Decolonization & Privilege Politics

Decolonization is not a metaphor, not a rhetorical tactic, as much as many leftists like to use it as such…i.e. when referring to decolonizing the mind….i.e. a fancy way of saying own your white privilege….i.e. a method of self-congratulation and mental self-flagellation that does not actually lead and may actually detract (I would argue it does) from confronting structural racism.

Allyship vs. Solidarity

If a friend is engaging in activities which you believe are counterproductive to their health and well being then you don’t simply remain neutral or worse encourage them to continue doing what they are doing. You intervene in the hope that you can reverse their current path. That’s what a good friend does. Now whether or not you are correct in your judgment that what they are doing is bad for them is an entirely different question. But the point is that, as their friend, you not only have the right but the obligation to intervene. That is solidarity in the context of a simple friendship. And such is the fundamental difference between solidarity and what has come to be known as allyship. Continue reading

The Mythology of Bobby Kennedy

In his review of David Halberstram’s journalistic profile of Robert Kennedy, William Spragens writes that the author “feels Robert Kennedy was a transitional figure in American politics, with an understanding of the old politics but also with a rare feeling for the new politics.”[1]  Indeed, in the first chapter, Halberstram lays out this thesis quite matter-of-factly when he says that Kennedy existed “at the exact median point of American idealism and American power.  He understood the potency of America’s idealism, as a domestic if not an international force, and yet he had also exercised American power.”[2]  It is difficult to disagree with the latter assertion; Bobby Kennedy’s illustrious political career included stints on the McCarthy Committee and the Senate Racket’s Committee, time as John F. Kennedy’s campaign manager and one of his most trusted political advisors during his brother’s presidency, as well as an appointment to the most senior position in the Justice Department.  However, Bobby Kennedy’s evolving views on the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1968, ultimately reveal him to be, not an idealist, but, rather, a shrewd realist.  Continue reading

Lyndon Johnson & The Power of the Presidency

In response to Robert Caro and Lyndon Johnson’s other disparagers, Johnson historian Robert Dallek cautions that “we need to see Johnson’s life not as a chance to indulge our sense of moral superiority, but as a way to gain an understanding of many subjects crucial to this country’s past, present, and future.”[1]  Indeed, Dallek is correct in his implication that to view the decisions and the major policy initiatives made by Johnson during his presidency solely as products of a single mind and a single determination is an analytical mistake.  Continue reading

Film Review: West Beirut

                     West Beirut depicts the trials and tribulations experienced by ordinary civilians during the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in April 1975.  The film begins with two feisty and self-confident teenage friends, Tarek and Omar, and their schoolmates filming and staring mesmerized and in awe of the aerial dogfight taking place directly above their heads.  With this scene, one immediately understands that the war has not yet touched the boy’s lives, and that, as a result, they are able to view the battle in the sky with a sense of gleeful detachment.  Indeed Director Ziad Doueiri comments that “During the first years of the civil war, despite the anxiety that I could see in my parents, I was incapable of feeling it myself.  I wasn’t born with fear; I acquired it.” (www.barbican.org)  Through the development of his young protagonist Tarek, Doueiri effectively captures the process of how a seemingly carefree, hormone-infested teenager comes to learn to fear, for the first time, for his family and his future in a time of war.  But not even his witnessing of a massacre of a busload of civilians right outside his school nor the frantic scurry of he and the inhabitants of his entire apartment complex into a bomb shelter in the middle of the night can dim Tarek’s adolescent whimsy or his desire to locate a shop that will develop the super 8 movies he and Omar surreptitiously took of Omar’s Uncle Badeeh and the old man’s attractive new girlfriend. Continue reading