Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm going as Kevin Barrett for Halloween.

I mean, it seems appropriate. The last few years on State Street, I've tried to think of something that people would react to and either get angry with or laugh at. Last year, when I dressed up as "your mom," most people just found it amusing that I dressed in drag, but some obvious homophobes followed me at some length yelling anti-gay slurs. Which just goes to show how confused they were to conflate transvestites with homosexuality, especially on Halloween.

However, I feel Kevin Barrett is a proper approach for this year, with his straggly hair and beard, small glasses, 9/11 for truth t-shirt, all while protesting and shouting seemingly absurd statements through the streets. Will I get hit with something? Probably. Will I actually see Kevin Barrett and feel awkward? Perhaps. However, I can think of no local figure that is more of a character than Mr. Barrett and will see to it that we recognize him for what he has become: a clown.

Which is sad, because he used to be a figure of the academic freedom that certain visitors had tried to remove from this campus (as well as certain legislators). However, with that outburst at Monday's Islamo-Fascist-Awareness-Defense-Explanation-Fight-Week Event, I lost any respect I had for him. He almost ruined the event for all of us, just shifting around while people obviously wanted him to sit down.

My question is: had he followed the rule and asked his question at the mic, would it have even been answered? Would you hear another outcry then?


As for Mr. Horowitz himself, I thought he had some valid points, despite having absolutely no path to his points:

1. The country of Iran, the remnants of the Taliban have used their extreme version of Islamic law to control the populace in every facet they deem necessary. While that may not rise to the level of Fascism as it's based in Theological rule rather than Benito Mussolini's perversion of Mazzini's "Duties of Man," I think the term "Islamo-Fascism" may be an accurate description for these regimes. As for the Al-Qaeda of the Maghreb who apparently originated this phrase, it makes little sense, considering the fact that they operate as a terrorist organization, not a state.

2. Islam, as conceived by these groups, is not true Islam. I think most of the MSA would agree with that.

3. The Jewish state would face some significant pressure (although I think genocide is an absolutely ridiculous extreme, as America, Britain and the states that established it would never truly let it COMPLETELY disarm) if it greatly reduced its military presence and dismantled their nuclear stockpile (and it is there).

However, from there, Mr. Horowitz just got...ridiculous.

1. Yes, everyone cites the "Ottoman Empire founded in 1522" remark. It makes no sense, but few people have actually explained the truth. Quick background:
Until around..1204, the area of Turkey was controlled, with some loosing steam, by the Byzantine Empire. However, due to their shifting power relationship with the Republic of Veince, they were starting to have a contentious relationship. Eventually, during the Fourth Crusade, the Venetians decided they had enough of this subordinate, but preferred trade relationship, and with the help of Frankish crusaders, sacked the city of Constantinople and dismantled the Byzantine Empire. This lasted until the 1260's, when the Byzantines retook the city from nearby Nicea.

However, since the 11th Century, a portion of Anatolia was under the rule of a Seljuk Muslim Sultanate. Eventually, Seljuk dominance wanes and gives way to the Ottoman Turks, who succeed them with their Sultan, Osman I, around 1299. This date, 1299, is really the official establishment of the Ottoman Empire. The more accurate solidifying element of the OE occurs when they kick the Byzantines out of Constantinople, once and for all, in 1453. This is probably the date Horowitz was looking for. 1522 has no specific significance, except that it was in the middle of the Ottoman height of territorial power.

The Ottoman Empire lasts until WWI, when their defeat on the side of the Central Powers leads to their dismantling and the rise of the secular and modern Turkey, under the rule of founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Today, it is still secularized, but there is increasing religious influence in the political scene, especially with Abdullah Gul, who is seen as having a strong Islamist background, winning the Presidency.

However, the establishment of the Ottoman Empire had little to do with Horowitz point - which means there didn't seem to be much of one. Except that Turkey is an Islamic country. Who happen to be targeting Kurds now.

2. His assertion that Israel is surrounded millions of "Arabs ready to kill them." Also, an overstatement. The state of Israel is contentious, but they make it out to be hatred of Judaism in general, especially by Horowitz. The issue has always been where the land is, not with Judaism in general. Yes, both Christians and Muslims have oppressed Jews, but Muslims, at least by way of the tenants of Islam, come out looking a lot better than Christians on their treatment. Because of the fact that Muslims consider themselves part of Abraham's neglected family (meaning Ishmael), they have strong ties to the Judeo-Christian version of events and consider Christians and Jews protected people, to some extent, under Islamic doctrine. The only people that Muslims have really waged war against were those who they felt threatened their religion (such as those during the Crusades) and the pagan religions who were not protected - and even that march into the east that nearly eradicated such religions as Buddhism and the militaristic expansion stemmed from new theological defense created in order to keep the Muslims together who came after Mohammad and it stopped after 100 years or so.

Of course, there has been massive change since the establishment of Islam. Something I'll save for another day. And of course, if any Muslims come upon this and feel there is a profound misunderstanding in this explanation (or really, anyone who understands Islam better than I, which is a LOT of people) please correct me. I'm just trying to provide some interpretation.

Iran may be extremely hostile toward Israel, as well as other Arab states, but we must not expand these comments to think that "Muslims hate Jews," or Christians or any other group that would obviously be a harsh generalization. Otherwise, the misunderstandings will build into mountains.

Overall, I have to say that Mr. Horowitz did a service to free speech, but really destroyed any semblance of civil discourse by chastising his audience as idiots.

However, to our audience, even the ones who didn't really ask questions but just made statements: you did much better than some universities.

Now, there is a lot more in the way of explanations and exceptions that some may cite, but for now, I'll leave it at that.

Now that it's Halloween, let's just think about that for now, eh?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

And finally, the video from Horowitz.

The two videos are split this way:
Video 1 starts with some interviews before the speech, a few opening remarks by Horowitz, and ends with the Barrett freakout.

Video 2 starts and ends with the Q and A session.

There will be another supplementary video with comments from a few students afterward, but for now, this will suffice.

Lesson no. 1: Never trust WSUM equipment.

After thinking that the studio equipment at WSUM would provide good narration possibilities, I find that instead, their computers are complete failures.

After editing a 20 minute video of tonight's Islamo-Fascist adventure, I went to save the movie - when it crashed. I was able to reboot with all my edits in tact and thought it necessary to save the project before something else went wrong. Too late. When I tried to save the project, it crashed once again, this time leaving my timeline completely blank with no process for recovery.

I'm now taking my videos home for re-editing, before this corrupt Dell does any more damage to my night.

Thanks for a waste of 5 hours, I guess.

Expect video at around 9am. Normal recap and reflections earlier than that.

However, right now, my only reflection on the night: Fucking Dell.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dead? Far from it.

The fact that I haven't updated this blog in nearly a month distressed me greatly, but thankfully, we have the grand spectacle of David Horowitz to provide some content. I'm likely going to post some coverage of the Horowitz protest and speech - both live blogging and video coverage - tonight.

The problem I've been having with this blog is the conflict between this and The Badger Herald blog. What do I post on here that I don't post on Muckrakers? I still haven't quite figured out an answer to that question, but I will try - and this is an honest effort this time - to provide one by next week, with normal updates. I've dropped a class and have a leaner schedule that allows for some flexibility now, so hopefully I can contribute a little more frequently.

This blog is not dead. It was just on holiday.