I spent yesterday walking about downtown Cleveland which is filled with folks for the Republican National Convention. On my way here everyone told me to be careful, bring a gun, watch my back. All very good and smart words to heed considering the violence we see on the teeeveee and social media. It does seem that it’s everywhere, doesn’t it?
I showed up my usual naive self. I went out to Public Square which is, well, a public square. It was filled with police officers and media and a variety of people trying to drum up support for their particular cause. Code pink, some anarchists (who were really very nice) Trump supporters, Jill Stein supporters and Jesus Freaks.
There was very little violence. And by very little I mean one guy tried to take a swing at Alex Jones. There were some heated exchanges, but even those were nothing more than two people who both sound crazy spouting crazy talk at each other. Oh, am I being judgmental? I’m sorry. You can watch my periscope to find out what I’m talking about (all of it will be posted soon.)
But everyone was actually pretty nice to each other. Even folks who think Muslims are evil were nice to me. Maybe it catches them off guard because I look so normal? But I think it’s all part of the greater lie we are being told that America is falling apart and we need to take it back.
Here’s a secret folks- it really is all ok. Seriously. I wouldn’t lie to you.
There were people talking about how America was never great. I told him to go to Afghanistan and then tell me what’s not great about America. Nothing happened after that. That was it.
A 20 year old kid told me “All you need to do is have a banner and you can get on t.v.” He was holding a Trump banner following the anarchist ninjas around. Nothing happened to him either.
An anarchist was agreeing with a Trump supporter.
A guy who told me Obama was a muslim who hated America asked me if I was on facebook.
Some people said we are all going to hell. And there was a guy with a boot on his head.Â
All in all, it looked like a day in America. If you could take every bizarre-o world whacked out thing about America and put it in one place, you’d have what I saw yesterday. And to be honest, it really captures American culture at it’s best.
Do I think it’s crazy to say Obama smuggles Somalians into the U.S. through Mexico so they can wage war against us. Yup. Do I love that folks can stand there and say it. Also yup.
I love that we can walk around with our faces covered or uncovered, have an upside down flag and just speak our minds even if our minds are really confused about how the world works. I love people who say they are voting for Jill Stein and I loved the weirdos who danced barefoot in the fountain.
Thank you to those who were handing out bottles of water.
To the folks who say America was never great I ask this question – what do you want it to be? I don’t want to be like Japan, we bombed them, remember? I don’t want to ferret out ideas that I don’t like or disagree with or think are crazy. And man, oh boy. Wow. There are a lot of them. But who cares?
Look, we can all jump up and down and say burn it all down. You can rail against the ‘establishment’ whatever that is. Or, you can say you like things just how they are and you don’t want them ever to change. It actually doesn’t matter. Do you not see that the culture of America is not double stuffed crust pizza, or building walls or whatever white, black, asian, rainbow – whatever your narrow view believes it is? It is actually the craziness of being able to be all of it at once. What sort of place can contain all of this madness and rationality all at once?
America can. *
No where. You can’t do this anywhere else in the world. And if you cry about the west and how terrible it’s becoming you need to settle yourself down and look around you in America and not pretend like we are Sweden (we aren’t) or Germany (also we aren’t) or France (since when do we start wanting to be like the French anyway?) Just cut it out.
If you believe America is coming apart at the seams, come visit with me in Cleveland and fall in love with your country again.
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Maajid Nawaz wrote a wonderful piece about Qandeel Baloch, the social media sensation of Pakistan. His article is powerful, moving, and rational all at the same time. This is a tough thing to do when writing about things that are as politically and emotionally charged as religion. Ok, let’s say it – like Islam. When you write about Islam there seem to be two very polarized views, you are either for us or against us.
What an odd way of thinking of something, to not allow for any shades of grey, to not invite scrutiny or testing of our beliefs to see if they hold up under difficult circumstances. I would not rely on a shelter to keep me safe if the materials from which is was built had not been tested for the climate in which I was going to live. Why should my faith be any different? Defensiveness is proof that you don’t have faith in your beliefs; Â when you attack someone’s core values, well, that never works out well, does it? Perhaps there are other means and methods to tease out who we are, which one of our beliefs is worth saving and which may be salvaged with some work done to them, give them a little shine and some new life. Consider it a sort of religious ‘repurposing’ if you will.
Ah, so much of what I’ve written about the religion of my birth could be considered apostasy and yet, up until this year, no one had ever called me such a thing. Not my relatives who pray five times a day, not a member of the Taliban. No one. The people who call me an apostate these days are those who attempt to use the fact that I am muslim against me; the ones who would have others believe that because I believe in reform and advancement, someone wants to kill me. (Hint, the ones who call me an apostate aren’t muslim.) “Aha, see, you don’t wear a burqa! Your father will kill you!” Or some other such nonsense.
How strange that instead of being on my side, these people would rather see me dead or defeated. It would lead one to believe that they aren’t truly interested in the advancement of a society, but rather the destruction of it. We’ve had that happen to groups of people in history before. It didn’t turn out so well.
But I digress.
This post isn’t about jerks on the internet that say dumb things to me. It’s about Qandeel Baloch. It’s about the fact that while we sit here and lament our state as women in the west being upset that we are told to smile, women in other countries are defying every cultural norm simply by walking down the street the way you and I do every day. Me. The way I do. A muslim woman from Afghanistan. Kandahar. I am free and they are not. And when they act the way I do, a way that is considered provocative or simply not afraid, their life is at risk.
(If your response to this is do away with Islam, well, you can stop reading this now. There is nothing here for you. Find a better use of your time.)
