Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Harlem program forms a circle of success for kids

Harlem program forms a circle of success for kids

HARLEM—The late day sky was spitting snow. Inside the classroom, tiny black children, younger than kindergarten age, sat in a circle, legs folded ‘’crisscross applesauce’’ beneath them. Soon, they would begin their French lesson, but first there was a ritual chant.

‘’There is a girl in our class and her name is Khadija,’’ they began, voices rising in little kid enthusiasm, hands clapping in time. Khadija got up, moved to the center of the circle and began jumping with all her heart. ‘’Jump, jump, Khadija,’’ they sang. ‘’We’re glad you’re here today.’’ Around the room they went until each child had a turn in the center of the circle.

In the hours I recently spent touring the Harlem Children’s Zone, a 97-square-block network of schools, social services and teen outreach programs, I saw many affecting sights. But for some reason, the most affecting was this portrait of sweet innocence, flourishing in one of the nation’s poorest places.

I came here seeking ‘’What Works.’’ That’s a series of columns I’ve started to highlight difference makers, people who are finding solutions to the dysfunctions that affect African-American children disproportionately. (To learn more:

The zone is the brainchild of Geoffrey Canada, a 55-year-old New Yorker who believes you cannot effectively educate a child when his world is falling down around him, when he is hungry, sick, fatherless, homeless, hopeless. Canada’s solution: Fix it all. Simultaneously.

He told me, ``We think you start this at birth. And you continue it until kids graduate from college.’’

Canada’s other key innovation: Think big. What good is it to save one child and send him into a neighborhood where every other child is failing? ``Well, after a while, it has an impact on your child. That kid either never goes outside again or they learn to adjust in that environment.’’

He calls that a ‘’negative contagion.’’ And, he asked, ‘’What if we could create a positive contagious effect?’’ Meaning, what if we could send that child out into a peer group of other children who were also doing well? As he sees it, it’s not enough to save a child here and there. We have to save the children.

So overall, the zone serves more than 9,000 kids. They have smaller classes, a longer school day and a longer school year than their peers. Their teachers are paid more and given more classroom freedom, but are also held more accountable. After school, the kids take karate and yoga classes, get tutored, paint murals, practice plays, dance, write.

Family in crisis? There is counseling in the zone.

Child sick? There is healthcare in the zone.

Family being evicted? There is emergency aid in the zone.

Child malnourished? Thirty pounds of farm-fresh produce costs $5 in the zone.

The price tag: $50 million a year, two-thirds of it from private donations. To those who question that investment, Canada points out that the state spends about $60,000 a year to jail one inmate. ‘Someone’s yelling at me because I’m spending $3,500 a year on `Alfred.’ ‘Alfred’ is 8. OK, Alfred turns 18. No one thinks anything about locking him up for 10 years at $60,000 a year,’’ he said.

The Harlem Children’s Zone model is being studied and implemented from Liberty City to San Francisco to Israel to the United Kingdom. While its kids test higher than their peers, the Harlem Children’s Zone says it won’t be possible to truly quantify the program’s success until the first group of kids to be in the program from birth graduates from high school, still a few years off.

Until then, I’m persuaded that success can be inferred anecdotally. It’s in the surprisingly capable second-grade renderings of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers that adorn a principal’s wall. It’s in the high school hands shooting up in response to a question about Newton’s Second Law. And it’s in the eager leaps of those little ones at the center of the circle.

``Jump, jump, Khadija. We’re glad you’re here today.’’

Posted by Dallas on 01/31 at 09:38 AM
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Monday, January 29, 2007

Neighbor’s house (High school memories)

This is one of my mother’s brothers at, what was, our neighbor’s house in Shreveport, Lousyana.


Posted by SPN on 01/29 at 02:43 PM
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

1981 swing at a fair (High school memories)


Posted by SPN on 01/27 at 01:29 PM
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Friday, January 26, 2007

Urge President Bush to Act on Darfur

Unfortunately, the President spared few words on Darfur in his speech and failed to call for the actions needed to stop the violence that threatens millions of innocent Darfuri civilians.

The time for talk has passed—it has been nearly four years since the violence began in Darfur!

Will you please take two minutes to call the White House comment line now to express your disappointment in the President’s handling of Darfur in his State of the Union address and urge him to push for real action?

Step 1: Dial 202-456-1111 to reach the White House comment line.
Step 2: Use the talking points below when prompted to leave your comment.
Step 3: Click here to report your call back to us (this is very important - please don’t skip this step!)

Talking Points for Your Call to the White House

* It has been almost four years since the violence started in Darfur. More than 400,000 innocent people have been killed and more than 2.5 million have been displaced.
* President Bush must take immediate action to end the violence by:
o Engaging world leaders to enforce the no-fly zone already approved by the United Nations Security Council;
o Working with the United Nations to speed up the deployment of a civilian protection force;
o Enacting tougher, targeted economic sanctions and punitive measures;
o Instructing his administration to play a major diplomatic role in supporting renewed, multi-party peace efforts;
o Cooperating with Congress to ensure sufficient funding for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid.

In his speech, President Bush said, “We will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus, and Burma—and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur.”

The President’s remarks on Darfur are a disappointment to the millions of Americans who have been acting to ‘awaken the conscience of the world’ and demand greater protection for the people of Darfur.

We need your help to make sure President Bush understands the urgency Americans like us feel about protecting innocent lives from genocide.

Please dial 202-456-1111 now to get started and don’t forget to report your call back to us once you’ve hung up.

Thank you again for your support.

Best regards,

David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition

Posted by SPN on 01/26 at 12:31 PM
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Air conditioner exhaust. (High school memories)


Posted by SPN on 01/25 at 05:38 PM
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007


En ce début d’année, l’exposition itinérante Afriques Latines réalisée par le photographe Florian Coat fait escale du 3 au 23 février 2007 à la boutique INTI PERU, 17 rue de Picardie à Paris –
Métro : Filles du Calvaire, Temple, République.
informations : 0871759575 /

Le vernissage aura lieu le samedi 3 février 2006 de 18h à 22h00. Simultanément, l’association CAPULI invite Français, Européens et Latinos à se réunir pour la deuxième édition de la fête du Pisco péruvien, la boisson nationale péruvienne. Des amuse-gueules seront servis pour le plaisir du palais.

