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"A sign for the times," from Dennis Dunleavy's The Big Picture

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Best of Blogs Round-Up: May 17, 2006


Featured Blog, I: The Next War
Iran's Iraq Prize

It was around the 10th or 11th of April, 2003. There had been no electricity in our area since the last days of March. The water was also cut off and most Iraqis still didn’t have generators. We spent the days- and nights- listening to American and British war planes, listening for the tanks as they invaded the city, and praying. We also tried desperately to follow the news.

The state-controlled Iraqi channels had, seemingly, ceased to exist. Transmission had been bad since the war began- sometimes, we’d be able to access the channel clearly, and at other times, it was only a fuzzy blur of faces and scratchy national anthems. The official Iraqi radio station was no better- sometimes it seemed like they were transmitting from Mars- it was so far away. When we did get it clearly, none of it made sense: Sahhaf, the Minister of Information, would say, “There are no tanks in Baghdad!” and yet, explosions and the carcasses of burnt up cars with families still inside, said otherwise.

By the beginning of April, we had given up on getting any information from television and had to rely completely on the news we received through radio stations such as Monte Carlo, BBC and the Voice of America. VOA was nearly as useless as Sahhaf- we could never tell if the news they were broadcasting was real or if it was simply propaganda. In between news, VOA would broadcast the same songs over and over and over. I still can’t hear Celine Dion’s “A New Day Has Come” without shuddering because in my head I hear the sounds of war. “I was waiting for someone…” the roar of a plane overhead … “For a miracle to come…” the BOOM of a missile… “My heart told me to be strong…” the rat-tat-tat of an AK-47... I hate that song today.

One television station that had been broadcasting since the beginning of the war was an Iranian station called “Al Alam”. They had been broadcasting for the Iraqi public in Arabic with permission from the former government and they continued broadcasting even after the Iraqi stations stopped. Their coverage of the war was rather neutral. They gave facts and avoided unnecessary commentary or opinion and that, to a certain extent, made them trustworthy- especially since we really didn’t have any other options. Read the rest at Baghdad Burning...

Featured Blog, II: Scarlet Letters
Dear Mr. & Ms. Racist

Shock Treatment: With reference to your behaviour in these past few years, I'd like to inform you that more and more people are waking up to the fact that the premise of your beliefs rests on scorn. For example, today more and more performing artists and others are spreading the message, and it seems to me that you're more isolated now than you've ever been. One of your complaints is the practice of affirmative action, usually observed in places where you have recently been, like America and South Africa. You say that qualified white people are not getting jobs while unqualified minorities are. In America, affirmative action "can call for an admissions officer faced with two similarly qualified applicants to choose the minority over the white, or for a manager to recruit and hire a qualified woman for a job instead of a man" [].

One thing that's clear is that as long as we're physically different, racism and discrimination will never leave our world. Unless something enormous happens. Something more threatening than an ominous cold war or a murderous hot one, something bigger than a natural catastrophe, something deadlier than any killer virus or monstrous organisms, more unthinkable than any evil you can imagine. Wars and viruses have so far not been able to right the world, and I doubt they ever will. We could bring up "religion" at this juncture as a possible solution but frankly, "religion" has been one of the bigger dividers of men and remains so, even as I type these words.

The truth is that humans and most other animals are conquerors. Dogs piss out a territory; humans kill or enslave those they find on a territory. Throughout their history, those humans with more advanced technology were able to travel wide, and wherever they did, they killed or conquered other humans they found there. It is amusing that as we plod onward as a species we're only just beginning to realise the value of protecting other species. Protect and feed the panda, but expose and starve Darfur. Read the rest at Mzansi Afrika...


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