Forthcoming

Snatching liberty seemed compelling. Some of us thrived; some of us died. All of us had a taste. from author Toni Morrison, on friendships.

I don't want to see stores looted or buildings burned; but African- Americans have been living in burning buildings for years, choking on smoke as flames burn closer and closer.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s your foot on my neck.  – Malcolm X

"We must never, ever give up. We must be brave. We must be courageous." John Lewis, activist, congressman. 1940-2020 

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."  Professor Cornel West.

"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat."  Audre Lorde

"The serious function of racism is distraction". 1995, Toni Morrison; Portland lecture, Playing in The Dark

“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

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

 

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.

 

Covid-19 Strategies by New York's Shrewd Governor. Part II

2020-11-01

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

From Monday's press breifing, if we can put aside Cuomo’s serious mistakes and political ambitions, allow me to proceed with his general Covid management strategy, and to analyze his formulaic approach to dealing with a stressed, jittery population that includes the nation’s financial center and nine million people residing in our largest city-- an unparalleled virus hotspot with over 700 deaths daily-- confined to their apartments, with businesses shuttered, medical prognosis unknown, inadequate hospital beds, and tepid federal help.

            Mercifully, New York was able to contain the threat. Day by day, it flattened the curve, remarkable by any standard, with the governor’s office temporarily healing its rift with New York City’s mayor.

            Today we’re again facing rising infections and continued economic uncertainty; the entire population still needs assurance and guidance, something we used to call ‘leadership’. To whom can we look?

            Take Monday’s press briefing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtPQ1_96liQ as an example of a well-orchestrated address to a nervous public: Cuomo began with a bold yet measured attack on the White House’s announcement that it has no policy to control the pandemic; it would await the vaccine and its associated therapeutics. Cuomo’s response was unrestrained: the federal government’s policy is preemptive capitulation, totally irresponsible. Instead of reviewing the president’s shortcomings, diversions and false claims, Cuomo directs his critique to New York’s past success and how he proposes to move ahead: “Why (did it work)? God didn’t intervene. We controlled the spread. Ask yourself? How did NY reduce the infection rate, if you (Washington) say we can’t control? We did it. You can’t eliminate it, but you can control it”. He then reminds us of his can-do-it alternatives: the valve management system already in place and the new microcluster control he’s introduced. Surely this practical, seemingly apolitical we-can-do attitude is what Americans desperately need. (Remember Obama’s winning Yes, we can?)

            Cuomo, like Trump, never forgets to affirm how great America is although he does so with more class, adding how New York is first within America. His boasts are specific, reminding us how New York did it: “We flattened the curve. We went to the top of the mountain and down again”, all the time praising the critical agents—the people. “We could not impose rules of mask-wearing, social-distancing, quarantining. You did it. You were disciplined, smart, and you cared for others as well as yourself”.

            His boasts are reinforced with an appeal to New Yorkers’ smartness, toughness, and compassion for one another-- on the edge only a few months back, in the belly of the beast, with the highest rate of infection, hospitalization and death in the country (if not globally). Cuomo’s chauvinistic New Yorker attitude goes unquestioned--because it works. He knows that like himself, New Yorkers are somewhat arrogant, a little overconfident, and the smartest of the smart (sic).

          He tactfully follows his affirmation of the US as the greatest country in the world, asking: “How could this happen to us; our infections are increasing at higher rate than countries like Mexico, Mexico, with 44 per million infections in the past week; Canada with 68, Japan with 4, compared to our 208?”

            A little bit of patriotism with some shame can be effective, especially when augmented by comprehensible, convincing empirical facts. This shared pride furtively combined with empiricism probably accounts in part for Cuomo’s policy successes. He ends every briefing, before talking questions from reporters, on his characteristically high “New York is loving, NY is caring, NY is smart, NY is strong, NY is united”.

            Don't knock someone who moves a stressed, fearful people to believe a little more in themselves at a highly tenuous period in US history. END Part 2

 

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