L’accès à l’exposition et la dégustation de Pisco au travers de différents cocktails, sont gratuits.

Les photographies présentées sont inédites et proposent une rencontre avec les Cultures et Peuples afro-péruviens. 

Photographe nomade indépendant, Florian Coat apostrophe et photographie l’Amérique latine depuis 8 ans. Son travail s’articule autour de la diversité et de la multitude, de la résistance et de la dignité. Le patrimoine immatériel et écologique, les minorités ethniques et les mémoires collectives alimentent ses voyages. Il se consacre en partie à une exposition itinérante intitulée “Afriques Latines” accompagnée d’ateliers photographiques, destinés aux communautés afro-latines.

L’exposition ou lieu de mémoire itinérant
Les communautés afro-latines sont dépourvues de lieux dédiés à leur culture.
L’isolement géographique fait qu’elles n’ont presque jamais accès à des événements culturels censés les représenter.
L’exposition itinérante Afriques latines rend visite aux communautés afro-latines situées en marge des circuits culturels et intellectuels urbains classiques. Elle leur présente des fragments de leur histoire « oubliée » en textes et en images.

Des ateliers photographiques
La production de photographies dans les communautés visitées s’articule autour d’ateliers « images projet » avec appareil photographique. Elle vise à exploiter la capacité des participants à fabriquer et à produire des images.
Les photographies produites témoignent de la position des auteurs dans un champ culturel déterminé. Au gré de ses présentations et de la réalisation d’ateliers, l’exposition incorpore peu à peu les « meilleurs » travaux photographiques des participants, désignés par un jury communautaire local. Les regards proposés se multiplient.

Posted by SPN on 01/24 at 12:35 PM
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The many faces of American Muslims

I found this story in Salon magazine about this book very interesting. 
Author Paul Barrett deftly upends the stereotypes that Westerners harbor about Muslims—and shows why militant Islamism is less likely to take root here than in other countries. By Laura Miller

Jan. 15, 2007 | “American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion,” by Paul Barrett, is the ideal book to enlighten a whole host of people who don’t realize they need it. That includes everyone who claims that moderate Muslims haven’t spoken up against fundamentalist militants or that all Muslim women go around veiled or that the religion is inherently warlike. It also includes everyone whose only response to Islamist terrorism is to talk about the sins of Israel, those who claim that Islam doesn’t have a growing problem with violent fanatics or the role of women, and those who insist that it is purely a religion of peace.

Barrett, a former reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal, has done a nearly miraculous job of writing thoughtfully, clearly and sensibly about a subject that usually stirs up a viper’s nest of prejudice, defensiveness and paranoia. Yet “American Islam” isn’t, strictly speaking, objective, newspaper-style reporting—even if it has some of the characteristics of that school of journalism. In this collection of portraits of American Muslims, all struggling with their religion and its place in their world in one way or another, Barrett doesn’t forgo all judgment. He has his own firm notions of right and wrong when it comes to the issues his book raises, and he’s not afraid to challenge his subjects. But he keeps himself in the background and doesn’t make a spectacle of his own role in researching their stories, as a showier (or greener) journalist might be tempted to do. “American Islam” is above all a scrupulously fair book.

This, unfortunately, makes it unfashionable at a time when many confuse incisiveness with leaping to an opinion and defending it fiercely, whether or not you know what you’re talking about. All those people who falsely believe that they’re already well enough informed about Islam to merit their fiery conclusions—as well as those who don’t really care whether they are or not—will probably never crack open a copy of “American Islam.” True, those are the people who need it most, but readers with curious and open minds will still find a lot that’s intriguing and revelatory in Barrett’s book.

The topic is especially important now, after the discovery of the plot to smuggle explosives on transatlantic flights this past summer and the successful London transit attacks of the summer before. That conspirators in both plots included British natives shocked many observers; previously, the Islamist terrorism directed at Western civilians had mostly been perpetrated by the disgruntled citizens of Middle Eastern nations. If Britain was producing homegrown Muslim terrorists, what about the United States? So far, U.S. citizens have been rare among the ranks of militant Islam (Jose Padilla, a prison convert, is the best-known exception), even though America ranks right up there with Israel as the Great Satan in the Islamist worldview. 

Few of the American Muslims that Barrett profiles match any stereotype that Westerners are likely to harbor about Islam’s faithful. In truth, he leans a little toward the unconventional and even progressive members of the religion, but he aims to give all sides their due. What he gets across is the remarkable diversity of Islam in America, pointing out that Muslims are no more all alike than Christians are. He profiles a prosperous middle-class publisher, an African-American imam working out of a shabby mosque in Brooklyn, a Saudi student on trial for volunteering as the webmaster of a organization that published some anti-Semitic and anti-American materials, a white Sufi couple and their spotlight-loving, celebrity-schmoozing guru, a Pakistani-American feminist staging a campaign to allow women to worship alongside men in her neighborhood mosque, and a hard-working husband and father who dabbled in militancy before rejecting it in favor of leading “a normal American life.”

A section of Barrett’s introduction offers the best concise overview of Islam in general and American Islam in particular that I’ve encountered. He explains that “most American Muslims are not Arab, and most Americans of Arab descent are Christian, not Muslim. People of South Asian descent—those with roots in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan—make up 34 percent of American Muslims ... Arab-Americans constitute only 26 percent, while another 20 percent are native-born American blacks, most of whom are converts. The remaining 20 percent come from Africa, Iran, Turkey and elsewhere.”

As a group, Muslims are “more prosperous and better educated than other Americans.” Almost 60 percent of them have college degrees, compared to 27 percent of American adults overall. The median family income among Muslims is $60,000; the national median is $50,000. Eighty percent of them are registered to vote. Compared to the larger, and largely poor, Muslim populations of Western Europe, who are often concentrated in slums where the opportunities for education and advancement are few, American Muslims show, in Barrett’s words, the traits of “a minority population successfully integrating into a larger society.” This, as many commentators pointed out after the London transit attacks and the 2005 riots in Paris, is one reason American Muslims are less likely to turn to militant Islamism than their less-assimilated and more disgruntled co-religionists in Europe.

