The turd in terror’s punchbowl

TerrorismThe horrible terrorist act in Orlando a week ago brought out the predictable finger-pointing and then some. The concept of assigning blame has become so routine with the press in every event today that contemporary consumers of “news” must think it’s one of the five W’s of journalism. Oh I suppose an argument could be made that this is the “why” of news reporting, but it’s way beyond that. In a world dominated by process and planning, we are driven to “find out” every causal factor, because that’s the way we attack human nature. There are no accidents in life anymore, for example, because everything is cause and effect.

But life isn’t NASA, and the press certainly doesn’t function as engineers.

I’ve seen just about everything associated as causal with this Orlando night club mess. The poor AR-15 assault rifle is the problem. It’s the NRA. Homophobia. Homosexuality. President Obama, Mental illness. Slipping through the cracks in the FBI terror watch list. And my favorite – Islam – and this particular voice is getting louder and louder, led by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. I’m also reading a lot of “Islam needs to reform” in order to put an end to “these radicals.” Somehow, we naively believe that “the problem” is a religion that has been so demonized by certain forms of Christianity that “it just has to be” the cause! You cannot possibly understand how foolish this assertion appears to Muslims, especially in the Middle East.

In the blaming of Islam, observers are ignoring the great turd in the punchbowl while complaining about the less-than-fruity taste of the liquid. Never – and I mean NEVER – does anyone in the practice of explaining events relating to terrorism ever mention the role of Israel. This American ally is conveniently shoved aside as irrelevant in even in-depth commentary about “why do they hate us.” “Islamic terrorism” may have Palestinian roots, but that’s as far as it goes. Folks, this is one of the great magic tricks of modern life, and it’s time we all stopped pretending that God Himself resurrected Israel, because Jesus is about to come back. This, of course, will automatically be labeled antisemitic, and I’m prepared for that. Having Palestinian family in Jordan doesn’t mean I’m antisemitic; it just means my window on the world is perhaps a little different than yours.

The Shirky Principle, named for NYU professor Clay Shirky, states that “institutions will always try and preserve the problem for which they are the solution.” Zionism was implemented in the Middle East by the United Nations – led by the U.S. – after World War II and the horror of the Holocaust. Israel is considered the solution to the problem of real or perceived antisemitism in the world, but the Shirky Principle reveals that buried beneath all the defensive rhetoric and political propaganda is a real need to keep the problem alive, ‘lest the reason for Israel cease to exist. You see, nobody consulted with the land owners in the region at the time – Arab Muslims for whom the area has profound spiritual meaning – if it would be alright to forcibly remove them. Israel claimed all the good lands and, most importantly, the water rights. Today, Israel functions as an apartheid state, continuing to claim territory that doesn’t belong to it and brutalizing the Palestinian Arabs in the process.

Israel is at the very center of the matter of blame for terror in the Middle East and beyond, and if we’re going to be serious in our attempts to find a solution to future Orlandos, we’re going to have to stop pretending otherwise. Why do they hate us? Because “we” drove the process of Zionism and continue to pour billions of dollars in aid into Israel year after year.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences over the Orlando massacre in a video to Americans. A careful listen reveals lots of references to terror his country is familiar with – “radical Islamic terrorism.” It ends with this remarkable statement: “We need to stand united, resolute in the belief that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of their race, regardless of their ethnicity, all people deserve respect, deserve dignity.” Sounds great, but it’s a special form of hypocrisy, for it ignores his own government’s treatment of Palestinians.

There. If you want better tasting punch, we’re going to have to do a more thorough job of straining.

A rant: Wake up, grow up, and shut up!

muslimskilled2Writers write, and so I write.

I am deeply saddened, shamed, and angry over events in Chapel Hill, NC yesterday. I need to vent or rant, so please bear with me and forgive me for that which you might find as offensive in this post. I’m sorry, but this needs to be said, and said by me, for I am absolutely sick over the defensive, sloppy thinking that exists right here in the USA.

Those of you who know me well likely follow me on Facebook, where I’ve engaged in a long and heated debate with my friends over the phrases “Islamic Terrorism” and “Islamic State.” This was largely brought about by the Paris slaughter of the staff of the magazine Charlie Hebdo by men pretending to represent the Islamic faith. My 45 years as a professional observer (a.k.a. journalist), my 3 years as an ethics professor, my understanding of human nature from 17 years as a recovering addict, my education as the former Executive Producer of The 700 Club, my knowledge of Life as a senior citizen, and most importantly, the crossover experience I’ve had with my own family in Amman, Jordan all provide a somewhat different view of the Middle East than most Americans. You’re free to pay attention or not.

I am a student of postmodernism and the originator, writer and publisher of the concepts of postmodern journalism. This, too, influences me, because my studies reveal a different world developing after the invention of the internet. This cultural shift is enormous and similar to what happened in Western Civilization in the wake of the invention of the printing press. We can only imagine the possibilities, if we allow ourselves to view culture as permanently altered.

