Why Aren’t Celebrities Speaking Out Against Injustice In Palestine?

15-rihanna-free-palestine.w529.h352.2xIf it were left up to our Western media we would all believe that everything is right in the world. All we’d be allowed to know is that a plane crashed somewhere near Russia, Israel is defending itself against an enemy more dangerous than Godzilla, and Lebron James is going back to Cleveland. Thank God for the internet and in particular social media! The reality is that we can not rely on our media as a valuable source of information. We’ve known this for quite some time in politics and most other issues, but it’s becoming even more painfully obvious when it comes to coverage of Palestine. Although this is not a new phenomenon as our media has always ignored Palestinian suffering in favor of Israeli government talking points, it’s nothing short of amazing that mainstream media persists today knowing that the internet bears witness against their false narratives. Unless you’re a person who cares more about human suffering in the world instead of what this or that Kardashian is doing and instead seek out unbiased information, how would you know about the apartheid going on under your nose?

Imagine a society where in times like these, people whom we elevate to near god-like status as we fill their pockets, actually did something worthwhile outside of entertaining? Imagine if Beyoncé paused between shaking her booty on the stage and encouraged her audience to get involved? Imagine if Kanye West stopped mid-rant about this or that beef of the day, and spoke out against the bombs being dropped on civilians in Gaza? I mean think about it and I’m not singling out any particular celebrities here, but time and time again, we the consumer go out and make people rich and famous, and though many give back in charitable ways that rarely if ever get promoted, when it comes to the global issues they are silent. This isn’t just about Gaza either. They rarely have a word to say when it comes to politics and barely when it comes to domestic issues as well.

So what should one make of the crickets coming from the privileged sector of our society? Should they even feel the need to use their platform to make their fans and followers aware of human tragedy? Some may argue that it’s not their duty and I’d have to agree. Yes, when I spend hundreds of dollars on entertainment essentially funding our decadence, I’m not asking actors, musicians, etc. to preach to me about social ills. However, what does it say about a person if they know they have the ability to effect change but instead do nothing? We already know politicians long ago sold their souls and though it’s heart wrenching to see our President repeat the tired old talking points reminding us who really runs the country, it should be expected. Truth is a foreign concept in US politic. So expecting more from our politicians is a worthless endeavor. However, should a platform necessitate a need to be used in order to address issues that the average joe cannot? Should celebrity be used in a meaningful way to promote change? Should those who have the ability to reach millions in a single tweet selfishly guard expressing how they feel on real world issues?

Obviously, one can somewhat excuse the cowardice of up and coming celebrities fearing their words could ruin their careers, but what about well established personalities? What’s their problem? Recently, Rihanna for instance, attempted to lead on this front and tweeted #freepalestine a courageous gesture that could have been celebrated and possibly encourage others to do the same, but unfortunately, moments later, she deleted the tweet and lied that it was an accident. In other words, Rihanna like Dwight Howard before her, accidentally advocated an end to Palestinian suffering.

What kind of world do we live in when speaking out against the oppression and slaughter of a people is considered an accident? It’s sickening to know that the mere mention of Palestine has Voldermort-esque properties, making even those who have no fear in posting nude pics of themselves, using sex tapes to fuel their careers, or leaking all manner of details about their hookups public, afraid to go on record stating that they believe the slaughter of women and children is wrong. I’m curious to know how one sleeps at night knowing that with all their influence they remain silent on the cause of our time. How will history judge this period when the world did nothing and even after the lessons of Nazi Germany and Apartheid in a South Africa, we turned a blind eye to the similar conditions in Palestine? How will history view those who had the power to ease that suffering but refused to speak out because they feared the loss of an album sale or an appearance in a a summer blockbuster? What’s left of our humanity, when we fear the mere acknowledgement of senseless violence and destruction against Palestine?

