"Some People Did Something" - Thoughts On Trauma

On March 23, 2019, at a speech before the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Rep. Ilhan Omar stated:
“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” Omar said at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) fundraiser.
Omar's remark sparked widespread outrage, even though the context was her concern that the entire Muslim community has been penalized for the actions of a few.

CAIR was actually founded in 1994, not after 9/11. At The Washington Post, factchecker Glenn Kessler pointed this out and also stated: "CAIR is not a terrorist organization, but an aggressive Muslim civil liberties organization."

However, in 2016, The Center for Security Policy published (https://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2016/12/02/c-a-i-r-is-hamas/) "C.A.I.R. is HAMAS: How the Federal Government Proved that the Council on American Islamic Relations is a Front for Terrorism." The article quotes FBI Agent Laura Burns, who (during the course of a terrorism financing trial)—
"...testified about, and helped explain, the transcripts of wiretap surveillance conducted in the course of two planning sessions leading up to the organizational meeting of CAIR held in Philadelphia in October 1993 and during the meeting itself. Specifically, she presented proof that CAIR’s mission was to assist 'Sister Samah,' its founders’ hardly opaque code-name for Hamas, as the prospect of its terror designation loomed."
Download the PDF here: http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CAIR_is_HAMAS.pdf.

Here is a link to the Board of Directors of CSP. You can decide for yourself if you think they're biased.

I have thought a lot about what Omar said. The following is a transcript of my video sharing personal thoughts on the matter, with some corrections included and the text edited slightly for readability.

I want to talk about [Rep.] Ilhan Omar and her statement that "some people did something." Which is a very offensive statement.

I just wanted to talk a little bit about this and in the context of her larger video, why is it so offensive and frankly so dangerous.

So the first thing I want to say is that I understand that Ilhan Omar has been positioned deliberately to make people hate on her. 
There is something about the way she conducts herself and comports herself that suggests to me that she is being used, and if you look at the Middle East, and you look at Israel and what the Palestinians are also exploited to do, it's very similar. 
You know, Hamas takes women and children, innocent women and children, and they hide among them and they put them forward and they put them in suicide vests, and the vests blow up, or they - you know, they hand them a rock, or whatever they give them to commit an act of violence, just trying to get the IDF to respond.

Because they know that if the IDF responds, the headline is going to be that the Jews once again attacked the innocent victims and it isn't gonna be the whole buildup.

So the trick is old, and it's pretty sad that the entire world has to be mortgaged to a bunch of terrorists for now, but it sure seems like they have a strong hold on our narrative, because most of us are very sympathetic, and we are kind, and we don't wish other people to suffer, because we're normal.

