The US missile that struck al-Majalah in 2009 reportedly killed 41 people, more than half of them children. If the US government and public are so willing to gloss over this collateral and, by denying and concealing it, essentially label children terrorists, who in Yemen is safe? Perhaps this is the most straightforward interpretation of his statement: if even children can be targets, nobody is innocent enough to be safe. The family of the eight year-old boy killed at the Marathon finish line, and many others in Boston, now know this fear all too well.
Because of the United States’ racially tinged “global war on terror,” people around the world face such fear daily:
Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. (Living Under Drones)
As Farea Al-Muslimi testified to a Senate Committee last week after a drone attack on his village in Yemen: “This fear permeates our country and it is shared by the youngest and oldest Yeminis. A middle age man from Rada’a, in central Yemen, said in an interview recently: “In the past, mothers used to tell their kids to go to bed or I will call your father. Now, they say, ‘Go to bed or I will call the planes.’”
The man grieves his community’s losses. While his tone was not threatening, anger is a natural part of the grieving process. His statement raises the concern that the US government’s continued killing of children and innocent civilians will create anger that ferments into hate, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of terrorism.
Take it from a Stanford/NYU study: “The number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%.
The tragic irony being that the success of the 2001 conspiracy had nothing to do with airport security in the first place. This was a failure of intelligence at the FBI and CIA levels, not at the concourse checkpoint. As I’ve pointed out many times in the past, the hijackers were not exploiting a weakness in airport security, but rather a weakness in our mind-set — our presumptions, based on years of precedent, as to what a hijacking was, and how it would unfold. What weapons the men used was irrelevant. Ballpoint pens would have sufficed, for the strategy relied not on hardware, but on the element of surprise. So long as the hijackers didn’t chicken out, their plan was all but guaranteed to succeed.
I will otherwise spare my regular readers any further rehashing as to what, since then, has made our airport security apparatus so farcical and ineffective. The topic has granted more than ample coverage in this column over the past eight years. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the points are neatly summarized here. [Read full post]
James Wall on the manipulation of the day’s meaning:
Murderous crime scenes in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, became spiritual staging grounds for an international war against what Time’s Tony Karon describes as “a tiny network of transnational extremists, founded on the remnants of the Arab volunteers who’d fought in the U.S.-backed Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union.”
Ten years later, we remain stunned by losses that we incurred on that day and in the years to follow; we have lost service men and women and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, personal freedoms in the name of national security, and tolerance for those of the Islamic faith. We remember these losses on the 10th anniversary. However, September 11th should not be solely about remembrance, it needs to be about looking forward. Young people are inheriting a world that has been created as a result of September 11th. It is therefore the responsibility of youth to ensure that the world becomes the one we need it to be. In the next decade, young people will remember, but we will no longer remain stunned. [Read full post]
I wish we could call this 10th anniversary year a sort of Jubilee Year, like the tradition cited in Leviticus, which calls for everyone to say “I’m sorry” and be universally pardoned. The prisoners would be freed, and all debts forgiven, mostly because we need God’s mercy and a new start more than anything else. In Leviticus, Jubilee is supposed to be every 50 years, but I’m not sure we can make it another 40 without letting up.
We have just witnessed a McCarthy-like persecution, and Glenn Beck says that he’s not finished yet—there are other “radicals” in the White House and he’s going to go after them too.
So we need to speak up. We need to speak up with voices of reason grounded in hope. We need to name wrongdoing when we see it, and speak truth in the face of lies. We’ve seen lies grab the headlines: about the President’s birthplace, about death panels and socialized medicine, about the President’s ‘hidden agenda’ encouraging schoolchildren to study hard. Enough is enough. It’s time to name the fear that underlies the politics of hatred.
It’s time to speak clearly, in our churches, in our schools, at our kitchen tables, and at our Labor Day cook-outs—it’s time to name the lies as lies, and to counter fear with steady, strong, quiet, persistent truth.
The politics of hatred need to stop. Politicians need to stop the propagation of lies that will undermine a just and peaceful future. Racially tinged anger and outbursts are a harmful distraction from green jobs, healthcare reform, and other policies that will substantively improve millions of lives.… Read the rest
I am currently attending the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church as a member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Young Adult Presence. You can read about the advocacy work that the seven other young adults and I are doing here.… Read the rest
Swarthmore Scriptural Reasoning Group (Courtesy of Stuart Watson, Swarthmore College)
The Scriptural Reasoning group I participated in last semester was featured in the Swarthmore College Bulletin. Scriptural Reasoning, text studies and dialogues with Christians, Jews, and Muslims, has been a great opportunity for me. In contrast to the living room dialogues I did in high school (which were also great), it seeks to engage the differences in interpretations between the three faiths. Learning about how the other Abrahamic faiths view figures such as Jonah and Noah is really illuminating. I’m looking forward to our first session of this semester, for which the Christian text is the Sermon on the Mount, this Sunday.… Read the rest
New York’s Episcopal Cathedral had its rededication service yesterday [Articles from the New York Times and Episcopal Life Online]. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is a quick walk from Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and has quite the fascinating architectural history. I visited it a few weeks ago, and despite the large partitions in place for the construction work, it was an impressive space.… Read the rest
This morning, I attended the Episcopal Church’s Service of Repentance for the Sins of Slavery at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. The choir of Trinity Church in Swarthmore was invited to sing as part of the service’s prelude. On Friday, participants engaged in a number of presentations regarding the Episcopal Church’s role in supporting slavery. Even though I couldn’t attend then, today was still a powerful service. The liturgy was a strong call
“to commit ourselves to opposing the sin of racism in personal and public life, and to create communities of liberation and justice.”
The service focused not only on the institution of slavery, but on how everyday churchgoers have fallen and still do fall prey to the sins of racism, subjugation, neglect, complicity, and arrogance. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s sermon was informative and inspirational. She called for the United States to unlearn some of the “myths that underlie our nation’s history” and to “understand the ways in which those myths have kept many in bondage, and confess the ways in which The Episcopal Church has been partner to those myths.” I think it is vital for us to realize that the United States, what many consider at least nominally a Christian nation, has often strayed far from the teachings of Jesus. We must recognize that this country was built on two genocides that our “history” seems to say are acceptable or even noble.
It was good to see some familiar faces at the service, including the Diocese of Los Angeles’ Bishop Talton and Massachusetts State Representative Byron Rushing (whom I last saw opening a time capsule in Roxbury). Representative Rushing has done some great work, and I agree with him that
“We need to talk about slavery into the future as it is alive today. We still need to have an abolitionist’s movement because we have abolished slavery as an economy of chattel but we have not abolished slavery in our culture”
And of course, one of my favorite parts was trying to clap and keep time with the liveliest, most awesome gospel choir I have ever seen (and watching some of the older bishops try to do the same).… Read the rest
Bishop Bruno and other members of the Diocese of Los Angeles took a significant stand for marriage equality today. At a press conference, they explained their opposition to Proposition 8, which would implement a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in California. Read full post to watch the video…