Thursday, December 31, 2009

New year's eve-Nyårs afton med Fela

It is New Year’s Eve day here in an astonishingly frost-covered Sweden. The news that I have already sampled early in the Swedish darkness offers a little hope – The Opposition in Iran (see Nima Dervish blog Nordic Dervish if you want to follow that) – and lots of political darkness – an almost successful bombing of Northwest 253, the collapse of the State of New York, bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen to name a few.

In a hurry - go to the URLs all the way down. Carpe diem!

Yet there is lots of good life among the people of the world, and I take this opportunity to introduce you to Fela Kuti – a Nigerian musician and opponent of corrupt government – and to his music and dance. The Off Broadway musical “Fela” has moved to Broadway and in so doing will introduce a Nigerian force for good to anyone who starts with the very short clip I link here. I will certainly add more later today, the 31st, and, who knows, maybe I will celebrate New Year’s Eve vicariously by dancing to Fela’s music here in little Linköping since it is not my luck to be in New York City where the Fela-musical band (Antibas) will be playing at the Knitting Factory – sold out.

Vem vet, jag kan tänka mig lägga till lite svenska senare. Men eftersom inte en enda levande människa har tittat på (åtminstone kommenterat) min blogg blir min skrivning bara ”träna skriva på svenska”

Nope not more Swedish but Fela URLs. Try one. Different sides of Fela with the Ginger Baker video - words fail me. Bara kolla!

It’s New Year’s Eve already here in Sweden. Wherever you are, maybe Australia, maybe NYC, maybe Brazil I hope you are dancing!

And in this strange time when one young Nigerian was trying to bring a plane down, it is also time to see another Nigerian live and then get yourself to New York City to see Fela, the Broadway musical.
Nigeria African Music Legends
U Be Thief – video 2 min Fela sings
Fela live 1971 video made by Cream drummer Ginger Baker. The real thing.
Confusion break bone – with text – the political Fela Kuti

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Slaget om muslimerna - Never in DN

Dagens Nyheter did not find Evin Rubar's documentary Slaget om muslimerna worth commenting on except belatedly by a seriously confused John Croneman. Therefore I submitted the text below as my first try at Letter to the Editor (insändare). DN was not interested so I might as well put it "in print" here. Have composed and sent "insändare nr. 2". But if you should read this and kan svenska gå to Nordic Dervish blog since he writes full time about these matters and is good.

Never in Sweden/Aldrig i Sverige, åtminstone i DN kommer man att kunna läsa en seriös diskussion om årets viktigaste dokumentär film, Evin Rubars Slaget om muslimerna- se på SVTs Play TV.

Titeln till den nya boken ”Who Speaks for Islam” ställer den frågan som Evin Rubar besvarar i svenskt sammanhang. I boken – en miljard muslimer talar. I Sverige ger Evin Rubar plåts åt fyra män som talar klarspråk. Dilsa Demirbag-Sten beskriver dessa i sin kommentar om programmet i Expressen: ”Politiker vill gärna föra ’dialog’ med företrädare som säger sig representera stora grupper. Medierna har hjälpt till genom att ständigt vända sig till ’muslimska företrädare’ som nästan alltid är ortodoxt troende.” Och män, själv klart.

Du, läsaren kan inte läsa om dessa män i DN men du kan lyssna på dem för att höra att den ena eller den andra inte delar sådana värderingar som den att jämlikheten mellan män och kvinnor är princip nummer ett. Så långt jag vet kan du inte heller läsa om intellektuella muslimska kvinnor i Kanada och USA (ofta professorer) som anser att varje religion måste utvecklas i kapp med världens utveckling.

En sådan kvinna är Irshad Manji (från Kanada) som det gläder mig att säga finns på SVTs Existens (program 5 av 10 – inget om det i DN tror jag). Irshad Manji ”Speaks for Islam” på ett helt annat sätt än Sveriges självutvalda men med något gemensamt med Nalin Pekgul och Dilsa Demirbag-Sten. I programmet säger reporter Magnus Selstam Jonsson att aldrig i Sverige/Never in Sweden kan du hitta någon som är villig att prata om Irshad Manji. I stället bara gå in på hennes webbsida och beställa utan kostnad hennes bok i det språk du bäst behärska.

Jag ser fram emot, år 2010, en hel DN kultur del ägnat åt en jämförelse av vem som talar för Islam i Sverige jämfört med i Kanada och USA.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who Speaks for Islam - Short version

Who Speaks for Islam is the title of a new book by Dalia Mogahed and John Esposito based on a world-wide survey of muslims. I want to keep the book and the title upfront while I do my research for a longer entry. The book presents data to show what I know from everyday experience - people who say they are Muslims have so many different views about the nature of Islam and their relation to it that one must endlessly question - to whom should a government listen if they want to address a policy matter that may concern muslims? In Sweden one only need look at Evin Rubar's recent documentary Slaget om muslimer (will check the exact title)to see the sorry state of who the government listens to who "is speaking for Islam". Things seem much better in the USA and Canada - from my point of view but certainly not from the men who "speak for Islam" in the Rubin documentary, that is with the exception of the Danish muslim around whom the program is built.

The level of comment discussion following Swedish articles and the documentary film seem to be at an extremely low level, at least compared with the level of comment discussion in the New York Times every day.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Black In The Age of Obama - Part 2

Something strange happens to my submissions to the New York Times so I submitted a new text as comment to Charles Blow's column in the NYT on December 5th - Black in the Age of Obama. I am making it my blog post for Sunday morning here in Sweden because every such submission by me refers to the comparison of Infant Mortality statistics in Sweden (best or 2d best in the world) with those in the USA (30th in the world.)

