A disturbing trend in fostering American-Muslim “otherness” can be seen in Simon & Schuster’s decision to create a new imprint called Salaam Reads. Targeted at age groups from early readers to young adults, it will present Muslim characters, stressing their own customs and ways, presumably to highlight their integration into our culture, not to stress Islamic theology or doctrine. If that last disclaimer is to be believed, we have to wonder why there is a necessity for a separate imprint with a guaranteed minimum of nine books a year - does Simon & Schuster have one for Catholic , Jewish or Buddhist Americans? What happened to the idea of America as the place that welcomed immigrants from all over the world so that they would have the freedom to believe and achieve what they wished, no longer bound by the strictures of birth or class structure. Are we now reverting to the notion that a Muslim child growing up in America must see her exact counterpart represented in story-books before she can feel comfortable in her own skin? According to Zareen Jaffery, the hyphenated Pakistani-American who heads the new imprint and remembers her own childhood: “I didn’t see myself reflected in books back then.” (NYT 2/25/16). Lest we forget, we are now living in the age of social media and selfies.
There are certain people so deeply entrenched in the national consciousness that their immortality is sort of assumed. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was one of those figures. He was a larger-than-life man of such towering intellect and commanding influence that it never really registered that he might, someday, pass from the scene.
Perhaps Donald Trump’s irreverence reached over to the dog eat dog world of Westminster. Even former Best in Show, Uno, was thrown out of Madison Square Garden this year. The Champion Beagle was “undocumented” according to MSG security.
Never has an “art film” been so mismatched with its Manhattan venues as “The Witch” at the two popular multiplexes where it can be seen. This is a very small movie, dark both literally and metaphorically, difficult to hear and even more difficult to comprehend both literally and metaphorically. Most of the scenes are shot in obscure and candle-lit interiors; most of the dialogue is either muffled, whispered or foreign-sounding enough for American audiences to have benefited greatly had there been sub-titles. We are in the 17th century with a Puritan family that has been banished from the community plantation for the father’s sin of being prideful and apparently holier than thou. The father is determined to create his own farm at the edge of the woods and since we have already been told that this is a New England folk tale, we know what that portends.
With five candidates grouped within a 10-point bracket well behind New Hampshire winner Donald Trump, it might be tempting to say we have a newly widened field with potential for a crowded race toward — and even beyond — Super Tuesday, March 1.
Name a black American politician, academician or celebrity who has publicly condemned the atrocities of Boko Haram, Al Shabab or Al Qaeda Affiliates. When did you see a protest march by Black Lives Matter in solidarity with their murdered Nigerian sisters and brothers? Has there been any black voice from any black group concerning the 219 schoolgirls who are still missing from the original 276 black girls kidnapped in Nigeria in 2014? Has Oprah organized a campaign to raise awareness of this ongoing crime among all school-children here and in So. Africa where she has created her own school? Have there been any demonstrations on American campuses concerning the targeting by Boko Haram of black Nigerian students - killing boys and kidnapping, raping and impregnating girls? Which academic groups have organized to pressure our government or the UN to take action to stop the slaughter of thousands of Nigerian civilians, their villages burned by the vicious Muslim group whose name translates as “Western Education Forbidden.” Point to a lead op-ed in the NYTimes written by Cornel West, Alice Walker, Al Sharpton or Spike Lee in the last year that has drawn world attention to the horrific slaughter led by Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Al Qaeda Affiliates or Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa.