sábado, 30 de octubre de 2010

Nacionalismo y Doug Stanhope

Todo periodista tiene cosas que le gustaría hacer y que sabe que nunca tendrá la oportunidad. Cuando se logra hacer alguna de esas cosas, eso es lo que se llama un buen día.
Esta semana escribí una columna para UWeekly en la que me limpiaba el trasero con el nacionalismo ciego de los americanos. Desde decirles que es una tontería odiosa hasta comentarles que hoy Musulmanes en su ejercito, mi característica acidez no se hizo extrañar. Sin embargo, poder citar al genial Doug Stanhope fue lo mejor de toda la columna. Aquí se las dejo.

OPINION: Nationalism: get rid of it
By Gabino Iglesias

Nationalism is, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their identity as members of that nation." Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, here in the U.S., as with many other countries across the world, nationalism has turned into a negative thing: the belief that a group of people are better than others and that our chunk of land is better than, and needs to be protected from, other nations. After 9/11, everyone got sucked into a vortex of defensive, confrontational, uncritical nationalism. The result? Nationalism has now ceased to be a way of caring about the U.S. and its mixed heritage and identity, and has become the motor behind our war on terror and our hatred of immigrants, homosexuals and anything that's not deemed quintessentially "American."

Noam Chomsky, undoubtedly one of the greatest thinkers and dissenters of our time, regularly disparages nationalism in his books and talks. However, Chomsky is so damn brilliant that it can be hard for mere mortals to find a single powerful anti-nationalism snippet to hold on to. In that respect, I have to agree with one of my personal heroes, Charles Bukowski: "Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way." Enter comedian Doug Stanhope.

Stanhope is a genius. His brazen, eloquent, thought-provoking material, always delivered with an in-your-face, fuck-you-if-you-don't-like-it attitude, is a welcome oddity in today's mainstream-friendly, bland comedic landscape. In his special Doug Stanhope: No Refunds, the abrasive humorist spits out the following hilarious, poignant and honest diatribe:

"Nationalism does nothing but teach you how to hate people that you never met. And all of a sudden you take pride in accomplishments you had no part in whatsoever, and you brag about - and the Americans'll go, 'Fuck the French! Fuck the French, if we hadn't had saved their ass in two World Wars, they'd be speakin' German right now!' And you go, 'Oh, was that us?' Was that me and you, Tommy, we saved the French?'"

No, you didn't save the French. Likewise, you didn't help build the Transcontinental Railroad, the Panama Canal or Hoover Dam. What you have probably done is contentedly swallow historical inaccuracies and myths that make you believe this great country was created by whites, for whites. In fact, the average white, non-military American has done naught that would serve as the basis for their heartfelt nationalism.

Black and brown people have fought in every war to protect your freedom. Here's a good one: did you know that, according to the New York Sun, there are almost 4,000 devout Muslims in the U.S. army right now? Yeah, they're fighting the war on terror. A Pew Hispanic Center report shows that, along with those Muslims, there are about 110,000 Hispanics in the army, almost 10 percent of the active duty enlisted force. You want another color? The National Priorities Project Database reported that in 2004 African Americans represented 15 percent of all recruits nationwide. That's a lot of non-whites putting their lives on the line for a country that's not particularly known for embracing them.

I'll bring the point home, literally. UT is a Research 1 institution. A great part of that is due to the amazing, world-changing research that originates here. The fall enrollment reports published by the Office of Information Management and Analysis show that there are 5,186 doctoral students out of which 2,407 are white. That means that 54 percent of researchers here are non-white and, in many cases, from another country.

Enough numbers: our identity is hybrid. Embrace it and be proud of it: that should move us away from blind, restrictive nationalism. Wow. That was a long way of saying Doug Stanhope is right.

miércoles, 13 de octubre de 2010

Dando caña

Cuando la gente con poder hace cosas malas hace falta saltarles a la yugular. Cuando sus fechorías son cosa de todos los días, hay que caerles encima sin piedad. Esta columna salió en Uweekly la semana pasada. Recibí mensajes de texto, mensajes en la versión digital y una individua envió un mensaje a la página de Facebook de Uweekly pidiendo que me dieran un Pulitzer. No me opongo.

OPINION: Texas Board of Education
Taking care of what really matters
By Gabino Iglesias

Last February, the narrow-minded Jesus-freaks that hold the reins of the Texas Board of Education scored big when they approved a social studies curriculum soaked in all things Republican. Not satisfied with taking names like Thomas Jefferson and Cesar Chavez out of textbooks and rearranging history to fit their conservative agenda, now they're back to make sure their right-wing extremism hits every aspect of education. Bravo!

A new resolution proposed by Odessa businessman and State Board of Education hopeful Randy Rives is based on what he perceives as a powerful "pro-Islamic, anti-Christian" bias in textbooks. The six-page document has one purpose: to eradicate those books that "offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world's major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage space-wise and/or by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others." The resolution was presented on September 23 and approved on the 27 with a 7-5 vote.

