Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Review: Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet

I first heard about Jennine Capó Crucet's Make Your Home Among Strangers when students at Georgia Southern University burned it after she spoke there about white privilege in the Fall of 2019.

The novel deals with many vital themes, but I recommend it especially for students in high school & college who may have mixed feelings about stretching their wings for personal achievement.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Favorite Quotes from "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption" by Bryan Stevenson

This entry contains some quotes from Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. Stevenson is one of the founders of the Equal Justice Initiative. His work is profiled in a documentary and a soon-to-be released feature film.

Proximity to the condemned and incarcerated made the question of each person's humanity more urgent and meaningful, including my own. p. 12

I have discovered, deep in the hearts of many condemned and incarcerated people, the scattered traces of hope and humanity -- seeds of restoration that come to astonishing life when nurtured by very simple interventions. p. 17

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Review: Apple TV's "Hala"

Hala receives three bloodied swords [out of 5] for its depiction of a violent and controlling Muslim man, for its one dimensionality, and for falsely perceiving itself as complex and nuanced in its portrayal of Muslims. --- read more --
I have not seen the movie.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Free eBooks from U of California Press through the Luminos Project

Luminos is a University of California Press project to publish scholarly monographs and provide Open Access to their electronic versions.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Comments on "To the Far Right Christian Hater...You Can Be a Good Speller or a Hater, But You Can't Be Both" by Bonnie Weinstein

I read To the Far Right Christian Hater ... You Can Be a Good Speller or a Hater, but You Can't Be Both by Bonnie Weinstein in a book club I organized as a member of the local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. It consists of hate messages sent to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), occasionally accompanied by a pithy rejoinder from the author, who is married to the organization's founder, Mikey Weinstein.

While the Establishment Clause of the USA Constitution has brought this society many benefits, some of which I've mentioned elsewhere, this book can open eyes to the dangers the continuation of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), in its neoconservative Bush-the-Small iteration or its neoliberal Obama iteration or its 45 Regime kill all non-whites iteration.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Comments on "Dear Martin" by Nic Stone

My county's Board of Education decided to exclude Dear Martin by Nic Stone from the list of novels literature teachers can choose to assign to students to read and from its media centers. Upon checking it out from my local library and reading it, I have a lot to say about why I think my county's board of education made a mistake. For the purposes of this blog, however, I urge parents and guardians of every background to read and discuss this book with their children.

The interactions of the characters pose better, more pressing questions than any other piece of Young Adult literature I know. For non-black children growing up in majority white suburban areas, it hopefully will prevent them from asking the first black person they meet when they go to university about their standardized test scores or where they can score weed.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Film: We Believe in Dinosaurs

The IMDB entry for the documentary film We Believe in Dinosaurs will tell you that it explores the people behind the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter Park in Kentucky. I'm telling you it is an understated cry for anti-fascist action. And if you think that's a hyperbolic statement, then you haven't been paying attention to my entries tagged fascism at this blog and at my other blog. You are Günter Grass's Social Democrat.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Review: The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War by Eilleen Welsome

Eileen Welsome's The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War should be a cautionary tale for all people considering scientific and technological solutions to grave problems. People in authority -- intelligent, ambitious, competent, hard-working people who talk well, smell good and love their children -- will always place their goals above the harms their actions do to people they consider less consequential. As humanity approaches the cliff of the climate catastrophe, many beneficiaries of greenhouse gas emitting economic activities will propose technological remedies with unknown and unknowable consequences, and you can be sure that these proposals' main feature is they keep the people on top in the same relative position of privilege.

Welsome's book is like a compilation of "long-read" articles describing various aspects of the United States's military's dealings with nuclear energy during the development of the first atomic bomb and through the next few decades as it attempted to find tactical uses for nuclear weapons.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Review: Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America by Ayaz Virji with Alan Eisenstock

Maya Rao reviewed Love They Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America by Ayaz Virji with Alan Eisenstock for the Lincoln Journal Star for August 11, 2019.

So many narratives about rural America in the wake of President Donald Trump's election have been told through the eyes of the white working class. Yet Ayaz Virji's memoir as a Muslim doctor in small-town Minnesota offers a revealing perspective that challenges us to think more broadly about community and faith in Trump Country, where the author chronicles the conflicts between his calling to practice rural medicine and find acceptance in his religious identity. --- read more ---
National Public Radio published an interview with Dr. Ayaz on June 19, 2019.

I have not read the book. Find it in a nearby library.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Review: Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying - The Secret WWII Transcripts of German POWs by Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer

Sönke Neitzel & Harald Welzer. Jefferson Chase, translator. Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying - The Secret WWII Transcripts of German POWs. Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2012.

Jennifer Teege, author of My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, spoke in my town. I asked her about English language books which might help me understand the mentality of Germans during fascism, and she recommend this book.

Sönke Neitzel, a historian, and Harald Welzer, a social psychologist, analyzed declassified transcripts of surreptitiously recorded conversations of German prisoners of war in British & American prisons during World War II. These transcripts confirm both the shocking level of violence fascists unleashed and the suitability of the psychological and institutional structures of a modern capitalist, industrial society to support this violence. Reading it in the United States of America in 2019 increases the urgency of radical resistance to oligarch-inspired labor docility, militarism and global genocide through ecological destruction.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: "Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment" by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

I first heard about Professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's book Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment on either Black Agenda Radio or On Contact with Christ Hedges.

