Friday, June 1, 2012

Wajahat Ali on Hollywood & Ethnicity

In Hollywood, "Green" Still Means White - YouTube

Islamophobia Panel w/ Shahid Buttar, Wajahat Ali, Corey Saylor, Fouad Pervez, and Faiz Shakir: Media & Political Strategies

Islamophobia Panel w/ Shahid Buttar, Wajahat Ali, Corey Saylor, Fouad Pervez, and Faiz Shakir - Pt 5 - YouTube

Interview with Wajahat Ali: Public Opinion & Cultural Diplomacy

Interview with Wajahat Ali | FPIF

"John Feffer: As a playwright, can you talk about the culture of Islamophobia? Despite these polling numbers, are we seeing any changes in how American view Islam?

Wajahat Ali: It's really scary to see the mainstreaming of Islamophobic sentiment – on talk radio, on Fox News. The anti-Islamic rally at the Islamic fundraiser in Orange County – that was really scary. But I believe that most Americans are well-intentioned. They want to be good American neighbors. I think a lot of Americans are on the fence. Their lack of knowledge about Muslims and Islam is the main cause of their doubt and fear. Statistically speaking, the people who know Muslims and know something about Islam don't have such bigoted views. They might disagree with Islam, but they don't see their Muslim neighbors as a threat. We need a form of cultural diplomacy in this country where Americans get to know Muslims and Muslim-Americans."

Azeem Ibrahim on Media & Cultural Diplomacy (2011)

Azeem Ibrahim: Katie Couric's Idea of a "Muslim Cosby Show" Might Not Be So Crazy After All

Azeem Ibrahim provides an interesting take below on the role of media as a cultural diplomacy tool.

"Katie Couric's recent comments recommending a "Muslim Cosby show" to combat anti-Muslim bigotry has been decried by some as a naïve, simplistic remedy for the festering sore of Islamophobia in America. However, research and common sense in fact suggest that authentic and accessible American Muslim narratives can emerge as popular, effective tools of cultural diplomacy in helping bridge the divides between Muslim Communities and the U.S.

As an expert on cultural diplomacy and one of founding members of the Aspen Cultural Dialogue Group, a venture launched by the Aspen Institute in 2008, my research indicates the process towards radicalization and extremism is profoundly cultural. It depends less on economic and societal grievances, but instead relies heavily on ideas, beliefs, and an individual's interpretation of reality.

It turns out that the picture that the media paint is a powerful influence on how we, as global citizens, view the world and our neighbors."

Wajahat Ali on Cultural Diplomacy

The Determined Crusader: Interview with Playwright Wajahat Ali - Aslan Media

In an interview on his Domestic Crusaders play, Wajahat Ali linked artistic work to cultural diplomacy:

"EJ: The ethnic and racial stereotypes that are present in all cultures, but are extremely prominent in American culture, seem so daunting. Would you agree that the arts, music, film, visual art, and literature have the ability to transcend those boundaries and create a world where communication can take place?

Wajahat Ali: Agreed. Cultural diplomacy might be the most effective means right now to bridge the divides. It has had a curative and healing effect for many
minority groups who have gone through exactly what Muslims are facing now. This is nothing unique — it has happened before. But, right now Muslims are the ones who are being hazed. However, I see tremendous opportunity for some conciliation and progress towards truly embracing our American values of pluralism.… Art sometimes forces us to confront the "dirty laundry" we don’t want to uncover or face."

