Jun 06 2009
Crossposted at Huffington Post.
As I surf the Internet and visit my favorite blogs, I read that many people are saying “why didn’t Barack Obama say this” or “why didn’t Obama say that?” Many prominent Mideast experts and bloggers are expressing disappointment in Obama. They say his address to the Arab-Muslim world was “status quo patronizing,” “nothing but empty words,” “lip service,” and much more. Jack Shaheen, one of the world’s foremost authority on media images of Arabs and Muslims, said he was duly impressed with Obama’s address to the Muslim world.
Shaheen is the author of the groundbreaking work “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.” His second book “Guilty: Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11,” was recently named the 2008 “Forward Magazine” social sciences book of the year. Shaheen says Obama’s message set a positive tone for a sincere dialog about Muslims and Arabs myths and realities. He believes Obama “brought these issues in a very candid and articulate manner to the forefront and he is committed from the get-go.”
I interviewed Shaheen shortly before the 2008 general election for Off the Bus and I checked back in to find out what he thought of Obama’s address to the Arab-Muslim world.
May 25 2009
I wrote this last year for Huffington Post and it’s important now as it was last year. I hope you all find some meaning in this post.
DUMMERSTON, VT– Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. All weekend, I saw veterans honored on television, the newspapers, parades, etc. I saw more than my share of yellow ribbons, American flags, 21-gun salutes and more. But something was missing, something I wish would be covered every Memorial Day: voices of dissent, especially from those who served our country.
Don’t get me wrong. I support the troops. I support them just as much as those who support war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I also support veterans in past conflicts. For many of them, Memorial Day means everything. But there are other veterans that never get heard. They are silenced, ignored and misunderstood because they have something vastly different to share. I’m talking about those veterans who served their country, survived the horrors of war and heal their wounds through advocacy efforts.
It pains me that veterans organizations advocating for peace are always overlooked on Memorial Day. For many of these organizations, getting into a Memorial Day parade can be a controversial ordeal. In Bremerton, Washington, Veterans for Peace were told to stay away from this year’s festivities. Why? Why should we honor one kind of veteran and not another? Why is it controversial to honor veterans who want their service be remembered differently? It seems that every Memorial Day, we miss another opportunity to honor veterans’ in a different and meaningful context. It’s time we open our minds to the complexity of the meaning of past military service. It’s well past time we honor those who fought and who speak out against war.
War is traumatic and many veterans who speak out against their actions (or their government’s policies) want their experiences to be validated, understood, and accepted. Anti-war veterans organizations must be honored to the same degree many of us honor Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans, ever Memorial Day. All veterans must be honored, even those who speak out against war.
I honor those who want to be remembered for their service. I honor those who lost their lives fighting for what they believed in but I also honor those who experienced the other side of war and want to make our country and our communities less-violent places. This Memorial Day I also honor the Veterans for Peace, Courage to Resist, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Veterans Against the Iraq War. I’m sure there are many more. The members of all of these organizations served America and they love their country. It’s well past time we honor them on Memorial Day.
Mar 24 2009
Crossposted at Air America Radio.
March 24, 2009 marks the 20th memorial of one of North America’s worst ever oil spill. Approximately 11 to 38 million gallons of crude oil from the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilled into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound destroying a wide range of wildlife habitat and sea life. What we never hear is how the oil spill impacted Alaskan communities within Prince William Sound.
Riki Ott, author of “Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oi Spill” tells the story of Cordova, Alaska, a fishing village trying to recover from one of America’s worst environmental catastrophes. Ott, a resident of Cordova, chronicles the trials experienced by Cordova residents as they cope with the oil spill and one of the longest-running legal battles in the nation’s history. Ott argues that unless we can reinvigorate our democracy and reform a legal system that currently holds corporations above citizens, then America will remain vulnerable to outside corporate influence.
Ott is currently on a nationwide speaking tour and I recently interviewed her about the 20th memorial of the oil spill, Cordova, AK, and how communities can empower themselves from environmental catastrophes.
More below the fold.
