Thursday, March 10, 2005
TIBETAN NATIONAL UPRISING DAY
The tenth day of March, today, is the 46th anniversary of the Tibetan People's National Uprising, which occurred on this day in 1959. At that time, the Chinese occupation was in its tenth year. The Dalai Lama, who had been a boy of 16 at the time of the invasion and violent "liberation", had stayed with his people in an attempt to make the new relationship with the occupying power less onerous for them. Most of his advisors and members of the Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag) had recommended for him to seek freedom in India before the Chinese troops arrived in Lhasa, and in this way to keep the Tibetan national identity alive, as well as to seek international support for the independence which his predecessor had declared in clear and unequivocal manner 40 years earlier.
But he stayed with his people, and had hopes that things could work out somehow, that Chinese communism was a humanitarian philosophy, that the Communist Party had only kind intentions to help Tibet, and then they would leave. His Holiness wrote last year, in his annual March 10th message to Tibetans around the world (of course it's extremely difficult for those inside Tibet to receive this message):
This year marks 50 years since my visit to mainland China in 1954 to meet with the then Chinese leaders, especially Mao Tse-tung. I remember very well that I embarked on the journey with deep concerns about the future of Tibet. I was assured by all the leaders I met that the Chinese presence in Tibet was to work for the welfare of the Tibetans and "to help develop" Tibet. While in China I also learned about internationalism and socialism which deeply impressed me. So I returned to Tibet with optimism and confidence that a peaceful and mutually beneficial coexistence could be worked out. Unfortunately, soon after my return China was embroiled in political unrest unleashed by radical political campaigns. These developments impacted the Chinese policy on Tibet resulting in more repression and rigidity leading finally to the Tibetan People's Uprising in March 1959.At that time, the people of Lhasa were convinced that a plot was afoot by the Chinese military commander to kidnap the Dalai Lama. He was insisting that the Tibetan head of state should visit his military base to enjoy a Chinese musical concert, but he was even more insistent that Kundun shall bring none of the regular attendants which would normally accompany him. He must come to the base, and he must come alone. Word of this reached the population who promptly filled Lhasa's streets and thronged around the Norbulinka Palace. They didn't believe the Chinese military leaders' assurances of innocent intent, and were determined that His Holiness should not attend the performance.
The stand-off became increasingly tense and seemed sure to descend into violence between the almost completely unarmed Lhasans, and the well equipped Chinese troops. Dalai Lama believed the only way to avert this would be to secretly leave the city and head for the southern part of the country until the situation calmed. When the people learned that he was safe, they would stop their confrontation against the occupation forces. He and a small number of companions left the palace in common dress, and made their way south on horseback. By the time the Chinese had realised the Tibetan spiritual and temporal leader was gone, the little party had a healthy head start.
The PLA commanders were furious, and they launched a bombardment on the Norbulinka which killed virtually everyone within, most of whom were monks. When the shelling stopped, witnesses described the soldiers turning over each and every monk's body, looking in vain for the Dalai Lama. A Chinese general later put the figure of 87,000 killed during the crushing of the Lhasa uprising. The Dalai Lama's group was shepherded through to the southern border by Khampa tribesmen, and on the journey they had received word of the slaughter which had taken place in the Holy City. They did succeed to keep just ahead of Chinese troops intent on preventing their escape, and crossed to the safety of India.
