Violence

Is the language of the inarticulate and a riot is the language of the unheard.

I am not well versed in geopolitical matters. I am not a student of international affairs. I know that what I write is spoken mostly from gut reaction to what I see as oversimplification of a serious issue: terrorism.  I don’t know why a young couple would murder innocent people or why dozens of men and women lost their lives listening to music in a concert hall, but I know using the umbrella term of ‘terrorism’ brings us no closer to understanding what we’re up against.

After 9/11 happened, the best explanation local newscasts could give a shell-shocked city was that ‘they’ hate everything we stand for and that’s why they wanted to kill us. Yeah…talk like that makes it easy to identify a villain and pick a fight, but I don’t want anymore fights. I have children and I don’t want them to be desensitize to this kind of thing happening. I don’t want them to grow up thinking that violence is normal, or the problem; violence is the weed, not the root. To kill the plant, you attack at the thing that anchors it into the ground. And don’t be fooled, it’s not religion. Religion has been a long time scapegoat of extremists. If we all believed the same thing, rest assured, terrorism would still exist because there  will always be people who do not believe in equality and access for everyone.

And there it is: if you want to know why someone is violent, find out what it is they lack; see the need and you’ll find the answer.

If ‘Only’ We Could Do That With Judaism

The recent attack on the offices of the French satirical paper, Charlie Hebdo, has ignited conversations about free speech and inspired a variety of publications to take a stand and reprint some of the offending images. In light of the current events, I wanted to revisit the stir Nicki Minaj caused when her lyric video for ‘Only,’ off her latest album the Pinkprint, dropped. What followed was a firestorm of criticism for imagery that evoked the Third Reich: red flags emblazoned with a stylized black and white Young Money logo, Minaj strolling through lines of rank and file soldiers straight out of a Leni Riefenstahl film. The Anti Defamation League responded by saying that, ‘the abuse of Nazi imagery is deeply disturbing and offensive to Jews…’ Minaj gave what read like a rote apology, but the director Jeff Osborne was beautifully defiant in the face of the wagging fingers: ‘First, I’m not apologizing for my work… nor will I dodge the immediate question. The flags, armbands, and gas mask (and perhaps my use of symmetry?) are all representative of Nazism. But a majority of the recognizable models/symbols are American…What’s also American is the 1st Amendment, which I’ve unexpectedly succeeded in showing how we willfully squeeze ourselves out of that right every day.’ Right to free speech is often the first justification for the protection of offensive language/imagery, but only a few months prior, it wasn’t enough. Osborne’s comments perfectly align with supporters of the French journalists and cartoonists. If drawing an image of the Prophet Mohammed is fair game, so should the use of Nazi imagery.