Just Jihad: April 2008: Archives

April 12, 2008

Do The New Ads By Hanes Make You Feel Good All Over? genre: Gaylingual & Just Jihad & Six Degrees of Speculation

Hanes used to tell us they would make us feel good all over. With the following ad campaign, one might question whether the underwear company has had a change of heart. The tagline states, "Because the world gives you enough tags" and it's intended to highlight Hanes' new line of tagless products. While the ads were produced in India and aren't scheduled to run in the U.S., they are certainly drawing the attention the ire...of a number of Americans. I certainly understand the reactions, though I'm not sure I fully concur with all of the criticisms.

Let me attempt an explanation by first asking a question. If acceptance emanates from understanding, can the former be achieved if the latter is ignored? Here's the point. Labels are a form of understanding...or in the case of prejudice...misunderstanding. Changing those misunderstandings...and therefore the beliefs (prejudices) that underlie the labels we apply...requires two things. First, there must be an open discussion of all that is incorporated into the conceptions (both good and bad) of those we seek to enlighten. Second, there must be an honest disclosure of the identity (both good and bad) we seek to substitute for the faulty, or more likely, incomplete perceptions.

In looking at the "Faggot" image, my first inclination was to apply my own version of a truth test. Hence, I wanted to know if the image represented any, all, or none of my understandings of being gay. Yes, the first thing I noticed was the word "Faggot"...and it would have been easy to allow this word...frequently used as a pejorative...to halt my thought process.

I didn't do that because I'm convinced that the word itself has no power or meaning. That can only be determined contextually. With that said, an understanding of the ads intent soon emerged as did an appreciation for the journey others (on the outside) must travel in order to comprehend the true essence of those who "wear" this label. The transformative process cannot otherwise begin.

The journey, by those who don't wear these labels, to achieve an acute awareness of those who do, requires an effort that must exceed the obtuse understandings of those who have made known their negative intentions when applying the label. While many complete this journey in spite of the dissonance, real community can only be achieved when the words and the intentions of all the parties becomes harmonious. Reaching that point of stasis can only be achieved when full understanding is realized. Unfortunately, that can only happen when and if it is sought.

Hence, the power or meaning behind these labels cannot be stripped away unless and until the motivations and misconceptions that bolster them can be removed or repaired. Therefore, efforts to forbid the labels circumvent the process necessary to alter the intentions and misunderstandings that corrupt or color them. Their absence from the vernacular has little, if any, correlation with extinguishing the hatred that remains virulent, though hidden and harbored...but perhaps no longer vocalized (at least in public).

We may think silence is solace but that is akin to believing the lamb can safely lie down with the lion without ever having reached the understandings that are required to enable it. Such an act must be predicated upon a mutual respect for the worth of the other...and therefore an acceptance of the right of the other...to exist. Absent that, peril will always persist and quiet must not be misconstrued to mean that cunning has suddenly been quelled.

Faggot, nigger, and paki are labels that appropriately perpetuate corresponding tags like homophobe, racist, bigot, and many more. The incendiary fuel that hides behind all of these words...ready to erupt...will only abate when both sides entertain and pursue transcendent understandings. While logic may tell the lamb it would be foolish to even imagine a direct discussion with the lion...it nonetheless instructs both parties that the primordial change is otherwise precluded.

In the end, the change we seek must be an action, not an admonition. The former moves us forward; the latter moves us apart. The faggot will lie down with the homophobe when the humanity that undoubtedly joins them is allowed to undo the doubts that divide them. In allowing that miraculous moment of awareness, one man can and will choose to lie with another...not as faggot and homophobe...but as nothing more than all we are...human beings. Only then will we all feel good all over.

The three images follow. If you click on the two smaller images, they will be opened as full size images comparable to the larger one that precedes them.

If you would like to see even larger images (far more readable detail is revealed), visit the following link and click on the images:

Ads Of The World

HanesFaggot.jpg

HanesPaki.jpg

HanesNigger.jpg

Tagged as: Bigotry, Gay, Hanes Underwear. LGBT, Homophobia, India, Labels, Prejudice, Racism

Daniel DiRito | April 12, 2008 | 3:17 PM | link | Comments (1)
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McLaughlin Group: Dancing In The Dark In Iraq? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

The following video contains a good discussion on the recent remarks of General Petraeus as well as George Bush's subsequent statements about the status of the war in Iraq. From the video, one quickly sees the disconnect between what the General believes and what the President wants the American public to accept as fact.

On the one hand, Petraeus tells us we haven't turned any corners, there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and the champaign has been pushed to the back of the refrigerator. On the other, the President paints a pretty picture of progress and probable victory in Iraq. The outstanding question remains, "Should we embrace the former or entertain the latter when determining our next course of action with regard to the troubled nation?"

History tells us the estimations of the Bush administration have been a colossal miscalculation. Healthy skepticism should therefore instruct us that the views of the General are apt to be closer to the truth. With that in mind, there is little reason to believe the war in Iraq is nearing an end or that it will result in a functional nation. Hence, everything else we are being told must be manufactured noise intended to keep us dancing in the dark. Whether it is the dance of the swans remains to be seen.

Tagged as: Eleanor Clift, General David Petraeus, George W. Bush, Iraq, John McLaughlin, Pat Buchanan, Troop Surge

Daniel DiRito | April 12, 2008 | 1:04 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 10, 2008

Bush Puts Hold On Troop Cuts: Back To The Future? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

DocBrown.jpg

I was sure the writers strike had ended...but then I tuned in today to see the President repeating the same script he's been promoting for years...the one that suggests the war in Iraq will come to a happy ending...eventually.

