Saturday, June 28, 2008

Muslim Charity Health Clinics in the United States

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/video/module.html?mod=0&pkg=muslimhealth&seg=1

This is 10-minute segment about free health care clinics established by Muslims in the United States. It focuses on a clinic in Montgomery County, Maryland, USA.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MLK Quote: Are our Religious Institutions Social Clubs?

From the sermon "The Drum Major Instinct":

And the church is the one place where a doctor ought to forget that he's a doctor. The church is the one place where a Ph.D. ought to forget that he's a Ph.D. (Yes) The church is the one place that the school teacher ought to forget the degree she has behind her name. The church is the one place where the lawyer ought to forget that he's a lawyer. And any church that violates the "whosoever will, let him come" doctrine is a dead, cold church, (Yes) and nothing but a little social club with a thin veneer of religiosity.

MLK Quote: Time Doesn't Necessarily Lead to Progress

From the sermon "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution"

Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

Comments on Georgia Social Studies Curricula for 6th and 7th Grade

The failure of 70-80% of Georgia 6th and 7th graders to pass their social studies exams in the spring of 2008 has caused the state of Georgia to rewrite its standards. Without commenting on the overuse of standardized tests in today's public schools, I was curious to see what these standards were, and I felt strongly enough about a couple issues to pass on some comments which I'm including in this blog post. Access the draft curricula at http://www.georgiastandards.org/socialstudies.aspx.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Testimony of Jonathan Rowe: "Our Phony Economy"

The text of Jonathan Rowe's testimony of March 12, 2008 before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Subcomittee on Interstate Commerce is reproduced in Harper's Magazine, June 2008. The author explains why Gross Domestic Product is an inadequate measure of the nation's economic strength. Katharine G. Abraham, Professor of Survey Methodology, University of Maryland, also testified at this hearing.

Thanks to my cousin Wael Fadel for pointing me towards this topic!

Review: Graphic Novel: Arab in America, by Toufic El Rassi

Toufic El Rassi's Arab in America (ISBN-13: 978-0-86719-697-3, 117 pp, 2007) is an autobiographical graphic novel about growing up and maturing as an Arab in suburban Chicago. It is published by Last Gasp Books. I also saw it being sold at Copacetic Comics and Things From Another World. The lowest price I found was at Shop.com. A friend of mine from Chicago sent me the volume, so I did not purchase it from any of these vendors.

I read this volume in one sitting, which to me is the most important litmus test about the authenticity of this book. I began to think about the memorable moments in my life:

  1. When do you realize you are different? (1st day in 2nd grade at new school in suburban Augusta, GA: are you black or white? Let's fight! Alhamduillah, I was the biggest kid in my grade, and I had a good mean streak as well.)
  2. When do you see your parents unable to defend themselves against an unjust attack based on their religion or ethnicity? (I can't share this, but I remember that time very well.)
  3. When did you fail to defend someone else who was attacked for his/her appearing to be of an unwanted group? (In Augusta, GA, I would not have had any problem knowing what "nigger" meant, as oppposed to Toufic and his little brother.)
  4. When did an authority figure (teacher, policeman, airport official) single you out for harsh treatment? (Detroit airport, 1994, only passenger whose luggage was searched by customs on a flight returning from Amsterdam(?)).
  5. When did co-workers or bosses discriminate against you? (This one you suspect, but you can almost never prove!)

The graphic novel has similar scenes from the life of Ustaz Toufic.

Ustaz Toufic's discussion of his friends Hamid, Laila and Ahmad is another highlight of the novel. Are our paths geniunely our own, or are we simply reacting to the pressure around us?

Another great feature of this graphic novel is that it "teaches" history to our attention-deficit disorder generation. It is a discreet bibliographic essay, introducing the reader to Amin Maalouf's book The Crusades Through Arab Eyes and William Blum's Killing Hope and Rogue State.

At the same time, Ustaz Toufic does not portray himself as perfect. He admists his weaknesses in resisting peer pressure and his sexism/temptation in dealing with women anti-war activists. So a warning to the holier-than-thou crowd: book contains profanity, some poorly drawn female flesh and portrayals of the author in non-shariah compliant positions!

I recommend the novel for its authenticity, honesty and information content.

The Young Adult Library Services Association nominated it for an award in the Great Graphic Novels for Teens category.

Ustaz Toufic was also interviewed for an upcoming documentary entitled Beard Club.

On August 14, 2008, Amazon.com is scheduled to begin shipping Moustafa Bayoumi's book How Does it Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America, which I think will be exploring similar issues. (Hint: It's on my wish list!)

Friday, June 06, 2008

"Dry, dead, do-nothing religion"-quote from Dr. King

From A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr (edited by Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran). From the sermon, "Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool" (p. 147)

And any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that cripple the souls--the economic conditions that stagnate the soul--is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion in need of new blood.

The text of this sermon is available at Stanford University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. It's also worth it to listen to the audio clips, just to hear Dr. King's recorded voice.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Military Recruitment: Sir, No Sir

One of the ways to end this war in Iraq and prevent war in Iran is to decrease the number of enlisting U.S. soldiers. The military is obviously very concerned with recruitment, even going to the extent of cooperating with Hollywood to produce pro-military films like Iron Man.

I recently saw the DVD of the film Sir, No Sir, and it is absolutely critical for every young person considering joining the military to watch this film. The official web site is http://www.sirnosir.com/.

For more information, also visit http://militarylies.typepad.com/.

I attended Private Ryan Jackson's court martial in Fort Gordon, GA on Friday, May 30, 2008.

A new film is being made about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For those of you with children, please visit http://www.leavemychildalone.org/, which will inform you about how one of the provisions of No Child Left Behind is exposing children to military recruiters and will inform you how to opt out of your child's school's military recruitment list.