Unspun Logo

Calico Cat Stevens

Posted by Rick · September 22nd, 2004 · 7 Comments

The U.S. is being followed by a moon shadow. Moon shadow, moon shadow.

Yusuf Islam recently made the mistake of trying to enter the United States, something he once did regularly as “Cat Stevens.”

He has also previously entered the United States under his chosen name of “Yusuf Islam”; in October 2000, he apparently did a speaking tour in the United States.

That “calico cat” link also includes a CNN link to John Ashcroft singing a song he wrote about G-d and Country — it’s not for the faint of heart — you have been warned!

The United States, of course, is no longer a welcome place for Muslims, particularly someone not born into the Muslim faith who is audacious enough to embrace it instead of the rabidly anti-Muslim Christianity of George Bush — it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that the President (and/or He-Who-Fears-Calico-Cats John Ashcroft) takes this as a personal slap in the face.

Keeping Mr. Islam out of the United States might make sense if he were known for his violent activities. A journey to his official website, however, reveals otherwise. Recently, for example, he spoke out on the Beslan Tragedy in Russia, where Chechen rebels (who are Islamic) recently butchered 336 people, including 157 children:

Crimes against innocent bystanders taken hostage in any circumstance have no foundation whatsoever in the life of Islam and the model example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The concept that Islam allows the taking of one person’s life in exchange for another person’s sin is absolutely warped, the Qur’an in fact put an end to the concept of sins being passed on from generation to generation, father to son, or from one soul to another. God says, ‘…And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.’

Also, ‘Whoever takes a life without due justice, it will be as if he has killed the whole of mankind…’ and, ‘Do not take the life which God has made sacred except through (due process of) law.’ Yusuf Islam, The Present World of Hate: The Beslan Tragedy, YusufIslam.org.uk, ¶ 7-8 (September 2004)(footnotes omitted).

What relevance can this have, though, in a nation where the Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Republican Howard Coble, has said that the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was “for their own good.” Just as zoos serve a function in protecting the animals kept there, he indicated, “They (Japanese-Americans) were an endangered species” and it was important to get them off the streets to ensure their survival. I’ll never forget the “debate” I had with a former cow-orker when he commented that “if [his] family could safely walk the streets at night” — stop tittering — he would “have no problem” with rounding up every Muslim in America and putting them in camps. Another young cow-orker who lived in Clovis concurred. Such is the current American understanding on living in a pluralistic, democratic republic.

Think this is an anomaly? Check out Right Wing News, where John Hawkins approvingly reviews Michelle Malkin’s In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror.

After all, there really were Japanese-American spies. And everyone knows “they all look alike.” What better way to ensure that you get the handful of spies who represent a serious threat than to imprison 110,000 men, women and children who shared the same physical characteristics — even if 70,000 of them were native-born Americans and Japanese-Americans earned more than 18,000 citations, including 9,500 Purple Hearts, while fighting for America in World War II. Tara Shioya, The Conflict Behind the Battle Lines (San Francisco Chronicle Story dated September 24, 1995), SFMuseum.org, last visited September 22, 2004.

All of this, of course, is lock-step-in-line with that other singer, mentioned above, who is perhaps even more famous — or infamous — than Cat Stevens, John Ashcroft, and who is perhaps more famous in his role as Minister of Fear of the United States (a.k.a. “Attorney General,” something of a misnomer, since the AG is supposed to uphold the Constitution).

As Cat Stevens once sang, “Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again.”

Categories: Politics-In-General


7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bob // Sep 22, 2004 at 1:34 pm

    This is certainly a topic that will create debate for years but since I am typing this while on lunch break so I have to go quickly.

    This is what the government ‘leaked’ about Mr. Islam …

    Officials said Islam was on the watch list because of alleged associations and financial support for Muslim charities

    “The intelligence community has come into possession of additional information that further heightens our concerns of Yusuf Islam,” Homeland Security spokesman Garrison Courtney told CNN. He would not describe the information further.

    Another official said the department is “extremely confident in the information” which “without a doubt” is credible. Officials will not say which charities are involved.

    Source: http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/09/22/plane.diverted.stevens/index.html

    On one hand, IF this guy does support killers through financial support then I would have to agree with my government that he is not welcome here to fund raise.

    (It’s ironic that both Israeli and Islamic causes both fund raise here, isn’t it? If this country were not free enough to express your cultural and religious differences, you would think it would not be possible to fund raise for BOTH causes in ONE country…but that’s another article in itself.

    It’s also ironic that one of our ‘closest’ friends in the world is Saudi Arabia and, through numerous methods, it fund Islamic causes all over the Middle East, some of which are fairly radical in their opinions.)

    But getting back to the airline watch list, I would have to say that I agree, in principle, with the concept.

