That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s your foot on my neck.  – Malcolm X

"We must never, ever give up. We must be brave. We must be courageous." John Lewis, activist, congressman. 1940-2020 

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."  Professor Cornel West.

"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat."  Audre Lorde

"The serious function of racism is distraction". 1995, Toni Morrison; Portland lecture, Playing in The Dark

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.” Nora Ephron

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

"We are more alike than we are different" ~ Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singe


It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain


You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore


 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:


"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.


Is the Confusion about Syria Manufactured or Real?


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

I wonder how many of you feel as confused as I do about Syria. I’m bombarded with opinions about what happened, what are the alternatives, who should decide, what could happen, and what’s the endgame. And I’m no further ahead.

Two days after my cynical assessment that the US policy supported a war of attrition in Syria, a member of the American Center for Strategic and International Studies authored an OpEd proffering the Syria war as “an indefinite draw” under the provocative title: “In Syria: America Loses if Either Side Wins

Then the respected veteran journalist Robert Fisk suggests that any US action against Syria’s government puts it on the side of Al-Qaeda

As for that dastardly chemical attack? Some reports suggest it was executed by Syrian rebels, assisted by Israel; they call it an Israeli “false flag” operation. Israel is also named in some articles as a major force behind the current rush to bomb Syria.

I awaken in the morning to hear a former US military advisor assure us that forthcoming US attacks will be more than a deterrent, that many targets have been identified for a series of strikes. Others argue that the aim of an American assault is to force Syria to the negotiating table. Although you to may remember several reports accusing the rebels of refusing to participate in negotiations attempted months ago. Meanwhile we hear pleas that the US wait until the UN weapons inspectors complete their report; even though The UN says its investigation is only to define the chemicals used in Ghouta, not to determine who deployed them.

From morning to late night, purported experts of all shades weigh in with their arguments. It’s a media market bonanza. And the world has been given another week to debate. Elected representatives will be lobbied, then the US Congress will vote, so the “most powerful man in the world” will act with full moral and legal authority. And the French leadership will follow. The result? “Well, it won’t be Iraq, or Afghanistan… or Libya”, we are assured.

Simultaneously we are flooded by waves of stories about a million suffering children, seven million languishing refugees, all scrambling for food and water.  “We’ll be talking about Syria all week”, says popular radio host Geraldo Rivera, anticipating a raucous debate among his listeners.

Does all this talk mean the US public really cares? Does all the information we are fed clarify the issues? Will a debate by elected representatives in Congress affirm our democracy and the wisdom of the US leadership?

If I’m dismayed and frightened sitting here in New York, how do Syrians there feel? Those who will not abandon their homeland; those moving towards the borders; orphans and handicapped living in institutions; those under rebel occupation; the young conscripts; those already in prison; millions of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees who found a haven in Syria; Syrians newly settled in Egypt and Brazil and Canada desperately calling their families clinging to their homes in Aleppo or Deir Attiye, Sit Zienab, Barza or Raqqa or in scattered camps? It’s as traumatizing at it is dangerous for all of them.

And here’s another scenario:-- a psychological war to so agitate the Syrian military that it ignites an internal coup.

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