John Brown, the Weather Underground, and Al-Qaeda
by Phyllis Chesler
I have previously questioned the outrageous likening of Al-Qaeda's Khalid Sheik Mohammed to abolitionist John Brown in the pages of the New York Times. Brown opposed slavery; Mohammed believes in practicing it.
Then, I discovered that the Brown/KSM analogy has only begun to gather steam. For example, "Slavery and the Legacy of Violence in our Times" will be the subject of a 4 day symposium beginning on December 4th at North Elba, Lake Placid. It is John Brown's 150th Commemoration. Here's how the Symposium is described:
"Dubbed one of the most controversial figures in American history, John Brown, 150 years after his death, remains a stimulant to discussion on the subject of slavery and the use of violence to achieve political and social change. Who was John Brown? To some, he was a terrorist, to others a martyr and the first to stand against the violence of slavery. To many, his words and actions set our nation on the path to Civil War which reunified the nation with federal laws that abolished slavery.
The abolitionist John Brown moved his family to North Elba (Lake Placid) in 1849 to assist with the free black settlement called "Timbucto". Ten years later, John Brown and his followers attacked the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry in an ill-fated attempt to incite a slave revolt. He was subsequently tried, convicted and executed, and Brown's body was transported back to his home in Lake Placid, New York in the Adirondacks, and laid to rest."
Guess who's one of the "distinguished speakers?" None other than Bernadine Dohrn, an "activist and co-founder of the Weather Underground" and the wife of William Ayers, a good friend of President Obama's. Kevin Bales, President of Free the Slaves (I hope he's thinking about Sudan and the Arab Middle East here); Russell Banks, author of Cloudsplitter; George Holmes, executive director of CORE–among others.
Is the Weather Underground now trying to position itself as historically similar to a nineteenth century abolitionist "just cause" uprising? Or to a contemporary international terrorist organization which shares the Weather Underground's views which oppose American capitalism and imperialism? Why else would Dohrn now proudly identify herself as a co-founder of the Weather Underground?
Back in the day, I knew some Weather Underground people and their many supporters. Some of these people were genuinely idealistic, some were merely young, naieve, conformist, and very much caught up in the historical moment; but some were dangerous ideologues who made alliances with African-American criminals in the name of "brotherhood" and "revolution."
I fear that the left-Islamist alliance which is common on American campuses and reflected in the White House relationship to Islamist states and possibly to Islamist terrorists (enemy combatants) may be a continuation of this very tendency.
Do I oppose racism–Hell yes. But Al-Qaeda and other radically fundamentalist Muslim groups practice gender and religious apartheid as well as outright slavery.
For example, in many Muslim and Arab countries, (especially in Saudi Arabia), "guest worker " female housemaids (who often come from non-Arab and non-Muslim countries) are forced to work around the clock and are also physically beaten, sexually harassed, and routinely raped; this phenomena is well documented and yet remains unchanged. Like their male counterparts in the construction trades, "guest workers" are also forced to live sleep in crowded, wretched housing, are sometimes poorly fed or starved–and are often cheated of their wages. Their passports are held. If and when they escape and allege abuse, they may be further punished, or simply shipped back to their more impoverished countries of origin.
Then there are the outright (often black African) slaves in Sudan as well as Muslim girls and women who've been kidnapped into sex slavery by Islamist paramilitary squads in Algeria or into temporary one hour "marriages" in Iran.
Do I oppose racism–Hell yes, always have. But I cannot comprehend all the other alleged anti-racists on the left who fail to understand how deeply anti-African and anti-black most Arab Muslims are. For example, the genocide and gender cleansing in the Sudan is being perpetrated by ethnic Arab Muslims against black African Muslims, Christians, and animists.
The first known honor killing carried out in the United States took place in 1989 in St Louis, Missouri. The final straw for Palestina Isa's Palestinian family was her friendship with a classmate who happened to be an African-American.
Are Muslim women themselves safe from similar abuse if they do what they're expected to do? Hell no.
Women in Muslim countries are not safe when and if they wear shrouds, body-bags, burqas. They too are routinely beaten and raped at home. The statistics for only Pakistan and Afghanistan are way off the charts. But, the existence of chadors, burqas, chadaris, etc. also endangers Muslim civilians.
For example, this week's bombing in Somalia at a university graduation was a tragedy for those who were killed or wounded and for their families. But please note: The bombing was apparently carried out by a male suicide bomber dressed as a woman in a burqa/Islamic Veil.
The Islamic world ought to rethink its own policy vis a vis the Islamic Veil.
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