#BlackLivesMatter to me because I am someone who works hard for success, who is following the path to the American Dream. I grew up learning to be tolerant, learning to accept everybody, regardless of who they are or where they came from. I was raised to embrace my Blackness, and to see it as beautiful, not as something that would hold me back.
At 15, I related most to Ralph Ellison’s unnamed protagonist in Invisible Man. I was attending The Hotchkiss School, and for the first time, I thought of myself as a minority because of my race and class. Though young, I was being exposed to the world. While privilege buffers blocked possible hardships from me, I had an opportunity to be a carefree black child. I enjoyed math, string instruments, and new dance steps. I felt regular. I played and then matured to hanging out with friends. I laughed a large free laugh and experienced a childhood unaware of the limitations my race could impose. Continue reading →
There is no place on earth where the darkness can overcome the light. Do not be afraid. #todossomosparis
Image courtesy of huffingtonpost.com
Mes frères et soeurs,
They attack us because they fear our strength. We are far stronger than they. Their fortress is only shadows and confusion. Our stronghold is reason, the will of a free people. We will withstand this assault and every assault they attempt. They already know this. That is why they hide, and why they prefer to kill themselves rather than to stand before us and face the light of justice.
I must make a most difficult request of you tonight. Forgive them. They are already condemned to carry the burden of their crimes forever. Every God-fearing person with a rational mind is praying for their souls already, and for peace, because these killers have done great damage both to their own humanity and to the hope for a lasting peace among all mankind, which is our common goal. They have chosen the path of destruction. We must not follow them down that path.
The only thing that can overcome terror is love. Like a soldier who runs toward a suicide bomber to save his brothers and sisters, we must run toward this danger with open arms, embracing our enemy, dooming his strategy and his ideology, eliminating the perceived distance between himself and us. We must hold each other close, every free person, every Christian, every Muslim, all of France, all of America. We must prove them wrong about us. God has given us reason. No one can steal it from us. If we do not surrender it, the terrorists lose.
Yes we killed Jihadi John. He was a war criminal luring innocent Muslim children to their deaths or to slavery. He created the state of war in which he was killed. Who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. These killers in Paris are war criminals. Their accomplices are war criminals. They will share Jihadi John’s fate. They will not be allowed to turn us aside from the straight and narrow path of reason. We will never surrender. Continue reading →
The answer to the Syrian refugee crisis is Iraq. As Secretary of State Colin Powell famously warned President George W. Bush, “If you break it, you own it.” (Read that whole article, by the way, because Colin Powell is one of the great American Generals and he speaks the truth.) We have many allies in the region and they are doing everything they can to help us. Turkey is housing nearly 2 million refugees (half of whom are children.) That’s 10% of Syria’s pre-war population. Jordan has embraced almost 650,000, which means that 10% of Jordan’s total population is now Syrian refugees.
Lebanon (not an ally) has accepted 1.1 million refugees. Lebanon and Israel are in the midst of a Cold War. As a result, the United States offers Lebanon no assistance, even though 25% of their population is now Syrian refugees. The children keep coming, and Lebanon keeps housing, feeding, and sheltering them, even though their resources are well beyond the breaking point. Even Iran has been sending aid, as much as they are able, to fellow members of the Red Crescent Society (think Red Cross for Muslims.) Continue reading →
I took a bunch of rich kids to Baltimore in July of last year. We stayed at The Center, a fortified compound on the property of First & Franklin Presbyterian Church. My primary job was to keep the kids safe. I learned the access codes and the panic buttons. I learned which doors not to open, should anyone knock on them. I learned about the gates, a containment cage designed to prevent my empathy from endangering my fellow Christians.
I also learned about food deserts. Basically, a food desert is an urban environment in which the food is far away and the people have no reliable transport. Forget cars, the buses don’t circulate in the poor sections of Baltimore. We waited for two hours. Some empathetic locals emerged from their possibly condemned town house to warn us that the bus wasn’t coming and that we, positive vibes be damned, should be long gone before the sun went down. There is a metro station less than a mile away, downhill. Get going, children. Continue reading →
The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, wikipedia.org
In a move of unprecedented celerity and international cooperation, the Summit Against Violent Extremism launched a worldwide counterattack on the recruiting methods and radicalization techniques used by the Islamic State and other extremists. Recognizing that the threat must be neutralized on all fronts, the summit presents a comprehensive approach, from building awareness through education, to destroying extremist narratives online with facts and larger counternarratives, to empowering community efforts to disrupt radicalization before the damage is done. Specific attention was given to the role of religious leaders. From the press release: Continue reading →
Let me show you what RT does to a person. I have a friend who calls himself Lee Camp. This man is incredibly talented in terms of logic, rhetoric, charisma, and humor. He recently became exposed to RT television. Suddenly his comedy, which had been brutal satire of the excesses of capitalism, in which he spoke the truth to an audience of 99% of the people, became a farce in which he peddled cheap jokes at the expense of 90%+ of the population, effectively shooting himself in the foot.
