There are news items that concern every Muslim, especially Muslims living in the West, and are hard to ignore. In some ways, these recent events are connected in a rather unusual way. Very recently, the Supreme Court of the United States made a decision that, considering the ideological bent and trajectory of the court, and the language used in various cases, was not a complete surprise. But it is still a decision with numerous implications that deserve pause. The Supreme Court recently ruled, in a six to three decision, that the affirmative action program adopted by private and state universities violates the U.S. Constitution.
Affirmative action is a program adopted by institutions of learning in which the schools consider race as a factor in their admission decisions. The Supreme Court ruled that these programs violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because, according to this decision, they treat people unequally on the basis of race. With this decision, affirmative action has become a violation of the U.S. Constitution and, therefore, unlawful. The decision of the court is interesting because we have six concurring opinions. Other than the three dissenting opinions, nearly every justice, as far as I can remember, wrote separately, expounding upon one point or another. But the net effect of the majority decision by the six justices, the one thing that they agree upon, is that affirmative action programs are a violation of the U.S. Constitution. As always, there are interesting quirks to these types of decisions. Justice Roberts goes to some lengths to point out that while affirmative action programs that consider race to be a factor in admission decisions are a violation of the Constitution, he makes a particular elaboration that the majority—at least five justices out of the six—would agree with.
This particular elaboration is that if an applicant writes about how race affected him or her in life, it is not unconstitutional to consider this factor in the admission decision. So, while affirmative action programs are unconstitutional, if someone writes about how they were affected by race in their upbringing or career, adversely or positively, it is not unlawful for an institution to take that into account in the admission decision. So the Supreme Court is allowing institutions to ask applicants to elaborate upon whether race affected them in life, to basically present some type of story about race, and it is still lawful to consider the testimony of those who argue that race has affected them personally in the admission’s process.
One of the most interesting things about this decision, and something the dissenting opinion goes to great pains to underscore, is that while affirmative action was declared to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution, most the justices went out of their way to recognize an exception. This exception is that it continues to be lawful for the military or law enforcement to have affirmative action programs in which they pick candidates on the basis of race. So the Supreme Court said that while affirmative action programs are unconstitutional, their decision has no bearing on the use of affirmative action by the military. This is fascinating, of course, because the military has a very aggressive affirmative action program, and the affirmative action program in the military is tied to embedded issues of class. The military recruits disproportionately from lower classes, which are disproportionately comprised of Black, Hispanic, and Latino individuals. By offering various financial incentives, the military targets these minority populations.
The military has a long history of this. Since at least the Vietnam War, it has disproportionately recruited Black, Hispanic, and Latino populations, which also means that when it comes to casualties of war, these same minorities suffer disproportionately. It is a similar situation to our prison situation. In U.S. prisons, we find that Black people and other minorities make up a disproportionate amount of the population. Just like prison, the numbers of minorities killed in war or suffering from PTSD is highly disproportionate to actual the size of the population. Why is it disproportionate? Because the military has affirmative action programs that explicitly target the category of race. Interestingly, the military does not have affirmative action programs in relation to promoting officers. Officers in the military, and other high-ranking positions, are predominantly White. White people are far more likely to be promoted up the ranks than other minorities.
The majority decision of the Supreme Court went to great lengths to state that nothing in its decision has any bearing on affirmative action used by West Point, the military, law enforcement, or intelligence agencies. Apparently, that does not violate the equal protection clause. The Supreme Court is not concerned when it comes to recruiting minorities to serve and die in the military, purportedly for defending the U.S. But it is bothered if Harvard Law School creates an affirmative action program that makes race a key factor in its admissions process.
There is an important backdrop to this story. Initially, the more common verbiage and language for human rights was the language of natural rights. In the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, it was common to speak of natural rights rather than human rights. In the mind of the West, they were one and the same. But the reality is that this philosophy of rights, whatever one calls it, found it consistent and rational to discriminate between the rights enjoyed by White people as opposed to the rights denied to colored people from various cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
On that basis, despite the language of natural rights or human rights, the White man colonized the colored world. Not only that, but the White man considered territory and land to be “newly discovered” only upon the White man setting foot on this land. Native populations already living on the land for centuries were nonexistent. When Columbus arrived in America, America was already well inhabited, but it was inhabited by colored people. They did not count because they were not White or Christian. We talk about the “Age of Discovery,” which is not really an age of discovery at all. It is only an age of discovery for the consciousness of White people who became aware that lands beyond their limited European geography were inhabited by people that spoke different languages, adopted different religions, and had different races. The language of natural rights and human rights was not bothered by the fact that colored human beings were hardly considered human beings at all. This did not weigh heavily, or even at all, on the conscience of White people throughout the colonial age.
