Orientalism in America – My experiences with American Academia


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My experiences with American academia have coalesced into quite a journey, full of both order & tumult.

But the point of me writing this entry is to focus on what I have come to discover as an unrelenting, institutionalized dogma which pervades the American academic culture, and discourages intellectualism, non-conformity and originality.

This is because academics seem to fear student freedom.

I’ve had my ideas shot down by esteemed professors, albeit in the South good professors are scarce – simply because they did not sit well with the perspective of the professor.

Other professors would commend and encourage the same exact research project shunned by others.

Furthermore I discovered how even American capitalism has infiltrated the academic system which is supposed to be public – with emphasis not on quality education, but rather, on profit motive.

But this culture is America’s and the West’s. Call it “Capitalism, Democracy, Liberalism, Protestantism, Christianity,” whatever

The political culture is backwards here, with many elements of morality being only nominal, applied to the privileged, mainly white, few.

I reject this phenomenon both as an Arab & English speaking, Syrian-Armenian immigrant and as a first-generation American.

In every sense, both academic, musical, in both my individual and collective spheres, morality, free will, and the anomaly that is human nature will triumph over any rationalized, dogmatic system that reduces universal principles to devious political schemes.

I am grateful that I have been able to, by some miracle, attend an institute of higher education, considering that I am still, after 20 years of residence in the state of Florida, still considered a temporary alien, without any permanent status in the US. Never mind the indignation, political, economic and social hardship this has created for me and my family – and millions upon millions of others who are in worse shape – the problem of “nominal justice” or “privileged justice” exists as much in third world countries, authoritarian regimes, as it does in America, where only 40 years ago, African-Americans could not vote.

Let us be frank with ourselves. Before we point our fingers elsewhere, let us look at ourselves in the mirror. Let us lead by example, if indeed, we wish to remain leaders of the world.

 

Blind Populism – 2016


The Democrat-Republican, left-right, Atheist-Cleric dichotomy is a farce.

Political elites know human beings are more inclined to “defend” something than to attack it.

So they create a delusion of competition between theories, such as atheism and religion, which appear to be opposite, and lets say, communism and libertarianism, or democracy and republicanism, so as to keep constituencies controlled and voting for the supposed “opposition”.

But in reality, all of these guys, atheists, clerics, libertarians, socialists – they are all more concerned with promoting their “belief system” or the “lack thereof” than pointing out what is right or wrong, from a rationally based moral system.

These guys, Ben Carson, the Young Turks…they will all promote their bigotry with a slight hint of moral discourse but they will ALWAYS fall short of addressing the main global issues facing us from an impartial standpoint because it threatens their social status and employment.

This applies to Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Donald Trump, Glen Beck & Hillary Clintons (neo-cons and/or closet conservatives)

It also applies to the Bernie Sanders, Bill Mahers & Salman Rushdies (populist socialists and/or militant atheists)

You see I put my faith in less ideologically inclined individuals. I prefer to trust individuals of conviction and moderation; those who understand the complexity of human nature. These figures tend to be closer to the “ideological center” of the political spectrum, preferring the wisdom of moderation over the perhaps shortsighted instant-gratification of ideological-populism.

To be frank, of the three contenders, the one who exhibited this type of humility the most was Governor Martin O’Malley, who is least likely of them to win.

He was the only contender to say “Black Lives Matter”.

American Fascism


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The Trials of an Immigrant Disenfranchised & a Struggle Against American Fascism

In America there is this sense of entitlement and self-righteousness. This attitude is based on the idea that the ordinary American needs no one but himself in achieving the American dream or even just to establish a sense of financial independence and security.

But what Americans don’t realize is their own hypocrisy. It was not a path of self-sustenance that founded and engineered American society. It was rather an amalgam of ideas, from centralized government to free market maneuvering. But never, was there ever 1 ideology intended to dominated our government entirely thereby disenfranchising others from resources and a path to a more genuine, moderate sense of self-reliance. But slavery built America. Is the link between democracy and fascism inseparable? Does democracy lead to mobocracy? I would argue that democracy hasn’t fully flourished ANYWHERE in the world because the rights and privileges are not extended to all men, for reasons of race, religion, ideology, background etc. That being said, I believe it is this fascist attitude holding America hostage from becoming a universal democracy.

