Lady Gaga Versus Mideast Peace

i just wanted to briefly comment on an article i read in the Wall Street Journal written by Bret Stephens. It’s basic premise is that Lady Gaga does more to anger the Muslim world than the Israeli occupation…no, i’m serious.

i really wish i had more time to address this properly but being a 1L doesn’t afford me that luxury. but i am frustrated and appalled enough to make a few points.

Stephens starts off his article with the following statement:

“Pop quiz—What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video? If your answer is (b) it means you probably have a grasp of the historical roots of modern jihadism.”

oh. my. God.

what an offensive and ridiculous argument to make. i refuse to believe you are that stupid Stephens. this distinction- this amorphous idea of western values versus an actual brutal occupation-  has the purpose of redirecting attention away from Israel and its significant role in stoking the flames. the pundits who bend over backward to present this argument are mostly pro-Israeli hawks, and Stephens in particular is the former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post.

what does Stephens know about the historical roots of modern jihadism?  that is, aside from narrowing it ALL down to a trip Qutb took to the U.S.? his entire argument is anchored in Qutb’s disdain for Western culture- this is his proof for why the Muslim world, past and present, is angry with us.

yes, it was Qutb who denounced Western culture, but it was also Qutb who wrote a number of articles on colonialism and Westernization. he linked these two phenomena to the British attempt to create a state for the Jews in Palestine. did you forget to read that part when you conducted your little research Stephens? because i think that also played a role in radicalizing the “Muslim mind” …in a much more profound and direct manner than his observations on what American women were wearing halfway across the world.

Stephens goes on to write:

“No less violent was Qutb’s attitude toward Jews: “The war the Jews began to wage against Islam and Muslims in those early days [of Islamic history],” he wrote in the 1950s, “has raged to the present. The form and appearance may have changed, but the nature and the means remain the same.”

Needless to say, that passage was written long before Israel had “occupied” a single inch of Arab territory, unless one takes the view—held to this day by Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah and every other jihadist group…including significant elements of the “moderate” Palestinian Fatah—that Tel Aviv itself is occupied territory.

again, the writer is desperate to remove Israel out of the picture when it comes to assessing “Muslim rage.”  and he uses one Islamic thinker’s writing to prove it…doesn’t seem to care about anything else occurring in the Arab world at the time. the ethnic cleansing of Arabs in Palestine had in fact been happening years before Qutb published anything. reports of Arabs being systematically and brutally removed from their land traveled across the Middle East. militant Jewish groups such as Irgun operated in the British mandate of Palestine between 1931 and 1948. the Irgun’s policy in particular was based on what was then called Revisionist Zionism founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky. according to Howard Sachar, “The policy of the new organization was based squarely on Jabotinsky’s teachings: every Jew had the right to enter Palestine; only active retaliation would deter the Arabs; only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state.” the Irgun were responsible for bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in July of 1946,  and the Deir Yassin massacre on April 9, 1948. The latter is described as follows:

“The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun and Lehi Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian-Arab village of roughly 600 people. The invasion occurred as Jewish militia sought to relieve the blockade of Jerusalem…that preceded the end of British rule in Palestine. Around 107 villagers, including women and children, were killed. Some were shot, while others died when hand grenades were thrown into their homes.”

that goes beyond Tel-Aviv and occurred before Qutb’s publications.  if you won’t recognize the significant role Israel has had in making the lives of terrorism recruiters easier, Mr. Stephens, than at the very minimum accept that Israel’s actions make our job of winning over the hearts and minds of the Muslim world that much more difficult. anything less than that renders you brainless. or worse, evil.

“Which brings me back to the settlements. There may well be good reasons for Israel to dismantle many of them….”

i promise you Stephens, you won’t break out into hives if you join the rest of the world in declaring them illegal instead of politely leaving it to Israel to determine why they should stop illegally and immorally encroaching upon another people’s land.

Bear in mind, too, that the America Qutb found so offensive had yet to discover Elvis, Playboy, the pill, women’s lib, acid tabs, gay rights, Studio 54, Jersey Shore and, of course, Lady Gaga….This, then, is the core complaint that the Islamists from Waziristan to Tehran to Gaza have lodged against the West. It explains why jihadists remain aggrieved even after the U.S. addressed their previous casus belli by removing troops from Saudi Arabia, and why they will continue to remain aggrieved long after we’ve decamped from Iraq, Afghanistan and even the Persian Gulf. As for Israel, its offenses are literally inextricable: as a democracy, as a Jewish homeland, as a country in which liberalism in all its forms, including cultural, prevails. But to imagine that the settlements account for even a fraction of the rage that has inhabited the radical Muslim mind since the days of Qutb is fantasy: The settlements are merely the latest politically convenient cover behind which lies a universe of hatred.

