‘Stop the Islamization of America’ is disparaging and can’t be trademarked, Federal Circuit says

 

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‘Stop the Islamization of America’ is disparaging and can’t be trademarked, Federal Circuit says

Islamophobes Geller and Spencer keep losing in court.

‘Stop the Islamization of America’ is disparaging and can’t be trademarked, Federal Circuit says

By Debra Cassens Weiss

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has refused a trademark for the phrase “Stop the Islamization of America” because it is disparaging to Muslims.

The Federal Circuit ruled on Tuesday against blogger Pamela Geller, who founded a group by that name and runs a website called “Stop! Islamization of America.” The Wall Street Journal Law BlogReuters and the Washington Post have stories. How Appealing links to the opinion (PDF) and other coverage.

The ruling is based on a section of the Trademark Act that allows refusal of a trademark for matters that “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” A footnote in the decision notes that the parties alternate between the spelling “Islamization” and “Islamisation.” The opinion uses both spellings.

Geller was in the news for opposing construction of a mosque in New York City near the site of the World Trade Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center views Stop Islamization of America as a hate group, the Post says. She commented on the ruling in an email to Reuters.

“This is a complete whitewash and we knew we would be up against the PC (politically correct) bias in the court,” Geller wrote. “This is clear ongoing evidence of how the federal government and especially the courts, bend over backwards, kowtow and placate Muslim sensitivities.”

Law professor Eugene Volokh of the University of California at Los Angeles says his “tentative view” is that the exclusion of disparaging trademarks should be seen as unconstitutional. “But I’m not sure that courts will ultimately see this my way,” he writes at his blog, the Volokh Conspiracy.

Legal experts believe the case has implications for the fight over the name of the Washington Redskins, Reuters says.

The case is In re Geller and Spencer.

 

Washington DC: Geller is back with another anti-Muslim Metro ad

AFDI-Islamic-Jew-hatred-ad

Washington DC: Geller is back with another anti-Islam Metro ad

In 2012, anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative funded ads throughout the Metro system with a quote from the Quran next to a photo of the burning Twin Towers. Ads that cost Metro $35,000 over a failed effort to block them.

Now she’s back with another awful ad, this one claiming that “Islamic jew-hatred” is “in the Quran” as a response to an ad about “Israel’s occupation” from the American Muslims for Palestine. From Geller’s blog:

The DC Metro transit authority made multiple demands for the substantiation of every claim in our ads before they would accept the ad, and I, of course, happily provided that substantiation. The libelous American Muslims for Palestine antisemitic ad (below) did not have to provide substantiation. The MTA had no problem with their antisemitism. And you cannot provide evidence of a smear and a bigoted lie. But it is proof of the AMP’s hate.

Our ads are in response to the vicious Jew-hating ads that American Muslims for Palestine unleashed on Washington, DC Metro buses last month. And might I add, had we not sued and won in NYC and DC for violating our First Amendment rights when they tried to refuse our previous ads, our ads might never have gone up.

Because of the 2012 court ruling stating that Geller’s ads are protected speech, a Metro spokesperson said they declined to challenge them this time around. But they do sport the disclaimer: “This is a paid advertisement sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. Advertising space is a designated public forum and does not imply WMATA’s endorsement of any views expressed.”

For the uninitiated, here’s a description of Geller from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labeled her Stop Islamization of America foundation a hate group:

Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as that President Obama is the “love child” of Malcolm X. She makes no pretense of being learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to her Stop Islamization of America partner Robert Spencer. Geller has mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps. She has taken a strong pro-Israel stance to the point of being sharply critical of Jewish liberals.

DCist.com, 14 May 2014

See also “This deeply offensive ad is plastered on public buses in Washington, DC”,PolicyMic, 14 May 2014

Sniffing Out the Islamophobes in Pew Polling Data

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Sniffing Out the Islamophobes in Pew Polling Data

Original guest article

By JustStoppingBy

By comparing results from two survey questions, we can get a much more refined view of the prevalence of Islamophobia in different demographic groups.

According to a well-known quote, “Knowledge is power.”  We may think that we know who the Islamophobes are among society.  But, how accurate are our assessments?  One problem with many polls that attempt to measure the presence of Islamophobia is that they often do not distinguish between bias against or dislike of Muslims with general forms of bias or dislike of others.  For example, suppose that someone says that they oppose building mosques.  If the same person would also say that they oppose building churches, synagogues and any other house of worship, it generally makes more sense to categorize them as anti-religion rather than specifically anti-Islam.  Fortunately, the Pew Research Center put out a poll in 2009 that has two questions that, when examined together, can provide us with an interesting take on this issue by specifically isolating bias against Muslims from biases against religious groups in general.

The questions begin with the introduction, “I’m going to read the names of some specific religious groups. For each one that I name, please tell me whether you would favor or oppose this group applying for government funds to provide social services to people who need them.”  Two of the “groups” covered are interesting:  first, “Individual churches, synagogues and other houses of worship” and second, “Muslim mosques.”

