Posted on May 16, 2012 in Countdown
Endless Repertoire of Madness
Every time we think we’ve seen the full extent of racism and Islamophobia’s permeation in our government programs, we read another disturbing report. Last week, we found out that the recently-terminated DoD training course for senior military officers included the recommendation to be ready for a “total war” on the Muslim world, to prepare to take “war to a civilian population wherever necessary” in accordance with the precedent of (we kid you not) “Hiroshima [&] Nagasaki,” and to send a message to the Muslim world saying “Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.” Now this is the sort of crazy that makes the FBI’s disturbing trainings look like sensitivity workshops by comparison. It’s great that the military eventually caught on to how bad this course was and shut it down, but repairing the damage of the increasingly visible permeation of anti-Arab and/or Islamophobic content of critical government programs won’t be an easy task, and one that must be taken very seriously by our elected officials.
But It Gets Better
You’re probably thinking in the sarcastic “it actually gets worse” sense, but this time we really do mean it gets better. Two members of Congress are taking the NYPD and the FBI to task over racial and religious profiling. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has submitted a resolution (H. Res. 651) reproaching “the illicit ethnic and religious profiling and surveillance of Muslim American communities by the New York Police Department.” Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) has issued a letter calling on the Department of Justice to “conduct a nationwide audit to determine whether the FBI is improperly targeting and collecting intelligence about specific communities.” Now contact your representative and ask him/her to sign on to both, and then we might have more good news for you when they pass.
Last week on the House floor, Congressman Peter King (R-NY) blasted New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt (D) for introducing an amendment to an appropriations bill that would strip federal funding from police departments that use ethnic or religious profiling. The amendment specifically named the NYPD for engaging in “unreasonable, suspicion-less surveillance and investigations of mosques, college campuses, restaurants…without evidence of wrongdoing or criminality.” King teamed up with recently-elected New York Republican Bob Turner to demand an apology from Holt and his supporters. And then it got even more interesting yesterday, when King appeared on CNN and combatively claimed that “there is no profiling” in the NYPD’s surveillance policy. So the question of the day is this: does King not know about the NYPD’s profiling? Or does he just not understand that tracking a specific ethnic or religious community with details about where they gather and what they say is, in fact, profiling? Not that either answer would be less embarrassing for him, but we are curious.
Boustany Has a Challenger
Arab American Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA) is being challenged in the November primary by far-right Republican freshman Jeff Landry (R-LA). You may be confused about why a sitting Congressman is challenging another, to which the state responds: redistricting! As noted by The Hill, Landry is an ally of Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), while Boustany is closer to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), “setting up a possible conflict between the state's two top Republicans.” Landry is also backed by the Tea Party, and has attacked Boustany for allegedly lacking “conviction.” Landry reminded Louisiana voters about this Boustany scandal: “Oh and don’t forget that you are paying for his Congressional health care too” (unlike Landry’s Congressional health care, which is paid for by Disney’s Tinker Bell). The Hill predicts that “the fight is likely to get nasty.” Nasty is fine; it’s crazy we’re a little worried about.
Embarrassing Obama Or Their Own Candidate?
Republican lawmakers have a new strategy to help Mitt Romney win the White House in the upcoming election: they’re encouraging him to visit Israel in order to highlight that the President hasn’t been there during his first term. From the reasonable in Congress, to those who want to keep a closer eye on Arab Americans like Peter King, to flat out anti-Muslim Congressmen like Allen West, Republicans seem to widely agree that this would be a good visit for Romney. But when Romney has already publicly agreed to put Israeli leaders in charge of U.S. policy towards Israel if he became President, is this visit really still necessary to draw contrast with the Obama administration? Barney Frank (D-MA) thinks “what’s important is the policy, not the tourism,” and we think he’s on to something.