Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Video: Muslim Rage as "The Clash of Cynicisms"

See, particularly, the segment of conversation beginning about 7:30 minutes into the broadcast where I talk about shouting fire in a crowded world, and the clash of cynicisms:

Video: France24, The World This Week, 14 September 2012
A Friday of rage across the Muslim world follows the September 11th killing of the US ambassador to Libya, but how significant are the protests and how much of an impact will they have on the US presidential race? Also, the Germans buy more time for the euro and China's heir apparent goes missing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Public Worship and European Asylum for Christians

This from Dignitatis Humanae Institute:

Landmark Ruling For Oppressed Christians

For Immediate Release

Rome, 14th September 2012

In what could prove a landmark ruling for oppressed Christians, the European Court of Justice has ruled that people who are persecuted in their native countries due to their religion have the right to apply for asylum in Europe.

Confirming the ruling of a German court, the European Court of Justice - the highest court within the EU - decided that if a person's right to public worship was 'gravely infringed' - they should be granted asylum.

Furthermore, the Court ruled that being limited to private prayer was not a legitimate alternative to the inherent right of public worship - rejecting the notion that religious minorities should limit their profile in the public sphere.

The case in question began when two Pakistani's of the Ahmadi denomination fled their homeland when faced with increasing threats and state repression. Attention should now turn to other oppressed religious minorities within Pakistan and the wider area, in particular the beleaguered Christian communities, whose plight was recently highlighted by Lord Alton, Chairman of the British Parliament's Cross-Party Working Group on Human Dignity.

Following the court ruling, Lord Alton told the Institute of the potential consequences: "For too long European nations have continued with a policy of apathy towards the persecution of Christian minorities in distant lands. However, with the possibility of religious communities now fleeing to Europe for asylum, Western governments may finally be spurred into tackling the root cause.

While the question of asylum is a matter that should be properly handled by sovereign national governments (not least because of the additional load to the taxpayer), and not a panel of international unelected judges, the ECJ should be congratulated for recognising the importance of persecuted minorities - and the figures of which are growing.

We have already seen a trend of Christians being forced to flee their homelands. Over 100,000 Coptic Christians fled Egypt last year, while Iraq has seen its own Christian population decrease from 1.4 million in 1987 to fewer than 150,000 today. In addition, the continued violence in Syria is beginning to turn Christian populations away from the Levant.

I would encourage all European governments to recognise that the consequences of inaction are no longer limited to the villages of Pakistan or the streets of Cairo. Failure to act now will result in a greater burden of responsibility for us all further in the future."

When the Story Was Christian Rage Against Martin Scorsese's "Blasphemous" Film About Jesus Christ

Just came across this interesting catalogue copy from the University of Kentucky Press:

Cover may differ from image shown

In the late 1980s, the major conservative Christian groups suffered a series of public setbacks. In Hollywood Under Siege: Martin Scorsese, the Religious Right, and the Culture Wars, Thomas R. Lindlof asserts that the Christian right realigned itself and tried to solidify its self-appointed role as moral regulator of the entertainment industry in response to Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. The film, which was banned from release at some theaters and publicly protested at many others, became a tipping point for the American culture wars. At stake was the freedom of artistic expression from government and religious intervention. The Last Temptation of Christ did not simply alienate audiences of the Christian right but incited them. Lindlof chronicles the many setbacks the filmmakers experienced, from production problems to the uproar following the film’s release and the launch of a crisis control plan at the studio. Lindlof conducted interviews with major players behind the movie—including Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Willem Dafoe, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Michael Ovitz—and explores the film’s effect on the American cultural and political landscape. Combined film study, studio history, and cultural analysis, Hollywood Under Siege closely examines the film that jeopardized and reenergized Martin Scorsese’s career and served as flash point for the ongoing ideological conflicts between Hollywood and the religious right.

