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Blog Post 23

August 23, 2019

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Please don’t believe that violence in America is something new. White supremacy isn’t new either. The country was overrun by violent white supremacists who exterminated the native population and captured and enslaved black people from Africa to make the great ole US of A what it is today.

Sure they preach apple pie, prosperity, morality, freedom and liberty for all. But the national anthem is about the red glare of rockets and bombs bursting in air and how the flag, that ole star-spangled banner, that ole red, white and blue, kept on waving through it all over “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

But what about the third stanza?

“Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave…”

The author of the anthem, Francis Scott Key, who wrote it in 1814 as a poem following the battle in Baltimore, Maryland, was a slave-owning anti-abolitionist lawyer who believed black people were inferior and the “free” people should be sent back to Africa. The above lines refer to the colonial marines of the British navy who recruited black people who had fled slavery in the US to fight in the War of 1812, which lasted until February 1815. These formerly enslaved black people were part of the forces which overran Washington, D.C. and set the white house on fire. At the time Key wrote his lines, the only “free and brave” people, the only people who had full legal rights in the US, were elite white male landowners, a mere 10% of the population. These were the people for whom the song was written.

These were the white supremacists then and they remain among us today.

Canada’s not much different, although Canadians think they are. On August 4, 2019, we attended a fundraising event for a Muslim welfare organization in small town Canada. The keynote speaker, a local clergy, talked up Canada as a place where Muslim immigrants can be free, safe and practice their religion in a wide open beautiful country that’s only 150 years old! The diss of the First Nations people who lived here before the British and the French invaded the land, exterminated the people, sexually abused and raped children in residential schools, wiping out their culture and language and family structure, and enslaved, tortured, raped and murdered black people from Africa, was palpable. Does he not know the history? Or does he not want to know? We pray he’ll wake up and stand with the oppressed.

The US, and Canada, were founded on violence and white supremacy

and they can’t erase that history no matter how hard they try to do so by omitting the anthem’s stanzas from celebratory events, talking of freedom and democracy and God and hoisting the statue of liberty on New York’s Ellis Island. Yet the world isn’t so dumb. Most people outside the US know what it’s done to the downtrodden in America and they know firsthand what it’s done to their countries all around the world. Most Americans and Canadians know too. But way too many people feel tongue-tied with their hands behind their backs, too afraid to make waves, too afraid to speak, too afraid to lose what little they have.

Most Americans say the US is “the best country in the world”

and people who don’t like it can leave.

They say those Americans who criticize the US don’t know what it’s like in other countries, where poverty, crime and imprisonment reign, and they tell them to go and see for themselves what it’s like in other places. Yet they forget that the oppression faced by people around the world is caused by the US and its allies and the corrupt dictators they prop up and support. They steal the resources and bomb the people to smithereens whenever the US line isn’t obeyed.

Most Americans don’t want to hear about the poverty, crime

and imprisonment of people in their own country either.

Half of Americans live in poverty. 75% live paycheck to paycheck, resulting in diminishing quality of life, including: the inability to seek medical treatment and pay for prescriptions; addiction to opioids for pain (30% of the world’s population), alcohol and other drugs; extreme stress levels; mental illness; suicide; obesity; infant mortality; debt; unemployment; and limited access to food, clean water, air and sanitation. In May 2018, the UN issued a report stating that “40 million Americans live in poverty and 18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty,” out of around 327 million people, the vast majority being Native, Black and Latino.

In 2017, an estimated 1,247,321 violent crimes (murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) occurred in the US, 382.9 violent crimes per 100,000 people. There were 17,284 reported murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases in 2017. Almost 100,000 forcible rape cases, 319,356 cases of robbery and 810,825 aggravated assaults were reported that year. Around the same number of violent crimes were committed in 2016. Remember not all crimes are reported.

US civilians own 393 million, about 46% of the worldwide total, 120.5 guns for every 100 people.

Americans are only four percent of the world’s population

and own about 46% “of the entire global stock

of 857 million civilian firearms.”

Americans have nearly 100 times as many guns as the US military and almost 400 times as law enforcement. 7.7 million Americans own more than 40 guns and three million carry loaded handguns daily. In May 2018, they bought more than two million guns, twice as many guns as possessed by every law enforcement agency in the US put together. “In April and May 2018, U.S. civilians bought 4.7 million guns, which is more than all the firearms stockpiled by the United States military.” “In 2017, Americans bought 25.2 million guns, which is 2.5 million more guns than possessed by every law enforcement agency in the world put together.” “Between 2012 and 2017, U.S. civilians bought 135 million guns, 2 million more guns than the combined stockpile of all the world’s armed forces.” In the US, 36% of white people own guns, 24% of black people, 15% of Latinos, 39% of men and 22% of women.

More than 38,000 Americans were killed with guns in 2016. In 2015, there were more than 36,000 firearm deaths, including 22,000 gun suicides and 13,000 gun homicides. More than 700 gun murders each year are related to domestic violence. More than 60,000 people are shot each year and survive. In 2015, more than 1,000 Americans were shot to death by the police. In 2017, 1,147 people were killed by police and 25% of them were black people. Black Lives Matter started six years ago in response to the wanton and brutal killing of black men and boys by police in the US. At least 62 black men and boys have been killed by American police officers in recent years.

