Tag Archives: Jim Bouchard

San Bernadino: Boston––not Sandy Hook

By Jim Bouchard

I have never been more outraged at the reporting on mainstream media than I am this morning.

San Berdo TerrorI am as angry and saddened as anyone about the carnage in San Bernadino. Like you, I’m sick and tired of these brutal attacks and like you, I’m worried about one happening closer to my own home.

But folks––we’ve got to see this for what it is.

As I write, every major network is teasing a segment on the escalation of “mass shootings” in America. Obama has already issued his perfunctory statement about increased gun control.

ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN––even FOX so far is emphasizing the term “mass shooting” to describe the San Bernadino attack. George Stephenopoulos just called this a “hybrid attack…kind of a ‘workplace jihad.”

Wake the f**k up!

This is not Sandy Hook or Columbine. This is exactly the same tactical assault conducted by the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston.

Here’s why we’re so hesitant to make the connection:

#1 There has been no “claim of responsibility” by ISIS or any other terror group.

Well, there isn’t going to be one. That’s not the way they operate. This is the manifestation of the “lone wolf” tactic. I’ll expand shortly.

#2 We just can’t accept the fact that native born Americans there are active jihadists.

There are––and our intelligent community has known this for years. Complicating the matter further is the fact that these are second and now sometimes third generation children of Middle Eastern immigrants and now some with no ancestral ties to the region. This is infiltration of the highest level.

#3 They seemed like perfectly normal people.

Part of the plan. We’ll get into this shortly.

#4 Even their families did not know.

I seriously doubt that in most cases. When you’re building pipe bombs in your apartment, Grandma certainly sees what’s going on.

#5 We can’t imagine how these people got the training to execute a precision attack.

It took me approximately 15 seconds to get the information. You can Google “Safety and Security Guidelines for Lone Wolf Mujahideen.” You’ll have everything you need to get started.

#6 We can’t imagine the level of depravity and insanity it takes to conduct such a senseless killing.

We’ve got to get it through our thick skulls…

Adam Lanza, Robert Lewis Dear, Christopher Harper-Mercer, Dylann Roof, Aaron Alexis…

These people were nuts.

What all these shooters have in common is that they were mentally deranged, there were signs that were ignored, they all had a history of abnormal and anti-social behavior and frankly––we should have been able to stop them.

Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, Nidal Malik Hasan, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev and now––

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik…

What do these people have in common?

Before you play the Islamaphobia card––no, not the fact that they are all Muslims. This is not the substantive factor.

What they all have in common is that they are all self-proclaimed jihadists. These are the radicalized “lone wolf” terrorists that Al Qaeda and ISIS have been training and calling into action for years.

These are not lunatics––not in the sense we’re used to. These are warriors. They are responding to what they see as a righteous and holy cause.

You’re free to disagree with their motives––but you’re willfully ignorant if you think for one minute that you can deal with these jihad warriors as you would the prototypical psychopathic mass murderer.

Now before I argue the point that this is, whether officially sanctioned or not, a terrorist attack and not a “mass shooting,” let’s be clear that the investigation is ongoing. Could Farook have been a “disgruntled employee” bent on revenge?

It is possible––but not likely. It was reported that Farook allegedly stormed out of a meeting before the attack. It was also widely reported that he had no previous issues or problems in the workplace. More importantly, it’s painfully obvious that this attack was conducted with military precision, required months if not years of preparation and was anything but a spontaneous act of workplace rage.

It’s much more likely that Farook’s outburst simply telegraphed his moment of truth––or even that his outburst may have been cover for his true motives and inspiration.

Crazy idea, eh?

Let’s go to the source. This from “Safety and Security Guidelines for Lone Wolf Mujahideen”:

“You should make sure to not look particularly attached to religion. A man who works on a secret operation should meddle in the general population. If you can avoid having a beard, wearing qamis (Islamic clothes), using miswak (a sort of toothbrush recommended in the hadiths), and have a booklet of dhikr (Islamic devotional booklet) with you, it’s better. Also, you shouldn’t be going to often to places like mosques, Islamic institutes or Islamic libraries. You should also wear western-style cloths to appear neutral and not draw attention to yourself.”

Algemeiner.com offers a detailed report on the jihadist manual:

“The manual also directs jihadists to have plausible cover stories such as posing as engineers, doctors, or tourists, and instructs them not to rush their attacks.

‘The advantage of the lone wolf here is that he is already established in the West, his entire life is a cover story – and a very strong one at that. So use that to your advantage. Be patient, don’t rush anything, put your trust in Allah,’ it says.”

This is nothing new. Intelligence and homeland security experts have been warning about these attacks for years. Unfortunately, the media largely painted these experts as paranoid conspiracy theorists rather than as serious students of an organized and dedicated enemy.

And there have been other books. The Algemeiner.com report continues:

The guide, an abridgment of earlier Arabic instructions to jihadi cells translated into English, instructs jihadists how to conceal their plots from Western intelligence and security services. It repeats instructions found in other jihadi manuals published by al-Qaeda or by the Islamic State in recent years, including “How to Survive in The West” and “Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants,” the latter of which British police recovered from an al-Qaeda member’s home in Manchester in May 2000. Al-Qaeda member Ali Mohamed, who infiltrated the US Army and CIA in the 1980s, wrote the guide found in Manchester using information he gathered from US government sources.

Shaikh describes the recent Islamic State guide as a new edition of Mohamed’s guide.

“Surprise is half of victory, and to surprise the enemy in both the time and location where you will hit maximizes your chance of success,” the manual says.

As I said, nothing new––but this last attack should motivate us to take a new look at the ongoing an growing threat. It’s well past time to take the jihadist seriously.

Once more from Algemeiner:

FBI Director James Comey told US intelligence officials last month that the Bureau has approximately 900 ongoing Islamic State-related inquiries, most of which involve homegrown suspects…

“I think the manual format gives them sort of a how-to process and therefore it’s another indication of the danger we face in dealing with these self-motivated jihadists,” said former FBI Associate Deputy Director Oliver “Buck” Revell. “I think it shows a great deal of critical analysis at the heart of the movement and that they are certainly knowledgeable, and they are not ignorant of our methodologies and even our technical capabilities, and we would be wise not to underestimate their capabilities.”