What makes these interesting is that we can look at the people who favor government funding for “individual churches, synagogues and other houses of worship” and see how that figure declines when that larger group is replaced by “Muslim mosques.”  The first question should screen out people who object to government funding of any religious group providing social services, whether because they oppose government spending on social services or oppose the government outsourcing such activities (positions that are tied to views of government rather than religion) and those who oppose government providing such funding to religious groups (which could represent a view of government generally or a view on religion generally, but should not be specific to views of Islam).  Then, when we switch to the second question, about Muslim mosques, any change is due to respondents’ views on Islam in particular.  Thus, the drop in support is a relatively clean measure of Islamophobic responses separated out from other issues such as views of government or religion generally.  This drop can be examined for different subgroups, allowing us to examine the relative degrees of Islamophobia across them.  This drop may be more useful than a single question about how respondents view Muslims, as it may be the case that some groups of respondents are generally more friendly or hostile to religious groups in general as opposed to Muslims in particular.

Before presenting the results, it is worth noting a few caveats.  First, the difference in the results represents Islamophobia among those willing to provide government funding to religious organizations for the purposes of providing social services generally.  The questions do not provide any information on the degree of Islamophobia among those who oppose the government providing such funding to religious groups at all.  Second, correlation is not causation.  However, readers are invited to provide their thoughts on the reasons for the differential results across subgroups, and some thoughts will be provided below.

Now, on to the poll results.

The first subgroup examined by Pew is Age.  Here are the results of Support along with two measures of the drop in support going from houses of worship generally to mosques:

Pew_Table1

There are a few interesting things to note here. First, in both the general house of worship and the mosque categories, support declines (with one exception) as age increases. Second, if we measure the decline in percentage points (the change in the share of the total group before screening with the first question), the declines are smallest for the two youngest age categories and then seem to roughly level off. Third, if we look at the percentage change (the change share of those in support on the first question), we see the same general pattern, but even more pronounced. (The 2009 results on age are consistent with a 2013 Pew survey finding that “[m]ost young people continue to reject the idea that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers” and that younger people are more likely to say that Muslims suffer from discrimination.)

In terms of recommendations, there are two conflicting possibilities.  One is that because here is a quite limited amount of Islamophobia among the youngest group, perhaps efforts that are devoted there should be focused elsewhere.  A completely conflicting interpretation is that the near absence of Islamophobia in the youngest group is the result of those efforts, which should then be continued with future groups of young people if not expanded to cover other groups where possible.There are a few interesting things to note here.  First, in both the general house of worship and the mosque categories, support declines (with one exception) as age increases.  Second, if we measure the decline in percentage points (the change in the share of the total group before screening with the first question), the declines are smallest for the two youngest age categories and then seem to roughly level off.  Third, if we look at the percentage change (the change share of those in support on the first question), we see the same general pattern, but even more pronounced.  (The 2009 results on age are consistent with a 2013 Pew surveyfinding that “[m]ost young people continue to reject the idea that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers” and that younger people are more likely to say that Muslims suffer from discrimination.)

The next category covered in Pew is household income.  There does not seem to be much in the results, but they are presented here in case someone sees something worth discussing.  (You may also note that the Total category results change a little from those in the Age table.  This appears to be due to slight changes in the sample, perhaps based on people not being asked or not answering questions for the different types of categories.)

Pew_Table2

Next is marital status.  In this case, it seems that the results are at least somewhat related to age, with the widowed category showing one of the highest levels of Islamophobia and the never been married the least.

Pew_Table3

Next, Pew presents the results by religion.

Pew_Table4

(Other Christian = Mormon, Orthodox, Unitarian, self-identified as Christian.)

It is worth noting that the atheist/agnostic/nothing in particular category shows the smallest amount of Islamophobia.  This should be kept in mind when considering whether some of the prominent New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are representative of the broader atheist community.  Second, while Jews are pretty much tied with other religious groups when considering houses of worship generally, they show the smallest dropoff, or the least amount of Islamophobia, and end up being the only religious group (even including atheist/agnostic/nothing in particular) with a majority support for government funding of social programs at mosques.  If this were purely a question of how a minority (meaning non-Christian in the United States) religion is attentive to concerns that a minority religion would not receive its fair share of funding, we would expect to see similar results for the “other religion” category.  Instead, that group falls a little closer to the higher level of Islamophobia in three Christian categories than to lower level among Jews.  Similar to atheists, the lower than average rate of Islamophobia among Jews should be kept in mind when comparing the general Jewish population to prominent individuals; generally different from atheists, who tend to have fewer identity-specific institutions, one can think about whether mainstream Jewish education and communal/religious organizations have a substantial role in bringing about this result.(Other Christian = Mormon, Orthodox, Unitarian, self-identified as Christian.)

Next, we have education.

Pew_Table5

While support for government funding of social programs at houses of worship is relatively flat across education levels (or perhaps a bit U-shaped: higher at the ends than in the middle), it is distinctly lower for those without a high school diploma when it comes to funding for social programs at mosques.  There clearly seems to be a story and a lesson here about how education helps reduce Islamophobia (while still keeping the correlation/causation caveat in mind).

