Police officer shoots and kills good guy with a gun

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THINK PROGRESS’)

 

Police officer shoots and kills good guy with a gun

Jemel Roberson was a 26-year-old armed security guard who apprehended a shooter. He was also black

Jemel Roberson; CREDIT: GoFundMe
JEMEL ROBERSON; CREDIT: GOFUNDME

Around 4:00 a.m. ET on Sunday morning, a disgruntled group of drunken men were asked to leave Manny’s Blue Room Bar in the Chicago suburbs. According to WGN-TV,  one of those men returned with a gun and opened fire.

Amid the chaos, 26-year-old armed security guard Jemel Roberson chased one of the suspects outside of the club and apprehended him at gun point.

Roberson seemingly did everything right. But when Midlothian police officers arrived to the scene, one of them saw the security guard pointing a gun at the suspect, and shot and killed Roberson on the spot.

“Everybody was screaming out, ‘Security!’ He was a security guard,” a witness, Adam Harris, told reporters. “And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.”

Many anti-gun control politicians and advocates, including President Donald Trump, frequently say that armed security guards are the only way to stop mass shootings. Last month, after eight people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Trump suggested that there should be armed guards at churches and synagogues.

This is an offshoot of a frequent National Rifle Association talking point, that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Roberson was both an armed security guard and a good guy with a gun. He risked his life to apprehend a shooter. And police killed him anyway.

Like many NRA-based talking points, this one doesn’t seem to apply to black people.

On social media, loved ones mourned the loss of Roberson. LeAundre Hill, a pastor and family friend, said that he was a great pianist who had just played at HIll’s grandmother’s funeral on Friday.

LeAundre Hill@PastorDreHill

Jemel has played for @PurposedChurch for the last several years and just played for my grandma’s funeral Friday and now he is gone. 😢
Rest In Peace

FOX 32 News

@fox32news

BREAKING: Cook County Coroner confirms that security guard shot dead by Midlothian police at bar in Robbins was Jemel Roberson, 26. https://bit.ly/2PXPDyY 

View image on Twitter

See LeAundre Hill’s other Tweets

Roberson was also reportedly studying to be a police officer.

The officer who killed Roberson has already been placed on paid administrative leave, per protocols. WGN-TV reports that the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the criminal investigation of the original shooting, and the State Police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating Roberson’s death.

Friends and family have already set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for Roberson’s burial.

“Jemel Roberson was a young man who was greatly loved by all who knew him.  He was the light of his mother Beatrice’s life, and was a devoted loving son,” the GoFundMe reads. “Jemel was a gifted basketball player and musician, and his love for God and his family were at the forefront of his life.

“Sadly, Jemel’s life was tragically and unexpectedly cut short this morning as he tried to save others from senseless violence.  Today, many remember him as a hero; one who put others before himself.”

Republicans Are Only For White Males: Democrats For Everyone Except White Males?

Republicans Are Only For White Males: Democrats For Everyone Except White Males?

 

For those who are reading this article and are unaware of it, I am a 62-year-old white man who lives in the state of Kentucky, I also am a registered Independent when it comes to politics. So, this article to you today is simply my opinion, nothing more, nothing less. A person comes to their opinions mostly through life’s experiences and I am simply giving you mine at this time. In my life I have voted for several Republicans and for several Democrats as well as for people from various Independent movements. I like some of the things that each of the two main Parties stand for, at least on paper, and I am against several things that each of those Parties stand behind.

 

During my years I have come across racism from several people. I have been hated on sight because I am a white man and I absolutely have no doubt about that statement, yet I have also had people of many races stand up for me and against people of their own race because of me. Being one skin color of another should have nothing to do with how you act or are viewed, yet often, it does. I have to admit that I have been a bit surprised by the amount of racism some White folks who have shown since the Electoral College elected Donald Trump as our President, and it does sadden me. I try to be a devout Christian everyday of my life (though I fail often) but I am sure that G-d The Father and G-d The Son are not racists. I am 100% sure that if a person hates another because of their skin color, they are not a Christian, they are nothing but “luke warm water,” at best.

