Articles of Interest, July 2, 2008

Military strike on Iran would be ‘catastrophic:’ Russian ministry

Any military attack on Iran would have a “catastrophic” effect on the Middle East, a Russian foreign ministry official said Wednesday after reports that Israel might launch such an attack.

“All this is very dangerous. If force is used it will be catastrophic for the whole Middle East,” the official told journalists on condition of anonymity.

The official also said Iran was “ready to look seriously at proposals” presented on June 14 by six world powers aimed at getting the Islamic republic to suspend uranium enrichment. He called Iran’s attitude a “positive signal.”

The comments came after US media reported on June 20 that Israeli jet pilots had trained for a possible strike on Iranian nuclear sites.

Western powers fear Russia is developing a nuclear weapons programme under cover of its stated aim of developing civilian nuclear energy. However Tehran denies such claims.

Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has a section of border close to northern Iran in the Caucasus mountains and has been cautious about Western efforts to punish Iran over its nuclear activities.

Hospital video shows no one helped dying woman

A shocking video shows a woman dying on the floor in the psych ward at Kings County Hospital, while people around her, including a security guard, did nothing to help.

After an hour, another mental patient finally got the attention of the indifferent hospital workers, according to the tape, obtained by the Daily News.

Worse still, the surveillance tape suggests hospital staff may have falsified medical charts to cover the utter lack of treatment provided Esmin Green before she died.

“Thank God for the videotape because no one would have believed this could have happened,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“There’s a clear possibility of criminal wrongdoing with regard to recordkeeping, and that has to be investigated.”

Human-pig hybrid embryos given go ahead

A licence to create human-pig embryos to study heart disease has been issued by the fertility watchdog.

This marks the third animal-human hybrid embryo licence to be issued by Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the first since the Commons voted in favour of this controversial research last month.

An HFEA spokesman said it had approved an application from the Clinical Sciences Research Institute, University of Warwick, for the creation of hybrid embryos. The centre has been offered a 12 month licence with effect from today, July 1.

The effort at the University of Warwick is led by Professor Justin St John. “This new license allows us to attempt to make human pig clones to produce embryonic stem cells,” he said, where embryonic stem cells are able to turn into the 200 plus types in the body.

‘Black national anthem’ stirs controversy for city

DENVER – Mayor John Hickenlooper’s annual State of the City address may get more attention for what wasn’t included than what was.

At the start of the event Tuesday morning, City Council President Michael Hancock introduced singer Rene Marie to perform the national anthem.

Instead, she performed the song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is also known as the “black national anthem.”

When she finished, the audience responded with mild applause. The national anthem was never performed.

Marie told 9NEWS she kept her plans to switch songs quiet until the very last moment. She says only she, her husband and a friend knew she was going to sing something other than the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

She says she wanted to express her love of her country by mixing the lyrics of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” with the melody of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“When I decided to sing my version, what was going on in my head was: ‘I want to express how I feel about living in the United States, as a black woman, as a black person,'” said Marie.

Hickenlooper’s staff picked Marie to sing the national anthem. The mayor says he believes Marie did not intrend to offend anyone or make a political statement.

When asked if he was offended, Hickenlooper said, “You know I was more confused and I think I was more – what I was, was disappointed and confused and that’s why I wanted to talk to her.”

“Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1899 and set to music by his brother in 1900.

Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, embrace as they campaign together for the first time since Clinton dropped out of the race in Unity, New Hampshire, on June 27, 2008.

Clinton attacks against Obama vanish on Web

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has scrubbed all negative ads from her campaign Web site and YouTube page, leaving visitors with only the warm and fuzzy moments from her bid for the presidency.

Gone are the attack ads accusing Sen. Barack Obama of insulting Pennsylvanians, ducking debates and making misleading assertions about gas prices. In their place are some of the campaign’s best and most positive ads and multiple “Hillary I Know” testimonials that have a shelf life should the former first lady ever run again.

The whitewashing took place quietly in the past few days as Mr. Obama cut his former rival a check to help relieve her campaign debt and as the Clinton family moved to fully embrace Mr. Obama as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“She’s no longer campaigning for president,” said Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee. “She’s focused on her work in the Senate, campaigning for Senator Obama and other Democrats.”

