About Me

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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lawmaker objects to getting copy of Quran

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - After one Oklahoma lawmaker raised terrorism as an issue, several others joined him in rejecting a gift of the Quran from a council created by Gov. Brad Henry.

"Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology," said Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs.

Duncan expressed his feelings in a letter to his colleagues on Monday. By late Tuesday, 15 legislators had notified the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council that they were returning the gift.

Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, chairman of the council and a Muslim, said she was "a little disappointed."

Seirafi-Pour said the gift was a way to introduce the council to lawmakers so they can use it as a resource to "serve their offices and constituents." She estimates there are 30,000 to 50,000 Muslims in Oklahoma.

She said no state funds were used in the project.

Seirafi-Pour disagreed with Duncan's assessment of her religion. "I know he referred to Islam as an ideology. That is not a fact. It is a religion. It is very peaceful, very inclusive.

"We do not wish to have any ill feelings or miscommunications with any other groups or any other religions and especially our elected officials."

"My comment is that we never hear those 30,000 to 50,000 Muslims opposing the practice of violence on innocent people," Duncan said.

Duncan was asked about a double standard since lawmakers received a Centennial copy of the Bible earlier in the year from The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

"Mine is proudly on my desk on the Capitol and I don't think I ever read a part of it that condones the killing of women and children in furtherance of God's word," Duncan said. "It's one of the nicest things I've received in my three years in the Legislature."

Henry could not be contacted for comment because he was on an overseas flight to Great Britain in his role as chairman of the Council of State Governments.

Spokesman Paul Sund said the council was created by executive order in 2003. "A group of Oklahomans of predominantly Middle Eastern descent came to the governor and asked him to create an advisory council similar to others that have been created for Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans.

"The governor thought the idea made sense, given the history of cultural diversity in Oklahoma."

In Washington, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the controversy is "disturbing" and "offensive" to Muslims.

"It just points to the amount of education about Islam and the American Muslim community that is needed in all levels in our society, including elected officials," Hooper said.

When Ignorance is not bliss, but rather pure bigotry and shame

A recent Associated Press story stated that about two dozen Oklahoma lawmakers plan to return copies of the Qur'an to a state panel on diversity created by Gov. Brad Henry after a lawmaker claimed the Muslim holy book condones the killing of innocent women and children.

The lawmaker, Rep. Rex Duncan, is obviously ignorant. Hey, there is no shame in being ignorant. We all are ignorant about many things. But it is a disaster when one is in denial of his/her ignorance and even makes judgments and bigoted decisions based on that ignorance. There is absolutely not a single verse in the Qur'an that condones the killing of any innocent people, including women and children. If anything, Islamic teachings clearly and strongly stresses the value and sanctity of every human life. Even in times of defensive just wars, Muslims are unequivocally forbidden from harming women, children, the old, non-combatants, the wounded, animals, and even the environment.

Rep. Duncan went on spewing more lies and hate, saying: "we never hear those...Muslims opposing the practice of violence on innocent people".
Mr. Duncan, do yourself a favor and read the following site to learn about some of the efforts Muslims undertook in face of terrorism.
http://www.cair.com/AmericanMuslims/AntiTerrorism.aspx

Well, this lawmaker's shameful ignorance did not stop here (some politicians just don't know when to stop talking). When asked if there was any double standard since lawmakers received a Centennial copy of the Bible earlier in the year from The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Rep. Duncan was quoted saying:

"Mine is proudly on my desk on the Capitol and I don't think I ever read a part of it that condones the killing of women and children in furtherance of God's word."

Here is another proof that Duncan does not read much, if any. To say that Christian teachings (like that of Islam and Judaism) forbid the harming of innocent people, including women and children, will be accurate. But to say that he never read a part of the Bible that condones such killing is definitely inaccurate. Either Duncan never really opened the Bible gift given to him (what kind of a claimed Christian must he be? Probably a politician who panders to the Christian Right!), or he is reading a different Bible than the one I studied in my Christian schools.