I’ll simply repeat the former FBI director’s last thought:

“…we would be wise not to underestimate their capabilities.”

You can treat the San Bernadino attack as another tragic manifestation of what the President calls our “pattern of mass shootings.” You can call for tougher gun regulations and you can be ever more vigilant and suspicious of your neighbors and co-workers––we certainly don’t want to miss the signs.

Or––

You can acknowledge the truth. Whether we like it or not, we’re fighting a global war against a serious and committed enemy––and this enemy has infiltrated our ranks.

This decision determines how we fight this war. How we fight this war determines whether we will win––or lose.

As I finish this piece I’m listening to an ABC radio news report. Once again, the carefully emphasis on the words “mass shooting.” According to this announcer, the worst “mass shooting” since Sandy Hook.

No.

The worst terrorist attack on American soil since Boston.

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Institutional Racism and the Yale Halloween Hallabaloo––KNOCK IT OFF!

On November 12, CNN political commentator Sally Kohn published an article titled, “Don’t be too quick to judge Yale protesters.” In this article, Ms. Kohn defends Yale students who protested against their school’s alleged insensitivity in not banning potentially “offensive” Halloween costumes and the remarks of two of their professors who, in effect, told them to grow up.

Here is my response as posted on CNN.com:


I’ll focus on Ms. Kohn’s use of the words “institutional racism.” In this case, as in the case in Missouri and other campuses, this term is being applied with ferocity. Alternately, you may hear “systemic racism.”

Where, Ms. Kohn, does this “institutional racism” exist and what proof it there of it’s existence?

This is what

This is what “institutional racism” looks like. This is the official institutional welcome a civil rights protester received in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

Institutional or systemic racism implies a concerted and intentional effort to deny the rights and privileges of a particular group based on race and color. Is Missouri purposely excluding black students and faculty? Is Yale itself endorsing racist behavior on campus?

Or, in the case of the Yale professors, were they simply acknowledging that the institution plays a limited part in the lives of allegedly adult students and that the students themselves should address legitimate offenses, if and when they occur.

Remember that this entire furor started BEFORE there was any offense!

Should we be upset when, if and where we encounter or witness racism? Certainly, but protests and events of the past several years would have us believe that racism in 2015 is not limited to the few ignorant or entrenched bigots who still judge others based on color. No-the implication is that America is a nation of racists and our current institutions, both government and private, are perpetrating a clear and purposeful plan of discrimination and racial subjugation.

It’s not happening.

Ironically, I just visited the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. historic site in Atlanta. I sat in the Ebeneezer Baptist Church and listened to a recording of one of Dr. King’s most moving sermons. As I viewed the artifacts of Dr. King’s life and the images of people being beaten, hosed and attacked by dogs, I couldn’t help but think about what Dr. King and the people who stood with him would think about today’s movement.

I couldn’t help but think that they would be sickened––that what’s going on today is an affront to the real dangers they faced and the sacrifices they made––which in Dr. King’s case was, of course, the ultimate sacrifice.

Blacks in the 1960s did face “institutional racism.” There were actual courts and law enforcement officials who beat and arrested people because of their color and determined that white murderers, rapists and thugs would not be prosecuted or convicted––if, of course, their victims were black.

There was actual discrimination and segregation––despite the fact that these practices had been outlawed by the federal government and jim-crow was the functional law-of-the-land in much of the country.

There was a great hesitancy to prosecute these offenses on the part of even the President and his Attorney General for fear that to do so would inflame the situation. These leaders who were slow to bring the hammer of justice down were none other than the now revered Kennedy brothers.

THAT was institutional racism.

Dr. King himself was not welcomed as a champion of human rights––not at first. He was investigated by the government as an agitator. Many of his own people cautioned him that the time was not right to bring the issue to a boil––that this would only hurt the black cause.

In his book Why We Can’t Wait, Dr. King recalls the visit of one of Africa’s newly established black heads-of-state who was “called upon by a delegation of prominent American Negroes. When they began reciting to him their long list of grievances, the visiting statesman had waved a weary hand and said:

“‘I am aware of current events. I know everything you are telling me about what the white man is doing to the Negro. Now tell me: What is the Negro doing for himself?’”

Am I blaming the victim for the alleged crime? Am I implying that Dr. King was doing the same?

Absolutely not. What I am saying is that Dr. King’s message was one of responsibility. I am also saying that what today’s students are protesting is completely out of scale.

Dr. King and many others fought and gave their lives, figuratively and literally to end institutional racism and discrimination. Dr. King acknowledged in his time that it was all too easy for white society, and white government in particular, to simply say, “We’ve passed the laws, our work is done.” It wasn’t––the laws were still not being enforced. Racism was still an institutionalized and systemic practice.

The clothes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wore when he knew he would be jailed at protests. Note the work boots.

The clothes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wore when he knew he would be jailed at protests. Note the work boots.

He adds, “When he seeks opportunity, he is told, in effect, to lift himself up by his own bootstraps, advice that does not take into account the fact that he is barefoot.”

Dr. King and his peers didn’t stop at stamping their bare feet in protest––they started making shoes.

There was much work to be done––there is much work to be done––but to imply or even insinuate that there is an intentional, purposeful effort to practice and promote “institutional racism” is simply wrong.

If you make this implication, Ms. Kohn, where is your proof?

This effort would require a monumental and secretive plot the scope and scale of which even our most skilled intelligence operatives would be incapable of conducting.

I acknowledge completely that there is still work to do, but this work is societal rather than institutional. I respect the students who protest against racist behavior––but recognize exactly what you are protesting and as Dr. King and his colleagues did, study your adversary.

Are you fighting to educate the ignorant and cultivate greater understanding? To continue Dr. King’s work?

Or––are you tipping at institutional windmills? Are you fighting a phantom that exists more in your minds and hearts than in the offices of your college chancellory?

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“We need to put the American flag down.”

by Jim Bouchard

“We need to put the American flag down.”

Farrakahn BrietbartThat’s what Louis Farrakhan said this week.

