Tag Archives: ISIS

When Life Gives You Don Lemon IV: If A Lemon Tree Falls In The Forest…

In 2014, I became familiar with the career of one Mr. Don Lemon, a young, charismatic news anchor over at CNN. I say “news anchor” because that’s what they call him. I assume the more accurate title of “Shameless Propagator of Tabloid Drivel Making A Mockery of Journalism” wouldn’t fit on the business cards.

Yeah, I’m not a fan.

In fact I went so far as to dub Lemon “one of the most destructive forces in culture.” A harsh accusation, but I’d argue not an unfair one. And so I try to keep tabs on the guy, hoping against hope that a Google search of his name will not result in some fresh wave of misinformation, Islamophobia, and general fearmongering nonsense. So is this our lucky year?

I’m afraid not.

Here’s what the country’s lousiest news anchor has been up to since we last checked in:

Asking A Muslim Lawyer If He “Supports ISIS”

By Muslim lawyer, I mean Arsalan Iftikhar, esteemed human rights lawyer, adjunct professor at DuPaul, and internationally recognized author and intellectual. And no, Lemon did not ask Iftikhar that question to establish for the audience that Muslims don’t automatically support terror. You can see the pained shock on Iftikhar’s face and the obliviousness on Lemon’s. And to be clear here, Lemon’s exact words were:

“Do you support ISIS?”

jtfp

That was it.

No set-up, no context, no follow-up. Just an insulting question that was (if intentional) designed to rile up Iftikhar or (if unintentional) so blithely dumb that it could have come from-

-well, the likes of Don Lemon.

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That said, baiting Muslim guests for for ratings is par for the course where Lemon is concerned, but the blatancy here seems just plain painful. I shouldn’t have to explain that one might ask with equal legitimacy if Don Lemon supports the Crips on the basis of his race, or if he supports the LRA on the basis of his religion.

But asking for a bit of incisiveness from news anchors is clearly demanding too much. Continue reading

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Escaping Trump’s America: One Writer’s Harrowing Tale of Survival

trump-011It has been 51 days since Drumpf became president, and I lock the door to my apartment for the final time. It’s a cold day in March, but even my thick coat raises eyebrows as I arrive at the station.

They say Mussolini made the trains run on time, but I’m guessing the strange intricacies that seem to govern the Greyhound buses would’ve sent tears running down the fat, doughy face of the Italian despot. My ticket reads 5:30 to Chicago, No. 302, but the sun is already starting to rise over the desert. All the seats have been taken. I find myself a free spot of ground beneath a leering poster of the president. The bitter morning wind, reeking of diesel fumes and cigarette ash, sends loose papers skittering across the concrete. Discarded ticket stubs, crumpled receipts- a single page that looks like it may have come from some shoolboy’s essay. All decadent, unpatriotic schools have been replaced with Drumpf Universities, where we are to be re-educated to stop thinking like “bimbos” and “losers.”

An hour passes, and the guards return- weak, winter sunlight glittering off of their glossy, golden uniforms. They have proper haircuts- as we all do now. Aryan blonde, brushed forward to cover the parts of our head that absolutely aren’t balding. Any illicit hairstyles will earn you and your barber 80 lashings. They takes measurements our hands, to ensure their proper size. They search my belongings. I’ve prepared for this. Just enough clothes for a three day trip. No money. No passport. Just my mandatory certificate proving native birth and authorized religious beliefs. My papers say that I am going to Houghton to visit a sick friend. I am lucky that I already have documents that show I went to college there- at least, to the Houghton in New York. I do not think I could have afforded to have all my papers forged. Continue reading

2015’s Cultural Battleground – Kat’s Account

EDITOR’S NOTE: We end this year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in.  Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2014 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.

RachelBrown

After the recent acts of Daesh terrorism in Paris I returned to this interview with PhD Candidate Rachel Brown to get some perspective. While Brown’s work was focused on food and religious identity in French and Quebecois Muslim immigrant communities, it also highlights how isolation and religious persecution can push young people towards accepting religious extremism. In the interview, Brown explains,

“I’m not really an expert in ISIS or Jihadist fighters or any of the topics that relate to this. I can say that when people, especially youth, feel alienated, when they don’t feel at home anywhere, this can lead to finding identity in extreme forms of religion. If the religious identity is the only identity that one feels they can claim, he/she is going to place a huge amount of importance on that identity.”

nestle

This year, a petition began circulating that condemned Nestlé’s operations here in British Columbia. While Nestlé has been operating here in B.C. for 15 years, residents became particularly concerned during the drought this past summer.  As Gordon has pointed out in his previous Shame Day post, Nestlé doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to respecting other countries and their water needs. In this post we take a closer look at the relationship between Canadian water and the American corporations that would like to bottle it up. Continue reading

Save Refugees, Save America

I believe in America.

I believe that the defining characteristic of this nation was its unerring sense of moral conviction- that all we did was in the advancement of some great work set into motion by ages past. That every undertaking stemmed from the deepest confidence in the simple rightness of our cause.

This faith led us, countless times, to commit terrible acts that damn the conscious of the nation. Slavery and Wounded Knee. Manzanar and Kandahar. McDonald’s and McCarthy. It’s led to the popular image abroad of Americans as fundamentally arrogant; loudly voicing their opinions without being asked, demanding where they have no right, interfering where they have no business.

And it was this same faith that has pulled this nation back every time. Yosemite and Normandy. Harlem and Harper’s Ferry. John Muir and Eugene Debs. The faith that sent millions to these shores from every corner of the world and the same unabashed confidence that sent American music, art, film, and literature back.

In spite of our divisions and our failings- and they are neither minor nor few- we are united by the common belief that our cause is not merely just but justice itself, and that its triumph needs only ingenuity, passion, and will to be secured.

