Just read a thought-provoking albeit heavy-on-the-standard-conspiracy editorial on the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. Somalia, the convenient sometime theater in that oh-so-versatile war on terror. Why does Somalia come up only every so often, only to fade away into the ether with astonishing speed? Having abandoned the country long ago to "rogue" status and the whimsy of testosterony predatory warlords, the Islamic terrorism discourse seems to be the least of its problems. Muslim or Christian, a warlord still sucks.
So let me get this straight, Castro's going to outlive us all? Too bad, I'd imagined a fabulous meeting at the pearly gates - James Brown, Fidel, and Gerald Ford. Can you imagine?
Matthew told me today that back in his heydey, Sir Brown used to rent out the Apollo for a whole week and sell out like three concerts a day for the whole week. Who can sell out concerts like that now? Yeah, nobody. His bod's apparently on display at the Apollo right now, for mourners to pay their respects. I think I'd rather put on an album, turn out the lights and work up a sweat in my socks on my living room dancefloor.
So the Gonzales confirmation hearing lasted a mere day. A single day of questioning for a candidate for US Attorney General who drafted a memo essentially condoning the loose application of Geneva Convention norms that led to the torture of Abu Ghraib prisoners. Further, he said on an NPR interview last March that he believed the 650 detainees being held at Guantanamo bay without charge have no right to seek their release, because the US is still at war. Leading Democrats like Ted Kennedy, Biden and Leahy did have some things to say, as did Republican Jeff Sessions, but Gonzales's confirmation is, ultimately, a sure thing.
The Attorney General is, in some ways, the gatekeeper between the theory and practice of democracy. He doesn't have to support a liberal point of view, but nor should he support a point of view that supports grossly compromising human rights and domestic civil liberties in the name of a ceaseless, boundless, and faceless threat. If the administration is going to subject this public to a state of endless war, then there should be room for the public to defend the values and rights it claims to hold dear. In fact, a nationwide public opinion poll in June 2002 showed that Americans strongly believe that promoting human rights is an important priority in US foreign policy.
Is Gonzales really the right man for this job? Really? Is "Well, he can't be worse than Ashcroft" really a good answer?
A just released Cornell University national survey shows that 44% of all Americans polled believe that Muslim Americans' civil liberties should be curtailed. I'm working on my response to the "politics of fear" enabling this widespread failure of tolerance, critical understanding, and basic logic in our society. But, for the time being, I'll just say that I find the causes and implications of this level of generalization and ignorance are corrosive and dangerous.
NAVEND, Center for Kurdish Studies Bonn-based research and dialogue center providing interface between academics, politicians, community-based groups working on integration issues, journalists, the public, and Kurdish immigrants. Strongly non-partisan.