Yousef Munayyer has highlighted a movement barely noticed in American media in the May 18, 2001 issue of Foreign Policy magazine. This movement, which several others including Harvard Professor Dr. Wendy Pearlman called it the Second Intifada (or “Shaking Off” or “Struggle”), may just capture the moral high ground in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…if it were to not only persist but grow.

Dire straits don’t even begin to describe the turmoil in the so-called Holy Land, where a lasting peace between Israeli and Palestinian would be both ironic and quite possibly problematic to the religious identities of both indigenous populations. The convoluted story goes something like this. On one side you have people who want to wipe Israel off the map and the other side believes that all Palestinians are terrorists. But when you put aside the narratives of people who are not an Israeli Jew or Palestinian, it gets a little more complicated. In that little strip of land on the eastern Mediterranean, the two sides have become a little more multifaceted. I have heard of many Israeli Jews who not just believe but actually fight for Palestinian self-determination, but let us leave that for another story. This story comes from the other side who also would like to occupy the middle-ground.

Non-violent Palestinians may just hold the strategic key to finally settling the conflict. It has the power to face and destroy both the “wipe Israel of the map” and “all Palestinians are terrorists” narratives while depolarizing the situation. Palestinian youth may see it as a more useful form of resistance compared to violent resistance, one that doesn’t taint their distress with vengeance. Just as important, Israeli forces may run the risk of delegitimizing their current policies if they use violent force against non-violent protesters. Hopefully, it could bring the focus of the conflict where it should have always been…to discuss the nature of their struggle, their intent, and ultimately their identity.

And through this perhaps a new side can finally solidify. It is not the side of the Jew or Israeli verses the Muslim or Arab/Palestinian but of the moderate versus the extremists on both sides who wish the other did not exist.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell…

–excerpt from The Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Tennyson


Jessica Ahlquist had added an interesting twist about religious expression in public schools. Seeing that small segments of society can counter-balance the limited funding of public schools is something remarkable. It is not that public schools could be out-spent but it could be out-maneuvered. This case of atheist vs. believer litigation points to just that. How important is it for the school to support a religious banner in the face of litigation costs? Not very important in any fiscally responsible mindset. How important is it for atheists to remove a religious banner in the face of litigation costs? It depends the level of offense those atheists feel.

Can a situation like this ever escalate? Yes. I can see a similar situation balloon out of control if religious believers where to give manpower, energy, and most importantly money to keep a religious artifact on campus displayed in a religious manner. Undoubtedly, if that were ever to occur the courts would have to way in and have a further say in the on-going discussion about the separation between church and state. Hallelujah.

There are websites documenting registered sex offenders. Have you ever thought about a web-list of extremist groups in America? Well, here is one by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC is a non-profit that researches hate groups, defends the victim of hate groups, and publishes journals and articles related to extremism. Great for research or just general poking around. But here is a direct link to a map of hate groups in America. So if you’re ever curious about haters who live close to you…

Southern Poverty Law Center Hate Map <—-click

Maybe “Food Stamp President” is a much needed title for a president lacking in the polls. It is to say…”this is a president who will not let you starve.”

Ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich made this a talking point, apparently a view cherished by many on the Right, criticizing President Obama in the GOP debate in South Carolina. He attempts to conflate food stamps with some sort of sought-after lifestyle as if poverty was largely a choice and the Great Recession never happened. I know a counter to this view may point out that Obama has not “created jobs but destroyed them,”  a view that manifested BEFORE it was buttressed with scant evidence. But of course issuing out food stamps is irresponsible. Imagine if the opposite had occurred, where at least tens of thousands of the hungry are lining up in sparse and ill-equipped shelters for soup.

“Obama starves the market and the poor!” He has been called a Fascist-Socialist-Islamist for less.

A July 14th 20011 article titled “The Struggle to Eat” from the Economist (no author posted) informs the reader that individuals eligible for food stamps can get an average of $133, $200 maximum, a month… I spend that much on food every two weeks!

Also from the same article:

“Food stamps also help stimulate the economy more than other forms of government spending, points out Jim Weill of Food Research and Action Centre, a charity, since their recipients are so poor that they tend to spend them immediately. When Moody’s Analytics assessed different forms of stimulus, it found that food stamps were the most effective, increasing economic activity by $1.73 for every dollar spent. Unemployment insurance came in second, at $1.62, whereas most tax cuts yielded a dollar or less.”

I guess it’s a bit of good news considering the increase on the graph.

Case in point: Which increase you are concerned with most kinda reflects your values, no?

When he destroys your argument its called a “hitchslap!”

An iconoclast of neither Left or Right. A polemicist who can make any opponent blush. One of the greatest essayist of the English language well after his departure. Although Christopher Hitchens has earned these accolades, what is more sorrowful than his death is the deprivation of these traits in a well-published and well-watched figure from the world stage. More still, these accolades are just a fraction of traits where any single one can make a person immortal in cultural consciousness. For me, he epitomizes a form of excellence that I have not yet heard from any other. Considering he thought, spoke, and fought for causes for several decades beginning in his late teenage years, Hitchens was…no… is still, a prime example of an activist lifestyle.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with his works, Christopher Hitchens is a writer of the first order, high up there with Salmon Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, and James Fenton, to name a few of his closest friends. Some of his best books include “Letters to A Young Contrarian,” “god is not Great,” and “Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.” His polemical gifts served him very well as a secular humanist arguing against religions. He often compared all-knowing/powerful/loving deities to dictatorships where the state is aware of everything, can do anything, and always has your best interest at heart (even when severely punishing you for minor, or made-up offence). Kim Jong-il loves you.

What made Christopher Hitchens a true activist is that he stood up for numerous causes and became intimately involved in practically all of them. What made his activism a lifestyle is that his lifetime of activism was honest hard-work and not a fiesta designed just to organize people together to make them feel righteous about themselves. You know what paragon means when you study a man like Christopher Hitchens.