Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Of Confirmations and Contradictions

Today I read an article from the Kenya Times where one Hassan Kulundu wrote an interesting piece regarding Ramadahn, Islam and the Pope. What struck me about this article was it's clear contradictions and confirmations of many criticisms I have leveled at Islam as a doctrine. First let me address his position regarding the Pope:

he Holy Father, in an address to students and members of faculty at a university in his native Germany, cited the sentiments of a medieval Christianised ruler that cast aspersion on the mission and message of Islam’s messenger of Allah, Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him)...The point here is whether Muslims should accept Pope Benedict’s apology as sincere. The answer is yes, and there are various teachings that encourage Muslims to accept such apology as sincere by calling upon them to judge men by their utterances. These teachings are enshrined in the principle that a person may be convicted for what he declares with his mouth, not for what he is believed to hold in his heart.

Let us examine this statement here. The author discusses that Many Muslims are offended by the Pope's remarks. Siting the example of Mohammed he encourages his readership to forgive the Pope. On the surface, and possibly in regards to doctrine, this is a fair statement. But the author fails to challenge the actual offense. It has often been said that the truth (and the speaker of said truth) is often hated by the person whose error is highlighted by said truth. Indeed it is said the truth is an offense. If the Pope had spoken the truth then the feelings of offense are unwarranted and no apology is needed. In fact I would say that the person who is offended by the truth owes the truth sayer an apology for getting upset at them.

Having said that then let us return the the particular passage in question. It wasn't the Pope that made the comment that all Mohammed brought was "evil and inhuman". Rather it was emperor Manuel II Paleologos. Now had the Pope said something along the lines of "I think Islam is evil and inhuman as stated by Manuel II Paleologos..." then by all means Muslims could be upset at him because he would be aligning himself with the quote in question. But that is not what was said, instead the Pope clearly stated that the remark was brusque and went on to focus on the latter part of the quote regarding conversion by the sword.

Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul,"

As such then we find the focus of the quote was on the in-humaness of conversion by the sword. Thus the issue of whether the Pope was casting "aspersion" on the "mission and message of Mohammed" lies squarely on whether Mohammed, in practice accepted conquest as a means of conversion. In regards to this point Hassan Kulundu provides us with a clear example of this point. He writes:

Hadhrat Usama relates that: “We once went on a military expedition unaccompanied by the Holy Prophet and mounted an attack on the al-Huruqat region of the Juhaina tribe. I encountered a man and when I got the better of him, he recited the Kalima, “There is none worthy of worship, except Allah”– but I still killed him.

This pricked my conscience and when I returned to Medina, I related the incident to the Holy Prophet, who replied; Oh Usama! Did you kill him despite reciting La ilaha illAllah?” I submitted, yes O Messenger of Allah!– but he recited La ilaha illAllah due to his fear of the weapons and for fear of getting killed.” But the Holy Prophet exclaimed, “Why? Did you cut open his chest to look at his heart so that you could ascertain whether he had recited it due to fear or whether it was a heartfelt recital?” Thereafter the Holy Prophet said, “On the day of Judgement, what would be your response to La ilaha illAllah?” I submitted, O Messenger of Allah! Please pray forgiveness (istighfar) for me.” But he continued to repeat his remark time and again– so much so that I wished that I had not become a Muslim prior to that day so as to escape that occasion of being the recipient of such displeasure of the Holy Prophet.”


A very interesting story indeed. Does anyone see anything missing here? No? Well if we examine the story related here, we find that Usama was out waging war against a tribe. Let me frame this for you: Usama a Muslim was waging war against a non-believing (presumably "pagan") "tribe". From the story it is clear that had the members of the tribe simply recited La Ilaha IllAllah (or his acceptance of Islam) all hostilities would have ended since the prophet Mohammed made it clear that killing the one who did, was wrong. Hence we have a religious conflict in which force of Arms was used against a non-believing population by which conversion was the only means to escape death. No where in this story do we have Mohammed say to Usama:

"Dude, why were you waging war against this tribe?"

or

"Dude did they attack you?"

Or anything that remotely suggests that Mohammed was in any way bothered by warfare (in stark contrast to......say....Jesus another venerated Prophet of Islam who in other "Holy Books" is quoted as saying that those who live by the sword would die by it a clear condemnation of violence, even in self defense). Therefore it is clear here that Mohammed had no qualms with warfare and clearly no qualms about the use of warfare as a means of religious conversion. Since we know this then the quotation used by the Pope is accurate in terms of its discussion of islam being propagated (in any part) By means of violence. Hence the Pope cast no "aspersions" on the mission and message" of Mohammed. Therefore the Pope had nothing to apologize for and Muslims have absolutely no grounds for being offended. Thus the entire article is an exercise in contradiction. Instead of teaching Muslims who took offense at the Pope's remarks regarding Islam and Mohammed he should be schooling them on history.

Another point I want to discuss here is the issue of God and gender. as I discussed in my critique of Ahmedinejad's speech God cannot be a he or she since by assigning a gender to God necessarily limits God who is supposed to be omnipotent. So we find Hassan Kulundu making this statement:

And while Muslims leave the matter to Allah Himself, they should continue to seek refuge in Allah, praise Him and invoke His blessings on his noble Prophet. They should exalt the Messenger of Allah’s status through deep prayer and sacrifice especially during this holy month of Ramadhan. And as much as they seek to protect the course of Islam and its noble Prophet against its enemies, they should understand that Allah is capable of protecting His religion and Prophet better than any human being can do. They should therefore not go to extremes in protecting Islam and the Holy Prophet as if though Allah is not capable (God forbid).

I stated in the previous critique that:

It is not accidental at all that in the absence of a gender neutral term, the male signifier is used.

Indeed the near universal use of "He" in discussions of Allah is a clear indicator that regardless to Allah's "many attributes" the patriarchal societies in which Islam was formed and in which it is often practiced makes it clear that in terms of practice I would put a hard $100 that most of the adherents imaging Allah as a male (regardless to bans on depictions).

Overall I think the article went a long way to highlight the clear contradictions between what is claimed and what is actually the case in regards to Mohammed and violence. Of course if one is stuck in doctrine these items are not so clear.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cartoons, Speeches and Operas

In the latest example of intellectual terrorism by some Muslims a german opera has been Cancelled because an anonymous caller threatened to bomb the theater because in part of the Opera, the character playing Mohammed is beheaded. Never mind that in the opera every God or religious leader represented in the Opera are beheaded. No, the sheer terror of possible violence by some idiots who think they are defending Mohammed's character and doing God's will, has stopped a show from going on.

A leading German opera house has canceled performances of a Mozart opera because of security fears stirred by a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad, prompting a storm of protest here about what many see as the surrender of artistic freedom.

In the scene that offended Muslims and led to security fears, a king places the severed heads of religious leaders on chairs.

The Deutsche Oper Berlin said Tuesday that it had pulled “Idomeneo” from its fall schedule after the police warned of an “incalculable risk” to the performers and the audience.

