March 10, 2004

Chaplain James Yee One Mic Radio Show Prep

I was recently on the One Mic radio show hosted by a friend of mine Adisa Banjoko to talk about Chaplain James Yee's situation. An mp3 of the show should be up on 3/15/04.

Here is some background on the show and then some questions that I created and then answered in preperation for the show.

One Mic” is the radio show that you have been waiting for: the perfect blend of hip-hop, politics, comedy, and celebrity star power. Hosted by the long-time hip-hop journalist and political enthusiast, Adisa Banjoko, ‘One Mic ' offers listeners a chance to interact in serious political dialogue, hear the latest hip-hop tracks, laugh a lot and get in-depth entertainment news. With the untouchable turntable skills of DJ Rob Flow, remixes by DJ Vlad, political news commentaries and in-depth interviews of celebrities and political icons, news contributions from our official Hip Hop news sponsor, spoken word poets, a film flashback- it’s a step above normal talk radio.

Why Should People Care About what is going on with Chaplain Yee?

His situation represents a choice that America has to make. The government has used 9/11 and the fear that has resulted from it to slowly and steadily chip away at the civil liberties and civil rights of all Americans. Unfortunately this is in the exact opposite direction from that envisioned by Martin Luther King, who saw a future where all people were treated fairly and with respect regardless of their race, regardless of their religion, and regardless of their belief. No one knows how far back we might go in the direction that the government is headed. We might end up in the time before the civil rights movement, we might go back to the time of McCarthyism, we might even go regress to the time when Japanese Americans were put in interment camps during WWII.

And this isn’t just a philosophical issue. It is a practical one as well. Just because Americans are in a group that is in the government’s favor today, doesn’t mean that they won’t be in a group that is out of favor tomorrow, especially during war time. Nazi Germany is a stark reminder of this danger. There is a great quote that came out of that period from Pastor Martin Niemoller. “In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me- and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Why do you think that this is happening? Why are Muslims being targeted?

First off the government has not provided any official explanation as to why they are doing this, so there is lots of speculation on the issue. It’s my own personal opinion that the government is reacting out of fear, which is the same fear they are trying to sell to the American public. The government doesn’t understand Islam very well and as a result has concerns about the loyalty of Muslims in the military. This isn’t any different that the same doubts that the government had about the loyalty of Japanese Americans during WWII. The government felt that they couldn’t trust Japanese Americans even though they were born and raised in this country, because the feared that their ultimate loyalty was to their ethnic and even religious identity.

Is this just another form of ethnic and religious discrimination?

Well the facts certainly seem to support that claim and this is what Chaplain Yee’s parents have said. Col Farr who was also stationed at Guantanamo was charged with the offense of mishandling classified documents. He is not a Muslim nor is he a minority. He was never incarcerated after being charged. Chaplain Yee on the other hand after being charged only with the same offense was initially thrown in a maximum security prison for 76 days, placed in solitary confinement where he was manacled hand and foot. His captors refused to tell him the time of day or direction towards Mecca so he could perform his religious duties correctly, which ironically is the very reason that he was sent to minister to the prisoners in Guantanamo was to provide for them these basic human rights.

Posted by Yahya at March 10, 2004 02:44 PM
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