Tag Archives: Values

We’ll Never Be Royals: Why We Need to Kick Our Obsession With the British Crown

It was less than 24 hours ago that yours truly sat at his desk, desperately diving through the dark recesses of the internet in search of something to preach to you about. And lo and behold, dear readers, the internet provided- for yours truly was not seven clicks in before he stumbled across some truly inane Buzzfeed post on Kate Windsor and her offspring.

While the article itself was mostly just pictures of the royal consort and the spawn-of-Windsor (can we please make it a thing to call ’em that?), it was the title that got me. Typical Buzzfeed clickbait, to be sure, but with all that wonder and joy you’d usually associate with a kid on Christmas.

Royal pictures! Princesses and princes! Jewels and castles and- and-!

And all that ****ing drivel.

But don’t you fret, boys and girls, this isn’t going to be another leftist rant against the British crown (the truly sleazy, inbred, useless, parasites that they are).

No, no- it’s a tirade against our obsession with this absurd tradition, and a case for why it’s high time we abandon it.

Now there are doubtlessly those among you who wonder if such a thing is even necessary. The royals are, after all, tucked away in their lavish palaces on the other side of the world. What harm could a handful of random pasty dudes possibly have on our culture?

That, beloved and faithful readers, is a good question. How about we start with…

Undermining Equality

Yes, that most dearly held of American values.

Or at least, formerly most dearly held of American values. With income inequality at historic highs, it’s probably safe to say we’ve let that one slide a bit.

It didn’t used to be like that, though.

Once upon a time, one of the greatest defining characteristics of the nation was a borderline Socialist obsession with equality and the common man. Only slightly more than a century ago the American republic stood unique amid a morass of empires, duchies, and despots, and we, for one, were damn proud of it- even to the point where the practice of tipping was considered to be “un-American”.

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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

Am I Disablist? 2 Surprising Ways We Still Oppress Disabled People or: How A.J. Withers Changed the Way I Think About Disability

A little while ago, I was chatting with Evan when I made some offhand comment about something being “crazy” or “lame”. Honestly, I can’t remember what the comment was about. I do remember Evan mentioned that he was making a conscious effort to avoid language that helped embed our negative cultural attitude towards disability and mental illness.

At the time I was somewhat dismissive of his comment. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly do believe that our words matter.

But in that moment, I just filled away his comment without much thought.

I wonder if the reason I was so dismissive is because of the social invisibility of disability. As a society, we tend to ignore the voices of disabled people, unless they have a particularly tragic and/or inspirational story to share. We don’t want to hear about the ways our society continues to be stacked against disabled people. And we certainly don’t want to hear that we need to change. Continue reading

Is It Time To Stop Reading Shakespeare?

I never really liked Shakespeare.

Never hated the guy, mind you- downright enjoyed a few of his plays (The Tempest, Coriolanus, Hamlet). Still, I never really could bring myself to relish the bard’s works with the same zealous enthusiasm of the drama geeks and English majors.

With that in mind, you might spare me perhaps a little of the horrified gasping when I ask:

Is it time to stop reading Shakespeare?

And I ask that with all sincerity. I’ve made no secret about my general dislike of the theater and the culture surrounding it, but I’m not here to talk about those guys.

You know the type. Melodramatic airheads who’ll actually only refer to this as “the Scottish play”…

I’m talking about the actual works of William Shakespeare here.

Why still read ’em?

After all, with every passing year, we drift further and further away from those stories. In spite the film industry churning out one or two adaptations or modernizations of Shakespeare’s plays, there’s only so many ways to re-imagine Romeo and Juliet.

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BURAAQ: Two Brothers, A Superhero, And the Truth About Islam

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Kamil and Adil Imtiaz.

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to connect with Adil Imtiaz, one half of the two sibling team responsible for the comic book BURAAQ, which stars a Muslim superhero. While he was the illustrator starting out he shared, and continues to share, creative responsibilities with his brother Kamil, and was more than happy to talk to me a little bit more about how this project came to be and why.

Ms. Marvel, as you may have guessed, came up in conversation, and I ended up learning a few things about Islam that I didn’t originally know.
Throughout our talk it was clear that this character and all he presents is a passion for Adil, and that he believes it can, and has done, good things for Muslim youth.

After thanking him for finding the time to speak with me about his work we got right down to questions and answers, the latter of which he was very ready to provide.

