Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nation Follows Nation

I was reading recently a book on "Native American Wisdom." It to be truthful a beautiful book even if it was very simplistic at times. There was a beauty and a power to some of the words, which were quoted from leaders of Native American tribes over the past 300 years. There were ways that in their wisdom I saw the cosmology, the culture of so many other native peoples, Chamorros included. There were ways that they made sense of their tragedies, railed against it, accepted it. The book didn't promote one perspective for Native American identity or world-view, even though it do at some points argue for a harmony or unity amongst the people, and made claims to the way all the different types of Native Americans see the world. There were some who continued to challenge the authority of the US over Native Americans and there were some who accepted it. Some drew a line and argued their spirituality was different than the kind that came with colonization, others argued that they could co-exist or even that they were ultimately different ways of doing the same thing. 

They included in the book the speech below, one of the most famous by a Native American, the speech of Chief Seattle in 1854. It has been reproduced countless times and also rewritten and changed over the years to suit different peoples' needs. What I am pasting below is not the transcript of the speech because the speech was never written down. In fact it wasn't even in English, but was translated twice over before it arrived in English even as it was being spoken. The version I am including here was published in 1887 by someone who was there, but who admitted to this copy not being authentic, but being based on notes and recollections. In Guam history we have a similar problem where the content of a speech is written down, and while it is incredibly suspect, it may nonetheless be an important document to give insight to that historical moment.

One of the things that drew me to this speech and made a connection to Chamorro culture was towards the end where Chief Seattle invokes the inevitable end of the United States.

A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see. 
When local historian collected oral history and cultural knowledge from Chamorro elders, there was one saying that truly struck out at me, that represented the Chamorro as a colonized, yet still consciously sovereign subject. The Chamorro who was a resident in a colony, who lived and breathed colonial logic and power, who was constantly being marginalized and oppressed, but who saw themselves as being fundamentally different from their colonizer. No matter how much their life was wrapped in the colonizer's power and influence, they still believed themselves to be something different, their own subject, with their own context to the world. This was not a belief that the colonizers were not powerful, but a recognition of the fact that they could never be as powerful as they claimed to be and that history and time could never end with them. There would always be something more. 

As those elders would say, "Chumachalek hao pa'go, tumatanges hao agupa'. I agupa', ti agupa'-mu." Just because one flag flies over the island at present doesn't mean it always will and doesn't mean it won't be replaced. Many of those elders witnessed the power on Guam shift four times in forty years, from the Spanish, to the Americans, to the Japanese and then back to the Americans. For them, life was staying alive and enduring, it was not saluting the flags of whichever colonizer was now in charge. There was a sovereign timelessness to the Chamorro. This is something which has now been lost as Chamorros as a community tend to see life beginning and ending with their current colonizer and not learning this simple lesson. 

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Version 1 (below) appeared in the Seattle Sunday Star on Oct. 29, 1887, in a column by Dr. Henry A. Smith.

"CHIEF SEATTLE'S 1854 ORATION" - ver . 1

AUTHENTIC TEXT OF CHIEF SEATTLE'S TREATY ORATION 1854
Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change. Whatever Seattle says, the great chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons. The white chief says that Big Chief at Washington sends us greetings of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him for we know he has little need of our friendship in return. His people are many. They are like the grass that covers vast prairies. My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. The great, and I presume -- good, White Chief sends us word that he wishes to buy our land but is willing to allow us enough to live comfortably. This indeed appears just, even generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights that he need respect, and the offer may be wise, also, as we are no longer in need of an extensive country.
There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over, our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface brothers with hastening it, as we too may have been somewhat to blame.
Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black, and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been. Thus it was when the white man began to push our forefathers ever westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.
Our good father in Washington--for I presume he is now our father as well as yours, since King George has moved his boundaries further north--our great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. His brave warriors will be to us a bristling wall of strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill our harbors, so that our ancient enemies far to the northward -- the Haidas and Tsimshians -- will cease to frighten our women, children, and old men. Then in reality he will be our father and we his children. But can that ever be? Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface and leads him by the hand as a father leads an infant son. But, He has forsaken His Red children, if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Your God makes your people wax stronger every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. The white man's God cannot love our people or He would protect them. They seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. How then can we be brothers? How can your God become our God and renew our prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness? If we have a common Heavenly Father He must be partial, for He came to His paleface children. We never saw Him. He gave you laws but had no word for His red children whose teeming multitudes once filled this vast continent as stars fill the firmament. No; we are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies. There is little in common between us.
To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget. The Red Man could never comprehend or remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors -- the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.
Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars. They are soon forgotten and never return. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console, and comfort them.
Day and night cannot dwell together. The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun. However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will retire to the reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell apart in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of nature speaking to my people out of dense darkness.
It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian's night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man's trail, and wherever he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.
A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.
We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.
Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Live-Blogging the UOG Sexual Harassment Forum

I nobia-hu Isa ha ayuda mama'tinas Forum gi UOG gi painge put "sexual harassment." Gof impottante este na asunto, lao ti meggai umadmimite este. Ti meggai tumungo' put este na asunto. Guaha famalao'an yan lalahi lokkue', mansinexual harassed, lao ti ma tungo' na ayu hafa masusedi. Hinasson-niha na ossitan ha' pat linachi ha', ya taya' sina u macho'gue put este. Maolek na ha hatsasayi hit este na babao gi UOG.

Gi fino' Audre Lorde, ti prinitehi yu' ni taisangan-hu. Siempre ti prinitehi hao lokkue'.

Estague iyo-na Live Blog ginen i Forum gi painge.

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5:50 – Excited to see Mary Camacho Torres, senator-elect, and Prof. Ron McNinch in the audience.  Approximately fifty to sixty students are currently present.

6:07 – Dr. KB begins speaking.  “Sexual harassment at the University of Guam.”  Intersectionality.  Privilege, domination, and oppression.  —Imbalance of power relations regarding gender, class status, wealth, education, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, political status, etc. —Example: older, white, male, wealthier professor & younger, Pacific/Asian, female, less wealthy student. —Example: older, male, wealthier, heterosexual professor & younger, male, less wealthy, homosexual student.  Not politically neutral situations.

Social identity is experienced on multiple levels including ethnicity, cultural background, sex, gender, age, level of education, socioeconomic status (wealth) sexual orientation, etc.  Feminist studies brings to the foreground subjectivity, the individual identity. The historic academic pretense or façade of objectivity usually meant power was understood normatively as white and male. Look at the demographics at UOG. It’s not an accident that so many professors are white expatriates from the U.S. or European areas and/or male. This is not an attack on individuals, but a social system of oppression. It’s important to acknowledge historical and present-day realities.  Power relations matter. These are categories used to oppress many people and give power to a select few. It’s normative, it’s unquestioned, and it’s unethical.

What is sexual harassment?  Primarily an issue of respetu. Respect. Meaning, is this happening in a context where the people involved are able and willing to consent? Are you inside of a community that really do equally understand and appreciate certain jokes or behaviors? Is anyone incapacitated, for example by alcohol? Is one person in a position of much more social power than the others in the situation (like a professor in a classroom)? In such cases, it is important to be respectful and thoughtful of all involved. Consent. Respect.

Legal definitions: Unwelcome sexual or flirtatious jokes, comments, gestures. —Being called gay, lesbian, etc., in a negative way. —Being shown unwanted sexy or sexual images (including in texts and apps). —Unwelcome sexual touches. Being pressured or forced to do something sexual or physically intimate (kiss, touching, intercourse, etc.).

Other forms of violence: Dating violence and intimate partner (domestic) violence (physical, emotional, verbal, etc.). —Stalking. —Rape or sexual assault. —Attempted rape or sexual assault. —Preliminary events – coercive, intimidating, creepy, inappropriate behaviors and situations. —“Grooming” (sexual predation).

People living in a social context are well aware of social norms. Harassers know what they are doing.
People have told me “That’s just how things are” or “that’s just how men are” or “men have their needs.” Well, I personally do not believe all men are inherently evil.  I believe we can change the world.  I am glad that great social reformers of history like Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr., did not believe “That’s just how things are.” I am glad they worked to make the world better and safer.
Legal definitions:  Lack of consent — a joke, a touch, a comment, an invitation, a sex act — unwelcome, unwanted, inappropriate, nonconsensual.  —Gathering concrete evidence: email, witnesses, written or recorded messages, keeping dated records for self, or a log.  —Not legally required, but helpful.  —UOG will not refuse to address a report simply because there is no concrete evidence.

—UOG is not above the law – Title IX / Clery Act / 2013 Campus SaVE Act.  Sexual harassment is a federal offense. Existing protections for whistleblowers or reporters: —Confidentiality; protection against retaliation; legal or court recourses such as orders of protection, no-contact orders, restraining orders, etc.  So you technically are supposed to have some protections under the law, but, in reality, confidentiality can be broken, and a person can choose to ignore a restraining order.

Recommended resources:

—Women & Gender Studies – —Elizabeth Kelley Bowman, EC 213A, 735-2701
—Title IX Compliance Office – —Elaine Faculo-Gogue, 735-2244, uguam.uog.edu
> —Guam Police Department – 475-8551
—Public Defender’s Office – 475-3100
—Crime Victim’s Assistance Unit – 475-8620
—Healing Hearts Crisis Center – 647-5421
—Stop Violence Against Women – 475-9162

Discussing her survey — “95% of respondents agreed with the statement that professors sexually harass students at UOG. That was a much higher percentage than I was expecting and it is very troubling to hear that.  Second, I noticed that most of the students who stated on the survey that they had experienced an unwanted or nonconsensual sexual comment, image, touch, genital exposure, etc., from a professor, did not then identify themselves as having been sexually harassed in a later question (the second one listed on the slide).

“This indicates to me that students perhaps do not understand the legal definition of sexual harassment, which would call for more training and awareness, or that students do not want to think of themselves as having been injured or of their professors as having injured them.
“More education of students and more awareness workshops are called for.”

The 2011-2013 Campus Security Report (mandated under the Clery Act): This was sent to me via email on October 1, 2014. Emphasized “bystander intervention.”  Zero (0) reports of forcible or non-forcible sex offenses on campus, in UOG buildings off campus, on public property, etc.  No record of sexual harassment. —Zero (0) reports of motor vehicle theft — I mention the report on motor vehicle theft because I have been personally informed by the victims of at least two incidents of motor vehicle theft that happened during this time period. So the question is, why aren’t those in the Campus Security Report? and what else might the Report be missing?

We cannot put the onus or burden on an imagined bystander to solve the problem. Not always safe or feasible for a bystander to try to intervene. UOG leaders must recognize and take responsibility for these issues. The entire community must take responsibility.

—“Bystander intervention”: not a substitute for training, workshops, and support from authorities
—Lack of reports of crime =/= lack of crime.
—Lack of reports of crime = climate of fear and silence

—Students, faculty, and all community members must be empowered to voice and report concerns
—“The national statistics are that 60 to 80 percent [of rapes] go unreported” (Dr. Ellen Bez, Healing Hearts Crisis Center consultant).  So we are talking about a “tip of the iceberg” type of situation.
—Sexual harassment is usually an invisible or hyper visible crime. Hypervisible – focused on stereotypes or attacks — —example: women lie / students ruin professors’ lives.  Sexism (like racism, homophobia, etc.) is systematic and social, not individual and isolated.  A supportive community is crucial.  Publicity is crucial – finding your voice.

A word from Audre Lorde (important African-American lesbian activist and scholar):

“In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my own mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed would have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly, now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words. And I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.

“I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”

I call on the administration to comply with the Clery Act by providing ongoing workshops and training sessions to students and employees.

I ask you to take a few moments, if you are UOG students, to fill out the sexual harassment survey. Please, make a report to the university if you have a concern about any potential crime on campus.
And finally, please, sign our petition to the faculty senate, the board of regents, and the president of the university, asking them to use their authority to make UOG a better place for us all.

Saina ma’åse – thank you.

6:19 – Dr KB has finished speaking.  Approximately 150 students present.

Ms. Carina Fejerang is being introduced, co-founder / charter member of grassroots women’s organization RaWR!

RaWR! was launched after the Federation of Asian-Pacific Women’s Event a few years ago.  Variety of different women from all over Asia-Pacific region and U.S.  Women today are still trying to find a voice, they’re still struggling.  Statistic: 7/10 women have been sexually assaulted, victimized, or raped in their lifetimes.  400 women at a major conference – made her think of how many are being affected.  Yet, really, all ten are affected by this.  Not long after — a terrible abduction and rape on Guam at the Crown Bakery (fall 2012).

So many groups are working on these issues.  Yet missing was a grassroots group working on victims of sexism from the bottom.  Victims, 85% are women.  Perpetrators are overwhelmingly men.
RaWR’s goal: to be a voice for victims.  Victims were being re-victimized by the system – judicial, social, etc.  It’s bad enough to have to tell the story once, but year after year, waiting for a verdict — the victim starts to give up.

What is it in our society that’s not helping the victim?

Education plays a crucial part.  Reflect: what is going on in our community?  What can I do to make a difference?

Man Up Guam oath – men will own their participation in a just community.  Speak up if they see a crime.  Speak up in general.  We all know that men have a heavier hand than women.  Men’s bodies more powerful than women’s.

Find ways of going into the schools and creating education around these topics.  It starts with all of us.  Knowing what is right — what is wrong.

To be educated in respect and care for others.  Your body is a sanctuary.  Care for it.  Don’t let anybody harm you.  If you see someone harming someone else, speak up.

6:32 – Ms. Monique Baza is being introduced.  GW (1995) graduate, B.A., master’s in public education, teacher at GW.  Survivor of the 15 October 2012 Crown Bakery kidnapping and assault.
Ms. Baza is sharing her powerful personal story.  Tow hours and forty-five minutes.  Sexually assaulted twice.  Confined, restrained in her car.  How does a man know how to restrain a woman with her own passenger seat unless he’s done this before?

Strongly believes the Audre Lorde quote, “My silences had not protected me.  Your silence will not protect you.”

That is why Ms. Baza shares her story as much as she can.  Very hard to be able to come out in the media and to others.  Nothing was okay.  For Carina to stand up here and speak about revictimization — for Ms. Baza to have to tell her story over and over and experience it again and again, that was definitely re-victimization.  She should not have to be punished so much.

“I honestly felt as if I were the one who was being punished.”  No communication with the AG’s office.  Knew nothing except what media was publishing and reporting on.  It was on morning talk shows, on her way to work, and she felt like the butt of the joke.  She was not being informed.
So Ms. Baza started going to the court hearings.  Made a point to find out where this was going.  Had the burden of having to be so proactive in her own case.  Given 49 minutes notice of hearings, no respect for her work or family needs.

The AG office is not supportive of the victim or centered on the victim.  Feeling of being talked down to.

It was a long struggle.  There were three perpetrators (two also stole her ATM card and drained her account).  Last November 19, 2013, two were released, and one approached Ms. Baza’s brother at the store.  They know where Ms. Baza lives.  She tried to fight, she tried to get away.
No one warned Ms. Baza that the perpetrator was going to be released.

Yes, the victim does get so lost and drained and exhausted by it all.  A part of me feels like the AG’s office was trying to make that happen, to make her pull away.  They would make decisions without giving Ms. Baza any voice.

She asked for an apology letter, asked the prosecutor.  Refused to make it a condition of the plea agreement.  Ms. Baza was the wronged party.  She didn’t deserve to be treated like that.
“I want you to leave here thinking that change has to begin with you.”

It was the home invasion situation that made Ms. Baza decide to go public with her story and her voice.

