a nice piece on nigeria's 5 years of protests. i'm on at 19:00.
This is a draft of Canada's Muslims in Critical Muslim|36 2021
Humanity has always been on the move since we descended from the trees, stood up and started heading for the horizon. We have always been at war with each other too, and as we developed more technology, our wars become more and more lethal. Enter imperialism. Voila Canada today.
US-Canada were settler colonies, unlike the Asian subcontinent, which was merely raped and pillaged, with no real intent for Britons to settle and replace the natives. So while colonial Muslims began appearing in the ‘mother’ country as sailors, servants, students, soldiers as early as the 17th century, there were few Muslims crossing the Atlantic.
It was not till the 19th century that a few brave souls popped up in Canada, the legendary wandering Lebanese, who spread out across both North and South America, and Albanian revolutionaries (Toronto's oldest Muslim community). Once the native Canadians were pushed aside, ‘Canadians’ were de facto (mostly) British and Irish white immigrants. The flow of Muslim immigrants into Canada was almost nonexistent till after WWII.
Immigration is like a tornado. It begins far away and grows till it touches down, disordering lives and rearranging hopes, depositing the detritus of new identities, writes Ziauddin Sardar in Balti Britain: A provocative journey through Asian Britain (2008). Learning to cope with multiple selves became the quest of Sardar’s adult life.
Asian Britons are all the direct product of the British empire, which steamrolled around the world, razing whatever got in its way, leaving a lot of detritus, creating new identities (for better or worse) for hundreds of millions, with a legacy that keeps giving today (for better or worse).
As a Muslim Canadian, I enjoyed Sardar’s dissection of the British Muslim experience, which has some parallels with US-Canada, but a big difference.
Writing this memoir has been as much about discovering my story, that is, myself as it is about telling it. That's Falk's version of Socrates' 'the unexamined life is not worth living.' Or should I say, Forrest Gump's? Falk's life reads like a storybook, starting with meeting Supreme Court judges with his father at age 9 in 1939, making friends with Claudette Colbere, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Liz Taylor (long story) at age 15, befriending and befoeing many of the dramatis personae of the Cold War throughout his long and productive life, finally landing on the shores of democratic socialism as the US charges towards the (literal) finish line.
Gene Weingarten, One Day: The extraordinary story of an ordinary 24 hours in America, Blue Rider, 2019.
Denied entry to the US (who knows why, and welcome to the club),* I must take solace as a writer, traveller, travel writer, in others’ experiences in the creaking monster to the south. In the writings of those ‘lucky’ enough in live there or at least visit at will.
Weingarten starts from literally scratch, pulling a year, month and date out of a hat with scribbled numbers on bits of paper. The only limit was in the year; between 1969 and 1989, ‘far enough in the past to feel like ‘history’ and have a future to explore, but not so far so witnesses would be hard to find.’
He landed on December 28, 1986, at first, in disappointment, as it was a Sunday (bad ‘news’ day) and worse yet, the news doldrums of post-Christmas. But he forged ahead, assuming fate had something to tell him. He started out interviewing a few HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory) types he saw in 60 Minutes, but even they drew a blank (!)
But after 6 years of research and writing, it turns out Weingarten hit a winner, though his journalist talent alone could turn a pig skin into a gold mine.
He cleverly sketches out a full range of Americana: lots of murders, of course, but also a historic moment in medicine (longest surviving heart transplant), crazy politics of race (Koch blowing his chances at a fourth term as mayor of New York), miraculous escapes from death, a vicious lawyer turned nice transwoman, lots of ex-soldiers, corrupt police … A page-turner from start to finish.
Up at 8am and went out to catch cosmos heads as they burst, as they hang over the border onto the sidewalk. It’s nice to say good-bye to my floral friends, especially the catalpas.
Oshawa is the last stop on the GO train east from Toronto, 60km -- in theory. I’m sure there are many ace sportsmen who zip back and forth (terrifying walkers), but I’ve never met anyone who tried to do it. Undaunted, I packed my lunch, gathered my pump etc, and aimed for the 8:13 train.
With the new bike craze, there are bike lanes popping up where you least expect them. University Ave, Toronto’s stately boulevard of banks, the US consulate, the Ontario legislature (in that order of importance) now has a spiffy bright designated lane, and a trip down past spooky silent skyscrapers on an early Saturday morning was now a delight. Leisurely pedaling among the monolithsI felt like I owned this concrete paradise, not TD et al.
I’m struck by the fact that all our pandemics, in fact all pandemics are courtesy of ‘civilization’, by which I mean agriculture, overcrowded cities, full of shit both animal and human, home of rats and fleas, carriers of plague. Our obsession with cheap meat means overcrowding, force feeding and ...
World News with Eric Walberg