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Old 05-26-2004, 06:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Global Implications of Free Expression

I brought this up elsewhere in relation to, specifically, MTV's new gay-oriented network. I've been thinking about it for a while and I'm curious as to how folks here in this forum would respond to it.

I've tried to phrase my comment in a way that does not bias or load the discussion too much but does reflect my own initial thoughts on the more general subject.

Here's the comment:

"As witnessed by the recent threats against Madonna and her family by Palestinian terrorists, I sense a disconnect between the culturally liberative forces in the Free World that champion the freedom of expression to actively promote, on a global basis, the very cultural values that cause the Islamo-fascist world to hate us and pledge itself to the cause of our destruction and the awareness of those forces of cultural liberation as regards what is necessary in a strategic way to actually secure and defend those values against their sworn enemies."

Fact is, historically - as I have been an artist for more years than I have been anything else - most of my friends are still very liberal/radical. I believe this "disconnect" is not really being aired out very well among folks who espouse the very things that are hated most vehemently by our current and future radical Islamic enemies. How do you reconcile the fact that the creations of our cultural milieu need to be defended against those who would see them as the very reasons why we should be obliterated from the face of the earth? Can we continue to bait the vicious dog without arming ourselves to the teeth?
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Old 05-26-2004, 07:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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it sounded real fricking good, but was that English?
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Old 05-26-2004, 08:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Translation:
Should we keep making things that piss off the A-rabs?

I don't know. All I know is homos are funny.
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Old 05-26-2004, 08:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kadath
Translation:
Should we keep making things that piss off the A-rabs?
I think the issue is more that Madonna, due to threats, cancelled her concert though she may have an implied responsibility to freely express herself regardless of any such threats. I agree, she is a sell-out and a coward who stands for nothing but sleazing your way to the top.
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Old 05-26-2004, 08:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I see your point(s). How can we continue to aggressively export "sin" to fundamentalist countries and not prepare ourselves for a violent response?

I think the problem is religious fundamentalism and intolerance in general, not just from Muslims. I see the Bush Administration, John Ashcroft, and Bush policies as an even greater threat than Muslim fundamentalists.

It easy to armchair quarterback, but I can imagine a way in which the USA would have led the world in liberating Iraq in a much different way. With the support of the U.N., the USA could have led a multinational force that would have had the legitimacy to lead to what Bush wanted: a largely bloodless war supported by the people. With that leadership, Iraq could have turned into the island of democracy that we all would like to see.

I could be wrong, however, and this idea does worry me. To me, the neo-conservatives have a long term plan to aggressively annex the rest of the world and put it under U.S. control. They may have the right idea. Given current birth rates in the western world, we're in a situation much like the decline of the Roman empire. Without some sort of upheaval, we will eventually be beaten by attrition. Do you know the birth rates in Islamic nations? They are a hell of a lot more than ours.

So, annexing Iraq by force, installing leaders that the USA can control, and using that as a base from which to control the rest of the Islamic world? It all sounds pretty good on paper.

In practice however, I don't think it is that easy to export democracy and american ideals. A commentator on NPR today was saying that the Cold War was largely created by the American determination that there *was* a Cold War. In other words, the act of defining the Cold War created in. I fear that the USA is creating a decades-long War on Terror by our actions of defining it.
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Old 05-26-2004, 08:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I don't think anyone would suggest that we alter the way we express ourselves to pander to fundamentalists who are just looking for any old reason to hate us. Unless the fundamentalists are christian, in which case some might be pro-pandering, but that's a whole other issue entirely.

We are continuing to bait the vicious dog and we are armed to the teeth. Our problem though is that until 9/11 we were more concerned with the dog than with its fleas.
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Old 05-26-2004, 08:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just so you know, the Madonna story appears to be false.
http://www.nydailynews.com/front/sto...p-169888c.html
Quote:
Madonna spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg called the report totally false. "She never received threats."
Given that the story originated from the Sun, that's not too surprising.

