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Category Archives: Letters from Jesse Curtis Morton

Jesse Curtis Morton: August 20, 2012 (A Ramadan Reflection: From the Chest to Sham, Taqwa is the Heart of All Affairs)

All praise is due to Allah who commanded the Muslims to fast during Ramadan. He (Ta’ala) said,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُون
O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as was prescribed for those before you that you became al-muttaqun (2:183)

And may the peace and mercy and Allah’s blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) who received the Quran in the holy month and warned the Muslim community when he said:

اقرؤا القرآن و عملوا به… و لا تأكلوا به
“Recite the Quran and act upon it ..and don’t eat or profit from it”

As another Ramadan has passed us by, Al-hamdollillah, it is important for us to reflect upon whether we have recognized its purpose and improved our Taqwa by becoming people that embody the Quranic message in our actions; or whether we have merely abstained from food and drink while devouring the Quranic essence, and thereby its true objective.

Taqwa is a difficult word to define. It is usually translated as ‘God-fearing’ or ‘pious,’ but perhaps the best definition was given by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiya Allahu anhu), who was asked to define it and responded with a question: “When you walk down a forest path covered in thorns, what do you do?” he asked his questioner. “You lift up your clothes, move very slow and take your steps carefully“, he [the questioner] responded, and Umar (radiya Allahu anhu) simply stated,”That, my friend, is Taqwa.

And it is unfortunate that in this age Ramadan has largely lost its connection to the purpose of instilling Taqwa. Instead, in many ways, Ramadan has been turned into an occasion for festivity and entertainment, not unlike the way Christians have distorted their celebration of Christmas so that it is commercialized and void of spiritual purpose. Neglecting the purposes of acts of worship in Islam is a primary reason for the Muslim Ummah’s present degradation, and this Ramadan was significant in that several events in the heart of the Muslim world should have allowed us to recognize that our material and physical circumstances are largely a direct reflection of the state of the heart inside our chests.

The most prominent events are those occurring in Syria, an area destined to play a crucial role in any Islamic revival for its import is included in many ahaadith and isolated in many books of Fiqh as the home of the Taifa Mansoora, the Fustaat (flag) at the end of times where the Abdaal (righteous) gather, help to make Bay’aah to the Mahdi and eventually aid Issa Ibn Maryam (alaihissalaam) in fighting the antichrist. For example, the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) said,

Syria will be conquered, and when you are given a choice of places to settle, go to a city called Damascus for it will be the Fustaat (Fustaat here means city) of the Muslims during the wars of Fitnah and the place of assembly.

Thus, its condition resembles the condition of the entire Ummah, and this is as Allah’s Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) said,

You see the believers as regards their being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind among themselves resembling one body. So, if a part of the body is ill then the whole body suffers from sleeplessness and fever.

And a proper conception of Islam helps us to understand that our personal conditions are connected to the condition of the global Muslim community altogether and that the condition of any given Muslim community is, at the same time, a direct reflection of the condition of Islam and Muslims across the world. It is for this reason that the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) admonished the companions saying,

He who is not concerned with the general affairs of the Muslims is not one of us.

Unfortunately, it is a lack of adhering to the path of Islam and [a lack of] trekking in a manner of caution and Taqwa that has caused the body of Muslims to suffer from sleeplessness and fever. And today we exist just as the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) described when he said:

The nations will call other nations to stand against you as the eaters call each other to eat from the food in front of them on a large wooden plate.

A person asked the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam),”Will that be because we will be few in number?”

The Prophet replied,”No, You will be great in number, but you will be rubbish like the rubbish of the flood water. And certainly Allah will remove from the hearts of your enemies fear of you and will throw Wahan in your hearts.”

A person asked, “What is ‘Wahan,’ O Messenger of Allah?”

The Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) replied, “Wahan is to love the world and hate death.

And Syria is a perfect sample of the Ummah’s general existence. Despite having a dominant Sunni population, a deviant Alawite minority has ruled the post colonialist nation through a dictatorship managed mostly by a single family. That authoritarian dictatorship has maintained for over four decades, largely due to the rubbish associated with a preponderant Arab racism and post-sykes-picot nationalism united against all manifestations of Islam as a complete socio-political, economic order.

