Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Always Exploitive

The Almighty did not give me the ability to boycott Always or Tampax. If I could, though, I certainly would.

I despise this for a number of reasons:

I hate any for-profit company that says "buy this and we'll give a cut to charity." If you're so interested in charity, then why don't you give the money?

So it's advertising.

And whom are they helping?

The black schoolgirl in a small village in sub-Saharan Africa. Not the Ukrainian prostitute in downtown Kiev. Not the orphaned girl in Afghanistan. Not the child of homeless parents in Baltimore, the very country where their major market and commercial operations are. Nope, they are looking to maximize sympathy.

Black. Female. Child. Lives in a village. A village full of straw huts. In Africa.

Someone please yell "CUT!"

I'm pretty sure that African women have been undergoing these bodily functions for a while. I'm highly skeptical that devising a way to deal with said functions is on this village's top-10 list of priorities. And why exactly can't these people purchase or produce the solution themselves? Wait, I know, it's because "assisting national governments to implement sound economic policies that foster local industry over imported goods" isn't quite as catchy as "Have a Happy Period." The former would also be very much counter to P&G's interests.

And what happens when P&G finds a new cause celèbre for its ad campaigns?

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Saving Western Civilization from My Mom's Basement"


Despite the visceral hatred that both men exude, it's really hard to keep from laughing - I certainly couldn't. Baseball! Can you imagine?! Oh the outrage!

Please do visit their website:


Or watch another of their videos on Islam:

The part where they flash the unfortunate duck on the screen (minute 8:47) provides another priceless moment.

How to respond to this nonsense? The answer is not to. It speaks for itself, and deserves no more response than the allegation that Jews make matzohs from gentile blood, or that the Roma steal other peoples' children.

A little biographical information for the guy on the right, courtesy of the New York Times. Why is he so proud of Rabbi Meir Kahane? For the same reasons that even the unabashedly pro-zionist ADL disowns him.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

A Comment on Pakistan

So the dust is finally settling after the Pakistani election, and with the exception of a few delays in the tribal areas, the results for the Provincial and National Assemblies are in. The score in the NA is below. (courtesy of the BBC, not that I ever asked them)
There is much that can be said about these results, but a large part of the story here is that the elections was relatively peaceful, and relatively fair, despite some accusations of rigging and some deaths due to related violence. Turnout in many areas was low, but I can't believe that the fear of violence kept Pakistanis from the polls - they are generally made of sterner stuff than that. If Pakistanis decided not to vote, the more likely reason was that they didn't feel that it would change anything.

Those of us who might have been willing to excuse Musharraf's relatively benign, though undemocratic rule in his first 4 or 5 years stopped being able to do that in the last two years. As dictators go, he wasn't all that bad , but it became clear that his desire to cling to power, his lack of understanding of how to implement civilian policy, and his deliberate, vindictive corruption of the judiciary.

That said, some credit is due - history should not be kind to Musharraf, but one hopes that it will treat him better than it treats Zia-ul Huq, the last military man to ostentatiously assume the role of Pakistan's saviour while running the place into the ground. After all, Musharraf did preside over an election where his puppet, the PML-Q, and his crafty bedfellow, the MQM, were both losers while his frank enemy, Nawaz Sharif, and the PPP (actually, the BPP, since the succession at its helm proved that it is really Bhutto's Personal Party) wound up being the big winners.

In most countries "he chose not to continue eroding the foundations of democracy" is not really a compliment. In Pakistan though, you take what you can get.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Turkey and Minorities - Hipocrisy or a new direction?

I've been following the elections in Pakistan, but something else caught my attention. If you're interested in the blow-by-blow, Dawn (Pakistan's oldest and largest English daily) has jumped on the bandwagon and now has an election blog:


If you follow the international press, you may have noticed a kerfuffle between Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Erdogan advised Germans of Turkish origin not to "integrate" into German society, but not to allow themselves to be "assimilated," and that they should keep their language and culture alive. He further added that assimilation was a "crime against humanity." The remarks came at a time when German police are investigating two arson cases in Turkish-dominated areas, the most recent of which killed 9 people.

Coming from any other Turkish PM, this would have been laughable. Turkey discourages the existence of any other identity that that of "Turkish" and until recently had banned the use of the Kurdish language anywhere it could. Until, that is, the arrival of the "Islamist" AK Party, which has liberalized restrictions on Kurdish language and culture (notwithstanding the Army's ongoing assault on Kurdish northern Iraq, or "Terrorist Kurdistan" as the headline on today's Zaman read).

As one Zaman columnist noted, if Turkey wants to lecture others on the benefits of "integration" over "assimilation," it had better clean its own house.

