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We Didn’t Ask For This: American War Thirst Takes Grip

Tariq Toure

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I saw a fraction of what it meant to be face to face with the heavy armament of the United States military forces while I stood, a Black Man, at the rim of Fulton and North Avenue during the Baltimore Uprising. The National Guard showed up to protect property from frustrated demonstrators. I remember watching what I assume was a lieutenant’s boots strike the ground as he exited a sandpaper colored Humvee in the direction of a riot police line. Behind him sat several other Humvees and soldiers in full combat armor. He was around 6’ 4.” His face was weightless. His skin was pale. He walked about the apocalyptic scene with a certainty I probably will never forget. It’ll also be a struggle to lose the sight of him him quickly order his team about. Everybody in this unit moved robotically, assembling themselves within the long corridor. Before anyone knew it they had completely taken the street.

Protesters acquired ground wherever there wasn’t an assault present. There’s only been a couple of times in my life when I felt a sense of powerlessness, coupled with absolutely clarity. This day, the tandem were sandbags on my chest. National Guard Service isn’t particularly referenced in the sexy 11 p.m. military commercials on Channel 45. They’re presented as a subtle form of militarism, a Lite version. In that moment I sunk into my thoughts and entertained what it would be like to live in an obscure place outside of America, and have a war machine gallop through it. I knew this was reality that hundreds of thousands of people live with around the world. Militarized police are one thing. But a fully equipped death battalion added a fresh cartridge of trauma to my mind.

As talks of proxy-war, nuclear capability, and the absence of emotional intelligence put news coverage in a half-nelson, at least for now, I’m reminded of African proverb, “When elephants fight, it is the ground that suffers.” And beyond anything craftable in our imagination about what lies ahead we know with a surety, that our palate has been nurtured to appreciate a good clash of powers whenever convenient. All the republic needs is a character to direct it’s frustration towards. First Yemen, then Syria and now nuclear-equipped Korea are being positioned perfect for this movie’s plot. Whether or not it ends being a box office hit, depends on American people as audience, purchasing the ideological tickets. Before this week, in almost every poll the Trump Regime teetered at a 35% approval rating. Last week we saw airstrikes target Syria. Now in this moment we have a brewing nuclear cold-war actually being instigated through Twitter. It’s almost surreal.

Euphoria is what movies like American Sniper created for its patrons who helped it become the top title in 2014, grossing over 500 million in sales. It outranked theater beloveds like Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Director Clint Eastwood, a household relic of all things coarsely patriotic depicted the story of Chris Kyle, a navy seal celebrated for having the most recorded kills (150 plus) for any sniper in the history of American warfare. The film brewed family values, the love of country, PTSD, and bloodshed into it’s narrative. Movies like American Sniper are valid precursor to the vibe overcoming so many. They prove that all the hideousness of war are an afterthought, just as long as there is a formidable enemy propped up to rally against. It doesn’t matter if federal budgets are castrated. It doesn’t fracture constituencies even if sons and daughters are sent to perish in foreign lands. What matters is that America’s appetite with “winning” has to be fed.  

I represent an odd bunch in this country. A majority minority that has looked out at American military campaigns throughout it’s infantile life with twisted necks. War for us, is not peppered with enraptured thoughts of parading into the sunset, rifle in hand, country in heart. It has been more like a spectator, sitting too close to the running of the bulls, wherein any moment the behemoth creature can turn its horns on you. For us there is hardly anything entertaining about endless sieges and helpless civilians being subjected to all that war embodies. A person in my predicament only sees utility preparing for unintended blows, violently or systemically. This is what Muhammad Ali almost crushed his career to ashes for.

Two energies need to be subdued to ensure our world isn’t eclipsed by man made instruments, the love of war, and the love of profitable war. It means Americans will have to look at themselves in funhouse shaped mirrors and acknowledge the distortions. It requires, that America acquire the taste of peace rather than gunpowder.

