Archive for September, 2008

Jewel of Medina

Here we go again. Why can’t Muslims respond in a logical and tempered manner? It’s simple, really. Here’s what I’d write: “We do not agree with the publication of his book, and wish to express our disappointment and outrage over the writings regarding one of the most revered and respected individuals in Islam.” That took less than 30 seconds.  I don’t even know if the book is even portraying Aisha in a bad light! It’s just because of one person’s inflammatory remarks, with which the author disagrees with. Whatever. I can’t write anymore, this is too much. God help us if this sparks another ridiculous response from Muslims.


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The Clerics Strike Again!


“[Some shows that test the limits on the treatment of sex and gender roles are clearly] exposing people who are culturally isolated to modernity at a pace that is faster than they would like.” -Ramez Maluf



I can’t piece my words together right now, so I’ll just blog now and edit later – but definitely read the article, people.

Why are Muslim clerics so retarded? Is it just me, or is every sin now punishable by death? I’m sure the media has something to do with the demonization of Islam, but no one can deny the lack of nuance expressed in clerics’ judgments these days. 

I don’t mean to play innocent. I often times find myself silently judging others for their lifestyle, whether it be drinking alcohol, or having premarital sex. I tend to elevate my moral beliefs over theirs. I pat myself on the shoulder and look down upon those “alcoholics and sluts” (cuz anyone who drinks alcohol must be crazy, and anyone who has premarital sex is a tramp). But I will be the first to admit how wrong this is. I choose to behave a certain way because of my beliefs, but over the last couple of years I’ve been trying my best not to impose those beliefs onto others, and moreover, to accept their beliefs as a moral way of life. Actually, part of me is jealous of their behavior. Jealous of the fact that they can commit such actions without the pain of guilt that would inevitably overwhelm me if I attempted to participate in the “festivities.” In the end, in some cases, they may actually be happier.

Anyway, what’s of more interest to me is the underlying social implications television programs have on society. Of course I won’t deny the impact television has on its viewers. And I certainly don’t want Arab society to devolve into a hedonistic play pen. But it’s naive to think that people won’t behave a certain way just because they don’t see it on tv.

What’s briefly mentioned in the article, but not explained is the fact that the protagonist, Mohanned “treats his wife as an equal and supports her career as a fashion designer.” The article alludes to divorces and tensions in marital relations, most likely due to comparisons to Mohanned’s relationship with his wife. I’m not sure if the author is trying to say that clerics don’t believe in the equality of men and women in society (a fact which I believe) or if he’s suggesting that these television programs are a platform for women’s rights (which I think is a stretch). 

The US went through this already. From Larry Flint and Hustler magazine, to Howard Stern and his radio antics to Janet Jackson and her nipple – morality and religion are in a constant tango until the end of time. I guess I’m glad it’s being addressed by the Arab World.

Forgive me for the awful structure of this post, I can’t seem to get my thoughts straight right now. 


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Why do I care so much about politics?

After watching the first of three Presidential debates I’ve returned to my old, cynical self and have concluded that, despite the historic rise of a black man and the incredible journey of a weepy woman, in the end we are still left with a huge group of people who are willing to vote for a Republican. That’s so incredibly disheartening, it sickens me.
And while I have no doubt that both candidates are sincere individuals who have sacrificed much for their country and truly want the best for it, I strongly disagree with BOTH candidates on certain aspects of their politics, albeit more frequently with one than the other. It’s hard to disagree with someone who fundamentally believes he is doing the right thing.

I wish I didn’t know.

I wish I didn’t know about the people around the world who are in such dire straits, living amidst horrible circumstances. Constantly reminded of the luxuries that I take for granted: running water, food, family, safety. Some people don’t eat every day. That’s unreal. They don’t eat. They live under the fear of being kidnapped, or raped, or killed. Every day. Have we truly comprehended this concept?

I wish I wasn’t just sitting in front of a computer screen complaining, but instead out there doing something about it. I wish I wasn’t so self absorbed that I could actually get off my ass and stop pitying myself over the fact that I can’t do anything, because that’s not true. I can do something. I can simply get up and DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW.

Why don’t I? Is it laziness? Fear of failure? Am I scared to believe so strongly in something only to be disappointed? Is it lack of confidence? Am I succumbing to the notion, true or false, that I won’t make a difference no matter what I do? Or is it that I just don’t care that much about it, because if I truly did, wouldn’t I be more active? Maybe I’m distracted by my duties as a student, or perhaps I’m distracted because of personal affairs. Maybe I don’t have the confidence in my abilities to have any impact. I don’t know what it is, but any one of those reasons is not an excuse for my failure to act.

But those are the ones that I use.

Because, in the end, I am just a coward.
Which is what a cynic is, really. We shake our heads and point our fingers, because that’s all we ever do. It’s all we’re good at. And hiding behind a cloak of fear and idleness, we watch the true heroes- those brave people who don’t carry any of my shortcomings- continue to fight a losing battle. But at least they’re fighting.