The Dalai Lama re-established his government in exile, where he was free to impliment the democratic reforms which were impossible under Chinese overlordship. Now the Tibetan government is led by a directly elected Prime Minister, who chooses his cabinet members from an elected parliament. The Dalai Lama has migrated his own role to something of a moral advisor to the government, with no direct role in politics -- actually much like the role of HM the King has here in relation to the Thai government. And forty-six years later, he is still derided by China's communist leadership as an evil separatist, while he still insists that everything can work out between the two peoples, with just a little more trust and goodwill. Again, from his message last year on Tibetan National Uprising Day:
The Tibetan issue represents both a challenge and an opportunity for a maturing China to act as an emerging global player with vision and values of openness, freedom, justice and truth. A constructive and flexible approach to the issue of Tibet will go a long way in creating a political climate of trust, confidence and openness, both domestically and internationally. A peaceful resolution of the Tibetan issue will have wide-ranging positive impacts on China's transition and transformation onto a modern, open and free society. There is now a window of opportunity for the Chinese leadership to act with courage and farsightedness in resolving the Tibetan issue once and for all.There are however, some Chinese intellectuals who do recognise the Tibetan leader for who he actually is, rather than the two-dimensional caricature painted by the party ideologues. Wang Lixiong is one such writer who has written frequently about Tibet issues, and has himself been persecuted in the past for his writings. In an article entitled "The Dalai Lama is the Key to the Tibet Issue," he writes:
China must seize the present opportunity and start the process of finding a solution to the Tibetan issue while the 14th Dalai Lama is alive and in good health. An early initiative is necessary to achieve permanent stability with one single effort. Bidding for time is neither in the interest of the Dalai Lama, nor of China. In fact, it is China that will come out far worse. China should not regard the Dalai Lama as an obstacle to resolving the issue of Tibet, but as the key to a lasting solution. However, if the issue is not resolved well, the key that can open the big door can also lock it.This is a truth that I wish the Chinese leaders would finally get. Rather than simply waiting for the Dalai Lama to die, believing that once that happens their troubles will be over, they need to get serious about resolving the issue while they still have such an accomodative and generous partner to deal with -- the only one with the influence to bring his people along with such compromise -- or they will lose the chance forever.
VARIED REACTIONS TO BA'ASYIR SENTENCE
Last week's sentencing of the radical Wahhabist preacher drew widely different responses, from dismay at the "excessive length" of 30 months by his supporters and others, to dismay at its "excessive shortness" by Australian and US officials and others. I have picked up no further indications that prosecutors are considering any appeal for a stronger sentence (they had asked for 8 years), but the defence team have been appealing for parliament's intervention to act in some way to overturn the verdict. I'm not sure what the mechanism would be for that, but they will launch a legal appeal in any case. Basically any inconvenience at all to this cleric's comfort, is seen by his followers as something to be fought tooth and nail.
Wretchard of Belmont Club looks at reactions from Australia and Philippines, and the broader conflict of ideas that underlies the struggle with violent Islamism. Note that this is not a struggle with Islam, which is a religion, but with Islamism, which is basically a totalitarian political ideology wrapped in a mantle of fake piety. Wretchard quotes a veteran Filipino journalist covering the case, who describes government prosecutors as "nervous Nellies" during the trial, who lost control of their prosecution witnesses (most of whom copped out from their pre-trial statements), and produced only one witness to link Ba'asyir to his Jema'ah Islamiyah groups in the Philippines. Nasir Abbas testified that Ba'asyir "had personally put him (Abbas) in charge of 'terrorist activities in part of the Philippines'."
But in the end, there wasn't enough evidence for those five judges to find the soft-spoken old hate preacher guilty of involvement with terrorism. I'd love to hear an explanation of how someone can be found guilty of being party to a conspiracy which leads directly to a bombing which kills over 200 innocents, and still be found "not guilty of terrorism" (unless Ward Churchill-ish definitions are used for those who got blown to pieces). It's a darn good thing that Hambali was captured here in Thailand rather than Indonesia, or he'd likely be out on the streets already. Ba'asyir might be removed from the battleground for a year or so (with time off for time already served, good behavior and so on), and the ideologue's battleground is the one that fuels all the others -- the field of boarding schools from which he can attract more young adherents. As Wretchard reminds, "While an idea's potency remains it will find adherents."
The casual outside observer would conclude, from the apparent fact that the Western ideal can find no public defenders, that it is not worth upholding. Radical Islam, on the other hand, must self-evidently be an idea of great worth, as so many are publicly willing to die for it. And to a limited degree they would be right, for something must be terribly wrong with the West to cause such self-hatred.This is the origin, as it looks from here, for much of the external validation for the perceived "great worth" and potency of the Islamist's cause. It comes from within the self-hating sections of Western societies themselves.
MEUTIA AND BUDIYANTO
I haven't had much time for writing lately, but I certainly followed the mercifully short ordeal last month, of the MetroTV journalist Meutia Hafid and her cameraman Budiyanto. The pair had been travelling from Amman, Jordan to return to Baghdad to cover the Ashura festivities there and in Najaf (if one can call such a bloody event a "festivity"). They were taken hostage by one of the insurgent groups in Ramadi on February 15, but it took several days of no communications before the MetroTV folks in Jakarta realised something was wrong. And it wasn't long after the worst fears were being openly accepted as a real possibility, that the hostage-takers' videotape was broadcast around the world via APTN. Meutia and Budiyanto were standing in a desolate, rocky setting, holding up their passports and surrounded by hooded and masked gunmen.