Like all scriptures (and probably more than others), the Bible carries many verses dealing with violence. Such verses tend to be manipulated by extremists to justify their radical and violent views and actions. The Holocaust, slavery, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, and even the murdering of abortion doctors are all a result of such twisted interpretations. Rep. Duncan, don't feel singled out, such radicals exist in every religion. But to claim that such text does not exist is really dumb. Sorry, I had to use that word.
I strongly suggest reading: Beware sensational translations of holy verse, torn out of context

Here is a sample of such verses in the Bible:

In the New Testament, Jesus was quoted saying:

I come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled (Luke 12:49)

But those my enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me (Luke 19:27)

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all thing that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be they wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13: 41-42)

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I come not to send peace, but a sword (Matt 10: 33-34)


The Old Testament includes:

Ezekiel 9:4-6. And the Lord said unto him... Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women; ...and begin at my sanctuary.

I Samuel 15:2,3. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ...Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Isaiah 13:15-16. Everyone that is found shall be thrust through; ...Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.

Hosea 13:16. Their infants shall be dashed in pieces and their women with child shall be ripped up.

Numbers 31:17-18. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that has known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves (as concubines).

Psalm 137:9. Happy shall he be, that takes and dashes their little ones against the stones. [the Babylonians' children.]

Exodus 35:2 states the anyone working on the Sabbath should be put to death.

Leviticus 20:13 "If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

Deuteronomy 13:6-8, 8-9 'If your brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife tries to secretly entice you, telling you to go and worship other gods, gods of people living near you, or far from you, or anywhere on earth, do not listen to him.' 'You must kill them. Show them no pity. And your hand must strike the first blow.'


Again, such verses do not define the Christian teachings of peace and forgiveness. But the truth is that those verses are part of the Bible. As a Muslim, I am taught to learn about others based on their interpretation of their religious beliefs, not based on the actions of the fringe followers. (I wish Rep. Duncan follows that rule too)

The ignorance expressed by Rep. Duncan is certainly not bliss this time. It is pure bigotry and shame. There was a time when lawmakers were true leaders; leaders who were expected to be intelligent, informed, wise, uniting, and with common sense. Gone are the good old days.
Today, some of those false "leaders" lead by their ignorance and by the fear of the "other" that they instill in their constituencies.

Fortunately, most Christians that I know and closely associate with (including family members and friends), do not follow Rep. Duncan's deformed brand of Christianity which preaches hatred toward others.

At the end of the AP story, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations was quoted saying:

"It just points to the amount of education about Islam and the American Muslim community that is needed in all levels in our society, including elected officials."

I could not have said it any better. He just is much more diplomatic than me.

Muslims Urge Prayers for Rain to Put Out Calif. Fires

CAIR asks people of all faiths to join nationwide spiritual effort

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on mosques and other houses of worship across the nation to offer prayers for rain to help put out wildfires currently raging in California.

SEE: California Fires Force Another 50,000 From Homes

CAIR urged American mosques to offer special Islamic prayers, called Salatul Istisqa (sal-AT-al-istis-KA), which the Prophet Muhammad traditionally offered during times of drought.

In Salatul Istisqa, the Prophet would offer supplications such as: "O God, give us rain that will replenish us, abundant, fertilizing and profitable, not injurious. Grant it now without delay...Send down rain upon us and make it a source of strength and satisfaction...O God, give us a saving rain, good and productive, general and heavy, now and not later, beneficial and not harmful."

The Quran, Islam’s revealed text, states: "O my people! Seek forgiveness of your Lord and turn to Him in repentance. He will send you from the sky abundant rain." (Quran, 11:52)

"Americans of all faiths need to offer spiritual assistance to the courageous firefighters who are battling these deadly fires," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Awad also asked mosques in wildfire areas to offer shelter to fire victims and that financial aid for victims be sent to the American Red Cross.

SEE: American Red Cross Response to Southern California Wildfires

Locally, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California and local Islamic centers are organizing the special prayer of Salatul Istisqa at the Islamic Society of Orange County from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm on Thursday the 25th of October. All area Imams were also requested to dedicate their Friday (Oct 26th) sermons for the same purpose.

Mosques in Irvine and San Diego have opened their doors to welcome evacuees escaping the raging fire.



