IRS Sent up a White Flag of surrender on Z Street v Koskinen Case
Source: Dr. Rich Swier eMagazine
IRS Sent up a White Flag of Surrender on the Z Street v. Koskinen case
By Jerry Gordon
Last week, the Internal Revenue Service essentially ran up the white flag of surrender on the strange case of Z-Street, the pro-Israel group. It filed for a 501c3 tax exempt status in 2009 only to become embroiled in a seven year battle over viewpoint discrimination by the IRS in violation of the First Amendment All because the Administration didn’t agree with Z-Street views about Israel’s ancient provenance of Judea and Samaria and the right to build settlements there.
As a member of board of Z-Street it consternating founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus and fellow members that the original application had been sent by the Cincinnati tax exempt clearance office to a ‘special unit’ in the IRS headquarters for processing only to be blocked on the specious grounds that Israel was a country where “terrorism” occurred. Duh! Z-Street and other conservative tax exempt filers like Tea Party groups had been similarly blocked because of their views. Z Street was aroused to file an original viewpoint discrimination case in the Philadelphia federal district court in 2010 subsequently referred to the Washington, DC district court where the IRS engaged in delaying tactics after the lower court granted discovery. An appeal in the matter of Z Street v Koskinen was brought by Z Street counsel Jerome Marcus, Esq. that resulted in a decision by the DC appellate circuit court in June 2015 clearing the way for discovery ;” DC Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms pro-Israel Group Z Street Case against IRS .”
A Wall Street Journal article on August 5, 2016, “The Dissembling IRS”, on the background and status of the Z Street case against the IRS noted what discovery revealed following the appellate court ruling:
The IRS has maintained that Z Street’s application was flagged because the group might be working with organizations inside Israel. IRS Exempt Organizations Determinations Group manager Jon Waddell denied that there was an Israel special policy and said in a December 2010 sworn declaration in federal court in Pennsylvania that flagging Z Street was “appropriate” because “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of terrorism.’”
That’s hilarious, since Z Street supports a country targeted by terrorism. But it also is untrue, which the Administration apparently knew before Mr. Waddell gave his statement to the court. In an October 25, 2010 internal IRS memo on the Z Street case produced in discovery, the IRS acknowledged that when Z Street’s application was being scrutinized Israel wasn’t on the list of terrorist countries, and that an agent may have been using an outdated list.
Discovery has also revealed documents that show the IRS made early attempts to shield and obfuscate its special Israel policy. In a November 29, 2010 email, IRS deputy commissioner Steven Miller asked IRS employee Sarah Ingram about “an article on a letter we apparently sent to an org on Israel settlements. What can you tell me?” Ms. Ingram replied that she “Just told Ruth to pull me out when you have a minute. Not doing email on this.”
There are other emails on the subject that have been produced in discovery but redacted to the point that they are unreadable. The IRS is blocking them on grounds that the documents are protected by so-called deliberative process privilege. But that privilege was created to safeguard internal government deliberations not to prevent the public from getting information about government wrongdoing.
The IRS wants to stonewall evidence production until the clock runs out on the Obama Administration on January 20. Let’s hope the courts keep the pressure on the agency so Z Street can see how and why it was mistreated for partisan purposes.
As Jonathan Tobin noted in a Commentary Magazine article, published today, the IRS suddenly last week after another federal court ruling issued a host of conservative groups and Z Street their long awaited 501 c3 tax exemption, without explanation, “The IRS Scandal Still Matters.” Tobin reported:
Many of these small groups often affiliated with the Tea Party movement have now been granted the designation they needed to begin fundraising. Among them was Z Street, a pro-Israel group whose tax exemption request dated back to 2010 [2009/LLM]. While the resolution seems to be satisfactory, the result is actually anything but. Rather than a belated triumph for justice, what has happened here is quite the opposite.
Though the Z Street litigation preceded the general outrage about the revelations about the IRS’s discrimination broke in the spring of 2013, it opened a window into the way the supposedly apolitical tax agency operated. IRS personnel didn’t just make Z Street jump through hoops unknown to groups that were not associated with causes opposed by the Obama administration. An IRS agent specifically told Z Street founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus that the government gave “special scrutiny” not only to pro-Israel organizations but also to those that advocated views that “contradict those of the administration’s.”
