Saturday, September 25, 2010

On dreams

I would have liked to have been a novelist.
I would have liked to have been a journalist.
I would have liked to have been a historian.
I would have liked to have been a composer.
I would have liked to have been a real mathematician.

I am filled with admiration for people who create things, yet I keep seeming to find myself empty of the effort and the talent.


Via lenin, a penetrating analysis of conservatism, attacking the myth that it stands for the status quo, both in modern terms and in historical context. Talks about its preference for outsiders, its appropriation of the language of the left, its strange brand of populism, and the centrality of its feeling of loss.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Boycott Israel

The organization that sponsored this protest, CAPJPO Europpalestine,, is being prosecuted for "offense of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence against a group of people on account of their belonging to the Israeli nation," believe it or not. I'm putting up this video in solidarity.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The American Jewish Committee and Islamophobia

Children visiting a mosque in Roxbury stop of their own volition to pray, and "Jewish advocates" are outraged. They call for "further guidelines."
The [teachers on the trip] and or the superintendent should be fired or at a minimum they should be suspended. This is act a provocation by those officials at that mosque probably with the dimwitted acquiescence of the school officials who just went along with it.
What does it say about someone's personal insecurity that they feel threatened by such a little thing? I feel personally ashamed that these people are supposed to represent organized Jewry. Don't you? You don't have to identify as Jewish; the shame radiates to all sensible people. It reminds me of "You must banish this evil from among you." How far we've failed to come as human beings.

Email to a Chinese friend, on the movie "The Stoning of Soraya M"

Overly didactic?

Iran's democracy was overthrown in 1953 by the US CIA with some aid from the British. It was done partly for the benefit of BP. We installed the Shah, who ruled with a brutal secret police force until he was overthrown in 1979. The forces that eventually took power were religious fundamentalists, holding to a very archaic and inflexible version of Islam.

(The religion is Islam; a person who believes in Islam is a Muslim.)

Islam does hold that a woman should have her head "covered" in some way, but the method is widely open to interpretation. Some interpret it as a scarf. Some interpret it as meaning that the woman should be completely covered so she can't be seen at all. The latter view isn't
well supported by the actual scripture, but different societies have come to believe in it, and it has become ingrained in some of them over time. I think it is deeply unfair.

All religion means superstition, but there are different views within all religions as well. The official Iranian Islam is extreme. Nothing inherent in Islam, however, makes it worse than Judaism or Christianity.

Stoning as a method of killing is found in the Christian bible as well; you may remember it from The Brick Testament as a punishment for adultresses (like they claimed Soraya M. was) and children who disrespect their parents. The difference is that there isn't a Christian society that actually listens to that part of the Bible anymore, so far as I know; it's ignored. I think that gradually happens with all religions, that the more terrible parts are slowly
stripped away.

Women are still something in Iran, but barbaric ancient punishments for adultery still exist, and they don't have equal rights. You might be surprised, on the other hand, to learn that a significant majority of university students in Iran are women. I don't know why that is.

I despise the Iranian penal system, and think Iran needs a new government. On the other hand, I also admire Iran's resistance to US hegemony, and support it in that. I think you're right to admire their resistance. I would like to see the current regime in Iran end, but I DON'T want Washington to do it (you had better believe there are parts of the US government working on it), and I don't want to see a new regime subservient to the US emerge in its stead. I don't like the
Iranian government, but I support the integrity of Iran against US intervention.

You have to remember that the US opposition to Iran has little to do with its legal system and everything to do with its understandable failure to serve or bow down to Washington. Saudi Arabia has a similarly brutal regime of religious law, but it is a US ally, so Washington is very quiet about its atrocities. In fact, we are about to ship $60 billion worth of weapons there.

Islam has nonetheless come in for especial demonization in the US, for essentially the same reason that Judaism used to before the Holocaust: racism and xenophobia. Muslims are a disadvantaged minority in the US, discriminated against by fearful bigots. My criticism of Islam as a religion is tempered by the use that militarists, warmongers, and racists make of it to justify discrimination and war.

In short:
  • The US only cares about human rights violations of its enemies.
  • Religions are stupid, but there are differing views within all religions.
  • Most Muslims don't hold the views of the Iranian government.
  • I support the Iranian people both against their own government and against the US.
  • The worst possible situation for them is the US declaring war and destroying yet another country.

These are just my views, but I hope they make some sense.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Tea Party candidate winning the primary in Delaware somehow doesn't bother me so much as amuse me. I know there are those in my cohort, perhaps most, who will be horrified, but for some reason I'm not. It's not that I think Christine O'Donnell is sane, and it's not that I'm pleased that it makes a Democratic victory more likely. It just boggles the mind to think of a declining empire so filled with rage, economic insecurity, ostentatious religiosity, and sheer madness that this is its candidate for national office. On some level it seems like laughing at it is the only thing for it. It's not that I've given up faith in the left, but it's clear I am not able to be much help in organizing the forces of Good. And it's good to see the Republicans at war with their own base.

As everybody I've read has pointed out numerous times, it doesn't on average matter whether a (D) or an (R) wins the senate. Before the Dems protested they needed sixty seats to do anything their base wanted; when Obama craps out in 2012 they'll say they needed fifty. If they had sixty, they'd need seventy. As for having someone not like Bush in the presidency, I've been appalled by Obama so far. It strains the imagination to think how McCain could have been worse. Would he really have "bomb, bomb, bomb bombed Iran"? I guess it's possible. At this point I couldn't put it past anyone.

I do like this dump Obama idea as an a idea to channel disenchantment, disenchantment that must be spread on a much broader scale. As pointed out in the comments, it doesn't have much chance of meeting its stated goal, but as a slogan, as an idea, it's wonderful.
I envy the Republican base its energy, its influence over at least one party. The Dem base and those further left are in the wilderness. I find it difficult to imagine a situation in which there were people in control I felt represented me. Here's to the end of systems of control, then.

On not writing

I find myself with less and less to say as time goes on, unable to offer informed opinion or argument. I read my blogs for usually a few hours a day, and yet I find myself devoid of content to produce on my own, a situation I find most disturbing. I find that I have been stroking my own prejudices rather than informing myself, because I don't remember what I read and I am unable to pass intelligent comment on it. (I find that all my sentences begin with "I.")

I just don't apparently have much to say.