Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Show Trials During Ramadan

Citing unnamed sources in Iran’s judiciary, the website is reporting Shane Bauer and Josh Fattel, following closed-door court hearings on Feb. 6th and July 31st, were each sentenced to three years for illegal entry into Iran and five years for cooperating with American intelligence services and spying for the United States. Attorney Masoud Shafiee, representing in front of a branch of the country’s politically charged Iran’s Revolutionary Court both of these Americans, had yet to hear a verdict since the trial ended.

When you had been awaiting rulings on issues of power and might. On issues of life and death. Waiting and waiting in Iran, where the Revolutionary Court handles national security cases. And your case had become a bit of a Show Trial. In a place where you never had planned to be until a uniformed officer summoned you, in a place where you did not speak his language, to his side.

The place was Iran, overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There were branches of government with a judiciary and a president and a legislative branch, all under the power and might of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Did you believe in defendants’ rights, wherever they might have been born? When it comes to Show Trials. What did you believe in? In a part of the world where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was fighting against another branch of believers, in Saudi Arabia. Over who knew God best. On issues of power and might. On earth. These sons of Abraham who had shown up with Ishmael, if you believed the Qoran, in the reading at the end of Ramadan, of Eid Al Fitr. With the same scene played out between Abraham and Ishmael, that the Judeo-Christian world knows from when Abraham took Isaac to the mountain top. To sacrifice his son.

Ramadan being the month in which the first verses of the Qoran were written, denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. The Revolutionary Court, working in an auspicious month of Ramadan when the revelations of God to humankind first came down. With bigger than life people, in bigger than life moments, on mountaintops. Like in the strange story of covenant on Eid Al Fitr, as Mohammed began to record stories of power and might. The stories shared by Persian people led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as Arabs in various tribes and nations.

All the things done in the name of God, over who knew best…crazy thing like a father thinking of killing his son, to confer a spirit, to somehow pass on a tradition, a point of view. About belief. Not much different than Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who approves the Minister of Intelligence and the Minister of Defense. Or other crazy secular things done by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with his own Quds Force which reports directly to him, like some kind of Papal Guard.

Ramadan, as a name for the month, of Islamic origin. With an imagination connecting the real world of fear to sacrifice. Amidst all the dysfunction in the world, belief. When dysfunction was related to the depth of communication, in a relationship, and there was Muslim people showing God reverence. Especially during Ramadan. It was why there was still hope at the end of Ramadan that clemency might be given. Like God seemed to give clemency to Ishmael. As well as to Abraham. Because when it was all over, Abraham had to return to home.

Crazy people, with God or without Him. Abraham was never welcomed back. To Hagar. Not after he tried to kill her son. Or, as the prosecutors might have pointed out, just in trying to act upon his crazy belief. When neither of them were ever coming back. Originally. These guys after all were nomads, for God sake. Can you imagine the shock of Hagar when she heard the story? Or the neighbors?

It probably was not much different than the shock those of us in the West who heard the verdict from Iran’s Revolutionary Court had, whenever they got up enough courage to announce this verdict to the world, as well as the attorney for the defendant. And imagine the shock of that third hiker as she sat down today listening to the songs of Cat Stevens. Or depending on when you came to hear him,
Yusuf Islam. Or imagine the shock when you learned the verdict from your bare-faced prison guards, instead of your own lawyer.

Seeing a mirage. When you were caught on a sandbar, in some kind of never-ending sandstorm, and you lost any conception of recognized measure of depth which surrounded you. As the Arab Spring turned to desert heat in the neighboring countries, and you felt as suffocated as the Persian women who you saw only on occasion outside, mostly crying sometimes laughing inside their buqas. To hear the news today, when the air seemed as hard to breathe as the sand, was a lot like reading an obit. Too much like your own obituary, which addressed eight years of your young life. In a country that you never wanted to visit.

“Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be”

If you had never read Shakespeare, you might have missed his practical advice. About money. When a father tells his son, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Or the Great Dictum, so your life does not become one big lie. “This above all: to thine own self be true /And it must follow, as the night the day /Thou canst not be false to any man. ”

A female marriage counselor writes today an article about women, wondering why thirty percent of women in a relationship with the wrong guy, would come before God and knowingly exchange vows. In sharing the bonds of fidelity, these women were already being unfaithful to themselves. And their rationale for the hoodwinking:

Because it was “the next logical step.” And no one else is coming. It’s my last chance.
The ticks of the internal clock, the self-imposed movement of the biological clock, is ticking louder. If a woman desired kids.
Because I have “invested too much time in the relationship.” And marriage might instantly make the relationship better. Like some kind of prayer.
If it does not work out, I can always obtain a divorce. (Already seeking an escape route, as if divorce could be used without consequence.)

Tonight I was going to sit next to a relative at the Red Sox game, whose life had become a lie. Someone who has been wrestling with herself for too many months. And who was difficult to be around. And like a hitting coach, I waited for someone to come to me, before handing out advice.

In the way of full disclosure, I was another B student still trying to just get by, and not super achieve. Before grade inflation hit. Who used a library, despite the dictum, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” And I happen to be sitting next to a beautiful blonde in a bar who was a an out-of town friend of a woman I had met. And I then took in her life story. About a prevailing theme, her prevailing belief, that I am not lovable. Her every day belief which drives her. A woman who could not look you in the eyes.