The rest of Barrett’s section on the differences between Shiites and Sunnis and the maverick role of Sufis within the faith ought to be recommended reading for those lawmakers, media professionals and military personnel who seem to be chronically baffled by the divisions. The differences among Muslim sects mean much less here than they do in Iraq, though—largely because in America, Muslims have more in common with each other than they do with the culture at large. The success of the Shiite Iranian revolution of 1979, for example, usually gets viewed as a victory for all Muslims over the Western powers who push them around; in that, Sunnis and Shiites are united. Sufis, as longtime targets for fundamentalists who regard them as heretics, are much more likely to go their own way.

Although most Muslims follow the advice and teachings of a particular, often local, mullah, what many Americans fail to grasp is that even within the three major groups, as Barrett puts it, “the faith is decentralized to the extreme.” There is no main font of Islamic authority, and so while the power of certain leaders can wax and wane, there’s no one to kick out or restrict renegade mullahs who preach hatred and violence the way the pope can excommunicate rebel priests. An observant Muslim can get by with as little as simply adhering to the “five pillars” of the religion—proclaiming faith in one God, praying five times daily, practicing regular charity, fasting during Ramadan, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca—or he (and very occasionally she) can devote almost every waking hour to Islamic study and prayer.

America’s Muslim enclaves, Barrett reports, have a tendency to cluster around universities; there’s a history of Muslim immigrants coming to the United States in search of higher education and then settling down nearby. By contrast, Dearborn, Mich., became “the unofficial capital of Arab America” thanks to Henry Ford, who liked Arabs much more than he did blacks and Jews, and hired accordingly. Among American Muslims, Barrett observes, those of Asian descent have a habit of deferring to those of Arab descent, regarding them as somehow “more Islamic” because their ancestors came from the faith’s homeland and because they are often more extravagantly pious. Black Muslims often get slighted by their co-religionists, sometimes out of plain racism, but also because African-American converts are associated with the eccentric practices of the now-marginal Nation of Islam.

The media, drawn like moths to the glow of inflamed rhetoric, foster the misperception that all or most Muslims are militant. That’s a mistake that works both ways, and so, when it’s reported that someone like Franklin Graham (Billy’s son) calls Islam “a very evil and wicked religion,” Barrett writes, “many Muslims assume that the fundamentalists speak for Christians generally and that evangelical animus drives the war on terrorism.” Still, most American Muslims are culturally conservative, favoring traditional roles for women, the restriction of sexual and “blasphemous” speech, and the outlawing of abortion and homosexuality. Theirs are not communities where cosmopolitan secularists are likely to feel at home, and some of the most ferocious clashes in the book are those between the feminist journalist (and erstwhile Salon contributor) Asra Nomani and the male leaders of her mosque in Morgantown, W.Va.

Barrett also shows how many dispossessed, disempowered and disadvantaged people have turned to Islam at a time when socialist and Marxist movements have lost their credibility. That a glorious Muslim empire once reigned in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia proves that the religion can govern, and a belief in divine providence offers the promise that someday it will rule again. Siraj Wahhaj, the black imam of the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, preaches a perplexing mixture of bootstrap responsibility and racial paranoia to his many followers in the African-American and immigrant communities. (His crossover appeal among foreign Muslims is unusual.) He has helped many of his followers pull their lives together after they’ve squandered years on crime, drugs and prison, but he also speaks of not being sure that Osama bin Laden was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, and he thinks that cigarette and alcohol companies are conspiring to smear Islam.

Barrett attributes the growing influence of militant fundamentalism in Islam to Saudi Arabia’s wealthy elite. To distract attention from their despotic regimes and covertly decadent lifestyles, Saudi leaders have sought to bolster their Islamic reputation by pouring their oil-derived wealth into a host of rigidly fundamentalist projects—that, many Americans now know. But beyond serving as a source for suicide hijackers, guns and bombs, the Saudis have also built hundreds of mosques in the United States and funded many charities that do both admirable and reprehensible work. Because Saudi money pays for so many features of Muslim culture, Saudis have been able to nudge conventional Muslim wisdom in the direction of their own beliefs. That’s what the liberal-minded New Age Sufis profiled here discovered when they tried to buy copies of a traditional text called “Gardens of the Righteous” for their school. The only available English translation of this collection of hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet) is published by a Riyadh-based company that has inserted lots of bellicose references to jihad that are not part of the original.

Books, pamphlets, Web sites, touring preachers, conferences and community centers—this is the stuff that religious communities are made of, and when so much of it is funded by self-serving Saudi Wahhabists, those communities are bound to drift in the direction of fundamentalism. Yet Barrett finds many voices of conscience, such as the scholar Khaled Abou El Fadl of California, who has argued that the Quran can and should be interpreted in ways that emphasis peaceful coexistence with other faiths. (The fact that it can also be interpreted in exactly the opposite light is one of the ongoing perplexities Muslims must grapple with.) Born in Kuwait, El Fadl was educated in the United States and there was briefly tempted into what he calls the “Islamic Dream”—believing that fundamentalist Islam can provide a cookie-cutter set of answers to life’s most tangled dilemmas.

El Fadl appeals to many Western converts who are drawn to Islam, as his own Chinese-American wife was, by its simplicity. One of the fascinating things Barrett discovered in his research is that Christians who become Muslims frequently cite the confusing doctrine of the trinity as a reason for the shift: “They couldn’t make sense of the idea that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are all parts of the same God.” Another thing they like about Islam is the idea of “accountability,” as opposed to the Christian belief in forgiveness for the repentant. “It made more inherent sense to me,” El Fadl’s wife told Barrett, “that if nothing else, God is fair.” Yet for Western converts and those lifelong Muslims who have been raised in an atmosphere of debate and self-questioning, accepting the kind of rigid orthodoxy that Islamists and even some traditional Muslims endorse, is as disagreeable as the squishiness they find in Christian morality.

