The USA: “Now is a time when none of us can afford to remain seated or silent.”

What Others Are Saying

“Now is a time when none of us can afford to remain seated or silent. We must all stand up to be counted.” – Dan Rather, Journalist

History will demand to know which side were you on. This is not a question of politics or party or even policy. This is a question about the very fundamentals of our beautiful dan-rather-2experiment in a pluralistic democracy ruled by law.

When I see neo-Nazis raise their hands in terrifying solute, in public, in our nation’s capital, I shudder in horror. When I see that action mildly rebuked by a boilerplate statement from the President-elect whom these bigots have praised, the anger in me grows. And when I see some in a pliant press turn that mild statement into what they call a denunciation I cannot hold back any longer.

Our Declaration of Independence bequeaths us our cherished foundational principle: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These truths may be self-evident but they are not self-replicating. Each generation has to renew these vows. This nation was founded as an opposite pole to the capriciousness of an authoritarian monarch. We set up institutions like a free press and an independent court system to protect our fragile rights. We have survived through bloody spasms of a Civil War and a Civil Rights Movement to extend more of these rights to more of our citizens. But the direction of our ship of state has not always been one of progress. We interned Japanese Americans, Red Baited during the McCarthy era, and more. I feel the rip tide of regression once again swelling under my feet. But I intend to remain standing.

In normal times of a transition in our presidency between an incoming and outgoing administration of differing political parties, there is a certain amount of fretting on one side and gloating on the other. And the press usually takes a stance that the new administration at least deserves to have a chance to get started – a honeymoon period. But these are not normal times. This is not about tax policy, health care, or education – even though all those and more are so important. This is about racism, bigotry, intimidation and the specter of corruption.

But as I stand I do not despair, because I believe the vast majority of Americans stand with me. To all those in Congress of both political parties, to all those in the press, to religious and civic leaders around the country. your voices must be heard. I hope that the President-elect can learn to rise above this and see the dangers that are brewing. If he does and speaks forcibly, and with action, we should be ready to welcome his voice. But of course I am deeply worried that his selections of advisors and cabinet posts suggests otherwise.

To all of you I say, stay vigilant. The great Martin Luther King, Jr. knew that even as a minority, there was strength in numbers in fighting tyranny. Holding hands and marching forward, raising your voice above the din of complacency, can move mountains. And in this case, I believe there is a vast majority who wants to see this nation continue in tolerance and freedom. But it will require speaking. Engage in your civic government. Flood newsrooms or TV networks with your calls if you feel they are slipping into the normalization of extremism. Donate your time and money to causes that will fight to protect our liberties.

We are a great nation. We have survived deep challenges in our past. We can and will do so again. But we cannot be afraid to speak and act to ensure the future we want for our children and grandchildren.”

The above comment was originally published today on Facebook by Dan Rather. the thedanrather@gmail.com

(Photo credit: You Tube)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

 

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An open letter to all Muslims

Why do so many of you have such hatred for others? Why do so many of you, after 1,390 CE years since the Battle of Badr, continue to believe you cannot have honour and pride without a sword in your hand? 

by Alan Simons

O

I say this to you with all the sincerity I can muster. I can’t help thinking of the famous quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction… The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

As a Jew, I continue to shake my head in bewilderment at the reluctance of moderate, hard working and decent Muslims to stand up and be counted against hate, against intolerance, against terrorism, against racism and for good measure while I’m at it, against the vile cesspool of antisemitism.  I ask myself what does it take for you, as Muslims, to vigorously express yourselves openly, as individuals or as a community, against these concerns without losing your dignity or honour? 

Why do many of you find it so much easier to demonstrate against all that is Jewish, yet lack the courage of openly demonstrating against the abhorrent acts of brutality initiated by your fellow Muslims who are slaughtering thousands through sectarian violence, bombings, the kidnapping of women and children and, as we learnt today, ISIS has ordered female genital mutilation for women in Mosul, Syria.

Since this past Monday, an overnight suicide bombing in a Shi’ite district of Baghdad killed 33 people. In Syria, ISIS ordered Christians to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Many of them have fled. Mosul’s Christian population before last month’s militant takeover by ISIS was around 5,000, now only 200 are left. In the Gaza Strip, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm yesterday that 20 rockets found hidden in a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip had gone missing. In Libya, at least 12 people have been killed and 60 injured in the Benghazi’s Buatni district. And let us not forget, last week 700 Syrians were killed in two days of conflict and two bombings in Nigeria killed at least 42 people in the latest violence blamed on Boko Haram Islamists.

