Society - People
justice studies 101- Dominique Hall

The following piece is from the New York Times.

Op-Ed Columnist
Flailing After Muslims
By BOB HERBERT
Published: March 7, 2011

It has often been the case in America that specific religions, races and ethnic groups have been singled out for discrimination, demonization, incarceration and worse. But there have always been people willing to stand up boldly and courageously against such injustice. Their efforts are needed again now.
Damon Winter/The New York Times

Bob Herbert
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Related in Opinion

Editorial: Peter King’s Obsession (March 8, 2011)

Representative Peter King, a Republican from Long Island, appears to harbor a fierce unhappiness with the Muslim community in the United States. As the chairman of the powerful Homeland Security Committee, Congressman King has all the clout he needs to act on his displeasure. On Thursday, he plans to open the first of a series of committee hearings into the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism and the bogus allegation that American Muslims have failed to cooperate with law enforcement efforts to foil terrorist plots.

“There is a real threat to the country from the Muslim community,” he said, “and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to investigate what is happening.”

That kind of sweeping statement from a major government official about a religious minority — soon to be backed up by the intimidating aura of Congressional hearings — can only serve to further demonize a group of Americans already being pummeled by bigotry and vicious stereotyping.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, the president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, was among some 500 people at a rally in Times Square on Sunday that was called to protest Mr. King’s hearings. “To single out Muslim-Americans as the source of homegrown terrorism,” he said, “and not examine all forms of violence motivated by extremist belief — that, my friends, is an injustice.”

To focus an investigative spotlight on an entire religious or ethnic community is a violation of everything America is supposed to stand for. But that does not seem to concern Mr. King. “The threat is coming from the Muslim community,” he told The Times. “The radicalization attempts are directed at the Muslim community. Why should I investigate other communities?”

The great danger of these hearings, in addition to undermining fundamental American values, is that for no good reason — nearly a decade after the terrible attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — they will intensify the already overheated anti-Muslim feeling in the U.S. There is nothing wrong with the relentless investigation of terrorism. That’s essential. But that is not the same as singling out, stereotyping and harassing an entire community.

On Monday, I spoke by phone with Colleen Kelly, a nurse practitioner from the Bronx whose brother, William Kelly Jr., was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. She belongs to a group called September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and is opposed to Mr. King’s hearings. “I was trying to figure out why he’s doing this,” she said, “and I haven’t come up with a good answer.”

She recalled how people were stigmatized in the early years of the AIDS epidemic and the way that stigmas become the focus of attention and get in the way of the efforts really needed to avert tragedy.

Mr. King’s contention that Muslims are not cooperating with law enforcement is just wrong. According to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, an independent research group affiliated with Duke University and the University of North Carolina, 48 of the 120 Muslims suspected of plotting terror attacks in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, were turned in by fellow Muslims. In some cases, they were turned in by parents or other relatives.

What are we doing? Do we want to demonize innocent people and trample on America’s precious freedom of religion? Or do we want to stop terrorism? There is no real rhyme or reason to Congressman King’s incoherent flailing after Muslims. Witch hunts, after all, are about seeing what kind of ugliness might fortuitously turn up.

Mr. King was able to concoct the anti-Muslim ugliness in his 2004 novel, “Vale of Tears,” in which New York is hit yet again by terrorists and, surprise, the hero of the piece is a congressman from Long Island. But this is real life, and the congressman’s fantasies should not apply.

America should be better than this. We’ve had all the requisite lessons: Joe McCarthy, the House Un-American Activities Committee, the demonization of blacks and Jews, the internment of Japanese-Americans, and on and on and on. It’s such a tired and ugly refrain.

When I asked Colleen Kelly why she spoke up, she said it was because of her great love for her country. “I love being an American, and I really try to be thankful for all the gifts that come with that,” she said. But with gifts and privileges come responsibilities. The planned hearings into the Muslim community struck Ms. Kelly as something too far outside “the basic principles that I knew and felt to be important to me as a citizen of this country.”
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on March 8, 2011, on page A27 of the New York edition.

My Opinion:
When an indivivdual is in a postion like that of Peter King, the individual should be alot more cautious in the way they deal situation. For one the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee should be able to conduct his or herself in a more neutral manner. This is not the cas with Mr. King. He is broad casting his discourse for people that are Muslim. This makes him a dangerous man simply because he has political clout and there are many people who seem to share his beliefs and feeling about Muslims regardless of evidence that proves his beliefs wrong. Secondly, there is so much focus on the possiblilty of a terrorist attack that Americans are not focused on other more pressing issues that have been looked over continuously for one reason or another. Some of these issues are budget cuts to needed programs, high rates of unemployment, violence amongst youth in America, rising taxes and so on. Not only that but the same Muslims that are are being stereotyped and mistreated by American citizens are Americam citizen. I also find it to be very contradictory that the same people that claim to believe so heavily in the constitutions and peace are the same people in support of denying those same rights and peace to Muslims based on speculation and fear. Looking at the history of America and subsequent immigration here after the colonial settler I would come to think that we as a nation have progressed into a time in which rationale and respect for other would prevail over unsupported fears and theory. Looking at how this fear of Muslim terrorism has unfolded over the last couple of years leads me to wonder if we as a nation just come together to mask the fact that not much has changed about raical predjudices,but the execution and criteria revamp themselves to adjust to the times. Are we as Americans a united front in the face of foreigner,which is actually divided in more way than we are willing to admit. How civilized can we be when our fear and contempt of what could be lead our thought process, and rationality is not our first resort.

THIS PIECE IS FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Editorial
Failure of Empathy and JusticePublished: March 31, 2011


When President Obama listed empathy as a valuable trait for a justice during his 2009 search to replace David Souter, the idea drew scorn from some conservatives who saw it as an excuse for being soft. But a Supreme Court ruling this week provides evidence of how useful empathy is, and of how not using it can lead to glaring injustice.

