Lessons from History for the Here and Now: Thoughts Inspired by “When Muslims Admired the West and Were Admired Back”

I highly recommend reading this article (link below) by UCLA history professor Nile Green. We need to learn more from the lessons of history as we endeavour to forge mutually enriching ties between Muslims and the “western world” in the present.

One of the key elements of such community, as the article illuminates, is the recognition of and unity in universal struggles across cultural frontiers. Insistence on this emancipatory principle is one of the reasons I find Slavoj Zizek’s works so compelling, and timely.

In the article, the Muslim students living abroad in London admired and learned from the feminist struggle there, and were moved to action. What could be more universal–and inspiring–than that?!

The only area where I see a need for expansion is with regard to the mutuality of responsibility to reach out and learn from the “other”. The onus cannot be solely on Muslims to do so. We all, as human beings, share in this fundamental responsibility. And in so doing we are walking the exhilarating walk of making a better world. Let’s do this!

Read and share the article here: Zócalo Public Square :: When Muslims Admired the West and Were Admired Back

Stop Islamophobia: a battle for public opinion

The following is a letter I wrote and posted to Larry Mantle’s Air Talk facebook page, in response to his coverage of the horrific events in San Bernardino. His is by no means the only voice promoting these harmful and erroneous views. People of conscience and courage need to band together to defend those among us who are being scapegoated and attacked in the name of “keeping us safe”.

Dear Larry,

I was more than a little dismayed to hear your radio segment in response to the recent tragedy in San Bernardino. I fully expect Fox News to rabidly promote Islamophobia, but your angle on the story shocked me, to be honest.

You too put Islam on trial and subjected innocent people to the harsh spotlight of guilt by association. I could hardly believe you would invite Muslim leaders to apologize for the heartless acts of fundamentalist wackos. Truly twisted is the universe in which those apples and oranges get conflated.

But the kicker was when you baldly asserted that Christians, when confronted with the atrocious acts of the terrorists of their ilk, have been apologetic under scrutiny. Please tell me, when did any of that happen?

Sounds more like the crocodile tears of the ill-begotten “persecution of Christians” narrative churned out by Murdoch & Co to buttress the US War of Terror [my intentional misspelling].

If the sources don’t match up to the claims—as I believe they don’t in this case—it would only seem fair to retract this apparent ruse.

Sincerely disappointed,
Dan Kaufman

My hope in sharing this is to hold to account those makers of public opinion who are, wittingly or not, helping to foment hatred and feeding into the wave of racist, xenophobic zealotry that drives the popularity of an inhuman monster like Donald Trump. If you encounter other public media stooping to such lows, call them out. Let’s actually learn and put into practice the lessons of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s vital words:

First they came for the Socialists,
and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Let’s speak out while we still can!

Race Matters? White Cop Who Killed Black Man During Hurricane Katrina Acquitted

Oh, hell, no! This is not that lie about “a policeman’s worst nightmare, that split-second decision”. This is the real nightmare lived by people of color daily, constantly criminalized, brutalized and killed by cops who aren’t making split-second decisions, but acting in accordance with the institution they represent. And in case there’s any doubt, the (in)justice system is there to back them up… time and again, legitimizing the murder of the innocent. Ya basta!

Bossip

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