Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 4:13 PMI’ve been dismayed over the years by the number of purportedly intelligent and fair-minded white people who have questioned why Coretta Scott King is so revered just because she was married to Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. But whenever I condescended to disabuse them of their ignorance in this respect, I merely sufficed to query – in kind – why was Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy so revered just because she was married to President John F. Kennedy.
If truth be told, however, what little I know about Mrs King’s life revolves entirely around her late husband’s legacy. Nonetheless, that she established theKing Center to keep the flame of civil rights burning with such quiet dignity and resolve (and at such great personal sacrifice), is a testament to the laudable content of her character – irrespective of Dr King.
Nonetheless, it’s regrettable that the most recent news about Mrs King concerned her struggle with the massive stroke (that took her life during a blessed sleep last night) and the squabble amongst her children for (financial) control of the King Center.
Yet, notwithstanding her children and the cynical attempts by others to defile Dr King’s legacy, I have no doubt that Mrs King’s legacy (notable for making her husband’s birthday anational holiday) shall remain beyond reproach.
Clickhere for her full Obituary. And click here for my recent article defending Dr. King’s unimpeachable legacy.
Note: For very superstitious people, the writing’s on the wall: First Wendy Wasserstein, now Coretta Scott King; therefore, since these deaths come in 3s, the wonder is – who’s next?
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 10:55 AMYou may not be familiar with her name, but her creativity has contributed so much to public consciousness (in America and around the world) that you’re probably familiar with her work…without even knowing it.
Like many people, I was introduced to Wasserstein’s creative genius in 1989 through her critically acclaimed play The Heidi Chronicles. But I shan’t abuse your trust by pretending to be a theatre critic. Instead, I shall suffice to note that this play appealed to me because of the way Wasserstein made ordinary women the central characters in chronicling – with refreshing clarity, unsparing sarcasm and provocative wit – all that was interesting, accomplished, daring, truthful, frustrating, tragic, amusing, etc., about living and thriving as women “in a world dominated by men”.
And, because she imbued all of her female characters with such life-affirming traits, Wasserstein will be celebrated in perpetuity as one of the very best playwrights America has ever produced (man or woman). Indeed, you could do far worse for entertainment than to stay in and read one of her plays or go out and see one of them in production.
Wasserstein died in New York City yesterday after losing her struggle with cancer (lymphoma). She was 55.
Clickhere for her full obituary.
NOTE from CNN: I hope it’s not too much of a stretch (or too presumptuous) to suggest that Wasserstein would have approved of my literary rebuke of church leaders in the Caribbean who are mounting a crusade to prevent gay-themed cruises from visiting our Islands. Click here for that article….
Monday, January 30, 2006 at 11:19 AM
The annual World Economic Forum – which wrapped-up its 4 days in Davos, Switzerland yesterday – is a place where corporate titans, international bankers, world leaders and a smattering of celebrity do-gooders retreat for invigorating gabfests about the impact of world developments on their businesses, personal wealth and collective conscience. And, where the politicians and invited guests from the Third World change from year to year, the other attendees are invariably the same rich investors and financial managers – who represent the world’s super rich.
The forum is promoted as “impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.” But movers and shakers know that the reason an invitation to this retreat is so coveted is because it’s a rare (and rarified) opportunity to see and be seen amongst the people who really rule the world. And, the PR value of such images alone is priceless.
However, the real pay-off comes from the contacts that are made and business tips that flow during unguarded chats in Swiss Chalets and on Davos ski slopes. Indeed, nothing demonstrates this latter point more than when Pfizer CEO Hank McKinnel dropped an unguarded tip to viewers during aCNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo – outside in the falling snow – last Friday. His tip alerted investors to the FDA’s approval of one of Pfizer’s new drugs (Exubera – an inhalable form of insulin) hours before the official announcement. This then gave the usual pack of insiders – who feed on such tips everyday – ample time to trade on the stock.
Of course, many of us remember that this is the kind of tip-off about a new drug that domestic divaMartha Stewart got from her friend, ImClone CEO Sam Waksal, that landed them both in jail. But Martha and Sam merely got caught doing what most invitees to Davos do as par for the course (i.e. feed on insider tips) in their business affairs.
