Wednesday, September 27, 2006
  There is nothing to fear, but fear itself...
I read an excellent column not so long ago by Eric Margolis about how the US is slipping into some of the same tactics that the KGB used against its prisoners. Sleep deprivation, near drowning, freezing, terrorizing them with dogs... some of the very tactics that the US wants to use, were favorites of the KGB.

Now the House has approved these tactics, along with trials in which defendants may be refused the right to see materials being used against them. Rather hard to mount a defense when you don't even know what the evidence is.

It's well known that torture results in unreliable data... people subject to or afraid of torture will say anything to escape the torment. Yet, the American public seems all too willing to allow the CIA to do pretty much whatever they want to suspected terrorists who might (or might not) be able to give testimony regarding planned activities. So much for humane treatment of prisoners and the Geneva conventions, so much for innocent until proven guilty... these tactics are to be used on detainees who have not been tried, have never seen a jury, nor received a conviction. And they will used to procure confessions as well as supposed evidence.

Then when they are tried, they will not be allowed to see any "sensitive" evidence against them. Kangaroo courts is what we used to call them when the KGB tried people without them being able to defend themselves.

This legislation is coupled with new definitions of who is considered a terrorist or a material supporter of terrorism. Under the new definitions, the lawyers who defend these prisoners could be tried for material support of terrorists, even if they are court appointed! This has, in fact, already happened to the lawyer who defended the suspects in the first World Trade Center bombing.

And why are we willing to tolerate torture, kangaroo courts, cases targeting court appointed lawyers? Because we afraid. Irrationally afraid one might add. Count the number of people killed in car accidents, or by enraged spouses last year, and it will far exceed the number of people killed by terrorists. It will far exceed the number killed even in 2001. But we don't go around saying it's ok to torture husbands we suspect might want to hit their wives so as to understand their real intentions. Nor would we approve interogating anyone who is applying for a driver's license, to make sure they aren't planning to drink and drive, or run a red light, or speed. That would, naturally, be considered ludicrous as well as a complete violation of civil and human rights.

So too, the proposed legislation is a travesty against all human rights. Human rights, by the way, are not limited to the citizens of one country or the other, they pertain to all human beings. Safety from torture is a human right.

It is the fear of the other, and hyped up fear of violence affecting loved ones, coupled with the sure knowledge that the legislation won't affect ourselves or our families, that lets Americans turn a blind eye to the creeping Stalinization of America. One wonders, how far will we let it creep. Today, it's enemy combatants, and terror detainees, most of whom are foreigners. What will the American public say if large numbers of American Muslims, American citizens who happen to be Muslim are labeled enemy combatants or detained on terrorism charges they cannot refute because they can't see the evidence against them?

I wonder sometimes if it were to happen to me would my neighbors and acquaintances say, "I know that woman, there's no way those charges are true," Or would they say, "Oh my God! We never suspected." It's certainly a sad day when you have to ponder those kinds of questions.
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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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