Henry David Thoreau

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Rebecca Ruth Gould

Why a Muslim-American dissident read Henry David Thoreau in prison

Tarek Mehanna (Boston, MA)Christian Science Monitor. Often associated with nonviolent civil disobedience, Thoreau isn’t usually the first name that springs to mind when one thinks of violent resistance. Yet Thoreau was among the first names I came across when I began to research Muslim-Americans’ responses to the crackdown on their civil liberties following 9/11. The Egyptian-American Muslim Tarek Mehanna, who since 2012 has been incarcerated in a US Supermax for downloading and translating content deemed by the US government to constitute “material support” for al-Qaeda, cites Thoreau prolifically in his prison writings and drawings. (I have discussed Mehanna’s case in more detail here.)
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Waldenomics: Modern Lessons from Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau hasn’t aged well, particularly since his death 159 years ago. Through modern eyes, the 19th century author looks like an out-of-touch dreamer, a privileged loafer. The guy who avoided a real career to live in a cabin in the woods now has his words relegated to hiking guides and inspirational notecards.
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Bible verse - Ecclesiastes Qoh.1:15-16; quote by Henry David Thoreau

That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
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