300, the film

Axis of evil seeps into Hollywood
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

No doubt about it, four years after his famous and also infamous axis of evil speech, US President George W Bushs crusade mentality has finally found its cinematic counterpart – in 300, a major motion picture centered on the epic battle between the Persians and the Greeks in 480 BC.

It is part history, part fantasy, safely buffering itself against potential criticisms, eg of its historical distortions or shortcomings, by the cinematic license optimally exploited meanwhile to preach to the audience about the values of freedom against the evil forces of unfreedom.

Portraying the past world in a contemporary language with the help of voiceovers in case we missed the message, the dramatic feature plunges into the midst of a violent battle that fully resonates with the contemporary discourses on clashing civilizations.

More than pure entertainment, it is a movie that wants people to reflect on what they are seeing, by teaching a lesson or two about history, by eliciting sympathy for its exalted Spartan heroes and heroines standing up to the worlds first superpower, the Achaemenid Persians.

Saturated with not-so-subtle Persianphobia, the movie calls for the interrogation of the political agenda behind it, at a time when Iran is constantly threatened with military invasion and all options are on the table in Washington. In Los Angeles, the cognitive assault has been raging for some time.

In Into the Night, a leading actress is asked what is her biggest turnoff and answers: Persians. In Steven Spielbergs movie The Peacemaker, actor George Clooney utters four-letter words when referring to Iran. In the more recent Syriana, Clooney, playing a rogue Central Intelligence Agency operative, blows up Iranians in downtown Tehran with a broad smile on his face.

There is a very large population of Iranians in Los Angeles county, many of them affluent professionals and successful businessmen. Many live in luxurious mansions in Beverly Hills, but you would not know that by watching Hollywoods movies. In House of Sand and Crash, we only see struggling immigrants on the margins of society.

California may be Americas ultimate melting pot, but Hollywoods tall walls of exclusion and discrimination have yet to crumble when it comes to the movie industrys persistent misrepresentation of Iranians and their collective identity immersed in a long thread of history.

Speaking of history, it is simultaneously a rich yet exceedingly difficult source material for the art of movie-making, and Hollywood has at best a mixed record on getting it right, notwithstanding the controversies swirling about Oliver

From Inga Muscio, on Kevin Rashid Johnson

I have been corresponding, when they allow it, with Kevin Rashid Johnson ever since, some time ago, our thinkpieces were carried side by side in Socialism and Democracy (Issue 38) His was A Practical Approach to Strategic Organizing for Popular Struggle. Mine was called A Period for Pedagogy. His was the better article of the two by a long shot.

Rashid is locked up in the notorious Red Onion supermax confinement facility, hosted by the state of Virginia.

Via my friend Inga Muscio, I just received the email being distributed by Rashids representative on the outside. Please spread this around on the internet and take the time to follow the action steps.

***

[NOTE: For the actual documents referenced below, email or call Becky 703-463-0558 [email protected] ]

dear folks,

please read the attached reports before making these important phone
calls. also, please forward this email to anyone you know who will put
in a phone call.

thanks,
inga

– Forwarded message –
From: XXXXXX
Date: Mar 1, 2007 10:15 PM
Subject: Alert: Kevin Rashid Johnson in Danger
To: [email protected]

With a great sense of urgency we write to you for help. We believe
that FedUp!s co-founder, Kevin Rashid Johnsons life is in danger.
In the past week, he has been maced, thrown into a wall, death threats
were made on his life and he has repeatedly been denied meals. We have
received information that he is no longer allowed to receive mail,
make phone calls or have visitors. This leaves him in total isolation.
Rashid has been filing grievances against abusive guards for years,
and also an outspoken member of the Black Liberation Movement. We
believe he is being targeted for his activities.

A new young correctional officer by the name of C. Dutton, is the
guard reported to have been responsible for much of the abuse and
death threats.

We ask that you please call the Warden of Red Onion State Prison and
Gene Johnsons office, the head of the Virginia Department of
Corrections and demand:

-that continued harassment of Kevin Johnson be stopped

-that C/O Dutton not be allowed near Kevin Rashid Johnson #185492

-that he be allowed to receive mail and his visiting privileges reinstated

-that he receive food

There is the famous saying from a guard to a political prisoner, You
are still alive because too many people care about you.

Please let the officials in Virginia know that you are watching how
they treat our friend and comrade.

Call Tracy Ray, Warden of Red Onion at 276-796-7510 (select wardens extension)

Call Gene Johnson, head of VADOC, at 804- 674-3119

Call Tim Kaine, Governor of VA at 804 – 786-2211

Attached is the latest report outlining incidents of a number of
prisoners with Rashids details in bold, and additional documentation
of abuse at this prison.

If you are in a writing mood:

Tracy S. Ray, Warden of R.O.S.P. P.O. Box 970 Pound, VA 24279

Tim Kaine, Governor of VA State Capital- 3rd Floor Richmond, VA 23219

To see the Human Rights Watch Report on Red Onion State:
http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/redonion/

Thank You!

Human Rights Coalition-FedUp! Chapter

Please Contact Becky 703-463-0558 [email protected] Penn Ave Pgh,
Pa 15224 412-802-8575 [email protected]

Pledge to Abstain

I have posted a Petition-Online for those who are interested: a pledge to abstain from voting for anyone who continues to approve funds for the war. If you agree with this, please give the url the widest circulation possible. The text is below, but I want to re-emphasize that signing requires going to the url itself.

Thanks in advance to those who sign and distribute. If this perchance reaches a Gladwellian tipping point, then it could be a fine warning shot across a few bows. Get it out. Get it viral.

To: U.S. Congress

Whereas: the U.S. military occupation of Iraq is a cruel and illegal occupation that has cost nearly 700,000 lives, shattered a viable society, and displaced more than a million people, and

Whereas: the occupation itself is the single greatest causative agent of inter-Iraqi violence, and

Whereas: the majority of Iraqis want an immediate end to the occupation, and

Whereas: the majority of Americans now want the U.S. out of Iraq, and

Whereas: the Executive Branch of the U.S. government has declared its intention to remain in Iraq, and

Whereas: the war will end when the Legislative Branch refuses to fund it,

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED:

We, the undersigned, pledge that we will abstain from voting in 2008 for any elected official or candidate who votes or declares her/his intention to vote to continue funding of the war, no matter the electoral consequences. The scale of this crime that is the war in Iraq and its urgency is such that it has become an issue that overrides all other issues, and we are pledging to become single-minded, single-issue voters on this matter.

Sincerely,