Mr. Elleithee said the videos probably are archived.

Also missing are the dozens of speeches and hundreds of press releases running back to Mrs. Clinton’s January 2007 campaign announcement. Many offered reporters details about important endorsements or the scripts of TV ads, but dozens were dedicated to countering the senator from Illinois.

“Misleading attack: Sen. Obama flubs in Ohio,” one release read. Another blared, in capital letters, “NAFTA-gate: False denials from the Obama campaign.”

Also gone are campaign memos, such as Mark Penn’s Feb. 2 “Hillary is the Democrat to beat McCain,” or the May 19 missive by Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson complaining that Mr. Obama was about to declare that he had won a majority of delegates: “Mission Accomplished? Not so fast.”

Poll: Obama beats McCain as barbecue guest

WASHINGTON (AP) – People would rather barbecue burgers with Barack Obama than with John McCain.

While many are still deciding who should be president, by 52 percent to 45 percent they would prefer having Obama than McCain to their summer cookout, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll released Wednesday.

Men are about evenly divided between the two while women prefer Obama by 11 percentage points. Whites prefer McCain, minorities Obama. And Obama is a more popular guest with younger voters while McCain does best with the oldest.

Having Obama to a barbecue would be like a relaxed family gathering, while inviting McCain “would be more like a retirement party than something fun,” said Wesley Welbourne, 38, a systems engineer from Washington, D.C.

Quayle respects Obama, McCain has uphill battle

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Former Vice President Dan Quayle said Tuesday he respects Democrat Barack Obama “because he beat the Clintons” and fears Republican John McCain has an “uphill battle” to defeat Obama in November’s presidential election.

Quayle also acknowledged that he expected Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Mitt Romney would meet in the general election.

“I don’t think anyone saw, including myself, the Barack Obama movement” coming, he said.

“I have a lot of grudging respect for what he did because he beat the Clintons, something we couldn’t do in 1992,” said Quayle, a former GOP senator from Indiana who served under President George H.W. Bush. “The Clintons were very convincing in the campaign they ran. So I thought she would be the candidate.

“I think she made obviously some very tactical mistakes,” Quayle continued. “One, underestimating Obama. And, two, the whole inevitability that ‘I am entitled to the nomination’ ended up hurting her quite dramatically.”

Quayle spoke to reporters on a teleconference call promoting the 19th annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe, where he planned to compete July 11-13.

Quayle said Tuesday that he thought a year ago Romney “would have been an outside of Washington candidate who had a very good chance, but for various reasons, never did catch on.”

He said it’s not a good year to be a Republican, but that he was pulling for McCain.

Police ‘torture’ videos cause uproar in Mexico

Story Highlights

  • Many Mexicans see a sinister side to the videos at a time of alleged abuses
  • Human rights investigators in Guanajuato state are looking into the tapes
  • “They are teaching police … to torture!” read one Mexico City newspaper headline

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) — Videos showing Leon police practicing torture techniques on a fellow officer and dragging another through vomit at the instruction of a U.S. adviser created an uproar Tuesday in Mexico, which has struggled to eliminate torture in law enforcement.

A frame from a video obtained by the Heraldo de Leon newspaper shows a torture session.

A frame from a video obtained by the Heraldo de Leon newspaper shows a torture session.

Two of the videos — broadcast by national television networks and displayed on newspaper Internet sites — showed what Leon city Police Chief Carlos Tornero described as training for an elite unit that must face “real-life, high-stress situations,” such as kidnapping and torture by organized crime groups.

But many Mexicans saw a sinister side, especially at a moment when police and soldiers across the country are struggling with scandals over alleged abuses.

“They are teaching police … to torture!” read the headline in the Mexico City newspaper Reforma.

Human rights investigators in Guanajuato state, where Leon is located, are looking into the tapes, and the National Human Rights Commission also expressed concern.

“It’s very worrisome that there may be training courses that teach people to torture,” said Raul Plascencia, one of the commission’s top inspectors.

One of the videos, first obtained by the newspaper El Heraldo de Leon, shows police appearing to squirt water up a man’s nose — a technique once notorious among Mexican police. Then they dunk his head in a hole said to be full of excrement and rats. The man gasps for air and moans repeatedly.

