ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for February 2011

The Indie and John Galliano.

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In my view, the British media have, in many ways, contributed to the acceptability of soft antisemitism in modern society.

Nevertheless, when the Independent chose to cover John Galliano’s racist outbursts I was hopeful of a meaningful discussion on the topic.

Yet the concluding paragraph of this piece shows where contemporary interest lies, in celebrity and who wore what dress, that for the Independent is the real issue:

Star’s dilemma

For what she must hope is her crowning moment at tonight’s Oscars for her role in Black Swan, Natalie Portman will have wished for anything but the last-minute fashion crisis she now faces.

She is among a gaggle of high-profile guests, who, having been painstakingly fitted with one of Galliano’s frocks, face a daunting decision over which dress to wear to the ball.

Galliano’s alleged rant could see both Portman and her peers obliged to answer the most untimely and unwanted questions on anti-Semitism.

Penélope Cruz wore Galliano at last year’s awards, as did Cameron Diaz, while Charlize Theron, Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto, and Heidi Klum are known to be a fans.

Meanwhile, the model Kate Moss recently revealed she asked Galliano to design the dress for her wedding later this year. “

Update 1: The Guardian has a similarly tepid article.

Update 2: This is the first instance of Galliano’s racism captured on camera:

Update 3: Phoebe Maltz explains it clearly:

“Next, there are racists, there are alcoholics, and there those who say dumb things after one too many. Not to rehash the Affaire Gibson, but the people who start holding forth about ‘those people’ once they’ve had a few might be alcoholics, or might not, but are definitely racists.

Drinking to the point of disinhibition, but remaining plenty coherent, is not grounds for rehab, for concern from strangers, for any kind of sympathy. It’s grounds for having the courage to hit on a friend one has been crushing on, perhaps to mingle with ease in a informal-networking-type setting. Going on the anecdotal evidence of someone who attended college in the United States and who is currently in a French department, the amount of alcohol it takes to speak more freely is not what is scientifically referred to as sloppy-drunk, but is in fact a normal and mostly positive aspect of life for many adults in many countries. It is a level of tipsiness that does not indicate that one has a problem with alcohol.

Now, if you know yourself and know that your otherwise hidden views about ‘those people’ have a tendency to seem appropriate to you once you’ve had a beer, it is a problem for you to have alcohol even in amounts that would not damage your liver; having the beer anyway indicates poor judgment, not (necessarily) addiction. In vino veritas is not typically anything along the lines of a “cry for help.” “

(H/T:Eamonn McDonagh)

Racism, Hamas And The Guardian.

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The Guardian’s coverage of Hamas’s racism is often problematic, but it’s not necessarily for the content rather than the downplaying of Hamas’s racism.

As *if* it is incidental to their beliefs.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as the Hamas Covenant shows, oozing from it you will find bigotry and racism towards Jews, conspiracy theories, etc, the lot.

Next, if you were going to report Hamas’s attitude towards the new UN curriculum then you might at least include their initial reaction in 2009:

“”The refugee camps committees categorically refuse to let our children be taught this lie created by the Jews and intensified by their media,” the committees’ letter said. “First of all, [the Holocaust] is not a fact, and secondly, those who added it to the curriculum intended to mess with our children’s emotions.”

Why not mention Khaled Meshaal’s Holocaust revisionism?

Meshaal is a major Hamas leader and his thinking is central to Hamas’s outlook on the world. On the 31st of March 2008, Khaled Meshaal tells a Sky interviewer:

“KM: We don’t want to harm any religion in the world. We don’t deny the holocaust.
But, we believe the Zionists have exaggerated the numbers to get sympathy from other nations. But, there is Palestinian suffering caused by Israel.”

So, the Guardian, if you are going to comment on Hamas’s racism, please at least make an effort.

Update 1: From last year, In The Age of The Internet: More Racism At The Guardian.

Written by modernityblog

28/02/2011 at 16:20

Unentertainment News, John Galliano: “I love Hitler”

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As with so many bigots and antisemites their history comes back to haunt them.

John Galliano, who was suspended by Dior for an antisemitic incident at a Paris cafe recently, did it before.

According to the JC, a video has surfaced on the Internet with Galliano making a comment “I love Hitler”.