Though the government fought a long battle to prevent Z Street—which is sympathetic to Israel’s settlement movement—from suing to recover its rights, the courts consistently upheld its right to do so. But thanks to a separate court ruling, the IRS has now waved the white flag on this case and dozens of others that all involved agents opposing or stalling requests from non-profits similarly linked to positions that were not favored by President Obama.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus replied in an email:
We filed for tax exemption nearly seven years ago. The IRS stymied us, delayed and demurred through the litigation, and now, while we are finally in the discovery process, fearing the truth will come out, it just last week gave us tax exempt status - never having asked us a single question about the alleged reason for sidelining our application. More outrageousness from this Administration. Yet another effort to hide the truth and evade justice.
Not lost on us is the Administration has other plans afoot. According to Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President for Research at the Washington, DC-based foundation for Defense of Democracies who said in a WSJ Opinion Journal interview on October 27, 2016, the Obama White House is contemplating six options for punishing Israel. See: “Obama Plans to Recognize Palestine.” One of them is a possible UN Security Council Resolution declared ‘settlements’ illegal.
There are days when you wonder whether this Administration understands its obligation to administration of fair justice for the protection of both its citizens and its allies, in this case, Israel. Now in the wake of the latest IRS move in the saga of Z Street, you have the answer. They don’t when it doesn’t suit their nefarious purposes.
What indeed? We humans are so time-bound: trapped in Past-Present-Future. The Future is not here yet but will be when this fraction of a second we call the Present passes into the Past. When we wonder what will be we are not reflecting on what is at this vanishing present second: we are wondering how different or similar things will be compared to what has been. Which means most of our conscious life is about the Past, the longest thing we have. To an extraordinary degree, then, My Life is my Memories. more>>>
We need to stop saying Islam is a religion of peace and love ~ Zineb El Rhazoui
Zineb El Rhazoui, who was luckily in Casablanca the day Islamic State jihadis massacred nine of her magazine colleagues in Paris, said the Islamism of today is “applied Islam” which gives way to terrorism.
The outspoken Moroccan/French journalist is carrying on the work of her beloved friends by speaking out against extremism despite being France’s most protected woman, with state-provided armed guards protecting her 24 hours a day.
Writing in her controversial new book, Detruire Le Fascisme Islamique (Destroy Islamic Fascism), released in France this week, she said: “When we apply Islam to the letter it gives Islamism, and when we apply Islamism to the letter it gives terrorism. So we need to stop saying Islam is a religion of peace and love. What is a moderate Islamist? An Islamist who doesn’t kill?"
The 34-year-old’s book is dedicated to “Muslim atheists” as she hits out at the archaic application of Islam by terrorists who imitate the first Salafists or “pious ancestors”
She also spoke in Arabic to the Arab press and feels it is her duty to remain in the city which caused her so much horror and to be a strong critic of Islam - a religion she grew up with.
Ms El Rhazoui, who describes herself as an “atheist of Muslim culture” told the New York Times’ Women in the World section: “I don’t have the right to renounce my struggle, or to give up my freedom. If the French state protects me it is not little individual me: What is being protected is my freedom to be irreverent, and freedom of expression, so I should exercise this even more because I enjoy this protection....
I have done nothing against the law and have nothing to hide, yet I live with security while those who threaten us are free. And if you call them by their names you are Islamophobic and racist. I am racist? "
...she says as a woman who was born and lived in Islamic Morocco and lives in France, she has the right to criticise religion despite the “dictatorship of Islamophobia which says I have no right to criticise!”.
She added: “If we criticise Christianity it doesn’t mean we are Christianophobes or racist towards the ‘Christian race’. You can no longer speak about Islam without saying it’s a religion of peace and love.
But when you open any book in Islam what do you find? Violence, blood, oppression of women and hate for other religions. .. Islam has .. accepted that the freedom of men and women is superior to it, Islam will not be acceptable.”
A prominent sharia court has been accused of “sabotaging” criminal proceedings to protect alleged perpetrators of domestic violence against women.
The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (Mat) in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, is one of the most influential of about 80 Islamic “councils” in Britain.
It rules on disputes within Muslim communities and says on its website that it can make submissions to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to “reconsider” criminal charges against men accused of assaulting their partners.
But Southall Black Sisters, a women's rights group, argues that Mat is effectively 'sabotaging criminal proceedings' against men accused of domestic violence by asking the CPS to 'reconsider' any charges.