 

When former President Obama was the President from 2009-2017 I used to often hear about the “angry White Males.” Honestly I did not know just how many and how deep this hatred is and it greatly saddens me as a person and as a Christian.  Often I heard this philosophy and when I did it always seemed to generate from GOP affiliated mouth pieces. I know that there is racism all over the world it is not something that is exclusive to North America Americans, nor only to some Republicans. Obviously about 50% of white folks are women and it is my belief that many White Women who voted for Mr. Trump will either not vote in the midterm election next Tuesday, or they will vote against the GOP because they have seen the hate coming out of the mouth of Mr. Trump and many other GOP Politicians since they took total power in January of 2017.

 

Unfortunately it appears that many people and Politicians who are Democrats and Democratic mouth pieces have seemed to be hating the White Males for many years. Too me, it has seemed that the leadership of the Democratic Party has for many years been working hard at becoming the party of ‘only’ the minorities. Too me, it has felt that the Democratic Leadership has worked hard to be inclusive to all people, except White People, especially the men. Our Nation, or any Nation, cannot survive if its core is poisoned and all racism is poison. I have heard this quote several times during my years and it is true that “great Nations are not usually conquered from the outside, they are conquered from the inside” and I do believe that is true of America also.

 

There are two main reasons that I have ever voted for a Republican and against a Democrat and neither have anything to do with race, nationality, or someone’s religion. These two issues are Abortion and Gun laws, as a Christian I cannot and will not condone what I believe to be blatant murder of babies. Regarding guns, I am for a 3-5 day waiting period when purchasing a firearm and I do believe that the loophole of Gun Shows needs to be closed. But I do believe in everyone has the right to defend themselves and their families by any means necessary. Here in Kentucky almost all people can open carry without a special permit and folks like myself who have taken weapons classes can conceal carry. When I do go into a business with a weapon in a gun belt no one has ever freaked out, not other customers or the workers, not even the workers at the cash registers. I know that these people look at this issue the same as I do, if anything, I am extra free security for the business I am in. Folks something that the Democratic Party does not seem to understand or even care about is why almost all people should be allowed to have firearms if they so choose and that is defense, not offense. People need to notice that gunmen go to places to shoot people where they know there will be no guns to shoot back at them, these people are cowards. When was the last time you saw a Police Station or a Donut Shop shot up? Folks, the times are coming where the people have to be able to defend themselves from crooked government officials and crooked policing agencies. The time is coming where the people need to be able to defend themselves from invasions from other Nations and the time is very close where we all need to be able to defend ourselves from terrorists, homegrown and otherwise. Well, that is all for now friends, I hope that you are able to enjoy your weekend, stay warm, stay safe, G-d’s blessings I wish to all of you.

In The Philippines President Duterte And His Police Are The Biggest Criminals?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

A 15-year-old rape victim is the latest collateral damage of Duterte’s drug war

Screenshot from news channel News5Everywhere/Youtube.

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war has reached a new low this week when a police officer was arrested for raping the 15-year-old daughter of detained drug suspects in the capital Manila.

Photos of officer Eduardo Valencia of the Philippine National Police (PNP) pleading with his superiors for having brought the teenager to a motel in exchange for the release of her parents have gone viral. Medical tests showed signs of rape.

Critics of President Duterte say it is his misogyny, rape jokes, and repeated assurances to defend police and military in the course of his government’s anti-drug and counterinsurgency operations that has normalized a macho culture of sexual abuse.

Reprimanded by the police chief while on live television, Valencia tried to justify his actions with the following line which seem to amount to an admission that rape was, in fact, nothing out of the ordinary in the police force:

Sir, I have a family. Sir, this is not new for our operatives whenever we arrest drug pushers.

Earlier this month, three upper-class cadets of the PNP Academy came under investigation for allegedly forcing two first-year police academy students for sexual assault.

A report by the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) released on October 31st shows there have been 33 documented cases of police abuse against women and children since Duterte took power on June 30, 2016, until October 2018. Of this figure, 16 involve rape while the rest include other forms of physical assault, sexual harassment, blackmailing, and trafficking.

Gabriela WomensParty@GabrielaWomenPL

SOME MONSTERS ARE REAL. They live on people’s taxes, wear uniforms, and prey on vulnerable women and children. The more horrible part is that the President condones their crimes.

Among many other instances, Duterte told troops last year that he will answer their rape cases:

Just work on it. I’ll take care of everything. I will be the one to jail you. If you commit rape three times, I’ll take responsibility for it.