The advice extends to the rest of the Muslim world. Germany is not North America or Palestine - its politically dominant culture has a legitimate claim as a native culture. If Arabs and Turks are to be treated equal under the law in Europe, then their home countries should be setting the example.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.

- Muhammad's (peace be upon him) Last Sermon, 10 A.H.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Manufactured Holidays

The Proud Islamist is about to object to a holiday, but it's not the one you might think. Everyone knows that Valentine's day, like Hallowe'en, is a commercial holiday, and that if it weren't for the advertising efforts of confectioners and florists, most people would forget it entirely. Insecure single people might be offended by it, but as silly and distasteful as some of its gaudier trappings may be, I am not.

No, what I wanted to talk about today is Ontario's new long weekend, "Family Day," which has already been adopted by 4 other provinces. The purpose of Family Day, as its name explains, is for people to spend more time with their families. The first Canadian Family Day was adopted by Alberta (heh, figures) in 1990 after Premier Don Getty "discovered" (but not before the cops did) that his son was a coke-head. Since every Albertan obviously felt the man's pain, Alberta has observed Family Day ever since.

The notion should already sound ridiculous - one day a year to recognize the importance of family is an insult to your loved ones, not a veneration. What's more ironic is that we used to have 52 such days every year - it was called "Sunday."

There is no Sabbath in Islam, but that doesn't make it a bad idea. People need a reminder that the accumulation of material wealth is a means, not an end in itself .We Muslims have that reminder 5 times a day, when we make time in our schedules to remind ourselves that there are more important values than that of money, and that the universe is much larger than that which falls within our daily experience. Not everyone does this, however, and while regular prayer might promote social cohesion within the community that practices it, it does not force people to leave their worldly pursuits behind and play a significant role in the lives of their families.

A society is composed of people who are dependent on one another. That's what "society" means. I may have a choice to refrain from participating in activities on Sunday if I don't want to, but that choice becomes impractical when everyone around me is arranging their schedule otherwise. When we force a conventional day of rest, we force schedules to synchronize; we force people to really start living together in relationships besides those of producers and consumers.

Most of Canada now permits Sunday shopping, the argument being that consumers and businesses (the only two groups in society) should have the choice of when they want to do business. If people want to spend more time working and shopping, the state is not going to force them to spend it with their families instead. And as the "My Sunday My Choice" campaign in Britain notes, this would open up more employment for students and low-income families.

It's always convenient to have desperate people around.

More importantly, proponents of legalizing Sunday commerce argue, the pace of life is different now from the way it was in the 1950s. Or as the My Sunday. My Choice campaign so neatly puts it:

"Society has changed. Consumers have increasingly busy lives and the traditional image of the housewife who could do the shopping during the week is now an anachronism."

After all, she has to work during the week, doesn't she?

Statistics Canada data analysed in a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows that the bottom 4 income deciles have seen their incomes stagnate over the past 30 years in Canada, but that they have increased their working hours more than any other group, especially more than the top decile, which has actually been working less. It's the difference between the people who own the store and the people who are showing up for their Sunday evening shift, making the same minimum wage they did before 10 years of inflation had happened.

So I approve of any attempt by the government to get people to spend time with their families, but let's be honest: We aren't getting a new holiday. We're getting one back.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dirty Politics

In a CBC story on the upcoming vote on the Afghanistan mission, Harper, as expected, criticized the Dion's position on Afghanistan, and then added something to the effect of "But I do agree with the deputy leader of the opposition when he says that for Canada to leave Afghanistan would be a mistake we would regret for years to come."

He made similar statements in the house, about his agreement with Michael Ignatieff, the pro-"War on Terror" Harvard academic who was thankfully kept out of the leadership spot by the now embattled Dion.

Why is he so eager to agree? Because Harper has no interest in anything resembling an intelligent debate on foreign policy. For this government, winning comes first, principles later. In their unprecedented attack-ad campaign, their sleazy "Not-a-leader" website, and the constant resort to verbal tricks, Harper is more interested in assassinating the character of Dion than he is in presenting policy.

Harper knows how the game works in a modern democracy, and takes his cues from Washington - never debate policy, refer only to iconic events, and make everything an issue of the other side's character. Make every appointment political, and fire anyone who takes you "off message." We haven't gotten to the point where he is accusing the Liberals of wanting to "surrender to the terrorists," but eventually, I'm sure we will.

