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.

 

Comedy, Law and Journalism

2013-11-15

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

The experience of Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef affirms what a precious and precarious thing freedom is. It also demonstrates what a powerful political tool comedy is.

Youssef rose to prominence as an satirical commentator following Egypt’s 2011 uprising when he lampooned the new president as well as the old dictator. Today he’s out of work on the order of Egypt’s military leadership, doubtless a sign of the extent of his influence—the satirist’s that is. Youssef’s success should disabuse us of the notion that you have to go to college and learn unbiased reporting to be an effective journalist.  

Many of my friends in the US, exasperated and insulted by our deteriorating 24/7 national news media, whether it’s the rightwing Fox Network or the left-leaning PBS, have eschewed those channels. They now tune into either ‘The Colbert Report’ or the Jon Stewart’s ‘The Daily Show’ for intelligent news coverage. These programs are the new models for truth-to-power reporting. They are honest, relevant and professional. Notably, like Youssef, neither Colbert or Stewart studied journalism; Youssef was a medical doctor, Stewart a unremarkable graduate in science, and Colbert an acting student.

Today, all three satirists are arguably the most influential people in the business. If you need more examples of the demise of standard journalism education, look at what lawyers can do in the media. The best example is in the work of Glen Greenwald of The Guardian, know today for his brave and energetic reporting on revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and continuing efforts to see the leaks receive wide distribution. Greenwald is one of many fine writers, former lawyers, working in journalism today.

Another less well known graduate in law is standup comic Dean Obeidallah. I know Dean from his launching of the Arab Comedy Festival in New York a decade ago. After viewing his performances there, I invited him (along with Maysoon Zayid) to host a monthly edition of RadioTahrir. Dean told me how, in those early days, he left his law office at 6 ini the eveing, grabbed a bite and then set out for any local stand-up venue in Manhattan where he could tell jokes to anyone willing to listen. (Audiences were sometimes pretty thin, he admits.) He kept at it, and at it, and at it. Finally, together with the international success of the comedy festival, he is now a journalist, satirizing or not, who’s taken seriously, and in demand.

About 2005, while still producing for us at RadioTahrir, Obeidallah began writing Op-ed pieces for the then new online paper The Huffington Post. Nowadays, increasingly I hear him in conversation with popular and widely syndicated radio host Geraldo Rivera. (Yes, my liberal friends, I really do listen to Geraldo.) And I read Dean’s columns on CNN where our dean of comedy is also a frequent live guest.

While it seems that Obeidallah mostly appears presenting the beleaguered ‘other point of view’ about bias against Arabs and Muslims (ABC’s 20/20, PBS, and thedailybeast.com)—not unexpected since this was his main comedy theme—today, he’s evolved.  He takes on the right, the left, political leaders, and the media itself—and all with an engaging smile. If he can always see the funny side of things, Dean will survive long after schools of political scientists, and the politicians themselves fade.

Every community needs articulate, energetic spokespersons—especially journalists. So consider this: instead of spending up to $60,000. a year for a degree from an crowded US school of journalism, consider Dean’s career path. Fellow comedian Amer Zahr did. He too started as a lawyer, and after years on the stand-up comedy stage, now writes a regular column. Think about it.

Oh yes, and Dean has a new film—‘The Muslims are Coming!’

Comments welcome: http://www.radiotahrir.org/blog2.php?id=149#disqus_thread 

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