I've never liked guns. People I know died by suicide with a gun or accident. A stranger pointed a gun at me in a road rage incident when I was a teenager. And, when I fired guns at a shooting range, the extent to which I liked it frightened me. On my social media, I follow and promote @Well_Regulated_, which publicizes tragic incidences of uses of firearms in the United States. I tell people I support "smart" gun control, which in my mind means requiring registration of weapons, restricting sales of weapons & munitions designed to kill masses of people and stripping rights to weapons from particular classes of convicted criminals, such as domestic violence offenders.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Review: Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America

In Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, Ari Berman describes the events which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, its impacts and the countermeasures its opponents took since then to undermine it through the book's publication in 2015.

I hope reading the book will motivate you to make sure you are registered to vote and actually vote in every election and attempt to understand your options in each election. And when you find your options are limited, then act to improve your options.

The book also is a great example of a phenomenon James W. Loewen identified in Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. Our public schools, for a variety of reasons, teach students that the United States always improves without explaining that people contested all issues, and some people won and others lost and sometimes those who lost won later. So we have this idea that "Civil Rights" happened in the 1960s, and, well, "problem solved."

Friday, June 21, 2019

"Even with good intentions, Hollywood still struggles to portray Muslims accurately or fairly, much less positively"

Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations - Georgia, describes his involvement in the production of the 2019 remake of Shaft and his reaction after watching the movie.
As a civil rights activist with the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, most of the emails I receive involve deadly serious topics: hate speech…hate crimes…discrimination…Donald Trump’s latest tweet. So you can perhaps imagine my surprise when I received an email last year from a casting director for the latest sequel to the classic blaxploitation film Shaft, which was filming in Atlanta. --- read more ---
And of course I have to include the Isaac Hayes theme song to the original Shaft.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Law & Order: SVU S20E23 "Assumptions" Was Thoroughly Anti-Muslim

NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 20, Episode 23 "Assumptions" poorly handled recent controversies and promoted anti-Muslim stereotypes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Short Film: "Refuge" by Mohammad Gorjestani and starring Nikohl Boosheri

The movie Refuge, directed by Mohammad Gorjestani (Twitter & IMDB) and starring Nikohl Boosheri, was the featured short film on May 14, 2019 at shortfilmoftheweek.com. It's also available on YouTube.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Favorite Quotes: Günter Grass, "The Tin Drum"

Günter Grass received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, and his most famous book is Die Blechtrommel, translated into English as The Tin Drum. The June 4, 2007 New Yorker published his account of his participation as a teenager in the German Nazi war effort. Because he had not disclosed these matters publicly, despite his reputation as a critic of post-war Germany's attempts to forget its fascism and its crimes and their popularity, he received much criticism.

I read the 1961 Ralph Manheim translation, but some of these quotes are from the Breon Mitchell 2009 translation. Click to enlarge images.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Favorite Quotes: Dorothy Day, "The Long Loneliness: An Autobiography"

The best source for information on Dorothy Day is the Catholic Worker website.

These quotes are from the 1981 HarperCollins paperback of the 1952 book.

Some of her description of her mentor, Peter Maurin:

Peter made you feel a sense of his mission as soon as you met him. He did not begin by tearing down, or by painting so intense a picture of misery and injustice that you burned to change the world. Instead, he aroused in you a sense of your own capacities for work, for accomplishment. He made you feel that you and all men had great and generous hearts with which to love God. If you once recognized this fact in yourself you would expect and find it in others. [p. 171]

Monday, March 18, 2019

Documentary: "The War to Be Her" by Erin Heidenreich

Description on PBS.org site: "In the Taliban-controlled area of Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan, where sports for women are decried as un-Islamic and girls rarely leave their houses, young Maria Toorpakai (Instagram) defies the rules by disguising herself as a boy so she can play squash freely. As she becomes a rising star, however, her true identity is revealed, bringing constant death threats on her and her family.

"In July 2018, POV asked The War to Be Her filmmaker Erin Heidenreich what's happened since the cameras stopped rolling."

PBS created a supplemental reading list, a lesson plan and discussion guide. The film has a Facebook page.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: American Hate: Survivors Speak Out by Arjun Singh Sethi (ed.)

Arjun Singh Sethi's volume consists of his introduction and conclusion and thirteen accounts by victims of hate crimes and/or their surviving relatives. A web site accompanies the book.

I've never met Professsor Arjun, but he was kind enough to consult in the case of a hate crime in my city.

Even though I'd heard about most of the thirteen cases, the power of the testimonials still overwhelmed me. I had not adequately considered the long-term effects of these crimes on their immediate victims, and many of the initial media accounts did not include poignant details revealed in this volume.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Documentary on Ongoing Human Rights Violations in Yemen - "In Darkness" by Mwatana

New Documentary by Mwatana on arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearance by all conflict parties in Yemen. وثائقي جديد لمواطنة يسلط الضوء على الاعتقال التعسفي و الاختفاء القسري، اللذان تمارسهما كافة أطراف النزاع في اليمن.
Ask your Senators and Representatives to support Senate Joint Resolution 7 to end USA involvement in Yemen.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Film: Timbuktu - Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako

LinkTV allows you to stream the movie Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014) for free until January 24, 2019. It's available on iTunes and Amazon.

Clip from the movie:

  • Timbuktu's director: why I dared to show hostage-taking jihadis in a new light by Danny Leigh, The Guardian, May 28, 2015
  • Abderrahmane Sissako for Beginners by Basia Lewandowska Cummings, BFI.org.uk, May 27, 2015