Here are some of the outraged reactions on Twitter:

Ica Fernandez@icafernandez

This is Duterte’s gift to the Philippines: enabling the police to extort, kill, and rape the most vulnerable families. Akala ko ba adik ang nagnanakaw at nagrerape? If there is a hell, I hope you all rot in it.

Rambo Talabong@rambotalabong

LOOK: Mug shot of PO1 Eduardo Valencia, the Manila cop accused of raping the 15-year-old daughter of drug suspects. @rapplerdotcom

View image on Twitter

I thought it was the addicts who steal and rape?

Veronica L. Gregorio@veronixgregorio

The Philippine National Police idolizes President Duterte. From the merciless killings of poor drug suspects to the rape of women and children, these are all blatantly encouraged by the president himself. His words and actions has brought misery to the Filipino nation.

Angelica Reyes@anjkabataan

Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Tambay, Oplan Kapayapaan, Martial Law, Rape Culture, Red October etc.

Ang gobyerno ni Duterte ang pinakanakakagimbal na horror story!

Duterte’s government is the most horrendous horror story!

לוֹחְמָנִי@alders_ledge

Three times in the last two months the gov has said the will put the lives of police officers over the lives of “drug suspects”. That ideology in the Palace is what enabled this pig to rape a 15yo girl bc the parents were “suspects”.https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2018/10/30/philippine-policeman-accused-of-raping-drug-suspects-15yearold-daughter/ 

Juan Bisaya@unlucky911

It’s not solely his fault, but look at it this way: Think of Duterte as a father (we call him “Tatay” even), and he tells his kids it’s OK to rape and jokes about it regularly. When his children rapes, wouldn’t you hold the father accountable for being an enabler?

Einstein Z. Recedes@Enteng_Itneg

Kung ano ang puno sya rin ang bunga! Hindi lang pumatay ang ibig sabihin ng Tokhang kundi RAPE.

Karumaldumal ang mga kriminal sa gobyerno sa pangunguna ni Despicable Duterte, who has emboldened his goons- AFP & PNP to kill the poor & rape women w/ impunity, at may pabuya pa nga.

A tree is known by its fruit. Tokhang does not only mean murder but also rape. The criminals in government have become more brazen under despicable Duterte, who has emboldened his goons — AFP & PNP to kill the poor and rape women with impunity, and with rewards to beat.

inday espina varona@indayevarona

“SOP” Rape as SOP. Blood curdling.
But this is a country ruled by Duterte, a despot who thinks the only debatable issue on rape is who gets first dibs. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/10/28/18/para-malinis-ang-rekord-pulis-nanggahasa-ng-15-anyos-anak-ng-drug-suspect 

Syria: ISIS Leaves behind a Thousand Children with 100 Accents + 500 Wives

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

ISIS Leaves behind a Thousand Children with 100 Accents

Monday, 29 October, 2018 – 07:15
Kurdish officials say they are holding at least 500 women and 1,200 children from 44 nationalities in three camps across northeast Syria. AFP file photo
London – Asharq Al-Awsat

On a small hill in the flat brush lands of northeastern Syria lies the Roj camp for displaced people. With its white tents and red soil, it looks much like the scores of other refugee settlements in the region.

Shut away in a corner, however, behind a chain-link fence and under supervision by female Kurdish militia guards, are some inhabitants who are very different, The Sunday Times reported.

They are the women and children of the “caliphate”: ISIS brides who came from across the world to live under a so-called “Islamic state.” It did not go so well.

Kurdish officials say they are holding at least 500 women and 1,200 children from 44 nationalities in three camps across northeast Syria. Most of the women’s native countries are unwilling to take them back. The Kurd’s do not want to keep them.

According to the report, as ISIS imploded, these women and children were thrown into the strange limbo of camp life, waiting among displaced Syrians for their fate

Here a visitor can see all the bizarre combinations of lives turned upside down in the “caliphate”: an English-speaking boy in a Spider-man costume whose father was American, he thinks. A teenage girl who joined ISIS at 13, married two fighters and had been widowed twice. A smiling Dutch woman with her blonde children, who could have stepped out of a Vermeer painting.

The tents hum with dozens of different languages — Syrian Arabic words mixed with Dutch, English and Swedish in a hundred accents and dialects.

While the women are not really in prison, they are under guard. Internet access is heavily restricted, as is communication with family and officials.

