Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Online Liberal Magazine Purusal:

Check out the New Yorker article by Adam Gopnik on the remake of Times Square NYC. Alas this is not new ground, but the man has a way with words. Case in point: "Those who pointed at the old Times Square as an instance of everything that capitalism can do wrong now point to the new Times Square as an instance of everything that capitalism can do worse." And on a cultural studies note, he writes: "The idea that there is a good folkish culture (Old Times Square or old hip-hop?) that comes up from the streets and revivifies the arts and a bad mass culture (New Times Square or New hip-hop) imposed from above is an illusion, and anyone who has studied any piece of the history knows it." And even a bit of urban design wisdom: "We make our accidental pleasure plazas do the work of the public squares we don’t have."

The Nation runs an interesting, if ultimiately timid, piece on the Weather Underground - Amerikka's own armed opposition movement of the 1970s. Apparently, they have never been more popular. The authors cite the increasingly obvious Imperial tendencies of America foreign policy, as well as an increased awareness of popular supression (jailing of protesters and Muslims) and the limits of democracy and marching. Of course, The Nation treads on the issue of twenty-semethings looking up to bombers (who nonetheless never hurt anyone yet got the Government quite scared) rather lightly. Any thoughts of moving beyond "protest from a distance is just a lamentable phase, and any action is "self-destructive escalation." Tell that to Guy Phillipe and the right-wingers now in control of Haiti.

The Nation also weighs in on Israel's particular case of (March) madness. Using the Yassin assassination, Roane Carey & Adam Shatz argue that the US must prevent its Israeli ally from leading the region into catastrophe.
A sample: "Sheik Yassin, to be sure, was not a man of peace. His group has killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in suicide attacks since the mid-1990s. But Yassin, along with Ismail Abu Shanab, who was assassinated last year, represented the more moderate current within Hamas; although Yassin refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state, he had spoken favorably of a "hundred-year truce" with it and had indicated that violent resistance would cease once Israel withdrew to its 1967 borders. Now that Yassin is dead, the only men left standing are the hard-liners, led by Dr. Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, the sheik's successor in Gaza. Some "friends" of Israel--a curious term for those who cheer Israel on as it marches down the road to self-destruction--will doubtless observe that Yassin would not himself have flinched from a comparable attack on Israelis. But that is precisely the point. Under Sharon's leadership, Israel is increasingly behaving like a rogue state, heedless of international legal norms and contemptuous of civilian life. With its indiscriminate raids, the government has chosen the path of escalation, putting its own citizens in jeopardy."


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