America was built by immigrants, and on the backs of slaves. Yet, only 40 years ago were African-Americans even granted the right to vote; Immigrants remain largely disenfranchised and disallowed from the normal institutional processes of the US, barred from social security, tax collections, etc; African-Americans and other minority groups make up the majority of incarcerations.

All of this is linked.

It is the racist attitude; this bigotry which has elevated a certain group to a privileged status thereby suppressing the freedoms and rights of other social groups.

It is as if the American right-wing fascist is afraid of losing something; as if he fears competition. So much for “free market” economics. That is why all that Reaganomics, right-wing free market trickle down bullshit is a bunch of nonsense because it isn’t even practiced by its preachers. Meanwhile the left is made to look like some tyrannical force that seeks to strip men of their individuality when it is the exact opposite; leftists wish to provide ordinary citizens with adequate resources in order to achieve a state of self-sustenance because they acknowledge the need for collective initiative as well as individual initiative, not ever focusing on one more than the other. The danger lies in dogmatizing collectivism or individualism. An example of collective dogma would be communism. An example of individual dogma would be libertarianism. Both lead to slavery. And in essence, both are collective in nature but due to their extreme ideological foundation they require a combination of denial, propaganda and suppression of the masses in order to perpetuate their lies.

Bashar al-Assad Interview 2015 BBC w/ Analysis


The contradictions on behalf of Western analysts trying to rationalize their original disposition that Assad was the tyranny of the Middle East, and not for example, closer allies of the West, whom it might not be convenient to publicly expose, like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar & the Muslim Brotherhood, in their complicity in funding terrorism, extremism & inequality in the region.

If the West intended to ask the right questions they would have asked how sure can Assad be that he has a substantial support of the Syrian population and/or diaspora?

Furthermore, their attempt to rationalize the rise of ISIS as an Assadist creation while suggesting that the West and Assad might be able to cooperate against ISIS is an inherent contradiction, a hypocrisy, which only discredits Western narratives about Middle Eastern politics even further.

It is not the duty of the West or the East to liberate the world. ISIS & terrorism from the Middle East are caused by two specific sources: Israeli fundamentalism, expansionism & colonial outposts such as the Saudi monarchy causing huge socio-economic imbalances creating a BREEDING grounds for terrorism and fanatical religious propaganda, such as Wahhabism, the essential philosophy behind all so-called muslim terrorist groups, from al Qaeda, to al Nusra & ISIS.

Remember, all of these entities need capital to survive and fight. Who is supplying them? Who is ENABLING them?

I would argue it is a coalition of two forces: the first force is more elusive because it exists in the largely free and democratic world. It is the conservative right wing. While their grip on private and public sectors remain tight, the very nature of democracy in the West forces political forces of imperial persuasions must be a little more behind the scenes. This is largely why the majority of tyrannies and injustices that exist outside of the West, have close ties with Western counties.

Terrorism and injustice cannot be prevented until their PARTICULAR roots are dissected, understood and exposed. Until then we are in a constant state of worry legitimizing these types of covert behind the scenes forms of corruption.

Danny Krikorian

Orlando, FL

Political Science – International Relations, B.A.

University of Central Florida

dannkrikorian@gmail.com

@krikos88 (T/I)

KRIKOS – Fox Mink ft. NIKO IS (prod. KRIKOS)


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Colours of the Culture.

We Made It in America: The Political Undertones of Pop-Culture & Hip-Hop [continued…]


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In Part I of his interview with BBC broadcasted in 2009, prominent rapper & social icon Jay-Z expressed his views on many contentious issues gripping the politics of America & the international community today.

The photograph above is very significant to this blog entry. It is a picture of Kanye West & Jay-Z during their Watch The Throne tour throughout the US. The title of this blog, is the title of quite a meaningful song on the album: “We Made It in America”. The song laments on the grievances & legacies of the African-American people, as well as the African culture from which they were essentially kidnapped; & which continues be exploited today.

This is Part II of the interview, continued:

The song is inspiring. The message too. Not only does it expose the crimes of the US against its own people, it expresses the genius of the African people, in the realms of art, music & culture. Watch The Throne, was a political masterpiece. A magnum opus. All the words fit. I felt like I was LISTENING to Plato’s The Republic. It’s the soundtrack, if indeed The Republic were a movie.