New evidence collected in 1946 lynching case

Story Highlights

  • Officials said they collected items from property in Walton County, Georgia
  • In 1946, a white mob beat and repeatedly shot four black sharecroppers
  • One victim, Dorothy Malcom, had her unborn baby cut from her womb
  • Case was last documented mass lynching in the United States

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — State and federal investigators said Tuesday that they spent the past two days gathering evidence in the last documented mass lynching in the United States: a grisly slaying of four people that has remained unsolved for more than six decades.

Relatives of the Malcoms and Dorseys stand at their loved ones' fresh graves in this 1946 photo.

Relatives of the Malcoms and Dorseys stand at their loved ones’ fresh graves in this 1946 photo.

In a written statement, the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said they collected several items on a property in rural Walton County, Georgia, that were taken in for further investigation.

On July 25, 1946, two black sharecropper couples were shot hundreds of times and the unborn baby of one of the women cut out with a knife at the Moore’s Ford Bridge. One of the men had been accused of stabbing a white man 11 days earlier and was bailed out of jail by a former Ku Klux Klan member and known bootlegger who drove him, his wife, her brother and his wife to the bridge.

The FBI statement said investigators were following up on information recently received in the case, one of several the agency has revived in an effort to close decades-old cases from the civil rights era and before.

“The FBI and GBI had gotten some information that we couldn’t ignore with respect to this case,” GBI spokesman John Bankhead said.

Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a longtime advocate for prosecution in the Moore’s Ford case, called news of the search encouraging.

“We just hope and pray they can bring some of these suspects to the bar of justice before they die, because they’re all getting up in age,” said Brooks, the president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.

Obama over fist bumping?

Barack Obama and wife Michelle famously fist bumped when the Illinois senator captured the Democratic nomination.

Barack Obama and wife Michelle famously fist bumped when the Illinois senator captured the Democratic nomination.

(CNN) — Is Obama ditching his signature fist bump?

According to Tuesday’s press pool report, the Illinois senator refused to bump fists with a boy as he was touring the Eastside Community Ministry in Zanesville, Ohio.

As the boy outstretched his first, Obama said no and added, “If I start that …”

His voice then trailed off.

The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate popularized the move last month when he and his wife Michelle bumped fists on the night he formally captured the party’s presidential nomination.

Watch: The famous fist bump

Video of the duo fist bumping became widely popular on the internet, leading the Washington Post to declare it “the first bump heard ‘round the world.’”

  • This is the type of stupid crap that has crept into our politics and made it impossible to have real political discourse. Something so silly has now made it impossible just for Obama to do a simple fist bump. My God. Obama do the fist bump, if that’s all the GOP has, then you have nothing to worry about.

Haysbert: ’24’ role may have helped Obama

Story Highlights

  • Dennis Haysbert played black U.S. president on Fox’s “24”
  • Haysbert: Role may have helped open eyes of the American people
  • Haysbert has contributed to Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign

RENO, Nevada (AP) — Dennis Haysbert likes to believe his portrayal as the first African-American U.S. president on Fox’s “24” may have helped pave the way for Barack Obama.

Dennis Haysbert, who appeared on Fox's

Dennis Haysbert, who appeared on Fox’s “24,” says some fans come up to him and ask him to run for office.

“If anything, my portrayal of David Palmer, I think, may have helped open the eyes of the American people,” said the actor, who has contributed $2,300 to the Illinois Democrat’s presidential campaign.

“And I mean the American people from across the board — from the poorest to the richest, every color and creed, every religious base — to prove the possibility there could be an African-American president, a female president, any type of president that puts the people first,” he said Tuesday.

Haysbert, who now stars on “The Unit” on CBS, made his comments to reporters during a teleconference call promoting the upcoming American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.

Haysbert, who also played Nelson Mandela in the 2007 film “Goodbye Bafana,” said his role as President Palmer seemed to “confuse people” who would approach him on the street “every day, almost every hour, and ask me to run.”

“I still, even after three seasons into `The Unit’ playing Sgt. Maj. Jonas Blaine, I’m still asked by people on the street to run,” he said.

