Monday, February 13, 2012
I'd have to say that this one has hit me harder than most recent celebrity deaths, because I remember so well when her first album came out back in the 1980s. It was hard to say what was a bigger shock, how beautiful Whitney Houston was or how incredibly well she could sing. Maybe it was just the moment, during the middle of the Reagan years, when we needed a young Black woman to hit the heights.
Along with pretty much everyone else, I'm guessing that the coroner will eventually conclude she died from some sort of drug overdose. Drug addiction is not a moral issue, it's a medical issue. But because cultural conservatives, and the right-wing in general, have made it into a moral issue, some people think drug-taking is some sort of cultural statement, or at least that tolerating it or condoning it is a cultural statement.
That might have been true back in the days when we all smoked marijuana, but it's getting old now. It's hard to stomach the music-industry hypocrites who got up at the Grammy Awards and talked about losing a "member of the family" when so many of them were complicit in Whitney Houston's slow destruction, directly or indirectly.
If that sounds like something a right-winger would say, please remember that I am a left-winger--but one who doesn't think that dying young is cool.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Monday, December 19, 2011
Now pundits and analysts are pondering what will happen in North Korea now that Kim Jong-il is dead. Will his young son have the credibility and support necessary to avoid a possibly bloody battle for leadership? Will the people rise up and say enough is enough? If they don't, and if the transition is smooth and uneventful, North Koreans won't have anyone to blame but themselves. Indeed, as Havel so rightly pointed out, not everyone wants to be free so badly that they are willing to take serious risks for their liberty.
What tips the balance? When does yesterday's complacency give way to today's revolutions? If we understood that better, we might be able to control our destinies instead of letting others control them for us.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Of late the "Jewish state" has been showing a face that many American Jews might not want to recognize: Racist, anti-democratic, and even terrorist. Writing in Haaretz, columnist Ari Shavit sums up the country's current mood, and places the blame squarely on its leaders.
A few excerpts, but please click the link and read the whole thing:
We have never been so ugly. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu seeks to silence the call to prayer over the loudspeakers of the country's mosques, and to shut down Channel 10 television. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expresses support for the Russian "democtator" who has just rigged elections. Defense Minister Ehud Barak stands by while Jewish settlers victimize Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox religious nationalists victimize female soldiers...
There has never been such a comprehensive attempt to remake the face of Israel and to replace it with something else. Under Netanyahu and Lieberman's leadership, Israel been turned into a country with the values of Newt Gingrich and the look of Vladimir Putin. What's happening here? And why now exactly? Why are anti-democratic forces at work now to run roughshod over human rights and human dignity and freedom? Why are the Jewish nationalists and ultra-Orthodox fanatics, along with Russian statism, bursting forth now all at the same time?
The answer, Shavit says, is Netanyahu. But I'm not sure it's that simple. Israeli voters have been endorsing their nation's right-wing politicians with increasing fervor in recent years, and it's safe to assume at this point that Israel's leadership reflects the increasingly warped viewpoints of the majority of its citizens. This move to the extreme right could not be possible without the complicity of a large number of American Jews, who have long turned blind eyes--innocently or not--to the oppression and human rights violations of the nation that claims to speak for all Jews everywhere. It's time for that to stop. Indeed, there are now plenty of signs that it is stopping, as more and more American Jews join groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Photo: Torched mosque in Tuba Zangaria/Avihu Shapira
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Mondoweiss describes a particularly interesting (I would say amusing but it's not really funny) example of the way in which Israel lobby groups try to distort the truth about Israel and Palestine. It's also an example of how easily newspapers like the L.A. Times are cowed into submission by such groups, even at the price of accuracy.
Please read it at the link.
Please read it at the link.