Saturday, August 19, 2006
  Slipping into racism
Two recent news items caught my eye. One item featured a doctor who was required to deplane because his prayers frightened another passenger. The second was about two South Asian men who were speaking what some passengers thought to be Arabic and looking repeatedly at their watches (I know! No one without nefarious motives would look at their watch repeatedly as they waited to board a plane!) The passengers in this second case "mutinied" -- some refused to board or and others would not let the plane take off so long as the two men were among the passengers. Eventually all three men had to get off their planes and wait for another flight the next day. To add insult to injury, the airlines did not simply reschedule them, as they normally do if you miss your flight; they had to pay extra airfare to take the next flight out of town.

It is really a sad day for us all, when government rhetoric, media hysteria, and the actions of a few radicals makes having dark skin and speaking a foreign language into a crime. We've seen it before (the Japanese and African Americans can tell us all about racial profiling), we've acknowledged before that it is wrong, and we know that this kind of racial profiling doesn't even work. Terrorists surely aren't going to call attention to themselves by praying or speaking in foreign languages, wearing distinctive clothing or large beards. The 9-11 bombers certainly didn't.

As Azhar Usman, a stand-up comedian who has a five inch beard, a swarthy complexion and does his routine in a kurta pajama outfit, says, "If I were a terrorist trying to sneak onto a plane, do you think I'd really cultivate this look???"

We have to be vigilant, yes, but we also have to be smart. In fact, this kind of all-inclusive, knee jerk reaction to someone travelling as a Muslim is exactly the sort of fare that terrorist groups use to radicalize prospective members -- we can't even pray, or talk our own languages, in an airport, that's how much they want to strip our Islam from us.

Profiling doesn't work. Torture doesn't work. Justice and Liberty for all does.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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