It is a common circumstance all over the Muslim world, but where critics attribute blame to the external coalition of nations conspiring to feast on the Muslim world’s natural resources and civilization, the Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) placed blame on the internal condition of the Muslims themselves. The tremors shaking the heart of the Arab world are proportionate to an Islamic Awakening over a generation, and perhaps the most evident lesson about “Taqwa” to take from this Ramadan, is the connection between the state of our spiritual selves and the general physical reality of Muslims everywhere.

The prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) stated,

“Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body, if it becomes reformed, the whole body becomes reformed, but if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted and that [piece] is the heart.”

Today both the hearts of the individual believer and the identity in the heart of the Muslim world face all sorts of dialectical rupturing and everywhere glimpses exist of an ascendant Islamic identity which is also in accord with what the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) said, As you are so are the rulers above you. That being said, it becomes apparent that the solution to our contemporary situation is, first and foremost, a spiritual one and Ramadan serves as a continuous annual reminder of the connection between the spiritual and material realms.

This has always been the case. When the Tatars were pushed from Damascus by successful battle during Ramadan in 702 A.H, physical victory was a result of Ibn Taymia’s cleansing the beliefs of the Muslims with texts like his Aqeedahtu Hamawiyaa, written for the people of Hama, a town besieged by the Assad regime today.

Similarly, At-Tabari recorded in his classic work An History that when the Muslims first conquered Syria under Umar Ibn Al Khattab, Heraclius, the Roman emperor asked a Byzantine who had been a prisoner of the Muslims about their condition. The man replied,

“I shall tell you, and it will be as if you are looking at them. They are horseman during the day and monks at night. In the areas they rule, they do not eat except that they pay for it, and they do not enter a house except with a greeting of peace. They stand up to those who fight them until they destroy them.”

Heraclius could only reply, “If you have spoken the truth, they will indeed inherit the land on which I stand.” Surely, their foundation was Taqwa and we remain, as Imam Malik once suggested, “Verily the only thing that will rectify the ends of this Ummah, is what rectified its beginning.

As we push forward after Ramadan, let us remember that Taqwa is the foundation of all we do. That it is manifested in the heart and that our physical condition is dependent on the state of our spiritual selves.

It was for this reason that the noble Shaykh Nassarudeen Al-Albani adopted the Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen’s statement: “Establish the Islamic state in your hearts, and Allah will make it a reality,” even though he disagreed with them. Allah’s Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) constantly emphasized such principles. He said, “Straighten your rows (three times) and Allaah will bring together your ranks or Allaah will put differences into your hearts,” and he (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) informed us that, “A believer to another believer is like a building whose different part enforce each other.

Today, we Muslims are being tested severely, and our current circumstances tell of potential revival, but it is evident the hearts are tainted by foreign desires. Allah has told us that “Allah has not made for man two hearts inside his body” (33.4). Taqwa is the spiritual garb of the heart that beats for Islam and Muslims, so let us cultivate it wherever we are and recognize that such efforts can only help to bring victory to the Muslims at large.

As individuals and collectives, Allah is testing our hearts. It is as the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) said,

“Trials and tribulations will be presented to the hearts, as a reed mat is interwoven stick by stick. Any heart which absorbs these trials will have a black mark put in it. However, any heart that rejects them will have a white mark put in it. The result is that hearts will be of two kinds: one white like a white stone, which will not be harmed by trials as long as the heavens and earth endure; and the other dark and rusty, like an over-turned vessel; not able to recognize the good, nor reject evil, but rather being absorbed with its desires.”

As an Ummah we are increasingly passing these tests and have witnessed some purification. As a result, a new middle east is formulating in the heart of the Muslim world and circumstances, like those unfolding in Syria, present numerous opportunities to connect the degree of material success to adherence upon the path of Taqwa as outlined by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, for Taqwa fixates the hearts upon the Quran and sunnah and other superficial displays of Islam absent such a foundation only lead to further sleeplessness and disorder.
Brothers and sisters should use the affairs unfolding in Syria to connect to the global Ummah and to call to adherence to these principles.

