Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Islam and the housing bubble

October 16, 2011

“Unprecedented global emergency ” we’re being warned.  Everyone  should be on code red alert! Islam is posing an existential threat to the West.

This is not coming from a raving lunatic of the tea-party variety. It is being spewed out by our intellectual elites who got their education at our elite institutions.

You get the sense that every problem from running away health care cost, to the vast inequality gap afflicting us, to the tax cuts for the rich, to the burst of the housing bubble, or even the filibuster rule in the senate, are somehow caused by Islam.

The West has caused enough existential threats to the whole world including itself. It does not need the help of Islam in that department.  The latest threat  is still unfolding in front of our eyes in the form of massive economic  meltdown all over the globe. You have to admit this is good old greed and hegemony of the Western culture  variety, among other esteemed Western values.

Islam did not wage the crusades against the holly places in Europe.

Islam did not start the inquisitions nor did it cause the religious wars in Europe.

Islam did not cause World War I, the Great Depression, World War II. Nor did it drop two atomic bombs on Japan.

Islam did not cause the holocaust.

Islam did not start the Vietnam war.

Islam surely is not responsible for the record level of children living in poverty in the US. Nor is it responsible for the obscene bonuses raked in by our elite bankers, and most certainly it did not bail out Wall Street and cause the unemployment to jump to 10%.

Scapegoating can only take you so far.


A New Age God

September 11, 2011

How could we not doubt the very foundations of our Western culture?

I’ll spare you an exercise in walking down memory lane to the horror of WWI, WWII and before.

When astonishingly smart people from amazingly accomplished Western civilizations get herded to one war after another at the snap of a finger from the likes of G. W. Bush and Obama without so much as a meaningful objection, there is something fundamentally wrong in the basic principles of the culture. 

When the world is dominated by self-glorifying righteous elites that cannibalize the weak and grant free pass to the poweful, there is something eerily wrong in this world.

A world guided by the  bottom line  and self-interest, whose elite class’s only job is to justify the whims of its governments and powerful factions,  no matter how unjust, is not progressing for the better.

How valuable is war in the eyes of the “civilized Nations”?

Extremely so! More so than it was for our stone age ancestors.

So valuable that it was fought on credit by the USA and its allies for the first time in history!

So valuable that, in no small measures, it plunged the USA and almost the whole world in devastating economic hardships for the past four years, and we’re still embracing it.

It is more valuable than healing the sick, feeding the hungry,  educating the young.

It is more valuable than giving honest people the dignity of a decent job.

Most egregiously, it is more valuable than the millions of innocent lives lost at the altar of this new age God of ours.

This God for which  we obediently go hungry , kill and impoverish ourselves.

How could we look at such civilizations, their colossal technological achievements not withstanding, and be proud of ourselves?

More importantly, how could we not doubt the very basic foundations of our culture?


Where is our own outrage?…Really

January 9, 2010

We as a nation, and not some fringe lunatic sect among us, are violating our own laws and ideals, let alone international laws. We are committing crimes at home and abroad.   Why haven’t we heard the outrage of our religious authorities and  elites over our own atrocities?  We commit these gross violations as a matter of public policy and it didn’t cost any public official, to my knowledge,   her/his job.

What we hear instead is  “where is the outrage from the Muslim World over terrorism” no matter how many times their highest religious authorities, let alone intellectuals from all walks of life, condemn these heinous acts.

 The New York Times, the Washington Post, and NPR, are  supposedly a progressive  voice.  All of sudden, they have developed a severe case of  blurred vision.  They can’t even recognize torture when they see it.

Yeah…where is the outrage? Where is the outrage  from the religious authorities and the elites over torture?  over indefinite detention of innocent people?  over keeping innocent people jailed in subhuman conditions when we even admit their innocence? over the use of  drones to indiscriminately bomb the populations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and (now )Yemen, causing the death of innocent women and children on an almost daily basis (over 700 civilian deaths by drones since Obama took office)?  over  war crimes in  Gaza and elsewhere? etc…etc…

But wait, it gets better. The religious authorities in our country are  either the most stalwart supporters of these criminal and immoral violations or at best silent. Corporate media pundits such as   Thomas Friedman repeatedly ask for an outrage from the Muslim World when he supports the mass killings in Gaza and Lebanon as an educational tool. He   boasts “suck on this” as one reason we invaded a nation causing unspeakable carnage and misery.

