Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A most unfortunate war

And most misfortunate of all - the clever way war manages to blind even those who once may have been able to avert it.

Witness - another example of most regrettable scapegoating. Does this pattern have a term? It must do, I have seen it so many times in my ever so drawn out dull 35 years of life among artists, "educators", paragons of self empowerment, leaders in indigenous renaissance and god knows just about every damn radical liberal endeavor you can think of - I was there somewhere lurking in the background as a child thinking "great, I think I'll be a hermit when I grow up" while my extended family communally tore each other verbally to pieces or drunk each other under the table to liltingly slurred heroic prose.

Here it is, what shall it be called - the saliva effect? You know, that thing that happens when people are passionately proclaiming their cause and accidentally sputum all over the audience and it lands on the nearest, while the rest of world remains none the wiser. It is fashionable these days, to spray speech residue all over a nearby "comrade" because the real antagonist is too far away to spit at. Why aim a gob arc at the whitehouse, for example, when you could land one on that journalist who was here last week.

And how brave! Thunderous! Like shaking fists at Aunt Daisy in the front row of the nativity pageant. Oh what a powerful feeling that must be.

Wafaa' Al-Natheema tells it to another journalist! Breaking down barriers! Educating! Changing Prejudices! Tearing down walls! Releasing us all from our shackles!

Dear Robin:

I can not tell you how expected your article's content was and how much of a cliche coverage it had!

By the way, I had boycotted the NY Times years back; that is boycotting buying, writing in and reading it. Now you have given me another reason for making my boycott comprehensive, never to give permission to a journalist from the NY Times to interview me again, as your interview with me last week was the third disappointing in a row. Here is why: read the rest there is more

Wafaa' Al-Natheema

The journalist's crime? She actually interviewed the actual artist and QUOTED THE ACTUAL ARTIST instead of Wafaa' Al-Natheema, the knowledgeable educator. The knowledgeable founder of an organisation that educates and re-corrects and sets people straight day in day out, week after month after year after year... who founded an organisation that has at least one man who can facilitate an email exchange for a whole week and by the ninth message - is still doing things like calling a women who has as yet unspecified her gender "Sir" (shortly after announcing I was actually a woman, he informed me that would be his last reply. Is there a correlation I ask myself? Or was I just another figment of his imagination).

Oh what an evil wicked willful journo, basing her article about a musician on what the actual musician had to say - rather then on what a glowing notary like Wafaa' Al-Natheema might ! Unlearned media pawn, fancy consulting two sources and going with the vulnerable musician instead of academia.

How, can anyone in the wider world ever be expected to change their perceptions when few people in certain circles seem willing to take a very hard look at the insular "burn slash and hack the outsiders" approach that lecturers, diarists and their prodigy so often employ. Of course, it does not one bit of good ignoring them, they only become more insular, but then how CAN it be dealt with? Telling an academic (or mercy on us, blogger) they are being all shouty only makes them shoutier, shouting back only makes them more vindictive, and ironically, subtly repeating their style and reflecting it to them through strategically placed mirrors just goes over most of their heads - being narcissists, unless they are especially astute or you do it rather bluntly by only changing every third word. For the most part though - it's all "deny deny deny".

So, what was the central issue? The central issue it seems, that sparked the whole "lynch a journo today wake up feeling productive tomorrow" episode was unfortunately diluted by the focus on the journalist. Winding up looking, like little more then another mission to belittle another author. Which means, once again, that war won. War won, because it took the focus of the central issue - which was that frequent media references to Sunni and Shiite might give people the idea there is some kind of Islamic polarity ticking away. But why should these references give this impression? Why could not a comparison be made? A gentle simile, a bridge if you will, a reminder that Islam has various branches just as christianity does (local reference; "Sydney Anglican" - defined by sect and also by location. No I'm not one. Yes they do antagonise other Anglicans. From what I can make out. To some small extent. Not that I want to cause major schism or anything.)

Why is it, that people working in institutions "defending a cause" so often seem so, so, so... so very blind to the glaring obvious. Or perhaps, it is just another one of my hallucinations, and that spotlight that shines around an issue is there only for me to see. And this is where I get that faraway misty look in my eyes like, as if I were seeing marsh fairies on the horizon, before I am pelted by stones or fall into the trench while the firing squad drill the air with more hail. Just to make the point.

And then I wake up again and it was all a dream and Wafaa' Al-Natheema was just all a nasty CIA or communist plot. Thank god (non sect) for my imagination.

Restock; Eff has a point, which I might understand if I were to unravel it. I suppose, the one reliable thing about mainstream media is that at least some of it is easy enough for me to read. Oh god, I deserve a kick for that - but you wouldn't kick a strawlady, would you?

In sum:
to be perfectly clear. The point. The point, is that too often self-declared "educators" create prejudices by making presumptions. Oh irony. In this case, an "educator" presumes that the journalist's audience are stupid, and looking for any reason at all to lynch a muslim.

The educator complains about references to Sunni and Shiite in an article:

"Why did you need to introduce Amir's father as an Iraqi Shiite Muslim? ...enough of this cheap secterianism!! ...I will save myself future disappointment and frustration and never deal with anyone from the NY Times again."

Expecting to read a gutter propaganda attempt to pit people against one another based on religion, I went on to read the journalist's actual article. And found, the references, in context, are actually inclusive ones, implying harmony and diversity; "both Sunnis and Shiites" writes the journalist, at one point, pointedly, in an expression of togetherness.

The educator assumes, that the journalist's reader is looking for sectarian conflict and is not smart enough to go "oh Islam has a few variants, wow, how like christianity. Gee wizz, they have half a dozen different branches too". The educator assumes that the audience cannot think at all. And at the end of the day, it seems the educationalist is the one looking for conflict, not the audience, or the journalist, and least of all the musician, who was probably just trying to give a human picture of himself to the world, to build a few bridges. Way to go academia, way to go for burning yours.

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