chapter 42 and when a jew is not jewish enough

November 22, 2010

Chapter 42

Mr. Kurzman makes a point of trying to show that while yes Islamists are trying to create a world in which sharia law holds sway they also will not eschew modern technology.  He goes on to state that most Islamists are graduates of modern universities and that they have been thoroughly exposed to the modern world and all that comes with it.  Kurzman draws parallels to the united states by showing how following the overthrow of the shah of Iran the Iranian people established a democratic government with free elections.  The idea of imposing sharia law of course intimidates the United States and many other western European countries who lately have been espousing a great deal of islamophobia  but we still should not stigmatize all Muslims because of this.  In fact according to the article generally in open elections the Islamist parties almost never win.  Most countries show them winning less than 25% of the votes.

Not Jewish enough

One of the largest hotbed political issues facing Israel today is the definition of who is and who isn’t Jewish.  The debate is centered on the rabbinates control over all things religious in nature within Israel.  Couples who wish to marry must receive a marriage license from the rabbinate according to Israeli law regardless of whether or not they are in fact religious.  The issue facing American Jews is that   many of them come from the more liberal branches of Judaism that have enormous followings in the United States but are almost nonexistent in the state of Israel.   As such the ultra right wing orthodox movements in Israel rarely recognize conversions performed by anyone other than members of the orthodox sect of Judaism which explains the issue facing this young man.  While I understand the issue I do not by any means agree with it.  The fact that someone who visibly observes Judaism is less Jewish than a totally secular non religious person in Israel to me is unconscionable.


media control in communist china

November 7, 2010

Assignment 2

Ever since the beginning of media as we know it authorities have always tried to limit the flow of information to the public.  Nowhere is this more true than china whose communist regime continuously and vigorously censors the internet and imprisons Bloggers as if they were hardened criminals.  According to a New York Times article all Chinese websites are required by law to employ thousands of people simply to scan for objectionable content and to skew bulletin board conversations in the governments favor.

China even went up against Google, when the internet search giant protested the government’s continuous filtering of their search results to avoid inflammatory material reaching the general public. Google began to base their website in areas outside of government control to avoid the filters.   Perhaps the government of china believes that unfiltered access to the internet will contribute to public unrest and begin their long feared revolution.  China’s internet panic is so vast that in 2009 they made a proposal called the Green dam-youth escort which would have been built into every Chinese made computer and would transmit the users every move to government censors who would check for any sort of dissenting behavior.

The internet is the ultimate “Technology of freedom” simply because it allows for anyone regardless of intellectual background to access information that 20 years ago most people would never have had access to.  The internet is knowledge and for the people of a repressive regime knowledge is power.


creaolization in heavy metal music

October 12, 2010

Jonathan Kurzman

Heavy metal music has become global.  From its earliest origins Metal explored the darker realms of human emotion that the flower power psychedelic music of the time chose to simply ignore.   In 1968 a band called black Sabbath pioneered a sound that would shape the imaginations of millions and spawn an entirely new genre of music.

Metal as a genre is extremely reflective of the societies and culture of the musicians.  For example black Sabbath originated in the city of Birmingham England which is a factory town that produced any number of items.  It was a dark dirty place where everyone followed in the footsteps of their parents and very few ever managed to break that cycle.  Black Sabbaths music reflects this with its dark brooding rhythms and evil undertones.  However the music can also be shaped by the political climate.  In 1985 Brazil was coming out of an intensely repressive military dictatorship in which metal was almost unheard of.  Still after the fall of the dictatorship one of the first things that happened was the country threw an incredibly large music festival called Rock in Rio.  1.5 million People attended the first Rock in Rio festival and it was seen as a symbol of the new government’s takeover.  As a result of the exposure of metal music to their society the citizens of Brazil now have one of the largest metal subcultures outside of North America and Europe.  One band in particular called Sepultura drew on the feelings of repression that living under such an oppressive regime stirred in them.  Their music was intensely brutal with song titles like Refuse, Resist which showed the darker side of their lives as a whole, just as Black Sabbath’s music was a reflection of the dark city in which they lived.  At first sepultura’s music conformed to the standards of metal set forth by such bands as Metallica,  Megadeth , Slayer and Anthrax, the big four of thrash metal, on their subsequent albums most notably one called Roots they began to incorporate traditional Brazilian music and instruments into their songs.  This created an entirely new sound that future metal bands from all over the world would draw heavily on.  Other bands in other countries have had similar origins.  An Israeli metal band called Orphaned Land uses many traditional middle eastern instruments and melodies within its music and draws on cultural themes from all three traditional abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Music as a whole is constantly evolving and there are always new styles and twists on existing styles popping up all over the world.  These shifts are almost always defined by the political, religious or physical climate in which the musicians were raised perfectly showing how the idea of creolization effects global culture.


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