Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Madonna, McCartneys, Mayhem

As we all know, power in any form corrupts and that indubitably includes the flashy stars of the entertainment world. And this week the flashers have outshone even themselves.


Let’s start off with, or shall I say return to, the case of one Madonna “I truly believe women are a commodity” Richie. As the Saccharinist stated this week, she stole a child from Malawi – having gotten special treatment because the mere fact of her visit to the country made about 200 million Americans aware of its existence.

Human rights and child’s rights groups throughout the world made legitimate complaints. She retorted with a fabricated announcement that she had not received special treatment.

Her child was then delivered alone on an airjet and the next night she was photographed going out on the town for a fancy dinner while her newly arrived bundle of joy was at home in the hands of a nanny – if that’s not motherly love, then I just don’t know what is.

Subsequently, the child’s father (whom she must have eventually decided to pay not because he is a poor man who can barely provide sustenance to himself but because paying him off might have placed the guy in her camp) came out with a statement that he supports Madonna.

Shortly afterwards, the father came out with a statement saying he was told and under the impression that the child will only be away from him temporarily in order to be fed, cared for, educated and then returned to him (yeah right, like some little poor kid from Africa is gonna wanna go back to a daddy he never knew after a few years of luxury in Madonna’s camp) – and that he now wants his kid back.

The moral of the story: the richer you are, the more you can get away with till it’s convenient for the canons of power to bring you down.

Oprah Winfrey

Like all pathetic Hollywood sob stories (see Jennifer Aniston’s recent woes for all the latest), and especially those that have anything at all to do with the sensitivities of race, Madonna’s story ends in a visit to the Oprah Winfrey show. What? What’s that you say? Oprah Winfrey is not gay? (She recently claimed she isn’t, but doesn’t that seem a bit too pre-emptively defensive about a non-issue?). Yes, Madonna went on Oprah today spewing the banality of a hollow soul: let’s put aside my horrible troubles with the media and instead focus on the millions of people who will now turn away from adoption because of the torment they’ve seen me undergo. OH! So it’s not about you, is it Madonna? It’s about the children. Except, in her condescending and prejudiced natural way, she blurted out her clear opinion of the scenario in one simple phrase: “those children” in reference to the innocents she feels she has the right to adopt at her will – “those” as in, “those poor pathetic helpless people who I have the power to possess at the drop of a hat” or “those as in those OTHERS who are not me.” Yes, we’ve seen this terminology used many many times before: it was called slavery and Americans are well familiar with it.

We are sadly familiar with Oprah Winfrey’s own severe shortcomings in race relations: everything about her, from the audience at her show, to the ridiculous magazine her underlings cater almost exclusively to White middle class soccer moms, to her own demons, yells that she still isn’t comfortable in her Black skin. Oprah Winfrey, as we all know, sure wishes she were White.

Paul McCartney and Heather Mills

Next up is the no less entertaining debacle that has become the McCartney divorce proceeding. As we know, this divorce was mostly precipitated (and inevitable) due to two obvious things: Paul’s daughter Stella’s intense rage and jealousy toward Heather Mills, and, of course, the fact that Paul McCartney is a douchebag. Now then, where were we? Oh yes, Heather, bless her, is a clever lady and amidst the public revelations, infighting, and drama, she is going to achieve the one thing no one else has yet done (though it seems very likely John Lennon would’ve gotten around to it if he hadn’t been murdered so young): show the world the real Paul McCartney: an egotistical, moneyloving, saggyfaced druggie who still can’t get over himself after all these decades of fame and fortune. Not bad, can’t wait for what’s next – though, according to Heather we can presume that it involves audio and possibly video recordings of Paul Mcartney: domestic violence extraordinaire.


Finally, we arrive at the case of one Sascha Baron Cohen – more often known as Ali G or his latest scourge: Borat. This British comedian has made a career of mocking Muslims the world over – that’s right, his two most famous characters are racist, prejudiced depictions of Muslims: one from England, the other from Kazakhstan. It is a remarkable commentary on the state of the world and especially the Western media today that such blatant bigotry is tolerated and condoned. Cohen is in the news this week because of the release of his latest film about Borat: a film predicated on the notion that Muslim men are sexist, ignorant, and unintelligent – though all of this is masked through the use of humor. Cohen is a bigot and his form of entertainment is unacceptable for that very substantial reason. Yes, some people and religions are still easily mocked and disrespected in Western media and a whole lot of people are still making money off of doing it.