He said this during a rally in response to the shootings in Charleston and the uproar over the display of the Confederate battle flag. As more and more people acknowledge that some symbols need to be retired out of respect to current sentiments, people like Farrakhan are using this moment to exploit ignorance and destroy the progress we’ve made as a society …

… which is exactly what the American flag represents.

That’s right––progress.

I don’t have a problem with removing the Confederate flag from public properties. Many believe it’s time we do.

That’s a fair point, but as the argument widens from the display of the Confederate battle flag, let’s get the facts in order.

First––you cannot extract slavery from the argument.

Confederate TroopsThose who defend the public display of the Confederate flag argue that it is a symbol of what they consider the “true” meaning and intent behind Southern secession.

Many in the South, particularly those who did not own slaves and those who opposed slavery, sincerely believed they were defending their native states against an act of Northern aggression. They believed they were defending their rights to conduct their business as sovereign and independent states.

Acknowledging that point of view, you must also acknowledge that the right they were most vigorously defending was specifically the right to own slaves and treat people as property––a right that was, at the time, codified in the Constitution.

Mississippi planter Richard Thompson Archer stated the case plainly in 1859. From CivilWarCauses.org:

“The South is invaded. It is time for all patriots to be united, to be under military organization, to be advancing to the conflict determined to live or die in defence of the God given right to own the African”

In a twist that sounds strange to most people today, the South was ironically pressing for national recognition of the protection of slavery as it was specified in the Constitution, arguably as a compromise during the founding period, while the Northern political sentiment was that slavery was a state issue, and that slavery could not be enforced on a federal level. That argument reached it’s climax during the debate over the enforcement of slavery in “free” states culminating in the infamous “Dred Scot” decision. In that case, the Supreme Court denied a black man’s right to citizenship and representation in court when he sued for his freedom after his owners moved to Wisconsin, which was then a territory where slavery was illegal.

No, you can’t just say that the Confederate flag is strictly a symbol of Southern pride.

Dylann RoofTo too many people, it’s also a symbol of the denial of basic human rights, oppression, violence and unspeakable cruelty.

Even if you allow some latitude in the defense of that flag as a historic symbol, you cannot deny that it became a symbol of bigotry, violence and crime as it was adopted by the Ku Klux Klan and later as an icon of the Neo-Nazi and white supremacy movements.

No matter what the original intent, which was to represent the Army of Northern Virginia, you cannot separate the flag from the racism, violence and murder perpetrated by these organizations and condoned by their supporters.

Back to Farrakhan …

… and he’s not alone. This week CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield proposed that maybe it’s time to talk about taking down the Jefferson Memorial. After all, she opined, he was a slave owner.

This leads to my second important point––you’ve got to debate this issue in context.

Jefferson lived in a time when slavery was a societal institution, right or wrong. He was raised with the belief that is was not only proper to own slaves, it was his obligation to his family and their business. Many in his time justified slavery under deeply held religious convictions.

Revolutionary leaders were deeply conflicted over this question. Jefferson was deeply conflicted in his own mind and heart. As he struggled with the issue, he wrote:

“The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.”

Like many leaders of the founding generation, Jefferson could not reconcile his own conduct with the ideology he and others risked their lives to establish. How could he be arguably the iconic voice of freedom, yet at the same time deny freedom to other human beings?

The question sounds ridiculous to our ears. Not so during the establishment of the United States.

The point is that Jefferson was defined by his commitment to freedom, not by his slave ownership, however reprehensible and hypocritical that seems from our vantage point today. In several documents, including his drafts of Constitution of the State of Virginia, Jefferson was obviously moving toward a reconciliation of his beliefs. In these drafts, which became the framework for the Declaration of Independence, he wrote:

“No person hereafter coming into this country shall be held within the same in slavery under any pretext whatever.”

This was still a long way from abolition and you can certainly make the argument that he was moving too slowly––but he and many others of his generation were indeed moving.

Was Jefferson a symbol of bigotry and racism? Or, does he remain a symbol of freedom––even if we acknowledge his flaws in the context of the radical changes and progress he inspired?

Jefferson and his generation left important work undone, but the flag they created to represent their new nation which evolved into the flag we fly today represents, as much as anything, the enormous ideological, cultural and societal changes these men set in motion.

It’s difficult to argue against the case that we’ve still got work to do––but it’s ignorant, divisive and destructive to deny the progress we’ve made.

To do so dishonors and deprecates everyone, including many of us, and many of our ancestors, who worked so hard to treat all human beings with equal respect and dignity and sacrificed so much to transform our ideals into reality.

Farrakhan didn’t stop with the flag …

“White folks march with you because they don’t want you upsetting the city––they don’t give a damn about them nine.”

Mr. Farrakhan, with all due respect––screw you.

America has many faults. As Americans, we still have work to do.

The point is––we do it.

Our flag has flown over some shameful times. It has flown over actions, decisions and events we now regret.

However, unlike any flag before it, our flag represents our commitment as a people to right our wrongs and to create and evolve a society as citizens, not subjects. We don’t have to overthrow despots and tyrants any more. We change ourselves as people and as a society. We learn, grow and evolve––as people and as a society.

We commit our hearts and souls and risk our lives and treasure to promote these changes.

That’s what our flag represents.

You want to burn it?

With what flag, sir, would you replace it?

US Flag Civil War Era

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A message to the Seattle rioters: F*#k you right back.

Seattle RiotsFrom an exchange between protestors at the Seattle May Day riots as recorded by KING 5 TV:

“Don’t f*#k with art. This is a protest against capitalism. Don’t f*#k with art.”

(I guess that captures some of the spirit of the thing. One protester/vandal had just spray painted the anarchy symbol on a sculpture in a public square. The other obviously took offense.)

“Did an artist make it?”

“F*#k you!”

“Were they paid to make it?”

“Ya!”

So that’s the issue? If someone is paid to produce a piece of art, that invalidates it and makes it fair game for vandals? Aren’t you the same people who just got done protesting for a $15 minimum wage so you’d get paid “fairly” to flip burgers?

