Posts from — August 2010
Americans seem always more fascinated with inconsequential trivia, rumours and than with important issues.
The networks are hot with Obama’s religious belief, a new Islamic cultural center, and Dr Lassie… oh sorry, Dr Laurie. Those take the bulk of airtime, while the economy and unemployment are still the main issues in our personal lives, and wars, starvation, homelessness, continued unrest in the mid-east and a massive humanitarian need caused by flooding in Pakistan go almost unnoticed by most Americans.
Yet these trivialities could be seen as a weathervane of American feelings… so in a sense they may be important. Or they may seem so because the collective media is fueling the stupidity. What is quite clear is that all the silliness is making Americans less able to have intellectual thoughts about anything… worthwhile or not.
With today’s Americans, what you want to believe is more important than facts. If you want to believe that president Obama was born in Kenya then no amount of documented evidence is convincing. The tea party’s motto should be “Never yield to facts”.
Polls indicate that many believe Obama is a muslim, because of his name and his father’s religion (not his mother’s), and racial hatred just keeps the belief going. Should Jesus vow for Obama’s christianity, Jesus would be again crucified. So the important thing is not that Obama isn’t a muslim, but that many white Americans hate him for his skin colour, and throwing ‘muslim’ at him is just one more expression of the racial hatred.
The tantrums against the Islamic cultural center being built near where the 9/11 twin towers were, have become toxic. By the way, I refuse to call that ‘Hallowed ground’ because the ramifications of that are too great and it really trivializes the term. I have been reminded that at the site, American tourists come, laugh, smile, horse around and take pictures in such a manner that doesn’t give any respect to a place of sacredness.
Secondly, the area is regarded is one of the richest piece of commercial real estate in America. Not long from now, whatever will eventually be built there might even house a Hard Rock casino. Actually that might not be a bad idea. Give Manhattan back to the red Indians, one block at a time.
And I don’t think the term ‘Ground Zero’ is appropriate also.
But back to the point. The issue has nothing to do with the center itself but about hatred for muslims and again, Obama… him being a ‘muslim’.
Having first trying to deny the right to build the center, the attack turned to the wisdom of such construction. But even that is fraught with falsehoods and illogic.
The center is slated to be 2 blocks away from the former twin towers. For those who claim it is too close then how far away is reasonable? There is no answer there as the replies range from 5 blocks to not in NY city.
Some say the center will be a continual reminder of the attack but the 2 places aren’t in sight of each other. And one doesn’t have to pass the center to reach the towers… there are other routes.
Slurs have been cast against the imam (Feisal Rauf) behind the project. The 2 foremost accusations have been his statement after 9/11, that ‘American policies have been partially responsible for the attack’. No matter how much Americans try to deny that, that’s a fact. We must remember that among other things, bin Laden was once on the CIA’s payroll.
Another accusation is that he hasn’t denounced Hamas as a terrorist organization. But that is his right. Just because the US state department labels a group as a terrorist organization, doesn’t mean the designation is accurate. There are many organizations so designated by the state department and others more worthwhile which conveniently avoid such categorisation. One man’s terrorist is America’s freedom fighter, and vice versa.
Just because the imam’s point of view just doesn’t fit neatly into what Americans ‘should’ think, doesn’t make him any less an American, nor does it make him the head of a muslim terrorist attack center.
Others say that most Americans oppose it, but since when should mob opinions ever sway facts and what is right. One fact is that Manhattanites have no problem with this being in their backyard. So should outsiders be allowed to influence such decisions? What’s your take?
Dr Laura is a horse of a different colour… and I do mean horse. Now, I have no problem with the word ‘nigger’. I’ve always maintained that to ban a word gives the word greater power. It’s not what you say to me that is important but the action… like touching me in a aggressive manner. In fact if someone calls me ‘nigger’ in a contemptuous manner, I at least know where he stands. It’s those who want to say it but are being politically correct that I have to be wary of.
The problem with Dr Laurie, is that her brand of racism is destructive to black people who don’t know her. The most dangerous parts of her conversation were when she told the caller (a black woman) that she was hypersensitive because the woman complained that her white husband’s friends were always stereotyping her, and that she shouldn’t have married a white man if she was hypersensitive to race. In fact, read the transcript and tell me what you think.
Now to Animal Stories.
Stupid deserves what stupid does, was eminently highlighted when a doctor in California while texting, drove off the road and was fatally injured. No sorrow here. Only a fool, yes I said it, only a fool would be texting while driving. He could have run into someone killing them. But stupid people will never learn from this example. They’ll think that they are better… until they crash and hopefully kill only themselves.
Oh yes, he was texting about his dog which by the way, was in the car with him. I guess if the dog really was his best friend, he would have said, “Stop texting fool”.
