Your Brain Of Mud Or President Obama’s Magic Show In Cairo

On June 4th 2009, President Barack Obama (a man I voted for!) took the stage on the soil of one of the region’s most despotic and repressive regimes. But more than that, he was standing in the center of the geography of American imperial projections that has been the Middle East since the British, Germans, French and other smaller European nations were forced to leave it in the 1940s.
(Originally written in response to Obama’s first condescending speech to the A-rabs back in 2009. Reposted to reflect that nothing really has changed.) Details »

Revealing Histories Long Erased And Denigrated: Photographer Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s Attempt To Find Old Truths

Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s project on Morocco’s Jewish heritage immediately caught my attention not because of the photographs, but because of words that underpin the ideas and ideals of the project. These words immediately suggested a photographer of considerable intelligence and courage, and willing to accept and understand histories that today lie buried under propaganda, lies and sheer hypocrisy.

From The Series 'Jewish Morocco' By Aaron Vincent Elkaim

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Sticking Our Head In The Sand Or We Just Liked Afghanistan Better When The Soviet’s Were Raping It

Larry Towell is looking for money for a new project in Afghanistan and has placed his request on Kickstarter. This would all have been fine had it not been for the fact that he is doing the wrong project.

Larry Towell has been an inspiration, one of the first photographers whose works compelled me to come to photography. So it is with great disappointment that I read his description of what he intends to do in Afghanistan.

The opening sentence from his project description, a project called Crisis In Afghanistan, left me stunned:

For 30 years, Afghanistan has known only civil war.

No it has not. Details »

They Set A Koran On Fire…And Nothing Happened

Ironically, tradition suggests that burning is one of the best ways of disposing pages of holy texts. As this video attempts to demonstrate an apparent act of ‘Christian’ faith, I can’t help but be amused by the sheer anti-climactic end of the video.

Nothing happens. Details »

Sleepless In Lucknow Or How The Jaipur Literary Festival Became A Nightmare I Want To Wake Up From

Lets begin by celebrating overt and rabid racism – Ayaan Hirsi Ali was at the Jaipur Literary Festival and I was left bereft with incredulity at the idiocy of the event organizers. Rather than create a genuinely interesting and intellectually serious environment around writers, thinkers, activists and intellectuals, the festival seems to prefer polemicist, celebrities, second class ‘European’ award winners, starlets, and of course, a lovely collection of Islamophobes and reductive racists. Details »

Speaking Howard Zinn

I have so much to say about him, but can’t find the right words. But I could not leave this blog without mentioning a man whose ideas and values has had a tremendous influence on my own. I mentioned to a friend that a great generation of American dissidents is passing and I fear that there isn’t a new generation to replace them. Chomsky, Vidal, Cockburn, Barsamian come to mind and each have been at their task for decades. I hope that I am wrong. But, while I wait to discover and read a new generation, here is Viggo Mortensen reading Zinn, thanks to PULSE. Details »

‘Going Muslim’ At Fort Hood Or How Rabid Simplicities Masquerading As Insight Just Sell More Magazines

It did not take long for overtly racist explanations to be offered. Before facts come fantasy, and before truth comes tabloid opinions masquerading as insight. And it arrived not in some radical, fringe magazine but in the pages of the international magazine Forbes by one of their regular contributors. (I of course ignore the determined Islamophobia of outlets like Fox News.) Details »

Welcome To The Islamic Republic Of Switzerland – Do You Want Your Burqa In Black Or Blue?

Update: 30th November 2009

The vote to ban the minaret was passed. Switzerland, long pretending to be a liberal, democratic nation that respected the rights to the free practice of all faiths, has revealed its ugly underbelly. Details »

Pankaj Mishra & The Heritage Of Indian Pluralism

Pankaj Mishra, one of my favorite writers and intellectuals, has written a fascinating essay for The National newspaper title Beyond Boundaries that speaks about India’s long and resilient syncretic traditions.

I have featured his piece, thanks to his kind permission, on my The Idea of India project website. For those who may not know, this is a long-term project I am working on documenting India’s heritage of pluralism and syncretism. Details »

Where The Head Spun: November 13th 2009

A wide range of issues came across recently and though I would love to wax lyrical about all of them I find my head space considerably limited to speak of each in some reasonable fashion. But I wanted to draw your attention to some interesting developments, a few of which are being carefully ignored in our press and oh-so-alert media Details »