Archive for July, 2006

Hate Crimes and War Crimes

July 30, 2006

Friday’s shooting at a Seattle Jewish center was particularly disheartening to me and shook my interfaith optimism… Deep down, I can’t help but wonder if this type of attack is actually demonstrating how violence around the world can come to affect us here at home.

I was elated to read that Seattle law enforcement is treating the shooting as a hate crime, based on the shooter’s comments to the 911 operator and the victims. The whole thing is reminiscent of the anti-Muslim and anti-Indian harassment and crimes (and even murder) that occurred across the country after 9/11. This isn’t just a Jewish issue – all of us from all faiths should step forward to condemn this type of attack because it is wrong, and the next hateful attack could be on any one of us.

I only hope that publicity about this horrible crime will change the minds of those on the right (and some on the left) who are opposed to hate crime legislation. We need to reinvigorate the debate about why it’s important to treat crimes targeting certain racial, ethnic, or religious groups differently (and more harshly) than other crimes. Punishing hate crimes preserves America’s ideals as a pluralistic and tolerant society that welcomes people of all backgrounds.

Today’s tragic attacks by Israel in Qana, Lebanon cost the lives of at least 56 innocent civilians, including 34 children. It is past the time for President Bush and Secretary Rice to intervene and force a cease-fire. All I saw on Meet the Press this morning were excuses, excuses, and more excuses on all sides. These innocent children were being shoved back and forth – “It’s Israel’s fault,” or “It’s Hezbollah’s fault,” or “human shields,” or “disproportionate response,” or “It’s tragic, but…”

None of this matters – they were children, they were hiding because their families couldn’t get them out of the city… and did I mention that they were children? It does not matter what nationality they were or whose fault it was, it’s time we stop the violence and bring all parties to the table. Israel’s actions today are disproportionate and against international human rights standards.  Granted, Hezbollah can be called guilty of the same.  We as Americans should use our clout for peace, stop the slaughtering of innocents, and stop Israel from radicalizing another generation of young Muslims through its disproportionate use of force against civilians, this time in Lebanon.

Kid Oakland on Middle East violence

July 28, 2006

I have been struggling with how to respond to Seth’s comments about Lebanon and all the news since then.  I’ve come up with nothing good so far.  I did find Kid Oakland‘s powerful essay on all the Middle East violence, and it really articulates how I’ve been feeling.  For now, this passage (and the whole blog entry here) will have to do; hopefully there will be more later:

[T]he net sum of the actions in Gaza and Lebanon and Iraq send one clear message to the world as a whole. The United States, Great Britain and Israel in acting out military strikes that coldly inflict “collective punishment” on civilians in the Middle East do not value the lives of those civilians. That is the message we send to the world.

Letter to Chris Matthews

July 28, 2006

I’ve always felt ambivalent on Chris Matthews, but usually enjoy his shows for the commentary and interviews. But, after yesterday’s show, I sent this e-mail:

“Chris,

I usually enjoy Hardball and the Sunday Chris Matthews Show, but today I was appalled that you would give airtime to Ann Coulter and her lunatic and homophobic theories about Bill Clinton.

After the way she insulted 9/11 widows, you should not have invited her on your show, let alone say, “You’re great, Ann!” – I was shocked to hear you utter those words when you signed off from the interview with her.

I expect hard talk from you, Chris, not stroking the ego of a vile and hateful woman like Ann Coulter, who has no respect for the suffering of others. If you won’t speak out, who will???

I’m not sure I can watch your show in good conscience anymore.”

I wish President Bush did this all the time…

July 18, 2006

So two noteworthy and unusual things happened today regarding President Bush. First of all, he spoke candidly, as if no one was listening. But wait, they were.

I’ve noticed a stark contrast between the Republicans and non-Republicans that I’m around. The Repubs think that Bush’s greatest character trait is honesty and straight-shooterness. Liberals and radicals think he is usually misleading at best, and lying at worst. Today Bush spoke what he really felt. He used a the big bad “s word” because he was, frankly, tired of Hezbollah’s shit.

