Chelsea Bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami: an Introduction to the Conflict between Law Enforcement and Civil Liberty Organizations

On September 17 and 18, 2016, New Jersey resident Ahmad Khan Rahami planted nearly a dozen improvised, homemade pipe and pressure cooker bombs at three locations throughout New Jersey and New York City.  Amazingly, only the bomb he planted on West 23rd Street in Manhattan resulted in injuries when it exploded, and even more astounding was the fact that none of the nearly thirty victims were killed.

The criminal complaint against Rahami suggests that investigators discovered a social media account belonging to him, one in which the user listed jihad related videos as some of his “favorites.”  When Rahami was arrested in Linden, NJ on September 19 (after a shoot-out with police), investigators recovered his handwritten journal.  Some of the entries in the journal expressed a clear solidarity with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine.  Rahami also expressed a desire to conduct jihad and to become a martyr, but feared that he would be thwarted by the FBI and Homeland Security.  “Gun shots to your police,” he writes as he concludes his journal, along with passages lauding Anwar al-Awlaki and “Brother” Osama bin Laden.

So Rahami quite clearly is an Islamic terrorist, and his fears of getting caught were not unfounded since his own father told the Elizabeth, NJ Police Department in August 2014 that he was exactly that: a terrorist.  Rahami had stabbed his brother in a domestic violence incident at the time, Elizabeth PD responded, at which point Rahami’s father told them of his suspicions.  Elizabeth PD in turn notified the FBI, who looked into Rahami by utilizing only the first, most basic, and least intrusive level of all of their investigative measures: an “assessment”.  As part of their assessment, they reviewed a report stemming from a customs screening and a National Targeting Center notification, which had flagged Rahami because he spent nearly a year in Pakistan.  They interviewed Rahami’s father.  They declined to interview Rahami himself, since at the time he was in jail for the stabbing and they would have had to go through his lawyer.  In the end, their barebones assessment apparently could not turn up the three weeks he spent in Afghanistan, the time he spent in locations linked to al Qaeda while in Pakistan, and it could not determine whether he had tried to enter into Syria and make contact with ISIS when he went to Turkey – in short, it could not turn up any evidence that Rahami was a terrorist.   They closed their assessment in September 2014, and Rahami was not added to any terrorist watch list or no-fly list.  Two years later, he blew up the bombs.

So how could this naturalized American citizen who was clearly becoming radicalized over the span of the past decade go down this path and elude the FBI?  Some might argue that it is because the FBI – and the country’s security apparatus in general – is bloated, ineffective, and borderline incompetent, missing real threats as a result of their intelligence collection being too broad.  This argument is championed by civil liberty organizations.  However, there is another argument that suggests it is those very civil liberty organizations who protect and enhance civil liberty laws that hinder law enforcement in their terror investigations.  The reason why Rahami was subject to a mere assessment rather than to a more intrusive predicated investigation is the result of decades’ worth of civil liberty organizations successfully legally binding the hands of the FBI, all under the pretense of protecting our privacy and liberties.  Basically, civil liberty organizations would likely have claimed that the FBI would have violated Rahami’s civil rights if they were to investigate him further.  So while it is clear that the assessment was totally incapable of digging deep enough to find out that Rahami truly was a terrorist and a more intrusive investigation was required, the FBI could have been successfully sued and punished if they had proceeded with one.  Any terrorist who has good luck or has half a brain can successfully exploit this civil liberties “loophole”.

Lawyers working for civil liberty organizations spend their careers trying to make sure that civil rights and liberties are never compromised in any way.  It is not their job to stop terrorists from being able to exploit civil liberty laws.  It is not their job to stop terrorism.  In fact, they take it upon themselves to always make Muslims look good and to seldom acknowledge the existence of Islamic terrorism – this is evident in how after every Muslim terrorist attack that occurs, they never focus on condemning the attack and they never focus on the victims of the attack; they instead focus on immediately changing the narrative back to protecting Muslims from “Islamophobia.”  (Islamophobia is a real issue, but hardly ever in the way civil liberty organizations suggest.)  One very big reason for this is because almost all of these groups are headed by old leftists who were radicalized in the 1960s and 1970s and they still harbor political grudges against the “imperialist” United States government, the COINTELPRO FBI, and the “racist” NYPD.