With the formal end of colonialism and the end of World War II, there was a drive, the reasons for which are complicated, to deal with the moral discrepancies that plagued the field of natural rights and human rights all along. The attempt was to universalize and internationalize human rights so that they were not simply European rights or White mens’ rights. On this basis, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Council, and the position of the Human Rights Commissioner. The United Nations created positions of rapporteurs on human rights in various fields. But the critical issue facing the field of human rights and civil rights, to put it simply, was what to do about the past. Because of the past, the historical legacy that we end up with is undeniable, which is that the developed world is largely White. The developed world is also Christian. Those who carry the most weight and influence in discourses on human rights belong to the White, Christian race.
There are some exceptions like the rise of China and Japan, the latter of which was defeated and occupied after World War II. The U.S. was aggressive in dismantling Japanese culture and replacing it with something not quite Japanese nor Western. There was internal discord and tension with Russia, which is White and Christian, but does not belong to the Catholic Church and is not Protestant. But the key thing relates to the "underdeveloped world,” the world at large, the people that constitute most of the human beings on earth, the consumers of the world, the client states of the colonial states, the dark-skinned people that continue to be disempowered and marginalized economically, technologically, and politically. What to do about the deeply embedded hypocrisies in the doctrine of human rights and natural rights? We are talking about rights to human beings at large, but the reality, as everyone knows, is that there was never equality. There was never equal dignity. There were never equal rights. The solution recognized and adopted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and numerous other human rights instruments was known as the Special Procedures Doctrine.
The rationale behind the Special Procedures Doctrine was simple. Because there is a long history of colonialism, because non-White races have been oppressed and exploited for centuries, and because Black people were enslaved for centuries, the world of human rights would make up for this by adopting special procedures to compensate for historical injustices. To this day, few Americans know that the Human Rights Council of the U.N. regularly tells the U.S., “You have failed in compensating for historical injustices against minorities by failing to take special procedures to address these historical injustices. You cannot expect people who have been oppressed for centuries to suddenly become your equal economically and politically when you have been exploiting them for centuries, and you continue to exploit them, because they are removed from the annals of power and privilege.” The fact of the matter is that affirmative action in the U.S. did not grow in isolation. It grew out of an international discourse about what to do with the field of human rights moving forward.
The international world recognized that there are injustices of the past, and that when you look at the world, you see an undeniable picture: White Christians control everything. When it comes to currency, White Christians are in control. When it comes to technology, White Christians are in control. When it comes to publications, White Christians are in control. When it comes to the dissemination of information, White Christians are in control. White Christians control everything. This posed and continues to pose a serious challenge to the coherence and credibility of human rights. So the idea prevalent from 1948 throughout the '60s was the Special Procedures Doctrine. You cannot expect historical injustices to self-correct. The oppressors of yesterday must adopt special procedures to bring fairness to the game, to make equality not just procedural, but substantive.
One of the things the Supreme Court says in its recent decision, a point that nearly everyone missed, is that it originally recognized there will come a day when affirmative action must end. And, according to the majority opinion, Justice Roberts says, "That day is today." He is referring to the idea that special procedures are needed to serve the interests of the victims of the past, but also that these special procedures must, ideally, come to an end one day when equality is achieved. One of the remarkable things about the decision, although the Supreme Court does not say it explicitly, is that it hints that we are living in a post-racial society. What does that mean? What it means is that maybe, in the past, special procedures such as affirmative action were needed to bring equality, but it is now time to put color to the side and return to procedural equality, rather than substantive equality.
The implications are profound because this is part of an entire trajectory, an entire philosophy, and an entire ideology that says the Christian White man has apologized enough for the past. The Christian White man has already done enough to make up for the injustices of the past. The Christian White man should no longer be expected to bear the burden of the price of addressing the injustices of the past. “We are done with apologizing for colonialism. We are done with apologizing for slavery. We are done with apologizing for any of that. It is time for us to live in a post-racial world.” What the Supreme Court has done, then, and the language of the majority reads like this, is say that it is not breaking with precedent. Courts are supposed to be about the rule of law, and the rule of law is to follow legal precedent. But the Supreme Court says it is not breaking with precedent for it was recognized, from the very beginning of affirmative action, that the day would come when affirmative action has to end. All the Supreme Court claims it is saying is that that day is today.
