Fisking Yvonne Ridley is almost too easy–I mean, there’s no sport in it.
Still, I was intrigued to read–in this softball interview with the Canadian newspaper, The Star–that our favorite Talibanette claims no ideological kinship with the Taliban:
But what about her conversion? Has she compromised her journalistic objectivity by embracing the philosophy of her captors?
“I didn’t embrace the philosophy of my captors,” is the crisp reply. “My captors were the Taliban, and (they) have a very specific type of doctrine. And I didn’t embrace that.
“I embraced Islam. I embraced what I consider to be pure Islam.”
I dunno…I’m rather pressed to find much difference between Yvonne’s “pure Islam” and that which is practiced by the Taliban. In fact, Yvonne never misses the opportunity to defend her former captors. She has said that the Taliban have “suffered unfair press”; she has proclaimed that the war on Afghanistan could have been avoided “if the rest of the world had socially engaged with the Taliban without hidden motives”; and she has said that “what is happening in…Afghanistan is legitimate resistance against a brutal military occupation.”
Add to that Yvonne’s outrage against Muslim spiritual music, her rants against women who refuse to wear the hijab, her endorsement of 9/11 conspiracy theories–and I’d have to say that Yvonne is almost more Taliban than the Taliban.
Zombietime has an on-the-scene report of the “Power to the Peaceful” festival in San Francisco, where the “9/11 Truth Movement” was out in force.
Apparently, they have their own marching song:
The Ballad of 9/11 Truth
Nine-eleven was an inside job!
Orchestrated by the Cheney mob!
Nine-eleven was a special op!
Only justice gonna make ‘em stop!
Building Seven was a smoking gun!
Now the neocons are on the run!
Nine-eleven was an inside job!
Orchestrated by the Cheney mob!
Nine-eleven was a special op!
Only justice gonna make ‘em stop!
Lots of Ron Paul recruiters were there…I can’t say I’m all that surprised.
Meanwhile, the Columbia Spectator reports that a contingent of students from the anti-war group LUCHA went to a protest in Washington, D.C.–and some were shocked (yes, shocked!) to discover that the protest was also an anti-Israel event:
While discourse on Iraq dominated the day, speeches, banners, and T-shirts advocated a variety of issues: impeaching George W. Bush and railing against Israel’s handling of the Palestinian conflict were popular causes. Some also rallied on behalf of immigration reform, in defense of abortion, or claiming “9/11 was an inside job.”
The fragmentation of causes drew varied response. Alex Camiskey, SEAS ’11, who said this was his first major political rally, thought the atmosphere was appropriate. “It’s much better to address multiple issues at once. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. His friend Rachel Polsky, CC ’11, disagreed, “I couldn’t sing the anti-Israel chants. I couldn’t do it,” she said. Earlier, some in the Columbia contingent had declined to accept a photocopied chant guide handed out by LUCHA organizers over references equating “zionists” and “yanquis” to terrorists.
Gulf News reports that a Bahrain-based teacher has come under fire for asking her students to color the Israeli flag as part of an assignment to identify the flags of countries in the Middle East:
“We urge the ministry of education to take stringent action against the teacher for flouting the rules and regulations governing school curricula and seeking to affect the minds of young students,” Fareed Abdul Wahid, a preacher, said during the Friday sermon.
“Teachers and schools should appreciate that we do not have ties with the Zionist entity and that they should not impose assignments that are contrary to the beliefs of the students and their families,” said Fareed at Al Adliya Mosque, a large mosque located in a posh area in Manama.
The school assignment was first reported by the mother of a student in a private school who complained in a statement to the press about the teacher’s action. “I was bewildered to hear my daughter who is in the second grade asking me about the colours of the flag of Israel so that she could continue her homework. She then told me that her teacher had asked them to color the flags of some countries in the Middle East, and that included the Israeli flag,” the mother said.
Ebrahim Al Hadi, an Islamist deputy representing Al Menbar, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that the teacher had irritated parents and the community.
“Attempts at normalisation often start with seemingly innocent activities and simple procedures targeting impressionable minds,” said the deputy whose bloc has six of the house’s 40 seats.
The Financial Times reports on the latest bestselling book in China:
The Battle of Waterloo. The deaths of six US presidents. The rise of Adolf Hitler. The deflation of the Japanese bubble economy, the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and even environmental destruction in the developing world.
