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Terrorism what?

Do these guys count as domestic terrorists? Because I read the article and I didn’t see the T-word used anywhere, despite this:

Two white supremacists allegedly plotted to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, federal authorities said Monday.

In all, the two men whom officials describe as neo-Nazi skinheads planned to kill 88 people — 14 by beheading, according to documents unsealed in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.

The spree, which initially targeted an unidentified predominantly African-American school, was to end with the two men driving toward Obama, “shooting at him from the windows,” the court documents show.

National killing spree, beheading people, and generally staging a campaign to keep people (people of color in particular) in perpetual fear.

Maybe we should ask Sarah Palin if these guys count as terrorists, or if we should just reserve that word for Osama bin Laden and Bill Ayers.

Al Qaeda for McCain

Kristof is right: A McCain presidency will be the best terrorist recruiting tool around. And it’ll further stoke general anti-Americanism around the world.

Of course, an Obama presidency isn’t going to be the silver bullet that ends terrorism or makes us safe. But it will do quite a bit to restore our credibility around the world, and it will make us a bit more difficult to hate. That’s no small feat.

More Racist Republican Fear-Mongering

And like the “Waterboard Barack Obama” graphic, this is coming from the GOP itself, not from random supporters. The Republican National Committee is sending out fliers implying that Obama is a terrorist:

In a stark new brochure Wednesday, the Republican National Committee subtly plays on the false belief held by many Americans that Barack Obama is a Muslim, an Arab, or somehow un-American.

“Terrorists don’t care who they hurt,” says the cover the brochure, arriving in mailboxes Wednesday in the battleground state of Virginia.

The words appear over a picture of someone in shadow eyeing or photograhing the front of an airplane, an apparent reference to the fact that terrorists used hijacked airplanes to kill Americans in 2001.

Flip open the brochure, and the photo is of Obama.

“Barack Obama,” it says, “Not who you think he is.”

Guilt by Association

As long as we’re talking about the presidential contenders’ ties to terrorists:

PFAW points out:

Senator John McCain has been making a lot of baseless accusations lately, but he is the one with the troubling past. McCain and Marylin Shannon — a 2008 McCain delegate and former vice chair of the Oregon Republican Party — both appeared at an August, 1993 fundraiser for the far right Oregon Citizens Alliance. McCain appeared against the advice of Mark Hatfield, a GOP senator from Oregon, who feared that the group’s extremist views would taint McCain.

Shannon, who attended this year’s Republican National Convention as a McCain delegate, spoke immediately before McCain and “praised the Grants Pass woman accused of shooting an abortion doctor in Wichita” earlier in the month, referring to her as a “fine lady.” When McCain spoke next, he said nothing about Shannon’s vile comments and delivered his speech as prepared.

Just a few months later, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve a crucial anti-domestic terrorism bill, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. McCain opposed the bill.

Between 1977 and 1993 there were “36 bombings, 81 arsons, 131 death threats, 84 assaults, 2 kidnappings, 327 clinic invasions, 71 chemical attacks, more than 6,000 blockades and related disruptions” against reproductive health clinics. Congress was finally spurred into action by the killing of Dr. David Gunn outside a Florida clinic in March of 1993. In August, Dr. George Tiller was shot and wounded in Wichita.

“When anti-choice extremists were terrorizing American women and their doctors, John McCain had multiple opportunities to make what should have been an easy choice,” said Kathryn Kolbert, President of People For the American Way, and a longtime women’s rights advocate who successfully argued a crucial abortion rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992. “But he chose political expediency over law and order. He didn’t say a word when Marylin Shannon sympathized with an attempted killer. He voted against the clinic access bill even as everyday Americans were being assaulted and besieged by domestic terrorists. As someone who faced repeated threats for work on behalf of reproductive rights, I am deeply disturbed by John McCain’s willingness to stand with and side with sympathizers and enablers of domestic terrorism.”

