Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hate Group

“The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions hidden by the answers.”  James Baldwin

A hate group headed by Pamela Geller and calling itself the American Freedom Defense Initiative held a contest and art show exhibit of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad at Curtis Culver Center in Garland, Texas.  Two devout Muslims, Elton and Simpson and Nadir Soofi, outraged at the intentional desecration of someone they view as holy, put on body armor and set out to attack those inside with assault rifles.  They wounded a guard seated in a squad car.  A police officer returned fire and evidently subdued them before SWAT team members arrived and finished them off.  Afterwards ISIS took credit for inspiring the attack.
extremists Nadir Soofi and Pamela Geller
Geller’s group recently went to court and won the right to put ads at New York Transit Authority subway stations reading: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.  Support Israel.  Defeat Jihad.”  Reacting to the incident in Texas, Geller claimed without any inside information whatsoever that, “The jihadis were hoping to perpetuate mass slaughter, murdering as many people as they could, outdoing the Charles Hebdo massacre.”  Greer is also active in several other hate groups, including Atlas Shrugs and Stop the Islamization of America.

Daily Mail correspondent Lydia Warren wrote of Simpson and Soofi:

One was a former community college basketball star who helped out his neighbors, while the other was a one-time 'heartthrob' who went on to become a devoted father.
Friends and family are now questioning how these same men unleashed the terrifying attack outside an anti-Islam event in Garland, Texas on Sunday - shooting an unarmed guard in the leg before they were swiftly gunned down by a police officer.
The mother of one of the men, 34-year-old Nadir Soofi, said she believes her son was 'brainwashed' by his roommate, the other gunman and former terror suspect, 30-year-old Elton Simpson.

Simpson is one of thousands of Muslims that the FBI has monitored, in his case beginning in 2006.  In 2011 he was convicted of lying to agents about his desire to travel to Somalia and placed on probation.  One wonders whether being under such surveillance didn’t push Simpson in the opposite direction from what was intended. In fact, it is unimaginable that a cartoon contest depicting blacks or women in demeaning ways would openly take place in a gallery such as Culver Center; sadly, even mainstream cartoonists commonly draw Muslims in insulting ways.

While the media is covering the Texas shooting as an example of terrorism foiled, I believe that Pamela Geller and her ilk were not unhappy that their “contest” received the violent reaction that resulted in publicity for their nefarious organizations.  The divorced mother of four is milking the incident for all it’s worth.   On the other hand, I can’t think of a more effective way of recruiting ISIS followers than what this hate group did.

Once again, the vast majority of nonviolent Muslims in America are in danger of being unfairly stereotyped.  Like Rhiman Rotz 14 years ago in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attack on the NYC World Trade Center, I feel for IUN’s Muslim students, who, despite being good will ambassadors, will likely face undeserved scrutiny.

Chris Young’s article in the Abraham Lincoln Association Newsletter makes reference to a speech Berlin mayor Willy Brandt made in Springfield, Illinois, at a sesquicentennial celebration of Lincoln’s birth.   Referencing the “eternal struggle between democracy and tyranny,” Brandt declared that the issues Lincoln grappled with have “torn apart the European continent” and have “assumed world-wide dimensions.”  Young concluded: “Lincoln was the one [American] leader who lived through a crucible of carnage and destruction, ultimately forfeiting his own life and becoming one of its final victims.”

Since “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders entered the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination, he has received money from 35,000 donors, and 175,000 volunteers have pledged to work for him.  He had promised not to run as an independent if he does not receive the nomination.  Corporations love to accuse Democrats of waging class warfare, but, as Sanders said in 2010, it’s the billionaires who are on the warpath: “They want more and more and more.”

On the Republican front, three dingbats – Carly Fiorina (who laid off 30,000 as CEO of Hewlett-Packard), Ben Carson (who said Obama reminded him of a Psychopath), and Mike Huckabee (who opposes same-sex marriage and claims the government is criminalizing Christianity) – have thrown hats in the already crowded ring. 

Historian David Humphrey wanted information on Region live entertainment during the 1970s venues.  Leroy’s Hot Stuff in the town of Porter came to mind.  Mike Bayer and I saw blues entertainer Duke Tomatoe there a quarter century ago.   Prior to 1990, it was called Randler’s.  Mike and Bertha Randler, who moved to Chesterton in 1919, started Randler’s Barbeque in 1932 on Highway 20 between Wagner Road and Oak Hill Road (where Leroy’s now is).  After Mike died in 1938, son William ran it, followed by William’s brother Chuck, who also operated Porter Garage from 1947 to 1969.  Duke Tomatoe, born in 1947, lives near Indianapolis and continues to play at Leroy’s every year or so. 

I expressed disappointment to the friendly Redhawk Café manager that at missing the cinco de mayo taco specials, so she had the ingredients made up especially for me.  They were great.  Education professors Matthew Benus and Glenn Lauzon hung around to chat even though they’d finished eating by the time I arrived.  Glenn is hoping my son Dave, an IUN UTEP grad, will take part in an upcoming brainstorming session on how to improve the program.
 Ken Parr; photo by Jeff Manes

In his SALT column Jeff Manes wrote that after his intended subject, a wig sales person, was a no-show, he pulled into 18th Street Brewery in Miller and interviewed a guy in a Jonathan Toews jersey watching a Blackhawks game.  He led with – what else? – a quote from the film “Slap Shot.”  Ken Parr turned out to be a science teacher at Fegely Middle School in Portage.  An army veteran and bicyclist, Parr told Manes that he attended Chi-Town Shooters games in Dyer during the two years (2008-2010) the minor league team was in existence.  The first time Parr attended a Blackhawks game – in old Chicago Stadium – he was terrified to discover that virtually everyone else in the crowd was white.  Manes responded with this anecdote:

A buddy of mine from East Chicago was always a big high school basketball fan. Still is.  He told me of the time he traveled on a fan bus to Lafayette to watch East Chicago Washington play in semi-state competition. I think the games were played at Mackey Arena. My friend told me: “Jeff, I stood up and gazed around at that crowd and it looked like a big white dog with one black ear. Us folks from E.C. was the ear.”
celebrating Cinco de Mayo: Missy Brush & Dick and Donna Jeary

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