As far as the larger question posed, I think our culture is just 1 of the many reasons that the Muslim extremists will give as an excuse to carry out their terrorism. It may indeed be significant in their deluded minds, but to the general Muslim world, I do not think it is significant at all. In fact, most moderate Muslims have embraced our culture. They may disapprove of something like a gay channel, but I don't think they'd be willing to die over it.
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Old 05-27-2004, 12:20 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by HarmlessRabbit
So, annexing Iraq by force, installing leaders that the USA can control, and using that as a base from which to control the rest of the Islamic world? It all sounds pretty good on paper.

In practice however, I don't think it is that easy to export democracy and american ideals.
Firstly, I don't think any of the above sounds good, on paper or in reality. It's actions like these which cause the problems America faces today.

Secondly, I don't think you'll find many fundamentalists who will use the existence of a gay channel as a justification for attacking America or Americans. There is a much more deep-rooted problem than that.
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Old 05-27-2004, 06:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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pissing people off is a well-worn commercial option for people who make objects (visual/sonic/otherwise)--many people, mandonna included, rely on the reactionary nature of the public---one can always generate material that riles up the conservatives---it is an easy way to generate publicity---if it works really well, you will have the nitwits on faux news and the radio talk shows, and preachers in pulpits around the country denouncing you as a threat to decency and american values and all that tripe---which come to think of it is not that different in principle from the reactions of the "islamic enemies" that were trotted out in the initial post on this thread---each denunciation is a kind of free advertising---you can see the results---pissing off conservatives has enabled even someone as conceptually tedious and politically empty as madonna to construct herself as something of a hero for free speech etc.--but there is a qualification to all this (see below)

but in order to get to this position, you have to have already produced commercial material--in music innocuous pop tunes that conform to strict genre rules, to a strict conception of how sound should be organized, etc. "being political" is in this case a matter of manipulating associations that come to be bundled around your work. it presupposes visibility.

it is easy enough to confuse formal freedom of speech with substantive freedom--in a market system, the possibilities of introducing complexity into your work and selling that work are pretty limited---markets do not mean creative freedom in anything more than a formal sense---most social systems include an element of state funding for the arts, and that funding enables artists, musicians, etc. to get around the stultifying constraints of the market and its lowest-common-denomenator effects---but the american right has been really active in trying to dismantle such funding as exists in the states under the guise of protecting morality (which again sounds not that different from the fundamentalists that the american right fears so) and as such has done more to eradicate the reality of freedom of speech for artists than any number of threats have done. the result is that an artist is free to make objects and show them to a small group of people--on the other hand, an artist might have more options if he or she has a substantial trust fund, is not forced to do the 9-5 thing to do stuff like eat---anyone who has had to do the combination of holding down a day gig and make art probably knows that there is precious little energy left after a day working for a wage to devote to your own stuff---here we see the implications of conservative actions against the state with reference to cultural production--that the making of experimental art should be the purview of the wealthy, who in general have no interest in generating art that is critical of the existing order because that order is an underpinning for their wealth---wearing down the dissidents who do not enjoy the benefits of economic privilege. if something of their work happens to surface publicly and challenges assumptions about the dominant order, then the right attacks the artist as a person, declares them a threat to morality etc etc etc---and depending on how this is carried out it either destorys the artist (if that person is not already estalished as a commercial brand) or serves the opposite effect--as in the case of madonna.

when you talk about exporting american values, you are talking mostly about exporting the notions of formal freedom. you in the main do not like to think about matters of substantive freedom. it seems often that the only people who confuse the formal and substantive are themselves american, are themselves viewers of the tv infotainment system, in which this confusion is articulated, managed, turned into elements of a kind of endless circle jerk. it seems that people outside the states have seen the seperation between the formal and the substantive particular to american-style "freedom" up close. that is one reason why the export of "american values" is greeted with cynicism.

