By Contributor on February 08, 2012

By Nermeen Arastu

The New York Police Department is sorely in need of independent oversight.

The NYPD’s use of an anti-Muslim propaganda film, “The Third Jihad” — and the role of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly in the documentary — demands accountability.

The NYPD showed “The Third Jihad,” a bigoted piece of anti-Muslim propaganda, to 1,500 NYPD officers during their training. The feature-length film portrays Muslim-Americans as violent, nihilistic militants with the sole agenda of infiltrating the United States. With broad strokes, it tries to persuade viewers that the American way of life is under immediate threat from the American Muslim community.

The NYPD then compounded this terrible blunder by lying about it. Spokesperson Paul Browne said that the film was shown only a couple of times and that Kelly didn’t intend to appear in it, suggesting that the filmmakers had recycled footage from elsewhere. But it turns out that the documentary was shown on a continuous loop, and that Kelly actually did do an interview specifically for the movie.

When Kelly had his spokesperson lie about the circumstances of his appearance, he displayed cowardice and dishonesty. To propagate racism is dangerous; to lie about it is unpardonable.

The NYPD placed prejudicial fear in the hearts and minds of law enforcement. When police are taught to fear an entire community, they behave sloppily, ignore protocol and overreach boundaries.

It’s especially troubling that this is happening in New York, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg brags that he has the seventh-largest army in the world and where the police already have been engaging in excessive surveillance programs and overzealous stop-and-frisk policies.

But the use of racial profiling under the auspices of intelligence gathering in our country is nothing new. As the smoke was still settling over Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government started using census data to map the whereabouts of Japanese-Americans, round them up and place them in internment camps. Over the next four years, more than 100,000 Japanese Americans had been displaced, detained and harassed — and not a single one of them was ever convicted of espionage.

Considering our history, we ought to be wary of infringing on the civil liberties of any Americans.

Supporters of overbroad policing often claim: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” So if Kelly and the NYPD have nothing to hide, then they should not fear an independent oversight committee with compulsory powers to subpoena information. If they have nothing to hide, they should just tell the truth.

That’s what was expected of them in the first place.

Nermeen Arastu is a staff attorney with the Immigrant Rights Project at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is a member of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition. She also serves on the board of the Muslim Bar Association of New York. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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