Love, Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized

An Open Letter To My Muslims Brothers & Sisters

Assalamu alaikum

The world tells me we are inherently different. I’m not a Muslim my self, but I’ve always been fascinated & inspired by Islamic contribution to human civilization. The history of & historical figures from the Islamic world have fascinated & inspired me for years, especially the era of the Islamic  Renaissance in North Africa, the Middle East & Spain. As a student of philosophy the works of Muslim thinkers & scholars have always grabbed my attention, particularly Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd (known in the West as Averroes). I first encountered Ibn Rushed in a wonderful Philosophy class I took in college for my minor. My German born professor admired him & introduced us to the basics of his system of though. This passage from his book The Decisive Treatise stood out to me

The double meaning [of religion & philosophy] has been given to suit people’s diverse intelligence. The apparent contradictions are meant to stimulate the learned to deeper study.

What this has always seemed to mean for me, a non-believer of God, is that religion & philosophy often have the same goal: to understand the Universe, what takes place in it, our own place in it, and how to live with and understand one another. There is intrinsic difference between people of faith & people of freethinking philosophy, just slight variations in emphasis & ontology. We all live by moral standards, we all have family or communities, we all seek knowledge, we all seek to better ourselves & those we love & care for. The differences in how we come to understand ourselves & our world are not nearly as important as the fact we do all seek to know, to feel, to love, to explore. 

There are many paths to truth, to happiness, to wisdom. We do a great disservice to ourselves & our fellow human beings when we close off a path because it may not seem familiar at first. I have found that when one takes the time to take, as Frost wrote, “the path less travelled”, you see that what at first seems to your eyes and mind to be alien is in fact your own world made new again through difference; a tree is a tree is a tree again, and a wise thought is wisdom in any tongue or any culture. We translate our seeming differences by experiencing them, through a striving to see love in unknown places, and emerging from the path to a shared destination.

***

A beautiful building stands near my apartment in Bolingbrook, Illinois, a Masjib & community center. It represents to me the wonderful diversity of this country & its people, people who make our community stronger & more enlightened. I smile when I think of the young Muslim families I see at the library or at the store; how proud they seem, how kind & friendly they are. On a more personal note, when I was in college it was hard for me to make friends (I am autistic and social skills are not my forte) and many of my peers ignored me or did not take the time to try to understand my life or point of view. That is until I met a group of Muslims students, some of whom I worked with at the College library. They were warm, open, non-judgemental, invited me to sit with them at lunch, introduced me to new people & ideas. We enjoyed the time we spent together, and even though we saw the world differently sometimes, we never let these differences get in the way of caring for one another as human beings. Their friendship during this hard time in my life is not something I will ever forget.

***

Today many of our non-Muslim leaders in government, medias & culture are telling us to fear Muslims, to hate them, to shun them. They tell us Islam is an “evil” religion, one that has no intellectual tradition worth studying, no love for women or those outside of Islam. I know these are calumnies, blood libels told to benefit those with power & who want power, whose imperial aims thrive when Muslims and non-Muslims fight & terrorize one another. I know that the West has blood on its hands and has done much to earn the distrust of some in the Muslim World. I know that fanatics on both sides need this hatred & use it to wield power over people who just want to live safe, happy lives. I know that those who hate, who want us to hate, believe that there are two worlds at war. I know the truth. I know there is one world, one humanity. I know refugees are seeking what I seek: a home, love, education, enrichment, happiness, community. I know most Muslims know this too. We are not different, we have no reason to fear one another. We must love one another. I support Muslims, I support refugees, I support immigrants. I support my brothers & sisters. I reject Trump & his fascist ideology, his fascist programs. I stand with you, and I know many more stand with you too. We are not different, you and I. We are the same people making our way, sometimes on different paths, sometimes on the same path, all heading to the same destination.

yours in friendship,

Noah Mann-Engel

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Activism, Immigration, Refugees, Uncategorized

Do What You Can For Refugees

Here is a list (from Think Progress) of some protests going on throughout the country against the fascist Trump’s illegal & immoral executive order banning refugees & migrants from the nations of Syria, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia, all nations the US has bombed, invaded, or sanctioned. Do what you can: if marching or protesting is not your thing, write or create art, or call your congressperson, spread information through your social media or blog, volunteer to help refugees, or donate to a reputable charity helping refugees, like the UN Refugee agency  (https://donate.unhcr.org/us-en/redirect/). Do what you can.

