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.

 

Globalization reaches its apogee-- spying on European friends, foreign suspects...and you

2013-06-29

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Recent revelations about NSA’s worldwide practices are globalization’s toxic perfect storm. Technology we celebrated as a life-changing and everyman’s (and child’s) tool, we now find applied to spying on everyone with a phone, a computer, a bank account. It’s chilling. In a country that historically prides itself for its civil liberties, led moreover by a constitutional lawyer whose election represented new heights in American civic consciousness, it’s also humiliating that this should happen under Barack Obama’s watch.

There’s no cold war motive behind today’s NSA spy plan; it’s routine management of data—any data, even that of political allies. Sobering news for the US public but for friendly European states too

Should we not have expected these data-mining practices to emerge from the fundamentals of globalization and the worldwide net? A massive electronic ‘net’ is what the US surveillance system is, capturing anything that’s swimming in our virtual rivers of data. Ask yourself: Why would any modern day CIA type spy machine limit itself to Chinese or Iranian targets?

Still, I like you am stunned by what’s emerged from Guardian newspaper reports on US and British surveillance revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden’s disclosures also detail how British spy agency GCHQ works with its American counterpart to target European allies. This revelation is bound to cause political fallout, if citizen outrage is not enough.

Pausing to reflect on how vast this cyber spy-net is, we would have to admit that this system is a logical if loathsome outcome of the interconnectedness of all of us today. If any child can so easily access friends and information through common search engines, why not a nefarious force with unlimited resources? If newspaper reporters can hack phones in search of scandals, why not governments? If young geeks can pierce a nation’s military files, why can’t the latter do the same through its super computers and by intimidating the private companies to whom we surrender data about personal habits and finances?

We thank people of conscience like Snowden for alerting us that there is another side to our open access society. His disclosures complement the observations of longtime media critic Robert McChesney.  In his prescient new book Digital Disconnect, How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy. McChesney points to the erosion of our democratic ideals by people-friendly companies that collect our data. Google and the like are the Fords and General Electrics of the modern era, as driven by capitalist ideals as those early pioneers. In Digital Disconnect,  McChesney warns us that contrary to our notion that internet access is a protected democratizing tool, in fact, it is turning out to be a modern way for corporate interests  to control and exploit the public.

What can we do? We can self-censor, i.e. disconnect Unlikely. Impossible, in fact. But we can unite and invoke our legal rights. Communities across the board—educational, medical, media, legal, ethnic groups must comprehend our shared vulnerability and our common tools. Muslims no longer need to view themselves as a select target of these odious systems, while the rest of us must acknowledge that ‘Muslim danger’ is a pretext to sweep us all into the net.

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