Even if they wanted to leave, there would be few chances of escape across the flat savanna. The women are all intent on survival. Of the hundreds who joined ISIS, they are the ones who made it out — holding on through the paranoid horror of the fall of Raqqa and escaping, often across minefields or through intense fighting, with their children.

Whatever their reasons for joining ISIS they know that the stories they tell the officials here could decide the rest of their lives.

During several visits by The Sunday Times, the European women held in these camps were overwhelmingly friendly, erudite and polite.

They all said they regretted joining ISIS. Many claimed they had been tricked into coming to Syria by their partners.

Those who did not insisted they had simply been attracted by a life of piety under ISIS.

Their dress has changed now they are beyond ISIS rule. None wore the face-covering niqab. All claimed they remembered Europe fondly. They even shook hands with male members of staff from The Sunday Times.

Most of them were lying through their teeth. They had joined ISIS at a time when videos had been posted online that showed captive journalists and aid workers being beheaded. Although they may not have fought, they were members of the militant group and supported its foul ideology.

For officials, as well as visitors, it can be almost impossible to piece together which parts of their stories are true. That is a task that interrogators will be faced with should British ISIS members return to the UK.

 

 

New York Times: China, Russia listening to Trump’s cell phone calls

New York Times: China, Russia listening to Trump’s cell phone calls

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump continues to make calls via cell phone despite intelligence that China and Russia listen in, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The Times report, citing current and former officials, said Chinese spies have listened to Trump’s iPhone calls and that the President’s aides had told him Russian spies were listening regularly.
Trump’s cell phone use has been noted throughout his tenure, and security experts have raised concerns in the past. CNN noted in April that after John Kelly became chief of staff, Trump made more calls through the White House switchboard, but by the time of the April report, the President had begun to make more calls through his cell.
The New York Times report said the officials raising an alarm about Trump’s refusal to stop making unsecured calls were doing so out of frustration.
Those officials told the Times that China was seeking to use its findings on Trump to help the country in its trade dispute with the US and that the Chinese had noted Trump’s conversations with Stephen Schwarzman, head of The Blackstone Group, and Steve Wynn, a Las Vegas figure who established major investments in Macau, a gambling hub in China. Wynn stepped down as finance chair for the Republican National Committee last January following allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied.
China, in turn, has begun using its own businessmen to try to influence people friendly with those Trump talks to, according to the New York Times report, hopes the information will make it to the President.
An attorney for Wynn told the Times that Wynn was retired and declined to comment, and a spokeswoman for Blackstone said Schwarzman “has been happy to serve as an intermediary on certain critical matters between the two countries at the request of both heads of state.”
Schwarzman spokeswoman Christine Anderson told CNN she had no additional comment.
As the report noted, Trump indicated to the Wall Street Journal this week that he had discretion about information transmitted through his phone.
“I actually said don’t give it to me on the phone,” Trump said of information on the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “I don’t want it on the phone. As good as these phones are supposed to be.”

Historic Jewish Enclave Rings Out With Gunshots

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Used to Hearing ‘Shabbat Shalom,’ a Historic Jewish Enclave Rings Out With Gunshots

Image
Tammy Hepps, Kate Rothstein and her daughter, Simone Rothstein, 16, prayed not far from the Tree of Life Synagogue.CreditCreditJeff Swensen/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH — Saturday morning in Squirrel Hill has for more than 100 years meant certain familiar rituals. The handing out of prayer books as latecomers quietly arrive at temple, the genial shouts of ‘Shabbat shalom’ across neighborhood streets as friends spot old friends after services.

This is the heart of Jewish Pittsburgh, one of the most deeply rooted Jewish neighborhoods in America. And on this Saturday morning, it was the site of what one of the city’s chief federal law enforcement officers called “the most horrific crime scene I have seen.”

Tree of Life, an understated temple on a rising street of tidy brick houses and pumpkin-decorated front porches, was a revered and historic Jewish institution in a neighborhood full of them.

After Saturday’s massacre, this meant a grief deep and wide. Everyone knew someone, or someone who did. The Jewish Community Center, a few blocks away from Tree of Life, became a command post of sorts, with grief counselors, law enforcement officials, Red Cross volunteers, extended families, members of various synagogues and food, lots and lots of food.

Down the street from the temple, a woman who belonged to Tree of Life was sobbing, surrounded by other women. A SWAT truck pulled down the street.

