Tag Archives: 9/11

Mohammed Bin Salman is a Fraud

Squidy

If an insect bit you, it committed what could be considered a crime against your person. It attacked you. Aside from being an irritant and bringing a general feeling of disgust, knowing that a six-legged creature that normally dwells in moist, dark, quarters brought its fangs to pierce skin, who knows what sort of diseases the creature has wrought with its violence. So what does a person do? Most people would quickly kill the insect with a strike of a palm or with a rolled-up newspaper. Others would swat the creature away, blame the act on its instinct or other innocuous causes and just move on. Afterwards, perhaps do something to prevent being bitten again.

A child however would sometimes be cruel. They would mete out punishment by slowly torturing the poor creature. Perhaps they would tear its limbs out one by one, or maybe slowly burn it with a magnifying glass.

This is how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does justice. It crucified a person in public in the holy city of Mecca. Though rare, it often uses capital punishment for crimes such as anti-government activism and homosexuality. It is abhorrent. As much as the west hates on ISIS and how violent they can be on what they perceive as transgressors, Saudi Arabia sees them eye to eye on many of these issues.

Canada recently sent out a couple of tweets calling out Saudi Arabia to release the activist Samar Badawi and her brother who were both arrested for speaking out against the government. Samar Badawi is famous for leading the fight for women’s rights in the country. She spoke out against Saudi’s guardianship system as well as advocated for women’s right to drive. Now, I’m not a big advocate for diplomacy via Twitter. It is a clumsy tool, and diplomacy is anything but clumsy. When Canada sent out those tweets, it publicly shamed Saudi Arabia for what it’s currently doing in terms of human rights.  And while they do deserve public shaming, I don’t think public shaming is something that diplomats should do.

But if Canada committed an error in publicly shaming Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia acts exaggeratedly by calling it an “attack on the kingdom,” what do you call their tweet in response? Didn’t their message with an Air Canada plane headed towards the CN Tower explicitly threaten a terrorist retaliation against Canada? Did it also not implicitly admit to being responsible for the attack on 9/11? And again, this was just a response over a call to release activists fighting for human rights. Don’t speak up for human rights or else we’ll send terrorist planes your way? Canada is dealing with a child.

And this child is aiming to hurt Canada through education and future investments. Cutting off current trade doesn’t necessarily impact Canada tremendously, but removing Saudi students from Canadian universities and cutting off future investments could hurt Canada in the long run. I’m glad that Canada doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of backing down from its stance, but I really hope other countries join us in standing up against this evil government.

Mohammed Bin Salman is not a reformer. People need to stop saying this. He is a young leader who inherited his position. Much like North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, he got infinitely lucky in the birth lottery. And while he tries to create a progressive Saudi image by having more foreign investments and recently allowing women in the country to drive, he fights Qatar, kidnaps the Lebanese Prime Minister, and arrests and holds hostage the country’s rich and political elites in an attempt to consolidate power. The country continues to crack down and arrest its own people for simply erring grievances against the government. It continues to punch down on Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the region, creating its own humanitarian crisis (I don’t know if Saudi Arabia has ever had to punch up in a military conflict). Mohammad Bin Salman is not a true friend of the west. He is Kim Jung Un with oil money. Saudi Arabia is attacking Canada as a warning to all other western countries who would choose to criticize the kingdom for its domestic and international abuses. Instead of military threats, their government will use their purse strings to punish other countries. They save physical violence on their own people as well as weaker countries.

As for the criticism that Canada should stick its nose to where it belongs, Samar Badawi’s brother is Raif Badawi, an author and an activist himself. Like his sister, he was arrested for his anti-government activities and sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes, fifty of which he has already received. His wife is a Canadian. The Canadian government is looking after its own. But even if this wasn’t the case, it should be the responsibility of every rational government to speak out when one of its allies or partners is violating human rights. A true friend and ally would want its allies and friends to be better. If you see your brother pulling out an insect’s legs one by one, you’ll put a stop to it and teach him a lesson about cruelty and kindness. This is what Canada did. And for that, we just got threatened with a 9/11 attack.

