Special Registration: Turning a blind eye to violations

The Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Javed Ashraf Qazi, met with Ashcroft regarding the special registration of Pakistanis by INS.

[The Ambassador] asked Ashcroft to allow Pakistani nationals to take advantage of a general amnesty announced by the Clinton administration in 2000.

Qazi also demanded sympathetic treatment for those Pakistani students and workers who had come to America legally but might have later committed minor offences.

He urged the US administration to help divided families, and those who had married American nationals, in legalizing their status in the US.

[…]The ambassador emphasized the need to ensure that those Pakistanis who had cases pending for adjustment of status with the INS, were not detained or put into deportation proceedings, APP adds. Similarly, he requested that Pakistani nationals holding F1 and H1 visas be treated with dignity and respect and that minor blemishes on their records be condoned.

He proposed that all Pakistanis who were residents of the US and had no blemishes on their records should be given the opportunity to regularize their status.

Even though I think special registration is not useful for national security, the ambassador’s demands are wrong and stupid. Asking the INS to ignore violation of immigration laws is fraught with problems. I believe that they should enforce immigration laws the best they can, otherwise it would just become mockery of the law. I would definitely prefer those laws to be applied to everyone regardless of national origin, but the law must still be applied to those going for special registration.

NOTE: I just found out that special registration is for nationals and citizens of the countries listed. INS defines them as:

Citizen: A person owing allegiance to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state.

National: A person owing permanent allegiance to a state.

Does that mean someone who was born in Pakistan but is no longer a Pakistani citizen has to register as well?

Condemnation of Terrorism: Day 2

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) had this to say:

We at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), along with the entire American Muslim community, are deeply saddened by the massive loss of life resulting from the tragic events of September 11th.

American Muslims unequivocally condemn these vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and loved ones of those who have been killed or injured.

We also extend our gratitute to all the heroic firefighters, police officers and emergency medical workers who continue to risk their lives in the ongoing rescue and relief efforts.

We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators of these crimes.

May we all stand together through these difficult times to promote peace and love over violence and hate.

(Via Al-Muhajabah.)

No Blogging over the weekend

I am tired and going home for the long weekend.

Special Registration Advice

From the Pakistan embassy website:

What if my last entry to the United States was not legal (without inspection and admission), do I have to register? This category applies to those Pakistanis whose entry to the US was not on a valid visa and they crossed the border.

No. The current Registration requirements apply only to aliens who have been inspected by an Immigration officer and admitted to the United States.

WTF?

Ayaz Amir on Bin Ladenism

Here are excerpts I like from Ayaz Amir’s op-ed in Dawn, the largest English language Pakistani newspaper:

We like to think – or rather we comfort ourselves with the thought – that the West, especially the United States, is caught in a frenzy of Muslim-bashing. We try not to realize that our own condition, a mixture of ineptitude and backwardness, is an invitation to bashing. We are not the victims of a cosmic conspiracy. We are responsible for our backwardness ourselves.

We have not managed our affairs well. This is true of almost all the countries that call themselves Islamic. Even when the end of colonialism came, the world of Islam continued to be exploited – again not because of any malevolent conspiracy but because the bankruptcy of ideas that lay at its heart invited exploitation.

[…]If our elites have failed their respective people, if we have been left behind in the race of knowledge and ideas, our excuse is not that we have been poor learners or that we have a long way to go before we catch up with the West. We like to say that we have been bad Muslims and have not kept faith with the true tenets of Islam.

So towards a self-defined purity of Islam many of us have tried to return in the conviction that this journey back in time holds the key to all our problems.

This journey into the past took no cruder form than the emergence of the Taliban. It has taken no cruder form than the ideas firing the zeal of Osama bin Laden and his followers. The West feels threatened by Al Qaeda terrorism. But perhaps we may consider that Bin Ladenism is a greater threat to the world of Islam than it is to the West.

For the West it is but a physical threat in the form of terrorism. For the world of Islam it is a threat more grave and sinister for it to be trapped in Bin Ladenism is to travel back in time to the dark ages of Muslim obscurantism. It means to be stuck in the mire which has held the Islamic world back.

[…]The threat to the Muslim world comes from other things. From authoritarianism, from the fact that apart from the half-exceptions (please note, half-exceptions) of Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan, the concept of democracy is alien to the Muslim world. The threat to it comes from intolerance and the lack of knowledge.