The great scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah stated that:

“There are four matters, that when their limits are transgressed harden the heart: food, sleep, speech and sexual intercourse. A body afflicted by disease does not derive nourishment from admonishment or exhortation. Whoever desires to purify his heart then let him give preference to Allah over his base desires.”

Ramadan forces the Muslim to restrain all four of these base desires but only those able to connect refraining from them during the holy month to the cultivation of Taqwa thereafter will cleanse their condition and benefit from the trial. In the same way, the historic trials unfolding in the communities of Muslims across the globe will only produce benefit where they stand upon a foundation of Taqwa that manifests action upon the Quranic path. It is a failure to recognize the purpose behind acts of worship in Islam that makes us those that eat and sell the divine message just like the nations before us. May Allah make us al-Muttaqun.

Eid Mubarek.
Younes Abdullah Muhammad
Jesse Curtis Morton #79274-083
FCI Schuylkill
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 759
Minersville, PA 17954
USA
 
 

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Jesse Curtis Morton: July 9, 2013 (A Message Upon the Advent of Ramadan)

Assalamulaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu:

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. I pray this finds each of you in a blessed state of Iman, healthy and prepared for another Ramadan of mercy and contemplation inshaAllah.

I wanted to write a sincere statement coincident with the month about the importance of calling to Islam in America. I have now been incarcerated for two years, and while I never imagined coming back to the country, in many ways, I have grown appreciative and grateful for my newfound reality, and all praise is due to the Lord of Al Alameen. As one gets older, idealisms are replaced by more realistic contemplation and one has a greater appreciation for any opportunity that can lead to the rectification of deeds and the improvement of one’s internal condition.

There aren’t many tests more difficult than prison. The prisoner is often stuck between the fear that his incarceration is a result of his disobedience to Allah and the hope that his situation is a form of worship – surely Allah (SWT) tested the Messengers with similar trials. We are comforted by a balance that comes as a result of contemplation on the ayat of Allah and the close connection that comes about when all is removed and absolute reliance is dependent upon Him (ta’ ala). As Sheikh al-Islam explained it when asked about the du’aa of Yunus (alayhi salam), everything Allah does to His servants serves a purpose. He described,

“From the completion of Allah’s favor upon His slaves is that He afflicts them with trials and tribulations so that they might turn back to Him and supplicate to Him, without partners, making their religion sincere to Him and making their hope and hearts dependant on Him alone. This leads to absolute reliance on Him, and then their tasting the sweetness of faith and absolving themselves of all facets of shirk. All of the blessings of health, security, and provision are only temporal (worldly) blessings which both the believer and non-believer are granted. As for the blessings that are achieved by those who live tawheed, they are beyond description, and every believer experiences this proportionate to his level of faith. This is why the salaf said, ‘O son of Adam, you have indeed been blessed when in order to fulfill a need you frequently knock on the gate of your Master.’ And one of the scholars said, ‘I have a need for Allah so I invoke Him and He grants me the delight of knowing Him and the sweetness of conversation with Him which makes me desire that my needs are not addressed quickly for fear that my soul is distracted from this because the soul only desires what it wants and whenever it attains its objective it turns away.’

So we remind the brothers and sisters to remember Allah much this Ramadan and to use the blessed month to rectify your relationship with Allah, always seeking guidance upon the straight path. The following article is about dawa and is a topic I felt compelled to write about because it is an area that occupies a significant portion of our time here. I ask you all to take time to make dua for me and my family, that Allah (swt) hasten my release and protect my wife and children while I’m gone. He (swt) says that, “Whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way out for him from every difficulty and He will provide for Him from sources where he could never imagine.”

Indeed, many of the salaf considered this verse to be the most inclusive ayah of the Quran, because the good of this world and the hereafter are dependent on its application. Thus tests either help a believer to attain purification or lead to destruction – and we pray for forgiveness on “a day when neither wealth or children will be of any benefit except for the one who comes to Allah with a pure heart (Shura 88-89).”