The next category covered by Pew is sex.  The differences seem to be relatively small, with a slightly greater degree of Islamophobia seen among males.  In a bit of contrast, the 2013 Pew survey showed fairly clearly that men were more likely than women to say that Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers.While support for government funding of social programs at houses of worship is relatively flat across education levels (or perhaps a bit U-shaped: higher at the ends than in the middle), it is distinctly lower for those without a high school diploma when it comes to funding for social programs at mosques.  There clearly seems to be a story and a lesson here about how education helps reduce Islamophobia (while still keeping the correlation/causation caveat in mind).

Pew_Table6

The final category studied by Pew is “political ideology.”

Pew_Table7

Depending on one’s expectations, the results here may be a bit surprising.  The highest degree of Islamophobia is among conservatives, not those who identify as very conservative.  Thoughts on this are welcome.  Another interesting point is that the moderate and liberal results appear quite similar, with a small decline in Islamophobia among the very liberal.  In this case, the 2013 Pew survey did show a clear ordering of results, with conservative Republicans most likely to say that Islam encourages violence among adherents, followed by moderate/liberal Republicans, Independents, moderate/conservative Democrats, and finally liberal Democrats.

Hopefully, the data above provide some amount of knowledge.  It should go without saying that the data represents information aggregated across groups and do not prove that any single individual is or is not Islamophobic.  After all, while those earning over $100,000 typically have below-average displays of Islamophobia in this poll, Robert Spencer falls into that category.  And while a Jewish woman with some college but no degree would display three features associated with a below-average degree of Islamophobia, we have a prominent counter-example with those three characteristics.  On the other hand, the data should not be ignored as it may provide useful information if we can figure out how to use it properly.

Two Peas in A Pod: Tarek Fatah and Robert Spencer

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Two Peas in A Pod: Tarek Fatah and Robert Spencer

By Emperor

Yesterday we tweeted a link to our article on the NYPD abandoning one of its spy on Muslims units,

 

In reply, the UK based journalist Sunny Hundal asked why Tarek Fatah was an “Islamophobia enabler.” A fair question for someone who may be unfamiliar with Fatah. I think however that support for the NYPD surveillance program, teaming up with Zuhdi Jasser and Rep. Peter Kingare evidence enough that Fatah supports Islamophobia.

In fact there’s such a plethora of evidence on Fatah’s support for Islamophobia that we didn’t even know where to start!

We first mentioned how Fatah is a regular on his pal, the ultra-Zionist, extremely Islamophobic, Michael Coren’s Sun News show and also the fact that Coren is a huge supporter of Spencer and Geller. Maybe this wasn’t the best place to begin. Taken alone this might not be enough to convince someone unaware of Fatah’s history of support for Islamophobic causes, right-wing politicians and forwarding of loony conspiracies.

We should have began by pointing out that Fatah has supported veil bans, opposed the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” (calling it a “deliberate provocation, aimed at ‘thumbing the nose at infidels,’” thereby feeding the hysterical fear-mongering at the time), slandered Muslims left and right as plotting to take over the federal and local governments of the USA and Canada, claimed that Dalia Mogahed was “an MB member from Egypt,” accused Tariq Ramadan of coming to Canada over Labour Day weekend “to propagate the Muslim Brotherhood credo of ‘destroying the West from within’.”

Of course there is so much more that could be highlighted to expose how Fatah fear-mongers about Islam and Muslims, provides cover for Islamophobes and their conspiracies but that will be the subject of a longer article. It should be noted that when we challenged Fatah over these issues he magically turned silent.

Fatah exclaimed incredulity that he could be mentioned in the same vein as Rev. Deacon Robert Spencer,

JW_Tarek_Fatah2

Apparently Fatah wasn’t “privy” to what we’ve written about him even though we directly tagged him in our Tweets with links and all.

Fatah’s assertions were contradicted by Rev. Deacon Robert Spencer himself, who states that Fatah was an admirer of his “work.”

JW_Tarek_Fatah1

Of course, Spencer is not exactly known for his honesty and so we will have to wait and see what video he produces. However, considering the fact that there isn’t much difference between Fatah and Spencer’s views and taking into account Fatah’s history of supporting Islamophobic causes, conspiracy theories, lies, his assaults on Muslims it isn’t far-fetched at all.

Ergun Caner Loses ‘Fair Use’ Lawsuit In Failed Attempt To Silence Critics

 

Ergun Caner

Ergun Caner

Ergun Caner Loses ‘Fair Use’ Lawsuit In Failed Attempt To Silence Critics

Rev. Deacon Robert Spencer translates Arabic into gibberish and Ergun Caner speaks gibberish claiming it to be Arabic. Seems that the Islamophobes are learning from each other.

For those familiar with the website, fake ex muslims, Ergun Caner is the poster child for “fake ex-Muslims.”