In a statement, the group wrote: 'The Mat, for example, actively involves itself in criminal proceedings on domestic violence, despite stating that it is unable to deal with criminal offences. It uses its position of power to persuade the CPS to drop charges and to encourage women to reconcile with abusive partners without reference to court orders they may already have or to risk assessments and safety planning.'
Sharia councils and the Mat hold themselves out to be ‘courts of law’ but they are in fact highly arbitrary decision making forums that use dominant, patriarchal and authoritarian interpretations of Muslim codes which are passed off as ‘sharia’ laws.'
The Sunday Times reported in 2008 that the tribunal had intervened in six cases of domestic violence. It ordered the men to take anger management classes and undergo mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment. In each case the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police.
Lord Macdonald, former director of public prosecutions, told The Sunday Times: 'When a formal criminal charge is laid it is not appropriate for an extrajudicial institution to bring the victim and her alleged attacker together to seek a 'resolution' beyond the control of the UK courts and certainly not where that institution itself has a questionable approach to the rights of women and to their supposed place in society.'
Isil claimed responsibility for a "lone wolf" knife attack in Hamburg on October 16 which left a teenager dead, the Isil-affiliated news agency Amaq reported.
The jihadist group claimed the act of terrorism was in response to its calls to target civilians of coalition countries involved in Iraq and Syria airstrikes. "A soldier of the Islamic State stabbed two individuals in Hamburg city on the 16th of this month," the release said, in response to "calls to target the citizens of coalition countries" that are fighting Isil in Iraq and Syria.
Hamburg police reported a knife attack on the banks of the Alster river on October 16. In the incident, an unknown male assailant attacked two teenagers sitting under a bridge on the banks of Hamburg's Alster lake from behind, repeatedly stabbing a 16-year-old boy, who later died of his injuries, and pushing a 15-year-old girl into the water. She was rescued uninjured.
The claim carried by Aamaq, which is commonly used by "Islamic State" (IS) for this purpose, asserted, however, that two people were knifed in the attack.
Police never found the attacker, described as aged 23-25 and of "southern" appearance. "The motive for the crime is unknown and the subject of further investigation," the October 17 police statement said.
I don't know how widespread reports were of the original attack but I missed them.
Ever since 9/11, mosques and “Islamic centers” have been conducting campaigns of determined “outreach” to non-Muslims. The point of this “outreach” is to present Islam as the least threatening of faiths, one which has been too often misunderstood and its adherents unfairly maligned, and those adherents are only too glad to clear up misconceptions about their faith. One such gathering was held on September 16 at the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, Massachusetts, billed as “Meet Your Muslim Neighbors.”
The first “misconception” that the Muslim hosts thought needed to be cleared up had to do with how long Muslims have been in America. “People think that Muslims have just come here to this country,” said Shaheen Akhtar, who is an “interfaith liaison” and runs an “interfaith book club” at the Center. She told her audience that Jefferson and John Adams had both owned copies of the Qur’an. Her implication was clear: these men took a sympathetic interest in Islam. She even described Jefferson as “advocating for the rights of the practitioners of the faith.” This implies special pleading on his part for Islam. What Jefferson actually did was “advocate” for the principle of religious freedom in general, and famously quoted a line from John Locke’s 1698 A Letter Concerning Religious Toleration: “neither Pagan nor Mahamedan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.”
However, there were those whom Locke expressly excluded from toleration, and applying his own criteria, Muslims might well have been among them.
Dr. Dave Miller has noted that in a section of ALetter Concerning Toleration dealing with those whom a civil magistrate “cannot” tolerate, Locke lists the following (page numbers refer to the 1796 edition of Locke’s Letter):Those whose religious opinions are contrary to “those moral rules which are necessary to the preservation of civil society” (1796, p. 53);
The religion that “teaches expressly and openly, that men are not obliged to keep their promise” (p. 54);
“[T]hose that will not own and teach the duty of tolerating all men in matters of mere religion…and that they only ask leave to be tolerated by the magistrate so long, until they find themselves strong enough to [seize the government]” (p. 55);
All those who see themselves as having allegiance to another civil authority (p. 56). Specifically, Locke gives the example of the Muslim who lives among Christians and would have difficulty submitting to the government of a “Christian nation” when he comes from a Muslim country where the civil magistrate was also the religious authority. Locke notes that such a person would have grave difficulty serving as a soldier in his adopted nation (cf. the 2009 Fort Hood shooting spree by a Muslim soldier who shouted, “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire, killing 13 and wounding 32; see Stewart, 2010).
