"The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world." writes the PEW Research Center, but also points out: "A majority (53%) of all Muslim Americans say that, since the 9/11 attacks, it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the United States. This view is particularly prevalent among highly educated and wealthier Muslims." Therefore, I recommend Morgan Spurlocks's funny and informative documentary: "A West Virginia Christian lives as a Muslim in Dearborne USA for 30 days." Spurlock has made a whole TV series about 30 day exchanges into a different culture. Other episodes are about living with minimum wage etc. As a Fulbrighter I find the concept of exchange programs very appealing. Video works, but you might have to click twice on play in Internet Explorer:
"One in four younger U.S. Muslims support suicide bombings at least rarely" writes the International Herald Tribune based on the PEW Research Center survey. More about this and US Muslim opinions on 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan below the fold:
Continue reading "Muslims in America"
Vietnamese journalist and Fulbrighter Tran Le Thuy wrote the article "When winning a Fulbright means having to hide your face." She writes about the fears and concerns many Iraqi Fulbrighters in the United States have. According to her interviews, some of them did not accept the invitation to meet with President Bush "either in fear for their lives or to avoid the tormenting questions about the conflict taking place in their motherland."
Although all of them seem uniformly happy that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power, they are painfully watching the news from home for signs of civil war. And many blame unfair, insensitive, and poorly designed American policies for the clashes among Sunnis and Shiites and the way post-dictatorship democracy in Iraq seems to be going awry. (...) Dr. Fadhil says he would love to meet the president. "I would thank Mr. Bush for removing Saddam; at the end this is the only major achievement that all Iraqis agree on," said the filmmaker, who became a journalist by chance when a Guardian reporter asked him to work as a translator in 2003. "But it is not worth it for hundred[s of] thousands of Iraqis to die. We got nothing after Saddam -- no jobs, no security, and no better life."
Thuy quotes one Iraqi Fulbrigther as saying "Bush is good [for his country]. He attracts terrorists from all over the world to Iraq in order to make them forget about attacking America. Iraq becomes a battlefield for terrorists." She also writes:
Another Fulbrighter from Baghdad, who declines to be named, says, "I hate [it] when the Americans say that they are shifting the anti-terrorism battlefield to Iraq. It really pisses me off. This is the city where I live. Why is there terrorism in my city? They didn’t think about me or about my people when they declared that. Who gave them this authority?" He laments, "Don't they think of [the] 25 millions people living there, who are killed and being killed everyday? Nobody cares for Iraqi civilians."
Next week the US and the Moroccan Fulbright Alumni Association are hosting a conference on "Fulbright Alumni: Expressions in Civil Society" and "Morocco in Western Art." One of the topics will be the Nobel Peace Prize winning Grameen Bank, which was founded by a Fulbrighter, see the Atlantic Review's previous post. And in January 2007, Fulbrighters (and others) will travel again to Morocco to attend the workshop "Implementing a Maghreb Digital Library for Education, Science & Culture" hosted by the Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology and their Moroccan partners:
Access to digital information in developing countries is a critical issue of international concern. Nearly 20,000 from 174 countries attended the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia last fall, including 50 Heads of state/government and vice-presidents and 197 ministers, and thousands of high-level representatives from global organizations, private sector, and civil society. Needless to say, this meeting enhanced the interest of many Northern Africa entities with respect to the digital world. The January Workshop will focus on the creation of networked digital libraries and how they might be used by individuals and institutions in North Africa. A digital library of cultural heritage of the Maghreb region would facilitate education and scholarship by providing local and international access to cultural heritage resources held by institutions around the world. Such a library also could serve as a security and preservation repository in the case of the loss of physical resources due to fire, theft, or natural degradation. A digital library would have broader applications as well, in terms of education &training, access to information, building an informed citizenry, etc. Our workshop will address steps needed to implement a digital library for the Maghreb region.
Did you know that more than one million Americans, and 40 million others around the world, are living with HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS? With more than 20 million deaths so far, AIDS is now the leading cause of death among all people aged 15 to 59 worldwide. Regrettably, approximately 1 in every 20 adults in the District of Columbia is living with HIV/AIDS. So, the money I am raising will benefit Whitman-Walker Clinic, the largest provider of HIV/AIDS services in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. The Clinic provides direct medical care, food, housing and other really important AIDS services -- to help keep people alive until there's a cure.
This concept of doing something extraordinary and having others sponsor you by donating for a good cause has been pretty popular in the United States for a long time (how long?), but is not popular at all in Germany. Not yet, at least. Eliza also has a blog. Recently she wrote about being labeled a "non-resident alien" by the Bank of America, the Patriot Act and trouble with the service provided by the German company T-Mobile in the US. UPDATE: Due to a terrible infection, Eliza won't run the marathon next Sunday. She ran the Philadelphia half marathon and is still fundraising for the Whitman Walker Clinic whilst building up to a full marathon.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 to Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank for "their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means."
Muhammad Yunus was born in 1940 in Chittagong, the business centre of what was then Eastern Bengal and is now Bangladesh. He was the third of 14 children of whom five died in infancy. Educated in Chittagong, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. In 1972 he became head of the Economics Department at Chittagong University. He is the founder and managing director of the Grameen Bank. Prof. Yunus wrote the memoir Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty (Amazon.com, Amazon.de). According to the BBC, "Hillary Clinton, wife of former US President Bill Clinton, said in 2000 that Mr Yunus had helped the Clintons introduce micro-credit schemes to some of the poorest communities in Arkansas." Since Senator Fulbright was from Arkansas, one could conclude that the Fulbright program has made a full circle (in a positive sense) and America has benefited from awarding a Fulbright grant to Muhammad Yunus.