Tariq Touré is a Muslim essayist, poet, educator and public speaker from Baltimore, Md. He uses prose as medium for shedding new light on issues such as social justice, racial inequality, black culture and Black Muslim narratives. In 2015, he was honored with the Real Men of Baltimore award by 92q jams radio station and the Alumni Excellence award by his Alma Mater Bowie State University.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    William Fell-Holden

    April 30, 2017 at 6:41 AM

    I totallly agree with your last sentence. But before it can do that it has to accept its past actions and its guilt of murderous assaults on many countries and peopes of the world – and become humble.

  2. Avatar

    bdwillis

    May 15, 2017 at 4:51 PM

    Pacifism would not have defeated the British Empire, American slavery, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan or the Soviet Union. Sometimes war is required for good to triumph over evil. Far from a “death battalion,” no military in the world has fought for the liberation of so many people as the US military. Peoples that the US has fought to liberate include Muslim populations in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In your portrayal of the “Baltimore Uprising,” as you call it, you neglected to mention the widespread looting and burning of businesses that predominantly serve the poor. Likewise, you didn’t bring up the fact that about 130 officers were injured while trying to control the rioting. You also didn’t mention that since the police have subsequently retreated from crime-ridden neighborhoods, violent crime including homicide has spiked in Baltimore, leading the mayor to recently request FBI help in policing the city.

    When the US military deposes a vicious despot like Saddam Hussein or when American police fight crime and arrest criminals, this represents the victory of good over evil. We cannot simply embrace post-modern moral relativism and pretend that all violence is morally equivalent.

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#Current Affairs

Faith Community Stands With Peace And Justice Leader Imam Omar Suleiman During Right Wing Attacks

Hena Zuberi

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In a follow up to the right-wing media platforms attack on Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists, as well as criticism of Israel policies, Faith Forward Dallas issued a statement.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square – Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice is a Texas-based interfaith organization that has worked on many initiatives with Imam Omar Suleiman.

The statement reads:

“Imam Omar Suleiman a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice!!!!!

Time after time in our city, in the United States and around the world, Imam Omar Suleiman has been a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice. When others seek to divide, he calls for unity. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square works to unite faith leaders for justice and compassion. Imam Suleiman has been a trusted leader among us. In the wake of his beautiful prayer to open the House of Representatives on May 9, he has received threats of violence and words of vilification when instead he should have our praise and prayers. We call upon people of good will everywhere to tone down the rhetoric, to replace hate with love, and to build bridges toward the common good.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square”

Commenters on the Faith Forward Dallas statement have left comments of support.

The group has invited locals and other leaders to endorse and share the statement. “Endorsed! I love and fully you Imam Omar Suleiman!” wrote Karen Weldes Fry, Spiritual Director at Center of Spiritual Learning in Dallas (CSLDallas), commenting on the statement.

Some commentators do not understand the manufactured controversy.  Heather Mustain writes, “What people are writing is so vile. They obviously didn’t even listen to his prayer!” Imam  Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives on May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas, TX.

“I’m grateful for the faith leaders with whom I’ve built relationships with and served with for years that have shown full support throughout this process. Together we’ve stood with one another in solidarity in the face of bigotry, and in the support of others in any form of pain. We will not let these dark forces divide us,” said Imam Omar Suleiman in response to the outpouring of love from the people he has worked with on the ground, building on peace, love, and justice.

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#Current Affairs

#UnitedForOmar – Imam Omar Suleiman Smeared by Right-Wing News After Opening Prayer at US House of Representatives

Zeba Khan

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Sh. Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives yesterday, May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas.

Immediately since, right wing media platforms have begun spreading negative coverage of the Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists as well as criticism of Israel policies.

News outlets citing the criticism have pointed to a post from The Investigative Project on Terrorism or ITP, as the source. The  ITP was founded by and directed by noted Islamophobe Steven Emerson. Emerson’s history of hate speech has been documented for over two decades.