Ergun Caner Loses ‘Fair Use’ Lawsuit In Failed Attempt To Silence Critics

Submitted by Brian Tashman

Ergun Caner has lost his lawsuit against a blogger who criticized the Religious Right figure as a fraud, with a federal judge ruling last week that Caner’s case had no merit.

After the September 11 attacks, Caner built a career around his purported conversion from Islamic extremism to Christianity, but his testimony was later exposed as fictitious. Not only did he completely fabricate details about his background — including facts about his birthplace, upbringing, and his family — but he also spoke gibberish during his speeches, which he claimed was Arabic.

Caner led Liberty University’s theological seminary at the time but the university cut ties with him following the revelations and he now heads Brewton-Parker College, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

A federal judge dismissed Caner’s lawsuit, a thinly veiled attempt to shut down criticism, against blogger Jason Smathers, as the Associated Baptist Press reports today:

Ergun Caner, president of Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga., filed a lawsuit last summer claiming ownership of two videos that Smathers posted of Caner speaking as an expert on Islamic culture in training for U.S. Marines preparing to deploy in 2005.

U.S. District Judge Terry Means, however, said Caner failed to make a case and that Smathers used the material fairly, as copyright law permits, for “purposes such as criticism, comment, [or] news reporting.”

“His sole purpose was to expose the inconsistencies in Dr. Caner’s biography and criticize a public figure,” the judge determined. If the unauthorized reproduction of his lectures caused Caner any financial loss, he continued, it was the result of “legitimate criticism” of his words.

The misuse of video “takedown notices” — the same method employed by another Religious Right activist who tried to shut down Right Wing Watch’s YouTube page — was one of the focuses of the trial. As the judge notes in his ruling [PDF], the blogger’s actions are protected as fair use.

In 2013, Dr. Caner filed a “takedown notice” with Viddler.com, claiming that the videos were posted without authorization and in violation of his copyright. Smathers challenged the removal of the videos, which ultimately resulted in the present lawsuit by Dr. Caner, alleging copyright infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. §§ 106,506.

Smathers claims that he posted he videos featuring Dr. Caner as a religiously based criticism of a public figure and, thus, his posting constituted fair use.

The Court notes that Dr. Caner has apparently conceded this issue since he has offered no argument in his response with respect to Smathers’s assertion of fair use.

Dr. Caner’s concession notwithstanding, the facts of this case support the application of fair use.

The affirmative defense of fair use is codified at 17 U.S.C. § 107 and provides that “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies . . . , for purposes such as criticism, comment, [or] news reporting . . . , is not an infringement of copyright.”

All of Dr. Caner’s claims of copyright infringement against Smathers are hereby DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

- See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/ergun-caner-loses-fair-use-lawsuit-after-attempt-silence-critics#sthash.o2ab5fwk.dpuf

Oral Traditions in Islam and Judaism

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Oral Traditions in Islam and Judaism

Original Guest Post

by JustStoppingBy

Both Judaism and Islam rely on oral traditions that explain and put texts into context and can help counter misperceptions of the religions.

One of the sources of Islamophobia and Judeophobia is the selective quoting of religious passages that, either taken out of their literal context or without the context of how they have been interpreted, suggest that the adherents of Islam and Judaism repeat and harbor seemingly harsh views.  When the literal context is missing, sometimes just referring to the preceding or following verses is sufficient to counter any misconceptions and let a stereotype go.  In other instances, the religions’ oral traditions may help elucidate how adherents read those verses.

As Passover approaches, I want to highlight two well-known (at least among Jews) portions of the Jewish oral tradition that appear at the Passover seder and how, in broad terms, they relate to some well-known portions of the Islamic oral tradition because they are used by adherents to help put other texts into context.  The Passover seder relates the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.  Within the story, there is a listing of the ten plagues with which the Egyptians were smitten.  As each plague is recited, Jews either spill a drop of wine or use a finger (more traditionally) or utensil to take a drop of wine from their cup and discard it on a plate or napkin.  It is not clear how far back the common explanation for this ritual goes, though it is at least as far as Rabbi Yitzhak Ben Yehuda Abarbanel, or Don Isaac Abarbanel. (1437-1508) who wrote, “The custom is to drip drops of wine out of the cup when counting the plagues to indicate that our joy is not whole because on our account an entire people was punished. Even though the enemy deserved that defeat, it does not cause us real joy.”

My guess is that the explanation, if not the tradition itself, developed over time.  A likely reason is that Jews saw a “difficult text,” or one that can have multiple interpretations, and wished to emphasize the interpretations that resonated with their view of their religion’s morality.  A similar portion of oral history that works its way into many seders  is a midrash, or interpretation of the Torah, found in the Talmud that describes what was happening in Heaven as the Red Sea closed over the Egyptian army that was pursuing the Children of Israel: “The ministering angels wanted to chant their hymns, but the Holy One, blessed be He, said, The work of my hands is being drowned in the sea, and shall you chant hymns?”  As is the case with many midrashim, some Jews take this as a literal revelation and others as a story made up later to provide a moral lesson.  For my purposes here, it does not matter which it is.  Rather, what matters is that hundreds of years after this midrash was first recorded, Jews find it worthwhile to retell every year because it provides context for our understanding of an important Jewish text.