Ramadan, a month of increased reward and blessing, is also a month when many Muslims pay their zakat, a portion of which might go to the prisoners. So, I also ask those of you that can afford to do so to make a contribution to help keep our family going. You can email my wife at knasri1982@gmail.com to provide assistance. May Allah (swt) keep us firm in seeking knowledge, applying what we learn, calling to it and giving us the courage to right our wrongs. May He (swt) give each and every one of you the ability to call beautifully to Islam. May He bless you and all of your families with a splendid Ramadan, unite the ummah upon the truth and guide us all to the Siratal Mustaqeem.

Your brother,

Younus Abdullah Muhammad

 

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Jesse Curtis Morton: May 21, 2012 (Tragedy of the Drone: The Long-term Costs of Obama’s Favorite Weapon)

In the immediate aftermath of the recent Boston bombings, many commentators compared the crime scene to an IED explosion on the Iraq and Afghanistan frontiers. Those comparisons ceased as soon as the perpetrators were confirmed to be Islamic terrorists, a conscious effort by the establishment to retain the notion that America’s war on terror is winding down. Or it may have been part of a pernicious cognitive dissonance in American culture, one that refuses to acknowledge any link between the threat of Islamic terrorism domestically and U.S. foreign policy. The mainstream press may have revealed that the surviving bomber, Jawed Tsarnaev [sic], identified Iraq and Afghanistan as motivating factors but its commentary hardly made any connection to what has increasingly become an elephant in the room- a growing link between the reliance of U.S. drone strikes and the rise of Isalmic radicalization, both homegrown and abroad. It is time to acknowledge this connection and conversate about its long-term ramifications before it is too late.

Immortal Bostonian Robert Kennedy once remarked, amidst the debacle of Vietnam, that “tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” The shadow overhanging America’s sustained war of terror, its blunders in Afghanistan and Iraq, represent similar tragedy. Like Vietnam, they damaged not only America’s military but the make-up of its domestic society and its international reputation. Unlike Vietnam, it seems these alterations may prove permanent. The Obama administration, in its efforts to reestablish global prominence, has used drone attacks as a primary means of fighting a more strategic, perpetual war. One aimed to move on from tragedy by altering the perception that the U.S. is an occupying force in the Muslim world. A special, covert war designed to accompany other indirect efforts that so too betray the very principles that facilitated the U.S.’s own rise to international prominence not so long ago.

Drone attacks kill large numbers of civilians. They stretch the confines of international law. They endanger a sense of security, first for those abroad where citizens reports, “drone attacks are always on my mind” and then in domestic society where retaliation is feared. They aid radicals in recruitment and are damaging America’s diplomatic leverage. These issues may have serious long-term consequences and hinder relations with a rapidly altering Muslim world. The short-term benefits are also not to be minimized. There is a very real threat to the U.S. homeland but pondering the potential costs of what has become Obama’s favorite weapon poses the prospect that future observers will hardly hold Obama’s legacy as a return to wisdom, but rather as an unwitting facilitation of the tragedy of perpetual war.

Honest reflections on U.S. foreign policy oftentimes induce an uncomfortable awareness of a coarse American hubris, something Peter Beinert classifies in his book on the subject as, “our false innocence and unearned pride.” The use of drones should hearken to a deeper hypocrisy associated with the unequal application of the principle of law, an exceptionalism that has plagued the American experience through its national conquest, slavery, and major international wars. Drone attacks are, in many ways, the epitome of this contradiction. A few weeks before the tragic attacks in Boston, a NATO airstrike mistakenly dropped a bomb in Afghanistan that killed 10 children and nearly 50 civilians. However, because the American public is particularly disinterested in coverage of that floundering war, the act went by barely mentioned. We know none of the victims names and few are even aware of its occurrence. While NATO troops were not deliberately targeting the civilians and while that does nothing to justify horrendous crimes of barbarity like the one committed in Boston, the distinction in coverage should be sufficient to initiate contemplation about the world we’re forging going forward.