This is part of the reason why the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its New York chapter, the NYCLU, took up a law suit against the City of New York in 2013, seeking to challenge the legality of purported surveillance tactics utilized against Muslims during NYPD investigations.  They found an ally in NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – a Democrat progressive and a quasi-communist who travelled to Nicaragua in the 1980s to support the Sandinistas, who honeymooned in Cuba in the 1990s, and became NYC mayor in 2014 after running a campaign that demonized the NYPD for their alleged infractions against Muslims.  Instead of battling the law suit – which probably would have resulted in a significant refutation of the allegations made against the NYPD – he decided to settle it upon taking office in order to further ingratiate himself with his political base.  (de Blasio also decided to drop the appeal against the law suit that found the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices unconstitutional for its alleged discrimination against people of color.  The Bloomberg administration filed the appeal, and the appeals court panel went so far as to remove from the case the judge who made the original ruling, Shira Scheindlin, because she was deemed to be biased against the NYPD – and de Blasio just dropped it as soon as he took office.)

The scary part of the settlement lies in how the NYPD was hit with more restrictions on what it can do with regards to investigating Muslims they feel may potentially be terrorists – which mirrors the difficulties that the FBI faced in investigating Rahami.  The part of the settlement that could be seen as speaking to the ACLU’s deep-rooted hatred of law enforcement, however, is how the NYPD was forced to remove from its web site a report it had researched and published in 2007 called “Radicalization in the West: the Homegrown Threat.”

The report was written in part by senior NYPD intelligence analyst Mitchell Silber, who attained a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Columbia University, specializing in Middle East studies.  His report was intended to be used as a teaching tool to inform law enforcement professionals about some of the ways in which people living in the West could become terrorists.  In the case of Rahami and in the age of the ISIS lone wolf, this is more relevant today than it was back in 2007.  The contents of the report could at best help law enforcement prevent terrorism, at worst it could just provide the public with valuable information.  Of course, the ACLU argued that the report was completely factually wrong and was totally Islamophobic.  Especially considering that the report can still be found on the Internet, forcing the NYPD to remove their own report from their own website was nothing more than a political act.  This part of the settlement did nothing to preserve civil liberties, it did nothing to make this city safer.  While they argue that they wanted it gone because it apparently promoted Islamophobia, the possibility that they wanted it gone because of their hatred for law enforcement clearly cannot be dismissed.

Maybe it is time that we as a nation stopped supporting the ACLU, the NYCLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and all of the other radical left remnants entrenched in a legal battle against our government; a battle waged not truly in the name of justice, not truly in our name, but rather in the name of their political agenda.  Maybe it is time that we as a nation stopped supporting Lynne Stewart, Martin Stolar, Ramsey Clark, Jethro Eisenstein, Dennis Cunningham, Michael J. Kennedy, Donna Lieberman, Lamis Deek, Shira Scheindlin, Bill de Blasio, and all of the other leftist lawyers and politicians complicit in this.  Maybe it is time that we as a nation instead sought to establish civil liberty organizations that don’t have political agendas and grudges, and that can sanely balance our rights and our security.

Seeing how the ACLU has decided that they are going to represent Rahami when he goes to trial – seeing that they want to protect him and not us, the victims of his terror – it should be as clear as day that they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

A Different Take on J’ouvert: Arguing Against Ethnic Pride

The West Indian American Day Parade occurs in New York City every Labor Day, thrown to celebrate Caribbean culture and Carnival.  J’ouvert kicks off the festivities hours before the parade starts, lasting from shortly after midnight until sunrise.  Hundreds of thousands of people participate in it.  The NYPD are instructed to be “hands off” during the festivities, which means that they have to turn a blind eye to the public consumption of drugs and alcohol that occurs every year, and are only to intervene during acts of violence – of which there are plenty.  Lately the festivities have taken place in Crown Heights, an area rife with gang activity, but the violence associated with J’ouvert has been lingering since far before the move to Brooklyn.  The amount of shootings and stabbings that have ceaselessly occurred throughout the years, fatal and non-fatal alike, is tremendous.

During the 2015 J’ouvert, Carey Gabay, formerly a lawyer to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration, and first deputy counsel for the Empire State Development Corporation, was shot and ultimately died from his wound days later.  Though he was not the only person to be killed at that year’s festival (Denentro Josiah was also stabbed to death), clearly Gabay was one of the most high-profile killings to ever occur during the festivities.  The political nature of his career brought more attention than ever to the events, and for the 2016 affairs the NYPD increased their presence reportedly more than ever before: there were at least 2,000 police officers present and there was a significant increase in security cameras and light towers.  The community also appeared to be more intent on curbing the violence, evident in how J’ouvert organizers worked with the City for the first time ever to get parade permits, and in how they reportedly passed out flyers in the community that implored, “Do not shoot anyone.  Do not stab anyone.”