“[T]hose are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God” (p. 56).
#1-#4 would all seem to disqualify Islam from such toleration.
But what did those visitors to the Islamic Center know about Jefferson’s reliance on Locke, and Locke’s criteria, that would have excluded Islam from “toleration”? And what did they know about, what could they reasonably conclude, from the Qur’ans owned by Jefferson and Adams?
Both Jefferson and Adams were intellectually voracious; they were curious about Islam, as they were curious about so many things; curiosity is not endorsement. Jefferson purchased his Qur’an, translated by the English lawyer and Orientalist George Sale, in 1765. Later, dealing with the problem of the Barbary Pirates, the North African Muslims who attacked Christian shipping and Christian sailors (and enormous sums were being spent by the young Republic to buy off these Muslim marauders), Jefferson, along with John Adams, met with the Tripolitanian envoy Sidi Haji Abdrahaman in London in 1786. Perhaps reading the Qur’an helped Jefferson to understand the motivations of this unexpected enemy; certainly by the time he became President in 1801, he was determined not to negotiate with the Barbary Pirates, but to implacably oppose with force these Muslims whom, he knew, were permanently hostile to all non-Muslims.
In London, Jefferson and Adams had queried the Tripolitanian ambassador”concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury” for the Americans had done nothing to deserve being attacked, and the ambassador replied, as Jefferson reported:
It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.
And later, Jefferson reported to Secretary of State John Jay and to Congress at greater length:
The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.
These reports do not sound as if they came from someone who thought well of Islam. The more dealings Jefferson had with the representatives of the Barbary states, and the more he studied the tenets of the faith, the more he began to grasp the aggressive nature of Islam, the centrality of Jihad, the inculcation of permanent hostility toward non-Muslims, and the heavenly reward for Jihadis slain in battle.
As for John Adams, his owning a Qur’an did not signify an endorsement of Islam. While Jefferson’s Qur’an was that translated by George Sale, the Qur’an that Adams owned was translated by the Sieur de Ryer in 1647 into French, and from that an English translation appeared in 1649, and then published in the United States in 1806. And that edition of the “Alcoran of Mahomet” is prefaced by this: “This book is a long conference of God, the angels, and Mahomet, which that false prophet very grossly invented; sometimes he introduceth God, who speaketh to him, and teacheth him his law, then an angel, among the prophets, and frequently maketh God to speak in the plural. … Thou wilt wonder that such absurdities have infected the best part of the world, and wilt avouch, that the knowledge of what is contained in this book, will render that law contemptible.”
On July 16, 1814, in a letter to Jefferson, John Adams described the Muslim prophet Muhammad as one of those (he listed others as well) who could rightly be considered a “military fanatic,” one who “denies that laws were made for him; he arrogates everything to himself by force of arms.” Adams is nowhere on record as praising any aspect of Islam, nor even “advocating” its toleration.
Visitors to the Islamic Center of Boston were told only that Adams and Jefferson both owned Qur’ans, and that Jefferson “advocated” for Islam. They were not told what Jefferson and John Adams themselves had concluded about Islam and Muhammad (see above), or what their experience of dealing with Muslim powers had been, for that might have given those visitors pause.
And they were certainly not told that another American president, the formidable scholar John Quincy Adams, had studied the Qur’an, and the history of Islamic conquest, more thoroughly than any of our presidents before or since, and even felt impelled, from his study of both Islamic texts and of the history of Islamic conquest, to write a longer work on Islam. Here is some of what he wrote:
He [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.
In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar [i.e., Muhammad], the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE [Adam’s capital letters]….Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. The war is yet flagrant…While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men.”
