Friday, February 18, 2011

bahrain, bahrain

The situation in Bahrain is worse than it was in Egypt. 1, The military is killing unarmed demonstrators. 2, Bahrain is situated on the Persian Gulf, across from Iran, which means that the Obama government -- no doubt with patriotic support from the Right -- has decided that democracy can wait for them. Oh, and worst of all, the trump card -- most Bahrainis are Shiite. Think, 'boogie man' (one of several). After seeing Iraq, our violent little fantasy, slip into closer relations with Iran, we are not about to let the same thing happen with another majority-Shiite ally.

I'll be furious if Obama does not speak out forcefully. The Arabs have been sacrificed for our high-living lifestyles (or for Israeli brutality) for too many decades!

Friday, February 4, 2011

(mis)logic of autocracy

i hope now that the old 'logic' (read: delusion) that autocratic stability is our best hope against Islamist power is thrown in the dumpster of history.

for one, political Islam was always overrated, both as a threat to the US, and as a political force. it grew gigantic in people's paranoid imaginations. and one reason people had to rely on their imaginations to conceive of it was because of the autocracies within which it first flourished: without free press, or democracy, no one really knew how strong they were. and so -- enter the paranoid imagination of our national 'security' apparatus. our very expensive Keystone Kops.

secondly, political Islam was not eradicated by autocracy -- on the contrary, it flourished in its fertile soil of stagnation, humiliation, and corruption! after all this time, maybe our national 'security' fools will recognize this elementary fact: that freedom is like sunlight, working to scour away dark things like appeals to violence. let freedom ring in Egypt, and in all of our autocratic 'allies' -- and see the 'threat' of Islam collapse as the hallucination it was all along.

silver trees

yesterday driving down the Merritt Parkway i was amazed at trees glittering, blazing in the sun. i realized that every branch and twig was plated in ice which caught the light. it was a cruel beauty -- trees and saplings and reeds bowed, armored in silver. when not viewed against the sun, the trees were like an old photograph, black frosted with feathery grey. but i kept craning my head high up the windshield, eager for a glimpse of that silver and gold glory flickering amongst the spidery branches.

at a less direct angle of light, the treetops sparkled with diamonds nestled here and there.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

patriotic Islamophobia

It is incredible listening to the patriotic paranoia echoing through the US media. Mixed in with joy at the (possible) coming of democracy to Egypt are unmistakeable tremors of fear that an 'Islamic' or 'Islamist' or 'al-Qaeda' government will come to power there. A caller to an NPR news show today demanded to know why 'President Obama insisted, insisted, that the Muslim Brotherhood attend his Cairo speech??'

The word 'Muslim' has really become a catch-all boogeyman in US politics. As usual, paranoia -- whether real or simply a cover for bigotry -- is a product of ignorance. Are we to deny the rights of people in other countries the right to form religiously-oriented parties? And so what if they do? Muslim does not equal 'terrorist.'

I actually caught some pundit on CNN talk about the possibility of a 'pro-Al-Qaeda government' in Egypt. Are you insane? I thought. The number of people in all of Egpypt who might be considered 'pro-al-Qaeda' probably numbers in the hundreds. Out of 80 million people. This comment is akin to worrying that a 'pro-KKK government' might form in the US.

There ought to be a literacy test for appearing on TV news shows! As in, basic cultural/historical/political literacy.

By the way, the Muslim Brotherhood is an utterly cautious, even timid organization. They have foresworn violence since the 60s. If they want to contest elections -- let them! And anyway, what right do we the US have to tell Egypt how to run their democracy?

This last point reminds me of the assertion I read recently that "Carter had lost Iran, and Obama is losing Egypt." Has the writer considered the crazy paternalism in this statement? As if our presidents were somehow kings ruling over some piddly little province somewhere.

Aside from the dumb arrogance, let me point out a very elementary historical fact: what 'lost' Iran to us in 79 was not Carter, but the CIA in 1953 overthrowing Iran's budding democracy because back then they were terrified of nationalists (much like moderate religious parties morph in their paranoia into al-Qaeda, nationalists then morphed into Stalin), and what is 'losing' Egypt to us now is our 3 decade-long support for a dictator! Nothing big happens overnight.

There ought to be a commitment to democratic principles test as well for talking heads! And in America of all places . . . Should we rename it 'The Land of the Free (for us only -- the rest of the world be damned!)'?

Egypt, I salute your courage.