First I have to say what a beautiful 13 hours Rand Paul’s filibuster was. I think it’s a strong reminder of how incredible our way of governance can be and how important it is to give “voice to the voiceless”, in a way. I don’t agree with Rand Paul on much of anything, but the fact that he spent 13 hours yesterday drawing enormous attention to the issue of using drones to attack American citizens has earned my utmost respect.
If nothing else, something like this brings light to the fact that we NEED voices of opposition in this world. Last night and throughout John Brennan’s confirmation, we’ve had Democrats and Republicans basically completely flipped on their positions, probably out of a lot of political posturing, but we also got a lone stubborn Senator to actually stand for something and do it for hours. That kind of thing takes courage, no matter who you are. I wish every member of Congress could be that independent, instead of always following the party line, because a plurality of voices and opinions generally can lead to some pretty great compromises.
But also can we just take a look at this letter right here? This simple guarantee is all Rand Paul wanted and it somehow took the White House more than an entire day just to express it. I mean, read that question! Think of all the terror and destruction and violation held in that one question. And the AG couldn’t answer it? Our President of Hope and Change and Yes We Can couldn’t immediately say the most obvious thing in the world: no, no one has that authority.
I could rant on about American history, but all I know is that it took them such an incredibly long time, and a very public filibuster, to answer that question, and that terrifies me.
2013 is the centennial anniversary of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. To celebrate, there are events and, online where everyone can access, a reading of In Search of Lost Time.
In Search of Lost Time is a novel in seven volumes. The writing is sublime, the themes expansive, and the observations many. It is an easy read, but amazingly rewarding. While it stands as a pillar of literature, it is also easily accessible and relatable. It has a strange ability to suck you in and carry you along, despite the fact that it was written one hundred years ago.
The reading schedule is on Goodreads. If you are interested, there is also a dearth of information on Proust-Ink, and Proust 2013 (which both include interesting information, discussion, and background).
All the cool kids are reading Proust next year. Are you? #Proust2013
As Syria plunges deeper into a civil war, the world essentially stands by and the US in particular does nothing.
The US stood by while Tutsis were slaughtered in Rwanda; and (should) feel shame for doing so. The US stood by and watched the ethnic cleansing of the Baltics, then claimed we acted after Sarajevo had been under seige for almost four years. We choose not to deal with the treatment of the Hmong, and ignore their sufferings - largely due to their alliance with the US. We ignore the Kurds call for statehood. The list goes on. Even touching on GWOT issues would be exhausting.
And now we stand by as Syria descends. But, as if that is not offensive enough, Hillary Clinton wants to tell the rebels how to staff their leadership. The word chutzpah comes to mind, but doesn’t go nearly far enough. As if that isn’t enough, as these people are fighting for freedom and their lives against a better funded, technically superior regime; we want to express concern that they are accepting help from jihadi groups. It may be just me, but the concept of lecturing people fighting for survival on how to fight, while doing so from the comfort of Washington DC and offering no aid or assistance, is the height of arrogance.
The final nail in the coffin is that according to Time, Secretary Clinton said, “There has to be a representation of those who are on the front lines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom.” My immediate thought is that would be wonderful. If only we had that in the US, things might look significantly different. Last I heard, one member of congress had a child who had served in the US’s current wars. And Duncan Hunter (Ca Representative) is the only member I know of to have fought in the current wars.
And we wonder why the rest of the world talks of American arrogance. We wonder why others call US foreign policy short-sighted. We have always been this way, have paid the price, and will continue to do so. I think of the white army’s expectation that the US would come to their aid against the bolsheviks. And I hope we all remember how that turned out.
Until we recognize our role as a major force in the world, until we act like we are global citizens and work for true, lasting change and justice; we will continue to be as we are.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Having watched the “trailer” for the innocence of muslims that evidently launched events in Libya, I was struck by a few things.
First, my heart goes out to Chris Stevens and those he left behind. Nothing can mitigate his murder or the events surrounding it.
At first, upon viewing the video, I was struck by how outrageous it was; I wasn’t sure if it was a comedy, a deliberate attempt to incite the Islamic world, or another piece in the war against Islam. In any event, it was shockingly factually inaccurate and obviously meant to slander Islam.
The saddest part is that I am sure many people will watch it and believe what it is saying. So many people, especially Americans, thirst for support of their hatred instead of seeking facts. They are willing to give credence to anything that says their fears are correct, even when painfully wrong.
Many have said that there shouldn’t have been a violent reaction to the film, which I agree with. However, Muslims revere Mohammed in a way other religions don’t revere their own prophets. The life of Mohammed (the Sunna and Hadith) are daily guides to every Muslim and play a part in Islamic theology much greater than the life of Jesus or Abraham. In this context, the outrage is understandable. Given recent history, the violent reaction was foreseeable; although not excusable.
Mohammed led a life that was exemplary in almost every sense, if the truth is considered, by almost any religious or secular tradition. Even the US Supreme Court had a statue of Mohammed in the frieze surrounding the court room. Contrary to what many say, the rights of women in the early caliphate reached heights that would not be seen in the west until Great Britain after the industrial revolution. Charity is an established, required part of Islam. There was religious tolerance, individual rights, and so much more that extremists on both sides would like to forget.
Sadly, most Muslims are simply trying to lead their lives. Most Muslims are moderate and suffer more at the hands of extremists than any western nation. They also live in far greater fear of extremism than we in the west do.
The issue is complex with a rich, inspiring, and sad history. Many try to revise history or reinterpret it to inspire hatred and reframe the issue in terms of a religious war. Sadly, they seem to be winning. Those who are more familiar with the truth remain fearful, cowed into silence. In the west, they are afraid of being labeled anti-american, apologist, or weak. Those in the near east are afraid of being labeled american stooges, anti-muslim, and live under the constant threat of physical violence.
Edmund Burke said that all that was necessary for the forces of evil to triumph was for good men to do nothing. I think we are seeing this played out in our own times.
I have far more compassion for those in the east than those here in the west. In the west, we have almost no threat of physical violence, accurate histories are readily available, and we live under a system that, while rapidly changing, allows for the free discussion of almost any issue.
According to Edward R. Murrow, we are not descended from fearful men; but we are losing our courage. In its place, we have our own form of extremism. We have had this before, and probably will again, and it is nothing but shame for our own and future generations.
As for those in the east, many are speaking out against the acts. Its sad that there aren’t more doing so. But, I hope and believe, a greater crowd gathers each time. And the crowd, which is quiet now, will become louder and stronger. The crowd that recognizes the language of hate, that recognizes the lies and manipulation of extremists, the crowd that will eventually forge the future of Islam. And the quicker this crowd grows, the greater the pride in those that have spoken out, the lesser the shame upon future generations.