As the essential principle of his faith is the subjugation of others by the sword; it is only by force, that his false doctrines can be dispelled, and his power annihilated. They [The Russians — J. Q. Adams was here discussing the endless war of the Russians] have been from time immemorial, in a state of almost perpetual war with the Tatars, and with their successors, the Ottoman conquerors of Constantinople. It were an idle waste of time to trace the causes of each renewal of hostilities, during a succession of several centuries. The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force. Of Mahometan good faith, we have had memorable examples ourselves. When our gallant [Stephen] Decatur had chastised the pirate of Algiers, till he was ready to renounce his claim of tribute from the United States, he signed a treaty to that effect: but the treaty was drawn up in the Arabic language, as well as in our own; and our negotiators, unacquainted with the language of the Koran, signed the copies of the treaty, in both languages, not imagining that there was any difference between them. Within a year the Dey demands, under penalty of the renewal of the war, an indemnity in money for the frigate taken by Decatur; our Consul demands the foundation of this pretension; and the Arabic copy of the treaty, signed by himself is produced, with an article stipulating the indemnity, foisted into it, in direct opposition to the treaty as it had been concluded. The arrival of Chauncey, with a squadron before Algiers, silenced the fraudulent claim of the Dey, and he signed a new treaty in which it was abandoned; but he disdained to conceal his intentions; my power, said he, has been wrested from my hands; draw ye the treaty at your pleasure, and I will sign it; but beware of the moment, when I shall recover my power, for with that moment, your treaty shall be waste paper. He avowed what they always practised, and would without scruple have practised himself. Such is the spirit, which governs the hearts of men, to whom treachery and violence are taught as principles of religion.
Clearly, neither Jefferson, nor John Adams, nor his son John Quincy Adams had anything good to say about Islam. Indeed were they to utter such sentiments today they would most likely be declared “right-wing islamophobes” and consigned to the outer darkness. But the visitors to the Islamic Center were deliberately left with the impression that Jefferson and Adams were defenders, not detractors, of Islam.
The Islamic Center “has long prided itself on its interfaith services,” but what does that mean? Does it mean that non-Muslims can watch, or even participate in, the regular Muslim services? Or does it have to do with charity? Mention is made of “resources for homeless families.” Ordinarily, zakat (charitable giving), many Muslim websites insist, should be limited to fellow Muslims, but if it is given to non-Muslims, it can be justified as helping to “promote Islam” by burnishing its image. It is too bad that the “moderate voices” that Shaheed Akhtar says “need to be heard” did not openly discuss this matter with their guests. They might have said, for example, “you know, there are Muslims who believe that the recipients of zakat can only be other Muslims but we, the moderates, disagree.” That would have won points, but would also have required, however, the admission that many Muslims think otherwise.
Adil Najam, a Pakistani American, gave a presentation about “the experience of being a Muslim in America.” He has himself led a charmed academic life, and is now that appetizing thing, a full professor and Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. How unfair it was, he smilingly implied, when he appeared on a TV news show after 9/11/2001 and was unpleasantly introduced as an “expert on hate” because he was a Muslim, at the very time when, Najam said, “everyone was talking about why they hate us.” Muslims should be seen as not experts on, but victims of hate, when they wish only, joked Najam, to someday become regarded as “experts on love.” Muslim love for non-Muslims, reciprocal non-Muslim love for Muslims, the promise of a Peaceable Kingdom if only the Islamophobes could be silenced, what a comforting prospect..
Along with attempts to enroll the Founding Fathers in the campaign to burnish Islam’s image, Muslims, and not just in CAIR, like both to backdate and exaggerate the Muslim presence in America. Broad claims have been made for an early Muslim presence. Najam did not disappoint, for he stated, almost offhandedly and, without reference to any supporting evidence, that “around 30 percent of the slaves brought over to the United States were Muslim.” No such certainty exists among those who have researched the question of slaves who were Muslim; figures range from 5% to 10% to 15% to the fantastic figure of 30%. Najam chose not to discuss the complexity of the issue, but plucked out of the air the highest figure that anyone has ever mentioned, 30%, and presented it as indisputable fact. He did not discuss another aspect of this matter, which is that even those slaves who came as Muslims found it impossible to keep up the observance of Islam and within a few generations, as Syviane Diouf has pointed out, the observance of Islam practically, and swiftly, died out: “Islam as brought by the African slaves has not survived….in the Americas and the Caribbean, not one community currently practices Islam as passed on by preceding African generations.” The absence of Qur’ans, madrasas, mosques, and the pressure to convert to Christianity, all contributed to this rapid disappearance of Islam.