Whatever you think about Obama’s limited contact with Bill Ayers
, there hasn’t been any evidence that Ayers ever condoned or promoted terrorism in Obama’s presence. There hasn’t been any evidence that Obama ever met with Ayers during his presidential campaign, or that Obama is still willing to lend Ayers a sympathetic ear.

That isn’t the case for John McCain, who was meeting with militant anti-choice activist and Operation Rescue supporter Paul Schenck as recently as last week.

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Nursery Gassed at Ohio Mosque, Not a Hate Crime

Pardon my language, but this is straight fucked up. Less than a week after anti-Islam DVDs were distributed by mail and in newspapers all across the Midwest, in Ohio a “chemical irritant” was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. More succinctly, it was sprayed into the nursery where the babies and children were kept while their parents prayed.

“She told me that the gas was sprayed into the room where the babies and children were being kept while their mothers prayed together their Ramadan prayers. Panicked mothers ran for their babies, crying for their children so they could flee from the gas that was burning their eyes and throats and lungs. She grabbed her youngest in her arms and grabbed the hand of her other daughter, moving with the others to exit the building and the irritating substance there.

“The paramedic said the young one was in shock, and gave her oxygen to help her breathe. The child couldn’t stop sobbing.”

The local paper reports that police have uncovered “no evidence of a hate crime” because no words were exchanged between the attacker and the victim, and whatever gas was sprayed dissipated too quickly to show up on preliminary chemical tests conducted by the police.

I know hypotheticals are presumptive and annoying, but I’d comfortably venture to say that if this happened in the nursery of a Midwestern Episcopal church during Easter, the story would occupy a large corner of all national news coverage for weeks.

Where’s the fucking outrage?

(H/T, H/T)

UPDATE: Cara posted a more comprehensive look at this story at The Curvature.

The Naked Truth: Security vs. Privacy

NPR covered a story about security in Baghdad’s Green Zone, which centered specifically on one woman’s protest against the type of body scanning used: it doesn’t see hair or clothing, but sees the body, (I’m assuming metal) jewelry, and any prospective weapons. The body is rendered essentially naked (pictured here; picture from NPR).

Farah al-Jaberi’s objections (which are shared by other female workers) are mainly to male guards seeing their bodies through the scanner, and the worry that “images of their bodies can be saved and viewed by anyone later.” Al-Jaberi and other women won the right not to go through the scanners, until an incident last June with an American soldier. When al-Jaberi refused to go through the scanner, he verbally abused her, threatened to call the police on her, and pointed a gun in her face. Whoa, not okay. This incident is still being investigated, and currently, authorities have opened a separate gate for women.

First, I want to point out that I hated writer Corey Flintoff’s language. He points to al-Jaberi as a “matron,” which has implications of dowdiness and ageism. I have to wonder if he would have used the word “matron” if she hadn’t been wearing a headscarf and abaya, which he refers to as “drapery.” Just makes me think of window dressings. Judging a woman’s personality and age (and likening her clothes to window dressings) by what she’s wearing? Rude!

I want to focus on the scanner, however. There are plenty of issues here. #1: Just plain creepy. I don’t think anyone wants have their pseudo-naked body looked at on a daily basis by just anybody. This also gets into issues of ownership: we supposedly own our bodies and have “rights” to them: i.e., to keep them private if we want. This scanner removes a person’s right to their body, not only with the scanning itself, but with the possibility of saving one’s image and viewing or distributing it later.
But this issue is complicated by cultural and religious reasons. Many of those scanned are Muslim women, who believe it is not acceptable for men other than their family members or healthcare practitioners to see them in any state of undress, let alone butt-nekkid. This goes for male Muslim workers, as well—unrelated women shouldn’t see their bodies, either. Since Iraq is predominantly a Muslim nation, this becomes a cultural taboo as well.

Issue #2: Why was this scanner being used? Though the article points to the problematic concealment of the headscarf and/or abaya, the guards already search their bags. There are female guards who already pat them down in set-aside booths that are curtained for privacy. And al-Jaberi says that she (and the other women) don’t mind this. So why do they need a scanner that denudes someone?