Bin Ladenism is the purest distillation of these problems. We shouldn’t require Washington to tell us that it is in our interests to exorcise this evil. We should have the sense to realize this on our own.

It’s not a great article, as Ayaz Amir flirts with anti-American and anti-western ideas as well. I have mainly excerpted parts that I like. This might be as good a time as any to say that when I link to something, it does not mean I approve of the whole thing; I might agree with parts and disagree with other stuff. Or I might just find it interesting, though disagreeing with my opinion. I will usually try to make it clear which broad category a link falls into.

Transfer of Palestinians

Diane of Letter from Gotham is back. First, she posted a limerick about Saddam Hussain on her substitute blog and now she has a pretty good debunking of the transfer option for Palestinians:

[Transfer] is a fantasy because even if it could be done (which it can’t, but let it pass) moving three million Arabs beyond the borders of Israel would only be moving the problem, and not taking care of it. So three million Palestinian Arabs are transferred to a place somewhere beyond Israel’s new, improved border. So what? They’ll only take up residence there, even more aggrieved, even angrier, to plan and work for the day that they can finally take care of this intrusion into the Arab Middle East. Transfer will turn all of the Arab Middle East irremediably against the United States, Israel’s proxy. It isn’t now, but just give the Alisa’s time, they will be. Who will they turn to? There’s no one on the horizon now, but I could think of two possibilities for the future: Russia, and China. (China, with its rapidly growing economy, insatiable thirst for oil, amoral policies and huge population. Not a bad candidate. Not to mention a trade surplus with the US.)

Why is transfer bad for me?

For those of you who don’t live in a mental ghetto, for those of you who aren’t isolated in the back of a limousine, Israel has marketed itself as a liberal democracy, the only one in the Middle East. Now, anti-Zionists have published reams of stuff “proving” that that’s not true; and I’ll get to all that at some point; it’s a subject that I really should deal with, but not now. The point is, the image has been created, and if three million Arabs get expelled from their homes in a great big Kosovo redux, that image will be destroyed forever, or, as the anti-Zionists would put it, the truth about Israel would finally be on display, for all the world to see. Even Instapundit and James Lileks would disapprove.

That would be very bad for me, because it would then lead to a furious anti-Semitic backlash in the US. The majority of Americans are neither born-agains nor Jewish. They are reasonably neutral, nice nominal white Christians who have satisfying private lives and a certain amount of equity. Detonate a Middle Eastern Armageddon and watch all of that go up in smoke. Then, well, I don’t really care to speculate what would happen, because it’s not going to happen.

Condemnation of Terrorism: Day 1

Since I am neither eloquent nor in the right mind at this time, I am going to steal from Al-Muhajabah’s collection of links of Muslims condemning terrorist attacks. I am going to start off with Al-Muhajabah’s own condemnation of the september 11 terrorist attacks:

…That whoever kills a single soul for other than a soul (killed) or for corruption in the earth, it is as though he had killed all of humanity together, and whoever saves the life of a single soul, it is as though he had saved the life of all of humanity together…(Quran Surah al-Ma’ida ayah 32)

Along with all the other Muslims of America, I join my fellow Americans today in condemning these dastardly acts of terrorism and I share the grief and sorrow of the nation. My heart goes out to the friends and families of those who are victims of this despicable act and horrible tragedy.

Obviously this seems a well-planned and well-coordinated act of terrorism and I am confident that the law enforcement authorities will soon discover the identity of perpetrators responsible for this contemptible act and bring them to task with the full force of the law.

At this moment of confusion, uncertainty and naturally highly charged emotions, I earnestly appeal to the media and the American people not to rush to judgment, as was done in the wake of the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Let the response of our nation be mature and thoughtful. This is a moment of prayer and unity not of hasty reaction.

I pray to God to give strength to all of those who have suffered during this catastrophe.

Christian and Muslim Fundamentalists

It all started with this statement in the comments of Daily Kos:

Moslem fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists are not very different.

Tacitus picked it up and a long discussion started in his comments. Based on this statement, Aziz divided Muslims and Christians into three groups: fundamentalist, violent and normal.