Let’s get to the root of this thing. Every day on May 1st, protesters take to the streets to celebrate the workers movement. The May Day movement originated in a worldwide effort to secure an 8 hour workday and better working conditions to correct abuses from the early days of the Industrial Revolution. From marxist.org:

“May First (1889) was set aside as a day upon which the workers of the world, organized in their political parties and trade unions, were to fight for the important political demand: the 8-hour day.”

By 1907, Lenin writes:

“The role of a truly advanced class, a class really able to rouse the masses to revolution, really capable of saving Russia from decay, is played by the industrial proletariat. This is the task it fulfils by means of its revolutionary strikes. These strikes, which the liberals hate and the liquidators cannot understand, are (as the February resolution of the R.S.D.L.P. puts it) ‘one of the most effective means of overcoming the apathy, despair, and disunion of the agricultural proletariat and the peasantry, … and drawing them into the most concerted, simultaneous, and extensive revolutionary actions.’”

Note Lenin’s discontent with “liberals.” Yes––he does mean those who prefer individual freedom and liberty, or more poignantly––those who refuse to submit to the greater cause of the state. For the record, he had little tolerance for protests against his point of view––and your scholarship under his regime would determine your course of study based on the current needs of that same state.

Freedom. Right?

OK––even giving the benefit of the doubt that the origins of the Russian Revolution started with a sincere desire to redress the abuses of a ruling class against the peasantry––what the hell you protesting in Seattle?

Let’s start with the grade school chants against capitalism, which are seldom if ever supported by substantive facts in these protests. The capitalism you protest against is a far cry from the strict class system of Czarist Russia. Like most of the world at that time, monarchy was still the dominant political structure and where and when democracy was practiced, it was strictly limited in participation to those with money and connections.

Is that what you’re fighting against? Cronyism and nepotism certainly still exists––but you have recourse to check those abuses, where and when you find them. You can vote, you can run for office, you are free to create your own organizations and compete in what is still a relatively free market.

What is the alternative you seek?

“Fairness” is often the battle cry. I find it interesting that the vast majority of participants in these particular riots are college students––usually from middle and upper-middle class homes whose parents have the means to support their educations while they have the time to riot against their distorted image of oppression.

The Soviet ideals you embrace have failed in every attempt. In fact, everywhere Communism and even blended Socialism has been tried––it has failed––miserably.

The only examples where some form of political Marxism has had any sustainable run is when the ideology is imposed, often by brutal force and inhuman forms of violence, discrimination and coercion. The argument is that the “wrong” people gained control or that the ideology was imperfectly implemented.

Still––I’ll again give you the benefit of the doubt. Your chants say you want workers “rights.”

What rights are you deprived?

You have the right to live your life anyway you see fit. Contrary to the way life was under the Communist ideals you idolize, you can choose your career, you can vote for whomever you want, you can run for office without the approval of the state or party and you can even take to the streets to protest and voice your ideas or discontent.

Che-Guevara-Shirt1-394x500 Before you do, study some history. You don’t have to look back too far.

During the Russian Civil War if you disagreed with whoever was in power this week, you’d likely be killed––9 million people were.

Once Stalin “stabilized” the situation, he killed another 20 million––many of whom were forced labor and those who dissented against the Communist brand of “equality” and “fairness.”

Hitler also preached a warped brand of “people’s power” and led what was largely a worker’s revolution. Of course, that infamously led to the execution of some 5 million Jews, who were considered to have an unfair advantage in economic matters. His toll, however, is closer to 66 million when you factor in the human cost of stopping him.

Mao, whose image often appears on May Day protest t-shirts was certainly a champion of fairness and equality––so much so that he murdered 40 million to assure his version of perfect society.

Pol Pot, nearly 2 million. Kim Il Song, 1.6 million. Castro, 30 thousand––and I’m just counting those who advertised that their carnage served the higher purpose of assuring equality and true freedom for “the people.”

And let’s not forget the top selling t-shirt idol of the American Anarchist set, Che Guevara. This mass murderer is the darling of our freedom and equality set. He killed thousands, enslaved tens of thousands and forced over a million people into exile––to assure equality.

You do not have the right to interfere with the peaceful lives of others, destroy their property––private or public or do violence against those with whom you disagree or those charged with protecting their rights––and yours.

You are children. You stamp your feet because you don’t get your way.

DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Don’t like the way government is run? Run for office.

Don’t like the way business is conducted? Start your own. Want all your workers to receive equal pay, from the CEO to the janitor? DO IT!

(We’ll see how long you put up with that!)

You think everyone is entitled to free medical care and free food? Start an organization and provide it!

Perfect equality of outcome can be attained––by force. Equality of opportunity is a little messy––and it requires a lot more work from you.

You have the right to protest––I’ll even defend that, even as much I disagree with everything you preach and everything you think you stand for.

However––

Your right to protest does not give you the right to destroy my property or attack me physically any more than my right to keep and bear arms gives me the right to shoot you without due provocation.

If you feel your right to protest does give you the right to attack me or destroy property, we’ll just have to see how I might choose to exercise my rights in response.

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Cowardice of the highest magnitude – The Islamist terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine staff

“Three black-clad gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar!” stormed the Paris offices of a satirical publication known for lampooning Islam Wednesday, killing 12, including its editor, three political cartoonists and a police officer whose cold-blooded murder at close range was captured on a disturbing video.” ~FOX News

CharlieHedboThree obviously well-drilled cowards wearing masks, body armor and heavily armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, to avenge the magazine’s depiction of their beloved prophet in a political cartoon.

That is three armed commandos attacking about a dozen, unarmed and unsuspecting citizens during a business meeting.

Cowards. Barbarians. Murderers. Any other description is inadequate.

As they fled, their final act of cowardice…

“Video footage posted to social media showed armed gunmen running through the streets of Paris, shooting with automatic weapons and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’. According to an eye-witness, one of the gunmen shouted: ‘The Prophet is avenged.’” ~The Independent, UK

Avenged?

The most radical elements of Islam call for the death of anyone who offends “The Prophet.” From the website Islamqa.com…

“The scholars are unanimously agreed that a Muslim who insults the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) becomes a kaafir and an apostate who is to be executed.”