there is alot more to say on this matter. but i suspect the post is already long enough and i'll stop it there.
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Last edited by roachboy; 05-27-2004 at 06:16 AM..
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Old 05-27-2004, 07:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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There is no way that we can appeal to the Muslim extremists. Their desires are in direct opposition to ours. Freedom of expression, equal rights for all, freedom of religion, and many other fundamental beliefs rooted in our society are abhorent to them. Their desire transcends just practicing their own beliefs to trying to force a change in ours. Anyone who believes the two sides can peacefully coexist, their efforts can be ignored, or that we can stem their growth by only slightly modifying our behavior(s) is delusional. You can not reason with a fundamentalist. Their opinion is right anything else is wrong. So many scream on the politics board about the damage being done by the "extremist" Bush administration and that anything and everything should be done to get rid of them yet turn around and think that hugs and kisses will move terrorists in the right direction.

Our society's very nature offends these religious radicals. If we stop supporting Israel their opinion of us won't change. If we stop pushing social issues on a global scale their opinion of us won't change. Hell, even if we were all to turn around and convert to Islam, cover our women in burkas, and grow beards their opinion of us will likely not change.
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Old 05-27-2004, 07:05 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: The Global Implications of Free Expression

Quote:
[i]How do you reconcile the fact that the creations of our cultural milieu need to be defended against those who would see them as the very reasons why we should be obliterated from the face of the earth? Can we continue to bait the vicious dog without arming ourselves to the teeth? [/B]
Well for one thing, the radicals ( a very small number given the worlds population) will continue their disregard of western cultural social norms and beliefs in any given context, change or no change as it stands now. Personally, these radicals don't have much of a leg to stand on since they too, and hypocritically so adhere to western values as it suits them. ie,..9/11 hijackers eating steak dinners and going to strip clubs, the guy wearing Nikes or Reeboks at Nick Bergs beheading, etc,...

Baiting the vicious dog without arming ourselves to the teeth? That in itself I find to be a radical statement given the context is about radicals. And further wouldn't that be, as so many have said, especially regarding western cultural values, be seen as giving into the terrorists if such were the case? To arm ourselves to the teeth would have some influence on the cultural outcome, so in that instance wouldn't the terrorists then have won?
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Old 05-27-2004, 07:14 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I thought it the height of irony that Madonna was threatened and had to cancel her concert.

(Ironic because she is as left as they come but that didn't impress the radicals; they wanted to kill her anyway.)
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Old 05-27-2004, 07:28 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lebell
I thought it the height of irony that Madonna was threatened and had to cancel her concert.

(Ironic because she is as left as they come but that didn't impress the radicals; they wanted to kill her anyway.)
i'm guessing you didn't read my post from above.
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Old 05-27-2004, 07:33 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally posted by maximusveritas
i'm guessing you didn't read my post from above.
I confess that I didn't.

I will also admit that it is my own bias and personal dislike of Madonna that makes me question her press release and stated reasons.
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Old 05-27-2004, 08:27 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lebell
(Ironic because she is as left as they come but that didn't impress the radicals; they wanted to kill her anyway.)
Why would being left endear you to the "radicals"... If anything the so-called "radicals" are arch conservatives.
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Old 05-27-2004, 08:38 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Thanks all for the insightful comments. Obviously, I'm still thinking this through myself. It is a discussion I'd like to have with representatives from all parts of the political spectrum. In an odd way - as we are discussing the culture(s) we all share - this sort of question unites us. Our various takes on the subject are constructive, I think.
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Old 05-27-2004, 09:00 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally posted by Charlatan
Why would being left endear you to the "radicals"... If anything the so-called "radicals" are arch conservatives.

Oh, logically it shouldn't, but my observation is that the Hollywood left thinks that because they support the Palestinians and don't support Bush, they should be exempt from the radical Islamic hate.

Just my own observations, mind you.
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Old 05-27-2004, 11:36 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lebell
Oh, logically it shouldn't, but my observation is that the Hollywood left thinks that because they support the Palestinians and don't support Bush, they should be exempt from the radical Islamic hate.