In a new Chinese best-seller, Currency Wars , these disparate events spanning two centuries have a single root cause: the control of money issuance through history by the Rothschild banking dynasty.
Even today, claims author Song Hongbing, the US Federal Reserve remains a puppet of private banks, which also ultimately owe their allegiance to the ubiquitous Rothschilds.
In China, which is in the midst of a lengthy debate about opening its financial system under US pressure, the book has become a surprise hit and is being read at senior levels of government and business.
The book’s publisher, a unit of the state-owned CITIC group, said Currency Wars had sold nearly 200,000 copies, with an estimated 400,000 extra pirated copies in circulation as well.
Mr Song, an information technology consultant and amateur historian who has lived in the US since 1994 and is now based in Washington, says his interest was sparked by trying to uncover what lay behind the Asian crisis in 1997.
Mr Song is defensive about his focus on the Rothschilds and what the book depicts as their Jewish clannishness.
“The Chinese people think that the Jews are smart and rich, so we should learn from them,” he says. “Even me, I think they are really smart, maybe the smartest people on earth.”
Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, is not impressed. “The Chinese have the highest regard for what they see as Jewish intellectual and commercial acumen, with little or no concurrent culture of antisemitism. This claim, however, plays to the most discredited and outmoded canards surrounding Jews and their influence. That it should gain currency in the world’s most important emerging economy is a great concern.”
So, this item in Reuters caught my eye:
President Hugo Chavez postponed a plan to put Venezuela’s clocks back half an hour on Monday after his attempt to rush through the change in record time caused widespread confusion.
Chavez had said the shift would allow children to wake up for school in daylight instead of before sunrise, but acknowledged that some people might claim he was crazy.
Even Chavez had seemed unprepared. When he first made the announcement, he told Venezuelans to move their clocks forward, when really the measure requires them to be turned back.
His government is now aiming to implement the change in January, the science ministry said.
Chavez has dismissed criticism that moving the time only a half hour was quirky, questioning why the world had to follow a scheme of hourly divisions that he said was dictated by the imperial United States.
The change will put Venezuela on its own time zone, shared by no other country. Several countries have adopted times that put them half an hour ahead or behind neighbors, and Nepal’s official time is just 15 minutes ahead of that of India.
I experienced an instant flashback to the classic Woody Allen comedy “Bananas,” when, after the revolution in the mythical country of San Marcos, the Castro-esque leader delivers his first speech:
I am your new president.
From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish.
In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half hour.
Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check.”
And, thanks to the vision of Hugo Chavez, Venezeulans will be able to change their underwear a half-hour earlier.
Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one: A prominent academic publishes a controversial paper claiming that a powerful lobby is attempting to undermine the Muslim world. The paper generates so much commentary that he later expands it into a shoddy book with conspiratorial undertones.
Meet Joseph Massad, associate professor of modern Arab politics at Columbia University,a protégé of the late Edward Said, and the gay community’s very own version of Walt & Mearsheimer.
In 2002, Massad wrote a paper titled “Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World” which sought to marshal a case against gay rights from a nationalist and secular standpoint. The central thesis of his 25-page polemic was that promotion of gay rights in the Middle East is a conspiracy led by Western orientalists and colonialists that “produces homosexuals, as well as gays and lesbians, where they do not exist.”
Massad has expanded his argument into a book, Desiring Arabs, published by the University of Chicago Press. Brain Whitaker, the Middle East editor of the Guardian who now edits the newspaper’s “Comment is Free” section, offers this first-rate critique in Gay City News:
Massad talks of a “missionary” campaign orchestrated by what he calls the “Gay International.” Its inspiration, he writes, came partly from “the white Western women’s movement, which had sought to universalize its issues through imposing its own colonial feminism on the women’s movements in the non-Western world,” but he also links its origins to the Carter administration’s use of human rights to “campaign against the Soviet Union and Third World enemies.”
Massad writes, “Like the major US- and European-based human rights organizations (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) and following the line taken up by white Western women’s organizations and publications, the Gay International was to reserve a special place for the Muslim countries in its discourse as well as its advocacy. The orientalist impulse… continues to guide all branches of the human rights community.”
