| Foodie Anthony Bourdain’s trip to Palestine highlights Gaza blockade + racist settlers!

Celebrity foodie Anthony Bourdain’s trip to Palestine highlights Gaza blockade, racist settlers, assistant editor for Mondoweiss and World editor for AlterNet

Anthony Bourdain with a group of local kids in Gaza. (Screenshot via @HelenCho)

Anthony Bourdain with a group of local kids in Gaza. (Screenshot via @HelenCho)

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain finally made it to Israel/Palestine.

After years of traveling around the world to showcase foreign cuisines to American audiences, Bourdain at last took his camera crew to a place where food is intensely political.

The result was encouraging: a humanized portrait of both Palestinians and Israelis; a trip to Gaza where he witnesses the impact of the siege on fishermen there; and an ugly look at racist settlers intent on driving Palestinians out. There were imperfect moments, to be sure. But Bourdain’s episode was noteworthy for the ways it portrayed Palestinians, providing Americans a window into how ordinary Palestinians live–and eat. Food was as a highly visible backdrop to the episode, but the show kept circling back to the politics of the Holy Land.

The episode of Bourdain’s CNN show, “Parts Unknown,” begins with a jaunt to Jerusalem. Chef and author Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli, is his guide. They tiptoe around that age-old question of who invented falafel. “Is there a historically provable answer to who invented it?” asks Bourdain. The answer from Ottolenghi does not address head on the appropriation of falafel, nor the complexity of how it became a popular dish in Israel.

“The one thing that’s very clear that — in this part of the world, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, it’s been cooked for many, many, many generations,” he says, though he later adds that “there is actually no answer to it.”

The missteps are easy to point out. Bourdain tells viewers that “Israel began construction on a wall along the Green Line representing the Israeli-Palestinian border.” While he accurately adds that “Eighty-five percent of it [is] in Palestinian territory,” those two statements can’t jive with each other, and the first is dead-wrong. Even a cursory look at a map of the wall shows that is snakes deep into the West Bank, meaning that the separation barrier is nowhere close to being built “along the green line.” Ottolenghi tells the chef that the problem with Israelis living is the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem is that it “breaks the separation that people would normally expect in this city.” That may be true, but the core problem of Israeli settlers living in the middle of occupied Jerusalem is that it’s illegal, and that it’s a step towards pushing Palestinians out–not that it takes a bite out of segregated spaces.

There’s no mention of the Nakba, though there is talk of “return.” And Bourdain also gives voice to Israeli suffering from rockets fired from Gaza, while omitting any mention of the massive Israeli violence inflicted on the people of Gaza in 2008-09 and 2012.

But those missteps are overshadowed by other revealing moments of the episode. Bourdain was disturbed at witnessing the aftermath of a “price-tag” attack in a village near an Israeli settlement. Graffiti painted on what is apparently a Palestinian home–it’s not so clear–reads, “Against Arabs, the state of Israel is alive, and death to the Arabs.”

Later on, while Bourdain sits down for dinner with an American-born Israeli settler in Ma’ale Levona, he asks the executive of Eli settlement, Amiad Cohen, why the graffiti remains up. The dialogue that ensues is the most awkward exchange of the episode (transcript taken from Lexis Nexis, and the unidentified male is Cohen):

BOURDAIN: So I’ve got to ask you about something that troubled me. Coming up, the first house before you come up the drive to this village, the graffiti on the front –


BOURDAIN: The targets spray painted on.


BOURDAIN: Whodunit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Villains. Bad people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don’t know. Apparently kids. When we educate kids, kids are not able to understand complicated things. They see the world in black and white. When you get older, you’re able to see the gray. And when someone hits you –

BOURDAIN: I understand why kids would do it. Given what you told me earlier, identifying the perpetrators within the realm of possibility?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They’re young people.

BOURDAIN: Why not paint it over?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good question. I don’t know. Maybe we should. You’re right.

Then there’s his trip to Gaza. Bourdain’s guide is Laila El-Haddad, the Palestinian proprietor of the blog Gaza Mom and co-author of the book The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey. Haddad explains how there are three culinary traditions in Gaza: food from villages depopulated by Israel; food from Gaza City; and food from Gaza’s coast, which is dominated by seafood. What’s significant is that Haddad is allowed to speak for herself, providing a perspective not often seen on American TV.

“The catches are not as big as they used to be, and that’s primarily because the fishermen can’t go beyond three to six nautical miles,” says Haddad, explaining the Israeli Navy’s enforcement of the blockade. “They’ll shoot at the fishermen, they’ll spray cold water at them, they’ll destroy their boats, they’ll cut their fishing nets, they’ll detain them. So it’s obviously really risky business. Nine nautical miles, that’s where that deep sea channel is where you’re going to get the really good catches.”

You can hardly call an hour episode sprinting from Jerusalem to settlements to Ramallah to Gaza a deep dive into the food and politics of Israel/Palestine. But for a novice, Bourdain provides an interesting and human look at the reality in the region. It’s not perfect, but for CNN, it’s close enough.


CNN food and travel host Anthony Bourdain’s excellent hour-long special on Israel-Palestine, in he which he explores both sides of the green line, begins with a line that could not ring truer for me.