Haysbert, 54, said he recently stopped for dinner south of Los Angeles with his daughter in Dana Point, Calif., a town he described as “very wealthy, very white and very Republican.”

“I go into this little restaurant with that demographic and a lady comes up to me and says, `You know, I want to vote for you,”‘ he said. “I don’t know if it is a joke or that people just like to say those things. But to me, for them to say it out loud means they are thinking about it.”
  • I just want to know when Fox plans to bring Jack Bauer and 24 back! This is ridiculous and yes I’m still angry they killed off President Palmer (the first one that is)

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July 4: Will Smith’s Holiday

Hancock is the superhero nobody likes. Oh, he can fly; his chest does repel point-blank bullets. And he saves people, averts catastrophe, stops bad guys from doing bad things. But Hancock has a personality defect: he’s a horrible human being/deity. He guzzles way too much Royal Crown, which puts him in a perpetually bad mood and interferes with his self-aviation skills — the man is a drunk flyer. (And then he lands so hard on a street, he digs a ditch in the asphalt.) He wrecks everything he touches. When he’s finished a mission, all of L.A. has become collateral damage. Once Hancock was summoned to the aid of a whale that had washed up on the beach. When he lifted the creature by its tail and tossed it back in the sea, it landed on a distant ship. “I don’t remember that,” he says to somebody, who replies, “Greenpeace does.”

I just realized something. None of this matters. A critique of Hancock is an essay in irrelevance. It’s Independence Day Week, and six times since 1996, that’s meant a Will Smith movie — a mega-giga-gigantic hit. Independence Day; Men in Black; Wild Wild West; Men in Black II; I, Robot: He shows up, people line up. Thomas Jefferson used to own this holiday, but now the former Fresh Prince does. So why should critics even bother to review a new Will Smith movie? You’ll go see it anyway.

It’s my theory — and I have the stats to back me up — that Hollywood is in its first ever post-movie-star era. Big celebrity names no longer guarantee box-office hits. Casting dramatic stars like Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, etc., no longer guarantees a movie’s commercial success; and the more reliable comedy stars, from Adam Sandler to Ben Stiller, lose much of their audiences when they try something a little different.

To all this, Smith would say ha, and rightly so, since he’s the big exception. He actually deserves that overused epithet “the last movie star.” For more than a decade, he’s been immune to moviegoers’ fickle fashions. His films have earned $4.5 billion worldwide. And except for his pro bono work in Ali (for which he won an Academy Award nomination) and Robert Redford’s The Legend of Bagger Vance, every Will Smith movie has been a hit or smash, earning at least $100 million in North America and another $100 million or more abroad. Sometimes lots more.

Obama works to mobilize ‘Christian left’

Story Highlights

  • Obama’s outreach to evangelicals focuses on social justice, ending Iraq war
  • Senator to talk about building partnership between faith-based groups, White House
  • Most evangelicals support Sen. McCain, but support is below what Bush received
  • Evangelical community “seems to be sitting on the fence,” professor says

(CNN) — Democrats have usually conceded the evangelical vote during presidential elections, but Sen. Barack Obama is trying to change that by mobilizing what some call the “Christian left.”

Sen. Barack Obama is expected to talk about faith-based initiatives during a campaign stop in Ohio on Tuesday.

Sen. Barack Obama is expected to talk about faith-based initiatives during a campaign stop in Ohio on Tuesday.

As part of his outreach to evangelical voters, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee will tour the Eastside Community Ministry in Zanesville, Ohio, on Tuesday and give an address on how he plans to builda “real” partnership between faith-based organizations and the White House if he becomes president.

Obama’s outreach to evangelical voters has also included private summits with pastors, an effort to reach out to young evangelicals and a fundraiser with the Matthew 25 political action committee. It describes itself as a group of moderate evangelicals, Catholics and Protestants committed to electing the Illinois Democrat president.

Matthew 25’s name is inspired by a biblical passage, in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” The name is meant to signal the group’s focus on social justice concerns about hot-button cultural issues.

Brian McLaren, a former pastor who spent 24 years in the pulpit and is now an informal adviser to the Obama campaign, believes that a significant portion of evangelical voters are ready to break from their traditional home in the the Republican Party and take a new leap of faith with Obama.