Atlanta, Georgia

January 29, 4–6 p.m.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport
https://www.facebook.com/events/370576413312630/?active_tab=about

Bloomington, Indiana

January 29, 4–5 p.m.
Court House Lawn
https://www.facebook.com/events/141181763054369/

Boston, Massachusetts

January 29, 1–3 p.m.
Copley Square
https://www.facebook.com/events/1808560036070492/

Canton, New York

January 29, 12 p.m. — 1:30 p.m.
Park St. and Main St.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1877987165813906/

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

January 29, 12 p.m. — 2 p.m.
Peace and Justice Plaza
https://www.facebook.com/events/1830257140581355/

Chicago, Illinois

January 28, happening now
O’Hare International Airport

Denver, Colorado

January 28, 5–7 p.m.
Denver International Airport
https://www.facebook.com/events/1416101161753999/

Detroit, Michigan

January 29, 3 p.m.
Hamtramck City Hall
https://www.facebook.com/events/1754583231524900/

January 29, 4–6 p.m.
DTW- Macnamara Termial- Intl Arrivals
https://www.facebook.com/events/959584757476881/

Houston, Texas

January 28, 7 p.m.
IAH Terminal E
https://www.facebook.com/events/771992316298993/

January 29, 1–4 p.m.
Discovery Green
https://www.facebook.com/events/386770058353091/#

Louisville, Kentucky

January 29, 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office
https://www.facebook.com/events/175651122918583/

Minneapolis, Minnesota

January 28, happening now
Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport
https://www.facebook.com/events/1626807780957019/

January 31, 4:30–6 p.m.
Minneapolis Federal Building
https://www.facebook.com/events/294911630924576/

Newark, New Jersey

January 28, happening now
Newark Liberty International Airport

January 28, 5–8 p.m.
LAX, Tom Bradley International Terminal
https://www.facebook.com/events/1655523898074718/

January 29, 1–4 p.m.
LAX, Tom Bradley International Terminal
https://www.facebook.com/events/1876148372629363/

Nashville, Tennessee

January 29, 3–4:30 p.m.
Sen. Bob Corker’s office
https://www.facebook.com/events/1782511105404931/

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Freedom, poetry, Politics, Revolution, Spain, Uncategorized

Black Mass

I sense no soul in this rabble

just fearful alchemy

a hum of devilish trouble

ghoulish ignonminy

’tis no people’s celebration

this fascist akelarre

just a rueful abnegation

of what we’re fighting for

and, lo,

a ghastly chill is in the air—

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anarchism, poetry, Revolution, Sonnet, Spain, Uncategorized, We The People, Writing

The Onyx and Litarge

We can not jeopardize our only charge

We resolve to fly the peasants banner

Damned for our belief and strident manner

We partisans prevail beyond the marge

 

The land inspires the onyx and litarge

Which will forever be the People’s streamer

Aragon shall be its own redeemer

With fate as its commitment to discharge

 

We warriors whose hearts beat in harmony

Unfurl the flag and watch the colors soar

Caballeros of truth and anarchy

Avenge the lamentations of the poor

Strive onward contra fascist tyranny

And banish their deceit forevermore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Civil rights, Ferguson