Just my own observations, mind you.
I can see how you might come to that conclusion...


As for the thread topic...

If I get Art's drift he is saying that we should either:

a) stop waving the red flag (i.e. progressive programing such as Gay TV)
or
b) continue on course but be prepared for retaliation (i.e. arm ourselves to the teeth).

I don't believe the issue is what we show on our own airwaves. What we in the west are prepared to accept as entertainment should be none of their business.

As for exporting that same programming, if they don't like it, don't buy it. I know many television programmers and distributors of programming for the middle east... They are careful of what they license for broadcast (but only so far).

The point is, if someone in the Middle East has an issue with what is being broadcast in their nation, they need to take that up with the broadcaster in question and not with the programs country of origin.

For example, if you don't like a BBC show like The Office you don't blame the UK for the show, you hold the US broadcaster responsible.
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Old 05-27-2004, 12:24 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I have my own set of "what we should dos" but this isn't as much about that as just trying to huddle together on the same side of the Free-World fence and sort of take a look at the situation we're in.

What I personally see happening is an eventual comprehension of the fact that no sane society can survive with the inevitable directions unconstrained "freedom of expression" coupled with high technology will take us. That may not be what we want to believe but my own view is that not only did our cultural influence topple the Soviet Union, for example, but it will also inevitably topple us. Sorry, but that's what I think.

Also, I expect that after the Free World is hit with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons on an apocalyptic scale, that we will, perhaps, have one final chance to figure out just what we are up against and will begin to comprehend exactly what it will take to survive. Again, it's not something most of us would like to consider. Sometimes however, wishful thinking does not provide a realistic means of survival.
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Old 05-27-2004, 04:21 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by DJ Happy
[B] Firstly, I don't think any of the above sounds good, on paper or in reality. It's actions like these which cause the problems America faces today.
Oh, I agree. I meant "sounds good to the neo-cons on paper." It doesn't sound good to me. But, again, what if they are right and I'm wrong? Remember, the freedoms we have were built on the graves of a *lot* of dead Native Americans.

Quote:
Secondly, I don't think you'll find many fundamentalists who will use the existence of a gay channel as a justification for attacking America or Americans. There is a much more deep-rooted problem than that.
Oh really? I can, off the top of my head, think of several instances where being gay or otherwise being different lead to many, many people dying at the hands of USA religious fundamentalists. I'll leave the discovery of these incidents to you as an exercise.

[corrected a typo i couldn't resist fixing]

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Old 05-27-2004, 04:22 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by ARTelevision
Also, I expect that after the Free World is hit with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons on an apocalyptic scale, that we will, perhaps, have one final chance to figure out just what we are up against and will begin to comprehend exactly what it will take to survive. Again, it's not something most of us would like to consider. Sometimes however, wishful thinking does not provide a realistic means of survival.
Art, have you read the comic novel The Watchmen?

If not, you should! It gives an interesting take on your theory.
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Old 05-27-2004, 05:30 PM   #22 (permalink)
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When I was collecting, I bought a boxed, signed edition. Never even cracked the box. I have some of the original mags in storage. Thanks for the tip, HarmlessRabbit.

I'll check it out.
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Old 05-28-2004, 11:17 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by HarmlessRabbit

Oh really? I can, off the top of my head, think of several instances where being gay or otherwise being different lead to many, many people dying at the hands of USA religious fundamentalists. I'll leave the discovery of these incidents to you as an exercise.
So can I, in the UK as well. But I thought we were discussing Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalists who are the current targets of the "War on Terror."
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Old 05-29-2004, 08:56 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by DJ Happy
So can I, in the UK as well. But I thought we were discussing Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalists who are the current targets of the "War on Terror."
well, if you were, that wasn't clear when you said:
Quote:
Secondly, I don't think you'll find many fundamentalists who will use the existence of a gay channel as a justification for attacking America or Americans. There is a much more deep-rooted problem than that.
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Old 05-29-2004, 10:08 AM   #25 (permalink)
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The fact that political, social 'Freedom' causes other less-free societies around the world to want to defend there own belief system and espouse others opposite it, isnt surprising. Who wants to be told they are wrong? Who wants to be stood up and shown that what we believe in leads to stagnation, while what others believe in leads to growth and prosperity? Especially if there own god is also telling them what they believe is right, and what those others are doing is not only wrong, but subject to violent refutation?