Which is understandable, because (here’s the second thing) I’m tired of Syria’s Hezbollah bullshit, too! President Bush and I agreed for once. It’s actually happened a couple of times, although only his trying to close military bases and more importantly, cut farm subsidies to huge agribusinesses come to mind as other examples.

Anyway, I found his talk refreshing. I wish he just told the public what was on his mind all the time and treated us as if we were his buddies. He always gets so much credit for being the loveable guy next door, but he rarely his. He always cloaks his comments in politicospeak. I like him a lot more when he’s not trying to talk the way that his handlers want him to talk. Why can’t he always call people/countries on their bullshit? I, for one, am very curious what he really thinks about many issues. I know he doesn’t think that Iraq is “Mission Accomplished”. I’d like to know what he really thinks. We bloggers pride ourselves on speaking from the hip. Why can’t our politicians do the same?

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We’re gonna miss you!

July 18, 2006

So I’ve been waiting for Archana to say it for a while. But alas Archana will be leaving very soon, although for those of you who don’t work with her, since she’ll still be blogging here (and elsewhere…?) you probably won’t notice anything different. But she’s always the one bailing the rest of us out and picking up the slack, so we’ll miss her even though we’ve found a fabulous replacement. I might just have to get on down to Guatemala next year, and with my friend Laksh going to the cricket world cup in the West Indies in April, I might just have to make a big ole trip out of it.

On an unrelated note, I am struggling mightily with setting up a new blog. This is hosted, and I’m experimenting around with the DIY WordPress, with the whole hosting thing and whatnot. I ain’t gonna lie: it’s hard and I’m stupid. But hopefully I’ll get a lot of insight at the BrainJams Rent-An-Expert thingy in two nights. If you are in SF and have stuff to learn or teach about tech stuff, this is the place to do it. Anyone can offer a session on any tech topic, and the “students” of each session make a small donation at the end of it based on how much value they got from it. At the end of the night everyone will vote on a charity that will recieve everyone’s donations. And there’s food and beer. So I’ll be there with bells on, and others should too.

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Off to Guatemala!

July 18, 2006

Well, I’m off to Guatemala soon for 10 months on a Fulbright scholarship!  So sorry to have been absent from our blog lately – luckily, Seth has had some great things to say in the meantime…  I hope to contribute more soon, once my belongings are all in storage.  I’ll definitely continue posting from Guatemala City about my experiences, and hopefully about a rip-roaring Democratic victory this fall! 

The Syrian government is such a bitch

July 15, 2006

Way to go, Syria. First you financially and militarily support Hezbollah. Then you encourage them to get all uppity, which then causes them to invade Israel, capture a couple soldiers, and kill a few more. This enrages the Israelis, who are not known for their sense of humor and chilled-out-itude about such things. They go over-the-top bonkers. Then they take it out on all of Lebanon, fucking up the country because they won’t disarm Hezbollah (which they don’t have the will/desire/strength to do). Then, while your neighbor is getting its ass kicked because of someone else’s actions, you offer to help pay to rebuild.

In summary, Syria stokes the flames in someone else’s house, gives plenty of gasoline, and then once the house is burning, offers to chip in for the damage, while still giving more gas. Seems sorta hypocritical.

My advice (see Sara, I can give my opinion even when I’ll be ignored by who I’m talking to and still feel good about it): Israel: stop attacking Beirut and killing tons of civillians and fucking up infrastructure doesn’t convince Lebanon that Hezbollah sucks, they already know that. Syria: stop backing Hezbollah and causing devastation in other countries. Lebanon: duck and cover. Hezbollah: fuck off, you’re a terrible house guest.

Even though I joke a bit, my heart goes out to the families of those killed on all sides.

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Sad

July 13, 2006

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families of the blasts in Bombay. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose a loved one to such a senseless crime. Let’s hope that people all around the world focus as much attention on this tragedy as they did on the London bombings last year, which claimed far fewer (although no less important) lives.

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