I need to pause here and explain myself, because it will help you understand the perspective I’m about to offer.

Premodernism (before the printing press): “I believe, therefore I understand.”
Modernism (between the printing press and the 60s counterculture): “I think and reason, therefore I understand.”
Postmodernism (today): “I experience or participate, therefore I understand.”

The big change with the internet is that global communications is now 3-way in terms of culture: Up to down, down to up, and, most importantly, down to down. That is what will change everything, and it’s already doing so. If the people of a any culture can talk to each other AND TO THOSE OF OTHER CULTURES, it removes the absolute authority of those who are in charge. The statement: “In war, the victor gets to write the history” is challenged, because truth among humans isn’t so much relative as it is multi-faceted. If you don’t think so, you’ve never taken a Japanese tour of Pearl Harbor.

So back to Charlie Hebdo. People, please. Acts of terrorism, regardless of where they originate, cannot be Islamic. It is impossible, and I don’t care whose religion or philosophy tells you otherwise. As part of my education, I sat with my Palestinian son-in-law for an evening with two Islamic Studies PhD professors from Amman, Jordan. Here is a quote from one of them concerning my issues with terrorism. “If you ever see a bearded man wearing the kuffiya (head scarf), holding a machine gun, and proclaiming ‘The Islamic State,’ you will know he is a fraud.” They went on, “That is as far from the Islamic State as can possibly be.” We don’t understand this, because we’ve been taught to fear any group that is different from us, especially when our religious leaders fill our heads with nonsense about Islam itself. Why do they do this?

It’s complicated, of course, but in the end, it’s all about poverty, power, money, and other selfish considerations. It’s convenient to dehumanize an entire race rather than learn the truth, but, again, the internet has no choice but to challenge that, because we can all talk with each other now. Everything is connected and the mere push of a button away. How could we not learn? And therein lies the problem, for there are many forces across the globe that would rather we not. This includes, especially, the Zionist extreme in Israel. If you are willing to approach the Middle East with an open mind, then I encourage you to make Mondoweiss (“The War of Ideas in the Middle East”) a part of your daily information diet. Founded and written (mostly?) by those of the Jewish faith, it is a truly intelligent examination of the entire region. If you are a thinker who likes to think, you will have your eyes opened here.

And this brings me to yesterday’s tragic, incredibly sad, and totally avoidable events in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where 3 young people (I call them “kids.” They were 23, 21 and 19.) were executed in their condominium by a 46-year old lunatic caucasian named Craig Steven Hicks. The crime of these people? They were Muslims. Their loving hearts were shut down by bullets to the back of the head. And what for? Their religious beliefs. How incredibly un-American, and yet, we should expect nothing less, given the constant drone of pejorative “Islamic this” and “Islamic that.” To paraphrase Richard Dreyfuss’s character in the movie Jaws, “This was no parking lot dispute; this was an execution, a hate crime!”

May God have mercy on us all. If you’re truly disgusted with the news in today’s world, go look in the mirror, and DO something.

It is clear to me that special interests, regardless of their trappings, are incapable of uniting us as citizens of the planet Earth. We are honestly like the “Island People” of the Pacific cultures. When trapped together on a small piece of land surrounded by water, there is an understanding among the local born and raised that “we all need each other.” That may seem utterly idealistic, given the place we’ve found ourselves at the end of the modern era, but the 21st Century has just begun.

Now, to my dear friends in the Christian Right: you especially have the burden of necessary self awareness in this. You have used the Islamic faith as a puppet in justifying yourselves as contemporary Pharisees. You have forgotten your first love and have diminished the teachings found in the red words. You’ve also been misled into believing that Jesus came to Earth to destroy the very things you now practice. “He pleaded the cause of the poor and the afflicted,” Jeremiah wrote of King Josiah. “Then it was well with him. Is this not what it means to know Me, saith the Lord?” Judgement, the book says, begins with the house of God – those who know Him. Can you not see that you have perverted all of this in order to protect and bless yourselves?

You will not argue against me on this, for I was there during the rise of your glory. Pat Robertson himself taught me how to raise money. “Here’s why people give their money,” he said, “and in this order: How does it help me? How does it help my family? How does it help my neighborhood, my community? How does it help my state? How does it help my country? And, the very last, how does it help others?” This is an abomination to Life, and it/He will surely spit you out at some point. Damn you for your lies and how you manipulate others for your own gain. As I said on Facebook, please wake up, grow up, and shut up, for you are not blameless in world events, up to and including genocide.

Stay tuned as history writes itself with everybody’s help. We will either save or destroy each other. The choice is up to us, each of us. Let us make the right decision.

#ChapelHillShootings #MuslimLivesMatter #Islamophobia