Mar 17 2009
Crossposted at P U L S E.
On March 16, 2003, I was a graduate student at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT. That morning I recall hearing on Democracy Now! that an Evergreen State College student was run over by an Israeli bulldozer. The girl’s name was Rachel Corrie.
Corrie was defending property belonging to Samir Nasrallah, a local pharmacist. Eyewitness accounts say the bulldozer ran over Corrie twice. The driver claims he didn’t know Corrie was there… That’s pure rubbish. We all know it was deliberate.
I remember going to my Assessment & Evaluation class that day knowing the news. Yet what I remember most were the reactions of two friends and classmates of mine, both of whom went to Evergreen State College with Rachel. Neither of them came to class that day. One wrote an impassioned e-mail to all my classmates about Rachel and the wonderful life she lived. The other was in our on-campus coffee shop. I will never forget her not crying but “wailing” upon hearing the news that Corrie was killed. That memory will forever haunt me.
The following interview was conducted on March 14, 2003… two days before Rachel Corrie was killed. As today marks the sixth memorial of Rachel’s death, I want to play back this YouTube so you can hear Rachel’s words and understand the oppression Palestinians experience on a day-to-day basis. It prides me that there are Americans out there who believe the Israeli occupation is an occupation of violence. We will never forget you Rachel!
Mar 08 2009
I’ve been following the Rihanna/Chris Brown story and aside from the Hollywood glam that’s been dominated the coverage, I wrote this piece after reading this Alternet article for the third time ….
“I’m sick and tired of hearing the same old myths being perpetrated about domestic violence. The one that gets under my skin the most is “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Why aren’t we asking the abuser “why doesn’t he leave?” It’s not the survivor’s responsibility, it’s all about power & control that prevents an abusee from leaving an abusive relationship.
Dec 07 2008
Crossposted at Green Mountain Daily.
As president-elect Barack Obama is introducing new members of his cabinet, bloggers are wondering if they’ll see anyone progressive enough to like. I heard Mary Beth Maxwell is being considered for Secretary of Labor. She’s a union activist and former field director for Jobs With Justice. If chosen, Maxwell will also be the first openly-gay cabinet member. I sincerely hope she gets it.
But now, many environmentalists are giddy over the fact that another progressive is being considered for Secretary of Interior. Roberto Lovato writes today, for Alternet and Huffington Post, that Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is under consideration for Secretary of Interior. If chosen, environmentalists and environmental organizations have reason to celebrate.
Lovato writes “of all the candidates being vetted by the Obama transition team for this complex and challenging responsibility, none can match the unique qualifications of Raul Grijalva.” Let’s take a look:
Read below the fold.
Nov 02 2008
Vive Les Quebecois! I’m so proud to be 100% French-Canadian!
Not sure if you all heard by now but two Montreal DJs pulled a great prank on Sarah Palin this weekend. They posed as President Nicholas Sarkozy of France along with his assistant. I’ll end it there.
Oct 29 2008
Here’s my last dispatch before the election. Hope you enjoyed. – ctrenta
Crossposted at Huffington Post’s Off the Bus.
Jack Shaheen, a sort of one-man anti-defamation league, is the author of the groundbreaking work “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People,” which is also the subject of a documentary film. A former CBS News consultant on Middle East Affairs, Shaheen is one of the world’s foremost authority on media images of Arabs and Muslims. Other works include “Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture,” “Nuclear War Films,” the award-winning “TV Arab,” and his latest is “Guilty: Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11.” In “Guilty,” Shaheen examines Arab images in more than 100 post-9/11 movies, and addresses other issues at play since 9/11 that affect public perceptions of Arabs and Muslims. I caught up with Shaheen to discuss Arab and Muslim portrayals in the 2008 election and how an Obama presidency can make a positive impact.
Oct 24 2008
H/t to Huffinfton Post’s “Off the Bus” for finding this one. Here’s Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann at Minnesota Republican 6th Congressional District Debate sponsored by the Taxpayers League, circa November 2005.
I’m speechless. Just completely and utterly speechess.