Comment submitted to the NYT
December 6 2009
10:01 am Swedish Time

Sad to say, I must agree completely with the final lines in Charles Blow’s excellent column: \"The Age of Obama, so far at least, seems less about Obama as a black community game-changer than as a White House gamesman.\"

The most recent example is the president’s decision to turn his energies from the passage of universal health care, which would provide major benefit to both disadvantaged blacks and whites, to concentrate on expanding an unwinnable war whose costs can only worsen the situation of black America.

The Obama gamesman chooses to make human and financial commitments in Afghanistan that are most satisfying to the Republican Party that actively opposes the one Obama initiative that clearly is a black community game changer - universal health care.

One need only look at infant mortality in the black community – see CDC publication reported on in the Times – to see where game change is needed. The US is ranked 30th concerning infant mortality in that publication and a major contributor to that low ranking is premature births among black mothers. The potential for “Black game change” has been shown in one county in Wisconsin (also reported in the Times) where infant mortality in the black population has been reduced to the same low level as in the white - an indication that the difference is not so much genetic as it is societal. That level is close to the level in Sweden which is best or second best in the world as concerns this health statistic.

Universal pre-natal care in America is a Game Change that will ensure that fewer black babies die, something that one assumes would be welcomed by all, even Right-to-Lifers. Expansion of the war in Afghanistan can only be negative for Black America. But universal medical care will perhaps not insure many more votes from black Americans in a future election, but war in Afghanistan may well insure more votes from white America.

It was the worst of times.

Larry Lundgren – Linkoeping SWEDEN – for more on this subject.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

You can read it in the times (NYT)
Jag har kopierat här mitt inlägg i dagens (5/12 eller 12/5 om du är Amerikan) New York Times opinion article by Charles Blow. Eftersom jag läser NYT OnLine jag får alltid vara först att lägga in inlägg eftersom jag lever på svensk tid. Texten nedan är bara en kommentar till en artikel men jag vill se till att något finns och hoppas att jag skriva mer senare.

Barack Obama had two chances to do something for "blacks" (I explain the quotation marks below). 1) He could have concentrated all his energy on seeing to it that new health policy is passed that provides for universal health care. 2)To do this he could have decided that "winning" in Afghanistan will cost more in deaths incurred, souls (US military and Afghanis)destroyed, and deficit exploded than his announced decision is worth.
On the medical front one need only look at infant mortality in "blacks" (presumably mostly African Americans)and the dramatic exception in one county in Wisconsin (reported in the Times)to see how important universal medical care - here specifically during pregnancy - is for the black population. On the war front one need only consider the financial cost that George W. Bush never wanted to meet via increased taxes and that his successor is likely to find impossible.
Why "blacks" in quotation marks? I write from Sweden as retired American citizen where for a striking percentage of "ethnic Swedes" blacks are ALL who do not have the skin color of an ethnic Swede. I commend Charles Blow in a sense for using the simple term black since the use of this term includes, for example, the Somali immigrants (Bantu clan) in Burlington, Vermont. Furthermore, use of the simple term black emphasizes that it is not genetics (except as determines skin color) but rather skin color alone. Note, however, that according to the Times African Americans are not willing to accept Somali immigrants as African Americans because the Somalis are muslims.

Finally, let it be known that many of my Somali, Iranian, Iraqi, Kurdish friends here in Sweden who had hope with the election of Barack Obama now ask me daily - Why does the USA always continue warring? And many - yesterday Somalis - said one by one "I am disappointed in Barack Obama". So am I. (De frågade mig då jag var på Rödakorset här i Linköping).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Things I Should be Writing About

I have no time these days to write the things I should be writing about, but I want to post a note about my good intentions. Today was a free-for-all discussion at Rödakorset since there was an extreme lack of students needing help and an extreme richness of bright strikingly individualistic conversationalists - yes, even in Sweden - who provided an abundance of riches. Things to think, research, and even write about.

Some of these things had in one way or another to do with identity so I will just write some reminders in the form of (rhetorical ?) questions:

Where does your nationality rank in the list of identifiers that would tell us something about you?

Why did so many "ethnic Swedes 2alive during World War II wish to identify with and support the idea that they were part of some kind of Aryan "master race" and support Adolf Hitler?

Vad menas med "Hon är svensk"?

And last a rough quotation from an interview I heard yesterday on Sverige's radio and then some questions. In both Swedish and English. "Jo, jag är sekuliserad muslim och jag har 100 procent svenska värderingar, jag är precis som vilken svensk tjej som helst." Yes, I am a secularised Muslim and I have 100 percent Swedish values, I am exactly like any other Swedish young woman.

Questions arising from the above:
Vad menas med svenska värderingar. What did she/you mean by Swedish values?
Vad menas när en tjej (detta exempel) säger jag är precis som vilken svensk tjej...? What does a young woman (this example) mean when she says she is just like any other ("ethnic") Swedish young woman?

Varför skulle hon säga sådana saker? Why would she say these things?
Tror du att hon vet vad hon säger? Do you believe she knows what she is saying?

Not me! Önskar att jag kunde kontakta henne och fråga. Reportern bodde ha ställt någon fråga men det gjorde hon inte. Not good.