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.

 

A Speech to Remember?

2009-06-10

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

The most poignant commentary on Obama’s Cairo excursion is by the brilliant political cartoonist Steve Bell. His June 5 Guardian newspaper portrayal of the Obama visit to Cairo has the US president posing on a desert landscape next to a docile, satisfied-looking camel, tickling its chin!

Some praise the speech as historic. In a limited way it was: in tone, in eloquence.

But these qualities are insufficient to assure real changes in US policy and alter how USA may be evaluated across the world. In themselves Obama’s words do not promise substantive change in policy that the world expects and needs.

Obama could have uttered really revolutionary promise with a decision to recognize the Hizbullah and Hamas political parties or an announcement of serious compassionate review of all Muslims held in US custody, at home and abroad. Such declarations would signal true policy change.

There was nothing remotely approaching this. If Obama defined any policy, it was of Washington’s unwavering solidarity with Israel. He explicitly said so, reinforcing the position with support for Jews and Israelis on a number of fronts. Those references stood in sharp contrast to tepid recognition of Palestinian rights and daily injustices at the hands of Israel. Obama left room but very little in concrete terms for their dream –and their right-- to a viable Palestinian state.

President Obama’s Islamic greeting and quotations from the Quran as well as invocations of Muslim contributions to civilization show what we already know—that the present US leader is smart, courteous and charming.

So why did he decide to make this much touted speech on his stopover in Cairo between visits in Saudi Arabia, then Buchenwald in Germany?

Everyone I spoke to and most commentators in the Middle East have said ‘we applaud your oration and good words; but we await action, signs of substantive changes’. While oratory and good manners are a respected feature of Arab discourse, the people to whom Obama’s words were addressed know that a convincing presidential statement must be implemented with deeds. Nowhere is this more anticipated than in regards to Palestinian rights and the rights of Muslims (in the US and elsewhere) suspected of working against US interests.

So why all the fanfare and the long speech? Few commentators are speculating but I suggest this: he plans to ask Arab governments for something major, in regards to Israel, or further financial support, or military bases; he may do so pointing to his Cairo gesture. Perhaps the public is not fooled but Arab leaders may find any request hard to reject after this display of intelligent warmth.

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