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Today's Stories

December 11, 2008

Patrick Cockburn
Total Defeat for U.S. in Iraq

P. Sainath
After Mumbai

Dedrick Muhammad
Post-Racial Racism at the Post: the Undying Obsession with Black Family Values

Lee Sustar
Victory at Republic

Peter Morici
The Big Drag

December 10, 2008

Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Whose Interests Will Shape Obama's Change?

Mary Lynn Cramer
The Multi-Trillion Dollar Question

Manuel Garcia, Jr.
Nuclear Weapons Obsolescence

Joshua Frank
Breaking the Stranglehold on Middle East News Coverage

Jack Ely
Stop Sobbing About Free Music Downloads: a Message to the Music Industry from the Lead Singer of the Kingsmen

Steve Conn
An Obama Public Works Program?

Lee Sustar
Republic Workers Target Bank of America

Glen Ford
The Die is Cast

Stephen Lendman
The Persecution of Syed Fahad Hashmi

Nadia Hijab
The Face of America

Dave Lindorff
We All Need a Union

Website of the Day
This One's For You, Senator Dodd

December 9, 2008

Mike Whitney
Card Check

Fawzia Afzal-Khan
Us vs. Them

Ghada Karmi
The UN Resolution That Time Forgot

Dave Lindorff
A Car Dealer Explains Why the Bailout is a Raw Deal

Steve Breyman
Notes on a Green Economy: Managing Stuff in the 21st Century

Lee Sustar /
Nicole Colson

Raising the Stakes at Republic

Rev. William E. Alberts
God of Our Fathers

Martha Rosenberg
Bill Richardson: Secretary of Bloodsports

Sam Husseini
How Holbrooke Lied His Way Into a War

David Macaray
The UAW in Peril

Website of the Day
This Toxic Life

December 8, 2008

Steve Early
Is Obama Backing Off a Crucial Pledge to Labor?

Michael Hudson
Obama's Favoritism: Wall Street, Not the Auto Industry

Patrick Cockburn
Talking to a Lashkar Militant

Diane Farsetta
An Officer and a Conflicted Man: McCaffery, the Pentagon and Fleishman-Hillard

Paul Craig Roberts
Chapters in Imperial Hypocrisy

Daniel Gross
The Chicago Sit-Down Strike

Saul Landau
To Bail or Not to Bail?

Harvey Wasserman
Why John Bryson is Unfit for Energy Secretary

Mike Ferner
The New Generation of "Non-Lethal" Weapons

Norman Solomon
The Silent Winter of Escalation

David Michael Green
The Other Foot

Website of the Day
The Remains of Detroit


December 5 / 7, 2008

Alexander Cockburn
Honeymoans From the Left

Brian Cloughley
Shambles in Afghanistan

Paul Craig Roberts
Muslim Revolution: How Washington Arrogance Helped Drive the Mumbai Attacks

Liaquat Ali Khan
Mumbai and the Kashmir Tinderbox

Farzana Versey
Mumbai's Charge of the Lightweight Brigade

Peter Lee
Pakistan Nears the Breaking Point

Peter Morici
Slouching Toward a Depression?

Ralph Nader /
Toby Heaps

Junk Cap-and-Trade

Yinon Cohen /
Neve Gordon
Obama Could End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Will He Meet the Challenge?

Wajahat Ali
Perverse Justice: the Holy Land Foundation Convictions

Johnny Barber
Aswad's Story: Illegal Detention and the Declaration of Human Rights

Alan Farago
Fallout from the Pass-Through Economy

Jeremy Scahill
Obama Doesn't Plan to End Occupation of Iraq

Mike Whitney
Powergrab in Ottawa

Ranjit Hoskote
Jahiliyya Versus Jihad

Carl Finamore
Thank God I'm an Atheist! (Or Boy is Bill O'Reilly in for a Big Surprise)