Adil Najam wanted to convey to his non-Muslim audience the challenge of being a Muslim in America, and the “difficult conversations” so many of them had to have with their children. “How do you explain to your child that someone who has a name like his, someone who claims to be from the religion that he has grown up in, would do a horrible thing”? Notice how Najam suggests by sleight of word that anyone who “would do a horrible thing” (a terrorist attack) only “claims” to be a Muslim, but cannot really be one. And it is the good, kind, peaceful and therefore “authentic” Muslims who are also victims of Islamic terrorism, for it is they who suffer the consequences of the acts of bad (and therefore “false”) Muslims. Yet Najam passes over in silence – does not attempt to explain — the disturbing habit those “false” Muslims have of quoting passages from the Qur’an to justify their every act. Did they make those passages up?
Adil Najam isn’t sorry for Muslims alone. He emphasized that non-Muslims also had to have “difficult conversations” with their children, too. What kind of conversations? Perhaps, you are thinking, conversations about safety, because children have learned about Boston and San Bernardino and Fort Hood and Chattanooga and Orlando, and about dozens — or hundreds, or thousands — of other Muslim terrorist attacks, in London and Paris and Brussels and Amsterdam and Madrid and Moscow, in Nigeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Libya. There have been, after all, nearly 30,000 terrorist attacks by Muslims since 9/11/2001. This might naturally cause some anxiety, and not only among children. The heightened security at airports, railroad and bus stations, subways, sports events, concerts, political rallies, any place where large numbers of people gather – all this is in response to, and reminds us constantly of, the threat of Islamic terrorism.
But it’s not reassurances about safety that Adil Najam thinks non-Muslim parents must offer their children. He does not think that the “difficult conversation” non-Muslim parents need to have with their children should be about terrorism, even if it were in the context of an attempt to reassure them, by possibly minimizing the danger. No, the conversation that he thinks non-Muslim parents need to have with their children is not about terrorism at all but should be “about how to deal with Islamophobia, too.”
So the problem for all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, is not the steady stillicide of Muslim attacks on non-Muslims (in this country, in Europe, around the world) but, rather, the attitudes such attacks give rise to among non-Muslims (fear, suspicion, hostility), attitudes that the adil-najams of this world insist on dismissing as the bigotry of “Islamophobia.” Adil Najam was in his element at this Meet Your Muslim Neighbors event, encouraging the belief that any suspicion or hostility felt by non-Muslims reflected a baseless and irrational fear, an “Islamophobia” that we are all supposed to reject as we learn to meet and trust Our Muslim Neighbors. Others might beg to differ, might even argue that it would be irrational, given the observable behavior and attitudes of so many Muslims, not to be exceedingly wary of Islam and its adherents.
The non-Muslim visitors to this “Meet Your Muslim Neighbors” farce were eager to signal their acceptance of Najam’s victimization narrative. “You can’t be a bystander,” said Elizabeth Jonczyk, who was visiting the center with her sister to learn about Islam. “You have a duty to stand up and say, ‘That’s just wrong,’ and that you don’t stand with the people who have this hateful rhetoric.” Music to the ears of CAIR.
One wonders what exactly Ms. Joczcyk learned about Islam during her visit. Whose “hateful rhetoric” was she deploring? Has she been made aware of any “hateful rhetoric” in the Qur’an? Has she glanced at even one of the thousands of Muslim websites spewing “hateful rhetoric”? Or is “hateful rhetoric” what comes only from “right-wing” Islamophobes? Was she made aware, in meeting her Muslim neighbors, of any of the more than 100 Jihad verses in the Qur’an? Did she learn anything about the life of Muhammad? Did she find out – and please pardon the repetition, but these things must be repeated again and again — about as his attack on the Jewish farmers of the Khaybar Oasis, or his marriage to little Aisha when she was six and consummation of that marriage when she was nine? Did she learn of the satisfaction he expressed at the murders of Asma bint Marwan and Abu ‘Afak for mocking him, or his viewing of the beheading of the 600-900 bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza? Did anyone at the Islamic Center let her know that despite all this, Muhammad is considered by Muslims to be the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil), the Model of Conduct (uswa hasana)? Did she find out that Muslims are called the “best of peoples” and non-Muslims the “vilest of creatures” in the Qur’an?
I would bet my bottom dollar she learned none of that from her hosts at “Meet Your Muslim Neighbors.” All she heard was that it is hard for Muslims in this country, for they are so unfairly tarred with the brush of terrorism, when we all know, don’t we, that these attacks by people who “claim” to be Muslims have “nothing to do with Islam.” Yet Muslim parents have to have that “difficult conversation” with their children, in this climate of right-wing hate speech (add any other epithets you like) and Islamophobia, and non-Muslim parents have a similar duty, too, to make sure their own children become aware of this “Islamophobia” phenomenon and are properly immunized against it.