White America: WE are the Problem

arton1586

White people, especially white men, are the most dangerous people in the US to people of color, women, immigrants, children and LGBTQIA people. I say this as a white man. We must look in the mirror. See who we are and what we have wrought on this nation and on this world. WE are the problem. WE are the danger that our fellow citizens need to be protected from. It is our fear, our rancor, our privilege, our hate, our greed, our power, our arrogance, our stupidity, our lack of empathy, our closed ears and closed eyes and loud, brash, cruel voices that are the problem. We must correct ourselves before we tear what was once a great democracy to the ground. We must make sure that the efforts and struggles and heroism of men and women like MLK, Malcolm X, Emma Goldman, Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, Frederick Douglas, Cesar Chavez, Upton Sinclair, Harvey Milk, Eugene V. Debs, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells and  the countless educators, Civil Rights marchers, Reconstruction workers, Union Soldiers and labor rights activists were not in vain. There have been too many Mike Browns, too many black and brown bodies hanging from sturdy tree branches. We must look into our hearts and realize that this nation is dying, this democracy is being taken apart day by day and that we, the white men of this nation, are largely to blame. This is not meant as condemnatory screed, or a public shaming but as a CALL TO ACTION! We are better than this, we are human beings. We must start behaving like human beings and realize that the wealth and power we possess was purloined from the labor of countless millions of women and immigrants and laborers and slaves. We are making monsters of ourselves and plucking the wings off of the better angels of our nature, casting them down into a dark, endless abyss where only capital, power and narcissism remain. The US can only survive if we realize that we are the ones destroying it and making it uninhabitable unlivable, for the millions of our fellow human beings who do not share our gender or our skin tone. We must join our fellows in the streets and marches and teach-in and theaters of national conversation and raise our voices with those who have trod upon for too long with impunity. We are not the master race, no one race is or could be, but how could we even conceive of such a possibility be if we are not even the masters of our own baser instincts. The white man is the rotten core of this mess. We must purge ourselves of our hate and our prejudice. We must make our enemy the powerful, the entrenched interests, the corporations and the warmongers and the do-nothing leeching investor classes. We must make common cause with those who we have wronged. We must rejoin the family of humanity in good standing and atone for our crimes. Only then will we truly deserve a place in the American system.

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Immigration

Some Excerpts From a Debate on Immigration

CALIFORNIA-FAMILIAS INMIGRANTES

The following is from a debate I had only with a xenophobic anti-immigrant fellow. I have removed his name for privacy’s sake.

A. [Redacted], you are being defensive and calling out everyone for attacking you for correctly characterizing your opinions and views as bigoted and xenophobic. Does that make you a bigot or a xenophobe? I don’t know. Only you know that. In other words stop whining. No one is forcing you to enter this “den of leftists” (and I am sick and tired of right wing people trying to dehumanize their opponents by calling them by random nouns… “the leftist” “the illegal”…just shut it…we are all human) 

B. English is not and has never been the official language if the USA. We have no official language. We have always had different languages spoken in this nation and government documents have been printed in multiple languages for generations now and last I checked the Chinese have yet to invade. 

C. I would always wish to be on, or even err on, the side of social justice and openness. If that means a small expense to us blessed, pure blooded, “native born” people then so be it. I am willing to live with your discomfort Angel. 

D. There is no evidence that the people coming into this nation are any more crime prone then any other random assortment of people. On the contrary, immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have a lower crime rate then native citizens. Don’t take my word for it though…I got this info from a few minutes of searching the FBI crime statistics database. It is laughable for those racists in Murrieta, California to call the “illegals” criminals…these are babies, toddlers, and their mothers. They meet the federal definition for refugee status, and that is why they were being taken to federal processing centers: to ASSESS THEIR STATUS. So what the protesters were ACTUALLY doing was disrupting the legal process of finding out who these people are, their status, and what do do with them. They are disrupting the very thing they are calling for. So they are not just racists, they are fools as well. 