However, I do want to point out that the question as posed is inherently comparing apples to oranges. It has to do with a double standard, applied to Muslims and Christians, about the very word “fundamentalist”. Fundie Christians (FC) actually comprise a significant fraction of mainstream Christianity in America, because it’s a diluted concept. It simply means, “Christian who is aggressive about prosletyzation, and about judgement”. The former leads mainly to annoyance, the latter to often overt discrimination since Christians are still the most powerful majority in the US. Judgement means, “I’m right, you’re wrong, you’re hellbound, I am saved”. This often leads FC’s to bizarre morality judgements —- Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are obvious examples, blaming 9-11 on homosexuals (the irony of this is clear when you consider the actions of Mark Bingham, a hero of United Flight 93.) Despicable, but hardly violent.

There ARE violent Christians —- most notably the abortion doctor murderers, but also fringe groups such as the KKK and most militias and white-supremacy groups, for whom Christianity is an integral part and motive for their terrorism. But no one (myself included) includes these in the definition of “fundamentalism” when it is applied to Christianity.

For clarity, let’s call these two types “A” and “B”.

Contrast this with the word “fundamentalist” as applied to Muslims —- there are both Robertson/Falwell types of Muslims, as well as the terrorists. Both are lumped together in the word when it comes to Islam. In fact, most people who argue that Islam is inherently violent often invoke the words of Muslims of type A as proof that the actions of type B are mainstream. This is fundamentally dishonest (pun intended), though to be fair it is also unconscious.

[…]if you hold Islam as a faith accountable for the actions of its type B minority, then it is hypocrisy not to do the same for Christianity (which has plenty of type B examples to go around, without any need for invoking the Crusades). And likewise if you use the words of type A muslims to suggest a predisposition towards type B, likewise hypocrisy.

Overall, the vast majority of Christians and Muslims are type C. Normal people. With families jobs, desires, dreams. They live and let livem practice their faith, and go about their business. But the double standard bias which exists, especially in America (which is not unusual, given that the US has a strongly Christian majority), certainly obscures these parallels.

Having gotten up on the wrong side of the bed today, I was a bit snarky in the comments section and not at all helpful for the discussion. Deoxy replied to me:

Your role is to CONDEMN the attacks, to CONDEMN the attackers. Maybe you have done that —- but countless other muslims have not. They say things like, “That was really bad, but you have to understand …”.

That is not condemnation —- that’s a token, CYA kind of thing. That says that the real enemy is the US or the West, or whatever. Condemnation looks like this:

“The attacks of September 11th (or whatever attack it is that has just happened —- there have been plenty of other opportunities) are evil and completely unjustifiable by any means. The men who carried out these attacks, as well as the men who helped and supported them, are not true followers of Islam or are, at the very least, extremely, extremely misled. They are not martyrs to the cause of Islam, they are murderers.”

THAT is condemnation. How many muslims said anything like that? Did you? If so, great —- now just convince the majority of muslims (or even a sizable minority) to support something like that, and this whole debate starts going in your favor.

What other conclusion am I to draw when almost no muslims condemn mass-murder? Silence does not equal disapproval!

Celebration in the streets equals approval.

Chuck’s advice:

Zack: what should you do? From a “universalist” perspective, of course <g> I think you should convert to Christianity — I wouldn’t be true to my own faith if I didn’t. But, what should you as a Muslim do? Exactly what Aziz is doing — denounce the type B’s. Loudly, often, and publicly. And convince others Muslims to join you — including when Saudi money sends Wahabi clerics to teach hate in American (or London) mosques; reject the money and throw ‘em out (I realize that this is beginning to happen). Point out the hypocritcal soft-peddling of CAIR — which seemed more worried in Sept 2001 about the mere possibility of an anti-Muslim backlash than they were about the actual death of 3000 Americans, and winks at actual terrorist activity. Ditto AMC. Object to the odious “root causes” arguments, which are really just disguised “evil America deserves whatever happens to her” polemics. Realize that when a Muslim or Arab is arrested on suspicion of terrorist activity, he may actually be guilty of said charge — it’s not automatically the fault of a racist anti-Muslim FBI, contrary to CAIR’s instant press releases each and every time. I think they have a macro for that in their word processors.

And organize a non-Idiotarian Muslim lobbying group, that doesn’t roll in the anti-American muck that CAIR and AMC do, and convince the mainstream media — and the White House — to go to THAT group, and not CAIR/AMC, when they want to hear an American Muslim perspective. Maybe Kabbani’s Islamic Supreme Council of America; if CAIR and AMC dislike him he must be okay. <g> There are a few other outspoken Muslims who aren’t apologists for the Jihadis — Aziz is one, there’s Ali Asani at Harvard, there’s Bassam Tibi in Germany, there was Seif Ashmawy in Egypt (but he died a few years ago).