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Olbermann: 9/11(TM)

Olbermann’s lips once again release a stream of enlightened whoop-ass.


As promised, a Special Comment about our sad anniversary tomorrow.

Or, more correctly, what our sad anniversary tomorrow has been turned into by the presidential administration, and the current Republican candidates for President and Vice President.

This is supposed to be a day of remembrance. Remembrance of the attack, remembrance of the national unity which followed it.

Most important of all, remembrance of the dead.

But 9/11 has become a brand name. A Republican campaign slogan. Propaganda of the lowest form. 9/11 has become 9/11 with a trademark logo.

9/11 (TM) has sustained a president who long ago should have been dismissed, or impeached. It has kept him and his gang of financial and constitutional crooks in office without — literally — any visible means of support.

9/11 (TM) has made possible the greatest sleight-of-hand in our nation’s history.

The political party in office at the time of the attacks, at the local, state and national levels, the party which uniformly ignored the warnings and the presidential administration already through twenty percent of its first term and no longer wet behind the ears, have not only thus far escaped any blame for the malfeasance and criminal neglect that allowed the attacks to occur, but that presidency and that party, have managed to make it seem as if the other political party would be solely and irredeemably responsible for any similar catastrophe in the future.

Thus, Sen. McCain, were you able to accomplish a further inversion of reality at your party’s nominating convention last week.

There was the former Mayor of the City of New York,  the one who took no counter-terrorism measure in his seven years in office between the first attack on the World Trade Center, and the second attack.

Nothing, except to insist, despite all advice and warning, that his Emergency Command Center be moved directly into the World Trade Center.

Yet there was this man, Sir, Rudolph Giuliani, quite succinctly dismissed as “A Noun, a Verb, and 9/11,” and repudiated even by Republican voters,  transformed into the keynote speaker, Sen. McCain at your convention.

And his childish, squealing, braying, Tourette’s-like repetition of 9/11 (TM), was greeted not as conclusive evidence that he is consumed by massive guilt – hard-earned guilt, in fact  but rather as some kind of political tour-de-force, an endorsement of your Vice Presidential nominee, a rookie governor , a facile and slick con artist.

The blind endorsing the bland, to a chorus of 9/11 (TM), 9/11 (TM), 9/11 (TM.)

Your ringing mindless cheer of “We’ve Kept You Safe Since Then.”While nobody asks “doesn’t then count?”

All of this, sadistically disrespecting the dead of New York, and Washington, and Shanksville. Endorsed,  Sen. McCain. Exploited, Sen. McCain. Trademarked, Sen. McCain by you.

And yet of course the exact moment in which Sen. McCain’s Republicans showed the nation exactly how far they have fallen from the Better Angels of Mr. Lincoln’s Nature, came the next night.

The television networks were told that the Convention would pause, early in the evening, when children could still be watching, for a 9/11 Tribute, and they were encouraged to broadcast it.

What we got was not a tribute to the dead of 9/11, nor even a tribute to the responders, or the singularity of purpose we all felt. The Republicans gave us sociological pornography, a virtual snuff film.

Years ago, responsible television networks, to the applause of the nation, and the relief of its mental health authorities, voluntarily stopped showing the most graphic of the images of the World Trade Center, except with the strongest of warnings.

And yet, the Republicans, at their convention, having virtually seized control of the cable news operations, showed the worst of it.

This is all anyone with a conscience can show you of what the Republicans showed you. The actual collapse of the smoking towers.

A fleeting image of what might have been a victim leaping to his death from a thousand feet up. And something new. From this angle, ground-level, perfectly framed, images, of the fireball created when the second plane hit the second tower.

It was terrifying. After all its object was to terrify. Not to commemorate, not to call for unity, not to remember the dead. But to terrify.

To open again the horrible wounds, to brand the skin of this nation with the message — as hateful as the terrorists’ own, that you must vote Republican or this will happen again and you will die.

And just in case that was not enough, to also dishonestly and profanely conflate 9/11 with the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis, to stoke the flames of paranoia about another Middle Eastern Nation.

This was a 9/11 Tribute. Not to the dead, nor to the unity. But a tribute to how valuable 9/11 has been as a political tool for the Republican Party. 9/11… (TM.)

Sen. McCain, you had promised us a clean campaign. You could be Snow-White the rest of the way, Sir, yet that manipulative videotape from your convention should tar you always in the minds of decent Americans.

And still, as this seventh 9/11 (TM) approaches that, Sir, is not the worst of your contributions to the utter politicizing of a day that should be sacrosanct to all of us.

Hard to believe, but the Senator has done worse with 9/11 and the evil behind it.

We heard it last week in Minnesota, we’ve heard it off and on since January but Senator McCain said it most concisely in June.

“Look,” he said. “I know the area, I’ve been there, I know wars, I know how to win wars, and I know how to improve our capabilities so that we will capture Osama bin Laden — or put it this way, bring him to justice. We will do it. I know how to do it.”

