Vacation Rentals – Is it An Alternative Way to Get Access to Vacation Destinations?

There are several ways to access the top 10 vacation destinations around the world. The most cost effective way I know is through affordable luxury vacation membership. It offers different options for vacation rentals that can save money and let you visit places that others only dream of.

This membership allows you to have vacation rentals at the top 10 family vacation destinations. It is available for islands, theme park destinations, the beach or some faraway exotic location.

Travel clubs or networks are a great place to find these kind of access packages. Many of the accommodations are timeshare or fractional weeks at condominiums, villas, or luxury hotel rooms. The price of these vacation rentals is considerably cheaper than renting regular hotel rooms. Typically, a member pays a membership fee to join and then pays a small fee for the week. Some of these clubs offer unlimited weeks and other memberships offer a week or three weeks, depending on what level of membership you choose.

Many of these vacation rentals are located in the top 10 vacation destinations and certainly you can find many of them in the top 10 family vacation destinations. Because these travel memberships offer a volume purchasing power, they can obtain bargains at wholesale prices on luxury getaways. For the most part, they are weekly vacation rentals that include 8 days and 7 nights in some of the most luxurious places in the world.

You can visit a mountain hideaway in Peru, or a quaint village in the Australian Outback. Of course, there are many oceanfront and beachfront accommodations which are among the top 10 vacation destinations, including Hawaii, although you might have to pay a slightly higher weekly fee.

If you like to travel, the travel membership clubs are the best deals. Of course, you can also find individual affordable luxury vacation memberships at many of the resort destinations, although it is easier to get access to a vacation rental at the top 10 family vacation destinations by belonging to a wholesale travel club. Many of these timeshares and fractional ownerships are popular trading weeks that are put in the rental market, when not in regular use. Individuals will sometimes put up their vacation homes as well.

Many of the hotels are offering deep discounts on hotel rooms throughout the world, due to the slowing economy. Even with the deep discounts, some of the luxury hotels are still very expensive. A wholesale travel club or a resort network handles many of these vacation rentals in the top 10 vacation destinations, it is often a cheaper option therefore, even when you consider the price of the membership to join, along with the weekly fee.

Many of the members of these clubs report they can book accommodations that others cannot even get access to. Because of the exclusivity of the vacation rentals in the top 10 vacation destinations, the general public might not be able to stay there, but members of affordable luxury vacation memberships can. If you love to travel, and have plans to visit the world’s best locations, you may want to consider signing up for the travel networks that offer thousands of luxury vacation rentals at the best destinations in the world.  

Arizona Vacation Safety – Stay AWARE to Stay SAFE

Why? To save yourself grief. And pain. ENSURE your Arizona vacation safety. Learn about safety issues NOT found in the travel brochures or vacation websites.

You see, when on vacation in Arizona there are a few things that one should be aware of when visiting here. These are the type of things that you won’t read about in those slick brochures you find in the travel agent’s office.

These are the only things that one will learn about by living here for an extended period of time.

Let’s face it. It’s a real downer to not have a safe vacation. It’s not fun to spend a night in the local emergency room with the kids when they get sick from eating some bad local food or have an accident. Not fun indeed.

But, these vacation safety tips I’m going to share are not about the infrequent accidents that do happen on vacation. The vacation safety tips I’ll be sharing here involve things that are totally preventable.

As long as one is aware of them first.

So, let’s get started with vacation safety tips that’ll help you have a safer vacation here in Arizona.

1. The first of these vacation safety tips is for you to be aware of where you go when you’re vacationing in Phoenix. Phoenix is a big place and like most big cities it has areas of the city that are not too upscale.

Now, what are you to do about this?

Well, just realize that there are certain places within a big city like Phoenix that one should be extra careful about visiting.

If you find yourself in a part of town that has a lot of run-down houses, properties with garbage strewn around them, and abandoned cars parked along the streets – then common sense should tell you that these neighborhoods are not too safe.

Trust that instinct. I’d suggest you find other areas of the city to visit or drive around.

You see, Phoenix has, in my opinion, a high crime rate.

I moved here from Canada twelve years ago. What truly shocked me when I moved here was that Phoenix had more murders occur in two months than where I used to live had in a year. And I lived in, at the time, the ‘murder capital of Canada’.

