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Member since: Sat Sep 15, 2012, 01:49 PM
Number of posts: 29,480

Journal Archives

Your top 10 favorite movies

What are your ten favorite movies? They don't have to be the "best" movies but rather than ones you like best.

Here is my list. The top two are ranked. The others not so much.

The Lives of Others (Germany, 2006)
The Official Story (Argentina, 1985)
Arsenic and Old Lace
Thelma and Louise
The Hustler (1961)
Apocalypse Now (original version)
The Usual Suspects
Silence of the Lambs
The Bourne movies.

Any Fawlty Towers fans?

The Germans

Whose fault is it?


Basil's car

Gun Deaths Since Newtown Now Surpass Number of Americans Killed in Iraq

I found this quite a shocking fact. Despite the tragedy of foreign war, the true battle is at home, where deaths from gunshot wounds outpace war casualties. How do we end this war on American soil? What responsibility does each of us have to bring this to an end?

The number of gun deaths in the U.S. since the Newtown elementary school massacre has exceeded the total number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war.
According to a tally of gun deaths from Slate, the number of people killed since the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary is now 4,499. The number of U.S. armed forces killed during the Iraq war was 4,409, according to the Defense Department.

The Slate data comes from crowdsourcing and warns that it is “necessarily incomplete.” Authors of the tally call on readers to submit news stories to @GunDeaths.

This comparison of the five months since the tragedy that redefined the debate for further gun control in this country and the nine-year conflict the U.S. has recently ended is now being used by Americans United for Change, a progressive political group. Already, the group has targeted several Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to support background checks, among other gun-control measures.

Republicans successfully stalled gun-control legislation, arguing that further measures would not prevent gun violence but merely stifle the Second Amendment rights of lawful Americans. But Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups have signaled that they will continue this fight.


Assange and Steubenville: Excusing Rape

"One of the Swedish women who accused Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of sex crimes has spoken out about the ordeal she said she suffered at the hands of her alleged abuser’s mother and other supporters.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that she became a target for both her former allies and opponents who, along with her alleged abuser’s acolytes, turned against her and presumed she was lying about the allegations she made.

“Three years ago I was the victim of an assault. Former allies, political opponents, the Sweden Democrats, anti-feminists, Jew-haters, the man’s friends and mother quickly decided that there was something fishy. That I lied,” she wrote on her blog."


For years, residents of Steubenville covered up rape by football players because of the reverence they had for local athletes. They sheltered rapists and shamed victims. Now some on the "left" are doing the same to the women who have lodged rape allegations against Julian Assange. Assange has fled prosecution of unlawful coercion and two counts of sexual molestation. He escaped extradition from the UK by seeking shelter in the Ecuadorian embassy. So-called leftists insist the Swedish women are part of a CIA plot, or that the rape charges amount to nothing more than his "personal life" or a private sex scandal on the order of Clinton-Lewinsky. Tell me how are they different from the community in Steubenville that protected football players? Both shelter men they admire from charges of sexual assault. If not for the video on Facebook, the Ohio rapists would never have been prosecuted. Swedish prosecutors did move against Assange, but the accused has defenders across the globe willing to shield him--physically, in the case of Ecuador, and through moral support in the blogosphere. Are the apologists for Assange any different from those who allied themselves with the Steubenville rapists? If only men people don't admire are subject to prosecution for violence against women, there can be no protection from sexual assault. Through the defenders of the Steubenville rapists and Assange, we see rape culture in action.

Something for everyone to keep in mind

A guide to being an acceptable feminist on the internet

Condemn sexism and misogyny only in foreign countries, never in the US. The most appropriate targets are in the Global South, particularly where Islam is a dominant religion.

Exception: You can condemn Republican policies and comments. If a Democrat makes the same comments or supports the same policies, you must realize he is your ally and should not be challenged.

Attribute all sexism in the word to religion, especially Islam. Catholicism can also provide an acceptable target. If a man kills a woman without evoking a religious justification that death doesn't really count. If the man killing a woman is Muslim, the death should be blamed on Islam, even if the murderer doesn't site religion as an excuse. The same does not hold true for non-Muslim Westerners, including Catholics. (While this rule may seem a bit contradictory, it's very important not to diverge from these guidelines. )

Don't point out that homicide rates for women are higher in the US than most nations around the world. Those deaths just happen. They have nothing to do with misogyny or abuse of women.

