Friday, November 30, 2007

How I Am More Liberal than "Liberals"

Today, I’d like to dedicate a blog entry to a great open-minded liberal who recently made a big impression on me, a left-wing freedom fighter who goes by the name of Gilbert Gonzales. Now, why am I dedicating a blog entry to this tolerant, compassionate individual, whose commitment to the acceptance of others having opinions other than his own surely exceeds my own meager, Reaganite view of humanity?

‘Cause the fucker deserves it, that’s why.

You may be wondering why I seemingly praise an individual and then refer to him as a “fucker”. I’ll ask you to "pardon my French" on this matter, for once you read – from the horse’s mouth, as it were – why this particular individual (and others of his ilk) has earned any nasty, derogatory epithet that may come to mi
nd about him. If you know me and where I stand, what values I hold, what principles I stand by, and then can see his brazen hypocrisy, you too will think of Gilbert Gonzales as an asshole.

Allow me a disclaimer: I know plenty of people who hold clearly stated, if often irreverently so, views that greatly differ from my own. However, I do not judge them based on their ideology, but how they treat me. It is ever my hope that they, no matter how much they disagree with me, approach their relationship with me the same way. No matter their incidental hypocrisy or my own, it is generally the case that how you treat me is how I will treat you...regardless of your political or religious beliefs.


That being said, here we go.

To start off, take a look at Bruce Tinsley's Mallard Fillmore comic strip from November 24, 2007:




This 11/24 comic strip makes a very good point. I’ll let it stand on its own for the moment, and move along with the story.

If you aren’t already aware of it, now it’s your time to find out: I’m back in Arizona. I returned to Arizona on November 15, one day after taking a bus from Washington, DC to New York and deciding while on that Peter Pan lines vehicle that I’d had enough of homesickness: it was time for me to return to my home Grand Canyon State. But before I had that epiphany, I had convinced myself that I was returning to the Big Apple to stay…and so, I’d needed a place to live once again.

As I had when I returned to my native country, the United States of America - after living the experience of an immigrant to Israel - I was searching the website Craiglist for apartment rooms. I had had a mostly positive experience on Craigslist, having found my first room in New York City, and my first computer upon my return Stateside, on that site. I usually varied my inquiries to those posting ads for rooms, sometimes sharing more, sometimes sharing less, information.

One particular ad I responded to was for a place in Brooklyn. Knowing the political sensibilities of New Yorkers in many cases differed from my own, I knew that trying to search for a completely like-minded roommate or household would be a fruitless task – and considering I got along just fine with my first roommate in New York, who was a pot-addicted, NY-1 addicted, goofy and insecure left-winger from upstate New York, I was fine living with those whose views deeply clashed with my own.

This was my response to the ad, complete with the “signature” of my e-mail at the time:

***

Hi,

I'm interested in the small, converted room you have advertised on Craigslist for $400. Does that room have a bed, or no? And when is it available?


My name is Jeremy. I'm returning to New York tomorrow after being away for a few months, looking for a place ASAP. I've been back in the States for just about a year, after living abroad for a little over two years.


Thanks,


Jeremy


--

"It's amazing what ordinary people can do if they set out without preconceived notions." - Charles Kettering


http://www.homelessyouthamongus.org/


Weblog: http://therealslimslavin.blogspot.com


***

If you haven’t already guessed, the poster of that ad was one Gilbert Gonzales. I didn’t know this at the time I sent my message, but it wasn’t long before I found out. I’d dealt with plenty of people like him before, but never to my knowledge had I ever been subject to a personal attack such as his. It made my blood boil.

Here’s what Gilbert Gonzales had to say in his response to my harmless, friendly inquiry:

***

On Nov 13, 2007 10:45 PM, gilbert gonzales
<maudismnow@hotmail.com> wrote:

No, this room does not have a bed. Look, you might assume that supporters of immigrant rights and housing fairness would not want a racist, zionist supporter of oppression living with them. Fuck you and fuck off. You reply back and I will delete it immediately so don't bother.


