Archive for May, 2008

Terror Scarf sparks controversy

In one of her many ads for Dunkin Donuts, Rachel Ray wore a silk ‘keffiyah’ — a checkered black and white scarf commonly worn in certain Arab countries — while drinking an ice coffee latte. Michelle Malkin, the conservative hyper-blogger, quickly shunned the picture as an extremist fashion statement.

Michelle called Rachel Ray’s fashion choice ‘jihadi chic’ and ‘hate couture’. Let’s hope that Homeland security has a fashion police division.

Oh and if you’re wondering, Dunkin Donuts pulled the ad almost immediately.


Comments (11)

silk bands

i wanted to share this even though i have to type it out. it’s a powerfully painful piece by noha radwan which was translated from arabic:

She pulls up her eyelids and struggles with them while her eyes wander around the room for a few minutes before they come down again. Everything around her suggests that she is in a bedroom which she has seen at least once before. The gold metallic curtains on the window, the tall mirror and the large wooden wardrobe with its monstrous ormolu do not seem unfamiliar. Once more she struggles with her eyelids and, startled, sees two eyes staring at her. It takes her a few seconds to realise that she is looking at herself in the mirror and that the naked body lying on the bed is actually hers. She lingers on the bed with its carefully embroidererd sheets before she comes upon the naked body lying next to her. The events of the last night force themselves upon her as she desperately presses her eyelids together. The scenes mercilessly follow until she sees what makes her whole body shudder. The scene is occupied by the same man lying by her side now breathing tediously. Did this actually happen last night? How did she allow herself to be raped? Why didn’t she resist? She could have at least screamed for help. She remembers that she had been screaming but is not quite sure anybody had heard her. She sees the little children who have wrapped the silk bands around her wrists and ankles and even around her neck. They smile sweetly as they look into her face but their hands are busy tying her to the bed and she cannot move.

She presses her lips tightly together, overcome by a strong impulse to vomit. She wants to stop the fetid air of the room from going into her lungs. She puts her hand to her mouth; nausea makes her want to throw up, to let her insides come out, to be cast beyond the borders of her being and herself.

There is a knocking inside her head tormenting her until she fears it will explode. She knows she cannot go back to sleep. The knocking intensifies. It sounds as if there is a knocking at the door. She lifts her head and puts her feet on the ground looking for something to put on. She pulls a sheet over her naked body before she walks to the door.

At the door she freezes and stares at the little boy with his raised fist. Is it possible that she is still dreaming? The cold floor under her bare feet affirms that she is not. But she is sure she sees one of the children who had tied her to the bed. With the same innocent smile on his face of the night before he says, ‘Good morning, Mommy. Is something the matter?’ When she doesn’t answer he enters the room. ‘I just wanted to ask Daddy for a little extra pocket money.’


Comments (3)

Dahlak Braithwaite

I heard this today on the radio and wanted to share. It’s a spoken word piece performed by Dahlak Brathwaite on the Tavis Smiley show. Brathwaite is also a member of the Hip Hop group “Ill-Literacy”:

In the age of empty words—where millions log in to comment on videos of iguanas skateboarding, where entire television series’ are based on who can blurt out the most grotesque diss on someone’s mother, where there exists such a thing as cell phones for babies, it seems everyone has something to say. But who’s really listening?

Enter iLL-Literacy—a collective of poets, emcees, and all-around fresh individuals—with a mission that seems simple enough: to have something to say, and for people not only listen, but want to listen.

In the segment called Youth Commentary, Brathwaite “reflects, in verse, on how the Iraq war has impacted his family and overall artistic vision for America”:


I received my letter of acceptance into UC Davis the day the war was declared. I was 17. All I knew is that it had something to do with September 11, or Bin Laden, or the Taliban or Afghanistan. By the time we were invading Iraq, I as well as the rest of my peers were completely lost. The question that seemed to reside in the back of our heads was “Why are we fighting?”