Marjorie Cohn
Obama and Women's Rights

Norm Kent
Tommy Chong, the Unanticipated Warrior

Missy Beattie
What Lies Ahead

Binoy Kampmark
Committing Suicide On-Line: the Briggs Case

David Macaray
The Best and the Brightest Redux: Too Many Brains, Not Enough Humility

Nancy Stohlman
Relational Activism

Ron Jacobs
Irreverent Politics Then and Now

David Yearsley
Thematics From the Golden Past

Lorenzo Wolff
Troubled Songs of Home and War

Poets' Basement
Orloski: The Door Opener

Website of the Weekend
In Prison My Whole Life

December 4, 2008

Ece Temelkuran
Inside the Ergenekon Case

Ralph Nader
Turning Crisis into Opportunity: Who Will Seize the Moment?

Harry Browne
The Bush-Obama National Security Strategy

Eamonn Fingleton
The American Car Industry: a Riposte to the Knockers

Conn Hallinan
The Syria Attack

Mike Whitney
Fiasco in Somalia: Another CIA Cock-Up

Stewart J. Lawrence
Obama and Latinos: Richardson, Alone, is Not Enough

Paul Fitzgerald /
Elizabeth Gould

Message to Obama: Stop Killing Afghanis

Karyn Strickler
Show Us the Green, Before We Show You the Money

Jennifer Matsui
Obama-Cola: the Great National Temperance Beverage

Website of the Day
"He Ain't Got Laid in a Month of Sundays..."

December 3, 2008

Andrew Cockburn
What's Wrong with the U.S. Military

Sheldon Rampton
Mormon Homophobia: Up Close and Personal

Robert Weissman
Nationalize GM

Yifat Susskind
From Mumbai to Washington

William Blum
The Obama Bummer: Vote First, Ask Questions Later

Alan Singer
The Ghost of the Defunct Economist

David Macaray
Trampled Under Foot at Wal-Mart

Martha Rosenberg
Born With a Statin Deficiency? Line Forms to the Left!

Mats Svensson
The Crimes Have No Period of Limitations

Website of the Day
Why Bill Richardson's Nomination Should be Opposed

December 2, 2008

Jeremy Scahill
Obama's Kettle of Hawks

Paul Craig Roberts
The New Arms Race

Ayesha Ijaz Khan
The Mumbai Terror Attacks: Is Pakistan to Blame?

Sarah Anderson /
John Cavanagh

Skewed Priorities: How the Bailout Dwarfs Spending on Other Global Crises

William Blum
The Mythology of the War on Terrorism

John Ross
Mexico's Drug War Goes Down in Flames

Dave Lindorff
A Tale of Two Terror Attacks

Nicola Nasser
A Peace Process That Makes Peace Impossible

Steve Conn
Operation Redskin Removal

Robert Bryce
Coal Hard Facts

Website of the Day
Country, Funk, Soul

December 1, 2008

Patrick Cockburn
From Baghdad to Mumbai, by Way of Pakistan

Damien Millet /
Eric Toussaint

Obama's Economic Team: Records of Failure

Vijay Prashad
The Fires in South Asia

Deepak Tripathi
Obama's Foreign Crises

Joshua Frank
Madam Secretary Clinton and the Middle East

P. Sainath
The Unlikely Martyrdom of Free Market Jihad

Alan Farago
The Right's War on Regulators

Binoy Kampmark
Sydney's Ball and Chain

Chris Genovali
Silent Fall

David Michael Green
Hope You Die Before You Get Old

Stephen Martin
The Chinese are Coming, the Chinese are Coming!

Website of the Day
Robert Rubin: Coward, Liar or Both?

November 28-30, 2008

Alexander Cockburn
In Time of Trouble

Mike Whitney
The Obama "Dream Team": Rubin Clones and Other Fakers

Ted Honderich
What is the Meaning of Obama's Election?