“I do not stand up here ashamed.”  Perpetrators want you to be embarrassed and shamed and messed up, so you won’t report it.  So they can go on harming others.

The more we silence ourselves, the more we enable and empower perpetrators of crimes.

6:44 – Dr. Ronni Alexander is introduced.  Professor of international relations and peace studies at Kobe University in Japan.  She is wearing a 37-year-old shirt “Don’t Tread on Me – Alexander v. Yale” in 1976, the first sex-harassment lawsuit in the U.S. under Title IX.  Currently she is exploring the role of art in making a community of peace.  Also author of the Popoki children’s book series (highly recommended!).

“In a spirit of solidarity, I want you to know three things about myself: as a child, I was abused; (2) as a child, I was sexually abused by a close friend of my father’s; (3) it took a really long time and lots and lots of tears and anger, but in about 1999-2000 I came out as queer, as a a lesbian, to, among other things, a million readers of a Japanese newspaper.  That’s been a really good thing in my life.”
Was a flute player, wanted to be a music major.  Yale in those days, early 70s — my year was only the fourth to allow women.  Yale was a men’s school for a very long time.  About 40% of incoming class were women in Dr. Alexander’s year.  Some complaints — men said they used to be able to swim naked in the pool till women came in.  [lol]

Music majors required to take private lessons and to play in symphony or band.  Generally, flute players were a dime a dozen — unless you were really, really, really good (which Alexander wasn’t) you had to study with a graduate student.  Only three seats in symphony for flutes.  Alexander was in band.  Keith Ryan, new band director.  “I’ll never forget that name.”

He offered to be my teacher — it was very flattering.  Of course she said yes.  Incidentally, he had a son a year behind me.  Not a peer relationship.  Man was much older, more powerful.  Alexander was put off, but also flattered.  Didn’t know what to do when he began grooming her — told her she was talented, “checked” her breathing, locked the door, got friendly — then — he offered her a ride home and took her to a private apartment of his and raped her, then took her home after that.

“I didn’t even know the word ‘rape,’ or I didn’t know that it could be used in that situation in my life.”  “There’s got to be nobody in the world as stupid as me.”  “I was upset, I was embarrassed, thought it was my own fault.”

Yale offered no recourse or redress for such a situation.  Dean, professor would sit down with student — “No, thank you.”  It was about November.  Took a bus across Canada in the middle of winter — left school — couldn’t tell anyone.  Finally, sister encouraged her to return and try it.  Changed her major.  Professor stalked her.  All kinds of things happened.  Went on with life.  One day, met him on the street — he said, what are you trying to do to me, you’ve accused me of rape!  She said — all I’m trying to do is forget you.

Women’s organization at Yale contacted her.  They were collecting stories of women abused at Yale.  1976 — sexual harassment just beginning to be spoken of in the workplace, but not in education, certainly not at a place like Yale.  Yale was intransigent.  We couldn’t get them to respond to us in any other way.  Catherine McKinnon [well-known feminist and legal scholar] was at Yale in those days and she was kind of the brains behind this.  Argued and decided in 1980.  It was a Title IX lawsuit: claimed women did not have equal opportunities at Yale; Yale had no proper grievance procedure.
Judge said claims were not relevant because Yale could not redress their injuries as four plaintiffs had already graduated.  “An apology might have been nice. . . . Nobody apologized.  Keith Ryan remained happily employed at Yale.”  BUT – Yale did create a grievance procedure; widespread interest and similar lawsuits at other universities occurred (Yale is a very important institution in the U.S. and lawsuit was covered in national media).  “It was happening everywhere.  So we lost, but, in a way, we won.”

1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted in college/university by faculty/staff and also by classmates.  Doesn’t include the men who are also assaulted — particularly LGBTQ people.  Universities continue to tolerate campus violence.

More services are available for survivors.  Legal requirement for transparency.  Grievance procedures must be in place.  “There’s supposed to be somewhere on the UOG website, assuming that those statistics were wrong, and there is at least one case of sexual harassment, it’s supposed to be there.   I looked for it.  Couldn’t find it.  You might be better at finding it than I am.”

We heard that people don’t report it.  It’s really tough to report it.  But, even when people do, universities engage in very complicated processes of trying to make believe it never happened.  Yale does it.  Kobe University does it.

Examples: Naomi Klein accused Yale professor Harold Bloom of rape.  Current case regarding professor at Yale Medical School.

Audre Lorde said it beautifully — we need to talk about it.  It’s really hard to talk about it, but if we don’t talk about sexual violence, nothing will change.  “Oh, don’t you look sexy today” — boss/professor — that comment is not okay.  Sexual violence is violence.  Not sex.  It’s disrespectful, it’s harmful, and it’s wrong.  Men, transgender people, gay people, are also being victimized by these acts of sexual violence.

We have to talk about it because if we do we may be able to stop it sooner.
http://www.knowyourix.org

“I have never played the flute since that day.  I did become a master of the Japanese flute [shakuhachi].  It took me about 15-20 years but I finally stopped hating myself for being so stupid, letting this happen to me.  I finally understood it wasn’t my fault.  I’m proud to say the experience, not only of sexual harassment, not only of rape, but also of the battle with myself to heal, has been really helpful in helping many others.”

Popoki Peace Project – age range 3-103 – books – a society with no violence – inclusive, respectful – where everyone can live to full potential – people and other creatures should be free and safe – filled with creativity and filled with love.  Sexual violence, abuse, harassment, all of that — in complete contradiction to peace.
:-) yay Popoki!

7:09 – Introduction of Q&A moderator Dr. Sharleen Santos-Bamba, humanities scholar, teacher training, community outreach.  Research encompasses Chamorro women’s roles; rhetoric and composition.

Dr. Santos-Bamba acknowledges the men in the audience who are here to make a difference for women in our society!  Yes!  Thank you to the wonderful men here!

Acknowledges the presence of Sen. Frank Aguon and Sen.-elect Torres.

Floor is opened to questions.  People can write down questions to be brought to Dr. Santos-Bamba,
Ms. Monique Baza is asked for advice on helping other women speak up — Answer: Whenever anything like this happens, at least get your feelings off your chest.  The feelings and emotions.  Cry, scream — that’s a big step for a survivor.  What’s going on in the family dynamic when she meets with people.  Unspoken sometimes — sometimes family is not communicating with the survivor.  Hard.  Don’t know if you’ll hurt the person.  Write it down — survivor, family, — to communicate — even just one word.

Dr. SSB – sexual assault/violence affects many people, not just the survivor.

Q for Dr. RA – systemic sexism — are gender roles learned, i.e., through media, ads, etc.? — A:  Yes.  They are learned everywhere.  They are learned sitting in this room, too.  Doesn’t mean we must cut ourselves off from media.  Means we must learn to be critical.  Learn to be a different kind of person.  Really hard.  But, it’s very important.

Dr. SSB – general question – presence of armed guards on campus — would that prevent these kinds of behavior?  – CF – no.  RA – in HS had armed guards – it brought solidarity among students – drug issues – all got together to beat up on armed guards — all it did was bring more violence.  Didn’t bring any kind of safety.

Another general question – if peace is not possible, does anyone on the panel condone self-defense?  CF: We do have to protect ourselves.  Monique Baza and CF have been trained in personal safety.
Q for all of the forum – Idea of rape has recently been humorized in today’s society.  What is the best way to de-humorize rape culture? — MB: teacher at GW HS, very common, challenge Torres and Aguon to walk the halls and listen to what is being said, the language being used.  It’s very disturbing.  “Rape” is a joke in common lexicon.  News broadcast of brawl at Tiyan HS, in halls today MB heard joke “we should go over to Tiyan High because they’re bashing chicks’ heads over there.”  RA: Yeah.  Yeah.  [agreeing with MB].  Story from Japan — homeless people — it’s common for HS students in Japan to harass and assault homeless people, set them on fire as a joke, etc.  Outreach in schools.  Very small effect, but an important change.  Working with the community, working with groups that are active.  EKB – remember that Guam is also “humorized” in national media.  Important to remember that violence happens on so many levels.  Agent Orange dumped by US gov’t on Guam = a man abusing and violating a woman’s body.