Adil Najam, who grew up in Pakistan, knows what is in the Qur’an and Hadith. He knows perfectly well the Qur’anic verses that call for Jihad, knows the description of non-Muslims in the Qur’an, knows about Aisha and Asma bint Marwan and the Khaybar Oasis and the Banu Qurayza. He knows the significance of the Hadith as a gloss on the Qur’an, perhaps even more disturbing than the Qur’an. But he does not wish to share that knowledge with his trusting non-Muslim guests. He would prefer that whatever they learn about Islam not be anything that might alarm or worry them. And he wants them to think that any anxiety about Islam is merely the result of motiveless malignity, irrational hatred, “Islamophobia.”
What might Adil Najam, Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, and a Professor of More Than One Thing at Boston University, have done differently that Saturday morning at the Islamic Center? He might have said that yes, there are many passages in the Qur’an that call for Jihad against the Infidels. He might have admitted that these passages had proven dangerous to the well-being of all non-Muslims, as over the past 1400 years Muslims had repeatedly shown that they took the duty of Jihad to heart, and had conquered many lands and subjugated many peoples.
Professor Najam might have said that it was up to Muslims, like himself, to own up to the centrality of Jihad in Islam. It was imperative for Muslims, Dean Najam might have argued, “to put Islam back into history,” as Christians and Jews had learned to do with their holy books, instead of treating it as uncreated and immutable. It was up to Muslims, he might have continued, not to try to protect their faith from the prying eyes of Infidels, but to own up to the texts and teachings of Islam in the hope of finding ways to contextualize or re-interpret the offending passages in the Qur’an and Hadith.
Adil Najam might have said that many events in Muhammad’s life were deeply disturbing, and ought to be recognized as such by mainstream Muslims, rather than denied or explained away, and non-Muslims had a perfect right to be alarmed at those events, particularly since Muhammad was regarded by Muslims as “the Perfect Man.” Professor Najam might have said that Muslims should try always to enlighten, and never to mislead, their non-Muslim Neighbors.
Yes, he might have said any of these things, and by now in these paragraphs you have been asked to believe, if my aging abacus is accurate, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast. But if Adil Najam, Professor and Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee Etc., were to say or do even one of the things just suggested, he would not be Adil Najam, but instead be Maajid Nawaz, or Pervez Hoodbhoy, or Ibn Warraq, or Wafa Sultan, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali. And he would then not only have, but would actually deserve, the trust of those who came to Meet Their Muslim Neighbors.
The medical (and legal) consequences of looking at your phone in bed
by Theodore Dalrymple
An extremely interesting little item in the New England Journal of Medicine caught my eye recently, if that is not an unfortunately expression in the circumstances. Two women, aged 22 and 40, were referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital complaining of recurrent transient blindness in one eye, and after a lot of sophisticated tests and investigations that turned up no answers, the neuro-opthalmologists came up with an ingenious and correct explanation.
The two women used to lie in bed with their smartphones looking at the screen: but with only one eye, the other covered by the pillow. The transient blindness always occurred in the eye that had been looking at the screen, not the one buried in the pillow. The blindness lasted for about 15 minutes.
It turned out that the women’s two eyes were differentially adapted, one to the light and the other to the dark. When they stopped looking at the screen and turned off their telephones, their light-adapted eye took time to adapt to the dark and appeared blind by comparison with the one already dark-adapted. Their transient blindness, at first so worrying, was not at all sinister.
This was a very clever explanation and illustrates the value of taking a careful and detailed history from the patient. The first inclination of doctors these days is to put their patients straight into what a physician in my old hospital called ‘the answering machine’ — that is to say a scan into which the patient disappears temporarily, the answer (that is to say, the diagnosis) coming straight out like a sausage from a sausage machine.
Far be it from me to decry scans. I’d want one myself if there were anything wrong with me other than occasional low back pain that a scan would persuade a surgeon to treat surgically, especially if I were a-private patient. No, modern medicine is best.
However, I was not altogether convinced by one statement in the same article. The authors wrote: ‘We present two cases in which careful history taking established a benign cause [of transient monocular loss of vision]. ’
Then, near the end, they say: ‘Smartphones are now used nearly around the clock, and manufacturers are producing screens with increased brightness to offset background ambient luminance and thereby allow easy reading.’