Tom Kerr
Preserving Filthy Lucre (Or Becoming My Dad)

Mike Ely
The Conquest of New England

David Yearsley
Hymns of the Conquest

Deepak Tripathi
Uproar in Police-State Britain

Sonja Karkar
Gaza's Death Throes

Ramzy Baroud
Salvation in a News Broadcast

Robert Weitzel
Israel's Settlement on Capitol Hill

Robert Roth
Can We Create a Movement for Change?

Carlos Fierro
Obama and the End of Racism?

David Macaray
How to Kill a Union

David Rosen
A New Sexual Agenda

James Cockcroft
Indigenous People Rising

Stan Cox
The Most Disappointing Gift

Steve Conn
Talking Turkey About College Basketball

Stephen Martin
The Electromagnetic Pulse and Economic Warfare

Richard Rhames
Busty Bimbettes, Bombs and Brand Obama

Kim Nicolini
Women as Products and Cannibalistic Achievers

Lorenzo Wolff
A Battle Cry for the Confused and Vulnerable

Poets' Basement
Woods, Harrison and Corseri

November 27, 2008

Tariq Ali
The Assault on Mumbai

Steve Hendricks
Thanksgiving We Can Believe In: Justice in Indian Country

Ralph Nader
Open Up Those Corporate Tax Returns

John Walsh
The Root Cause of the Crisis of 2008

Dave Lindorff
The Department of Homeland Lunacy

Christopher Brauchli
Thanks A Lot, Mr. Meese: How Alberto Gonzales Learned to Get You to Pay for His Legal Bills

Matthew Koehler
Giving Thanks for Burned Forests

Website of the Day
John Trudell: "Crazy Horse We Hear What You Say"


November 26, 2008

Michael Hudson
The Obama Letdown

Alan Farago
Bailouts and the New Math

Stanley Heller
Don't Bail Them Out, Take Them Over

Kevin Zeese
The Real Cost of the Bailout

Steve Conn
Now It Can Be Told (Except in North Carolina)

Ray McGovern
Kafka and Uighurs at Guantánamo

Ron Jacobs
King George is Gone: Now It's Time to Organize

Eric Walberg
Obama's Odious Entourage

Martha Rosenberg
Pay No Attention to That Turkey Being Slaughtered (Or How Sarah Palin Created a Whole New Generation of Vegetarians)

Matt Siegfried
Back to the Future With Barack

Website of the Day
"Every Time I've Compromised, I've Lost"


November 25, 2008

James Abourezk
Of Arrogance, Bailouts and the Big Three

Ralph Nader
Don't Suppress Carter

Patrick Irelan
PBS Reports for Big Oil on Venezuela

John Ross
Obama in Bedlam

Fred Gardner
Dr. Goodwin and the Infinite Con

Dan LaBotz
The Auto Crisis: a Big Caravan to Washington?

Tom Barry
Napolitano and Immigration Policy

Norman Solomon
The Ideology of No Ideology

Richard Morse
Memo From Haiti: Where the Culture of Corruption Meets the Corruption of Culture

Chris Strohm
The Missing Rules of Engagement in Cyberwar

Website of the Day
Green vs. Green?

November 24, 2008

Mike Whitney
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Pam Martens
The Rise and Fall of Citigroup

Laray Polk
Bush's Library: the Kurds, Oil and Missing Records

David Ker Thomson
American Friends: With Friends Like These, Who Needs Canadians?