Turning to Islam, I would like to highlight a few portions of its oral history.  One I take from anessay by Imam Shamsi Ali, who writes, “Our oral history records Muhammad’s last sermon as containing the following guidance: ‘Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another.  No one has any right, nor any preference to claim over another.  You are brothers.’”   I chose this quote not because of its meaning, but because of how Imam Shamsi Ali explicitly ties it to the oral history.  Still, an Internet search shows that this is indeed a popular quote, appearing in numerous locations.  That should not be surprising given that it is the type of quote that should resonate with Muslims when thinking about the moral messages provided by Islam, with the equality of human beings being one of those messages.

A second piece of the Muslim oral tradition was cited by Arsalan Iftikhar in his interview with Loonwatch: “…we should be reminded of a well-known Islamic parable that tells the story of the Prophet Mohammed and his interactions with an unruly female neighbor, who would curse him violently and then dump garbage on him from her top window each time he walked by her house. One day, the prophet noticed that the woman was not there. In the spirit of true kindness, he went out of his way to inquire about her well-being. He then went on to visit his unfriendly neighbor at her bedside when he found that she had fallen seriously ill.”  This is indeed a well-known parable, found frequently on the web, including in comments at Loonwatch.

But, here is one potentially surprising thing about this particular story: it is not clear that it is authentic.  While there are similar stories, some investigations of this particular one have yielded results such as “I have not found a basis for this specific incident in the books of hadeeth or reliable works of prophetic biography, and it seems as though this story has become popular on the tongues of people without any source to support it, and Allah knows best” as well as “although the record of this particular incident is found in almost all the books of ‘Seerah’ or biography of the Prophet (saws) and is oft-repeated by the Muslims, to the best of our knowledge there is no record of this specific incident in any of the authentic and established Books of Sunnah. And Allah Alone Knows Best.”  As with the midrash on the angels preparing to rejoice, for my purposes it does not matter if this story is authentic.  The fact that this story is so popular even without it being found in what may be called the reliable or authentic hadith or Books of Sunnah only strengthens the point that Muslims repeat this story not because they are “forced” to because it is part of canonical literature that must be repeated, but, rather, they repeat it because its message resonates with their view of the morality of Islam.

Another reason that I chose the quotation provided from Imam Shamsi Ali is the further observation provided by his co-author, Rabbi Marc Schneier, in one of his essays in the samebook.  Rabbi Schneier writes, “Most Jews and most Muslims, however, are simply unaware of the good news that the other side has an oral tradition that moderates the sometimes harsh language of the written law.  The ignorance among the majority in both faiths allows the demagogic purveyors of hate to peddle their poison virtually unchallenged.”

Compare this with a statement by one such demagogic purveyor of hate, Robert Spencer, who has written, “Rabbinic Judaism ever since the destruction of the Temple had evolved non-literal ways to understand such commands, while in Islam such literal interpretation is still very much alive.”  In fact, Spencer is misleadingly inaccurate on both counts: Judaism had evolved non-literal ways of interpreting “problem texts” before the destruction of the Temple, and there are both literal and non-literal interpretations of “problem texts” very much alive in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.   It is the latter point, however, that is the more important.  By suggesting solely that there are literal interpretations of “problem texts” in Islam, Spencer hides the existence of similar interpretations in Judaism and Christianity as well as the many Muslims who highlight stories such as Muhammad’s concern for a woman who would throw trash on him (whether the story is literally true or not) as a lens through which they interpret any texts that could be read to call for retaliation for aggressive acts.  As Imam Shamsi Ali writes in one essay, “The guidance found in scripture is not meant to be taken only literally.  … Our stance is that though the Qur’an is sometimes exact, to extrapolate the wisdom in its passages, we need not see the texts as simply static, literal words.”

Strikingly, the Qur’an has no problem citing Jewish Oral Law.  “Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.” Qur’an 5:32.  The reference may be to Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 (“Therefore was the first man, Adam, created alone, to teach us that whoever destroys a single life, the Bible considers it as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a single life, the Bible considers it as if he saved an entire world. Furthermore, only one man, Adam, was created for the sake of peace among men, so that no one should say to his fellow, ‘My father was greater than yours…’”) or potentially other similar references such as Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a).  Whether one  believes an Islamic interpretation that Qur’an 5:32 was revealed to Muhammad, or a secular one that the ayah  repeats something that Muhammad heard, this ayah shows a continuity of belief and a tie between the oral Jewish tradition (which by that point had been written down) and written Muslim tradition.

