Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

Roots: The Saga of an American Family
When I was a child, before DVRs and Tivo and even video cassette recorders, the first big TV event I remember was the ABC miniseries "Roots" based on Alex Haley's book of the same title. I have this memory (or imagination) of people looking at their watches and saying, "I know what you are telling me is important, but I gotta get home to watch the next episode of Roots." I thought I had watched it, but I had forgotten everything except Kunta Kinte's capture and somebody saying, "Lizzie, Lizzie." I was fortunate to acquire a minimally-scratched used recording of Avery Brooks's abridged narration of the 30th anniversary edition, which included an illuminating forward by Michael Eric Dyson.

Having read Alex Haley's first breakthrough book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Marable Manning's biography of Malcolm X, in which Haley plays a prominent role, I felt like I heard the Nation of Islam's influence, especially in Haley's description of Kunta Kinte's village in The Gambia and his rejection of the descendants of African slaves whom he encountered.

So much has been written about this book. I strongly encourage readers of this blog to read or listen to a copy or at least watch the miniseries.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim by Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet

The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim
By Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385532433, 320pp.)
Publication Date: March 25, 2014

I originally learned about this book following tweets regarding a January 10, 2015 newspaper article by Nicholas Kulish entitled "Old Nazis Never Die." Many twitter users came to the conclusion that escaped Nazis exerted strong influence in Egypt and Syria, and many attributed some of the animosity in those countries to the Zionist project to Nazi-style anti-antisemitism. A French film, which I have not seen, explores Nazis who fled to Egypt and Syria. See this article written by its director, Géraldine Schwarz, and published in Le Monde of January 2, 2015.

So I wanted to read this book to learn about this influence, but that is not its main focus. The authors focus on the process of denazification after World War II, from whose chaotic, unfocused, politicized origins emerged human rights laws and eventually war crime tribunals.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Review: The Secret World of Oil by Ken Silverstein

The Secret World of Oil by Ken Silverstein
Hardback, 240 pages ISBN: 9781781681374
May 2014

Note that the author of this book is not this Ken Silverstein, who writes in energy industry publications.

If you care about the poor or the environment, be prepared to vomit in your mouth at nearly every other page of this account of the oil and other resource extraction industries.

Ken Silverstein devotes a chapter to each of the following categories of players in this woeful tragedy: the fixers, the dictators, the traders, the gatekeepers, the flacks, the lobbyists and the hustlers.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Nadia's Ramadan - Film for Use in Public Schools

Unity Productions Foundation has produced a short film, Nadia's Ramadan, with a professionally made lesson plan, for use in public schools.

Please approach your children's public schools to see how this resource can best be utilized.

Nadia's Ramadan - Preview from Unity Productions Foundation on Vimeo.

Reclaiming Malcolm X & Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative

The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative is sponsoring a series of programs under the label "Reclaiming Malcolm X." I don't want to try to summarize my impressions because I want you to listen to the programs as the recordings become available and participate in face-to-face or online discussions.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Review: Does God Belong in Public Schools? by Kent Greenawalt

Does God Belong in Public Schools? by Kent Greenawalt (Princeton University Press, Paperback, 9780691130651, 261pp.)

Professor Greenawalt's book examines different common claims made by parents, students and school employees that public schools have violated the Free Exercise clause by interfering with their practice of religion.