Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Insert Catchy Title Here

I'm determined not to piss away the morning, as I did yesterday, sifting through Gallup Poll charts and doing narcissistic searches on Google. Instead, I'll direct you to an interesting entry on Juan Cole's "Informed Comment," where the Professor suggests an array of blogs written by (among others) Iraqi, Iranian, and Syrian women.

I'll also recommend Dahr Jamail an Alaskan-based independent journalist who's been writing from Iraq for the better part of the last year. He spoke last night on campus to a reasonably large crowd -- given that we're on Spring Break here, the half-full auditorium was an impressive turnout -- and spoke mostly about the two sieges of Fallujah, about which he has written quite a bit, and the "embedded" media's failure to report sufficiently on the scope of the crisis in Iraq. Altogether, the talk was quite good, though I get impatient when speakers read from previously-published material. I also get impatient with audience members who -- almost predictably at these kinds of events -- revert to the "What can we do?" line of discourse that never ceases to produce boring, unsatisfying answers. Aside from being the least interesting question you can ask someone, it's also depressing in its implications. On the one hand, these queries are symptomatic of the disenfranchised, asymmetrical relationship between ordinary citizens and the foreign policy that claims to speak in the name of their values, ambitions, lifestyles, and aspirations for humanity. (Who among us does know what to do, especially in a month that's witnessed the nominations of John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz to positions like UN Ambassador and chief hit man for the World Bank? It's the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq; do you know where the neocons who pimped this war are?) On the other hand, our willingness to grant oracular powers to anyone with a clip-on microphone and a PowerPoint presentation is just mystifying. Jamail was a trail guide in Denali before all this happened; he got fed up with the jingoistic reporting of the corporate media, quit his job and flew off to Baghdad. You wanna know what you can do? Be half as creative and courageous as this guy, for starters.