Tag: Opinions

Totalitarianism at 38th and Chicago: A Minnesotan lie
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Totalitarianism at 38th and Chicago: A Minnesotan lie

Minnesota, like every other US state, begins with a lie. Explore Minnesota tourism ads present the state as a natural paradise, as if the US military-occupied land of Mni Sota Makoce is God-country, some blessing bestowed upon God’s own settler-colony. Popular culture presents a narrative about the state as pure and as white as the opening scene of Fargo. The upper Midwest is full of hearty, plaid and parka-wearers and white homemaking mom’s you betcha and don’tcha know-ing over a stack of unfinished pancakes as the ruddy-cheeked children grab their hockey sticks and run out to the frozen-over pond. Like the myths of Southern hospitality, with its tea service smudged with the flogged slave-girls’ blood, or of the lone and noble cowboy from out West who knew the rapist was one among the run...
The Quilliam Foundation has closed but its toxic legacy remains
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The Quilliam Foundation has closed but its toxic legacy remains

The news that the Quilliam Foundation, a so-called counter-extremism think-tank, has closed, was welcomed by many – particularly by Muslims who have long been targets of the harmful practices of the organisation. On April 9, one of its founders, Maajid Nawaz, announced on Twitter that the decision was made due to the “hardship of maintaining a non-profit during Covid lockdowns”. Although the foundation had experienced financial difficulties over the past few years, there has been some speculation that Nawaz’s flirtations with Q-Anon conspiracy theories about the US elections and the electoral defeat of Donald Trump may have contributed to internal splits and the decision to close down. Despite the relief many of us feel, the foundation leaves behind a toxic legacy, which will continue to h...
Bridgerton and Normal People expose romance’s colonial hangover
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Bridgerton and Normal People expose romance’s colonial hangover

There are more than a few universally acknowledged truths when it comes to writing romance: the course of true love should not run smooth, lovers should be beautiful and readers generally prefer a Happily Ever After (‘HEA’ as it’s known in the romance community). While love stories are still routinely sidelined by some academics and critics, the politics of love, sex and desire, and the stories we tell about them, cannot be overestimated. There is absolutely nothing apolitical about love stories because our popular ideas of romance are a colonial hangover, steeped in the reactionary values of the imperial 19th century. At this point isn’t it worth asking: what’s universal about our modern idea of love? I’m talking here about the hegemony of white, Anglo-American culture established through...
The Arab Spring has been misunderstood
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The Arab Spring has been misunderstood

Ten years ago, anti-government protests in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain fostered hope, within the region and without, that a pro-democratic, pan-Arab movement was finally in bloom. But with the exception of Tunisia, the Arab Spring uprisings failed. And even Tunisia’s success is a qualified one: The nation’s economy is in a shambles and its democratic experiment is fragile. In 2011, many Western observers misunderstood the nature of the protests. Ten years later, sadly, too many still do. The principal myth to be dispelled is the notion that the Arab Spring was a unified, sweeping protest movement when in fact it was a collection of discrete uprisings. Economic and political grievances overlapped across borders, but these were organic, local protests against local regim...
Peace can still be achieved in Afghanistan
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Peace can still be achieved in Afghanistan

On Wednesday, United States President Joe Biden announced the complete withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the twentieth anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington that resulted in the US-led military invasion. The announcement has proven controversial in US policy circles. Some have argued for a conditions-based withdrawal, contingent on securing adequate counterterrorism guarantees and a peace settlement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Assessments from US intelligence agencies in recent months found that a withdrawal in the absence of an intra-Afghan peace deal would likely lead to the collapse of the government in Kabul within a couple of years and the potential resurgence of al-Qaeda in the country. However, Biden’...
Perils and pitfalls of America’s return to the multilateral order
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Perils and pitfalls of America’s return to the multilateral order

Last year, under the leadership of former President Donald Trump, the United States struggled to get the spread of coronavirus under control within its borders, recording more than half a million known COVID-19 fatalities and becoming an epicentre of the pandemic. Now, however, America is finally taking steps to get its house in order. A mass vaccination campaign is under way and, on March 11, President Joe Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” to “provide immediate, direct relief to families bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, and support struggling communities”. A forthcoming complement to this massive relief and recovery effort is the “Build Back Better Recovery Plan”, which President Biden debuted on March 31, in Pittsburgh. The first part of the two-part p...
Brexit is causing growing tensions in Northern Ireland
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Brexit is causing growing tensions in Northern Ireland

Last week’s rioting in Northern Ireland caught the attention of the world. The spectre of people setting fire to buses, hurling petrol bombs and engaging in running battles with the police in Belfast brought back disturbing memories of the violence associated with “the Troubles”, the conflict that scarred the region for 30 years between the late 1960s and late 1990s. Perhaps the most depressing element of this story is that the protagonists were largely teenagers, from loyalist (unionist) communities – those who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. These youths are often referred to as “ceasefire babies” – that is, children born after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was enacted, putting an end to the violence. A range of factors has been mooted in explaining the re...
Myanmar has never been a nation. Could it become one now?
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Myanmar has never been a nation. Could it become one now?

Since February 1, when the Myanmar military carried out a coup against the country’s civilian government, protests, strikes and other forms of civil disobedience have been taking place across the country. In response, the army, also known as Tatmadaw, has deployed brutal force to suppress dissent, killing over 600 people, at least 46 of them children. Much of the violence has taken place in major cities, as well as the periphery of the country. Since late March, there have been repeated aerial bombings in Karen state, resulting in roughly 19 people killed, more than 40 injured and thousands displaced. The Tatmadaw has also escalated military activities in Kachin state and increased violence towards civilians in Karenni state. Fighting has also displaced more than 1,000 people and killed ci...
Coming to terms with Gandhi’s complicated legacy
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Coming to terms with Gandhi’s complicated legacy

Branding Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as “Mahatma” (great-souled) and marketing him to global audiences as an undisputed and all-inclusive icon of non-violent resistance was perhaps the most successful propaganda campaign ever carried out by the Indian state. Thus any attempt to critically challenge Gandhi’s legacy, even when it takes place in an obscure small town in America, causes much controversy in India and beyond. On the morning of January 27, a statue of Gandhi was found vandalised in the town of Davis, in the north of the US state of California. It was not immediately clear who sawed the bronze statue off its base and for what purpose, but the condemnations started flowing in right away. Indian media framed the incident as an attack not only on Gandhi but also on the Indian people, ...
Aiding Palestine refugees is not political
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Aiding Palestine refugees is not political

Mohammad is a seven-year-old boy living in Gaza, which in June will enter its 15th year of a land, air, and sea blockade. Like the nearly 300,000 students in Gaza who attend schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he has been in and out of in-person and remote learning since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago. He battles against electricity cuts every day to receive online educational materials prepared by UNRWA teachers who also struggle to get access to electricity and the internet. Mohammad’s right to education remains inalienable even during a pandemic and a humanitarian crisis. He is just one of the 5.7 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA today, many of whom have faced unimaginable suffering ...