#SareeNotSorry: When America Treats Me Like I’m “Illegal” Just For Being Brown

#SareeNotSorry (Photo credit: Tanya Rawal)
#SareeNotSorry (Photo credit: Tanya Rawal)

This post was originally published on Medium.

By Guest Contributor:  Tanya Rawal (@Saree_NotSorry, IG: Saree.Not.Sorry)

The immigration debates are not about legality, or about having the right papers. They are about the fact that some people look illegal and some people look legal.

Translation: The immigration debate is about racism.

I was born in this country, but I look illegal.

Continue reading “#SareeNotSorry: When America Treats Me Like I’m “Illegal” Just For Being Brown”

ISIS Threatens Two Japanese Hostages & Demands $200M Ransom in Latest Video

PMC CEO Haruna Yukawa in a photo from Syria dated two years ago.
PMC CEO Haruna Yukawa in a photo from Syria dated two years ago.

The latest video posted this morning by ISIS militants shows members of the extremist organization threatening the lives of two Japanese hostages, Private Military Company CEO Haruna Yukawa (above) and freelance journalist Kenji Goto; both Japanese citizens were captured by the extremist group last year. The macabre setting of this morning’s video is heartbreakingly familiar: the orange jumpsuit-clad hostages knelt in front of a rocky dune next to the same hooded spokesman who has been featured in earlier beheading videos.

In this morning’s video, ISIS demands that the Japanese government pay the group $200 million dollars for Goto and Yukawa’s safe return. This was apparently in reference to the recent decision by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to commit $200 million in non-military aid to countries fighting ISIS; that decision was announced Saturday and was intended to support infrastructure projects. Abe also announced Saturday that his government is ready to commit an additional $2.5 billion humanitarian support. These monies are in addition to the country’s $2.2 billion dollar pledge two years ago to support humanitarian causes in the Middle East.

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Thoughts on #CharlieHebdo and the White Privilege of Free Speech

je-suis-charlie

Last week, two terrorists stormed the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and murdered twelve men and women — including journalists, editors, and first responder law enforcement — in cold blood. The suspects, later revealed to be brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, committed the heinous acts allegedly in retaliation for the magazine’s long history of disparaging cartoons that included the prophet Mohammed; the Kouachi brothers escaped the offices of Charlie Hebdo with the aid of a third suspect named Amedy Coulibaly. Two days later, the three suspects took hostages, and engaged police in multiple firefights. When the dust cleared, all three suspects were dead.

Seventeen victims had also been brutally and senselessly killed in one of Europe’s deadliest terrorist attacks in contemporary memory. They include: Charlie Hebdo editor, Stephane Charbonnier; 76-year-old cartoonist, Jean Cabut; Muslim-French police officer, Ahmed Merabet; and, many more.

The Charlie Hebdo shootings have sparked an international outcry, much of it justified anger against an unjustifiable act of terrorism. This is a viewpoint I share with nearly every public pundit who has waded into the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack: mass murder — even mass murder in the name of a political cause — is inexcusable. Period. Full stop.

Where pundits and commentators disagree, however, is in the details of this incident, and the intersection of cultural diversity versus  free speech rights.

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When “Iranian” becomes racist short-hand for “terrorist”

According to a CNN iReporter, missing passengers Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18, and elavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29 -- the two passengers flying on forged passports -- took this picture with their roommates in Kuala Lumpur moments before boarding MH370. Photo Credit: CNN/iReport
According to a CNN iReporter, missing passengers Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29 — the two passengers flying on forged passports — took this picture with their roommates in Kuala Lumpur moments before boarding MH370. Photo Credit: CNN/iReport

Over the weekend, a Malaysian Air jetliner, MH370,  disappeared somewhere over Southeast Asia, potentially claiming all 239 souls on-board. As search crews continue to scour the area following recent suggestions that the jet mysteriously shifted course near Pulau Perak and started flying on a vector in the opposite direction from Beijing, mainstream news outlets have focused on two non-Asian male passengers who reportedly purchased their tickets using the stolen passports of an Austrian and an Italian citizen.

Over the last few days, mainstream news have tacitly suggested that these two passengers were — by virtue of their forged passports — responsible for the jet’s disappearance. Twitter and other social networking sites have been more explicit, openly theorizing over terrorism.

These theories were whipped into a frenzy yesterday when it was revealed that the two non-Asian passengers flying on forged passports were of Iranian descent.

Because, y’know, “Iranian” is synonymous with “terrorist”.

That’s so racist, yo.

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CNN uncovers White House emails reporting Benghazi terrorist claims ~2h after the attack

CNN has released redacted copies of emails to the White House from someone at the State Department reporting that a terrorist organization, Ansar al-Sharia, claimed responsibility for the Benghazi attacks on their social media sites hours after the initial incident. CNN also reports, that group later retracted their claims of responsibility; but these emails are likely to be further fodder for right-wing extremists to claim some sort of conspiratorial cover-up by the White House to hide the terrorist attack from the public.

This email, released by CNN, was sent from a State Department address to various other administration employees hours after the attack in Benghazi reports a terrorist organization claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter.

A group claiming responsibility on social media does not prove a terrorist attack. Although we now know that Benghazi wasn’t the work of an innocent mob, I don’t see how these emails are convincing evidence of a White House cover-up; more likely, there was LOTS of information coming from the intelligence community in the wake of the attacks, some of it contradictory and all of which needed to be sorted through and verified.

Initial intelligence reports cited numerous violent protests throughout the region in response to the anti-Muslim video that coincided with the timing of the attack. It was initially a far more parsimonious conclusion that the Benghazi attack was related.

While the response to Benghazi was clearly mishandled by the White House and/or the intelligence community, I think this is also something of a manufactured controversy. I think the administration was keeping the public apprised of the situation as they felt they were able to do, and (as sometimes happens when you’re doing this kind of work) the initial conclusions based on the available evidence were wrong, as more evidence was uncovered.

Also, imagine for example the alternative: what would’ve been the consequences had the White House claimed that the Benghazi attacks were a terrorist action, and were later found to be wrong? Would we really have wanted the White House to rush to a conclusion that pointed fingers at various terrorist organizations, without having all the facts?