Alongside that disregarded event in Afghanistan, a debate about the increasingly clandestine approach to war has escalated at home. Unfortunately, that debate has more to do with efforts to normalize the use of drones through a more transparent, legal framework and less to do with the consequences for foreign civilians or an acknowledgement of the unequal application of the rule of law. In a March 12, 2013 meeting between President Obama and Democratic Senators, Jay Rockefeller confronted the administration for refusing to share legal memos that outlined the legal justification for its drone campaign, including the assassination of American citizens. Only a week before that, three democratic senators protested the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director. Brennan, one of the drone program’s most ardent defenders, possesses the “playbook,” a classified initiative that seeks to permenately codify the present operating procedures of the “targeted killing” program. One of those democratic senators, Ron Wyden, would join Rand Paul’s 13-hour tirade demanding a promise that Obama would never use drones against Americans on U.S. soil.

The Boston attacks temporarily diverted public attention from Rand Paul’s filibuster, but senate hearings on April 22 revived the debate. In those hearings, Senator Dick Durbin, chairman of the Constitution subcommittee emphasized that, “there are long-term consequences, especially when the airstrikes kill innocent civilians; that’s why many in the national security community are concerned that we may be undermining our counterterrorism efforts if we do not carefully measure the benefits and costs of targeted killing.” Still, the preponderant view is that mere transparency is sufficient. As Senator Lindsey Graham described it, “if you want to talk about transparency, count me in.” Conversation about the drone program has also increased in the news and has become a hot topic on the internet.

The heightened public controversy started last spring, when Obama administration officials deliberately leaked information to the NY Times about Obama as “executioner in chief,” perusing “kill lists” on “Terror Tuesday’s” and in an effort to portray him as tough during the run-up to reelection. That was followed by Obama’s first explicit acknowledgement of the drone program’s existence. At the time the announcement went well. No conservatives criticisized the use of drones during the presidential campaign. The U.S. expanded its arenas of drone operation. The ACLU demanded evidence for the targeting of Anwar Awlaki, the American citizen killed in Yemen. Then a report from Stanford and NYU law schools found that 881 civilians – 175 of them children – had been killed. The public started to contemplate the consequences. Politicians followed. Massive protests over an anti-Muslim film, terrorism in Benghazi, Algeria and elsewhere, resentment of U.S. failure to intervene in Syria, malaise in the lands of the Arab Spring, frustration over Afghanistan and other events kept relations with the Muslim world in clear view. Now, 13 years after its inception, a debate about the drone program’s secrecy is advancing.       Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Jesse Curtis Morton: March 23, 2013 (I Hope to Hear from You Soon)

Assalamulaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuhu:

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, sender of the Messengers and the Revelation with them, Master of the day we die and the day we rise to be accounted for every second of our lives.

It’s been a while since I penned an article. (Available on IslamPolicy.com)- Mostly I’ve been busy memorizing and in study and other correspondence. This article is an important one about the IMF and Egypt. I also hope you might enjoy this recent interview about my situation here.

By the permission of Allah –Ta’ala- my family and I continue to persevere through this trial and I hope to be a bit more active in the coming period. Indeed it is as Shaykh al-Islam once described it,

“The one who is truly imprisoned is the one whose heart is imprisoned from Allah and the captive is the one who is a slave to his desires.”

In many ways, we prisoners are free on the inside but it would be a lie to belittle some of the environmental challenges that accompany a test like this one.

At this time, I am in need of a few minor donations in order to maintain family correspondence, acquire books and research material, and basic items for hygiene. So, I ask any of you that might be able to ease the affairs of this prisoner to assist me. To donate please email my wife or you can do so directly through Western Union’s Quick Collect Program. You can go to any location, call on the phone or go online but you must provide my [legal] name:

Name: 79274083MORTON
ATTN: Jesse Curtis Morton
City Code: FBOP 
State Code: D.C.

[Alternatively, you can send via MoneyGram Online with Receive Code (7932)]

I pray that Allah reward you all immensely and thank you for any support we may receive. We couldn’t make it without you.

