Something to renew faith

It’s been an interesting weekend, following an exhausting week on many fronts.

Here’s a story from Egypt that brings a smile to my face, and goes far toward reminding us that humanity really is worth saving.

Remember this story next time a wingnut tries to tell you there is no such thing as moderate Muslims.

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.

From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular Muslim televangelist and preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly Street. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

 

 

Knowing the enemy

This isn’t exactly new news, but the book taking France by storm is a short (13 pages) call to arms against the real enemies of the day.

The Independent   reports:

Take a book of just 13 pages, written by a relatively obscure 93-year-old man, which contains no sex, no jokes, no fine writing and no startlingly original message. A publishing disaster? No, a publishing phenomenon.

Indignez vous! (Cry out!), a slim pamphlet by a wartime French resistance hero, Stéphane Hessel, is smashing all publishing records in France. The book urges the French, and everyone else, to recapture the wartime spirit of resistance to the Nazis by rejecting the “insolent, selfish” power of money and markets and by defending the social “values of modern democracy”.

It doesn’t exist in translation yet, I haven’t found it as an eBook, and thus far the only source I’ve found domestically is here.  But it sounds like it’ll be worth a read. 

I prefer to not read large quantities in French, and I’d prefer the electronic version, but lacking those options and at only 13 pages, I’m tempted to purchase sooner rather than later. 

You might like it as well.  If you don’t read French, it’s sure to be available in translation soon.

A new appreciation

In the late eighties while in Milan I had the opportunity to go through an exhibit of photographs from Chernobyl – the meltdown was still raw, the human cost untallied, and the images were shocking and graphic.

Growing up in southern Utah I was always aware of the damage possible, that comes with the territory of being a downwinder, which is to say a person or descendant of people exposed to the radioactive fallout from the open air nuclear tests during the fifties and sixties.

Seeing the results of a real meltdown puts things into a different perspective.  The Independent has a photo sideshow showing Chernobyl 24 years later.  Very different images than the ones I saw over 20 years ago, but just as tragic and in a way just as disturbing.  The damage to human life will go on for generations.

Despite it all, I’m not anti nuclear per se – we have energy needs, and nuclear energy is used worldwide to provide power without the fossil fuel pollution we take for granted in so much of the US.  But safety protocols exist for a reason, and you can’t cheat them long term without mother nature coming back for payment.  And we in the US need to get a better handle on dealing with spent fuel.  Europe recycles.  So should we.

Time doesn’t change the nature of the crime

I am sick to death of the glitterati and their silly defenses of child rape.  Yes, Roman Polanski has made a great film or two (and a lot of mediocre crap).  That doesn’t change the fact he’s a child rapist.

Kate Harding calls it well.

The point is not to keep 76-year-old Polanski off the streets or help his victim feel safe. The point is that drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not — and at least in theory, does not — tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are, no matter how old you were when you finally got caught, no matter what your victim says about it now, no matter how mature she looked at 13, no matter how pushy her mother was, and no matter how many really swell movies you’ve made.

*****

The reporting on Polanski’s arrest has been every bit as “bizarrely skewed,” if not more so. Roman Polanski may be a great director, an old man, a husband, a father, a friend to many powerful people, and even the target of some questionable legal shenanigans. He may very well be no threat to society at this point. He may even be a good person on balance, whatever that means. But none of that changes the basic, undisputed fact: Roman Polanski raped a child. And rushing past that point to focus on the reasons why we should forgive him, pity him, respect him, admire him, support him, whatever, is absolutely twisted.

Mental patient addresses UN

Another satire gem from the Borowitz Report:

An escaped mental patient broke into the United Nations yesterday, getting all the way to the General Assembly and delivering a ninety-minute speech.

A day after the stunning security breach, U.N. officials were still attempting to sort out how it was allowed to happen.

“We’re trying not to play the blame game here,” said U.N. spokesperson Carol Foyler. “The simple fact is, a legally insane man somehow got all the way to the podium, so how do we keep that from happening again?”

Theories abound as to how the mental patient made it to the U.N., with some suggesting that he may have escaped during a field trip to a county fair.

Reacting to the rambling and incoherent ninety-minute rant, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton echoed the feelings of many: “I was like, where’s Kanye when you need him?”