    Where I have issues is with WHO gets to run ths watch list. In fact, I have issue with who runs ‘Homeland Security’ for our nation.

    The management of intelligence has proven to be liable to political pressure. The ‘facts’ given the Congress before the critical Iraq War vote comes to mind. It’s easy to accuse someone of ‘flip flopping’ on a votes when you fed him bad intelligence before the vote and the truth came out later.

    It’s easy to create the enemy in every shadow when you have a special department in the Pentegon piecing together ‘intelligence’ from scraps that other intelligence organizations said were too sketchy to be reliable.

    I would propose a collection of qualified individuals from both parties be responsible for the defense of this country. I know, it makes sense so it won’t see the light of day.

    But this all smells a lot like Big Brother. What do you have to do to get on this list?

    Our host, Mr. Horowitz, on numerous occasions has commented on our government through this blog. If any of these comments were not received well by Big Brother, does that qualify for a ‘watch list’ of any kind?

    My beliefs and opinions are often far from that of Mr. Horowitz but because I comment on this blog, do I get branded with the same dangerous tag as Mr. Horowitz in the ‘Master’ database?

    And if there is a mistake made, how does one appeal to Big Brother? Just to whom do you plead your case that you’re on ‘our’ side?

    Here is a tragic case of mistaken political identity. This poor guy found himself on the ‘watch’ list and found out just how closely Big Brother can watch you…

    The Senate Judiciary Committee heard Thursday morning from one of its own about some of the problems with airline “watch” lists.

    Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy says he had a close encounter with the lists when trying to take the US Airways shuttle out of Washington to Boston.

    The ticket agent wouldn’t let him on the plane. His name was on the list in error. With help from an airport supervisor, Kennedy was able to fly home, but then the same thing happened coming back to Washington. Some phone calls straightened things out.

    Kennedy says he had to enlist the help of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to get his name stricken from the list. The process took several weeks, in all.

    And Kennedy asks what about the little guy?

    The Department of Homeland Security tried to explain the incidents. A DHS spokesman said that on one flight Kennedy was misidentified as someone who needed extra screening when going through security, because he was mistakenly identified as someone on a watch list.

    Another time, the spokesman says, Kennedy was tagged for extra screening under a security system that watches for such factors as a person buying a one-way ticket or paying with cash.

    He says Kennedy was never on a “no-fly” list, which automatically keeps a person off a plane.

    Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/06/terror/main610466.shtml

    At least this citizen had someone to call. Lucky him.

    So, if this happened to you, who are you calling?

  • 2 Rick Horowitz // Sep 22, 2004 at 3:58 pm

    You might want to take a look at Yusuf Islam’s website.

    It’s neither against the law, nor should it be, to raise money for peaceful Muslim activities. If Yusuf Islam is raising funds for militant activities, that might be a different issue. However, of late, the United States has decided that if you raise money for, say, a Muslim nursery to buy crayons for the kids, this is a terrorist act. Why? Because, the reasoning goes, if the terrorists don’t have to buy crayons, they can buy more weapons.

    Now I suppose on some level, this is true, assuming the kids at that particular school are bin Laden’s (who?).

    It reminds me of a famous case we study in Torts, when learning about legal cause. A boat breaks loose from its mooring, drifts downstream, knocks over a bridge, which causes a flood (by creating an artificial dam) and the owners of property upstream from the bridge sue. The knocking down of the bridge is the proximate cause of the damage to the property. So far, so good.

    Along comes a trucking company. They can’t cross the bridge, for obvious reasons. This requires them to truck their goods farther because they have to go around. Should they be able to sue for the extra gasoline, time, and other expenses? After all, had the ship owner not been negligent, they wouldn’t have spent all that and their profits would be higher. What about the truck driver who is now late getting home, so he can’t boink his wife. And that happened to be the night she was ovulating; this childless couple was desperate and had been religiously following doctors’ orders in tracking such things to increase the likelihood of pregnancy. If he fails to impregnate his wife, can he sue?

    Well, the court never considered the truck driver’s plight. But as to the truck company’s headache, the court said “no.” Although there is a sense in which the owner of the ship is responsible for this “damage,” there has to be a line drawn somewhere.

    Our government, in its eagerness to press its case to the conversion of America into a fascist state, has lost sight of this common-sense rule.

    Until and unless someone shows some evidence, rather than making bald assumptions, I’m not buying the idea that the man who says the things Yusuf Islam says is secretly supporting the very terrorist acts he chastises other Muslims for committing any more than I’m buying the idea that supplying crayons to Muslim pre-schools frees up bin Laden (oh, yeah, him!) to blow up our troops.

    The only way an argument like that flies is if we accept the idea that all Muslims, even the kids with the crayons, are our enemies.

