15 November 2010


is in the news for having passed SQ755, which "forbids courts from considering or using international law [and] Sharia law." While we're not really sure why this was necessary (if Muslims really did want to take over the United States, what in the world would they be doing in Oklahoma?), it has proven to be quite embarrassing as Oklahoma now finds itself in the midst of national news. Sharia law is not actually a codified legal system, according to many Muslim scholars. Rather, it is a set of rules and guidelines, based loosely on the Qur'an and the teachings of Mohammed, to which Muslims should adhere. Although many voters express a legitimate (??) fear that "Sharia law" will be a threat in the undefined future, others fear that Native American tribes' autonomy will be threatened because they will no longer be allowed to solve disputes according to tribal laws. Currently, Indian nations operate as autonomous nations; however, 755 will not allow these laws to stand in court. In addition, as the Daily Kos has pointed out, the true anti-Muslim sentiments of the authors has thwarted their purpose. Many of the authors of the bill intended to keep religion (read: Islam) out of the courts, but this serves the purpose of making sure that the 10 Commandments will not be accepted either.Thankfully, a lawsuit is in progress challenging the outcome of the vote. 

Another unfortunate outcome of the most recent election is that 751, the English is the Official Language of Oklahoma Act (?!?!), passed. It requires that "all official state action be in English. Native American languages may also be used." What this translates to is basically the following: Si hablas español, chúpame. (If you speak Spanish, suck it.) I'd like to point out that many business provide bilingual services for the simple fact that it's good business - nobody forces them to hire Spanish-speaking workers, advertise in multiple languages, or print their literature with English and Spanish text. Bilingualism is generally regarded as a good thing. What this act does is apply these "language requirements" to official actions, which you'll notice are not defined. In effect, English language learners and newcomers are barred from access to "official actions," which can also be interpreted to include state services. It also prevents lawsuits from being issued against the state for failure to use another language. Thankfully, again, lawsuits are in progress to challenge this racist and discriminatory amendment. Perhaps Oklahoman legislators should also be asked to prove they speak English - this is the state that recently elected as governor a woman who believes we need "more better education."

I dunno about you guys, but I believe a) that the majority of Muslims don't want to take over the United States, one courtroom at a time, and b) that people deserve respect and consideration from the state no matter their first language. 

07 November 2010

Washington, DC

48 hours in a honda accord... 2500 miles traveled.... 300,000 people at the National Mall... 3 consecutive hours of standing in the hot weather... and many, many $$$ later:


I was there when 300,000 people decided they had had enough of the hysteria of network news. I was there when these people crammed themselves into buses, cars, highways, trains, and airplanes just to be in Washington, DC, on the weekend of Halloween. I was there when these thousands of people dressed in costume, carried signs, and brought their own selves forward just to show that they could.  I was there when Jon Stewart, one of the most humorous men on television, got up in front of a crowd and begged them not to react, but just to act. To believe in their country, to believe in their own personal futures, and (goddammit) to believe in themselves.

I might be a little melodramatic, but the Rally To Restore Sanity was an indescribably incredible experience. We listened to some great performers and heard some amazing support for both Democrats and Republicans, for liberals and conservatives alike. In our immediate vicinity, nearly half of the people we could see were at least 40 years old - this was no teenagers' convention. We saw signs supporting both liberals and conservatives, although the left-leaners tended to dominate. But we also observed a lot of peaceful conversation and cooperation, given such a crowded space. It was impressive to see such a large group work so gently together and fit into such a small area.

On a personal note, it was a great self-finding mission. I got to reconnect with an old friend and see how both of us had changed, some things for better and some for worse. 2 nights on the road and 2 nights in a cheap, crappy motel room will make or break some friendships, but I think ours survived for the better. And the whole experience of traveling to parts unknown, driving through the heartland, and adventuring in a new place bonds people like nothing else.

We drove from Tulsa, OK, to Washington, DC, in a 22 hour marathon, going through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia (THAT was a trip), and Maryland. It was fascinating seeing all these big cities in the heartland at night, all lit up, as we traveled the interstates. It makes me glad that my taxes are paid to help construct these highways and to make it possible to drive all the way from coast to coast. On our way back, we went south, on I-85, through the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and the southern tip of Mississippi before hitting Louisiana and finally Lafayette. Trying to find radio stations driving through these territories was difficult, but some of the constants we could find in almost any place were classic rock and, of course, country. That took some compromise...

I'm about ready to pack up and move my ass to Washington, DC. I love the Metro system... I love Chinatown... I love the multitude of museums, memorials, monuments, and other exciting things. I love being so close to the center of things. But I don't like astronomically high rents and costs of living, something that I learned about from another friend living nearby. Guess on my budget I'll be hanging around the middle US for now. :/