The story that frames Barrett’s book is that of Mustafa Saied, who runs his own business in Florida selling portraits of American sports heroes. He arrived in the United States from India at age 18, speaking fluent English, primed on American movies and television, and hoping to learn to skateboard, bungee-jump and hang out with girls while studying at the University of Tennessee. Like a lot of America-mad immigrants, though, he didn’t find himself entirely at his ease in this country, despite earning a “ducktorate” in a Disneyworld work-study program. As often happens with such young men, he dropped into a local mosque on impulse and was soon drawn into a radicalized Muslim scene completely alien to the Islam he grew up with.

“Islam becomes a shelter from the unfamiliar,” Barrett writes, “an identity taken to extremes as a cure for loneliness.” Many older American Muslims blame the influx of young Arab men, coming to study in U.S. universities, for the growing presence of fundamentalism in their mosques. Saied jumped in with both feet, teaching classes, giving talks, attending conferences and raising money for Islamic charities. He subscribed to the views that “Muslims are superior to all others,” that Americans “are no better than pagans,” and that “Jews are scheming to take over the world.” As is usually the case with such ideologies, “anti-Semitism provided the glue connecting claims of Muslim persecution worldwide.” Although he and his cronies considered violence on American soil to be a last resort, they heartily endorsed the idea that Israeli civilians are legitimate targets for terrorist actions. He was asked to join the Muslim Brotherhood, a loosely affiliated network of national groups seeking to “Islamicize” society.

The story of how Saied rejected this ideology is one of the most significant in Barrett’s book. At a conference for a Muslim youth group in Chicago, he and a buddy got into a debate with an older, more moderate Muslim man. This man greeted Saied’s knee-jerk tirade by arguing that “the basic foundations of American values are very Islamic—freedom of religion, freedom of speech, toleration.” Others joined in, all of them able to quote passages from the Quran that support pluralism. They did not back down, and finally Saied and a friend who came with him had exhausted their Islamist ammo. They both realized that this—the free exchange of sometimes conflicting ideas—was a part of the life they had abandoned when they were radicalized. It was as if a spell had been broken; Saied’s friend likens the conversation, which lasted for hours, to deprogramming. The similarities between certain extremist Muslim groups and cults—“trying to live in this country in a box, hermetically sealed,” as one of Saied’s college professors put it—is telling. Saied left the Muslim Brotherhood shortly thereafter.

“The critical factor galvanizing this change of heart,” Barrett writes, “was the pressure of more mature and open-minded Muslims, people who were determined to remind Saied that Islam did not command insularity and resentment of non-Muslims.” A community had nurtured Saied’s extremism, and it took another, better community to drive it out, not a P.R. campaign or a “war.” This jibes with the findings of David Kilcullen, an Australian expert on counterinsurgency profiled by George Packer in the Dec. 19, 2006, issue of the New Yorker. Kilcullen told Packer that the best remedy for extremism overseas is to foster “trusted networks” and traditional authority figures who can provide a social alternative to militancy, not just an ideological one.

So it’s no surprise that in his conclusion Barrett insists that the best remedy for Islamist militancy is more support for Muslims like Saied. After leaving the Brotherhood, Saied went on to become one of several moderates profiled in “American Islam” who write Op-Ed pieces and make media appearances in which they urge their co-religionists to fend off efforts to foment fundamentalism in their ranks.

All of the people Barrett profiles in “American Islam” are complicated individuals. In contemplating Nomani’s protests, he is careful to note the times when her priority seems to be the promotion of the book she wrote about her struggles, but he also gives her props for her courage and points out signs that she has “uncorked” tensions in her mosque that run far deeper than the discontent of just one congregant. Likewise, with Wahhaj, he frowns on the black imam’s connections with Islamism’s bad actors without dismissing his tireless and often thankless work for other Muslim communities, and his ability to redeem lives and even entire neighborhoods that the rest of American society has abandoned.

This makes “American Islam,” for all its unassuming airs, much more interesting than the usual run of reporting on this topic, which tends to be either mindlessly alarmist or indiscriminately positive. What makes the book even more impressive is a fact that Barrett casually lets drop in an aside in the chapter describing a Sufi community: He’s Jewish. That he gained the trust of so many Muslims and that he managed to tell their stories so fairly and without allowing what would have been justifiably tumultuous feelings of his own to interfere—well, there could be no better argument on behalf of the American pluralism he champions.

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/17 at 04:12 PM
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Voices from Iraq (continued)

Another letter from a book excerpt What Was Asked of Us by Trish Wood in the “The Last Word” column in the Week, a weekly news/political magazine. 

Daniel B. Cotnoir, Mortuary Affairs, Feb.-Sep. 2004 Marine Corps Times’ “Marine of the Year”
We had a lot of pretty bad improvised explosives devices, but for me the one that really marked it was an Army unit that got hit by an IED in a drainage culvert.  It was right on the the outside of Habbaniya.  They had filled a drainage culvert with explosives and blew up an armored personnel carrier.  We knew we were in the s--- at that point because when we drove up to the scene, the hole in the road was so big that an Abrams tank on the scene couldn’t drive over the hole; it had to go around it.  Then we look down the road and there’s just a motor and tranny on the street, 100 yards from where the blast hole is.  We were there 10 hours or more, picking up more than 3,000 [body] parts.  While you’re out there doing it, you become a machine.  You just pick it up, put it in a bag, make a note.  It crosses that line.  There’s a soldier or a Marine or someone’s that’s dead and it is gruesome to just beyond the realm of a horror film, and I don’t think you can even put your head around it.  You just do it.  Some of them you couldn’t tell what it was, as much as you just knew it was a body part.

There were the remains the four or five guys spread out over 600 square yards.  We had to walk a grid.  It was just like a police scene.  We had different-color flags marked personal belongings, whether it was a wallet or a picture or anything like that.  We had to take photos of the scene so that if it ever had to be reconstructed, they could reconstruct it.

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/16 at 03:07 PM
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Voices from Iraq

I read the following letter from a book excerpt What Was Asked of Us by Trish Wood in the “The Last Word” column in the Week, a weekly news/political magazine. 

