Archive for October, 2010

10.30.10

TABOO SUBJECT – The Firing of Juan Williams

Posted in Excerpts at 10:32 am by admin

           

Juan Williams

 On June 4th 2010, I blogged: “Eight Ways to Destroy America.” I’m sure some thought I was way out of line, and trying to instill fear, and unrealistic ideas about our future.  I even presented this paper at a discussion group and the consensus was, “These ideas originally come from a radical conservative.”  They dismissed my ideas as “way out there!” not worth discussing, etc… This week, part of this blog came true and is causing me fear, anger and sadness, which I am still trying to control.

          I wrote the 7th way to destroy America was

          “I would place certain subjects off limits – make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of ‘diversity.’  I would find words similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th century – that stopped and paralyzed thinking.  Words like, ‘racist’ or ‘xenophobe’ (fear of people of foreign origin) halt discussion and debate.”

            That is exactly what NPR did.  Juan Williams expressed his personal emotion on Fox News, the O’Ralley Factor. He said: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot.  You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country, but when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried.  I get nervous.”

          Whether you share his feelings or not, is beside the point.  The thing that scares me is his feelings were off limits and taboo to talk about on National Public Radio, and cannot be legitimately expressed and/or debated.  His ex- boss even made reference to his mental well being on a public speech, suggesting he may wish to talk to his psychiatrist.   

            Are we becoming a nation where freedom of speech is taboo?  I believe no one should be admonished for his/her personal feelings, no matter how radical they may seem.  Personal feelings and opinions should be heard and be open to dialogue in any form but especially in a public forum such as NPR which is funded by our contributions and is subsidized by our government.   

          We dare not put certain subjects off limits if we want our democracy to survive.  This is especially true for our news media, our politicians, and individuals who have an influence on our country.  Some people (including myself) label NPR as radically liberal.   Sunday I heard on Meet the Press someone referring to Fox New as “Republican Propaganda,”  Everyone has the right to his/her opinions, but the important thing is that we keep an open mind and openly express our feelings and opinions. (more…)

10.24.10

My Impression of an Islamic Country

Posted in Excerpts at 01:18 pm by admin

          

View of Prayer Towers From Our Fez Hotel

Now that I have had a chance to think about my Moroccan experience, here are some thoughts. First, I don’t think anyone should be afraid to visit a country just because it is Muslim. The people of Morocco were very friendly, and I felt we were always welcome. 

            I believe that the Islamic religion is powerful and compelling.  In all of our traveling I did not see one house of worship other than Mosques. The prayer towers are visible wherever you look, even in the country side, where houses are sparse.  Five times a day there is a call to prayer.  Just think of the pressure to adhere to this call!  It is your religious duty and belief that Ala requires you to pray not to mention the social pressure.  If you do not appear to be a devout Muslim, your friends, and your family will know and you will feel their disapproval.  Many men actually have calluses on their foreheads from hitting the ground with their heads.  In Fez we were on a hill, surrounded by towers.  The first night I was awakened at 4:15 A.M. and finally figured out what was happening.   The prayer towers were loudly calling everyone to prayer, and for a good 15 minutes the praying went on.  This is powerful, it has a strong subliminal message which the person is not aware.

            Our local guide in Fez was a devout Muslim.  He answered our questions and said he does not like to pray in public, but only in the privacy of his home because he loves the reading of the Quran so much that it makes him weep.  By the way, I also learned that there are no spontaneous prayer, but the prayer is simply reading the Quran. The Quran, in Arabic, is like poetry i.e. rhythmic, beautiful and emotional.  Many adherence memorize the whole Quran, and because of its poetic form it is easier to memorize.  The Quran looses much of its power and beauty in translation. 

            One more important observation:  Devout Muslims are preoccupied with religion.  Five times per day they pray and pray in unison.  Some are careful to observe the Shariah Law, although I thought it was significant to note that the King of Morocco declared that female circumcision is not mandatory for the people of Morocco.

            When I add the time a Muslim needs to make a living plus the time needed to adhere to religious customs, how do they find time for anything else?  Serious prayer takes a lot of mental and emotional energy. It also channels their energies in the direction of 7th century thought.  I think this has affected the progress of Morocco and all devout Muslim countries.  I cannot think of a Muslim who has won a Nobel Prize for Science.  I believe any devoutly religious person, be they Protestant, Catholic or Jewish, can become obsessed with religious thought and cannot find the time or energy to think of much else.  I believe one’s love of God has to be fostered with the love of the Earth, and betterment of his fellow man.  Another observation is that many Muslim countries, do not give much value one half of the population i.e. its women.  And with the loss of this powerful contributing force to both the culture and the economy it cannot compete in the modern world.  This is what I saw in Morocco.  (more…)

10.11.10

My Impressions of Morocco

Posted in Excerpts at 10:35 am by admin

           

A Kasbah in Morocco

We are finally back home and I have had some days to think about our trip and have some of the interesting things I wish to share.  I am writing two blogs, “My Impressions of Morocco” and “My Impressions of an Islamic Country.”