The other major incident is the riots in France. Yet again, a young Algerian is shot and killed by French police. What no one talks about is that the law in France changed in 2017 to allow French police to use their firearms if their orders are not obeyed, and to shoot to kill if someone attempts to run away. What no one talks about is that, leading up to 2017, both the U.S. and the French police forces have been trained by Israeli officers, and Israeli training creates the militarization of police. Israeli training claims to teach police how to understand “the Arab Muslim mind.” Israeli training is grossly Islamophobic. So the change in the law back in 2017 was not an accident. Since the change in the law back in 2017, police violence against Arabs and Muslims has exploded. Last year, there were some 17 shootings and killings. Other than these shootings and killings, any Arab, Muslim, or Black person who has gone to the areas where Arabs and Muslims live in France has stories to tell about how the police stopped them, searched them, mistreated them, and insulted them. It is so pervasive that there is a great deal of scholarship by anthropologists and sociologists on French police abuses against Arabs, Muslims, and Africans. The irony is that even after the most recent killing, French police said, "We are not racist, we just have isolated incidents." That ignores the scholarship. It ignores the common experience of anyone who looks Middle Eastern or has dark skin.
But what is it about France, Muslims, and race? France, like many European countries, insists that we live in a post-racial age. The mythology is that if, by law, we do not recognize racial discrimination, if we do not call out institutional racism, then somehow, magically, equality will exist. We have nothing to apologize for in our colonial past. We have killed five million Algerians, but no apology is necessary. Leave alone any form of reparations. We will ignore the clear racial impact of French policies in Africa. Till today, France controls African economies, but we ignore that. We ignore the racism in how we treat Africa as our backyard. So, no special measures, no affirmative action, and no special processes are necessary to recognize the ongoing racism against Arabs, Muslims, and Africans in France, because we live in a “post-racial state” where special measures are a thing of the past.
Here is the biggest thing about the world of human rights. In the same way that Europe kept its conscience placated about the Holocaust by supporting the right of Israelis to displace and disinherit Palestinians, the way human rights work today is by the same bizarre and twisted logic. We continue allowing Israel to exterminate and displace Palestinians. We ignore the genocide being committed by Indians against Indian Muslims and Kashmiris. We largely ignore what Myanmar is doing to the Rohingya. We largely ignore what China is doing to the Uyghurs. Most important of all, we ignore our own human rights abuses against the slaves of the past. In the case of Europe, the slaves of the past were not just Africans from sub-Saharan Africa. They were the colonized populations that France controlled and dominated, destroying their cultures, their languages, and their religions. We will ignore it all and pretend that we are beyond race.
What, then, is the proof that we still believe in human rights? Human rights regimes—meaning developed countries with White Christian cultures—have created the issues that have since become the battleground for human rights. Think of issues like capital punishment. Can you execute a person or not? They are not troubled by U.S. drones assassinating Muslims left and right, or by French drones assassinating Africans. The issue is whether the state can execute someone not for terrorism, but for crimes. Or we make the litmus test for human rights issues of gender or sexual freedom, while we continue to steal the money of billions of people in the world. We continue to support fascist authoritarian governments. France is solidly behind Haftar of Libya. France is solidly behind the deaths of democratic dreams in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. France is behind the worst dictators in Africa. No one talks about this. Instead, we shift all our focus to these sub-issues that have little to do with costing the White Christian man money.
The problem in giving dark-skinned people their rights is that your bank account will suffer. Issues like capital punishment, gender, or sexual freedom do not cost classical, inherited vestiges of power anything. So the Supreme Court tells us we are in a “post-racial world” and France pretends we are in a “post-racial world,” all the while Muslim families that have their children taken away from them in Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. Every time they went to court, they were told this is not an issue of race. When it comes to Muslims, there is no issue of race. When it comes to taking away Muslim children, these are not issues of race. “Think post-racially to be civilized and advanced.”
What if you are worried about the human rights of Muslims who were abducted, disappeared, tortured, and sent to live in detention in Guantanamo without charges? Today, these Muslims still live in limbo. After holding Muslims for a decade or two, what does the United States do with them? The U.S. has never brought charges against them, and will never bring charges against them. The U.S. pays countries like Kazakhstan to take these Muslims. They send these Muslims to countries like the UAE. And what does the UAE do with the former Guantanamo detainees sent to them by the U.S.? They keep them in detention and incommunicado indefinitely. What does Kazakhstan do? They mistreat the detainees to the point that the human rights reports on the fate of these Guantanamo releases are shocking.