But all of this highfalutin wheeling and dealing is supposed to remain as guarded from the press as the secret professional societies to which many of the Davos regulars belong (The Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, et al). After all, the uninitiated (i.e. 99% of us who just hear and read about it) are supposed believe that this forum is all about addressing world economic problems that affect our lives. And, that’s why the most talked about feature of this annual gathering is not the (main event) schmooze-fests for business opportunities; instead, it’s the (under card) gabfests for charitable causes at which invited guests sit on panels to share their enlightened concerns and express personal grievances about the state of the globe and the plight of the poor:
Enter stage left – Bono (debt relief); Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (Tuberculosis); Firmino Mucavele, Chief Executive, NEPAD Secretariat (fighting famine in Africa) et. al.
However, it’s a reflection of compassion fatigue from last year’s Tsunami aid, Live 8 – to make poverty history and Hurricane Katrina relief that this year’s most notable gabfest was about the environment. And, no one was more suited to expel hot air for this cause than former U.S President Bill Clinton. In fact, he closed the official business of the forum on Saturday with a bloviating exposition on global warming that would have made Al Gore blush with envy…again!
But imagine that, with Hamas dealing a shocking blow to peace in the Middle East, Iran ratcheting up its talk about nuclear war, Iraq looking more and more like Vietnam every day and the unwieldy war against Islamic terrorists showing no end in sight, Clinton held attendees spellbound talking about climate change as the most serious threat to mankind:
“I worry about climate change….It’s the only thing that I believe has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it, and make a lot of the other efforts that we’re making irrelevant and impossible.”
Really? Then perhaps he should not have emitted so muchhot air with this speech and, perhaps, his pals should have thought twice about flying their gas-guzzling, air-polluting private jets to Davos – both of which probably contributed, in equal measure, to the purported global warming phenomenon they’re all so concerned about…. World Economic Forum, Davos Switzerland
Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 11:03 AM
Saturday, January 28, 2006 at 10:34 AMSunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea.
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam.
When that which drew from the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell
When I embark.
For, though from out our bourne of time and place
The flood may be me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
Friday, January 27, 2006 at 11:32 AMI’m not sure who was more shocked by the outcome of Wednesday’s Palestinian elections: The victorious Hamas Islamic group (branded a terrorist organisation by governments around the world) and their “wipe-Israel-off-the-map” Islamic sympathizers – led by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or the defeated Fatah Party and their “you’re-either–with-us-or-against-us” democracy crusaders – led by U.S. President George W. Bush.
Hamas supporters shouting defiant slogans of victory – punctuated by the familiar chant “death to Israel!”
Nonetheless, I suspect that all of the dire predictions about what this outcome portends for peace in the Middle East will prove just as reliable as the hopeful predictions about a Fatah victory have proved. Frankly, the only appropriate reaction to these elections is to embrace them as a profound lesson in democracy. Of course, I appreciate that by refusing to renounce its commitment to the destruction of Israel, Hamas leaders make it prohibitive for most democratic governments to deal with them. But it’s for the Palestinian people to decide whether their interests are best served by a government thusly condemned and isolated.
However, it behooves the self-righteous governments (especially the Bush Administration) that are vowing to have nothing to do with Hamas to recognise and accept responsibility for their unwitting contribution to this outcome. Because, by enabling egregiously corrupt Fatah officials (most notably the improbable billionaire Yasser Arafat) who fleeced foreign aid with impunity for years, they fed the resentment amongst deprived Palestinians that motivated Fatah’s justified demise.
Now the people have spoken! Let Hamas govern as best they can – if civil war with Fatah (terrorists?) does not render governing even more difficult than it already promises to be….
Friday, January 27, 2006 at 11:02 AM“I really feel duped…I regret that phone call [to CNN’s Larry King Live on 11 January to defend as true the million little lies of author James Frey]….I made a mistake and I left the impression that the truth does not matter and I am deeply sorry about that. That is not what I believe.” That’s how Oprah apologised on her show yesterday: to her viewers and the millions of people who bought James Frey’s best seller – A Million Little Pieces – based on her literary edict. (I had this show TiVoed. And, instead of watching Catherine and her team on CSI Las Vegas last night – one of only 2 hours of entertainment television I deem worthy of my time each week [the other is 24 ], I watched Oprah. Because there’s nothing I would not do for you – my dear reader!) At any rate, I appreciate how difficult and embarrassing this episode was for Oprah. But she has now reclaimed a large measure of the respect I once had for her.
But, I’m still a little bothered. Because the show came across as little more than the futile attempt by an indignant and frustrated mother to discipline a problem child. I’m sorry but getting Frey to tell the truth seems about as likely as drawing blood from a stone.