Garett Reppenhagen, Cavalry scout/sniper, 1st Infantry Division, Feb. 2004-Feb.2005, Baquba
One of the worst injuries I remember happened during an ambush.  He was in a personal-security detachment for the colonel.  They were going out to a spot that was ambushed earlier, and they stopped and he actually got out of the Humvee, dismounted, pulling security while the colonel got out to talk to some people.  As soon as he got out of the vehicle they detonated an IED right in his face.  It blew him backward with such force that his chin hit the Humvee and just shattered his jaw, and his chin and his throat were torn out pretty badly by the blast.  It blew his Kevlar off of his head because the shrapnel busted his strap, and it blew his Kevlar completely over the Humvee, and the helmet landed on the other side.  He had his jaw all reconstructed.  It was wired shut for the longest time.  Then he was speaking with a little electronic voice box that you hold up to your neck.  He’s one of those people who just can’t accept that the war is wrong.  He wanted to come back to the unit.  He wanted to fight.

When we got back from Iraq, he was there, and he spoke to us once.  He stood up in front of everybody and told us in his little robot voice how much he wanted to be in Iraq.  That was too much to bear because I know how brainwashed he was and how he’ll never think differently about it.  Always support the war and what we did there because it’s hard to admit that you’ve been duped and that you got all f---ed up for nothing.  You can’t go up to the guy and say, “Hey, man, you’re wrong.  You got f---ed up for no good reason,” and just pat him on the back.

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/16 at 03:07 PM
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Friday, January 12, 2007

The holy blitz rolls on

I am not anti-religious but I found some of the things discussed by the author to be instructive about the rising “fascism” that is tolerated by the Christian Right.

The Christian right is a “deeply anti-democratic movement” that gains force by exploiting Americans’ fears, argues Chris Hedges. Salon talks with the former New York Times reporter about his fearless new book, “American Fascists.”
By Michelle Goldberg

Jan. 08, 2007 | Longtime war correspondent Chris Hedges, the former New York Times bureau chief in the Middle East and the Balkans, knows a lot about the savagery that people are capable of, especially when they’re besotted with dreams of religious or national redemption. In his acclaimed 2002 book, “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” he wrote: “I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of Central American roads, shot at in the marshes of Southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by Iraqi Republican Guard during the Shiite rebellion following the Gulf War, strafed by Russian Mig-21s in Bosnia, fired upon by Serb snipers, and shelled for days in Sarajevo with deafening rounds of heavy artillery that threw out thousands of deadly bits of iron fragments.” Hedges was part of New York Times team of reporters that won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting about global terrorism.

Given such intimacy with horror, one might expect him to be aloof from the seemingly less urgent cultural disputes that dominate domestic American politics. Yet in the rise of America’s religious right, Hedges senses something akin to the brutal movements he’s spent his life chronicling. The title of his new book speaks for itself: “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” Scores of volumes about the religious right have recently been published (one of them, “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism,” by me), but Hedges’ book is perhaps the most furious and foreboding, all the more so because he knows what fascism looks like.

Part of his outrage is theological. The son of a Presbyterian minister and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Hedges once planned to join the clergy himself. He speaks of the preachers he encountered while researching “American Fascists” as heretics, and he’s appalled at their desecration of a faith he still cherishes, even if he no longer totally embraces it. Writing of Ohio megachurch pastor Rod Parsley and his close associate, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, he says, “[T]he heart of the Christian religion, all that is good and compassionate within it, has been tossed aside, ruthlessly gouged out and thrown into a heap with all the other inner organs. Only the shell, the form, remains. Christianity is of no use to Parsley, Blackwell and the others. In its name they kill it.”

I first met Hedges at last spring’s War on Christians conference in Washington, D.C., where Parsley, a wildly charismatic Pentecostal who loves the language of holy war, electrified the crowd. ("I came to incite a riot!” he shouted. “Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!") It was shortly before the publication of my book, and as Hedges and I spoke, we realized we had similar takes on our subject. Both of us relied on Hannah Arendt’s analysis of totalitarian movements in their early stages, and on some of the concepts that historian Robert O. Paxton elucidated in his book “The Anatomy of Fascism.” But where I, anxious not to be seen as hysterical, tried to treat these ideas gingerly, Hedges is unabashed and unsparing. His rage and contempt for the movement’s leaders, though, is matched by sympathy for its followers, because he understands the despair, the desperate longing for community and even the idealism that often drives them.

Hedges spoke to me on the phone from his home in New Jersey.

Let’s start with the title. A lot of liberals who write about the right see echoes of fascism in its rhetoric and organizing, but we tiptoe around it, because we don’t want people to think that we’re comparing James Dobson to Hitler or America to Weimar Germany. You, though, decided to be very bold in your comparisons to fascism.

You’re right, “fascism” or “fascist” is a terribly loaded word, and it evokes a historical period, primarily that of the Nazis, and to a lesser extent Mussolini. But fascism as an ideology has generic qualities. People like Robert O. Paxton in the “Anatomy of Fascism” have tried to quantify them. Umberto Eco did it in “Five Moral Pieces,” and I actually begin the book with an excerpt from Eco: “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.” I think there are enough generic qualities that the group within the religious right, known as Christian Reconstructionists or dominionists, warrants the word. Does this mean that this is Nazi Germany? No. Does this mean that this is Mussolini’s Italy? No. Does this mean that this is a deeply anti-democratic movement that would like to impose a totalitarian system? Yes.

You know, I come out of the church. I not only grew up in the church but graduated from seminary, and I look at this as a mass movement. I give it very little religious legitimacy, especially the extreme wing of it.

You say they would like to impose a totalitarian system. How much of a conscious goal do you think that is at the upper levels of organizing, with, say, somebody like Rod Parsley?

I think they’re completely conscious of it. The level of manipulation is quite sophisticated. These people understand the medium of television, they understand the despair and brokenness of the people they appeal to, and how to manipulate them both for personal and financial gain. I look at these figures, and I would certainly throw James Dobson in there, or Pat Robertson, as really dark figures.