The company’s director, Kirsten Harms, said she regretted the decision but felt she had no choice. She said she was told in August that the police had received an anonymous threat, but she acted only after extensive deliberations...

The disputed scene is not part of Mozart’s opera, but was added by the director, Hans Neuenfels. In it, the king of Crete, Idomeneo, carries the heads of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and Poseidon on to the stage, placing each on a stool.

“Idomeneo,” first performed in 1781, tells a mythical story of Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea, who toys with men’s lives and demands spiteful sacrifice...

The severed heads of the religious figures, Mr. Raue said, was meant by Mr. Neuenfels to make a point that “all the founders of religions were figures that didn’t bring peace to the world.”

André Kraft, spokesman for Komische Oper, a more adventurous opera house where Mr. Neuenfels is engaged in another Mozart production, described the 65-year-old director as “a secularist who does not believe religion solves the problems of the world.”




The continuous apologies and accommodation of intellectual terrorism by a group of Muslims needs to stop. Now. This is not a defense of Opera. This is not a defense of Germany. This is not a defense of the Pope. This is a plain and clear attack on the freedom of people to discuss, critique and yes, defame any religion they choose.

However; this outrage does not end there. A summit of sorts was convened in which various issues were discussed:

The participants in the conference grappled with similarly sensitive issues during their two-and-a-half hour session. Among the topics discussed were the teaching of Islamic religion in public schools, the training of imams here, the construction of mosques, and the discrimination against Muslims living in Germany, the large majority of whom are Turkish.

Mr. Schäuble, an influential member of Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party, supports teaching Islam in schools. But he also insists that Muslim schoolgirls be allowed to take physical education — a practice that some conservative Muslim families resist.

Mr. Schäuble, who oversees Germany’s antiterrorism efforts, has warned Muslim leaders that they must abide by the German constitution and the principles of a democratic society. He excluded Muslims, who would like to see Islamic, or Sharia law, adopted here, from the conference.


I'm glad that those seeking Sharia were not allowed to participate (something Nigeria could learn from). But I don't think that position will stand in the long term should governments and other institutions continue to lay down in the face of intellectual terrorism. But what also should be completely off the table is the teaching of Islam (or any other religion) in publicly financed schools. a secular state should not be teaching religion except in the form of comparative or critical studies. Otherwise no religious instruction should occur within state run schools. Private schools should be able to do religious indoctrination if they choose. That such a topic even has to be discussed is a very bad sign.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

On Condi Rice 2

George Curry has seconded my position on Condi Rice and provided missing links in my theory:

“My father was not a march-in-the-street preacher,” Rice told an interviewer for the Washington Post. The decision to use children in protest demonstrations is one of the main reasons the walls of segregation came tumbling down in my home state. But Rev. Rice would have no part of it.

“He saw no reason to put children at risk,” she told the Washington Post. “He would never put his own children at risk.”

And that’s the point. Many Black middle-class families refused to confront America’s version of apartheid, yet when the doors of opportunity flung open, they were the first to march through them, riding on the back of poor people who were unafraid to take risks.


It would seem that I nailed Dr. Rice and her Civil Rights pimping family squarely on the head.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tribute To Dikembe Mutombo

I was remiss in posting when the news came out about the soon to be opened hospital in The Democratic Republic of the Congo financed by Dikembe Mutombo. On these pages I have often criticised athletes and other wealthy blacks for not putting their monies towards the betterment of black people. When I say betterment I don't mean some NGO digging a new well or some tent hospital. No what I mean is to contribute to the development of modern, sustainable infastructure. I have long stated that as a collective Africans in the diaspora are in an economic position to drastically change Africa.

Fortunately James Clingman has reminded me of Mr. Mutombo's great effort:

I received an e-mail about the article in USA Today regarding Dikembe Mutombo's project in Congo; although he has been on this quest for several years, and has appeared on Sixty Minutes and other media venues, apparently this latest story has garnered more attention, which could be due to the strategy being employed to raise the money Mutombo needs to complete the hospital.

He is asking for 100,000 people to donate $10 per month for a year in order to raise $9 million. That's right, I said, '$9 million.' It seems to me that amount could be raised in a New York minute by NBA players. Of course, if man-on-the-street folks want to contribute that's all well and good. But the fact that this brother has to organize his latest campaign to do such a wonderful thing says a lot about his fellow NBA players. It also says a lot about their Black consciousness and the lack thereof...

Hundreds of millions of dollars are earned by Black NBA players, much of which is spent at non-Black owned clothing and jewelry stores, real estate agents, automobile dealerships, and sports agencies, and they do not have the consciousness to give $9 million to one of their own. This situation also speaks to the larger problem of Black folks in general being unwilling to give our dollars to the things we say are valuable. We should be ashamed of not taking better care of one another.

Building a hospital in Congo, especially after Dikembe Mutombo has put $15 million of his own money into the project, rather than being a high percentage slam dunk, it remains a low percentage three-pointer, despite the tremendous resources controlled by NBA players and coaches.


Of course what Clingman discusses here is not limited to athletes. the sheer unwillingness of many black people to not economically support that which we talk about being important. But I don't want to dwell on the lack of support by Mutombo's peers, rather I want to offer this tribute to the excellent example set by this brother.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Get Your Shirts!

And if you look on your right you will notice "Garvey's Ghost" T-shirts for sale. So what's the deal? Simply put I want to raise money for the Olatunji Foundation. Therefore; in addition to putting up my own cash to fund the Scholarship(s) offered there, I am putting up for a little something for those who support the endeavor. Now why is the "s" at the end of scholarship in parenthesis? Well to be frank, whether or not more than one scholarship will be awarded is entirely up to you hence the "(s)". Now how can we make this happen?

1) In order to fund all scholarships, pay bank fees, web hosting fees etc. we need at least 160 people to donate at least $25. Since we are paying for shirts we'll actually need more than that. That gets us 6 fully funded scholarships to students who display academic promise and are conscious Pan-Africanist minded to boot. At the time of this post over 5,200 unique people have loaded this blog. This month 550 people have visited this blog. If 10% of those numbers gave we would be in excellent shape.

2) If you know of students who fit the requirements for the scholarship let them know to apply. I first offered this scholarship last year and exactly 1 student called asking for information. That student did not apply though. Having been the only student had she met the minimum requirements she would have had $500 towards her fees and books. Oh well. While I am sending out mailings to financial aid offices and specific departments to advertise the scholarships, if the students don't apply I can't give the money away.

What is the Olatunji Foundation about? If you look at the advertisement to your right you'll see that we ask this question:

Who are we preparing?

