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Bush the “Devil” and the “Axis of Evil” September 21, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in bush administration, congress, international, politics.

In what will most likely be the most notable speech during this session of the United Nations General Assembly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez referred to President Bush as the devil. Speaking at the same podium at which Bush had spoke earlier, Chávez said, “It smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.”

Apparently, the comments were met with applause from many of the diplomats in the General Assembly, a stark reminder of the tremendous increase in anti-American sentiment since the invasion of Iraq. Although Chávez’s comments sounded immature and inappropriate for the UN, the Bush administration and its friends often use the same simplistic, unproductive and mind-numbing rhetoric. Some examples:

  • In August 2005, televangelist and buddy of the Christian right Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of Hugo Chávez. Robertson: “If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

  • In Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address, he cut off an opportunity for constructive dialogue by calling Iran, Iraq and North Korea an “axis of evil”. The phrase may have gone over well in the U.S., but I don’t believe anti-American sentiment was lessened by branding entire countries and its people as evil. Bush: “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.”

  • When the French government realized Iraq was a mistake years before the majority of Americans did, Republican lawmakers decided to get even by changing the name of the House cafeteria french fries to “freedom fries”. Aside from making ourselves the laughing-stock of the entire world, we further isolated ourselves from one of the most important countries on our dwindling list of allies. Now disgraced Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio): “This action today is a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France.” Apparently House Republicans forgot we would have no “freedom” at all if France hadn’t won the Revolutionary War for us.

  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld compared Hugo Chávez to Adolf Hitler earlier this year: “I mean, we’ve got Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money. He’s a person who was elected legally — just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally — and then consolidated power…”. Owns lots of oil. Was elected legally. Consolidated power under one person. Sounds like an American president I know.

This is not a defense of the comments Hugo Chávez made at the General Assembly. These are examples of American leadership destroying dialogue with other nations through the use of loud-mouthed rhetoric that does nothing but hurt the world’s view of America. Hugo Chávez, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Pat Robertson and GOP House members need to quit the back-and-forth bullshit and engage in constructive conversations that will find compromise, not further anger. It probably took days for the Bush team to come up with and get approved the ‘axis of evil’ statement. Could these few days have been used to attempt to build bridges instead of testing angry rhetoric? I don’t expect miracles to happen overnight, but we need to move in the right direction before we come any closer to world peace.


Muslim Americans in a Post-9/11 World September 10, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in immigration, international, religion, terrorism.

Aside from those who have loved ones who died on September 11th, perhaps no group of people were affected more by the tragedy than Muslim Americans. Some Muslim Americans have relatives that were killed by the collapsing World Trade Center, others have been subjected to discrimination and violence because of their religious beliefs, and all have had to cope with the same harsh reality all Americans face: A country less secure because of terrorism.

Despite the constant reminders of the threat of “Islamo-facism”, “Islamic extremists” and “Muslim terrorists”, Muslims from countries around the world are continuing to immigrate to the United States. According to The New York Times, the number of Muslims entering the country dipped sharply after the 9/11 attacks. But in 2005, nearly 96,000 Muslims became legal permanent residents – more than in any year in the past 20 years.

The numbers are quite promising for a country that is seen by many Muslims as the enemy of Islam. For those Muslims who come to the United States despite concerns over our foreign policy, political and religious freedom seems to outweigh our role in the Middle East. As the New York Times article points out, the Pakistan Independence Day parade in the Little Pakistan neighborhood of Brooklyn is now dominated by American flags, which was not always the case.

It seems as if some Muslim Americans who lived in the country prior to 9/11 have now developed an identity that emphasizes being an American as much as it does being a Muslim. Of course, many had this identity way before the attacks, but the agony that came with the fall of the World Trade Center seemed to encourage a patriotic identification with America, regardless of politicial affiliation, religion or ethnicity. There is extreme division and polarization in America five years after the attacks, but traces of this unified identity continues to linger for many.

America is extremely fortunate that Muslims are still immigrating to our nation in hopes of fulfilling that mythic “American dream”. As we continue to make Muslims a visible and valued part of the fabric of American life, it will become increasingly difficult for extremists to claim our country is the enemy of Islam. Obviously, this alone will not end the threat of terrorism. But it will take a multi-faceted approach that emphasizes inclusion as much as it emphasizes rooting out terrorists.