Religious Freedom & RIghts of Minorities in Muslim Societies Conferece

State Dept. 2002 Shared Values: Journalist

Shared Values: Journalist - YouTube

State Dept. 2002 Shared Values: Firefighter

Shared Values: Firefighter - YouTube

State Dept. 2002 Shared Values: Doctor

Shared Values: Doctor - YouTube

State Dept. 2002 Shared Values Campaign: Teacher

Shared Values: Teacher - YouTube

Bush Administration State Dept. Shared Values Campaign: Baker

Shared Values: Baker - YouTube

Hillary Clinton Speaks at Iftar 2010

Faraj Pandith Brief in DC 2011

Farah Pandith on Bridging Cultural & Religious Divides

Farah Pandith on Changing the Narrative of Violent Extremism

Farah Pandith on Government & Imam Training

Farah Pandith at Islam & Democracy Conference 2010

Farah Pandith Hosts Generation Change

Farah Pandith talks to Interns about Generaton Change Project

Farah Pandith 2010: US policies toward Muslim communities are about “connecting people”

Not a hearts and minds campaign: US policies toward Muslim communities are about “connecting people” - Harvard - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Monday, May 28, 2012

Kurds, Palestinians, Bosnians, now Syrians?

With the most recent killing of innocent civilians in Syria, a debate is reemerging about the proper role of the US & UN in the conflict. Gideon Rachman from the Financial Times argues for continuing diplomatic efforts, while Syrian protesters in the diaspora are calling for US military intervention. To complicate matters, Iran has just admitted to having an increased military presence in Syria to assist Assad. Will this serve as a justification for Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or the US to do the same?

Here's a video on the most recent killings in Houla, Syria.

The diplomacy front is the status quo at this point, so I won't go into it. How should we thus understand calls for intervention? Let's look at other instances over the last couple of decades. A piece from a couple of months ago in Huffpo by Ruwaydah Mustafa demonstrates the importance of looking at any social issue from the margins for unforeseen insights and unsettling critiques. In memory of the 1988 massacre of Kurds in Halabja on Saddam Hussein's orders, she wrote: "Arab suffering has always taken precedence over Kurdish suffering in the Muslim world." To quantify this claim, roughly 10,000 Palestinians have died in roughly 25 years since the 1st Intifada, while at least 5,000 Kurdish civilians were killed in the Iraqi Halabja massacre of 1988 alone. Yes, the US was an ally of Iraq at the time of George H. W. Bush's presidency, and George W. Bush used the genocidal event to lend credibility to his case just before invading Iraq in 2003 (15 years later isn't very helpful). Here's a clip from the remnants of what was Halabja:

Nonetheless, numbers do not account for everything, but contextual comparisons can be instructive. Moreover, the Halabja massacre was on an equal footing to the Srebrenica mass killing of 1995 that prompted a more robust response by the UN, NATO, and the US to restrain Serbia and bring an end to the conflict and killing of Bosnians.

Back to Syria. According to the Voice of America: "U.N. officials estimate that 8,000 people have died in the year-long series of protests and government crackdown." The conflict is already in the death toll range of Palestinians (not per capita, though), and is way above what led to NATO military air raids in Libya to oust Qaddafi. A case can be made either way and either way there will be a massive killing "purge" following any alleged resolution to the conflict.

To be a bit cynical, I don't think Obama wants to begin military actions during a presidential campaign, although it could be in the cards if polling doesn't look favorable, or if international pressure significantly mounts so that he can arrange a genuine coalition. I also think he knows that he probably would not be able to get away with the drawn out plan (mis-)applied in Libya. And, Iran and Russia will make sure that Syria will not fall nearly as easily. Ultimately, it's a matter of if the phrase "never again" is applied and then supercedes strategic thinking or not.

Charlie Rose - Inside Islam 2011 Clip

Public Diplomacy 2.0 2008

Public Diplomacy 2.0 - YouTube

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Jersey Mall Cop tells Woman to remove Niqab

Materiality & the Image

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

ART THOUGHTZ: Post-Structuralism

Writing Tips

Henry Miller (from Henry Miller on Writing)
1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to the program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can’t create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people; go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it–but go back to it the next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
George Orwell (From Why I Write)
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Margaret Atwood (originally appeared in The Guardian)
1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.
5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
10. Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.
Neil Gaiman (read his free short stories here)
1. Write.
2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
7. Laugh at your own jokes.
8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.
William Safire (the author of the New York Times Magazine column “On Language”)
1. Remember to never split an infinitive.
2. The passive voice should never be used.
3. Do not put statements in the negative form.
4. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
5. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
6. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
7. A writer must not shift your point of view.
8. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
9. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
10. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
11. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
12. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
13. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
14. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
15. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
16. Always pick on the correct idiom.
17. The adverb always follows the verb.
18. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