Essentially the political undertones of Watch The Throne are echoing the socio-economic grievances of all disenfranchised, marginalized, gentrified & exploited minorities. The twisted sense of “individualism” in the Western culture justified the historic atrocity of the trans-atlantic slave-trade, which exists today in a more elusive form, such as police brutality, gentrification, disenfranchisement, mass incarceration, income inequality & unequal opportunities for minorities.

These grievances are echoed by intellectuals of the 19th & 20th century, mostly non-American. I’ve listed a few examples below.

George Orwell, famed writer of 1984 & Animal Farm, was a “democratic-socialist” who warned against capitalism & communism, arguing the two led to statism.

Albert Camus, an anarchist, was sympathetic to communism but stressed that collective apparatuses might lead to corruption and statism.

Any Rand, hailed by Conservatives, defines the epitome of the hypocritical dogma of anarchical-capitalism. A self-proclaimed anarchist, Rand proved she was not loyal to her own creed, as she relied thoroughly on state welfare & sponsorship from the state of Israel, inconsistent with her atheism as well as her free-market fundamentalism.

All these perspectives force the following questions to float around in my head:

Is socialism another power-grabber?

It seems like the US & Europe despise socialist entities.

Are we the devil or are they?

Who’s killing who?

While most fight for freedom for some, who fights for freedom for all?

So what is the evil? It seems that hyper-individualism mirrors the tyranny of hyper-collectivism, both of which result in the exploitation of minority classes.

Prominent African-American scholar Cornel West associates the suppression of Civil Rights with statism as well as capitalism. He argues that America is not a democracy, because it serves an elite class at the expense of the will of the people. Furthermore, West suggests that capitalism results in many of the imbalances in the economy that cause misery for the lower classes.

I would argue, like 20th century German economist Fredrick List, that every successful nation-state adopts mixed economics combining state intervention with free market flow, which suggests that democracy & capitalism alone cannot guarantee the protection of individual rights. In many ways, democracy has engrained & perpetuated the tradition of exclusivity in the West which deems minorities, including blacks, latinos, arabs, gays, muslims & atheists are second class citizens, with little access to mobility in the economic ladder.

Freedom, salvation & happiness are not products of capitalism, materialism or the intellectual dogma of hyper-collectivism.

Rather, these virtues are achieved through humility, hard-work & self-reliance and the rest follows. Meanwhile, the power-hungry aim to deprive man of these freedoms, through propaganda & excessive force. How well do democracy & capitalism alone ensure these virtues? Historically, they’ve done as much as communism to improve the living conditions of the lower classes.

In his recent acceptance speech at the BET Honors ceremony, Kanye West took time to reflect on issues that form the bedrock of the Hip-Hop culture. Here is a snippet:

Fundamentalists, be they religious or atheistic in essence wholly worship man-made ideologies that eventually collapse on themselves, such as the neoconservative model of hyper-capitalism exhibited by NATO countries or the police-like communism of the USSR.

The association between the American & European traditions of suppressing & exploiting foreign countries is based in their logic of exclusivity. That is why 1% of Americans own America, while the vast majority remains living check-to-check. That is why, while the institution of slavery ended some time ago, the US remains at the top of the list for highest incarceration rates in the world, with the highest prisoner count than any other in the world. Yet, Iran is the great satan. Syria is the great satan. Venezuela. We go to war for oil & that oil never trickles down to the poor. In fact, it is usually the taxpayer funding all of this, against his will for the most part.

It is times likes these when I begin to question the logic of ‘democracy.’ There isn’t even 1 single definition of democracy. It is a vague term that is thrown around. Most people think it means representative government. Some think it means majority wins. Others believe it means universal law. I would say one of the distinctive features are the electoral process & term limitations. Democracy, especially by the Right-Wing, is viewed as the protector & guaranteer of capitalism & free market competition. But in reality, it seems, like communism, only to concentrate wealth in the hands of an already established elite so as to convince the masses they are free, to sustain them for lack of self-sustenance & to thereby garner their support for all political/colonial initiatives. The free-market is not protected by democracy or capitalism, but rather, just as in communism, becomes held hostage to the ignorance of mass-minded forces of collectivism. The freedoms awarded to the elite are limited to the mass because of a fear of intimidation & competition. A lot of propaganda is aimed at trying to convince us (both capitalism & communism do this) that earth’s resources are scarce & need proper redistribution.

