Red Meat Straight Outta Ann Coulter’s Rider

by matttbastard

No, just…no:

Even before she opened her mouth for the first of three speeches this week on Canadian soil, American right-wing antagonist Ann Coulter had already scored a victory of sorts.

Coulter, who spoke to an audience of about 800 at the University of Western Ontario on Monday night, received a pre-emptive and private caution about the limits of free speech in Canada from the provost of the University of Ottawa, where she appears Tuesday.

The letter was immediately leaked to select conservative news organizations, with Coulter telling one that the university was “threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech.”

For a strident provocateur who’s speaking on “Political Correctness, Media Bias and Freedom of Speech,” the University of Ottawa warning — however tepid — was pure oxygen for the fire.

Coulter seizes the obvious talking point (gleefully solicited by the groupies at NewsMax):

“The provost of the u. of Ottawa is threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech there on Monday — before I’ve even set foot in the country!”

Look, it’s bad enough that three Canadian campuses (including one in my hometown) have afforded a vile bigot like Coulter a stage to perform her trademark powersuit-wingnut vaudeville routine. But are they also contractually obligated to serve her up a heaping bloody plate of steak tar tar on a goddamn silver platter?

Seriously, way to feed the fucking troll, kids.

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Even in the Age of Obama, Flying While Brown is Still Hazardous

by matttbastard

The more things Change™, the more they stay the same:

Officials ordered nine Muslim passengers, including three young children, off an AirTran flight headed to Orlando from Reagan National Airport yesterday afternoon after two other passengers overheard what they thought was a suspicious remark.

Members of the party, all but one of them U.S.-born citizens who were headed to a religious retreat in Florida, were subsequently cleared for travel by FBI agents who characterized the incident as a misunderstanding, an airport official said. But the passengers said AirTran refused to rebook them, and they had to pay for seats on another carrier secured with help from the FBI.

According to Kashif Irfan, one of the passengers removed from the flight, “five of the six adults in the party are of South Asian descent, and all six are traditionally Muslim in appearance, with the men wearing beards and the women in headscarves.”

Entirely coincidental, I’m sure.

Even so, AirTran went into full spin mode following the incident:

AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson agreed that the incident amounted to a misunderstanding. But he defended AirTran’s handling of the incident, which he said strictly followed federal rules. And he denied any wrongdoing on the airline’s part.

“At the end of the day, people got on and made comments they shouldn’t have made on the airplane, and other people heard them,” Hutcheson said. “Other people heard them, misconstrued them. It just so happened these people were of Muslim faith and appearance. It escalated, it got out of hand and everyone took precautions.”

Yes, it “just so happened” that the people kicked off the plane for making “comments they shouldn’t have made” were scary brown people wearing scary Muslim clothing.

Ahem.

If you buy that load of frozen high-altitude airplane waste , well, I also have some prime TWA stock available for purchase at a fabulous price.

Vanessa @ Feministing isn’t buying:

The fact of the matter is that if “these people” weren’t of Muslim faith and appearance, this wouldn’t have happened.

Gee, ya think?!

Oh, and what were these comments that were so inappropriate that the plane just had to be evacuated and the FBI called in?

CNN:

“The conversation, as we were walking through the plane trying to find our seats, was just about where the safest place in an airplane is,” [Inayet] Sahin said. “We were (discussing whether it was safest to sit near) the wing, or the engine or the back or the front, but that’s it. We didn’t say anything else that would raise any suspicion.”

The conversation did not contain the words “bomb,” “explosion,” “terror” or other words that might have aroused suspicion, [Atif ] Irfan said.

“When we were talking, when we turned around, I noticed a couple of girls kind of snapped their heads,” said Sobia Ijaz, Irfan’s wife. “I kind of thought to myself, ‘Oh, you know, maybe they’re going to say something.‘ It didn’t occur to me that they were going to make it such a big issue.”

