Saturday, October 31, 2009

LInk Hokey-Pokey

1) Redefining Punk My Way

This is a great article by Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed from the Taqwacore Webzine about inventing yourself within a subculture. Ahmed discusses the way you can both find yourself in a scene and also still feel excluded. I understand what she means: I love that the Taqwacores exist and I'm a big fan of the scene but the truth is, I don't always feel so at home with them either. That scene is more Muslim than Arab, and it seems dominated-- in my experience-- by South Asian bands and fans. All of that is fine by me, but it isn't my experience any more than a standard (i.e usually white) hardcore show. So I appreciated Ahmed's point that, for her, Taqwacore, isn't about creating new labels and boxes for what punk "is". She writes, "We are defining what it means to be Taqwacore, together. Whether we have different class backgrounds, races, or religiosity, the empathy of understanding commonality amongst this posse is not lost. This empathy translates into a building of bridges with all sorts of communities including those that are not punk/Muslim/brown. And to me, that is how Taqwacore is redefining what it means to be punk, in a whole new brilliant way."

Tags: Music, Culture is Politics

2) UN Inquiry Finds Israel “Punished and Terrorized” Palestinian Civilians, Committed War Crimes During Gaza Assault

Democracy Now posted this interview with Israel/Palestine scholar and activist Norman Finkelstein after the Goldstone Report, which was generated by the United Nations to investigate the possibility of war crimes during Israel's assault on Gaza, was published and summarily rejected by the Israel. Democracy Now's Amy Goodman writes, "The 575-page report came at the end of a six-month inquiry and was based on dozens of interviews and investigations. The inquiry was led by Judge Richard Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor of the international courts for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Judge Goldstone said Israel deliberately attacked civilians and failed to take precautions to minimize loss of civilian life. " The Goldstone Report concludes that Israel committed grave breaches of the Geneva Convention during the assault including, killing "1,400 Palestinians—about a third of them women and children." As usual Finkelstein breaks it down in the video interview (and accompanying free transcript). He writes, "The report basically is consistent with the findings of the other human rights organizations, that Israel targeted civilians, Israel targeted civilians who were carrying white flags, Israel systematically targeted the Palestinian infrastructure. The findings were consistent with those of the other human rights organizations: Israel is guilty of a very significant number of war crimes. And also, the findings which were—other reports, the same conclusions, that the Palestinians were not using hospitals to hide Hamas officials. There’s no evidence that the ambulances Israel targeted were carrying Hamas militants or ammunition. And most significantly, in terms of the coverage during the Gaza massacre, the report found, as did Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, there’s no evidence whatsoever—and I would want to underline that—there’s no evidence whatsoever that Hamas was guilty of human shielding. But on the other hand, there is significant evidence, actually copious evidence, that Israel was guilty of human shielding."

This is essential reading for understanding what the Goldstone report actually says and for dismantling the Israeli objections to its findings.

Tags: Goldstone, Palestine/Israel

3) VIDEO "If we allow Obama to live, then America Dies"

The blog Political Carnival has linked to a YouTube Video of Rev. James Manning of New York's ATLAH Worldwide ministries calling for President Obama's death. For real. He says,

2:28 to 2:40

"If Obama lives, then the constitution, and America dies. Now listen to me very carefully, please hear me, please hear me: If we let Obama live, America dies..."

5:12 to 5:35

"What we need to be focused on, if we allow Obama to live, in his present state as a criminal, then America is torn apart. God knows America is gone. America is gone, if we allow Obama to continue, then the nation is gone, so which, which is it? Obama lives and America dies?

10:08 to 10:43

"Now what's it going to be? What's it going to be? Is it going to be Obama? He will live and ride off into the sunset as America's first African-American....President, which is a lie from the pit of hell. But are you gonna let that lie stand, and then the Constitution and America. I can tell you now. Five months from now America will no longer be. We must take immediate and decisive action now."

Oh, and yes, Rev. Manning is black. Discuss amongst yourselves. I got nothing.

Tags: Conservative Nutjob

4) Clinton faces Pakistani anger at drone attacks: One TV anchor says: "You had one 9/11. We are having daily 9/11s in Pakistan."

The Los Angeles Times reports (via the Associated Press) that Hillary Clinton faced angry and incredulous Pakistanis during her recent visit. She was questioned directly about the use of drones to drop bombs all over Pakistan, a tactic that has resulted in civilian deaths and inspired pointed questions about the US use of Pakistan as a battleground to fight "Islamic extremsim." The AP writes,

"During an interview with Clinton broadcast live in Pakistan with several prominent female TV anchors, before a predominantly female audience of several hundred, one member of the audience said the Predator attacks amount to "executions without trial" for those killed.

