Saturday, March 31, 2007

Friday petblogging

Ok, I know. It's Saturday. But I'm always a little behind the curve.

Meet Zack:

Zack really likes bathtubs. Not for baths, but to get that yummy water he loves extra fresh, straight from the source. This picture is from when we first moved in to the new place. The first thing he did when we got there was check out the bathtub situation.

And the kitties, wrestling:

I was inspired to start petblogging this week by the hilarious result of Zack being a naughty dog, but I can't find the camera to upload that picture. So you'll just have to come back next week to see it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What you get when you "hold your nose and vote for someone." Or, painful reminder that Democrat does not equal less classist or anti-immigrant.

"Dr. Robert Simon, chief of Cook County health services, said the county should fly illegal immigrants living at Oak Forest Hospital back to the countries they came from."

He goes on to actually defend this comment, discussing the logistics and viability of this idea and that it should be done "humanely." Wow. This is what I get for thinking that I had to vote for the icky corrupt Democrat (Stroger) because the Republican (Peraica) opponent had to be avoided because he was so anti-immigrant and anti-poor people and would hurt the county health system. The Democrat appoints an outspokenly anti-immigrant anti-poor people doctor to run (or more like destroy) the county health system. This is the same doctor that said several years ago that he didn't come to County to take care of homeless people: "You can give them any opportunity in the world, and they would not take advantage of it. They could do things for themselves, but they won't. So who the hell cares about them?". The news article also has Simon lamenting that taxpayers are spending $800 a day to take care of patients at this facility, including undocumented immigrants. I am lamenting that taxpayers are paying Simon $1893.15 a day (he makes $691,000, that's if he worked all 365 days a year, which he doesn't) to increase the classism, racism, injustice, and all around bad policy already rampant in our healthcare system.

This is just the latest in a series of barabaric cuts devastating the healthcare safety net (already overburdened) for tens of thousands of people that mostly can't get healthcare elsewhere. The Movimiento 10 de marzo/March 10 Movement (immigrant rights/legalization group) and the nurses' union are both demanding Simon be replaced.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I've thought before about the use of the words genocide and Holocaust and what that means. One thing that has bothered me is using the Jewish Holocaust as THE genocide, the untouchable end-all be-all of genocides and bad things. Though it was huge, extremely intentional, and horrendous, the way it is discussed is a problem for a few reasons. One of these is as justification for Israeli violence toward Palestinians. Another that I have wondered about is whether it is "the ultimate" in genocides because it was a group of now-white (and in the U.S. often middle and upper-class) Jewish people being killed. There were also a lot of Roma killed in the Holocaust, as well as non-Jewish queers, socialists, and differently-abled people killed, but the mainstream discussion often leaves this out or only gives it a brief token mention.

I heard a snip of an interview on the radio this morning about the use of the term/category "genocide." This guy, Brendan O'Neill, discusses how the current use of the word/concept genocide helps us imagine this distinction between an enlightened, civilized first world and a barbaric, backwards third world. He also says that the way it is used helps ahistoricize conflicts, especially in Africa, by portraying them purely as senseless killing with no reason or context. Not that I think the killing can be justified, but I agree with O'Neill's point that it is a problem that it is taken out of context and the history is erased, so we just see this irrational, crazy killing with no reason, rather than with all the historical issues and conflicts, including the role of the West and imperial powers in helping create the climate for these conflicts in the first place.

The reporter brings up the idea of invoking the word genocide as a strategic weapon to draw attention to areas of the world that people here might normally ignore or not care about. I think this is an important question to consider; do people (especially powerful white people) in the U.S. care less about the suffering and deaths of brown people and could using this powerful word/symbol help them see people as people in a way their racist lens might normally not allow? In the past I have thought about this but been skeptical because I can't see how involving the U.S. army or other military forces could do anything except make things much worse. I am not against any outside intervention (and though problematic, I think sometimes the U.S. Jewish "It could be us/never again" thought is part of my consciousness that I do not want to silence), but I really think U.S. military forces, as some have called for, could only make things worse. I don't know about UN/international peacekeeping forces, I really don't know enough about them, but I am pretty skeptical.

However, O'Neill brings up a different problem with this "strategic weapon" to make people pay attention. He does a great job of flipping the reporter's question on its head - saying that is exactly why it concerns him as an anti-imperialist - that it is a "weapon" to demonize the third world. I remember an e-mail I got from a leftist U.S. group (possibly True Majority?) promoting awareness and action on the Sudanese genocide with an animation of animalistic, crazy-looking Janjaweed killers in Sudan. People probably do seem brutal and less human when they are killing other people. But this animation drew heavily from longstanding racist images/ideas of violent, irrational, animal-like brown men.

