A bizarre chain email sent to district and school board officials in the Dallas area this October titled ‘IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM’ inspired a recent investigation of ‘Islamic bias’ in the district’s curriculum. Despite the outlandish claims, the district requested that an official from the organization that created the curriculum to respond. The results of a 72-page investigation done by the organization were not surprising: there’s a Christian bias in schools, not a Muslim one.
The official told the board that a bias toward Islam didn’t exist, even mentioning that ‘she hired a ‘very socially and fiscally conservative’ former social studies teacher who ‘watches Glenn Beck on a regular basis’ to seek out any Islamic bias in CSCOPE [the curriculum].’ She ‘asked her to look for anything she would consider the least bit controversial.’ The Dallas Morning News has the details of an investigation that mentioned ‘every religious reference in the CSCOPE curriculum, from kindergarten to high school’:
- Christianity got twice as much attention in the curriculum as any other religion. Islam was a distant second.
- The Red Crescent and Boston Tea Party reference mentioned in the email were nowhere in CSCOPE’s curriculum, although they may have been in the past.
- If there was any Islamic bias in CSCOPE it was ‘bias against radical Islam.’
Read or listen to the whole story here.
Detective Ellen Vest investigates hate crimes for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and she recently recalled a case in which a white skinhead attacked an African-American man outside a bar, causing brain damage.
Vest thought the assault was a hate crime.
“He had one swastika on his shoulder that he displayed to our African-American victim. So we served a search warrant on his house,” she said of the suspect, who was ultimately convicted. “He had a money clip that had a little KKK man on it, with a burning cross. He didn’t have a lot, but what he did have was really pretty specific to show he was a biased individual.”
To convict a suspect of a hate crime, proving that bias is critical. And for detectives like Vest, one of the best ways to do that is by looking for those hate symbols.
These are boots that Detective Ellen Vest said are evidence their owners were white extremists. They have swastikas on the soles [and don’t miss the ‘SS’ pattern around the sides]. Photo by Adrian Florido
Vest has a pair of confiscated heavy black combat boots popular with white extremists on the floor of her office. She said the red laces meant the owner had spilled blood for his cause. She uses the boots as a doorstop, and as a vase for flowers.
On a second pair, she showed me the rubber treading on the sole, which took the shape of swastikas, meant to leave an intimidating print wherever they stepped.
Vest said the evidence that hate is alive and well gets more disturbing when she enters homes.
‘It’s sad because I’ve gone into homes and seen a sticker up on the refrigerator for the kids to memorize the 14 words,’ she said, referring to the racist mantra, ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’
This is the second in a series at Fronteras Desk on “The Search for Tolerance”. Yesterday’s installment was good too.
Gilbert, Ariz. is a bedroom community outside of Phoenix that has seen explosive population growth in recent decades. As it grew from a small, conservative farming town into a more diverse community, some notable tensions arose.
‘In 1993, our detectives started to identify in the town of Gilbert a gang that called themselves White Power,’ said police spokesman Sergeant Bill Balafas.
Six years later, a spin-off gang called the Devil Dogs emerged among football players at Highland High School.
‘Their belief system, we learned, was for white people and anti everything else,’ Balafas said. ‘So they were racists, but that didn’t mean they didn’t beat up white people, they just beat up everybody.’
That’s the community where white supremacist J.T. Ready killed himself and four others in May.
From Human Rights Watch: hrw.org
(Geneva) – The Jordanian authorities have forcibly returned some newly arriving Palestinians from Syria and threatened others with deportation, Human Rights Watch said today.Since April 2012, the authorities have also arbitrarily detained Palestinians fleeing Syria in a refugee holding center without any options for release other than return to Syria. The Jordanian authorities should treat all Palestinians from Syria seeking refuge in Jordan the same as Syrian asylum seekers, who are allowed to remain and can move freely in Jordan after passing security screening and finding a sponsor.
There’s a lot of ‘he-said, he-said’ going on in this story, but if HR Watch’s understanding is correct, it’s another chapter in Jordan’s ongoing complicated relationship with Palestinians within their borders. Jordan has stripped Jordanian citizenship from Palestinians, in an attempt to maintain their official refugee status. However, Jordan does provide healthcare and education to Palestinians resident in Jordan, unlike, say, Lebanon or Syria. As the other half of British Mandate Palestine, Jordan has been playing a complex game with Israel over the West Bank and the ultimate status of the Palestinian refugee population for a long time. (Ceding the land they lost in 67 to the PLO was a particularly clever move.)
Elder of Ziyon has a simple question about this story: will anyone (by which he means the usual suspects), identify this as apartheid? The answer is no, and we can move on. Yes, they’d yell their heads off if Israel did this. No, they won’t notice this. But we know that the usual suspects are not capable of looking beyond their own narrow understanding of the Middle East.
I don’t have a question, more of an observation: this is yet another incident that underscores the extent to which the creation and maintenance of the Palestinian refugee population is a region-wide issue. Unfortunately, it is never treated as region-wide issue: it is treated as Israel’s responsibility. A narrative has been carefully crafted, in which Israel is the sole actor at fault, and (it is strongly suggested), the region would suddenly erupt in peace and Bollywood dance routines if Israel would just for goodness sakes be reasonable.