“I think there’s a very, very sizable percentage — I think between a third and half — of evangelicals, especially younger [evangelicals], who are very open to somebody with a new vision,” McLaren said.

That new vision, he said, isn’t focused on traditional social issues like abortion and gay marriage but more on efforts to end global warming and the war in Iraq.

“We’ve watched the evangelical community be led — be misled — by the Republican Party to support things they really shouldn’t have supported,” McLaren said, including “the blind support for the Iraq war when it was launched on either mistaken or false pretenses.”

Unlike previous presidential elections, when the religious right’s criticism of Democratic presidential candidates went largely unchallenged, Obama’s evangelical supporters rallied around the Democrat when Christian conservative James Dobson accused him of “deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible.”

Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, the Texas minister who officiated at first daughter Jenna Bush’s wedding, and “a coalition of pastors and other Christians … who are standing up for our Christian faith and supporting Barack Obama” created a Web site called “James Dobson Doesn’t Speak For Me” that attempts to refute Dobson’s claims with quotes from Obama.

  • So is he a closet Muslim or not? Make up your minds! 🙂

Sessions offer teens tools to bridge racial divides

Manuel Morales, 14, of Kansas City, Kan., got a lift from 17-year-old Kasey Quinlain of Kansas City during activities Tuesday at Harmony’s annual Youth Leadership Institute.
JIM BARCUS | The Kansas City Star
Manuel Morales, 14, of Kansas City, Kan., got a lift from 17-year-old Kasey Quinlain of Kansas City during activities Tuesday at Harmony’s annual Youth Leadership Institute.

In the media, black people often are portrayed just as athletes or entertainers, Anisa Stillman told other teens Tuesday during a discussion of racism at the Youth Leadership Institute.“It makes me feel like I’m a joke,” said Stillman, who is 17 and African-American. “I’m no jester. I don’t like that.”

The other students in her group — four white students and two biracial students — listened intently, and shared other racial and ethnic stereotypes they’ve absorbed from friends, family, teachers and the media over the years.

“Everyone has a stereotype in their head. … It never ends,” chimed in Katie McCalla, who is 15 and white.

But helping these teens learn how to take steps toward ending racist, sexist, classist and homophobic behaviors is the goal of this weeklong teen camp at Rockhurst University.

Harmony, a nonprofit organization that works to improve race relations and acceptance of diversity, has been putting on the camps since 1992. Organizers hope participants will think more deeply about how racism and other prejudices affect them and others, and open their minds to bridging divides between people.

Carol Suter, Harmony’s president, said she hopes the 32 participants leave “empowered to reach across lines of all kinds.”

Members of Stillman’s group shared some stereotypes they’ve heard, seen or bought into: Middle Easterners are more likely to be terrorists; Native Americans drink too much; Latino immigrants won’t learn English.

Then, camp adviser Keo Crockett asked: “What can we do to challenge racism?”

The table got quiet.

“Just say, ‘Hey, don’t do that again,’ ” said Joseph Davies, 15, referring to when other people at his school use the “n” word or make racist comments.

But, he admitted, it’s tough to speak up to racist or sexist bullies. “These guys are bigger than me,” he said. “I am scared. I don’t want to get the crap beat out of me.”

The other students laughed with him, understanding his fear. “I’ll do my best, short of dying,” he said.

Katie said that if she spoke up, she might make enemies.

But Crockett told them they might be underestimating others and could find like-minded people who would stand with them against oppression.

Or, Joseph said, chuckling, “I could get a big horde of little guys.”

Role models needed for black youths, groups say

Many youths at risk or youths who’ve lost loved ones to violence are black males, but Rosalyn Wynne of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana worries that few of the volunteers who mentor to them are.

Her organization, along with Erin’s House for Grieving Children and the Fort Wayne Urban League, is trying to change that.

“We’re not looking for perfect people,” said Wynne, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ community development coordinator, at an organizational meeting Monday night at the Urban League’s offices. “But we’re looking for people who are consistent and who have a passion for kids and who want to make change.”

Jonathan Ray, president of the Urban League, stressed the desperate need black children, particularly black males, have for positive male role models.