For good or ill, it is this value that made America. Continue reading

3 Reasons Why the Paris Attack Feels like 9/11 and 1 Reason Why It Demands A Different Response

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, I encountered several articles that criticize the way the Western world responded to the tragic loss of life in Paris. While each of these articles bemoans the loss of 132 innocent lives, they also highlight similar atrocities that happened before the Paris attack and were almost completely overlooked.

In a lot of ways this event, and its media response, reminded me of the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. While the media response to this tragedy has been a little more self-aware, our international reaction has been similar to how it was last time this kind of tragedy affected a Western nation. Rather than discuss the way we responded to these attacks, I wanted to examine why we reacted the way we did.

1) It felt close to home

I remember waking up the morning of 9/11, walking into the living room to see my mom crying. My dad turned to me and told me the world had changed overnight. Hearing about the attacks on Paris gave me the same shiver of fear that I felt that day. I don’t think it’s hard to dissect what motivates that feeling. These particular attacks were frightening because they happened to Western nations, and we in the West are very accustomed to feeling in control. We took control over much of the world during an age of imperialism, colonization, and slavery. Today we continue to control much of the world through unfair aid practices and political manipulation. These kind of attacks are terrifying because they make us feel like we don’t have as much control as we think we do.

Even though last Thursday 45 innocent victims lost their lives to a terrorist attack in Beirut and, 6 months ago a similar attack in Kenya killed 147 innocent people, many of us heard little to nothing about those attacks until their news coverage was compared to what occurred in Paris. In our effort to show solidarity with Paris, the Western world made it apparent that certain tragedies frighten us more than others.

As Elie Fares explained in his blog comparing the media response to the Paris and Beirut attack,

“When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”

Continue reading

Palmyra

Today’s post was supposed to be about Millennials and marriage, but seeing as how the only married writer on this blog will be covering that very subject on Wednesday, it didn’t seem quite right that I comment on it.

And that post I had intended to write was going to be a lead-in to the myth of overpopulation and the so-called “voluntary extinction” movement. And I do intend to cover that-

Just not today.

And so the only thing that’s left to write about is the thing I just can hardly stomach to think about:

The destruction of Palmyra.

Palmyra, for those of you who have never had- and now never will- the privilege of visiting, was the ruins of a magnificent and ancient Syrian city. Pristinely preserved, the Roman colonnades, the Persian temples, the Arab fortification all served to transform the city into a dazzling monument to human history.

And, when in May of this year, a division of IS scum invaded the neighboring village of Tadmur. In spite of their repellent murder of some 20 locals, I could find no news about what the fate of the ruins was. Some part of me hoped against hope that the thugs (“militants” is far too generous a term) would leave it all be. That there was some flicker of pride in the magnificent heritage of the old place. That even they might still be human enough to appreciate the grandeur of the silent, sun-washed statues and archways.

But in the past 48 hours there has come confirmation that demolition has begun.

And there are no words. Continue reading

Rachel Brown on Food, Religious Identity, and the Appeal of Muslim Extremists

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear PhD candidate Rachel Brown speak about her research on food and religious identity in French and Quebecois Muslim immigrant communities. I found Brown’s talk fascinating and contacted her soon afterwards; I wanted to find out if her work was publicly available so I could write about it here on the blog. While Brown has written a chapter on her work for an academic publication it hasn’t been published quite yet. Lucky for me, Brown was willing to share a draft with me. Throughout this interview I will be referring to, and occasionally quoting, that draft in order to give you context for the questions I ask Brown.

According to Brown, her “primary research interest lies in the study of immigrant religious experience and how members of immigrant communities negotiate their religious identities through food and food practices in their host countries.” In order to write on this topic, Brown conducted fieldwork and semi-structured interviews in both Paris, France and Montreal, Quebec.

This was the most French gif I could find.

Kat: Hi Rachel, thanks again for being willing to share your research with me and our readers. Before I dive into the questions I have from reading your draft, can I ask, what drew you to this area of study?

Brown: I came to the project out of a love of all things food and all things France. On one of my many visits, I noticed that how and what the Muslim community in France ate was a point of interest for media, politics, and everyday conversation on the street between friends and neighbours. There was clearly a subject to be addressed. I figured if I was going to be in the field for a year I might as well be somewhere I love and studying something I am passionate about, and so I set out to study the topic of food and religion. As I got further and further into the topic I realized just how essential food practice is to identity, especially religious identity and my research has grown exponentially ever since. The importance of food in religious identity negotiation for immigrants can be seen across a variety of locations and traditions.

Kat: I’m also curious about the technical side of things. Did you intentionally limit your case studies to individuals from the Maghreb? If yes, then why? Also, how did you go about arranging these interviews, or even making these connections in the first place?

Brown: I definitely limited my study to individuals from the Maghreb. I did this because the largest Muslim community in both France and Quebec comes from the countries of the Maghreb. This is not only because of proximity, of the Maghreb to France, but also because of a colonial history between France and the countries of the Maghreb. When one thinks of Muslims in France, this is most often the community that comes to mind.

In terms of arranging the interviews, this was a tough process. I started by going to the Grand Mosque of Paris and just getting to know people there. I had to build up trust, and spent many hours just helping out at the mosque in order to show that I was not a journalist (a profession folks are very hesitant of in France) and that I meant well with my research. After people got to know me, some started to agree to do personal interviews with me. Once I conducted the first interviews the people I interviewed then put me in contact with friends or family members to interview. So I followed a snowball methodology. It was not easy to get people to talk to me, but because my topic is such an approachable one (who doesn’t want to talk about food?), it made it a little bit easier to get people to agree to interviews. Having the personal connection, and a validation from friends or family members that had already done the interview was also key. Continue reading