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Member since: Thu Jul 30, 2015, 09:58 PM
Number of posts: 583

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Crime and punishment and ISIS kids

Recently a teenager in Virginia was sentenced to 11 years for aiding terrorism. He ran a website that told followers how to get contributions to ISIS, and helped another teen run off to Syria.

Increasingly, western countries are faced with meting out punishment (or reintegration) to child terrorists and terror supporters.

I have less sympathy for this teen than for most iSIS kids, because he stayed safely behind his computer and manipulated others - which strikes me as a far darker and less forgivable thing than running off to Syria oneself.

For the teens who do leave western nations to join ISIS: what's the proper response if they return, or are caught sneaking off? Are they terrorists or victims? Throw the book at them or give them therapy?

Why I empathize with some ISiS kids who run away: I think - if you strip away the veneer - what they are doing is so normal-teen-development stuff. Romanticism, idealism, desire to fight a noble fight, to break free of parents and convention. Those are the same teen dreams that have made kids run away - since time immemorial - to sea or to Hollywood or off to war or off to Reno with a 28 year old Lothario. (And while they *should* pay attention to the beheadings and raping etc and be morally repelled, I think kids find it easy to romanticize a cause and block out unpleasant corollaries. Adults do it too, but I'm not willing to forgive them for it.)

Also, it's pretty easy for savvy adults to manipulate kids by playing to those teenage desires.

And lastly, these kids (the Muslim-born ones) really are taught in home and mosque that fighting and dying for God is noble and gets you to heaven; that enemies of Islam should be battled; that the medieval caliphate was a wondrous ideal era; that today's Muslims are oppressed all over the world and need defending, etc. Those aren't ISIS opinions; they are common and mainstream. So I find it hard to blame those few kids who, starting from those principles, are then wooed from afar into terrorist sympathies.

Of course, one can make a great case for heavy-handed punishment, too. It deters copycats; keeps ISIS kids out of circulation for a long time so they don't infect others; makes parents take the threat of radicalization seriously.

I'm torn. Thoughts?

Things American Muslim women don't wanna hear from you

I get the feeling on this site that no one here actually hangs out with Muslims and knows them as people.

Which doesn't surprise me since (a) its a small minority and (b) the serious ones socialize mostly amongst themselves (at least the ones I know) and the liberal few are not especially recognizable when you see them at your book club or your workplace.

So this OP is in the interest of cross-cultural understanding. Muslim women in hijabs are mostly kinda sick of being singled out as if they're weird or special or cute pets or the enemy.

Some things they hear too much:

(1) "Aren't you hot in that?". (said to any woman wearing a hijab, abaya, etc in summer.

Ask this and you'll probably get a polite smile and a "Actually, no. I'm not."

Meanwhile, she's thinking that you're the fiftieth person to ask her that this week, that you're boring and boorish and intruding on her clothing choices and you're probably trying to insult her religion.

And BTW, she probably IS hot in that but she'll never admit it, and it's still NOYB.

(2) "You speak such good English!". Usually said to a woman in traditional Muslim garb who is a lifelong American.

(3) "Hey, I know some Arabic. 'Allahu Akbar!'. How was that?"

This was said to my visiting relative in the local park, by an older guy who was probably just trying to be nice. She smiled painfully and angled her shoulders as she turned back to me, and I know what she was thinking: "Americans are idiots."

. (This is probably the equivalent of making "Indian war-whoop" noises when someone mentions that she's Cherokee.)

(4) "Does your husband treat you well? Don't let him treat you like chattel!".

Ding ding ding! You've just won the "ugly stereotype" award.

The fact that the stereotype is often true (husbands lead; women follow; and if he wants to treat her 'like chattel' there may not be much she can do about it) does not mean she wants an outsider flinging innuendos at her and her husband and the way of life she has chosen (or is stuck in). You're. Not. Helping.

(You know the old saying, "I against my brother; my brother and I against our cousin; my cousin and I against a stranger"? You're the stranger in that lineup, buddy.)

(5) "You don't *really* think God cares whether people eat a slice of bacon, do you? I mean, God's so much bigger than that."

Your Muslim acquinatance is thinking, Shut up and butt out, asshole.

(6) "Whoa - is this a stickup?".