Additionally, we prisoners are always in need of reminders and because I have settled in and some of the paranoia surrounding my case has subsided, it would mean the world to me were a few of you to write and send me words of encouragement. You can do so by emailing messages to my wife, islampolicy@gmail.com, or sending them direct to

Jesse Curtis Morton #79274-083
FCI Schuylkill
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 759
Minersville, PA 17954
USA

I thank the brave and courageous members of the Ummah that have overlooked the manipulations of the mainstream press, the blame of the blamers and the betrayal of fellow Muslims and continue to sustain contact through this ordeal. I pray that Allah rewards you all immensely and that He (SWT) makes a way to hasten the release of all the Muslim prisoners. I remind you that there is no might nor power except for Allah and that everything written for you will pass you by, that Allah turns tragedy into blessing if you face trials with patience and that the palaces of Kings and their dominions have passed to dust but that what remains with Allah is eternal and everlasting. I remain honored by the blessing that is Al-Islam and grateful each day for remaining a member of the Ummah of Muhammad (saws). Please remember us prisoners in your du’aa and know that we are remembering you in ours and praying for your steadfastness, success and adherence to the Sunnah. I hope to hear from you soon.

Your brother in deen,
Younus Abdullah Muhammad

(Recent article attached)

 
 

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Jesse Curtis Morton: March 23, 2013 (Egypt and the IMF – An Economic Struggle for the Future of the New Middle East)

In the two years since the Arab Uprisings turned over the geopolitics of the Middle East, coherent outcomes have escaped concrete formulation. Debate amongst policymakers in the West tends to split analysis down traditional realist and liberal lines, but most insight has failed to acknowledge that political outcomes will ultimately be shaped by underlying economic decisions. Those decisions will have serious implications, not only for region, but for the future make-up of the global economy. Consequentially, the derivative political outcome may prove to determine whether the current unipolar order perpetuates or transitions into a balance of power system. In reality, the economic path chosen by Egyptians will largely determine the outcome of the Arab Spring and will resonate to affect the entire geopolitical order.

Egypt is the most influential country in the new Middle East. With the Arab world’s most populous nation and a political-economy in rapid deterioration, meeting the aspirations that propelled initial uprisings will depend largely on the ultimate formation of economic structures in the country. A milestone related to Egypt’s economic underbelly may have occurred recently. Almost 2 years after President Obama pledged $1 billion in debt relief and assistance, his newly appointed secretary of state, John Kerry pledged to release $250 million in aid contingent on President Morsi’s pursuit of the conditionalities necessary to secure an IMF loan. The decisions, if fulfilled, would not only cement ties between the American hegemon and the Muslim Brotherhood but would sustain and extend Egypt’s participation in an unstable and uncertain international financial order. There are substantial risks for both sides. In releasing aid now, the U.S. is essentially accepting a role for political Islam. In agreeing to IMF dictate, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi would essentially be accepting participation with an economic order many Egyptians view as contrary to their independent interests.  In reality, if economic principles endorsed by both Western and Islamic systems were advocated a great deal of cooperation and prosperity would ensue and an effective step toward an inevitable, multipolar order would be taken.     Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Letters from Jesse Curtis Morton, Risala

 

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Jesse Curtis Morton: April 17, 2012* (Imperial Graveyard: American Culture and the Afghan War)

The recent unprovoked massacre of 17 Afghan civilians, 9 of them children and 3 of them women, initiated widespread but temporary public discussion about the future of the war. However, in an age of tweets and instant messaging there was hardly the necessary span of attention to recognize the grave implications of increasing U.S. war crimes. A fleeting domestic reaction indicated a successful desensitization that suggests the imperialist culture has conquered, but unfortunately few recognize that the future directions of both Afghanistan and America are now joined. An analysis of the means utilized to cultivate such domestic indifference reveals that reestablishing liberty at home would require resistance to the mechanisms that prevent it abroad.

