Tagged: ISIS

Mindy Newell: Eat, Drink, And Be Merry, For Tomorrow…

Isis ParisThis is the real world, and it will take more than Peter Capaldi’s breathtaking performance and a great, great episode of Doctor Who to change the minds of radical splinter groups bent on war to realize that the box – both of them – is empty.

That’s what I wrote in my column last week. And my words proved too Goddamned prophetic just four days later, when Paris was attacked by ISIS.

The official death toll as I write this on Sunday afternoon at 3:39 is reported as “129, with 352 injured and 99 in critical condition.”

But that doesn’t take into account the psychological and emotional injuries suffered by the parents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and fiancées and boyfriends and girlfriends and college pals and the citizens of Paris, France, and the world.

Like clockwork, some of the Repugnantican politicians jumped in to take advantage of the carnage.

Ben Carson: “If we’re going to be bringing 200,000 people over her from that region – if I were one of the leaders of the global jihadist movement and I didn’t infiltrate that group of people with my people that would be almost malpractice.”

Rick Santorum: “ISIS is a creation of a political decision by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to abandon Iraq – against all of our generals’ recommendations, against all of the policy recommendations…Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, on her watch, decided to put politics above the security of our country…and from that was born ISIS.”

Donald Trump: “When you look at Paris  –  you know the toughest gun laws in the world, Paris  –  nobody had guns but the bad guys. Nobody had guns. Nobody,” Trump said at a rally here. “They were just shooting them one by one and then they (security forces) broke in and had a big shootout and ultimately killed the terrorists…You can say what you want, but if they had guns, if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry, it would’ve been a much, much different situation.”

Chris Christie: He [sic] called ISIS the JV and just hours, just hours, yesterday before they struck in Paris he told ABC News that his strategy was containing ISIS…All of these statements were a lie…He sees the world as he likes to see it; as a fantasy…I see the world as it really is, and it’s time to have a president who sees the world as it really is, not how he wishes it would be.”

Carly Fiorina: “I am angry that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton declared victory in Iraq in 2011, abandoned all our hard-won gains for political expediency and contract to the advice of our generals, thus leaving vast swaths of territory and too much weaponry to be gobbled up by ISIS,”

And former Republican Governor of Ohio John Kaisch proved that he doesn’t have a chance in hell of becoming President, when he said, “Today is a much different day. It’s a somber day. It’s a tougher day. And for me it’s really not a day of politics or promoting a candidacy,” as was Carlos Lopez-Canteria (Lieutenant-Governor of Florida) who said it was “not the day” for criticism.

Okay, you can accuse me of being a major hypocrite here, as I am certainly full of slanted political criticism today. But I am just so sick and tired, so absolutely fed up, just so fucking pissed off about the total inability of this country’s so-called leaders to sit down together and figure out what the fuck! we are going to do? about the biggest threat to sanity and civilization since Adolf Hitler and World War II engulfed the world.

Yesterday, John Ostrander mirrored my emotional reaction to Paris in his column. And the only thing I will add to his brief history of how we got here is that none of this started with President George W. Bush and his “Project for a New American Century” administration cronies. It started after World War I, with the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the division of its territory into make-believe countries by the winners without regard to the social, political, or religious needs of the indigent peoples of those regions.

I said this same thing 14 years ago, a day or two after 9/11, to my father, essentially calling out the West.  “We’re paying now for what they did,” I said to him.

He said, “You’re right, but keep your mouth shut.”

I can’t, Dad. Never could.

I wish I didn’t think so much. I wish I didn’t have a mind that constantly plays “connect-the-dots.” But I do.

And I keep thinking about how it is said that the “final battle” will start in Syria, and end on the plains of Megiddo (from whence the word “Armageddon”), which is in modern-day Israel.

And, like John, I too keep singing “it’s the end of the world as we know it.”

Only we don’t feel fine.

John Ostrander: Watching the World Burn


 “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”  – Alfred to Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight

To be honest, I think that’s ISIS, especially after the violence in Paris on Friday night.

One of the things I’ve gathered about them from my reading is that they are an apocalyptic cult. They’re looking for the end of the world. Yes, they are Muslim and quote and believe a very literal version of the Koran. But they also believe and are working towards the end of the world. Christianity has had and does have its own apocalyptic cults (e.g. the Rev. Jim Jones in Jonestown) and I read an interesting and, I think, apt, analogy somewhere, suggesting that ISIS is to Islam what the KKK is to Christianity.

The purpose of terrorism is, of course, to cause fear in your enemies but I think it’s also to provoke reactions. To make the governments affected (or allied) “clamp down.” Donald Trump thinks the Paris assault proves the necessity of the wall he wants built, although he has not explained how a wall between America and Mexico would keep out ISIS terrorists.

There are and will be those (especially on the right) who will call for military action. That may be what ISIS wants; such actions could increase the number of volunteers – and money – that flows to them. And there’s that end of the world thing – provoke one last great battle. Hey, Christianity has the Book of Revelations and that has a similar scenario. Whoever’s version you listen to, it’s pretty sure that they feel that God/Allah/Jehovah/Whomever is on their side.