Muslim Americans continue to face discrimination because of fear and intolerance, but I am hopeful that we are moving in the right direction. As a Pakistani woman who immigrated to Brooklyn in March said: “This is a land of opportunity. There is equality for everyone.” The more Muslim Americans who believe this to be true, the safer and better-off our country will be.

What Others Are Saying:

Please Note: The views of the following bloggers do not necessarily represent my views.

Infidel Bloggers Alliance: Winds of War: It’s Time for American Muslims to Act

Jihad Watch: America is Not Islamaphobic, It Really Just Doesn’t Understand the Religion at All

Peace and Mutual Understanding for a Better World: We Shouldn’t Profile Muslim Americans

Curious: Increasing Muslim immigration to US

Mexico More Progressive Than California? August 22, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in education, international, legislation, lgbt Issues.
1 comment so far

The California Assembly has passed a bill that requires fair treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in public school textbooks. The bill would prohibit negative stereotypes about LGBT people in the classroom, school activities and textbooks, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may veto the legislation. A requirement that seems fair enough – not bashing gay and lesbian people who also happen to be in most classrooms – has created quite the controversy in California.

Of course, anti-gay groups have distorted the intent of this bill – to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students to learn – and have made it about themselves instead. Randy Thomasson of Campaign for Children and Families:

We call upon Governor Schwarzenegger to veto SB 1441 to keep the big nose of government out of religion. SB 1441 punishes people of faith who believe that marriage is for a man and a woman, people who understand that you’re born male or female, not in-between. Religious freedom is an important right that must not be infringed. Conservatives are demanding that the Governor veto this religion-squashing bill.

While the so-called Christian groups complain about how oppressed American Christians are (with “only” 76.7% of Americans who identify as Christian), Mexico seems to have marginalized religious bigotry in its education system.

This year, federally mandated biology textbooks for seventh graders in Mexico will include information on gay and lesbian people and will explain there is nothing wrong with being gay. The government has implemented the new textbooks in an effort to fight discrimination against gay people in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. They have also noted that it could be an effective tool in preventing HIV and AIDS.

The Mexican education plan goes farther than the “controversial” education bill in California. The legislation approaching Schwarzenegger’s desk does not condone gay and lesbian people, it simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to a list of other minority groups that are protected from hate speech or humiliation during school hours.

Assembly members in California find the watered-down education bill to be a small but important step towards protecting LGBT students. Schwarzenegger claims to support gay and lesbian people despite his veto of the marriage equality bill. Whether he vetoes this bill or not will be a good indicator of whether he truly has compassion for struggling gay and lesbian students and people.

Visit Equality California and voice your support for SB 1441 by sending Schwarzenegger an email.

One other interesting statistic: 60 percent of Mexico City residents support marriage equality and only 26 percent are opposed. Yes, it is an urban area and not a rural village or town, but a telling statistic nonetheless.

UDPATE: Check out what Good As You has to say about the California education bill.

Bush: “Sometimes a Show of Force by One Side Can Really Clarify Things” July 25, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in bush administration, international, middle east, politics, violence.
1 comment so far

As Lebanon continues to be bombarded with Israeli bombs and the television news continues to show innocent civilians dead on the streets, it is hard not to ask “what if”.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is decades, some say centuries, old, but this new wave of violence comes after a relatively peaceful five year period between Lebanon and Israel. Anti-American sentiment has grown to enormous proportions in the Arab world, and I believe some of this is a result of an overly-aggressive pro-Israeli stance on behalf of the administration.

Lebanese need to have faith in the power-brokers of the Middle East… most notably the United States. Although Hezbollah has been around for some time now, it is safe to say that its recruitment numbers have gone up partially because of continued anxiety towards the West.

From the One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind:

…it became clear at the start of 2001 that this administration was to alter the long-standing U.S. role of honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to something less than that. The President, in fact, has said… Clinton had overreached at the end of his second term, bending too much toward Yasser Arafat… [Bush said] “We’re going to tilt back toward Israel… Sometimes a show of force by one side can really clarify things.”