In Ohio, a man who kept up to 9 bears, wolves, a lion, tigers and coyotes in captivity in his home and who at one time would rent out the bears for wrestling matches with humans, was mauled to death by a bear. My sympathy meter hasn’t budged at all. Too many Americans think it is fine to try to domesticate wild animals. It might work, but sooner or later, well, the above happens.
And the best of the week has to be the bull in Spain that decided to stop being entertainment for spectators by going after the spectators. Damn, this bull must have been planning this. He executed a marvelous leap from the bullring into the stands and from there, it was all fun. This video is the ‘bumb’ as Renarto would say.
I just love it when the underdog turns the tables every now and again.
For those who have lost touch with the more representational of Caribbean Art, there is a show currently at Diaspora Vibe in the Miami Design District that offers the opportunity to views works from Caribbean-influenced artists as well as some older Jamaican masters like Albert Huie, Walter Rodney and Karl Parboosingh (whose surviving wife, artist Seya Parboosingh died recently in Jamaica).
These older artists offer us a comparison to newer artists whose work on display, remind us of aspects of Caribbean life and its joyous vibrant colours. These contemporary artists, most of whom are currently living in South Florida, were either born or have been influenced by Caribbean art. They include Patricia Roldan, Paul Chang, Muriel Jean-Jaques, Carol Jaime, Jeremy Powell, Lisa Remeny, Norma Trimborn, and Brian Wong Won.
The show titled “Carib~bean, the Way You Like It”, runs until September 23.
August 22, 2010 No Comments
The People’s National Party was vindicated on their position regarding the extension of the State of Emergency, with the unfortunate but brutally public extra-judicial killing of Ian Lloyd in Buckfield, St Ann. Yet, it is more than distressing how many people rush to qualify and condone the murder.
No matter what Lloyd did, no matter what the crowd was chanting, the police do not have the right or excuse to shoot to death an unarmed man lying on the ground. And that video, just underlines the problem with giving an undisciplined and brutal police machinery the type of authority granted to them under a State of Emergency.
Posts after my last blog “Rednecks of Uptown”, essentially questioned my right to comment on Jamaica while living safely abroad. Not sure why anyone would think that anyone abroad is safe, or why someone abroad cannot be knowledgeable of Jamaican conditions.
I understand the concern having seen many dumb recommendations from Jamaicans abroad who have no idea what is happening. I guess I think myself different.
But there are some fundamentals that don’t require personal presence. One of which is that state repression and class apartheid cannot last. One cannot violently repress the poor, thinking that is the road to economic and social success.
I find it very difficult to appreciate those who turn a blind eye to police atrocities. One could at one time pass it off as ignorance, but no longer. It happens far too frequently for anyone to claim unawareness. People, for whatever reason, are willing to accept police murders, simply because it not happening to their class, their social economic grouping, their friends and associates.
Far too many Jamaicans are willing to put the blame for crime solely on the backs of the perishable poor… and that still won’t solve the crime problem. Many are selfishly defending their comfortable social privileges, arrogantly thinking that their class position justifies defending acts of state injustice.
We want a better society but at the sacrifice of someone we can easily forget. We don’t care who starves, who is malnourished, is undereducated, as long as it is not us. But there are both short and long term repercussions to that thinking. History shows that repression and injustice cannot last.
The truth is that for Jamaica to succeed, there will have to be serious, long-term sacrifices across all classes and not just greater blood flow of poor and black Jamaican youth.
Ian Lloyd without a trial, was ‘innocent under the law’. But though Lloyd might not serve as the best ‘poster boy for police execution’, that is not the point. The point is the police action itself… and there are many who lost their lives without the benefit of public outrage based on a captured video.
Mind you, I’m not against the police per se, but against the inherent brutality that pervades the Jamaican police psyche. The fact is that the police have long been running wild when it comes to corruption and atrocities, and the powerbrokers in the country are highly complicit and through media manipulation have made many of us accessories before and after the fact.
While many fingers must be pointed at the political parties, there are more than enough fingers pointing elsewhere, including right back at us. The political machinery is fed by money that buys influence. Most of us can’t buy that influence. And if that influence says we need to create larger ghettos, then that is what we will have. And if those influences demand a crime clean-up ‘no matter how much of their blood is shed’, then that is what the policy will be.
Mr Golding has shown that he is morally and managerially incapable of leading, underscored by the way he endangered the country by extraordinarily delaying the extradition request for Christopher Coke, and by using what he claims is not taxpayers money to lobby Washington to withdraw the warrant.
The handling of the invasion of Tivoli and the playing of politics in trying to trap the PNP in parliament are all testament to his incompetence and moral deficiency.
It is easy to answer the question ‘What do Americans want?’ if you start with the premise that a significant percentage of Americans are basically stupid, racists or hypocrites… and quite a lot of them reside within the conservative movements.