This guy was good. He used to do a bit called the “Moment of Clarity,” a manic two or three minute rant about slippery pension-thieving consultants. He spoke the truth and everyone respected him for it. We still do. We just want the facts. Say it as expletive deleted as you want. And just like every purely good deed, it created a natural depression in the fabric of the universe. Attracted evil. Karma or whatever. He paid his dues and the opportunities were not forthcoming, except from an outlying Russian syndicate. Continue reading →
Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were victims of a terror attack. I remember the World Trade Center attack like my grandfather remembers the buzzbomb that knocked him off his bicycle. I have the piece of shrapnel that he saved, right next to my Chinatown painting of two airships closing in on the towers. I remember the smell of burning asbestos, human bodies, and desktop knick knacks, that drifted uptown for days. Continue reading →
Gangnam Style is the gold standard in internet success for aspiring musicians, a true Cinderella story. The people of the world do not love that song and that video because their respective governments are intentionally emphasizing the difference between North and South Korea. The truth is we love Korea, but we can only see half of it. Continue reading →
Killing children is the new scare tactic. The Taliban of Pakistan have resorted to killing children. It’s like September 11, 2001 except only a weak echo. The death toll is 1/20th, and the fear factor is slightly less in light of current events.
It’s terrorism. It’s fear. It’s only fear. The thing that the terrorists hate most about us is that we are still not afraid. They cannot break us. We know the law, letter and spirit, and we believe in the spirit. If you know the law, no one can use it against you. Continue reading →
Almost everything you buy in a retail store is made in China. The retail market is cornered. Let’s send the retail stores a message that we want our jobs back. This Christmas, don’t buy any gifts made with slave labor. Look at the tag. You can fight slavery as easy as that. The list of countries where slave labor does not produce goods is much shorter than the list of countries where it does. They are the winners in the history books. Figure it out. Continue reading →
Good sex is when two nervous systems become one. It’s selfless, literally. A completely unrelated type of good sex is when two nervous systems generate a new nervous system through physical contact. If you combine these two types of good sex you get the best sex ever, and a wonderful new nervous system. Both parents love each other as much as they love themselves and they love the kid even more. If they have the resources to thrive, bet on it. Continue reading →
The misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill. – Ai Weiwei
First comes the dragon, a Chinese funeral march, exploding with vibrant colors in intricate and uplifting patterns, celebrating the cycle of life and death, creation visible in the generations gathered, surrounding the passage of the beloved. This one is festooned with quotes like “privacy is a function of liberty” by Edward Snowden, “this thought itself can change the world” by Wei Jingsheng, “I prefer to go to jail” by William Tonet, and “Ze Du out disgusting dictator” by Nito Alvez. Zooming around the room are insectoid dragon offspring, butterfly kites floating to peripheral safety. One is a Star of David.
Next comes the memorial wall, in this case the floor, made of common Legos, depicting prisoners of conscience throughout the world. They are comically pixelated and posterized, their names emblazoned like brands or autographs. The names are more legible in digital pictures than in real life. Binders placed throughout the room allow viewers to locate their favorites, Nelson Mandela, Manning (no first name), Snowden (interesting that he’s @large), Martin Luther King Jr. Most of these portraits are in prison as we speak, and all the American audience can think of is media icons. We have some vague idea that people are being secreted away by our government, but we have never heard of Shaker Aamer. Continue reading →
Rudy Guede, convicted in the murder of Meredith Kercher.
As most who follow the news or social media know, Amanda Knox was originally found guilty, along with two others, of murdering housemate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. She served four years in Italian prison, but was released when the verdict was overturned on appeal. After Ms. Knox returned to the United States, she (in absentia) and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were retried ― some technicality prevented that from being considered double jeopardy ― in Florence. On Thursday, the guilt verdict was reinstated. Bear in mind no actual evidence has been found. Afterwards, Ms. Knox’s attorney, Ted Simon, said:
“The bottom line is, there is no evidence. There was no evidence, and there never will be any evidence, and that’s why this is such a gross miscarriage of justice.” Continue reading →
“When I lie on the beach there naked, which I do sometimes, and I feel the wind coming over me and I see the stars up above and I am looking into this very deep, indescribable night, it is something that escapes my vocabulary to describe. Then I think: ‘God, I have no importance. Whatever I do or don’t do, or what anybody does, is not more important than the grains of sand that I am lying on, or the coconut that I am using for my pillow.'” Who said it? Continue reading →
Any morality play has its set-piece characters. The villain, the outraged public, the crusading representatives of order.
Democracy in the UK is very tactile. Parliament is the voice and instrument of the people. Anyone, no matter how powerful, can be summoned to answer questions before the people. These performances can destroy careers and reputations but are an adjunct to the more dull and complex process of police investigations, judicial review and eventual judgement. They permit the public to see their anger expressed.
Rupert Murdoch’s role before his questioning was clear: he is the villain of this set-piece. He was there to be a subject of the collective outrage of British society and to hold himself to account.
Yet you don’t get to be an 80-year-old media tycoon without understanding that a story is made in the telling. Continue reading →
However, Murdoch loves newspapers and news. Whatever else his failings, it’s rare to have a newspaper owner who actually loves the medium. So even though these companies lose money for him (and, in revenue terms, are a tiny proportion of an empire that is mainly about entertainment and media) he keeps them alive and well financed.
Say that the clusterfuck over the infractions of a small number of his newspapers (assuming this goes beyond just News of the World) results in him divesting of news entirely. Firstly, who’d buy them? Secondly, what happens if this leads to the final destruction of actual daily newspapers? Continue reading →
The first news reports gave me an eerie feeling to know he died with a bullet to his head. It seemed more like a hit than a battle at that time. My Christian sensibilities rebelled at the thought of assassination and murder even of such an evil person. My human sensibilities applauded the death of a man who orchestrated the murders of so many others, a 21st Century Adolph Hitler.