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On Fear and Admitting It

cn-rail

I know where President Obama was coming from when he made the speech to commemorate the Sept. 11 attack. It was a good tribute to the victims of the attack as well as their loved ones. He used the moment to try to unite people into a common purpose, much like after the attack, when Americans were united, so much so that George Bush had a great approval rating.

What got me however when he said, “…as Americans we do not give in to fear. We will preserve our freedoms and our way of life that make us a beacon to the world.” This is simply not true.

While there was courage displayed after the attack, especially with the first responders, there have been so many actions which can only be described as being inspired by cowardice. Iraq was invaded due to fears of phantom weapons. Americans have surrendered their rights to privacy due to fear of terrorism. Airports have been a security nightmare. People have been tortured and locked up indefinitely because of fear. The Middle East has been destabilized exactly because of fear. It caused a ripple of nationalism and xenophobia which crossed over to Europe. And right now, a megalomaniac is close to becoming the president of the United States, running on fear against Muslims and immigrants.

You cannot say Americans do not give in to fear. Americans buy guns in exceedingly high numbers exactly because of fear. They fear terrorists. They fear gay people. They fear minorities. They fear their neighbors. They fear their government. Police officers shoot black people immediately because of fear. Fear is big. And as tragic as it is that 3,000 beautiful lives were lost on 9/11, because Americans were afraid, thousands more died in the Middle East afterwards.

What happened in 9/11 was a great tragedy. Out of that tragedy are stories of courage and strength of spirit. Unfortunately, there are far too many other stories of cowardice and cynicism. This cowardice and cynicism has a persisting and pernicious effect that adapts and evolves. It touches the lives of a greater number of people than the glimmer of bravery that shone in the face of 9/11. There were several great virtues shown after the attack, there were moments of true bravery, but you cannot honestly say that Americans do not give in the fear.

Americans gave in to fear, and the whole world felt it.

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Please Let Me See This

I wonder if I can get a Kickstarter going where I buy The Interview from SONY and release it myself. Too bad I would have to raise over $100 million.

That’s what SONY’s losing… over $100 million. It’s a pretty expensive price to start a precedent on capitulating to terrorists, a huge setback for freedom of speech.

But really, I don’t blame SONY. Aside from probably fearing further leaks of sensitive and embarrassing information, they are in a no-win situation whether they go ahead with the theatrical release of The Interview. They release the film and something happens, they get sued as well as blamed for whatever tragedy happened. “Look at SONY, ignoring threats and putting people’s lives on the line for profit!” And really, why release a film if no theater is going to show it? Why would a theater show it if their insurance won’t cover it?

If they don’t release the film, they lose their investment, get called cowardly, and get blamed for starting a dumb precedent. And still, all of this doesn’t guarantee that the leaks from the hack will stop. This specter (haha!) will continue to haunt the company until the perpetrators are caught and all the data is accounted for, all 100 terabytes of it. But yeah, how do you truly contain and control information that in on the Internet? It’s like the company’s nude selfies were stolen from the cloud. Who knows who has copies of them?

I’m not even upset at SONY’s reaction when it didn’t immediately inform its own employees about the hack. Of course the company had to investigate and try to contain the problem. Of course they had to say it’s an “IT problem.” It is an IT problem. What difference would telling people immediately make? Nothing. There would be no panic, just people checking for anything funny going on in their accounts. I’m sure the reaction would just be the same as now, people getting upset at SONY’s lax approach to security. This was not the first time the company has been hacked.

Since the hack was discovered, people have speculated that the hackers were not from North Korea and that they were just using the banana republic as cover. If that was the case, then freedom of speech took a backseat for the lulz. The movie was taken down for the sake of bragging rights. SONY, the theaters, and also the FBI, gave more power to hackers. See what they can do? While they can shine a light to many issues and affect change in a positive way, they can also do the shittiest thing to freedom of speech, and that is to silent it. In a way, it’s no different from misinformed and overreacting parents successfully petitioning Target not to sell Grand Theft Auto, except that those parents did it out of concern for their children. If it was a just some hacker group, then it was done for ego and lulz. What kind of world do we live in? Lulz. Where is our generation’s great cause?