Oprah interrogated him about the people, events and circumstances in his book for all she’s worth. And I got the distinct impression that she could barely contain her contempt for Frey; not only for exploiting her so comprehensively but also for showing so little comprehension for what he has done and for the pain he has caused.
And when she asked if he perpetrated this notorious literary fraud “to make a better book or make him a better person”, Frey offered his now patented demurrer – “I think it’s probably both” and conceded pathetically that:
“…being tougher than I was, badder than I was as a “coping mechanism.”
But to her credit, Oprah summed up her apology (and this group therapy session, which I suspect will make it the most watched show of her career) with this more gallant concession:
“To everyone who has challenged me on this issue of truth [like me], you are absolutely right [but] the inspiration the book brought to so many people had clouded my judgment.”
Nonetheless, I am constrained to challenge Oprah further about the consequences of her monumental lapse in judgment. Because, although “the truth is liberating”, I wonder what consequences she will be made to bear.
(Incidentally, for Frey, yesterday’s show was probably just a great promotional opportunity to sell another million copies of his book. And, yes, people will buy it just because it’s such a terrific scandal. However, I really couldn’t care any less about him.)
I got a palpable sense from watching though that Oprah has been deeply affected by being so “duped.” Indeed, her defensiveness in this regard may have accounted for the fact that this preternaturally empathetic woman never bothered to ask the (still) obviously-troubled Frey if he plans to finally get the therapy and treatment he so desperately needs!
As for consequences, perhaps offering a charitable gift in the amount equivalent to what Frey has made off this book would help. But I have to think that making Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s “Night” an instant bestseller last week – after announcing it as her next Oprah book selection – has great redemptive value….
Note: There can be no more convincing evidence that Frey remains a conniving, unrepentant and mendacious sociopath than when Oprah revealed – towards the end of the show – his pathetic attempt to lay a guilt trip on her by suggesting that if there was a gun backstage, he’d go and blow his brains out. Well, if Oprah were any less a person, she might have replied: “Actually, there is….”
Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 12:01 PMJust days ago, I praised Google (as others had) for standing alone amongst major technology companies in defying the Bush Administration’s demand for information about the Internet searches and surfing habits of its customers. I was heartened by Google’s insistence that Americans had a reasonable expectation that their online activities would remain private.
Google enters China but leaves its highly-praised corporate and political conscience back in America…
Yesterday, however, Google made a mockery of that principled stand by following the compromised corporate path to China that was blazed by Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL. Because, in exchange for access to the Chinese market, Google agreed to help China’s communist government spy on and censor its citizens’ use of the Internet.
Specifically, Google agreed to install filters that would prevent Chinese users from accessing online information relating to such topics as Taiwan independence, the Chinese government’s massacre of its own citizens who were protesting for democratic freedoms in Tiananmen Square in 1989 or its equally brutal crackdown today on Chinesepeasant farmers who are rioting daily because of their government failure to provide basic services despite China’s booming economy and unprecedented wealth.
I am profoundly dismayed by Google’s decision. But instead of fulminating against it, I feel moved to simply proffer a few questions that demand serious consideration in this context:
Google was the last bastion of corporate conscience in this brave new world of technology. And, it solemnized our faith in its corporate motto – “Don’t be evil” – when it refused China’sprevious censorship demands. Therefore, we are consrained to wonder if the googlenaires have now decided that it’s better to be evil and filthy rich, than to be good and just super rich?
Indeed, has Google betrayed its corporate motto just to gain access to the Chinese market? Was its corporate conscience, at long last, predicated upon a cost-benefit analysis for its own bottom line?
How can Google distinguish itself from the Bush Administration it defied just days ago and that is now universally reviled for, amongst other things, declaring moral aversion to torture in America whilst renditioning prisoners to be tortured in foreign countries? (The pot calling the kettle black?)
Will Google’s mercenary decision to compound evil upon oppressed Chinese citizens cause you to either divest any financial interest you have in this company or stop using its software?
Finally, to my American readers, how would you feel if Google were a French company and the Bush Administration prevented you from searching for information about the Civil Rights Movement or its failure to render aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina?