If you visit just about any institution of higher learning you will find advertisements for fellowships and scholarships. Look at them. Ford Foundation, NSA, FBI, Dell, Microsoft, Abercrombie and Fitch, and various foundations and think tanks. Now look extra carefully are any of them from conscious black organizations? No I'm not talking about the Council of Negro Women. I'm not talking about the United Negro College Fund. Nor am I talking about the CBC foundation or the NAACP. None of these organization are Pan-Africanist. So when we see "negroes" graduating from schools of "higher learning" with absolutely no other purpose but to get paid why are we surprised? When we see a new generation of blacks with absolutely no clue why are we surprised? I remember how I was told that "black stuff" won't get you anywhere. They were right in a sense. I definitely was not going to get a scholarship while espousing the philosophies and Opinions of Marcus Garvey. Just imagine that essay. So the Olatunji Foundation was started as a means to address this glaring problem. We must fund our next generation.

This is Kujichagulia, Ujimaa and Ujamaa at work.

Now some people are thinking "I don't have $25." Maybe. If you went to the movies this month with a significant other (and live in a metropolis) you spent $25 on the tickets, gas, and food. If you took your wife or husband out to dinner for a birthday this year you already spent $25. If you bought two pairs of shoes from Payless Shoe stores you spent $25. Heck if you filled your gas tank at any time this summer you spent $25. Did you have a pizza? Did you pay for lunch this week? $25 gone.

The point here is that $25 is easy for anyone who is not "working poor". We do not need to be rich like Oprah or Bill Gates to make a significant change in our communities both local and global but we all have to do our part. Everyone has a part to play this is an opportunity to do a part. This is the time to put your money where your mouth is. Let's do this.

Let's Do This!


Technorati Tags: , ,

Monday, September 25, 2006

On Condi Rice

Last night Condoleezza Rice was on 60 Minutes getting the easy treatment at the hands of Katie Couric. I do not like Dr. Rice due to her loyalty for a corrupt administration and her incompetence in regards to the "big picture" issues. That means that I don't fall into discussions of whether she is articulate or intelligent. Those things do not matter when the purposes that those talents are used for are wholly wrong. I was tempted to change the channel when she came on and I was glad I did not because I think that 60 minutes did an excellent interview in regards to exposing why, in my opinion, Dr. Rice is who she is.

In an attempt to give her "Black folk" credibility they discussed the Birmingham AL. bombing where the legendary 4 little girls were killed. Dr. Rice said that having grown up in that time she "understood" personally" what "evil people" were like. I honestly believe that her experiences in the deep south is directly related to who she is now. She tellingly said that due to the indignities of segregation her family "like others", would simply avoid eating out etc. What was interesting was that unlike many blacks to her left, she never said that her parents were involved in the struggle against Jim Crow. She did say that her parents did the best they could to shield her from the "indignities". In fact her father being a Presbyterian minister and her mother a teacher, means that they were likely a part of the elite in black society that often were the last to engage in protest politics. Based on this non-statement and her social background, I think that Dr. Rice was raised by a family that did not participate in the struggle against Jim Crow. It is possible that her family was like the people that Dr. King Jr. wrote his letter from jail to. They were the type that wanted to be slow or didn't think the direct action was appropriate.

If we run with this hypothesis then Rice is explainable. Having been shielded from "indignities" Rice would be raised in a relatively Eurocentric and conservative household that probably stressed personal achievement through conformity. I have no problem with personal achievement but I do have issues with conformity in regards to a racist society. In the segment they showed that Dr. Rice works out at 5AM to the music of Led Zepplin and other music that most African-Americans, including this one, do not normally listen to. Not that listening to such music is necessary to be "black" but in this case, we are discussing how far Dr. Rice is from average socialized "African-American". For those reading this do not take this for meaning "hood".

Dr. Rice was shown playing the piano (we have something in common). However, consistent with our analysis, her favorites are classical European music. She was reported as taking time with friends to play such music. In that group was not a single black person. Now this is NOT surprising at all nor is the selection of music. I personally do not like much classical European music. While I appreciate it's technicality I generally find it "cold" and unfeeling. For example. I would never ever sit through a classical European rendition of the Nutcracker Suite. However, I have sat through many recordings of Duke Ellington's version of said material (will probably do so today). So the thing to me is, why did Dr. Rice choose, in the face of great African-American composers such as Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, etc. Did she choose classical European music as the way to present herself? Because classical European music is supposed to show class and intelligence. Dr. Rice, the conformist has to show her internalized appreciation of white culture.

Understanding that Dr. Rice is psychologically probably more European than most of the Europeans around her is important. She believes in the things she believes in not because she has "sold out". No! Indeed Dr. Rice is, as the 60 minutes put it, a true believer in the classic European ideology of the rightness of white European culture in it's classical sense and sees the US government as a modern tool to follow it through.

Since Dr. Rice, from Bombing-Ham, knows full well that one cannot bomb a people into submission, why would she be so squarely behind programs to do just that? Ahh, she says that when she hears that certain people are not ready for Democracy, she is reminded of what was said about black people in America. Fair enough but then again, Black people in America, strictly speaking don't run their own show here. All black politics in America are done within the confines of and is confined by the greater body politic. Thus while blacks in America will never be able to set up an independent government of whatever shape inside America, The people of Iraq, Iran, Cuba etc. are fully able to and may in fact choose a form of government that does not fly in the U.S. . It makes sense that Dr. Rice cannot accept that because she sees the rejection of "democracy" in the European form as a rejection of the values she believes in. And being in a position to meddle in that decision making process, just as the Klan had attempted to do in her hometown, she has undertaken the job of doing so (within' the US governmental framework) on an international level. Dr. Rice learned well the lessons of the Klan, Those whom we disagree with we will remove by hook or crook until we get the product we want or something close to it.

But this post isn't about Rice's policies since that material is in clear view for all to see. The main point here is that we can understand why Dr. Rice has gotten where she has gotten. Yes she is intelligent and that intelligence has indeed been a critical tool in her rise to power but there are many many intelligent black people who have not gotten to where Dr. Rice has so we must look elsewhere to understand her current position. What I find most important most is that she is the type of black person that many white people, especially those in positions of power are comfortable with. She is the quintessential "non-threatening" black person. Better put, she is the quintessential non-threatening to whites, but quite willing to be threatening to non-whites type of black that is ideal for high power white society. Dr. Rice is the poster-child of the argument that "They can be like us." That if blacks did their best and let that race stuff go to the side (except for when it makes for a good story), they can be just as successful as "us". Indeed it is putting the Civil Rights movement on it's head. The Civil Rights movement was not supposed to be simply about attaining positions of power or being able to be the same American as whites had imagined it. Rather it was supposed to be about bringing the US into a higher moral ground in line with the ideals espoused in the US Constitution. That Dr. Rice is a success in America speaks not to the success of America overcoming racial issues but rather how low the children of the movement have sunk in the use of their newfound "freedom."

So if we get anything from the 60 minutes piece it is that Dr. Rice is no sell out. No, this one like an increasing number in the post Civil Rights generation has nothing to sell out for because they are true believers.


