My talk at Hartford Seminary

Apr 30

Last night, I gave a talk at the Hartford Seminary titled “Liberalism and Islam: Pitfalls and Potentials.”  The talk centered around two themes: how normative liberalism reacts to intolerant groups in its midst, and what are the religious obligations of liberal Muslim citizens in a liberal democracy generally, and the war on terror in particular.

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Torture, Islam and American Citizenship

Apr 26

Given my criticisms of US policy in the Middle East, the “War on Terror,” and its “lawfare” against US Muslims, one might reasonably question why I should remain a US citizen at all?  Indeed, I have sometimes asked myself “At what point would the limit be crossed?”  I guess the plain reason why I have never seriously contemplated renouncing US citizenship, and doubt that I ever would, is my deep conviction that substantial groups within US society share my deep opposition to these policies as well, and that the future belongs to us, not to those status quo forces that perpetuate atrocities in the name of the American people.  This otherwise disturbing article in Slate, which details the extent of the torture and international law-breaking practiced by the United States during the Bush Administration, crimes which the Obama administration foolishly chose to inter rather than investigate as the crimes that they were, strangely confirms my long-term view of the United States.  I hope my fellow American Muslim citizens, particularly the post-9/11 generation, understand that they have allies in the US; they should not think that all Americans are anti-Muslim paranoids; and that it is possible to work together with those Americans to bring a halt to these abuses, and the further entrenchment of the “creeping” surveillance and torture state.

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Spending on Homeland Security Since 9/11 Radically Disproportional to Possible Threats

Aug 29

Quantifying the obvious: a couple of economists have authored a report showing that homeland security spending is a massive waste of expenditures, with no reasonable relationship to the actual risk of terrorism.  But don’t expect it to be reduced any time soon: too many interest groups are making too much money for these programs ever to be scaled back.  And, BTW, a recent SEC regulation designed to protect ordinary investors was struck down by the DC Circuit because, among other reasons, the SEC failed to demonstrate its cost effectiveness.  Conservatives, it seems, are indifferent to rent seeking when it comes to “security,” and especially if part of those funds goes to their own pockets, whether through increased campaign contributions or obtaining lucrative security contracts directly.

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