“It definitely brought everybody together in the way that really awful things do,” said Jess Nock, 38, a lawyer who has worshiped at Tree of Life for eight years.

[A man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue where three congregations worshiped.]

She spent the morning at the center, where information was difficult to follow. People arrived looking for others — sometimes successfully, sometimes not. One family learned of the shooting from their son, who was in Israel and saw it on the news. Some Orthodox Jews in the community, who do not use phones on the Sabbath, would surely not know about it for hours.

Image
Law enforcement officers secured the scene at the Pittsburgh temple.CreditAlexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Associated Press

“Every time somebody would say “Do you know where…” Ms. Nock trailed off. She had heard the worst about at least one member. But she did not know what had happened to many others.

Squirrel Hill is an old neighborhood, beginning as the quiet and leafy retreat of the better-off, who chose to take the trolley home after work and leave the smog-choked streets of downtown Pittsburgh. Prosperous German Jews followed, moving their temples with them and creating a vibrant culture that, unlike in so many other American cities, never decamped for the suburbs.

“It’s one of the only Jewish communities in the country that has stayed within the city,” said Barbara S. Burstin, a history professor who has written several books on Jewish Pittsburgh.

There are kosher bakeries and delis along Murray Avenue, and three Jewish day schools of different denominations. On Saturday mornings, Orthodox men in black hats and overcoats walk the sidewalks. More than a dozen temples — Reform, Orthodox and Conservative — dot the neighborhood, “all bumping up within a few blocks of each other,” Professor Burstin said.

[Read more about the shooting suspect, who frequently reposted anti-Semitic content on social media.]

The population of the neighborhood might not be majority Jewish anymore — there are more Asian restaurants along the main drag now than Jewish ones — but it is home to more than a quarter of all Pittsburgh area Jewish households, according to a 2017 report.

The Tree of Life congregation, originally formed in 1864, moved to Squirrel Hill in 1952. It thrived in the heyday of American Conservative Judaism, but like many houses of worship in big cities, it has seen its membership dwindle.

In recent years, to make better use of the space, two other synagogues were invited to worship at the building. Now all three do, in different rooms on Saturdays, all getting together in the atrium afterward.

A former rabbi at Tree of Life, Chuck Diamond, suspected that perhaps 25 or 30 people would have been there at the start of services, when the shooting broke out. Others would have arrived later, entering easily.

Image

People attended an interfaith vigil in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Credit Jared Wickerham for The New York Times

“It’s not the type of place where you’re going to walk in and people are going to look at you and say ‘Wait, I don’t know you,’” Ms. Nock said. “And locked doors: no way. There’s nothing less welcoming than inviting people to a door that’s locked.”

That the killer chose Tree of Life has baffled many in the community. There are much bigger temples in the area, and others with more visible congregations.

“This is not an obvious target in the Jewish community,” said Richard Brean, a retired general counsel for the steelworkers’ union and a lifelong resident of Squirrel Hill.

[From a Texas church to a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, houses of worship have become sites of mass shootings.]

But the members of Tree of Life had prepared for the possibility of violence, if only in theory, in the way so many schools and workplaces have in recent years. A year and a half ago, the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh hired a former F.B.I. officer to serve as a security director; he had trained dozens of organizations on how to plan for active shooters. The members of Tree of Life had developed such a protocol last year.

Anti-Semitic incidents had happened in the neighborhood before, recalled Shlomo Perelman, 68, who was walking down a street not far from Tree of Life not long after the shooting. Mr. Perelman recalled a rabbinical student being shot some 25 years ago.

But this was not about Squirrel Hill. It was about the country that surrounded it. “It’s not about the neighborhood,” said Mr. Perelman. He added, “The times are really changing.”

On Saturday night, several hundred people gathered for a candlelight vigil in a light rain at the intersection of Murray and Forbes Avenue, where nearby restaurants — a Turkish kebab house, a ramen bar and a bohemian tea cafe — were a testament to the area’s diversity.

“I am a different Jew today than I was yesterday,” said Sophia Levin, 15, one of several teenagers who spoke. “Anti-Semitism was something that happened in history, that happened in other places,” she said, her voice breaking.

“Tree of Life used to be just a synagogue that my grandparents went to, that my Mom grew up in, that we would go to on high holidays,” she said. “And today I feel like it’s something different.”