Cohen is a Jew mocking Muslims and profiting from it -- and no one with power is speaking up at all. Just imagine the reverse: A Muslim mocking Jews, and you can see the gigantic hypocrisy at play here. Amazing isn't it?

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Islam's Preveiling Problem

............................................................ The veil: clothing or control?

The Muslim veil is literally the most visible problem in Islam today. There are a large number of Muslims who still accept the Koranic decree that women should cover themselves – a decree that exists in Christianity and Judaism but is today only adhered to amongst the most fundamental followers. The problem with the veil in Islam is that most of the people who agree with it or actually do it are not fundamentalists or extremists, they are found in the moderate followers of the religion. In short, the veil – more spefically, hejab, is not considered a sign of extremism in Islam, though it should be because it is.

It is extremist to be ashamed of one’s body and face. It is extremist to accept that women’s bodies and faces are sinful or vessels for igniting sin. It is extremist to literally shut off 50% of the population from not only being in touch with the elements, but being in touch with themselves. It is extremist to divide and separate people amongst gender lines. It is extremist to believe that covering women is an appeasement to God. It is extremist to believe that by covering women, sin is avoided and chastity is preserved. It is extremist to be this stupid.

A public debate is simmering to a boil in the United Kingdom, as it has done in Germany, France, and other European nations – as it does in private in countries like Iran where the veil in its general sense as hejab, is mandatory. British government officials and lower-profile officials down the ranks are speaking up about the veil and they are easing into it as the British cleverly do with everything: today’s target is that despicable apparatus, the niqab. For those of you who have never been subjected to this horrific presentation, the niqab is a piece of fabric that covers everything on the face but the eyes, and in some cases also covers the eyes – as tortuous and bizarre as that sounds. The niqab is an extremely discomforting sight to see: a woman dressed all in black with nothing to show of herself but two sandwiched eyes, almost spookily peeking out from between two black pieces of cloth.

What’s interesting is that, at least in the English-speaking world, the niqab is being referred to as the “veil” such that criticisms against any kind of veil at all can be veiled (excused the pun) as criticisms against the niqab. Clever, I know. But it’s understandable: it is an uncomfortable sight to see a veiled woman – even if her veil is nothing more or less than a scarf around her head. Why? Because we wonder if she chose to do that herself. Because we know that had she grown up in another society, she would not have seen her hair and neck and face as a sign of sin or shame or as something that should be hidden. Because it doesn’t make sense that a woman’s hair, face and body are sinful, but a man’s is not. Because of all of these reasons, and more.

But even if men wore the veil, it still wouldn’t make sense: it is ludicrous and illogical to suggest that the human body is sinful. Civility presumes that a sane member of society will wear clothing – we are, after all, not animals. But clothing whose primary reason for existence is to exclude, denigrate or belittle its wearer is not clothing but control.

If Muslims want to be respected as a religion of progress, the first thing they need to do is overcome their acceptance of veiling of any kind. On the other hand, if they wish to be ridiculed and subject to easy dismissals of their value in today’s society, then they should continue to accept the veil -- along with the infinite criticisms of Islam which accompany it.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Madonna Steals Child

Here is one of the world's most selfish, self-involved, and self-obsessed women:

Even in her efforts to help others, she primarily helps herself. Last week, she went to Malawi to pass out red ribbons to the locals -- 1/2 for a Kabbalah bracelet and 1/2 for an AIDS emblem, no doubt. After a brief period of proselytizing, she decided, as per her protocol, to take more from the community than she ever gave: by adopting a child -- a child who HAS PARENTS.

That's right, Madonna has legally -- and I use this term loosely: it turns out the Malawi government may have made an illegal exception for Her Mad-jesty -- stolen a child from a Malawi orphanage whose father and grandmother are both alive and well. See, the boy's family was forced to send him to an orphanage because they couldn't afford to care for him -- yes, a kind donation to the family would have been more beneficial to the boy. But instead, Madonna decided she'd take him away from the only family he has so that she can prove to the world that after over 20 years of doing nothing for humanity, she can redeem herself by buying a black person. Hmm...somehow, that just rubs the wrong way.

