Category Archives: racial profiling

Questions re: Peter King’s Muslim Hearings

By Arturo R. García

Who does Rep. Peter King (R-NY) actually represent?

According to his website, the 3rd Congressional District is:

  • Overwhelmingly white
  • Overwhelmingly involved in cis-hetero marriages
  • Making more income per household (median income $56,060) than the national average (median 2010 income $49,777)

Has King always had issues with Muslims?

Not according to a profile piece on him by CNN: King reportedly supported then-President Bill Clinton’s military push to defend Muslims in the Balkan regions, and had close ties with the small Muslim community in his own district, but renounced them after he found local Muslims “covering up” for Al-Qaeda in the wake of the September 11th attacks, and refusing to cooperate with “police at all levels.”

That’s a pretty serious charge. How many law-enforcement officials does King plan to call on to provide evidence?


Isn’t this hearing reminiscent of Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communism crusade?

King might know the answer better than we think; as Politico noted, he worked for McCarthy’s counsel, Roy Cohn, early on in his career. Of course, King also dismisses the comparison as “fanaticism.” Uh huh.

Who is Zuhdi Jasser, and what qualifies him as an expert on Islam?

According to The Washington Post, Jasser is the only witness King plans to call who isn’t a legislator. King also plans to call Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Muslim. Democratic members of King’s committee plan to call Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to respond to King’s allegations that Muslims are “not cooperating” with law enforcement.

Jasser has already made himself a favorite in conservative media circles, though, by being their Muslim Friend (even though he admits to not being “a formal expert” in Koranic Arabic) and through his work with the Middle East Quarterly with Daniel Pipes, a man described by Media Monitors Network thusly:

Daniel Pipes is as much a scholar on Islam and Muslims as David Duke is a scholar on Judaism and Jews. He does not seem to know where scholarship ends and where political advocacy begins. He does not initiate his research by asking questions for which he seeks answers, but by providing answers for which he cherry-picks evidence.

Pipes is wedded to his personal political agenda to such a point that it dominates his worldview invalidating his ability to act as a neutral scholar on Muslim-related topics. Concerned with the interests of Israel above all else, he consistently defines Muslim-Americans exclusively as a function of their position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For Pipes, a “bad” Muslim is a Muslim who challenges his views on Israel and a “good” Muslim is one who agrees with them; in his “scholarly” lingo, the code terms are “Islamist” and “moderate” respectively.

Who else is King going to for advice on this subject?

At least one person we can confirm, thanks to Lee Fang at Think Progress, is Brigitte Gabriel, an anti-Islam activist who, though she will not be testifying, shed some light into what King will be talking about during the hearings:

GABRIEL: Glenn Beck is right in what he’s talking about and what I’m holding in front of me right now is the Muslim Brotherhood project for North America. […] The Muslim Brotherhood wrote a plan in 1982. It’s a one hundred year plan for radical Islam to infiltrate and dominate the West and establish an Islamic government on Earth.

FANG: So what’s going on in Western Europe and North Africa, what’s going on in Egypt, this is all part of the plan?

GABRIEL: [nods] In the counter-terrorism circles this plan became known as The Project. […]

FANG: Is Peter King, in his hearings, is he going to talk about this issue? And is he going to ask about this wider, global threat; its happening in Egypt, its happening in Western Europe and frankly it could be happening here?

GABRIEL: Exactly. He’s going to be talking about these issues.

Who’s standing up against this?
We’ve already seen protests being held against the hearings. And at least 28 members of the House of Representatives have added their signatures to a letter of protest being circulated by Reps. Pete Stark (D-CA) and John Dingell (D-MI). For his part, Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA) wrote a column for the San Francisco Chronicle calling King out:

Rep. King’s intent seems clear: To cast suspicion upon all Muslim Americans and to stoke the fires of anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia. By framing his hearings as an investigation of the American Muslim community, the implication is that we should be suspicious of our Muslim neighbors, co-workers or classmates solely on the basis of their religion.

This should be deeply troubling to Americans of all races and religions. An investigation specifically targeting a single religion implies, erroneously, a dangerous disloyalty, with one broad sweep of the discriminatory brush.

Honda’s column speaking out against King, according to the Post, is part of a larger bond between some Japanese-Americans and Muslim-Americans on the West Coast, fueled by the similarities between the ethnic targeting both groups have faced.

What’s being ignored by the media because of King’s shameless plea for attention?

Lots of things, but here’s one particularly vile omission: the fact that, even after they went viral, the following public remarks by elected officials were not written about or dissected nearly as heavily by CNN, or MSNBC, or most major network outlets – at least online:

“A big part of the problem that we face today is that our children have been taught at schools that every idea is right, that no one should criticize others’ positions, no matter how odious. And what do we call that? They call it multiculturalism and it has paralyzed too many of our fellow citizens to make the critical judgments we need to make to prosper as a society.” – Congressman Ed Royce

“I know quite a few Marines who will be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.” – Villa Park City Council member Deborah Pauly

Where’s that investigation?