Another asked Clinton how she would define terrorism.

'Is it the killing of people in drone attacks?' she asked. That woman then asked if Clinton considers drone attacks and bombings like the one that killed more than 100 civilians in the city of Peshawar earlier this week to both be acts of terrorism.

"No, I do not," Clinton replied.

Another man told her bluntly: 'Please forgive me, but I would like to say we've been fighting your war.'"

Although this article mentions it in passing there has been little comment about the fact that Clinton's most articulate critics during this visit were Pakistani women, some of whom were covered. The US press cannot wait to draw an explicit link between South Asian or Arab ethnic identities, Islam and the repression of women under other circumstances (like in cases of domestic violence, for e.g.). But when confronted with images of politically engaged, plain-spoken Muslimahs who were clearly unafraid to pose difficult questions to a US official in front of international television cameras... nothing. The AP video that accompanies this article only shows Clinton's (rather defensive) response and not the women who first raised the questions in the first place. In order to actually see footage of the female Pakistani journalists interviewing Clinton we must turn to the site PKPolitics, who have posted it here (after the introduction the interview footage is in English).

Tags: Feminism, Politics is Culture

5) Huma Mulji: High Rise

In keeping with the "Pakistani Women Representing Themselves " theme of the above post I am linking to Dubai-based artist and writer Valerie Grove's article (in digital art magazine Nafas) about Lahore-based artist Huma Mulji. Mulji's sculpture and installations have what Grove calls a "slapstick theatricality" that gives it a conceptual edge: In her most recent work Mulji has integrated large scale taxidermy with constructions. She employs the preserved carcasses of actual water buffaloes, which represent Asia and camels, which refer to an Arab landscape. Grove writes, "Merging installation, sculpture and photography, Huma Mulji gleefully manipulates both context and content and juxtaposes unlikely materials to create her own brand of situationist absurdity. Within this process, and underlying the humour and spectacle, are some acute observations on the social and economic realities of contemporary Pakistan."

Her Suburban Dream (2009) Huma Mulji
painted steel pipe, taxidermied water buffalo

The results of using once-living animals in her new work are funny and disturbing. And this work from an accomplished woman artist from Pakistan, working in a contemporary genre with experimental materials, further gives the lie to a Western stereotype about universally oppressed Pakistani women. Even if this sort of art isn't your thing I think this essay is worth checking out. After all, culture is politics. I wonder if Hillary got to see much art during her trip? I'm going to guess no.

Tags: Installation, Photography, Performance, Emerging Artists


6) According to Pat Robertson & company: the Hate Crime Bill is wrong, plus, there are Demons in Halloween candy

I had to add this link to the great blog The Intersection of Madness and Reality, by a very funny guy who posts as RippDemUpp. Ripp writes,

"The claim about the demonic candy was actually made by in a blog written by Kimberly Daniels (a Black woman) which was posted on Robertson's website. The post itself has since been reedited on Robertson's site, but can be read in it's original content here. Which is kinda funny because it served as a warning for Christians to forego the celebration of Halloween; something I'm sure Robertson is down with, unlike the new Hate Crimes Bill of course.

Here's an excerpt from the post:

During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches."
You realize what this means? Witches are responsible for my ass. ::Shakes fist at sky:: Damn you Witches!

Tags: Conservative Nutjob, Politics is Culture


  1. Hey that's interesting you consider Taqwacores to be more Desi. I haven't thought about it that way, but now that you mention it, a LOT of taqwacorse bands are definitely Desi.

    I myself try my best to disassociate myself from Taqwacores and I want NOTHING to do with it. I really hate the idea of a particular punk scene that targets a religious group. I fucking hate that shit.

  2. This post was chock-full of tasty, chocolatey, nougaty, peanuty caramel goodness. Not being an ass, this really was a Snickers of a links post. I especially enjoyed the Mulji piece. Icky as I am about taxidermy, her work really is fascinating, and the Hilster is totally dropping the ball on her whole "woman-centering" thing. Oh, and this:

    "Witches are responsible for my ass. ::Shakes fist at sky:: Damn you Witches!"

    LMAO! Caaaaalllllllled it! ;o)

  3. @DIMA
    I just meant that the shows I've seen and the bands I've read about seem to be Desi. Although on the Taqwacore website recently they had info about a great all-girl punk act from Lebanon. If they came to NYC I'd love to check them out... I don't really have a problem with self-identified Muslim punks, because I think "Taqwacore" refers to a cultural and social group as much as a religious one. But I get your larger point about labels though-- not my favorite thing either.


    Yes. I am nougaty.