Cause and Effect: The Lies Being Told About The Israeli War

Israel has been occupying Palestine for over 4 decades. Israel controls Palestinian movement, utility, economy, and does not respect Palestinian self-determination or freedom. Palestinians are often arrested and held without charge, harassed, beaten, and denied human dignity regardless of gender or age. Palestinians particularly in Gaza, live in imposed ghettos isolated on every border. Israel has bulldozed homes, raised farmland, orchards, built walls and barriers to claim more and more Palestinian territory with illegal settlement activity. These settlers are often religious extremists who attack Palestinians at will and though their claims to the land is internationally disputed, Israel encourages their settlement through government subsidies and aid. Palestinians live under the thumb of a brutal occupying regime which has no regard for international law, human rights, or Palestinian sovereignty. The Israeli government in essence, is imposing the very same conditions on the Palestinians as Blacks in South Africa under Apartheid or the Jewish people themselves in Europe under the Nazis and their allies.

The question often asked, even by our US President, is what country would stand for rockets flying into their country? This question, which is hypocritical on the premise, ignores the Palestinian people entirely and considers them invalid, subhuman, and not worthy of the same human rights as Israelis or any other people on the planet. Palestine has suffered for decades with no support from any country, whereas their brutal occupier is backed by the entire Western world. The Palestinian oppressor is given billions of aid each year and political backing to cover their crimes. Saddam Hussein, whom then President of the United States George W. Bush routinely reminded had violated scores UN Resolutions, did not violate nearly as many as the State of Israel. Yet, where is Saddam now? This point is poignant when you consider Israel is allowed to do whatever it likes to the Palestinian people and government and their UN violations are never a rallying cry for removal, preemptive war, or regime change. No one ever asks the question, what country would allow such oppression for so long without trying to defend itself, because to do so would be an admission that Palestine has a legitimate right to fight back against the tyranny they suffer. What country would sit back while their lands are stolen from them, their homes destroyed, their people abused, and their rights ignored? What country would sit back as their suffering is ignored by the world, their oppressors are rewarded for their crimes, and their basic liberties discarded at will? The answer from America, the West, and the world, is no country but Palestine.

Palestine is expected to suffer these indignities until Israel decides to stop. Palestinian suffering is at the whim of an occupying force and it’s resolution or final solution will be decided solely by Israel.

Hamas, no matter the level of oppression levied against their people, is wrong. Targeting innocent civilians is wrong. There is no justification for it no matter who the culprit is. However, one has to ask the serious question of whether Hamas exists in a vacuum? People act as if Hamas woke up one day for no reason, decided firing rockets that are ineffective and not even close to the level of a threat as perpetrated by the biased media outlets. But, Hamas nonetheless, is being blamed for Israel’s brutal assault against Gaza, where once again a few Israeli lives and a few days of terror must equal hundreds of Palestine lives and more decades of terror for the Palestinian people, because after all, it should be clear to the world by now that one Israeli life is worth at least 100 Palestine lives. One Hamas rocket in Israel, is worth thousands of tons of bombs and artillery in Palestine right?

What of the West Bank? What of the so-called Palestinian President? They haven’t fired any rockets or killed any illegal Israeli settlers, so why are they still surrounded, cut off from the world, and have their movements restricted and sovereignty ignored? I guess a Hamas rocket has special powers too broad to comprehend.

The sad truth in all this Israeli aggression and criminal, inhumane treatment against the Palestinians, is that it does not reflect the Jewish people or the Jewish faith. The government of Israel enacts a policy that is morally bankrupt, unconscionable by human standards, and evil by most measures. This behavior hurts the Jewish people as well. Israel has successfully used the evil of the Holocaust as political means to guilt the world into allowing them the ability to commit crimes against humanity. They are becoming more and more like Nazi Germany themselves and just as it was when Hitler began his atrocities against the Jews, the world again turns a blind eye to the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people.

What will it take for the world to stop these crimes against humanity this time? Have we not learned the lessons of the Holocaust, Apartheid, and Rwanda? How many more Palestinians must suffer and die before the world says emphatically that enough is enough? How similar must Israel’s abuse mimic Nazi Germany before Jews of conscious retake the banner and take back up the call of never again? Or does none of this apply to Palestinians as they aren’t as human as Israelis?

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Woman Booted From Hair School For Wearing Religious Headwear?