  • 3 Rick Horowitz // Sep 22, 2004 at 5:01 pm

    Cool, looks like we’re even starting to piss off the British.

    CAIR said treating mainstream and moderate Muslims as terrorists sent the wrong message. “This does not help the war on terrorism, it just makes it harder,” Awad told a news conference.

    The incident prompted British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to raise the issue in person with Secretary of State Colin Powell at the United Nations in New York.

    “The foreign secretary raised the Cat Stevens incident with Colin Powell and expressed concern that this action should not have been taken,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman told Reuters in London. Sue Pleming, Ex-Pop Star Cat Stevens Deported from U.S., Yahoo! News, ¶ 15-17, September 22, 2004.

    Who needs the rest of the world, anyway? We’re still busy tearing up our own Constitution! We’ll let them know when we’re ready to go after theirs.

  • 4 Bob // Sep 23, 2004 at 12:49 pm

    Interesting position you’re taking here but I see a conflict…

    Your servers are protected from viruses, worms, Trojans and who knows what.

    Your blog is protected from spam and irrational people by TypeKey and your ability to screen comments.

    This is, unfortunately, very necessary in these times. Yet, despite this caution you exercise you cannot see the probablility that some of these innocent looking fund raising groups are actually laundering money for bad guys.

    Drug dealers do it.

    Deposed leaders do it.

    Probably 90% of ‘honest’ large corporations do it.

    Probably a large percent of ‘honest’ tax payers do it.

    (Even educated bees do it – sorry, I could not resist a Cole Porter reference).

    Our government had to step in when monies being raised by ‘Irish Catholic’ orgainizations in New England were found to be funneling cash to the Irish Republican Army.

    My point is that precedent is well set here.

    Is there a POSSIBILITY that Mr. Islam is either lying or unaware of these links? Yup.

    At SOME point, the government has to be right. Isn’t it possible that they may actually have solid intel?

    Look, I love the personal freedoms as much as anyone but the middle ground here says that, on occasion, Big Brother gets it right.

    Did they get it right with Mr. Islam? Who the hell knows but the bad PR wouldn’t be worth it of they didn’t have something, right?

    I know I may be grasping at an old ideal, that of my government is actually protecting me, but since 9/11 has only happened once in our history I would like to believe that someone out there is taking the job seriously, even if it means connecting less than ideal intelligence dots.

    All I know is if I had the responsibility of protecting every man, woman and child in the country, I would always err to the side of caution because anything else is too horrible to imagine (again).

    Just like when you’re protecting your network. You err to the side of caution when you don’t know who the email is from or you don’t recognize the attachment.

    Self preservation makes us all look silly from time to time. I’ll give Big Brother a pass on this one.

    I get really upset when I see our security politicized. Or when we invade a country that poses no threat. Oops, that just slipped out.

    Bad Bob, bad bad Bob…

  • 5 Rick Horowitz // Sep 23, 2004 at 1:12 pm

    A few things are worth noting here:

  • I’m not a government.
  • I’m not taking away someone’s liberty rights.
  • My imposition of security on my website is like putting locks on the doors of my house, not like punishing people for supporting non-violent groups or activities.
  • My putting security on my website and blog is not even like creating a police state.
  • I don’t even prevent people from saying things I don’t like on my website, let alone kick them out of the country because I don’t like their religious or political views.
  • Additionally, your argument appears to me to make the following assumptions:

  • That Mr. Islam’s activities have been proven to be either a) illegal themselves or b) supportive of something illegal.
  • That in the absence of any proof that the first assumption is wrong, it’s okay to take the government’s word for it that the assumption is correct.
  • Agencies that might be laundering money may be assumed to be laundering money absent proof to the contrary, regardless of the activities they appear to be, or state that they are, engaged in.
  • Supporting agencies that might be laundering money and therefore may be assumed to be laundering money obviates the need to show that any individual supporting such agencies did so innocently; naturally, if the agency might be suspect, the individual who donates money to, or otherwise supports, such an agency is automatically a criminal worthy of barring from the country, or of deportation if he somehow makes it to shore before being caught.
  • The United States used to be a nation of laws, not of men. (See Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 163 (1 Cranch) (1803).)

    One aspect of the law used to be that the Constitution limited the powers of the government. Human beings, usually including (until recently) people who weren’t citizens of our United States, were holders of certain inalienable rights, just like the rest of us.

    Due process and equal protection would seem to be two such rights.

    My argument is that these apply to Mr. Islam. It would also apply to agencies that have not been shown to be violent or at least supportive of violence. Taking care of children, even if they happen to be children of terrorists (and even that has not been shown), does not qualify as violent or of supporting violence. If it did, some daycare centers in the United States might arguably have problems, because perpetrators of criminal violence sometimes have children and sometimes probably put them in daycare.

