today i was unable to get the iraqi tv channel i usually frequent, so i turned to my second favorite, jordan tv, the official government channel. one of its most salient features is its employment of every tall, commanding, long-haired woman east of the jordan river as anchors and talk show hosts -- or so it seems. and they all dress in modernistic blouses and smocks with ethnic patterns -- a model of locally-authentic modernization, the balancing act of elites all over the developing world.
but this morning, alas, it was a male host speaking to a turbaned cleric about the meaning of national independence. it was an interesting exercise, asking a theologian to expound on the politics of one nation. despite jordan's ethnic (arab) rather than sectarian character, it is not completely without a religious connection. the monarchy gains religious legitimacy from its ancestry with the family of the prophet. the cleric discussed the first hashemite king's rejection of ottoman domination, then expressed in religious terms as a "caliphate."
in this discourse we can see how islam is in so many parts of the world a vehicle for anti-imperial and anti-colonial sentiment, even when directed at muslim overlords. american commentators are mistaken in their obsession with islam as a system of religious thought, divorced from the historical conditions of its modern emergence, which was: opposition to colonial rule. hugo chavez, not osama bin laden, is the idol of arab youths. it's the politics, stupid (not the theology).
then i caught part of a rather boring lecture on child birth from a legal perspective. by a man.