Technorati Tags: , , ,

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Somalia: an Islamic State

I often get into arguements with persons about how Islam came into Africa. I usually site that in some places Islam was introduced by Jihad, and I don't mean the internal type. There are those who refuse to believe that Islam could have been introduced by force of arms nor that after the conversion of the rulers, that forced conversion or "cruel and unusual punishment" would be used against those who refused to be converted. I present the current case of Somalia where we find:

Somalia is officially an Islamic state and conversion is prohibited.

The country has a population of approximately 8.3 million, nearly all of them Sunni Muslims. There is a small, extremely low-profile Christian community.

According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2006 issued by the US State Department last Friday, proselytizing for any religion except Islam is prohibited in Puntland and Somaliland and effectively blocked by informal social consensus elsewhere in the country.


Mind you Somalia was a defacto Muslim country since the majority of it's population is Sunni Muslim. While President Mushariff and other Muslim leaders denounce the Pope for defaming Islam, I'm sure that they don't have much words for the blatant discrimination of non-Islamic religions in Somalia (and which occurs elsewhere in the Middle East). I'm not a fan of proselytization from any religion but I recognize that people have the right to practice and discuss with whomever they want their own religious beliefs. They also have the right to critique their own as well as other religions. This blatant affront to human rights has no place in the world or in Africa. It is unfortunate that at a time that Africa is in need of unity (not uniformity) that certain states would take steps towards greater disunity.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Two Sides of Ahmedinejad

Prior to Chavez's speech the Iranian president gave a speech that was along the same lines as Chavez. I want to discuss the two sides of this speech because while it was on the money one one topic, it devolved into religious bigotry (opinion) at the end. Let start with the good:

Some powers proudly announce their production of second and third
generations of nuclear weapons. What do they need these weapons for? Is the
development and stockpiling of these deadly weapons designed to promote peace and
democracy? Or, are these weapons, in fact, instruments of coercion and threat against
other peoples and governments? How long should the people of the world live with
the nightmare of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons? What bounds the powers
producing and possessing these weapons? How can they be held accountable before
the international community? And, are the inhabitants of these countries content with
the waste of their wealth and resources for the production of such destructive
arsenals? Is it not possible to rely on justice, ethics and wisdom instead of these
instruments of death? Aren't wisdom and justice more compatible with peace and
tranquility than nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? If wisdom, ethics and
justice prevail, then oppression and aggression will be uprooted, threats will wither
away and no reason will remain for conflict. This is a solid proposition because most
global conflicts emanate from injustice, and from the powerful, not being contented
with their own rights, striving to devour the rights of others...

The roots of the Palestinian problem go back to the Second World War. Under
the pretext of protecting some of the survivors of that War, the land of Palestine was
occupied through war, aggression and the displacement of millions of its inhabitants;
it was placed under the control of some of the War survivors, bringing even larger
population groups from elsewhere in the world, who had not been even affected by
the Second World War; and a government was established in the territory of others
with a population collected from across the world at the expense of driving millions of
the rightful inhabitants of the land into a diaspora and homelessness. This is a great
tragedy with hardly a precedent in history. Refugees continue to live in temporary
refugee camps, and many have died still hoping to one day return to their land. Can
any logic, law or legal reasoning justify this tragedy? Can any member of the United
Nations accept such a tragedy occurring in their own homeland?


Just watch what is happening in the Palestinian land. People are being
bombarded in their own homes and their children murdered in their own streets and
alleys. But no authority, not even the Security Council, can afford them any support
or protection. Why?
At the same time, a Government is formed democratically and through the free
choice of the electorate in a part of the Palestinian territory. But instead of receiving
the support of the so-called champions of democracy, its Ministers and Members of
Parliament are illegally abducted and incarcerated in full view of the international
community.
Which council or international organization stands up to protect this brutally
besieged Government? And why can't the Security Council take any steps?


For thirty-three long days, the Lebanese lived under the barrage of fire and
bombs and close to 1.5 million of them were displaced; meanwhile some members of
the Security Council practically chose a path that provided ample opportunity for the
aggressor to achieve its objectives militarily. We witnessed that the Security Council
of the United Nations was practically incapacitated by certain powers to even call for
a ceasefire. The Security Council sat idly by for so many days, witnessing the cruel
scenes of atrocities against the Lebanese while tragedies such as Qana were
persistently repeated. Why?
In all these cases, the answer is self-evident. When the power behind the
hostilities is itself a permanent member of the Security Council, how then can this
Council fulfill its responsibilities?


For the complete transcript you should go here:
http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/iran-e.pdf

As expected the Israeli supporters and apologists have already condemed both this and Chavez's speech though not a single one has dealt with the actual substance of the speeches in question. And now the unfortunate part. While I believe every person has a right to their own beliefs and religions the following is, in my opinion no better than the talk of evangelical Christians or Crusaders:

The Almighty and Merciful God, who is the Creator of the Universe, is also its
Lord and Ruler. Justice is His command. He commands His creatures to support one
another in Good, virtue and piety, and not in decadence and corruption.


Firstly, as I have said to anyone engaging in this conversation, To proclaim God a "He" necessarily limits God. Therefore God cannot be a He and should not be referred to in the masculine. Certain people have offered excuses such as: There is no "it" in Hebrew which is why in Judaism God, Yahweh, Elohim, etc. is referred to in the masculine. To this I have responded that therefore when discussing one's religion in languages that do have a gender neutral term that term should be used. It is not accidental at all that in the absence of a gender neutral term, the male signifier is used. The other problem with this, from a purely world body point of view is that there are persons in that body who do not believe in God at all. They do not ascribe to the above statement, thus it is insulting to them to make such a proclamation. Indeed this is just as supposedly insulting as the Pope's statements were seen. Of course it is not in the nature of the persons following those religions to complain about such statements.

Next:
He commands His creatures to enjoin one another to righteousness and virtue
and not to sin and transgression. All Divine prophets from the Prophet Adam (peace
be upon him) to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Jesus Christ
(peace be upon him), to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), have all called
humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion.


How so ethnocentric of him. How many other cultures are present? It's pretty arrogant, in my opinion to name off prophets of one's own religion and then act like they apply to everyone else. Of course that is the nature of expansionist religions. The next issue of that of the charge that God calls us to Monotheism. Really? Monothesism is inherently more divine than polytheism (however conceived)? Clearly the monotheistic religions of the world have had quite a difficult time teaching Justice, Brotherhood, love and compassion as Judaism, Christianity and Islam have all produced mass murderers, enslavers, rapists, etc.

0, Almighty God, all men and women are Your creatures and You have
ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice,
the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers
and among those who strive for his return and his cause.


Oh yes, for those who are not aware, there is a savior expected by certain Muslims, apparently another "He". Seeing as all the other male prophets have failed to get it right, perhaps they ought to start looking for a "she".

In any case, the ending of Ahmedinejad's was wholly unnecessary. I object to the co-mingling of religion and politics when it is done by Christians and I must be consistent and object to it's use here. It is simply not necessary to make such comments, the strength of the preceding statements were good enough to warrant serious consideration for those who had not already made up their minds not to listen.