I ask you, is your fear of being shamed, of having to admit these atrocities are committed by other Muslims so powerful that to openly convey your thoughts to non-Muslims might affect whatever power and influence you personally have in your community?

As the Islamic spiritual scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan so eloquently put it: “Not all Muslims become involved in acts of violence. Yet all might be held culpable. This is because that section of Muslim–in fact, the majority–who are not personally involved, neither disown those members of their community who are engaged in violence, nor even condemn them. In such a case, according to the Islamic Shariah itself, if the involved Muslims are directly responsible, the uninvolved Muslims are also indirectly responsible.”

Let me remind you of what Tarek Fatah, the Pakistani-born Canadian writer and founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress has said: “Any nation, any society, any country that is created on the basis of a hatred towards the others, will soon run out of people that it can hate or groups it can decimate and it will devour itself.”

For me, I can tell you proudly, we Jews no longer suffer from what is called a victim mentality.  So, learn from our tragedy. Learn that you can still have honour and respect without the sword. Learn, before your own fanatics devour you, your family and your community.

As you approach Eid al-Fitr be gracious and reach out to non-Muslims. The concepts of your hospitality, charity, spirituality and community can be shared by all, irrespective of one’s religion, race and nationality. During the next few days extend your hand out to non-Muslims by inviting them in to your home for iftar.  According to a hadith, Prophet Muhammed said, “Charity is a proof of faith” and “The best charity is that which is given in Ramadan.” Make it so.

And so it is. Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair! Shalom.

RWANDA: Rusesabagina. An imposed hero.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“We must remember that racism, madness and mayhem are not the norm from which we should be temporarily redeemed by an unexpected hero. They are an artificial and anti-human status quo created by people, institutions and actions. Our task is to fight the conditions that produce such evil, and we cannot do that when we glamorize heroes on the basis of fantasy. We must choose our own heroes on the basis of evidence, analysis and a firm belief that human dignity should be the norm, not a delightful surprise.”

– Dr. Wandia Njoya

Dr. Wandia Njoya

NOVEMBER 09, 2011On November 16, Paul Rusesabagina, on whom the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda is based, will receive a human rights prize from the Lantos Foundation, named after former congressman Tom Lantos. The reward has been contested by survivors of the genocide against Tutsis, describing Rusesabagina in their petition as an “imposter without equal.”

“Since the release of the film, facts and survivor testimonies have been produced that challenge the glamorization of Rusesabagina. That makes the decision by the Lantos foundation surprising, and also not surprising.

“It is surprising because a foundation in honor of a survivor of Nazi labor camps and whose advisory board is chaired by Shimon Peres should appreciate the importance of truth in a matter as grave as genocide. But it is also not surprising in light of the racist attitude that presents African issues as lacking complexity. If  Hollywood says Rusesabagina is a hero, why question? Research? Verification? There’s no need: when it comes to Africa, the answers are obvious.

“Three years ago, I posted my reservations about the film in light of a critique in Alfred Ndahiro and Privat Rutazibwa’s book Hotel Rwanda: Or the genocide of Tutsis according to Hollywood. My basic argument was that Rusesabagina is not just an imposter; he is an imposed hero. The West chooses heroes for us on very anti-human criteria and then uses its media, awards and global networks to impose them on us…

“Paul Rusesabagina does not deserve the accolades he has received. Even if he did all the things that the film depicts him as doing, which I doubt, he owed it to humanity and to justice to do them. He may have spared the lives of Tutsis in the hotel, but he is not the one who gave them that life. It is Imana who gave them the life they still have, and the life that was taken away from so many others. And it is the Rwanda Patriotic Front, not unexpected heroes, which put an end to the madness. In fact, I suspect that the love for Rusesabagina is a means for Euro-America to mask its disbelief that it is Africans, not the UN or Euro-America, who decisively ended the slaughter by the Interahamwe.”

The full text of Dr. Njoya’s article can be read at:  An imposed hero

(Photo credit: lukestephens)

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