Archive for politics

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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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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What’s Michelle wearing?

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Why is it that every time I see Michelle Obama on TV people feel the need to discuss what she’s wearing?  The woman graduated from Princeton University, has a degree from Harvard Law and is one of the best speakers I have heard, but judging by what I hear, her dress seems to be the most intelligent thing about her. Have people forgotten that she gave one of the more riveting speeches at the DNC and has always been the driving force behind President Obama?  Why has she become a mannequin on display? Why is this nation more concerned with her wardrobe than her achievements? 

The sexism on display is astounding. And what’s more astounding is how we’ve come to accept it as normal. While we speak about President Obama’s policies on the economy, we ask the First Lady about her policy on the upcoming Spring fashion. Can we stop this please?

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Protest

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This afternoon, over 4,000 gathered in New York City to pay our tribute of respect to those 284 massacred yesterday in Gaza and the 4781 previous Palestinians who lost their lives in the struggle for dignity by the “shining beacon of democracy in the Middle East.” They entered a stage of history, and as they were privileged to act on this mortal stage, they played their parts. Now the curtain has fallen, and they moved through the exit. And the drama of their earthly life has come to a close. They are now committed back to that eternity from which they came. 

And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroes of a crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon, in a real sense, they have said something to each of us in their death. They have said something to everyone who has remained silent behind the safe security of ignorance. They have said something to every politician who has fed his constituents with the rotting flesh of lies and the spoiled meat of racism.  They have said something to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of a racist state and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing Republicans. They have said something to every Arab who has passively accepted the evil system of Zionism and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They have said to all of us, Jew and Arab, Muslim and Christian, that we must substitute fear with focus, hatred with hope. They have said that we must be concerned not only with who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, and the philosophy which produced the murderers.  Their deaths have reminded us that we must work passionately, and unrelentingly for the realization of our dream. 

And so they did not die in vain. God has a way of wringing good out of even the most purest of evil. And history has proven again and again that unmerited suffering is redemptive. The blood of these people may well serve as a redemptive force that will bring new light to this dark hour. The spilled blood may not cause the whole citizenry of the US to transform the “negative extremes of a dark past into the positive extremes of a bright future.” But these tragic events may cause the citizens of America to come to terms with its conscience. 

But not without our help. Not without our voices. 

And so I am here to say to all those who assembled here in New York City and nationwide, that in spite of the darkness before us, we will not despair. We will not lose faith. We believe that even the most misguided among them will learn to respect the dignity and the worth of all humanity. 

Life is hard. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like a river, it has its drought and its floods. Like the cycle of the seasons, it has the soothing warmth of summer and the piercing winds of winter. And if one will hold on, he will discover that he does not walk alone. We do not walk alone. We walk with Gaza, and we will lift them from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope. In the chanting and the shouting we will not forget that the deaths are real. We are not only mobs of hate that most perceive us to be, but of sadness and loss as well. Here, most of us go home to houses. They do not. We go home to families. They go home to emptiness. That is a reality people need to embrace. And we will show them what they’ve ignored for so long.

From the river to the sea, from the narrow alleys of refugee camps to the massive valleys of our homeland, we will return.

We will be free.  

God Bless Gaza. God Bless Palestine. 

OJ

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