To give you a sense of what the resolution presented as conclusive proof of pro-Islamic bias, here's the first point of the document:

"In one instance, devoting 120 student text lines to Christian beliefs, practices, and holy writings but 248 (more than twice as many) to those of Islam; and dwelling for 27 student text lines on Crusaders' massacre of Muslims at Jerusalem in 1099 yet censoring Muslims' massacres of Christians there in 1244 and at Antioch in 1268, implying that Christian brutality and Muslim loss of life are significant but Islamic cruelty and Christian deaths are not."

As you can see, they did their research. None of what was presented is false. Unfortunately, this column is too short for me to make a list of the murders that have been committed in the name of Christianity that are left out of textbooks.

Given the rampant popularity of Islam and the utter lack of bible-thumping, gunshot-wielding inbred Republican bigots in this great state of ours, I think I have to agree with the geniuses that supported this resolution. If we keep teaching our kids about other religions and cultures while simultaneously promoting diversity and tolerance, what kind of awful future awaits us? We need to accept the fact that academia has skewed way too far to the dirty left and that's what's causing the economic meltdown, the budget cutbacks, illegal immigration and our sorry-ass loss to UCLA. The sooner we purge Texas of all this liberal bias, the sooner we can have what we all dream of: a country chockfull of Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins. I can't wait for Fox to be on every channel!

Think about it: you haven't noticed how many kids are embracing Islam lately? Okay, at least you've had to become aware of the skyrocketing sales of the Qur'an in Texas bookshops. If you haven't, then you're probably a filthy freethinking liberal and you deserve to remain ignorant. You need to help the righteous Board in their quest to get rid of all the Latinos, African Americans, Homosexuals and Muslims that appear on our way-too-liberal textbooks. The sooner we take care of that, the sooner we can start concentrating on bringing back slavery, making sure we build that wall on the border and getting women back into the kitchen where they belong.

Okay, enough cynicism. As I read how textbooks are supposedly heavily pro-Islam and how we need to take drastic measures to prevent Middle Eastern influences from creeping into the nation's publishing industry, I remembered that these are the same folks who still question Darwin's theory of evolution. Seriously, is anyone surprised at their latest inanity? I vote to leave textbooks as they are and concentrate on eliminating idiocy from the Texas Board of Education - now there's a challenge for you.

At least there's a sliver for hope. I feel that the 7-5 vote is something we can hold on to: it means there's a righteous, thinking minority on the Board fighting for what's right. As for your role in this mess, here's a treat: you can contact Randy Rives at his office at (806) 239-9472 and let him know what you think! Be sure to thank him for contributing to the exposition of the seldom-represented and oppressed Republican political philosophies.


domingo, 10 de octubre de 2010

Séptimo buscapié

Hay que reírse de los risible. De eso va esta columnita.

10 Octubre 2010

Cuando me enteré de que Jenniffer González tuvo la maravillosa idea de abrir el Programa de Asistencia Nutricional (PAN) a la adquisición de alimentos en establecimientos de comida rápida no pude evitar reírme.

Si bien la fatal idea resulta desagradable y peripatética a cualquiera con más de dos neuronas, la realidad es que imaginar a González convertida en “poster girl” de la comida rápida conlleva una imagen mental que fácilmente vence cualquier intento de seriedad y compostura.

Existe una plétora de investigaciones científicas, libros y documentales que exponen los daños causados por ese facsímil irrazonable de alimento que se consigue en los llamados “fasfús.” La comida rápida es alta en sodio, grasa y azúcares. Además, se ha probado una correlación directa entre el consumo de ese tipo de alimentos y la obesidad, los problemas del corazón y la vida sedentaria. En otras palabras, el valor nutricional de la comida rápida es el equivalente al valor intelectual de nuestros líderes: nulo. Lamentablemente, ese dato, aunque harto conocido por la mayoría de las personas, parece haber evadido a González.

Ignorar crasamente algo que es de dominio público es absolutamente inexcusable. La propuesta de González sólo puede ser interpretada de una de dos maneras: o esa señora es alérgica a la lectura, y por tanto carece de sentido común y de la capacidad de desarrollar pensamiento crítico, o conoce los daños que causa la comida rápida y aún así ha optado por atentar abiertamente contra la salud y el bienestar de los puertorriqueños. Cualquiera de las dos opciones lleva al mismo resultado: la propuesta es un atroz crimen contra la razón, un insulto a los agricultores del País y una burla a los nutricionistas.

Si me equivoco totalmente y la proposición no es más que una bienintencionada forma de hacerles la vida más fácil a las madres de familia a la vez que fomenta la conversión de los establecimientos de comida rápida en nuevos foros sociales para la discusión de nuevas ideas y para que compartan los niños, me disculpo. Lo siento, me tuve que reír otra vez escribiendo eso.

n El autor es estudiante doctoral.