Originally posted on News One:

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Dalisha Barnett (pictured) enrolled at  Pro Way Hair School, but when she refused to remove her religious headwear and not conform to their requested standards, she claims school officials scoffed and decided to not allow her to attend classes. Now the Muslim woman is upset that the Stone Mountain, Ga., school reportedly violated her rights to manifest her religion along with her right to an education. Now, Barnett and the Dekalb Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) have teamed up to defend her religious rights, according to Fox 5.

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Barnett wears a religious hijab that has, since the World Trade 9/11 tragedy, taken on a negative connotation even when worn by African-American women. The terrorist stereotypes of Arabs have been thrust upon women who wear hijabs, and in many instances, they have even been attacked for wearing them in public. Therefore, African-American women who are Muslims reportedly have to face both racism

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The Muslim Responses To Boko Haram

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I’m glad many Muslims are writing about the news story of the moment concerning Boko Haram and clarifying the record more or less about Islam. However, to what end? Will this make them or any other so-called Islamist group change their ways? Will the hashtags, op-eds, media coverage, etc. resolve the matter? In my more extremist days I proposed a real on the ground solution: raise a Muslim army and go after these criminals like Marines storming Iwo Jima, but that was in my extremist days…

That said, while I admire our attempts to stay relevant and attempt to convince non-Muslims that we aren’t like “those people” I will continue to wonder the end game. As a character in a favorite novel series of mine always says “words are wind”. Maybe it’s time to be more hands on…or we can continue writing our hearts out, talking on TV and Radio, and hoping groups like Boko Haram will ever care, realize the error of their ways, and cease and desist, because we keep asking so fervently.

My Arabic isn’t so good (think kindergarten student trying to read) but my English translation of the Qur’an says something to the effect of: “Had I not raised men to repel other men, the world would be overrun with injustice.” I’m no scholar, but I don’t think Allah meant repelling with op-eds and media interviews, but I could be wrong.

Meanwhile, the media is now wondering if Boko Haram is a threat to the US….we should all know where that question leads and the implication behind putting the thought out there in the first place…

I eagerly await the day the sleeping giant arises from it’s slumber.

Disturbing Video: Happy British Muslims! (Halal Version)

When the original version of this video came out, I was excited, overjoyed, and yes Happy. I was proud to see Muslims standing up, and in a peaceful, non-confrontational way, show the world that we aren’t so different from any other human on the planet. Many people agreed and the video went viral. I was delighted seeing the praise from all corners of the internet from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, who were excited seeing Muslims behave in a way never seen in the media. So naturally, since many people loved it, there should be no surprise that backlash from Muslims who just couldn’t stand the sight of Muslim women being Happy on video for the whole world to see was soon to follow!

It would have been better to ignore the Muslim element who seem hell bent on validating every Muslim stereotype that exists, which ironically this video brilliantly helped begin to break down, but what’s disheartening and disturbing is that someone felt the need to create a so-called “Halal Version”. I’m taken back to over a decade ago when I accepted Islam after the tragic events of 9/11 and the conviction I had in knowing that deep down this beautiful religion couldn’t possibly be responsible for the atrocities committed that day. I remember the rose-colored glasses I wore for many years thereafter, writing off those who would make any and everything Haram that most shrugged their shoulders at. I remember almost pleading with myself that the haters were a figment of my imagination. However, this video and the “reason” behind it’s creation, makes me further understand why I smashed those glasses so long ago. 

Watching the video, it doesn’t take long to see what is wrong with this version. One barely has to reach the 30 second mark to ask themselves “are there no women in Islam?” or better yet, “are there no Happy women in Islam?” After watching this video, I can conclude that the answer is yes in both cases, at least in the eyes and minds of those who were offended by the original version of this video. To those sad individuals, women do not exist, they’re only a sub-species to males that are used for specific purposes and whether or not they are happy is irrelevant. Then again, when you look at the prayer areas in many mosques set-up for women, those beliefs are obvious. Maybe I’m having difficultly seeing the original version of the video as Haram because I live in a society where women are considered equal. Maybe I’m having difficulty seeing the original version of the video as Haram because I come from a Black American culture, where women play important and dominant roles. Maybe it’s just me.