So, just do yourself a favor with this vacation safety tip and stay aware of your surroundings. If it doesn’t look like a good place to be – it probably isn’t.

Trust your gut and get out of there.

2. The second of these vacation safety tips involves somewhat of a local health issue. I’ll explain…

The entire metropolitan Phoenix area is located within a large valley. It’s surrounded by mountains and mountain ranges. And within this valley is a certain type of ‘bug’ that lives in the soil.

Actually, this bug issue is similar to most other country’s bugs (e.g. Canada’s Beaver Fever bug, Mexico’s ‘don’t drink the water’ type bug) because it’s a bug indigenous to Arizona.

And what does this bug do? It wreaks havoc on a persons health when a vacationing visitor is infected with it. In our case, this bug causes what is known as Valley Fever.

And how does one get infected with Valley Fever? By breathing in the microscopic spores that make up this nasty bacteria.

And what does this bacteria do to a person when breathed in? Well, it can cause flu-like symptoms that grow all the way up to pneumonia, internal bleeding, and very, very rarely… death (gulp).

Now, I’m NOT trying to scare you. So don’t go cancelling your vacation plans to Phoenix…

…Because we need your sales tax revenues.

You see, this Valley Fever bug usually only becomes a problem when a person who hasn’t had Valley Fever comes in contact with it.

And a person comes in contact with it by breathing the bug in.

And the bug is found in soils that are not old and dried out, but rather soils that are newly disturbed.

So, how can you protect yourself with regards to this vacation safety tip? Easy.

Do all you can to stay away from soil disturbing activities.

* Like to visit new construction sites on your vacations?

* Like to do local gardening?

* Like to take up archaeology as a hobby when you’re on vacation?

One word of advice… DON’T.

Essentially, don’t go digging around places or near digging activities that you shouldn’t be around. At least not while on vacation here in Phoenix.

I know, I know, why would you go on one of your southwest vacations in Arizona just to dig in the soil, right? Silly me.

Well, just so you know. I got Valley Fever the first year I moved here. It progressed on to walking pneumonia and left scars on my lungs. I was lucky that that’s all that happened to me.

And what was I doing to be exposed to the bug? Just some simple landscaping in my desert landscaped yard.

See? It doesn’t take much.

So, just do your vacation planning while keeping this vacation safety tip in mind. Let’s not have you getting sick on us. Okay?

3. The last of these vacation safety tips applies to most of Arizona. This one is about bugs too. But this is about a different type of bug.

The real thing…

Scorpions and Black Widows.

Why is this one of our vacation safety tips? Because these little critters can be a nasty safety issue when you vacation here and get bitten by one of them.

You see, these two bugs are extremely common here in the state. Not quite as common as cockroaches, but almost. Why? Because it’s a desert here and they’re desert creatures.

They like the heat and they like dark cozy places. So, when you vacation Arizona just be aware that these little critters do like to live in places that the kids may go probing around in. Don’t let them do that.

Keep probing hands away from dark crevices both inside and outside the house, rental, villa, hotel or apartment.

And if someone does get bit, err on the side of caution and call the local poison control center ASAP and ask for help.

Oh, and by the way, unlike the Hollywood horror movie depictions, these bugs are NOT half the size of a horse. They’re SMALL. Black widows are maybe half an inch long. And scorpions get ‘as big as’ two inches. But… scorpions are FAST. And both can HURT you big time.

So, please ensure vacation safety for your family. Stay away from places these critters habitate. And when you get up in the dark in the middle of the night to get a drink of water – wear slippers. Just in case.

So, to sum up…

Don’t get paranoid about these vacation safety tips.

Go vacation.

Have fun. Just keep your eyes open to possible vacation safety concerns. Simple, right?.

Anyway, I hope these vacation safety tips prove helpful to you. Do have a safe trip here to Arizona. Just improve your vacation safety by ensuring you remember these vacation safety tips I’ve shared with you.

Good luck.

Finding The Best Mexico Vacation Deals

A vacation to Mexico includes a little of everything, like beaches, rich marine life, archaeological ruins, colonial architecture, delicious food and a rocking nightlife. This Latin American nation, which connects the United States to the rest of South America, is a popular tourist spot.