Watching her wandering eyes, she told me that she had slept with 190 men in her life. And in hearing her life story, that she did not want to ever marry. But she loved sex. With an overall theme if I was listening, about a prevailing belief In relationships that “I am not worthy.” And where there was first no belief, and then no trust. In herself.

She had tried cocaine. And she could assure me that she could stop at any time. But she had to return to the restaurant where I had dinner, because she was going to return a phone to a couple who she had spent last Saturday night with. Though she did not know their names. But the guy was going to be there. And I heard second hand that she had done a line of cocaine with the couple last Saturday. And she was a single mom who lived with her three-year old son three hours from my city. And her son was teaching her a lot about life. I began to connect the dots, which were that she had been in the mortgage business which seemingly collapsed. And she had worked in New York and San Diego. And i somehow saw a line that suggested her statistics were related to what she was doing now.

In aiming for an acceptable relationship. Those women being unfaithful to themselves in bonds of fidelity, in that story in the Huntington Post, were at least trying at something. Another woman my age had witnessed my conversation. She told me the next night, before taking a call to give her own adult daughter some relationship advice, that the male bartender had told her I had been talking to a woman who seemed to sell out for a job in the escort business, and not for joy of regular sex.

There was a sense of guilt of having lost something having so many sex partners when you were young. So whatever was supposed to be communicated in union with someone was lost. When sex if used right was like a prayer.

Adriana L. Trevino

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Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and London

Riot and civil commotion in the age of technology were referred to as the peril of Flash Mobs of marauding teenagers. The disturbances, the surprise disturbances, when warning signs long have been there. It was the story of the weekend in London, Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

From Chicago to St. Louis, in Cleveland, in Los Angeles and the District of Columbia, in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, numerous metropolitan areas have been confronted in the summer of 2011 by violent flash mobs. The mayor of Philadelphia addressed the issue from the pulpit where he worships. After the July 29th random beatings in Center City, Mayor Michael Nutter said, “When [people] see that kind of behavior and activity, it is in fact damaging to all African Americans and all Philadelphians. That’s why I said what I said.”

Creation of gangs was a sign of major discontent, and I had lost track of how many generations that American urban areas were dealing with gang wars. Did not the movie “Westside Story” address the issue, in the 1960s? It was the second summer of flash mobs in Philadelphia. In Milwaukee, it was the second month of the same flash mob like incidents of race-related violence. Mob attacks occurred with the opening of the Wisconsin State Fair after a similar episode at Riverwest, with racially motivated beatings in July when seventy-five to one hundred black youths disturbed traffic crossed a bridge into the Riverwest neighborhood where two gas stations were robbed. And police were called to a disturbance at a Summerfest hip-hop show.

All of the signs perceived to be a black problem– black kids killing black kids, gang bangers– largely unheeded by wider society. About largely men who have given up all hope and possibly absolute belief. Young people with no stake any more in the neighborhood and, consequently, in the world. This disbelief is compounded when it becomes a reality over generations. With absolute belief in nothing. What was nihilism? Giving up all hope because of the injustice of money. This absolute nihilistic belief for those looting – born not only out of present day experiences but the experience of their parents’ too – is to behave in a manner these people have. Because the great truths we learn experientially…not cognitively.

So, if you cannot find justice, or get equality on your own, what should you do? All of these signs perceived to be about power, or feeling powerless. The discontent when you felt powerless, with no stake in the world. Alienated from the system that a society believed in. Though their mothers and sisters still loved them – unconditionally – what was the attitude of such men towards women? The ones who got a woman pregnant and left. Was it one of fear? Of being inadequate? Was it some kind of self-fear. There was a present day anger at Thomas Jefferson for having children out of wedlock with a slave. What would the present day feeling be if a white man got a black woman pregnant over and over and left?

When you cannot get equality and cannot expect justice, and it was unjust to loot? Without ever considering from whose past or whose present they were taking. And there were all these young people who asked not to be judged. Because for them there were no longer issues of right and wrong. When you never had had belief in institutions. Because when no one seemed to care about you, why should the young care about institutions?

The unrest. April in Venice. California that is. When hundreds of rival gang members congregated along the Los Angeles seafront. After some had posted on Twitter, shots rang out as police were strategizing a response to the crowd. People scattered, as pandemonium reigned.

Last week the National Retail Federation issued a report recommending how to prevent robberies in a flash attack, like the one last week at Water Tower Place in Chicago on Saturday night, as teens compete to knock out an unsuspecting victim with a single punch. Since February, student journalists at Loyola University’s Water Tower campus have been reporting on a rash of crimes committed by “flash mob offenders.” In April, the McDonald’s at Chicago Avenue and State Street, 70 youths descended and took over. The same scenes have occurred n Belleville, Missouri, mostly recently on July 9th.

In the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights up to one thousand teen youth at the July 4 fireworks display generated fights, general chaos, looting, and robberies. There was an unrest of the underemployed population, as 25 million people witness 2 percent of the population who are doing better than they ever have. When the world seemed so unfair.

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