Uri Avnery
Likud Rising

Joe Mowrey
Deprivation and Desperation in Gaza

Ramzi Kysia
An Administration in Search of a Progressive: the Team Obama Should Have Picked

Kevin Zeese
The Causes of the Auto Crisis

Dave Lindorff
Rescuing the Blob: Idiots and Bailouts

David Macaray
Seven Reasons You Should Join a Union

Howard Lisnoff
Inaugurations Past and Present

Website of the Day
I Hate the Beatles

November 21 / 23, 2008

Alexander Cockburn
The Honeymoon is Looking a Bit Wan

Michael Hudson
Paulson's Cascade of Lies

Mike Whitney
Time to Move to Plan B ... If There is One

Barbara Rose Johnston /
Holly M. Barker

Cautionary Tales From a Nuclear War Zone

Serge Halimi
The Gloom of Empire: Downhill All the Way

Alan Farago
The Suburbs March On

Ralph Nader
Changing With Retreads: the Third Clinton Administration

Saul Landau
When Old Axioms Don't Apply

Robert Bryce
From LBJ to Obama: the End of Texas Dominance

Shannon May
Ecological Crisis and Eco-Villages in China

Binoy Kampmark
The End of the Yugo

Jack Ely
The Fate of the West's Wild Horses

Ramzy Baroud
The Rights of Women in War Zones

Missy Beattie
Why Vote, Anyway?

Larry Portis
Women Soldiers Serving in (and Barely Surviving) the Israeli Army

James McEnteer
Colombia's Laboratory of Failure

Christopher Brauchli
A Tale of Two Whales

David Yearsley
Real Swords, Fire and Don Giovanni

Adam Engel
Power Down

Ron Jacobs
The Continuing Saga of the White Album

Lorenzo Wolff
Honky Tonk Heroes: When Country Got Real

Poets' Basement
Raza Ali Hasan

Website of the Weekend
Lips and Fingers

November 20, 2008

P. Sainath
The Jurassic Auto and Idea Park

Brian McKenna
How Dow Chemical Defies Homeland Security and Risks Another 9/11

Paul Craig Roberts
What Uncle Sam Has to Say to His Creditors

Andy Worthington
How Guanántamo Can be Closed

Peter Lee
India Doubles Down in Afghanistan ... Maybe

Dr. Eyad al-Serraj
At the Erez Crossing

Sen. Russ Feingold
The Bush Pardons

Lance Selfa
Who Made the New Deal?

Ray McGovern
Keeping Gates

Benjamin G. Davis
Ending Torture; Prosecuting the Torturers

Tracy McLellan
Obama's Crony Democracy: the Return of Tom Daschle

Website of the Day
Finally, a Victory for Palestinians

November 19, 2008

M. Shahid Alam
Obama and the Politics of Race and Religion in America

Mario A. Murillo
Holder, Chiquita and Colombian Death Squads

Martine Boulard
Escaping the Dollar's Shadow

Robin D. G. Kelley
Will Obama be the First "Freedom" Democrat?

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi
Obama and the Iron Cage

Jonathan Cook
Who Will Stop the Settlers?

Steve Conn
Spare Change or No Change at All

George Wuerthner
The NYT and the Beetles of Mass Destruction

Michael Winship
This Just in From Middle Earth

Stephen Martin
The Other Side of the Pleasure-Dome

Website of the Day
An Important Holiday Message From Kristen Johnston

November 18, 2008

Chellis Glendinning
Cheering for Morgan Stanley

George C. Wilson
Perils of Pakistan: Will It Prove to be Obama's Cambodia?

Franklin Lamb
Who Will Evict Israel from Lebanon: Hezbollah or the UN?

Bill and Kathleen Christison
The Irresponsibility of Appointing Hillary Clinton Secretary of State

Roger Burbach
Orchestrating a Civic Coup in Bolivia: How Bush Tried to Bring Down Morales

John Ross
Drilling vs. Direct Democracy in Mexico

Wajahat Ali
Is Obama the Muslim World's Superman?

Damien Millet /
Eric Toussaint

What Really Happened in Washington? The G20 and the Inconsistent Script

Marc Gardner
When Mooning is a Sex Crime

Eric Walberg
Courting the Bear: a New Era for Russian/Western Relations?

Wendy Williams
The Bottled Water Con

Website of the Day
Where's Zappa When We Need Him?