For travelers on a budget, Mexico is a dream destination. The country offers affordable lodging and food, and traveling around is relatively cheap. Nevertheless, for tourists who plan well in advance, Mexico vacations can be cheaper still thanks to an array of exciting Mexico vacation deals.

Plan In Advance

If you have decided on traveling to Mexico on your next vacation, advance planning will help you grab the best Mexico vacation deals. Are you seeking really cheap Mexico vacation deals? Then the best time to head to Mexico is just after the rainy season. The weather is pleasant at this time, but hotel rates and airfare are cheaper. Since this is the low season, heavily discounted Mexico vacation package deals are easier to come by.

Tourists heading for a Mexico vacation during the peak tourist seasons between July and September and during the Christmas and Easter breaks have to deal with higher lodging and flight rates. The best way to combat the peak season hikes is by planning well in advance. Shop on the Internet or call your travel agent to get the best Mexico vacation deals. Remember, last-minute planning will only inflate your travel expenses. Moreover, there is the possibility of not getting suitable reservations if you keep your Mexico vacation planning until too late.

What About Last-minute Vacation Packages?

The problem with last-minute planning is that you might not get the hotel or the location that you were hoping to. However, if you are open-minded and flexible about your travel plans, big discounts are available on last-minute vacation deals as well.

Mexico is popular with the tourist class. What that also means is that there will be last-minute cancellations by other travelers. It is best to contact a travel agency to find out about available cancelled deals. Travel agencies are generally looking to sell off these packages. Often enough, these last-minute deals are available at throwaway rates. For those travelers that are brave enough to leave everything until the last moment, last-minute vacation deals to Mexico are a fantastic and affordable option.

Finding The Best Mexico Vacation Deals To Fit Your Budget

While shopping for Mexico vacation packages, look for deals that will allow you to visit most of the major Mexican attractions. The ancient Mayan city of Tulum should be on your must-visit list, along with Mexico City, the volcano at Toluca and the beaches of Cabo San Lucas, Playa del Carmen or Acapulco.

Mexico is largely a cheap vacation destination, but places like Cancun tend to be a little more expensive. Tourists on a shoestring budget are advised to avoid costly places like Cancun. However, if Cancun features heavily on your vacation itinerary, search for discounted packages to this happening city. All inclusive vacation deals to Cancun, Mexico are a good idea for travelers on a limited budget.

What Are The Different Types of Deals?

There are two basic types of vacation deals to Mexico. All inclusive vacation packages have been gaining in popularity in recent times, not just with families and large groups but with couples and solo travelers as well. All inclusive vacation packages are instrumental in helping tourists save money on accommodation, meals and travel activities. Such deals are easily available and often prove to be major bargains. Moreover, they make sticking to a budget that much easier. Since you already know your big travel expenses, it is easier to keep aside a little something for shopping, eating out, off-site tours and other extras.

Many tourists, however, prefer to go a la carte on their vacation. An a la carte vacation deal to Mexico ensures greater flexibility and is better suited to tourists who like exploring. Since meals are not included, travelers need not head back to the hotel for lunch, dinner or other activities. They have greater freedom to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of this Latin American travelers’ paradise.

Top 10 Reasons Why Home Swapping is Ideal For Family Vacations

10. You don’t have to ask for a room away from the noisy elevator.

Concern about where your room will be located – close to or far from the elevator, 2nd floor or 8th floor, smoking section or non-smoking section – is par for the course when you vacation in a hotel. When you stay in a vacation home, however, the whole house is yours. No need to worry about noisy guests, rooms that smell of smoke, a view of the parking lot, or being too far away from the ice machine. Every room in a vacation house is conveniently located and as quiet as you’d like it to be!

9. In a vacation home, there is no extra charge for room service.

Although I’ll agree that room service has a few benefits, I’d prefer not to have to pay $5 for that cup of orange juice my daughter is asking for. Home swappers enjoy a kitchen that is open 24/7, which is especially convenient for families with children who wake up hours too early for breakfast at a restaurant and for anyone who occasionally enjoys a midnight snack. Home swapping enables families to eat some meals at home, saving money on your vacation and adding oodles of convenience.