Yes, little David (doesn't sound very Malawian to me...), as he's been named, is being systematically stripped of his identity by a bottomless pit of greed who can't conceive on her own -- can't conceive what it means to be humane, that is.

Mrs Madonna "I wannabe Angelina Jolie" Rich-ie is an excellent example of the elite of this world falling way way short of helping anyone but themselves. With her high-profile status, wealth and connections, she could have done any number of things to contribute to the betterment of this world, but so far, she has done nothing but the opposite. Sadly for her, all the money in the world can't buy her the one thing she wants most of all: her youth.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

655,000 Iraqis Dead

As the Saccharinist pointed out just recently, the victims of the US, UK and their pitiful little coalition's war against the people of Iraq has been just that: a war against the people. And this week the real figure of numbers dead has been declared.

655,000 Iraqis have been killed in the last 3 and a half years -- that's 1 in every 40 Iraqis. Dead. That's more than were killed in the previously most bloody war Iraq had endured: its 8 year long war with Iran. It took the US just over 3 years to kill more people than 8 years of a horrific war did?

And now, the blow-alition wants out so don't anyone be surprised if that infamous Saddam Hussein finds his way back into "office". Why else would the US have kept him alive despite their show trial of his crimes against humanity? They no doubt anticipated that he -- once a CIA agent, always a CIA agent -- would somehow come in handy more in life than in death. Hmm... I say a fake coup will be staged and Saddam will climb back onto his throne of dictatorial vengeance and the biggest sufferers, then, as now, as in the past, will be the Iraqi people.


Taking Advantage of Armenians

This political cartoon depicts the plight of the Armenians and the response from the United Kingdom (personified by John Bull) at the time. (Source: Wikipedia)

Today was a double whammy in Europe's quest to indirectly demonise the Turks -- the only majority Muslim contender for European Union membership -- through idolizing Christians (even the ones they don't even care about).

First, the Nobel Prize for Literature went to Orhan Pamuk -- a highly-acclaimed best-selling writer whose most high profile claim to fame has been his condemnation by the Turkish government for being anti-Turkish because he has made a cause for himself (some say merely to gain attention) by preaching that the 1915 genocide of over 1 million Armenians by the Turkish government is a crime that needs to be recognized by the state of Turkey.

Following closeby in second place, the French parliament today adopted a bill making it a crime to deny that the Turks did indeed commit this genocide against the Armenians.

Coincidence? Probably not.

The fact is, the French government and Pamuk are right: the Turks did in fact commit genocide against over 1 million Armenians in 1915 -- something any Armenian from anywhere in the world will heartily discuss at the drop of a hat -- and rightly so: all the genocides of the world need to be recognized and condemned. But what neither the Nobel Prize Committee nor the French government will tell you is that not a single European authority gave a care about this atrocity until recent memory when Turkey came forward as a serious and legitimate contender for membership in the EU. Now and only now, does anyone care that the Armenians (who practice a form of Orthodox Christianity) underwent such a horrible experience in their history and are still fighting to get this recognized.

Convenient how this once again pits Muslims against Christians in today's farcical infighting between two major religions that are in fact one and the same. The Armenians should be just as upset as the Turks today. Once again, the Armenian genocide is marginalized in the shadow of greater powers bent on world domination.

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Anne Taylor Fleming is a Bigot

Ann Taylor Fleming’s unbelievably racist, religionist, prejudiced and inhumane “essays” on that farcical excuse for a news program “Jim Lehrer’s Newshour” (PBS network in the U.S.) took a radically inappropriate turn toward proselytizing, bigotry and hate-mongering on Friday 6 October. And, since no one else is speaking up, the Saccharinist will.

In a profusely inaccurate account of the Amish school deaths in Pennsylvania, she overtly compared the forgiveness, peacefulness and goodness of Christianity with Islam – never once, as always in American “journalism” mentioning the violence, aggression and hate of Christianity or Judaism. In fact, her so-called “essay” was more a speech on the greatness of Jesus Christ than on the forgiveness of the Amish and it reeled with her own hatred and anger toward non-Christians. She even quoted the famous Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt (a philosopher who, according to her Wikipedia article was actually quite disliked by her fellow Jews, something Fleming no doubt was pleased to exploit) to make her fist-pounding point about how great Jesus was. Shame Fleming herself has fallen so short of the positive and enduring qualities of her apparent idol.

