Monthly Archives: June 2007

Integration or Assimilation?

Ajmal Masroor, writing in the New Statesman, argues about the distinction between integration versus assimilation. He believes integration is the “bringing together of people of different racial, ethnic or religious groups into unrestricted and equal association, as in society and its associations.” His comments raise questions as to whether or not we Americans have clarified the distinction between the two words. Are we asking newcomers to assimilate or be part of an integrative process?

As the child of Jewish immigrants growing up in the 1930s, I felt the strong pull of assimilation. Some of my friends changed the spelling of their names so they would come across as being more “American.” One can cite examples of famous movie stars like Lauren Bacall or Kirk Douglas who changed their Jewish sounding names to get ahead in Hollywood. I witnessed emotional trauma as several of my friends avoided anything that made them appear to be “Jewish.” Mr. Masroor speaks not merely for Muslims, but for all immigrants in a society who confront issues of how to retain their identity while still being able to equally participate in a society.

Each generation of Americans strives, in one way or another, for assimilation in order to succeed in the world of work. Hopefully, in the 21st century we can realize the importance to the individual and society of retaining our identities as humans and created a society which accepts pluralism.

Canadian Muslim Women Detained at Border

Milgo Noor, a prospective bride, set out with her cousins on a trip to Buffalo to check out her wedding dress. The Canadian women’s car was detained and twelve police men descended on them, handcuffed the females, and subjected them to interrogation while held in solitary cells. When they complained, an American border policeman replied: “You have no rights. You came to us.”

The four women didn’t realize they had a few strikes against them attempting to enter America — they were dark skinned, immigrants from Somalia, and Muslim. After an eight hour ordeal during which they were deprived of even a glass of water or food, the women were dumped back in Canada where border officials told them: “This happens all the time.”

This is America in the year 2007. Ironically, President Bush was giving a speech before an American Muslim group in which he proclaimed his concern for Muslims. The President has created an atmosphere of hysteria so four women are on a trip to get a wedding dress have to be treated like criminals.

Swedish Government Breaks Promises of Female Equality

After the October elections, a new government took office promising that half of all top government jobs would be handled by women. Several months later the figures indicate only 4 of 14 top government positions being handled by a woman.

How about keeping this election promise!

Violence Flares In Iran

Angry Iranians took out their frustrations over the government’s sudden move to ration petrol by torching several gas stations while mobs attacked shops and banks. Although the American media continues portraying President Ahminejad as being immensely popular, the majority of Iranians believe he failed to keep election promises of helping economic development and address large scale unemployment.

The American media insists Iran wants to foster violence in Iraq despite the Iranian government’s support for the Iraq leadership. Our media portrays Iran as a loose cannon seeking to create tensions and disruption. The present Iranian government is losing support of its population, and the last thing on the mind of a president of Iran is getting involved in a war. Perhaps, if the American government toned down its anti-Iran rhetoric and attempted to negotiate in a calm manner, real progress could be achieved. A good first step would be an official American apology for being behind the overthrow of the Mossadegh government in the 1950s and a second step would be to end economic embargoes of Iran. The Iran government right now needs calm and peace, not war.

British Soldier Blasts American Invasion

An experienced British officer wrote the BBC saying the “invasion was illegal, immoral and unwinnable.” He claims this is the “overwhelming feeling of many of my peers.” He also accuses the media’s being embedded with the U.S. Army of resulting in a failure to question “the intentions and continuing effects of the US-led invasion and occupation.”

The media essentially has gotten off very easy considering its failure to objectively analyze the war in Iraq. The media bought into Bush’s statements about WMD as well as the excuses why there was an insurgency in Iraq. One can still read columnists who trot out tired cliches about Iran being responsible for arming and equipping insurgents despite the fact Iran hates al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and most radical Sunni insurgents. Future historians will tear to pieces the American media for its ignorance, its willingness to do anything in order to get an official to say something, and its cowardly attitude toward challenging those in authority who were, and still are, spouting blatant stupidity.

Money For Veterans or Millionaires?