I heard a guy say this to a niqabi (face-veiler) woman outside of a store. She ignored him. Okay, so I laughed after she was gone. But that's because I hate those friggn niqabs.

My daughter got scared of a faceless woman in a mall when she was little, and I made a point of answering loudly, "Yes, hon, it does look scary. Let's move."

(You can hide your damn face (women) or refuse to shake my hand (men), but I'm not obligated to support your bullshit when you inflict it on the public.)

That concludes this PSA.

Pop Quiz! Test your medical knowledge!

Republican lawmakers like to say that their legislative onslaught against abortion clinics is motivated by a Sincere Concern for women's health. I'm talking about their demands that, for example, the clinics have wider hallways to fit stretchers, or that clinics keep a licensed anesthesiologist on staff at all times, or whatever the latest crap is in your state and mine.

The quiz question is: why is this statement (that tighter regs will protect women's safety) extreme bullshit?

I am looking for the *medical* reason that it's bullshit. The moral/ethical reasons (like, "because they shouldn't get to control other people's bodies" are equally true but not what I am asking.

I pose this question because, in my region, people seem really ignorant of a couple basic medical facts. I have the feeling that that pro-life propagandists have successfully convinced everyone that up is down and black is white.

Duke U boycott and "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest": love it or hate it?

or both?

LBN: Some Duke U students are boycotting a reading assignment because the subject matter offends them. That took me straight back to 11th grade English, and OFOTCN.

Great book. Really, in some ways I love it. One free-spirited man struggling against a soul-crushing system and leading a revolt, or trying to. Who couldn't love that?

Revolting book. Misogyny from cover to cover, with every single female depicted in paranoid-male fashion.

Nurse Ratchet, the ultimate castrating bitch; remember her?

(Where was the psychiatrist all book long? Why did Kesey want a woman in the role of Men's Oppresser?)

Billy's mom, the emasculating mother. Billy was the stammering, little-boy-like mental patient, and it's made clear that his overweening mother is the cause of all his problems - because she squelched his manhood. Blah blah blah.

The hooker: Yeah, when a buncha guys wanna cut loose, you just know they're gonna bond over a hooker or at a strip
club. The hooker doesn't say a word, doesnt have a personality, but that's the point I guess. Sex with a bought, unresisting woman is all it takes to restore Billy's manhood - and once he realizes that Mommy can no longer dominate him -because he's got a penis, by God! - his sanity is instantly restored.

Remember what happens next? The castrating-bitch nurse shows up and catches the men with the hooker. She singles out Billy. "I'm going to have to tell your poor mother about this; she'll be so disappointed in you...". Billy begs and pleads. Them he kills himself. The men recognize Ratchet as the source of all evil. Because, yknow: women. Women with power. Big problem for men.

IIRC, that's when our valiant hero attacks Ratchet. Not punching her out, but going straight for sexual humiliation: ntearing open her shirt so her big boobs fall out and she's suddenly crying and powerless. That's how men put an uppity female in her place, ya know. Rawr!

What sucked in 11th grade is that the whole class cheered the men and hated Ratchet, and the teacher had a man-crush on the main character. The misogyny wasn't discussed. And even at sixteen it kinda scared me to look around at the boys and realize they thought this was a fine depiction of men and women. And then go home and aee my father shouting at my mother or putting his hands on her. (He didn't like uppity women either.)

I never spoke up with my views. I didn't dare. I would have been mocked until the end of time.

But I'm glad we read it, because it showed me something sad but true and important about my culture.

Banning books, boycotting books, trigger warnings everywhere ... I'm against all that. If the Duke U students didn't want to read anything that offended them, they shoulda thought of that before they went to college.

The upside of strict gender roles. Really.

I am a staunch feminist.

That's one reason I was delighted by the NPR report yesterday on Alex Potter: a young woman who dreamt of being a photographer and ran off to an exotic, dangerous country to do just that. Now her beloved adopted country is at war, and she is one of very few western photographers there.

IOW, Potter has been autonomous, adventurous, successful, (and happy).

Her adopted country is Yemen. It's one of the world's worst places to be a woman. Many females are niqabis (face-veilers); females live in the clutches of fundy Islam, poor fathers make money by selling their female children as slave-brides to grown men. Nujood, of "I am Nujood, Age Ten and Divorced" is a Yemeni. Little girls have been raped to death on their wedding nights. The government shrugs. The imams encourage the practice. That's Yemen for ya.