"A lot of people hope that the ugly rifts between Europe and the U.S. will close when George W. Bush leaves office. Don't bet on it." writes J.F.O. McAllister in Time Magazin:
Ron Asmus, an American who heads the Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Center in Brussels, says: "Europe has made up its mind on George Bush. But in 2008, the page will be turned. Europeans will take a new look at America, and that's when it gets interesting." Well, maybe. But I have been writing about U.S. foreign policy for 30 years and living in Europe for the last seven, and while I hope Asmus is right, I fear there are bigger centrifugal trends at work than a single President and his unpopular war. In historical perspective, that's almost inevitable. The overarching Soviet threat of the cold war was extraordinary; so was the cooperation, from the Marshall Plan to Nato to Fulbright scholarships, it inspired. "The closeness we grew used to of shared perspectives between 1950 and 1990 was the exception rather than the rule," says Tony Judt, a British-born professor of European history at New York University. "Before World War II, no one spoke about 'the West' as a shared cultural area. Americans, mostly of recent European descent, saw themselves as getting away from Europe.
Some Americans dismiss Europe entirely. Kenneth Feltman of Radnor Inc., who surveys high-level "decision makers" for corporations and political candidates, says his U.S. decision makers have little sense of connection with Europe. One word always gets them nodding about Europe: "Whiney." Says Feltman: "Americans say, 'We used to worry about what Europe wants, but we can't figure it out. So we stopped worrying.'" (...) So how could Europeans be persuaded to stop turning away from the U.S. and engage again? A first step would be for the U.S. not to demand submission from Europeans or lecture them all the time, but to argue and persuade: not on the basis that the "war on terror" justifies all, but showing respect for the international legal norms on which Europe now grounds its own peace and security.
The liberal American Prospect wrote about an anniversary in April 2006, which the Atlantic Review missed:
Forty years ago this week, Senator J. William Fulbright delivered a speech at Johns Hopkins University on "the arrogance of power." Talk about a time bomb. "The question I find intriguing is whether a nation so extraordinarily endowed as the United States can overcome that arrogance of power which has afflicted, weakened, and, in some cases, destroyed great nations in the past," Fulbright said. "Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations -- to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image." Many people believe the Bush administration's foreign policy is misguided, arrogant, and headed for disaster. But few were making that argument back when George W. Bush was still in college. Of course, the context of Fulbright's speech was not Bush's virtuous unilateralism or the divine summons to Iraq; it was President Lyndon Johnson's deepening engagement in Vietnam. But it's doubtful anyone in Congress today has delivered a more thoughtful critique of Bush’s foreign policy. What's even more striking from this vantage point, however, is that Fulbright delivered his broadside against a sitting president of his own party. Johnson was still a commanding and fairly popular figure in 1966 -- the Vietnam War, remember, did not lose majority support until spring 1968 -- when Fulbright rose to fulfill what he called "the patriot’s duty of dissent." The White House, Senate, and House were all controlled by one party, as they are today.
In August 2005, the Atlantic Review recommeded an article about Senator Hagel walking in Senator Fulbright's footsteps. The American Prospect writer Francis Wilkinson would like Senators Hagel and McCain to take note: "Do today what William Fulbright did 40 years ago this week, and then we'll talk":
Senator John McCain used to be good for an honest slap at the White House every now and then. But ever since he made up his mind to do whatever is necessary to win the Republican nomination in 2008, he's been a pussycat. Republican Senator Richard Lugar has been known to raise a paternal eyebrow and murmur something -- darned if I can recall what -- on a Sunday morning talk show. Senator Chuck Hagel occasionally strays from party, which is to say, White House, talking points. Arlen Specter held hearings on the NSA spying scandal -- and then refused to swear in administration witnesses. But faced with a situation not unlike Fulbright's in 1966, very few on the Republican side have dared to offer a critical public analysis of White House policy.
Mr. Wilkinson, however, does not outline what criticism and what constructive proposals regarding Iraq he expects from those Republican Senators. There seems to be a shortage of suggestions to improve the Bush administration's Iraq policy, while there certainly isn't a shortage of criticism.
Harriet Mayor Fulbright talked about her husband's legacy and relevance today at the University of Oslo in February 2005:
As Fulbright said, "In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste but its effects." In fact, democracy flourishes when its citizens feel free to dream and discuss the impossible. "We must dare to think 'unthinkable thoughts,'" he wrote. "We must learn to explore all of the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world. We must learn to welcome rather than fear the voices of dissent. We must dare to think about 'unthinkable things,' because when things become 'unthinkable,' thinking stops and actions become mindless. If we are to disabuse ourselves of old myths, and to act wisely and creatively upon the new realities of our time, we must think and talk about our problems with perfect freedom, remembering, as Woodrow Wilson said, that 'The greatest freedom of speech is the greatest safety because, if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking.'" Senator Fulbright not only thought unthinkable thoughts but felt compelled to make them public when his country’s policies were in his view seriously flawed. In the mid-1960’s, for instance, Fulbright tried to convince President Johnson that the war in Vietnam was not in the interests of the Unites States for many reasons. As long as the discussion was in private, Johnson remained cordial, but as soon as Fulbright made his views public, Johnson's intense hostility toward him was perhaps the greatest trial of his political life. President Johnson lashed out at him in many ways, including engineering a cut in the Fulbright Program funds of 70%. As we all know the Program survived the attack and grew considerably afterward, but the two men, who were close friends until that time, never spoke again, and this hurt Fulbright deeply.
Senator Fulbright made these comments in his book "Old Myths and New Realities", which is based on a speech he delivered in the Senate in 1964. Harriet Mayor Fulbright quotes from the book in her speech to the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Conference in 2002.
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