8. When you stay in a vacation home, your kids can have their own beds.

Remember the last time you stayed in a hotel room with your kids? If your kids are anything like mine, the decision about who is going to share a bed with the “sheet stealer” takes a great deal of negotiating. In a vacation home, my kids typically have their choice of rooms, and they each get their own bed. “Can I have the sailboat room?” asks my youngest. “I get the top bunk,” states my oldest. More often than not, they all end up staying in the same room. Because it’s part of the fun of vacation. And there’s never any arguing about sheet stealing.

7. No need to sit in the hallway or on the floor of the bathroom waiting for your kids to fall asleep.

A friend of mine recently confessed to me that she and her husband typically sit on the floor of their hotel room’s bathroom or in the hallway outside their hotel room – on the floor – while they wait for their kids to go to sleep. They have to whisper, of course, and sometimes it can take 30 minutes or longer before their kids are sleeping deeply enough that they can return to the room. Even then, they must keep the lights and noise to a minimum so as not to wake up the kids and be forced to start the whole process again. Ever try watching Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Report without laughing aloud? It’s not easy. When you house swap, there’s no need to be relegated to the floor of a barely-lit bathroom. The sofa in the living room, the chaise lounge on the deck, or the bed in the master bedroom is certainly more comfortable than a tile floor. Your body will thank you for vacationing the home exchange way!

6. Home exchange gives you a home away from home.

After a long day of seeing the sights, playing on the beach, or experiencing your latest adventure, there’s no match to returning to a comfortable and spacious home that you can call your own (at least for the week you are staying there). We all know that kids need a place to call their own. A space to relax or a space to play. Having a home to return to at the end of a day of vacation fun cannot possibly be matched by any hotel room.

5. A unique place for your next staycation.

In this economy, many families are opting for a staycation rather than a vacation. Typically, a staycation involves spending vacation time visiting attractions and events that are close to one’s home in order to vacation within a budget. With home exchange, you can have the best of both worlds. Rather than using your own home as a home base, you can use a home swap house as your home base. Visit some of the attractions and experience some of the events that are close to your home swap house, and spend time in the vacation home playing games, watching movies, and making pizza and popcorn. Your family gets some together time, and you all get to enjoy being somewhere other than your own home.

4. Avoid the four-suitcases-full-of-dirty-laundry problem upon your return home from vacation.

If you’ve recently returned from a hotel-stay vacation, you probably still have the massive line-up of laundry loads fresh in your mind. Or, maybe there are multiple loads still sitting in front of your washing machine…. At the end of a week-long vacation, most families are stuck with several suitcases full of dirty laundry. As if we’re not busy enough when we return from vacation – responding to all of the emails, voicemails, and Facebook messages received while away, reading through mail and paying bills, unpacking the baby and child gear, toys, and toiletries, and trying to revive our water-starved plants – the laundry simply won’t do itself. When you vacation with home exchange, you can arrive home with suitcases full of clean laundry. When I’m home swapping, I do a load of laundry every night or every other night (depending to a great degree on how many times the boys put their knees down in mud and whether the kids decided to use napkins or their shirts that day). Yet another benefit of home exchange – clean laundry and more time to catch up with your life when you return from vacation.

3. Your teenager – and you – can have some privacy.

Staying in confined spaces with teenagers can often be difficult – for teenagers and their parents alike. Teenagers value their privacy, and parents know the value of a little personal space as well. When you swap homes for vacation, teenagers can have their own bedrooms, and usually their own bathrooms as well. This makes the time you do spend together on your vacation much more harmonious for everyone.

2. Home swapping enables you and your family to experience your vacation destination as a local.

When you stay in someone’s home, you can live like a local rather than a tourist. To the extent you want, you can shop in the shops, eat at the restaurants, and stroll the streets away from the tourist spots. Home swap hosts often leave lists of local dining, markets, and happenings for their home swap partners. You’ll be able to offer your family a unique opportunity to view a culture from within its boundaries. You might even meet some neighbors! They’re sure to give you a friendlier welcome when you are staying in the home of their friend. More than a few times, my children have befriended some of our home swap neighbors’ children. Their stories of playing with these children have become some of their longest-standing memories of our trips.

And the number one reason why home exchange is ideal for family vacations….