A firefighter lit backfires to protect the Bonita neighborhood in San Diego County.
Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty



ImagesGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger observed a fire burning out of control in Lake Arrowhead, Calif.
Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

A firefighter working to put out a fire in the vineyard at a home in Lake Hodges, near San Diego on Tuesday. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Urban Legend on Islam: The 9/11 verse in the Quran

Urban legends come in different types. Some are meant to entertain and others are meant to demonize and dehumanize a group of people. Once a group of people is dehumanized, it becomes much easier to discriminate against, harass, or even subject such people to a genocide. The examples of what happened to Jews by Nazi Germany, Bosnian Muslims by Serb Nationalists, and Chechens by Russians, provide us with tragic proof from our history.

Here is an example of an email that keeps surfacing on various lists, poisoning the minds of uninformed people.


Read down to the very bottom highlighted in green, IT'LL GIVE YOU GOOSE-BUMPS!!!


You don't want to miss this! ((*_*) )


VERY INTERESTING-

This is something to think about: Since America is typically represented by an eagle.
Saddam should have read up on his Muslim passages ...
The following verse is from the Koran, (the Islamic Bible)


Koran ( 9:11 ) - For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle.. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the l ands of Allah; And there was peace.
(Note the verse number!) Hmmmmmmm?!


I BETTER NOT HEAR OF ANYONE BREAKING THIS ONE OR SEE IT DELETED.
This is a ribbon for soldiers fighting in Iraq.
Pass it on to everyone and pray. Something good will happen to you tonight at 11:11 PM. This is not a joke.
Someone will either call you or will talk to you online and say that they love you.
Do not break this chain.


Send this to 13 people in the next 15 minutes

Now this would have been really amazing, except that there is no such verse in the Quran, not anywhere in the Quran. The lying bigot who originally wrote this message and the ignorant person who is forwarding it to others without verifying its accuracy are just willingly contributing to the anti-Muslim sentiment which is the cause of a growing number of cases of hateful attacks and discrimination against Muslims in the world.

Unless we all commit ourselves to dialogue, learn, and understand other people, most of us will continue to fall prey to such ignorance and deception.

Ironically, the actual verse 9:11 says:

But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then are they your brethren in religion. We detail Our revelations for a people who have knowledge.

What an irony. The verse speaks about repentance and brotherhood. It also reminds us that such revelation are explained and understood by those who have knowledge, not the ignorant ones; the same ignorant bigots who engage in forwarding such hateful messages to begin with.

Indeed, Allah/God is the Most Wise, the All Knowing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

URGE GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER TO SIGN THE CALIFORNIA DREAM-ACT

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, of Greater Los Angeles (CAIR-LA) is calling on American Muslims and other people of conscience, to urge California Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the California DREAM-Act.
The California DREAM-Act AB-540 (SB-1) will grant qualified undocumented immigrant students -- who grew up in California and graduated from our high schools -- to apply for and receive financial aid at our colleges and universities. These aren't just any students -- many of these students are the first generation of their families to attend college and are among the poorest and most in need of tuition assistance in California. They are the children of undocumented immigrants whose lives were profoundly changed the moment their parents brought them to America. Almost all of them came here without choice.

Do your part in ensuring that all CA students have access to higher education and have a chance to realize the American dream.

SB 1 passed the state legislature on September 11th and now the Governor has until October 14th to take action on the bill. From across the state, students, youth, faith, community, and labor groups are urging the Governor to sign SB 1.

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE and RESPECTFUL.)

Please contact Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to ask him to support the California DREAM-Act. Personal letters sent by fax are best, followed by calls and e-mails, in that order. Make sure to include your name and full address and to ask for a written response. You may contact the office even if you are not registered to vote or a citizen. Governor Schwarzenegger represents all California residents.

Sign the petition: http://www.couragecampaign.org/page/s/DREAM


TALKING POINTS:
1) I respectfully ask that Governor Schwarzenegger signs the California DREAM Act.
2) I strongly support granting student’s eligibility for need-based state financial aide.

