The Politics of Bin Laden

I was putting my shoes on when I heard my mom say, “He’s now in heaven” as my sister nodded approvingly. I looked back to see what my mom was referring to. It was an image of Osama bin Laden on the television, then I realized. Naturally, I had my own reaction to the announcement of this man’s death. Everyone does, even those who believe it is all a hoax. “Even if he is responsible for the deaths of many Muslims? I asked my mom. She should know this because she was in Nairobi the day the US embassy was bombed there. Many Muslims were killed that day (of the 12 Americans killed, one was a Muslim-American). And in Dar es Salaam, all the 11 people killed were Muslims. When bin Laden was asked why did he kill those Muslims, he responded by saying that “good Muslims should be at the mosque on Friday.”

So how does someone who not only kills innocent people in general, but also fellow Muslims, get sympathy from my apolitical mom? It is very strange indeed to see very rational, and quite well-informed, people become emotionally sympathetic to such a fellow. We are taught, from an early age, that to not say bad things about the dead but does that mean we forget and praise people whose very identity as we know is about killing lots of people? Conversely, it is horrifying to see people so jubilantly celebrate the taking of a human life regardless of how evil or accused evil the person was (which is a sad reflection on humanity, to say the least). For all we know, bin Laden could have been a great father, husband, brother, son, uncle, and friend. Only those who knew him would have the benefit of knowing that. But his identity to the world was as the leader and chief financier of Al Qaeda whose bombings have killed countless innocent people, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Yet, as he has portrayed himself as the ‘defender’ of Muslims, by also killing many Muslims along the way, bin Laden has managed to create a political identity that many have come to sympathize with even as they recognize his undoubtedly horrible acts of violence and destruction that killed thousands of people, in addition to his cancerous ideology that will continue to outlive long after most people forget his image. He did of course defend his fellow Muslims earlier in his career – fighting and defeating the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But does that justify such a sympathy after the many more innocent people he killed since creating Al Qaeda? It still amazes me how many people I come across that believe bin Laden was a religious leader. Of course he was not, despite his followers calling him Sheikh Osama. He was a political figure, who has single-handedly changed geopolitics forever.

It is a grave mistake, then, to see his death as anything but a martyr.

Categories: politics, Religion, Terrorism | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Rallying for Sanity and Other Stuff

To say that I don’t like politics is understatement. Yet, I spend most of my day reading and dissecting politics, domestic or international. I observe, never participate – not because I feel superior or that I’m lazy to participate but because I see no point in wasting my time or energy in putting my hopes or desires into politicians. However antagonistic I feel about politics, I also deeply believe that people must participate in politics if they want to change things around them.

I just came back from the much publicized Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear organized by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report, two shows that I regularly watch. It was not my expectation of participating in politics that I went to Washington, DC but precisely that it was not about politics. I’ve lived long enough in this great country to know that sanity has become a rare commodity in political or even social discourse. It is ironic that two comedians had to call for sanity and reasonableness in rejection of hyperbolic partisan language and screaming matches on the increasingly malicious and useless 24-hour TV cable “news”.

And I found that there are a lot of people who feel as I do.  The rally brought so many different people, from across all walks of life, of race, religion and ethnicity. The rally itself wasn’t really a rally but a big party – music performances, comedy skits, live parodies. The most political thing, if anyone would classify it as political, was Stewart pleading with those in politics and the news media to stop creating a non-existent fear and conflict through divisive language and simply insane rhetoric. I was truly amazed at the diverse lineup of musical acts that performed, including the incredible band The Roots, John Legend, Yusuf Islam, Ozzy Osborne, Kid Rock, Cheryl Crowe, Mavis Maple and Jeff Tweedy. As Stewart brought Yusuf Islam to perform his classic, “Peace Train,” Colbert interrupted Yusuf halfway the song to bring Ozzy Osborne as a counterpoint against Stewart’s ‘sanity’ plea by making Osborne perform a heavy-metal song that included the lyrics “the train is going to derail.” Classic Stewart-Colbert moment, with Yusuf Islam and Ozzy Osborne as the symbol of sanity and fear, respectively.