In 1988, director Martin Scorsese fulfilled his lifelong dream of making a film about Jesus Christ. Rather than celebrating the film as a statement of faith, churches and religious leaders immediately went on the attack, alleging blasphemy. At the height of the controversy, thousands of phone calls a day flooded the Universal switchboard, and before the year was out, more than three million mailings protesting the film fanned out across the country. For the first time in history, a studio took responsibility for protecting theaters and scrambled to recruit a “field crisis team” to guide The Last Temptation of Christ through its contentious American openings. Overseas, the film faced widespread censorship actions, with thirteen countries eventually banning the film. The response in Europe turned violent when opposition groups sacked theaters in France and Greece and caused injuries to dozens of moviegoers. Twenty years later, author Thomas R. Lindlof offers a comprehensive account of how this provocative film came to be made and how Universal Pictures and its parent company MCA became targets of the most intense, unremitting attacks ever mounted against a media company. The film faced early and determined opposition from elements of the religious Right when it was being developed at Paramount during the last year the studio was run by the celebrated troika of Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, and Jeffrey Katzenberg. By the mid-1980s, Scorsese’s film was widely regarded as unmakeable—a political stick of dynamite that no one dared touch. Through the joint efforts of two of the era’s most influential executives, CAA president Michael Ovitz and Universal Pictures chairman Thomas P. Pollock, this improbable project found its way into production. The making of The Last Temptation of Christ caught evangelical Christians at a moment when they were suffering a crisis of confidence in their leadership. The religious right seized on the film as a way to rehabilitate its image and to mobilize ordinary citizens to attack liberalism in art and culture. The ensuing controversy over the film’s alleged blasphemy escalated into a full-scale war fought out very openly in the media. Universal/MCA faced unprecedented calls for boycotts of its business interests, anti-Semitic rhetoric and death threats were directed at MCA chairman Lew Wasserman and other MCA executives, and the industry faced the specter of violence at theaters. Hollywood Under Siege draws upon interviews with many of the key figures—Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Michael Ovitz, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jack Valenti, Thomas P. Pollock, and Willem Dafoe—to explore the trajectory of the film from its conception to the subsequent epic controversy and beyond. Lindlof offers a fascinating dissection of a critical episode in the embryonic culture wars, illuminating the explosive effects of the clash between the interests of the media industry and the forces of social conservatism.
Thomas R. Lindlof is professor in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky.

Check out "A Petty Criminal Sparks a Meltdown" about the sources of Muslim protest; A controversial NPR appearance; MSNBC Video-A World of Trouble, etc.

by Christopher Dickey September 14, 2012 03:20 AM EDT
Meth-cooker Nakoula Bassely Nakoula's low-budget movie denigrating the Prophet Muhammad has led to anti-American protests in the Middle East and a manhunt in Libya, but the unrest is fueled as much by politics in each country as by religious fury.

An hour-long discussion about events in Libya and the Arab world. I note the principle that shouting fire in a crowded theater is not protected by free speech and raise the question of how to deal with those who shout fire in a crowded world. This provoked some lively reaction, including hundreds of comments on the "On Point" site.

September 12, 2012 04:21 PM EDT
As the attacks in Egypt and Libya confront Americans with a roiling Middle East, Paris bureau chief and Middle East editor Christopher Dickey joins MSNBC Live host Thomas Roberts...

by Christopher Dickey September 12, 2012 10:32 AM EDT
Amb. Chris Stevens was killed by an act of senseless violence—and now Obama has an impossible task ahead. By Christopher Dickey.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Role of the Press: The Best It's Ever Been Defined

In 1852, when the Times of London was accused of trying to usurp the powers of statesmen without assuming their responsibilities, it ran a series of editorials spelling out its position: "The Press lives by disclosures; whatever passes into its keeping becomes a part of the knowledge and the history of our times; it is daily and for ever appealing to the enlightened force of public opinion--anticipating, if possible, the march of events--standing upon the breach between the present and the future, and extending its survey to the horizon of the world." It was the newspaper's purpose to seek out "the earliest and most correct intelligence of the events of the time, and instantly, by disclosing them, to make them the common property of the nation." It was the journalist's job "to investigate truth and to apply it on fixed principles to the affairs of the world."
-- As cited by Alan Hankinson in "Man of Wars: William Howard Russell of The Times"

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Check out UnSafe Havens in Syria, a quake in the Philippines, flashbacks to Kurdistan '91 and Lady Di '97

Daily Beast Column: Syria Safe Haven? Bad Idea, 1 September 2012
Christopher Dickey on the strategy's disappointing and dangerous record.

Flashback - Newsweek: A Nation In The Valley Of The Three Frontiers, issue date 5 May 1991

Fred Cuny and others creating a safe haven for Kurds in Iraq

Daily Beast News Item: Earthquake Shakes the Philippines, 31 August 2012
Most tsunami warnings were canceled, but the damage's extent isn't clear, says Christopher Dickey.

Flashback - Newsweek: Time to Brace for the Next 9/11, 4 September 2011
The biggest threat to America isn't terrorism. It's the wrath of Mother Nature.

Flashback - Newsweek: Horror in the Night, issue date 7 September 1997 (published 1 September 1997)
The death of Princess Diana reported from the scene

Check out my latest brief sketch: U.N. Syria Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s Tough Assignment

Newsweek: U.N. Syria Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's Tough Assignment, 26 August 2012
A brief sketch of a thankless job and the man who felt duty bound to take it.