Women’s sexuality is a complicated issue for men. This is true regardless of where we live or how advanced we consider ourselves as a society. There are those in the United States who believe we have a rape culture. I think this is preposterous, having lived in America since I was 18 months old and have not felt that society was saying it was ok for men to rape me. I’ve argued that rape should not be a crime separate from assault, because in doing so we say that we value a woman’s sexuality differently than we value her face, her arms, or her brain. We have hundreds and thousands of articles that talk about how a woman should dress for a job interview, for picking a jury. I can’t go to the jail if my skirt is 2″ over my knee or if I am wearing a sleeveless top under my suit jacket. This is because I am sex.
In Afghanistan women (in certain areas) are covered from head to toe in the street. No one can see if they are young or old, fat or fit. All of them are nameless and faceless. This is because they are sex. In Afghanistan, though, we are clear about it. Women tempt men. Men want to have sex with women. Men are weak so women must cover themselves to protect themselves from men having sex with them. Voila. The true patriarchy at work.
Qandeel Baloch didn’t cover herself. Men wanted her. She was sex.
Her brother felt shame at this. He felt shame knowing his sister was a human being that people – men – would want to have sex with. She was sex and sex was shame.
To be honest, I don’t really understand shame. In my language, to be called shameless is a horrible insult. I’ve been called it a few times in my life. Being shameless is, in many ways, worse than being an apostate. At least with shame, you can put on the act. Society makes you go into your corner, retreat and behave in a way that is much more polite. Of course, the standards of politeness depend on the company you keep. But shame can make you seem like a good muslim.
When you have no shame, well, all of that goes out the window.
Baysharma. Without shame.
Qandeel Baloch was not acting the part of the good muslim woman according to the standards of the society her brother wished to keep. You know what? Fuck him.
I frequently feel like I’ve run out of words, that I’m pounding the same drum to the same beat over and over and over again. It feels hopeless at times. And then another person is killed for some reason that I cannot fathom and I pick up the drum and beat it again.
I don’t know if this post made sense. If it didn’t it is because this death doesn’t make sense and I cannot justify it and I cannot justify a faith that would allow it. I am not for you and I am not against you. But I am as baysharma as Qandeel Baloch was.
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This week Mirriam chats with A.J. Delgado. A.J. is an attorney, conservative commentator, columnist, public speaker and author. She has been published in the American Conservative, National Review, and The Miami Herald as well as appearing on radio, online and cable news shows, including Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and NPR. A.J. has also been a very vocal supporter of Donald Trump. Its an exciting discussion and a lot of fun! Find A.J. on Twitter @ajdelgado13
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There are a lot of angry people in America right now. The middle class feels screwed over, for good reason. More work, less leisure time. Our kids are raised by other people because both parents have to work in order to make ends meet. We now have to buy insurance at astronomical rates so that the poorest among us (who really still can’t afford insurance) can get insurance (theoretically) and the richest (insurance companies) can make more money.
Our criminal justice system is a wreck. It’s always been one you’d think with all the bad press it gets it might get a little better, but nah. It is still fundamentally unfair and crooked. Judges and prosecutors have bizarrely close relationships and the person who is mentioned as the one to protect – the accused – gets treated as an afterthought. Defense attorneys are viewed as nothing but brambles and thatch to be cleared out in order to get to the conviction and sentencing part of the event. We are nothing but a nuisance.
As I said in my last post blame is easy. But you know what, I skipped over laying the blame since I didn’t think it was necessary. Let’s get that part done now. Here goes:
You are the cause of your own problems, my friend. And when all of us individually fuck ourselves up, we get a nation that gets royally fucked.
Here’s what I think. If you went out during the housing bubble and bought a house that cost 500k and you make 70k a year, well, what the fuck were you thinking? At some point you were going to have to pay for that house regardless of the fact that the bank gave you a no-document and no down payment required loan. How did you not know that? How did so many people not know this? Where does this kind of something or nothing mindset come from? Why do people think they can live a life they cannot pay for?
If you thought that and did that, you are to blame. Not the banks who gave you the money. Just you.
Did you know that if you didn’t do the work for the price the bosses demanded, they would find another place where people would do the work for barely liveable wages? And then our products would be cheap and we would be addicted to cheap crap? You buy your cheap crap from Walmart, don’t you? Isn’t it cheaper to buy a new printer than pay for ink? How do you think that happens?
Stop buying stuff at Walmart. Stop buying from people who have their headquarters in Texas but their labor in China. You can’t afford to buy American?
Think about that for a bit and then get back to me.
Oh and now you come along and declare the war on drugs to be bad, poverty is bad, judges are biased, prosecutors lie. Yup, yup, yup and yup. And what are you going to do about it? Ask the government for help? Make those mean circuit court judges stop doing the mean things they are doing? You want more executive action in order to get your way? Be careful what you wish for. The executive action you ask for just might be the executive action you get, but not in the way you want.
Real talk: Is the American dream only for those of us who came here in search of it? It seems, sometimes, that the people who were born to it have abandoned it and now are regretting that decision. Â You are owed a life because of the luck of your birth and the rest of us are here stealing it from you?
You aren’t owed anything. That’s the reality of life. It doesn’t matter if your ancestors fought in the American revolution the way my kids’ ancestors did. You fight and claw your way to the top, or you stay on the bottom and I guess spend your time being angry and blaming everyone and everything else for your fate.
I worry my kids will be infected with this same disease of ennui and entitlement. What a terrible combination.
And you want to blame affirmative action, or big banks, or the folks who gave you the student loan when you didn’t have any money to go to school and who gave you the money to go to school.
Blame muslims, gays, christians, black people, illegal immigrants. Blame lawyers or judges or cops or black lives matter.
Blame God. Or god. Or g-d. Allah, Buddah, Nigel Farge, Obama, Trump. Blame your mother. Fuck it, blame me. It doesn’t matter.
When you point the finger at someone else, 3 point back at you.
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