Meutia and Budiyanto had earlier been among Metro's first on the scene in Aceh, as well as having previously reported from Iraq. I had noticed Meutia's report about a week earlier from Amman, on the expatriates who voted there for the Iraqi election. Pretty even-handed reporting (better than BBC at least), and only one real groaner -- when Meutia described security measures for the sealed ballot boxes as being for the purpose of avoiding any tricks or cheating by "America and her allies." Well, par for the course with Indonesian media these days, you have to expect a certain amount of that.
The company chairman, Surya Paloh was practically on the next plane to Jordan. He strikes me as a real father figure type for the people who work for him. Viewers were also allowed in to see and feel the strong emotions in the newsroom. The President recorded a message to the hostage takers, to be broadcast via al Jazeera, and in short order was followed by other Muslim figures in the country. Rather curious that Gus Dur and Amien Rais (maybe others, but I noticed these at least) addressed the kidnappers in Arabic -- while Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was allowed to contribute his appeal, but spoke to them in Indonesian. I would have expected him of all people to use the holy language.... The Arabs sure don't understand Indonesian!
Meanwhile in the public squares, popular outrage grew quickly. From journalist associations to student groups and just ordinary people, demonstrations were seen in many cities. Among the banners to "Free Meutia and Budiyanto" and the like, one caught my eye in particular. It proclaimed that (rough translation) "Kidnapping is not a Muslim value". Yes, thank you, I've been saying that for months. Nice to see some Indonesian Muslims picking up on it too, but it took Indonesian hostages to get them there. I felt there was something of a disconnect going on for a lot of people, having these "insurgents" who have been portrayed in a far too heroic light by the media generally, suddenly on the apparent verge of slaughtering "our Meutia and Budiyanto".
The journalists' ordeal was over on the seventh day, when they crossed the Jordanian border on February 21. They had known that they would be released after President Yudhoyono's video was broadcast, and they said in later interviews that after about the third day of captivity they were already fairly confident that they would not be harmed. This past weekend, Metro broadcast a reconstruction of the week-long ordeal, with Meutia and Budiyanto playing themselves in the recreated scenes as well as recounting their experiences. I only saw the second part of this, but it was very well done.
One incident came out for the first time (to my knowledge) in this reconstruction. The final go-ahead for their release was given by the council of big shots (the kidnapping gang seemed to be following the orders of a number of Sunni clerics, who came to visit the hostages a few times in their cave) on Sunday, the 20th. But it was already approaching Maghrib (dusk prayer time), so while Meutia and Budi were anxious to actually be released asap, the kidnappers convinced them it was safer to wait until morning. So, early evening, and they both had crawled into their sleeping bags to wait for morning -- when one of the kidnappers came in seemingly annoyed that they were going to bed at like 7pm or so! Told them to get up, and food was brought in -- by all accounts they were quite well treated. So the last night together with their captors was livened up with a little food and comraderie, and then livened up a little more when a lookout came rushing in saying they have to move immediately.
There was apparently an infantry patrol in the neighbourhood (Iraqi or American wasn't clear), and it would be at their location within five minutes. By Budiyanto's description, from that point on it was extreme panic. They got their already-packed bags and his camera equipment out of the cave to where a car was waiting, piled in with the kidnappers, and took off at high speed. Budiyanto said the captors were extremely afraid, and in full blown panic -- practically losing control of the car a few times on a bad road and not using any lights for fear of being seen. From that point to the Jordan border they were passed on through several teams, who would transport them to a certain point and meet up with the next team. It was during this journey that they saw, for the first time, the second video of them which marked their "release" and which back in Indonesia, their families had already seen. "But," Meutia said, "although the video said we were free, and everyone at home must have already thought we were freed, and we were in this little cafe where everyone was intently watching us being freed on the tv, we actually still were not free."
But watching the scenes of their homecoming was just fantastic; from the reunion with Pak Surya Paloh in Jordan, the reception with the President on arrival in Jakarta, the embrace of their families -- and especially Budiyanto's beautiful little daughter who just wouldn't let him go, to the big emotional scenes back at MetroTV studios. The welcome home party was broadcast live, very nice indeed. Not a dry eye in the place, nor at my place either!