Her “essay" (click here for an audio version that unfortunately doesn't show her use of photo-collage to implicate billions of people in her mass conspiracy that Muslims, Black people and non-Americans in general are evil-doing, hateful people bent on destroying the world) – more accurately, her 30 years of service to American “journalism” which bought her a regular 2 minute time slot and carte blanche to broadcast her prejudice – was focused on how the Amish have announced that they forgive the nutcase who shot and killed those 5 girls in an Amish school house last week. But like a good bigot, she herself fell far short of demonstrating the positive qualities she somehow managed to identify in others, which only leads us to believe that she doesn’t give a toss about how forgiving the Amish are but is merely interested in exploiting them as an example of how great Americans and Christians are.

Flashing across the screen to accompany her pathetic and criminal rant (hate mongering is a crime in the United States) were images of violence committed by Muslims and Black Africans, contrasted with renaissance paintings of Jesus and all-American churchgoers. Fleming spits that "the world [has] gone mad with revenge killings and sectarian violence" and that "chunks of the globe [are] self-immolating with hatred" as her "essay" streams pictures of the victims of American imperialism: Muslims and Blacks everywhere. They are the "rageful face" of religion, she says, contrasting people whose lives, land, and livelihood have been in tatters for generations, centuries, even, because of American political and military aggression against them.

Fleming shamelessly and, in her bigoted condescendance, racistly refers to these people as "tribes and sects in a froth of revenge from Darfur to Baghdad" -- reminiscent of the old (and by old, I mean a tradition that only officially ended in the 1960's, though we all know that the problem of racism has by no means been solved in the U.S. yet) American slavery lingo of referring to the Africans as "tribal beasts" and "uncivilized hordes." Funny she should mention two of the current hotbeds of America's own "froth of revenge" and sheer lack of civility and humanity.

Oh, but the Amish, THEY on the other hand are the "tender face of religion," according to Die Flemmeisterin. Why? Because "they had Jesus in them." Too bad you don't, Frau Fleming.

The ignorance and blatant falsehood of these implications is stunning in its own right and in that it was broadcast on a major national network: that Muslims, Black people and, well, anyone who isn’t a White Christian, are violent, angry, irrational people. The only violent, angry and irrational person in Ann’s “essay” was herself and if there were any decent slander laws in the United States, she and a whole host of other hate mongerers who find their way onto the mainstream news would be prosecuted for the crimes they have committed.

As this blog has pointed out in the past, Newshour is hardly “news” and is in fact replete with prejudice, bigotry and shabby, unprofessional, biased journalism – a beacon of American journalism at its best, to be sure. But Newshour’s pathetic shortcomings go beyond its prejudices and journalistic failures. According to the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Media, it turns out the show is extremely biased toward old men and Republicans in its use of "sources" for "news" reports. Frau Fleming, no doubt, has a huge fan base in the old, White Republican guard.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Foley's Follies: Sexual Deviance in DC

The latest sex scandal to hit US politics is a minuscule peek into a horrid reality in Washington DC today: rampant predation and liverspotted lawlessness. And we’re not talking consensual cigar sex between two portly adults: the corridors of power are hotbeds of sexual deviance the likes of which even the late Kennedy brothers would have cringed at. How do we know? Because some of the nastiness leaks its way into the press, bit by bit, mulling in the background until just around election time, when it blows like a geiser of moral trepidation and electoral swing.

Foley's Follies

Mark Foley, a 6-term Republican Congressman for Florida and, more disturbingly, a former Chairman of the House of Representatives Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children has been outed as a paedophile (notice how the BBC intentionally omits the word "sex" from the headline of this story and the leading paragraph, even though this is clearly a scandal about sex, not emails) who made sexual advances and solicited sexual intimacy from his pageboys – high school students as young as 15 years old who work as messengers and office assistants for Congress members. Transcripts of emails and AOL instant messages he exchanged with these boys have been published and broadcast in the US press this week, prompting his resignation and, more importantly, a dip in the polls for Republicans.