Senator Barry Sanders, a liberal, clashed with Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who headed the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee until Democrats took control of the Senate. Craig opposed proposals by Sanders to increase veteran burial benefits and increase funding for cars equipped to handle handicapped veterans. Craig also opposed a proposal to allow more veterans to receive medical benefits. According to Craig: “I am concerned that if we flood the system and don’t find the funds we are in for consequences.” By the way, Senator Craig voted for Bush tax cuts that benefited millionaires.

Barry Sanders had an appropriate response to Craig and his fellow Republicans: “Before I give tax breaks to Paris Hilton’s parents and other millionaires, I want to make certain we take care of our veterans.”

i wish every American could read this exchange, particularly those who believe Democrats don’t care about our fighting men and women. Republicans never worry about deficits and being able to fund tax cuts, it’s only when the topic shifts to the military or poor people they become concerned about how to fund deficits.

A Salute To A Courageous American

Liam Madden, 22, who is a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, rejected a deal from the Marine Corps to cease his political speeches and opposition to the fighting in Iraq which he terms a “war crime.” The IRR consists of those who completed active duty requirements and are then assigned to the IRR until they have completed 8 years duty. Madden argues that he is a civilian and no longer subject to military regulations so wearing part of his uniform in an anti-war protest was legal.

Madden is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and refuses to keep quiet. In a letter to the board which was to hear his case, he said: “I understand men in your position have their careers to think about, as I’m positive many German Colonels did in 1939.” The ACLU is arguing that once an individual leaves active duty they are no longer bound by military regulations which can govern when a uniform can be worn.

Americans should be proud we have soldiers like Liam Madden. They place country before obedience, an attitude that was not present in the German military during the thirties and forties.

Exhausted Soldier Dies in Iraq

Family members of Pfc Andre Craig, who died Monday in Iraq, blamed his death on being completely exhausted from the strain of fighting. Craig who recently had been home to see his daughter told his godfather, Erik Brown, that conditions in Iraq were deplorable, women were getting raped and the soldiers were physically exhausted. Brown commented: “He was very tired, he was exhausted…They are terrorizing each other(in Iraq) and we have our soldiers in the middle of a civil war.”

Slowly but surely, Republican senators are beginning to grasp what anti-war people have been saying for years — we are trapped in a civil war and must leave. Men and women are being redeployed back to Iraq without sufficient time off to recuperate. The human body can only endure so much stress in fighting. Americans today do not realize that in World War II most soldiers got time off from the front lines on a regular basis in order to maintain their fighting efficiency. Under the Bush “surge” this is not possible. Who knows if exhaustion played a role in the death of Pfc. Craig. We hope not.

Those Who Don’t, Suffer Most

A recent study by the United Nations University in Canada indicates islands will suffer most by climate change even though those areas produce less than 3% of greenhouse gas emissions. If temperatures rise 1 degree per decade and sea levels rise, islands in the Pacific and elsewhere will suffer. Climate changes will also trigger drought and destruction of vital ocean assets like coral.

It continues amazing me how the American people rank at the bottom in how populations fear climate change. We refuse grasping that SUVs and pollution will not go away but will impact the lives of our children and grandchildren. One wonders exactly what it would take to make Americans realize the dangers confronting the world in years ahead as temperatures and sea levels rise. Unfortunately, our blind ignorance will most effect poor people of the world.

American Muslims Confront Mistrust

A new study from the Woodrow Wilson Center argues that despite economic success and general integration within communities, the American Muslim population still remains “largely outside the U.S. mainstream.” Muslims have not yet secured powerful national voices who can connect with the media or become known to the American populace. According to the report, “The climate of suspicion and mistrust and lack of engagement threaten to marginalize and alienate some elements among American Muslims to the point that the danger of radicalization becomes a real possibility.”

There is little doubt American Muslims can be classified as moderates and they have become integrated within their communities. As a group they enjoy high incomes and their children are successful in school. At the same time, the plethora of films depicting Muslims as terrorists does resonate negatively in areas of America where there are few Muslims. The media and continuation imprisonment of Muslims at Guantanamo enable the government to convince many Americans of the presence within the Muslim community of terrorists. If we actually put those prisoners on trial it would show the American people that a significant number are simply innocent victims who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no Muslim terrorist threat in America — it is a political ploy to garner votes and scare people.