One has to wonder whether those in charge of directing this production are engaged in an endless edit...locked in a hopeless power struggle to determine if this incursion into Iraq should be billed as a comedy or a tragedy. Regardless, it seems to me that they have mislabeled their latest episode. Rather than call the current act "The Surge", I think it might be best to have titled it "The Stall".

From The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Thursday ordered an indefinite halt in U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq after July, embracing the key recommendations of his top war commander. Bush said Gen. David Petraeus will "have all the time he needs" to consider when more American forces could return home.

Bush's decisions virtually guarantee a major U.S. presence in Iraq throughout his term in office in January, when a new president takes office.

Bush said U.S. forces have made major gains since he ordered a buildup of about 30,000 U.S. forces last year. "We have renewed and revived the prospect of success" the president said.

"While this war is difficult, it is not endless," Bush said in a message directed to troops, but surely to the American public as well.

The president said that only as conditions in Iraq improve will he bring more troops home, a policy he calls "return on success."

"The day will come when Iraq is a capable partner of the United States," Bush said. "The day will come when Iraq's a stable democracy that helps fight our common enemies and promote our common interests in the Middle East.

"And when that day arrives, you'll come home with pride in your success," Bush said to the military and U.S. civilians in Iraq.

BushCo's refusal to pull the plug on a war with woeful ratings and little hope of a salient story line mirrors the miscalculations of a network intent on running with a stagnant sitcom that is arguably well past its prime. Unfortunately, the BushCo "network" lacks a player with the willingness to open the window and shout out, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore".

Sadly, the war in Iraq isn't a situation where life imitates art...and George Bush isn't the equivalent of Michael J. Fox. Despite our President's many steps backwards, the future isn't apt to be altered or improved. The war in Iraq is akin to a movie most Americans would gladly exit despite the high cost of admission.

Unfortunately, that isn't an option we've been able to impose. Alas, we're left to watch and wait. Let's just hope the new director will insist upon the installation of a new program.

UPDATE:

I think the following video does a good job in describing the BushCo Iraq strategy as an endless war prosecuted on an installment plan...six months at a time.

Iraq: Six Months At A Time

Tagged as: Back To The Future, Doc Brown, General David Petraeus, George W. Bush, Iraq, Network, Troop Cuts, Troop Surge

Daniel DiRito | April 10, 2008 | 10:37 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 3, 2008

You Decide: Are Americans Stupid? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

It's one thing to be uneducated; it's another to be stupid. If a new report on drop out rates in major U.S. metropolitan cities is to be believed, fewer Americans are educated. If the following video represents a cross section of the United States, far to many Americans are also stupid. Taken together, they paint a frightening picture. It's a mixture that may well explain our diminishing economic advantage and it may also signal our waning relevance on the world stage.

From The Washington Post:

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration announced Tuesday it will require states to report high school graduation rates in a uniform way instead of using a variety of methods that critics say are often based on unreliable information.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced the change at a news conference at which a report was released showing that 17 of the nation's 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent.

Nationally, about 70 percent of U.S. students graduate on time with a regular diploma and about 1.2 million students drop out annually.

"When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem, it's a catastrophe," said former Secretary of State Colin Powell, founding chair of the alliance.

Now take a look at the following video. While this piece was a tongue-in-cheek presentation aired on Australian television, it is difficult to ignore the subtle threads of truth that underly the humor.

When I traveled around the world in late 2004 and early 2005, it became apparent that many foreigners were beginning to mistrust the American public. Generally speaking, the message I received was that the world could excuse the unfortunate election of George Bush in 2000...but his reelection in 2004 had set in motion doubts about the electorate's judgment. Further, the prior willingness to separate the unpopular actions of the U.S. government from the generally positive perceptions of the average American was beginning to erode.

At the same time, I sensed a forgiving tone predicated upon America's long history as a force for good in the world. Notwithstanding, it was apparent that granting the benefit of the doubt would eventually come to an end if our trajectory remained the same.

While the 2006 election may have been viewed as a step in the right direction, I think it's safe to surmise that little has happened since my travels to reassure the rest of the world that a sea change has occurred. The seeming ineffectiveness of the Democrats to reduce or remove our troops from Iraq couldn't have been encouraging.

The world may well view 2008 as our defining moment. Should the American voter install a president who "stays the course", I would anticipate a much stronger backlash and an accelerated erosion of credibility.

In the end, it becomes a question of the meaning of freedom. America has always been a beacon for independent thought and the champion of the oppressed. If our actions in November appear to be an affirmation of the status quo and an acquiescence to conformity, I suspect we will not only be seen as uneducated and stupid; we will soon be relabeled as representative of a mindset that chooses dictation over diplomacy and preemption over persuasion.

If that should transpire, the world may rightly conclude that fear has become the catalyst that will lead a once fearless people to further embrace the suspension of freedom. Hopefully, most Americans are smarter than that. Only time...and the ballot box...will tell.

Tagged as: 2008, Australia, Diplomacy, Education, High School Drop Outs, Humor, Intelligence, Iraq, Israel, John Howard, Preemption, Tony Blair, War on Terror

Daniel DiRito | April 3, 2008 | 12:51 PM | link | Comments (0)
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