Saturday, May 27, 2006

What Joe Galloway learned from war...

While GWB may have been recently reconsidering his tone, if not his policy, others with far less culpability have been expressing both their own regrets and ours far more poignantly.

From Editor & Publisher, via the Daou Report, I am posting these excerpts from Joe Galloway's email exchange with Rumsfield aide Larry DiRita:

DiRita: “Again, what bothers me most about your coverage is your implication that the people involved in all of this are dumb or have ill-intent or are so sure of what they know that they don't brook discussion. That's the part you're just way off on, friend. This is tough stuff, and we're all hard at it, trying to do what's best for the country.”

-- Galloway concluded: “i like to think that is what i am doing also, and it is a struggle that grows out of my obligation to and love for america's warriors going back 41 years as of last month.

Later, Galloway continues: "there are many things we all could wish had happened. i can wish that your boss had surrounded himself with close advisers who had, once at least, held a dying boy in their arms and watched the life run out of his eyes while they lied to him and told him, over and over, ‘You are going to be all right. Hang on! Help is coming. Don't quit now...’ Such men in place of those who had never known service or combat or the true cost of war, and who pays that price, and had never sent their children off to do that hard and unending duty.

“i could wish for so much. i could wish that in january of this year i had not stood in a garbage-strewn pit, in deep mud, and watched soldiers tear apart the wreckage of a kiowa warrior shot down just minutes before and tenderly remove the barely alive body of WO Kyle Jackson and the lifeless body of his fellow pilot. they died flying overhead cover for a little three-vehicle Stryker patrol with which i was riding at the time. i could wish that Jackson's widow Betsy had not found, among the possessions of her late husband, a copy of my book, carefully earmarked at a chapter titled Brave Aviators, which Kyle was reading at the time of his death. That she had not enclosed a photo of her husband, herself and a 3 year old baby girl.

“those things i received in the mail yesterday and they brought back the tears that i wept standing there in that pit, feeling the same shards in my heart that i felt the first time i looked into the face of a fallen american soldier 41 years ago on a barren hill in Quang Ngai Province in another time, another war. someone once asked me if i had learned anything from going to war so many times. my reply: yes, i learned how to cry.”

Galloway's column for Memorial Day

photo: USAirForceAcademy

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Because It Worked So Well for Hitler and Hussein

A man in a roomful of clerks went on a tirade about illegal immigrants. Of course, living in California, he meant Mexicans. "I think we ought to tattoo their foreheads orange before we deport them. Of course that will never work because they'll just turn around and come back."

Forget solutions like helping Mexico, and South America, with economic growth so people who live in abject poverty don't have to risk their lives coming to America to take jobs no one wants in order to help their families who live in villages with no electricity, no indoor plumbing and no paved roads.

Let's just label everybody that's different like Hitler did with his pink and yellow pieces of cloth that made homosexuals and Jews targets. Let's just put people we don't like on the edge of pits and shoot them so their bodies will fall backwards into them, why don't we?

As Graham Nash wrote, "In a land that's known as freedom / How can such a thing be fair?"

The few clerks that were paying attention were stunned into silence leaving me to ask, "How does one deal with such monstrous comments when they are made in your presence?" No one was quick enough on their feet to even call him a racist to his face. How does one make a difference in situations like these?

The story on the Constitution being more...

...than "just a piece of parchment," has been updated with links to some very telling stories about McCain's appearance at The New School.

In memoriam...

From the, via the Daou Report , we have this memorial wall of names...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Cry from the Heartland- Stop the War Now!

My Brother's War. My War.
By Michael Melius

The news today was of a bus carrying teachers stopped near Baghdad, the teachers lined up on the ground and every other one shot dead. Last week it was the women and children at an open market, killed by a bomb hidden among sacks of flour.

How do you turn away from this news? You who support the war, how do you intend to stop it? Did you not promise these people security when you overran their country? Those innocent people--however hard their lives might have been without us, it's only a might-have-been. What is certain is that their lives would not have ended the way they did if we hadn't brought war to their land. We are responsible for this war.

Read the rest.

We read this letter at one of favorite sites, Political Physics, and asked if we could cross-post it here at Lyssa Strada. the rest here, as well as something about its origins and the passionate comments it elicited.

Sure, it's a hairy job, but we really oughta do it...

We are always grateful to the women at Broadsheet for keeping us up to date on the really interesting, humorous, and sometimes horrifying, stories that women need to know about... whether we want to or not.

This particular story could almost encompass all of those attributes all by itself... but we would like to consider taking it further... much, much further.