Don't point out that 1 in 3 US women are subject to violence or rape at the hands of their partners. That again is a distraction since it cannot be attributed to the evils of Islam.

Don't talk about rape in the US unless you are pointing to a false charge against an innocent man. It's important that internet men not be reminded how common of a crime rape is in the US. Therefore, understand that if you do talk about rape you are engaging in misandry.

If an interwebs guy sites a three-decade old study by "feminists" claiming women don't really mean no when they say no, don't do anything but agree. Acknowledge you don't really mean no when you say you don't want to have sex because he's your "ally." Plus, you don't really know what you want anyway. You need a strong man to show you that.

Never ever mention the term "rape culture" when talking about the US. Everyone knows the existence of a rape culture has nothing to do with the frequency of rape in a given population, a low level of convictions, or victim shaming. Rape culture is only something that exists in the "Third Word," especially in Muslim countries.

Understand that EEOC laws are not really important. You should not be working in a corporation or public agency anyway. Everyone knows you'll make more money stripping. Tear up that college diploma and use it as a G-String.

Don't support female candidates for public office because that just antagonizes sexists. The way to prevent a sexist backlash is for women not to try to reach positions of political and economic power.

Make clear that the worst form of sexism is that which encourages women to veil or wear modest clothing. It does not matter whether women choose to wear that clothing or not. The important point is that she dress in ways that Americans find acceptable. Acceptability increases as the amount of clothing decreases.

Keep your feminist ideas to three word slogans: Fuck religion; fuck the Pope; fuck the Koran; fuck dictatorship. Anything more than three words is too complicated and therefore cannot be considered real feminism.

Lastly, attack every woman who breaks any of these rules and always side with men who tell those uppity women to shut up. Real feminists know that men really know best what our rights should be.

Comic relief for faculty and students

as the semester winds down.

If you enjoy academic humor, it's worth reading through all five pages. My particular favorite is this one:

When a Social Scientist Accidentally Encounters a Poor Person, Not For Research Purposes

Tweet from God

I don't really agree that women have no voice anywhere

You may not hear that voice, but that doesn't mean they don't exercise it. I know of some women in an area under Sharia law that carve out a space for resistance within that oppressive structure. They take advantage of the fact military police will not search a woman to smuggle guns under their burqas for revolutionary opposition. They work with the men in their families who stay hidden and transfer weapons and munitions to arm an independence movement. That is not to say they have the full range of ability to express their views as women elsewhere, but they are nonetheless politically active, far more so than you or I.

What perplexes me is how anxious you are to privilege the voices of some young European feminists over Muslim women. My core belief is that if you don't respect a people, you are only going to do them harm. Statements like "fuck he Qur'an reveal as much contempt for Muslim women as Muslim men. I really don't see it as much different ideologically from the neoliberal determination to deny political self-determination and instead justify war for the purposes of redeeming the poor benighted Muslim people through so-called democracy. Enter, war in Iraq. Enough looking down our noses at people across the world. Who are we to pass judgment? We are a highly militaristic society with the highest incarceration rate in the world. We are one of a handful of nations that exercise state sanctioned murder through the death penalty, and we have one of the greatest income disparities in the world. I don't believe we are fit to pass judgment on other cultures. It's not for me to determine what is best for women in Tunisia, Kandahar, or Cairo. They have every bit as much of a right to make those determinations as I do, and I refuse to treat them with less respect that I expect myself.