This is not to say that it would be better if North Korea was behind it all. The United States and huge companies like SONY were bullied by a country that can barely feed its citizens. It doesn’t matter who did it. Whoever did it was a bully, a terrorist, and SONY and those theaters bowed down to bullying. If indeed, North Korea did it, then Kim Jong Un must be the most fragile person alive. He’s like a dainty little flower. His father was mocked in a movie before, so was Hitler. Heck, everyone gets parodied, everyone is fair game, even Jesus… but for whatever reason, this punk must be kept in an insult-free bubble. It’s not often that I praise Kim Jung Il, but Kim Jong Un’s father was a man who loved film. Heck, he kidnapped a director to make his own Godzilla film. Though he might’ve been embarrassed by the movie Team America, I would like to think he understood what parody was. And as for his politics, Kim Jung Il tried to create better relations with the South.

As for Kim Jung Il’s kid, his fat spoiled kid, what has he done? Just a few years ago, he was just some kid getting fat in Switzerland, watching basketball. Being the dictator of a starving country IS HIS FIRST JOB! Kim Jong Un has never done anything significant ever. Well, correction, he has murdered his relatives and brought Dennis Rodman a couple more minutes of fame. But has he ever done anything positive? Is North Korea any better now that he’s in power? He doesn’t even have enough smarts to avoid getting gout on his thirties. Every time I see him, he goes about like a relic… someone who has innumerable accomplishments, ruling a mysterious kingdom, and deserving the fear and respect of his noble people. And his generals and advisors surround him in antiquated costumes, hanging to his every word and action. But that is exactly what everyone is wearing: a costume. Those old men are not wearing military uniform; they are wearing the costume that keeps them employed. And Kim Jung Un… he’s wearing the Kim Il Sung/Kim Jung Il costume. He’s neither his father nor his grandfather. He’s just some fat kid who had it all. He’s probably scared out of his mind should the North Korean people finally snap out of it and realize all of this. And he’s probably bored to death with all of those factory tours. I’m sure he wishes he could be courtside watching a basketball game instead.

What the whole thing demonstrated though was the power of 9/11. It is like the n-word of the calendar. Mention the n-word in a conversation, and the whole tone changes. It was all fun and games with leaked e-mails about Angelina Jolie until someone said 9/11. Things suddenly got serious. And again, if it were just hackers doing the whole thing, then shame on them for their cowardly tactic… but also touché for knowing exactly how to get people to pay attention. It’s just like magic, “9/11.” And if it is indeed North Korea, then shouldn’t the US government be more aggressive in all of this? Wasn’t this a direct (albeit probably hollow) threat? Countries have felt the mighty hand of the US military over less direct aggression.

And where was the NSA in all of this? These are people who gather information and try to get hackers and journalists when they reveal something embarrassing to the US government. These are the same people who spy on their own citizens in the name of national security. How come they don’t seem to know anything about these hackers? Freedom of speech just got taken down big time. Not only that, but a multi-national company just lost out on its investment, and we all know how the US government loves its multi-national companies. It was an attack on capitalism. Where’s the NSA and the FBI on all of this?

I really hope they catch whoever did this. I really hope this doesn’t start a precedent of appeasing cyber terrorism. The Internet is about knowledge and freedom. It is a platform where ideas are shared and opinions are expressed, not a tool for shutting down speech. A part of me thinks that perhaps this is all just a brilliant way for SONY to sell their film. Some critics have called it unfunny, but now it is all beyond that. “Watch The Interview! Do it to spit on the face of tyranny!” And I would, I totally would. Maybe not in a movie theater, but I would gladly give SONY money to watch this suddenly historically-significant Seth Rogen film.

All to spit on the face of tyranny.

 

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