Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Time: Person of the Year

Bobby Ghosh, Deputy International Editor of Time magazine was interviewed by CBS today on the stupidly titled American Morning show with its underwhelming and ditzy hosts.

He was asked about the new cover of Time that declares "The Protestor" as "The Person of the Year."

First of all, look at what our discourse is reduced to - a trite morning show with annoying hosts who start off by joking about Kim Kardashian - interviewing a magazine that decided the Person of the year is an unnamed and anonymous group of people.

What is happening to our definition of personhood? First its corporations, now its large international groups protesting different causes all around the world? but ok....

According to Time,

"The protestor prevailed by embodying the idea that individual action can bring colossal change"

(how do you measure colossal? size? time? space?) But ok...

Protests around the world have been amazing. I remember watching Egypt's countdown to freedom as Hosni Mubarek stepped down. I literally cried for joy. I felt a tremendous bond with the Egyptian people. And the uprisings in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Russia... I have followed them with passion and empathy.

But for some reason something doesn't sit right with me.

Time magazine has gotten stupider over the years, in my opinion and I bet a lot of Americans are going to take this as being about the OWS movement primarily, not talking about the "Arab Spring".

As you know we don't do well with talking about things Muslim in this country, whether Arab or not. You're aware that Lowe's pulled its advertising from a reality tv show "All American Muslim" about a respectable AMERICAN Muslim family because some fascist bigoted folks complained that it wasn't 'Merican of Lowe's to advertise during that show. We gotta fight some t'errists.. Why did I just say "respectable"? I shouldn't have to say "respectable" should I? I feel the need to emphasize that this is not some stereotype of jihadists. I feel the need to mention that Muslims are 'Merican too. These might be anyone's neighbors here in America, the Land of the Free.

Lowe's tried to explain itself on Facebook and as the Kansas City Star reports it received 28,000 comments it had to delete. That's a lot of comments people. Why did they have to be deleted? Because of all the protestors who said hey that's not right, that's a terrible reason, and you should be ashamed of yourself Lowe's? No. Because the comments would make any normal, decent citizen sick. You guessed it. Anti-Muslim bigotry. The Star reported:

"The show, a reality program that follows Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich., was criticized by the Florida Family Association. The group, whose goal is "improving America's moral environment," said the show amounts to propaganda that covers up the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism."


You hate people because of their skin color. That is not moral.
You hate people because of their religion. That is not moral.
You hate people because of their culture. That is not moral.
You equate people with terrorists and spread fear. That is not moral.
You demand that your hatred be spread through intimidation. That is not moral.

Its not particularly AMERICAN either, until you made it so.
Your protest is not moral. I just can't say that enough. Bigotry, racism, hatred, prejudice, small-minded, ass-hattery is not MORAL in any way shape or form. And propaganda? What do you call the behavior of a group that has influence over a major company and demands certain information to be pulled from distribution because it doesn't represent your stupid beliefs? Do you understand that the rest of us want to live in America? The land where we come together in tolerance of diversity? That's kind of our thing.

I cannot believe how stupid people can be to equate Islamic fundamentalism with Muslim Americans. First of all, the hatred and vitriol inspired by and demonstrated by both the Florida Family Association, and Lowe's, and all the nasty people who commented on Facebook, is not only not moral, but amounts to CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM.

I heard an analogy once that Islamic Fundamentalism is to Muslim people as  X is to Christian people.

Do you know what X is? The KKK.

Now that's an analogy. Can you imagine us protesting any of the moronic reality shows out there because the family in question was Christian and thus covering up the dangers of the KKK? No?

So let's broaden our conversation about PROTESTORS HERE. Let's acknowledge some flaws.

I would like to Occupy BIGOTS for a minute. As I've mentioned before I am so sick and tired of this hateful us vs them mentality. It goes against what it means to be American!! So let's think about this while we're talking about how much The Person of the Year includes those all around the world who are celebrating the Arab Spring. How about we talk about the shame of so many Americans normalizing bigotry? 

It is interesting to ponder this moment in history. All around the world people are saying enough. What does that say about yesterday? And the day before? This is our opportunity to learn, to listen, to understand international and domestic policies, histories, cultures.

It is amazing. And yet its happening at the same time that Lowes is pulling its ad and Time itself forgets about women. Why must politics relegate women to "women's issues"? Either something is specifically about women or they are disregarded. We can't talk about international contributions AND women?

In the interview with Ghosh, the selection of the Protestor as the Person of the Year is described as "a celebration of the common man." In a lot of moving and real ways it is. But its also not accidental that the word "man" was chosen.

Because you know what? The only woman Ghosh mentions (besides the "interviewers" who joked about Kim Kardashian) was Kate Middleton.

Really? A woman famous for being a diva in her personal life and having curves, and a woman who married into one royal family in one country? Two women famous for their marriages/style/personal life rather than immense accomplishment?

This offends me.

There are non violent individual women who have stood up against enormous and "colossal" cruelties all around the world, in places like China, Afghanistan, Syria. I mean women who would put our own sense of bravery and courage to shame.

If that's not enough, Angela Merkel holds so much power right now in shaping the international debt crisis its hard to fathom.

What do you think? Are the Protestors in the United States and around the world the "Person of the Year"?

Is there a significant difference between OWS and the protests in the Middle East and Russia, protests that seem to me to be specific, passionate, uprisings of oppressed people. Am I wrong?

What women do you think should have not only been recognized, but should we be aware of?

1 comment:

  1. A brilliant post!

    I'm not knowledgeable enough to speak on the Middle East but as for the protests in Russia, it pains me to see people lump them together with #OSW and the Arab Spring. We have a tradition of "Orange Revolutions" in Eastern European countries. This tradition predates the Arab Spring (2004) and the #OSW and is very specific to our countries.

    The Russian protests are protests by quite wealthy people, for the most part. Middle-class and upper middle-class. Some of their most visible organizers are women. And they are very wealthy women, too.

    I just wish that people gave us the right to our own history and our own politics and didn't try to impose their own narratives onto our events and political movements.