civil disobedience



     Yay or nay to civil disobedience?  My inner squishy liberal heart when all pitty pat when I saw this picture yesterday.  However, my sister, who works on capital hill for another equally squishy liberal democrat, was not impressed.

    Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota-Muslim) was arrested at a protest in front of the Sudanese Embassy yesterday in a calculated act of civil disobedience.

Ellison said he and the other members of Congress who were arrested succeeded in bringing national attention to the Darfur crisis that they wouldn’t have received otherwise. “I could have sent out a press release, but it would be, ‘Yeah, so what?'”

“They told us three times to leave, we didn’t leave and they arrested us,” Ellison said nearly four hours later, after he paid a $100 fine and was released.

Secret Service spokesman Darrin Blackford said uniformed officers made eight arrests, including Ellison. “They were charged with crossing a police line, which is a misdemeanor,” he said.

Also arrested were Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; John Lewis, D-Ga.; Donna Edwards, D-Md.; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif.; and three Darfur activist leaders

Since 2007, early in his congressional tenure, Ellison has tried to make conditions in Darfur a major legislative priority.

     There is something romantic about civil disobedience for us squishy liberals.  Who wouldn’t want to emulate Gandhi and MLK Jr?  And it did bring the issue to the fore.  But will it actually make a difference?  Alas, my inner cynic is also a pessimist in this case.

     On a related note, it does perk up the inner cynic that a muslim is taking a stand on an issue that is not Palestine related.  While we should continue to work for justice for our brothers and sisters in Palestine, we need to take stock of our ummah’s actions and behaviors elsewhere as well.

In Sahh Bukhari, we find that the beloved Prophet (saws) said:

“Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.”  He was then asked:  “It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?”  He answered:  “By preventing him from oppressing others.”

     From my own humble observations of the muslim ummah, we’re very good at screaming bloody murder when non muslims oppress muslims.  We’re also very good at looking the other way when muslims oppress others.

    It’s high past time that we got our head out of the sand and took this sunnah to heart.


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