Quoted: Hussein Rashid on ‘Hate Comes To Orange County’

Warning: Audio may be NSFW; contains harassment

There is no excuse for this behavior. It is pure, unbridled bigotry. There is no way to explain it away, and muddying the waters by saying there was anti-Semitic speaker there does not make it OK to call charity “terrorism,” or to terrorize young children.

The video also shows elected representatives speaking about a Muslim event—although it’s unclear if it is the same event. However, the point of these politicians is made succinctly by Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly, who said, “I know quite a few Marines who would be happy to help these terrorists to a, uh, early meeting in paradise.”

This is an elected representative presumably telling some of her constituents that US Marines should kill some of her other constituents—US citizens. For her, the people at the meeting were not human, were not citizens, were not constituents, but were “terrorists,” tried and convicted by her; and that is enough for her to call on the Marine Corps to exterminate them.

– Read the full post at Religion Dispatches

Watch The New Restore Fairness documentary and Face The Truth About Racial Profiling

By Guest Contributors Madhuri Mohindar and Ishita Srivastava, cross-posted from Restore Fairness

“I’ve seen a lot in my life but to be degraded… not just stripped of my clothes, being stripped of my dignity, was what I had a problem with.”

Kurdish American Karwan Abdul Kader was stopped and stripped by local law enforcement for no reason other than driving around in the wrong neighborhood. This is one among many stories featured in a powerful new documentary “Face The Truth: Racial Profiling Across America”, produced by Breakthrough’s Restore Fairness campaign and the Rights Working Group, showcasing the devastating impact of racial profiling on communities around our country, including the African American, Latino, Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities.

Face the Truth: Racial Profiling Across America from Breakthrough on Vimeo.

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NotSoMuch: The Truth About Black-On-White Crime

By Guest Contributor Daniel José Older, originally published on View from the Crossroads of Life and Death

Ripped gentrification signI took this white dude to the hospital seven years ago; he’d left his apartment door unlocked and then got pistol whipped when he came home to find someone going through his stuff.

Now why would I so clearly remember a minor injury from ages ago? Because in my eight years working EMS in Bed-Stuy, East New York, Harlem and the Bronx, that was the singular, solitary white patient I’ve had who was a victim of violence at the hands of a person of color.  I remember sitting in the Woodhull ER with him. He was holding an ice pack to his little forehead gash and going “God! I can’t believe I got pistol whipped! It’s like…it’s like a movie!” At that point I had already given up checking the newspapers in the morning to see if any of my crazy jobs from the night before would show up. They never do; the patients are all black and brown and their tragedies, no matter how gruesome, are automatically deemed run-of-the-mill and unworthy for news attention.

In general, the white patients we get are either little old ladies; drunks who tried to play frogger across McGuinness Boulevard; college kid anxiety attacks and overdoses. We also get the occasional “All these Black people are trying to rape and kill me so I can’t leave my apartment!!” and sometimes “I stopped taking my meds and I’m about to do something really really bad.”

All this is to say that the amount of time and energy that white culture puts into being afraid of the crimes that will be committed against them in the ghetto could be better spent thinking about something that actually happens.

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Words + Images: The Oscar Grant Aftermath

Compiled by Site Lead Arturo R. García

A white former transit officer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Thursday in the videotaped shooting death of an unarmed black man on an Oakland train platform in an encounter that set off days of rioting in the city.

Prosecutors had wanted Johannes Mehserle convicted of murdering 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was shot once in the back as he lay face-down.

The jury’s conviction on the lesser charge raised concerns of a repeat of the unrest that followed the shooting on New Year’s Day in 2009.

What happened to Grant is every black family’s worst nightmare for their children — especially their sons — in a country where racial profiling and police brutality of black folks is rampant and still unchecked. Being hassled by the cops for driving while black or in Grant’s case, breathing while black is almost a rite of passage for young black men. It usually happens somewhere in the neighborhood of 14-25. In my brother’s case, he was with a friend as a 16 year old just driving to another friend’s house when he was pulled over by a cop in our quiet Washington DC suburb, accused randomly & without cause of stealing the car and found himself facedown in a large intersection with a gun pointed at his head. It’s said here in the Bay Area that Oscar Grant’s mom actually encouraged him to ride the subway New Year’s Eve — because she thought it would be safer. There’s not a black mother in the United States, no matter your socioeconomic or educational level, who does not look at Oscar Grant’s mother and say — there but for the grace of God…goes I.
– Jack & Jill Politics

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The Flip Side of Racial Profiling

By Guest Contributor Lisa Wade, originally published at

Heather J. sent along a nice illustration of white privilege, courtesy of PostSecret.  PostSecret features anonymous confessions on postcards and, in this confession, a person confesses that being white and female facilitates her shoplifting:

The card is a great example of the flip side of racial profiling: those who do not carry the stigmatized features aren’t simply treated fairly, they’re given a benefit of the doubt that allows them to get away with the very thing that others are suspected of doing.