This doesn’t sound all that benign to me, at least in the wider, non-ophthalmological sense. Smartphones in bed! It reminds of the famous line in George Mikes’ book How to Be an Alien: ‘Continentals have sex; the English have hot water bottles.’ Of course times have changed: smartphones have replaced hot water bottles. Is this progress?
I confess that I too have moved with the times and take my phone with me to bed. If I wake in the night I reach out to it straight away and peer at it (always with both eyes, however), though I do not recall a single message that imperatively had to be answered at three in the morning: I am not the kind of person to whom such messages are sent. What, indeed, could such a message be? Yet, like so many people, I labour under a strange compulsion never to be too much out of reach of electronic communication. However much I deplore those foolish and unattractive people in restaurants and trains and libraries and streets who are far more interested in their little screens than what is going on around them, I am only a few degrees removed from them and no doubt would have been one of them had I been born a little later in the 20th century.
How long can it be before the sixth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical-Manual of the American Psychiatric Association discovers (or is it invents?) a new disease; one of Screen Separation Anxiety? Psychiatric disorders are a bit like human rights in that they keep increasing in number all the time and no one knows whether this represents an increase in human knowledge and compassion or an increase in credulity and rent-seeking by certified professions.
Anyhow, it would be easy to list the-criteria for the diagnosis of SSM in the normal manner of the DSM: Severe or incapacitating anxiety on being separated from screens for more than two hours, with at least three of the following: a) Excessive time spent looking at screens (except for work); b) Reduced normal social interaction because of time spent looking at screens; c) Inability to concentrate on anything except a screen; d) Preference for screens over all other activities; e) Anger at suggestions that less time should be spent looking at screens; f) Inability to refrain from looking at screens when one or more is nearby.
AND at least one of the following: 1) Serious interference with social or work performance; 2) Insomnia caused by proximity of screens consulted through the night.
Where DSM leads, tort law soon follows; and judges, with all the credulity of Latin American peasants praying on their knees before miracle-working Virgins, will accept the diagnosis of SSM as bona fide and as veridical as a new species of fish-discovered at a depth of 20,000 feet, simply because it appears in the DSM.
The crucial question in tort law is not who has done wrong, but who has the most money. There is no point in suing someone who is without a bean, however responsible for the alleged injury he may have been. Luckily for victims of SSM, the plausibly responsible defendants are some of the richest organisations in the world, who can easily afford to buy off plaintiffs. It will be easy to show that these organisations are owned or managed by people who send their own-children to private schools where access to computers and mobile telephones in particular are not allowed, and that they were therefore fully aware of the harmful effect on children (and others) of their own products.
It’s not my fault that I look at my emails in the middle of the night; it is time for a touch of class action.
Translated from the Hungarian& Edited by Thomas Ország-Land (November 2016)
ANDRÁS MEZEI (1930-2008), a child survivor of the Hungarian Holocaust, emigrated to Israel after the war but returned to his homeland to research, digest and record in eyewitness poetry the destruction of his family and experiences in the Budapest Ghetto as well as the testimonies of fellow survivors. more>>>
December 16, 2014: Sambisa Forest, Northern Nigeria
“What do you give a man who has everything?” Ibrahim and Yusuf had often asked each other, back and forth, as a sort of game. Their longstanding concern was finding a suitable birthday gift for Abubakar, the leader of Boko Haram. “A silver watch maybe?”more>>>
Every day Max woke up with the sun as it rose over the edge of the sea of dunes that stretched for miles behind his tent. For a few glorious minutes, the trees that lined the struggling oasis stood in sharp black silhouette, the clouds at the horizon burning red and orange behind them. After the sun was up, Max hung his two large canteens over his neck and trudged to the spring in the nearby wadi to fill them. more>>>
Kenneth Goldsmith, Capital: New York, Capital of the 20th Century
Verso, 911 pp., $44.95
I’d like to like Kenneth Goldsmith’s Capital, a brick of a book of short texts about my hometown New York City, its size and form echoing Walter Benjamin’s classic The Arcades Project; but Capital is unreadable. The problem is not the text but its problematic design, which is not just odd but doubly odd for an author who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and has purportedly exhibited his visual art. more>>>