The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is a great idea whose time has come. As they say, we must de-commercialize childhood.
By Diane Levin and Christina Asquith
April 27, 2013 | Aljazeera
The problem is that, as Roberta Wohlstetter pointed out half a century ago in her study of Pearl Harbor, separating out the really important signals from all the "noise" in the system is only easy to do after the fact, particularly when the U.S. government has now assembled a database of an astonishing number of 700,000 individuals it suspects of ties to terrorism.
Thus, as a result of these campaigns, our continent tends to attract the most compassionate people of the West who come to give charity. However, its negative side effect is to scare away the most enterprising people of the West who would bring capital to invest and make money. Even when they do try to do something in Africa, like Bill Gates has done through his foundation, they come as merchants of charity, not enterprise.
It's not really that complicated. If white Western societies can successfully integrate Muslims, they will not feel alienated and look for a radical identity. (I cannot fail to mention that, for whatever reason, I haven't yet figured it out, the USA is light years ahead of Britain in this regard.) And if white Christians would be, well, more Christian, and embrace Muslims with love and acceptance, there would be many fewer terrorist recruits. That is not to say, "It's all our fault," but we do have a role to play, and a responsibility to build tolerant, loving societies -- as saccharine and heretically un-military as that solution may sound in today's post-9/11 world, where violence is always the answer.
Obama has performed admirably during the Boston crisis, speaking both reassuringly and with determination. But he continues to be linguistically uneasy. His wavering over the word terrorism is telling, though in this case unimportant. The real test will come when we learn the motive for the attack.As of this writing, we don’t know. It could be Islamist, white supremacist, anarchist, anything. What words will Obama use? It is a measure of the emptiness of Obama’s preferred description — “violent extremists” — that, even as we know nothing, it can already be applied to the Boston bomber(s). Which means, the designation is meaningless.
But, of course, Obama is not going to be running again. He will be collecting speaker's fees from the donor class. And they like what he is doing just fine. Obama's real base, it turns out, is exactly the same as George W Bush's: the have and have-mores. This budget is for them and them alone. To think otherwise is to continue living in denial.
It will probably be much different if the bomber ends up being a Muslim and/or a foreigner from the developing world. As we know from our own history, when those kind of individuals break laws in such a high-profile way, America often cites them as both proof that entire demographic groups must be targeted, and that therefore a more systemic response is warranted. At that point, it’s easy to imagine conservatives citing Boston as a reason to block immigration reform defense spending cuts and the Afghan War withdrawal and to further expand surveillance and other encroachments on civil liberties.
There are all kinds of Islam, including the supremacist kind that is far more widely held than we’re comfortable acknowledging. Until we get beyond that discomfort, until we are prepared to ask, “What Islam?” — and until we are prepared to treat Islamic supremacism as the pariah it should be — Boston’s hellish week will remain our recurring nightmare.Everybody got that? Got any idea how to act on that? Neither do I. And that's why all such conservative op-eds and diatribes are stupid and ultimately racist and/or anti-Muslim, because all they do is stir up suspicion and hatred for innocent Americans who happen to be Muslim.
On Monday, [April 15], it didn’t feel Islamic: a small death toll at a popular event but not one with the resonance and iconic quality the big-time jihadists like — like 9/11, the embassy bombings, the U.S.S. Cole. After all, if the jihad crowd wanted to blow up a few people here and there IRA-style they could have been doing it all this last decade.Good point! Too bad more blood-and-guts American Islamophobes aren't thinking about this more deeply and honestly. Indeed, how do you draw the connection between the U.S.S. Cole in 2000 and these two kids in Boston in 2013? That's more than six degrees of Bacon, to be sure.
Starbucks admits the risk to its employees and customers by banning guns at its Starbucks' corporate headquarters. Why should only senior management be protected? Gunshot accidents have already been reported in Starbucks stores.
According to Elliot Fineman, CEO of the National Gun Victims Action Council (NGAC), we are at the "secondhand smoke" moment in the gun debate--the moment when people realized that smokers endangered everyone not just themselves and they were no longer tolerated. When corporations and consumers stood up to Big Tobacco and banned smoking in stores, restaurants and public spaces, laws soon followed.Like second-hand smoke, the public is now beginning to see that gun proliferation is a constant threat to children and innocent bystanders that is getting worse through the aggression of gun rights' activists and lawmakers' inaction.
The power elite, especially the liberal elite, has always been willing to sacrifice integrity and truth for power, personal advancement, foundation grants, awards, tenured professorships, columns, book contracts, television appearances, generous lecture fees and social status. They know what they need to say. They know which ideology they have to serve. They know what lies must be told—the biggest being that they take moral stances on issues that aren’t safe and anodyne. They have been at this game a long time. And they will, should their careers require it, happily sell us out again.
Julien Benda argued in his 1927 book “The Treason of Intellectuals”—“La Trahison des Clercs”—that it is only when we are not in pursuit of practical aims or material advantages that we can serve as a conscience and a corrective. Those who transfer their allegiance to the practical aims of power and material advantage emasculate themselves intellectually and morally. Benda wrote that intellectuals were once supposed to be indifferent to popular passions. They “set an example of attachment to the purely disinterested activity of the mind and created a belief in the supreme value of this form of existence.” They looked “as moralists upon the conflict of human egotisms.” They “preached, in the name of humanity or justice, the adoption of an abstract principle superior to and directly opposed to these passions.”