    One key thing to understand: The United States of America, under a benign dictatorship, would be a safer place to live. The United States of America, under a Constitution that did not contain dispersed and limited powers, would be a safer place to live. Our Founders deliberately chose a different Constitution, however. And that it happens to be one I prefer explains why I fight for it, but is otherwise irrelevant. Why? Because when the colonists voted to ratify the Constitution and create the nation in which you and I now live, they provided that if we didn’t like living under that kind of a system, we could change it (by ratification or even abolition of that Constitution).

    We have not yet done that. Until we do, it’s still the law of the land.

    And I kinda like it that way.

    The thing to be careful about is that fascism is not different from an administrative state; it’s just farther along the continuum. Or perhaps what I mean to say is that it’s not different in kind. It’s important to resist tilting the continuum on which they exist in such a way that your argument tumbles down a slippery slope.

  • 6 Bob // Sep 23, 2004 at 2:31 pm

    As impressive as all that is, let me ask a question or ten.

    How, in your perfect Constitutional Utopia, would a government offer due process to Mr. Islam and not compromise its sensitive intelligence sources?

    In this actual (versus utopian) world, how can a government protect its sensitive information and still act on it?

    In the compromise that is reality, sometimes liberties are sacrificed, hopefully for damn good reason.

    In an effort to protect the people and enforce the laws, police on occasion arrest the wrong man. They deny him many liberties until their error is discovered. Does this constitute a ‘police state’?

    If we had more faith in this government would that make it different?

  • 7 Rick Horowitz // Sep 23, 2004 at 10:11 pm

    Well, there’s the rub, Bob.

    The government established by the Founders of this country — and the Constitution that the people of that time agreed to — felt that certain freedoms were so seriously important that they put in place rules that limited the government’s ability to abrogate them.

    And the problem here is that we, the People, haven’t changed those rules. For my part, I’m glad we haven’t. I like my freedoms and I like that the government isn’t free on their own to decide when I can and can’t exercise them.

    As I said earlier, a fascistic government, if it was “benign” (although I personally cannot actually envision a benign fascistic government), could keep us safer than the one that our Founders created. If we lived by our Constitution we would find that it’s very difficult for our government to get the kinds of things that it tries to do today done. We’ve evolved into a kind of “administrative state” that wasn’t envisioned by our Founders and the system they established makes the operation of administrative states difficult. That’s exactly how they wanted it to be. Today, we have “libertarians” who want the smallest possible government that can accomplish the main goals of government; back then, we didn’t call them “libertarians” — we called them “colonists.”

    But make no mistake, the majority of them were decidedly libertarian.

    Go back and re-read my comments about Hamilton’s feelings for why a Bill of Rights wasn’t needed and was, in fact, dangerous. But don’t take my word for it, read the Declaration of Independence (it’s really short!), the Constitution (it’s a little longer, but still short enough to read in a short time!) and then, if you’re feeling ambitious, try the Federalist Papers (each one of them is short, but there are 85 of ’em).

    The problem with governments that are strong enough to do what you’re asking about is that they’re also strong enough to become major problems. As Madison put it in Federalist No. 51,

    In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. The Federalist No. 51, at p. 319 (James Madison) (Clinton Rossiter, ed., 1961).

    Unfortunately, since the purpose of the “auxiliary precautions” is to limit the power of the “government…administered by men over men,” they also get in the way sometimes of doing things secretly and without providing a rationale for the people to be able to agree that it’s the right thing.

    But the fact of the matter is, Bob, that without that, we’re just taking their word for it that everything’s okay, everything’s on the up-and-up, no one is self-dealing or turning our constitutional processes to their own ends.

    Don’t forget, people like John Ashcroft, even when they push plainly unconstitutional things upon the rest of us (like his theocratic vision), really believe they’re doing the right thing. It’s no secret that I don’t like Ashcroft — in some ways, he’s scarier than Bush. Thankfully, the repercussions of his activities are less long-term. He doesn’t appoint Supreme Court Justices who will determine the legal landscape for the rest of our (I mean specifically you and me) natural lives. But I don’t have to speak badly of Ashcroft — and I’m not intending to do so at this moment — to note that giving him too much power is a problem. I don’t have to ascribe “evil purposes” or goals to him. I can confess that he seriously believes he’s doing what’s best and what’s right. I just happen to recognize that he’s flat-out wrong. That path — the path people like him want to take — leads to destruction. Whether his motives in taking us there are good or bad is irrelevant to me.

    I’m not willing to live in a world without the Constitution just so I can be a little safer. (I’ll spare you the Benjamin Franklin quote I just paraphrased.)

  • Leave a Comment