Further, Galliano goes on to say

“People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed.”

Update 1: Linda Grant’s thoughts are here.

Written by modernityblog

28/02/2011 at 15:36

Not At The Oscars, But On Twitter.

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Those who really know me would be surprised to hear that I am not at the Oscars in Hollywood.

But I am on Twitter, instead !

And whilst I am not a film critic or much given to commenting on cultural issues, I would say that the King’s Speech is historically rather problematic.

Some about Edward VIII.

Written by modernityblog

28/02/2011 at 03:53

Adhoc Revolts, Wisconsin And The Middle East.

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It seems that the people of America are learning from the Middle East in the ad hoc revolts against authority, Huff Post has more from Wisconsin:

“MADISON, Wis. — Harriet Rowan was among the first to join what has become an almost two-week-long rally at the Wisconsin Capitol, and she said with the arrival of thousands of others, confusion, misinformation and rumors quickly spread.

“I came back on Tuesday night and there was absolutely no organization,” Rowan said. “People needed people to go up upstairs and testify all night to keep the building open … people were going around just waking people up … it was chaotic.”

The University of Wisconsin senior made a spur-of-the-moment decision to coordinate protest efforts, making signs with media talking points and starting a Twitter feed detailing legislative meeting times, union rally locations and details on day-to-day life in the Capitol.

Other Madison residents have opened their doors to out-of-town strangers, offering a bed to anyone friendly to unions. At the Statehouse, a spread including pizza, chili and artisanal cheeses is offered to hungry protesters. Busloads of supporters from Los Angeles and elsewhere arrive to boost the numbers.

Nearly two weeks after the start of massive protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal that would strip nearly all public employees of their collective bargaining rights erupted, a network of volunteers has emerged as the skeleton that keeps the daily demonstrations alive.”

More on the Koch brothers.

Update 1: Andrew Murphy has made a very powerful comment on this issue:

“Reuters left out alot.

Section 16.896 of the bill clearly states that the governor has unilateral authority to sell off or lease the operation of the state’s power, cooling and heating plants in no-bid contracts.

It does not mention Koch’s by name but they have opened and hired 7 lobbyists in Madison and Koch industries are already advertsing the hiring of plant managers for positions Koch industries doesn’t even existed yet in Wisconsin. Here is the job offer from Think Energy Group, part of the Koch Industry.

http://www.thinkenergygroup.com/think.nsf/J/84239?Opendocument

Even Forbes magazine who one could hardly accuse of being anticapitalist or even anti-Koch Industries smells something fishy, perhaps

“At best, it is highly irregular that a state legislature would grant the executive the power to sell off or lease public utilities without a bidding process. At worse – well, I would hate to think that such a bargain could be struck all for the benefit of one particular company.”

http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/02/22/a-secret-deal-between-gov-walker-and-koch-brothers-buried-in-state-budget/

The proof that this is not really about the state budget is that the governor’s plan exempts the police, firefighters and the State Patrol from any pension reforms or collective bargaining reform. What an amazing coincidence that the very blue collar unions that typically vote Republican are being left alone. “

Written by modernityblog

28/02/2011 at 02:28

Blair Kissing Gaddafi.

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Just when you think that Tony Blair’s reputation can’t sink much lower, something new appears.

Take a look at the very first part of Charlie Brooker’s rant on Gaddafi, and you’ll see the warm greeting between Gaddafi and Blair.

Update 1: The NYT has an insider’s view of events:

“The younger Mr. Qaddafi promised journalists they would find the streets peaceful and his father beloved. Do not mistake the sound of celebratory fireworks for bursts of gunfire around the streets of Tripoli, he advised them.

The next morning, a driver took a group of foreign journalists to an area known as the Friday market, which appeared to have been the site of a riot the night before. The streets were strewn with debris, and piles of shattered glass had been collected in cardboard boxes.

A young man approached the journalists to deliver a passionate plea for unity and accolades to Colonel Qaddafi, then slipped away in a white van full of police officers. Meanwhile, two small boys surreptitiously offered bullet casings that they presented as evidence of force used on protesters the day before.