Security is a nice word to use when you want to scare people, but the Conservatives, even the dumb backbenchers in the bunch (and there are some really, really dumb ones) don't actually believe in it as a general principle. Take, for example, the restarting of the Chalk River nuclear reactor, after the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission shut it down, pending an upgrade to meet international safety and security standards. Linda Keen, the head of the CNSC was fired, and despite her damning testimony of the government's eagerness to start an unsafe reactor so they could avoid political embarrassment, the story didn't have legs. And as in the Bush regime, an independent body created to serve the public good was put under political control. Accountability indeed.

Angry Muslims in Afghanistan = Security threat
Unsafe Nuclear Reactor in Canada = Public relations threat

What is most disturbing of all, however, is that 30% of Canadians still tell pollsters that they support this man.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

"Please Link from your site"

Oh honey, I sure will!!

As frequent readers will notice, The Proud Islamist is marking a milestone this week: our first comment from Anti-Islam posters. Not one, but two, following the last post about "Naming the Enemy." We had a messianic Jewish zionist, AND an chauvinistic evangelical Christian. Not only that, but TheProudIslamist also has a thread devoted to it on a new Anti-Islam American web forum.

This is part of the reason this blog was set up - aside from reclaiming the muddied terminology of our current political and moral debate on issues of international relations and Canadian social justice. The goal was also to see who would take notice, and to attract the most vile elements of chauvinism and anti-Islam in the West, so that they could vent their fury at a real live Islamist, and demonstrate the ultimately hateful and self-serving nature of their world view. Welcome, welcome!

They are not like other racists, in that they are, prima facie, opposed to a set of ideas that people believe, and not an unchangeable fact of their existence. To say that you want to exterminate, conquer, expel, or discriminate against Muslims is NOT the same as saying that you want to do the same thing to blacks or hispanics. It is, however, equally evil and far more counterproductive.

This is because their view of Islam does not stem from a careful and complex contemplation of Islamic beliefs, values, and practices, but from a parochial worldview that IS inherently racist, in that it emphasizes the suffering of the West over the suffering inflicted by it, informed, amongst its most sophisticated proponents, by a selective, decontextualized, literalist reading of Sira and Hadith. Worse still, by assuming that the Islam of Mullah Omar is the "True Islam," they willingly cede the argument to anyone wishing to follow in such barbaric footsteps.

This is a nice, comforting, way to look at the world, because it allows people to cleanly draw a line with "bad guys" on that side, and "good guys" on this one. And then the aim is simple, if terrible - wipe out the bad guys, bad gals, and bad kids. "Return each blow with a hundred," as one of my new-found playmates said.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Naming the Enemy

So it turns out that I'm a fascist. Reading my own previous posts, I don't think I represented my own fascist tendencies very well, but since fascism is integral to Islam, that must be my mistake. American neoconservatives can teach a Muslim so much about his religion.

The claim, which is being popularized on American campuses during "Islamofascism week," is offered in both overt and subtle, sophisticated forms. The pro-war media and political establishment have been eager to push this idea of "Naming the Enemy" – Giuliani tried (unsuccessfully) to make it the centrepiece of his Republican nomination campaign. Naming the enemy is of prime importance, because if you don't, people might start to suppose that IT DOESN'T EXIST.

This article, the supposed transcript of a "symposium" held by David Horowitz's right-wing think tank and blog, provided a forum in which the argument could be made, in all its absurd circular glory, with a straight face. One of the participants is quite likely a fictional character, as his "Muslim Reform Movement" has no actual Muslim members (although it does have some Republican bloggers on board), and there is no record of his existence that is unrelated to the group's blog – most of which blithely echos the terminology and causes celèbres of Christian Zionists and the American conservative blogosphere. Among the anti-Islam luminaries present (or at least, participating, since it's not clear if they actually met), was former CIA case officer and "war on terror" scaremonger Bruce Tefft, who put it best (presumably with a straight face).

TEFFT: "My view is a bit more simplistic, and at the same time an amalgam of the rest of the panel. Islam is indeed fascistic in that it is (like National Socialism, Communism and Fascism) both totalitarian and posits an absolute superiority of Muslims over non-Muslims. This is demonstrated in the Islamic system of dhimmitude and the second class citizenship of kuffars who, if not killed or converted, are forced to pay the 'jizya' - the infidel poll tax.

The problem with using the term Islamofascist though is that it implies there is a difference in Islam between fascist Muslims and non-fascist Muslims -- and this is misleading and therefore a disservice to our war effort. As the later Suras of the Koran indicate, Islam is to dominate the world, jihad is an obligation if not a duty of all Muslims, and all non-Muslims are to be converted, enslaved or killed.

