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.


Oh, What a Lovely War!


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Was this the title of a British film? or a popular song of the 40s?

Either way, I know the phrase originated in the imperial West, the humanitarian West, the West that monitors human rights and establishes international criminal courts to try all but its own citizens.

Our latest image of a ‘lovely war’ is not the sleek and silent bombers flying over north Africa. Not the political accord rammed through the UN by a club of self-interested nations.

No. It’s the sight of night revelers in American streets after their noble president announced the extra-judicial killing of the Al-Qaeda leader. Public cheers which met this attack proves what I have always argued and few will accept: namely, Americans adore war.

First, the death of Osama Bin Laden does not mark the end of war. It only allows Washington to claim success with a totally failed strategy it launched 10 years ago to capture the man they blamed for the 9/11 attacks. More significantly, what has this one death cost the world? Unknown trillions of dollars in government expenditure, the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Yeminis, and Muslims in the US’s undeclared war against Al-Qaeda. Not to forget the 6,000 plus American soldiers and the tens of thousands of maimed veterans.

Add to the calculation of ‘success’, the total devastation of two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, with the future of millions of their citizens swept away in the chaos. Then there is the cost in American principles: Washington’s policies in its terror war betrayed a once respected standard of justice; it exposed how routinely torture is practiced by American authorities; it made racism against Muslims part of everyday American life; it gave us the infamous Patriot Act and other legalized means of curbing US civil rights. The USA beefed up its CIA and other intelligence agencies to fight non-existent threats represented by Bin Laden.

Significantly, as Washington is quick to assure us, this celebrated murder does not end the terror war; rather it raises new threats. Thus the need for continued vigilance and heighted security measures.  Instead of being reprimanded for their failures, US intelligence services are hailed for their success. And, according to May 12’s Washington Post, applications to join the American intelligence services have skyrocketed following the murder of Bin Laden, an act which some denounce as a war crime.

What success? Ten years and incalculable losses in the effort, these agents are champions of justice? Yes, believe it. And the war-loving American public is pressed to demonstrate its pride it its intelligence work and combat efforts. “We got him. We won.”.

The phrase is burned  into Americans from childhood, whether watching Tom and Jerry cartoons, cheering Bruce Willis-style heroes, or playing computer games. “We got him.” No other activity consumes the American public from childhood to death like war: whether our toys, combat sports, Batman fantasy figures, mafia and espionage thrillers, Nintendo games, novels, or intellectual productions like the celebrated ‘Civil War’ TV series. War is part of entertainment for Americans, fundamental to conditioning the concept of heroism. War defines who is a ‘good guy’. War offers everyone the thrill and glory of battle.

Don’t tell me you marched against the war in 2003. Or that you did not vote for George W Bush. It doesn’t matter that (at the most).02 % of the US public doesn’t support war. All Americans, including lofty-minded university ‘liberals’, are beneficiaries of the US war machine and war culture. All share similar heroes, all celebrate war literature, and all benefit from an economy dependent for growth on constant war.

Spontaneous cheers erupted when the US president—‘leader of the free world’-- announced Bin Laden’s murder. Think about it and you surely must agree how this exposes the true nature of Americans.

Note how the raw emotional pleasure of war has its corollary in intellectual debates. Witness the days of media commentary on that ‘military operation’. However eloquent the speeches, it is part of war’s enduring entertainment value.  Admit this and you open the door to change. Not Obama’s “Change” but real change, change we can believe in.


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