And in the meantime, Palestinians continue to live on the edges of society in Lebanon, and be turned back from the Jordanian border as they flee Syria, and nothing much happens. Because while the world cares very much what Israel does, no one (Israel’s bordering states least of all), cares very much what happens to the Palestinians themselves.
In an interview with the Haaretz newspaper published yesterday, Israeli Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz was asked his view of the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Here are some key excerpts:
#f3f3f3;">#f3f3f3;”>“If Iran goes nuclear it will have negative dimensions for the world, for the region, for the freedom of action Iran will permit itself,” Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Haaretz in an Independence Day interview. That freedom of action might be expressed against us, via the force Iran will project toward its clients: Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in Gaza. And there’s also the potential for an existential threat. If they have a bomb, we are the only country in the world that someone calls for its destruction and also builds devices with which to bomb us. […]
Asked whether 2012 is also decisive for Iran, Gantz shies from the term. “Clearly, the more the Iranians progress the worse the situation is. This is a critical year, but not necessarily ‘go, no-go.’ The problem doesn’t necessarily stop on December 31, 2012. We’re in a period when something must happen: Either Iran takes its nuclear program to a civilian footing only or the world, perhaps we too, will have to do something. We’re closer to the end of the discussions than the middle.”[…]
Iran, Gantz says, “is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile. As long as its facilities are not bomb-proof, the program is too vulnerable, in Iran’s view. If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don’t think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous.”
#f3f3f3;">#f3f3f3;”>Israel army chief says Iran unlikely to make bomb
#f3f3f3;">#f3f3f3;”>#f3f3f3; font-size: large;">#f3f3f3; font-size: large;”>(Reuters) - Israel’s military chief said he does not believe Iran will decide to produce an atomic bomb, describing its leadership as “very rational” in an interview published on Wednesday.
Of course, this is not what Gantz is saying at all. He is saying that Iran is on the deliberate path toward nuclear weapons but that the regime will not take the final decision to build a bomb until the Supreme Leader “judges that Iran is invulnerable to a response”, i.e., foreign attack. Gantz believes this decision will be taken once Iran’s nuclear facilities become bomb-proof. It is in this sense, that Gantz judges Iran’s leadership to be rational.
Lubell and Reuters willfully edit and twist Gantz’ words to make it appear that he has said he believes Iran will not produce an atomic bomb, because the leadership is rational.
The depths to which Reuters correspondents will stoop to obfuscate reality are truly astounding.
This Friday, students all over America will choose to remain quiet in school. They’ll be participating in the Day of Silence, an annual event designed to protest the bias and bullying that often silences gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students.
The premise behind the event is simple: Students attend classes but do not speak for the entire day. The Day of Silence isn’t sponsored by the schools. It’s run by students, often through a Gay-Straight Alliance Club that many schools now have. (Ironically, these clubs exist thanks to a federal law backed by Religious Right groups, which were eager to get Christian clubs into public schools.)
Every year, Religious Right organizations throw a fit about the Day of Silence. In recent years, the American Family Association has gone as far as to implore parents to actually keep their kids home if other students in the school are taking part in the event.
That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. How are fundamentalist teens negatively affected because some of their peers choose not to speak for a day? What’s it to them?
I got curious as to how the Day of Silence plays out on the ground, so last night I asked my daughter, a high school senior who has participated in the project in the past and plans to do so this year, to explain to me how it works in her school.
Claire said it’s very simple. At the start of the day, students who want to remain silent get a sticker from the Gay-Straight Alliance and wear it all day. This lets fellow students and teachers know that that this student is taking part and won’t be speaking.
It’s up to each teacher to decide how to respond to this. Claire is aware that she’s running a risk. She said her Spanish teacher in particular values class participation, and she knows that the teacher has the right to penalize students who refuse to take part in her class. Sanctions can include getting a failing grade for the day or even in-school detention.
In a truly vile demonstration of pro-Palestinian propaganda, Reuters correspondent Jihan Abdalla reports on the Israel Supreme Court’s decision to reject claims of ownership by the Husseini family to what remains of the Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem:
#f3f3f3;">#f3f3f3;”>It was declared “absentee property” by Israel after it was captured and annexed to East Jerusalem in 1967. The title was transferred to an Israeli firm, which sold it in 1985 to Irving Moskowitz, a Florida businessman and patron of Jewish settlers.
In 2009, Israel’s Jerusalem city hall approved a project to replace the building with a block of 20 apartments. Israeli officials said Washington had voiced its opposition to the plan to Israel’s ambassador in the United States.
“This property, which is legitimately ours, represents the Palestinians’ rights to their land and to Jerusalem,” Mona Husseini, heir to the property and Husseini’s granddaughter, said on Monday.
What Abdalla fails to tell readers is that between 1948 and 1967, during which time the property was in the hands of, first, the British and then the King of Jordan, there was absolutely no claim of ownership made by the Husseini family or anyone else. Only years after Israel took possession of the compound did Husseini and the Palestinians become incensed and seek to obtain title.