I think the vast majority of followers have no idea. There’s an earnestness to many of the believers. I had the same experience you did—I went in there prepared to really dislike these people and most of them just broke my heart. They’re well meaning. Unfortunately, they’re being manipulated and herded into a movement that’s extremely dangerous. If these extreme elements actually manage to achieve power, they will horrify [their followers] in many ways. But that’s true with all revolutionary movements.

The core of this movement is tiny, but you only need a tiny, disciplined, well-funded and well-organized group, and then you count on the sympathy of 80 million to 100 million evangelicals. And that’s enough. Especially if you don’t have countervailing forces, which we don’t.

If there’s a historical period that’s analogous to the situation we have now, it would come close to being the 1930s in the United States. Obviously we’re not in a depression, but the situation for the working class is very bleak, and the middle class is under assault. There has been a kind of Weimarization of the American working class, and there’s a terrible instability in the middle class. And if we enter a period of political and social instability, this gives this movement the opportunity it’s been waiting for. But it needs a crisis. All of these movements need a crisis to come to power, and we’re not in a period of crisis.

How likely do you think a crisis is?

Very likely. The economy is not in healthy shape. I covered al-Qaida for a year for the New York Times. Every intelligence official I ever interviewed never talked about if, they only talked about when. They spoke about another catastrophic attack as an inevitability. The possibility of entering a period of instability is great, and then these movements become very frightening.

The difference between the 1930s and now is that we had powerful progressive forces through the labor unions, through an independent and vigorous press. I forget the figure but something like 80 percent of the media is controlled by seven corporations, something horrible like that. Television is just bankrupt. I worry that we don’t have the organized forces within American society to protect our democracy in the way that we did in the 1930s.

Since the midterm election, many have suggested that the Christian right has peaked, and the movement has in fact suffered quite a few severe blows since both of our books came out.

It’s suffered severe blows in the past too. It depends on how you view the engine of the movement. For me, the engine of the movement is deep economic and personal despair. A terrible distortion and deformation of American society, where tens of millions of people in this country feel completely disenfranchised, where their physical communities have been obliterated, whether that’s in the Rust Belt in Ohio or these monstrous exurbs like Orange County, where there is no community. There are no community rituals, no community centers, often there are no sidewalks. People live in empty soulless houses and drive big empty cars on freeways to Los Angeles and sit in vast offices and then come home again. You can’t deform your society to that extent, and you can’t shunt people aside and rip away any kind of safety net, any kind of program that gives them hope, and not expect political consequences.

Democracies function because the vast majority live relatively stable lives with a degree of hope, and, if not economic prosperity, at least enough of an income to free them from severe want or instability. Whatever the Democrats say now about the war, they’re not addressing the fundamental issues that have given rise to this movement.

But isn’t there are a change in the Democratic Party, now that it’s talking about class issues and economic issues more so than in the past?

Yes, but how far are they willing to go? The corporations that fund the Republican Party fund them. I don’t hear anybody talking about repealing the bankruptcy bill, just like I don’t hear them talking about torture. The Democrats recognize the problem, but I don’t see anyone offering any kind of solutions that will begin to re-enfranchise people into American society. The fact that they can’t get even get healthcare through is pretty depressing.

The argument you’re now making sounds in some ways like Tom Frank’s, which is basically that support for the religious right represents a kind of misdirected class warfare. But your book struck me differently—it seemed to be much more about what this movement offers people [sicko logically.]

Yeah, the economic is part of it, but you have large sections of the middle class that are bulwarks within this movement, so obviously the economic part isn’t enough. The reason the catastrophic loss of manufacturing jobs is important is not so much the economic deprivation but the social consequences of that deprivation. The breakdown of community is really at the core here. When people lose job stability, when they work for $16 an hour and don’t have health insurance, and nobody funds their public schools and nobody fixes their infrastructure, that has direct consequences into how the life of their community is led.

I know firsthand because my family comes from a working-class town in Maine that has suffered exactly this kind of deterioration. You pick up the local paper and the weekly police blotter is just DWIs and domestic violence. We’ve shattered these lives, and it isn’t always economic. That’s where I guess I would differ with Frank. It’s really the destruction of the possibility of community, and of course economic deprivation goes a long way to doing that. But corporate America has done a pretty good job of destroying community too, which is why the largest growth areas are the exurbs, where people have a higher standard of living, but live fairly bleak and empty lives.

In the beginning of the book, you write briefly about covering wars in Latin America, the Middle East and the Balkans. How did that shape the way you understand these social forces in America? What similarities do you see?

When I covered the war in the Balkans, there was always the canard that this was a war about ancient ethnic hatreds that was taken from Robert Kaplan’s “Balkan Ghosts.” That was not a war about ancient ethnic hatreds. It was a war that was fueled primarily by the economic collapse of Yugoslavia. Milosevic and Tudman, and to a lesser extent Izetbegovic, would not have been possible in a stable Yugoslavia.

When I first covered Hamas in 1988, it was a very marginal organization with very little power or reach. I watched Hamas grow. Although I came later to the Balkans, I had a good understanding of how Milosevic built his Serbian nationalist movement. These radical movements share a lot of ideological traits with the Christian right, including that cult of masculinity, that cult of power, rampant nationalism fused with religious chauvinism. I find a lot of parallels.

People have a very hard time believing the status quo of their existence, or the world around them, can ever change. There’s a kind of [sicko logically.] inability to accept how fragile open societies are. When I was in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, at the start of the war, I would meet with incredibly well-educated, multilingual Kosovar Albanian friends in the cafes. I would tell them that in the countryside there were armed groups of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who I’d met, and they would insist that the Kosovo Liberation Army didn’t exist, that it was just a creation of the Serb police to justify repression.

You saw the same thing in the cafe society in Sarajevo on the eve of the war in Bosnia. Radovan Karadzic or even Milosevic were buffoonish figures to most Yugoslavs, and were therefore, especially among the educated elite, never taken seriously. There was a kind of blindness caused by their intellectual snobbery, their inability to understand what was happening. I think we have the same experience here. Those of us in New York, Boston, San Francisco or some of these urban pockets don’t understand how radically changed our country is, don’t understand the appeal of these buffoonish figures to tens of millions of Americans.