            I noticed as we left the north of Morocco, the countryside, houses and people changed.  Morocco is a large country, larger than California.  The North is very modern and the people dress and look almost European.  We traveled in the interior of Morocco and therefore missed one of its largest cities Casablanca, which is on it western coast. 

            While riding to our first city of Meknes, 300 miles North of Marrakech, I noticed many farms.  The temperature was extremely hot, higher than 109 F, yet there were many large farms.  They have adjusted to the dry dessert climate by building plastic enclosures for most of the crops, which hold in the moisture and prevented freezing on cold winter nights.  Many of these were tall (about 6 feet plus) plastic covered plats, some looked larger than a football field.  I soon saw a tear in the plastic and discovered that these are banana plantations.  Imagine, growing a tropical fruit in a dessert.  Many other fields were covered and the structures not as tall, just the height of the crops they were growing.  The houses in this area, although simple, were orderly and they seemed to be prospering.  Most of the structures were square, or rectangular, built of red clay blocks, with  very few, small windows.  I did not see much variation in the architecture. There were poorer neighborhoods, probably those of the farm workers, where the houses were smaller, and closer together.

            On our way to Marrakech we also saw the remains of several Kasbahs.  These were huge mud structures with very small windows, 17th century fortresses which housed the important men of the time.  One wing held his main wife, another housed his other wives, and a separate wing was for his concubines.  These structures have been damaged by rain and wind, but it is surprising how well they have held up.

After Marrakech we continued southeast to Erfoud, in the Sahara dessert.  Up to this point I had seen very few women dressed in Burkas, only about 3, all in the smaller towns we passed.  In Erfoud it was different.  Most of the women dressed completely in black, covering their head and face.  Even the younger children were not dresses as well or as colorfully as the children of the North.

From Erfoud we continued North, once again crossing the Atlas Mountains on our way to Fez.  Fez is one of the imperial cities where the King lives.  Our hotel was on a hill in hearing distance of several prayer towers.  Prayer towers are a common fixture in every town and village.  I will talk more about this in my next Blog. (more…)

10.05.10

A Passenger on a Motorcycle

Posted in Excerpts at 10:54 am by admin

            I have just returned from a seventeen day motorcycle trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco, as participant in a motorcycle tour of these countries. We travelled 4300 kilometers, approximately 2700 miles. I was excited about going on this adventure and now that it is over I have time to reflect on the experience.

            First, I envisioned a leisurely trip. I have been on several motorcycle trips in Europe and on those occasions we rode at normal speeds taking time to enjoy the sights as we rode. I expected some temperature differences because we were going to travel in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, the sea coast of Portugal, and the Sahara Desert. I came fully equipped and maybe I overdid the cold weather gear. There were seven couples and one guide on this adventure. What I didn’t know was that this was not going to be a leisure trip, but the men expected to ride as fast as the bikes would go, within the legal limits. They welcomed narrow roads, the more curve the better, and rough roads were also welcome. A few times I pumped so high I was surprised I landed back on the bike and prayed: ”Thank you Jesus for keeping me off the pavement!” This was a major testosterone event, and although a few times we stopped for a moment at vista points, we were right back to our racing as soon as possible.

            In order to be a good passenger, one must become” one with the bike.” For the first two days I held on so tightly that my fingers were numb. My body ached all over by the end of the day from the tension. Today, a week after the trip one finger is still numb. I may have some nerve damage. Eventually I was able to relax, and just “go with the flow.” This means leaning with the bike and totally trusting that the rider is expert enough that I will be safe. Trust is the key to being a good passenger. I took me at least two days to physically and psychologically trust the driver and the bike.

            One of the other passengers on this trip showed me her fingers. Her nails were bitten completely down, and she had started biting her cuticles. She said she was petrified, and didn’t know why she agreed to do this. I checked with her everyday, and she said: “I started praying 8 hours a day and now I’m up to at least 12 hours.” She was never able to relax and enjoy any part of riding. 

           I found it hard to get on and off the bike. Even with practice, it never became easy. We were on a BMW GS 1200 and the seat is very high off the ground. My right leg had to reach over the seat which was too tall for my short stature.

            The first time we stopped for gas we managed to “drop the bike.” My husband forgot to put the side stand down while I was dismounting and Bill couldn’t hold us up and bike slowly fell to the side. The fall was slow enough that we did not damage the bike. There was considerable damage to Bill’s dignity and self esteem but he is expected to recover.

            The temperature riding through Morocco went from a high of 107 F to a low of 50 F. Fortunately I had purchased a summer mesh riding jacket before I left home. I took a warmer jacket along but did not use it once. The mesh jacket with the water-proof liner installed, gave plenty of warmth for the colder times. (more…)


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