Why I Wore Green

October 25, 2007

Islamic crescent moon and star Yesterday, I wore a green shirt. Wearing green, the color of Islam, seemed a fitting way for me, a Christian, to make a small statement against the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week currently being sponsored by The Terrorism Awareness Project (TAP). Ultra-conservative activist and TAP leader David Horowitz is calling on college students nationwide to speak out against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. He claims to be a defender of the West and democratic values, and a strong voice against extremism. One look at the TAP website, www.terrorismawareness.org, however, reveals who the real extremists are:

      “Just read what Muslims say about Jews. Not that they’re much kinder to Christians Do you know about the centuries-old Muslim attacks on Christian communities in the Middle East?” (Letter to a Friend: On Islamic Fundamentalism”)

“Daughter, sister, and wife-beating, which is the Koranically-sanctioned abuse of women: Koran 4:34 says of disobedient women, ‘Beat them’… Female sexual and domestic slavery, which is the Koranically-sanctioned objectification of women as sexual and domestic objects, based on the Koran’s contention that women are possessions of men… (cf. Koran 2:223)” (Statement Calling on Feminists to End Their Silence on the Oppression of Women)

“ “Jihad is not, as some Western apologists claim, simply a striving for individual perfection. Rather, jihad is an expansionist totalitarian ideology that seeks to establish a global Islamic state ruled by Islamic law, or sharia.” (What You Should Know About Jihad)

.. …crimes against women, such as wife-beating, are ordained by the Qur’an itself; others, such as female genital mutilation and honor killing, are praised by Islamic clerics and hallowed by Islamic culture.” (The Violent Oppression of Women in Islam)

“Why isn’t the left appalled by the jihad – the holy war that has been declared against the West, and by the sanctifying of murderers as holy “martyrs” when Muslim terrorists kill innocent Americans, Christians and Jews? Perhaps it is because the left is engaged in its own jihad or holy war – and against the same targets: the Great Satan, America, and the little one in the Middle East.” (Vocabulary of War)

“Technically, no form of Islam preaches racial superiority or proposes a master race. But in practice, Islamic fanatics operate a fascistic concept of the “pure” and the “exclusive” over the unclean and the kufar or profane.” (Defending Islamofascism)

“ “Why is Jimmy Carter attacking the victims in the Middle East and making the tasks of the aggressors easier?” (Jimmy Carter’s War Against the Jews”)

According to the TAP, Muslims hate Christians, glorify sexual abuse, and believe in the racial supremacy of the Arab people. Meanwhile, the American left, with Jimmy Carter at the helm, is actively working to destroy America and kill the Jews, alongside their Arab allies.

I would wear the green shirt of Islam before the brown shirt of Horowitz’s fascism any day.

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Want to Reach Your Potential? Live!

October 18, 2007

 

Apparently, my taste in films is having quite an impact on the content of this blog. I saw Gattaca for the first time yesterday, as part of a seminar class on medicine, ethics, and culture. For those of you who have never seen the film, it explores a society that has become entirely obsessed with genetic perfection. Parents engineer their children to be tall, attractive, healthy, and resistant to diseases. The movie chronicles the life of a man named Vincent, conceived naturally, who purchases the DNA and identity of Jerome, a genetically-engineered man like most of the population, in order to avoid discrimination.

All of this is quite fascinating, and I highly recommend the film. One relatively minor event at the end of the film, however, quite thoroughly disturbed me. The reason that Jerome is willing to sell his identity and genetic material is that he broke his back and must use a wheelchair, which clearly excludes him from participating in a body-obsessed society. I had my hopes that, just as Vincent is able to break free of society’s expectations and reach his potential, Jerome, could live freely and break away from society’s expectations. As they part for the final time towards the end of the movie, Jerome tells Vincent that he is about to follow his dreams and “do some traveling.” Jerome is supposed to complement Vincent’s success in finally being able to go to the stars as an astronaut. The dream of a person conceived naturally is to go to space. According to Gattaca, the dream of a person in a wheelchair is to toss himself into an incinerator.