Part of me wants that military action against ISIS. I got very angry (again) with the violence. I wanted, I want, that violence visited upon those who planned it, who ordered it. I want it Biblical, baby, with fire and brimstone. I may be agnostic but I was raised as I was raised and that’s part of it.

Problem is, this was born out of violence. We helped launch ISIS with our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are victims and refugees and some of them, not all but some, are a result of our adventuring. ISIS has a lot of weapons that come from the US of A, gleaned when the Iraqi troops that we trained ran away, dropping everything behind.

We need to figure out our response and it needs to be a reasoned response, not from the gut or shot from the hip, because the Paris attack is guaranteed not to be the last such atrocity. There will be more and sooner or later some attack will come to our shores. No amount of rhetoric from the right or the left will prevent it. We’d best be prepared and think about how we want to respond when that attack comes. Remember, the other side is not looking for world domination; they’re looking for apocalypse.

Or we can all sit back and sing along with R.E.M. –

“It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine”

John Ostrander: Death and Vandalism

Writing a weekly column can be a funny thing at times, especially when you wait until the last moment to do it. Not only does it irritate your editor but the blamed thing can morph from its original topic. Such as this week. I started with one topic and then found two others that I wanted to comment on as well. I think I’ve found a connection within all three; let’s see if I can make it without stretching too much. Wish me luck.

We’ll start with the death of Leonard Nimoy, a.k.a. the original Mr. Spock in Star Trek. He was 83 and died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Spock was an iconic character not only on Trek or in science fiction but around the world. “Live long and prosper” was his signature phrase and his cool, logical, and scientific manner created an army of fans, me included.

My friend Lise Lee Morgan and I met Mr. Nimoy in person many years ago in a guest suite at a Star Trek convention. My friend Stuart Gordon had got us the opportunity and Mr. Nimoy was charming, engaging, and enthusiastic about Stuart. I liked him even more than I liked Spock.

How significant was Nimoy’s passing? He got a eulogy from Buzz Aldrin, the second man to step foot on the Moon. President Obama released a statement saying “Long before nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy, the center of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future … I loved Spock.” Come on. How cool is that? Any of us should wish to have a life with as much impact on the world.

On the other side of the coin there’s the report of author and blogger Avijit Roy being hacked to death with machetes by Islamic extremists. Roy was a native of Bangladesh although he lived in Atlanta and he was attacked as he left a book fair in the Bangladesh city of Dahka. He was there to promote his book The Virus of Faith. A fan of Bill Maher’s harsh view of Islam, he was critical of all religions and especially Islam and that made him the target of death threats by Moslem extremists. Ansar Bangla-7, an extremist group, has claimed responsibility for the death.

The third item catching my eye was the destruction of ancient artifacts in a Mosul museum by members of ISIS. The items dated back thousands of years, from the Assyrian and Akkadian empires. The vandals’ justification was that the statues were by polytheists and therefore an affront to their skewed notion of Allah. This ignores the fact that the art was part of the heritage of us all and they were only the current custodians. They did not have the right to destroy them. Sadly, such iconoclasm has a long and pernicious history.

So … what unites these three events? They underscore the importance of art, of literature and – yes – of pop culture. A writer is killed because of ideas that he espouses, artifacts are destroyed because of what they once represented, Nimoy’s death is remembered because of a part he played on TV and in films. All this underscores the importance of art, its power, and the threat it poses to the close-minded.

It makes us remember the past, question the present, and bring hope for the future. Pop culture, which we celebrate here, is a huge part of all that. It helps define who we are and tells us who we were and points to what we could be. It reflects our passions and our interests. It questions what we are told and that’s why extremists of all stripes want it destroyed or controlled or obliterated or killed. The violence, the extreme nature, of their actions tell us how real the threat is to them. That tells us how powerful it is. Art is dangerous. Pop culture is or can be or should be dangerous.

Leonard Nimoy, as Spock, exemplified all that. That’s part of the reason his passing affects so many. He made an indelible mark on the world. We should strive to do the same.

Live long and prosper, y’all.


Mike Gold: The Joker’s New Friend

I always wondered how World War II would have turned out if only Joseph Goebbels had a sense of humor. After all, what’s the old adage – you get more with a smile and a bomb than just a bomb alone? Really, the whole concept of Harley Quinn is based upon this philosophy.

You know Harley Quinn. The Joker’s… ah, paramour? Quadramour? Well, hold that thought for a couple paragraphs.

This is the start of the new fall television series, not only in North America, but evidently in Iraq as well. A new program, The Superstitious State, is being promoted up in the land between two rivers. It’s tagged “satire,” but it’s not going to close on Saturday night. Here’s the premise.

There’s this big celebration somewhere in some desert. It’s a wedding, although the focus is on the consummation of this blessed event. Don’t worry, it’s G-Rated, common for a Muslim nation that makes its media available to citizens of all ages. The idea is…

… jeez, I hope you’re sitting down…