But Alex Potter - the American photog - says this about her adopted home: That her neighbors and Yemeni friends are amazingly devoted to family. That they are warm and generous and just great, great people. Hearing her describe them, you get the feeling that she didn't have that kind of warmth during her American youth. And that she loves it.

Which tbh matches my experiences in a "traditional" (read: fundy religious with strict gender roles) family. There's a huge emphasis on The Clan, including cousins and great-aunties; there are big meals and much love and great caring. It's like living inside a warm security blanket.

It's wonderful. Of course it's all built on the sacrifices of women. Women are born and bred to both knit that security blanket and be trapped and muffled inside it. They're the rocks that anchor families. They do the cooking and the child care and the eldercare. They create the happy homes. And, like rocks, some of them get kicked or smashed and are helpless to stop it, because men rule over them. But many - the vast majority I think - are truly satisfied inside the security blanket. They don't mind that they can never leave it.

Maybe I am imagining it, but among my modern upwardly friends (male and female) and myself, there's more loneliness and angstiness. We've left our families, chased careers, ditched the security blanket or never had it. And not many of us, that I've seen, live in the same town with forty loving, annoying relatives who cluster at births and graduations and sickbeds and granny's 88th birthday.

(i see families like that among the poor farm and small-town people here. Not among the affluent and educated.)

So is that the trade-off? Big warm families (built on locking females into domestic roles and demanding they not pursue independent dreams), versus freedom for all, but loss of big warm families?

Am I broad-brushing? What does everyone think?

(Note: I originally titled this post, "The upside if misogyny.". Which was click-baity of me.

Strict gender roles and misogyny are like incestuous siblings to each other. Can you ever have one without the other? I say it's impossible.)

"Why Istanbul should be called Catstantinople"

That's the title of a big front-page article in WSJ about the historic and ongoing love of alley cats in Istanbul. Apparently this is annage-old thing. Cats are adored there, and its common for residents to put up furry cat-boxes at street corners and cat window seats outside their homes, and lots of peope feed and care for strays... It's part of the city's culture.

(Sorry, no link - it takes a subscription that I don't have.)

Says a local resident: "Istanbul is heaven for cats, and we want it to stay that way."

Just, awww.

Is anyone following the Islamic Climate Change

Symposium and their declaration?

Interesting stuff: officials and activists from multiple Muslim countries got together in Istanbul recently and called for Islamic countries to phase out fossil fuel production by 2050, and for everyone to be good to the Earth in the name of religion.

I am all in favor.

It's just, I tend to look cynically for the political angle in such things, and I can't figure out what the angle is.

It's interesting that the represented countries were non-oily as best I can tell (for example: Uganda, Lebanon, Indonesia).

Are they trying to keep up with the Pope?
Are they hoping to shame or hamstring the Muslim oil powerhouses (but why would they want to?)
Is there a nascent Green movement inside Islam?
Is Erdogan trying hamhandedly to stamp out everyone's dark Gezi Park protest memories?

Thoughts, people?

The day I decided to become a terrorist

I really wasnt planning on it.

I flipped open my parents' Newsweek. It was a boring afternoon and light slanted through the dusty curtains and made an ugly pattern on the floral sofa. My father was stomping angrily in the kitchen.

The magazine fell open to a photo of a man with a big black beard. I didnt watch the news or follow international events. I had never heard of him. It took about five minutes for him to hijack my whole imagination.

He lived in a foreign jungle. Everyone in his land knew his name. A troop of loyal men followed him. He was so daring that he had once taken half his government hostage. He was obviously made of noble stuff: he was fighting for...well, something or other. Something important, like justice and poor people. Poor people were in trouble, and he was their champion. He was a rebel. (A real rebel; not like me, who did a little shoplifting sometimes just to prove to myself I had the guts.). He had fought for one side, and then (mysteriously) switched and fought his own guys - because they were doing the revolucion wrong. Or something. Something heroic.

I was a middle-class teenager with good grades, a few friends, a goody-two-shoes reputation, an undercurrent of disharmony, isolation, and threat in my suburban home. I wanted to make a splash. Do something amazing.

Mostly I wanted to stop being boring and unnoticed. I had glory in me, and I was the only person in the universe who knew it.