In a film based on the premise that each human has a great potential when free of prejudice, Gattaca’s directors evidently felt that people with serious disabilities need not try. It is shocking that the ending is supposed to be a happy one, with the “normal” character fulfilling his potential and the “degenerate” character accepting his fate. Since when is committing a disillusioned suicide an expression of human potential?

It is disturbing and wrong to imply that the greatest aspiration of people with disabilities should be to “come to terms with” our inabilities and end our worthless lives. Sorry, but this blogger in a wheelchair is not lighting himself up any time soon. There are far too many dreams and travels that I need to be alive for.


To the Woman Five Rows Behind Me at the Boston Palestine Film Festival This Evening

October 4, 2007

Dear Madam,

Good evening. Tonight, I had the opportunity to be lambasted by you. From the moment that I opened my mouth to question the choice of tactics used in the short film “The Iron Wall,” stating that the violent images and judgmental language used to refer to the Palestinian occupation could alienate moderate sympathizers of the Palestinian independence movement, I knew there would be someone like you to call me out. And so you did. Holding me with a look of righteous outrage and conviction, which my eyes met for the entirety of your monologue, you told me that if I doubted the brutal reality of the Palestinian occupation, I could go to Palestine and see it for myself. You told me that you had seen violence and tyranny first-hand. Your stare convicted me of ignorance and complacency towards the oppression of Palestine, as another uninformed American fooled into believing Israel’s conspiratorial lies. For your efforts at pointing out my guilt and apathy, you were rewarded with thunderous applause from the activists throughout the room.

In your righteousness, however, you missed one crucial fact. My question was never meant to undermine the cause of Palestine. It was meant to undermine the tactics that continue to poison our debate over Palestine. Until people hear the truth, and not propaganda, Palestine will never receive sympathy from the West.

You and I have the same vision, dear woman. We both envision an independent and democratic Palestine existing alongside Israel. Where we diverge is in how to rally the world to this cause. You adore a film decrying the situation in Palestine as “apartheid,” declaring that Israel controls foreign media and governments, and featuring a Palestinian man in his basement ranting about how Israel wants to eliminate the Arab population in Palestine. I prefer the truth: that Israel is trying to secure itself, albeit in a misguided way, and that Palestine is fighting for a state of independence.

The more violent and disturbing your rhetoric against Israeli policy is, the more harshly Americans will judge the Palestinian cause. After our exchange, several people asked when “The Iron Wall” will appear on broadcast television in America and Israel, where the public will see it and sympathize with Palestine. The truth is that it never will. Why? Contrary to your beliefs, it is not because Israeli Jews control the media. It is not because a world Zionist conspiracy has “corrupted” the views of most Americans and denied us the ability to think freely. The film will never be seen by most people because it is blatant propaganda. When you show English graffiti in an Arab ghetto in Israel ordering Arabs “to the gas chambers,” rational people know that the true view of most Israelis is not represented. When you feature sound bites by Israeli activists stating calmly and clearly that Israel is attempting to expel all Arabs from Palestine, rational people know that the true view of most Israelis is not represented.

I believe that Palestinians have suffered tragic abuse at the hands of Israel. I believe that the remedy for this is Palestinian statehood. I do not believe in using propaganda and misrepresentation in order to further this or any cause. As you become more and more militant, you give ammunition to your enemies. The more you talk about massive international conspiracies, Israeli domination over world affairs, and the godlike nonviolence of every Palestinian, the more people will be disgusted at what you say.

I agree with you in that what I saw in the film tonight was wrong and disturbing. Israel’s house demolition, settlement, and wall-building policies are tragic abuses of human rights, and I am heartened when people are made aware of the true situation. All too often, however, films like “The Iron Wall” tear people away from our cause. You mistake the cheers of activists in a single room in Boston with a sign that you are finally telling the noble truth that the people will believe.

My argument is in favor of telling the truth and letting people see issues clearly, then allowing them to embrace the view they find most morally appealing. Your rhetoric against me was, at best, misguided, and at worst, the kind of speech that makes people turn their hearts against the Palestinian cause.

I dissent from your view. I embrace your cause. Do not let your rhetoric make enemies of the very people you need as your allies. Do not build a wall in your heart to dwarf the one on the ground.

Agreeing with you more than you will ever know,

Matt Cavedon