The Aug. 6 massacre of six worshippers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. is revealing in its reactions from across the spectrum, but let's start with Mitt Romney. The media have noted his embarrassing blooper of confusing the words "Sikh" and "sheikh," but failed to note that the very quote in which he made the gaffe was not merely ignorant but insidiously sinister. Here it is: "We had a moment of silence in honor of the people who lost their lives at that sheik temple. I noted that it was a tragedy for many, many reasons. Among them are the fact that people, the sheik people, are among the most peaceable and loving individuals you can imagine, as is their faith." (AP, Aug. 7) Right, as opposed to those dirty you-know-whos. Numerous commentators (mostly on the left, natch) have pointed out that the emphasis on the fact that Sikhs aren't Muslims sometimes comes close to implying that violent attacks on Muslims would be OK. Romney's subtext is clearly that the Sikhs are good, domesticated wogs that white America can tolerate, while those bad Muslims have got it coming, because their faith is not "peaceable and loving."
The FBI served search warrants at three homes in Portland. Ore. early July 25 as part of an "ongoing violent crime" investigation, according to agency spokesperson Beth Anne Steele. "The warrants are sealed, and I anticipate they will remain sealed," Steele said. Some residents in the area of Northeast Alberta Street were awakened to the sound of a helicopter circling overhead as some 80 agents from the FBI and local Joint Terrorism Task Force raided the homes, using flash grenades according to witnesses. No arrests have been made, but computers and other personal items were confiscated. Grand jury subpoenas were also issued to five individuals in Portland, Olympia, and Seattle. Local media reports suggest the case is related to "Black Bloc" protests in Seattle on May Day of this year. A photo of one of the search warrants was posted on IndyBay, showing that agents were seeking "anti-government or anarchist literature" as well as black clothing, paint and other items. (Oregonian, IndyBay, Green is the New Red, July 25)
The US Supreme Court on June 25 ruled 5-3 that three provisions of Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, are preempted by federal law but upheld the most controversial provision. In Arizona v. United States, four specific provisions of the law were at issue: Section 2(B), which requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone whom they arrest and allows police to stop and arrest anyone whom they believe to be an illegal immigrant; Section 3, which makes it a crime for someone even to be in the state without valid immigration papers; Section 5(C), which makes it a crime to apply for or hold a job in Arizona without proper papers; and Section 6, which gives a police officer the power to arrest an individual, without a warrant, whom the officer believes has committed a crime that could cause him or her to be deported, no matter where the crime may have occurred. In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy found that sections 3, 5(C) and 6 intruded in areas reserved for the federal government:
Congressman Steve King (R-IA) said June 15 that President Barack Obama's plan to issue an executive order implementing (some) policies of the DREAM Act is unconstitutional and announced that he plans to sue the administration to delay implementation. King claims that this executive order would effectively implement a law that was rejected by Congress and, therefore, Obama does not have the power to issue it.
As with the May Day mobilization, "terrorism" charges have emerged from the protests against the NATO summit in Chicago—or so the media are playing it, with headlines sporting the T-word. But it seems Sebastian Senakiewicz was charged with "terroristic threatening" for bad-assing that he had explosives hidden in the hollowed-out interior of his "Harry Potter" book (which he didn't). Mark Neiweem was charged with "attempted possession of explosive or incendiary devices"—basically, he was asking around for material to make Molotov cocktails. So neither of them have actually been charged with terrorism. (Chicago Tribune, NYT, May 20)
The Occupy movement made an impressive return on May Day, with marches held in most cities around the US—although it was by no means the national "General Strike" it had been billed as. Some marches were marred by violence. In Seattle, a Black Bloc smashed windows and the glass doors of the city courthouse, while in Oakland police used tear gas to clear a downtown intersection that had been taken over by protesters. The violence came days after Robert Warshaw, a monitor appointed to review Oakland police conduct by a federal court following a suit over brutality 10 years ago, issued a report decrying the "overwhelming military-type response" to last fall's Occupy protests. Brief clashes with police were also reported from San Francisco and Los Angeles. But the worst debacle was in Cleveland, where media reported the May Day march was cancelled after five young men apparently involved in the Occupy movement were arrested by the FBI on charges of plotting to blow up the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge. The Occupy Cleveland website appears to make no mention of the bust, but also no mention of any May Day protests.
A special event in New York City April 26 will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the arrest of the late Palestinian activist and Homeland Security detainee Farouk Abdel-Muhti, in the room where his supporters regularly met to organize the fight for his freedom. The event will feature a screening of Enemy Alien, a first-person documentary on the campaign to free Abdel-Muhti, who was arrested at his home in Queens in the post-9-11 sweeps of Muslim immigrants and held for almost two years. He died of a heart attack just three months after he was finally set free in 2004. The screening will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Konrad Aderer, the grandson of Japanese Americans interned during World War II. Others who were involved in the case will also be on hand, including Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Shayana Kadidal, who has since served as senior managing attorney for the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative; and MacDonald Scott, legal representative with No One Is Illegal Toronto.
UN Special Rapporteur on Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya will visit the United States from April 23 to May 4 to launch the UN's first ever investigation into the rights situation of Native Americans. Anaya will be looking into the rights of Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, and meeting with government officials throughout the nation. One main goal of his investigation is to determine how the Unites States' endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in December 2010 has affected the rights of these groups, and what improvements may still be needed. Anaya will report his findings and make recommendations to US federal and state officials during his trip.