Caleb Powell

Caleb Powell

The writer is the co-author, with David Shields, of I Think You're Totally Wrong: A Quarrel (Knopf), now a film starring Powell and Shields, and directed by and co-starring James Franco. He Tweets @sonofmizrahi (twitter.com/sonofmizrahi?lang=en)

Are the voices of the world enough to end the absurdity behind the #MuslimBan?

The media went on overdrive when Donald Trump, immediately after inauguration, followed through on his promise for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims”. The New York Times reported:  “The president’s order… suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.” When The Express Tribune asked if I wanted to write a blog on the Muslim ban, I started taking notes, and by the time I finished a draft, ...

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If a Trump and a Muslim American can put aside their differences, why can’t we?

Recently, the Huffington Post covered an incident where a Muslim American comedian, Mohammed Amer, sat next to Eric Trump on a flight. A fellow passenger warned, “I wouldn’t even sit next to him if I were you.” Mr Amer, ignoring the advice, took a seat and had a pleasant exchange with the son of the future POTUS, even when they discussed immigration and the proposed ban on Muslims. Amer said, “I just know we had a good, decent conversation, and I think that proves that we can talk to each other, and I think that’s what’s most important.” He concluded, “We need to…work through the problems and find the solutions… (and not ...

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Did the biased media coverage of the US elections ensure Trump’s victory?

On April 6, 1994, a missile shot down an airplane carrying Hutu leaders Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprian Ntayamira in Rwanda, unleashing the ethnic majority Hutus against the minority Tutsis on a campaign of mass murder. As the atrocity spread, the world debated the nuances of the word ‘genocide’. Three months and at least half a million deaths later proved that, yes, it was genocide. Semantics matter. During the 2016 US election, mainstream media’s refusal to correctly identify bigotry, while perhaps not as egregious as mislabelling ethnic cleansing, has contributed to Donald Trump’s victory. Semantics matter. Trump’s detractors, and count me ...

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Should the Wheaton College Professor have been suspended for wearing a hijab?

Whether in Islamic theocracies or places with visible minority Muslim populations, from China to the United Kingdom, the hijab twists conservatives and liberals in their support or opposition to dress normally associated with fundamental religion. We see bullies “rip off” hijabs; one such incident recently took place in New York City. On the other extreme, groups like the Taliban declare, “wear hijab or be disfigured.” And they carry out such threats. Nushin Arbabzadah summed up this contrast in The New York Times: “Women may want to express ‘solidarity’ with Muslim women by covering up. But Muslim women don’t need to cover up. This act ...

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How do Americans and non-Muslims view Eidul Azha?

This year, a controversy surrounded the arrival of Eidul Azha, the second most important holiday in Islam, involving the holiday’s date, as the Express Tribune reported: American Muslims on edge as Eidul Azha looks set to fall on September 11th. Muslims abroad, especially in the United States, faced the prospect that celebration would coincide with a day of mourning of those killed at the World Trade Centres. As a result, some Muslim leaders prepared for tension between their community and anti-Muslim bigots. In the New York Times, Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said, “Our community is like, ‘What are we supposed to do?’ I should ...

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What would a Trump presidency mean?

It’s official. Donald Trump, as of July 19, 2016, is the Republication nominee for President of the United States. How could this combo of successful businessman, womaniser, and charismatic reality show TV star edge so close to the highest office in the United States?  This same man built his 2012 presidential run by challenging Obama’s citizenship, claiming he was really a Muslim born in Kenya, he’s synonymous with the Trump University scandal, his “generous contributions” to charity, when fact checked (by the Washington Post) prove false, and he will not release his tax returns. Trump 2016 has not swallowed magic beans. ...

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War is beautiful: Does photography glamourise war?

Forty years ago, Susan Sontag, in an essay for the New York Review of Books, wrote, “To photograph people is to violate them… Just as a camera is a sublimation of a gun, to photograph someone is a sublimated murder.” This and other essays backed her argument that photography was “essentially an act of non-intervention” that shared “complicity” in “another person’s pain or misfortune”. Photo: www.worldpressphoto.org Significantly, Sontag noted that Nick Ut’s (Huỳnh Công Út) photo of Kim Phuc, a naked South Vietnamese girl with arms spread, wracked in pain from napalm, “Did more to increase the public revulsion against the ...

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Baby Asha’s struggle signifies the divide between the rich and poor

The CNN headline: Australian hospital refuses to discharge asylum seeker baby. The details: “Nepalese baby, while at a detention centre in Nauru, an island in the South Pacific 2,000 miles away from the hospital in Brisbane, suffered severe burns. Now that she had recovered, though, the hospital didn’t want her to return to the abominable conditions in Nauru.” To morph a cliché attributed to Joseph Stalin – individual tragedy moves us; millions of tragedies become statistics. This signifies either that humanity cares nothing about humanity, or that we cannot process mass atrocity. I’ll take the latter. The story of one life, disseminated to millions, can ...

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Why isn’t the #OregonStandoff being called terrorism? Because it’s not

Last year, when I wrote about the Chapel Hill murders of three Muslims for The Express Tribune Blogs, I revisited the definition of terrorism because the term is oft misused. Use of corrupted words relates to poor journalism and exhibit one is how the coverage of domestic controversy in the United States lacks rigid examination of facts, a fair analysis of both sides and proper context. This is not only unique to underground blogs, but endemic in mainstream media as well, where the focus excessively becomes about the race and religion of those involved. While identity is important, it’s as important to adhere to a standard of objectivity ...

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355 mass shootings in 340 days: We cannot ban guns, but we can control and regulate

In the spring of 2001, while in Copenhagen, I went to Gun Nation, an exhibit by British photojournalist Zed Nelson. Nelson’s opus, with book of same title, intertwined Americans’ love of weapons with carnage:  victims’ photos juxtaposed with images of domestic bliss, say, a man holding a pistol in one hand while cradling his infant in the other. Guns, mass shootings, and gang violence have been a part of America for decades. So why does every shooting generate incredulity in this Sisyphean landscape? Recently, on December 2, 2015, two heavily armed persons entered a community centre for the disabled in San Bernardino and killed at ...

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