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.

 

Helen! What did you say?

2010-06-10

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

I want to shake her, gently. “How could you have so misspoken, my dear sister?”

I am not willing to simply reprimand Helen Thomas and leave it at that. Unarguably, it was a mistake. Of course the media is making this into a major story, with calls for her departure.

Many will agree that what she said is timid compared to the utterances of other public figures against homosexuals, Muslims, and Arabs. Those more despicable and racist remarks not only pass without censure. They incite further racism. They are unchallenged.

Helen Thomas is no stranger to the racist environment we live in today. Being Arab she and we are regularly targeted; we are even baited in the quest to uncover any word that could somehow be interpreted as a criticism of the ‘holiest of holy’ creation, Israel. Thomas must have passed many huddles on this course.

Helen is a public figure. Today, any celebrity’s every word is recorded somewhere, by somebody. One has to be particularly judicious on any controversy. Look how Justice Sonia Sotomayor skirted her interrogators. Brilliant.

Today even the most humble of us has to avoid being snared by new technology; recording devices are easily secreted. Not only is government security noting our every move and word. The public can too. Anyone identified as Arab and Muslim should expect to be subjected to close vigilance and scrutiny. We have enemies—known and unknown. Forces are at work trying to entrap us, to topple us.

I may owe more gratitude to Helen Thomas than most journalists inspired by her groundbreaking career. She is one of the few high profile Arab American leaders. And she represents a large community of Arab intellectuals and media workers working in the Arab lands. Her workplace—Washington-- is one of the most fearsome political and professional arenas. She survived for more than 57 years. That ought to have exposed her to any agent or agency waiting to entrap her. And she is a journalist known for her audacity.

She said she made a mistake. She affirmed her commitment to peace between Palestinians and Israelis. She apologized. But in anything involving Zionist settlement, no apology is acceptable. You’re gone. She must know this.

Helen could have salvaged her self-respect by a more extensive explanation of her remarks.

If I see her, I will want to know the full context of the interview in which she said they should “get the hell out… and go back to …”. I wonder: what was behind this outburst? She is known for her general criticisms of US policy on Iraq and Afghanistan; as far as I know Helen Thomas does not stand out as a champion of Palestine. Was it the Gaza massacres in 2008-9 that turned her? Was it the recent murders and kidnappings of FreeGaza Flotilla members? Did she overhear some ugly remark about Arabs, Muslims, or Palestinians at the event where she was caught with these comments?

I wonder: will we ever hear from the remarkable Helen Thomas again?  

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Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.

James Baldwin

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