One has to wonder who is right and who is wrong when one sees, for instance, people from around the world coming to the U.S. to get the best education money can buy, foreign governments sending their own military and intelligence services here to be trained to the highest standards and latest specs, financial investment pouring in, medical standards and practices the most advanced in the world, the diversity and depth of the arts and humanities...

The day is still young though, and history may prove the US to be an experiment gone wrong. But, still, nobody likes to be told they are wrong.

My 0.02 cents.
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Old 05-29-2004, 12:20 PM   #26 (permalink)
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powerclown, thanks much for nailing the topic squarely with your cogent response.

My own view is the one thing that can not continue any longer to be a part of our rhetoric is the proclamation that we have such high values here in America. We simply do not. This is evident to the rest of the world as it is becoming increasingly clear each day to ourselves. We wish very much to believe we are a moral nation that embodies traditional values. This is our delusion.
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Old 05-29-2004, 12:52 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Can we continue to bait the vicious dog without arming ourselves to the teeth?
In reference to your question above, I see the situation in Iraq today as an experiment directly addressing it. Because of the unique, unprecedented nature of the situation, allowances need to be made and accepted to see the thing through. The people who criticize this president and this war to the nth degree, I believe, are the ones who think themselves and the US inherently morally superior. They think the US should be above such warfare misbehavior as the prison abuses and maybe they should. Maybe war brings out the worst in otherwise decent people.

IMO Al Gore, as a former vice president and sophisticated world politician, should know better when he rails so insincerely against the president like he did the other day, and expresses such false indignation over such abuses. He of all people should know the true nature of the threat faced by this country and Western civilization in general.

One needs to consider the stakes now that the gloves are off and radical Islam threatens. What do we do with the vicious dog? Try to pacify it? Isolate it? Kill it? Brainwash it? Should the West bow to the radical elements of the East and become enslaved by it? Should Islam be admired for being disgusted and appalled at the West because we allow such things as an MTV network for gay people? Maybe they are a simple, honest, hardworking people with simple, conservative beliefs who are just dazed, confused and frightened by the behavior of the West? Where is the line to be drawn? Who is entitled to draw it?

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Old 05-30-2004, 08:16 PM   #28 (permalink)
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While this does not answer the basic question, it does give a little insight to how some US-haters may think. It is biased and generalized and begs the question, 'so, what's your point?'

Why Muslims Hate America
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi, kbatarfi@al-madina.com.sa

I get lots of angry e-mails. I understand. The writers may be missing some facts and need to look at issues from different perspectives.

I believe in human decency, fairness and goodness, and have been proven right in many cases when anger and misjudgment gave way to more understanding and even agreement. Such is the power of man’s greatest innovation — communication.

Last week, an American reader fired a question at me: “I need to know why in hell people would murder in the name of Islam and take such apparent joy in it.”

I felt the man was innocently puzzled, maybe because he was caught up in the mood of the moment. He must have just watched a news story about a Palestinian suicide bomber avenging the Israeli air “bombing” of Hamas’ elderly leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. He could be one of those fast-food, fast-lane news-biters who don’t have time for backgrounds, observing the world via flash news, probably on Zionist Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.

When they wonder about the insanity of the world, I understand their confusion. After all, with my limited knowledge of the CIA’s dirty history in Latin America, how would I know why over 80 percent of Latinos hate the US?

