At some point in our evolution as humans, we were all squatters. There were no nation-defining boundaries. Whether you’re a creationist or an atheist, the earth arrived, life started, and then humans began flowering.
Those humans stayed where they were born or wandered far and near, to hunt, to live, to settle, often near a body of water where people could use the water to drink, to clean, to fish, or to transports goods and people.
One thing was for sure in our evolution: humans gathered in communities—in hillside caverns, in make-shift enclosures, in villages and towns, and eventually cities. If we were to create a fast-forward cartoon, we might start with mud huts, straw huts, cave-dwellings, stone domiciles, homes made of wood, brick and stucco homes, then buildings of steel and glass. Continue reading
This Blog Post is the first of a two-part article on anti-multiculturalism in Europe and the United States.
Multiculturalism Under Attack
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that multiculturalism is under severe attack throughout many Western countries, including the United States.
UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, gave an impassioned speech in Munich advocating what he called, “muscular liberalism.” It is a concept deeply troubling to minorities in England, particularly among Muslims.
Cameron’s call for a kind of testosterone-driven toughness on foreigners to assimilate into a homogenized English culture speaks to the fears of many other Europeans that their Caucasian, secular, mono-language base will be diluted by non-Western cultures and values.
Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in a 2010 speech, claimed that the attempts at multiculturalism in Germany have, in her words, “utterly failed.” There is no doubt that she was aiming her comments at the 4 million Turkish and Kurdish Muslims in Germany. Continue reading
Michael Haneke’s films are never easy to watch. I believe it would be safe to say the Haneke tends to assault his viewers out of their complacencies.
If you like your films to have a soft-edged, feel-good resolution, you should definitely save your ten bucks—twenty-five with popcorn and a beverage– and wait for Hollywood’s romantic-comedy summer fare.
Haneke is not your man.
That said, let me begin by saying that “The White Ribbon,” Haneke’s latest, is a tour de force. It is no wonder that Cannes gave the film its prestigious Palme d’Or award. It was well-deserved Continue reading
India, the Interior Life and the Renunciation of the Material World
Before I began reading “White Tiger” and V.S. Naipul’s “India: A Wounded Civilization,” I had developed several stark stereotypes of the country.
As Buddha’s birthplace, India had become mythologized for me as a culture steeped in self-examination, the interior life, meditation, and the renunciation of the material world.
Gandhi was the other part of the jig-saw puzzle; he fit quite naturally into my notion of India as the golden land of serenity, inner peace, and wise teachers. Although he raised consciousness to more political, social-justice levels, I continue to imagine Gandhi as this austere, simple, reflective man who never raised his voice, meditated daily, and led quiet passive-resistance demonstrations for social equality, Indian independence, the end of English colonial rule, and reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims. Continue reading
A biopic, a non-documentary film that dramatizes the life of a real, historical person, presents a challenge not only to film-makers but to audiences as well. Accuracy issues are always at stake when a director decides to do a dramatic narrative about a famous person, particularly about someone who carries a lot of mythological baggage.
If movie audiences have even a faint knowledge of the historical character, they will come armed with predisposed beliefs about how a character should be portrayed. Hagiographers and groupies are going to be particularly difficult to convince if a film’s portrayal violates their own notions of their heroes.