1. Home exchange makes travel affordable!

There’s no getting around what many see as the most important benefit of home exchange – avoiding the high cost of lodging. Hotels and vacation rentals can cost thousands of dollars per week. This certainly limits vacation opportunities for most of us, especially “ITE” (in this economy). If you didn’t have to worry about the cost of lodging, would you be more likely to travel wherever your vacation dreams take you? Would you be more likely to take your children to all of those places you’ve always wanted to take them? You can travel in the U.S. or around the world without having to check hotel prices. And you can spend more of your vacation budget on exploring the sites and experiencing all your vacation destination has to offer.

Graveyard Detroit

Detroit, Michigan is an historic American city. From its humble roots as a French trading post in the early Eighteenth Century, it grew to become one of the largest cities in the United States. It was nearly burned to the ground by fire in 1805, and was scorched by the flames of race riots in 1863, 1943 and 1967. During the Twentieth Century, its fate has waxed and waned with the rise and fall of the American auto industry. However, despite its travails, the city has displayed resiliency and had witnessed a comeback of sorts in recent years with the renewal of its downtown and riverfront areas, at least before the great financial meltdown of 2008.

A graveyard is a place where physically dead bodies are interred. This is its literal meaning. However, the word graveyard also has a figurative meaning. It is a place where worn-out or obsolete equipment or objects are kept. Its meaning can be stretched to include a depository of worn-out ideas. In this latter sense, recent events have conspired to render Detroit a graveyard. The city serves to remind us of many worn out, expired and discredited ideas.

Among them are: the idea that for African Americans the North represented an improvement over the conditions that prevailed in the South; the idea that major American corporations are the engines of economic growth and prosperity for the masses of working people; the idea that an inherent radical “Islamic” threat challenges the hegemony of a militarized American state; and the idea that extremist “Islamist” violence can possibly secure any good for Muslim people and their causes.

The Myth of the “Promised Land”

Many African Americans viewed the North as a mythical “promised land.” The racist terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan, the Red Shirts, the White League and similar groups, which was almost omnipresent in the South, was absent from the large cities of the North. Furthermore, factory work promised relatively high paying jobs, free from the vagaries of the oppressive farms of the South where work, in many instances amounted to legalized slavery. For many black folks, Detroit epitomized the promise of the North. They found plentiful work in the burgeoning factories springing up around the city’s auto industry. As a result, through the middle decades of the Twentieth Century, an expanding black middle class would gradually leave an extensive imprint on the social, cultural and political life of the city.

Detroit’s black middle class would contribute intellectual giants such as Reverend C.L. Franklin to America’s civil rights struggle. Individuals such as the boxer Joe Louis, Franklin’s daughter, Aretha, and the many recording artists of Berry Gordy’s Motown Records became American cultural icons. The prosperity of Detroit’s black middle class, in the 1940s and 1950s, was symbolized by “Paradise Valley” and its scores of black owned establishments such as the elegant Gotham Hotel.

However, the overwhelming majority of black folks migrating to Detroit did not find heaven in the North. They found hell. They were housed in dirty, dilapidated slums as racially segregated as any southern neighborhood. Fluctuating economic cycles and the gradual exodus of manufacturing jobs led to high unemployment rates that would exacerbate tensions between the new arrivals and more established white workers. Tens of thousands would never find meaningful employment, or decent housing.

The harsh economic realities of life in the North were exacerbated by harsh social realities. Crammed into rundown ghettos, cut off from the safety net of their extended southern families, denied access to higher education that was available in the historical black colleges and universities that had been established in the South, -Howard, Morehouse, Fisk, Tuskegee, etc. -many sought refuge in readily available drugs such as heroin or cocaine, and alcohol.

The highways built in the 1950s -the construction of one, Interstate 75, led to the bulldozing of Paradise Valley- facilitated the massive white flight of the 1950s and 1960s from Detroit to now accessible distant suburbs. Another flight, that of the black middle class from the inner-city areas to the abandoned white neighborhoods, rendered Detroit’s inner-city neighborhoods poorer and more dysfunctional.

These developments, culminating in the destructive riots of 1967 (over 2,500 structures were destroyed), rendered Detroit the symbolic graveyard of the “Promised Land” idea that had attracted so many black folks to the North. Its tombstones are the blocks of burned out and ravaged buildings and homes. Many of these areas have been abandoned and they give those parts of inner-city Detroit the look and feel of Berlin or Tokyo after the firebombing of those cities.

