Linking Terrorism with Islam Engineers a False Reality
Times of great fear can lead to greater oppression. For Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the prospect of a Muslim registry is obscene, and it's slippery slope to something much worse.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is the founder and editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl.com, the #1 Muslim women’s blog in the United States. She regularly provides commentary on social, cultural, and political issues on outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera, and the BBC, and has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, and made Forbes “30 Under 30” list. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and events addressing issues pertaining to women, Islam, and the Arab world. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter at @XOAmani and read more on MuslimGirl.com.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh: To me terrorist means a person who incites terror. It's very simple. I think that Isis fighters are terrorists just as much as I believe that white mass shooters are terrorists. However, in the media's definition of terrorism the word is only ever applied when it comes to a brown person or a person of Muslim faith. And a person is only ever identified for their religion when it comes to a terrorist attack if they happen to be Muslim. And when we do that inevitably we are linking terrorism with Islam and Islam with terrorism and we make this common assumption that all Muslims are terrorists or that all terrorists are Muslim. And that, of course, is an impossible generalization it to make.
When you put into perspective that there are 1.8 billion Muslims on the planet it is impossible to say that they're all terrorists and it's actually a very dehumanizing thing to try to categorize them in that way. To put that into context there are 2.2 billion Christians in the world so you have a 2.2 billion Christians and 1.8 billion Muslims. So just as ridiculous it would be to make one assumption or one generalization about the entire Christian population that's just as ridiculous as it would be to make that assumption about the entire Muslim people. And yet when you ask a common American on the street what they think of when they hear the word terrorist, of course, the first image that comes to mind will be of the stereotypical person of Muslim faith.
And, of course, that is extremely dangerous. Like there was a situation a couple of years ago that is still a tremendous source of anxiety Muslim women today and that was when a Hindu man was pushed off of the platform on the subway onto the tracks of an oncoming train and was killed. And the woman that did so said that she's hated Muslims every since 9/11 happened. So let's think about that for a second. This woman hated all 1.8 billion Muslims in the world because 9/11 took place. And then her stereotypical image of what Muslims look like, you know, having brown skin, being dark, in that she ended up pushing a Hindu man, a man of a completely different faith to his death. That's how bad racism is. That's how this surfaces in our everyday lives just through media representation alone. Through the way that we depict Muslims on TV or minorities in general we're literally engineering a reality and it's us that have to bear the burden of that. We're the ones that that directly impacts. And it's very unfair for us to try to implicate an entire people for individual actions.
I think it's crucial for us to talk about terrorism in all of its forms and not confine it to this frame of just being in the context of radical Islam or the war on terror. That's a huge disservice. Especially when you look at the statistics that many times more people have died on American soil since 2001 due to mass shootings than to terrorist attacks, it really makes you wonder where our attention is really being placed right now. Especially because Donald Trump, for example, had no problem saying that we need to ban all Muslims immigration because of terrorism, because of like this and that. Meanwhile if we use the same logic then we should be able to say that we want to ban all white men from the country because they make up the majority of mass shooters that are spilling all this blood on our soil but no one ever talks about that. However, it seems like it's common sense when it's applied just to Muslims but that's just how ridiculous it is.
This discussion about a registry for Muslims has been something that I've had tremendous difficulty wrapping my head around just because of how ludicrous it is and just how blatantly obvious it is that it's wrong that seems to just like fly over people's heads and it has made me try to understand how people can think that this is okay. Historically it's only ever been in moments of tremendous fear like this that we have allowed our government to oppress its own citizens or to rob people of their rights or to impose on their civil rights that they're entitled to constitutionally. And that's always empowered by a social attitude of acceptance, not even just acceptance but maybe even complete apathy of people not caring how that impacts not just our fellow Americans, other human beings, but also just what that means for us as a country of what we stand for.
It's quite simple to understand why a Muslim registry is wrong. Any type of targeting of a person for their religion, for the color of their skin, for their sexual orientation, their gender, their background is wrong. And for us to create a registry of people solely because of their religion that literally is exactly identical to Nazi Germany. That's exactly how the holocaust started. And the thing is every since the holocaust we as humanity have constantly asked ourselves how could we have allowed something like that to happen? How did people in Europe allow millions of people get burned it to their death and not to say anything and just be completely okay with that taking place? And now with what's taken place in America and seeing the attitudes that people have towards these terrifying policy suggestions just makes it very obvious how something like that could happen and how it could easily repeat itself in history.
