Saturday, December 27, 2008

Obama's Purpose-Driven Inaugural

Rick Warren Cartoon
Originally uploaded by rbtenorio

President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Obama's inaugural. Does this represent a betrayal to Obama's supporters? Satan and his liberal pal discuss this in the latest episode of "The Devil Made Me Blog It"!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

From Salman Rushdie to shoe-throwing

ARLINGTON, Mass. -- Tuesday's snowfall has created a holiday atmosphere across the greater Boston area, and Christmas tunes abound on radio stations. The news headlines, however, focus on another religion: Islam.

On Sunday, Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi threw a pair of shoes at President Bush during Dubya's farewell visit to the nation. Shows of support for al-Zaidi took place in the Middle East, and fellow journalists explain his gesture as one of contempt for the president.

It's easy for some Westerners to paint al-Zaidi as representative of Islamic sentiment. Easy, but misleading. In a story depicting approval of al-Zaidi, the New York Times nevertheless reported that "A number of Iraqis said they were dismayed by what Mr. Zaidi had done," that Lebanese "reactions varied by political affiliation," and that across the Middle East, people "deplored Mr. Zaidi’s act as a breach of respect or of traditional Arab hospitality toward guests, even if they shared the sentiment." Yet the headline read: "In Iraqi’s Shoe-Hurling Protest, Arabs Find a Hero. (It’s Not Bush.) "

This misrepresentation is only the continuation of a trend.

Consider another conflict: the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1988 fatwa against author Salman Rushdie for his portrayal of Islam in his novel "The Satanic Verses." Twenty years later, people still interpret the fatwa as emblematic of Muslims' reaction, when the actual situation shows more nuance. "When Saudi Arabia tried at the end of 1988 to get the novel banned in Muslim countries worldwide, few responded except those with large subcontinental populations, such as South Africa or Malaysia," spiked reported. "Even in Iran the book was openly available and was reviewed in many newspapers."

Are some Muslims upset at the West? Yes. Is some of this anger justified? Rushdie merely wrote a book; al-Zaidi's anger has more concrete causes. (A Baghdad editor "said he recalled that in (the) last year his colleague told him that 'the criminal Bush' would pay two-fold for the crimes he committed against innocent Iraqis," the Times reported.) Should we continue portraying these conflicts as pitting all Muslims against the West? No. There are some who see the nuance -- including our much-maligned president. "Mothers and fathers and children across the Islamic world, and all the world, share the same fears and aspirations," he told the West Point graduates of 2002. "In poverty, they struggle. In tyranny, they suffer. And as we saw in Afghanistan, in liberation they celebrate."

Let's hope the present anger dies down. And let's hope that we in the West can see the nuances in thought across Iraq and the Islamic world.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

George Bush's Shoe-manship

Shoe Cartoon
Originally uploaded by rbtenorio

While visiting Iraq, President Bush had two shoes thrown at him by Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi. Satan thinks Dubya should have responded creatively, as he explains in the latest episode of "The Devil Made Me Blog It"!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Satan to Blagojevich: Stage a Sit-In!

Blagojevich Cartoon
Originally uploaded by rbtenorio

Good news from Chicago: The window manufacturers' sit-in has succeeded. Bad news from Chicago: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been charged with putting President-elect Barack Obama's former Senate seat up for sale. Those under consideration for the seat, according to news sources, included Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Obama White House advisor-to-be Valerie Jarrett, and a deputy governor.
What can Blagojevich do? Satan suggests he take a page from the window-makers in the latest episode of "The Devil Made Me Blog It"!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Damp day for politicians

ARLINGTON -- Dead leaves paper sidewalks. Raindrops ripple across puddles. It is a damp day in the greater Boston area.
In Massachusetts and in the nation in general, accusations of misdeeds have dampened political fortunes. On Tuesday, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich became the latest politician to face charges -- in his case, that he allegedly put President-elect Barack Obama's recently vacated US Senate seat up for sale.
Blagojevich joined a trio of Boston-area public figures to confront politically damaging situations. Lorraine Henderson, who supervised the Port of Boston as its Homeland Security Director, met federal accusations of hiring an illegal immigrant to clean her condo. Meanwhile, the feds have charged both Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and ex-State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson with multiple offenses stemming from the same probe into the alleged extortion of a nightclub operator.
The accusations against three of these public figures -- Blagojevich, Turner, and Wilkerson -- are rooted in that admirable American trait of entrepreneurship -- adding to one's personal profit. The accusations against the fourth -- Henderson -- are connected with another admirable American trait, the beautification and preservation of a home (which has the side virtue of providing employment for others).
When the vices signified by these accusations are considered, however, against whatever subliminal merits they contain, it shows that the national enthusiasm for politics created by the election of Obama should be tempered by a consideration that for every inspirational public figure, there are others whose misdeeds are waiting to rise to the surface and cast a gloom over politics like falling raindrops.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Baroque Obama

Messiah Cartoon
Originally uploaded by rbtenorio

Satan and his liberal friend celebrate the holiday season by attending a performance of Handel's "Messiah" -- and drawing a modern-day parallel to President-elect Barack Obama -- in the latest episode of "The Devil Made Me Blog It"!

Merci to my muse for her help with this one.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mumbai: India's 9/11?

Mumbai Cartoon
Originally uploaded by rbtenorio

People have been comparing the Mumbai terror attacks in India with the attacks on the US on Sept. 11, 2001. How much validity does this comparison have? And how much should we look at past terror attacks in India -- like the Delhi train bombings and the Mumbai train bombings -- when considering the current situation in the country? Read more in the latest episode of "The Devil Made Me Blog It."

My sympathies go out to all of the victims of terrorism in India.