Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Israel the Gangster State

Someone, in one of the tussles I get into online, which are both draining and refreshing, dulling and clarifying, called Israel a "gangster state".

I can't resist contemplating the following rejoinder: to the east of Israel there's a monarchy, more traditional than gangsta per se but not even close to democratic; it's a relatively nice place we call Jordan. To the north, there is Lebanon, dominated by Hezbollah, a well-armed Shiite, Iranian backed military force, which, lately, has been too pre-occupied trying to rescue the murderous Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to devote itself to its main purpose, namely the utter annihilation of the state of Israel, but has been husbanding all sorts of weaponry for that eventuality.

Moving east, we find Egypt, the most populous state in the Arab world. After exemplifying to the utmost the unfortunately stunted aspirations of the Arab spring, Egypt has lapsed back into military dictatorship and is ruled by a take no prisoners junta that extinguishes any kind of opposition.

Shall we go north, to Iraq, a state which was irresponsibly splintered by the United States — broke, that is, but not owned — and is now yet another joint in the Shiite arm that stretches from Teheran through Bagdad onto Damascus and Beirut? Or shall we pause for a moment to underline the rabid Sunni response — ISIS — to this development?

I haven't even mentioned Iran, per se, the theocratic Shiite force to the north or Saudi Arabia, its Sunni counterpart to the south.

Given all this, Israel stands out as a "gangster state"?

And yet Israeli seizure of West Bank land is nothing but gangsterism, fortified by religious nationalism, and I completely and utterly oppose it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

To Praise Rachel Maddow

I come to praise Rachel Maddow.

Watched her show last night (5/18/15) in which she took up attempts by the likes of Rubio and Jeb Bush to deal with — as in flub, doubletalk, and prevaricate about — our invasion of Iraq, which most everyone, even downright Republicans, know to be a disaster.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PEN Award to Charlie Hebdo

Some of the writers who oppose the PEN award to Charlie Hebdo: Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi.

Do I agree with them? Nope. I approve the PEN award to Charlie Hebdo. Further, I dislike that the argument has been too much about supposed anti-Islamopbobia on the part of PEN, and too little about richly warranted anti-Islamism. What I mean is that al Qaeda et al is not, really not, a figment of Islamopbobia, any more than, to admittedly stretch the point, Stalin's terror was a figment of anti-communism, though much of the left chose denial.

I should add that in that list of defectors from the PEN awards none are necessarily 2nd rate writers. Well, can't speak about Taiye Selasi, who I haven't read, but have the others and have enjoyed recent immersion in Francine Prose: No matter what she says about PEN will always look forward to her criticism, her novels and the way she recently deboned that overstuffed literary poseur, Danna Tartt.

I'm glad PEN stuck up for free speech as it did, and sorry it's hard to have discussions about where Islam is these days -- not its mainstream but its monsters, world historical monsters though they may be.