In the article "Pimp My Genocide", O'Neill discusses the implications of pandering to the idea of the worst most victimized to gain genocide status. He speculates that this has actually prevented some groups from signing peace deals to maintain their genocide victim status. The article further explores the question: "Why is genocide all the rage, whether it’s uncovering new ones in Africa and Eastern Europe, or rapping the knuckles of those who would dare to deny such genocides here at home?"

According to O'Neill, "Genocide-mongering is a new mode of politics, and it’s being used by some to draw a dividing line between the West and the Third World and to enforce a new and censorious moral consensus on the homefront... the labelling of today’s brutal civil wars as ‘genocides’ by Western observers, courts and commentators is a desperate search for a new moral crusade, and it has given rise to a new moral divide between the West and the rest, between the civilised and enlightened governments of America and Europe and those dark parts of the world where genocides occur...

In some circles, ‘genocide’ has become code for Third World savagery. What do the headline genocides (or ‘celebrity genocides’, perhaps) of the past two weeks have in common? All of them – the Serbs’ genocide in Bosnia, the Sudanese genocide in Darfur, the Turks’ genocide of Armenians – were committed by apparently strange and exotic nations ‘over there’. Strip away the legal-speak about which conflicts can be defined as genocides and which cannot, and it seems clear that genocide has become a PC codeword for wog violence – whether the genocidal wogs are the blacks of Sudan, the brown-skinned, not-quite-European people of Turkey, or the Serbs, white niggers of the post-Cold War world. "

O'Neill also critiques leftist anti-war activists' use of the word genocide to throw back at the Bush/Blair administrations and what they are doing in Iraq.

P.S. This may be the first (and possibly the last) time I've heard someone use "liberal" and "western pity" critically on NPR.

Hear the radio interview here

Read O'Neill's article here

More of the good stuff from O'Neill's article:
"The discussion of every war in Africa as a genocide or potential genocide shows that today’s genocide-mongering bears little relation to what is happening in conflict zones on the ground. There are great differences, not least in scale, between the wars in Rwanda, Darfur and Liberia; each of these conflicts has been driven by complex local grievances, very often exacerbated by Western intervention. That Western declarations of ‘genocide!’ are most often made in relation to Africa suggests that behind today’s genocide-mongering there lurks some nasty chauvinistic sentiments. At a time when it is unfashionable to talk about ‘the dark continent’ or ‘savage Africans’, the more acceptable ‘genocide’ tag gives the impression that Africa is peculiarly and sickly violent, and that it needs to be saved from itself by more enlightened forces from elsewhere. Importantly, if the UN judges that a genocide is occurring, then that can be used to justify military intervention into said genocide zone.

Hardly anyone talks openly about a global divide between the savage Third World and the enlightened West anymore. Yet today’s genocide-mongering has nurtured a new, apparently acceptable divide between the genocide-executers over there, and the genocide-saviours at home. This new global faultline over genocide is formalised in the international court system. In the Nineties, setting up tribunals to try war criminals or genocidaires became an important part of the West’s attempts to rehabilitate its moral authority around the globe."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

discomfort with anger, civility, and diabetes

I have been meaning to write something about diabetes and class. And then I was going to write something just about diabetes and things I've been thinking about my experiences since I've had to life more within them (and more constantly) lately with the problems I've been having. But then I got lazy. And then I got into an argument with my dad, so this is what I wrote instead. There's a lot of other things I want to bring out eventually, but too tired now.
PS I don't hate my dad, and this isn't meant to be a personal attack. I'm just frustrated and it illustrates really well what I think happens in a lot of situations.

my dad is so into civility and doesn't like anger. so frustrating to communicate with. since he can't deal with anger, frustration, or conflict, he can only discuss things on his terms or not at all. I asked him (i worked so so hard to be nice and "rational" and articulate cuz i knew this would be an issue) to stop 2nd-guessing me when I say i know what the problem is and my pump isn't working after another incidence of him continuing to second and third-guess me even after i spend a lot of time/energy laying everything out. and i said my anger was healthy and necessary and part of life.

now he says he won't discuss my diabetes with me anymore if that's what i want. it's not, i just want to discuss it without being constantly 2nd guessed. or if i "all i want do to is express my anger" (cuz clearly that's incompatible with conversation or intelligent exchange, of course). i was trying to stay understanding and communicate well with him, but it didn't work. he legitimately has some emotional issues with avoiding conflict i think, but still not fair and a cop-out. he got just what he wanted - this conversation about my diabetes doesn't occur unless it is on his terms, unchallenged. and it's so about upholding a fucked up civility - keeping me from getting angry or us from getting in a conflict under the guise of trying to avoid somethign that upsets me (which is there no matter what, by the way, and it's his reaction, not my diabetes itself that i was upset about in that moment), rather than actually addressing my concerns and engaging with me.