The cry political correctness is normally stated as an insult i actually think it can be a good thing is the inclusion of minority points of view such a bad thing?

So to sum up my point of view I believe we should look for muslim terrorists the same way we look for all others because in reality a terrorist can be any one either an individual or a group. This concerntration on Muslims as the new evil could overlook possibilities on our own doorsteps
post #11 of 24
Allow me to don my flame-retardant suit before I begin. (j/k, I know y'all are better than that.)

As the niece of a Muslim woman, cousin to three Muslim children and granddaughter of a Lebanese-American (my grandfather is Christian, but still gets some flack), I must agree with xDx.
What color and faith was Tim McVeigh?
He wasn't brown, and he wasn't a Muslim.
Have we forgotten about the environmental extremists who were going around bombing SUVs? If I'm not mistaken, those were a bunch of white kids.
I have a feeling that if most Muslim extremeists were white and dressed the same way main-stream America did, we wouldn't be stopping anyone at the airport.

During WWII we put Japanese-Americans in camps. We put people who were born and raised in this country, and whose families had been here for YEARS, into those camps.
My German great-grandmother didn't have to go to a camp during WWII.

Humans view differences with extreme caution, and sometimes all-out malice.
Was anyone here different in high school? Bet you had rocks thrown at you, didn't you? Because you looked different, or liked different things, or held different views? Were you a danger to anyone, or were you just singled out because you were different? Those rocks hurt, didn't they?
Think before you throw those rocks back at someone else.
post #12 of 24
If a police force in, say, LA (could be any major metropolis) was trying to stem the gang violence mainly perpetrated by the Bloods and the Crips, would it be racist of them for their surveillance to mainly focus on black neighborhoods? No, because that's the demographic of the majority of those involved.

Yes, there are terrorists who are white and/or Christian. Honestly, though, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were anomolies in the big picture. ALF and ELF are small fries in terms of terrorism to the mainstream public. The IRA isn't interested in the US. Our specific enemy in this "War on Terror(ism)" is Al Qaeda. The demographic of Al Qaeda are RADICAL fundamentalist Muslims. That is certainly not to say that all Muslims are terrorists. NO ONE here is saying that. However, I do think it's a stretch to say that it's racism when the surveillance is NOT targeting all Muslims, but specific ones. I think if it were white radical fundamentalist Christians who were the enemy, there would be the same kind of surveillance done.

I've been thinking about the one number they put up in that article. 120 sites surveilled in the DC area (including suburbs in Maryland and Virginia). So, if they are tailing, say 20 people who have been tagged as potenially having terrorist ties. Each one has at least one "residence", at least one place of work, as well as the Mosque where they regularly go to. OK, add other places that they regularly visit, such as other residences, meeting places, restaurants (we know from the Mafia that places like this can be used for criminal activity). It wouldn't take long to get 120 sites. They are specifically monitoring for radioactive materials. That narrows the search to almost nothing. I don't see what is being violated here? I don't see that they are targeting the group as a whole with surveillance, which definitely would be a violation of civil rights.
post #13 of 24
I'm really curious about the actual numbers of different groups who engage in terrorist activities. That would be interesting to see numbers. I've searched but I haven't found anything that gives a number or even a good estimation. I'd like to see something about a specific number before making judgements. We have so many white power and separatist groups around here, and especially north of us in Michigan, that I'm guessing there are thousands in my state alone who may not have engaged in a terrorist activity yet, but they have certainly talked about it.
post #14 of 24
I think it's wrong that if my dad goes to visit his friends in Baden, or goes to England, that he is interviewed extensively regarding his background and who he associates with.

I also think it's wrong that because my cousing was a member of a wealthy islamic family and spoke in a foreign language, that the kids in the area decided that destroying his car because of "what his people did to the americas" was a good idea.

I'm lucky that I don't "look" like the typical Muslim, and that I don't practice, because if I did, I'm certain that when I left the country for my honeymoon I would have been stopped. It's unfortunate that my muslim background prevents my family from leading the normal american dream simply because they were from an Islamic country over 20 years ago. It's insulting when "white" people treat us poorly because we made better financial decisions, or received a better education or have a better job than they do.