Clearly, Google and the Bush Administration have embraced the moral relativism that allows them to engage in activities abroad that they condemn as morally repugnant at home. But there’s no reason why the rest of us should abide this dystopian doublethink…. Technorati: Google in China, Internet censorship
Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 11:07 AMLast night, I was riveted to a BBC interview with Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali. And here’s why:In 1989, Iranian leader and self-annointed Islamic lawgiver, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a Fatwa (death warrant) against author Salman Rushdie for writing a book, Satanic Verses, that the Ayotallah deemed “a blasphemy against Islam”. Since then, however, Rushdie has lived the gilded life of an international cause celebre (complete with 24/7 bodyguards – provided by Scotland Yard – that must make P Diddy blush with envy). And, for many in his jet-set circle, shaking the hand of Salman Rushdie has become as coveted as one might imagine touching the garment of Jesus might have been.
Meanwhile, as I wrote inthis previous article, the Ayatollah’s overly-zealous disciples issued a similar fatwa last year against Hirsi Ali after they deemed her film, Submission, Part I, an insult to Islam. And to demonstrate their conviction about this fatwa, Muslim thugs promptly assassinated the acclaimed director of the film, Theo van Gogh, and knifed a message in his corpse informing Hirsi Ali that she was next.
Naturally, at this point, most people expected Hirsi Ali to flee, like Rushdie, to the insulating vortex of New York City – with full security accoutrements. Instead, she not only refused to leave the danger zone, but actually defied her Muslim (would-be) assassins by vowing to write and produce more Submission films to further expose the nihilistic, chauvinistic, misogynistic and atavistic interpretations of the Koran that pass for Islamic orthodoxy in many Muslim countries today.
Indeed, Hirsi Ali attributes her confrontational activism to the rude awakening she experienced in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when she realised that Bin Laden culled much of his jihadist rhetoric from the Koran. Here’s how she described that pivotal moment:“I grabbed the Koran and I started to read what Bin Laden had written and…I put (his) citations next to what is written in the Koran and I realised that, yes, a lot of it is part of my religion and what do I think of that?” Therefore, it is an interesting juxtaposition to see Rushdie being fêted by New York’s secular elites and continuing to write his Islamic fiction; whilst Hirsi Ali works in relative obscurity and isolation as a Dutch legislator and continues her mission “to reform Islam…from pre-modern to modern – [a transition that] Judaism and Christianity have gone through.” “It’s like the sword of Damocles that hangs above my head. I do realise that…I live like someone who has been told ‘you have some kind of terminal disease – we just don’t know when it’s going to strike’.” As living martyrs go, who gets your sympathy and respect?
Clickhere to listen to Hirsi Ali in her own words. It’s only 30 minutes and well worth the time because she not only addresses conflicts within Islam but also explains how this great religion has been hijacked by suicidal fanatics to use as a torpedo against western civilization.
And, click here to read Shay’s post at the Booker Rising blog on Hirsi Ali’s recognition by Reader’s Digest as the European Of The Year 2006.Note from CNN: Click here to read my 2006 predictions. And, please take note of the segment on the Caribbean because my main prediction for this region is about to come to pass as Caribbean leaders convene this week to decide the fate of regional integration…. Technorati: Salman Rushdie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Submission
Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 11:00 AMConservative leader Stephen Harper enjoying the thrill of victory with his family last night after being delcared Canada’s new Prime Minister-Elect!
Over a week ago, I predicted that Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party would race to an easy win in Canada’s national elections – leaving PM Paul Martin and his ruling Liberal Party wallowing in their cesspool of political corruption. Well, yesterday, that’s exactly what happened.
Liberal leader Paul Martin suffering the agony of defeat with his supporters after losing his Party’s 12-year dominion over Canadian politics!Let me hasten to admit, however, that this was not a very daring call. In fact, click here and follow the links to previous articles to see why this result was as predictable as it was desirable.
Now Canada will have a government that is free of the stench of corruption (and noxiousanti-Americanism) that eventually suffocated the Liberal Party. But this election bodes well for US – Canadian relations in many ways: For example, unlike Martin, PM-Elect Harper is an unabashed supporter of President Bush’s fight against insurgents in Iraq and of his global war against Islamic terrorism. And, on a more mundane level, Harper’s socially conservative views on issues like abortion and gay rights will certainly make it easier for Bush to engage him in the personal diplomacy Bush prefers.
Nonetheless, this election’s most salutary implication for America is that the winds of change that rid Canadian politics of the stench of corruption seems headed to Washington to rid American politics of an even worse stench (stemming from theAbramoff scandal and other corrupt practices). Indeed, such is my contempt for the ruling Republicans – who turned the U.S. Congress into a special-interest bazaar – that nothing would give me greater political hope than to see them swept away by the same winds of change that blew Canada’s Liberals into oblivion last night! And, what an instructive political irony that would be….