I started to lie awake at night imagining my future. It would be like the heroic stories I loved. I didn't look like much, but I would surely turn out to be strong as Achilles and wily as Odysseus. We would live like Robin Hood and his band of misfits - and I wouldn't be just "the girl", stupid Marian; I'd be a medic, I decided, a tough guy, an admired hero. I thought of what I'd be leaving, too: math class, French class; all the kids at school going, "She did WHAT? Her? We never knew she was so interesting."


Not so long ago, boys ran away to sea. Some lied about their age and joined the army. In the Civil War, a few girls enlisted in drag. Farm kids have always run to the city. Kids with dreams run to Hollywood. My aunt, at 18, left her stricken family and took a bus to NYC because she thought she could make it as a ballerina. (She didn't but she married a millionaire. These things happen sometimes.)

I went to the travel agency on the corner. I went more than once. I said I had a pen pal in Managua. The travel agent had a big smile like a shark.

It turned out I could cover the cost: i had babysitting money, holiday money. I had always been the kind of girl who saved and saved and never spent.

It was the logistics, in the end, that floored me. How would I buy the ticket? When I got off the plane in Managua, how would I find my way to them? What if they didn't accept me? What if I had to come home in disgrace and face my family and be a failure in front of everyone?

Now I read the news about kids who make such journey. And I think, what if:

-- What if i could have contacted my hero and his men via the Internet?
-- What if they had told me the cause was just, and I was wanted - even needed --there?
-- What if they wooed me for months, tapping to find my secret hopes and promising me everything I dreamed.
--What if I were susceptible due to religion?
-- What if they promised to meet me at the foreign airport and usher me into my glorious future?
-- What if this was something other kids like me had done, and done successfully?

I keep reading articles in which parents and politicians wail and say, "Why do they do it? Why ISIS? What are they thinking?"

Me, I think I know.
And - aw c'mon, guys. Don't you remember being fifteen and having dreams of glory?

I'm curious what the rest of you think.

An apology. A concern. And an invitation.

Last night I had a post hidden. (My first, so pop some champagne!)

In brief: I put up a post titled "Isis and Zionism: Links revealed!". I linked to a Saudi daily I read regularly, the Saudi Gazette. The article I linked to was insane - yet sadly typical of what one sees in SG, and (by my experience) in line with typical Arab theories about where their problems originate.

Basically, the writer said ISIS was created by zionists, western intelligence agencies, and Freemasons. Yes, Freemasons! That was why I posted it: it was so nutty that I thought it would make everyone gape, then laugh hysterically...and finally, think about what it means. The article presents a Saudi rebuttal to the (obvious) question of whether KSA-style Islamism and KSA riches are driving groups like ISIS.

Anyway: my apology is because DU readers apparently thought I was trying to promulgate the wacky Zionist-Freemason-ISIS theory (!?!) Which is the kind of misunderstanding that can only happen in cyberspace where my ironic smirk is not visible. So, guys, I am sorry my intentions were not clear. I am a longterm mocker of anti-Zionist conspiracy theories - and once the Freemasons were brought up, I could not resist the urge to share.

Now to my concern. In the few minutes before the thread was locked, some DU posters actually seemed to take it seriously. And to you-all I say: you are truly messed up. (well, that's the censored version of what I am saying.).

Public Service Announcement: The Arab press, also Fars (Iran) and Huuriyet (Turkey) is chock full of nonsense peddled to audiences who are eager to lap it up and who, yes, believe it. (I am related to some of them, is how I know.) I am shocked and disgusted that some (liberals?) here have apparently embraced their spew. Ugh. And WTF?

Finally, the invitation: Please think about reading Saudi Gazette and other mainstream sources from all over the place, just to see how other people are being raised to see the world. I especially like SG because the editor is a female and is stealthily putting out stories that shine a light of women's problems in KSA.

I am new here, so forgive me for saying this... but what I see is an appalling amount of binary thinking on this site (eg: Blacks good so all cops bad. Democrats good so all Repubs evil. Drug war bad so all drug criminals pitied. Israel the devil, Arabs the victims.)

I think that kind of black/white cartoonish thinking is an enemy to be resisted. So: i invite you to please read foreign papers - and let them open your eyes to all the BS getting slung by every side.

Best wishes.
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