Oddly, since this is central to his argument, Massad offers no evidence to substantiate his claim. There are plenty of reasons other than an “orientalist impulse” why gay rights activists might justifiably pay attention to Muslim countries. Punishments for same-sex acts, for instance, tend to be heavier there, on paper, if not always in practice and the only countries in the world where the death penalty can still be applied for sodomy justify it on the basis of Islamic law. Concern about such repression is not the same as reserving “a special place” for them in the discourse.
A look at the activities of the main human rights organizations involved in global LGBT work suggests they do not, in fact, focus excessively or unfairly on Muslim countries.
Human Rights Watch, for instance, has more than 140 press releases on the LGBT section of its Web site, dating back to 1994. Among these, the country most targeted by the organization’s “orientalists” is actually the United States….The five people named in Human Rights Watch’s most recent homophobia “hall of shame” also range across the world –Pope Benedict XVI, President George W. Bush, Roman Giertych, the Polish minister of education, Bienvenido Abante, a member of the Philippines parliament, and the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Perhaps the biggest flaw in Massad’s argument is that his preoccupation with “orientalism,” “social Darwinism,” gay “missionaries,” their “native informants,” and the “imposition” of “Western modes” blinds him to more obvious developments on the ground in Islamic nations. The last decade has brought growing awareness of gay rights in many parts of the world, much of it involving local activists.
According to Scott Long, who heads the LGBT desk at Human Rights Watch, gay activism is growing in both Latin America and Africa.
“It’s still relative, but 10 years ago, outside South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, there were no groups anywhere in Africa,” he said. “Now, most Anglophone countries and an increasing number of West African countries have at least small organizations that are trying to do something.
Among the more obvious factors is the growth of international communications — satellite television, foreign travel, and the Internet….The Internet, in particular, is making a huge impact in many parts of the world. In countries where public discussion of homosexuality is still taboo, it is often the most accessible source of information and provides comfort for many whose sexuality has made them feel lonely and isolated.
“If it wasn’t for the Internet I wouldn’t have come to accept my sexuality,” said one young Egyptian who is now a gay rights activist.
By now you’ve probably heard that Batman (aka “The Dark Knight,” as he is known among Caped Crusader die-hards) will be taking on Osama Bin Laden.
A commentary over at the Comic Book Resources blog (yeah, I know…is there anything I don’t read?) takes a dim view of this trend, pointing to World Word II-era comic books:
It invariably amounts to the pretense that these guys are no different than comic-book supervillains and can be dealt with in the same way. Of course no one sane or decent likes Stalin, bin Laden, Hitler, or the rest. But most of those people don’t need a clumsy cartoon to make them feel better by having pretend heroes beat up unrealistic, pretend versions of real dangers to humanity.
At a basic level one has to remember that all of those old stories featuring a caricatured, cowardly, blowhard Hitler 1) came out before most people knew the extent of the Nazi regime’s anti-Semitism, and long before any of the creators or buyers of the comic knew of the Shoah; and 2) already seem rather trivializing of the monstrosity of the real Hitler and the deaths of real people when you consider that at the same time the average comics fan of the 1940s was reading about [Captain America] punching cartoon-Hitler in the face, the real Hitler was oppressing millions and his troops were shooting real bullets at real troops….
Does anyone read the vaudeville-accented, utterly silly Hitler of those comics — hell, of even a number of 1960s Cap comics — and think that caricature in any way resembles the real Hitler or does justice to the real sacrifices made to stop him, the very real horror he caused? Or is he at best a mere shorthand for “comic-book evil” requiring minimal work on the writer’s part and at best a madly errant effort to make people with minimal power and some degree of insecurity over the final outcome of a conflict feel as if they were winning all the same?
Viewed in that light, it’s at best misguided and at worst rather tasteless.
Consider also the general message one might take from such a comic: real soldiers are useless, and it would take a superhero to actually threaten these tyrants and terrorists. It elevates the enemy to the status of a grand super villain, when the enemy was never that grand or that omnipotent….nor, sadly, that absurd and comical.
A report from Toronto:
Bell Mobility is pulling down billboard ads across the city after someone spotted that the woman in the massive poster was wearing an anti-Semitic button.
The ad for Solo Mobile depicts a tearful woman wearing a number of small buttons, one of which reads “Belsen was a gas”.
It’s a reference to Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi concentration camp used during the Second World War.
Bell Mobility, which owns Solo Mobile, says it was an unacceptable error in judgment.
The company says they are removing the ads and they have apologized.