Despite the best and massive efforts of both the NYPD and the community, the 2016 event was mired by two fatal shootings (along with a few other non-fatal acts of violence).  17-year-old Tyreke Borel and 22-year-old Tiarah Poyau were shot and killed, and like Gabay a year before, they were not the intended targets.

This has led several local politicians and political commentators to argue that the parade should be canceled altogether, while the initial reactions of Democrats Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio suggest that both are trying to spin the violence into a gun control issue (which realistically is a minor part of the problem).  We at Orderly Conduct, however, wish to use the violence of J’ouvert to springboard into a totally different idea.  The debate that we wish to encourage is a much broader, larger, and humanistic one, and the first question we should ask to kick it off is: as American citizens, should we really be promoting any type of ethnic pride parade?

There are many people in this country who purport to want to live in a “post-racial” America, where blacks, whites, and every color in between are all equal.  This notion is troublesome, however, when you consider how Americans of every different ethnic background – Italian, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Irish, Greek, Cuban, Norwegian, the list goes on and on – alike insist that they have public celebrations of non-American heritages.  Of course the beauty of the United States is that such celebrations cannot, will not, and should not be prohibited by our government.  The fact that you can dance in the streets in remembrance of your ancestors from a different time and place is a testament to this country’s unique and great democratic principles.  At best, though, these events often are alienating to those who don’t share whatever particular heritage, and at worst they are like J’ouvert – violent and deadly – or perhaps even racist, such as white pride rallies.

Of course, this is really less an argument against ethnic pride parades, and more an argument for a change in the way we identify ourselves.  We are not trying to get people to forget where their ancestors came from or to abandon the cultural differences of their food, music, or clothes.  At the same time, we should look for more substantive common ground between us as human beings outside of superficial and temporary connections such as that which is behind the saying, “Everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day.”  Why do we continue to consider ourselves Chinese or Irish or whatever when we really are Americans?  Why do we fly the flags of countries we have never been to, or have only been to briefly for vacation, but not the American flag?  Why don’t we fly our state or city flags for that matter?

Of course, the debate is more complex than just those questions.  Other interesting questions are: how do we preserve the culture of new first-generation immigrants and refugees while also promoting an acceptance of a new American identity?  How do we address ethnic parades that further complicate the issue by associating themselves with religious figures or events, such as the Irish’s Saint Patrick’s Day?  Do non-ethnic pride parades – such as LGBTQ pride – play a role in this debate?  And finally, is the notion of pride itself the underlying problem here?  Should we strive to be more humble in general?

Permitted or not, J’ouvert will likely occur again next year.  Also, it remains to be seen whether the Democrats will be able to convince the public that the main issue at heart here, foolishly, is gun control.  And while we should find a way to reasonably regulate gun laws and to keep violence out of our communities, nonetheless we as American citizens should see this tragedy as an opportunity – one in which we can reflect on how the love and pride we have for our own ethnic backgrounds and heritages might actually drive us apart rather than bring us together.

Flag Burning at the 2016 DNC: an Introduction to the Revolutionary Communist Party

Amidst all of the massive media coverage of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, particularly interesting news to come out of it centered on multiple cases of protesters outside the convention burning the American flag.  Who are these people, what do they want, why are they burning this flag?  The mass media might not be able to (or don’t want to) answer these questions, but Orderly Conduct can and will.  To the untrained eye, one might think that those people are America-hating Bernie Sanders supporters or just plain old anarchists.  They’re neither.  They’re something quite different: members of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).

You can tell from videos and images taken during the flag burnings who they are simply because they are all wearing the same distinctive RCP shirt.  Also, the RCP has a long history of flag burnings, as their party members were at the center of two U.S. Supreme Court cases that legalized the burning of flags as free speech: Texas v. Gregory Lee Johnson and United States v. Shawn Eichman et al.  While some may feel that being able to legally burn the U.S. flag may seem ironic, it is actually totally non-ironic given America’s democratic principles.  Regardless of how we feel personally about flag burning, the U.S. government protecting those who wish to burn its own flag is a beautiful testament to how good we actually have it here.  What is ironic, however, is how this notion is lost on the RCP, who frequently burn the U.S. flag and wish to instigate a communist revolution.  What is ironic is how people who hate the U.S. for what they perceive it to stand for – a hateful, disgraceful, disgusting country that propagates racism and sexism – these people are nonetheless willing to utilize the U.S. legal system to protect themselves and to create a U.S. political party.  This hypocrisy is but a taste of who the RCP really are.