So Ilhan Omar is doing an interview [DB note: this is a separate video] about, basically, prejudice against Muslims, and she's a Somali-American refugee, so she's an advocate for refugees and immigrants, and they're having a discussion about sort of - they're like - "Why is it that when White people commit a mass murder, the issue is their psychology. But when people of color, specifically Muslims, commit an act of terror, then everybody attacks the culture, it's like this inexplicable thing." [Note: This is DB paraphrasing.] 
In the course of having this discussion, she says, about 9/11, "Some people did something." And just those words, extracted from the whole interview, make it look like she's minimizing 9/11. [Correction: Omar made this statement at the CAIR event mentioned above.] 
So is she really doing something wrong, or was she misquoted, right, we saw Rashida Tlaib go online on television and say, "My sister Ilhan, my sister Ilhan, everyone's attacking Ilhan, it's not what she meant." [Note: This is DB paraphrasing.] 
But if you think about it, number one, if you look at culturally, well what are Muslims being taught in the mosques, in many mosques, they're being taught pretty negative messages about how you should treat the unbeliever. And we know that violence is taught in the mosque. (Examples: Here, here, here and here.) 
So in a sense, when people blame the culture and not the person, in a sense there is a reason for that and it's also a way of understanding and contextualizing radical Islamic terror.  
Many of us who think about this, talk about the need for reform in the religion, because we understand that when there's overwhelming pressure to do something or to think a certain way, it will produce people who act a certain way. That's not an expression of hatred, it's an expression of trying to solve a problem that hurts innocent people.
So that's the background for that, but I still want to talk about how is it she seems so casual.  
You know, and I think about her as a child, and I can't even imagine what she went through, being a young person, and here comes America, bombing her country, and she basically lives in a refugee camp as a tiny little girl, and has to come to a foreign country and somehow assimilate and survive. That's a pretty traumatic experience. [Correction: As a child, Omar fled local militia, but our involvement by proxy in the region stretches back decades. When U.S. Marines entered Mogadishu in 1992, they were assisting during the civil war; she had left by then.] 
When I hear her say, like "something happened," it's almost like well, you know, someone tripped on the sidewalk, right? She takes something momentous and horrendous, and reduces it to nothing.  
What I think to myself is that I'm looking at a trauma victim. And I think to myself about in the Jewish community, you know, we've been struggling for many years with this phenomenon of child sex abuse. Just like the Catholic Church scandal, we have our scandal. Countless, countless victims, abused by serial pedophiles, were told, "It's over," like "get over it. Get over it, it was nothing, you wanted it, you're a slut, you're a horrible person, um, you know, the really holy people don't get touched, but you got touched, but it wasn't really touch, it wan't really..."  all these sorts of ways of minimizing the suffering of a child.  
With the passing of the Child Victims Act, in New York, those perpetrators and the institutions that covered for them, they are going to pay. And that's a good thing. And in fact I read an editorial where someone said, you know [in effect], "Is it worth it to bankrupt a good educational institution because of the suffering that happened so long ago?" [My reaction] is like, "Yeah, I think that's actually a pretty good idea. I actually think that the suffering of the victims should be compensated." 
It doesn't matter if the perpetrator is Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, anything. Because when someone is traumatized, I would even go so far as to say soul-murdered, right, because if you know victims of sexual abuse and rape, there isn't one day that goes by that these people aren't suffering and having their guts ripped out.  
I actually think to say, "Some thing happened some time so long ago" [as Omar did] tells me that the person themselves who's saying it is a trauma victim [because they are dissociating]. And I think that's really the tragedy here. You know, it's that in looking for someone to hate, because they said something, whether we blame them for saying "Oh, you know they made this remark," or you know, "They did this, they did that, it's that whole group, it's the Democrats, you know, it's this cultural group, it's that religion," we're completely missing the point.  
I think about the Holocaust, and I think about, you know, I was looking into my own family history, and pretty upsettingly, I found in the town where my father's parents come from [Cluj], there were 84 people that had my family name [correction: it was Romania as a whole, not just the one town.] 84 people. It's a variation on Stroli. It's spelled different ways.  
By the time they were done killing everyone, there were 14. There were 14.
So what about those 70 people? What about those people? And if you think I'm just another Jew, going on and on about the Holocaust, I'm not.  
I think one of the reasons that Jewish people today are so bitterly divided is that we look at the suffering of the Palestinians and we see it, and we say to ourselves:"This is so wrong. We don't want to be responsible for it. We don't want it to happen and we don't want to be responsible and we don't know what to do."  
Because there's a fundamental divide in our world today between people who want to live, and they respect life, and they want to go on, but they also want to remember the past and honor the dead, and honor the victims, and make sure that they receive restitution.  
And there are those who are murderers, and they have no soul. What they want is for what they did and what they enabled to be distorted, forgotten, trivialized. [Worse yet], they want to go after the people who seek justice, they want to flip everything around and yell "Islamophobia, racism, sexism." 
Believe me, I say to myself sometimes, if God does not intervene in our world, I don't know what will happen because these people are so bad. And they just don't stop, they have no shame.  
So for Ilhan Omar, I am sorry what you went through, and I don't think it's nothing, I would never trivialize it. For all the victims of trauma, any kind of trauma, no matter who you are, I feel for you. I would never dismiss what happened to you.  
It it is in the memory of those I lost that I do this. It is in the memory of all of those who suffered, who I didn't know, that I do this.  
I love our country very much. And I'm not gonna sit idly by while these f--ers, and they're homegrown fuckers, they're greedy, corrupt, evil people, I'm not going to sit idly by while they come here and try to take it. [Here I am referring to Americans who sell out our country for the sake of money and power.] 
So if you're listening, please join with me. Please speak out. It's never too late to speak out, and at this point, every word of truth matters much more than you know. 
Posted April 12, 2019 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Free photo via Pixabay.