travel to any of the countries he’s mentioned, and anyone can plainly see that Western icons and trends are celebrated and imitated. the Muslim world doesn’t care about your whores, Stephens. what they do care about is the more direct and harmful impact of our politics on their lives. and i think that’s a legitimate and sufficient reason for being angry. what these people desire for themselves and their Palestinian brethren is freedom, a life of dignity, self autonomy. they, like you, are worthy of such a life. rather than insult our intelligence by reducing their grievance down to Jersey Shore and Gaga, i think it’s best you put down that pen and stop pretending to understand their rage and supplying answers for them. perhaps respect the Muslim world enough to actually listen to what they’re telling you. because they are speaking. and when someone is telling you repeatedly and in no uncertain terms, “this is why i am angry with you,” who are you to come along and say “no, this is why you are angry, and this is what you should do about it”?  that attitude has been reflective of Western policy for some time now and its gotten us nowhere. but if it makes your life easier Stephens, blame our political incompetence on Lady Gaga. who knows, maybe 2+2 really does equal 5.

“Which brings me back to the settlements. There may well be good reasons for Israel to dismantle many of them….”

ya think? how about the fact that they’re illegaal? i promise you mr. stephen, you won’t break out into hives if you join the rest of the world in declaring them illegal instead of politely leaving it to Israel to determine why they should perhaps stop illegally and immorally encroaching upon another peoples’ land.

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So got into an argument a little while ago over a poster.

While I do appreciate the genuine response to help Haiti, I can’t help but look at it and see “white girl saves black baby from terror of earthquake…hooray for white people!”
That being said, I got into an argument with someone over how they never show black people helping black people whenever tragedy hits. They always choose to display some white person.
This echoes an earlier posting here that was about Binyavanga Wainaina’s opinion on Africa.
I’m not saying there isn’t a sincere effort to help the poor, or that the relief workers over there should only be minorities, but to choose to display this as a “white man helping the poor black man” consistently propagates this condescending image of helplessness that only demoralizes minorities in addition the self satisfaction of white power supremacy (not the KKK kind, but the “see? they need us to survive” kind”
Why not show the Haitian relief workers who are helping? Does anyone realize that most of the aid workers in countries are actually native workers, and some white people who were flown in?
I don’t know if my argument is coherent or not, but there just seems to be this underlying overtone of “look we’re helping, hooray for us!” that gets to me, especially since most of the effects of disastrous events could have been tempered, if not prevented entirely, had the world only taken notice.


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Fox News- Stop breeding with the Ethnics

hahaha…ohhh fox news…your insight continues to amaze elitist, east coast American-Ethnics such as myself…

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Israeli Media- IDF used Gazans as human shields *shock*

because as we all know, it’s only credible if Israeli media covers it (as a side note, i wish Arab media were as critical of their own regimes)–

The Israel Defense Forces used Palestinians as human shields during Operation Cast Lead last January despite a 2005 High Court ruling outlawing the practice, a Golani brigade soldier says. He says he did not see Palestinians being used as human shields but was told by his commanders that this occurred.

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Violence in Yemen Shows Growing Power of Insurgency– NYT

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A separatist movement in southern Yemen has gained political momentum and grown more violent recently, with a series of demonstrations and armed confrontations that have left at least eight people dead and dozens injured in the past week… .

The most recent round of violence began last Tuesday, when government troops established an additional checkpoint in the town of Radfan, in the southern Lahij Province. Angry local men attacked the checkpoint, killing two soldiers and injuring others. In the days since, demonstrations and violence have broken out in other towns, with three people killed in gun battles on Sunday. In recent weeks, a number of political figures have begun openly demanding independence for the formerly socialist south, which was autonomous until the two Yemens unified in 1990. A brief civil war in 1994 left many southerners resentful of the north, and in the past three years grievances have steadily grown.

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“THE 99”: Muslim Superheroes

there is nothing fundamentally different between Islam and any other belief on Earth or any other way of being human… For me, in the end, the 99 attributes of Allah are attributes that not only all Muslims value, but humanity values. Things like generosity, strength, wisdom, foresight, mercy… So my point of what I was trying to do was try to bring us together, versus pull us apart.

when i first heard about this muslim comic book called The 99, i thought it was a cheesy attempt by some apologetic opportunist. but after looking into it and the writer’s background, i think it’s kinda cool. an animated version of the comic book is in the making…i’d write more about it but i’m busy at work and i just finished explaining it to a friend…so i’m just going to copy and paste our convo, links and all… you’d probably enjoy the convo more anyway…it includes munchkins…and bacon…