The obituary of that dream was twice written, both times in Detroit, in July 1984 and a decade later in August 1994. First, by the death of Reverend C.L. Franklin, who had fallen into a coma after being shot during a robbery of his home five years earlier. Second, when Rosa Parks, whose heroic defiance had ignited the even more heroic African American civil rights struggle, was robbed and beaten in her Detroit home. The dream they represented was no longer deferred. In Detroit, it was dead.

As GM Goes, So Goes the Nation

The Detroit auto industry represented a different type of dream for another set of people: the white middle class. Karl Marx, posited that capitalism, and the bourgeoisie it disproportionately benefitted, would collapse in the face of a massive worker or proletariat revolution brought on by the systematic expansion and impoverishment of the laboring class, and the equally systematic shrinking and enrichment of the owning class.

The emergence of the Detroit auto industry in the early years of the Twentieth Century, catapulted by management and production techniques introduced by Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford, would lead to levels of proficiency and scales of production that facilitated the popularization of easily affordable automobiles and unimagined profits. During the middle decades of the Twentieth Century, increasingly large shares of those profits would find their way into the pockets of laborers, owing in large part to the unionizing efforts of the AFL-CIO (AFL -American Federation of Labor; CIO -Congress of Industrial Organizations) and its sometimes estranged sister, the UAW (United Auto Workers).

The unionized auto industry, largely serving a white constituency, would never know the kind of revolutionary upheavals Marx and others had predicted. The white middle class emerging in Detroit not only escaped the collective misery Marx had envisioned for workers, but the automobile and its associated mobility, lifestyle and restructuring of urban and rural space led to the creation of an entirely different and deceptively enticing way of life, suburbia.

It is not coincidental that suburbia, and the deeply fragmented, alienated and racially segregated lifestyle it encouraged would be most startlingly illustrated in the vicinity of Detroit, home of the auto industry that drove white flight nationwide. “Whitetopia,” a mythical land where home ownership, having become the signal designator for attaining the American dream, where the poverty of menacing black folks, and the perceived or real criminality it breeds, was a distant reality left for others to deal with; and where consumerist passions, fueled by the salaries gifted to workers by decades of unionizing, could be freely engaged, first in the strip malls that littered the suburban landscape, and latter in huge self-enclosed mega-malls.

Unfortunately, labor’s victory would prove ephemeral. The auto industry, colluding with big oil, would pay little heed to fuel efficiency. When global economic conditions led to exponential increases in fuel prices, American gas guzzlers could not compete with far more fuel efficient and increasingly better-made foreign cars, especially Japanese ones. The rising strength of the Japanese and European auto industries and the ever larger slices of both the American and global markets they were able to win from their American rivals led to declining profits, and accelerating numbers of layoffs and plant closures in the States.

During the 1980s and 1990s unions were forced to give back many of the hard-earned benefits they had garnered for workers. Those workers who still had jobs in the auto industry found themselves struggling to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the Detroit-based automakers, seduced by the infusion of bogus wealth into the American financial system during the late 1990s and the first few years of the Twenty-First Century, in the aftermath of the liberal policies of Bill Clinton, policies epitomized by his gutting the Glass-Steagall Act, banked on the continued popularity of energy inefficient, but highly profitable sports utility vehicles (SUVs). However, in the wake of steadily rising fuel prices beginning in 2003 and the financial meltdown of 2008, both the demand for SUVs, and an already hampered American auto industry, collapsed.

That twin collapse, automotive and financial, would severely cripple the “Whitetopia” surrounding Detroit. Thousands of homes fell into foreclosure or were sold at a loss as their owners packed up and ironically headed south. Many of these properties were abandoned to the rapacious banks that encouraged their purchase through levels of manipulation and mendacity that have not been witnessed in this country since the era of the Nineteenth Century robber barons.

With the collapse of the Detroit auto industry, and the refusal of a government that had given trillions of dollars to “bail out” the banking and financial sectors to save it, the idea that big business would be the engine pushing the prosperity of the American, mostly white, middle class has died. Like the African American dream of a promised land, its graveyard is Detroit. One of its tombstones is the rusting factories in and around the city, surrounded by acres of abandoned parking lots that resemble lonely blacktopped deserts. Another is the vacated, puddle-splattered, unfinished concrete foundations and weed-filled lots of distant suburban developments started at the height of the housing bubble in 2005-2006, now given up for dead.