To view the veil as entirely oppressive is ignorant and ethnocentric. It's meaning is far more complex. It is decidedly contested, but not nearly as one dimensional as many here imagine. There is a body of academic literature on the subject: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=muslim+veil&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C24&as_sdtp=

I also happen to know women in my state of Minnesota who choose to veil. There are also native white Minnesotans who convert to Islam and veil. While I confess to feeling a bit perplexed when I see them, I recognize it is their choice. Certainly many women do not veil by choice, but some do. Muslims for me are not a foreign and strange other. I have Muslim friends and work with many others. I have met Muslim women artists from Egypt, art historians from Iran, dancers and scholars from Indonesia, as well as many Muslim men-- Arab, African, and Persian--who are filmmakers, artists, and scholars. I'm successful in working with them because I don't share the kind of prejudice toward their religion and ethnicity that is so common in the West, as some have specifically told me. As a result, I see this issue quite differently from many here.

At your request

That you think, or propose as an abstract idea, that someone someone "chooses" to practice a religion and that justifies being smeared based on a very limited of understanding of that religion is, in my view, unacceptable. There is not one understanding of Islam or one implementation of the Koran. That you imagine it is all the same is unfortunate. I realize that most of us in the US learn very little about the Muslim world. But to fail to understand the limits of ones own education in this particularly area and broadly condemn a huge swath of the population is truly unfortunate.

The Islamphobia in many posts in this thread is a manifestations of cultural imperialism, of a deeply imbued aspect of American national mythology that imagines ourselves superior to the rest of the world. All countries have nation myths. That is key to national identity. The American national myth centers on believing ourselves to be the best nation in the world, "a free country," and imagining that much of the rest of the world lives under oppression.

That cultural imperialism has been imbued in us to legitimize military, political, and economic imperialism. My point about the wars was mean to highlight that we as Americans are not as superior as you seem to believe. As you are aware, in regard to the the Muslim world, that has included bloody wars killing hundreds of thousands of people. Now are we as individual Americans responsible for those interventions? I consider this question a tangent from the central issue, but since you insist, I will answer. Yes, in a way we are all responsible. We all pay a sizable portion of our tax bill to fund those wars. I think it unlikely you did not vote for any of the governments that executed them, unless you have never voted. George Bush began the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Bill Clinton regularly bombed Iraq, entered Somalia, and did a host of other things in the Middle East. Jimmy Carter began arming the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, and Barack Obama has continued war in Afghanistan and kept Guantanamo Bay open. Governments from the 1950s through 1979 backed the oppressive Shah of Iran, who was put in place via an American coup that replaced a Democratic leader. But under the Shah woman dressed in Western garb that people here find acceptable. If they dressed otherwise or dared to veil, they were beaten by state police. Since WWII, the US has propped up dictatorships throughout the world, including in Muslim countries like Indonesia, where the US funded genocide (under LBJ). Administrations since WWII have funded Israel and its occupation of Palestine. In terms of foreign policy, there has been little if any difference between Republican and Democratic governments, so all of us have voted for people who carried out that military and political imperialism. We have all benefited from the oil gained through those interventions that met US economic and geopolitical interests.

My point, however, is not to levy blame but to encourage reflection on cultural stereotypes and recognize that the simple statement of attributing a set of beliefs to all Muslims reveals you have little understanding of the religion or Muslim people. Passing judgment on the rest of the world serves no one. It only contributes to being the ugly American who thinks itself superior, a myth that serves to justify interventions abroad. I'm not saying that you and others deliberately seek to justify that action. You do not. You do, however, display cultural manifestations of that imperialism. That cultural imperialism was not borne of its own. It has been taught to us in order to justify US action abroad.

The rest of the world need not be like us to be respected. In fact, in terms of their actions abroad, they are far less complicit that the US. So rather than pointing fingers at those in other countries and condemning huge swaths of the world's population, learn something about those peoples. Rather than relying on cultural stereotypes, we must interrogate them: think about where they come from and what purpose they serve. Then we can think about what we as individuals can to to affect the issues we care most about.


As an aside, to imagine all Muslims are homophobic is simply wrong. I live in Minneapolis, the city with the largest Somali population in the US. I canvassed those voters, who came out to vote down a proposed constitutional amendment making same sex marriage illegal. You can go to the MN Secretary of State's website and look at votes on that amendment by precinct, and you will see solid Democratic votes in Somali neighborhoods, including on that measure. Why? I think it may be because they have developed a loyalty toward the Democratic party and we asked them to vote no on the issue. The world is not as one dimensional as many think.

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