I answered my puzzled reader: Let’s start with injustice. For half a century, Palestinians have been robbed of life, property and dignity. The world has been watching, applauding or even sponsoring their adversary, as America has. When death becomes more attractive than life, desperate, insane things happen.

Religion has always been used to rally troops. Catholics in Ireland fought a religious war for decades. Europe went to war for religion, which propelled both Crusaders and colonizers for centuries. Indians and ex-Yugoslavians still fight over religion. Russians abuse their Muslim Chechens. Sharon, Blair and Bush are killing Muslims in the name of God. The latter claimed twice that God instructed him to wage war — no kidding.

I don’t advocate violence, not against innocent civilians. But, like you, I never experienced the hard trials many Native Americans, Palestinians, Irish, Chechens, Muslim Chinese, African Americans and Japanese Americans had. To be fair, we should at least acknowledge motives. Imagine the victim of a lynching and burning raid in the name of a white God being asked: Why in hell are you hitting back?

In a 2000 poll three quarters of the 200 million Muslims in Indonesia had a favorable opinion of the US. After the insane response to Sept. 11 and as a result of its blind support of Israel’s world-defying policies, only 15 percent still do.

Anger is a reaction, Bob, and hell needs fuel to burn. In many Muslim cases, Hell has sponsors.


Note he says, "insane response to 9/11" as if it were a mere accident that the most visible symbol of american free enterprise was destroyed. More to come....
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Old 05-30-2004, 08:29 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Since this is a bit longer, i will post a link, but it answers the thread a bit better than my previous post.

http://www.stuffucanuse.com/bombing_...e_the_west.htm

It would appear, reading this article that even if we were to try, there would be no appeasing those who are determined to undermine us. It almost reminds me of those who have nothing cursing those who have as being not deserving simply because it's easier than actually going out and trying to work harder to have the same things.
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Old 06-01-2004, 06:55 AM   #30 (permalink)
 
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are "american values" the same as those implied in the spread of globalizing capitalism?

if people in areas being colonized by this developing mode of capitalism find the traditional bases for their identities being ground to nothing, are they being threatened by "american values"?

what is american conservatism but a response to exactly this corrosion of older modes of identity formation brought about by the transformations in the organization of capitalism? a kind of neurotic response to the increasing irrelevance of nation-states?

what better way to shore up a sense of identity in a shifting world than to posit an enemy that is everywhere, that is "our" opposite, and to shift the conflict onto all levels of thinking? particularly if you can make the conflict "moral" in the process....

if that is a way of understanding--in general terms--the thrust of post-911 american ideology, then where does the freedom of expression--particularly of artistic expression--fit into it?

what does freedom of expression mean, really, in the present american context? how exactly is the production of art a political act in this environment? i have been a working musician for a long time and have found that there is nothing necessarily political about the fact of producing work--political in the conventional sense---because the reduction of art to commodity makes political elements into simple predicates of that product--like the color of clothes or the design of a car. in painting, for example, outside the gallery system that is given meanings by journals like art forum, what offense could possibly be generated by the kinds of paintings that sell--the endless series of more or less the same picture of more or less the same executive hitting more or less the same drive on more or less the same golfcourse; of seagulls planing over an agitated sea; of stilll-life images of roses on different types of tables, each indicating a different space of haut-bourgeois leisure; of sad-eyed puppies and dogs playing poker and motif number 1 and on.....and the material in artforumland operates along parallel lines, particular to the "elite" art market and the system of collectors/investors it services...

what art actually reproduces directly the situations that surround its production?
if a work criticizes the existing order in america, and it happens to be visible, then either (a) is passes without particular trouble into the dance of commodities, in which case its political content uindergoes the transformation referred to aboove or (b) if it uses the proper symbols, it can draw attacks from christian fundamentalists--see for example the flap over serrano's piss christ--how do these attacks differ exactly from the kind of attacks noted earlier in this thread that are generated from without by the invisible yet omnipresent enemy?

the questions could be continued almost ad infinitum.....
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