It's through complete apathy, through allowing, through empowering that type of ignorance and yeah knowing that we don't understand about an other people and not caring about seeking that understanding or backing policies that impact them or target them specifically without having any information about them or any type of awareness of what that policy means to us on a national level. I think that that's kind of a reality that has been exploited by our politicians today. They have ridden on this misunderstanding and this ignorance in order to empower their own platforms and those platforms have come on the backs of people that are already marginalized and that are already bearing the brunt of all this hateful discrimination and stereotyping that's been taking place. And I think that we have to put a stop to it. If we don't stand up and recognize what's taking place right now then it's a slippery slope and it honestly is very terrifying to imagine where else it could lead. Because a year ago I never imagined that we would even be entertaining a conversation about a Muslim registry, and now it's actually something that's being considered as a real policy and that to me is just obscene.
The media and politicians in the west are playing a dangerous game of word association, says founder and editor-in-chief of muslimgirl.com Amani Al-Khatahtbeh. In fact, it’s not so much a game as it is the dehumanizing of an entire population. By linking terrorism with Islam, and Islam with terrorism an impossible generalization is forged in the public consciousness that is extremely dangerous. It incites hate within institutions and within individuals, from the largest scale to the smallest.
There is not just one kind of terrorist. Al-Khatahtbeh’s definition is simple: a terrorist is anyone who incites terrors. Mass shooters, who are overwhelmingly white males, are terrorists but they are not the image that comes to mind when the word terrorist is spoken or written. It’s a painfully selective term, applied only to people with brown skin or of the Islamic faith.
Imagine if the future president of the United States proposed a registry for all white males. Is it conceivable? And yet that’s exactly what’s on the table for America’s approximate 3.3 million Muslims. Just 12 months ago, Al-Khatahtbeh could never have imagined that a Muslim registry would be discussed as a serious policy, and to watch it harden, set and become part of quasi-normal political discourse is in her view obscene. "If we don't stand up and recognize what's taking place right now then it's a slippery slope and it honestly is very terrifying to imagine where else it could lead," she says.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh's book is Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age.
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It could lead to a massive uptake in those previously hesitant.
A financial shot in the arm could be just what is needed for Americans unsure about vaccination.
On May 12, 2021, the Republican governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, announced five US$1 million lottery prizes for those who are vaccinated. Meanwhile, in West Virginia, younger citizens are being enticed to get the shot with $100 savings bonds, and a state university in North Carolina is offering students who get vaccinated a chance to win the cost of housing. Many companies are paying vaccinated employees more money through bonuses or extra paid time off.
The push to get as many people vaccinated as possible is laudable and may well work. But leading behavioral scientists are worried that paying people to vaccinate could backfire if it makes people more skeptical of the shots. And ethicists have argued that it would be wrong, citing concerns over fairness and equity.
As a behavioral scientist and ethicist, I draw on an extensive body of research to help answer these questions. It suggests that incentives might work to save lives and, if properly structured, need not trample individual rights or be a huge expense for the government.
In the United States, incentives and disincentives are already used in health care. The U.S. system of privatized health insurance exposes patients to substantial deductibles and copays, not only to cover costs but to cut down on what could be deemed as wasteful health care – the thinking being that putting a cost to an emergency room visit, for example, might deter those who aren't really in need of that level of care.
In practice, this means patients are encouraged to decline both emergency and more routine care, since both are exposed to costs.
Paying for health behaviors
In the case of COVID-19, the vaccines are already free to consumers, which has undoubtedly encouraged people to be immunized. Studies have shown that reducing out-of-pocket costs can improve adherence to life-sustaining drugs, whether to prevent heart attacks or to manage diabetes.
A payment to take a drug goes one step further than simply reducing costs. And if properly designed, such incentives can change health behaviors.
And for vaccination in particular, payments have been successful for human papillomavirus (HPV) in England; hepatitis B in the United States and the United Kingdom; and tetanus toxoid in Nigeria. The effects can be substantial: For example, for one group in the HPV study, the vaccination rate more than doubled with an incentive.
For COVID-19, there are no field studies to date, but several survey experiments, including one my group conducted with 1,000 Americans, find that incentives are likely to work. In our case, the incentive of a tax break was enough to encourage those hesitant about vaccinations to say they would take the shot.
Even if incentives will save lives by increasing vaccinations, there are still other ethical considerations. A key concern is protecting the autonomous choices of people to decide what they put into their own bodies. This may be especially important for the COVID-19 vaccines, which – although authorized as likely safe and effective – are not yet fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
But already people are often paid to participate in clinical trials for drugs that have not yet been approved by the FDA. Ethicists have worried that such payments may be “coercive" if the money is so attractive as to override a person's free choices or make them worse off overall.