Still, it remains to be seen whether this scandal will be sufficient -- in addition to the 2 major wars the present Republican "leader"ship is fighting (and the one in Iran they've been planning for years) at the cost of American livs and dollars, the radically invasive domestic privacy and civil rights laws they've passed, the economic destruction they've commnitted, and the total lack of disregard for the American people they've demonstrated -- to convince the American public to vote them out of a majority in Congress.

Bushler has denounced Foley’s behavior as “digusting” but the Republican party is scrambling to slap the scandal off the frontpages now that election time is just a month away. And now it seems a lot of “leaders” – including House Speaker Dennis Haestert – knew about Foley’s deviance but hadn’t done anything about it. That, too, is a crime of child endangerment and would be prosecuted if there were a reliable and decent justice system for human rights in this world: to have knowledge of an individual who is a danger to children and to not report it essentially leaves the door open for more children to be victimized.

Foley, for his part, has today attempted to offer an explanation for his criminal behavior: he has not only announced that he is gay (any pageboy could’ve told us that) but that he was molested by a clergyman when he was between the ages of 13 and 15. Yes, Foley is trying to justify himself by proving that he intended (or possibly did – we still don’t know the full details of this story) to destroy other boys’ lives exactly as someone had destroyed his. Uh-huh. Either he’s indicating that being molested didn’t bother him so it shouldn’t bother other children, or he’s proving that he is in fact sadistic and sociopathic and does not care that he is hurting innocent children. If that’s not criminal, then I don’t know what is.

David Hager's Sexual Deviance

The most questionable aspect of all of this is not that sexual deviants like Foley exist (and are no doubt rampant) in Washington but that more of them are not being exposed for the criminals they are. We know American journalists, with a few rare exceptions, are wont to actually engage in investigative reporting (and when they do, they sign a deal with PBS to “reveal” to the American public what everybody else in the world already knows), but they are masters of paparazzi-style dirt and dish journalism, so something’s not adding up if a town full of lascivious “leaders” keeps getting away with criminal sexual offenses.

The only other sexual deviant they’ve exposed in recent memory was one year ago – and it was not even reported in the mainstream press. Long before Foley’s follies came to light (and according to the latest updated reports, the movers and snakers in DC knew about Foley’s predilection for pubescent pageboys as early as 1995), another disgusting DC dilettante was not only soliciting salacious services, but committing them. Last year, the Nation magazine (see previous comment about PBS journalism) was the only significant US publication to report on another one of DC’s upstanding figureheads whose private life is a total dismissal of his public pronouncements of morality. W. David Hager, an obstetrician and gynecologist who was the Bushler administration's appointee to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the Food and Drug Administration, is, according to his ex-wife of 32 years and her confidantes, a sodomizer, and a wife rapist.

It turns out that for years he would anally-rape his wife as she was asleep suffering from narcolepsy. He was so obsessed with sodomy that at times he would pay his wife so she'd allow him to sodomize her when she was conscious (and she was so dependent and self-respectless that for many years she accepted his money.) But – and notice the similarity here between US religious fundamentalism and say, Iranian religious fundamentalism or any religious fundamentalism – very few people are taking this woman’s word for it: Hager has brashly dismissed her claims as vindictive and insane and, as in most cases of rape, the victim has become the accused.

Religion and Sex

And what, as always, does this all return to? The institution of religion. Most of the world seeks solace, redemption, and hope in the institutions of religion – that, or a power structure based on faith and moral authority with which to justify themselves and their actions to everybody else. Hager was an evangelist who peppered his speeches, his writings and his legal directives with Christian ideology and righteousness. Foley was a churchgoer and homosexual who joined a church where paedophilia is rampant and a political party that condemned his sexuality. Both were victims of an institution that denounces and controls sexuality to such an extent that its most fanatic adherents desperately hunger for and turn to deviance in order to meet their natural sexual inclinations.