Trip Gabriel contributed from Pittsburgh.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Torrent of Gunshots Shifts Reality: ‘I Am a Different Jew Today’ . Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

The Chinese century is well under way

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ECONOMIST)

 

 

The Chinese century is well under way

Many trends that appear global are in fact mostly Chinese

When scholars of international relations predict that the 2000s will be a “Chinese century”, they are not being premature. Although America remains the lone superpower, China has already replaced it as the driver of global change.

There is one economic metric on which China already ranks first. Measured at market exchange rates, China’s gdp is still 40% smaller than America’s. However, on a purchasing-power-parity (ppp) basis, which adjusts currencies so that a basket of goods and services is worth the same amount in different countries, the Chinese economy became the world’s largest in 2013. Although China is often grouped with other “emerging markets”, its performance is unique: its gdp per person at ppphas risen tenfold since 1990. In general, poorer economies grow faster than rich ones, because it is easier to “catch up” when starting from a low base. Yet in other countries that were as poor as China was in 1990, purchasing power has merely doubled.

China’s record has exerted a “gravitational pull” on the world’s economic output. The Economist has calculated a geographic centre of the global economy by taking an average of each country’s latitude and longitude, weighted by their gdp. At the height of America’s dominance, this point sat in the north Atlantic. But China has tugged it so far east that the global centre of economic gravity is now in Siberia.

Because China is so populous and is developing so quickly, it is responsible for a remarkable share of global change. Since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, for example, China has accounted for 45% of the gain in world gdp. In 1990 some 750m Chinese people lived in extreme poverty; today fewer than 10m do. That represents two-thirds of the world’s decline in poverty during that time. China is also responsible for half of the total increase in patent applications over the same period.

For all its talk of a “peaceful rise”, China has steadily beefed up its military investment—even as the rest of the world cut back after the end of the cold war. As a result, the People’s Liberation Army accounts for over 60% of the total increase in global defence spending since 1990. And all of this growth has come at a considerable cost to the environment: China is also the source of 55% of the increase in the world’s carbon emissions since 1990.

Sources: Economist Intelligence Unit; Global Carbon Project; Maddison Project Database; SIPRI; World Bank; World Intellectual Property Organisation; The Economist
Get the data

This article appeared in the Graphic detail section of the print edition under the headline “Well under way”

Why the Arab World Needs Democracy Now

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

(BY JAMAL KHASHOGGI)

Why the Arab World Needs Democracy Now

In April Jamal Khashoggi gave this speech, saying the dangerous idea of the benevolent autocrat, the just dictator, is being revived in the Arab world.

By Jamal Khashoggi

Mr. Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist.

Image
A Saudi flag at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed. Credit Ozan Kose/Agence France-Press — Getty Images

Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist who was killed by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, was the keynote speaker at a conference in April organized by the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Washington. Excerpts from his speech, edited for clarity and length, are below.

I am from Saudi Arabia, where the issues of democracy and Islam are very much relevant. When a Saudi official wanted to brush away the question of democracy, in the past, he would always raise the question of whether democracy is compatible with Islam.

The debate about the relationship between Islam and democracy conclusively ended with the coming of the Arab Spring, when the people of the Arab world, — especially the youth, and even the Islamist, including some Salafis, who were always critical of democracy — supported the protests for democratic and political change. Other Salafis remained very critical of democracy, viewing it as “kufr,” or un-Islamic, based on the belief that democracy represents a rejection of religious values.

The long voting lines during the 2012 elections in Tunisia and Egypt clearly demonstrated that the people of the Arab world were ready for change. They enthusiastically participated in democratic elections, including Islamist parties that had often been the focus of the debate on Islam’s compatibility with democracy.

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Those images from Egypt and Tunisia of men, women, young, and old going to the polls should be contrasted with the sham elections we see today in Egypt and in other parts of the Arab world. This is an argument we can use against anyone who might claim that “Arabs are not ready for democracy.”

Today, Saudi Arabia is struggling with different aspects of modernity — with cinemas, art, entertainment, mixing of the sexes, opening up to the world, rejecting radicalism. The tight grip that the religious establishment has had on social life is gradually loosening.