Note from CNN: Click here for my article on why President Bush’s legacy may be enhanced more by lifting the embargo against Cuba than on his floundering crusade to spread democracy throughout the Middle East.Technorati: Stephen Harper, Paul Martin, Canadian elections
Monday, January 23, 2006 at 10:58 AM“When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run it has been run like a plantation and you know what I am talking about.”Indeed I do Hillary…all too well.
Because with that politically incorrect rhetorical flourish
last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton – the putative Democratic candidate for U.S. president in 2008 – revealed her Primary Colors. After all, since her election in 2000 as the junior senator from New York, Hillary has confounded both yellow-dog Democrats and right-wing Republicans with her triangulation political strategy (patented by political guru Dick Morris).
In this TIME cover story, Dick Morris’ triangulation strategy was credited for Bill Clinton’s political invincibility. Now, even though she’s too self-righteous to admit it, Hillary is following Morris’s Machiavellian blueprint to emulate her husband’s political successes.
Triangulation, of course, is the strategy that compelled her husband (as Governor of Arkansas) to order the execution of a retarded black man – just to demonstrate his conservative bona fides. And it has compelled Hillary to support President Bush’s invasion of Iraq, oppose her Party’s call for a swift withdrawal of American troops and befriend arch-conservative Newt Gingrich – as if he’s more her political soul-mate than fellow liberal John Kerry or Al Gore – all to burnish her conservative bona fides as well.
But, as it was with her husband, this political maneuvering has been calibrated to make Hillary appear more centrist and, hence, “electable”. Because Dick Morris figured out
that the only way a Democrat could be elected president is to appear as tough on crime, as hawkish on war and as born again as Republican candidates. And triangulation accomplishes this by having liberal Democrats co-opt conservative policies to broaden their political base. (What else explains Hillary’s patently absurd posturing to appear more eager than President Bush for a showdown with Iran.)
But triangulation requires constant shifting to the right and left to maintain the illusion of being committed to the political center. And that is why, after burnishing her conservative bona fides over the past few years, Hillary decided the time had come to tact left again (to assure her liberal base that she had not completely lost her mind).
That’s the strategy. And it’s crude and unabashed political pandering, pursuant to the naked ambition of being president of the United States – just like her husband.
Nonetheless, this strategy does not explain why Hillary felt the need to exploit the emotional legacy of slavery to score political points. After all, by implying that Republicans who control the House of Representatives are treating Congressional Democrats like plantation slaves, Hillary makes a mockery of the real suffering blacks slaves endured.
And, even for a woman who has made a successful – though congenitally conflicted – career of playing the imperious victim, this goes too far. Everyone in America knows about the horrors of plantation life. Therefore, what Hillary said was politically self-indulgent, historically ignorant and, ultimately, racially offensive!
When challenged, however, she refused to countenance that her remarks were even remotely inappropriate. And this arrogance alone demonstrates the insidious entitlement white liberals have been granted - by politically compromised black leaders – to make all kinds of racial jibes with impunity; so long as they play their race card, ostensibly, in the interest of the Democratic Party.
And, in this case, it only added insult to the racial offense that Hillary made these remarks in the front of an “Amen” crowd at a black church in Harlem – where she “came back home” like a proverbial prodigal daughter. But, as Sen. Ted Kennedy – who recently referred to a Republican black female judge as an ape - can attest, white liberals will never pay a political price for insulting blacks – who either don’t realise they are being insulted or don’t care or both….
Note from CNN (Caribbean Net News that is): Click here for my commentary on a truly uncompromising female politician, Ambassador Angelina Jolie, that has many of my folks down in the islands wondering about her concept of “missionary” work….
Sunday, January 22, 2006 at 12:27 PMOn Friday, Google won commendations from technology professionals and end users for refusing the Bush Administration’s demand for information about the online search queries and activities of its customers. Unfortunately, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft cooperated with similar demands; just as they did last summer when the communist government of China deputized them to spy on the Internet surfing habits of unsuspecting Chinese citizens.
(In fact, Yahoo has already proved itself a committed “bellyfeel Thinkpol” by helping Chinese authorities entrap a journalist who dared to use his computer to write a story about the massacre at Tiananmen Square.)Hooray for Google! Shame on AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft…
Note: “Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile!” Although I’m sympathetic to the need for government agencies – like the NSA – to eavesdrop on calls between suspected terrorists, I think it goes too far for the government to enlist private companies to provide information about the online interests (thoughts) of ordinary citizens.Technorati: Google, Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft, Bush Administration spying
Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 12:17 PMDear Readers…Friends
I was genuinely touched that so many of you took the time and effort to email expressions of sympathy after reading about my Daddy’s death.