I thought this was a testament to our ignorance. Little did I know that millions of Americans, informed or not, were asking the same question. I am 22 now. One month away from receiving a UC Davis diploma, and that same question is still at the base of all my thoughts concerning the war. Now however the motive behind it is different. The possibility of John McCain’s 100 hundred year war, the looming threat of Iran and North Korea, economic recession, etc. But mostly the question comes from a more personal place. That is seeing my brother’s best friend, a goofy and lovable human being, become somewhat hardened by his tour through Iraq. I could feel his hurt when he explains the grim realities of the country, the loss of fellow soldiers, and most of all his experience of taking someone’s life. He told me that when he killed a man who was attacking his tank, he felt happy. But then as he saw the family gather around him, mourning their loss, he realized something very simple but most commonly overlooked: That was a real person. These are real people dying. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, sons, daughters, friends. And I believe at that moment he was asking himself the same question. Why are we fighting? Why are we killing? Why are we dying?

The poem I want to share is about this very friend:

This war started about 4 months ago for me
I swear not a single soldier died until Brandon started packing to go overseas
I see now what a blissful, sheltered ignorance we live in
Apathy is affordable for us, the egocentric, the privileged
Believing it is all written but our nature is so selfish,
Caring that we are the main characters in our book and rarely do we read anyone else’s
I think I need to work on my empathy,
More than ever, I’m finding it so tragic that no camera could capture the catalyst cause of my compassion
In the age of reality shows, I’m so numb from feeling sadness or feeling fright
I can’t separate The Real World from the real world,
And they both look like a surreal life,
But it is realized real suffering
We do not care for them
Just watching American idol while most of this world just idolizes Americans
The arrogant parody songs of tsunami victims’ suffering, played on New York’s Hot 97
How funny
But I don’t think New Yorkers were smiling on the days following 9-11
It’s only when it hits home that it’s real

And it hits home watching Brandon picking at his lasagna like it’s his last meal
My mom cooked a goodbye dinner served with comments like “Stay in good health,” “You’ll be fine,” “I’ll see you next year.”
Sounds like we were trying to convince ourselves
But I was scared, saddened, Brandon, my brother’s best friend, family to me
I’ve known him for more years than I haven’t,
And man, I needed to be mad at someone for causing his pain
And as usual, an angry hate-Bush poem seemed to suffice for the blame
But this ain’t never been about Bush,
Not even the war ‘cause I never cared enough to write about it before
It’s only when it hits home that it’s real

And it hits home as I sit still watching my AOL Instant Message newsflash read three soldiers have been killed
And selfishly I wish it’s not Brandon, I’m hoping he’s fine, I’m praying it’s someone else’s loss
Until I realize that certain someone else is hoping it’s mine
They are seen as just soldiers
But every soldier is someone’s Brandon
And every Brandon has someone like me
Here in a land safe and shielded, torn between nonchalance and utter fear
This war still ain’t real
Still a hot topic discussion like some type of entertainment
Most of us have the luxury of viewing the situation in Iraq during commercial breaks of Everybody Loves Raymond
We ain’t got that choice
And I’m not gonna front,
My level of consciousness is at a loss for politics and government subjects
I don’t know enough about the war to intelligently say anything but forget it
But I know Brandon, and I know the way he moves his whole body when he’s laughing
Or the way he screams ridiculously loud when he’s beating you playing Halo or Mario Tennis or Madden
I know tears of my mother, the tight hugs of my dad
I know their pain saying goodbye to the third son they never had, and it’s sad
But I know there’s more soldiers like him, more families like us
How casually we call them casualties and never actually think how many lives those lives touched
But it does or will,
From big to small,
Too much or just a little
I used to think this war was just a fight in the almighty name of Bush
Until I was forced to look closer
And saw us in the middle


Leave a Comment

Myanmar’s junta watches as millions of its own starve

Two weeks after Cyclone Nargis swept away entire villages in Myanmar, the UN is still trying to work out a deal with the country’s military dictatorship. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a gathering of the press yesterday that he is “considering sending” the body’s aid chief, John Holmes to the ravaged country to try and convince the military junta to allow in more aid.

The junta is still refusing to allow large-scale emergency supplies into their country. Foreign aid workers that have been granted visas are being denied access to the hardest hit areas. With many villages deep in the delta yet to be reached, experts say the estimated death toll of 71,000 will likely rise. Some of the aid that is in the country is reportedly being hoarded by the military and sold at local markets. The Red Cross puts the estimate of people who need help at between 1.64 and 2.51 million, but the dictatorship remains indifferent and concerned only with preserving its own power.

It’s been two weeks. How many more people should we allow to die as we try to convince a dictatorship to care for its people? Some opponents to the current approach have been proposing the application of the “responsibility to protect” principle, which could involve the use of force. Why doesn’t the international community for once enforce its laws at the right time and place?