It's very hard to be a muslim in this day and age. There's a shame involved in anyone that praises Allah, that others worshipping His name are doing these terrible things, but at the same time, what can we as a people do to prevent them? Can we as muslims do any more than you all? No. These people wouldn't prevent themselves from killing their islamic brethren if they get in the way of what they beleive to be "Allah's Word".

I'm particualrly appalled at Germany for this, considering that some not to small percent of their tax paying citizens are Turks, and that those Turks do the jobs that the upperclass of german wouldn't deign themselves to do. I mean, sure there are a lot of succesful turkish businessmen there as well, but the vast majority are the families that own the doner shops and drive the taxis, and fix cars.

As for the US-there's something that smacks of discrimination when similar tactics as used against the chinese, jews, and irish are employed against the muslims.

I'm sorry I missed this post earlier, but I was celebrating Nicholas of Myra with my family.
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtlecat
I'm particularly appalled at Germany for this, considering that some not to small percent of their tax paying citizens are Turks, and that those Turks do the jobs that the upper class of German wouldn't deign themselves to do. I mean, sure there are a lot of successful Turkish businessmen there as well, but the vast majority are the families that own the döner shops and drive the taxis, and fix cars.
Then you'll be pleased to learn that there has been an incredible backlash here, Denise, from the other länder, but also from the people of Baden-Württemberg. I think the premier (the equivalent of a governor) is going to have to backpedal.
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtlecat

I'm lucky that I don't "look" like the typical Muslim, and that I don't practice, because if I did, I'm certain that when I left the country for my honeymoon I would have been stopped. It's unfortunate that my muslim background prevents my family from leading the normal american dream simply because they were from an Islamic country over 20 years ago. It's insulting when "white" people treat us poorly because we made better financial decisions, or received a better education or have a better job than they do.

It's very hard to be a muslim in this day and age. There's a shame involved in anyone that praises Allah, that others worshipping His name are doing these terrible things, but at the same time, what can we as a people do to prevent them? Can we as muslims do any more than you all? No. These people wouldn't prevent themselves from killing their islamic brethren if they get in the way of what they beleive to be "Allah's Word".
1. How is your family prevented from the american dream?
2. I think a practicing Muslim would be able to help counter the radicals. I am a Christian, and if I hear radical or hate speech, I speak up and counter it. If more Muslims did the same, perhaps there would be a stonger backlash against the extremists. I understand how a Muslim in Iran may not be able to stand up for peace, but Muslims in the US certainly can! And the idea that the radicals would be glad to kill other Muslims is part of the point. They must be stopped.
post #17 of 24
I believe that most Muslims that follow Islam are good, God-fearing, God-loving people.

However, no one can ague the fact that our biggest threat in the War on Terrorism are the extremist Islamics. They have said they want to destroy Israel and The United States.

It does make it horrible for the millions of good Muslims and I feel bad for them.
But this is not our fault this the terrorists fault.
I fully believe in the Patriot Act.
This is my opinion.
Racial profiling sounds so horrible but I think it will probably be a necessity.

GREAT post Beckiboo.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckiboo
1. How is your family prevented from the american dream?
2. I think a practicing Muslim would be able to help counter the radicals. I am a Christian, and if I hear radical or hate speech, I speak up and counter it. If more Muslims did the same, perhaps there would be a stonger backlash against the extremists. I understand how a Muslim in Iran may not be able to stand up for peace, but Muslims in the US certainly can! And the idea that the radicals would be glad to kill other Muslims is part of the point. They must be stopped.
It's already harder for a person of islamic faith to live in the americas without getting he sidelong glances and being exempt from participating in typical american living. It's harder to get a job here, and when you do, it's altogether too frequent that you're discriminated against for being well off. It IS more difficult! we want to live peacefully like everyone else, and instead, we're the recipients of a great deal of hate (at least in this area) After 9/11, my cousin had his car defaced on public property because he was a muslim. Even still, if certain people hear that I'm of islamic decent, they refrain from associating with me, and this is even true of business acquaintances. and while I realize all of that is illegal, it doesn't make it any less real. I could report the companies for discrimination, but it would only serve to expand their reason to avoid me/my family.

