Forthcoming

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 05.08.2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

 

"We are more alike than we are different"v  Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

Anthony Shadid 1968-2012

2012-03-01

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

In a new documentary film you are unlikely to see, Anthony Shadid, our departed brother, spoke with a compassion and honesty that tell us something about the man, as a journalist and as an Arab. Of course Shadid’s writings offer ample testimony of his outstanding character. But in this 75 second clip, transcribed here from the film, you witness another example of the person Shadid was.

In one passage in the documentary, Shadid is trying to help us better understand the Arab peoples:

“The Arab world”, Shadid begins, “has been most resistant to colonialism of any region in the world….” Then… “I was in Cairo after 9/11 and… let me put this the right way… whatever injustice 9/11 might have been…ummm ….I want to be really careful with this” (he hesitates for a full 14 seconds) then continues cautiously, “I think there was a notion, maybe, in Cairo-- I’m not saying it’s right or wrong—but I think there was a notion in Cairo that the injustice that is such a part of the landscape in the Middle East, Americans had finally glimpsed the same injustice I think Arabs feel they have felt for a generation or more at this point.”

Shahid knew he was broaching a taboo subject—any hint of anyone’s endorsement of the 9/11 strike on the USA. Yet he had the courage to say what he did, with those pauses in his statement surely revealing a man of tenderness and integrity.

 

Valentino’s Ghosts, the documentary film where Anthony is speaking, examines how Arabs are portrayed in the West from the early 20th century to the present. A sympathetic, intelligent survey of high filmic and scholarly quality, Valentino’s Ghosts was commissioned for distribution through a major US television network. But you won’t be able to see Valentino’s Ghosts. The network cancelled it, not for what Shadid opines but because it offers certain truths about Palestine and Israel’s history. Due to be screened nationwide this winter, the film was abruptly withdrawn because of its unfavorable portrayal of Israel, I am told.

 

I personally was in touch with Anthony over a decade ago, just before he was to make his first visit to Syria. I had approached him with an invitation to our board of directors for The Radius of Arab American Writers when I was its director. Anthony wanted to support our work but was about to depart on an extended overseas assignment. Indeed, soon afterwards he began his reporting on the US’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. His writing was of course exceptional and earned him two Pulitzer awards (2004 and 2010).

In all his work Shadid unarguably demonstrates his mettle in working in the complex machinations of the Arab World and his sympathies there, telling stories all of us we needed to know, at the same time keeping free of Zionist pressures that besiege and destroy so many fine academics and writers.

Although Shadid didn’t belong to any Arab journalists’ associations I know of, he doubtless inspired many of us to seek careers in journalism. He would be proud of those who follow him into the profession. Now, after his loss to us, many more young Arabs may become determined to carry on his legacy as frontline journalists and writers.

 Shadid’s has left us an autobiography, House of Stone. Due for release soon, it is certain to be another milestone. It’s a story of his return to his ancestral village in Lebanon, not to visit but to rebuild and to live, demonstrating his belief in the Arab homeland. Another example of his exceptionality.

How ironic that this journalist perished from a childhood disease, asthma. Although he spent his life covering the human side of wars our people live inside and where they  too die from common illnesses. Then there is always the danger of being felled by bullets when choosing to work in our eternal conflict zone.

Yet, we face a mean political foe as well. One wonders: had Shahid remained in this region and continued to excel, would he fall prey to the ideological forces that took out many of our finest reporters, among the most recent Helen Thomas and Olivia Nasr?

My Allah guide his soul. Shahid will live on among us in many ways.

 

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