Links – Weekend Edition

Kabobfest – First Poll on US Opinion on Gaza: Democratic Politicians Ignore Public Opinion

In one of the more interesting analytical writings on the American (non-)debate on the Israeli assault on Gaza, Glenn Greenwald considers how alarmingly out-of-step Democratic politicians are with their party’s rank-and-file views. He cites the first poll on American public views of Israel’s attack. While there is a general tie between those supportive and opposed, Democrats are against Israel’s onslaught in Gaza by a significant margin.

The New York Times (Op-Ed) – The Evil Behind the Smiles

Western men who visit red-light districts in poor countries often find themselves surrounded by coquettish teenage girls laughingly tugging them toward the brothels. The men assume that the girls are there voluntarily, and in some cases they are right.

But anyone inclined to take the girls’ smiles at face value should talk to Sina Vann, who was once one of those smiling girls.

Merced Sun Star – Hollywood, Race, and the Age of Obama

As “Crash” was earning plaudits (and a Best Picture Oscar), any number of much knottier and more daring movies were being ignored by viewers entirely. Spike Lee’s “She Hate Me” (2004), a freewheeling, vastly underrated consideration of, among many other things, white America’s anxiety about black male sexuality, managed to earn only $366,000 at the domestic box office – by far the lowest-grossing movie of the director’s career. Alan Ball’s brazen and compelling “Towelhead” (2008) – a portrait of a Lebanese-American girl molested by a white neighbor, who also has an African-American boyfriend – died a similarly quick death.

Even more mainstream efforts have had trouble connecting. The movie I tend to regard as the most important one made this decade about race relations is a knotty romantic comedy-drama called “Something New” (2006), about a black woman (Sanna Lathan) who believes she can’t find a decent black man to date and who eventually decides to go out with a white man (Simon Baker). Its mixture of tenderness and severity, cynicism and hopefulness, proved consistently arresting – and yet it pulled in only $11 million.

New York Times (Op-Ed) – Bleeding Heart Tightwads

Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.

Tanzania Standard Newspapers – The guarantee of Albinos’ right to life is under threat

In military conflicts you can avoid the battleground and increase your chances of survival, but Tanzanian albinos face a potential threat from the general public that can include parents, spouses and neighbours. Regardless of who, what or why these criminal acts have occurred, the constant risk of death remains and any human being should at least have the right to seek refuge anywhere it can be found.

Daily News Egypt – Inside the World of Arab American Youth

While the findings are seen as a step in the right direction, author Moustafa Bayoumi says other forms of discrimination continue to affect the lives of Arabs living in the US.

In his new book, “How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America,” Bayoumi reveals how “state oppression” has impacted the lives of second generation Arab-American youth. The book chronicles the lives of seven 20-something Arab-Americans living in Brooklyn, New York who have encountered diverse problems in a post-9/11 America, ranging from employment discrimination to government detention.

The Las Vegas Review Journal – NEVADAN AT WORK: Harrah’s executive looks beyond external to see diversity in experience

“People talk about diversity being good,” he said. “It simply is. It’s not good or bad unless you channel it and make it focus on something that actually creates good from it.”

New York Times – A Moving 40th Birthday Gift

[F]or a truly one-of-a-kind gift, nothing could beat what Michael Chambers received for his 40th birthday on Thursday: a world-class runner from Kenya for a day.

“What a birthday present,” a stunned Chambers said as Richard Kiplagat, 27, entered his SoHo apartment, ready to run.

It was like a take-home fantasy camp, akin to hiring a Brazilian soccer star to kick the ball around in the backyard, or a Chinese table-tennis champion to play a few games in the basement.

Kiplagat was paid $400 to run with Chambers and have lunch with his family. A driver in a Lincoln Town Car picked him up at dawn at his home in New Milford, N.J., and returned him late in the afternoon.

The Washington Post – Why Can’t a Kiss Just be a Kiss?

“I didn’t want to screw it up,” Franco told Letterman on “Late Show” last week.

“See, if it’s me, I’m kind of hoping I do screw it up,” Letterman shot back. “That’s what you want, isn’t it?”

“To screw it up?” Franco asked.

“I mean, do you really want to be good at kissing a guy?” Letterman said as his audience howled with delight.

New York Times – Preaching Moderate Islam and Becoming a TV Star

Mr. Shugairi and others like him have succeeded by appealing to a young audience that is hungry for religious identity but deeply alienated from both politics and the traditional religious establishment, especially in the fundamentalist forms now common in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

In part, that is a matter of style: a handsome, athletically built 35-year-old, Mr. Shugairi effortlessly mixes deep religious commitment with hip, playful humor. He earned an M.B.A. during his California years, and he sometimes refers to Islam as “an excellent product that needs better packaging.”

But his message of sincere religious moderation is tremendously powerful here. For young Arabs, he offers a way to reconcile a world painfully divided between East and West, pleasure and duty, the rigor of the mosque and the baffling freedoms of the Internet.

Global Voices Online – Is France Ready for a Black President?

Martiniquan blogger le blog de [moi] writes about the effect Obama’s victory has had on France’s identity as an ethnically diverse nation.

    En effet, dès le lendemain de l’élection du 44ème Président des Etats-Unis, la France s’est découverte multiculturelle ou plus précisément multiethnique. Elle a semblé se souvenir qu’il puisse y avoir des Français “de couleur” (on va se la jouer pudique) et pire parmi eux des Français Noirs ou métissés. La belle affaire !

    The day after the election of the 44th President of the United States, France discovered it was multicultural or, more precisely, multiethnic. She seemed to remember that there could be French “of color” (to put it modestly) and worse among them French Blacks or biracial French.

(Thanks to Rob Schmidt, thatphil, zazel, Fatemeh, pullapartgirl, and serentitynow78 for contributing.)

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