But not AMC (Alamoudi: “We are all supporters of Hamas … I am also a supporter of Hizballah”), or ISNA (Siddiqi organized the rally at which Alamoudi made the statement above, and did not condemn it; perhaps he was dissuaded by the cheering crowds?) or CAIR (Nihad Awad: the conviction of Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman for the first WTC bombing was a “hate crime against Muslims”, and the conviction of the other four conspirators was “a travesty of justice” because … wait for it … the Jews did it). Which brings up a whole nother point: blaming the “Zionist Conspiracy” for every trouble the Arab or Muslim world has, robs Muslims of any credibility in the US. You want serious treatment? Denounce the anti-Jewish hatred and associated paranoiaics.

As you can see (rather read) I am still in a bad mood. So I am going to take Deoxy and Chuck’s advice and have one post daily condemning terrorism.

INS Special Registration Procedures

A lot of people don’t have any idea of what special registration entails and how it is inconvenient to frequent travellers. Non-immigrants from mostly Muslim countries have to go through special registration at the airport as well as at INS offices. For the call-in special registration currently happening for Pakistanis and Saudis, here is what the INS says:

  1. You must come to a designated INS office to be registered (photographed, fingerprinted, and interviewed under oath) between January 13, 2003 and February 21, 2003.
  2. If you remain in the United States for more than 1 additional year, you must report back to a designated INS office within 10 days of the anniversary of the date on which you first registered. For example, if you were registered January 20, 2003, you would report back between January 10 and January 30, 2004.
  3. If you change your address, employment, or educational institution, you must notify the INS in writing within 10 days of the change, using Form AR-11 SR.
  4. If you leave the United States, you must appear in person before an INS inspecting officer at one of the designated ports and leave the United States from that port on the same day.

In addition, when you enter the United States, you have to go through special registration at the port of entry and then report to the INS office a month later.

And all this takes a lot of time. Every time at the port of entry or exit you have to spend two hours or so for special registration. Every time you go to the INS office, you waste a whole day. Now, imagine someone who has to frequently travel outside the US due to business. Every trip outside the US costs him 2 hours (at port of exit) + 2 hours (port of entry) + 1 day (INS office after 1 month). Would you like to waste so much of your time for something that has dubious benefits for national security?

Better than Hitler, Stalin and Castro

Add any other of your favorite dictators, thugs or murderers. Is this a good slogan for a country that is proud of its democratic tradition? Unqualified Offerings has a new tongue-in-cheek (I think) version of the pledge of allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, not as bad as Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria during World War II.

This is in response to Robin Goodfellow’s trying to make US internment of Japanese Americans look better in comparison to the afore-mentioned countries:

It’s interesting how the American internment of Japanese for 4 years during WWII is constantly used as an example of America’s unique evil and racism. When revisiting the subject rarely, if ever, is the Canadian example brought up. At least in America the internee families were kept together, in Canada (which also rounded up Japanese Canadian citizens) the men and women were separated from each other and the men were sent into forced labor. And we all know, I hope, how Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria scored on the racial sensitivity scale during WWII. I find the ability of Europe especially to “misremember” facts so as to paint themselves as lilly-white angels and the US as brutish and uncivilized thugs to be quite remarkable.

Did Robin just compare the US to the two most evil men of modern times, Hilter and Stalin? Yeah, we are better because we didn’t kill 6 million Jews??? Let me make this clear: The US internment of Japanese Americans was wrong and cause of shame for us all regardless of what the fuckers in Europe did at the time. And is it even a good idea to compare oneself to Hilter? You could be scum of the earth and still come out looking extremely good in comparison.

Let me make this clear: I think the US is the most free and the best place to live right now (regardless of the past). After all, that’s why I decided to live here (as opposed to the 90% of the population for whom it was an accident of birth. [sorry, couldn’t resist]) We are not the perfect country, but I have high standards for the US, not just being a level above genocidal maniacs. As I said in a previous post, I do hold democracies, especially the US, to a much higher standard than Castro’s Cuban fiefdom, Saddam’s Iraq or Kim Jong-Il’s North Korea. It is not that I have low opinion of the people of these countries. It is just that they have to prove themselves by creating a system that creates good conditions for themselves.