Effective Crisis Communication Requires A Prepared Team

To navigate a crisis, you need to think the moving parts through well in advance. Below are my updated crisis communication notes. Feel free to use and customize them.
[Organization Name]: Response to [Crisis Name]
Version [#]. Last updated [mm-dd-yyyy].
[Describe the crisis in brief and the organization's response, planned or actual.]
All Hands on Deck
Note: The positions below are not set aside for a crisis, but rather part of the everyday functioning of the communications team. In the event of a crisis, everybody on the team should be ready to stop what they're doing and assist.
  • Senior leadership: The most senior two people in the organization
  • Core communication team: Communication director, subject matter expert, communication strategist, digital engagement strategist, lawyer, 24/7/365 situation monitoring
  • Spokespeople: Official spokesperson, press contact, Congressional relations, customer service
  • Editorial: Writer, editor/proofreader, fact checker, document approver, social media points of contact, web development/content
  • Visuals: Videographer, photographer, designer
  • Mission support: Knowledge management (e.g. version control/internal knowledge portal or shared folder updates, telephone coverage, event arrangements, etc.)
Information Channels
  • Face to Face: Meetings, briefings, interviews
  • One-way digital communication: Email/text subscriber communications, article/op-ed/blog post, web updates, social media messages, intranet, internal television monitors
  • Interactive digital communication: Responses to questions posed over social media, "ask me anything" sessions, customer service
  • Downloads: Fact sheets, photos, incident reports, and other documentation available from dedicated web page
Key Audiences
Note: The below is a very generic list. Develop a deeply customized, segmented list of your key audiences. Don't be afraid to get into the weeds; each group will need to know what's going on, but their interest in the matter will be unique and communication to each group will need to address their specific concerns.
  • Affected Parties
  • Senior Leadership
  • Media
  • Regulators
  • Elected Officials
  • Partners
  • The General Public
An Ounce of Preparation
When something happens, the worst thing you can do is "wing it," and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to plan ahead. Take a bit of time, as a group, to map out how you will handle the occasional chaos that inevitably accompanies organizational life.
Posted April 9, 2019 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain. Image by David Sluka from Pixabay

It's A Discussion, Not A Death Match

Recently we visited the Museum of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University and lingered at the exhibit showing classic Jewish comedy. Among the gems was the famous "Easter Dinner" scene from Woody Allen's classic 1977 movie Annie Hall. This is one of my favorite movies, and I've seen it more times than I can count, but I still lingered there laughing as Allen hilariously roasted his embarrassing, boisterous Jewish family arguing at the dinner table.
What is it about Jewish culture that teaches us to argue? Basically, in a word, the Talmud, which is...comprised of Jewish sages arguing.
My own upbringing was almost comical for the amount of disagreement it contained, because my dad's side of the family was classically Hasidic and my mom's side hailing from Poland and Russia (Lithuanian Jewry, a.k.a. "Litvaks") and highly Americanized. If you want to know what this was like in action, imagine scheduling a business meeting where you want everyone to show up at 10 AM.
In my world, you would have to tell the habitually late Hasidim that the meeting starts at 9, and the perpetually punctual "Litvaks" that the meeting starts at 10:05 or 10:10.
Yes, it is true, Jewish people disagree wildly about pretty much anything and everything you can think of, and that fact is baked into our history. This classic joke pretty much sums it up:
"A Jewish man is shipwrecked on a desert island....he builds a house, a store, and a synagogue.
"One day, he’s rescued by a passing ship....Just before they leave, one of the sailors says, 'Hey! Why’d you build two synagogues?'
"The man rolls his eyes. 'This,' he says, pointing at one building, 'Is my synagogue.' 'And that,' he says, pointing at the other, 'is the one I would never set foot in!"
Because my natural habitat is an environment that can politely be called "disputation," it's been challenging for me to see the broader culture shift towards conformity. Just as my religion taught me to argue, the secular world seems to have decided, just as religiously, that all disagreement is bad — and as such, there is no way to have a productive argument.
We live now in a world of extremes: either excessive politeness, or a kind of rabid anger that seems to spring out of nowhere, even over topics that are really benign. This cultural shift can be readily seen in the hit show Billions, where lifetime friends and loved ones are frequently seen swapping stories over ramen in one scene, then spinning on their heels angrily to walk out the door in the next — usually because "somebody said something" seemingly minor but provocative.
An interesting thing about culture is that we fail to see how it shapes our psychological worldview. Consequently, I think it is hard for many people to see how we have slowly, unconsciously moved to an insane ethos of intense niceness toward "good people" (people we deem to be good) on the one hand, and a kind of furious, flaming hatred toward "bad people" (those we deem somehow unacceptable) on the other.
In the past, it used to be possible to have a robust dispassionate discussion, shake hands, and walk away without any impact on one's relationship. Now, however, disagreements quickly turn personal, and vicious, and leave one or both parties emotionally scarred.
Tragically, sometimes disagreements also turn physical.
All of history is punctuated by moments of turmoil, and our time is really no different, although everything we experience seems undeniably unique as it happens. The hardest thing to do nowadays — perhaps the most important thing, given its elusive quality — is to force ourselves to take a deep breath.
Yes, the issue is a big deal.
No, most of the time, it really isn't worth getting so worked up about.
Always remember that we are frail human beings. Beings driven by emotions, which do shape our beliefs more than we would like to admit. Beliefs that in turn shape our cognitive assessments (read: telling ourselves we're "just being logical,") even though we'd like to think that we're incredibly evolved.
Posted April 10, 2019 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. Opinions are the author's own. Photo by Element5Digital via Pixabay. Public domain.

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