***

Imagine the surprise this native-born American - who nevertheless had some personal experience as an immigrant abroad to another democratic country - felt upon the receipt of this message from a supporter of housing fairness and immigrant rights. I was speechless. My jaw literally dropped. I was shocked.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I had done to earn such opprobrium, and I’m still not.
I made an assumption, yes, in responding to that ad: I assumed that Gilbert Gonzales, liberal extraordinaire, was actually "liberal". Though the adage goes that when you "assume", you make an "ass" out of "(yo)u" and "me", I think her it is the case that I assumed and in so doing, mostly just let Gilbert Gonzales make an ass of himself while giving me fodder for the weapon I know best how to wield: that of the written word.

I guess it’s a crime, in the eyes of Gilbert Gonzales, to support a democracy that gives a home to the freest Arab press in the Middle East and isn’t an Arab country, a country that has rescued black Ethiopians and given them a home as immigrants and which has taken in refugees from Darfur, Sudan. If Zionism is racism – as I suspect Gilbert Gonzales thinks it is – then I it’s a racism that gives a home to African Jews and African Muslims when they need it. That’s my kind of racism.

Gilbert Gonzales, whoever he is, has the open-mindedness of a Nazi. Disadvantaged immigrants to America, be they legal or even illegal, deserve better than the likes of him and his roommates. And I’m not entirely sure what housing fairness has to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict, unless you consider the fate of Palestinians who, despite living under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, are forced to remain in the squalor of refugee camps, prevented from building permanent housing.

Sadly, there are too many other liberals like Gilbert Gonzales out there.

One day, about a month or so ago, I was typing on my computer while sitting right in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. There were a bunch of anti-war, anti-Bush protestors nearby in pink shirts, some of whom were holding signs which said “Love your enemies”. I wanted to approach those protestors – who were screaming out at the top of their lungs and on bullhorns “Impeach Bush!” – and ask them if they loved their enemies Bush and Cheney, whom “their kind” tends to portray as evil incarnate and worthy of a firing squad. But I didn’t.

Jay Nordlinger, managing editor of the National Review, had this to say in his contribution to the book Why I Am a Reagan Conservative, a 2005 collection of writings by several different authors, edited by Michael K. Deaver, on…well, why they are what they are:

"I should also say that I was an anticommunist, and I thought that people who loved humanity should at least oppose those governments that killed humanity en masse: in China, in Cambodia, in the Soviet Union, and so on. How could lovers of humanity adorn their walls with posters of Mao and Guevara?”


Now, I’m not sure if Gilbert Gonzales and his roommates have posters of Mao Tse-Tung and Ernesto “Che” Guevara on the walls of their home, but it stands to reason that “supporters of immigrant rights and housing fairness” are people who think of themselves as lovers of humanity.

Left-wing liberals like to portray themselves as the sole torchbearers of this love of their fellow man against the evil, Zionist, racist oppressors represented by conservatives/neo-conservatives such as myself. But if it is the case that Gilbert Gonzales is a liberal, then he is like the “liberals” of Jay Nordlinger’s youth in Ann Arbor, Michigan, “…a decidedly ‘illiberal’ bunch: close minded, dogmatic, intolerant of dissent.”

I know this because, if you read my initial inquiry in response to Gilbert Gonzales’ ad, you’ll see that the only evidence of my political leanings would have to have been in my blog. How many close-minded people choose to live abroad, in a strange country or culture, after all? Gilbert Gonzales went out of his way to look up where I stand, so that he could judge me not on my merits, but on my beliefs.

Never in my life had I ever been so directly, overtly disrespected as I was on November 13, 2007, by Gilbert Gonzales, a man who advertised an available room in his apartment with this title: “$400 Room Available with a Great Household”. “Great Household” my ass.

It could go without saying that I - a "Reaganite" conservative who supports the spread of democracy in the Middle East, who feels a need to confront Islamist terrorism and those who support/finance it, who holds the Palestinians responsible for the choices they make, who knows what it is like to be an immigrant who has put himself at a disadvantage - am decidedly
more open-minded, am less dogmatic, and am tolerant of dissent in a way that Gilbert Gonzales and other “liberals” like him could never be – or just flat-out refuse to be.