As far as the extremists, that's the problem, isn't it? you don't neccesarily know who the extremists are, they're not that open. you simply cannot assume that any member of any sect of islam is a terrorist. for one, turks are 95% Sunni muslims, and that's sort of church of england, and the remaining 5% are natives of Konya that are extreme pacifists, called Sufists (Whirling Dervishes are the Sufi Muslims.) And those are pretty much mystics (we'd probably compare them to mormons or shriners), if you can draw a parallel. The particular sect that the terrorists are coming from are Shi'a Muslims, which are 60-65% of the population of Iraq. And, in most countries it is required to declare and register as to which sect you belong, so in my mind, rather than pick from the broad spectrum of muslims, it would be wise to look out for specifically the Shi'a Muslims.

Basically the problem is, what the non-islamic people are doing is saying that if you're any type of muslim, you're possibly a terrorist. That's like me saying that because of militant protestants, all christians are terrorists.

Now, were it the catholic church that were saying "kill the infidels in the name of God" would you go to evey catholic person you know and say "don't kill them, you'll go to hell!?!" How do you get a whole sect to change their beleifs? and come to that, how do you know who within that sect (which, for one, they're somewhat nomadic as far as things go) is actually planning on doing anything? By all means, if you can come up with a way to speak out against the imam (preist/deacon/cardinal) that the people from a different sect than yours beleive and follow as the voice of allah, then I will certainly go to Iraq and try it.* It's just not so very simple.


*and, of course, keep in mind that f I did so, because I as a woman was poking into religious affairs, would be stoned to death.
post #19 of 24
First of all, I want to say that treating good folks badly, whatever their race or religion, should not be acceptable anywhere. It is people like the ones that I lived next to that cause so much of it, and I am sure that good Muslims and blacks would be horrified and embarrassed over it. I lived next to a black family that had converted to Muslim when 911 happened. They were trashy, nasty people, not because they were black or Muslim, but because of their actions and the way they treated others. I came home from work on 9-12-01, pulled into our shared driveway, and these people were dancing and celebrating while listening to a radio broadcast about how many people had died. They would not move out of my way, screaming at me. I was outraged, but said nothing, because they were children and teenagers. We had constant problems with them. They threw rocks at our cars on Christmas because they said we were celebrating a holiday offensive to them. We do not do much of anything for Christmas, and do not decorate. When I went out to stop them, a nine year old boy threatened me with a baseball bat. I called the police, and they accused me of being racist. The one person that acted like he had some sense, a grandfather, I think, spoke to the police, then me, and took care of the situation. I did not have any more problems in the short time they were there after that. It is people like that causing problems for all of the ones that just want to live their lives and practice their religion. I lived in Kansas City for a little while, and worked in a Hobby Lobby close to a mosque and Muslim school. The teachers from there bought school supplies. They were always as pleasant as could be, and the children that came with them were polite and nicely dressed. I baffles me that these nice people could be treated badly. This was before 911, and I shudder to think how these people are treated now. I hate to think that all of these people, my former neighbors, and the Muslim schoolteachers, are all lumped together as the same kind of people.
post #20 of 24
It is terribly unfair. That old saying "A few bad apples...." but very sad.
Sorry for anyone who has to go through something like that.
post #21 of 24
I'm not sure it's just the Islamic extremists that we have to fear here in this country. I think ANY extremism, in any form, is something to be incredibly wary of, and profiling isn't going to do any good in weeding out all the different crazy people in the world.

