Monday, May 31, 2004

I've Supported a Terrorist Organization and the Proof is in my Basement

In 1979 or so, Robin and I went to a Festival of Nations at the Schenectady Museum. I remember that we had a great time, and that, while tasting foods from all over the world, we bought two raffle tickets at the Irish booth. A few days later, I got a call, and learned that I had won an Irish wool afghan - nicely done in green, white and orange. The sponsor of the raffle was Noraid, an organization some claim is a financier of terrorists.

Now, I know very, very little about Noraid and whether it, in fact, deserves to be labelled a terrorist organization. The fact remains, though, that it has been labelled as such by others, and, for all I know, has been labelled as such by the unstable John Ashcroft. So, by purchasing a couple raffle tickets in 1979, I may be guilty of having supported a terrorist organization. I just wanted to support the land of my ancestors.

It is, I hope, farfetched that Ashcroft will come after a white-skinned son of Christians like me. But consider what this little anecdote means in the context of a follower of Islam in the United States. What if you want to supply some aid to people in Iraq, and give some dollars to a charity that promises to do so? This is precisely what happened in the case of Brandon Mayfield, where his wife's donation to a charity "with suspected ties to terrorists" was used as one of the reasons to lock him up.

People with ties to terrorists sound scary and far away. Unfortunately, if John Ascroft wants to interpret that term zealously (and there is nobody more zealous than John Ashcroft), you are probably one of them. I might be.

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