Like any visitor to the Capital, I had to go to the obligatory places of historical and/or contemporary significance. But I was lucky to have my college mate living in the center of the city and I spent most of Sunday bike riding around downtown area to get an incredible view of the city like a local. Pictures should suffice!

DC, Je T’aime.

Categories: Media, politics, Satire | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Studying Women

As I watched the early NewsHour on Aljazeera this morning, I learned about the Palestinian women who are subjected to the humiliating and degrading internal body search at the hands of Israeli prison guards, suspected to be males. Also I learned about mothers in the Central African Republic who are struggling to save their malnourished children. An illness caused mainly by the loss of income as a result of the disturbed diamond mining operations in the region by the current global economic crisis. Also on previous news headlines, we come to learn of Afghans women’s role on the election. The Sudanese journalist arrested and jailed over wearing trousers. And the list go on about women struggling with diseases, such as breast cancer and HIV. Others who are struggling with domestic abuse, Female Genital multination, and drugs. Also we find great achievements of women holding higher governmental offices, women breaking a world record on sports, or conducting a highly valued scientific research. And fortunately we also find a headline story of a woman over the age of 100 who feels lonely and fearful that her 30 something years old husband would leave her (true story).

So with all of this in mind, I came to the following conclusion:

I found out that nothing would be more fascinating, at least to me, than to devote ones academic career to closely examine WOMEN. These complex, weak yet powerful creatures who shape almost every aspect of humans life. And to be brutally honest from the start, anyone who would argue against this fact is an idiot (just a personal opinion that does not represent the views of this blog owner). If one make the argument that women are not as influential as men, I simply say to you that a child’s character and behavior is fashioned by their mothers as early as the first trimester.

Every aspect of women life could seriously serve as an independent field of study (no joke). For example, their excessive concern with trends, fashion and cosmetics. Their unquestionable devotion to love. Their compassionate views. Their religious, political, economical, and social contributions. Their struggle for survival through wars, poverty, and the historically persisting unjust gender inequalities. Their obsession with soap operas and gossip. Their tender feelings and strong will. Their weakness which is itself a powerful strength. And most importantly is the indescribable mystery of motherhood.

would there be a more interesting earthly science worth pursuing in life than this? It is life itself.

Categories: Africa Related, Education, Health, Life Style, politics, Women | 3 Comments

Guns, dirty money and French elite on trial

Could not resist posting this very juicy article. This only confirms my suspicion that all the wars and conflicts that have been ravaging Africa for the past 50 years all point to one thing: commercial interests of Western companies are the main culprit of the problem because if every government forced its businesses to follow the rules of U.N. arms embargo, I doubt civil wars would last more than a month, much less than decades. 

via Guns, dirty money and French elite on trial – Yahoo News.

Categories: Africa Related, Corruption, politics | Leave a comment

Cold War is Back, Baby!

You thought you wouldn’t get a chance to relive the golden days of the Cold War? Think again. Russia is back with a spanking of Georgia (not the U.S. state my friend thought) on Thursday in about 1 1/2 minute. Although the Georgian president and the Bush Administration are BFF, nonetheless, it did not stop Russia from flexing its newly oil and natural gas wealth filled muscle for a quick delivery of can of whoop-ass, as they say in the States.

For people in my generation the term Cold War is something we’ve only heard from movies or our history teachers. I always thought the world needed at least two super-powers, just like evil needs to be counteracted by good. If we only have one super-power, well, we know what that’s like. Besides, that Georgian president really needs to have his mouth shut once and for all. For one, he did not win the January election fairly. Second, he thinks he has a right to start a war with Russia that the U.S. will automatically back him because he has the Bush Administration’s number on speed-dial.

Is it just me or this Saakhasvilli guy is a classic narcissist who can’t remove himself in front of the camera night and day? Every time I turn on the news, he’s right there blabbering nonsense when she should be doing what head of states do, mainly show dignity and restrain while letting his foreign minister do the diplomatic talk. Instead of using a dignified tone towards the West’s response and Russia, he’s thrash-talking as if he’s in a pick-up game.

Maybe I have an old-school view of international conflict and resolution, but still, Saakhasvilli really needs to keep his mouth shut for the most part and stay off of every cable news channel.

Categories: politics | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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