Have our religious authorities lost their moral compass? Have our elites become desensitized to killings? Has God died in America? 

So yeah..really…where is the outrage?


Here we go again, Tom…

January 7, 2010

In today’s New York Times, Thomas Friedman writes yet another article repeating his recommendation for the Arab and Muslim leaders to unequivocally condemn suicide bombers. He repeats his question: “where is the outrage in the muslim world”? 

If Friedman thinks King Abdullah’s condemnation would deter  suicide bombers, then Friedman is not the middle east expert he purports to be. Other than igniting civil unrest by giving  some factions in the middle east one more reason to fight about, the king would achieve little. The radicals that commit these heinous crimes are not fond of the king by any measure. Saudi Arabia brand of Islam is not popular even among mainstream muslims. Saudi Arabia’s influence and prestige derive mostly from the cash reserve they swim in and not from their superior religious , intellectual, or democratic heritage.

Only one dimension of this problem is religious. The highest religious authorities and figures that speak for the muslim faith in Egypt (Al-Azhar), Iraq (Najaf), and Iran (Kom) have repeatedly condemned these acts (Juan Cole did a good job  documenting this here).   They have expressed their opinion about the subject unambiguously. And Friedman has repeatedly ignored their denunciation.

The second dimension to this problem is political. In addition to the Arab and Muslim leaders,  the united states have a big role to play here. And since  Friedman is in the business of recommending to others what they should do, here is an easy, cheap, and quick way to greatly reduce  suicide bombings. Stop bombing innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. Stop bombing their weddings and bulldozing their homes. Stop undermining the integrity of their homelands. And most of all, stop propping up and  supporting the unpopular and undemocratic  regimes and brutal tyrants of the middle east.


Cause Celebre

January 5, 2010

In yesterday’s New York Times, Bono, the lead singer for the group U2,  wrote an interesting article in which he paid tribute, among other things,  to  the fallen heroes fighting against tyranny, injustice, and brutality.  One of those heroes was Neda Agha Soltan, the young Iranian woman who was killed in the recent brutal crackdown on the protesters  against the regime  in Tehran. He also mentioned the evil regimes of the world, the usual suspects, Iran, Myanmar, and North Korea, of course.

While the article contains some original points, there was a huge negative space in the picture on display. The essential prerequisite for any honest reformer or self-appointed champion for human rights is the willingness to see truth and justice as non-fragmented whole. 

Noticeably missing from his article is the young and brave american woman Rachel Corrie  that was crushed by the Israeli bulldozers while trying to protest the demolition of Palestinian homes. If he’s so appalled by the  brutal murder of  Agha Soltan, why wasnt he equally appalled about Rachel? What about that “little” snaking wall, that is cutting the limbs of the Palestinians, that Bono’s sensitive lens  couldnt detect in his prescient article?   He wondered about a Gandhi, a king, a San Suu Kyi coming from Gaza but was totally oblivious about a similar  coming from Israel. These huge holes call into question any genuine point Bono was trying to make in support of oppressed people’s struggle.

Bono may be  doing a commendable and visionary work with his advocacy group “One”. But he is the same old hack when it comes to human rights in the middle-east where the mantra seems to read: “Whatever you do or say has to have the approval stamp of Israel”.

This has become a  fad. A celebrity choses a “safe” cause to champion. He/she carefully dances around the controversial issues which, for the most part, are at the heart of the matter. The celebrity starts getting enormous publicity with help from a senile  corporate media. The white knight to the rescue. Everyone feels cozy. A real-life-fairy-tale- induced smile beams across our face.   Good triumphs over evil. Meanwhile, unspeakable atrocities are being committed  with few genuine, outspoken, brave people  standing up to the madness .