The RCP publishes an anti-capitalist newspaper and books and they operate out of book stores and several front groups that are meant to raise money for them and their “Chairman” Bob Avakian (think Chairman Mao Zedong, his hero).  The RCP believe in a “new synthesis” of communism that Avakian created, which he insists is totally “scientific”; it will eliminate racism, patriarchy, economic inequality, and almost all forms of social injustice that they feel exists because of capitalism and U.S. imperialism.  Their brand is the notion of “revolution” and Avakian’s image.  Avakian has openly admitted that the RCP has worked very hard to develop a cult of personality around himself, and they have been very successful in this regard – the RCP is widely considered to be a communist cult.

The RCP is also widely considered to be parasitic.  They specifically target uneducated or minimally educated colored youths, exploiting any of their underlying social discontent, fostering their prejudices and offering them false hope, all in an attempt to bolster their ranks.  They’re also almost universally reviled because of their underhanded protest tactics that even isolate them from other radical leftists, who are known to at least grudgingly and passively accept any and all radical leftists since they’re “part of the struggle” against capitalism.  (And therein lies a major weakness behind the notion of solidarity – but that’s a conversation for another time.)  Say you decided that you were going to organize a peaceful protest against police brutality.  How would you feel if the RCP showed up to your protest uninvited, toting big signs advertising their brand and the egotistical, delusional Chairman Bob?  How would you feel if they showed up with megaphones, drawing all the attention onto themselves by spouting hateful rhetoric against cops, all the while hawking their self-published newspapers to anyone who passes by?  How would you feel if they further hijack your protest by whipping people up into a frenzy and then leading them on an impromptu, unpermitted march through the streets, where they will attempt to shutdown roads, tunnels, highways, and bridges?  Do you think they care about the fact that they’re placing people they never met at risk for arrest?  Of course not, because that will be one more person who may feel victimized by “the system”, and who they can then recruit.  This is very typical behavior by the RCP.

The RCP is also quite prolific.  They have many chapters throughout the country and have been known to travel to anywhere that attracts national attention, including the 2016 Democratic National Convention and to Ferguson, Missouri, after Michael Brown was killed by police.  They will go everywhere and anywhere, welcome or not (usually not), especially if it is of a location of civil discontent, and they will incite the locals to “fight the system” in whatever way they deem appropriate – violent or not – all in the name of Chairman Bob and their ridiculous utopian communist revolution.

So if you ever come across someone from the RCP, now you can better contextualize who they are.  Regardless, it would be wise to continue ignoring them and let the burden of their own ignorance and hypocrisy keep them down.

And certainly don’t buy any newspapers from them.

Child Protesters: a Form of Child Abuse?

Perhaps the most important role an individual could play is that of a parent.  As a parent, you are directly responsible for maintaining the health and safety of your child.  If you fail in this task, it is in the best interest of the child to be taken out of your custody.  Sadly, we know that this occurs far too often than it should, but it is right.  It is the law.

What law does not particularly dictate is how parents are supposed to raise their kids.  To do so would certainly be undemocratic and should never be allowed.  If you want to, say, raise your child Christian or Hindu, you should be able to do so.  Just because you are able to raise your child as you see fit, however, doesn’t mean that you aren’t inflicting some type of harm on the kid – a harm that might be outside the capabilities of being stopped by the law.

Parenting should be about naturally cultivating a child’s identity rather than imposing your own identity upon the child.  Think about, for example, how many LGBTQ teens have had to repress themselves because of their families.  The same absolutely can be said for politicized parents; that they may impose their own subjective politics and ideologies on kids who couldn’t possibly have anything more than a facile understanding of complex issues that even their parents probably don’t fully understand.  Politicizing young children can be a sad, yet legal form of abuse.

The most obvious manifestation of this is forcing children to participate in protests.  While this alone may not be the worst thing in the world for a kid, what needs to be understood is that protests hardly ever offer a comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand.  That is the real problem here: that these kids are taught by their parents from a very young age that there is only one side to every story; that they don’t need to learn all of the facts; that they don’t need to develop a sense of empathy for the other side; and that they never need to objectively approach any issue.  The problem is not so much that the parents bring these kids to protests and make them carry signs bearing slogans they don’t understand, it is that these parents may stunt their children’s ability to think critically.  By all means, that is a form of abuse.