Q on respect in Chamorro culture and traditional gender roles.  CF: education, importance of respect, matrilineal culture.  Say “STOP” — “what you’re saying/doing is wrong.”  It takes someone to stand up.  Kudos to you if you took the time to stand up and say stop it.  You will start to see that you yourself have changed as well, and those around you.  SSB – violence against men and women happened in the past, but now with education we are hearing more about it.  Let us not pretend violence did not happen in islander culture.

Q to all – What signs identify women or men who have been sexually harassed or abused?  CF – someone who doesn’t want to be touched.  Shuts down suddenly.  Could be suicidal.  Guam ranks very high in suicides.  Starts to change normal, everyday behavior.  Very often with a survivor — they just want to be heard.  They just want to say what they want to say.  How they feel, how angry they are.

Q on attempted sexual harassment – is it a crime?  MB – absolutely – a violation of a person’s body and mind.  RA: she’s absolutely right.  Not sure what “attempted” sexual harassment is — intent and engagement in abuse was clearly present.  It is sexual harassment.  CF: for women in here, if you don’t like a guy, don’t act like you do.  Let them know from the start.  Those can be clear factors that get you in a situation you don’t want to be in.  Ladies, you have to know your boundaries too as well.
Q regarding family members and the survivor/victim – what can be done on a larger, cultural level to address family members who pressure people to retract a complaint or statement?  A – MB – never want to bring shame on your family – but we need to break that.  We don’t realize the snowball effect.  That the behavior will continue.  Might isolate one victim, but it will continue to happen.  EKB – would like campus and community authorities to speak out on this issue, ensure that people know it is right to speak out.

Q for MB – has anything been done since your experience to improve the way victims are treated in our community?  - MB: RaWR has tried to bring back the family justice center.  Literally a one-stop place for victims to receive all needed services.  Many such centers throughout the world.  Man Up Guam initiative — open to all.  We want the change to start.  Go into public school system, high schools, middle schools, start the outreach, the more we do that, the more we will see this big change.
Q – do I have to confront, forgive my abuser?  - MB – was asked this on a talk show.  Haven’t come to level of truly being able to say I forgive that person.  Think it will happen in my own due time when I am ready.  This is because I have not been able to gain any sense of closure.  Case has dragged out, such a long process!

Q for RA – how do I move on if peace and justice are unattainable? – RA: one very very small step at a time.  As a single person, very small and weak, may want to change the world.  Can’t.  But can make a difference.  To the people around us for example.  We have to take time out for ourselves, every once in a while, five minutes, a week, engage in self-care, take a deep breath.

7:48.  SSB says we have only a few minutes left.  One more Q.  Violence in the media.  Social issues in this day and age.  Dehumanization of mankind connected to the availability and abundance of violence through the media?  - CF: Statistically worldwide, men are no longer involved in the household at all.  FB – mean moms are the best.  Enforcing rules about staying off the TV.  RA – Nonviolence really, really difficult to achieve.  Spent life trying to work toward it, dedicated herself.  Violence in media not correlated necessarily with violence in life.  Society needs to talk about anger and frustration and ways to express them that are not violent.  We’re not really taught how to do that.  How to confront and overcome it in a way that’s peaceful.
Closing statements

EKB – Thank you so much to all for being here.  Please consider taking my survey or recommend to other students.  Please consider taking a look at our petition and signing it.

MB – As an educator – Parents, don’t pull away from your kids as they get older.  Need your guidance.  Middle and high school is a very vulnerable time.  MB sees it every day in public school.  You can see the difference between a student whose parents are actively involved and a student whose parents have pulled back.

CF – Thank you for having us here today.  I know those of you still here are definitely going to walk out and make that difference in the world.  If a victim, come forward, when you’re ready, and go to people that love and care for you, use the services available.

RA – Thank you from me too.  Thank you for staying until the very end.  It’s really been a pleasure and thanks for the really thoughtful questions.  I don’t live here, but I’ll be around on and off till Christmas time, so I’ll be interested to talk to any one of you and learn about your lives and whatever you think is important.  Thank you so much.

SSB – closing comments – There are timelines in reporting crimes.  Education is very important.  Important for men and women to speak up, move to the fore, make known crimes that have been done to them.  Go out and share what you have learned this evening.  Among your peers and among those your junior as well.  Very important to engage with those younger than us.  They look up to you.  You’re the role model.  You can make a difference in crimes against men and women in the future.  You are now the ambassadors of sharing that knowledge.  Good night and BIBA UOG!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Russell Means

Russell Means visited Guam in 2000 to work in solidarity with the group Nasion Chamoru in their fight for Guam's independence. On the website for Nasion Chamoru is features a thank you to Russell Means for his visit and inspiring people with his message. The section thanking Means features this quote about him:

"The L.A. Times has described him as the most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Russell Means is a natural leader. His fearless dedication and indestructible sense of pride are qualities admired by nations worldwide. His vision is for indigenous people to be free... Free to be human, free to travel, free to stop, free to trade where they choose, free to choose their own teachers ~ free to follow the religion of their fathers, free to talk, think and act for themselves and then they will obey every law or submit to the penalty. The most difficult lesson of all is to respect your relatives' visions..." 

I didn't meet Russell Means when he visited Nasion Chamoru, but a few years after that I began to follow his activism as well as his memorable film career. He died in 2012 after taking a strong stand for Native American independence, something that made him very notorious even within Native American communities. I don't know why I ended up thinking about Russell Means this week, but I'm pasting below two articles about him. One written recently the other written soon after he had passed on. 

I think I may need to go around and interview some people about the meeting with Russell Means. Buente ayugue sa' hafa hu hassussuyi este.

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The Russell Means I Knew

10/24/12
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/10/24/russell-means-i-knew-141684
Russell Means was not only a visionary, he was also keeper of memories. Russell was both an orator and a man of action. Inspired by a legacy of strength, Russell was one who walked his talk and inspired others to follow his example.

Many words have been written and spoken about his highly publicized leadership roles during the Red Power era. This is important but just as significant were the little- known or unheralded actions Russell did to support Indigenous Peoples.

Russell was one of a very small group of leaders who responded to many calls from Indigenous Peoples and arrived to help out in whichever way he could. From personal experience, I’ve witnessed Russell travel at his own expense to support a cause even when it was not something that he had a personal stake in. The compelling reason was often that a small group of Natives were attempting to stand up to some injustice and decided to reach out to Russell.

Russell was often described as figure of publicity but I’ve seen him avoid the spotlight in many public gatherings and rallies. At other times, organizers would have to encourage him to take a turn on the microphone or suggest that he share words of inspiration with those on hand. When news cameras were on hand, Russell wouldn’t hesitate to do an interview and call out the local media if they had an anti-NDN bias in their reporting. His concern was not with being a media NDN darling but giving NDNs a voice in the media.

Another trait of Russell’s that I witnessed was that he led from the front and took the same risks as anyone else. Whether that meant going to jail, standing vigil in uncomfortable weather or carrying out tasks while exhausted, Russell Means wasn’t one to skip out on us. Many times we’d complete a rally and Russell would jump in his van to travel to a different state so he could fulfill another request for his support. A friend and I had discussion about this and we agreed that Russell was someone we could depend on while many young NDN men we knew who spoke loudly about supporting Native Peoples always seemed to have good excuses for never showing up for anything.

Russell was also someone who was willing to share a needed perspective for young people. He often spoke to small groups of Native youth about what motivated and inspired him. I’ve listened to Russell share lesson’s from his personal history about the early AIM days up to the present and what he’s learned from that. Often those lessons had to do with perseverance, sacrifice and compassion.
Several years ago I was struggling with how one overcomes anger and hatred when violence is inflicted on them for seeking justice for Indigenous Peoples. It was a period when many Native friends were the victims of police brutality and they were wondering if the pain was worth it.