CONTACT:
Capitol Office – Call the Sacramento office at (916) 445-2841. Press 1, then 5, then 6, and finally 1 again for support. It only takes 10 seconds!
State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814; Fax (916) 445-4633; governor@governor.ca.gov

What does your god teach you?

Two days ago, I forwarded the CAIR action alert asking Californians to contact Governor Schwarzenegger to urge him to sign on the California DREAM-Act (SB-1) which will grant qualified undocumented immigrant students -- who grew up in California and graduated from our high schools -- to apply for and receive financial aid at our colleges and universities. . Read more about the bill below.
http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2007/10/urge-governor-schwarzenegger-to-sign.html

In response to that alert, I received several e-mails from a local person attacking Islam and CAIR's position on the DREAM Act issue. Disagreeing over political views is normal, and even healthy; however, for one to resort to offensive and even bigoted language against the religious values of others is never acceptable. Below is the email exchange I had with the sender of the email. (I removed the last name of the person to protect her privacy)

---

From: Linda B.
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 8:31 PM
Subject: RE: Urge California Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the California DREAM-Act

Perhaps God the Compassionate the merciful could have stopped the stoning of women under Islamic Law. The slaughtered pulp of what was left probably wasn't really feeling that compassion you're talking about.

---

From: Linda B.
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 8:29 PM
Subject: RE: Urge California Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the California DREAM-Act

As a high school teacher I can tell you that there are so many many middle and lower class families absolutely struggling to send their children to college. All monies for post secondary education which come from tax monies must be used to educate our citizens first. Americans cannot afford to send THEIR OWN children to college, how in the world can you expect them to educate children from other countries when their own children cannot afford to go? Better rethink this one. My God believes in justice, I don't know about yours.

Linda

---

From: Hussam
To: Linda

Hi Linda,

Those children and their parents might not be legal residents, but they also pay taxes, like all of us. Even if they did not, we should not punish children for something they were not responsible for. Last that I checked, America gave all of us an opportunity to strive and realize our dreams although our earliest immigrants who came on the Columbus ships and soon after were not quite legal immigrants themselves. Should we be penalized for the illegal actions of those early settlers?


As for your question about my God, here is what He stands for.

My God teaches us that “all people are the dependents of God and the most loved by God are those who take care of His dependents”. (Saying of Prophet Muhammad)

My God teaches us that helping those in need does not depend on their nationality, citizenship, race, color, or immigration status.

My God teaches us that all people are part of one family. We all are the children of Adam and Eve. We all are brothers and sisters in humanity.

My God teaches us that it is not fair to punish children for the mistake of their parents. Those children did not choose to come here illegally and should not be deprived from education.

My God teaches us that “one is not a true believer until he/she loves for others what he/she loves for him/herself”. I love for my children to get an education; therefore, I love it for other people’s children too.

My God teaches us that it is immoral to invade and destroy other nations and countries. He teaches us that it is immoral to be willing to spend over $500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billions) to wage war and create desperation on people thousands of miles away, but opposed to spending a fraction of that amount to bring prosperity and hope to people sharing our own communities.


Linda, that’s what my God and the God of every Muslim, Christian and Jew stands for (I studied the Qur’an and the Bible). I am afraid that the god you are following is none but the false gods of selfishness, greed, xenophobia, nationalism, and arrogance.

I pray to God that He places love and mercy in our hearts toward others.

Peace and regards,
Hussam Ayloush

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Flying while Muslim: In the crosshairs of airport security

By ABDUSSALAM MOHAMED, Senior Staff Writer InFocus Newspaper

LOS ANGELES – In a post-9/11 world, returning from an overseas trip could mean a serious ordeal at the port of entry for many American Arab and Muslim travelers, especially those returning from the Middle East or a Muslim country.

Many recount harrowing experiences of unfair treatment, rude behavior, unnecessary and humiliating interrogations, unprofessional conduct by DHS officials and long detentions for little or no reasonable cause. For many, the striking similarities between their stories and the frequency of occurrence point to one inevitable conclusion: profiling.

They argue that no matter when or where they travel, the crosshairs of airport security seem to be repeatedly locked on them...