One can quibble about whether the term “coercion" applies to offers of payment. But even if offers were coercive, payments may still be reasonable to save lives in a pandemic if they succeed in greater levels of immunization.
During the smallpox epidemic nearly 100 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the power of states to mandate vaccines. Compared with mandating vaccination, the incentives to encourage vaccines seem innocuous.
Exploitation and paternalism
Yet some still worry. Bioethicists Emily Largent and Franklin Miller wrote in a recent paper that a payment might “unfairly" exploit “those U.S. residents who have lost jobs … or slipped into poverty during the pandemic," which could leave them feeling as if they have “no choice but to be vaccinated for cash." Others have noted that vaccine hesitancy is higher in nonwhite communities, where incomes tend to be lower, as is trust in the medical establishment.
Ethicists and policymakers should indeed focus on the poorest members of our community and seek to minimize racial disparities in both health outcomes and wealth. But there is no evidence that offering money is actually detrimental to such populations. Receiving money is a good thing. To suggest that we have to protect adults by denying them offers of money may come across as paternalism.
Some ethicists also argue that the money is better spent elsewhere to increase participation. States could spend the money making sure vaccines are convenient to everyone, for example, by bringing them to community events and churches. Money could also support various efforts to fight misinformation and communicate the importance of getting the shot.
The cost of incentives
Financial incentives could be expensive as a policy solution. As in Ohio, lottery drawings are one way to cap the overall cost of incentives while giving millions of people an additional reason to get their shot.
The tax code could also allow for a no-cost incentive for vaccination. Tax deductions and credits are often designed to encourage behaviors, such as savings or home ownership. Some states now have big budget surpluses and are considering tax relief measures. If a state announced now that such payments would be conditional on being vaccinated, then each person declining the shot would save the government money.
Ultimately, a well-designed vaccination incentive can help save lives and need not keep the ethicists up at night.
Geologists discover a rhythm to major geologic events.
- It appears that Earth has a geologic "pulse," with clusters of major events occurring every 27.5 million years.
- Working with the most accurate dating methods available, the authors of the study constructed a new history of the last 260 million years.
- Exactly why these cycles occur remains unknown, but there are some interesting theories.
Our hearts beat at a resting rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute. Lots of other things pulse, too. The colors we see and the pitches we hear, for example, are due to the different wave frequencies ("pulses") of light and sound waves.
Now, a study in the journal Geoscience Frontiers finds that Earth itself has a pulse, with one "beat" every 27.5 million years. That's the rate at which major geological events have been occurring as far back as geologists can tell.
A planetary calendar has 10 dates in red
Credit: Jagoush / Adobe Stock
According to lead author and geologist Michael Rampino of New York University's Department of Biology, "Many geologists believe that geological events are random over time. But our study provides statistical evidence for a common cycle, suggesting that these geologic events are correlated and not random."
The new study is not the first time that there's been a suggestion of a planetary geologic cycle, but it's only with recent refinements in radioisotopic dating techniques that there's evidence supporting the theory. The authors of the study collected the latest, best dating for 89 known geologic events over the last 260 million years:
- 29 sea level fluctuations
- 12 marine extinctions
- 9 land-based extinctions
- 10 periods of low ocean oxygenation
- 13 gigantic flood basalt volcanic eruptions
- 8 changes in the rate of seafloor spread
- 8 times there were global pulsations in interplate magmatism
The dates provided the scientists a new timetable of Earth's geologic history.
Tick, tick, boom
Credit: New York University
Putting all the events together, the scientists performed a series of statistical analyses that revealed that events tend to cluster around 10 different dates, with peak activity occurring every 27.5 million years. Between the ten busy periods, the number of events dropped sharply, approaching zero.
Perhaps the most fascinating question that remains unanswered for now is exactly why this is happening. The authors of the study suggest two possibilities:
"The correlations and cyclicity seen in the geologic episodes may be entirely a function of global internal Earth dynamics affecting global tectonics and climate, but similar cycles in the Earth's orbit in the Solar System and in the Galaxy might be pacing these events. Whatever the origins of these cyclical episodes, their occurrences support the case for a largely periodic, coordinated, and intermittently catastrophic geologic record, which is quite different from the views held by most geologists."
Assuming the researchers' calculations are at least roughly correct — the authors note that different statistical formulas may result in further refinement of their conclusions — there's no need to worry that we're about to be thumped by another planetary heartbeat. The last occurred some seven million years ago, meaning the next won't happen for about another 20 million years.
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
Humanity knows surprisingly little about the ocean depths. An often-repeated bit of evidence for this is the fact that humanity has done a better job mapping the surface of Mars than the bottom of the sea. The creatures we find lurking in the watery abyss often surprise even the most dedicated researchers with their unique features and bizarre behavior.