But while we’re pursuing all these forms of modernity, the Saudi leaders are still not interested in democracy, They aren’t advancing the old, lame excuse that democracy is not compatible with Islam, however. Instead, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic they’re saying that absolute monarchy is our preferred form of government.

More about Jamal Khashoggi
Opinion | Nicholas Kristof: More Insulting Lies From Saudi Arabia

Opinion | The Editorial Board: Trump Says Jamal Khashoggi Is Dead. What Next?

Opinion | Hatice Cengiz: My Fiancé Jamal Khashoggi Was a Lonely Patriot

Indeed, we are living in the age of authoritarianism. Some people believe that it is a better form of political rule. They argue that societies need a great leader and that democracy will undermine the ability of the great leader to guide his people to a better future.

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Today around a dinner table in Riyadh, Cairo or Amman, you are likely to hear intellectuals who were once considered liberals, who once supported liberty, political change and democracy, say, “Arabs are not ready for democracy.” If you push back against this argument, you would be told: “Even if Arabs are ready for democracy, they don’t know how to take advantage of it. They always make the wrong choice.”

A related argument is, “The Islamist and the Muslim Brotherhood have kidnapped the Arab Spring.” In my country, a variant of this argument is: “The Saudis don’t know how to choose. If we have democracy, they will not vote out of their conscience, they will vote based on their tribal loyalties.”

A popular argument in the Arab world is that we need a strong leader. You can hear it in Egypt from an Egyptian businessman who supports the ruling regime. You can hear it from a doubtful Jordanian, maybe even a doubtful Tunisian who seeks a return to the old order.

A Saudi friend of mine who was raised abroad openly defends the term “benevolent autocracy.” He is prepared to write about the value of benevolent autocracy in an American newspaper and thinks it is the best choice for Saudi Arabia.

It is the old notion of the “mustabidu al-adl,” or the just dictator, that died with the rise of Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, a late-19th-century Arab-Muslim reformist of Syrian origin. The Arab and Muslim intellectuals who followed Kawakibi supported democracy or at least some variant of it.

Regrettably, though, the idea of the benevolent autocrat, the just dictator, is being revived in the Arab world. A chorus of anti-democratic Arab and non-Arab voices are using the media and the lobbyists to oppose democracy. I’m told that at the Riyadh International Book Fair in March, which I was not able to attend, one of the books on display was called “Against the Arab Spring.”

Democracy in the Arab world is also under attack from radical Islamists who are making a comeback as the so-called Islamic State or as the Salafis fighting in Libya alongside Khalifa Hifter (who was a general in Muammar Gaddafi’s army and is now backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt). They preach against democracy in the mosques — and through acts of violence.

We must reassure people in the Arab world who either have lost hope in democracy because of its perceived failures or because they fell victim to the concentrated propaganda about democracy coming from television networks run by states and the intellectuals aligned with them.

When I use the term “democracy” I mean it in the broader sense of the term that overlaps with values such as liberty, checks and balances, accountability and transparency. We were aiming for these goals in the form of good governance, equality, and justice in the Arab world. There is another reason we need democracy now in the Arab world: to stop mass violence.

Today, there are two kinds of Arab countries. Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco, need democracy for good governance and the checks and balances it brings.

But for war-torn countries like Libya, Syria and Yemen, democracy would lead to some form of power sharing. It can be along the lines of the Afghanistan arrangement, where you bring all of the factions in one huge room and force them into an agreement on how to share power. The chief reason the wars in these countries are continuing is the lack of a mechanism for power sharing.

The immediate need for Libya, Syria and Yemen is not good governance, but a mechanism to stop the killing. Inevitably, the question of good governance will emerge. There is great hope for democracy in other countries that have not been mired in civil or internal conflict, such as Tunisia, which is struggling toward a lasting democratic system.

Many of my Tunisian friends, despite the progress they have made, are also worried about democracy. They do not want to appear to be preaching to the rest of the Arab world. They simply want to be left alone. Yet I still think that Tunisians have an important responsibility.

News channels that are supportive of freedom and political change in the Middle East should spend a considerable amount of time covering even municipal elections in Tunisia. Every Saudi, every Egyptian and every Syrian should see what the Tunisians are enjoying. I hope it will inspire the rest of the Arab world to work for a similar form of government for themselves.

We need to defend the rights of the Arab people to have democracy in our own countries, in our own localities, but at the same time we must speak to foreign leaders, foreign powers and foreign parliamentarians. They have a role to play and many of them have begun to lose hope in the prospects of Arab democracy.