Russell was visiting in town so I sought him out and had a discussion with him. I related that many of my friends were questioning their choices -- choices that brought public attacks from other NDNs for some, physical violence for others and for all, an overall sense of personal setbacks bordering on humiliation.

After listening and thinking about it for a bit this is what he said: “The way I’ve seen it is that every injury I took, every sacrifice I made and every personal cost I paid has been done on behalf of our people and ancestors. So I take these things as a badge of honor and they are things that I am proud of.”

He continued on with giving advice about how I could help out those who were going through tough times. He drew on his first hand experience and shared stories of his younger years. As we sat there I realized how much of an honor it was to know this man: Russell Means, Oglala and Indigenous Patriot.

Robert Chanate is a member of the Kiowa Nation and can be reached at rckiowa@gmail.com and twitter.com/rckiowa. He is from Carnegie, OK and currently lives in Denver, CO. He is also co-authoring a forthcoming book with Gyasi Ross appropriately called “The Thing About Skins,” and the website and publishing company for that handy, dandy book is www.cutbankcreekpress.com.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/10/24/russell-means-i-knew-141684
 
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Remembering Russell Means

October 31, 2012
By Tom Hayden
26 October, 2012
The Nation
 
Russell Means, who died on Tuesday, kept a place here in Santa Monica in recent years, with his wife, Pearl. Once my wife Barbara and I took our son Liam for a visit to meet this man we described as having fought a real war against the government. Still in good health a couple of years ago, Russell took great interest in our 10-year-old, as he did in all kids trying to understand the actual history of our country.

Russell was a strong, imposing figure. It wasn’t only his braided hair or the beads around his neck; his clear eyes gazed as if it was 1873. He had Liam’s attention. When they shook hands, Russell told Liam that his grip needed to be firmer, he should stand up straight, and that he always should look the other person straight in the eye. Our son will not forget the quiet authority this man quietly commanded.

Russell had that effect on people, the presence of a nineteenth-century warrior still alive as a force in the here and now. He touched millions.

I therefore was quite shocked to see Russell with Pearl in a local restaurant a few months later, gaunt and frail from cancer. I didn’t quite recognize him. He told me the diagnosis was terminal, and that he was living on tribal remedies and prayer. His face should have been on Mr. Rushmore. The great law of mortality would prevail where the Great White Father had failed, and Russell soon would enter the spirit world. He knew his time on earth was ending, eating eggs in an Ocean Park cafe.

My wife, a descendant of the Oglala Nation, and our son, were blessed to know him even briefly. My old friends Bill Zimmerman and Larry Levin were touched enough to fly a plane with supplies into Wounded Knee when the fight was on. Governor Jerry Brown was courageous enough to harbor Russell in California when South Dakota wanted him extradited. Tim Carpenter, now of PDA, was inspired enough in 1971 to march across the United States on the latter-day Trail of Tears. Russell, the imprisoned Leonard Peltier and the American Indian Movement led many to try repealing the past. “No More Broken Treaties” was the slogan of the Indochina Peace Campaign at the time of the Paris Peace Agreement, a reminder of the 371 solemn pacts violated by the US government during the earlier Indian Wars. One of the most momentous violations was that of the 1868 Treaty of Laramie guaranteeing Sioux Nation ownership of the Black Hills, now the center of a vast corporate energy domain. That violation aroused a new generation of native American warriors.

The fundamental difference between a truthful, radical interpretation of US history and a merely progressive or liberal one is how deeply one understands that our permanent original sin, even preceding slavery, was a genocide against native people that underlay the the later growth of democratic rights. That truth is what is “buried at Wounded Knee”, what Russell Means’ war for recognition was all about, and why he will be long remembered by my son.

Until we in America finally accept and redeem the moral debasement of a Conquest that still underlies the achievement of democracy, our blindness will lead us into one war after another against indigenous tribes and clans in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Asia, Africa and Latin America, all stemming from a denial of our own blood-stained origins.

Russell was a reminder that the wars against indigenous people, and the conquest of their resources, are far from over, and that we cannot be fully human until remorse with our eyes wide open allows the possibility of reconciliation. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

ChaNoWriMo Interview


At the start of the month I was interviewed by the Marianas Variety on the topic of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. I have participated in this since 2012 and it is the highlight of the later part of the year for  me. The goal is to make it to 50,000 words from November 1st to November 30th. I've done it for the past two years, and I'm struggling to make it this time as well. I lost several days due to curriculum writing (I've already written about 50,000 words in terms of curriculum writing this month). I'm supposed to be at 25,000 words by now, but I'm only at 22,000. I will complete my goal however as the story "The Legend of the Chamurai" that I have been working on for the past three years has to be written and it is exciting to see it take shape each year. 

Here is my interview below.

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1. How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo?

This is my third year, I hit the 50,000 mark in both 2012 and 2013.

2. How did you hear about the contest?

Through the internet and Facebook. I knew several friends who had tried it out.

3. How long have you been writing fiction?

Since I was a kid. My brothers and I always dreamed of working on comic books together. I’ve published more poetry than fiction though, but I love storytelling in general. I'm known as a teacher for telling decent to interesting stories in my history and language classes.

4. What inspired you to enter the contest?

I’ve had a story in my head for many years, about Ancient Chamorro warriors fighting alongside Japanese Samurai warriors against invading Spanish soldiers. I am a historian and a scholar of Chamorro culture and there were elements of Chamorro history that I wanted to give a different flavor to, most importantly adding fantastical elements, such as warriors with great powers to stories of taotaomo’na and legendary feats.

5. Describe the pace, frustrations with deadlines and what people should know before undertaking such a task.

The most important thing is to set up time each day to write. Setting aside that time will save you so much stress. Do not judge yourself too harshly, the most important thing about NaNoWriMo is that you write. Do not overthink things. You can always edit and change things later, but having that first draft to work with will save you so much more.

6. Have you published work that you've written for NaNoWriMo, or portions of it?

I have taken portions of it and worked them into different art projects. Eventually I plan to publish it in some form, perhaps an illustrated series of ebooks.

7. Do you have colleagues who are participating or have done so in the past?

I started organizing a variant called ChaNoWriMo last year or Chamorro Novel Writing Month. It is the same basic premise, but just an encouragement to include Chamorro language and cultural elements in your stories. To this end I provide prompts through the UOG Chamorro Studies Facebook page to give people ideas of ways to write creatively and in interesting ways while still taking seriously Chamorro history, language and culture. I started this because of the frustration I felt when talking to many young writers on Guam, most of whom were Chamorro, who felt that to be a serious writer or to make a serious story it needed to be about somewhere else, some other place that is bigger or more important than Guam. Guam is an interesting and unique place and we shouldn't’ shortchange and ignore it to write about places elsewhere because of some misperceived connection between smallness and story viability.

8. What have you learned about yourself as a result of participating in NaNoWriMo?

I write the way Lee Child (from Jack Reacher fame) writes. He doesn’t necessarily plan things out in length ahead of time, he lets the moments and the characters take him in different directions. There is a place where I want the characters to end up, but the way they get there is kind of up to them.

9. You also started a version of this contest on Guam last year. How many people participated and what was the scope of their themes, plots, etc.?

Last year three of us tried out ChaNoWriMo. This year at least six people are trying it out. Several people are using suruhanu elements in their stories, where they are taking Chamorro traditional spiritual and medicinal healers and putting them in a contemporary context. One person isn’t writing a whole novel, but just a set of short stories all set in Guam today. Another is writing a story about a Chamorro serial killer who (in a distorted throwback to Ancient Chamorro life) takes the bones and skulls of his victims as trophies.

10. Has any of the work submitted to you been published and is it available on Guam for sale?

Artwork that was inspired by my story can be seen in the MARC Library. A comic book taken from the world I’ve created in my NaNoWriMo/ChaNoWriMo stories will be published locally sometime in the near future.

