What The DAPL Victory Means For All Of Us

What The DAPL Victory Means For All Of Us

Why their victory means more than just re-routing.
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For the past few months, protesters in Standing Rock, North Dakota have contested the construction of a pipeline which would contaminate the drinking waters of the resident Native American people. These peaceful protesters have been met with forceful opposition from law enforcement in the form of tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. On Friday, it was announced that the protesters were to evacuate the area by Monday, December 5th in lieu of facing arrest. However, the protesters refused to leave, choosing instead to hold their ground.

After months of peacefully protesting at Standing Rock, the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline has officially been re-routed. The Stand With Standing Rock movement's seemingly endless fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline has been recognized by officials throughout the nation.

Protesting has always been a staple of American culture -- our country started as a series of protests which built up to become the first successful war for independence from colonization. The first amendment of our constitution grants us the right to assemble; this ability has been exercised many times throughout history to varying degrees of success. However, the decided impact of these demonstrations hinges on the use of peaceful protest.

Peaceful protesting and non-violent resistance is an interesting concept, to say the very least. What makes peaceful protesting difficult is when human nature gets in the way. When we get worked up about an issue that is very near and dear to our hearts, oftentimes our emotions take over for our actions. Tensions are further heightened when government-endorsed military personnel use extensive, harmful measures to combat those protesting in peace.

Let me be clear: this is not excusing violent behavior, but providing an explanation as to why something peaceful can come to be the opposite. Along with that, it is not an attack on law enforcement or the police force, but a commentary on how things have been handled.

There have been examples of protests that started out as peaceful and were then lead to violence because of the presence of military force. And, along with that, there are protests that were not always peaceful that were also met with military force. We can look at the Kent State protests against the Vietnam War, which included mild violence from the protesters, but was met with the infamous shooting of students by the Ohio National Guard and other forces.

Another example includes the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, which was an assembly of peaceful protesters who sought to disrupt the World Trade Organization Ministerial Coreference. It eventually spiraled into protesters smashing windows and blocking intersections but was met with tear gas, pepper spray, and other forces from the National Guard, and the Seattle police.

Some of the most powerful examples of peaceful protests in the past century have been immortalized in photographs. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, headed by Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama from 1955-56. The 1963 March on Washington lead by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When, in 1967, a group of hippies and anti-Vietnam War activists facing the National Gaurd with flowers, not guns.1968 Olympic gold and bronze medalists, Tommie Smith and John Carlos respectively, holding their fists in the air as a silent, peaceful statement for the ongoing oppression of African Americans in America.


To look to more modern day examples, we don't have to look far. The summer of 2014 started one of the most powerful movements in recent American history:the Black Lives Matter movement. Regardless of your opinion on those who stand for BLM, it cannot be denied that they have become one of the most prominent groups in modern day society. They started coming together with the murder of Eric Garner in Staten Island, who was put in a chokehold by police for selling untaxed cigarettes. This death was the first of many that summer: Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which lead to weeks of protesting; Walter Scott in South Carolina, and Freddie Grey in Baltimore.

The above cases fuel the fire of BLM because they are three black men who were met with fatal force from police officers. While the innocence of the men in question is debatable, the fact that they were murdered by police officers is infuriating, to say the very least. The BLM movement induces a confusing dichotomy -- people are mad at the police for acting against these men with brutal force, and on the surface, it seems as if these people are protesting against the police force as a whole. As if they detest them, and show them no respect. However, this is not the case. These people are looking for justice and fair treatment from a system which has systematically been against them for generations.

And more recently, upon the results of the 2016 Presidential Election, students and other groups throughout America have been coming together to make their opinions known about Donald Trump, the president-elect, and his platform. These anti-Trump protests have died down since the week after the election, but their importance remains: the people are once again unhappy, therefore they are exercising their right to assemble and make their voices heard.

The importance of the victory at Standing Rock is one for the American people: those who are struggling to be heard in a nation that doesn't want to hear them. Those who are fighting for equal rights which are currently being denied. Those who are wronged by systematic injustice which has been in place for generations.

In spite of any flack they may receive from various sources, peaceful protesting works. Especially in the face of violence and disdain. Congratulations, those who fought against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Your victory is an important stone in the pathway to justice.

Cover Image Credit: "Flower Power" by Bernie Boston

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JFirQekVo3U

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Respect And Celebrate Different Identities

Just because you don't think it's "normal" doesn't mean you can disrespect it.

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I've always believed "respect is earned, not given" to be utter BS, but that's even more true when it comes to how people identify. June is LGBT+ Pride Month, which means you're going to be hearing about a lot of different identities (gender- and orientation-wise) that you've probably never heard of.

Please, for the sake of everyone involved, don't be an ass if you don't understand what they identify as. At one point, everyone has questioned an identity that they came across (and if you say you haven't, I'm going to say you're lying). Do that in your head, but be respectful to the person.

I've been online for years, and I'm guilty of bashing people's identities because I thought they were "weird" and didn't fully understand them. Guess what? I recognize that as being a horrible thing to do and have since matured.

It costs you nothing to be respectful.

When I see an identity I don't fully understand, I either ask the person about it (respectfully) or shrug it off because it's none of my business. The most it affects me is when it comes to their preferred name and pronouns, but even that isn't a big deal. It won't end my life if I call someone by a set of pronouns I don't understand.

Now, I'm not saying to not ask questions out of fear of being disrespectful; I'm saying to not be a total jerk when asking.

When in doubt, ask them about it. "Hey, can you explain what ____ means?" is a very different way to start a conversation than "I've never heard of ____ and think it's gross/wrong, so it doesn't exist."

The worst possible thing you can do is tell someone their identity doesn't exist. That pretty much tells the person that they don't exist, which is really just a dick move.

Because, again, what does it cost you to be respectful?

That's right, nothing.

Their identity doesn't hurt you in any way. Them being gay or trans or somewhere in the middle or both literally does you no harm. Respecting them does you no harm.

You may not understand if someone identifies as a "non-binary pansexual they/them," but they know full well what it means. That's all that matters. All you have to do is respect them and call them what they want to be called rather than what you think they should be called.

Nobody knows someone better than they know themselves.

Cover Image Credit:

Pxhere

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