First, anyone who has spent anytime at all reading Broadsheet's comment threads-- as I have-- is well aware that, in addition to the women one would expect to find, quite a few men frequent them, as well, including those who most relish complaining about Broadsheet's very existence. (Oedipal? Beats me.) Anyway, although it's a broad spectrum of male types-- from the ones you might like to know, to your brothers' friends, to former lovers who broke your heart, or whose hearts you broke, and yes, to those guys that creep you out-- one can still predict which topics will rouse the most heated online debates.

During the discussions on parenting & gender roles, one learns that a surprising number of men are very angry that they do not have the same options that women do when considering whether or not to become parents, and in fact, some of these very men have spent significant hours of their time trying to draft potential legislation or templates for contracts that would allow them "some say" over the bodies into which they deposit their sperm, regardless of marital status. (Which is why I first had this still-beng-developed thought. See?)

The most vociferous discussions, however, have been reserved for-- what else?! -- women's bodies, our grooming or lack thereof, weight, size, shape, muscle tone, breast size & perkiness, butt cheekiness, and the degrees to which each of these attributes are affected by pregnancy and childbirth... and most importantly, our body hair! To be more precise, we'll refer to it as monstrous body hair because, apparently, a full-grown woman with hair growing from her body in all of the usual places is truly monstrous to many, many men. (To those of you who really couldn't care less, our deep appreciation!)

So, what does this weird, yet oddly appealing, ad campaign that plans to use hairy women to arouse male perceptions of grossness, in order to shame them into shaving, have to do with furthering our aims at Lyssa Strada? It's just tangential, because frankly, most men and women in relationships manage to negotiate their own acceptable, if only tolerable, levels of hirsuteness. So, the notion of encouraging groups of women to such levels of grossness, merely to affect the grooming behavior of individual men does not seem very compelling, when the goal is just to get the men to shave, or in this case, really, to buy a new razor. Besides, we already know, even if Gillette does not, that many men will often fail to make those crucial cognitive connections between their own "perfect male bodies" and their "completely realistic" expectations of their girlfriend's or wive's bodies. Think of George Costanza feeling entitled to date a super model. Got it?

But, what if we really up the ante, to something that truly is worthy of such levels of grossness? What if-- instead of threatening to withhold sex to get men's attention; instead of restricting the use of our uteruses to bear men's children only to have them become cannon fodder; instead of taking professional sports teams hostage by storming the sports stadiums, in order to get men to make significant political and social changes, beginning with ending the war-- what if we use as a stick, that which men most fear-- our grossness, i.e., our unshaven legs and armpits, untweezed brows, too, if you like-- in order to motivate them?

In order to motivate them to end the war. To cease the killing of innocent civilians, including women and children and old men. To cease allowing other men to use women's bodies as weapons of war by committing ethnic cleansing, when they're not allowing genocide.

Wouldn't you think that our grossly hairy bodies would finally be enough grossness to allow those men who don't see it yet, how truly gross the world appears to so many of us now, and how much psychic energy it takes just to get up and start anew each day, and how we have to compartmentalize our feelings-- i.e., act like men, just so we can function, and do our work, and attend to our families-- and how exhausting that is?

Don't you think they'll finally "get it", and more importantly, finally begin to change what they have been doing wrong in the world, if we finally gross them out?

Tomorrow is Lyssa Strada's one-month anniversary...

Open thread: any comments, questions, suggestions, directions, links, ideas, notions, possible contributions... ?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In progress

I'm working on the ultimate "I am woman, hear me roar!" soundtrack/mix/iTunes list to post here, and hopefully to host for podcast, along with comments from the people who love the songs. So feel free to send suggestions to megATmegfowlerDOTcom...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Constitution: It's more than just a piece of parchment

See update at the bottom of this post...

This weekend's Huffington Post happens to feature two commencement speeches, one because Jean Sara Rohe, the student speaker, at the commencement exercises at The New School, in New York, delivered a stirring speech that not only preceded Senator McCain's speech (in its third delivery in a commencement setting) but critiqued it mercilessly, and the other because Catherine Crier used the opportunity of her speech at Case Western University to discuss the importance of our Constitution, concluding with these words:

I am going to add my voice to the many other commencement speakers who call upon you to take up the torch, to confront the many challenges of our time and to make the world a better place. But I must say to you that these are not platitudes, they are mandates. You can try to remain safe by ignoring the warning signs. You can join the ‘system’ and hope to get yours before things tumble out of control. Or you can use your knowledge to wield the power of a free people to protect and defend this great democracy and the rule of law. Choose wisely, because our future is literally in your hands.
And finally, I leave you with these words from Ernest Hemingway. “The world kills people who are particularly gentle, courageous or brave. Now, if you’re none of these, the world will kill you too. It just won’t be in such a hurry.”
Jean Rohe's post discusses her reasons for rewriting her speech the night before her commencement, and includes the complete text of her speech as well, which began with a lyric:

If all the world were peaceful now and forever more,

Peaceful at the surface and peaceful at the core,

All the joy within my heart would be so free to soar,

And we're living on a living planet, circling a living star.