Take the now pervasive conservative rallying cry of ‘Smaller government, lower taxes, less spending and reducing the deficit’. Okaaaay. But they also want services to remain intact or improve. But smaller government and less spending on services, means cutbacks in health, fire, libraries and parks services. Spending less means a reduction in quality of life, which of course, no one claims they want.
They want less crime but smaller budgets mean less policemen.
They want America’s infrastructure to be improved but no government spending to do it.
They want to lower the deficit, but they don’t want to reduce military spending. Defense spending accounts for 20% ($715B for 2010) of the federal budget. The US owns 46.5% of the world’s military expenditure while Russia spends 3.5% and China 6.6%.
The republicans wants tax cuts for the rich, which is in fact spending that doesn’t pay for itself. George Bush claimed that tax cut was the right thing when there was a federal surplus. But he also claimed that tax cuts are right for a financial crisis. In other words, as the republicans are trying to defend, ‘give to the rich when times are good, and give to the rich when times are bad’… even if you have to take it from poor people each time.
Americans want government to create jobs (which is mainly a private sector responsibility) but at the same time they want government to lay off workers. The two are conflicting.
Americans want improvement in schools but don’t want increased spending on education. Education gets 3% ($107B for 2010) of the budget.
And while it is correct that the US spends more on education than any other country, it is also a fact that it gets much less value for its dollar than all developed countries… because, because the money isn’t really spent on the children, but on the teachers, management, and infrastructure.
Americans want economic and environmental safety but don’t want reforms, accountability or regulations for the banking sector, the oil companies or Wall St… too much government.
Americans don’t want illegal immigration ‘because they take American jobs’, but they want cheaper food, when they very well know that it is lower paid ‘illegal workers’ that hold down the prices of their fruits and vegetables. Get rid of ‘illegals’… then watch prices zoom upwards.
Here is proof that ‘capitalism’ is just a word bandied about but doesn’t really mean anything in the American marketplace. Employment isn’t picking up. Consumer sales isn’t picking up. But no one seems to make the connection. Instead we hear that the consumers aren’t buying. Of course they aren’t. They have NO JOBS!
You cannot expect increased consumer sales when so many people have no money to spend because they have NO JOBS!
To increase consumer spending, people have to have jobs, or at least unemployment benefits… which the republicans don’t want to extend.
When people have money they start spending, then the private sector start hiring, then more people start getting more money in their pockets and the cycle goes on.
Disneyland is suffering from the recession. But instead of reducing prices which capitalism would recommend, they instead increase. I guess they hope that Americans are so addicted to Disneyland, they are willing to pay more. I wouldn’t bet on it.
The new media thing is the discussion about interpreting and/or amending the 14th Amendment of the constitution. In its anti-immigrant drive (keeping America white), the righteous right wants children born in the United States of illegal immigrant parentage, not to be granted the right of American citizenship, has as been the case for hundreds of years.
The 14th Amendment which governs this issue, is under scrutiny.
Now I’m not going to waste too much time with this issue because an amendment is dead in the water. There won’t be enough votes in the congress and senate for an amendment. That is why there is a focus on the interpretation with the rightists claiming that the 14th amendment doesn’t really cover the give citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants born in America. Good luck with that argument.
What interests me however, is that there is just a blanket stereotype and no real definition of these children. What children are we talking about? Children with both parents illegal, one parent illegal? What happens to a child who was born illegal at the time when both parents were illegal but whom gained legality after the child was born?
What happens to a child of two immigrants here legally (student/work visas) but whom eventually return to their respective homelands? Is that child an American or not?
It’s never surprising that the very people who claim the wisdom and sanctity of the constitution the most, are the very first who rush to make changes.
Jamaica, Jamaica. This is why I love the country of my birth. Jamaica is likely to turn up anywhere. On CNN’s Larry King recently, a shark victim was interviewed. He had lost a leg in a shark attack in the US, and was asked if he was now shy of going into the water. As it turned out, the first place that he went back into the water,… was Jamaica. The tourist board contact this guy.
The 2nd story… well? In Manchester, Connecticut, an African American shot to death 8 co-workers then himself, after he was forced to resign.
The man worked at a beer distributorship (Hartford Distributors), and he had been accused of workplace theft. One of the motives circulating, is that the man Omar Thornton, claimed that he had repeatedly been racially harassed by fellow workers. Of the over 70 employees, only two were black. The other man is a Jamaican.
At his book-signing recently, former Jamaican PM Edward Seaga implied that he led an armed insurrection against a legitimately elected government… which I think anywhere in the world would be regarded as treason. His rationale… Michael Manley was making Jamaica communist.
August 7, 2010 No Comments