The issue doesn’t seem as clear if the offending party is not a Muslim, or want to repent for his offense:

“But they differed as to whether his repentance should be accepted in this world and whether that means he is no longer subject to the sentence of execution.

“Maalik and Ahmad were of the view that it should not be accepted, and that he should be killed even if he has repented.” ~http://islamqa.info/en/22809

It should be noted that the article I quote justifies the killing of a non-Muslim as an appropriate response to an offense against the Prophet.

This is NOT the prevailing view of leading contemporary Muslim scholars.

Just as most Christians would consider it wrong to stone a prostitute to death, it seems the recommended responses to blasphemous cartoons in our age range from ignoring the offense to taking legal action appropriate to the society in which one lives.

Anas Halayel, a leader of CAIR in Arizona, writes in MuslimMatters.org…

“In essence, the Qur’an is telling us that when it specifically comes to the issue of mocking the Prophet [SAW], which is exactly the issue that we are dealing with today. Don’t take matters in your own hands, rather, God will take care of those who mock the Prophet.” (emphasis added)

Dr. Zakir Naik, one of the world’s most popular Muslim leaders identifies 6 levels of response to an offense to the Prophet. The 6th, which includes violent force agains another person, kidnapping or murder, is, in his opinion, strictly forbidden.

According to leading Muslim scholars and the Qur’an, appropriate responses top people who insult or offend the Prophet is to ignore them, attempt to reason with them, boycott their business and seek legal or political redress…

…not to murder them.

“Be tolerant, command what’s right, pay no attention to foolish people” [7:199]

So how can anyone justify the murder of 12 human beings for their alleged insult to the Prophet Muhammad?

You can’t.

It’s an act of abject cowardice and murder. Period.

JeSuisCharlie

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Racist America – Fact or Friction?

michael brownDarren Wilson may not have been indicted last week, but once again America is indicted- for being racist.

Is America racist?

Was the shooting of Michael Brown an example of a systemic bigotry what we simply cannot overcome?

No- and no…

I won’t debate the facts of the Michael Brown case specifically. If you’re like most Americans, your mind is made up. If you’re the average person, it’s also likely that you have not read any of the grand jury disclosures, and unless you have, we’d only be arguing intractable emotions and feelings rather than facts.

I will first question the motives of an individual, Officer Darren Wilson…

To presume that Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown because he was black is to assume that he would not have shot a white man under the same conditions.

After extensive grand jury investigation and countless hours of media scrutiny, there is not one shred of fact or even innuendo to suggest that Wilson, as some allege, was a bigot. Nor is there one scrap of evidence that indicates, as some shouted after the incident, that Wilson “just wanted to shoot a black man,” or anyone else for that matter.

What we have here is not institutional racism, it’s a systemic failure of leadership…

I work with kids like Michael Brown as a volunteer in my state’s juvenile detention program. Not the 12 year old Michael Brown whose picture dominates the media, but rather the 18 year Michael Brown who attacked a police officer after committing a petty theft at a convenience store.

And yes, his background is relevant.

Young people black and white embrace the thug culture, especially in impoverished areas where they feel victimized and hopeless. They gain more credibility with peers by defying authority than by respecting authority.

I witness this defiance of authority on a regular basis. Do these kids have a reason for their attitude? Of course they do- they were taught to behave this way.

Leadership starts at home…

Nearly any leader who even suggests that these issues might be resolved by first focusing on the family is immediately painted as naive, or very often as a traitor to the African-American cause.

Anyone who suggests that the disproportionate percentage of single mothers, absent fathers, drug abuse and domestic abuse in these communities may be a more important cause of higher crime and arrest than race is vilified and tagged as racist.

People rightfully cite data that indicates a serious problem; blacks are arrested in numbers disproportionate to their numbers in the general population…

…but is this indicative of racism?

Not long ago you could make this argument.

In a case that has shamefully been associated with the Michael Brown incident, a young black man named Emmett Till was kidnapped, then brutally tortured and murdered by two white men in Mississippi in 1955 for flirting with a white store clerk.

In a sham trial an all white jury acquitted his murderers, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, of all charges.

Racism? Of the worst kind…

The Tills case ignited the furor for justice and civil rights all over America. We fought for years to eradicate institutional racism from our society- and we did it.

Separate but equal…Racist?

Yes…and made illegal.

Discrimination in housing and employment…Racist?

Yes…and made illegal.

Voting restrictions…Racist?

Yes…and made illegal.

Arresting people based solely on their race…Racist?

Yes…and MADE ILLEGAL!

My mother taught me to judge a person by his character, not his color. Inspired by Martin Luther King and other leaders, an entire generation picked up this banner and made sure that from those times forward, not only would institutional racism be eradicated, but that individual racism would be openly condemned and opposed.

You cannot legislate away bigotry, but you can make it illegal to discriminate based on racial prejudice…

…and we have.

Leaders who continue to beat the drum of inherent racism are ignoring another significant data set. Ferguson, like many of the communities experiencing continued issues involving race, are populated by a black majority.

In the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, many Ferguson residents expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the lack of black police officers on their police force. Others condemned their largely white representation in city government.

Ferguson is 65% black!

People have a right to be upset, but what should they be doing about it?

Just a few days ago I listened to an interview with a young man from St. Louis- I did not catch his name. He identified himself as a documentary filmmaker.

He talked about the lack of black representation in the Ferguson PD and in city hall. The reporter then asked why there was such a low voter turnout among blacks in Ferguson.

He answered that black voters felt disenfranchised, largely because white politicians largely ran unopposed. African-American voters simply felt- what’s the use? He said there are simply no good choices!

This young man was obviously intelligent, articulate and charismatic.

No choices? All I could think of was…

…Why aren’t YOU running for office?

If this were 1955, it would still be true that blacks would be prohibited from holding office in some communities. I have friends that still remember when they couldn’t use the same restrooms as whites!

It might also be true in 1955 that even if a community had a black majority of voters, those people would likely be intimidated into voting with the white minority or simply turned away at the polls without recourse.