Since then, the story has been carried forward by multiple press outlets.

The immediate consequence of this has been the direction of online hate towards what has been Imam Omar Suleiman’s long history of preaching unity in the US socio-political sphere.

“Since my invocation I’ve been inundated with hate articles, threats, and other tactics of intimidation to silence me over a prayer for unity,” Imam Omar Suleiman says. “These attacks are in bad faith and meant to again send a message to the Muslim community that we are not welcome to assert ourselves in any meaningful space or way.”

MuslimMatters is proud to stand by Imam Omar Suleiman, and we invite our readers to share the evidence that counters the accusations against him of anti-semitism, bigotry, and hate. We would also encourage you to reach out, support, and amplify voices of support like Representative E.B.Johnson, and Representative Colin Allred.

You can help counter the false narrative, simply by sharing evidence of Imam Omar Suleiman’s work. It speaks for itself, and you can share it at the hashtag #UnitedForOmar

JazakAllahuKheiran


A Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam Walk Into a Church in Dallas

At an interfaith panel discussion, three North Texas religious leaders promoted understanding and dialogue among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Amid a vexed political and social climate, three religious leaders in North Texas—a priest, an imam, and a rabbi—proved it’s possible to come together in times of division. Source: DMagazine.com


Muslim congregation writes letters of support to Dallas Jewish Community

The congregation, led by Imam Omar Suleiman, penned more than 150 cards and letters. source: WFAA News


Historic action: Muslims and Jews for Dreamers

“We must recognize that the white supremacy that threatens the black and Latino communities, is the same white supremacy that spurs Islamophobia and antisemitism,” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Bend The Arc


Through Dialogue, Interfaith Leaders Hope North Texans Will Better Understand Each Other

“When any community is targeted, they need to see a united faith voice — that all communities come together and express complete rejection of anything that would pit our society against one another more than it already is.” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Kera News

 


Conversations at The Carter Center: Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights 

Source: The Carter Center


Imam: After devastating New Zealand attack, we will not be deterred

My wife and I decided to take our kids to a synagogue in Dallas the night after the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh to grieve and show solidarity with the Jewish community. My 5-year-old played with kids his age while we mourned inside, resisting hate even unknowingly with his innocence…” Source: CNN

 

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#Current Affairs

Ben Shapiro Gets Wrecked on the BBC for Racism Against Palestinians and American Jews

Andrew Neil so thoroughly destroys Ben Shapiro that he has a snowflake meltdown and retreats in the middle of the interview to his own safe space, off-camera. 

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The video plays at the 10:00 minute mark where Neil begins to break down Shapiro on his statements about President Obama, Palestinians, and American Jews.

Let’s set the context – popular conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, known for his aggressive debate style in the public square, visited the BBC to promote his new book.  The interviewer, Andrew Neil, after giving Shapiro a chance to introduce himself to the BBC audience, questioned him about the anger both the left and the right feel towards one another, and Shapiro’s own role in stoking that anger and polar opposition within the Republican party over many years.

The reason for this line of questioning is because Shapiro claims this to be a problem in American discourse and fails to consider his own contribution to the problem, and it is this hypocrisy that Neil confronts him about.  Shapiro attempts to respond, but is promptly crushed by Neil’s responses with Shapiro’s own quotes.  For example, he brings up the following tweet written about Palestinians which Shapiro agrees was wrong but hasn’t taken down:

 

Shapiro futilely attempts to respond, but Neil continues to quote Shapiro until he is left with no choice except to throw ad hominems at his interviewer, which were deftly turned back on Shapiro, leaving him to look even more petty for his attempted condescending remarks.  The end result is the man claiming earlier to welcome a spirited debate quickly found himself running away to lick his wounds.

Perhaps the greatest irony in this debate – Shapiro accused Neil of being an opinion journalist of the left-leaning variety, while Neil is a conservative and chairman of The Spectator, whose editorial outlook is conservative.

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