11. Some people have called Chamorro a "dead language." Since those comments made several years ago, it seems institutions from banking to government have refuted the assertion. Is creating a contest like yours a refutation of his claim and others, or do you even think about such comments?

Chamorro is definitely not a dead language, but you can definitely argue it is dying. One thing I am always working on in a multitude of ways is just getting more people to use Chamorro whether in writing, singing or just speaking. Chamorro needs to adapt and evolve. If it remains the language of the elders and their lives it won’t survive. It needs to change as the generations change. As we write new stories within that Chamorro journey, we need to make sure the language stays with us.

Friday, November 14, 2014

GPSA Coming Soon

I've been so busy this week with writing Chamorro language curriculum for the I Ma'adahen Fino' Chamorro that I haven't been able to post much or even complete my Guam Political Sign Awards. I wrote up most of the winners in my Marianas Variety column last week, but haven't been able to get the full text together and edit the images of the winning signs. I promise to get to this either over the weekend or next week.

ChaNoWriMo hasn't been helping with this much either.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

MHC3 CFP

CALL FOR PAPERS3rd Marianas History Conference
One Archipelago, Many Stories: Milestones in Marianas History
Dates: September 4-6, 2015

Location: Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Venue TBA

The Northern Marianas Humanities Council, University of Guam, Guam Preservation Trust, and Guampedia are pleased to announce a call for papers for the 3rd Marianas History Conference. It will be held on Saipan from September 4-6, 2015 with a welcoming reception on the evening of September 4th.

The conference will cover a full range of topics associated with the Archipelago’s history with a particular focus on the conference’s subtheme “Milestones in Marianas History.” Papers may be submitted under the following general categories: Ancient History; Early Colonial (17th – 18th centuries); Late Colonial (19th – early 20th centuries); World War II; Recent (post-war); and Oral History and Genealogical Research. The organizers also encourage student presentations.
Paper abstracts with a maximum of 150 words and the presenter’s bio may be submitted via this link. The deadline for abstracts is 30 April 2015. Conference presenters will be allotted 20 minutes to present with an additional 10 minutes for questions and discussion.

There will be a $20 fee for early registration which will begin on 1 July 2015. Those who register at the event will be charged $30.00. Students will be admitted free of charge. You will be able to pay online through Guampedia or at the Northern Marianas Humanities Council Office, Springs Plaza, Gualo Rai. You will be notified once the online payment option is set up and we will be in touch with more information about the conference soon. Please direct conference questions to the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.

3rd Marianas History Conference Planning Committee

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ben Al-Affleck

I wrote on this blog and in my Variety column about the debate brought out last month over Islam first starting with the exchange between actor Ben Affleck and Bill Maher and Sam Harris (both well-known atheists) on Maher's show Real Time. Since the debate didn't really start with them but is something that has been going on for centuries, the debate has continued, although in its current iteration constantly referring back to Maher and Affleck as being different discursive positions within the discussion. Below I've pasted two letters. The first from Michael Moore from his Facebook page where he defended Bill Maher and the second from a Pakistani/Canadian blogger Eiynah who is critical of Ben Affleck's position.

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A Message in Support of Bill Maher
Michael Moore
11/10/14
Facebook

Bill Maher is a friend of mine. He stood up for me when I was attacked after my Oscar speech (given on the fourth night of the Iraq War, a war Bill publicly opposed while 70% of the country, including the majority of Democrats in the U.S. Senate, supported it), and I stood up for him when ABC fired him and cancelled his show when he attempted to stop the hysteria and fear-mongering after 9-11 -- resulting in the Bush White House publicly ordering him to watch what he says -- or else. When Bill got his HBO show, he went on a 7-year tear against the Bush administration and became one of our most unapologetic and unrelenting voices against the insanity being shoved down our throats.
I, for one, am glad there's at least one top comedian who isn't afraid to say the word "capitalism" or give credence to the good of socialism.

You may not agree with Bill on everything. Yet I'm guessing you love it when he goes after the Uterun Police/Protectors of Child Rapists (also known as The Vatican), or when he brilliantly satirizes the crazy Christian Right which has controlled much of our politics for the past 33 years. I certainly do.

But when Bill goes after Islam, or crazy people professing to be Muslim, we grow uncomfortable. Why is that? Because when he bravely ridicules and attacks Christian assassins of abortion doctors who cite the Bible as justification for their evil acts, we heartily applaud him. But when he mercilessly stomps on Islamic assassins who cite the Koran, we grow uneasy. Why the switch on our part? Is it because Bill doesn't just stop with the Islamic assassins -- he thinks anyone who follows the Koran is a bit nuts? Or the Bible or the Talmud or the... you name it. He thinks it's all coo coo for cocoa puffs.

I have, when I'm on Bill's show, told him there are far more examples historically of the death and destruction that Christians have brought to the planet, from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the wiping out of Native Americans to the Holocaust. But he points out that, in truth, the Jesus followers seem to have taken a break lately in their genocidial lust -- and that the debate should be about the present; i.e., which religion is now doing most of the terrorizing?

Though I would maintain that it is still the Judeo-Christian West whose armies and banks and institutions keep much of the third world under a heavy economic boot, resulting in a lot of hunger, suffering and death, Bill asks, "If I draw a cartoon of Jesus in a dress, will Christian leaders issue a call to assassinate me?"

I can't speak to Bill's drawing skills, but it's safe to say that in the USA he can draw whatever he wants. In fact, other than those murdered abortion doctors, a hundred bombed or ransacked Planned Parenthood clinics and a few people like me, there are not many activists or artists who have to worry about Baptists blowing up their homes. Sinead O'Connor was not beheaded for beheading a photo of the Pope on NBC. Your middle name can be 'Hussein' and you can still win the state of Virginia if you're running for President.

Sure, I can make a daily list of all the horrible things so-called Christians still do in this country. Rarely, though, do their actions involve decapitation.

But if you're a Dutch filmmaker who makes a movie about violence against women in some Islamic countries, or if you're a Danish cartoonist who draws an image making fun of the Prophet -- well, you are then either shot to death or you are now in hiding.

So if Bill is taking the same exact position liberals usually take whenever we see free speech being threatened, or women being abused or people forced to submit to fundamentalist dictates, why then is he facing any criticism for speaking out against these wrongs? When Christians do these things we speak up -- loudly. So why not speak out when Muslims do it? 'Cause it's none of our business? Isn't it?

I think I may have a couple answers as to why some liberals are uncomfortable with Bill's humor when it comes to Islam:

1. We have witnessed, since 9/11, Arabs and Muslims in this country undergoing huge amounts of prejudice, bigotry and sometimes outright violence. This sickens us (as I know it does Bill). So we are extra sensitive to what sounds like, as it goes through the liberal filter in our ears, any "anti-Arab" comments. We don't want to hear anything even remotely anti-Muslim. But we have to be careful that this doesn't stop us from listening to legitimate criticisms about things that go on in the Muslim world. I just think that, due to our illegal actions (invasions) of the past decade, our government lacks any moral authority on this and should be forbidden from any attempts to "fix" those problems.

2. Liberals are intensely fed up with these two wars against mostly Muslim populations (not to mention the indiscriminate drone strikes on at least four other nations). And now the party that won the elections last Tuesday would like a war with Iran. An ignorant American public was manipulated with fear and lies to start and maintain the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars -- and that manipulation continues today in order to justify things like the mass spying by the NSA on our entire citizenry. When the Cold War ended (25 years ago today in Berlin), the defense industry went berserk with worry that their salad days were over. A new enemy was needed. Arab terrorists fit the bill perfectly! Not only has the defense industry since thrived, a whole new fake industry has arisen -- the Homeland Security behemoth. As our infrastructure, our freedoms and our middle class vaporize, billions are spent as a grossly out-of-proportion response to a few shitty disasters.