This is not 1955. If a black person would run for office in Ferguson today, it might be impossible for a white candidate to win- unless of course, race were not an issue.

If meaningful leadership would emerge from the black community in Ferguson, it seems likely that the entire city government could be populated with black officials. They could then hire a black chief of police and fill the rest of the department with African-American officers…

…if, of course, race, or more specifically racism, were the only issue.

And as for white officials and leaders, stop thinking that you can solve all the problems in black communities!

This is not because you’re inherently racist, but simply because of the fact that while racism is not the problem, the racial composition of a community is still an important consideration.

One disturbing factoid making the rounds to support the idea that we’re still inherently racist is a study showing that within 3 months, most human babies demonstrate a preference for other human beings of a similar color.

Of course they do. It’s natural. Not too many generations ago- this was simply part of our survival mechanism.

Human beings are inherently tribal, this is not new information. We tend to trust and bind ourselves more strongly to people who look like us, speak the same language and as we develop, those who share the same fundamental cultural beliefs.

That does not mean we’re racist- it means we’re human.

This trick of evolution does not give you license to treat people badly because they don’t look exactly like you. It does not mean it’s right to discriminate against people who speak differently or act differently or believe differently.

Malcolm X once said;

“We are not anti-white. But we don’t have time for the white man. The white man is on top already, the white man is the boss already… he has first-class citizenship already. So you are wasting your time talking to the white man. We are working on our own people.”

Malcolm X was vilified by white people in his time, largely because of his militant tactics. In pre-civil rights America, was peaceful demonstration working? Was he not simply employing the same tactics to assert rights for blacks that the founders used in fighting Great Britain for theirs?

But we live in post civil-rights America…

Black communities need black leaders, not because they’re black, but because we need leaders who live and work in those communities- leaders who know the community and the authentic concerns of the people.

White leaders should not impose solutions, but rather support solutions brought forth from those communities wherever and whenever viable leaders rise to the task. If you are white and want to make a difference in a black community- then move into that community, earn the respect of the people and work from there.

Continued attempts to impose solutions from outside the community simply reinforce the same mistakes made, however well-intended, throughout the 1960s. As black leaders stepped up and organized their communities, they were largely discredited and ignored. Funding and support went instead to white activists and organizations working in black communities. Is it any wonder that some black leaders responded with militant activism and others became the leaders of gangs rather than than mayors and city councilmen?

We will never resolve black-white differences as long as we fail to respect those differences. Nor will we resolve those differences unless we are willing to fully acknowledge our sameness…

…our sameness as human beings.

We solve problems together only when we acknowledge our commonality and respect our differences.

Do we still have a race issue in America? Obviously.

Do we still have racism in America? Of course we do- and always will.

Is this racism promoted, accepted or tolerated?

No…

…not because there is no bigotry, but rather because there we no longer allow racism to infect our institutions and when it does, we do not hesitate to destroy the infection.

Ultimately, the important question is no longer whether there is systemic racism in America at large. There is not.

The important question is-

Are you a racist?

I am not.

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” ~Malcolm X

This is leadership…

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The Great Ebola Panic

B_hazardWhy all the panic?

Weeks ago the CDC said that Ebola was acute, but not extremely contagious. It couldn’t be transmitted through “casual” contact. Then they said they said it could be transmitted by contact with surfaces touched by a contagious patient up to 72 hours after contact.

They first said it took 2 to 21 days for symptoms to develop- now it’s up to 48 days. First there was no danger contracting Ebola on a plane was only remotely possible, now they’re monitoring all 132 passengers on the flight the Dallas nurse took. The CDC first announced that no-fly restrictions were not only unnecessary, but could even diminish our ability to contain the virus in Africa. Now they’re considering a no-fly list for American citizens who have worked with Ebola patients…

…folks- I am usually the first person to debunk any conspiracy theories, and I’ll continue that stand.

I don’t believe this is a government plot against black people, or a plot to reduce the American population- or a plot to provide an excuse for martial law and the installation of a dictatorship. These ideas are absolutely ridiculous; not because they’re not possible, but because the federal government is simply incompetent and incapable of containing and executing such an intricate plot…

…so stop the foolish worry and focus on the issue.

What is evident is that the federal bureaucracy is simply too big and too complex to respond to threats like this efficiently. Leadership is hobbled by a continuing partisanship that prioritizes political turf wars and saving face above prudent action and reasonable response.

What’s happening here is evident of the failure of leadership on the federal level- and neither ruling party is exempt.

Want to calm the masses?

A) Tell the truth- the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We can handle it.

B) Do your freaking job! One of the few areas that it is prudent to act on the federal level is the operation of the CDC. However, instead of making excuses for being unprepared- difficult to accept given the level of confidence you all expressed in the beginning of this situation, get your act together and develop a plan. Now.

C) Stop moving the goals posts! What is reported as fact one day is modified the next. Ebola is not new. If you want us to believe that you’re being forthcoming, refer to item “A.”

D) Institute a reasonable quarantine for people entering the US from highly infected areas- before they get on a plane to come here. This is not racist or insensitive- it’s reasonable and prudent. It’s not about hating people, it’s about keeping as many people healthy as possible.

To Congress and the President:

If there was ever a time to put aside party politics and get to work, it is now. Knock off the turf battles and stop worrying about your reputations- you’ve only got a 16% approval rating- they’re as bad as they’re going to get.

And as for the excuses that travel bans or other similar actions will harm the economies and people of other nations- first of all, no it won’t. Their economies will be harmed much more if an outbreak here diminishes our capability to respond and send help. Their people are at far greater risk if our resources are tied up fighting an epidemic here.

Stop the bickering, finger pointing and reactive rhetoric. Just put aside your differences, lock yourselves in a room and get the job done.

Want to stop the panic? Start trusting us and stop changing the story every 24 hours…

…KNOCK IT OFF!

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The Fast Food Strike – KNOCK IT OFF!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It’s finally here- fast food workers across the nation are taking to the streets, holding signs and petitioning for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

To what end?

Patrick M. Sheridan writing for CNNMoney highlighted an example of the plight of a man trying to support a family on minimum wage:

“Frankie Tisdale, a 26-year-old worker from a KFC in Brooklyn said he will join the strike with fellow workers next week.