c: man i just want to go home but i have to go to the other place after this
c: and work till midnight
a: think of munchkins plotting to bring down humanity
a: evil little munchkins
a: with superpowers
a: the ability to sweat cheese
a: so they can stink up any room they’re in
a: and cause others to pass out
c: does this world include hallucinogens?
a: of course
c: fun world
a: a friend of mine is a teacher
a: so he asks his students on the first day of class
a: if you could have any super power what would it be
a: this guy raises his hand and says the ability to sweat cheese
a: my friend thought it was the greatest thing he ever heard
c: i would have so many questions for that dude
c: what would your power be?
a: read minds
c: hmm that is risky business
a: theres a new islamic comic book
a: with 99 superheroes
a: 99 representing the 99 attributes of God
a: which Muslims believe in
c: really
a: so each superhero personifies an attribute
a: so this one character, Noor
a: possesses the attribute of Light
a: and she can strike light and holograms anywhere but the downside to her power is
a: she can see the bad in people as well, so she develops a cynical view of the world
c: wow
c: sounds interesting
a: theyre screening a documentary about the making of the comic book
a: but the film is also a look at how the comic book has caused controversy in the muslim world
a: religious conservatives hate it
a: one criticism is that its idolizing these superbeings, and only God is to be idolized
c: religious conservatives hate everything except god
a: they hate god too
a: i think its funny that many of these same imams
a: praise suicide bombers and yet believe chidren shouldn’t read about muslim superheroes
a: like if he blows his limbs off and takes out others with him, hes a hero
a: and it’s ok when muslim kids look at this and see it as a positive thing
a: but they cant read a comic book that promotes God’s attributes through his creation
a: it’s like shutup and go away
c: well put
a: i went to get a halal bacon sandwich
a: and the guy forgot the bacon
a: thats the only reason why i went to get it
c: so its just a halal sandwich…
c: i love turkey bacon
a: supposedly its really good at this place
c: go back and throw it in his face like you are a rockstar
a: word
a: wheres my bacon bitch
c: exactly
WHAM! BAM! ISLAM! is the story of Naif Al-Mutawa and THE 99- the first comic book rooted in Islamic history and culture. Since its launch in 2006, THE 99 has been both an international media sensation and a lightening rod for controversy. An intimate look at an entrepreneur and his daring venture to build a new pop-culture for young Muslims, WHAM! BAM! ISLAM! examines the shifting definitions of the sacred and the secular across the Islamic world at the dawn of the 21st century.

For more info about Wham! Bam! Islam!

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stereotypes n’ truths

ive been meaning to blog about this incident for some time but never really got around to it. i meet a lot of interesting people in the area where i work and some of them leave impressions on me, although i would never blog about any of our clients. recently, a photojournalist for a well known New York newspaper came by and started discussing his work with me while he was waiting (i repeat, not a client). he showed me pictures he’s taken in the middle east, mainly of children living in slum conditions. i asked him about the places he’s been to and he mentioned Iraq.

he developed enough of a rapport with me to discuss his own beliefs but he was still nervous enough to punctuate his speech a few times with the statement “between you and me…”

“between you and me” in this particular context meaning he was privileging me with his insight and trusting me with his thoughts…

he began to talk about encounters he’s had with Saddam Hussein’s personnel and how he had the honor once of meeting the man himself, and he thought him a great leader who had the courage to stand up to the U.S. government and Israel. i interrupted at some point to ask what he thought of those who consider him a brutal dictator, and what about the experiences of persecuted minorities like the Shia. he dismissed it as American propaganda and said that Saddam in fact never went after women and children, unlike our government…and how he was forced to be a firm leader because of people who threatened his rule…nevermind the historical inaccuracies of his views which i’m not about to get into.

there was one particular incident he remembered fondly, when he got to see Saddam in person…although he didn’t get to actually talk to the man, he got to watch him swim…yea, the degree to which this guy idolized Saddam did border on creepy homoeroticism…

and if his views on saddam weren’t enough, he then thought it would be a good idea to let me in on his views on the jew. the jew, a singular thing used by bigots to describe an abstract, conspiring multi-headed monster. the jew, according to the photojournalist, is cursed by God and forever marked, hence the crooked nose. the jewish bankers and politicians are why we’re in a recession, why the economy tanked, probably the reason for every bad thing to ever occur to him since birth. and then there was his theory, although technically it isn’t a theory because according to him its been foretold in the bible…of course…that there will be another great depression, even worse than the first, and the jew will assassinate Obama in order to incite a race war that will distract people from the economic situation.

ok. so i know there are lots of crazies out there running around with their crazy beliefs…but this is still kind of surprising (and slightly horrifying) because the dude works for the popular press…and although i know the world’s kooks aren’t limted to insane asylums and the east village, this encounter still bothered me mainly because of his assumptions and the reasons behind them. he thought he could expose me to his bigoted, ignorant beliefs because by virtue of my background, i could only serve to validate them…because i guess all muslims hate jews and love saddam? what i think is even more disturbing though are the reasons for his assumptions…and there is definitely a reason for why he felt he could share his warped beliefs with this particular muslim, whom he had just met. i’m not a real person to him in the sense that he knows nothing about me personally, so his openness wasn’t due to some genuine bond or trust between us. im just another arab face he’s stereotyped and he wanted me to join him in his hate fest, to nod my head in approval, to validate every word…and he’s no doubt talked to other arabs who’ve done just that. he’s talked with enough of “us” to come to the conclusion that these are the standard views of arabs/muslims, and so it wouldn’t be presumptive and just plain wrong on his part to think he could approach any one of us and expect an affirmation of his hateful views. and that’s what made this encounter especially sad.

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