Some of them are now repeating the old racist statement, “Arabs are not ready for democracy [because they are Arabs].” The Trump administration has zero interest in supporting democracy in the Arab world. Even the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has suggested that there will be little political change in Egypt or in Saudi Arabia.

People are losing hope in democracy because of the failure of the Arab Spring revolts. They’re afraid of ending up like Syria. Many Arab regimes, their television networks, their writers, their commentators, are trying to scare people off democracy by actively promoting this idea.

Both Arab citizens and foreign leaders are affected by the limited reforms that Arab leaders are pursuing. In Saudi Arabia there are serious reforms that Prince Mohammed is leading. Many of my Saudi colleagues are saying I should support them. I do support them.

My position is that we should take what we have and build on it.

When Mr. Macron stood next to Prince Mohammed, he made this point and he was correct to do so. We need to support the crown prince in his effort to reform Saudi Arabia because if we let him down, he will come under pressure from radical elements who are not willing to reform.

These limited reforms and the general political condition of the Arab world today are adding strength to the argument of the anti-democracy forces. This unfortunate reality puts more responsibility on our shoulders to resume our work and to redouble our efforts to push for democracy in the Arab world as a realistic choice for people and a solution to the failure of many Arab states.

Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post Global Opinions contributing columnist.

Folks: How Do We Personally Believe In The Independence Of OUR OWN: Supreme Court?

Folks: How Do We Personally Believe In The Independence Of OUR OWN: Supreme Court?

 

Well Folks, do We? This is a case where 1/3 of Our National Government is in the hands and minds of just 9 of Our own People. I personally would not want to have to be a judge, at any level. Not with all the sins that I know that I have  committed. I don’t want to have to have a job of being a Judge where what the 9 of you say, is final. Folks, that’s just like being one step away, or below, God! I am not saying that this Job can’t be done, but to be Truly Independent of the Other 2 Branches of Our Government, at every level is necessary. To me, and I know that I could be wrong, but I believe that in Our Country’s Supreme Court Job Description, that Job Description is to make sure that all Laws are Constitutional! Now again, do the Nine Folks we now have on The Nations Top Court realize the weight upon each of them to be in charge of 1/3 of Our Government? Personally, there is no way, no amount of money that could get me to want that Job. Think of the pressure on all 9 of these folks to be, Honest. Has Our Nations Supreme Court become nothing but pawns of Big Politics, and Big Money? Do you have the Intelligence, and the Morals, do you Mr. Kavanaugh? What are you walking into Mr. Kavanaugh, do you really know? Well folks, as a very dear friend of mine used to say once in a while, “we shall see what we shall see.” Fore without an independent Supreme Court, there is no Democracy and as little as 9 people holds in their hands the weight of 1/3 of the Constitutional Government. Their sort of like those “Super Delegates” the Democrats been hosting, aren’t they? Except if you can totally control one of these 3 Branches of our Government, 9 people could control our Country. How much weight is on Mr. Kavanaugh? How much weight is on all 9 of these people? As I said earlier, I wouldn’t want this job no matter what the pay. When we add in the reality that another 1/3 of Our Government is in the hands of just One Person. Folks this means that 2/3 of Our whole Government is the Hands of 10 people. That is too much power if those positions aren’t filled with quality persons, now who decides what “Quality” is. Now Folks, does this help you see why I would not want to ever have to be in the place of one of these nine Folks.

Real World Poem: Life Through A Windshield

Life through a Windshield

 

In 81’ the story began, first with my brother and then with a friend

Seeing life through a windshield like a gypsy on eighteen wheels

But when you do this for a living it’s life you omit

White line fever they call it in movies and in song

White lines on the concrete is to what you belong

 

 

The back rows of the truck stops and the cab of a truck is your home

From Bean-town to Shaky to Big D then Windy once again you roam

Dispatch can get you a load to anywhere except the state you belong

Driving your shiny KW or Freight Shaker is not just a job now you see

Through the windshield is your life on this unending concrete sea

 

 

Back braces, Aspirin, Doan’s Pills and of course Preparation H

Always part of your luggage because that hot freight just can’t wait

Truck driving is a hobby for the homeless no roots do you need

Life through a windshield is now a life you can’t ever really leave