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Fulbrighter describes London attacks as a turning point for the US Islamic community

US Fulbright Fellow Shadi Hamid states in the Christian Science Monitor that 7/7 forced the American Muslim community to finally confront an uneasy reality. "On that day, something clicked inside me and so many other Muslims who, in focusing primarily on the threat to Muslim civil liberties, had not paid enough attention to the threat of religious extremism in our own communities." Hamid suggests that anyone caught advocating violence should be expelled from mosque grounds, and reported to the appropriate authorities, while more effort should be made to convince young, easily impressionable Muslims to get involved in the American political process. Besides,

Muslims must rediscover their religion's deep respect for the sanctity of human life - whether the lives in question are British, Iraqi, or Israeli. The Muslim community's inability or unwillingness to speak out against suicide bombing in Israel is reflective of the moral depths to which we've so tragically sunk. (....) Ultimately, American Muslims aren't walking time bombs or potential fifth columns. (...) Rather, Muslims here should be seen as one of the best weapons against terrorism. With their diversity and knowledge of Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu, they're an untapped resource. As the US wages not only a war on terror but a war of ideas, American Muslims can do much to strengthen public diplomacy efforts in the Arab world that, so far, leave much to be desired.

Is the US going to use more soft power to counter terrorism?

The Bush administration decided to change the name of its counterterrorist campaign from "the global war on terrorism" (GWOT) to "the global struggle against violent extremism" (GSAVE). Fred Kaplan wonders in Slate whether to retool the slogan is "the administration's solution to the spike in terrorist incidents, the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, and the politico-military deterioration in Iraq" and why "the White House and the Pentagon are just now coming around to the idea that the struggle is as much ideological as military? This wasn't obvious, say, three or four years ago?" He speculates that the new slogan reflects "a desire for a happier acronym. "Gwot? Too frivolously rowdy, like a fight scene in a Marvel comic book (Bam! Pfooff! Gwot!). [...] GSAVE - i.e., gee-save. We're out to save the world."
[Aug 5, 2005 UPDATE: President Bush keeps the old phrase, writes the NYT. Apparently GSAVE was just a suggestion by Rumsfeld and other senior officials.]

Like Kaplan, The Washington Post's Anne Applebaum is sceptical whether the US is indeed going to use more public diplomacy as a tool against terrorism:

Only two senators were in the room when Karen Hughes testified at her confirmation hearings. When it came time for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote on her nomination yesterday, she was easily approved. And thus with no discussion and no debate, Hughes takes over the least noticed, least respected and possibly most important job in the State Department. Her formal title is undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. In plain English, her job is to fight anti-Americanism, promote American culture and above all to do intellectual battle with the ideology of radical Islam, a set of beliefs so powerful that they can persuade middle-class, second-generation British Muslims to blow themselves up on buses and trains.

Fulbright Alumna Nancy Snow portraits Karen Hughes in Common Dreams.

President Bush nominated new ambassador to Germany

Almost five months after Daniel Coats left Berlin, President Bush nominated William Robert Timken as US ambassador to Germany. Timken is an industrialist of German decent. (In 1838, his great-grandfather emigrated from Bremen with his parents and 59 years later patented a ball-bearing.) According to Deutsche Welle, he does not speak much German and "is known to be a vocal critic of Germany's refusal to support the US in its war on Iraq." His close access to the US president and his international business career, however, could help to make US-German relations more productive, especially if Chancellor Schroeder loses the elections in September.

"No Fly Watch List" problems and civil liberties concerns

One fellow Fulbrighter recommends "Who's Watching the Watch Lists?" by a former US diplomat, who was put on the "No Fly Watch List" and had to be specially cleared to board a plane to visit his grandchildren. Following are some excerpts: Continue reading ""No Fly Watch List" problems and civil liberties concerns"

"Europe's angry Muslims" are considered a risk to US security

Shortly before the London bombings, Robert S. Leiken, Fellow at the Brookings Institution, argued in Foreign Affairs that the European nations have not integrated their Muslim citizens as well as the US has.

Radical Islam is spreading across Europe among descendants of Muslim immigrants. Disenfranchised and disillusioned by the failure of integration, some European Muslims have taken up jihad against the West.

(...) The growing nightmare of officials at the Department of Homeland Security is passport-carrying, visa-exempt mujahideen coming from the United States' western European allies.

(...) Unlike their U.S. counterparts, who entered a gigantic country built on immigration, most Muslim newcomers to western Europe started arriving only after World War II, crowding into small, culturally homogenous nations. Their influx was a new phenomenon for many host states and often unwelcome. Meanwhile, North African immigrants retained powerful attachments to their native cultures.

This banner links to a collection of photos to "show the world that we are not afraid of what happened in London, and that the world is a better place without fear." Fear leads to anger (and less integration, weakening of civil liberties and of checks and balances), anger to hate, and hate to... Besides, the psychatrist Michael Brody, who heads the Television & Media Committee of the American Academy of Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry, warns in the Baltimore Sun about "the harmful effects" of the American TV coverage of the London bombings, because they are "constantly hyping things up" in contrast to the BBC.

Germans wash the presidents on Mount Rushmore

A German manufacturer of cleaning machines started to "remove decades of dirt, grime and lichens that can damage the complexion of the four presidents," reports CNN. The Kaercher GmbH provides this service for free. The company has washed the Statue of Liberty two years ago and uses pressurized water of more than 200 degrees without any chemicals.

Walking a mile in someone else's shoes

One of the goals of the Fulbright exchange programs is to promote empathy and mutual understanding by sending students, teachers and scholars abroad to see the world as others see it. Academy Award Nominee Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") applies a more extreme concept to America's social environments in his new FX Networks documentary series "30 Days", writes Neille Ilel in the The Queens Chronicle:

Spurlock follows a volunteer fish-out-of-water while he or she spends 30 days in a world completely different from their own. In the first episode Spurlock and his fiance, New York City intellectuals, spend a month living on minimum wage in Columbus, Ohio. In another, a 43-year-old mom binge-drinks like her college-freshman daughter, both to try and stop it and to understand it. In other episodes, a consumerist couple from the Big Apple goes "off the grid" and a straight ex-military man lives with a gay marketing executive in San Francisco's notorious Castro district.

In another episode a devout Christian from red-state West Virginia lives with a Muslim family in Dearborn, Michigan, reads the Koran daily, grows a beard, bonds with his guest family and gets stopped at the airport. Seattle Times' TV critic Kay McFadden concludes:

Like most documentary efforts, "30 Days" is an advocacy piece rather than an effort to be impartial. But the unmistakably liberal tilt is far outweighed by a greater goal: To open our minds just a bit to the world beyond our living room walls.

Year in U.S. shifts Muslim teens' views

Brian Knowlton writes in the The International Herald Tribune about the success of exchange programs. Some prejudices are overcome, while others remain instead of being questioned as well:

Bush administration efforts to improve attitudes toward the United States among Muslims around the world have met with sharp, bipartisan criticism here as inadequate, even nave. But student-exchange programs have provided a notable exception. The State Department-sponsored Youth Exchange and Study Program, started in response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, appears to have had positive results.

(...) "Before, I thought the Americans were like the Europeans - no religion, no moral values, taking drugs, having sex, drinking all the time," said Sirine, an earnest 17-year-old Tunisian who stayed with an Atlanta-area family. "But my opinion changed. I found people going to church a lot, and some are really conservative."