“Tisdale lives in his father’s house in Brooklyn with his girlfriend and two young children. He earns $8 an hour and works between 14 and 23 hours a week.

“With less than $200 a week, he sometimes has to choose between buying food for the family and taking his kids’ clothes for a wash to the laundromat. He said it’s too expensive to eat at the KFC where he works so he never does. ‘Everything costs more. Why can’t my pay go up?’ Tisdale says.”

Because you are not producing more.

I’m sorry Frankie, but that’s the cold, hard truth…

For the record, I have no problem with workers striking or protesting for higher wages. If a group of employees wants to pressure their employers and air their grievances by striking- more power to them.

I have several issues with mandated minimum wages.

Wages on mean rise with productivity. Every rise in income in America came on the crest of a period of increased productivity as a nation.

You can attempt to mandate wages- but you cannot mandate an increase in wages and protect jobs unless you are willing to also mandate employment. In nations that have attempted this, most notably the Soviet Union and Greece, the government must subsidize employers for excess labor.

Eventually, the system collapses under it’s own weight. It’s simple- cash needed to subsidize low productivity jobs at higher wages outstrips the revenues produced by that same labor.

Now specifically to Sheridan’s example…

If you intended to raise sympathy, you should have featured someone other than Mr. Tisdale!

Tisdale is sadly typical of the employee trying to “raise a family” on minimum wage, which, as a point of fact, is a very small percentage of all minimum wage earners.

Tisdale is living with his father and his girlfriend- note “girlfriend,” not wife, and the two children they produced without the means to provide for them.

To make matters worse, he’s working an average of only 14 to 23 hours a week. How many people can care for a family on 23 hours a week at any average job?

You can choose to address this issue on an institutional or societal level and simply mandate that employers pay more…

…or you can look at this on an individual level, which is much more beneficial.

First of all, the bracket that includes minimum wage earners is extremely volatile. The vast majority of people earning minimum wage today will be earning far more in less than four years.

Despite how it might appear on the nightly news, only about 5% of all hourly workers and 3% of all workers employed in the U.S. earn minimum wage.

If you’re currently working for minimum wage, there’s a very good chance that you’re single, under 25 working part time and still part of a family that makes more than $66,000 a year.

There’s also a very good chance that you’re a student. 62% of all minimum wage workers are enrolled in high school, college or vocational training.

That’s great! The single most important factor determining your earning capacity is your education, followed closely by work experience and job performance…

…which is exactly what minimum wage jobs are designed for.

These are jobs- not careers.

Employers don’t want to condemn you to minimum wage either. They know full well that people stuck at or near minimum wage are not satisfied, engaged or productive employees for very long.

I recently spoke with a representative from a growing restaurant chain who has no problem attracting good employees at minimum wage- as a part-time job or a step toward higher wages.

When I asked him about his take on the minimum wage debate, he basically told me that the math was very simple. In his chain, which is typical, the margin of profit to the franchisee is about 11 cents on every dollar. Let’s just round it to 10%.

A hike in minimum wage to even $9 an hour would be a 24% increase in labor costs.

The results?

Fewer hirings at the entry level and higher prices to the consumer.

It’s just math…

My focus is not on societal change. I’m getting too old to swing my sword at windmills.

My focus is on the individual…

What can YOU do- as an individual, to escape the trap of minimum wage?

#1 Stay in school… Your education is still the greatest determinant to your earning power. The vast majority of all minimum wage earners lack or have not yet earned a high school diploma.

#2  Don’t have kids…until you can afford them. The vast majority of people trying to support children on minimum wage are single mothers who had their first child under the age of 20.

#3  Develop your talents and abilities… Your earning power is determined by your value to your employer.

It really is that simple…

Or- you can pick up a sign and strike.

Just remember- no matter how high they set the minimum wage, it will always be the minimum.

Don’t settle for minimum- at any rate.

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Free College as a Fundamental Human Right – KNOCK IT OFF!

Free College

by Jim Bouchard

“‘We’re here today because we believe that public higher education is not a privilege. It is a fundamental human right,’ said Meaghan LaSala, one of the students who organized the event.” ~Portland Press Herald, April, 10, 2014

That’s a quote from a protest over cuts at the University of Southern Maine. It’s a cry that’s being raised all over the country.

Public higher education is a fundamental human right?

Well- no. It’s not.

KNOCK IT OFF!

Your “fundamental,” formerly described as “inalienable” rights are those rights granted to you by God or nature- whatever you believe. The key distinguishing factor is that inalienable rights are the universally recognized rights of birth that any freedom loving person agrees are not subject to debate, approval or distribution by any other man…

…or his representative government.

Those rights are brilliantly articulated in the Declaration of Independence. These “fundamental” rights are brutally limited in their number- and amazingly limitless in their expression:

  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Pursuit of happiness

Following that, laws were crafted to assure that these rights would never be infringed or restricted by a central authority, despot or tyrant. The “Bill of Rights” specifically protects these rights.

There have never been new rights constructed by our government- until recently.

Even voting rights amendments did not grant new rights. They simply asserted that those people once denied their natural rights would never be denied again. Once again- the government, which was still operating under some semblance of constitutional restraint, simply affirmed the principle of inalienable rights.

We seem to be entering the age of creating new “rights”. That’s a big problem.

First of all, education is NOT a right…at any level…

You may argue this point, but education is not a right.

We’ve agreed as a community that public education should be provided up to grade 12 and that you must attend school until age 16. All we’ve done over time is to assure that if public education is available to anyone- it’s available to everyone. Note that this applies only to “public” education.

Once you graduate high school- you’re on your own. If you really believe in freedom and inalienable rights, this is as it should be.

Here’s why…

Notice that in a free society, your “inalienable” rights don’t impose a cost on anyone else. It really is that simple.

Your life doesn’t necessitate the deprivation of anyone else’s life. Your freedom does not infringe on the freedom of others. Your pursuit of happiness should not interfere with anyone else’s pursuit…

…and there’s the problem.

Unfortunately, the word “free” is now confused with freedom.