Yet for some “demagogic purveyors of hate,” as Rabbi Schneier calls them, this is not a sign that Muslims view the Qur’an as part of a continuous revelation sometimes referencing Jewish and Christian scriptures.  Instead, these Islamophobes claim to “find further proof of plagiarism of apocryphal Jewish literature; this time in the Jewish Mishnah Sanhedrin” or title a section of an anti-Islam screed “Plagiarism in Quran,” citing the same passages.   If only the Qur’an had managed to avoid the charge of plagiarism by introducing the text by saying something like “We decreed upon the Children of Israel.”  Oh wait, it did!  Presumably, the demagogic purveyors of hate would not be satisfied with anything short of a footnote and embedded hyperlink in the text when it was compiled over 1300 years ago.

Certain Islamophobes who accuse the Qur’an of plagiarism in this verse, despite the explicit reference to a decree to the Children of Israel, seem less concerned with how Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:12 (“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”) does not reference Tobit 7:15 (“And what you hate, do not do to anyone”) or a well-known (among Jews) saying of Hillel the Elder(traditionally c. 110 BCE, died 7 CE): “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”  One notable demagogic purveyor of hate, Ali Sina, has written, “There is nothing in the Quran and Hadith that would make us believe that Islam is compatible with the Golden Rule.”  Actually, Wikipedia provides a dozen quotes from the Qur’an and Hadith that are variants of the Golden Rule.  The one that struck me the most was one that echoed Hillel: “A Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. Prophet said: ‘As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them. Now let the stirrup go! [This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!]’ —Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146.”

All three of the Abrahamic faiths thus not only cite the Golden Rule in some form, but have traditions citing it as a maxim that sums up the morality of their religious texts or beliefs.  It is only by being selective in what they cite from the written and oral traditions that the demagogic purveyors of hate could hope to obscure this commonality.   Instead, it is worth taking the time to review the full range of the traditions of each religion, notably those cited repeatedly by their adherents because they resonate with their view of their religion’s morality.  And then, it is time to let the stereotype, and the stirrup, go.

When Neo-Cons And Liberals Unite: The Case of Anti-Muslim Crusader Ayaan Hirsi Ali

 

by  on April 12, 2014 in FeatureLoon-at-large

 

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By Garibaldi

For far too long Liberal and Neo-Con supporters of Ayaan Hirsi Ali have either ignored, evaded, denied or flat out refused to acknowledge the existence of her hateful beliefs and agenda. One likely reason is that they have spent years promoting Ayaan in every conceivable way and instead of facing the reality of her philosophy, and the implications of her proposed policy solutions to the so-called “Muslim problem,” they have chosen to bury their heads in the sand.

The recent controversy over Brandeis University first awarding and then withdrawing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “honorary degree” has demasked a lot of individuals who proclaim that they are about “equality,” “rationality,” “fairness,” “acceptance,” “freedom,” and against “violence” and “hatred.”

Take prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, who, as RazaInc. brought to our attention, used his perch as a respectable academic to rally support behind Ayaan and vilify Brandeis’ decision:

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Michael Shermer, editor of the Scientific American had the blind audacity to compare Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Martin Luther King, Jr.! Comparing a preacher of non-violent peaceful civil disobedience to an individual who advocates militarily “crushing Islam.” The irony!

Michael_Shermer

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFrF), an avowed secularists/atheists organization that has in the past awarded Ayaan Hirsi Ali its “Emperor has no clothes award,” (looks like FFrF actually has no clothes) came to Ayaan’s defense. FFrF uncritically parroted the liesAyaan Hirsi Ali has propagated about much of her personal biography and called on its supporters to tell Brandeis to “apologize and re-offer its honorary degree.”

Sectarian New Atheists of all political bents from the libertarian Neo-Con Sam Harris to liberals such as Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher have in the past happily trotted out Ayaan Hirsi Ali as their tokenized anti-Muslim heroine. Of course they weren’t going to allow for any criticism of their pal, and like clockwork they were backing her up:

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So what company do these Atheist academics, institutions, Neo-Cons and Liberals find themselves in? Islamophobes. Such as the banned from the UK Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller and extreme right news outlets like Breitbart (whose journalist Pat Dullard called for “massacring Muslims in the street”), Right-Wing NewsHuman Events, etc.

For her part, Ayaan Hirsi Ali did not engage the substantive criticism of students, faculty and others who called her out on her anti-Muslim invective. Instead she falsely, and with her characteristic bigotry suggests that Brandeis’ withdrawal was motivated by fear of violence from offended Muslims.

The poverty of mainstream journalism has also been exposed, as most, if not all major newspapers and media outlets continue to falsely describe Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a “critic of Islam.”

