current letters | 2002 | 2001 | 2000
The Road To Safety
These words began the recent message attributed to Osama bin Laden. They were rarely quoted by a media intent upon shifting attention from them to bin Laden's apparent animation, his physical condition, and his current location. After all, since bin Laden had already been defined as a "madman," it may be assumed that he had nothing to say to which rational people need listen to or even know about. This is the road to further disaster.
We have nothing but condemnation for bin Laden's terrorist methods and sincere sympathy for those victimized by them.
But alas, there is no fix to the "security problem" as Americans have been urged to define it: to protect our people from the "terror" lurking without and the menacing "sleeper cells" within by all means at the government's disposal, no matter how damaging to our civil liberties. The rights-gutting USA Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act are examples.
Pursuing the politics of fear and ignorance, the Administration, Congress and a compliant, indeed complicit media, have enjoyed some success in turning attention away from what caused the attacks of September 11, 2001. It remains essential that that we return to that subject if we are to be safe.
While folk are still attracted to the perceived benefits of living in the United States, the foreign policies of the US government are earning the enmity of increasing numbers of people around the world.
The US government builds its missile "defense" system after abrogating the treaty with the Russians that prohibits offensive systems, declines to participate in the UN's criminal court, walks out of the UN human rights meeting, promotes a double standard for Iraq and Israel before the world body. It buys, it bullies, it alienates.
Among Arabs and Muslims, the support of the US government to the Israeli regime is condemned as immoral and demonstrative of the reality of US favoritism, despite its verbiage of being "evenhanded." US backing of repressive Arab regimes such as those in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf sheikdoms including family-ruled Kuwait, has angered the so-called "Arab street" which, like people here [in the United States], favors democracy.
So, "the road to safety begins by ending the aggression." Our road to safety as individual citizens, begins by recognizing that the government that operates in "our" name is indeed out of sync with those citizens who want equality and liberty not just for ourselves, but for peoples around the world.
Coming Out Against the Israeli Occupation
Also, no doubt the writer was merely protecting herself by not admitting that she is a lesbian as the PA executes those kind of people on sight.
Hopefully, it won't take a total unconventional attack by the beautiful and wonderful Palestinian people to show the author that they want her as well as the rest of us dead. Wake up.
Coming Out Against the Israeli Occupation
The "occupation" she describes essentially did not exist prior to the current "intifadah" as some 95% of Palestinian Arabs lived under the direct day to day control of the Palestinian Authority. She also ignores the fact that the Palestinian Arabs have been forced to live in their squalid refugee camps by their Arab brethren, who refuse to absorb them into their own societies, even though they have a common language, religion and culture.
The Israelis have stolen no one's land, water or resources. Those are outrageous lies. Too bad they've been repeated so many times by so many reporters, writers, governments, etc.
It's our hope that a week of festivities, begining on the last Sunday in June, will culminate in a Queer Freedom Day parade on 7/4/04 to celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans and highlight the civil rights we're still denied.
The Rulers and the Ruled
The ones who decided to invade Vietnam, Cuba, Panama, Iraq, etc., are the rulers. The ones who ignored AIDS until it began to kill and kill and kill are the rulers. The ones who steal from workers and investors, and who are bailed out by the feds are the rulers.
The ones who permit and encourage race division and hatred and use it to bust unions, tear communities apart and divide are the rulers. Race and gender hatred are tricks of the trade for them. They steal our wages, and call it profit, steal our money and call it interest, steal our dignity and more than occasionally, our lives, and call it morality and religion.
They rule, govern, decide and anyone who thinks we have anything in common with them like all "Being Americans" is not taking their lithium. You and I do not make those decisions. We have no more in common with them than the average Southerner had with their rulers in the slave owners rebellion. No more that the average German had with Hitler and Krupp. They are not our fellow citizens; they are our rulers, and realizing that is the beginning and end of political wisdom.
Until then, I will continue to appreciate embarrassing articles such as The Ebony Englishman and the Colored Gaul that seriously question the integrity of the existing Latino media, as well as the constructive commentary they engender.
Lost in Translation?
However, as a native speaker of Spanish, I disagree with your translation of "moreno" as "colored" [in The Ebony Englishman and the Colored Gaul]. Whereas "colored" has often had a pejorative meaning, "moreno/a" does not have the same baggage.
Note also that "moreno" is not about being African and doesn't really mean Black. That would be "negro," which actually means "black" as opposed to the "N" word in the USA. I'm sure you could come up with quite a few really offensive translations of that "N" word I just wouldn't include "moreno" among them.
"Moreno" just as well applies to anyone who is not fair, including a lot of Native Americans. Furthermore, in most places, using "moreno" is as neutral as saying blond or brunette. A white guy, for example, might come back from the beach "moreno". I often refer to cute white guys as just that. And the "morenito"/"morenita" which you hear a lot in vocal music are usually terms of endearment.
A better translation of "moreno" might be "dark-complected" (vs. fair-skinned?).
I think that the constant reference to "orientales" (Orientals) by Spanish-language TV sportscasters covering the World Cup and the repeating of stereotypical generalizations about those "orientales" was much more disturbing. Not to mention their use of "chinito" (Chinese) as a universal category.
The announcer in the July 2 sports segment of "En Rojo Vivo" on Telemundo [the NBC-owned, second largest Spanish-language U.S. network], referred to the Korean World Cup hosts as the "chinos" (Chinese) and then added, in Spanish: "Well, they're all 'chinitos' anyway, aren't they?" It just keeps going.