Beyond a “fundamental” educational level, you start adult life as a free individual. You’re free to pursue your own ambitions, explore your own talents and to trade your abilities on the open market to build the life you choose.

Your individual expression of freedom starts to get expensive.

It costs money to build and operated public colleges. If you want to choose your pursuit- to study whatever makes you happy, there is a cost.

How can you justify the position that your pursuit is any more worthy than anyone else’s?

Why should the resources of any other free person be confiscated to finance your individual pursuit of happiness?

Again- as a community we’ve decided to invest in programs that benefit the community at large. The Constitution allows that the States and the People are free to make those choices.

Usually, the community invests in higher education that will directly benefit the people in that community. That’s why so many public colleges and universities were created to train teachers, engineers, agriculturalists, nurses and other vocations.

If your pursuit of happiness works in harmony with the needs of the community, you have access to subsidized education. Take full advantage.

If your pursuit of happiness is a little more esoteric, well…it is, after all, your pursuit.

Once you abdicate financial responsibility for your pursuit to the public- or to the government, you also abdicate your freedom of choice. If higher education is a right- and that right comes at a cost.

Who grants the RIGHT to higher education?

The entity providing the means of support dictates the terms. If the government grants you the right to higher education, then the government dictates what you should study.

Is that really what you’re after?

Do you have a RIGHT to fully subsidized higher education?

No more than I have a right to publicly subsidized guitar lessons. Why is my pursuit of happiness any less worthy than yours?

Be careful. Answer that question honestly and you’ll meet the dark and dangerous specter that struck fear in the hearts of our founders.

_____________________________

Jim Bouchard is a speaker and author of THINK Like a BLACK BELT. Learn more about Jim at ThatBlackBeltGuy.com…

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The Attack on Christmas: KNOCK IT OFF!

Santa Womanby Jim Bouchard

If you’re one of those Grinches who wants to eradicate Christ from Christmas…

…KNOCK IT OFF!

I don’t identify myself as Christian and I frankly don’t give a damn whether you are or not. Still, I acknowledge that Christmas is about the baby Jesus, I enjoy the spirit of the season and I’m definitely not offended if you want to wish me a Merry Christmas.

First of all, Christmas is about Christ. End of story.

Christians celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. The holiday has, over time, come to represent the spirit of charity and giving so essential to those who practice authentic Christian principles.

Merry Christmas is a warm greeting intended only to express compassion in the true spirit of the season.

If you’re offended by any of that, just don’t be.

Next- there is no constitutional basis to prohibit Christmas displays or celebrations in public places.

The separation of church and state as a constitutional issue is a myth. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, the United States was founded primarily by a group of Christian men who instilled the values and principles of their various sects in nearly every area of law and government.

Being extremely intelligent and farsighted individuals, they also, in order to protect their own religious freedom, codified the free expression of religion for all American citizens.

The 101 version of the separation of church and state comes from a series of debates and letters, largely credited to Thomas Jefferson, who advocated for a strong “wall of separation” between any church and the federal government to avoid the establishment of a state religion- something the founders knew about and feared greatly.

The modern expansion of the idea of a wall of separation started with a lawsuit (Everson vs. Board of Education) over the state of New Jersey using tax money to pay for school bus rides for kids going to private, and particularly parochial schools. At that time, the SCOTUS ruled that the 1st Amendment had not been violated- because transportation was paid for all kids regardless of religious affiliation and because state, not federal funding was involved.

Putting up a Christmas tree, or even a nativity display, doesn’t violate the 1st Amendment in any way shape or form. It would be a violation if Congress ordered you to put up a Christmas tree.

Here’s an interesting viewpoint from Penn Jillette…

I find it particularly interesting that so many groups want to put up purposely offensive displays in public places simply to make a statement in what they perceive as the interest of fairness. This is why we now have Wiccan holiday displays alongside Jewish and Christian symbols of the season.

Frankly- I don’t give a damn if the Wiccans or the Church of Satan want to put up holiday displays, but to do so simply as an attack on their Christian neighbors is, well…

…just plain stupid.

There is no traditional Wiccan observation of the birth of Christ and I could not find any particular Satanic holiday centered on gift giving and acts of charity. If those of you who worship goats, Pagan gods or Old Scratch himself want to join the party, so be it.

If you’re just trying to ruin someone else’s fun- get a life! (And your own holiday! Maybe we’ll enjoy that one too!)

To Christians…if you’re offended that someone doesn’t believe what you believe…KNOCK IT OFF!

You’re preaching tolerance, love extended to all mankind, etc., etc. Well then, get on with it!

I’m not saying you shouldn’t defend yourself against direct attacks, but nobody is throwing you into the Coliseum with a bunch of lions here. If some atheist wants to spend his own money on a billboard that proclaims Christmas is a myth, just get over it! (I was going to say put up your own billboards- but you’ve been doing that for quite a while!)

You’re not going to persuade that guy to believe any more than he’s going to persuade you not to. You’ve got better things to do.

If you believe…then believe.

And finally to the Atheists (capitalization intentional in the spirit of fairness)…

If there is no God- what the hell is the big problem?

Atheism has become to some a cult as fervent as some of the most extreme examples of fundamentalist Christianity or radicalized Islam. Your rights to not-believe are secured by the 1st Amendment; why can’t you just leave the God fearing peoples be?

I’m the first one to get aggravated, though not necessarily offended, by someone proselytizing. My personal beliefs are, well, personal- and I don’t appreciate anyone stuffing their own beliefs in my face.

Having said that, I welcome and embrace any expression of positivity, respect, love and charity in this difficult and challenging world. I appreciate and support the good work of people of faith in many areas of society- as long as they’re respectful and tolerant of others.

Christmas is about love, family- if you’re lucky enough to have one, hope, renewal and kindness. If you don’t want to celebrate- don’t!

But- the next time you want to get your undies in a bunch because there’s a Christmas tree in your town square or someone wishes you a heartfelt “Merry Christmas…”

…KNOCK IT OFF!

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Jim Bouchard is a nationally recognized speaker, media guest and author of THINK Like a BLACK BELT.

Learn more about Jim at these sites:

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