But don’t you feel like the tipping point is still quite a way off? Speaking personally, when I’ve read about totalitarian movements, I’ve always imagined that I’d know enough to pack up and go. That would seem to be a very premature thing to do here.

Well, most people didn’t pack up and go. The people who packed up and left were the exception, and most people thought they were crazy. My friends in Pristina had no idea what was going on in Kosovo until they were literally herded down to the train station and pushed into boxcars and shipped like cattle to Macedonia. And that’s not because they weren’t intelligent or perceptive. It was because, like all of us, they couldn’t comprehend how fragile the world was around them, and how radically and quickly it could change. I think that’s a human phenomenon.

Hitler was in power in 1933, but it took him until the late ‘30s to begin to consolidate his program. He never spoke about the Jews because he realized that raw anti-Semitism didn’t play out with the German public. All he did was talk about family values and restoring the moral core of Germany. The Russian revolution took a decade to consolidate. It takes time to acculturate a society to a radical agenda, but that acculturation has clearly begun here, and I don’t see people standing up and trying to stop them. The Democratic policy of trying to reach out to a movement that attacks whole segments of the society as worthy only of conversion or eradication is frightening.

Doesn’t it make sense for the Democrats to reach out to the huge number of evangelicals who aren’t necessarily part of the religious right, but who may be sympathetic to some of its rhetoric? Couldn’t those people be up for grabs?

I don’t think they are up for grabs because they have been ushered into a non-reality-based belief system. This isn’t a matter of, “This is one viewpoint, here’s another.” This is a world of magic and signs and miracles and wonders, and [on the other side] is the world you hate, the liberal society that has shunted you aside and thrust you into despair. The rage that is directed at those who go after the movement is the rage of those who fear deeply being pushed back into this despair, from which many of the people I interviewed feel they barely escaped. A lot of people talked about suicide attempts or thoughts of suicide—these people really reached horrific levels of desperation. And now they believe that Jesus has a plan for them and intervenes in their life every day to protect them, and they can’t give that up.

So in a way, the movement really has helped them.

Well, in same way unemployed workers in Weimar Germany were helped by becoming brownshirts, yes. It gave them a sense of purpose. Look, you could always tell in a refugee camp in Gaza when one of these kids joined Hamas, because suddenly they were clean, their djelleba was white, they walked with a sense of purpose. It was a very similar kind of conversion experience. If you go back and read [Arthur] Koestler and other writers on the Communist Party, you find the same thing.

This is a question that I get all the time, and you’ve probably heard it too: Do you think Bush is a believer, or do you think he and his administration are just cynically manipulating their foot soldiers?

I think he’s a believer, to the extent that this belief system empowers his own arrogant sense of privilege and intellectual shallowness. When you know right and wrong, when you’ve been mandated by God to lead, you don’t have to ask hard questions, you don’t have to listen to anyone else. I think that plays into the Bush character pretty well.

I think there are probably other aspects or tenets of this belief system that he finds distasteful and doesn’t like. But in a real sense he fits the profile: a washout, not a very good family life—apparently his mother was a horror show—a drunk, a drug addict, coasted because of his daddy, reaches middle age, hasn’t done anything with his life, finds Jesus. That fits a lot of people in the movement.

What do you think of the argument, exemplified by David Kuo’s book, “Tempting Faith,” that this administration has duped the Christian right and hasn’t really given them much in exchange for their support?

It’s given them a lot of money. It’s given them a few hundred million dollars. I wouldn’t call that nothing.

Kuo’s argument is that Bush promised $8 billion for the faith-based initiative but that there was actually very little new funding. What’s missing in what he says, I think, is that while there was little new money, there was a massive effort to shift money that was already appropriated from secular social services to evangelical groups. But if you believe, as Kuo apparently did, that compassionate conservatism really meant helping the poor, then Bush hasn’t really done anything to further it.

Well, [Bush] never wanted to help the poor. That was just to sell us on a program—he didn’t have any intention of helping the poor.

Did you start out to research this book with the intellectual framework that comes from Hannah Arendt and Karl Popper in mind?

Yes. I studied a lot of Christian ethics, a lot of Reinhold Niebuhr, Karl Barth, that’s how I was formed, so when I covered conflicts as a foreign correspondent, the peculiarity of my education made me look at those conflicts a little differently. I was always very wary of utopian movements because I had it pounded into me that utopianism is a dangerous phenomenon, of the left or the right. I was very critical of liberation theology because it essentially endorsed violence to create a Christian society. The way that I articulated that was really through writers like Popper and Arendt. I needed Karl Popper and Hannah Arendt to get a lot of the despotic movements that I was covering, to give myself a vocabulary by which to explain these movements to myself. Even when I teach journalism classes I tend to make them read “The Origins of Totalitarianism” because I think it’s such an important book. I’ve read the book seven or eight times.

When did you see its relevance to the Christian right?

Because of my close coverage, or close connection with movements like Hamas or Milosevic, or even some of the despotic movements in Latin America like Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala, I’d already been conditioned to smell these people out. And then of course coming out the church and coming out of seminary, the combination was such that as soon as I came back from overseas, I had a sense of who these people were. There was a strange kind of confluence from my experience as a reporter and my academic background that came together and gave me a kind of sensitivity to the Christian right that maybe other people didn’t have immediately. I don’t know how much it’s apparent, but it’s an angry book.

That’s very apparent.

Good. My father remains the most important influence on my life, and he was a Presbyterian minister, a devout Christian. I quote H. Richard Niebuhr saying, “Religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people.” I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly pious but I certainly would describe myself as religious. And when I see how these people are manipulating the Christian religion for personal empowerment and wealth and for the destruction of the very values that I think are embodied in the teachings of Jesus Christ, I’m angry.

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/12 at 05:21 PM
Religion / Sprituality • (8) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Darfur Petition

I know. Probably thinking jeez not another internet petition. But I don’t have enough money for some mercenaries So We gotta start somewhere. And you don’t have to be muslim to sign. I have been told that EVERY conceivable angle will be worked to get this to SOME BODY [UN, Media, diplomats/ambassadors etc.] who can do something.