Hah–never underestimate the potential overblown idiocy of jittery airline passengers in a full-on post-9/11 ethnic panic state (“ZOMG TERRORISTS IZ GUNNA BLOW UP THE PLANE–LET’S ROLL!!!!1″) Still, I’m rather astounded at how remarkably sanguine the family is about the entire farcical (if infuriating) situation. Can’t say I’d be so reserved if I somehow found myself sitting across from the FBI, all because I dared to inappropriately express completely understandable concerns over flight safety (while being brown, scary and clad in funny-looking religious garb).

But don’t think a lack of righteous outrage means the family is rolling over:

“Really, at the end of the day, we’re not out here looking for money. I’m an attorney. I know how the court system works. We’re basically looking for someone to say… ‘We’re apologizing for treating you as second-class citizens.'”

“We are proud Americans,” Sahin said. “You know we decided to have our children and raise them here. We can very easily go anywhere we want in the world, but you know we love it here and we’re not going to go away, no matter what.”

Aziz said there is a “very strong possibility” he will pursue a civil rights lawsuit.

“I guess it’s just a situation of guilt by association,” Aziz said. “They see one Muslim talking to another Muslim and they automatically assume something wrong is going on.”

Libby Spencer lays out the bottom line:

If we allow ourselves to diminish our humanity and toss our common sense out of fear of terrorism, then [the terrorists have] won without lifting a finger.

Signed. Off.

h/t The Obscure Store and Reading Room

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Amil Khan: “The Obama victory will require follow-up if he is to change perceptions [in the Muslim world].”

by matttbastard

guantanamo

Amil Khan on what Barack Obama’s victory could potentially mean for al-Qaida, the Middle East, and America’s image in the Muslim world:

It’s often overlooked that al-Qaida promises a fairer society. If its support is flagging, it’s because ordinary people have looked at its methods and wondered what sort of state it would run. But the calls for an end to corruption, nepotism and restoration of pride, dignity and self-determination still resound just as they have for more than 100 years through other ideologies.

Al-Qaida’s brand has done well in the past seven years because of America’s mistakes rather than the group’s achievements. By just proving its continued existence, it could assume an image on the streets of Cairo, Casablanca and Karachi as the plucky standard-bearer of Muslim pride. The torture in Abu Ghraib and the detainees in Guantanamo were heaven-sent opportunities to say; “Look! Rule of law? Human rights? All lies. None of that means anything to America.”

[…]

When America starts showing that it can deliver social justice at home, it makes public opinion in the Muslim world wonder whether it can do so abroad. However, the election only produces a window of opportunity for America, and Britain, to make a serious dent in al-Qaida’s rhetoric by proving their commitment to the ideas and principles for which they say they fight. The Obama victory will require follow-up if he is to change perceptions. Closing Guantánamo, as the president-elect has pledged, would be a great start.

Related: More on Obama’s ambiguous plans for the post-Guantanamo era from Cernig, Spattackerman, digby, and Mithras, who asks a salient question that threatens to be lost in the shadows of Camp Justice:

Although Gitmo is large and symbolically important, we reportedly have secret prisons all over the world. Is Obama going to include people being held there for long periods of time in this program?

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Citizenship and Submission

by matttbastard

I’m having trouble reconciling the following with “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”:

France has denied citizenship to a Moroccan woman who wears a burqa on the grounds that her “radical” practice of Islam is incompatible with basic French values such as equality of the sexes.

[…]

The woman, known as Faiza M, is 32, married to a French national and lives east of Paris. She has lived in France since 2000, speaks good French and has three children born in France. Social services reports said she lived in “total submission” to her husband. Her application for French nationality was rejected in 2005 on the grounds of “insufficient assimilation” into France. She appealed, invoking the French constitutional right to religious freedom and saying that she had never sought to challenge the fundamental values of France. But last month the Council of State, France’s highest administrative body, upheld the ruling.

“She has adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes,” it said.