This week, Indonesians have something else to protest though. Besides the fuel price increases, which have generated demos for about three weeks already. (Could it be a diversion? Nah, impossible... I think) Neighbouring Malaysia, showing impeccable timing and sensitivity to Indonesians' national pride, has auctioned off a block of Indonesia's maritime territory for a gas and/or oil exploration contract and sent in a few of their war ships for good measure. This is happening in an area called Ambalat, just off East Kalimantan. I think there is an Ambalat Island (I can't find it on my maps), but this is near the area where two contested islands were awarded recently to Malaysia by some sort of international court decision. It's at the boundary between the Malaysian state of Sabah, and the province of East Kalimantan (parts of the island formerly known as Borneo).
So things are getting pretty hot over this issue, and yesterday for the first time I heard the term used which I've been watching for -- konfrontasi (confrontation). This is the term used to denote the conflict which Sukarno instigated in the early 1960's against Malaysia, and which was also mainly conducted in Kalimantan. In other words, Konfrontasi actually already means "the conflict with Malaysia".
Almost immediately upon the news of this Malaysian incursion, command posts started sprouting up in cities across Indonesia, and throngs of men anxious to sign up for a citizen's force to defend the country. More angry demos, anti-Malaysia banners and burning of flags. Labourers, students, becak (cycle rickshaw) drivers passionately likened themselves to bambu runcing -- the symbol of the independence fighters of sixty years ago. Bambu runcing ("bamboo rune-ching") is the lowest tech weapon, and the most plentiful -- a sharpened bamboo spear. So while the F-16's and several war ships are responding to the area, diplomats on both sides are stressing a peaceful resolution, the bamboo volunteers are lining up at command posts under the banner, "Front Ganyang Malaysia".
I'm not really completely sure about ganyang, but I suspect it's a small dialect difference with my dictionary entry ganyah. I seem to recall ganyang being used during the anti-Suharto demonstrations as well. If I'm right, and it is the same as ganyah in my 20 year old kamus, it means to scrub or scour; to thrash or wallop. Well, that fits with the general sentiment as far as I could tell, these last few days. Oh, and the reason I tease Malaysia for her impeccable timing, is that Indonesians have been watching other fellow countrymen lately being rounded up by Malaysian volunteers, grovelling on the ground before Malaysian officers wielding rattan canes, as part of an illegal worker roundup. Yes everyone knew it was coming, and yes there was a grace period for them to leave voluntarily, but perhaps they might have waited a while before provoking a showdown over disputed territory.
HUNGERING FOR FAILURES AND QUAGMIRES: PART XIV
An interesting transcript showed up a few days ago in Best of the Web on Opinion Journal. Jon Stewart was interviewing Nancy Soderberg, a former member of the Clinton administration. The Opinion Journal blogger, James Taranto, decided it was worth the effort to tap out a TIVO-assisted transcript, for it contained a few truly jaw-dropping moments.
See the whole thing at the above link to get it all in context, because I'm only going to quote the juicy bits which illustrate what I've mentioned numerous times in the past year -- the irrational desire by some Americans of certain persuasions to see their country fail miserably, just because they hate Bush. I've given examples of "journalists" like this, and others of course (notably the French public at large, 70% of whom polled at one time to favour Saddam Hussein kicking America's ass). But keep in mind, this is a person who is actually supposed to be on America's side, and worked for the US government (State Dept. as I recall). The conversation with Stewart revolves around all the places in the Muslim world which have lately been witnessing popular democratic aspirations, and some other governments of Muslim countries now inching toward reforms and broadening existing ones (Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya, Egypt, Saudi, Iraq, Lebanon, UAE, Bahrain, etc).
After Stewart itemises a number of these surprising developments, Soderberg mentions the real possibility of a historic deal between Palestinians and Israel, and says, "These guys [Bushies] could really pull off a whole -- series of Nobel Peace Prizes here, which -- it may well work. I think that, um, it's -- It's scary for Democrats, I have to say." Stewart laments that history might actually regard Bush as a great man, he might even have high schools named after him -- to which Soderberg replies, "Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's hope for the rest of us." Stewart remarks that he's never seen results like this in that region (it reads like he is playing up the 'Oh God, Bush is succeeding, this is terrible!' routine, burying his head in hands etc. for the laughs), to which Soderberg comes back with, "There's always hope that this might not work." However she finishes up with a slightly less gloomy, "I think it's moving in the right direction. I'll have to give them credit for that. We'll see."