The Devil Came Here Yesterday

Though I do not believe in a devil, I thought that Hugo Chavez's speech to the UN was on point. I want to draw specific attention to his call that the UN be overhauled:

I don't think anybody in this room could defend the system. Let's accept -- let's be honest. The U.N. system, born after the Second World War, collapsed. It's worthless.

Oh, yes, it's good to bring us together once a year, see each other, make statements and prepare all kinds of long documents, and listen to good speeches, like Abel's yesterday, or President Mullah's . Yes, it's good for that.

And there are a lot of speeches, and we've heard lots from the president of Sri Lanka, for instance, and the president of Chile.

But we, the assembly, have been turned into a merely deliberative organ. We have no power, no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world. And that is why Venezuela once again proposes, here, today, 20 September, that we re-establish the United Nations.

...Point three, the immediate suppression -- and that is something everyone's calling for -- of the anti-democratic mechanism known as the veto, the veto on decisions of the Security Council.

Let me give you a recent example. The immoral veto of the United States allowed the Israelis, with impunity, to destroy Lebanon. Right in front of all of us as we stood there watching, a resolution in the council was prevented.


During the recent bombing of Lebanon we made a similar observation regarding the appartent useslessness of the UN in the face of a clear violation of International Law by Israel. I won't even get into the fact that the sales of arms to Israel that are used against civilians is against US law as well.

You can read the entire speech here:

http://www.counterpunch.org/chavez09202006.html

Edit 9:28PM:

ABC World News Tonight did the usual and completely misrepresented the speech given by Chavez. As expected Chavez's speech was labelled as a "tirade". In contrast U.S. President Bush was labeled as "Speaking to the People". In a medium that is supposed to be "fair and balanced" and "unbiased" these very labels themselves expose a pandering to the supposed US market. While ABC News chose to dicuss Hugo Chavez's reference to Bush as the Devil, the "News" agency repeatedly called Chavez anti-American. However; anyone who has read the speech linked above knows that he has repeatedly separated his position against the current administration from his position for the people of the United States. Let us not forget that while Exxon et.al. were making massive profits on gasoline and heating oil. Citgo, the Venezuelan oil company was offering cut rate oil and gasoline to poor people in Chicago, New York and the Gulf region.

Nor did the ABC "news" broadcast even discuss the fact, brought up by Chavez that the US government has refused to extradite one Jose Posada, an admitted and convicted terrorist. Nor did the so called "News Agency" dare to discuss the portion of the speech dealing with the US complicity in the Israeli bombing of Lebanon.

It is laughable how us "News" agencies repeatedly discuss how other countries press are "state run" when ABC News does the same thing.



Technorati Tags: , , ,

Friday, September 15, 2006

Brusque

Yesterday I posted on the current Pope's commentary about rationality and religion. I specifically avoided the portion of his speech that was supposedly about Islam because I wanted to see what kind of response it would solicit. I was sure that there would be numerous people condemning the Pope's commentary as defamatory to Islam, etc. ad-neuseum. I was not to be disappointed. The NY Times ran an article that featured the following:

“I do not think any good will come from the visit to the Muslim world of a person who has such ideas about Islam’s prophet,” Ali Bardakoglu, a cleric and chief of the Turkish government’s directorate of religious affairs, said in a television interview there. “He should first of all replace the grudge in his heart with moral values and respect for the other.”...

“I don’t think the church should point a finger at extremist activities in other religions,” Aiman Mazyek, president of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, was quoted as saying in the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday, pointedly recalling the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Vatican’s relations with Nazi Germany.

The French Council for the Muslim Religion demanded that Benedict clarify his remarks. “We hope that the church will very quickly give us its opinion and clarify its position so that it does not confuse Islam, which is a revealed religion, with Islamism, which is not a religion but a political ideology,” Dalil Boubakeur, the council’s president, told Agence France-Press. [back to this in a moment -editor]

In Kuwait, the leader of the Islamic Nation Party, Haken al-Mutairi, demanded an apology for what he called “unaccustomed and unprecedented” remarks.

“I call on all Arab and Islamic states to recall their ambassadors from the Vatican,’’ Mr. Mutairi told A.F.P., until the pope “says he is sorry for the wrong done to the prophet and to Islam, which preaches peace, tolerance, justice and equality.”

“The pope’s statement is highly irresponsible,” said Javed Ahmed Ghamdi, another ranking Muslim, and an Islamic scholar, in Pakistan. “The concept of jihad is not to spread Islam with the sword.”


The Pope's comments were:

Citing historic Christian commentary on holy war and forced conversion, the 79-year-old pontiff quoted from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologos.

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."'

Clearly aware of the sensitivity of the issue, Benedict added, "I quote," twice before pronouncing the phrases on Islam and described them as "brusque," while neither explicitly agreeing with nor repudiating them.

"The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable," Benedict said. "Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," the pope said, issuing an open invitation to dialogue among cultures.


Now for those of you without a dictionary handy "brusque" means: abrupt and offhand in speech and comes from the Italian word meaning "rude". Therefore while the Pope was quoting a Christian Emperor, he had already noted that the quote was rude. Now if we look at the comment in the context in which it was spoken, then the Pope is condemning two items. Firstly he is condemning the idea that religion is an excuse or valid reason for violence. Secondly he is condemning the blanket statement made by the emperor. On this basis alone, the individuals and organizations in the preceding quotes are basically full of the proverbial bovine excrement.


However; what is also evident here is that there continues to be a historical ignorance and amnesia regarding Islam and it's spread in various parts of the world. Many Muslims are in a state of denial regarding the numerous Jihads (not the internal spiritual kind) that have happened and happen to this day. That not all Muslims do not engage in physical Holy War does not mean that it does not exist nor that it was at any time seen as a valid means to propagate the faith. Therefore the critics want us to believe that the emperor though being rude was making up the whole Jihad thing.

The second thing I noted was the person who attempted to divorce the political aspect of Islam from it's religious aspect. That was clearly an error. Since Islam is conceived as a way of life politics is also the business of Islam. That political Islam stares us in the face in the form of Sharia. Law is by its nature is synonymous with policy. Thus Islamic law is in fact a political arm of Islam and therefore it is incorrect to say that you can separate politics from Islam. That there are Muslims who do not follow or live under Sharia does not negate that Islam has a political expression. So the preceding quote in which a critic wanted to separate Islam from "Islamism" is also full of bovine excrement.

I think that the Popes message regarding the need for rationality in the dialogs between religions and indeed between the religious and the non-religious is on target. I think that there are many people in the Islamic world who are simply uncomfortable with the idea that someone would even question the faith and it's practices. They live in places where other religions are in some cases forbidden by law to proselytize and in other cases where armed "faith minders" can stop people who they deem not adhering to the faith properly.

All in all I think that some Muslims need to chill the hell out. And I say the same thing to over-sensitive Christians who can't take criticism either. Ask yourself this: How many derogatory comments do you hear about Buddhists? Why is that? Can't talk about that which hasn't happened.



Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Windows IE Sucks

So I've wasted much time on getting my custom layout to work in iE. First it showed up at 260 odd pixels wide while showing up right in FireFox and Safari. Now it's broken in FireFox 1.5.0.6 (Page too wide) and is the right width in IE but IE wont show my bolded text. But Safari and Firefox will show the bolded text. All this because of IE. IE sucks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reason and Religion

So the Pope went on record discussing religion and reason during a speech in Germany. He is quoted in the NY Times as saying:

he devoted the rest to a long examination of how Western science and philosophy had divorced themselves from faith — leading to the secularization of European society that is at the heart of Benedict’s worries.

This, he said, has closed off the West from a full understanding of reality, making it also impossible to talk with cultures for whom faith is fundamental.

“The world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion from the divine, from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions,” he said. “A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.”...

“Today, when we have learned to recognize the pathologies and life-threatening diseases associated with religion and reason, and the ways that God’s image can be destroyed by hatred and fanaticism, it is important to state clearly the God in whom we believe,” the pope said.

“Only this can free us from being afraid of God — which is ultimately at the root of modern atheism,” he said. “Only this God saves us from being afraid of the world and from anxiety before the emptiness of life.”
.

Though the speech got press because of his quotation about Islam, I think the issue he discusses above is far more relevant. A while back I wrote a post discussing the origins of religion and the possibility that there is no God. There I said:


It is highly likely that the answer to why we are here will simple be: we are the result of a whole mess of accidents, coincidences and extremely good luck. We happen to be alive and we have no purpose greater than or less than any other living thing on the planet. None whatsoever. We simply are born and die. Our matter is returned to the Earth where it is recycled to sustain future life of various forms. Our "consciouness" which artificial intelligence will soon show, is the result of very high level brain function. WHen the brain ceases to function that unique energy that we call "consciousness" will simply do like all other energy does, obey the laws of thermodynamics and dissipate as it seeks more stable forms.


For many people of faith and indeed many people period. The idea that we are here by accident is very scary. That the Pope would state that God can "save" us "from being afraid of the world and from anxiety before the emptiness of life.”

I find this statement interesting given that a Muslim blogger over at Planet Grenada made a similar comment:

I think the talk captures a lot of what I find so compelling in Islam. It isn't about blind faith and emotional displays. It is more about a calm certainty which comes from unvarnished realism; knowing who you are in relation to God and the world.

he says that he didn't mean it the way I have it framed here, but I think that his mind is letting on to the same thing the Pope is saying. Namely his religion is a tool for the believers to find meaning in their lives. In essence the existence of God allows the believer to situate himself in a hierarchy with a loving but demanding authority figure either implicitly or explicitly male in the case of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, who has given us a life map in the way of scriptures and prophets and whome will ultimately make those who are "evil" pay for their misdeed which makes the believers relatively "plain" life worth the effort.

Now I know that sounds harsh and deconstructive but ultimately that is what the Pope is saying. Religion and God exists to comfort mankind. The question I have been asking for a while is can one have a fulfilling life act in a moral manner and not believe? I say the answer is yes as evidenced by the numerous, though minority, people that are atheists who act in a more moral and upright manner than many religious people do. The reason we can make this observation is because many of the reasons for religion and belief in God: the inability to understand physical phenomenon such as thunder, lightning, rain, etc. as well as the need to confront the fear of survival that early humans had to endure, have been removed by reason and science. When it rains God isn't crying. God isn't walking around or angry when there is thunder and lightning. And no, the earth is not the center of the universe and yes there is a universe.

Hence religions that are dogmatic and fundamentalist are threatened by such science and reasoning because such reasoning threatens not only the individual belief but also the men who are in positions of power based on those beliefs. I came to know this before I left the Seventh Day Adventist church. I was under the assumption that the pastor of the church was unfamiliar with the Book of the Dead and related material. It turned out that he was but he would not present this material to his congregation because it would cost him his job. Ultimately truth, which I thought was central to religion was not as important as position.

This ultimately is the reason for why there are conflicts between people and cultures that put belief before reason. Indeed even as far back as the Egyptians, reason was the basis of religion. A religious precept that did not conform with reason was not acceptible. In the case of Khemet we find that upon creation Maat and Maa (order) was the first thing created and formed the foundation of all subsequent things. What is more problematic is when certain fundamentalists fail to even properly understand the origins of their own religions. For example the idea that humanity was made in the image of God is taken very literally by many Christians but the Judaic concept is not literal at all, nor is the Khemetic one. Thus it is not the rational person who is the problem but rather the believer who puts potentially false beliefs ahead of reason and then attempts to impose that on other people. The fundamentalist of any religious stripe is the logical extension of such belief systems which is why I think that the most dangerous belief systems are those that attempt to convert. Most rational people see this. Apparently the Pope does not.

Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, September 11, 2006

9-11 5 Years Out

Today the US is marking the 5th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. Many are discussing where they were ad whether or not the US is safer since then. I was on a highway on my way to work when I heard the boom and thought nothing of it. It was later that I found out it was a plane and even then I thought it was an accident, it's happened before. The second strike eliminated that one and all I could think of was "payback". Not the kind of payback many Americans were thinking of though. I was thinking in the Malcolm X vein of Chickens coming home to roost. That Friday at a poetry event I performed a piece I entitled: Beware of Low Flying Chickens.

I was was not shocked that somebody decided that it was time to take US policy back to "we the people". My only question was when and how. My uncle had long been saying that it wouldn't be until Americans felt the same thing that the people they kill for various raw materials, that they would see the error of their ways and that it would happen. He was apparently right on the "it would happen" point but woefully wrong on the "error of their ways" part.

While Disney-ABC tries to rewrite or reframe the history surrounding 9-11, with the cleverly titled "Path to 9-11". Americans are still as dumb and uncaring about non-Americans as they were prior to the strikes. Indeed for those of us paying attention we saw in the reaction of a great deal of Americans that they too would kill as many people as they deemed fit in response to a strike in their homeland by a foreigner. Indeed we see that the suicide bomber in Palestine and Iraq is really no different from the US military except in available arms and international "respectability" in the end, both parties have killed many many civilians in order to "shape the world" they way they see fit.

9-11 provided a unique moment for the United States to examine it's foreign policy and to make changes that would lessen the chances not only of terrorist acts but to remove much of the motivating factors. Instead the military and those private corporations that feed it wound up with a bonanza of profits while the U.S. Constitution was declared, by it's sworn defender to be a "piece of paper", and laws were passed that would have caused the ratification of the Constitution some 200 years ago to not have happened. We found that a large percentage of Americans polled, thought that citizens had too many rights. Indeed 9-11 showed that the U.S. didn't really love freedom so much as it loved profits and so called "safety".

