Thursday, November 19, 2015

Syrian refugee myths - DEBUNKED

Refugees have killed people in the USA!
No. No refugee has ever committed an act of terrorism in the USA. The Boston Bombers, the 911 killers, the Chattanooga shooter were all LEGAL immigrants. In fact, the Boston Bombers were, literally, Caucasians.

Refugees could be terrorists!
So could your neighbor - he could be a follower of Timothy McVeigh (white guy) or Eric Rudolph (white guy) or the Roseburg shooter (white guy) or the Charleston shooter (white guy) or the Colorado theater shooter (white guy) or the Columbine murderers (white guys). How do you know you don't have a neighbor that is a pedophile Catholic priest, or someone that helped cover up the actions of a pedophile priest? Refugees undergo 1-2 years waiting for background checks and undergoing interviews before they are allowed to come to the USA. Also, all immigrants - never refugees - who have committed acts of terrorism in the USA were radicalized in the USA.

The French attacks were done by refugees!
No. The attackers in France were French citizens. A forged Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the slain assailants. It bore the name of a Syrian national who apparently transited through Greece in early October. So we do NOT know if that guy was a refugee.

Muslim countries aren’t taking in Syrian refugees!
As of September 2015, Turkey has taken in 1.9 million refugees. Lebanon: 1.1 million. Jordan: 629,000 (and nearly half of Jordan’s 7 million population is of Palestinian origin). Iraq: 249,000. United Arab Emirates: 250,000. Egypt: 132,000. The darling close allies of the USA, Saudi Arabia & Kuwait? 0 As of Sept., the USA has taken in a whopping… 1,500 Syrian refugees.  Source.

The Muslims Holy Book preaches violence!
It does - as much as the Bible does. It also preaches peace - it does that far more than it supports violence. Unlike the Bible, which is rife with violence against non-believers.

Muslims hate Christians!
No. This particular sect of Islam, Daesh, hates Christians - and Shia Muslims and Sunnis they don’t think practice Islam in the “right” way. They have killed far, far more Muslims than Christians.

Muslims commit acts of violence!
Indeed, many of the people committing acts of terrorism in the world are Muslim. Whereas there were far more Christian terrorists in years past, Muslim terrorists have been winning the body count war lately. But just as the KKK and the Charleston church shooter and Eric Rudolph and David Koresh and Warren Jeffs aren’t representative of MOST Christians, just as pedophile Catholic priests and priests and nuns that enslaved single mothers in Ireland and stole their babies in Ireland in the last 100 years aren't representative of all Catholics, Daesh, Al-Queda and others of a similar, murderous nature aren’t representative of MOST Muslims.

Muslims don’t speak out against ISIS (Daesh)
They do, regularly, often, on the Web, via their media.

Ronald Reagan was SO much more tough on terrorists!
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan sent Marines to Lebanon on a peacekeeping mission. In 1983, a bombing at the Marine compound in Beirut, Lebanon killed 241 US service personnel. 3 1/2 months later, and after repeatedly pledging not to do so, Reagan ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Lebanon. Where I’m from, we call that a "cut and run.”

Obama needs to bomb the hell out of Syria!
As of November 18, 2016, the USA has dropped more than 6300 bombs on Syria.
Source 1. Source 2.

We should help our veterans first!
The USA has plenty of money to help both veterans and a measly 10,000 Syrian refugees. We have more than enough money - just cancel some of the military contracts the military *itself* wants canceled (but Halliburton and various Senators want to keep). Also, if every person who put a yellow ribbon or pro-veteran meme on their Facebook page also donated $10 to services that help veterans, programs would be fully funded. There is nothing stopping YOU from donating money to a veterans support group nor writing your congress person and Senators to demand better support for veterans - have you done either?

We can’t have Syrian refugees here - it would be too easy for them to get guns!
And…. scene.

Monday, November 16, 2015

How to defeat Daesh - no, really, this will work

How to defeat Daesh (what others call ISIL and, unfortunately, the same name as the Egyptian goddess, ISIS)? Not by even MORE bombing of Syria. What a stupid idea. Didn't work in Vietnam, won't work in Syria.

Send in our troops? Anyone saying that has to sign up themselves to be a part of the invasion and occupation, OR, get at least one of their children to do such. Otherwise, you aren't saying "We should go", you are saying, "Someone that's not me should go."

The murderous problem with Daesh will not be solved militarily any more than problems with any terrorist group has been solved militarily.

Here's what I don't hear anyone saying - and, yet, these, all together, would work, because they've worked when fighting Christian extremists and any other large terrorist movement:
  1. Cut off the money. “Grossing as much as $40 million or more over the past two years, ISIS has accepted funding from government or private sources in the oil-rich nations of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait—and a large network of private donors, including Persian Gulf royalty, businessmen and wealthy families.” These countries are allies of the USA. It’s overdue to tell them there will now be consequences for funding terrorism. Also, start saying loudly and clearly that those found with antiquities stolen from Syria and Iraq will be prosecuted even 100 years from now - no “I didn’t know!” defenses allowed for 100 years. If you are caught with stolen items, you go to JAIL. Period. More about how Daesh is funded.

  2. All intelligence agency workers, law enforcement, and politicians, nationally and locally, world wide need to learn about Islam - and not from fundamentalist Christians - and develop meaningful, strong ties with the majority moderate Muslims in their countries. They need to build trust with these organizations, such that Muslims will feel comfortable coming forward and saying, “I’m worried about my nephew/my Uncle/my neighbor…” Remember: when mass shootings at schools and work places have been prevented in the USA, it’s been because students, family members or co-workers heard someone talking about their plans and, despite that person being a friend or family member, they contacted law enforcement.