The article goes on to explain the Council of State’s definition of ‘radical’:

The legal expert who reported to the Council of State said the woman’s interviews with social services revealed that “she lives almost as a recluse, isolated from French society”.

The report said: “She has no idea about the secular state or the right to vote. She lives in total submission to her male relatives. She seems to find this normal and the idea of challenging it has never crossed her mind.”

The woman had said she was not veiled when she lived in Morocco and had worn the burqa since arriving in France at the request of her husband. She said she wore it more from habit than conviction.

Someone who adheres to a non-mainstream religious practice “out of habit” rather than “conviction” doesn’t strike me as all that “radical”.

Daniele Lochak, a law professor not involved in the case, said it was bizarre to consider that excessive submission to men was a reason not to grant citizenship. “If you follow that to its logical conclusion, it means that women whose partners beat them are also not worthy of being French,” he told Le Monde.

I really do find the use of the term “radical” interesting. The connotations are that the practice of Faiza M’s beliefs somehow pose an existential threat to French society, thus the rationale behind the denial of citizenship. And it’s telling that it’s the women who always seems to be the ones who are placed in the position of having to justify their existence (damned if you do, damned if you don’t).

But what about the men to whom she has “submitted”? They are already French citizens, and seem to be facing no consequences for making such “radical” demands upon Faiza in the first place. She has, in effect, been denied agency, reduced to a wayward vessel who deserves to be punished for, in effect, not saying ‘non’ as a ‘real’ Frenchwoman would (except when they don’t, as pointed out in the article). Once again, Muslims–specifically, Muslimahs–who dare to practice their oh-so-freaky religion in ways the majority find distasteful serve as public whipping posts for the sins of the nebulous ‘other’ which, by virtue of mere existence, is apparently chipping away at the structural integrity of the liberal democratic secular state.

And that’s really all I feel comfortable saying at this point, and probably won’t comment further, apart from moderation duties. I would much prefer to hear from women–especially Muslimahs–about what they think and how they feel about this.

Thoughts?

Update: Also see this thread @ BnR started by Chrystal Ocean of Challenging the Commonplace.

Edited at Chrystal’s recommendation (thanks!) to incorporate additional commentary originally posted at BnR/in comments in slightly different form (ie, I corrected some typos)

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21st Century Law Enforcement at its Finest

by matttbastard

Because the presumption of innocence is, like, so September 10th, dude:

The Justice Department is considering letting the FBI investigate Americans without any evidence of wrongdoing, relying instead on a terrorist profile that could single out Muslims, Arabs or other racial and ethnic groups.

Law enforcement officials say the proposed policy would help them do exactly what Congress demanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: Root out terrorists before they strike.

Yes, we all know just how successful the doctrine of prevention has worked out so far–hey, how is that crusade to forcefully spread democracy across the Middle East going?

Currently, FBI agents need specific reasons — like evidence or allegations that a law probably has been violated — to investigate U.S. citizens and legal residents. The new policy, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press, would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious.

Among the factors that could make someone subject of an investigation is travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity, access to weapons or military training, along with the person’s race or ethnicity.

[…]

Critics say the presumption of innocence is lost in the proposal. The FBI will be allowed to begin investigations simply “by assuming that everyone’s a suspect, and then you weed out the innocent,” said Caroline Fredrickson of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Oh, come on. Who needs actual, y’know, specific ‘evidence‘ that illegal activity is occurring, when everybody knows that those swarthy Arabmuslimdarkies (especially the ones who dare to rack up frequent flyer mileage) have pure, undistilled terror flowing through their steely veins 24/7? (What? ‘IRA’ stands for ‘Indo-Republican Army’. Srsly.)

Update: Also see I Need To Calm Down, Threat Level, and, representing the silly side of Blogtopia’s *cough* main street, Tammy “everybody knows” Bruce and Allahpundit, who wonders if we should “[b]e on the lookout for English-speaking caucasians with light-colored eyes“.

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