But…why let it go without saying, when I can publish the evidence on my blog and let hundreds, if not thousands, of people read it for themselves? Gilbert Gonzales, allow me to say this to you now: Thank You, Fuck You and Fuck Off. What else can I say? You're a poet, Mr. Gonzales, and your own words inspired me. I had to pitch 'em right back at ya. To everyone else, much love and thanks once again for reading...whether you agree with me or not.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Statement On Recent Violence in France

If the children of disadvantaged Arab and black immigrants in France want to see positive changes in their situation, if they want the French Government with President Sarkozy at its head to be attentive to their plight and needs, the inconvenient truth they need to reconcile themselves with is that shooting at members of the police - and media - is counterproductive to their aims. Unless their goal is another revolution, one that would put the relatively newly-arrived in power over the inarguably long-established, then the appearance of "genuine urban guerrillas with conventional weapons and hunting weapons" (to quote one French official) in the suburbs of Paris is a totally unacceptable escalation in the struggle for societal recognition and economic rectification in France.

In a democracy, it is usually only criminals who feel the need to fire upon agents of law enforcement. That being said, what with the history of violent, forceful agitation against one governmental structure or another in France going back hundreds of years, each outbreak of violence there is sadly much less surprising than it ought to be. Even so, whatever mistakes have been made by however many successive French administrations, the sort of violence which has recently broken out in the French Republic is particularly deplorable. A couple of youths riding an unsafe vehicle, without protection, accidentally crashing into a police car and dying is hardly a good enough excuse for destroying property and, as may happen, lives.


What do these people really hope to gain? If it becomes as easy for them to fire upon better-off civilians as it is for them to fire upon the police who are pledged to those - and all - civilians' protection, where does the violence end? And what will it lead to? Attempting to kill those you seek some sort of reparations from is a bully tactic, designed to induce fear, and almost inevitably results in the replacement of anger for compassion amongst the populace. Discrimination and racism should always be condemned in the harshest of terms, but what disadvantaged minorities in France need are not apologists for criminal acts, but activists who work with the authorities peacefully, not against them violently, to find solutions to pressing problems.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Islamic Car = Shortest Slavin Blog Ever

This is one for the record books. One of my shortest blogs ever, if not the shortest. It was prompted by the news that a carmaker in Malaysia, "Proton", announced this week it is teaming up with manufacturers in Turkey and Iran to produce an "Islamic car". According to BBC News, "The car could boast special features like a compass pointing to Mecca and a dedicated space to keep a copy of the Koran and a headscarf." Apparently, "officials in Iran" first suggested the idea to a group of visiting Malaysian dignitaries.

What I'm wondering is, in addition to a Mecca compass and a Koran space, is there going to be an easily accessible self-destruct button that a driver or passenger can push? Come on, it won't truly be an Islamic car unless it facilitates more suicide-bombings-to-the-gallon than other vehicles on the road. And it has to have enough trunk space to carry katyushas, AK-47s, and bomb belts from Tehran, Iran, through Syria, to Beirut, Lebanon. And when you honk the horn, instead of a normal "beep", it has to go "Allah-u-akbar!".


If all that's a little politically incorrect, who gives a darn? Not me. Given my experiences, I reserve the right to say such things. Even now, when I'm on the East Coast of the United States and no longer in the Middle East. By the way, for those who don't already know, I'm going back to New York City after nearly 3 months away. Just a heads-up. And, lest I forget, this coming Friday will mark a year that I've been back in the States.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Woe is We?

It seems every day brings with it more bad news about the U.S. dollar: Brazilian supermodel Gisele B√ľndchen recently refused payment in dollars while negotiating a deal, insisting instead that she be paid in euros. Last week, Jim Rogers, who is a former investor partner of business mogul George Soros, said he was selling his home and possessions so that he might buy beacoup amounts of the Chinese currency, the yuan (I guess he forgot that a huge majority of Chinese are still riven in poverty). Federal Reserve Notes are at unprecedentedly weak levels compared to the British pound and - dear God! - the Canadian dollar as well. Confidence is flagging, no two ways about it.