“All of a sudden, your best friend has been murdered. All of a sudden your father has been murdered. All of a sudden your brother is gone,” Ray told about a dozen people who turned out for the meeting. “If you think you’re not going to get angry and want to strike out against somebody or some thing, you are.”

A little more than half of last year’s homicide victims in Fort Wayne were black males.

Volunteers with Erin’s House are trained for about 20 hours, learning how to talk and listen to children and how to respond to negative outbursts or reactions triggered by frustration and grief.

“We all have our own innate ability to help ourselves heal,” said Katie Burns, resource development director for Erin’s House.

“All we’re looking for is a place where we can do it.”

Volunteers willing to work in juvenile prisons also are needed, said Andre Patterson, a Northeast Juvenile Correctional Facility guard. While they have committed crimes, teenage prisoners are often from broken homes and victims of or witnesses to violence.

Patterson believes mentoring could help reduce recidivism. “Oftentimes, the juveniles who need the most services are forgotten about,” he said.

Big Mike

Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times
Gang interventionist Michael Cummings, a former Grape Street Crip, talks to kids near the Jordon Downs housing project in South Los Angeles. He is as imposing as a defensive tackle and wields absolute respect in the neighborhood where he grew up. Parents adore him. Gangbangers listen to him.
The former Grape Street Crip, now a Pentecostal minister and tow-truck driver, keeps the peace around volatile Jordan High School.
By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 28, 2008

Big Mike hitches up in front of Jordan High School in Watts like a bull snuffling for trouble.

He scans the stoops down Juniper Street. He peers in the windows of passing cars. And he keeps a firm eye on the three chain-link gates of the Jordan Downs housing project down the block.

As a gang interventionist, Michael Cummings trolls the streets here every day making sure students get to and from school safely — and that gangbangers mind their manners.

Cummings is a tow-truck driver, Pentecostal pastor and former Grape Street Crip. He is as imposing as a defensive tackle and wields absolute respect in the neighborhood where he grew up. Parents adore him. Gangbangers listen to him.

No one messes with Big Mike.

“He can get between people,” said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Curtis Woodle. “He’s able to actually talk gang members down. . . . And that’s critical.”

On this morning, five teenage boys cruise out of the project toward the school.

“What’s up, soldiers?” Cummings asks.

“Hey, Big Mike,” one mutters.

Nothing about their appearance suggests whether they’re gang members or not; hip-hop long ago standardized the look in this part of town. But Cummings knows the players.

He smoothly peels one of them away as they pass the school gate.

“Today’s the test, right?” he says. “You taking the test?”

His voice rumbles like dredging gravel. The kid hesitates, then says he forgot his uniform.

“Just tell them you’re here for tests and you forgot your shirt,” Cummings says. His tree-trunk girth closes in on the young man, shunting him through the gate.

The boy looks helplessly at his friends and then slouches inside the old Art Deco building. His homies continue along the sidewalk.

No! We are not a Christian Nation

In one of the You Tube videos circulating on the Internet the Republican nominee for President, John McCain described America as a Christian nation explaining emphatically that the leadership must be maintained by those who believe in Christian principles.

We humbly disagree with the former prisoner of war hero. What kind of Christian nation he is referring to, we do not understand. Considering some of the Christian clergy that have endorsed him, does he mean evangelical Christianity that condemns Jews as anti-Christ and described the Catholic church as a den of Satan? Does he believe in revivalist Christianity that describes everyone different from its beliefs as hell bound? Does he believe in white supremacist Christianity that regards white race superior to others or does he believe in Orthodox Christianity that still believes that slavery was one of the God gifted right of the earlier settlers?

We reject his assertion not because we do not believe in Jesus (peace be upon him) as an incarnation of God, we reject his premise because we believe in the founding principals our great nation. We reject his claim because we believe that our nation is composed of people who believe in one God, many gods and no god. We disagree with him because we believe that in the formation of this nation, Catholics, Protestants of various denominations, Unitarians, Hindus, animists, pagans, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and atheists and agnostics played a significant role.

The Republican Presidential aspirant asserted that the founding fathers were devout Christians and hence they used Biblical terms to create a Judeo-Christian society in America.