What is more shocking is that, typical of this attitude, the U.S. said of those detained in Guantanamo, “We owe them nothing.” How about the 20 years you have detained them? “We owe them nothing.” How about the torture they suffered? “We owe them nothing.” How about sending them to countries where they cannot have a life? “Tough. We owe them nothing. Kazakhstan and the UAE were the only countries willing to take them, and good riddance. It is not our problem.” If you say they are racist, because they would never do this to White people, you are told that you are an idiot because this is a “post-racial world.”
The shooting in France and the end of affirmative action points to the fact that the White world is declaring to the subjugated populations of the world, “We are over it. We will continue to exploit you without a conscience. Whatever language we adopted in the past about making it up to you, making you whole again, making you equal again, giving you equal opportunities, is over. What matters now are sexual rights, the death penalty, and other issues that are not prime and of first order to the subjugated populations of the past. The brief moment after World War II when we were willing to openly admit and talk about remedies is over.”
Now I ask you, do Muslims have this understanding? Let me immerse you fully in the picture. Recently, there was a vote in the U.N. that spoke volumes. It said everything that needed to be said. Numerous human rights organizations and academics have been saying the same things for years. How many people have been killed in Afghanistan? How many people have been killed and lost in Iraq? How many people have been killed and lost in Syria? But the U.S., with its European allies, in response to these questions, said, "When it comes to people killed, lost, and destroyed in Afghanistan, don't you dare ask the question. We will block any effort. When it comes to how many people were killed or lost in Iraq, again, don't you dare ask the question. When it comes to how many Muslims were killed, obliterated, and made to disappear in the War on Terror, don't you dare ask the question." When it comes to how many people were killed in Syria, however, because these people were killed by the Assad regime and Russia, they will allow you to ask that question. The U.N. Human Rights Council was allowed to put that issue to a vote. It was not allowed to put the issue of how many Muslims were killed in the War on Terror. It was not allowed to vote on how many people were killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. But the U.N. Human Rights Council and the human rights rapporteur on extrajudicial killings were allowed to put to a vote on how many people were killed in Syria.
Human rights organizations document a minimum of 140,000 people lost, but that is a very conservative number. The actual number is much closer to half a million people who have disappeared. When it came to a vote, the measure passed, allowing the United Nations to investigate the whereabouts of lost Syrians and the numbers of murdered Syrians. We understand, of course, why Western countries voted in favor of this investigation. After all, the murderers are either the Assad regime or Russia. So it is not like Iraq and Afghanistan, where these Western countries themselves are the murderers. When it came to Muslim countries, however, the overwhelming majority either voted against the measure or abstained.
Let us pause here. What these Muslim countries are saying, in failing to vote in support of the measure, is that they trust the murderer to investigate his own crime. “We trust the Syrian regime to be the sole and exclusive investigator of the genocide that took place in Syria.” Of course, the UAE voted against the measure. As you would expect, countries like Egypt abstained from supporting the measure. Of course, as you would expect, Saudi Arabia did not support the measure. So we live in a historical moment in which colonial powers are saying that they are not going to deal with human rights violations committed against people, especially Muslims. “We are not going to admit the legacy of racism in dealing with you. We are tired of that short period in which we were willing to make concessions to turn the gaze inward.” But what greatly aids this attitude is that when they look at Muslims, they find that Muslims have thoroughly internalized the outlook of the colonizer.
It is not just that we live in a post-racial world, but we live in a post-Muslim world. We live in a world in which the lives of Muslims do not matter. That is the vote.
When Muslims supported the genocide against the Uyghurs by China, that is what they were saying. “Our colonizers told us to forget our history of being oppressed, and we are thoroughly brainwashed by our colonizers, so we will not even recognize the history of our oppression. And because we do not see the history of our oppression, we do not see the present of our oppression. We choose to be blind. We choose to support the colonizer's message that a Muslim does not have the right to choose dignity, democracy, freedom, or liberty.” Human beings have the right to choose their gender or their sexual preference, but Muslims do not even have the right to choose freedom. And Muslims, brainwashed and colonized, go along with this, and say, “Yes, maam, yes sir.” How many Muslims have a full realization of this reality?
One of our friends recently went to Palestine and posted a video on Instagram of the Ibrahimi Mosque. As I was watching this video, I cannot tell you how my heart splintered into a million pieces. For those of you who do not know, there is a mythology in the Talmud that the Prophet Abraham, as well as Joseph and Jacob, are buried in a cave in this location. Archeologists consider this unsubstantiated mythology. Nevertheless, it is an article of faith for many Jews.