November 17, 2008

Michael Hudson
Bankers Shake Down Congress and the G-20

Paul Craig Roberts
When It's a Clear Day and You Can't See GM

Mike Whitney
Busted in Washington

Steve Conn
Where is Nader Country 2008? Mapping the Nader Votes

Andy Worthington
Closing Guantánamo: Advice for Obama

Jonathan Cook
The Real Goal of Israel's Blockade of Gaza: "They Are All Hamas"

Rannie Amiri
Dual Loyalties Will Doom Obama

David Macaray
Bailing Out the Automakers

David Michael Green
Twelve Victories

Charles Modiano
Sports Illustrated and Sexism: Tokenism or a New Day?

Website of the Day
The South Sea Bubble

November 14 / 16, 2008

Alexander Cockburn
Heading for the First Hundred Days

Jeffrey St. Clair
How Bill Clinton Doomed the Spotted Owl: a Cautionary Tale for Greens in the Age of Obama

Mike Whitney
Paulson the Bungler

Sasan Fayazmanesh
RIP: the Experts, 1929-2008

Moshe Adler
Keynes: China's Greatest Export?

Anthony DiMaggio
Transcending Race?

Jean Bricmont
Cats, Dogs and Creationism

Sheldon Rampton
The Eisenstadt Hoax: a Real Life Example of a "Fake Fake"

Douglas Valentine
Let the Trials Begin!

Joseph Nevins /
Timothy Dunn

Barricading the Border

Tom Barry
Rahm Emanuel's Political Pragmatism on Immigration

Ron Jacobs
Che Guevara Meets Trashman: the Genius of Spain Rodriguez

Larry Portis
The State of the Israeli State

Mary Lynn Cramer Obama's Brain Trust: Seems Like Old Times

Sherry Wolf
The Myth of the Black/Gay Divide

Peter Cervantes-Gautschi
Secretary of Greed: How Larry Summers Championed Wall Street by Impoverishing the Mexican People

Jacob Hornberger
The Conservative Malaise
: Hey, Brother, Can You Spare Some Habeas Corpus?

Lance Selfa
The Center-Right Nation Con

Benjamin Dangl
Vermont Against General Dynamics

Seth Sandronsky
Lifelines in Hard Times

Russell Mokhiber
Time to Give the Friends of Big Coal the Boot

Allan Stellar
Nuke a Gay Whale for the Navy

Kelly Overton
Get Thee to a Shelter: the Obamas and the Million-Mutt March

Martha Rosenberg
Why Mink are Cheering the Economic Crisis

Richard Rhames
Palling Around with Ray the Plumber

David Yearsley
How I Played Hooky from "High School Musical 3"

Lorenzo Wolff
Zach is Back: Songs of Hurt, Rage and Resistance

Poets' Basement
Gibbons, Ford and Buknatski

Website of the Weekend
The Eyes Have It


November 13, 2008

Pam Martens
The Two Trillion Dollar
Black Hole

Vijay Prashad
Guilt by Participation: Sonal Shah's Membership Has Expired

Patrick Cockburn
Who is Paying for the Iraqi National Intelligence Service?

Jonathan Cook
The Withering Palestinian Economy

Ralph Nader
Obama and the Rogue Regime

Bill Quigley
McCain Owes America an Apology

Lee Sustar
Bailing Out the Big Three

Omar Barghouti
Boycotting Israeli Settlement Products

Steve Conn
More Alaska Fun

Howard Lisnoff
The Last Bastion of Hate

Jeff Cohen
What Indy Media Heroes Can Teach Us

Website of the Day
Who are the Obamagelicals?

November 12, 2008

Johanna Berrigan
Scattered Families: the Iraq Refugee Crisis

Steve Conn
The Big Mystery Election in Alaska

Patrick Bond
Against Volcker

Bokar Ture /
Dedrick Muhammad

Remembering a Black Radical in a Barack Obama America

Alan Farago
The Hispanic Vote in South Florida: Not Dyed Blue Yet

Dave Lindorff
Rescuing Joe Lieberman

Karl Grossman
Break Up Big Oil: Tyranny in the Tank

David Macaray
An Obama Litmus Test: Will Labor Have a Seat at the Table?