But “exclusivity is the new N word,” said the courageous Kanye West during his most latest interview with Zane Lowe, in reference to the culture of hubris & bigotry that has disenfranchised all minorities & expressionists from the conversation of social justice.

LINK HERE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_one#

HASA!


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I’ll never forget the day this album dropped. I was in another dimension. I was inspired.

This album performed well. Its critics are caught in a web of infinite skepticism.

I bought this album and Yeezus on the same day. I believe these are probably the two greatest artists of our time. If you pay attention, I have been influenced by them in all of my work.

The political undertones in this work, like all of Jay-Z’s works, are omnipresent. The cover itself, inspired by greco-roman mythology, the inner-booklet, as well as the content, from beginning to end, captures the stark reality of an American hustler. The whole time I felt I was watching a Spike Lee movie.

Jay-Z is hated for his business approach. I think he is an artistic genius. His genius is beyond the minds of his critics, be they musicians or not. He addresses conspiracy theorists in a line from “Heaven”:

Conspiracy theorists screaming illuminati,

They can’t believe this much skill is in a human body,

6’2, how the fuck he fit in a new bugatti,

Aw fuck it you got me,

Question religion question it all,

Question existence until them questions are solved,

Meanwhile this heretic, I be out in Marrakesh,

Morocco, smoking hashish with my fellowship,

Y’all dwell on devil shit, I’m in diablo, yellow-shit,

Color of jello shit, hello bitch,

It’s me again, fresh in my easter clothes feeling like Jesus.

For all the so-called purists & the conspiracy theorists, this is a clear message. Jay-Z isn’t here to make you comfortable. He is here to make a living, express himself & expose what he sees as American hypocrisy. With references to Malcolm, Martin Luther King Jr., Wall Street, Jewish affluence and more, this album in no way falls short of being consistent with the tradition of hip-hop as a conscious movement.

Despite ongoing trends & exploitations of the culture, for the most part, there remains a largely alive movement of conscious listeners and artists who remain true to the craft and the messages upon which it was built.

It cannot be understated the impact which 200 years of slavery has had on the African-American culture. This recent interview with Azealia Banks on Hot 97 really captures the emotions of the African-American community. Whether or not you agree with her views or self-expression, I do believe it is important for Americans especially, to hear this perspective. It is true, that Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves in the 19th century. But that was the end of a tactic; not of a system. The system which we would like to believe no longer exists today is strong and more alive than ever. Words alone, especially my own, cannot do justice.

Today, hip-hop is saturated with a blend of either ultra-conscious underground or ultra-materialistic mainstream. The medium is there, if you look for it. The majority, which represents the American population, remains held hostage to either the purists within the underground community or the bigots who have largely extended their grasp over the popular media-mainstream, exponentially since the deaths of major hip-hop icons Notorious B.I.G. & Tupac.

I am all for new music & innovation. But I tend not to look for it from many of the artists who the mass-media spoon-feeds us on the daily. I like sticking to my real hip-hop.

Analyzing Political Undertones in Pop Culture Through Art


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There is generally speaking a list of artistic works that, despite their aesthetic greatness, are either historically misrepresentative & inaccurate or merely biased in context and coverage.

Some do justice, some don’t. Perception all depends on which angle you look at the subject. I wish for justice for all, but we must recognize, expose & bring to justice those distinct forces which cause & instigate violent political crime.

Munich, Waltz with Bashir, & Exodus, viewed as biased & racist. Black & Arab culture, disenfranchised, used, exploited, hung & dried.

A more accurate depiction of reality in the Middle East in Palestinian film Paradise Now.

Another, more realistic representation of the ME in a scene from Syriana, which features George Clooney & Matt Damon.

How Hollywood & all of western media distorts reality through film & other mediums of mass mainstream expression.

This rather, light film depicts the similarities, and differences, between the Arab & Israeli people. But recognition of Israel implies two things: treachery to the Arab cause; abandoning the human rights of the Palestinian nation.

Is it unfair for the international community to suggest that the Jews are fine without a state called Israel? The difference between the need for an Armenian state, for example, versus a Jewish one, is that the former is completely ethnic-based while the latter is a hybrid of religion, culture and language. This makes it difficult to place importance on the need for a Jewish state while ignoring Palestinian self-determination.

Individuals like Helen Thomas get blacklisted for making comments such as those in the video below:

If there is a moral arc of the universe, it bends in favor of the Westerner & the lighter-skinned.