This was a neglected area until the Islamic conquest of Palestine. After the Byzantines were expelled from Palestine, Muslims built a mosque in this area to honor the Prophet Abraham, the Prophet Joseph, and the Prophets Isaac and Jacob. They left the access to the caves as they are. Of course, Khalil or Hebron is part of the West Bank, so it was occupied in '67 and, per international law, Khalil and the Ibrahimi Mosque, like the al-Aqsa mosque, are occupied territory. In international law, there is no right to conquest. You cannot gain rights by conquest. That is what international law has said repeatedly. Nevertheless, Israel, the U.S., and supporters of Israel care little about international law when it comes to Israel. International law apparently exists for all other countries in the world, but Israel is a constant exception. So, after 1967, when Israel conquered this territory, it started laying claims to the Ibrahimi Mosque. Not just the caves under the mosque, but to the entire mosque built by Muslims.
To make a long story short, there is a long history of attacks by Jewish settlers, including poisoning the water that Muslims use for wudu’ and shooting bullets at Muslim worshipers, and this led to a major massacre committed by Baruch Goldstein in 1994, when he walked past Israeli security armed to the teeth with machine guns, and proceeded to mow down Muslim worshipers, killing 30 and injuring 140. According to Palestinian witnesses, Israeli security did not intervene to protect Palestinian worshipers. Baruch Goldstein, an American citizen, continued to slaughter Muslims until Muslims themselves overcame him and killed him. Israeli security closed the doors. Not only did they not intervene, but they actually locked the doors to prevent Muslim worshipers from escaping. The purpose of the massacre became obvious when four months after the massacre, Israel appointed a commission to investigate the criminal incident. The report was fascinating. First, it condemned the massacre. But, typical of colonial hypocrisy, it also said that the Israeli authorities were not at all at fault. The report nearly sounds like it is blaming the Palestinian victims.
In this massacre, men, women, and children were killed, all unarmed worshipers. But at the end of the report, what did it suggest to prevent another massacre in the future? Not better security. Not anything about changing Israeli policies. Instead, the suggestion was to divide the mosque, with 60 to 70% of the mosque going to Jews and 30 to 40% going to Muslims. This is occupied territory that, under international law, Israel has no rights to. Nevertheless, because of this massacre, Israel decides that from now on, it is giving exclusive access for Jews to 60 to 70% of the mosque, and the remainder stays Muslim. There are also 10 days of the year where Jews have a right to the entire mosque and 10 days of the year that Muslims have a right to most of the mosque. In addition, Israel demolished a nearby Palestinian village and banned the adhan in the mosque without special permission. Last Ramadan, of the 30 days, the adhan was only allowed to be performed for 10 days.
Eventually, in 2010, Israel declared that the Ibrahimi Mosque was no longer under the administration of the military. It is now under the administration of the Ministry for Jewish Sites because the entire location was declared a Jewish heritage site. This means Israel has annexed the entire mosque, while it still allows Muslims access to 30% of the mosque. Effectively, however, it is saying that the entire mosque belongs to Israel. Of course, in 2010, there were condemnations by the U.N. There was even a condemnation by the U.S., but none of it made any difference. I watched the video, where an essential site of Islamic history is now largely a Jewish site. The condemnations in 2010 were as hypocritical as anything produced by the U.N. vis-a-vis Israel. I watched this, of course, while also reading of the recent declarations by Israel to build 24,000 new units in the West Bank, to annex more Palestinian lands, to authorize the building of 13,000 new housing units, et cetera.
At the same time, I read of an ongoing debate by Muslims about whether we should be allied with the right or the left. As each side listed their evidence, what you find in the debate, by both sides, is an absolute obliviousness toward the reality of the historical moment they are in. Toward the reality of what White colonialism did. Toward the reality of what the births of human right regimes, special measures, and special procedures were about. You find complete obliviousness about the implications of saying we live in a “post-racial world.” You find obliviousness toward the fact that since 2010, the Ibrahimi Mosque has been absent from Muslim discourses. Do your own research and see how many Muslims have talked about the Ibrahimi Mosque after Israel effectively stole the entire historical site.
A people without a consciousness. A people who do not value their own history. They do not even value their own lives. Their fellow Muslims vote to say that hundreds of thousands of disappeared Syrians do not matter. Instead, what Muslims continue to talk about are the usual nonsense topics. Muslims remain a people who are oblivious to their history, oblivious to their identity, oblivious to their dignity, and oblivious to their worth.
What do you do with such a people? Do you see why the enemies of Islam are so jubilant? They watch the debates and discourses of Muslims in the West, and they know we are a joke. We are a huge, sad, tragic joke.