Related
$14 Million Jury Award to Ex-Inmate Is Dismissed (March 30, 2011) Connick v. Thompson is about the wrongful conviction of John Thompson for robbery and murder after prosecutors in New Orleans withheld evidence from Mr. Thompson that would have cast serious doubt on his guilt. He spent 18 years in prison and came close to being executed. He was exonerated after a prosecutor fessed up.

After Mr. Thompson sued, a federal trial court found the office liable for failing to train its prosecutors about their constitutional duty to turn over evidence favorable to the defense and awarded Mr. Thompson $14 million in damages. Now, by a 5-to-4 vote, the conservative majority of the Roberts court has overturned that ruling, saying the office can’t be held liable for a sole incident of wrongdoing.

The important thing about empathy that gets overlooked is that it bolsters legal analysis. That is clear in the dissent by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her empathy for Mr. Thompson as a defendant without means or power is affecting. But it is her understanding of the prosecutors’ brazen ambition to win the case, at all costs, that is key.

After detailing the “flagrant indifference” of the prosecutors to Mr. Thompson’s rights, she makes clear how critically they needed training in their duty to turn over evidence and why “the failure to train amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights” of defendants.

The district attorney, Harry Connick Sr., acknowledged the need for this training but said he had long since “stopped reading law books” so he didn’t understand the duty he was supposed to impart. The result, Justice Ginsburg writes, was an office with “one of the worst” records in America for failing to turn over evidence that “never disciplined or fired a single prosecutor” for a violation.

For the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas asserts that Mr. Thompson failed to prove that the office “disregarded a known or obvious consequence” of its inaction. That doesn’t reckon with the “culture of inattention,” as Justice Ginsburg calls it, which made deplorable breaches far too predictable. Justice Ginsburg’s dissent is the more persuasive, focused on the problem at the heart of the case and at the heart of a legal system that too often fails to see defendants, guilty or not, as human beings.

MY OPINION:


IT IS TRAGIC TO KNOW THAT THERE ARE INDIVIDUALS TAHT WORK IN THE JUSTICE FIELD AND HAVE LITTLE TO NO EMPATHY FOR THE PEOPLE WHO'S LIVES THEY AFFECT. THERE IS NO JUSTIFIABLE REASON IN WHICH AN INDIVIDUAL SHOULD BE VIEWED AS JUST ANOTHER CASE TO BE LOST OR WON. WITH THAT BEING SAID I FIND IT TO BE IRRESPONSIBLE AND UNMORAL FOR ANY LAWYER, JUDGE, AND SO FORTH TO NOT RECIEVE DISCIPLINARY ACTION FOR DELIBERATELY MISGUIDING OR BOTCHING A CASE SO THAT IT RESULTS IN A WIN FOR THEMSELVES. LAWYERS ARE PRESENT TO NOT ONLY REPRESENT THEIR CLIENTS, BUT ALSO PROTECT THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. WHEN A LAWYER LOSES SIGHT OF THE FACT THAT THEY ARE THERE TO PROVE A CASE BASED ON EVIDENCE WHILE SIMULTANEANOUSLY NOT INFRINGING UPON THE RIGHT OF THE OTHER PARTY THE CASE IS NO LONGER ABOUT THE CLIENTS INVOLVED, BUT ABOUT THE REPUTATION OF THE LAWYER INVOLVED AS DISPLAYED BY THE PROSECUTOR THAT WRONGFULLY CONVICTED JOHN THOMPSON OF ROBBERY AND MURDER IN NEW ORLEANS.

NOT ONLY THAT THE OFFICES THAT EMPLOYEE ALL ATTORNEYS SHOULD BE MINDFUL OF THE FACT THAT THERE IS A POSSIBILITY THAT THERE WILL BE ERRORS AND POSSIBLILY INTENTIONAL LEGAL ERRORS MADE. FROM THIS, THERE SHOULD ALWAYS BE DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES AND CONSEQUENCES IN PLACE FOR SUCH ACTION BECAUSE IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR LAWYERS TO NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THERE ACTIONS, NOR IS IT ACCEPTABLE FOR THE OFFICES THAT EMPLOYEE THEM TO NOT DISCIPLINE THEM OR BE RESPONSIBLE TO AN EXTENT FOR THE ACTION COMMITTED BY THEIR EMPLOYEES.EMPATHY IS A NECESSITY. IT IS A NECESSITY DUE TO THE FACT THAT IT ENCOURGAES CONCERN AND CAUTION IN THE WAY IN WHICH WE APPROACH THE DECISIONS AND ACTIONS WE CHOOSE TO COMMIT TO. THE LOSS OF EMPATHY OPENS A WINDOW TO A LACK OF CAUTIONS,REGARD, AND RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHERS AND OUR OWN DECISIONS.
Justice is Just This

What is justice?
This unapparent fairness
Supposed to combine rather than divide
Just a word that likes to hide
This unapparent fairness
What is justice?

Justice, is between you and if you are righteous
And you might just be righteous,
But you don’t have the intelligence of the truths of real justice.
Justice, is merely impossible because we have created injustice.
And just this.

It may be a tongue twister to read
But justice is a twist of the tongue indeed
A twist of the lung, you can’t breathe
A twist of the fun, full of hypocrisy and greed
A fake term misused, abused of its creed
Our mouths say justice, but injustice is what we really speak
And just this.

What is justice?
This unapparent fairness
Supposed to combine rather than divide
Just a word that likes to hide
This unapparent fairness
What is justice?

Just a word, and just this.

by:
Aadil Malik






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