You know those scanners they have at the airport? The ones that beep if you have metal and don’t beep if you’re okay? Why can’t they use those? Why used this type of scanner?

A person’s body is a complex and private possession. Nakedness has connotations of vulnerability and privacy (the latter being especially true to Muslims), and viewing someone’s nakedness without their acceptance or consent is not only a violation, but also a type of dominance. Maybe the scanner was introduced as a safety measure, but its presence implies dominance over workers: “We (the U.S. government) will look at you naked every day.” Because many of these workers are Iraqi, the dominance implied has political and imperialist overtones.

There is also a tug of war here between security and ownership of one’s body that goes past the “personal freedom vs. national freedom” debate that surrounds a lot of the irritating airline security checks (taking off your shoes, restriction of liquid, etc.) and illegal spying on U.S. citizens. This is more than throwing away your water bottle or having the N.S.A. listen to you chat with your parents. This is about somebody looking at you naked in the interests of “security”.

Would you be okay with that, especially if there are less invasive ways to ensure everyone’s safety? I wouldn’t.

If you wear a black & white scarf, the terrorists win

Thanks to Wonkette I found out about the most asinine snippet of fabricated outrage since Falwell warned us all about that sinister homosexual Teletubby. This time, right-wing cheer squad Michelle Malkin and Charles Johnson have frothed up at the mouth over the fact that Dunkin Donuts and Rachael Ray are colluding to support anti-Semitic terrorism.

Wait, what?

Rachael Ray in a Dunkin Donuts commercial

Look, right there! In the middle of the picture. No, above the “artificial sweeteners and skim milk are better for you” latte she’s hawking… she’s wearing a black and white scarf! Or more precisely, what the froth squad are calling a keffiyah — the traditional Arab headscarf that, in a particular black-and-white pattern, became a symbol of the Palestinian people and their struggles for sovereignty. Sadly, they’re not joking. Although I have to say I laughed out loud at the phrase “hate couture.” The thing is, if you look at the scarf Rachael Ray is wearing in that picture, it doesn’t even remotely resemble the pattern traditionally associated with the keffiyeh, which resembles an interlocking net or a chain-link fence. Look, here’s Yasser Arafat wearing one… a fairly iconic and well-known image. But Ray’s scarf doesn’t even have a regular geometric pattern on it.

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Stop Creating More.

Ezra says it perfectly, so I’m just going to quote him in full:

This really seems to be the difference between liberals and neoconservatives on foreign policy, doesn’t it? Neocons envision a near-static population of terrorists, and prescribe an aggressive policy of killing them in order to rid the world of terrorism. Liberals see a dynamic population of terrorists and prescribe broad policies meant to blunt their popular appeal and deprive them of public support. Neocons looks at the liberal prescription and say, essentially, “you’re not killing enough of them.” And liberals look at the Neocons and, aghast, say, “stop making so many more.”

Women in “Free” Iraq

When the Bush administration was gearing up to invade Iraq, the plight of Muslim women was used as one of a handful of human rights justifications for war. They conveniently conflated “Muslim women” with “women in Afghanistan living under the Taliban,” and most Americans seemed to be under the impression that Iraqi women were roundly oppressed. In fact, women in Iraq had more rights under Saddam Hussein than they do under the current Iraqi constitution. I’m no Saddam apologist, and I don’t think that women’s rights are particularly grand achievements when human rights are virtually non-existent. However, we can’t ignore the fact that women in Iraq are inarguably worse off now than they were before we showed up.

The images in the Basra police file are nauseating: Page after page of women killed in brutal fashion — some strangled to death, their faces disfigured; others beheaded. All bear signs of torture.

The women are killed, police say, because they failed to wear a headscarf or because they ignored other “rules” that secretive fundamentalist groups want to enforce.