  3. Every country needs to encourage regular inter-faith events with Muslims in their midsts. That goes against everything Daesh stands for. Daesh hates hates hates any mixing of Muslims with non-Muslims - in stark contrast to Mohammed, who welcomed Jews and Christians into his mosque in Medina. Peace between warring religious groups is possible. There was a time when Catholics and Protestants killed each other - yet I don’t know anyone still calling for vengeance regarding the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572, when French Catholics murdered between 5,000 to 30,000 Protestants.  On Sept. 11, 1857, in a meadow in Utah, a militia of Mormons began attacking a wagon train of Arkansas families - all Christian but not Mormon - bound for California, and slaughtered 140 men, women and children. Several historians believe Mormon church leaders ordered the massacre. And the Catholic and Lutheran majorities of Germany actively participated in the expulsion and murder of Jews. There are still calls for accountability and atonement and remembrance regarding all of these tragedies, these murders, as there should be - but no one is blowing anyone up over these events anymore, because we actively work for understanding and reconciliation and humanitarianism.

  4. Christians have to condemn Christians that call for oppression and even murder of Muslims just as they call on Muslims to condemn acts of violence by people who say they are Muslims. Christians have to distance themselves from extremist Christians in the same way they demand Muslims distance themselves from extremist Muslims.

  5. Mainstream Muslims and all governments have got to get way better at propaganda, including on social media. The narrative regarding Islam among non-Muslims and non-religious youth born in Muslim families MUST be changed. Anti-Daesh efforts on social media are *pathetic*. Give groups like Quranalyzeit and Sisters in Islam huge grants to hire more staff and be WAY more active on social media with their moderate, peaceful, loving, pro-women, Islamic-based messages. Those two tiny organizations are doing a *brilliant* job of countering extremist messages regarding Islam, and doing it as Muslims and from an Islamic perspective. But they are drowned out by Daesh. Governments also need to heavily promote the help they are providing Syrian refugees and people in primarily Islamic countries. But do it right - don't do this.

  6. And last, but never, ever least: fund Islamic women's groups. Give them more money! LOTS MORE MONEY. There's no better way to counter the narrative of Daesh, Al-Queda, or any other extremist Islamic group, than giving Islamic women's groups REAL RESOURCES.

This would work! Of course, Haliburton and others that profit from wars wouldn't be able to make any money from it, so it won't happen...

Here's some terrific resources for more reading:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Don't mess with my gender identification

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler premiered in 1996. Based on interviews conducted with more than 200 women, it is a staged reading of monologues about sex, love, menstruation, rape, birth, self-love, and more. It has been translated into 48 languages and performed in at least 140 countries.

I saw it in 2001 in Austin Texas (I think - could have been earlier), with a cast of readers that included Linda Ellerbee. It was a glorious, raucous night, and the crowd went wild several times with cheers. I can’t remember when I laughed that hard. And oh how I cried at times. So much of the show hit home for me - it was very personal at times. When I left the theater that night, I felt glorious. In fact, that evening changed the way I talk about women’s genitalia forever.

But I’m not supposed to say much of that, at least not the way I've said it. Instead of “interviews with more than 200 women,” I should say “interviews with more than 200 people with vaginas.” I’m not supposed to say “women’s genitalia” - I’m supposed to say “genitalia that is traditionally identified as female.” Mount Holyoke College, a school for women in South Hadley, Massachusetts, cancelled a scheduled performance of the play back in January 2015 because the play “is not inclusive of transgender women.” Indeed, a play called The Vagina Monologues is not inclusive of people that don’t have vaginas.

If you identify as a woman, but were born with male genitalia, and you want me to refer to you with a female name, you want me to use female pronouns in reference to you, and you want me to share women’s bathrooms with you, I will. I think the fears that male child predators will stalk women’s bathrooms dressed as women if laws protecting transgendered rights are passed are ridiculous - I’m much more worried about the safety of someone who identifies as a woman, who dresses as a woman, being forced to use men’s bathrooms.

But I also identify as a woman because of my genitalia and other physical features and how I have been treated all of my life, and it is NOT wrong for me to do that. I am very angry that I am being told I may NOT feel empowered as a woman at a performance of The Vagina Monologues, that it's wrong for me to identify as a woman because of my genitalia, that the show "offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman," and that it is "inherently reductionist and exclusive" (that's what the student spokeswoman at Mt. Holyoke said). You are, in short, denying how I identify as a woman, and that's just as wrong as denying transgender identification.

To cancel a performance of The Vagina Monologues because it might hurt the feelings of people that identify as female but don’t have vaginas is like canceling a showing of the movie Chariots of Fire because not everyone can run. Or The Turning Point because not everyone can dance. Or Amadeus because not everyone can hear the music. Or Call the Midwife because some people cannot have children that want to. We have become obsessed with trigger warnings - we've gone from trying to be compassionate to trying to control conversations in the name of "creating safe spaces." To quote The Atlantic: In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.

I do not think that The Vagina Monologues is saying "Being a woman means to have a vagina and if you don’t have one, you’re not a woman” But it is, most definitely, and unabashedly, a celebration of the vagina - and of women that have them. And that celebration is DESERVED. It's overdue! There is no denying that a physical aspect of womanhood that involves having a vagina, that it involves fertility, and involves cycles. We talk about these things, celebrate such, complain about such, embrace such, are discriminated against because of such, are loved because of such, mourn when we lose or give up such - it’s who we are, it’s part of our identification as women. To deny those aspects of womanhood means you are denying *my* identification. And it fucking pisses me off.

Spare me the comments about being transphobic. I’ve made it clear that I support people’s rights to identify however they want to identify when it comes to their gender. If you want to identify as a woman, despite having male genitalia, that’s fine with me. But if you don’t like The Vagina Monologues, then don’t go.

I am woman. Hear me roar.