John Steinbeck

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person–a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it–bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
6. If you are using dialogue–say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

“As you write,” Steinbeck says, “trust the disconnections and the gaps. If you have written what your eye first saw and you are stopped, see again. See something else. Take a leap to another image. Don’t require of yourself that you understand the connection. Some of the most brilliant things that happen in fiction occur when the writer allows what seems to be a disconnected image to lead him or her away from the line that was being taken.”

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Muslims Are Gonna Get You! - Ralphie May

The Muslims Are Gonna Get You! - YouTube

This is a wonderful segment on Muslims in contemporary political discourse from Ralphie May's Too Big to Ignore Comedy Tour. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Excerpt from Machinology: What is New Materialism Conference 2010

Machinology: What is New Materialism-Opening words from the event

Here's an interesting field synopsis of media and materialism:

In the context of digital media culture, the notion of “materiality” occupies a curious position in itself. As observed by Bill Brown in his entry for the recent Critical Terms for Media Studies (Chicago UP, 2010), our understanding of the media historical modernity has been infiltrated early on with the idea of “abstraction” --- abstraction as a driving force (as with standardization of techniques, processes, and messaging) and an effect (represented in forms of power, subjectivities, cultural practices) of modernity. Recognized by a range of different writers from Karl Marx to Debord and Baudrillard, such a process has been influential in forcing us to rethink not materiality but dematerialisation as crucial to understanding the birth of technical media culture. Regimes of value, and regimes of technical media share the same impact on “things” – homogenisation, standardisation, and ease of communication/commodification in a joint tune with each other are in this perspective, and a perspective that branded critical theory for a long time, crucial aspects in any analysis of media culture’s relation to materiality.

Hence, the move from the critical evaluation of emergence of capitalist media culture seemed to flow surprisingly seamlessly as part of the more technology-oriented discourse concerning “immateriality” of the digital in the 1980s and 1990s. Here, in a new context, materiality was deemed as an obsolescent index of media development overcome by effective modes of coding, manipulating and transferring information across networks that become par excellence the object of desire of policies as much cultural discourses.

Yet, the recent years of media theory introduced an increasingly differing elaboration of how we should understand the notion of “medium” in this context. Instead of being only something that in a Kantian manner prevents access to the world of the real or material, or things (Brown, p.51) the medium itself becomes a material assemblage in the hands of a wave of German media theorists, who have develop a unique approach to media materialism, and hence new materialist notions of the world. Here the world is not reduced to symbolic, signifying structures, or representations, but is seen for such writers as Friedrich Kittler (and more recent theorists such as Wolfgang Ernst in a bit differing tone under media archaeology) as a network of concrete, material, physical and physiological apparatuses and their interconnections, that in a Foucauldian manner govern whatever can be uttered and signified. This brand of German media theory came out as an alternative exactly to the Marxist as well as hermeneutic contexts of theory dominating German discussions in the 1960s-1980s, and carved out a specific interest to the coupling of the human sensorium with the non-human worlds of modern technical media.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Stereotyping Muslims: Myths & the Media

Excerpt from Wajahat Ali’s All-American Khutbah (Sermon)

Here's a great quote about being an American Muslim from the first khutba by journalist and playwright, Wajahat Ali:

And, even in the past 10 years we, American Muslims, the Ahl al Amreeka, have seen a figurative explosion of creativity. I believe we are witnessing a renaissance — one that is unique for the world and this nation; one that is created by individuals who are both American and Muslim –YOU, who
have endured and continue to endure.

