"His Mamma Called Him Stevens…"

So by now most people should know that the artist formerly know as Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam) was barred from entry to the U.S., ostensibly because he was on an “anti-terror watch list” Maybe it’s just me, but this anti-terrorism crusade1 is totally insane. For some reason I just don’t see Cat Stevens planing to hijack planes, take hostages, or blow up public transit terminals (which is the sort of thing actual terrorists do) anytime soon.

There was a letter to a local paper today which stated that his being barred from entry was OK because he said things against the U.S. government when he left for England, and spoke at a benefit held by an Islamic charity which operated as a front for Hamas in Canada. Last I checked thinking things and expounding views the government doesn’t like is supposed to be OK, even though history has generally shown that to be a falsehood around the world (the U.S. included). Now, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Yusuf Islam is indeed a supporter of Hamas2, but that assumes that he knew the secret behind the charity in question, and did it anyways. I haven’t seen any evidence either way, and there is such a thing as a bystander and there definately is such a thing as a dupe. However, no matter what Yusuf Islam knew or believes, his beliefs and his acquaintances do not make him a terrorist, and certainly do not make him a danger. IOW, someone is not a terrorist because he may or may not support a group which supported a terrorist organization in Palestine. If he tries to blow up a plane or some crazy shit like that, then yes, he’s a terrorist, but until then he’s just an asshole1—and no matter what anyone says, the proper response to someone being an asshole is not the police.

  1. I use the term intentionally because that is exactly what the “War On Terror” is.
  2. The other issue is whether the money this charity sent actually went to Hamas or if it went to the families of suicide bombers in Palestine. I consider the first to be supporting terrorism, but I don’t consider the latter to be. Obviously, if you’re a suicide bomber, you’re a terrorist, and if you give money to a terrorist knowing what he is planning to do, you’re supporting terrorism. However, in an area without reliable access to potable water, electricity, or medical care, where women owning property is a new innovation, I don’t think the families should be allowed to be starved to death just because one of their relatives was a terrorist. Another thing to keep in mind is that the homes of suicide bombers are subject to siezure by the Israeli military, which puts the families on the street, and there is also a strict curfew in Palestinian areas enforced by the military. IOW, if one of your family members decideds to be a suicide bomber, you can expect to become homeless in an area where being homeless means you go to military jail (and I don’t think it’s a radical statement to say that U.S. soldiers torturing people at Abu Ghraib was probably more representative of military jails around the world than it was an exception).
  3. I think the “Islamofascist” label does apply to Hamas’ right-wing/nationalist ideology, just as I think “Judeofascist” applies to the right-wing/nationalist Jewish ideology in Israel and elsewhere, “Christofascist” applies to the right-wing/nationalist Christian ideology in America and elsewhere, and “Hindifascist” applies to the right-wing/nationalist Hindu ideology in India and elsewhere. The problem, however, is not the Islamo-, Judeo-, Christo-, or Hindi- prefix, but rather the fascist suffix. IMO, supporters of any fascist ideology are assholes.