Don't know where we're going but I know we're going far.

We can change the universe by being who we are,

And we're living on a living planet, circling a living star.

Welcome everyone on this beautiful afternoon to the commencement ceremony for the New School class of 2006. That was an excerpt of a song I learned as a child called "Living Planet" by Jay Mankita. I chose to begin my address this way because, as always, but especially now, we are living in a time of violence, of war, of injustice. I am thinking of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in Darfur, in Sri Lanka, in Mogadishu, in Israel/Palestine, right here in the U.S., and many, many other places around the world. And my deepest wish on this day--on all days--is for peace, justice, and true freedom for all people. The song says, "We can change the universe by being who we are," and I believe that it really is just that simple.

There's more, and it's well worth the read, as is Crier's.

UPDATE: two additional links that relate to the story of McCain's appearance at The New School...

In the first one, "My husband was racially profiled at the New School Graduation," appeard as a diary on the Daily Kos, and relates the experience of the Arab husband of writer when he was denied admission to his own graduation, after six years of hard work and sacrifice.

The second one, by creative writing teacher Jan Clausen, which actually led me to the first one, relates a lot of the background story surrounding McCain's selection as commencement speaker, including the fact that, in future, such selections will not be made solely at the discretion of the institution's president, but must be approved by the same academic committee responsible for awarding the honorary degrees.

Muslim Modesty

As usual, the starting point was this story on NPR about a bill in Indonesia that not only tries to outlaw rampant pornography but includes things like making it illegal for spouses to kiss in public, a woman showing her navel and sunbathing.

Let's break this down a bit shall we?

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Yes, we have all been led to believe it's those countries in the Middle East that contain most of the world's muslims. They don't, Indonesia does.

As such, Indonesia is an Islamic country and follows the laws of Islam, which do not demand women wear burqas, only that they as well as the men, dress modestly in accordance with the customs of their community. Some women choose the scarf or the burqa as an outward declaration of their faith, but this is not a requirement.

Islam is about faith as taught by the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be unto him), muslims must not do things that distract them from practicing their faith. This is the reason for modesty and seperation during pray services.

It was explained and demonstrated to me on a visit to a local mosque by a wonderful outreach director named Sister Dyan. During a prayer service, she knelt facing away from me and touched the floor in front of her with her forehead. This motion automatically puts the behind right up in the air. As she turned back to face me, she told me that the very act of praying in a mixed gender environment could lead to distractions. Yes, I conceded, I could understand that. So it is with dress, for both men and women.

And yes extremists, as is their wont, take this farther than the actual intent, insisting the women cover themselves from head to toe with only a slit across the eyes. What strikes me about this is that burqas are protecting the men from being tempted by the beauty of women. Have men so little self-control? Do they realize what power they are giving women by this proclamation? How do women take this power and use it for their own advantage? Another implication is that women could not possibly be enflamed by the sight of a man whose face and hands are not covered.

So then, there is a serious problem in a muslim country whose government turns a blind eye to pornography which is so rampant that it can be bought from street vendors. Even more disturbing:
There are, for example, few western countries that would show a posse of secondary school students watching a porn film in mid-afternoon and becoming so aroused they pair off couple by couple to go and have sex. Yet this scene appeared recently on an Indonesian soap opera. The fact that it was broadcast in the evening means little in a country where few children go to bed before 9pm.
Studies have shown that pornography has detrimental effects on both those who view it and who create it. Further, studies of those in the industry show they suffer from a range of mental health problems including a history of incest, molestation and sexual abuse as children.

How then, does making it illegal for women to do any number of things stop the flow of pornography?
But the biggest gripe is with the articles on what is known locally as pornoaksi, or pornographic actions. These, the opposition argue, massively curtail individuals' rights, and particularly those of women.
In America, Larry Flynt bless his perverted little heart, is the most ardent supporter of the 1st Amendment. Agree with him or not, he has a point.

But Indonesia has no such constitutional right and although there are laws on the books to keep pornography off the streets and away from children, they are rarely enforced. Opponents of the Indonesian anti-pornography law say that better enforcement is what's needed, not new laws.

What's happening in Indonesia isn't unique. All over the world, laws that are supposedly about one thing (in this case pornography) are also about curtailing the rights of women. How does this help anyone? And why do women keep letting this happen?

Stand up, stand up, stand up! Everyone stand up and tell someone, anyone that we're not going to take this anymore. Women are not the source of all that is evil and wrong in this world. Nor are men for that matter. Regardless, something must be done. So stand up for yourself, for your neighbour, for those who can't quite do it yet. Each one of us has a responsibility to make this world better for all of us.