Members of a tribe that is messy but resilient – much like America. We have entrepreneurs, engineers, architects, doctors, philanthropists, stand-up comedians, journalists, academics and even imams. This is a volatile time, but an exciting time –one that is ripe for a renaissance; a rebirth.
And speaking of creation and artistry – let’s not forget the original artist – Allah (swt).

Look. Look around you at the diversity of Allah’s creation. There’s black, white, Yemeni, Desi, Egyptian, Syrian, and even miscellaneous, right here in this room — in Amreeka. From the Qur’an: “Verily, he made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other, not that ye may despise (each other).”

Reflect on His design and artistry. Just take a moment to check out His brush strokes. He wasn’t painting with one color, and definitely not in one style. And then what does He do with all these different colors?
He splashes them on a blank canvas called Amreeka. A-mer-eeka. America. The land that is our home. The messy melting pot of the universe with colors splashed all around – but nonetheless there’s still poetry to the chaos. And all of this was inspired by Allah’s love for his creation. And you forget that
we, despite all our differences, are part of the same tribe. We’re Muslim, and we’re American.
Whether you want to admit it or not, you can’t escape it. We all belong, equally, to the same tribe, a new tribe, the tribe of “Ahl Al America” – The people of Amreeka.

Here's the video:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dialectical Montage

Here are some notes on the film theory from Professor Kay Armatage:

Dialectics & Film Form
1. Constructivist belief that factors composing the individual image can be considered as dynamic elements flung together in tense juxtaposition.
2. conflicts within the frame.

Types of Montage
1. Metric montage -arouses the most primitive kinesthetic effect, such as the tapping of a foot, or rocking of the body.
2. Rhythmic Montage - triggers a primitive emotional effect
3. Tonal Montage - yields something of a higher physiological order, a melodic emotional response 
4. Overtonal Montage - repeats at a higher level the motor effect of metric montage, since in music a thorough going organization of timbres will create emergent beats, 
5. Intellectual Montage -triggers the spectator's concept forming processes, although these too must be seen as no less physiological than the other types.

George Marcus (1995) recommended Vertov for thinking about how to construct multi-sited fieldwork projects.

Here's an Eisenstein clip:

Zuhdi Jasser & Tarek Fatah Press Conference in Support of NYPD Surveillance of Muslims

American Islamic Leadership Coalition Holds Press Conference in Support of NYPD - YouTube

Asra nomani on "Why NYPD Monitoring Should Be Welcome News to U.S. Muslims"

Why NYPD Monitoring Should Be Welcome News to U.S. Muslims - The Daily Beast


"As a Muslim whose father, Zafar Nomani, was one of the founding members of the Muslim Student Association at Rutgers University in the late 1960s, I’m relieved that our country’s largest police agency was monitoring our Muslim community as closely as the reports indicate. For the longest time I have worried that our sense of political correctness has kept us from sensible law-enforcement strategies that look at Muslims, mosques, and Islamic organizations."

"We need to recognize that it is an interpretation of Islam that is the problem. We do have a Muslim problem in the world today. Jordan has recognized this. It has trained imams and scholars to deradicalize Muslims. Granted, some overreach their roles, but the security agencies of most Muslim nations recognize the extremist problem is a threat not only to other countries but to their own governments."

Jon Stewart, CNN Crossfire & Journalistic Responsibility

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

KONY: Media Activism Campaign

Irrespective of the questions about handling finances, it will be very interesting to see how successful this novel media activism idea turns out.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Irish Catholic Church Repents for Child Abuse

What is unique about this event? What rituals are involved in the attempt to reform relations between the Irish Catholic Church and the Irish public? In Catholic & Orthodox Christianity to gain forgiveness from God one should repent (ask for forgiveness) to God, as well as to the person whom one sinned against (if it applies). But rarely (almost never, if ever), have these churches themselves asked for forgiveness due to their claim to be representatives of God, and therefore almost perfect by association. This is an exception and we should look at the role of ritual in attempting to reconcile with those whom the Irish Catholic priesthood believes they have sinned against (children and their families).