As people ran out to purchase duct tape and a citizen died from duct taping her home because of an Anthrax scare that was snuffed out from the media once the trail went back to a Federal lab, the question put on everyone's mind was "are we safe" Even today drunk, nervous white men can have a Muslim barred entry onto a plane because he is wearing a shirt with Arabic on it. Idiots think they can profile only Muslims because they claim to know what they look like. Never mind that there are Muslims of every race and they all wear a variety of clothing. Never mind that the actual hijackers were wearing "regular" "western" clothing and were clean shaven. No, We'll pick out the Sikh because Americans are generally so culturally ignorant that they can't tell the difference. You are supposed to feel safe because you stand in long lines at subways and Airports before you can get onto a train or plane. Every now and then the government, in an attempt to scare the wits out of potential voters, will raise threat levels as was done recently over the "foiled" plot in London. never mind that to make a binary liquid bomb would be nigh impossible to make on a plane in any quantity that would kill anyone other than the person making the "bomb." you and I, with images of Die Hard III on the brain, are too stupid to question the "authorities" as they snatch the water we were just drinking out of our hands and throw it away.

But let's be honest here you are only as safe as it is difficult to obtain the materials needed to make a bomb and the imagination of the terrorist. Assuming one can get enough of the components to make a bomb, wouldn't that long ass line to get to the gates be a nice place to let one off? I mean all those people there for the killing. People enter airports with huge backpacks all the time. You don't even need to get a ticket to get in line for a screening. I've seen this at JFK myself. Similarly, people in NY are supposed to feel safe because the NYPD are spot checking bags. Are they at all stations? No. Are they at the busiest ones? Probably. If three people with bombs randomly picked stations to go to would they kill anyone? of course. If they got stopped, could they kill everyone in the vicinity? Yes they could. Therefore are you safer? No. You think you are because you see uniforms and guns. Let me tell you, I've been to countries where there are uniforms and guns all over the place and yet people get killed every day.

There is no military means to end "terrorism". Terrorism is a tool used by those who are in a militarily inferior position to inflict casualties on the enemy. It seeks to engage the political apparatus by pressuring the civilian population. The suicide bomber is the most feared tool, which is also the most wasteful use of human resources. There is, unfortunately a sense of pride, of comparing balls, going on here with the war on terror. The "enemy" cannot be negotiated with because the enemy has no valid claim to negotiate from. One does not have to agree that the US should fall under a caliphate in order see that there are valid reasons why some people would like to kill Americans. We just had a show of validity of certain claims when we saw Israel drop US made and purchased bombs on the homes of the Lebanese. Indeed had America learned anything from 9-11, it would have been the immorality of killing innocent people to achieve military aims. Yet all over the airwaves there were talking heads, mostly white, discussing the justification for the killing of 1000's of Lebanese and the wanton destruction of property in order to "free two prisoners".How did that help the US become safer? Explain that one. What then did Americans learn from the 9-11 Attacks. Nothing. Nothing at all. If Americans had learned anything from 9-11, George Bush and much of the Republican party would not be government. I'm not concerned whether the 2004 elections were stolen, the election, had Americans learned anything from 9-11, would not have even been close enough to steal.

The war in Iraq is yet another example of the fakery that is the "War on Terror". It is known and has been re-affirmed that Saddam had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks, yet close to 50% of Americans believe that he was directly linked to 9-11. These American citizens believe this even though various administration officials have been caught lying on the subject. Even though Colin Powell, The man to "make the case" for invading Iraq, sat on national television and said he was wrong about the WMD's in Iraq. Even though none of the "40 minutes to launch time" missiles that Saddam supposedly had ready for American troops never materialized, upwards of 50% of Americans believe he was connected with Al-Qaida. That simply makes no sense. We joke about George Bush being stupid but what's the excuse of that 50%?

So 5 years out are you safer? no more than you were on 9-11-2001. Are "we", well..Americans different? No, Americans seem just as willing to kill non-Americans for "national interests" as ever before. If anything Americans have shown themselves to be undeserving of the freedoms their forefathers supposedly enshrined in the constitution. In the old Soviet Union and in Mexico recently, people toook the streets and shut things down for days over election fraud. Yet US citizens are apparently unfazed by the head of state breaking their sovereign document. However; Americans call people who question the Bush administration crazy, and vote them out of office. Yes, 9-11 hasn't changed Americans all that much really and 5 years out, that should really be the sad news.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Sort Of Homecoming

In the Sept. 11, 2006 edition of the Nation Magazine, there is an article entitled A Sort of Homecoming by HAZEL ROWLEY. This article discussed the "odd" "homecomings" of various black notables:

Langston Hughes was 21 in the summer of 1923, when he boarded a ship in the Brooklyn dockyards heading for West Africa. The 1920s was the Jazz Age, and the time of the black arts movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. As Hughes puts it, "The Negro was in vogue." Caught up in the neo-Romantic "primitivism" was a new fascination with Africa, its tom-tom exoticism, its black vitality. Hughes was as prone to employ these stereotypes as everyone else; the difference was that he was one of the few who actually made the voyage to Africa. Eager to escape the humiliation of racism in America, he hoped to find a truer, freer self in the home of his ancestors. His first sight of the coastline filled him with excitement: "My Africa, Motherland of the Negro peoples!" He would respond viscerally to the beauty of the landscape and the people, but he left Africa feeling rebuffed. Africans treated him like a white man. Years later, in his memoir The Big Sea , he would mock his naïve hopes and illusions...

Richard Wright was another who had no time for Du Bois's romance with Africa;...Africans saw him as an American. The Western-educated elite did not give a damn that he was in their country. As for the Africans he met as he traveled around, Wright found himself at a complete loss. They stared at him and giggled. They evaded his questions. Even their laughter, he felt, was an evasive tactic. He was shocked that people urinated openly, in public. He was (unlike Du Bois) repelled by the women's naked breasts. The poverty distressed him, and he blamed the heinous crime of European colonialism. But he also decided that these people, with their superstitions and ancestor worship (he described these as "rot" and "mush"), did not know how to help themselves. Soon he was writing in his journal: "Africa! Where are you? Are you a myth?... I'm in despair. I find myself longing to take a ship and go home." The book that resulted from the trip, which, ironically enough, is titled Black Power, is honest, almost painfully so, about Wright's complete sense of estrangement.


I want to stop here for a moment. Anyone surprised by the idea that an African-American would be seen as not only foreign but as "white" is simply not a serious black scholar nor are they a Pan-Africanist of any serious stripe. It is an unfortunate occurrence that people confuse the racial categorization of African with the cultural categorization of African. When I as a Pan-Africanist call myself an African, I consider it no different than a White person who has never set foot in France, or parents had never stepped foot in France, calling themselves Europeans or even American. It should be understood that for a great deal of white people American means white and that white designation is imported from Europe. That French "American" is no more French than I am when we discuss culture, yet that individual feels no shame and sees no problem with the logic that they are French, meaning, in reality, white. Similarly, though I designate myself an African, I do not designate myself as a Yoruba, Igbo, Fante, Assante, Mandinka, Wolof, Kikuyu, Shona, etc. I have no proof of any such specific connection, nor do I need to in order to be African.

