Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wright is right

Recently, the U.S. public conscience has been shaken up by Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s controversial statements regarding the U.S. approach towards foreign policy and racial issues. As a result of this controversy, Barack Obama has distanced himself from Wright, whom he once considered as his mentor.

Following this controversy made me once more realize how different my political views are from the mainstream American perspective. While I considered some of Wright’s statements as pure speculations, I couldn’t agree more with the rest, especially as some of these statements go beyond the ideology and represent factual events.

“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye.”

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

“The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now. Divestment has now hit the table again as a strategy to wake the business community and wake up Americans concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.”

In the past week, I kept asking myself: what’s the big deal? What is really going on? The American society is acting, like any other society, in a self-absorbed and narcissistic way. It should strongly repress and condemn any form of criticism, for it would otherwise lose its self-value.

At an epistemological level, controversy and radicalism do not necessary imply falseness. The norms of the majority cannot be used as criteria for the truth. The case of Nazi Germany shows us how inhuman and destructive the societal norms can be. An ideal society should be open to and stimulate all forms of self-criticism. We all have a long way to go.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Walking paradox

Humans are multi-layered, complex, and paradoxical beings. They are perhaps the prime sites where cultural symbols manifest themselves; where the modern meets the traditional, and spirituality meets materialism. There are only a few images so strong in documenting this very particular human nature. This picture is taken at an Ashoura ceremony in Iran.