George Wuerthner
Act Now to Save America's Public Forests

Susie Day
Heavy Weather

Website of the Day
Does the Planet Have a Future? an Interview with Derrick Jensen




December 11, 2008

When Us Means Muslims

Must They Hate Us So?


This is in response to Mr. Patrick French’s piece “They Hate Us—and India Is Us,” published in the New York Times on December 8, 2008.  The trouble with pieces like Mr. French’s (and mainstream western media is inundated with such voices) is that they only show half the picture.  And then they wonder why after seven years into the “war on terror” we are arguably worse off than when we began.

“They hate us;” “you’re either with us or against us!”  This is precisely the type of language that fuels the enormous credibility deficit between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds.  There is constant media coverage and vigils held for victims of the Mumbai blasts and 9/11, which is fine.  But where are the cameras and the candles when the Christians and the Jews kill, when thousands of innocent civilians die in Sabra and Shatila, when air raids kill countless Iraqis and Afghans, when Hindus in India maim and kill thousands of Muslims (Gujarat 2002) and hundreds of Christians (Orissa 2008).  Why is that back page news?  Why are there no tears for those unfortunate souls?  Those killed by NATO forces are barely mentioned as collateral damage.  Is life taken by extremists only worth celebrating if the killer is a Muslim?

Mr. French makes the point that even if the Kashmir issue was solved, the hate that Lashkare Taiba and its leader, Hafiz Saeed, spew will not die.  After all, their literature “is much concerned with establishing a caliphate in Central Asia, and murdering those who insult the Prophet.”  In case you don’t know this Mr. French, all extremists, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Hindu, are equally exclusionary and intolerant.  Hindu fundamentalists in Orissa pledged that the “Christians would be re-converted to Hinduism,” no matter what it took to do it.

And incidentally, since we are on the subject, there is another thing we Muslims can’t understand, even the relatively secular ones amongst us.  Why must the Western world make cartoons of our Prophet?  Why must Britain knight Salman Rushdie, when he has brazenly offended the sentiments of so many Muslims?  Why must Sherry Jones write a derogatory novel about the Prophet’s wife?  (Response to this latest instigation has been largely muted—perhaps a sign of the Muslim world becoming immune to such attacks?) 

This is not about free speech, but about hate speech.  A large part of the eastern world, including countries like India and Thailand, takes religion very seriously.  Yet only Islam is singled out for jest.  Not Hinduism; not Buddhism; no other religion.  Why?  Is it because the West likes to see the reaction and then mock it?  Or is it because the reaction helps it form the type of image of Islam it needs to justify its own gruesome actions against this hatred and lunacy?  After all, what better way to deal with such hate-mongers than to eradicate them altogether and invade their countries one after the other?

Why does even Pope Benedict not spare us?  In 2006, his incendiary remarks, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,” quoting the views of the Byzantine Emperor in 1391, astounded many Muslims.  Isn’t the Pope a man of God who should be condemning evil acts like wars and terrorism alike?  Shouldn’t he be diffusing tension rather than creating it?  And by the way, isn’t “spreading faith by the sword” also what the Crusaders did?

Contrast this with the sermon given at Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca) this year.  The Grand Mufti delivering the sermon begins by saying, “Islam is against atrocious forces but does not in any case allow acts of terrorism in any of its form and manifestation.”  Why is he bothering, I ask myself?  We can condemn terrorism and extremism till we are blue in the face, and it won’t make a difference!  After all, haven’t we replaced communism as the “significant other,” as one panelist on BBC who defended Pope Benedict’s remarks, said, making the case that therefore “Christianity was in competition with Islam.” 