Sen. McCain seems to be quite serious, that he and he alone, not the CIA, nor the U.S. Military, nor the current President  can capture bin Laden.

Thus we must take him at his word, that this is no mere ludicrous campaign boast.

We must assume Sen. McCain truly believes he is capable of doing this, and has been capable of doing this, since last January. “We will capture Osama bin Laden… we will do it. I know how to do it.”

Well then, Senator, you’d better go and do it hadn’t you?

Because, Sir, if a man or woman in this nation, Democrat or Republican, had a clear and effective means of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden…

If that person had been advertising his claim, Senator for eight months.

But if that person not only refused to go to responsible authorities in government and advise them of this plan to catch bin Laden, but further announced he would not even begin to enact this secret plan to corral the world’s most hated man until the end of next January.

What would be your description of such an individual, Senator? Charlatan? Do-nothing? Opportunist? Sen. McCain, if you have, if you have had a means of capturing Osama bin Laden, and you do not immediately inform some responsible authority of the full scope of that plan, you are to some degree great or small aiding and abetting Osama bin Laden.

If you could assist in capturing him now, Sen. McCain, but you have chosen not to you, Sir, have helped Osama bin Laden stay free.

Free to inspire and supervise the terrorists. Free to plan or execute attacks here.

You, Sir, are blackmailing some portion of the American electorate into voting for your party, by promising to help in the capture of bin Laden only if you are made president!

I’d rather win an election than catch bin Laden! No more cynical calculation has ever been made in this nation’s history, Sir. If you lose the election, Senator, are you not going to tell the President-Elect?

Are you intending to keep this a secret until the next election and your party’s next nominee? Senator, as you and your Republicans shed your phony, crocodile, opportunistic tears tomorrow on 9/11 TM, in front of the utterly disingenuous banner “Country First,” the fact is, you have shown that it is John McCain first, and the country last.

The fact is, Sir, by holding out on your secret plan to catch bin Laden by searing those images into our collective wounded American psyche at your nomination last week, terrorists are not what you, John McCain, fight. Terrorists are what you, John McCain, use.

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Warring Factions

Wanted to give everyone a heads-up about an interesting new film called “Warring Factions” set to be released soon. The documentary explores the cultural misperceptions that exist between Iranians and Americans, and how break-dance can help overcome barriers to mutual understanding and tolerance. Filmmaker Jassem Mashouf takes us to Iran for a break-dance competition and offers us a window into this often misunderstood part of the world. He talks to both Americans and Iranians to get their views of the “other” and addresses the meaning of his own identities in the process. The film is important in that it shows how state propaganda, whether it be here or there, can lead to dangerous assumptions and stereotypes and how art can serve as a powerful antidote to hate.

In one scene, there is a reenactment of his detainment by two Homeland Security officials, which causes him to miss his connecting flight to the U.S. He is subjected to a frustrating barrage of questions, an excerpt of which I have posted below. Mashouf says the experience inspires “his moment of clarity regarding the role of the individual in improving the world.” Amen.

Although there is no official release date yet, spread the word and keep an eye out for the film. If you want to schedule a screening in your community, contact the director. At a time when potential conflict with Iran seems inevitable, Mashouf’s experiment in intercultural dialogue is definitely worth checking out.

Excerpt of interrogation:

-“Who is Alexander Kluge?”
-“Alexander Kluge. We found his name in your things.”
-“Where in my things?”
-“In your notebook. Who is he?” He said this while showing me the copy of the pages in my notebook.“
-You see, I’m a filmmaker and I use that notebook to write down ideas. So anything you see in there might not make any sense to you. Alexander Kluge is the name of a filmmaker that one of my professors recommended.”
-“Ok. But now you see how this is going to work.”
-“This is going to take forever,” I whined.
-“What is ‘Reenact a martyr video’?”
-Oh God. That doesn’t look good I thought. I started to explain the entry in my note book.
-“That was an idea for the film that I scrapped. Do you know what a martyr video is?”
-“No,” he said, waiting to see how I was going to get myself out of this.


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Slacker Uprising

check it out, michael moore’s latest is being released for free on the internet this september 23rd. to get the free download, simply sign up with your email at the film site: Slacker Uprising.

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lipstick on pig

so apparently some hillary supporters are riled over obama’s “lipstick on a pig” comment, a common saying in D.C. they’re calling it offensive to sarah palin and equating it with the media’s sexist treatment of hillary, despite the fact that obama’s comment was referring to mccain’s policies. that certain hillary supporters would take it out of context shows that they’re either racist or desperate to have a woman in office, regardless of her credentials. i don’t understand how a democrat can suddenly switch values simply because a woman is now the face of the republican party. these women who have flocked to palin’s camp are committing the same kind of sexism they accuse society of.  i thought the idea was to look beyond gender and judge a human being according to his or her qualifications and character. what happened in this instance? suddenly character and values have taken a backseat.

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