On December 21, 2006, TVO’s Steven Paikin interviewed Michael Petrou, senior writer at Maclean’s magazine and author of “Genocide in Slow Motion” on the conflict in Darfur and how it is spreading to Chad. Paikin asked, since the conflict is between Arab Muslims and African Muslims, what, if any, assistance had come from the Muslim world to help the situation in Darfur?

Petrou answered that although help was minimal from anywhere, the West was feeding the refugees, while the only help offered by Muslims was a huge, multi-story mosque paid for by Saudi Arabia in the middle of the poverty-stricken capital of Chad, Anjamina.

In response to this, I have written a petition asking that Muslim countries do more to help with Muslim-against-Muslim conflicts. Muslims seem quick to protest foreign injustices, perceived or real, but when our fellow Muslims are fighting amongst each other, we say nothing. I want to help change that.  Will you join me and Irshad in supporting the petition below?


Dear friends and fellow ijtihadists,

Salaams and happy new year.  This is my first official message on behalf of Project Ijtihad.  You’re on PI’s mailing list because you’ve shown a keen interest in promoting independent thinking - whether by signing my petition against death threats or engaging when we met at an event or writing to me with questions and comments. (I’ve not forgotten those to whom I still owe answers.  Trying to catch up in between work-related travels and deadlines!)

Most of you are Muslims; others are directly connected to Muslims (spouses or siblings, for example).  We’re all committed to vibrant discussion and debate about Islam, as well as the range of issues that affect its practice.  In that spirit, Project Ijtihad will soon embark on its next phase - a website that should eventually serve as a locus for some of the most energetic conversations about Islam today.  You’ll soon receive an invitation to contribute your ideas and talents.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I’m writing to you with an urgent request: the genocide in Darfur begs for attention. Recently, a young Muslim man named Mehdi Rafai asked me to use my website to feature his petition calling on Muslims to speak up.  I’ve now posted the link front and center on my homepage.  Please visit, read Mehdi’s compelling plea, and sign:

Yes, we all know that signatures alone won’t alleviate the crisis.  But because so much of this is about Muslim-on-Muslim violence, our signatures as people connected to Islam carry great weight.  And if you send me your ideas for who should receive the signed petition - the head of the Arab League? Ambassadors at NATO? Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US Congress? Ex-prez Bill Clinton? All the above? - then I’ll work every connection I have (and you might have) to ensure they get it.  Ultimately, decision-makers need to “get it” that reform-minded Muslims exist—and care.
For those who seek more knowledge, I’ve also posted a brief about Sudan, written by the dynamic founder of Ijtihad Boston, Raquel Evita Saraswati.  (She wrote it from the perspective of a U.S. diplomat who’s considering foreign policy options.) Thanks for sharing it with us, Raquel!

Finally, for those with websites, blogs and mailing lists of your own, please circulate Mehdi’s petition as widely as you can.

As always, I welcome your feedback.

With love and respect,

PS: If you don’t wish to be on Project Ijtihad’s mailing list, let me know. If you choose to stay on, rest assured that you will *not* be bombarded with emails.

Posted by cricket on 01/11 at 10:21 PM
Blogging • (3) CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Clothespin and rug (high school memories).

Here is another of my 20+ year old images.


Posted by SPN on 01/10 at 05:43 PM
PhotographyHigh School Memories • (0) CommentsPermalink

If this isn’t enough reason for you to get an Apple computer and use Cingular,

then you must just be crazy.

Here is Apple’s planned iPhone.

Posted by SPN on 01/10 at 02:06 PM
Science / Technology • (1) CommentsPermalink

The rare Caddo Magnet High students outside. (high school memories)

Here is a picture of some of my classmates on the rare occasion that we were allowed outside during school.  I have no idea what we were doing outside.  This may have been preperation for a disaster drill that the city of Shreveport organized.  Other pictures I have of this event showed students dressed and acting as if they had been in some type of disaster.

I sent the picture to one of the students in it and here is her response, ”

OMG Where in the hell did you dig that up? smile Is that me?  If so, I look a hot mess.  What were we doing?  That picture looks like it was before our time.


Posted by SPN on 01/10 at 09:31 AM
PhotographyHigh School Memories • (0) CommentsPermalink

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Plan To Destroy America

Richard D.  Lamm was a Democrat Governor of Colorado for twelve years from 1975 to 1987.  He once gave a speech in early 2004 that he later revised on the perils of multiculturalism.

I have a secret plan to destroy America.  If you believe, as many do, that America is too smug, too white bread, too self-satisfied, too rich, lets destroy America.  It is not that hard to do.  History shows nations are more fragile than their citizens think.  No nation in history has survived the ravages of time.  Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and they all fall.  Here is my plan:
I. We must first make America a bilingual-bicultural country.  History show, in my opinion, that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. One scholar, Seymour Lipset, put it this way: “The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, and Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided.  Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.

II. I would then invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural
differences that are important. I would declare it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and discrimination by the majority.  Every other explanation is out of bounds.

III. We can make the United States a ‘Hispanic Quebec’ without much effort.  The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity.  As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently:  . . .The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by total race but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentricity and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.

I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America enforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.

IV. I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school.

V. I would get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of Victimology.  I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.

VI. I would establish dual citizenship, and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity.  Diversity is a wonderfully seductive word. It stresses differences rather than commonalities.  Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other—that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent.  People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. Dorf’s World History tells us:
The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games in honor of Zeus and all Greeks venerated the shrine of Apollo at Delphi.  A common enemy, Persia, threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to overcome two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions.
If we can put the emphasis on the “Pluribus” instead of the “Unum” we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.

VII. Then I would place all subjects off limits; make it taboo to talk about.  I would find a word similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th century—that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like ‘racist’ or ‘xenophobe’ halt discussion and debate. Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multiculturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of ‘Victimology,’ I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant sympatric and ignore the cumulative impact.
VIII. Lastly I would censor Victor Davis Hanson’s book “Mexifornia.” This book is dangerous. It exposes my plan to destroy America.  So please, please, if you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don’t buy this book.  This guy is on to my plan.

Posted by Wayne McDonald on 01/08 at 01:43 PM
Blogging • (3) CommentsPermalink
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