The Saccharinist has said it before and will say it again: religious institutions are political institutions -- nothing more or less than organs of power. Mix the two together and you have a recipe for criminally insane inhumanity.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Battle for Pashtunistan

.........................................................(source: CS Monitor)

Is it anyone’s duty to update societies that do not meet a progressive standard of civilization? The question before you is simple: does everyone in the world have to be equally civilized? And the answer is simple too: no. But that is not the end of the discussion.

Every society should provide its citizens or residents some basic provisions for living and improving their own lives and these include the following: food and nourishment, habitation, means for a sustainable income, equal human rights, healthcare, protection under the law, and last but not least, education.

Any society that does not provide these basic necessities has not yet attained the understood heights of civilization which are possible in our world today. But how many societies do you know that meet this requirement? Even the Western nations that demand that the rest of the world accord with their values, fail on some of these basic accounts!

-In the US, 14% of Americans have NO healthcare.

-In the UK, the National Health Service is so unreliable and incompetent that those who want effective healthcare must go private.

-In the European Union’s Parliament, of 740 members, only 217 are women. That’s less than 30%.

-In Germany, workers of Turkish descent who have lived in that nation for generations are not given equal rights as citizens. In fact, many of them still haven’t even been given citizenship.

-In Australia, the Aborigines who were natives of that land even before the British dumped their criminals on it, are still not receiving equal treatment under the law.

The list is endless and includes the pathetic literacy rate in the US, the problems of gender inequality that abound in all of these nations, the extreme shortcomings of healthcare in these societies and on and on.

A good case of the pot calling the kettle black on the issue of civilization has been the United States in its Wart on Terror. From the get-go of this Wart, the US has announced that it wants to civilize – the actually term has been ‘democratize’ – Iraq and Afghanistan and no doubt Iran. But how civilized (oops! “Democratic”) is the US itself where the last two presidential elections have been dubiously won, where the biggest natural disaster in the nation – Hurricane Katrina – left several hundred thousand US citizens without food, water or emergency care for nearly a week, and where women’s reproductive rights are rapidly disappearing, to name just a few very uncivilized things.

This week, the Bushler regime has been making a stink of Pakistan and Afghanistan’s inability to ‘control’ the Taleban in their respective countries. Bushler himself has been posing as the gracious mediator between Afghanistan and Pakistan over their supposed conflict over Taleban control. But as we all know, the real mediator is Afghanistan: the Bushler camp is very annoyed, to say the least, that Pakistan has little to no ability to control the Taleban strongholds in the NWFP (North Western Frontier Province) and even more so, the FATA (Federally-Administered Tribal Areas) – a large plot of land which, along with large parts of Eastern Afghanistan could more aptly be called “Pashtunistan” because the ancient Pashtuns rule over these lands – the same Pashtuns that comprise the Taleban in both these nations.

But what the 'experts' at the Pentagon and the State Department and all those supposed strongholds of intelligence do not seem to understand is that Pashtunistan is a force to be reckoned with -- this isn't a simple matter of providing nourishment or habitation to the people -- the Pashtuns (or Patans, as they are called in Pakistan), don't even have a respectably low literacy rate. According to journalist Owen Bennett-Jones, "most of the tribesMEN [in this area] can't read or write." And they don't seem inclined to learn either -- the Pakistani government has been trying to introduce an educational system in this vast area since Pakistan's inception in 1947, but the tribal leaders have resisted. And if the men aren't literate, you can be sure the women aren't either.

The point is, the Pashtuns will not be reeled in by force or by fancy -- this is a very tough-minded and thick-skinned patriarchical tribe that has been isolated, mainly because of the geographical nature of its land (it is a very mountainous terrain), for centuries and the only chance it has had for approaching modern life has been when it has fought off invaders such as Russia and now the US. Why on earth would they be inclined to accept the values of the very people that are intent on destroying their land and their way of life?

Pakistan has all but given up on the Pashtuns -- they essentially self-govern under the laws of the Pashtunwali and the Pakistani government had left them to it until Bisharraf's September 11th pact demanded that he start taking violent action against the Pashtun 'militants' which has only given rise to even more mistrust than before -- if that were possible.

The only way to 'beat' the Pashtuns and their Taleban manifestation is to stop attacking them and start rebuilding their land and their sense of security. Then, and only then, will they come out from their shadows and feel comfortable engaging with the rest of the world.

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