For Shaikh Yassir Fazaga, 35, religious director at the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo, Calif., being detained and questioned when traveling through American ports is not just the norm but also an expected inconvenience.
“Any time I leave the country, I’m usually stopped for at least an hour or two - the most was four hours,” said the Eritrea-born soft-spoken imam. “I’ve gotten so used to it, that I actually prepare myself.”

An almost identical experience happened to no other than Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and a very well-known and respected Muslim leader.

As recently as July of this year, Ayloush arrived in Denver, Colo., on a flight from London, England, but which originated in Lebanon, and said that when a DHS agent could not clear his passport, he was ushered into a private room.

There he was interrogated about his trip, which he took to visit his sick grandmother and to attend a brother’s wedding.

“Which countries did you visit? How did you get through those countries? How many people were in the car? Who was driving the car?” the DHS officer asked sternly. And then she asked him what he did for a living.

“The minute I told her I worked for CAIR, she suddenly became more cautious in her line of questioning,” Ayloush said. “She suddenly affected a friendly tone and even asked when would CAIR open a chapter in Colorado.”

Fazaga said he experiences similar treatment with regards to the questioning. He said he is asked questions such as, “What do you think of Bukhari (a ninth century Muslim scholar of Hadith)? How come you are not dressed as an imam? What are your thoughts on the Shia? What are your feelings on jihad?”

Ayloush doubts DHS agents such as these know what they are doing or looking for. “There’s such a high level of fear and paranoia, there is no legitimate reason for many of these type of searches and questions,” he said.

In his case, the DHS officer apologized and argued she was just doing her job, he said. But Ayloush contended, “common sense should be part of her job, too.” Happily for the 37-year old executive director, he was able to catch his connecting flight.
But for Fazaga and almost 75 percent of the Saudia Airlines passengers who landed at the John F. Kennedy airport in New York City a few months ago, this was not the case. Because the plane arrived in the evening, many people missed their connecting flights and had to wait until the next morning for a connection. “It was a sad scene to see nursing mothers with crying babies who needed to be changed and fed, students and people on work deadlines detained for hours,” Fazaga said. “Some were coming for the first time to this country, and could not afford to spend the night at a hotel, so after an 11 hour flight, they remained stuck at the airport for 12 hours.”

“Profiling people based solely on their Muslim background is either due to incompetence, bias or ignorance,” he said. “There is no shame in being ignorant but those who are in charge of such an important job cannot hide behind ignorance, especially post 9/11.”...

Read Full Article:
http://www.infocusnews.net/content/view/16890/135/

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dissenting at your own risk

Dissenting at your own risk
By CECILIE SURASKY
Special to the Star-Telegram

Last year, I agreed to speak to a Jewish youth group about my organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, and our opposition to Israel's occupation. My talk was to follow one from a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which calls itself "America's pro-Israel Lobby."

A week before, a shaken program leader said the AIPAC staffer had threatened to get the entire youth program's funding canceled if I was allowed in the door. The threat worked, and in disgust, they canceled the whole talk.

Pundits will surely argue for years about professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer's explosive new book, The Israel Lobby, which blames poor U.S. policy in the Middle East on a loose network of individuals and pro-Israel advocacy groups.

But the book, and the response to it, opens up another controversy: the stifling of debate about unconditional U.S. support for Israeli policies.

Why is Israel's increasingly brutal 40-year occupation of Palestinian land regularly debated in the mainstream media abroad, including in Israel, but not here? And why is there an almost total lack of discussion among presidential candidates about the dollars that subsidize this occupation and the American diplomatic support that makes it possible?

In a society built on the free exchange of ideas, as Walt and Mearsheimer point out, one answer can be found by looking at the many self-appointed gatekeepers, such as Abraham Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League, or Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who use their Jewish identity as both a shield and cudgel. They work diligently to silence those who question ill-conceived policies of the Israeli and U.S. governments.

Non-Jewish critics, even former President Carter, are denounced as anti-Semites. Special ire is reserved for Jewish dissenters, who are branded as "self-hating" or "marginal," while Muslim and Arab-Americans are easily smeared and even criminalized with charges of supporting terrorism.

