AFD Micron #19

Curt Schilling’s tweet: “It’s said only 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7% of Germans were Nazis. How’d that go?” wouldn’t make his point even if the numbers were accurate. Unless Curt Schilling is suggesting discrimination against Muslims is the only way to be effective against Muslim terrorists because discriminating against Germans is such an effective way of dealing with Nazis…. which would be a little weird for a guy named Curt Schilling.


July 1, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 133

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.


Topics: Co-host Kelley returns from the Peace Corps in Guatemala; Nate explains the wider significance of Denmark’s recent elections. People: Bill, Kelley, and Nate. Produced: June 28th, 2015.

Discussion Points:

– The Peace Corps experience in the globalized internet age, and the challenges facing Guatemala.
– Danish People’s Party: Why the far-right’s huge success in Denmark is a big problem beyond Denmark.

Episode 133 (46 min):
AFD 133

Related Links

AFD: January 31, 2013 – Arsenal For Democracy 35
AFD: When bad people are good at politics
AFD: Meanwhile in Denmark, more bad news
AFD: Denmark’s Thorning-Schmidt: Preview of a Hillary 1st term?


RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

Chapel Hill

I write about Islamophia a lot on this site, and we talk a lot about it on our news radio show. We’ve talked a lot about how the hateful, fearful rhetoric translates into violence. As most of you are by now aware, last week there was a triple murder in Chapel Hill, North Carolina of a Muslim family. It seems quite likely, despite all media spin to the contrary, that the attacker was motivated to extreme violence because they were visibly “different” and perhaps symbolized to him everything he (reportedly) despises about religion in general. In particular, there has been a lot of anti-Islamic vitriol directed from all quarters, including some broadly anti-religious factions, which is not matched in breadth and intensity against other religions. Whatever his motivation, it was, at any rate, not merely because of some made-up parking dispute (as if that would somehow make it better). They would probably not have been targeted had they not been visibly Muslim (or visibly some other thing that set them apart and was the object of a lot of American hatred).

I don’t have anything new to contribute to the discussion, especially since this horrific act just confirms a lot of what I had already been saying and since others have said so much more so much better. So, I will just point people toward the Fusion article on the affair entitled “My best friend was killed and I don’t know why”. Here’s an excerpt:

I know that he’s an aggressive man. That’s not the first we’ve heard from him. Hicks was their neighbor.

In October or November, we went to dinner at Yusor and Deah’s house. Right after we left, Yusor heard a knock at the door and it was Hicks. She told us he was angry and said we were noisy and there were two extra cars in the neighborhood. We used visitor parking but he was still mad. He said we woke up his wife. It wasn’t that dark yet. It wasn’t late. And it wasn’t that loud. We were playing a board game called Risk. I mean, I know I was mad because they were beating me at the game, but that was it. While he was at the door talking to Yusor, he was holding a rifle, she told me later. He didn’t point it at anyone, but he still had it. Yusor called to check on us after we left, to make sure he hadn’t approached us. We thought that was so weird—our neighbors don’t come to the door with guns! So when I heard the news it was shocking, but it wasn’t a surprise that it was the neighbor.

When I heard the news report and drove down there from Raleigh, I hoped it wasn’t anyone I knew. But I saw the apartment on the news and it was his apartment. If it wasn’t a hate crime, what was it? If you have a problem with your neighbors, you write a letter; you don’t shoot people. I think they were targeted because they were different. He was always so annoyed with them for little things. They are talking about a parking dispute online—that’s definitely not true. There’s plenty of space, and Deah had just gotten off the bus. I wonder if he just thought Deah was some white guy before his wife moved in.

Do go read the full essay.

France and Nigeria terrorism: Dramatically different coverage

In April 2014, almost 300 girls attending a secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria were kidnapped from their school in the middle of the night. They were abducted by an Islamic extremist group dubbed Boko Haram, who have been launching attacks against schools and villages in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.

Sadly, they targeted the girls in part because of their belief that the “inauthentic” colonialism-descended education system is a sin. The girls’ schooling was detrimental to their mission to overthrow the Nigerian government in order to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state. Making things worse was the lack of media coverage of the kidnapping. It seemed that the information about the kidnapping only reached international headline news after a heavy Twitter campaign, under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

The little coverage that it did receive was short lived, and in some ways disrespectful. The French satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo, even depicted the kidnapped girls as pregnant, Black and Muslim Welfare Queens. The cartoon ignores the fact that the kidnapped girls were kidnapped from a Christian school and are most likely Christian themselves. It also belittles the fact that the girls are being forced into marriages and are victims of sexual assault. Instead, the cartoon relies on racist tropes for the sake of “satire” (satire being in quotes because comedy at the expense of the oppressed isn’t satirical and rarely funny).