By now most Americans are familiar with the case of Robert Bales but none know the names of his victims. Few recognize that, by almost any proposed definition, his actions of terrorism are hardly different that Bin Laden’s and fewer would admit that America has sanctioned terrorism as a tactic for it’s troops as long as they are in national uniform. The inability to acknowledge these truths is largely due to a blind bias presentation.

Within hours of the massacre, international media informed publics of the complex circumstances surrounding the affair. A frontpage headline from that Sunday’s Washington Post summarized the gist of the message. “Accused Soldier Faced Pressure of Deployment,” it read and was followed by subheadings stating, “Afghan mission fourth since 2001” and “suspect in rampage known for calm demeanor.” Almost immediately the whole world was informed not that a terrorist had slaughtered civilians but about Robert Bales, the fact that he was a family man, certainly wasn’t much of a drinker, never spoke bad about Muslims, joined the military after 9/11, that the bank had foreclosed on his mortgage, and that he had recently separated from his wife. Robert Bales may have been a killer, but as an American soldier at least he was human. The Afghan children, women and men slaughtered and lit ablaze however were collateral damage, an unfortunate toll of war, nameless and thus easily forgotten.
Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Jesse Curtis Morton: February 17, 2012* (Solitary Confinement: A First-Hand Reflection on Domestic Torture in a Time of Terror)

 

They locked me in this room, Alone, by myself, just me –
With no one to talk to except for the walls, or the face in the mirror I see.
So I sit, listen, and watch
the television in my head
Not a notion to move nor a second spared
I record everything that is said –
Absence of Kindness, Distinct Memories of Pain
Caused by the things that they took away
So I’m holding my breath,until they let me out
But I’m afraid of what might happen the next time I breathe.

I wrote that poem when I was 17.  These days I am living it; all over again.  Then it was a proverbial prison.  I was a conscious youth inside one of the most dangerous institutions of America:  the public high school.  Today, 16 years later, I am in another – the U.S.prison system where I am but one of a growing number of Muslim Americans who dared to speak out.  Today I am a pretrial federal inmate housed in solitary confinement and in conditions that best resemble those of Guantanamo Bay.

Trust me I am not alone.  In 1994, my junior year of high school, the U.S. Justice Department announced that the prison population had reached one million.  By 2009, that number had more than doubled to 2.3 million with 5 million more on probation or parole.  U.S. citizens now represent only 5% of the global population but account for 25% of the world’s prisoners.  Additionally,1 in15 Americans is in “extreme poverty” with 48% of Americans labeled “in poverty” or “working poor”, but a recent Gallup poll documented that the percentage of Americans that realize the levels of poverty are so high, has dramatically decreased.  These two seemingly distinct sets of statistics suggest something more sinister is going on.

The civil rights era included prison protests like the Attica riots of 1971 and paved a way for productive reform, but today talk of human rights tends to cover a manipulative compromise with the power elite and diverts attention away from structural cause.  Generally prisoners today have enhanced rights and services but like the starving people fed by NGO’s in Africa or refugee camps in Afghanistan, such rights and philanthropy are counterproductive where they allow society to ignore the root causes of such appalling levels of crime, punishment, hunger or war.  These contradictions become apparent with regard to civil liberties in a time of confrontation, when the citizen is reduced to an object of propaganda about domestic enemies in order to maintain public support for wars abroad.

The authors of the American constitution unanimously resented any sacrifice of civil liberties in the name of national security, but the reaction to 9/11, the immediate passage of the Patriot Act and a new approach to law enforcement the Bush Administration called a “preventative paradigm” ushered in an order of sustained national liberty sacrifice.  These changes disproportionately affected American Muslims, however while “terrorists” abroad were “disappeared”, water boarded and held without charges at Guantanamo Bay, the courts approved warrantless wiretapping, ethnic profiling, blacksite rendition and preventative detention targeting Muslims on America’s shores.  Wartime propaganda alongside a wave of arrests utilizing entrapment, where undercover agents encourage fund, and coerce potential terrorist attacks, have helped to sustain support.  Recent polling documents that two-thirds of Americans support sacrificing some privacy and freedoms in the fight against terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Letters from Jesse Curtis Morton, Risala

 

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