I have never received more than 500 emails in one day (spam included). Since publishing his death notice on Thursday, however, I have received over 3100 emails of condolences. (And, I apologise to those of you who had difficulty transmitting your emails directly from the link on my bio page. My webmaster assures me the problem has been repaired.)
But, despite my heart’s desire, I regret that I will be unable to thank each of you individually.
Therefore, on behalf of my entire family, please accept this note of thanks for your kind words of comfort that will surely help us cope through this difficult time.Yours faithfully, Anthony
Technorati: Death and Condolence
Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 6:27 AM
Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 11:12 AMA few weeks ago, when TIME revealed Bono and Bill & Melinda Gates as its 2005 Persons of the Year, I thought it was sublime. After all, no one did more last year than Bono to lift the debt burden ($40 billion) that has suffocated economic development in Africa – like an Albatross – for over a half century. And, no two people donated more than Bill & Melinda Gates (over $1 billion) to improve childhood education and health around the world (including $750 million in January 2005 for access to child immunizations and vaccines).
Last week, however, when Black Entertainment Television (BET.com) revealed Minister Louis Farrakhan as its 2005 Person of the Year, I thought it was ridiculous; especially given that he beat out such notable nominees as Oprah Winfrey and the suffering victims of Hurricane Katrina. (Incidentally, thatSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice was not even in the running is a “black thang” that’s not worth going into in this relatively superficial context.)
At any rate, it did not matter that BET.com relied on an opinion poll of visitors to its website to determine the winner; whereas TIME relied on a panel comprised of its writers and editors. I was simply stupefied that fans of BET (the vast majority of whom it’s fair to assume are black) would choose Farrakhan over Oprah (or the suffering victims of Hurricane Katrina). After all,Hurricane Katrina was the seminal event for most black Americans in 2005, and no one showed more compassion and generosity towards the victims of Katrina than Oprah. By contrast, I cannot recall seeing Farrakhan and his Fruit of Islam (FOI) soldiers reaching out to comfort or protect their brothers and sisters during this time of national crisis. (Perhaps they were still trying to recover what little was left of their reputation after groveling to guard Michael Jackson [and his at-risk fortune] during his trial for child molestation.)
Nevertheless, according to BET.com VP Retha Hill, it was Farrakhan’s leadership of the Millions More March last October that made him the most noteworthy person of 2005. She explained that:
“…he mobilised hundreds of thousands of blacks around the issues of atonement and empowerment, and to convince the masses of our people that we must be the primary catalysts and engines for positive change in our communities.” [Indeed!]
And, in his characteristically modest way, Farrakhan accepted his coronation by saying that:
“I am greatly honored and extremely humbled that the BET.com users have chosen me as the 2005 Person of the Year, especially since the nominees for such an honor are some of the greatest members of the Black community in the world…” [Which, by implication, would make him the greatest? – with all due respect to Mohammed Ali…]
Actually, it’s probably unfair for me to suggest that Farrakhan rendered no assistance to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Because, during his address at that Millions More March, he urged them – in patently fatuous Farrakhan speak – to sue the U.S. government for “criminal neglect”. In fact, no one did more to make a mockery of legitimate claims of government neglect than he did by spreading the woefully misguided notion that President Bush ordered the military to blow-up the levees in New Orleans.
It would be easy to dismiss Farrakhan as a harmless gadfly if his specious political rhetoric and grandiose racial pandering did not resonate with so many black people. Indeed, history is replete with silver-tongued demagogues who wreaked havoc on those who thought no one could possible take their nonsense seriously. (Apropos this, one can just imagine how fond Farrakhan is of the holocaust-denying, wipe-Israel-from-the-map President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad….)
But it’s a troubling reflection on the political consciousness of black America that Farrakhan is deemed to have done more to help black people than any of the “greatest members of the Black community in the world”. Because, the irony is that TIME’s (lily white) persons of the year probably did more last year to help black people than Farrakhan has done his entire life. And this irony is compounded by the fact that, for all of Farrakhan’s talk about black empowerment and self-determination, the black people who accorded him this honour would be hard-pressed to cite a single thing he’s done to better their lives.