Brandeis students nix Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali. What a pity.–Los Angeles Times
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Victim of an honor killing, Brandeis-style–Fox News
Brandeis Cancels Plan to Give Honorary Degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Critic of Islam–The New York Times
Brandeis withdraws honor to activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of Islam–Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Tablet Gives Moses Award to Ayaan Hirsi Ali–Tablet Magazine (Interestingly as Matt Berkman notes “Your parenthetical claim that you upheld the same principle when Rashid Khalidi and John Judis were disinvited is disingenuous. What you actually did was say that disinviting people is ‘heavy-handed and inelegant,’ and then went on to argue that critics of Israel should not be allowed to speak in Jewish venues to begin with (quote: ‘To argue that only an openness to all points of view is acceptable… is to adhere to the most flightless form of relativism’”))
Brandeis, Unlike Hirsi Ali, Surrendered to Intimidation–National Review Online
Brandeis won’t give honorary degree to Islam critic–Boston Globe
Under fire, Brandeis cancels plan to honor anti-Islam feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali–Christian Science Monitor
Brandeis Scraps Honor for Dutch Anti-Islam Activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali–Jewish Daily Forward
Human Rights Activist Slams University’s ‘Deplorable’ Move to Withdraw Honorary Degree Because of Her Critical Comments About Islam–The Blaze
Brandeis Backtracks on Honor for Activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Critic of Islam–The Wall Street Journal

Ayaan supporters like Steven Pinker, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, Freedom From Religion Foundation, David Silverman, Atheists of America, mainstream newspapers and media outlets that describe Ayaan as an “Islam critic” and “feminist” need to stop abetting mendacity, be honest and answer the following questions:

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that “we are at war with Islam?

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that “Islam must be crushed,” in “all forms,” including “militarily?”

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that the US Constitution should be changed specifically to discriminate against Muslims, strip them of their civil rights? “Abolish Muslim schools?”

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that the veil should be banned in France and minarets in Switzerland?

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that the “silence of the Left-wing” is responsible for the heinous mass murders by Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik (who thought Ayaan deserved a “Noble Prize”)?

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that Atheists and Christians must get “into the business of conversion?

These are only a few of the questions that supporters of Ayaan must answer or they are complicit in her beliefs and stand accused of their silence being their assent.

The last point I want to revisit is that there is an assumption by Neo-Con and Liberal supporters of Ayaan that she is a “women’s rights” activist and champion. What exactly has she done for women’s rights? Who has she helped?

The truth is that Ayaan actually uses serious issues around injustices in the Muslim world to promote herself (much like Clarion Fund has done with Honor Diaries). Her supporters see a self-affirming image, one that validates their beliefs: atheism, the backwardness, barbarity and danger of Islam and Muslims.

As Muslim/Islam bashers continue to blindly support Ayaan’s hatred, heroic Muslim women and their allies (including, gasp! many Muslim men) continue to challenge the injustices before them in their nations and locales. Whether it is the work of Ifrah Ahmed to end FGMAsma Hanif of Muslimat an Nisa‘s work with homeless and battered women, or organizations likeBAOBAB in Nigeria that promote women’s rights within a customary, statutory and religious law paradigm.

Also read:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an Islamophobe who hates all muslims

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the Challenge of Progressive Critique

Islamismism: Hirsi, Berman and Ramadan on Islam

 

U.S. Islamophobes stand by Wilders as his own party members defect

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U.S. Islamophobes stand by Wilders as his own party members defect

(Imagine 2050)

Dutch politician Geert Wilders has once again become the subject of controversy after he led supporters in an anti-Moroccan chant during a campaign rally last month. Despite the mass condemnation he has received for the remarks, Wilders’ anti-Muslim counterparts in the United States are standing by his draconian approach to immigration.

While at the rally in The Hague, Wilders, who heads the Party for Freedom (PVV), asked the crowd: “Do you want in this city more or fewer Moroccans?” to which they chanted, “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!”

“We’ll take care of that,” he responded with a wry smile.

Wilders later defended his comments and outlined his party’s plans to uphold his promise by “limiting immigration from Islamic countries, including Morocco” and promoting “re-emigration.” Wilders also plans on “deporting criminal Moroccans by revoking their Dutch passports” — as well as their dual-citizenship — and “sending them back to their country of their nationality.”

However, many PVV members believe Wilders has gone too far with his latest spectacle, and has led to a crisis within its ranks. Many have chosen to resign and disassociate themselves from the party, including Laurence Stassen who represents PVV in the European Parliament. “I deeply regret having to take this decision, but staying in my function was not an option after these comments,” she said in a statement.

Despite the mass exodus from his own party, anti-Muslim activists in the United States continue to uphold Wilders as a symbol of resistance against the devastation they believe will come as a result of an increased Muslim population:

  • Longtime anti-Muslim activist Daniel Pipes said although he didn’t agree with Wilders’ tactics, he sympathized with his goal of curbing immigration. “It is entirely understandable that the indigenous peoples of a country feel stress when large numbers of immigrants from an alien civilization, more than a few of them hostile, move in,” he said on his website.
  • Frank Gaffney took to his radio show to say Wilders is representing the “free world.” During the show, Gaffney described PVV’s policy as being a subscript for “describing the affliction that immigration, some of it illegal, has represented for a country like the Netherlands.”
  • Islamphobic columnist Diana West joined Gaffney on his show and took issue with the negative media coverage Wilders has received. She implied she saw nothing wrong with his comments because “Moroccans top the charts in criminality” as well as in “social dependence.” In another column at the Columbia Daily Herald, West defended Wilders anti-immigrant stance by posing the question: “Is it ‘racism’ to oppose the demographic obliteration of a nation clearly underway?”
  • David Horowitz Freedom Center fellow Bruce Bawer also defended Wilders at FrontPage Magazine. He said he doesn’t see him as a “bigot,” but instead as “the real thing: a brave, selfless man determined to steer the ship of state through turbulent waters safely into port.” He added: “The Dutch would be fools to throw him overboard.”