So we liberals don't want to hear another word about an "Islamic threat" or some non-existent Iranian nukes or... or whatever! We know we're being set up to get behind another war effort, another arms race, another diversion intended to make the point-one-percenters even filthier rich -- and the rest of us distracted with false fears and hatreds.

I don't even know if I want to see Jon Stewart's new film about the Iranian who was unjustly imprisoned. WHY not? It's a true story! It happened! But the liberal panic button says this film will be used in ways to pump up fear of Muslims. At the very least, it will be the first thing Jon Stewart has done that the Republicans will like. So does that mean he shouldn't have made it?

Two weeks ago on Bill's HBO show, he had on the wonderful Palestinian writer Rula Jebreal. They had a good and testy back and forth (Bill often has Muslims who disagree with him on his show, like the great Ben al-Afleck). Rula was giving it to Bill pretty hard, but when he paused and asked her if he were a Muslim, living in certain Muslim countries, and he walked into the Men's Club one day and announced he was now a Presbyterian, would that be ok? She paused, and then said "No."

Comedy is and should be a dangerous business. Those comedians who play it safe are far less interesting, less funny and, frankly, are often boring. Those who are willing to take their comedy to the Line That Shall Not Be Crossed -- and maybe step over it from time to time -- are the ones we are drawn to. But in order to encourage them to take those chances, we have to give them some leeway, give them a break when, in our mind, they've crossed that line. To not do so is to encourage them to go toward the bland, the passe and to the non-offensive. Those comedians like Bill Maher who are willing to take the risk of being the court jester -- saying the things that the rest of us are often thinking (or wish we were thinking) but are afraid to say -- should be supported, not silenced.

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Pakistan Today
October 25, 2014 BY

Your heart was in the right place, but…

Dear Ben,

I am writing to you today as a woman who was born and raised in Islam. I saw your discussion with Bill Maher and Sam Harris, and I must say you did me a great disservice that day. Your heart was in the right place, of course, and it was lovely of you to step up and defend ‘my people’.

What you really did though, perhaps inadvertently, was silence a conversation that never gets started. Two people attempted to begin a dialogue and you wouldn’t even listen. Why should any set of ideas be above criticism, Ben?

Why are Muslims being ‘preserved’ in some time capsule of centuries gone by? Why is it okay that we continue to live in a world where our women are compared to candy waiting to be consumed? Why is it okay for women of the rest of the world to fight for freedom and equality while we are told to cover our shameful bodies? Can’t you see that we are being held back from joining this elite club known as the 21st century?

Noble liberals like yourself always stand up for the misrepresented Muslims and stand against the Islamophobes, which is great but who stands in my corner and for the others who feel oppressed by the religion? Every time we raise our voices, one of us is killed or threatened. I am a blogger and illustrator, no threat to anyone, Ben, except for those afraid of words and drawings. I want the freedom to express myself without the very real fear that I might be killed for it. Is that too much to ask?

When I wrote a children’s book that carried a message of diversity and inclusivity for everyone, my life changed. My book, ‘My Chacha (uncle) is Gay’ has the innocent anti-homophobia message, ‘Love belongs to everyone’. This was not palatable to many of my Muslim brothers and sisters.

Since that project I have been declared an ‘enemy of God’ and deemed worthy of death. All because I want to help create a world where South Asian children too can have their stories told, so they too can know that love comes in all forms, and that that’s okay. My Muslim brothers and sisters were hit hard by this work because it addresses the issue of homophobia within our own community. It is not something they can pass off as ‘Western’ immorality. Just like they deny that any issues exist within the doctrine of Islam, many deny that homosexuality exists amongst good, ‘moral’ Muslims. Just like that, millions of people’s existence is denied. Please do not defend people who think this way, and let me tell you Ben, many ‘good’ Muslims do think this way.

What you did by screaming ‘racist!’ was shut down a conversation that many of us have been waiting to have. You helped those who wish to deny there are issues, deny them. You became an instant hero, a defender of Islam. It’s kind, it really is. I understand because I too am plagued and affected by the issues brought about by actual Islamophobia. I have a Muslim name and brown skin, my peaceful relatives have been pushed in the subway and called ‘terrorist’ for no reason.

I get that.

We must distinguish critiquing an ideology from being hateful towards a group of people. And for this reason I think that tackling the issues within Islam should be two-pronged. They must be brought up, but simultaneously we should stress that blame for these issues cannot be placed on individuals.
In the interest of being politically correct and ‘liberal’, we silence the voices of millions. I am turning to you because you were instrumental in starting this conversation. Those of us who want reform are muted by extremists, as well as the liberals who betray us in the name of multiculturalism.

ISIS paints a horrific picture, so I understand the knee-jerk reaction to deny any link. Most Muslims choose to interpret scripture in a peaceful way, but that doesn’t mean the raw material isn’t there for those who choose the path of violence. That material must be addressed.

Can we talk about the blatant double standards and violation of human rights, for a second? Mosques are built throughout western countries, usually without much issue. But in the hub of Islam, the heart of Islam, Saudi Arabia, no one but Muslims are allowed to officially practice their faith. There are no churches, temples or synagogues because Saudi Arabia will not permit any non-Muslim place of worship to exist. Who will hold them accountable for such injustice if we hush everyone who speaks out against Islam?

What is so wrong with wanting to step into the current century? There should be no shame. There is no denying that violence, misogyny and homophobia exist in all religious texts, but Islam is the only religion that is adhered to so literally, to this day.

In your culture you have the luxury of calling such literalists “crazies”, like the Westboro Baptist Church, for example. In my culture, such values are upheld by more people than we realise. Many will try to deny it, but please hear me when I say that these are not fringe values. It is apparent in the lacking numbers of Muslims willing to speak out against the archaic Shariah law. The punishment for blasphemy and apostasy, etc, are tools of oppression. Why are they not addressed even by the peaceful folk who “aren’t fanatical, who just want to have some sandwiches and pray five times a day? Where are the Muslim protestors against blasphemy laws/apostasy? Where are the Muslims who take a stand against harsh interpretation of Shariah? These sandwich-eating peaceful folk do not defend those suffering in the name of Islam, Ben, and therein lies our problem.

Maybe the points Maher and Harris were trying to make are more easily digested when coming from within the community, I can appreciate that. That is why I am writing to you, as someone who has personally been hurt by the lack of acknowledgement of these issues.

If Muslims do not critique their own atrocities, then people on the outside will and their message will not be listened to simply because of who they are. It’s a vicious cycle, one that can only break if indeed, like Harris said, true reformers are empowered.

I ask you and anyone reading this to make an effort to seek out reformers from within our community, and support them in any way you can.

If I were allowed to meet a man that is not my father, brother or husband unchaperoned, I would have loved to discuss this over drinks (which I am also not allowed to have) with you. So, you see, things must change.

Sincerely,

Eiynah

Monday, November 10, 2014

Uchinaguchi News

One of the articles I am working on this Fanuchan'an is about language revitalization in Guam and the "beautiful lie" or "gefpago na dinagi" that hinders our ability to protect and revitalize our endangered languages. What I refer to as the beautiful lie stage is the point at which language attitudes that once naturalized the uselessness of a native language have been reversed and that a once maligned language is now celebrated, but that the celebration of the language does not necessarily lead to any revitalization. It can lead to commemoration, promotion, to preservation but the beautiful lie is that while the beauty of the language is now an accepted truth, this does not meant that people will actually use it, teach it or see it as something viable and necessary to keep alive.

I first got to present this idea at an Endangered Island Language Forum last year at Ryukyu University in Okinawa. I have a couple more months until I have to take my presentation and powerpoint and turn it into an article to be published in an anthology on language revitalization movements amongst islanders. I have learned alot about language issues by traveling to places like Okinawa and Hawai'i and seeing the infrastructure or lack thereof. The main Okinawan language is called Uchinaguchi although there are many dialects on different islands in the chain. I once visited a language immersion school there run by my friend Shinako Oyakawa. It was an exciting experience. As part of my research for this article I came across a bunch of Uchinaguchi related articles from the Okinawa newspaper the Ryukyu Shimpo. I've pasted them below for people to check out.