Bush’s statement captures his ideology on foreign policy, one that has played out in Iraq and Lebanon: force before diplomacy. Although the above statement came before 9/11, it was clear even then that Bush was willing to watch the slaughter of hundreds of Lebanese or Palestinians in hopes that something good comes out of the bloodshed. We are watching that ideology play out right now in the Middle East.

America needs to be the “honest broker” the Lebanese government was hoping for. Not only does it have the potential to create good-will among the more moderate Arab nations, but it is the right thing to do. The European Union and the United Nations has called for an immediate cease-fire… where is the United States?

Bush and Condi argue we need a long-term solution before Israel ends its terror. We have not been able to find a long-term solution in decades… how long will it take and how many lives will be lost before we come up with something even remotely close to this ideal solution? In times of relative peace we have not found common ground, so how are we to find it when hostilities are at their peak?

Believe it or not… America’s foreign policy has failed again. The majority of the “blame” lies with Hezbollah and Israel, but I cannot help but wonder “what if”.

Middle East Fighting Should End Today… World Gay Pride is Cancelled July 22, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in anti-gay activists, international, lgbt Issues, middle east, religion distorted, violence.

Rabbi Pinchas Winston:

Why does this [Middle East] war break out this week, all of sudden with little warning? Because this is the exact week the Jewish people are trying to decide whether the gay pride parade should take place in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

If recent anti-gay statements by rabbis are true, the fighting in the Middle East should come to an end by nightfall today. They say the intense fighting between Israel and Hezbollah was started not because of two kidnapped Israel soldiers or because of an over-reaction on Israels part… the military campaign was God saying “No Gay Pride in Israel”.

WorldNetDaily – a conservative web site that devotes more articles to promoting its writers’ books than reporting on actual news – had said rabbis were blaming the Middle East crisis on an upcoming World Pride Parade in Jerusalem. The rabbis believe the violence erupted because God was punishing Israel for allowing gay and lesbian people to live and celebrate within its borders.

But the World Pride Parade in Jerusalem has been cancelled because of the violence in Israel, so I am assuming these rabbis are expecting the violence to stop any minute. These rabbis have told us the violence is less about Hezbollah or Israeli soldiers, and more about same-sex couples wanting to hold hands while walking down the middle of a damn street. Well, the gays have done their part to stop the violence, let’s see peace happen.

In a WorldNetDaily article announcing the parade’s cancellation, it seems odd that none of the rabbis expect an end to the violence. These anti-gay rabbis seem to have wire-tapped God, knowing the cause for the fighting and all, so why haven’t we had any recent news about the end to violence?

Every time a disastrous event happens, right-wing nuts blame it on God punishing the world for being kind and tolerant to gay and lesbian people. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson both blamed the September 11th attacks on America’s supposed acceptance of gay people. “Christian” group Repent America blamed Hurricane Katrina on an upcoming gay pride parade in New Orleans. And now gay people have started an entire war in the Middle East… talk about a powerful lobbying group.

But if these events are God’s punishment for the existence of gay people, why is it that the almighty decides to target heterosexuals instead of just waiting to strike once the gay parades begin? I feel like God could kill two birds with one stone: Tell the people of the world that he wants gays and lesbians to be treated as subhuman by throwing a hurricane, tornado, or WMD at gay people while they are congregated in one place. Kill them and teach others like them a lesson at the same time.

If hearing these death scenarios as acts-of-God makes you uncomfortable, that’s good. It should make you uncomfortable. But realize that anti-gay religious leaders like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and the rabbis in the WorldNetDaily article hope and pray for disasters such as these. Nothing would fuel their ministries more than the mass death of gay and lesbian people, and I have little doubt that they hope for this on a daily basis. These are not normal people of God… they are psychopaths fueled by some intense hatred that they mistake for something divine.

Other Blogs Are Talking:

Middle East Gay Journal – World Pride Parade Cancelled

Good As You – Violence Cancels WorldPride; in a Perfect World, That Sentence Would Be Reversed

Boi From Troy – No Parade, But Pride Continues in Jerusalem

Right Side of the Rainbow – Joe is Going Down; Israel is Going In

Battalion of Deborah – J’lem Gay Parade Called Off Due to War