SELF-CORRECTING NEW YORK TIMES
The Times recently demonstrated how on top of current events and issues they are -- not to mention culturally sensitive and generally clued-in. Correction:
The caption on Feb. 14 for a picture by Reuters with the continuation of an article about the Iraqi elections misstated the reason Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a Shiite cleric, was weeping. He was participating in a mourning ritual as part of Ashura, a holy Shiite festival--not reacting to results showing that his political alliance had won a slim majority of seats. A second caption for a Reuters photo misstated the reason a Shiite was shown flagellating himself in a Baghdad procession. He was taking part in the same mourning ritual, not celebrating the election outcome.Notice the correction appeared 10 days after the original report. I'm glad they got that cleared up. But tell me, who watches Iraq and didn't know about Ashura? Never mind, if there's blood and crying, it's got to be America's fault, one way or the other!
ARAB RESPONSE TO TSUNAMI
Another wai to Steven Vincent and his highly excellent writing and analysis at In the Red Zone. In case you're wondering, this refers to his time spent in Iraq "outside the Green Zone" (and is also the title of his highly regarded book). Somebody wrote recently, and I wholeheartedly agree, that if you are in any way interested in what's going on in Iraq, you need to read ITRZ, and that no matter which echo chamber you reside in or which side of the issues you fall on, you will be surprised at what you will find there.
This little nugget was one of his recent Quotes Of The Day:
The emotional reaction to the disaster is what was lacking. The Arabs' ability to empathize with humanity at large is less than their ability to sympathize with each other. Our concept of humanity is still weak compared to our ethnic feelings as Arabs and Muslims, despite the fact that most of the victims were Indonesian Muslims. The truth is, Southeast Asians are not perceived as Muslims in the Arab world.Take some time to visit Steven's page, and find out some surprising things about life in the Red Zone.-- Gamal Abdel Gawad, analyst at the Cairo-based Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, speaking of the Arab world's weak response to tsunami victims
(Rania al-Malky, Egypt Today)
FORMER TIMES REPORTER, ON REPORTERS AND HOTEL JOURNALISM
This from Norm Geras' fine blog, where he quotes Bartle Bull (who has reported on Iraq for the New York Times) from an article in Prospect magazine. It's apparently only available to subscribers, so he quoted a lot, and I shall quote an equal amount. Counting on failure?
There is a fine defiance here. In one incident I did not see but that has been widely reported, a Baghdad policeman spotted a suicide bomber outside a polling station and dragged him away from the crowd before the bomber detonated his belt, killing them both. The queues rose tenfold as the story of the policeman's martyrdom spread.That's just great. BBC journalists -- and I can just imagine Caroline Hawley doing this -- asking what it's like out in the real world. Sometimes even their journalists not ensconced in a Baghdad hotel (or on its roof) have a strange idea of the real world. One of the BBC's studio hosts recently introduced a piece on American music, with something like, "Since the American extreme right had re-installed George Bush into the White House...." Huh? Didn't I hear something about an election and 52% of the voters, or something like that?
Iraq is not about America any more. This has been increasingly true every day since last June, and the failure - or refusal - to recognise this has underpinned much of the misleading coverage of Iraq. In the evenings leading up to the election, I sat on carpets on the floors of a variety of shabby houses in the Baghdad slums. But the daily BBC message I watched with my various Iraqi hosts never budged. The refrain was Iraq's "atmosphere of intimidation and violence," and the message was that the elections could never work. What about the "atmosphere of resolve and anticipation" that I felt around me? Or the "atmosphere of patience and restraint" among those whom the terrorists were trying to provoke?
I try to avoid the hotels and the green zone and the Fort Apache press compounds when I am here. Sometimes it seems as though I am on a different planet from my colleagues in big media, and at those moments I worry briefly that I am getting the story wrong. The people at NBC news are not even allowed to go to the restaurant in their hotel. They report from the roof. When I went to the BBC's Baghdad bunker for some interviews after the election, the reporters I had been watching on television asked me, "So what's it like out there in the real world?" They meant the Iraqi street.
Before I became a writer, I dealt in the stock and bond markets. The markets tell you every day whether you are right or wrong. You don't have to have philosophical arguments with your boss or your clients: if you make money you are good, and if you lose money you are bad. Elections are one of the few news occasions that provide editors and reporters with the clarity of numbers to help us to judge whether or not we are doing a decent job. January 30th turned out to be a better day for Iraqis than it was for reporters.