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Ryukyuan Heritage Language Society suggests Okinawa include Ryukyuan languages class in education at schools

October 25, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Ryukyuan Heritage Language Society held the 18th Foundation of Endangered Languages Symposium this September. On October 24, the society wrote up a declaration for the symposium. The organization suggested that Okinawa should adopt Ryukyuan languages or Shimakutuba as second language and include classes for the languages in education programs at schools. A representative of the society handed over the statement to the Okinawa Prefectural Government and Prefectural Assembly on October 24. The organization plans to send the statement to the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Kagoshima Prefectural Government to which Amami belongs but is also part of the Ryukyu language region. Shinsho Miyara chair of the society said, “It is important to provide an environment where Okinawan people can choose to study languages inherited in the prefecture and learn them.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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Uchinaguchi grammar guidebook

September 12, 2013 Yoshiya Hokama of the Ryukyu Shimpo

Professor Emeritus of the University of the Ryukyus Shinsho Miyara, who does research and works to help spread Uchinaguchi (Okinawan dialect), has been working to create a book provisionally titled Uchinaguchi Grammar and Idiom Guidebook. He has already written 600 A-4 size pages and will publish the book next year after adding another 100 pages. Miyara said, “There is no book that compiles the necessary grammar and idioms for studying Uchinaguchi. We need to create a guidebook like this to help spread the language.”

The guidebook compiles idioms used in Naha and Shuri. Unlike standard dictionaries, this guidebook explains idioms for learners to understand easily by putting words into grammatical categories such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives with example sentences. The book also explains how Uchinaguchi works and introduces examples of conversational expressions to make it a practical grammar book for teachers and learners.

Miyara serves as the president of the Naha City Culture Association Uchinaguchi Division and as an adviser for NPO Okinawa Language Diffusion Council. He started making the guidebook five or six years ago. Because there is no fully-fledged guidebook covering the necessary information for the teaching and learning of Uchinaguchi Miyara decided to make one by himself.

He visited schools in Hawaii to look at Hawaiian language education, which has been revitalized in recent years. Miyara found that Hawaiian translations of English textbook were used as educational material in the higher grades while there were more simple educational materials for lower grades of elementary school. He said, “In Hawaii they also need to make a grammar book. I felt that I should do my bit to make a guidebook like this. I hope that it will be something that people use widely.”
(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)


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[Editorial] Shimakutuba lesson is essential to the development of Okinawa Culture

September 3, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Shimakutuba Liaison Council has made a petition to the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly seeking to enact a regulation on the protection of local languages. The liaison council wants to restore and inherit rights to protect Shimakutuba or Ryukyuan languages. The purpose of the petition is to stipulate rules on the spreading and teaching of Shimakutuba in school education. Introducing Shimakutuba into school education is essential to pass on it to the next generations. We want to give our full assent to the petition.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) announced in 2009 that 2,500 of about 6,000 languages in the world were at risk of disappearing forever. Six Ryukyuan languages are listed in the Unesco’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing. We should take this situation seriously.

The Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) carried out the Okinawan People’s Awareness Survey on Shimakutuba last year. According to the survey, around 80 percent of the residents have a sense of familiarity with Shimakutuba, and a desire to pass on it to the next generations. However, the rate of residents who mainly use Shimakutuba or use it as much as Japanese remained 35.4 percent of all residents. There are many people who want to use it, but they cannot use it because they do not have the opportunity to learn it. The results of the survey suggest it is beyond question that the educational initiative for Shimakutuba is needed.

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly enacted a regulation drafted by local government to promote Shimakutuba and set up Shimakutuba Day, to be held every September 18 in 2006. The OPG made the Shimakutuba promotion plan after it held the Okinawan people’s Shimakutoba promotion rally for the first time last year. In this plan, the OPG warns that the annihilation of Shimakutuba would lead to a weakening of love for and pride in our hometown, and the decline of the Okinawa culture as a result.

However, the OPG has a cautious attitude towards introducing Ryukyuan language into school education programs, saying that it requires more consideration in line with the national government’s curriculum guidelines. We do not understand why the OPG hesitates to introduce Shimakutuba into public education despite asserting the disappearance of Shimakutuba will lead to the decline of the Okinawan culture.

Nakagusuku village has begun teaching the History of Ryukyu at its elementary schools from this year as part of its own education program. The OPG should think hard about this issue.

A native Hawaiian educational organization was founded in 1983 in Hawaii. Elementary, middle and high schools conducting lessons in Hawaiian language emerged. As a result, the number of people 70 years of age or younger who speak Hawaiian has increased to more than 2,000 people. Less than 50 people spoke Hawaiian in 1982. The Shimakutuba Liaison Council has suggested in its petition a plan to set up the Shimakutuba Education Center in order to train teachers systematically and develop teaching materials. We strongly recommend the OPG set up the center and start lessons in Shimakutuba in schools as soon as possible in order to regain our language as a foundation of culture and to develop Okinawan culture.

(English translation by T&CT)


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Seventy people gather to discuss the establishment of an Okinawan Language Immersion School


November 29, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

On November 20, “An emergency meeting to discuss the establishment of an Okinawan Language immersion school” was held at Makishiekimae Hoshizora Community Center in Naha. The organizers were Okinawan Studies 107 (Okisuta 107), a group of the local people who have studied in Hawaii. Seventy people gathered and discussed establishing a school for studying local dialect.
Masahide Ishihara, professor of the University of the Ryukyus, gave a lecture about immersion schools in Hawaii where people are able to study in the Hawaiian language from kindergarten right up to graduate school.

Professor Ishihara explained that the passion of just six native Kauai Island mothers determined to pass on the Hawaiian language to their children was instrumental in the establishment of the immersion school.

Emphasizing the need to maintain local languages, Professor Ishihara said, “Language has a role to play in connecting us to the land and our ancestors. Losing the language means that we lose our relationship with our own land and our ancestors.”

A woman who teaches Okinawan language in Ginowan City commented, “I’ve been teaching the language for three years now in order to hand it down to further generations. If we don’t do this, it will disappear in no time. I want to make use of the Internet to spread the word.”

(English translation by T&CT, Shinako Oyakawa and Mark Ealey)


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Symposium on endangered languages held to preserve the Ryukyuan languages


September 18, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 17 at the Okinawa Convention Center in Ginowan City, the 18th Foundation of Endangered Languages Symposium was held. It was the first time for the event to be held in East Asia. Researchers presented the critical problem of the dying out of Ryukyuan languages. They also reported on preservation efforts in Hawaii, where the Okinawan community has initiated various activities to perpetuate use of the language. Presenting Ryukyuan dance and performing arts, the symposium showcased the cultural diversity and uniqueness of Okinawa to the world. About 100 people from 21 countries, including speakers and researchers of endangered languages, took part in the symposium.

Chair Shinsho Miyara of the Ryukyuan Heritage Language Society explained the origin and structure of Ryukyuan languages. Professor Masahide Ishihara from the University of the Ryukyus stated, “It is possible for Ryukyuan languages to coexist with Japanese language. If Shimakutuba (Ryukyuan languages) are more used in our daily life, this will establish a positive image of the language, eventually leading us to preserve Ryukyuan languages.”

Professor Tatsuro Maeda from the Tokyo University of Foreign Languages gave a presentation on Amami languages, saying; “In Amami, Kagoshima Prefecture has the administrative authority, and the population size and economic power are also small. Amami faces a more severe situation than Okinawa in preserving its languages. People in Amami and Okinawa need to work together for inheritance of the endangered languages.”

Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii Kyoko Hijirida reported on Okinawan language inheritance activities at the university. On September 18 and 19 at the Okinawa International University, researchers attended additional presentations in English that were not open to public.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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