As you know, the later Suras abrogate any contradictory earlier ones of "peace, love, and tolerance". Given that the first duty of every Muslim, as an article of faith, is to accept the Koran as the literal word of Allah, is it possible for so-called 'moderate Muslims' to pick and choose which part of the Koran they will adhere to? To reject parts of the Koran? My understanding is that if a Muslim rejects the Koran he is rejecting Islam and Allah and is an apostate."

It's the perfect strawman:

"We need to be honest here, the enemy is Islam, since all Muslims are, by definition, fascist."

"What about me, I'm a good Muslim."

"Good in what way?"

"I'm not a fascist."

"Well, then you're not a Muslim either."

"But I am!"

"Impossible. Didn't you hear me? Muslims are, by definition, fascists."

"But I don't believe in fascism."

"Good, then I've no quarrel with you."


"-- because you're not a Muslim!"

"Oh. . . I'm not?"

"Well, are you a fascist?"


"Then Q.E.D. You're not Muslim."

"Jeepers Mr. Neoconservative Blogger. You are so wise about the world. How do you know so much about being Muslim?"

"Are you kidding me? I've spent years studying you people. Years and years of study."

Of course, this leaves us with relatively few options regarding what to do about the world. We can't make peace with a billion devoted fascists, can we? And since Muslims are, kinda sorta attached to that whole Islam thing, we can't exactly expect them to abandon it, either.

So here's the plan: We'll tell everyone else what a bunch of fascists they are, and what a threat they pose, and bomb the more threatening bits judiciously, and most importantly, make sure that they understand the choice – you are either with us, or against us. You are either going to fight Islam, or you are ready to join the Muslims/Islamofascists. That way, more and more of them will stream over to our side, and we will have world peace.

It would be funnier if people weren't actually trying it.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

"From Prison to Zoo"

Great article via the blog of a Palestinian mother and journalist, on how the experience of Gazans moved from one designed to punish, to one that aspires to control every facet of daily existence.

Along similar lines as a point made nearly a year ago by Canadian author and journalist Naomi Klein:

Within three years, large parts of Israel’s tech economy had been radically repurposed. Put in Friedmanesque terms: Israel went from inventing the networking tools of the “flat world” to selling fences to an apartheid planet. Many of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs are using Israel’s status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of twenty-four-hour-a-day showroom—a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war. And the reason Israel is now enjoying supergrowth is that those companies are busily exporting that model to the world.

The complaint is actually an old one - the Palestinians have been the test subjects for everything from interrogation procedures to laser-guided rockets. The difference today is that Zionists find themselves in possession of an economy that can now support a lot of the technological infrastructure for these things with foreign investment, when in previous decades they were reliant on gifts from Washington. Among the world's militaries, the IDF is not outstandingly brutal. It is, however, exceptionally methodical.

As everyone knows, however, the Palestinians Elected Terrorists. Therefore they Hate Freedom. Ergo, they should be Grateful for the Good Treatment they are getting.

Keep blowing down those walls, Hamas. A government is worthless if it never tries to get justice for its people.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Le Shampooing

We all have something that we do, not because we derive any material or moral benefit from it, but mainly because everybody else does it.

For me, one of those things is Shampoo.

This funny word (made funnier in its French translation) is apparently of Indian origin, and the Eternal Arbiter of Internet Truth has an interesting story about it.

As a child, my mother always taught me to shampoo my hair every time I had a shower. When I started living on my own, I continued the trend. Then I ran out of shampoo at a time when I was well-stocked on everything else. Rather than simply not bathe for a few weeks until I next went out for groceries - which would have been a perfectly acceptable option when I was 10 - I proceeded with my regular routine, saying to myself "next week I'll buy some shampoo."

The months flew by, until I realized that actually, I don't need shampoo.

Now, most of you reading this know that I am of the not-so-fair sex, and consequently, not particularly preoccupied with my appearance. It's one of those male stereotypes that I embrace - saves the planet, and saves me a great deal of time and worry, not to mention the money.

And after all, it's not really necessary, is it? I mean, of all the things I buy (or bought) on a regular basis, it's the thing whose benefits to me are the hardest to identify. And it's expensive, and God knows what goes into making it, bottling it, and selling it.

Let's say you are one of these hygeine-obsessed, opulence-inured North Americans, who can't imagine a day without a shower or bath. Let's say that you shampoo half the time, and use 30mL with each application (2 tablespoons). With a 600mL bottle, that will last you 40 days. So that's 9 bottles of shampoo per year, per person. Assume you use a decent-quality drugstore shampoo, available for $5.00. That's $45 you're spending on shampoo every year, assuming you don't share it with anyone else.

Nope, not worth the money either. Take that, L'Oreal Paris!

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