What are these Judeo–Christian traditions? There is little to suggest that values called Judeo-Christian really exist. Jews deny Jesus as Messiah and still await for their own Redeemer. Christian call Jesus the anointed one. The Mosaic law demands an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The teachings of Jesus promote the idea of passive resistance by presenting the other cheek. The Jewish people always dreamt of the glory in this world in the form of establishment of a kingdom on the pattern of the rule established by King David and Solomon. The followers of Jesus talk of a kingdom in the heaven. The people who accept the first five books of the Old Testament believe in a God who does not have a son, while those who believe in the New Testament claim that Jesus was the son of god. Some even go to the extent of describing him as god in person.

Apart from theological distance, socially and politically, the two communities have been at each other’s throat throughout the past several centuries. America was mainly populated by Europeans who for centuries saw the persecution of Jews in almost every nation. There was no reference of Judeo-Christian traditions in Europe. Jews were subject to all kinds of humiliation and persecution. The writings of earlier settlers are full of hatred of Jews and their religion and traditions. The tragedy of six million Jews killed during the notorious reign of a Christian nationalist, Hitler, is not a myth. It is one of the most shocking realities of our history, a reality that must put every human being to shame for allowing this to happen.

To claim that there is something called Judeo-Christian tradition is an oxymoron. Further, to claim that America was founded on Judeo-Christian traditions is nothing more than an emotional outcry raised for purpose of political expediency.

Islam in America

NEWSWEEK’s Lisa Miller joined us for a Live Talk on Wednesday, July 25, about the American-Muslim experience in a post-9/11 world.

Port Orchard, WA: How do American Muslims reconcile the demands of the Koran, which very often are in direct opposition to democracy, and the concept of free-will and inalienable rights?

And do American Muslims recognize the success and benefits they derive from Democracy and the associated Judeo-Christian ethics which govern our system of justice and rule-of-law?

Lisa Miller: moderate muslims would say that the qur’an is not in opposition to democracy, but, in fact, demands it. over and over in my conversations with moderate muslims over the past few weeks, people emphasized the qur’anic importance of justice and community.

Bossier City, LA: Do you think the reason that 60% of the young Muslims consider themselves “Muslim first” is that, unlike older generations, they are spoiled by the American way of life and did not have to work hard and start from nothing?

Lisa Miller: no, i don’t think they’re any more spoiled than second and third generation jews or catholics or any other immigrant group. i think, from their perspective, 9/11 required them to wear their muslim identity like a banner. they could no longer blend in, as immigrant groups in the past had done.

Toronto, Ontario: What’s the difference between an extremist muslim that believes in this radical definition of Jihad and more temperate Muslims. Are they from different ‘denominations,’ or are these people one in the same?

Lisa Miller: one of the most interesting aspects of our reporting last week was this: there is no “structure” in islam analagous to structures in american christianity (either catholicism or protestant denominations) or judaism. there’s no central office, no agreed-upon heirarchy, no organizational chart. so there are no “denominations,” per se. there is, however, a wide range of beliefs that can be seen as analagous to “fundamentalist” and “progressive” in christian or jewish circles. there are people who believe in strict, literal interpretation of the quran, and people who believe that modernity requires a more nuanced or metaphorical interpretation and everything in between.

Salem, OR: Muslims do not even think like Americans. Why should we believe that a Muslim senator could be an asset, to our country or our news coverage?

Lisa Miller: most muslims in america /are/ americans, so they must think like americans.

_______________________

New Brunswick, NJ: What was your most memorable encounter, episode, experience when doing this cover story “Islam in America” for Newsweek?

Lisa Miller: we have a bunch of very smart interns here, and we sent them (and other reporters) to communities around the country. these communities were really /so different/ — we talked to a group of high school girls in california who went to elite schools and played field hockey in their hijab. and we talked to the very sad and angry teenagers in lackawanna. there’s no end to the diversity of this community.

_______________________

New York, NY: Many of my Muslim friends are getting beaten by their husbands in America. What should be done about this? A Muslim man should never hit his wife.

  • I’m just curious why we Muslims still allow others to speak for us. Lisa Miller did a good job, but come on major media, American Muslims aren’t that hard to find!
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