Mourning Pim Fortuyn
This typically western liberal hypocrisy is also demonstrated in your site's consistent praise of Israel and your obvious contempt for its neighbors [The Gully's Middle East coverage]. It has always been perfectly correct in the West to place Arabs and Muslims on a level much lower than the rest of humanity while Israel is always reflexively referred to as a "beacon" of light in a sea of barbarism.
For years I studied and traveled throughout West Asia. In no society in that part of the world did I witness so much blatant, casual, arrogant racism and chauvinism than I did in Israel. Upon visiting any one of Israel's neighbors, I was relieved to be amongst people who were not so culturally insular, so obsessed with their superiority and particularity, and so eager to express their disgust toward (and ignorance of) the lively, rich cultures all around them.
I still cannot believe some of the sights that I saw in Israel: Arabs openly kicked out of restaurants, cursed and spat on; refused entrance to stores; an elderly Arab man shoved into the street by two Jewish teenagers shouting anti-Arab obscenities. In all the years I spent living among Arabs (Christians and Muslims, and the few Jews in those countries), not once did I ever see such conduct.
I do not believe for one moment that Fortuyn would have "evolved" as Cogswell claims at least not in his hatred of Muslims. Hatred of Arabs and Muslims is lazy and reflexive in the west, endemic of our thoroughly backward understanding of our own deeply interconnected history with the Muslim world. Such evolution would require something that most in the west are incapable of with reference to the Arab world: moral and political integrity.
Mourning Pim Fortuyn
Having recently attended college, I can only begin to tell you how prevalent this attitude is at the university level. I am both a minority and an immigrant from a Third World nation, and would find myself arguing with my classmates regarding their two-faced and hypocritical approach to human rights, and what I saw as their racism towards the people they professed to defend. After all, a person who would not hold you to the same high standards as they hold themselves and their peers, can hardly be thought of as respecting you. It is a patronizing and paternalistic attitude. They may like you as they might a small child, but they don't respect you.
As Cogswell pointed out, people who have no problem criticizing the Catholic Church or Southern Baptists take a morally relativistic approach to Islamic Fundamentalists. All of a sudden you become a bigot for pointing out the hate and injustice being promoted by many Muslims. Intolerance, oppression, and in many cases, outright murder, have to be tolerated in the name of the all important God, "multiculturalism." Until, the Left wakes up and starts holding the Third World to the same standard of human rights that it holds the United States and Western Europe, none of its hopes for worldwide justice and equality will ever be realized.
Venezuela's Media: Free or Footloose?
Between God and the Devil: The Killing of Daniel Pearl
Tackling Poverty at the WEF
If he means what he says, he must listen to the poor, and be willing to try new things to undo poverty.
Today in the U.S., federal and state programs assist only an increment of the needy. Many folks are immorally and illegally turned away. Taxpayers are merely financing the illusion of compassion.
This, while America and the world has enough resources to help the 20% of people living without the basics of rent, heat, clothes, food, medication, not to mention the hope of a vacation. Many of those at the bottom of the economic ladder are lgbt's (lesbian, gay, bi, transgender people).
America must eliminate poverty among its own people, before we can morally assist others to do so.
Censorship in Iran
Democracy government "for the people, by the people" is not a foreign concept to Islam. A true Islamic state is divided into three branches: 1) The Majlis al-Shura, or representative branch, which is a body of elected representatives similar to Congress; 2) The Khalifa or Amir al Mu'mineen, the state leader who is elected either by the people or the Majlis al-Shura; and 3) the Qadi system, a judiciary of scholars in religious law who are appointed by the Khalifa in consultation with the Majlis.
Moreover, the Qur'an and Hadith (the Prophet Mohammed's traditions) spell out a body of law that upholds and protects human dignity. Although Western media would have us believe otherwise, it is not the function of an Islamic government to rule by bigotry or tyranny, and those who do oppress in the name of Islam are seriously misguided and misrepresent the religion.
It is true that homophobia pervades the Middle and Near East, not only among Muslims, but Christians and Jews as well. It's also true that in a region emerging from the shadow of European colonialism and still overwhelmed by Western domination, people are keen to identify anything that contradicts tradition as a Western import. Custom is often stronger than religion, and cultural prejudices are often difficult to overcome no matter how enlightened religious philosophy is.
In this country, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached from his pulpit for civil rights and an end to all oppression at a time when many observant Christians and Jews saw no contradiction between their faith and racial discrimination. If we are to gain any insight into the human rights abuses that exist in the Middle and Near East, we need to separate our understanding of a peaceful religion from the practice of tyrants. Misunderstanding and intolerance on the part of Western activists does not promote understanding and tolerance anywhere.
Vendors Infringing on a Trademarked Disaster
He wore the NYPD and FDNY logos in hundreds of media appearances so as to falsely identify himself with real heros whose salaries he kept at absurdly low levels and whose health and safety he failed to protect. Right before leaving office he had a giant tourist viewing platform built at the site after previously restricting it to real New Yorkers and to the media. The City is now distributing tickets to see the ruins from a kiosk at the South Street Seaport a location where almost everyone is a tourist as if the WTC disaster was a Broadway show.
The businesses in the area that are part of the Downtown Alliance are advertising tourists discounts and even a happy hour linked to the disaster.
Inevitably in our supposedly free market system, vendors show up to try and make some money. How is what they are doing any more shameful than what Giuliani and the business groups have been doing?