Our Mufti, however, is an appeaser when it comes to the West, his strength only visible when he talks of women and children.  He ends the Hajj by saying, “evil forces are at work in diverting the Muslim youth to a wrong path and all the resources are being used to unveil Muslim women.”  Obviously, he makes no mention of the resources being used to forcibly veil Muslim women.  If there were any doubts that the Islamic world is suffering its dark ages the Mufti’s sermon should put them to rest.

But here too, we don’t need your help, thank you very much, Mr. French.  We are quite capable of battling it out for ourselves.  The only thing we ask:  please don’t stand in our way.  Don’t bring your forces to our lands and prop up unpopular regimes.  Please don’t do that because then the extremists gain legitimacy.  It makes our job doubly harder.

On March 9, 2007, General Pervez Musharraf’s government forcibly removed the Chief Justice of Pakistan.  Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was a man who had, in the words of the lawyer who fought for his reinstatement, “zero tolerance for corruption, abuse of human rights and environmental degradation.”  He had given justice to Mukhtaran Mai, the brave lady who had been gang raped on the order of village elders, but is now an inspiration to many as she runs a shelter for abused women and a school for girls.  Chaudhry had also reversed orders by village elders to trade underage girls as compensation in tribal feuds.

Yet the American Ambassador to Pakistan, Ms. Anne Patterson, did not support the incredible lawyers’ movement that was launched to reinstate Chief Justice Chaudhry.  In fact, she actively stood against it.  And later, Britain’s Sir Mark Lyall-Grant worked actively for Musharraf’s immunity.  Because Musharraf, and later Zardari (who has thus far resisted reinstating the Chief Justice most likely due to fears that his corruption cases may be reopened), are considered “friends of the west,” so what if a few girls between the ages of 8 and 12 are given away to a hostile tribe?

Western media spends hours interviewing Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but when I first wrote about Chief Justice Chaudhry in March of last year, the New York Times chose not to print the story.  An editor at a British publication told me “it may just be a fantasy of the chattering classes”.  So, I wrote about it on alternative media, publications like CounterPunch, for months, until the story became so big that even the NYT could no longer ignore it.

Still, has the NYT or the Washington Post or Los Angeles Times ever bothered to cover the story of Wael Abbas, an Egyptian human rights activist, journalist and blogger, whose videos depict police brutality by Hosni Mubarak’s (yet another “friend of the west”) regime inflicted on its people?  Did they ever write about the fact that his accounts with YouTube and Yahoo were closed because he was exposing a face of Mr. Mubarak’s regime that the West was uncomfortable with?  How many times have they interviewed Saudi dissidents who have risked everything to speak out against a claustrophobically closed society with some of the most discriminatory legal practices?  Why is the coverage of western media so selective in its reach?  How can your governments preach one thing and do another and yet expect to maintain moral authority?

There are of course some good journalists in mainstream media as well, but the number is limited.  Carlotta Gall, for instance, wrote about Javed Ahmad, the Afghan reporter who worked for a Canadian outlet and was arrested by American troops, declared an unlawful enemy combatant, and tortured for eleven months.  Ms. Gall’s piece in the NYT eventually led to Ahmad’s release.  More recently, Nicholas Kristoff, who had followed Mukhtaran Mai’s plight in Pakistan, has also written about Sajida Bibi, a Christian woman who was threatened with the same fate as Mukhtaran, but has fled to Mukhtaran’s shelter.  Kristoff’s piece is important because it shows that the root causes behind such heinous human rights abuses are poverty, illiteracy and chauvinistic societies, and not necessarily any particular religion.

Shortly before the Mumbai attacks, the Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan proposed divorce law reform such that the laws would become more equitable and fair to women.  There was uproar from the local mullahs (who are far less learned in religious matters than the members of the Council) and the government of the day sent the proposals back so they could be toned down.  But many women and men, who believe in freedom and equality, spoke out.  Newspaper editorials focused on the issue and almost unanimously supported the Council’s proposals.

