Human rights are human rights

Langston Hughes wrote, speaking of African Americans who were so marginalized in this country, “I too sing America.”

I would think that is what Muslim Americans are thinking as well.

It is troubling to me that once again, a whole group of people are being targeted and basically scorned because of the actions of a few.

Republican Congressman Peter King, using his position as chair of the Homeland Security commission, is having hearings to study the “radicalization” of American Muslims.

That, however, is just another euphemism for American racism. Dominant political groups in America have consistently used any number of rationalizations to ostracize and marginalize groups who do not look like them. Ironically, many of those targeted, though they don’t think like those dominant political groups, actually think like those groups.

But that doesn’t matter. They don’t look right. Their customs or culture do not fit in. They threaten the status quo. And so they are targeted.

I find it highly interesting and offensive that no such hearings have ever been held to study the radicalization of American whites. The Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups have wreaked havoc on American soil toward other American citizens, and yet, nobody thought it was worth even a day’s worth of hearings.

When lynching was widespread, no member of Congress, to my knowledge, called for hearings to investigate that sordid practice. In Mississippi, the Sovereign Commission actually helped the KKK and other violent groups do their work to protect and preserve segregation, yet nobody in the federal government did anything.

In fact, they for the most part looked the other way.

Since September 11, 2001, the rancid odor of discrimination has spread slowly and steadily against Muslims. Because some Muslims were responsible for that act, the tendency has been for people to clump “all Muslims” into a “we can’t trust them” box.

It is ludicrous, despicable and pitiful. And … this targeting of Muslims is against one of the basic tenets of American democracy: freedom of religion.

It occurs to me that the United States Constitution, like the Bible, is quoted and used at convenient times to support specific groups and their ideology. When President Obama’s health care was being discussed, the Constitution was cited over and over: his bill apparently violated the right of Americans to choose whether or not they wanted health care.

Yet, that same Constitution seems to be being ignored in Wisconsin, as scores of people are demonstrating to protect their right to collectively bargain, and in the country, as Muslims are fighting to have freedom of religion.


There is an ugly wave of racism spreading over America, a wave that rose up when President Obama was elected president. Too many Americans are afraid that the America they grew up in – an America which appeared to be more homogeneous, more controllable, I guess, is fading away. They are fighting to retain that which they know.

That’s ok; nostalgia has its place, but in a country which claims to be a democracy, where people have rights, nostalgia and fear are pushing people to make a sham of democratic ideals. It is disgusting.

I for one hope that the people fighting for their rights – public employees, union members, and Muslims – keep standing up and fighting the hypocrisy that is so coloring what is going on right now.

America hardly has a right to fight for or even comment on human rights violations in other countries when it is violating human rights on its own soil. We have seen uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya …and now, America. The struggles are not so different; people are fighting governments which are oppressive.

That is a candid observation.

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