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"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

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“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.

 

What Can I Say to My Fellow Syrians and Iraqis?

2014-09-19

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Shall I explain to these besieged, patient, impoverished millions that this war is the last one? Shall I confide that it’s hopeless; better get out? (To where?) Shall I urge them to enlist their sons with the moderate rebels who the coalition will support? Or, say “Forget about reforms; even if the current leader is ousted, Arabs are just not ready for democracy”?

Shall I argue: “The Sykes-Picot division of your homelands created your national boundaries; so don’t be so attached to them”? Shall I go there to help care for the wounded and the orphans? Or plead that I didn’t vote for this president, just as liberal Americans assured their Iraqi friends a decade ago that they hadn’t supported the administration that invaded Iraq in 2003?

Shall I placate those already settled in the West with “Aren’t you happy you left”?

There’s no way for people here in USA to imagine what Syrians and Iraqis are thinking; and thereby offer advice, or relief.

And then there’s the war machine. It needs feeding. And there are European and American leaders needing to show they’re capable of thwarting any threat. The enemy too. It needs to be shown how this ‘civilized world’ can and will crush it.

So another war is announced. That is to say: ‘smart bombing’ is underway and a coalition is in line to liberate these millions. War plotters caution us that it’s not going to be a fast fix, unlike that bombing campaign across Libya which nobody here will talk about today. Not like drone operations in Yemen and Pakistan which turned their people against the USA and its once respected ‘no-war’ president.

How can any Iraqi who remembers how America’s military assault on Fallujah turned so many into antagonists expect anything but more instability, more strife, more division? How can inhabitants of northern Iraq welcome the alliance of outside forces with the ambitious Peshmarga if they later find themselves absorbed under unfriendly Kurdish rule?

In Syria, citizens sighed with relief when just months back the chemical weapons destruction program was successfully concluded. Damascus too surely expected to earn some reprieve with that. Perhaps many Syrians, whatever their ethnicity, began to shelter behind government forces as a lesser evil after witnessing the excesses of al-Nusra and other wild rebel groups. And if they looked to Egypt and Libya as models of liberation, Syrians may have wisely concluded: “Maybe after some years, we can try again”.

I suppose everyone is making preparations for the new war. Somehow, they will have to suffer another era of deprivation and uncertainty.

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