The failure of "hotel journalism" might be forgivable if it were truly about prudence or even laziness. But there has been something wilful about the bad reporting of this story. It is weirdly personal: Iraq must fail. It is in fact the press that failed, on a scale for which I cannot think of a precedent. Will the big media outlets demand the same accountability of themselves that they demand of everyone else? They should, for the success of these elections was not so surprising to those who dug below the surface of Iraq.
One reason it was important that this year's electoral process should start well was that if this first stage were approached with resolve, as it was, Iraq's political outsiders would not want the train to leave the station without them. Iraq's biggest, loudest anti-occupation political movements have indeed reacted encouragingly to the success of 30th January.
The huge turnout has cemented the new Iraqi state as an accomplished fact, and Muqtada and the radical Sunni political groups have shifted their rhetoric to make demands within the new paradigm. It is a momentous shift. No longer is everything illegitimate.
A process has been unleashed that now has very little to do with America and with our opinions about US power. The process is in the hands of a people who on 30th January showed that they have what freedom requires: deep reserves of patience, tolerance and courage.
This is where I try to make use of some short quotes and links that have been tucked away in a file, waiting in vain for me to write an article around them. Some people call it a "link dump", but I'd never be so crass.
Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers :: Merchants of Despair:
A final prediction: By the end of this year, formerly critical liberal pundits, backsliding conservative columnists, once-fiery politicians, Arab "moderates," ex-statesmen and generals emeriti, smug stand-up comedians, recently strident Euros -- perhaps even Hillary herself -- will quietly come to a consensus that what we are witnessing from Afghanistan and the West Bank to Iraq and beyond, with its growing tremors in Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, and the Gulf, is a moral awakening, a radical break with an ugly past that threatens a corrupt, entrenched, and autocratic elite and is just the sort of thing that they were sort of for, sort of all along -- sort of...[Hanson's italics] There's no writer I find myself agreeing with these days, as much as VDH. Check out any of the essays on his site, and if you have time, don't miss the great Chrenkoff's blog interview with VDH.
Tim Blair sparks another "what if" moment: United Nations "peacekeeping missions" sexual abuse of children may be more widespread than previously thought, "and appears to be a problem in each of the global body's 16 missions around the world."
"We think this will look worse before it begins to look better," Jane Holl Lute, assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, told reporters. "We expect that more information will come from every mission on allegations. We are prepared for that."Tim figures Abu Ghraib might have been even worse if it had been run by the UN. Hmmm, I don't know if it would have been worse or not, but I bet nobody would be accountable until sometime next decade. (Ok, let's see, giving a jar of peanut butter to pay for sex with a starving refugee child, versus humiliating adult male "insurgents" with panties and cameras and scaring them with dogs and Lyndie England... now let me see... thinking, thinking... OK got it! The peanut butter thing is definitely worse!) Anyway, I feel better that the United Nations is prepared for all the coming bad news on this one. Maybe somebody should have prepared the refugees too?
A brilliant solution to beleaguered Harvard president Larry Summers, and his inadvertent offensiveness to science-minded women -- just go with the Ward Churchill strategy:
"Female math and science professors form a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire," Mr. Summers said, paraphrasing Mr. Churchill. "These little Eichmanns drive the mighty engine of profit to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved - and they do so both willingly and knowingly."Unnamed female science professors seemed contrite, yet supportive of Mr. Summers' free speech rights. "After all, we teach the people who go on to make the bombs and to pay for them. We have an intrinsic aptitude to do so."
Pictured at left is the famous Canadian writer and naturalist, Grey Owl. During the 1930's, Grey Owl was the most famous aboriginal Canadian First Nations person, who lived in the traditional Indian way of life at his remote Beaver Lodge. Soon after he died in 1938, the world was shocked to find that he was really an Englishman named Archibald Belaney. Grey Owl wasn't exactly what one would call an honest man, in fact he was certainly something of a scoundrel. But he'd always wanted to be an Indian, and so he simply just made himself into one. He did a lot of good for the promotion of the wilderness conservation ethic in Canada, an almost unheard-of idea in the 1930's. I wonder though, if there's such a thing as "Grey Owl Syndrome".... Many thanks and a big wai to Kate of Small Dead Animals for the Virtual Saskatchewan pages.