Comments (3)

Calls to 911 Fall on Indifferent Ears


In the course of about three hours, a Nashville woman made several calls to 911 pleading for help when her ex- boyfriend stormed into her house and threatened her life. Police finally showed up only after she made a direct call to the Mayor’s office. Even more shocking is the transcript of the last call she made to 911:

Sheila: “Nobody’s coming out here?”
911: “Yes, ma’am. As soon as the sergeant gets an officer available, he’s gonna send somebody out there.”
Sheila: “What, do y’all want him to kill me so you can put yellow tape around me and say we got there just for the death? Is that it? I don’t understand.”
Sheila: “I’m scared to even leave out my f***ing house.”
911: “OK, ma’am, I updated the call. We’ll get somebody there as soon as possible.”
Sheila hangs up.
911: “I really just don’t give a s**t what happens to you.”

Comments (3)

New Movie By Iranian Filmmaker Tells Story of Jesus

First things first, I think it’s a pretty cool idea… the film won an interfaith award at a religious film festival in Rome, which makes me think, hey, a good place to start dialogue. And maybe that’s true in Europe. Not so much in the US. Check out this excerpt from the interview done by ABC News with the director, Nader Talebzadeh.

NT: …I thought, the Christians, when they see it, it’ll be important for them.
[In the Koran] God says, emphatically, he was not crucified. Somebody was
crucified in his stead. In the Gospel of Barnabas, there are explications of
this. The majority of [Muslims] say the one who betrayed Jesus [was crucified].

LS: There’s plenty of news today about Christians being persecuted, or even killed, today, in Muslim countries. So, where does the Muslim reverence for Christians go off-track?

NT: It doesn’t go off-track. The Muslim reverence is very high for Jesus and Mary. This is the misunderstanding in the West — especially in America.

LS: So, then, why in your mind do Muslims, in some places, kill Christians?

Read the whole interview here.

I like how she’s extra vague here with ‘some places’ where Muslims kill Christians. And this statement really only bothers me so much because it’s further evidence that the US news media has bought into the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory. Open your eyes, you dense wannabe journalist. Do you really think in whatever vague instance you seem to be referring to that those so-called Muslim people are killing those so-called Christian people because of their religious identities?? Like they’re saying, “you believe in Jesus?? how dare you?? Die!!” or something. Like there’s no obvious socio-political causes to these conflicts.

Where does this naivety come from? Like George Bush didn’t and still isn’t using religion to drive his political agenda. Like people using God as a shield for their stupidity and stubborn-ness is something TOTALLY NEW AND SURPRISING. And yet, take somebody like this director (or Debbie Almontaser for that matter) who reach out across faiths to create dialogue BECAUSE of their beliefs, who actually practice their religion with pure intentions and regard the words of tolerance and brotherhood literally, and they get shoved into the same hole as people like Bush and Osama (who in my mind are the same people, just on opposite sides).

Edward Said always countered that the Clash of Civilizations was nothing more than a Clash of Ignorance. The only thing that causes conflict is the lack of understanding and the lack of the desire to understand. I think Pope John Paul II said that “A clash ensues only when Islam or Christianity is misconstrued or manipulated for political or ideological ends.” And that’s the answer to your question, Lara Satrakian. That’s when the Muslim reverence for the Christian faith goes “off-track”.

So can we just watch a movie for once without thinking about what it means for world politics or an ideological agenda? Without hearing all the crazy commentary before we actually see it and judge for ourselves what we will take back from it…?


Leave a Comment

Man + Politician + NY = Scandal!

Atta boy, Vito!!

“Vito Fossella‘s admission that he fathered a love child exposed another of his lies: He had told his girlfriend he was separated from his wife, the Daily News learned Friday…The revelation came a week after he was charged with drunken driving inAlexandria, Va., and seemed to tear apart the family.”


Congressman Vito Fossella (who happens to be the congressman in MY district!) and the only remaining Republican New York City congressman in the legislature was recently arrested for DUI. But that’s not the juicy part. 

While in jail, he made a telephone call to Florida, to the home of his mistress. Who also happens to be the mother of his child. Yup. He’s got a second family down in Florida. 

Did I mention he also happens to be a Family Values Republican? I don’t really have any witty comments to say. Everything just speaks for itself, really.


Comments (1)

Older Posts »