(See Update I, II, and III below)
It has now been unearthed that the NYPD has been using racial profiling to illegally target the American Muslim community, spying on Muslim students without reason or warrant. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York, was questioned yesterday about this unethical practice; he defended it using the typical, disgusting, and morally repugnant justifications that have become so commonplace in our national discourse thanks to the War
on of Terror. (Here is an article documenting Mayor Bloomberg’s response.)
Bloomberg ominously warned journalists: ”You are not going to survive. You will not be able to be a journalist and write what you want to say if the people who want to take away your freedoms are allowed to succeed.”
This cowardly fear-mongering has long been used by authorities to strip citizens of their rights: They are going to get you, unless you surrender your basic civil rights!
Actually, I should clarify that statement; it should read: They are going to get you, unless you surrender the basic civil rights of those dark-skinned, foreign-looking Moozlums!
Sadly, most Americans succumb to this alarmist rhetoric, readily surrendering what is not theirs to give away to begin with: the Constitutional rights of our nation’s most vulnerable minority.
We have to keep this country safe. This is a dangerous place. Make no mistake about it. It’s very cute to go and to blame everybody and say we should stay away from…[policies like] intelligence gathering. The job of our law enforcement is to make sure that they prevent things and you only do that by being proactive.
A dangerous place? In fact, those big bad Islamic terrorists have killed zero civilians in the United States since 9/11, which was over a decade ago. A similar situation exists in Europe, with Europol’s annual terrorism reports showing zero civilian deaths from Islamic terrorism in the last half decade (which is as far back as the annual terrorism reports go). Quite simply, as an American I have a higher chance of being struck by and killed by lightning–or of being killed by peanuts–than of being killed by Islamic terrorists. No amount of fear-mongering, alarmist propaganda, and Islamophobic rhetoric can overcome this simple fact, which is why it bears repetition:
In the past decade, zero civilians have been killed in this country by Islamic terrorists.
Therefore, it is a boldfaced lie to claim that the threat of terrorism is so grave and ominous that we must resort to such illegal and unethical tactics to Keep Us Safe.
Bloomberg regurgitates the standard nationalistic myth, saying:
Remind yourself when you turn off the light tonight, you have your job because there are young men and women who have been giving their lives overseas for the last 200 plus years so that we would have freedom of the press. And we go after the terrorists. We are going to continue to do that and the same thing is true for the people that work on the streets of our cities.
This “argument” is often used to quell debate and stifle criticism: “[our] young men and women have been giving their lives overseas for the last 200 plus years so that we would have freedom of the press.” This argument, steeped in uber-patriotism and drenched in nationalistic propaganda, is intended to fly over rational debate (what does the “giving [of] lives overseas for the last 200 plus years” have anything to do with “freedom of the press”?), and tap into our basest emotions: anyone who dares reject this argument by pointing out that it is not just a non-sequitur but patently false runs the risk of being accused of lack of patriotism and of being “un-American”.
This is so, as I wrote earlier, because the military is our country’s most sacred institution:
The military is our national religion, its soldiers are our holy warriors, the Navy Seals are our highest religious order, those soldiers who died in war are our martyrs, 9/11 was our Karbala, Patriot Day is our annual holy day, the flag is our holy book and symbol, Osama bin Laden is Lucifer, Terrorism is the greatest Evil, supporting the troops is our greatest religious obligation, and failure to do so is the greatest blasphemy and the highest of sins.
It is true that our military has been waging wars (of aggression) “overseas for the last 200 plus years”, as I documented in another article of mine: “We’re at War!” — And We Have Been Since 1776: 214 Years of American War-Making. But, this is hardly something to be proud of…and these wars had nothing to do with “freedom of the press”–most of them had everything to do with spreading American hegemony and usurping the resources of other peoples (and in doing so, stripping them of their most basic civil liberties).
Sanford Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas, writes: “It is difficult to read our constitutional history … without believing that the Constitution is often reduced at best to a whisper during times of war.”
The First Amendment is no exception. Attorney Michael Linfield, author of Freedom Under Fire: U.S. Civil Liberties in Times of War, writes: “Rather than being an exception, war-era violations of civil liberties in the United States are the accepted norm for our government.”
The article goes on to mention numerous instances in American history when civil liberties (including freedom of the press) were stripped by the government during wartime. The War
on of Terror is certainly no exception.
I hesitate closing this article with the standard meme of “it is un-American to curtail civil liberties”, but after second thought, I will save my readers from this trite, mythical, and nationalistic mantra. As our military history will attest to, it is actually very, very American to do so, at least when it comes to minorities: racism has beset our nation during most of her many wars, whether it was against American Indians, Hispanics, or Asians. Today’s wars against Arabs/Muslims overseas–and the concomitant stripping away of their human rights both at home and abroad–simply mean staying true to a long-held American tradition.
Mayor Bloomberg affirms the fundamental myth of the War
on of Terror, the idea that we need to wage foreign wars (and in the process curtail civil liberties) in order to stop terrorism. This is a strongly held belief, even though nothing exacerbates the problem of terrorism more than these wars. In fact, our military interventions in the Muslim world are the root cause of terrorism. Targeting the American Muslim community is the wrong solution: the only way to stop terrorism is to end our many wars in the Muslim world. That Americans today failed to realize this simple fact will be looked upon by future generations with amazement.
A reader, Christian-friend, commented:
I don’t see him justifying racial profiling, be more accurate!
From the ACLU’s website:
Racial Profiling: Definition (2005 resource): “Racial Profiling” refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.
Whenever in doubt, substitute “Jewish” for “Muslim” and see if it sounds right, i.e. it would be racial profiling if police targeted Jewish citizens.
The Associated Press released a secret NYPD dossier from 2007, which further diminishes the above reader’s claim that this doesn’t constitute racial profiling. That leaked document reads:
For the purposes of this report, a Location of Concern is defined as follows:
–Localized center of activity for a particular ethnic group.
–Popular hangout or meetup location for a particular ethnic group that provides a forum for listening to neighborhood gossip or otherwise provides an overall feel for the community.
That certainly sounds like racial profiling to me.
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald writes:
…Muslims generally — and, increasingly, American Muslims — are branded with virtually official non-person status under the law. On Monday, I wrote about the way in which core tyrannical powers — arbitrary detention, limitless spying, due-process-free assassinations — have become normalized in the U.S., Israel and its Western allies, but it is almost always Muslims who are the target of these abuses. Every serious episode of civil liberties assaults in American history was driven by the full-scale demonization of one specific group. There are still plenty of groups who perform that function, but there is no question that Muslims are the prime target now.
This is the reason that sites like LoonWatch are so important: we document the targeting and scapegoating of the Muslim community.