Note: I urge you to readthis previous article on Farrakhan’s Millions More March to see why it was just a charade and why it’s ridiculous for any credible organisation to choose him as its Person of the Year!
Technorati: TIME Person of the Year, BET Person of the Year, Minister Louis Farrakhan
Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 10:04 AMOn Sunday, Chileans elected Michelle Bachelet as their new president – making her the first female head of state in Latin America. But, despite being a cause for unqualified celebration, officials in the Bush Administration greeted this good news with little more than pro forma acknowledgement. Here’s why:
For U.S. President George W. Bush, Bachelet’s election is more like a knife in the back than the seminal event in women’s liberation (and global geopolitics) that the rest of us are celebrating today. And anyone familiar with her politics and religion (socialist and agnostic) can understand why.
Moreover, as I wrote inthis previous article, Bachelet is only the latest in a succession of newly elected leaders in Latin America to proudly claim America’s perennial nemesis, Cuban President Fidel Castro, as their mentor and Bush’s sworn enemy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as their role model; whilst showing either contempt or empowered indifference to the “leader of the free world.”
Indeed, as President Bush was busy fomenting democratic revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Chavez was busy fomenting socialist counter-revolutions throughout the Americas (where Venezuelan oil is replacing American cash as the more persuasive diplomatic currency). And, it’s nothing, if not ironic, that as support for Bush is waning amongst leaders of developed nations, support for Chavez is burgeoning amongst leaders of developing nations who see in him a formidable champion for their underdog causes.
In fact, since Bush launched his democracy crusade in 2001, disciples of socialism amongst the ranks of leaders in Latin America have only increased. They now include:
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil – elected in 2002; Néstor Kirchner of Argentina – elected in 2003;Tabare Vasquez of Uruguay – elected in 2004; Evo Morales of Bolivia – elected in 2005; and now Bachelet of Chile.
Meanwhile,Ollanta Humala of Peru is being groomed by Chavez to join their ranks. Indeed, the political climate is conducive in a number of countries in the Americas for acolytes of Chavez to be elected heads of state this year. And, if anyone doubts the geopolitical consequences this paradigm shift from capitalism to neo-socialism portends for this hemisphere, click here!
Nonetheless, given the unprecedented wealth that Chile’s capitalist, market-orientated economy has produced in recent years, it will be interesting to see if Bachelet is willing to risk her country’s economic (and her political) capital by nationalizing industries and implementing welfare programmes – as Chavez has done in Venezuela. Frankly, I suspect she will prove a socialist more in political rhetoric than in economic practice….
Note: U.S. First Lady Laura Bush was conspicuously present in Liberia yesterday at theinauguration of Africa’s first female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Therefore, given his administration’s tepid response to her election, it will be a test of Bush’s character and true commitment to democracy to see if he dispatches his wife to Chile to attend the historic inauguration of the democratically elected, but defiantly socialist, Bachelet.
Monday, January 16, 2006 at 10:21 PMThe following are the final public words of American civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr. They were delivered at the end of a speech in support of striking sanitation workers at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN on 3 April 1968 — the day before he was assassinated: “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Dr King was born on 15 January 1929. And, even though America celebrates his birthday, today is a national holiday in honour of Dr King’s political legacy. Of course, the broad outline of this legacy is well-known around the world. But for a little more insight, I recommend this BBC perspective on his leadership, this previous article on one of the more controversial traits of his dynamic character and this Washington Post report on the King family squabbles that threaten to undermine his legacy more than J. Edgar Hoover could have imagined….
Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 11:50 AMA week from tomorrow, Canadians will go to the polls to ratify Conservative Leader Stephen Harper as their new Prime Minister. Click here to read why all of the desperate attempts by incumbent Liberal Leader PM Paul Martin to hold on to power have bitten him in the ass and only reinforced his Party’s reputation for sleaze and corruption.
Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 11:26 AM
Last week, in the immediate aftermath of Israeli PM Aerial Sharon’s massive stroke, televangelist Pat Robertson announced that God confided in him that He struck down Sharon for daring to give to Palestinians land He promised the Jews, His chosen people.
This week, however, after the Israelis were so outraged that theyrescinded a $50 million contract with him to build a Christian bazaar in the “Holy Land”, Robertson made the even more extraordinary announcement that God confided in him again, this time, to explain that He was only kidding, and that He apologizes for the sinister joke about Sharon….
Note: Yet more proof that there’s nothing like wads of cash to help “men of God” get His message straight!