Abdalla notes that the original dwelling “served as the home of Jerusalem grand mufti Haj Amin Husseini, who fought the British and Zionists”.
More precisely, Husseini was a Nazi collaborator who exhorted Adolf Hitler not to allow the Jews of Europe to flee to Palestine. Husseini assured Hitler that the Arabs would, consistent with the Nazi approach in Germany, exterminate those Jews living in Palestine and Arab countries.
#f3f3f3;">#f3f3f3;”>“Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you”.
— Haj Amin Husseini
In a story about the deportation to Gaza of previously detained Palestinian, Hana Shalabi, a member of Islamic Jihad, an internationally-recognized terror group responsible for the murder and maiming of hundreds of Israelis, Reuters hardcore propagandists Nidal al-Mughrabi and Allyn Fisher-Ilan write:
#f3f3f3;">#f3f3f3;”>Israel says it uses detention without trial to protect intelligence sources in any legal proceedings against a Palestinian suspect.
The measure has drawn criticism from human rights groups and the European Union.
Pretty ironic, given that many countries in the European Union employ their own “administrative detention” for a host of reasons, including efforts to curb illegal immigration:
#f3f3f3;">#f3f3f3;”>Ireland utilizes administrative detention to control illegal immigration. Beginning in 1996, a legal framework was put in place to authorize the use of administrative detention for this purpose. This legal framework includes the Refugee Act, 1996, the Immigration Acts, 1999, 2003 and 2004, and the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000. According to official Irish government statistics, in 2003-2004, a total of 2,798 people were administratively detained for immigration-related reasons, two thirds of whom were held in prison for periods of longer than 51 days. The vast majority (more than 90%) of detainees are held in one of two Dublin prisons, Cloverhill Prison (male detainees) and the Dóchas Centre at Mountjoy Prison (female detainees). The rest are held in prisons as well as border control (Garda Síochána) stations. The UK has maintained many forms of Administrative detention over the years. The most recent forms were a series of Acts intended to introduce a form of administrative detention to Northern Ireland under the auspices of the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1973. This Act allowed the security forces to apprehend and detain persons suspected of terrorist activities without trial for an unlimited period. The introduction of the Act led directly to the creation of internment camps (particularly Long Kesh (the Maze) and the prison ship Maidstone where suspects were detained, some for protracted periods.
No word from al-Mughrabi, Fisher-Ilan, or anyone else at Reuters on the EU’s detention policies.
Well this just saddens me to no end because, even though he spelled his first name the wrong way, Stephen J. Gould is a personal hero.
Stephen Jay Gould launched a famous assault on Samuel Morton, a 19th-century physical anthropologist. Morton’s measurements of skull size had been used to justify the claim that Caucasians have larger skulls and are therefore more intelligent than other races, an inference discredited by modern science. Gould accused Morton of mismeasuring craniums, botching his math, and selectively excluding or weighting evidence. In every case, Gould said, Morton’s errors had favored his bias, boosting whites or cheating blacks. But this year, a team of scientists turned the tables on Gould, showing that the true errors and bias on display were his own.
The turmoil in Syria has fuelled tensions in neighboring Lebanon where Syria has many allies, including the powerful Shi’ite group Hezbollah, as well as foes who resent the nearly three decades of Syrian military presence which ended in 2005.
That “military presence” involved the illegal stationing of thousands of Syrian troops, tanks, and warplanes in Lebanon for the explicit purpose of suppressing anti-Syrian sentiment, securing geopolitical leverage against Israel, and providing economic gains for the Syrian population.
Yet, Lyon willfully downplays it as a mere “military presence”.
Apparently, “occupation”, the agency’s favorite word to employ when describing Israel’s quite legal presence in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) doesn’t apply when referring to illegal Arab control of the sovereign territory of other states.
Techniques for immunizing yourself against political pandering are pretty straightforward. Applying them consistently is hard.
1. Facts, facts, facts! Get some. Then get some more. Become your own proactive news aggregator.
2. Confirm all ‘facts,’ opinions, and arguments. Are the premises true? Do they prove the conclusion? Only then is an argument sound.
3. Avoid logical fallacies. Ad hominem attack is just one of dozens of logical fallacies. Learn what they are and beware of their use.
4. Reference multiple sources with different points of view.
5. Concentrate on reliable non-partisan sources that provide references to back up their statements. PolitiFact.com and Wikipedia are a good start, but keep going.
6. Identify and combat your own confirmation bias. Be honest with yourself. In your heart you know what your biases are.
7. Question all authority - religious leaders, politicians, and so-called experts.
8. Get the facts before forming an opinion, not after.
9. Subject your opinions to the test of fact-based logical reasoning. If they are found wanting, discard them. To do otherwise leads to hypocrisy.
10. Love the truth more than your biases.
That last one is the hardest. However, take it from Panderbear, the longer and more frequently you apply the other nine, the easier it will get. It’s worth the effort. You’ll see.