Evan: Now I can’t wait to get into talking about BURAAQ, but before we get there would you like to say a few words about yourself?

Adil: Adil Imtiaz is my name. I’m an IT professional, just so you know. And I came here from Pakistan back in 1990; me and my  brother and my family. So we’re here with our families and that’s pretty much it as far as my background is concerned.

Evan: Would you say that your interest in comic books began at a very young age?

Adil: Absolutely. Even in Pakistan as kids, my brother and I used to have a stack of comic books by our bedside. Every night we used to read Marvel, DC, superhero stories. We were, and still are, fascinated with sci-fi and superhero stories and characters.

And movies, of course. Hollywood as you can see is all about superhero films. And we used to draw comics and superhero characters as kids. I got sidetracked when I had to focus on higher education, pursuing a career. I had to put it on the back burner so to speak.

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Evan: In the PDF I was given to review you and your brother’s mission was very clearly stated, and I’m just going to reiterate it for all my readers:

  • To provide a clean, fun (halal) and positive entertainment media alternative for our Muslim youth.
  • Reconnect our Muslim youth to Islam and make them feel proud to be a Muslim.
  • Enable interfaith dialogue and increase positive Islamic awareness.
  • Our principles are based on the Quran, Islamic values, and the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

How long this been in the works? It seems particularly relevant now given recent events in North Carolina [with what I’m going to call a hate crime]-

Adil: Well, no, actually. This is something, the idea was born back in 2009 actually. Especially after 9/11 things changed in the US. And in the media, traditionally, Arabs and Muslims have been portrayed in a negative light in Hollywood, but after 9/11 things really picked up steam; a bunch of crazy people around the world who claim to be Muslims and other agencies at play, not to get into politics…

Sammy Sheik as Mustafa in American Sniper.

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In Defence of Feminine Strength (Re: In Defense of the Warrior-Princess)

When I initially read Gordon’s response to the post I wrote last week, I asked myself, should I be offended?

You see, my original post was one of my more personal pieces, where I touched on my struggle with self-acceptance (as a rather sensitive person) in a culture highly influenced by what I described as the warrior-princess/damsel binary.

As a child, I believed that I needed to become emotionless in order to be strong, and masculine in order to be taken seriously. That’s why I find characters who are feminine and strong, like those often played by Zooey Deschanel, an encouraging presence in films and TV shows.

So, you can probably see why, being the sensitive person that I am, Gordon’s closing statement came off as a wee bit hurtful:

Deschanel states that “we can be powerful in our own way, our own feminine way” [emphasis added].

No you ****ing can’t.

From what I know of Gordon, he seems like a pretty good guy, so I’m going to act under the assumption that he was not writing an attack on my personal character, but rather a critique of the concept of feminine strength as represented by Deschanel. That critique is what I will be responding to in the points below. If you don’t watch New Girl, then be aware, there are spoilers below.

1. The Critique Begins with Flawed Logic

I have to thank one of our most faithful commenters, Rosie, for pointing out the “strawman argument” made in Gordon’s critique. In “In Defense of the Warrior-Princess” Gordon describes traditionally feminine characteristics using words like “submissive” and “weak”, words that neither I, nor Deschanel used to describe femininity. Using these sort of terms creates a false dichotomy between my argument and his.

He also claims that Deschanel plays “ditzy, emotional, pathologically neurotic” characters “who don’t need no man to help them”. He includes a crying gif of Jessica Day, the character Deschanel plays in New Girl as evidence.

This isolated gif ignores the wider context of the show, where every single character deals with their day-to-day life in a “ditzy, emotional, pathologically neurotic” sort of way.

It also ignores how New Girl is not at all about being the kind of person “who don’t need no man”. Instead, this show demonstrates how relationships lead to personal growth. It also shows how every person sits somewhere on a spectrum between sensitive and stoic, and how both of these traits are essential to becoming a healthy individual. Continue reading

Had It With Litter? [The Power Is Yours!]

You gotta get on my level before we get things started. Roughly this time last year I wrote one of my shortest Shame Days [feature to reappear in good time, never fear] ever, the gist of it being that tossing your cigarette butts on the ground is unconscionable. Those who perpetrate the act themselves stick to the defence that “doing otherwise is inconvenient” and if you don’t think that’s the pettiest, shallowest, most irresponsible front then you should probably stop reading this now.

No, I don’t have patience for any of that, or the myriad of other excuses that smokers tend to put up-

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