The Menace of “Islamic” Terrorism

Detroit is also the graveyard of the idea of the menacing Islamic enemy. That there is the threat of a minuscule percentage of alienated, suicidal or just plain angry Muslims engaging in acts of mindless violence that threaten the lives of an even more minuscule percentage of Americans is undeniable. However, the idea that there is a strategically significant Islamic threat possessing any significant resources that can be translated into the kind of power needed to challenge a militarized America or its global financial empire is a baseless fiction.

The killing of Imam Luqman Abdullah, a Muslim activist in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Detroit exposes that fiction. Imam Luqman was allegedly the leader of a group of radical, separatist-minded Muslims whose potential danger warranted the infiltration and surveillance of their mosque, entrapping them in an elaborate scheme involving stolen property and finally the staged ambush and brutal slaughter of the Imam.

The entire operation exposes the fictitious and empty nature of the Islamic threat. While it is true that Imam Luqman was known to engage in fierce anti-American rhetoric, what actual capabilities did he and his followers possess? Their mosque, in one of the poorest sections of Detroit, is in serious disrepair and threatened with foreclosure. The state of the mosque alone demands that one asks, “How could a group so poor that it could barely afford to operate a small mosque in one of the poorest neighborhoods in America overthrow the United States government or establish a separate state anywhere on American soil?” The answer is obvious except to those whose minds are so poisoned by their narrow, self-serving agenda that they cannot see reality for what it is.

Hence, when Imam Luqman was gunned down by a hail of bullets unleashed by the agents arrayed against him, the real nature of the threat he represents was exposed. Even if he did possess a single firearm, as it is alleged, what threat did he represent in the face of the fully automatic high caliber arsenal in the hands of the bulletproof vested, numerically superior forces arrayed against him? Little or none! Extrapolate from that situation to the global confrontation between America and “radical” Islam and you will understand the true nature of the “Islamic” threat.

With the brutal murder of Imam Luqman, Detroit is once again a symbolic graveyard. In it is buried the idea of the existential Islamic threat. Its tombstones are the tiny mosque Imam Luqman once headed and the cold warehouse in nearby Dearborn where he was gunned down, handcuffed, and then left to die with less dignity than the shot government dog that was evacuated by helicopter from the scene.

The Glorious “Jihad”

Finally, Detroit is a graveyard for the idea that “Islamic” terrorism can secure any benefit for the Muslim people. That idea fizzled as surely as the bomb allegedly hidden in Farouk Abdul Mutallab’s underwear fizzled over the skies of Detroit -an unexploded, unspectacular, yet unmitigated disaster.

In the aftermath of that event we are left to ask, “What benefit would have accrued to Muslims had that bomb exploded, murdering three hundred unsuspecting, innocent passengers in American airspace on Christmas Day?” None whatsoever! Instead, an exponentially larger number of impoverished, innocent Muslims than those already experiencing American-style justice would have bombs and rockets raining down on their towns, hamlets and villages. An exponentially larger number of innocent Muslims than those already herded into dungeons scattered around the world would be hauled off to be tortured, brutalized and humiliated.

Ordinary Muslims, with no connection to the troubled stranger who operated so ruthlessly in their name with neither their permission nor their counsel would have been left to bear the consequences of his act of unenlightened self-negation. The noble actions of those people resisting the occupation of their lands, the usurpation of their resources, and rankled by the murders and humiliation of their countrymen and women would be callously dismissed as wanton “terrorism.” Furthermore, the patience of even sympathetic Americans, rendered insensitive by the coldblooded action of a clearly disturbed individual, would have been seriously challenged.

There are deeper questions one can ask concerning the nature, targeting, timing and efficacy of the violence of the so-called “Jihad” movement, but we will leave those for another time. For now we will just state that the idea of any benefit accruing to Islam as a result of “Islamic” terror died December 25, 2009 aboard Detroit-bound Northwest Flight 253. Its tombstone is in the Detroit-area dungeon Farouk Abdul Mutallab has been thrown into.