Think about, for example, how many unfit politicized parents there are who hate cops and teach their kids to live by the slogan, “We Don’t Dial 911,” and to never cooperate with police (watch the video here).  This type of mentality teaches kids that all cops are bad, not some.  Being raised from day one under that mentality, what are the odds that those kids won’t one day engage in some type of behavior that forces a police officer to arrest them?  What hope do those children have to succeed in society when they are taught from a young age that society is against them?  Does this seem more like a fair upbringing or an abusive one?

Yet it is legal, and it must be so – thus is the tragedy of democracy.  This is not something that the state should be able to enforce.  Having said that, it certainly is a testament to the questionable character of our education system.  Knowing that we have so many bigots who are willing to infect their children with fear of working with the system, it speaks volumes.  A healthy skepticism is one thing, but a total condemnation of it is counterproductive.  This country should be free, and it should also promote that parents have an ethical responsibility to broaden the minds of their children, not limit them.  We have an ethical responsibility to instill within our children hope and love, not fear and hatred.

And what we certainly should never be okay with are the acts of politicized parents that jeopardize the physical safety of their children.  Think about how many unfit politicized parents exist who willingly jeopardize the safety of their toddler by using the kid as a human shield against police during an act of civil disobedience (see here).  And while that may not be legal, the tragedy there is that even that is not enough to have the state take the child away for good.

It’s hard for us to balance both doing the right thing and being free, but sometimes even when people go too far, we don’t do what needs to be done.  Sometimes there is nothing we can do, other times there is no excuse for not doing more.  Regardless, we have an obligation to raising and educating our children objectively, because they are the ones who will come to fix our mistakes – or make them worse.

The Ties Between “Islamophobia,” Political Correctness, and our Nation’s Security

One of the right’s many criticisms against President Obama and other Democrats is that they believe the Democrats refuse to acknowledge how Islam is at the center of the biggest threat to the safety and security of the United States and of Western civilization in general.  The right’s main talking point here is that Democrats seldom use the term “radical Islam” when they speak about terrorism.

If the right wants to be taken more seriously with regards to this criticism, they should always stress that they don’t think Islam itself is the problem, and that the problem instead lies in a violent and hateful misinterpretation of the religion.  This is the reality and any sensible human being understands this.  Considering that there is a plethora of insensible humans in this country who don’t understand this distinction – and I hope (but do not believe) that none of these particular individuals are politicians – naturally there is some bigotry against Muslims.

This bigotry gives credence to the notion of “Islamophobia,” which essentially means an irrational fear of Muslims.  Muslim groups and leftists in solidarity have taken up this cause with extreme gusto.  I believe that the right should focus less on how Democrats may or may not say “radical Islam,” and more on how these elements exploit Islamophobia.

I believe that the left and Muslim groups use Islamophobia less as a means to combat the bigotry that exists against Muslims in this country and more as a means to shift the attention away from the fact that some Muslims commit violent, hateful acts of terrorism.  Islamophobia proponents refuse to acknowledge Islamic violence for what it is – the biggest threat to the safety and security of this country and Western civilization – because they fear the inadvertent repercussion of possibly making the anti-Muslim bigots feel vindicated.  You cannot cure ignorance with denial, however.  Islamophobia therefore takes little to no steps in effectuating any type of significant, positive change; it doesn’t really bring Muslims and non-Muslims closer (outside of the solidarity leftists), it does nothing to truly challenge or educate anti-Muslim bigots, and it certainly does nothing at all to stop terrorism perpetrated by Muslims.

The most recent example of this exploitation of Islamophobia came at a rally at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.  The rally was held in solidarity with the victims of the Islamic State-inspired mass shooting at the Pulse Orlando Night Club, a LGBTQ haven in Florida.  While most of the focus was on the victims, there were multiple signs about Islamophobia strewn throughout the mass of people, and there was at least one speaker who insisted on talking about the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry.  To say the least, raising the notion of Islamophobia at a rally commemorating the victims of a terrorist attack is inappropriate.  Again, it does nothing to stop an irrational fear of Muslims as much as it simply attempts to insulate nonviolent Muslims from their violent counterparts.  It is somewhat counterproductive.

And of course, Mayor de Blasio, and all of the other local, mostly Democratic politicians in attendance did nothing – in the name of political correctness – to address this inappropriate move.  One cannot help but to wonder that if those politicians are willing to apply this passivity in this instance, is it also possible that their political correctness could in some way be a detriment to the safety and security of this city?

The answer, clearly, is of course.  Maybe it isn’t yet a very severe fault in our nation’s security, but it is a fault nonetheless, one that could possibly grow greater if left unchallenged.  And this is precisely the essence of the right’s criticisms against Democrats who refuse to use the term “radical Islam”.