A Brief Discussion on What Happened to Atlantic City Councilman Hossain Morshed

Atlantic City Councilman Hossain Morshed was brutally attacked on July 15, 2021 because the councilman is taking a stance against the use of drugs by attempting to eliminate clean needle programs. The first vote for an ordinance was held last month that would end the city’s needle exchange program and sets the tone for the city’s view regarding safe injection sites. City Council President George Tibbitt confirmed plans to end the needle exchange program.

“They give out these assisted suicide devices, being the needles, and these people are ending up dead in the streets,” Tibbitt said.

The 47-year-old councilman, Hossain Morshed, suffered nonlife-threatening injuries; a broken nose and broken eye socket in the attack. Morshed says he was confronted by a man and at least five others, some of whom were armed with assault weapons.

“When victims are used as props to symbolize something for the benefit of the terrorist group, and when one of the more striking features of terrorism is that it always lays claim to virtue by claiming it is confronted with some form of terrible violence, repression, and cruelty and thereby seeks to use those same techniques to destroy an “unjust system” than what we see is violence masquerading as virtue and revenge impersonating the rule of law.”

The violence perpetrated against the councilman was an unconscionable act. We do not live in a totalitarian regime. We live in a democracy in which one is free to express their opinions and take up the pen toward a cause. There is no room for such acts in a civilized society. I would like to add, that I am against Hossain Morshed and George Tibbitt’s position on ending the clean needle program, but I do not condone the violence taken against Morshed. Clean needles prevent the spread of diseases like inoculations against viruses. This is more than just about a “war on drugs” this is bias against an already precarious and abandoned population. It is about keeping our communities safe and healthy and free from the spread of any further possible infection. If clean needles aren’t provided you may very well see an increase in Hepatitis C and AIDS. All one has to do is consult the CDC and look at what happened in the state of Indiana in 2015.

I’m sorry these two council members feel uncomfortable about people using drugs. I feel this may have more to do with fundamentalists beliefs. If they want to help, maybe they should start considering alternative strategies to help disenfranchised youth from ever starting to use drugs in the first place. To punish them because they fell into disenfranchised circumstances by raising their risk of, not only acquiring disease but of spreading it to others, is neither fair nor is it the appropriate dispensing of justice. It is as unconscionable as the violence employed. Drug addiction behaviors take a long time to change and abandoning the clean needle program is like handing down a death sentence by creating a form of biological war. This will be your “war on drugs” councilmen, the spread of uncontrollable diseases through sex and other forms of contact. Consider the following:

“Heaven and Earth are not out to make friends;

Thus, they treat all creatures as straw dogs (*)

The sage is not out to make friends;

Thus, he treats the people as straw dogs.

Perhaps this is something like a bellows between Heaven and Earth:

It is empty, but never exhausted;

It moves, and creatures are manifested endlessly.

A lot of words will get you nowhere;

Better just to stay centered.” ~Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.

(*) It should be noted that over time the scholars came from different areas and backgrounds, and naturally had very different temperaments. Thus, they were not all of one mind. It is unlikely, however, that many were so conservative or hyper-orthodox that they would insist on a strict return to the past, and ignore current circumstances. Confucius himself promoted a balanced approach and advocated “warming up the old and knowing the new.”

This very Asian philosophy can explain exactly why Atlantic City Councilman Hossain Morshed spoke from a hospital bed after his brutal attack. The action he is seeking is as violent as the assault weapons used to intimate him. If Morshed wants to go against Atlantic City’s clean needle program, is he ready to deal with the aftermath of high infection rates? As a Muslim, he appears ultra-conservative and hyper-orthodox which, even traditional ancient philosophers like Confucius himself opposed when handing down law. Morshed and Tibbitt’s positions go against tenants in philosophy because both are ignoring a fundamental and terribly important issue surrounding the health and safety of the community. Clean needles prevent disease, it does not prevent possible death. Although, NARCAN can. The long-term outlook by protecting the clean needle program is in helping to keep a safer community cleaner and free from transmittable diseases like what happened in rural Indiana in 2015.

Violence and NonViolence

Moral philosophers and theologians have asked: What grounds the claims that killing is wrong and that the interdiction against killing is justified?

Is the interdiction, commandment, or prohibition absolute? Does it have theological or other conventional or fundamentalist status attached to it? Is it a matter of “law” or is it a matter of “religious morality?” Further discussion brought to the table; Is it immoral to be wealthy? Is it immoral to be poor? Is it against the “law” to be addicted?

At this point in the debate, ideas tend to revolve around what, if any, exceptions exist, and what they indicate about the character of the interdiction. As fate would have it, self-defense usually enters the debate at this juncture as the hoodlums tried to defend themselves from your decidedly unfair position. Still, this is not an excuse to use violence.

Morshed is dealing with a precarious and abandoned population of people who have suffered oppression, marginalization, and ignorance. They make up the mentally ill and a population of criminals feeding off the addicted. But, if the councilman is going to be ignorant of the basic value of human lives in the form of an entire community’s well-being, then that may very well be the reason behind the councilman’s attack in suffering an unconscionable act of violence. In short, Councilman Morshed is deciding who gets “to live” and who gets “to die.” Whose lives are “valuable” and whose “lives are not.” As Michel Foucault describes the biopolitical as a regulatory power to “make live” or to “let die” and as a form of power in policymaking always surrounds sovereign power interests not the interest of the greater public.

One final note. There is more at stake than the immorality of drug use and drug dealers. It is the health, safety, and wellness of an entire community that may be at risk for acquiring transmittable diseases a clean needle program would prevent.

Sources:

“Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 64(16),443–444. May 1, 2015. Retrieved on July 21, 2021.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6416a4.htm)

Bob Brooks. “Atlantic City councilman speaks from hospital after attack: ‘I think everyone is in trouble now.’” Action News 6 ABC. July, 20, 2021. Retrieved on July 21, 2021.

Lao Tzu. (2010). Tao Te Ching: An All-New Translation. Translated by William Scott Wilson. Tokyo. Kodansha International, Ltd.

Judith Butler. (2021) The Force of Non-Violence: An Ethico-Political Bind. New York. Verso Publishing.

Michel Foucault. (1978) The History of Sexuality. New York. Pantheon Books.

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Karen Barna

Karen Barna

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I am a Targeted Individual suffering electronic harassment. I write about gender difference and object relations and feminism. I am Gen. X