From my archives, January 15th, 2015:
“And while we’re engaged in this orgy of contrition, I think Muslims should collectively own up to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Previously it was thought to be from a meteorite event or possibly mischief from the House of Rothschild. Space exploration has proven the former unlikely & the latter has been exposed as anti-Semitism. Now scientists are seeing Islam written all over the event.There is also accumulating evidence of Muslim involvement in global warming & male pattern baldness. Where will this all end!?”
On January 21st, 2019, it’s still true that Muslims are implicated in global warming & male pattern baldness. The jury is still out on their involvement in the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The photojournalist who took this photo of rubbish scavengers in Demra, Dhaka, Bangladesh certainly meant respect when he called them “self-employed.” He added, “This is the way they pass their life & contribute to the society.” That’s sweet–but it sure as hell misses the point. All over the world, millions of impoverished, unemployed urban slum dwellers forcibly dislocated from agriculture by neoliberal plunder are compelled to comb waste dumps for recyclables to resell for a few bucks a day. To feed their kids, they fight off birds of prey & rats & plow through manure, rotten food, unmentionable decaying things–all emitting stench & disease. Even the US Department of Labor would not term this “self-employment.” The blunt-spoken like to call it what it is: unspeakable degradation & exploitation.
These mountains of toxic, stinking eyesores all over the planet represent neoliberalism’s waste management system. They’re so busy plundering they don’t have time to clean up the mess they leave behind. Dumping this waste next to slums, on Indian reservations (in the US), or in oceans is not a way to provide employment to the impoverished but an expression of social contempt. These mounds expose & they damn the disregard of neoliberalism (the barbaric phase of capitalism) for human health & welfare. You can see in the photo scavengers have devised makeshift safety equipment to block out the stench & toxic particulates. But most of them will still develop skin & respiratory illnesses & pass them on their children–though actually many of the scavengers are themselves children.
Many opponents of neoliberal environmental policy like to write long-winded tracts of condemnation. There isn’t a one as eloquent in damnation as this photo of young people not just ‘passing’ their lives but shortening them considerably.
As for ‘contributing’ to society, the best thing we can do, hand in hand with our unemployed sisters & brothers, is to do some heavy-duty waste management of our own & rid this beautiful planet of neoliberal predation.
(Photo by Ziaul Haque)
This portrait of a geisha from the Edo period in Japanese history (1603-1863) is part of an artistic genre that glorified prostitution & the commodification of women & young girls. This genre is politically akin to the glorified portraits of Native Americans in the late 19th century when they were already vanquished peoples forced to live on squalid reservations. US magnates like JP Morgan were building anthropology museums to warehouse artifacts of indigenous tribes who were being exterminated by the US Army before they ‘went extinct’. Morgan, et al, wanted photos taken to memorialize them & commissioned photographers to create a genre glorifying Native Americans even while they were being exterminated. The portraits of the Native Americans, like the portraits of geisha women, are as artistically stunning as they are historically dishonest.
This photo is from my extensive collection of Japanese art (reproductions, of course). I was introduced to Japanese art & culture when Hiroko Ray was my beloved roommate while we were both college students in San Francisco. I love the aesthetic of Japanese art & was not aware at first that the magnificent portraits of women were glorified images of geisha life. Through the art I learned something about Japanese history & came to understand more about the role of women. It’s an important history to learn about.
Netflix is showing “Strong Island,” a documentary by Yance Ford about the 1992 murder of his older brother William Ford, Jr. It’s a personal documentary about the trauma of a family dealing with the loss of a beloved from homicide. The social & political backdrop to the story is woven in, including the migration of their parents from the Jim Crow (US form of apartheid) South; the parent’s work to improve their economic status through education; how developers segregated Blacks from whites in new Long Island housing developments; the fallacies of the US grand jury system; the racism of the US legal system.
William Ford, Jr. was 24-years-old when he was shot by a white chop shop employee in an altercation. Mark Reilly, a chop shop tow truck driver had rammed the car of William’s mother Barbara Dunmore Ford & rather than file an insurance claim asked William if the illegal chop shop could do repairs. When they were not forthcoming with the repairs & disrespected William’s mother when she went looking for the car, there was an angry altercation between William, the owner of the shop, & Mark Reilly. When William & a friend again went to pick up the car, there was another angry exchange where Reilly shot & killed William with a rifle.
An all-white grand jury refused to indict the shooter claiming he had reason to be afraid based on the earlier altercation so the shooting was judged self-defense. William’s mother claimed the prosecutors presented a weak case to the grand jury to guarantee a refusal to indict. There was no reason for the shooter to be afraid of William unless all angry Black males are a threat to life & limb. As Yance Ford put it, the prosecution determined that William was the “primary suspect in his own murder.”
Yance Ford, who was William’s younger sister at the time of the murder, is now a transgender man who was nominated for an Oscar in 2018 for this documentary. It’s a powerful film for the way it weaves the personal tragedy of homicide in with the social history & political injustice faced by Blacks in the US.
It’s observable that chief among those who advocate prostitution (what they call sex work) as just another way to earn a living are academics from upper-class backgrounds, many who identify themselves as Marxists. Would they ever consider prostitution a career option for their own daughters? Do they not see the racism, pedophilia, militarism, class character, degradation & violence so inherent to commodifying the bodies of women & children? If you want a definition of middle-class feminism, it is the view that hooking is okay for our daughters but their own were meant for higher things.
And btw, most of the eminent Marxist’s would turn over in their graves & become an important source of alternative energy if they knew their disciples promoted the commodification of human beings.
(Photo is a geisha from the Edo period in Japanese history. They were purchased as young girls & trained in the arts, intellectual discourse, & sexual practices to be entertainment for men. As they aged out & had no more use as commodities, they were portrayed in Japanese art as bitter & angry. This woman is an example of the older geisha.)
It’s so fashionable these days for those who consider themselves avant-garde to sneer at liberals as if they were an inferior kind of political person. Such contempt only shows one’s distance from actual movement building. The majority of those who bankroll, organize, & march in social movements are liberals. The avant-garde usually stand aloof from such work, deeming the movements too plebeian & with too low political consciousness or they consider themselves the theorists & activists another lower species.
An Indian constable in Kashmir “possibly searching for a Hydrogen bomb chemical formula” in the book of a Kashmiri civilian.
–via Murtaza Hassan Itoo
The Women’s March in Washington, DC is impressive as hell. The presence & leadership of Black, Latina, Asian, & Native American women is wonderful to behold. The four women under attack for anti-Semitism took that on head-on & demolished it. Linda Sarsour in particular was outstanding with her promotion of BDS, her pride as a Palestinian, & the Women’s Agenda. They all denounced the border wall & US wars. There are a reported 350 sister rallies around the US. It’s not known how many yet or how many women marched worldwide. We trust the misogynists who ridiculed the first Women’s March as a “pussy parade” will now show the wisdom of just shutting up.
Women’s Agenda: https://www.scribd.com/document/397727839/The-Women-s-March-2019-Women-s-Agenda?
Do people consider Yasmin Nair a progressive social critic? Because to me, she is more a conservative contrarian with some very mean-spirited views.