I'll get on my little soap box for a second, since Ian and I were just talking about this:

I just think that Islam makes an easy target for Westerners (I actually watched a fascinating program about Arabs in Film that sort of addressed this issue) and that it makes it very convenient for us to put a veil or a turban on all of our societal issues. It's much deeper than that. I mean, just look at what Corporate culture does to discriminate against these people (My friend Prof. Khalid- I won't use his last name, just to protect him in case someone happens upon this- won't let his family support any company that supports Israel militarily to kill these people...and they have about 3 major chains they can buy from, period). Plus, when you add to equation how completely misunderstood Middle Eastern cultures and Islam are...it causes things like what are happening today. I don't want to say we deserve the horror terrorists bring to us...there is no excuse for killing another human being. But there is a reason behind their hatred and perhaps we need to look at how we are doing exactly the same kind of destruction to the Muslims and their families. And this has been going on for far longer than when 9/11 happened. I just think we're sort of shooting ourselves in the foot if we actually want to get somewhere with these people. But, just look at who's running our country, for one. It's always easier to throw a hand grenade at someone than it is to accept defeat, reach out and try to be more understanding and less...imperialistic and hell-bent on gaining oil.
post #22 of 24
My husband and I were talking about this one time and we are of the opinion that a lot of turmoil and infighting in this world is a carryover from things that happened before we were born. Bias and prejudice is often learned in the home (and we are as guilty of this as other races and religions). Ireland versus England - this dispute has been going on for centuries, why? Because the Catholics don't like the Protestants and if you asked some of the younger people they probably don't even know why, they only know they aren't supposed to like them. Each generation is often raised with the prejudices of their parent and grandparents before them. We need to get past this thinking of "your great-great-great grandfather did this to my great-great-great grandfather so I must hate you". We need to forget the past and start living for the future.

There are good and bad in every race and we are too quick to paint the good with the same brush as the bad. We often jump to conclusions before getting all the facts and basing our judgement on reality instead of what so-and-so said or, heaven forbid, what is written in our newspapers and on TV. Our media feed our fears and prejudices.

How can we grow if we live in the past and keep making the same mistakes our ancestors made?
post #23 of 24
Thanks so much for your response, Turtlecat. I will have to read your post several times to understand the different sects, because I am pretty ignorant about that.

I certainly don't expect a peaceful Muslim or person of Arab heritage to just march into a Shi'a Muslim meeting and start yelling that they must stop trying to kill innocents. If it were the Catholics who were killing, I wouldn't walk into a Catholic church and do that. But I would talk openly, and often, about my beliefs.

If I hear someone say, "Muslims are evil and should be removed from the US", I would try to engage them in conversation. (That has never happened to me.) I was in a car one time where someone else was driving, and saw a black person walking and said something about points. Evidently there is a cruel joke about how many points one would get for running over a black person...all in "fun", of course. I was very quick to point out that even if they were saying such a thing in jest, it was horribly cruel.

It is wrong to harm others. No one should retaliate against a Muslim neighbor over the current world situation. But please understand that part of the frustration of the Western world is the lack of condemnation seen from the Muslim community. I do not see masses of Arabs condemning the murder of innocents. I am certain that part of that is due to the news media, they haven't sought that out. But the more people of every shape and color that will stand up and say that terrorism is wrong, the better this world will be. As we should stand up and say that individuals targeting others for violence, thinking they are acting against terrorism, is wrong.

But for this country to try to listen in to phone calls overseas or computer communication to known or suspected terrorists...I still think that is the right thing to do.
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckiboo


It is wrong to harm others. No one should retaliate against a Muslim neighbor over the current world situation. But please understand that part of the frustration of the Western world is the lack of condemnation seen from the Muslim community. I do not see masses of Arabs condemning the murder of innocents. I am certain that part of that is due to the news media, they haven't sought that out. But the more people of every shape and color that will stand up and say that terrorism is wrong, the better this world will be. As we should stand up and say that individuals targeting others for violence, thinking they are acting against terrorism, is wrong.
I don't want to talk much politics here, but: Have you realised that the above statement: "I do not see masses of Arabs condemning the murder of innocents" if a lot more true if turned the other way around: No Arab has ever seen masses of Westerners condemning the murder of innocents, if they are Arabs, Africans, Asians etc. They are "the enemy" or "collateral damage" at best. That is the basic reason for all this, non-Westeners do have good reasons to hate us and we dont want them to be our equals. That said, peace, I wish ill to no living being, American or Iraqi.
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