Friday, January 13, 2006 at 12:45 PMOprah is easily the most influential television personality in America, if not the entire world. And nothing demonstrates her influence more than her ability to flak obscure and often mediocre books into national best sellers.
What kept Oprah soaring beyond the firmament of other meteoric stars, however, was the fact that her celebrity seemed completely immune to scandal. But that all changed this week after her Midas touch on a book of non-fiction was exposed as an unwitting endorsement of book of lies.
Last September, the author of A Million Little Pieces, James Frey, was introduced to Oprah’s TV universe as “the man who kept Oprah awake at night.” (I guess Stedman was busy doing his guy thing in separate quarters on “The Promised Land” – her 42-acre, $50 million California estate.) But, beyond this nocturnal tease, Oprah whipped her viewers into frantic suspense with the following blurb:
“A Million Little Pieces is James Frey’s shocking true story about his battle with addiction and his gut-wrenching journey to recovery. At age 23, after a decade of drug and alcohol abuse, Frey hasn’t just hit rock bottom, he’s knocking on Death’s door. One more drink or one more drug, the doctors tell him, will kill him. But this will be no ordinary stint in rehab—in a move that’s both courageous and obstinate, Frey rejects the Twelve Step Program and chooses his own path to sobriety. Raw and honest, Frey’s descriptions of his withdrawal and the Fury that rages inside jump off the page and pull you in. A Million Little Pieces is an unforgettable account of how far one man will go to destroy himself and what it takes to turn him around.”
Then, after eliciting a few tantalizing details from her new protégé during an hour-long séance, Oprah christened her latest literary offspring with the following command to her millions of devoted fans:
“Start reading A Million Little Pieces—James Frey’s gut-wrenching memoir about his wild ride through rehab!”
And read they did: inflating sales of Frey’s book to over 3.5 million copies and making him very rich indeed. Great!
Except that it was revealed on Tuesday that many of the most interesting (think gut-wrenching) details in Frey’s memoir are, well, just figments of his heroin-chic imagination. (Please click here to read the exhaustive investigative report that smoked-out this high-profile huckster and debunked his tale of pseudo-vices).
But back to Oprah: Given all of her talk about embracing one’s true self and living a blissful life of open confessions, one might’ve expected Oprah to feel betrayed, perhaps even humiliated, by this abuse of her reputation and trust. Instead, she blessed Frey’s fatuous plea about taking creative license with the truth and ignored the emotional toil his lies will undoubtedly have on her fans whose lives were “impacted” by his book.
Because on Wednesday’s edition of CNN’s Larry King Live, as Frey was drowning under a tidal wave of backlash, Oprah threw him a life raft by calling-in to comfort him and assure her public that all of the evidence about Frey’s lies amounts to:
“…much ado about nothing [and that they should] keep holding on….What is relevant is that he was a drug addict . . . and stepped out of that history to be the man he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves. [Besides, she affirmed,] the book’s message of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction still resonates with me.”
Nonetheless, Frey’s publisher, Random House, and major booksellers like Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com admitted being hoodwinked and have offered refunds to all readers who feel they were sold a bill of goods.
I feel obliged to inform you that I admire Oprah tremendously. And, where her accomplishments as a talk show host are self-evident, I suspect that relatively few people are aware of her generous funding of schools and other charities in South Africa. But it is in this context that I find Oprah most impressive.
Nonetheless, her reaction to Frey’s deceit and obvious intent to exploit her fame and defraud her fans is disappointing, indeed, troubling. After all, when the publisher of the New York Times found out that his star reporter Jayson Blair had committed a similar publishing crime (reporting pure fiction as fact), he not only fired Blair but his editors as well.
Why is she still defending this book? Is it not irresponsible for her to counsel her deceived fans to “keep holding on” to the professed inspiration they got from a pack of lies? And why would she – who admonishes people almost daily to be true to themselves and to live their own lives – now enable Frey to gloss over pathological (and mercenary) lies about his own life?
Although, despite her pretense, Oprah’s own doubts about Frey’s “non-fiction” may be the reason why the only other books she promoted last year were classic fictions by William Faulkner…..Hmmmm?
Of course, it does not matter how she answers these questions now because her credibility has already suffered irreparable and notorious harm.
But good heavens, even President Bush has finally admitted he was duped on WMDs. Has Oprah become so convinced of her own power and infallibility that she cannot admit a single mistake?
Alas, on this book parade, the empress wears no clothes….