So what ethnicity is the African outside of America? Simply put the African outside of Africa can be seen as distinct as Kikuyu are from Yoruba. The "new world" Africans come in a variety of ethnicities; We can say we have the Haitian African which can be seen as a subset of the Caribbean African, which includes the Jamaican African , the Guyanese African, the Bejan African, in each of theses groups we see particular Africanisms in terms of culture yet we see a new culture born of the specific history of slavery. I do want to make a special note of the African-American. Unlike the Caribbean Africans, who because they represented the majority of the societies they found themselves in, were able to keep ahold of more specific Africanisms that can be easily traced back to specific ethnic groups in Africa, the African-American ethnic group, especially those in the northern portions of America, is far less Africanised, in general. This is why, when an African-American travels to Africa, he or she is specifically pointed out as American or white. The African-American is far more socialized as a European/American, in terms of socializing and even general views of non-Americans (note I did not say non-whites).

Let me take a page from my own life. When I was at Tuskegee I spent a great deal of time, in my senior year with the foreign students, predominantly Africans. Many of them would live in the married student housing primarily because many of them had difficulties with black American students who generally treated them like shit. In this housing complex you had people from Zaire, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, etc. living together. What was also very interesting to me at the time was the close relationships that they had with people from the Caribbean. They all acknowledged their differences yet in terms of speaking styles, social habits, musical tastes, etc. these groups tended to socialized together with the Caribbean students being the most fluid (they would socialize with African-Americans more often).

I was generally accepted by this group. I say generally because it was clear that I was "American" but I was "different". What made me different was in a large part that I did not fit the mould of the "typical" urban black male that they saw on TV and had the fortune to see up front and personal. I had a wider taste in music and most importantly not only was I interested in the culture, I did not generally have the general condescending attitude that Americans are known for. I also respected their own expertise in terms of experience in relation to my politics. What the experience taught me was that Pan-Africanism, as a social experiment was in fact feasible if the so called leadership created the atmosphere in which it could thrive. I must say though , that relative to the experiences discussed in the article, I was here and not in any of the particular countries that the students had come from.

But in relation to the article, I can relate my experiences in Jamaica, the country of my parents birth. Each time I have been to Jamaica I have been rightly perceived as a foreigner. In fact at one point I was nearly kidnapped by some boys who thought some rich family members would pay for me or that I had money or valuables on my person. I have never felt like a "Jamaican" I did not grow up there, I do not have the general stereotypical "Jamaican man" character. Thus I am not a "Caribbean African" and I recognize that. However, that does not make me an American, nor does it detract from being an African. Thus it is important for those reading this and the article to understand that self designating as "African" does not tie one to any particular group and that it is a mistake on your part to make such an assumption.

Let's examine another portion of the article:

He went to Ghana with a mental image frozen in the early 1970s, and found Accra full of SUVs, mobile phones and blaring hip-hop music. When he and his cousin went to a discothèque one night, Eshun was taken aback by the sleek young couples who emerged from Mercedes sports coupes carrying brand-name sunglasses and handbags. In restaurants, he winced at the way the "big men" barked orders and snapped their fingers for service, and the subservience of the waiters made him cringe. On his walks around the city, he noticed that people fell silent as he passed. In an inland village, a friend pointed out that everyone was talking about him; they took him for a black American with too much money. Leaving Kumasi on a bus, Eshun was disconcerted by the slogan on the seat in front of him: We'll Get You There Alive. Tied to the roof of the bus were a flock of goats that screamed throughout the journey, while the bus driver turned up his radio. At sunset every day, Eshun was attacked by clouds of savage mosquitoes.


In a secondhand bookstall in Kumasi, he came across Black Power . "Given the confusions of my own trip I had nothing but sympathy for Wright," he observes. After a month traveling around, Eshun had the same reaction as Wright: "I couldn't wait to leave."


Well of course Eshun wanted to leave, He had became a London-African by his upbringing. He spent most of his life in a country where there might be mosquitos 2 months out of the year. It is little wonder he found the constant mosquitoes bothersome. But that's not the real "eye opener" here. What is incredibly important here is the ascendancy of Black-American street culture in Ghana or elsewhere. In essence many Africans have embraced some of the very things that many African-Americans despise about the culture they find themselves in. Furthermore, the disconcertion that Eshun felt at the "big men" barking orders, is evidence of the cultural gap that Africans in European dominated (by numbers) societies find when they return to their motherlands. The same can happen when one of the new world Africans travels to another new world African place.

What is lacking in the article, which is soooo blatant, is the lack of perspective from people who do live in Africa and are comfortable there. What of the opinions of people like Molefi Assante or other activists? What of the African Americans who moved to South Africa? What of their current situations? I think the article was intended to throw a wrench into the idea of Pan-African unity rather than actually discuss the issue of a Pan-African identity.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Friday, September 01, 2006

John Stossel is Stupid

John Stossel of ABC fame has a new segment on his "Stupid in America" series. On Good Morning America we had clips of a charter school in Harlem that is doing well compared to the public school in the same neighborhood. In the brief segment on GMA, he said how the reason for the failure of the public school was because the government has a monopoly on education and since there is no competition the schools do not need to compete and therefore fall behind. Charter schools by comparison know that they can be shut down by the state and therefore make sure that they are innovative and succeed. John Stossel thinks we are stupid.

The biggest problem with this whole line of thought is the assumption that Charter schools are under the same mandate as public schools. They are not. The fact that they are under different mandates means that comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, they are both fruit, but they are not the same thing. Public schools by law are required to service every and any student that lives in it's district. They have to deal with the very bright and motivated to the slow and disabled. They have to deal with the well behaved as well as those with discipline problems. In short, public schools cannot pick and choose it's clientele. in contrast, charter schools can limit enrollment and are under no legal requirement to expand enrollment to teach a growing population of students. Therefore while a charter school can create classrooms of a particular size and maintain that size, a public school must cram students into available space or create space, as in trailers and the like, in order to fulfill their legal requirement to service the public's children.

In essence, charter schools can attract students with parents who are more concerned with their children's education. It can remove students who are a drag on the progress of other students. If a charter school does not want to deal with students with poor English language skills, it is free to do so. A public school must accommodate those students. Charter and private schools can, if they choose to, require entrance exams and other barriers to entry. Whereas most public schools, by mandate cannot. It can do things that public schools cannot simply because they can make choices that public schools are legally unable to. In short charter schools create a tiered schooling system by skimming off the most motivated and most able students from the public school system and leaves the rest to the starved for cash and resources general public schools.

It is insulting then, to then claim that the apparent success of charter schools is based simply on the meritocratic achievements of said system. Does this mean that public schools are perfect? No. There is clearly a need for change in the public school system. However, contrary to the rants of certain conservatives, these changes cannot be made by cutting funding for schools. Nor can they be done by creating legislation that creates mandates that go un or underfunded.

So in reality, tonight John Stossel will simply show that he is stupid.


Technorati Tags: ,