At another stop, in the working-class suburb of Tajoura, journalists stumbled almost accidentally into a block cordoned off by low makeshift barriers where dozens of residents were eager to talk about a week of what they said were peaceful protests crushed by Colonel Qaddafi’s security forces with overwhelming, deadly and often random force.

A middle-age business owner, who spoke on condition that he be identified only as Turki, said that the demonstrations there had begun last Sunday, when thousands of protesters inspired by the uprising in the east had marched toward Green Square.

Suddenly, he said, they found themselves caught between two groups of double-cabin pick-up trucks without license plates, about forty in all. Men in the trucks opened fire, and killed a man named Issa Hatey. He said neighbors had renamed the area’s central traffic circle “Issa Hatey Square” in his memory.

He and other residents said that over the past week neighbors had been besieged by pickup trucks full of armed men shooting randomly at the crowds, sometimes wounding people who were sitting peacefully in their homes or cars. At other times, they said, the security forces had employed rooftop snipers, antiaircraft guns mounted on trucks and buckshot, and the residents produced shells and casings that appeared to confirm their reports. Turki said that on one day he had seen 50 to 60 heavily armed men who appeared to be mercenaries from nearby African countries.

The neighbors built the low barricades on the streets to impede the trucks with guns. “They come and they kill whoever they can see,” he said. “We are just walking and we don’t have guns.”

After Friday Prayer, Turki and his friends said, a crowd of several thousand had gathered at Issa Hatey Square to march to Green Square. They raised what he called “the old-new flag,” the former tricolor of the Libyan monarchy that rebels have claimed as the flag of a free, post-Qaddafi Libya.

Two carloads of Libyan Army soldiers had joined them, he said, though they never used their weapons to avoid provoking a bloody retaliation.

But when the march arrived at the Arada neighborhood, they were ambushed by snipers on the rooftops. Some protesters said they had been attacked by the personal militia of Colonel Qaddafi’s son Khamis Qaddafi, which is considered the most formidable battalion in the Qaddafi forces.

At least 15 people had died there, he and others said.

A precise death toll has been impossible to verify. A Libyan envoy said Friday that hundreds had been killed in Tripoli. “

Gaddafi In A Bunker.

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This programme on PBS, Getting to Know Gadhafi: Examining the Quirks, Intellect of Libya’s Strongmanm, is informative with an insightful assessment of Gaddafi:

JIM HOAGLAND: I think you can take that at face value. I think you have to wonder if he has a grip on reality, much less control of his country at this point.

Nobody is going in and telling him how bad things really are. If they did, he wouldn’t believe it, and he would probably punish them for doing that. So I think he’s in the bunker, and he’s there to fight on until the last. “

Very plausible, but the question is, what about the sons?

Over at Forbes a puff piece calls Al-Saadi Gaddafi “The African Renaissance Young Man Who Wears Many Hats”.

The piece is enough to make you vomit:

“Al-Saadi al-Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, offers a unique perspective on Libyan development. His personality offers an amalgam of Bill Clinton-esque charm and Jack Welch’s keen intelligence. He could easily be mistaken for a corporate executive rather than the leader of a nation if you met him anonymously in a crowd, and, like a good business leader, Al-Saadi continuously looks for ways to open Libya to the world.

In a recent interview, he spoke authoritatively of the bright future he anticipates for Libya. “Change is coming,” he stated. “Libya and Africa will not be the same in 10 years.” As the conversation expanded to the recent multiple-sector expansion in Tripoli, he spoke of his father’s wise sense in modernizing Libya and leading it into the global economy.

A student of world history who idolizes Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Al-Saadi reflected upon the next steps for Africa in an even broader sense: “Africa has what the developed world needs to continue thriving in the 21st century. All the resources, minerals and manufacturing know-how are available in this gigantic untapped market.”

When it comes to the perception of Libya and Africa around the world, Al-Saadi was quick to acknowledge faults—but equally quick to point to the signs of positive change. He considers himself a true African, who loves observing nature and hunting in the African bush all over the continent.

“Western media has not always been balanced when speaking about Libya. But we will do whatever it takes to open hearts and minds as we strive as a country to open ourselves to the rest of the world. We want them to come enjoy our culture, our food, our history, our lives.” “

Yuck.

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