Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monkey Pirates, Jews, and Zionists? Get a Grip!

Today's news about Somali pirates reminded me of a racist comment in this blog, and extremely dubious statements by two American leaders.

Jews, Zionists, and Monkeys

A little over two weeks ago, United States Representative Alcee Hastings warned Floridians about that dangerous candidate, Sarah Palin: "Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through."

The Reverend Jesse Jackson took a more sophisticated approach last week, when he informed an international relations conference in France. He assured attendees that "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" would lose their influence.

Over the weekend, a comment on another post in this blog called Somali pirates "terrorist monkeys." I looked it up. Sure enough, "monkey," in this context, is still a racial slur.

Somali Pirates and Smugglers

(There's a reason why I'm mentioning so many nationalities here.)

About 150 people left Somalia, thinking that smugglers would help them get to Yemen. What they probably didn't realize was that they'd have to swim part of the way. It looks like a hundred of them drowned, although only 30 bodies that washed up on shore lately seem to have come from that particular operation. It's rather hard to tell which body comes from which ship around the Horn of Africa. A CNN article says that about 165 bodies washed up on Yemeni shores during the first part of September, where Yemenis buried them.

Meanwhile, back in Somalia, Somali forces freed the 11-man crew of the Wail. The Wail, flying under a Panamanian flag, had a crew of two Somalis and nine Syrians.

And, there's good news and bad news about the Faina, that Ukranian ship with Russian tanks being sold by a Ukrainian outfit to the Somali government.
  • Good news
    The pirates didn't blow up the ship, as they'd promised to
  • Bad news
    They're still holding the ship and the crew hostage
    • They want about 14,700,000 Euros, or around $20,000,000 USD)
A CNN article reported: "...The threat by the pirates on the Faina was unusual. Pirates operating off Somalia rarely harm their hostages, instead holding out for ransoms that often exceed US$1 million...."
What's With All Those Nationalities?
One point I'm trying to make is that even a seemingly regional problem can involve people from quite a few different countries. And, in this case, different continents.

Distrust and/or hatred of people who aren't just like us (whoever "us" happens to be) is something that Americans, at least, just can't afford these days. We live in a world filled with people who aren't Yankees, who 'aren't even Americans.'

I realize that hatred and distrust of Jews/Zionists, Muslims, and 'monkeys' is very much a part of how some people react. But, ethical and moral considerations aside, putting intellectual blinders like that on just isn't practical.

Reducing others to racial or religious stereotypes keeps a person from noticing common interests and goals. That makes negotiating on any level difficult, and prevents whoever is keeping the eyes of the mind closed from experiencing a larger world.

Keep an Open Mind: But Don't Let Your Brains Fall Out

Somewhere between 'beware the Zionists' and 'just give peace a chance, man,' there's a wide territory, filled with people who
  • Don't look anything like either Sarah Palin or Justice Clarence Thomas
  • Come from literally a world of cultures
  • Want to earn a living and live their lives
Before I start sounding too groovy, let's remember that there are also people who are, quite simply, dangerous. The leaders of Al Qaeda, those Somali pirates, and Iran's leaders fall into that category.

But I think they're dangerous because of what they believe, and what they've demonstrated they're willing to do: not because of who their ancestors are.

Previous posts on related topics: In the news: Once more, this blog isn't political. But
  • America determines who leads using a political process
  • America's leadership over the next several years will make a great difference in how the War on Terror is conducted
  • So, politics is inextricably entangled in the War on Terror
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.