Conclusion

So what is the connection between these disparate ideas buried in Graveyard Detroit? African Americans, most of whom are still waiting for the deposit of the funds to cover the bad check Dr. King referred to in one of his speeches, the white middle class whose homes, retirement and pension funds, jobs and sense of security have been stolen by the latter-day robber barons, and Muslims along with others whose lives and lands have been or will soon be laid waste by the American war machine? They must all be made to see that they are being brutalized by the same globalized corporate forces. That being the case, they must find ways to unite if their resistance to those forces is to have any efficacy.

For example, African Americans cannot see Latinos who are “stealing all of the jobs” as the enemy. They must understand that the system that forces campesinos from their land through unjust and inequitable agricultural policies and sends them flowing desperately northward is the same system that structurally marginalizes and criminalizes young African American men and then profits off their incarceration.

Disenfranchised white folks must understand that Islam is neither their enemy nor a threat to their existence any more than the Vietnamese in the 1960s, Latin Americans leftist organizations in the 1980s or tomorrow’s bogeyman, whoever it may be. All of our “enemies du jour” are just desperate people trying to the best of their understanding and ability to preserve their land, culture, and resources against the rapacious appetite of a global empire. The white middle class must understand that it is not the Muslims who have closed down their factories, eliminated their jobs, stolen their retirement funds, devalued their homes, and burdened their children with a mountain of debt by bailing out the banks, insurance underwriters and finance houses.

Furthermore, the white middle class has to stop playing the silly game of political musical chairs, blaming the incumbent party, be it the democrats or the republicans, for the ravages of a morbid system. The problem is not the democrats or the republicans when both parties have sold out to the corporate interests whose army of lobbyists floods Capital Hill shelling out money to the quislings of both parties who in turn sell out the voters they pretend so hypocritically to serve. The problem is a system that facilitates such a pernicious farce.

The mounting frustrations of the white middle class against the failures and excesses of the political system will not be solved by tea party protests or scapegoating hapless groups such as Muslims or Latino immigrants. Only united and focused nonviolent political action that works to undo the oppressive structures that advance what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to as the evil triplets of poverty, racism, and militarism will lead to any lasting change in this country. The white middle class, or its surviving vestiges, must be an integral part of such action.

For their part, Muslims must have the wisdom, insight and sagacity to realize that the current wars being visited upon Muslims are not evidence of an American or Jewish-led crusade against the faithful, any more than the Vietnam War, the first Iraq War or the invasions of Panama or Grenada were crusades -despite the existence of some rhetoric that conveys that impression. They are all geostrategic conflagrations fueled by an outdated Machiavellian logic that ultimately transcends religion.

Muslims must also realize that in some instances poor people in America are brutalized by the police, prison guards, ICE officers and other agents of the state in ways that make many poor neighborhoods in America microcosms of occupied Muslim lands. The validity of this comparison is reinforced by the image of Blackwater mercenaries prowling the streets of New Orleans keeping the “refugees” in check in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Muslims must also understand that there are many American groups and individuals, including Jewish ones, who are working tirelessly to reverse the policies that demonize Muslims and direct bombs and missiles towards their lands. Furthermore, Muslims must see that only by forming bonds of solidarity with those oppressed groups in America and elsewhere will they gain the critical mass needed to begin addressing their grievances and alleviating their suffering.

There is no group, which alone can undo the dangerous policies and politics of a global empire that in many ways threatens the very existence of our planet. Opposing that oppressive force will require a globalized resistance that has the ability, like transnational corporations and their surrogates, to transcend national boundaries. That resistance must have the insight to engage in a deep level of analysis that looks beyond the superficial categories presented by corporate-sponsored pundits and ideologues to see the underlying causes of our collective problems, the structures that unite the disparate groups that suffer as a result of the policies that facilitate the corporate dominance of the world, and the strategies that will be needed to move forward.

If Graveyard Detroit can teach us anything, it is the degree to which our lives have become intertwined. Whites, African Americans and large numbers of Arabs, many of them Muslims -Lebanese, Iraqis, Yemenis, Syrians and others- live in and around Detroit. Globalizing economic forces have brought them together, and despite the periodic traumas and great stresses that threaten to tear them apart they have been able to form a civic community, which had begun, prior to the 2008 financial meltdown, to come together to begin to rebuild their city. If these communities are able to regroup and then cross the lines that divide them, perhaps their example will inspire a world in desperate need for a new direction, and Graveyard Detroit can become a symbol of rebirth.

February 12, 2010