Wilders’ latest diatribe is rooted in an anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim platform that has made him one of the most prominent figures of the global Islamophobia movement. He has previously advocated against the construction of any new mosques in the Netherlands, claiming they are a “symbol of an ideology of hatred, violence and oppression.” He has also equated the Qur’an to Mein Kampf. Wilders spent the summer forming a new political alliance with France’s far-Right National Front party leader, Marine Le Pen. Their goal is to take on the European Parliament this year. Both parties blame immigration and multiculturalism for Europe’s economic malaise and supposed loss of identity.

Even at a time when Wilders’ own party is trying to distance themselves from his extreme rhetoric, those in the broader anti-Muslim movement continue to show their unwavering support for him.

Robert James Talbot: Texas terrorist was a fan of Pamela Geller

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FBI smashes alleged radical-right terror plot in Texas – US media show little interest

FBI agents in Texas have arrested a man who allegedly was plotting to use C-4 explosives and weapons to kill police officers, rob banks and armored cars, and blow up government buildings and mosques, authorities announced today.

Robert James Talbot Jr., 38, of Katy, Texas, was arrested Thursday on federal charges of attempted interference with commerce by robbery, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and possession of an explosive material, the FBI said.

After setting up a Facebook page called American Insurgent Movement (AIM), Talbot allegedly sought to recruit five or six like-minded people who wanted “to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.” He wrote this year on the AIM page that he was seeking people interested in “walking away from your life … to stop the regime.”

The crimes Talbot was plotting to carry out – detailed in a six-page criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Texas – sound eerily similar to a series of terrorist attacks carried out 30 years ago by members of an infamous neo-Nazi group called The Order, also known as the Silent Brotherhood (or Brüders Schweigen in German). There’s just one big difference: Talbot talked about some of his planned crimes on Facebook, the complaint says, while The Order committed murders, robbed armored cars, and carried out a number of other attacks.

Talbot was expected to be held without bond as a flight risk and danger to the community after an initial appearance today before a U.S. magistrate judge in Houston.

Court documents say the FBI opened an investigation into Talbot’s activities last August after learning of his desire to recruit others for terror attacks. The “like-minded” individuals he initially attracted worked for the FBI, it turns out. The FBI used a confidential informant and two undercover FBI agents assigned to the agency’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

On Oct. 18, 2013, the complaint says, Talbot asked his new recruits about their willingness to walk away from their current employment and join him in robbing banks to fund the revolution he envisioned. Talbot posted on Facebook that he had gone to four Bank of America branches to “play observation.” Talbot allegedly urged “anyone who robs these banks to kill everyone working for the ‘banking Cartels’ during the heist.”

Talbot’s Facebook post continued: “That is exactly what I will have my men do during the heist. Same goes with the Muslims. Mosques are to be a blast! With three of my guys with FA [full automatic] AK’s [AK-47 semi-automatic rifles], we will send that white house worthless piece of dirt and his Muslim brotherhood a message they will never forget.”

Southern Poverty Law Centre, 28 March 2014

See also Robyn Pennacchia, “So, did you guys hear we caught a terrorist last week?”,Death and Taxes, 31 March 2014


As was the case with Anders Breivik, Talbot’s hatred of Muslims appears to have been inspired by the likes of Pamela Geller:

AIM takes inspiration from Geller

The return of ‘puppy jihad’

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The return of ‘puppy jihad’

You may remember from last year the laughable story about the Muslim Brotherhood using puppies as weapons by dousing them in petrol, setting them on fire and then throwing them at the Egyptian army. Both Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller reduced themselves to objects of ridicule by taking that nonsense seriously.

Well, apparently this form of urban warfare has caught on elsewhere. Under the headline “Puppy jihad: New levels of cruelty reached by Muslims in Jerusalem”, Geller reports that Palestinians in the West Bank town of Abu Dis have attacked an Israeli police patrol by throwing four puppies at them, resulting in the death of the animals so callously used as missiles.

Quite what military advantage the perpetrators hoped to gain from their action is unclear, as in this case the puppies weren’t even set alight. But according to the report reproduced by Geller, Palestinians now prefer to throw soft, furry animals rather than rocks at Israeli state forces.

Geller happily repeats this story, which originates on a Facebook page rather than the Israeli press, while quoting the same hadiths that Spencer used to explain the first case of “puppy jihad”. In the present case, Spencer has so far failed to endorse the report. Perhaps he reasons that, having made a laughing stock of himself once, there’s no point doing so a second time.