Wednesday, January 25, 2006

With Us or Against Us Depends on Who "Us" Is

The Bush Administration has gone on record many times saying variations on "You're either with us or against us," apparently meaning you have to fall in line with whatever policies Bush chooses to enact. Any dissent against or criticism of Administration policies, no matter how backward or ineffective, is evidence of support of terrorists. Obviously, given my writings, I am not "with" the Bushies, as I think most everything they do is detrimental to the "us" I support, namely the U.S.

Here is yet another example of this dangerous mindset the Bushies have. A Swiss citizen and Muslim scholar, Tariq Ramadan, is still being denied entry into the U.S. under a provision of the PATRIOT Act which bans foreigners who endorse terrorism, an act which is now being challenged in court by the ACLU.

Speaking to reporters in August 2004, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, Russ Knocke, cited the Patriot Act clause as the reason why Mr. Ramadan's visa was canceled. The clause, adopted with the original act in October 2001 and amended last May, bars foreigners who "endorse or espouse terrorist activity or persuade others" to support terrorism.

Specifically, the clause in Section 411 says,

`(VI) has used the alien's position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, or to persuade others to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization, in a way that the Secretary of State has determined undermines United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities...

Problem is, Mr. Ramadan has never endorsed terrorism, having in fact condemned it as a tactic. But he has been an outspoken critic of the Administration's policies in the Middle East.

At an interview in December in the United States consulate in Bern, Switzerland, Mr. Ramadan said he was mainly questioned by American agents about his views of the war in Iraq.

"It's clear there is nothing in my record supporting terrorism," said Mr. Ramadan, who is now a visiting professor at Oxford University. "I told them what I have said many times publicly, that I think the war was a mistake and illegal. I think the resistance is legitimate, but the means they are using are not."

Though this may be support of an insurgency against U.S. occupation in Iraq -- asymmetrical warfare that could still be effective using stealthy techniques and targeted strikes on U.S. forces rather than using suicide bombs, kidnappings, and attacks on civilians -- it is certainly not support of terrorists or terrorist activity.

Hell, I think Iraq could be another good place for civil disobedience, since the eyes of the world are upon them, and the U.S. occupation is being run in an entirely corrupt fashion. Popular support for an insurgency grew after the abuses of Abu Ghraib, and is still fostered by the experiences of ordinary Iraqis of the corruption. If there were not such a culture of corruption and war profiteering in this Administration, the insurgency would lose much support and moral high ground, leaving only the true terrorists and terrorist organizations, which are not legitimately present and active. Of course, civil disobedience relies on the capacity of the oppressor to be shamed, and I'm not sure that exists in Bush or his agents.

But Mr. Ramadan doesn't need to be present in the U.S. to make his progressive Muslim views known, including his support of Muslim feminism and anti-violence. You can read his blog at tariqramadan.com, and see that he supports justice, peace and love.

Mr. Ramadan specifically addresses this Adminstration's "with us or against us" worldview:
Global terrorism and the Global War against Terrorism both fuel, in equal and pernicious ways, the global ideology of fear.

...fear, naturally and often unconsciously, breeds a relation of mistrust and potential conflict with the “Other.” A binary vision of reality [emphasis added] now begins to impose the outlines of a protective “us,” and of a threatening “them.”

...Our “good reasons” and our “just causes” are praised by the general public without critical examination, while at the same time their “bad reasons” and their “evil intentions” are indiscriminately condemned. Fear authorizes us to forgo all explanations, all understanding, all analysis that might allow us to understand the Other, his world, his hopes. In the new regimen of fear and suspicion, to understand the Other is to justify him; to seek out his reasons is to agree with him. [emphasis added]

...Swept away by our emotions, trapped in binary, reductive logical structures, lost in the rising tide of “as it happens” events and politics, it has become impossible for us to see, to understand or even to hear the Other. The ideology of fear has produced a devastating deafness: [emphasis added] the Other’s world, the reasons he behaves as he does are inaudible; to attempt to hear them more clearly is to reveal one’s own ill-being, or, at worst, the vilest of treacheries.

...The upkeep and feeding of the “ideology of fear” has become a political weapon, particularly as part of the opportunistic strategies of the great economic powers of the day. Far from true political debate, shielded from objective criticism of the consequences of the world economic order, they perpetuate a state of fear and vulnerability, which in turn grants a license for security policies of the most dangerous and discriminatory kind, for the exceptional measures most inimical to freedom (particularly with regard to human and citizen’s rights) in their gravity.

It's clear why this Administration considers him such a danger. Reasoned, educated debate is a danger to this Administration.

There may, of course, be those who reference certain accusations about him. One especially insidious accusation and logical fallacy is that, as a Muslim, he is therefore a practitioner of taqiyya ("And he ventures on this long journey armed with the doctrine of the taqiyya, or the art of dissimulation, a typical Islamic practice on enemy soil." [emphasis added]) a tactic of lying which is sometimes used by some Muslims. He would have to be one hell of an actor, in that case, and after so many years and so much writing and speaking must surely have brainwashed himself to actually believe by now. At any rate, here are his answers, ending with this sentiment:
The very moment Muslims and their fellow citizen realize that being a Muslim and being American or European are not mutually exclusive they will enrich their societies.

To which I would add that the moment Americans and Europeans realize that being American or European does not mean being Christian they will enrich their societies.

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