Last week, 8 months after the kidnapping of the Chibok girls, a shooting occurred at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, and 12 people were killed. The media was quicker to pick up on this story and the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie rapidly became a trending topic all over the world, almost drowning out the news that Boko Haram massacred as many as 2000 people and razed 16 villages in a 5-day span the same week as the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Human Rights Watch satellite analysis of Doro Gowon. (Credit: Human Rights Watch)

Above: Human Rights Watch satellite analysis of Doro Gowon, Borno state, Nigeria, one of the towns attacked by Boko Haram this month. 57% of the town is estimated to have been burned down based on this image. Click for full image and article in a new window. (Credit: Human Rights Watch)

The instant support of Charlie Hebdo and the struggle for support for the Chibok girls says a lot about the narrative that the US and European media wants to compose when it comes to which victims are worthy of sympathy. Despite the offensive cartoon drawn about the Chibok girls by the Charlie Hebdo magazine, and the offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad – which is the reason why Charlie Hebdo was specifically targeted by the extremists – it seems as if the magazine has been pushed into almost martyr status.

Marches and rallies are happening all over Europe in solidarity with the magazine, while attacks on Mosques in France are being ignored. Cartoonists have even gone so far as to create the hashtag #CartoonistLivesMatter as an attempt to express the importance of their freedom of speech.

There are hundreds of schoolgirls missing, for most of the past year. Thousands have been displaced in just the past two weeks, with possibly thousands more killed. There are entire generations of families murdered in Northern Nigeria.
Read more

January 14, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 113


Topics: Boko Haram massacre in northeastern Nigeria, the French historical and political contexts of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: January 12th, 2015.

Discussion Points:

– Why is Western media doing such a bad job of covering the rise of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria?
– Charlie Hebdo attacks: What is the big picture historical and political context of France’s relations with immigrants and Muslims?

Episode 113 (55 min)
AFD 113

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: 2000 “feared dead” in raids by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria
France24: Child used as suicide bomber in Kano market
The Atlantic: Charlie Hebdo: Why Nigeria’s Boko Haram Violence Gets Less Attention
BBC: Boko Haram crisis: Why it is hard to know the truth in Nigeria

Segment 2

Hooded Utilitarian: In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism
The Globe and Mail: In the Mideast, as in France, satire is a weapon against extremists
The Atlantic: Who Was Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim Police Officer Killed by the Charlie Hebdo Massacre?
Buzzfeed: This Muslim Man Saved Several Hostages During The Paris Kosher Market Siege


RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

German MP asks if his country’s (and party’s) leader supports salafists

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chair of the center-right CDU, is being praised for participating in a rally against Islamophobia today (following up on her New Year’s remarks on the same subject). In particular, one line she issued today is getting a lot of attention:

Merkel, who is often known to avoid controversial issues, has weighed in strongly, condemning PEGIDA’s leaders and stressing on Monday that “Islam is part of Germany” – a comment that was plastered on the front pages of leading newspapers.

Not everyone in her party is happy about that is happy about that:

But it drew criticism from a range of right-wing politicians, including members of Merkel’s CDU.

What Islam does she mean? Does this include fundamental Islamist and Salafist currents?” said Wolfgang Bosbach, a veteran CDU lawmaker. “Germany has a Judeo-Christian, not an Islamic, cultural tradition.”

This is not the first time Mr. Bosbach, a member of the Bundestag (national parliament) since 1994, has made remarks ostracizing German Muslims. He is a high-ranking member of the governing CDU party, however, and accusing his party leader and chancellor of being supportive of “fundamentalist Islam and Salafist currents” (a strand of hardline thinking that has been behind the extremist attacks and anti-democratic activities within radical Sunni Islam over the past two decades) is a disgusting and shameful attack.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), September 2010. Credit: European People's Party via Wikimedia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), September 2010. Credit: European People’s Party via Wikimedia

The NYPD: America’s Secret Police

Misconduct by the NYPD (with or without the apparently irrelevant backing of the law, based on their recent disrespect for their elected leader) extends from the individual level – stop-and-frisk encounters or the chokehold killing of Eric Garner – to the systemic and massive.

As a reminder: It took until April 2014 for the NYPD to shutter a terrifying surveillance program against Muslim communities, which was established after the 9/11 attacks.

That program not only sent undercover spies to Muslim neighborhoods in the city to track ordinary New Yorkers going about their daily lives, but it extended across the entire northeastern United States – well beyond the bounds of New York City.

The program was advised by the CIA (see previous link) but acted without the knowledge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In true Orwell fashion, it was named the “Demographics Unit.”

Such “secret police” behavior – down to the inscrutably euphemistic name – is like something out of Tsarist Russia.

Such programs — or indeed national security in general — are not supposed to be the role of a municipal police force. Activities by the NYPD in the past decade and a half suit the secret police forces of a 19th century reactionary monarch in Europe far more than a 21st century American liberal democracy.

Flag of the New York City Police Department

Flag of the New York City Police Department