The Legal Battle Begins Against SB 1070

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

aclu1Yesterday, the ACLU and a coalition of civil rights groups announced the filing of a federal suit contesting Arizona’s recently-enacted SB 1070 before it takes effect, calling it “the most extreme and dangerous of all the recent local and state laws purporting to deal with immigration issues.”

“It will cause discrimination, hostility and suspicion based on color, accent and appearance,” said Lucas Guttentag, director of the ACLU’s Immigrant Law Project. “This law turns ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Into the Arizona state motto.”

The 14 plaintiff organizations named in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, represent a variety of POC groups: MALDEF, National Immigration Law Center, the NAACP, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

Also represented are 10 individual plaintiffs., including Jim Shee, an American citizen who has been pulled over twice since SB 1070 was signed, and New Mexico resident Jesus Cuahtemoc Villa, Jesus Cuahtemoc Villa, who attends Arizona State University and alleges he could be arrested under the statute because the law only recognizes Arizona-issued identification.

Shee’s case seems to parallel the arrest of an Arizona truck driver who was arrested last week despite providing authorities with both a commercial driver’s license and a Social Security card, and incarcerated until his wife was able to provide his birth certificate.

Linton Joaquin, who serves as NILC’s General Counsel, said the law’s inevitable result will be less safety for everyone in Arizona.

“From beginning to end, SB 1070 is a misguided effort to legislate immigration control,” Joaquin said. Continue reading

On SB 1070 And What Happens When “Brown” Means “Illegal”

by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian

What does an illegal immigrant look like?

From the Young Conservatives of Texas’ “Capture an Illegal Immigrant Day” in 2005

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who just signed SB 1070 into law last Friday–which allows law enforcement to stop and demand ID of anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” is illegal–has no idea.

And yet, isn’t that the premise of this law? That you have to know what “illegal” looks like? Provision 1 of SB 1070 requires:

…a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town or political subdivision (political subdivision) if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.

Now, “reasonable suspicion” is a legal standard that’s been around for over 40 years. In 1968, the Supreme Court ruled that a stop by law enforcement on the grounds of reasonable suspicion was legal if it met the following criteria:

…when a person possesses many unusual items which would be useful in a crime like a wire hanger and is looking into car windows at 2am, when a person matches a description of a suspect given by another police officer over department radio, or when a person runs away at the sight of police officers who are at common law right of inquiry (founded suspicion). However, reasonable suspicion may not apply merely because a person refuses to answer questions, declines to allow a voluntary search, or is of a suspected race or ethnicity. (Wikipedia)

But unless Arizona law enforcement actually catches someone in the act of crossing the border illegally, there’s no way to really establish reasonable suspicion except by race or ethnicity, which is why SB 1070 is being referred to by some as the “Breathing While Brown” law.

What I find myself wondering though is: How Brown? SB 1070 is racism, to be sure, but is it colorism, too? I can’t help thinking that the browner you are in Arizona, the more “suspicious” you’ll seem. Already, lighter-skinned Latinos in the U.S. make $5,000 more on average than darker-skinned Latinos. And it’s well-documented that dark-skinned African-Americans receive longer prison sentences than their light-skinned peers (not to mention whites). There are examples the world over–in Asia, the Middle East, Brazil–of color prejudice, where light skin is preferred, both interracially and intraracially, and where it equates to improved social standing, economic status, and marriage prospects.

Does this mean that more Hispanics and Latinos in the U.S. will be reaching for the Sammy Sosa-lightening cream in SB 1070’s wake? It appears it’s already happening. From the NY Times op-ed piece, “Shades of Prejudice,” published in January after Harry Reid’s comments surfaced about Obama being an ideal political candidate because he was “light-skinned”:

The Harvard neuroscientist Allen Counter has found that in Arizona, California and Texas, hundreds of Mexican-American women have suffered mercury poisoning as a result of the use of skin-whitening creams.

(Note that Dr. Counter’s findings were clustered in Arizona, California, and Texas, all border states.)

And in a 2003 story for the Boston Globe, “Whitening skin can be deadly,” Dr. Counter wrote of these same women:

Apparently, the patients reporting to clinics with mercury-induced disease believe that the health risks associated with bleaching their skins are outweighed by the rewarding sociocultural return.

With “brown” now equating to “illegal,” this may be truer than we’d like to think.

[Fact Sheet for SB 1070]
[NY Times: Shades of Prejudice]