Saturday, February 28, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Film: Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson is a 2-DVD, 220-minute documentary about Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

The first DVD covered Johnson's quest to win the heavyweight title, and the second DVD covered society's persecution of the champion, eventually leading to his arrest, flight from the United States and eventual imprisonment.

I hope that people can watch it to understand the comprehensive, pervasive white supremacy which encompassed all sectors of the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. That Euro-Americans considered boxing a sphere of racial competition is symptomatic of a deep pathology of which I have never heard in other places, even where there are patterns of racial, ethnic or tribal discrimination.

Additional Resources:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Film: The Iron Wall

The Iron Wall is a 58-minute documentary about Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. It focuses on the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The film's official web site is an excellent source of information about the film. It is available for purchase in North America from Palestine Online Store.

What's there for me to add here? The film is gruesome in its detail of the appropriation of Palestinians' land. The film uses credible interviews and hits most of the important points U.S. audiences need to know.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Review: Disturbing the Peace: The Story of Father Roy Bourgeois and the Movement to Close the School of the Americas

James Hodge and Linda Cooper. Disturbing the Peace: The Story of Father Roy Bourgeois and the Movement to Close the School of the Americas. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books; 2004. Foreward by Martin Sheen. 244 pages, including index. ISBN-10: 1-57075-434-9.

The authors chronicle the life of Father Roy Bourgeois and the development of the School of the Americas Watch.

Father Roy fought in the Vietnam War. There, he met a French missionary, who, through his example of caring for the Vietnamese poor and sick and injured, set Bourgeois on a path away from violence. After years of searching, he began a career as a clergyman.

Serving a mission in Bolivia, Father Roy began to realize that the violence peoples of the Americas endured was not an accident. Rather, it was partly the result of policies his own government pursued.

As other Catholic missionaries, both clergy and lay persons, were murdered in Latin America, Father Roy increasingly found that the trail of blood began in Columbus, GA. There, in the U.S. Army base Fort Benning, the United States was operating the School of the Americas. This school attracted military personnel from most countries of the Western Hemisphere, and it was the only educational program entirely taught in Spanish.

Although the school had been operating since the 1950s, information about its existence and activities was not readily available. Chance meetings and unrelated news reports led Father Roy to begin protest vigils at the base, demanding the closure of the school. Due to the dedication and persistence of Father Roy and other activists, this vigil has grown into the School of the Americas Watch, a leading organization advocated peace and justice in Latin America.

The book is a good balance between Father Roy's personal transformations, information about the human rights abuses of the graduates of the School of the Americas and the cover-ups of the successive U.S. governments of U.S. support of these abuses.

I believe that Muslims in the U.S. can learn a lot about the challenges in improving U.S. policy towards predominantly Muslim countries by studying U.S. policy towards the predominantly Christian countries of the Americas. They would find that the U.S. has been an equal opportunity imperialist. I hope that U.S. Muslim activists would then form productive alliances with other justice-seeking Americans and press the U.S. government to refrain from human rights violations, preemptive wars, covert actions and trade agreements that fail to protect workers' rights, subsistence agriculture and the environment.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Review: Shadow Speaker

Read the review of Shadow Speaker at Muslima Media Watch. I have not read the book.

Review: Al' America

The blog Media and Islam has a review of the book Al' America: Travels Through America's Arab and Islamic Roots
I have not read the book.

DVD: The Tipping Point: Changing Perceptions of the U.S.-Israeli Relationship

This is a DVD of a panel discussion held at Cooper Union in New York City on September 28, 2006. It focused on the arguments in John Mearsheimer's and Stephen Walt's book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The panel included John Mearsheimer, Rashid Khalidi and Tony Judt, who were more or less defending Mearsheimer and Walt, and Ambassador Dennis Ross, Ambassador Martin Indyk and former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, who criticized Mearsheimer and Walt, more or less.

On the whole, I find historians' reasoning and outlook more sound than political scientists and politicians, whom I find in comparison to historians to be overly focused on details and misleading data lacking causal mechanisms. So it was pleasant to hear Khalidi, Judt and Ben-Ami, and Mearsheimer was good, and Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk rarely made points which I thought worthwhile.

The forum is a good introduction to the arguments about how U.S. policy towards Israel is constructed.

It also includes two bonus features. It may be better for those unfamiliar with Mearsheimer and Walt to watch the bonus features first, as they illustrate how they make their arguments.

I think it is important for Muslims involved in policy debates regarding Palestine to hear these discussions so that they don't imply in their arguments that American Jews are making backroom deals to use United States power to suppress Palestinians. The "lobby" and its ability to influence U.S. politicians is a function of a whole congruence of factors, many of which have nothing to do with U.S. Jews. Perhaps Muslims can learn from a study of the pro-Israel lobby is how to advocate at many different levels of society simultaneously and continuously.

I purchased my copy from is available on Amazon.