Stunned by the stifling of dissent, we decided to start a Web site, Muzzlewatch, to track the incidents. Just as we launched, Stanford Middle East Studies Professor Joel Beinin was disinvited from a speaking engagement at a high school with just 24 hours' notice.

After an unprecedented campaign of outside interference waged by Dershowitz, Professor Norman Finkelstein was refused tenure by DePaul University because of his criticism of U.S.-Israeli policy.

Palestinian-American anthropologist Nadia Abu El-Haj is fighting a political campaign to deny her tenure at Barnard.

Even Walt and Mearsheimer, who are getting plenty of exposure, couldn't have asked for better proof of their point that the lobby works to stifle dissent when an embarrassed head of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs told them that their scheduled speech was canceled. (They did speak before the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth on Sept. 17.) This was apparently because Foxman was not available that day to "balance" their talk.

(They had initially been booked by themselves. The talk was not rescheduled.)

Many groups that started with the important work of fighting real anti-Semitism now rely on anti-Semitism to insist that to show one's love of Jews, one must offer uncritical support to Israel. They are especially displeased by Jews who believe that enabling Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights is not good for anyone.

Unless this atmosphere of intimidation is confronted, Americans will continue to lack access to information and perspectives necessary to formulate effective Middle East policies, virtually ensuring that Israel and the United States will be at war for many years to come.


'The Israel Lobby'
A podcast of Walt and Mearsheimer's presentation is available at http://podcast.dfwworld.org/2007_09-17_The_Israel_Lobby.MP3

Cecilie Surasky is communications director for the Oakland-based Jewish Voice for Peace.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Thomas Friedman: 9/11 Is Over

In recent years, especially since after Sep. 11, 2001, I have found myself more and more in disagreement with Thomas Friedman's views. Over the past few years, he has taken a more hawkish approach to world conflicts rather than promoting an approach of dialogue and diplomacy. I hope that Mr. Friedman's most recent New York Times commentary indicates a return to Friedman's earlier moderate and humanistic view of the world.

No matter what, one should offer credit and praise where and when it is due. Kudos to Friedman.



September 30, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
9/11 Is Over
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Not long ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion ran a fake news story that began like this:

"At a well-attended rally in front of his new ground zero headquarters Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani officially announced his plan to run for president of 9/11. 'My fellow citizens of 9/11, today I will make you a promise,' said Giuliani during his 18-minute announcement speech in front of a charred and torn American flag. 'As president of 9/11, I will usher in a bold new 9/11 for all.' If elected, Giuliani would inherit the duties of current 9/11 President George W. Bush, including making grim facial expressions, seeing the world's conflicts in terms of good and evil, and carrying a bullhorn at all state functions."

Like all good satire, the story made me both laugh and cry, because it reflected something so true — how much, since 9/11, we've become "The United States of Fighting Terrorism." Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there's no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don't need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don't. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.

Before 9/11, the world thought America's slogan was: "Where anything is possible for anybody." But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: "Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints."

You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it's a place we send visitors who don't give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.

Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association, told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11 — even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. "Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today's world," Mr. Dow said.

Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industry's recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that "the U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting America's image abroad." Those who don't visit us, don't know us.

I'd love to see us salvage something decent in Iraq that might help tilt the Middle East onto a more progressive pathway. That was and is necessary to improve our security. But sometimes the necessary is impossible — and we just can't keep chasing that rainbow this way.

Look at our infrastructure. It's not just the bridge that fell in my hometown, Minneapolis. Fly from Zurich's ultramodern airport to La Guardia's dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. I still can't get uninterrupted cellphone service between my home in Bethesda and my office in D.C. But I recently bought a pocket cellphone at the Beijing airport and immediately called my wife in Bethesda — crystal clear.

I just attended the China clean car conference, where Chinese automakers were boasting that their 2008 cars will meet "Euro 4" — European Union — emissions standards. We used to be the gold standard. We aren't anymore. Last July, Microsoft, fed up with American restrictions on importing brain talent, opened its newest software development center in Vancouver. That's in Canada, folks. If Disney World can remain an open, welcoming place, with increased but invisible security, why can't America?

We can't afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.