However, I offer up a solution to all those holier than thou types who made created this crap: Maybe you should ask for a country of your own devoid of women. Don’t have internet, television, or any outside communication with the world whatsoever and leave us Kuffar to be Happy in our sin!  لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ

Fort Hood Déjà Vu

5 years ago I was stuck in traffic, trying to get home to my wife and children after a long day in the office, when I heard on the radio that there had been a mass shooting in Ft. Hood. I remember my initial reaction that I later regretted as selfish, was “please God don’t don’t let the killer be Muslim”. Now 5 years later, I find myself in the same awkward position as I was then. Though I despise myself for the thought, I still find myself filled with anxiety, pleading with God to not let the killer turn out to be a Muslim this time.

As self serving as it may seem, I know I am not alone in this request. Many American Muslims are wondering either aloud or deep within themselves what tomorrow will bring if it is revealed that a Muslim is behind yet another tragic shooting in Ft. Hood. We worry about our personal safety and that of our children, we wonder about the potential harassment or worse at school, or the odd stares and whispers at work, and we wonder most of all, if tomorrow our status as Americans will have been reduced to nothing more than potential terrorists. Already we have Right-Wing media personalities like Patrick Dollard, threatening and encouraging others to slaughter every Muslim in America if the shooter turns out to be a Muslim.

These thoughts and fears are real, and yet I still can’t help but despise my initial thoughts and even the butterflies that currently war within my stomach. As an American and a veteran who’s served this nation in one capacity or another since the age of 17, it’s a really big pill to swallow knowing that more than any other group, the safety of me and my family, could seriously be compromised, merely because we happen to claim the same religion as a killer. As a parent, I wonder what do I tell my children who still remember the profound sadness dad felt after a grueling day filled with interviews explaining our faith to skeptics in November 2009.

How do I share with them now that they are older and some near college age, that their father, who still has his Marine Dress Blues hanging in the closet, is afraid of what his fellow Americans might do to others who share our faith? It’s a perplexing suite of emotions that currently flow through my veins and the sad part is the one emotion that should be at the forefront of my mind as well as many other Americans is not. While we all anticipate the verdict of whether or not this Soldier, this killer, is or isn’t a Muslim, there are people grieving in Texas right now, who’ve lost loved ones, are praying for recovery, and thanking God for life right now. Heroes and their families have had to endure an evening of terror and pain that will not go away anytime soon, and unfortunately in the comfort of my DC area home, while I send my prayers and condolences to the victims and their families, the ugliness behind the Muslim question persists…

The Images We Present To America As Muslims

Dear Muslims: I personally do not believe perceptions will change in America until we help our fellow non-Muslim Americans to see our community through the prism that I and many others do at least on the surface. When Americans hear “American Muslim” and the images they conjure up happen to be African American or Caucasian American faces instead of South East Asian or Arab faces, i.e. images they can relate to versus images they automatically view as foreign, then through the magic of psychology and sociology they will not view our communities as this “foreign” thing that came from overseas after 9/11 or a few decades ago, but instead a vibrant, diverse community that’s been in existence well before this country was even called the United States of America. Yes we know it’s regrettable, yes we know it’s sad, yes we know I might even be messed up for saying it, but seriously if we took a step back, we might be willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, we ourselves as a community are helping to fuel the stereotypes, when every time there is a discussion about Islam in America the only faces we put out there to represent us, just happen to be South East Asian or Arab. Nope I don’t have a degree in PR or Marketing, but I have this feeling that if Americans heard Islam and thought more along the lines of Muhammad Ali, WD Muhummad, Hamza Yusuf, Yusuf Estes, etc. instead of this or that brother or sister who has relatives in Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, etc….nevermind, ignore me, I’m just a little off. But having lived in the North and the South, having grew up in a different religion, and knowing only about 2 or 3 things, I know if I were a non-Muslim American and every time I turned on TV to hear someone talk about how great and nice Islam and Muslims are and the “Muslim Representative” was Arab or Pakistani, I’d probably roll my eyes and think foreign, but if the guy happened to be a white guy from California or a black guy from Philly, ok maybe not Philly (just joking), but seriously if our image was more Mos Def than Ahmed from Cairo, we’d get somewhere.

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