Patterico's Pontifications


Kwanzaa 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 7:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The 7 days of Kwanzaa began last Friday and end this Thursday, January 1. Americans are celebrating Kwanzaa with events like storytelling in Austin and Denver, a concert in New Orleans, African dancing and music in Seattle, and a range of activities in Detroit. For something slightly different, Miami’s Kwanzaa activities include a “Kwanzaa Prince and Princess Pageant followed by Ashella, an African version of Cinderella.”

This New York Times’ article has a round-up of Kwanzaa events in the New York City area and revisits a “spirited” debate from 5 years ago regarding the merits of Kwanzaa:

“Five years ago, in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times titled “A Case of the Kwanzaa Blues,” the author and lawyer Debra J. Dickerson raised a stir by questioning the purpose of Kwanzaa.

“With all due respect to those who celebrate it, Kwanzaa feels like a cop-out,” she wrote. “Just as drugs are for those who can’t handle reality, isn’t Kwanzaa for those who can’t handle knowing that our ancestors fueled themselves with Western ideals, Christianity uppermost among them?”

Citing the Afrocentric intentions of Kwanzaa’s founder, the black-studies professor and political activist Maulana (Ron) Karenga, Ms. Dickerson asserted that “Kwanzaa feels as if it is more about thumbing black noses at white America than at embracing the lost cause of resuming our Africanness.”
Ms. Dickerson’s essay prompted a spirited response. In a letter to The Times, Regina Austin retorted that there was “nothing anti-American about Kwanzaa” and added: “African-Americans, whether born here in America, in Africa or elsewhere, have the right to claim Africa as our ancestral home.”

We probably won’t settle that debate here so I’ll let this California Kwanzaa supporter have the last, somewhat confused, word:

“I’ve been celebrating Kwanzaa for many, many years,” said Ms. Bolden-Monifa, who lives in Oakland, Calif., and has written essays about the holiday. “It’s nice to have that connection. You acknowledge that you are an American of African descent, with some connection to the motherland, even if you don’t know where that is.

Her wife, Ruthie Bolden-Monifa, 47, is both African-American and Jewish. The couple, along with their daughter, Ashley, 7, and son Benjamin, 5, celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa.

“In many ways, we’re more into Hanukkah and Kwanzaa for the cultural richness than Christmas, which, despite its Christian roots, has become about getting presents,” Ms. Bolden-Monifa said.”

A final note: In writing this post, I couldn’t find as many 2008 Kwanzaa stories as I could for prior years or that I recall reading in the past. My admittedly subjective impression is that there may be fewer Kwanzaa celebrations and/or celebrants. If so, I wonder if it has anything to do with Barack Obama’s popularity among blacks and the fact he openly embraces Christianity.


Immigration Courts and the War on Terror

Filed under: Immigration,Law,Terrorism — DRJ @ 3:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, 44, from Lebanon is being held in El Paso by immigration pending a deportation hearing. The Houston Chronicle reports the following government allegations regarding Mr. Elzahabi:

  • “Elzahabi came to the United States in May 1984 on a student visa, with plans to enroll in English as a second language classes at the University of Houston.”
  • He “entered into a sham marriage with a Houston exotic dancer and drug addict in 1984 to obtain legal permanent residency, also referred to as a green card. Officials say he promised Kathy Ann Glant, a waitress and dancer at the Pink Pussy Cat club, $5,000 to marry him.”
  • He has never faced charges of terrorism or committing violent acts but he was “arrested in May 2004 in Minnesota on a material witness warrant in a terrorism investigation. Before his arrest, he voluntarily underwent 17 days of questioning by FBI agents.”
  • He was convicted of possessing fraudulent immigration documents by a federal jury in August 2007 and turned over to ICE custody.
  • He has admitted “attending a jihad training camp, being a sniper in Afghanistan and helping train a group seeking to overthrow the Lebanese government.”
  • Elzahabi has already been convicted of possessing fraudulent immigration documents but we may have to wait to see if the remaining claims will be proved in an immigration hearing. (I think the standard of proof is lower than in a criminal proceeding — see, for instance, this article about Sami Al-Arian.) If this is representative, U.S. immigration courts could end up as the front line in the American legal war on terror.

    Don’t you wonder how many Elzahabis there are in America … and how many more there may be after the GTMO detainees have their day in court?

    — DRJ

    Year in Review: In Progress

    Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 11:37 am

    Any time I spend at the computer nowadays, which is not much, is devoted to doing the Year in Review. Here is a snippet from the opening of the current draft:

    It happens every year. I read every post I’ve written over the past 365 days about this newspaper’s bias, omissions, and distortions — and I think to myself: this is just unbelievable. Even if you’ve seen all of the posts before, there’s something about seeing them all in the same place that makes you realize what an appalling newspaper the L.A. Times can be.

    This year, we had the presidential election, in which the paper slammed Sarah Palin, John McCain, and Joe the Plumber — and protected Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, and Rashid Khalidi. There were culture war issues, such as the “narrow margin” of 19 points against gay marriage, the P.C. attitudes on race, and the usual liberal claptrap on abortion, the judiciary, and crime. There was the paper’s overreaching on the story about Judge Alex Kozinski’s porn collection that wasn’t. There was Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Chuck Philips, who retracted a story in one of the most embarrassing incidents in the paper’s history. There were the paper’s distortions on DNA evidence. This year saw the bankruptcy of Tribune Company, and a collection of errors like none we’ve ever seen before.

    I think it will be a good one.

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