And what about the horrible toll of mass shootings in America?

Since 2017 to August 6, 2019, there have been 52 mass shooting incidents, killing 339 people and injuring 769 people. The latest were on August 3 and 4, 2019, in which 32 people were murdered and 51 people were injured by two white men. In 2017, in just two of the mass shootings, 86 people were murdered and 442 people were injured by two white men. In 2016, a white man murdered 50 people and injured 53 people in just one incident. It is white supremacy, domestic terrorism and white nationalism and the majority of the people killed and injured are Black, Jewish, Muslim and Latino people.

Donald Trump, the 2016 elected US president, feeds white supremacy, hatred and racism. He called the tragedy of migrants flooding the southern US border as an “invasion” of migrants, tweeting “stop the invasion of our Country by Drug Dealers, Cartels, Human Traffickers” and calling migrants “criminals and rapists.” He refused to condemn the neo-Nazis and pandered to them after their violent 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; called for four Congress women of colour to “go back” to their countries of origin which he called “crime infested places”; described an American city – Baltimore, Maryland – as a “disgusting rat and rodent infested mess” and a “very dangerous and filthy mess”; proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the US; joked about the Trail of Tears; stereotyped a black reporter; and suggested a judge recuse himself from a case solely because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. But what do you expect from a white supremacist like him?

The US has the highest incarceration rate

and the largest prison population in the world.

80,000 people in America are confined in isolation, the highest in the world. In 2016, 2.3 million people were incarcerated, a rate of 698 people per 100,000. Almost seven million people were under the control of the "correction" industry, either in jail, prison, on probation or parole then. In 2015, nearly 53,000 youth were incarcerated in the US, including 500 youth who were 12 or younger. “Black and American Indian youth are overrepresented in juvenile facilities while white youth are underrepresented.” Black youth are 14% of the population, but “43% of boys and 34% of girls in juvenile facilities are Black…American Indians [sic] make up 3% of girls and 1.5% of boys in juvenile facilities, despite comprising less than 1% of all youth nationally.”

With incarceration comes many human rights violations, including: lack of and insufficient medical care; disease; rape; assault; murder; poor food quality and safety measures; overcrowding; inadequate sanitation; lack of security; inadequate staffing; solitary confinement; death row; degradation and humiliation; strip and cavity searches; use of aggressive unmuzzled dogs; drug abuse; lack of rehabilitation, education and recreation; and modern day slavery for corporations, such as Walmart, Eddie Bauer, Victoria’s Secret, Microsoft, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Nintendo, Chevron Corporation, Bank of America, Koch Industries, Boeing and Costco Wholesale. Due to the privatization of prisons, the criminal justice system is a mass industrial incarceration complex. Being incarcerated results in difficulties upon release in finding employment, welfare and housing, leading to a spiral of poverty and physical and emotional stress. The rate of recidivism is so high that most people are likely to re-enter the system within a year of release.

White supremacy is a fact of life in the US of A.

We’re not saying everybody is a white supremacist in America, even though white people make up about 61% of the population. By 2045, by the way, it is predicted that white people will make up about 49.7%. What we’re saying is that white supremacists are dangerous and hate everyone else, which probably includes you. You can try that love thing, turn the other cheek thing, being nice, but that won’t work too well. Prophetic history shows that the evil doers killed or tried to kill the Prophets, abused and mistreated them, taunted them, hurt them and said they were crazy. If you think you have more gumption and logic and heart than the Prophets, you’re wrong. If you think you’ll escape white supremacy, you’re wrong. We have to fight, stand up to their racist ideology, their hatred, and understand what they’ve done to the people of the world and why. Then we have to stand up with the oppressed and support and help them, give and be loving to them. That’s what we’re here for. Not to just integrate and become “white,” privileged and successful on the backs of the downtrodden.

And if you call yourself “white,” you need to do more.

You need to teach your “white” family, relatives, friends, neighbours, co-workers, etc. that it’s not okay to be a white supremacist, that all people are to be valued and respected, that policies need to change so everyone is treated justly and lovingly. To expect the oppressed to teach the oppressor is asking too much. That’s your job!

As we drive around our country, we witness the names of the Native people who lived here before us, towns and cities, rivers and lakes, place names, places they lived. It strikes me as peculiar that the white supremacists would allow these names to exist. Why not change the names? Why leave them as reminders of who lived here before? Then it hit me. These are forms of white pride, trophies, proof of their extermination, of their massacre, by the white people who came to these lands and found the Native people and wiped them out.

The month of Muharram is approaching in which we remember and mourn the sacrifices of Imam Husayn (a.s.), his family and the lovers of Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala, who gave their lives for the sake of preserving Islam, the worship of Allah, truth over falsehood and justice over oppression. We must remember that:

“Every day is Ashura. Every land is Karbala.”

Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala will ask each of us how we lived our lives, what actions we took to help our fellow human beings, and how we spent our time, money and voices on stolen land among the usurpers and corrupters and evil doers, the shaitans.

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