But then the attacks in Mumbai happened and instead of following leads bottom up; instead of questioning who at the Taj and Oberoi Hotels and at their ports was involved with the terrorists, India began pointing fingers in Pakistan’s direction even before the siege had ended.  In a day, the entire focus in Pakistan changed.  Nobody talked about divorce law reform anymore.  Front page news focused on how Pakistan would survive these allegations as a nation.  The extremists instantly became patriots.  And all other issues took a back seat. 

It would make perfect sense for India to punish all perpetrators of this heinous crime, regardless of whether they were indigenous or foreign, but to implicate other countries without substantive proof or to lay collective responsibility on a nation because of a few rotten apples, yes in that case, perhaps India is like you. Or at least tries to be like you.  In August of this year, Nassir Sultan, a young boy of 15 from a remote Pakistani town called Dir, had become obsessed with watching Bollywood movies (readily available in Pakistan) and decided that he would go to India to meet with his favorite actor, Shahrukh Khan.  His parents did not take him seriously as he had never left Dir previously.  But one day, he got dressed for school, and without telling anyone at home, left for Peshawar (the nearest big town) by bus.  From there, he took another bus to Lahore.  He had been saving for this trip for months.  From Lahore, he took a rickshaw to Wagah Border, and when the guards were not looking, climbed through a hole in the fence and slipped into India.  Soon after he crossed the border, he was apprehended by Indian police.  Of course, Nassir was in the wrong.  He had slipped into India without a visa.  But the profiling of Muslims as terrorists in India is such that the first thing they said to Nassir was, “Where are you going?  We have already caught two of your brothers who had come for Jihad in Kashmir.  Now, we are going to lock you up unless you give us all the information,” as revealed by Nassir in a television interview last week.

“But I only want to meet Shahrukh Khan.  I am his biggest fan,” a silly and naïve Nassir insisted.  He was duly locked up for four months, and when they found absolutely nothing on him and after significant diplomatic efforts, finally released earlier this month.

It is true that India is a democracy, and that is impressive, especially because democracy is so lacking in the Muslim world.  And democracy is truly something to be relished.  To be able to hold your rulers accountable, to be able to change them in a few years if they fail the people, this is for the most part, impossible in most Islamic countries.  And far be it from me to agree with the commandant of the Lashkare Taiba on anything, but when he regards “democracy a Jewish and Christian import from Europe,” isn’t that a fair assessment of the governments that have been implanted in Afghanistan and Iraq by western powers today, in the name of democracy?

When Afghanistan and Iraq are hailed as democratic successes but the Islamic Salvation Front is prevented, with the aid of western powers, from taking office after it has won an election fair and square in Algeria, what are the Muslims supposed to think?

As Rubina Saigol writes in Pakistan’s widely read English daily, The News, “Blaming one group of people as a whole, while absolving another as a whole, is a sterile approach that is likely to exacerbate rather than resolve the issues of terrorism that the world faces today.”  And thus, I must point out, that in the West too there are voices and organizations that are sincere in building partnerships that are based on concern for human rights, without regard to race or religion, who are willing to shun their prejudices and their biases (because all of us have them) to work towards a better tomorrow.  Groups like Stop The War Coalition in Britain, who march in London’s dreary rain and cold to express solidarity with those who sit miles away and are victim to hellfire missiles, or organizations like the New York Bar Association, who give life membership to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, recognizing his services for the cause of justice in Pakistan, without regard to their own government’s dubious stand on his restoration.

If President-Elect Obama wants to distinguish his legacy from Bush’s, he will have to look to such organizations to show him the way.  He will have to make a clean break from the Bush years and search for solutions to problems like Kashmir and Palestine, and he will have to end support for repressive monarchies and dictatorships and pay attention to the anger and frustration that brews beneath their surface.  Only then will we put an end to hate.

Ayesha Ijaz Khan is a London-based lawyer and political commentator and can be contacted via her website www.ayeshaijazkhan.com


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