While there are very real, pertinent, unavoidably economic and political causes for the dollar's recent fall from grace, I can't help but wonder if all of the negative media publicity is only adding to the woes of Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant and all those Benjamins. Despite all those videos circulating on the net demonstrating the perceived stupidity and/or ignorance of average Americans, the truth is most people around the world who watch or read the news unquestioningly and uncritically are just as stupid and ignorant as the common folk in good ole' Uncle Sam. Just because they won't admit to it doesn't make it not so.


You see, there are a lot of people out there who don't simply want to see the United States brought down a peg or two on the Power, Strength & Arrogance scale; they want to see America marginalized, and it isn't out of some altruistic buddy-buddyhood with the common man or woman in the Third World. They want their own countries on top. Go ahead, you can deny it, but listen closely to the words of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and witness his actions. Have a seat, as an American, with two proud French citizens criticizing our Republic, and if you're able to keep from feeling backed into a corner (it isn't easy, when they can talk so fast!) and think clearly, you'll see their bashing us in order to make their country sound better.


Of course, Americans do this all too often. I, myself, am guilty from time to time of criticizing certain countries with the motivation solely being to show how we're better than "they" are. Then again, there are those other times - and I like to think of them as being the majority of the time - when I harshly criticize or call out undemocratic, intolerant, gleefully violent nations and societies because I feel that what their governments do is wrong, because I'm disgusted by what I see happening, and because I know to my core that our claim on the moral high ground is greater than theirs could ever be in their current governmental and cultural manifestations.

What does this have to do with the dollar? Am I not, even now, simply defending the dollar because I'm feeling threatened on its behalf? Yes and no. A lack of confidence in the dollar isn't simply a lack of confidence in the monetary power of the United States of America; it represents a lack of confidence in pretty much everything about America aside from, maybe, our entertainment offerings. And to say that President Bush is solely to blame would be to forget the dismal approval ratings of the Democrat-controlled Congress. All too easily, however, ordinary "everyday" Americans will go out, will watch the news, and believe what their told about the dollar's slide without actually thinking hard about it.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm going to remain optimistic about the dollar's future prospects. I know, thanks to my independent, casual research and reading, that getting excited about the rise of the Chinese and Indian economies is grossly premature (people are "utopianly" excited about what they think will happen ten or twenty years down the line, forgetting the very real obstacles and challenges facing both countries). I don't mind, really, whether the Canadian dollar is either still at a parity with the American dollar or is actually at a higher rate of exchange now. That means, probably, that more Canadians will take shopping trips down to the U.S. to take advantage of the state of things in the States.


Besides, nothing is permanent. In the wake of the Second World War, both Britain and the European continent were largely in ruins: incredibly and, some thought, fatally (in the face of expected Soviet expansion efforts) financially vulnerable. Today, thanks in part to the help given in the past by the U.S. to Europe in the form of more than generous Marshall Plan, the European Union has a strong currency union, and both the euro and the pound are, as we are continually being reminded each day, consistently blowing the U.S. dollar out of the water.


French president Nicolas Sarkozy, writing in his book "Testimony" (I really enjoyed it) before he was elected to serve in the Elysee Palace, stated repeatedly that "nothing is inevitable." He meant, of course, that the destiny/fate of his country's economy, society, etc. was not solely up to uncontrollable influences. Throughout his campaign, and since his election, he's mentioned the need for France to adopt a serious change in attitude.


We would be wise, ourselves, to take this advice as our own when thinking about the State of our Union today, financially, politically and culturally. Our uncommon optimism about the future has long been a hallmark of the United States; there have been times, of course, when it seemed that tomorrow
wouldn't or even couldn't be a better day than today...e.g., the Great Depression. Overall, though, we've been blessed to be able to have hope in the promise of tomorrow, the possibilities that - with a little hard work, and steadfastness - are within our reach.

Paying full mind to realities of the moment, we can nonetheless fundamentally reject the fatalistic pessimism about the future prospects of the U.S. dollar, and do our own small part to help it out of it's rut. In the meantime, I have no problem with Canadians, Britons, and Continental Europeans (among others) flying to America to go on holiday shopping spending sprees (much like they did last year) with currencies momentarily stronger than ours. I say let them help U.S. businesses big and small all they want. You might be embarrassed, but hey - they're doing our economy a favor!