I just read the news that Alberto Gonzalez resigned from his position as Attorney General. On the one hand, I'm cheering. It's about time. Some of the policies Gonzales spearheaded like warrantless wiretapping, his positions on torture, Guantanamo detainees, enemy combatants, and his stonewalling of congressional oversight with claims that national security precludes even congressmen seeing various documents or hearing testimony from various officials are nothing less than a betrayal of American values and the Constitution.
On the other, Congress rubber-stamped the wiretapping bill recently, and the person tagged as his likely successor, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, is hardly likely to be any better.
Sometimes it seems like we are digging ourselves into a morass from which we will never be able to get out. Benjamin Franklin's oft quoted statement, "
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" is a principle that needs to be revived.
Perhaps more important, we need to have a long, hard look at tactics. Our response to terror has been to hit back hard. To suspect all and to threaten the human rights of innocent people who have done no wrong, nor who we have any reason to suspect that they have done wrong except for the fact that they are Arab, Pakistani, or Muslim. We've caused far more death and destruction than was wreaked upon us. We've cause far more death and destruction than any terrorist.
The death toll, the havoc wreaked on Afghanistan and Iraq, and the discrimination Muslims, Arabs or those who happen to resemble them (such as the sikhs, who wear turbans and are facing extra airport scrutiny as a result) face in America, is like free propaganda materials given to the extremists. You can just hear them saying, "what justice do they stand for -- they killed 600,000 Iraqis who had nothing to do with 9-11. 600,000 for 3000? Where is the justice in that? Where is the balance in that? They are evil. They deserve what they get." You can hear them say, "They hate Muslims, look what they are doing to them in Guantanamo, look how they treat Muslims in the airport, look how they treat American Muslim citizens, like Jose Padilla, stripping them of all their rights. Muslims in America have no rights."
It's a distortion and an exaggeration, but there is a core of truth to it. Until the civil and human rights of every American are equally sacrosanct, our enemies will have a tool against us. Until we wage war only for just causes, then we will be seen as tyrants and bullies. And no matter Bush's rhetoric about bringing freedom to Iraq (which if you remember, wasn't the initial reason we went into Iraq, back then it was the weapons of mass destruction) the Iraq was has not been a just war.
Even more important, there are better ways to wage a "war" against terror. Yes, we need to pursue police action against would-be terrorists, and at times military action may be the only resort, but these are really only bandaids. Until the world is more balanced, until all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we will continue to have conflict.
Islamic Writers Alliance Releases 1st Catalog
The Islamic Writers Alliance, of which I'm the director, released it's first catalog of member works.
You can download the catalog at: http://www.islamicwritersalliance.net/Projects/IWAcatalogfinalprint.pdf
There are children's books, novels for adults, non-fiction, poetry, magazines. A smattering of everything. It' s really cool to see the diversity of work being done by this amazingly supportive group of writers.
Writing and publishing for a niche market as many of the IWA writers, editors and publishers do presents it's own marketing challenges. Even those of us who write for the mainstream, but hope to tap into the Muslim market have to deal with the same challenges in our marketing. Connecting to the market. Describing your work in a way that will be appealing to your audience. Convincing them that a book is worth the cover cost.
As an author, the idea of marketing your work seems odd. As though it taints the creative process. The mere fact that you want people to buy your work, not just read it, that you want to reach a particular audience seems somehow to sully the purity of the act of creation.
But the fact is that writers have to eat too. :)
Hopefully the IWA catalog will become an annual event, and will become a recognized resource in the Muslim community. Hopefully people will start looking for them in their masjids or local Islamic stores. That will probably take several years to accomplish, perhaps longer. That IWA has gotten this first catalog off the ground is proof that we are committed to being a real assistance to Muslim writers, not just an online support group, or a group that promotes awareness of Islamic writing to the world. I hope more Muslim writers will join us... the more the merrier is true, but even more so, the more authors who take advantage of this catalog service, the greater it's reputation will be.
Fame and Fortune
Name a few "rich and famous" authors...
J.K. Rowling. John Grisham. Steven King.
The sort of people you'd expect have to go down the street in big floppy hats and dark sunglasses if they don't want fans oggling and asking for autographs, right?
Apparently not. Mr. King stopped by a local bookstore during a visit to Australia not so long ago, and seeing his books on the shelf decided to sign a few. This is not as uncommon as you might think. Signed books tend to sell better than unsigned ones, so it's to the bookstores advantage, and the author's.
Only this time it backfired. One of the customers saw King signing the books and alerted the manager that someone was defacing his stock. Fortunately for Mr. King, the owner recognized him, so he wasn't slapped with a fine or hauled off to jail.
Must have been one very embarrassed customer!
Anyway, hearing this tale of anonymity in such a famous author make me feel a lot more comfortable about using my real name rather than a psuedonym on my writing. :)
Picking up the threads
Once you've been away from blogging for a few weeks it's hard to get started up again! It reminds me of what happens after you've been away from the five daily prayers for a week (for those who aren't Muslim, most Muslim women do not pray the ritual worship -- salaat -- during their periods, as there is a lot of evidence that women during the Prophet's time did not, and classical jurisprudence forbids it. That however may change, at least in certain circles...)
Anyway, after even so short a time as a week away from the routine, it is easy to forget that Asr time is quickly approaching and you need to pray Zhur before it's too late, or to collapse in bed at the end of a busy day without remembering to do your Isha.
So too, it's easy to forget that you really ought to post your opinion on all the various events that are occurring in the world, or your random ruminations on life, faith, writing, or whatever it is.
Well, I will be making the effort to pick up the threads and start posting regularly once more, just as I try to be extra conscientious about not missing prayers in the first days after my period.
One of my writers groups, ARS Concordia, has released it's first anthology, Full Circle. ARS Concordia was the brain child of writer, Roy Abrahams. It was started as a safe haven for a bunch of serious writers who were looking for a supportive and sincere networking group where they could receive critiques of their work, advice on all the issues that confront a writer from character development to the hunt for an agent to how to give a book reading. Over the years that group has become a small and close-knit community, largely because of the generous, and positive spirit of Roy.
When Roy suggested that we should release an anthology together, enthusiasm was instant and the process began. Various set backs and delays, as always happen in the publishing world, threatened the viability of the idea. Roy's very sudden and untimely death, galvanized the group to action and one member, Colin Galbraith, stepped up to the plate soliciting contributions, and doing editorial work, to ensure that the anthology would be come reality -- a tribute to the founder of our group who had inspired us all with his unfailing compassion and commitment to excellence in writing.
That anthology was release this week, and is available at LuLu.com: http://stores.lulu.com/smashingpress
. The ebook format is available for free, and a print version is available at cost. No one will be enriched by this anthology other than the reader. We hope that this small tribute to Roy is a fitting remembrance of his vision for a mutually supportive network of writers.