Saturday, March 01, 2003

Norma Khouri's book Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern Day Jordan is reviewed in today's Globe & Mail, by Mary-Lou Zeitoun. Now, I'm not going to say Zeitoun is preaching moral equivalence here, but...oh hell, yes I will. Let's look at a quote:

"According to Khouri, honour killing has its roots in the Code of Hammurabi and Assyrian laws of 1200 BC, which declare a women's chastity to be her family's property. This was an ancient way of controlling female reproduction to ensure patriarchal lineage. It is exacerbated by the Islamic precept that women are not capable of controlling their sexual urges.

Baffling concepts to the Western mind, but before we get into the fruitless "You're evil," "No, you're evil" debate going on between fundamentalist Americans and Arabs, it may help to remember that Western culture is not unaccustomed to these ideas. Patriarchal lineage in Canada is still ensured by the female traditionally taking the last name of the man she marries or by giving his name to her children.

Jesus, I've heard enough! This business of allowing women to symbolically rename themselves if they so choose has got to stop before we start telling Arabs what to do. What the fuck is wrong with this person? The other examples she gives are also verbal: we call women we don't like "sluts" and "whores"; Eminem makes money by pretending to have murdered his wife. Zeitoun sermonises, "While we may be thankful that legally sanctioned murder of women does not exist here, we all need to take responsibility for the fact that this global pathology of distaste toward women creates the environment that enables honour killing to exist." So...because English contains some sexualised derogatory terms for women, Arab men are forced to kill their daughters. Or, to be more charitable to Zeitoun, because the hatred of women is embedded in our society (albeit in some fairly toothless forms), men have to kill their daughters.

This may be true--I don't know what kind of shit flows around in the Collective Unconscious and maybe the men who would kill their loved ones for honour aren't in a position to resist the primordial urge. So the fuck what?

Here's what pisses me off: there was no need for a paragraph like this to be in a review of a book against honour killing. The equation is pretty simple: Vigilante murder for perceived crimes against purity = bad. And yet Zeitoun couldn't write this review without taking a swipe at Western culture, which is of course just as bad (or worse!) than any culture we might be tempted to judge. Calling your nasty boss a whore differs from stabbing her forty times in the face--but only in degree, not in kind.

Now, to see the same book discussed by an anti-idiotarian, read Margaret Wente's editorial.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Latest Headline: Saddam vows to die in Iraq. Can do, buddy. Glad you've moved on to the "acceptance" stage of what Elizabeth Kubler-Ross calls "Dealing with a Terminal Dictatorship".
Dixie Flatline has a great piece on the Palestinians--Mean Mr. Mustard pointed it out, and I feel the need to supply you with an unnecessary "Me too!"

I looked at this alien culture, a nation of people outside comprehension, and I was disgusted. These are the victims? These people dancing in the streets, songs and candy, as 3,000 of my people died? A bond-trader’s secretary, jumping to her death, holding hands with a man she’s never met, desperate for some common humanity moments before her death. And they sing and chant and watch television, joy and celebration at the plumes of smoke over New York skyline.

How could I feel anything but anger, revulsion, a desire to see the lot of them under the gun? Frustration then, at Israeli restraint. Hammer them, Arik, hammer them from the air and on the ground and with everything you have. Hammer them until the death cult is exterminated, until Jenin and Nablus and Ramallah are rubble, until the cancer is exterminated in the ruins of its host. Hammer them until the pain is so much that they submit, true surrender, and then peace can be discussed. The peace of the victor, imposed upon the vanquished.

But then, when passion has cooled: is this right? Can I look upon the Palestinians without consideration, without context, without even a rudimentary attempt at understanding? And I decide, no, it is not. I cannot judge them like this, with a violent, angry heart.

Worth reading, all of it.

Bernard Loiseau, familiar to anyone who's read James Lileks's The Gallery of Regrettable Food as the chef who put marshmallow cream on toast, has apparently committed suicide over a bad review. You'd think since he was once forced to use marshmallows in a recipe for the Campfire corporation he'd be innured to that kind of thing, but maybe that just made him more sensitive. I recognised his picture immediately in the paper--he hasn't changed a bit.

The book is worth buying just for that "chefs and marshmallows" bit, by the way, even if you've read the site completely.

Monday, February 24, 2003

A commenter on Kuro5hin proves that it's not only nutball Islamists who are anti-Semitic, irrational crazybots:

You sure the hell ain't getting much "truth" and "word of God" on TV or in church; thank the so-called Jews if you want, since they are the ones dictating our intellectual diets. Only in America would RAp and Sex be glorfied. Our founding Fathers would roll over in their grave at the effect that foreign influence has gained in our political system, how easily elected politicians have turned it's "Christian Nation" roots to the "gospel of cash", and successfully pitched it to the majority lost souls wondering America, the Gospel of Money.

Uhh...yeah! Darn Jews!

Sunday, February 23, 2003

This is another good one from the Independent, a piece by Jack Straw calmly explaining the difference between protesting Vietnam and protesting Iraq. He gets it. Whatever else you might say about him, he gets it.
From the Independent:

An increasingly cornered Iraq complained yesterday it might be signing its own death warrant if it obeyed a United Nations order to destroy dozens of missiles at the moment the US is poised to lead an invasion.

"They want us to destroy them at a time when we are threatened daily," said Owayed Ahmed Ali, the director of the Ibn al-Haithem plant, which produces the al-Samoud missiles, after another visit by UN weapons inspectors.

No! The...catch-22s...they're suffocating me!