Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Putting the Cat Out

"I am a victim of an unjust and arbitrary system, hastily imposed, that serves only to belittle America's image as a defender of the civil liberties that so many dearly struggled and died for over the centuries," Islam writes.

If Mr. Stevens was talking about transportation security, then I would heartily agree with one thing: it is an unjust and arbitrary system. When Norm Mineta refused to allow the profiling of air passengers, he pretty well assured that not only will airport security be less effective, but it will also be a major pain in the rear for all of us. But that is not what Mr. Stevens was referring to. Instead, he was upset at being on a Homeland Security watch-list and ultimately deported from the U.S.

To clear up some facts about Mr. Steven’s ordeal:

First, no civil liberties were violated. None. The U.S. Constitution does not give foreigners a right to enter the U.S. I know of several people who have been unable to gain entrance visas (mostly student and work visas) back into the U.S. for unknown reasons, and each of those instances is more tragic than Mr. Stevens supposes his instance to be, because those others had spouses or loved ones already in the country or were trying to finish their education, etc. Still, the U.S. is perfectly within its rights to deny entrance to any foreigner coming into the country.

Second, despite Mr. Steven’s belief to the contrary, there have been no allegations levied by the U.S. against him to suggest that he is somehow connected with terrorism. He was not arrested or charged with any wrongdoing. He was simply on a watch-list. The U.S. was not entitled to make any allegations whatsoever in order to deport him.

Now, there are a couple of reasons why he may have been flagged. It may have been a spelling error. Or, it may have been that he donated money to front groups that fund organizations like Hamas. It really doesn't matter. It was not illegal, unethical or immoral to turn him away from our shores.

But it seems that Yusuf mainly wants to paint himself as a victim. In the first sentence of his official statement, Yusuf declares:

“First, I thank God for relieving me of my ordeal and delivering me home safe; also, thanks to all those who prayed for me and supported me through this whole dark episode, from eminent politicians, the press and religious leaders, to plain, everyday people.”

This statement comes in the same week that two American civilians in Iraq were beheaded followed by an Englishman. It seems that they would have a better claim to terms like “ordeal” or “dark episode.” I’m sorry to Yusuf if I cannot spare much sympathy for his dramatic deportation from the U.S.A., but that’s simply because it loses significance when compared to how infidels have been treated by radical Muslims.

He’s being a bit heavy-handed when he frets: “The most upsetting thing at this point was being separated from my daughter, Maymanah, not knowing how she was or when and where we might be united.” Really? Afraid she might be mistreated or executed, were ye?

And then he goes on to describe that his family was “relegated to watching the whole frightening episode on TV and surviving on scraps of information shown by the media.” Frightening? Surviving on scraps of information? Did his family suppose that the U.S. would lop of his head or toss him eternally into Guantanamo Bay? It was not as if he was some Palestinian summarily executed by some radical Palestinian terror gang on a Gaza street, or some gay Egyptian arrested at a party because of his sexual orientation, or some civilian beheaded by radical Islamists in Iraq or some hapless Sudanese refugee poisoned by Syrian gas. It’s not as if he spent any time at all in the prison of virtually any Islamic country.

He was simply deported.

Mr. Steven’s victim plea comes off as arrogant and misdirected. He seems completely oblivious as to why Homeland Security might have such a list in the first place. I don’t believe that Mr. Stevens is a terrorist, or even a threat to our national security. It may have even been possible to feel for him if he had simply gone quietly back without making any stink, or saying something like “I’m disappointed in how this situation was handled, but understand that the watch-list is meant to help provide some security for the American people. That such a bureaucratic incident occurred is to be expected.”

But no such statement came from is lips. Instead of looking where the real misery in the world is, he directs the attention on himself and willingly, nay, eagerly accepts the mantle of victim.
There’s an excellent scene in a John Ford western called Wagon Master where some settlers are the guests at an Indian camp. Two of settlers compromise the integrity of one of the Indian women. Before the tribe has a chance to enact their own punishment on the two white men (and very likely the rest of the wagon train) the wagon-master has the two men tied to a wagon wheel and mercilessly whips the snot out of them in front of the Indians.

Moderate Islam should take notes. It has been insufficient in dealing with the radical parts of their own religion. It’s not enough to condemn the 9/11 attacks or the Beslan slaughter, like Yusuf has done. That is merely lip service. Instead, if he’s upset that his donations to some Islamic charity may have resulted in his name on a watch list, then perhaps he should look towards the charity organization that he supports. The sad truth is that if only 1% of Islamic charity organizations secretly fund terror groups, the rest are tainted, especially if moderate Muslims come across as unable or unwilling to weed out the rotten eggs. The U.S. government (or any western government) is going to be ill equipped to know which organization is good and which is bad. However, someone like Yusuf, who has been inside the Islamic community for a third of a century could be more effective by scrutinizing the charity organizations he donates to and calling on them to be more transparent. If Yusuf could break himself away momentarily from playing the victim, perhaps he could spare some energy towards stopping the loons that have hijacked his religion and made a mockery of good will and righteousness. It’s not a question of just or unjust, but rather the law of the jungle that says that somebody is going to have to confront radical Islam. One would think that corrective action from peace-loving Muslims, like Mr. Stevens, is preferrable to some inevitably ham-fisted U.S. action.


Dude said...

So if 1% is the percentage of apples it takes to spoil the whole barrel, what do you make of the 20% corruption rate in Iraq reconstruction costs?(

Does that level of corruption taint the whole reconstruction effort? If so, shouldn't the champions of reconstruction work harder to eliminate it?

Jeffrey Hill said...

Taints the reconstruction? Sure. Ruins it? Not at all for me, but I guess it depends on how bent you are on seeing the negative side of this reconstruction. I prefer seeing it as 80% full. Judging by the lack of infrastructure we found in that country, I’d imagine that a 20% corruption rate is a marked improvement to what the Iraqis are used to. Also, that graft money isn’t being used towards acts of terror, so far as I know.

Steve said...

I dunno Jeff. I'm not to keen on Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam... but I do find his being a Muslim and subsequently being barred from the country for it pretty despicable.

On another note - so if Moderate Muslims are repsonsible for the actions of the Radicals... why aren't you mainstream Christians doing more about the radical chirsitians who like to shoot doctors who perform abortions, or going after the money that funds such movements as the White Aryan Resistance and the Christian Identity movement?
Physician, heal thyself.

Jeffrey Hill said...

I don't think Mr. Stevens is permanently barred from the country. He's been here several times since 9/11 and even met with White House officials regarding his charity work (and not under the lamp, if you know what I mean). I'd wager that he'll get in on his next try, especially if his legal counsel squares it ahead for him.

Do you seriously suggest that Christian extremists threaten the rest of us as much as Islamic extremists? When Jimmy Swaggert says something stupid like he recently did about gays, it usually doesn't end with body bags, but an outburst of scoffs and his very own tear-stained apology. Also, we have a legal system that convicts murderers like Paul Hill. When's the last time Christian wackos destroy a skyscraper or used a football stadium for public executions? I haven't seen a line of Christian videos showing God's hooded soldiers decapitating infidels.