In new and shocking Ward "Chief Wannabe" Churchill news, the highly principled pseudo-aboriginal is not only extremely talented at falsifying his research and plagiarizing from real scholars, it seems he's an art forger as well. When confronted by a journalist with the proof that he'd ripped off a real artist by taking his work, turning it backwards (horizontal flip, in modern parlance), and slapped his own name on it..... noble Chief Wannabe took a swing at the poor fellow (who was probably just an unfeeling cog in the technocratic corps though, so never mind). It's all out there, on PirateBallerina, with the Ward Churchill blog picking up more, and Dennis the Peasant having loads of fun with it all. Oh, and y'all know the Chief has been annointed prophet and high priest of the Raelian Aliens, eh?
I also happened across this debunking of one of the Chief's main standbys, for which he is sometimes even cited as an authority: the 500,000 babies murdered by "American sanctions" against Iraq. This is why people really ought to read the Iraqi blogs if they have some interest in that country, this type of disinformation would have a lesser chance of being picked up and passed around. I'm sure it was one of the ItM brothers who long ago blogged the story of how Saddam had forbidden any Iraqi babies to be buried by their families, regardless of cause of death. He stockpiled them in order to have an impressive parade of dead babies when it suited his needs. Do we need to be reminded what a creep this guy was?
Noted in Belmont Club and Roger L. Simon, a fine little essay from the EuroPundits -- a little number by Nelson Ascher which he calls The Berlin Wall's Revenge.
In a similar vein -- and a big wai to one of my new favourite Asian bloggers VietPundit for the tipoff to these -- some very well written essays which describe well how I feel about being "left by the Left" (though I really dislike the Left / Right thing, which is missing at least 2 or 3 more necessary dimensions). If you are one of the 6 readers who's known me for a while, and have been wondering "what in the heck has gotten into Agam, anyway?", then have a little read on being Left Behind, or this essay by New York writer Ron Rosenbaum, and especially this excellent essay by San Francisco writer Cinnamon Stillwell. I can relate, I can relate, and boy can I ever relate.
For yet another take on the nervous nelly nabobs of negativism (yes, I know it was Spiro Agnew...), maybe it's Time for a dose of Dr. No:
Dr. No, you have achieved superstar status in a very competitive field--negativity and pessimism. How have you achieved that, Doctor?As they say, read the whole thing.
The way I see it, every silver lining contains a new cloud. You just have to look for it...
Here's a bit of dirt on President Bush, which I doubt that any readers will have seen elsewhere. See, the neocons do such a good job at suppressing this sort of information -- it comes out once, in an LA Times commentary, and then no other journalist will touch it. Karl Rove must have them all completely cowed:
I have known President Bush for 40 years -- ever since we attended Yale College together in the 1960s. I'm a Democrat (and I was a Democrat then), but I liked him and I still like him, as a sincere and kind man and a good friend. [. . . ]Now, let's have a shout from anybody who heard about this dirt from Chimpy's college days ... [crickets] ... I thought so. The Wolfowitz and Perle neocon clique have hushed this one up very effectively, they're scared to death it might leak out that McBushitler actually doesn't plan to persecute gay people with his devious Haliburtonist ideology. And they sure don't want anybody to know that Lanny Davis, the prominent Democratic Party strategist from the Clinton admin, actually likes and respects him. That stuff would be poison to the creeping fascist takeover, right? Where's Dan Rather, I bet he could get the story out.... courage, everyone.
But despite what you may have heard or read, George was not just frat-house party boy. One of my most vivid memories is this: A few of us were in the common room one night. It was 1965, I believe -- my junior year, his sophomore. We were making our usual sarcastic commentaries on those who walked by us. A little nasty perhaps, but always with a touch of humor. On this occasion, however, someone we all believed to be gay walked by, although the word we used in those days was "queer." Someone, I'm sorry to say, snidely used that word as he walked by.
George heard it and, most uncharacteristically, snapped: "Shut up." Then he said, in words I can remember almost verbatim: "Why don't you try walking in his shoes for a while and see how it feels before you make a comment like that?"
Remember, this was the 1960s -- pre-Stonewall, before gay rights became a cause many of us (especially male college students) had thought much about. I remember thinking, "This guy is much deeper than I realized."
Big wai to Highway 99 for that one.