“Fear, fear is always there,” says 30-year-old Safana, an artist and university professor. “We don’t know who to be afraid of. Maybe it’s a friend or a student you teach. There is no break, no security. I don’t know who to be afraid of.”

Her fear is justified. Iraq’s second-largest city, Basra, is a stronghold of conservative Shia groups. As many as 133 women were killed in Basra last year — 79 for violation of “Islamic teachings” and 47 for so-called honor killings, according to IRIN, the news branch of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

One glance through the police file is enough to understand the consequences. Basra’s police chief, Gen. Abdul Jalil Khalaf, flips through the file, pointing to one unsolved case after another.

“I think so far, we have been unable to tackle this problem properly,” he says. “There are many motives for these crimes and parties involved in killing women, by strangling, beheading, chopping off their hands, legs, heads.”

“When I came to Basra a year ago,” he says, “two women were killed in front of their kids. Their blood was flowing in front of their kids, they were crying. Another woman was killed in front of her 6-year-old son, another in front of her 11-year-old child, and yet another who was pregnant.”

The killers enforcing their own version of Islamic justice are rarely caught, while women live in fear.

Boldly splattered in red paint just outside the main downtown market, a chilling sign reads: “We warn against not wearing a headscarf and wearing makeup. Those who do not abide by this will be punished. God is our witness, we have notified you.”

Women in Afghanistan — you know, the ones we liberated from the burqa — aren’t doing much better. Women’s rights leaders have been murdered. Girls in school are prime targets for religious fundamentalists. And fundamentalist religious groups are taking hold of large parts of the country.

Oh, and our favorite ally in the Middle East is really great on women’s rights, too.

Three cheers for “liberation.”

Anti-Choice Terrorists Claim First Amendment Rights

Anti-choice activist Robert Ferguson

Gotta love the anti-choice nuts at Operation Rescue. The backstory: They’re going after Dr. Tiller, a Kansas abortion provider, for approximately the 340,986th time. Dr. Tiller is a favorite of theirs because he’s one of the last abortion providers in Kansas, and he provides late-term abortions. One of their followers shot him in both arms a few years ago, his clinic has been vandalized on numerous occasions, his workers are regularly harassed, and he’s Target #1 for a “pro-life” movement that murders doctors. Tiller’s home address, family members’ information, and pictures are all posted on “pro-life” websites. For protection, he lives in a gated community, has a high-level security system surrounding his home, and wears a bullet-proof vest to work every day.

Operation Rescue and other anti-choice groups harass Tiller constantly — in person and in court. They stalk his employees, sifting through their trash and encouraging local businesses (like their dry-cleaner or their mechanic) not to service “baby-killers.” They picket his clinic. They put up heinous websites about him — I don’t recommend googling “Dr. Tiller,” but if you do, you’ll see what kinds of websites I’m talking about. They sue him. They also attempt to bring criminal charges against him. Usually, those charges are so flimsy that they don’t make it past a grand jury; they are, however, expensive and time-consuming for Dr. Tiller, which is the point.

I would encourage everyone to read this article about anti-choice harassment and stalking in Wichita to get a fuller idea of what’s going on out there. It’s a must-read piece, and if you haven’t seen it yet, give it a look.

The latest harassment of Dr. Tiller includes yet another criminal charge for which there is very little evidence. Operation Rescue, however, has decided that it’s important for them to subpoena the private medical records of women who have had abortions in Dr. Tiller’s clinic, and to show the Grand Jury photographs (taken by Operation Rescue, natch) of the women walking into the clinic — and don’t worry, they’ve already posted those photos online anyway. They claim that no privacy rights are violated because the women’s faces are blurred in the photos, and identifying information will be redacted from the records.

All of which, as we know, is crap. But here’s where it gets (unintentionally) funny: They have a press release running in Christian “news” sources this week, complaining that an editorial and a political cartoon in a Kansas paper are unfairly compromising the Grand Jury’s work. The anti-Operation-Rescue editorial reads, in part:

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