A recent expedition off the coast of Java discovered a new isopod species remarkable for its size and resemblance to Darth Vader.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.
According to LiveScience, the Bathynomus genus is sometimes referred to as "Darth Vader of the Seas" because the crustaceans are shaped like the character's menacing helmet. Deemed Bathynomus raksasa ("raksasa" meaning "giant" in Indonesian), this cockroach-like creature can grow to over 30 cm (12 inches). It is one of several known species of giant ocean-going isopod. Like the other members of its order, it has compound eyes, seven body segments, two pairs of antennae, and four sets of jaws.
The incredible size of this species is likely a result of deep-sea gigantism. This is the tendency for creatures that inhabit deeper parts of the ocean to be much larger than closely related species that live in shallower waters. B. raksasa appears to make its home between 950 and 1,260 meters (3,117 and 4,134 ft) below sea level.
Perhaps fittingly for a creature so creepy looking, that is the lower sections of what is commonly called The Twilight Zone, named for the lack of light available at such depths.
It isn't the only giant isopod, far from it. Other species of ocean-going isopod can get up to 50 cm long (20 inches) and also look like they came out of a nightmare. These are the unusual ones, though. Most of the time, isopods stay at much more reasonable sizes.
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During an expedition, there are some animals which you find unexpectedly, while there are others that you hope to find. One of the animal that we hoped to find was a deep sea cockroach affectionately known as Darth Vader Isopod. The staff on our expedition team could not contain their excitement when they finally saw one, holding it triumphantly in the air! #SJADES2018
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What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?
The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.
Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:
"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region."
The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its head. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and Great Old Ones.
Researchers discovered a galactic wind from a supermassive black hole that sheds light on the evolution of galaxies.
- A new study finds the oldest galactic wind yet detected, from 13.1 billion years ago.
- The research confirms the theory that black holes and galaxies evolve together.
- The galactic wind was spotted using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.
An enormously powerful galactic wind generated by a supermassive black hole 13.1 billions years ago has been discovered by researchers. The scientists used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, which combines 66 radio telescopes, to make the find. The results are published in the Astrophysical Journal.
This is the earliest example of this type of wind yet spotted that underscores the role of black holes in the formation of galaxies. Research has shown that galactic winds affect redistribution of metals around the galaxy and impact start formation.
Black holes and galaxies evolve together
In previous studies, scientists have noticed an unexpected proportional relationship between the mass of a supermassive black hole at the center of a large galaxy, which can grow up to billions of times more massive than the sun, and the mass of the galaxy's central area (known as a "bulge"). The proportionality of the masses is especially unusual considering that galaxies and black holes are so different in size, with the bulge generally being orders of magnitude larger. This led the researchers to conclude that galaxies and black holes developed together through coevolution, which involved some physical interaction courtesy of the galactic wind.
As ALMA's press release explains, a galactic wind starts coming into existence when a supermassive black hole gobbles up giant quantities of matter. It is then moved at such a high speed by the black hole's gravity that it radiates intense energy, which in turn, pushes surrounding matter away, creating the galactic wind.
Takuma Izumi, the paper's lead author and a researcher at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), says an important question is: "When did galactic winds come into existence in the universe?" Finding this out can lead to understanding how galaxies and supermassive black holes coevolved.
Finding an ancient galactic wind
The researchers used NAOJ's Subaru Telescope to locate over 100 galaxies that existed more than 13 billion years ago that featured supermassive black holes. They then used the high sensitivity of ALMA to analyze the gas motion in these galaxies, finding that the dust and carbon of one of them (dubbed J1243+0100) emitted radio waves. This allowed the scientists to detect the presence of an intense galactic wind that rushes forth from the supermassive black hole at about 1,118,468 miles per hour (500 km/second). The energy of the wind, the oldest found so far, is so strong that it pushes away stellar materials, preventing stars from forming.
Interestingly, the mass of the bulge in J1243+0100 was found to be about 30 billion times larger than that of the sun, while the mass of the galaxy's supermassive black hole was estimated to be about 1 percent of that. This ratio is essentially the same as the mass ratio of black holes to galaxies in today's universe. To the scientists, this demonstrates how essential black holes are in affecting the growth of galaxies, supporting the notion of coevolution from the early period of the universe.
"Our observations support recent high-precision computer simulations which have predicted that coevolutionary relationships were in place even at about 13 billion years ago," explained Izumi.
The scientists are planning to observe a large pool of space objects in the future, with the goal of clarifying "whether or not the primordial coevolution seen in this object is an accurate picture of the general universe at that time," further commented Izumi.