E. WE CREATED the crisis in these Central American countries that is leading these people to flee. The gangs that run rampant in the streets there are tools of the corrupt governments that we have propped up and funded for years at the expense of democratic and social justice oriented movements in this nations. Look at what we did in El Salvador with the literal death squads, in Nicaragua, in Guatemala. We are reaping what we sowed during the Monroe Doctrine fueled imperial backed corporate land grab perpetrated by this government under both Democrats and Republicans since at least the early 1800’s. We have a responsibility to these people and we owe them at least a fair chance at asylum. 

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Activism, Justice

The People Rise Up In Turkey

Turkey_Protest_0dd4c

People’s revolution has reached the cities of the old Ottoman Empire. Thousands of citizens have taken to the streets of Ankara, Istanbul, and in Turkish enclaves from Doha to New York City. Why have the people chosen now to rise? Because the “moderate” Islamic government of PM  Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decided it is now time to begin dismantling the secular foundations of the modern state of Turkey. After the collapse of the decrepit and corrupt Islamist Imperial Ottoman state in the 1920’s the Young Turk reformers and the secular leader Kamel Attaturk attempted to create a modern society built around the idea that all are equal within a non-religious state apparatus that supported the rights of workers, women, and religious minorities. Of course the reality of this utopian system did not live up to the promise it was founded upon, but one cannot deny that the modern Turkish state has been a outpost in West Asia against religious fanaticism and tyranny.

The Islamic party of Erdogan has decided to cater to the most extreme religious elements of the society and is using its elected authority to undermine the secular nature of society and government. A couple in a train station in the capital of Ankara were caught on CTV committing a terrible crime against Islamic morality: they were kissing in public. They were warned by the police and urged to leave the station. In response the people came to the station and staged a “kiss in” to protest this horrid criminalization of human love and affection. This incident was quickly followed by a restrictive anti-alcohol bill that would target those who use or sell alcohol all over the nation. As if that were not enough the government decided to bulldoze one of the last few green public spaces in the great city of Istanbul, Gezi Park, in order to make way for a corporate owned shopping center.

The people of Istanbul had decided they had had enough. They occupied the park and the area around it, like their comrades in New York City and Cairo before them, and told the government that they will not take any more abuse. The government responded with predictable brutality: they used bulldozers, tear gas, batons and live rounds in an attempt to remove the peaceful protesters from the space. The protesters fought back but many were forced to leave. Thousands joined in and the protests spread to the center of Istanbul and across the nation.

As I write thousands are standing in Taksim Square calling for the end of the Islamic government and the resignation of PM Erdogan. These are secularists, shopkeepers, mothers, fathers, workers, socialists, nationalists…almost every segment of secular Turkish society has come together in support of the ideals of the Young Turks, Attaturk, and secularism. They are setting up roadblocks and barricades and are creating a situation reminiscent of Tahrir Square in Cairo. The government has cracked down hard and have arrested nearly 1000 people, brutalized and injured thousands more and there are perhaps dozens of deaths due to police brutality. There are reports of members of the armed forces refusing to assist the police in their attack against the people and the secular foundations of society, dropping their weapons and even joining forces with the protesters and their cause. Protesters are even gathering in front of the EU headquarters in Brussels and chanting their support for their comrades in Turkey.

This is another victory for the people of the world and expands the protest against the religious, corporate and authoritarian forces that run the governments of the world. The people will not have their dignity taken from them, they will not stand for governments that sell their interests to the highest bidder, they will not stand for morality police and an imposition of religious authority in the place of the secular rule of law. I stand with the people of Turkey. I stand with people all over the world who are coming to the realization that it is they who have the power and it is they who can change and reshape the world. Today I am Turkish. Tomorrow perhaps we will all be citizens of a new world. Workers and People of the World Unite!

UPDATE: CNN is reporting that Riot Police in Istanbul are using Agent Orange canisters, banned by the UN, against peaceful protesters gathering in the center of Istanbul. Updates can be found on Al Jazeera http://blogs.aljazeera.com/liveblog/topic/turkey-protests-20176

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