“It’s easily the most contentious piece of real estate in the world. And there’s no hope – none – of ever talking about it without pissing somebody, if not everybody, off,” he says of Israel-Palestine and particularly Jerusalem. “By the end of this episode, I’ll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an orientalist, fascist, socialist CIA agent and worse. So here goes nothing.”

Then he gets an instant bar mitzvah at the Western Wall. From there, he talks about falafel and borders, hummus and the occupation. He asks settlers why they tolerate “price tag” attacks against Palestinian communities. He points out Palestinian street art glorifying airplane hijackers. He goes to Gaza. He eats and eats and eats. You can watch the whole thing, and in pretty good quality, right here:

It’s not just Bourdain’s tortured ambivalence about the politics, both geo- and identity, that makes his Jerusalem program so good. He gets at, or at least tries to get at, some of the core issues by approaching them simply as a food and travel writer. He’s a tourist and foodie, but one exploring Jerusalem’s history and politics by way of its sights and smells. Much of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in a way about identity, and food is a part of identity.

Food also humanizes. It’s a ritual we all know and that’s meant to bring people together. And we can all agree that both Israeli and Palestinian food is delicious – as well as being often quite similar.

Maybe most helpful is the way that Bourdain foregrounds his own struggle to navigate it all. That he is so wary of the politics, and skeptical of his own ability to understand it, makes him a potentially very effective proxy for regular American TV viewers.

The 45-minute tour of Jerusalem will not do much to edify Israel-Palestine experts or to move along the two-state peace process. But it’s not made for partisans or practitioners, it’s made for regular people back in the United States. The U.S. has an unusually crucial role to play in this particular crisis. Americans learning more about it – and, even more importantly, thinking critically as Bourdain does – can only be a good thing.

If you like the idea of learning about the Israel-Palestine conflict through food, check out “Jerusalem: A Cookbook,” written by two chefs who were born in the Jewish and Arab halves of the city in the same year.


Humility Pill


| I’m Mad as Hell + I’m not gonna take this any more!

| I’m Mad as Hell + I’m not gonna take this any more! ~ YouTube.

Peter Finch‘s award winning performance in ‘Network‘ [1976] parodies sensationalism and propaganda whilst lamenting the lack of objectivity and independence by both the media and political establishment.

As relevant today as when first aired, so why are we not learning?
Beware consumerism, for in the end, it consumes YOU!

YouTube: http://youtu.be/LesvvuXGkaM

“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” ~ Noam Chomsky

“The greatest threat to peace is the barrage of rightist propaganda portraying war as decent, honorable, and patriotic.” ~ Jeannette Rankin

“We become slaves the moment we hand the keys to the definition of reality entirely over to someone else, whether it is a business, an economic theory, a political party, the White House, Newsworld or CNN.” ~ B.W. Powe

“The American people are free to do exactly what they are told.” ~ Ward Churchill


Humility Pill


| CIA ‘running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked!’

CIA ‘running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked’ ~ , TELEGRAPH.CO.UK.

The CIA has been subjecting operatives to monthly polygraph tests in an attempt to suppress details of a US arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was ongoing when its ambassador was killed by a mob in the city last year, according to reports.

Up to 35 CIA operatives were working in the city during the attack last September on the US consulate that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, according to CNN.

The circumstances of the attack are a subject of deep division in the US with some Congressional leaders pressing for a wide-ranging investigation into suspicions that the government has withheld details of its activities in the Libyan city.

The television network said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.

Sources said that more Americans were hurt in the assault spearheaded by suspected Islamic radicals than had been previously reported. CIA chiefs were actively working to ensure the real nature of its operations in the city did not get out.

So only the losses suffered by the State Department in the city had been reported to Congress.

“Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings,” CNN reported.

Frank Wolf, a US congressman who represents the district that contains CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, is one of 150 members of Congress for a new investigation into the failures in Benghazi.

“I think it is a form of a cover-up, and I think it’s an attempt to push it under the rug, and I think the American people are feeling the same way,” he said. “We should have the people who were on the scene come in, testify under oath, do it publicly, and lay it out. And there really isn’t any national security issue involved with regards to that.”

A CIA spokesman said it had been open about its activities in Benghazi.

“The CIA has worked closely with its oversight committees to provide them with an extraordinary amount of information related to the attack on US facilities in Benghazi,” a CIA statement said. “CIA employees are always free to speak to Congress if they want,” the statement continued. “The CIA enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress. We are not aware of any CIA employee who has experienced retaliation, including any non-routine security procedures, or who has been prevented from sharing a concern with Congress about the Benghazi incident.”

CIA running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate attack: The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group in this file photo taken September 11, 2012.

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group, September 11, 2012. Photo: REUTERS

| Mohamed Morsy’s son: ‘Dad, you are the legitimate leader’ of Egypt!


Mohamed Morsy’s son: ‘Dad, you are the legitimate leader’ of Egypt ~ Salma Abdelaziz and Reza Sayah, CNN.

Cairo (CNN) — Wearing a purple polo and stylish Ray Ban sunglasses, Osama Morsy strolled into the interview room calm, confident, and defiant.

“What do I see in the coming days? That the revolution will succeed and that the legitimate leader will return,” he said. “The Egyptian people will never again be scared or petrified of a tank or terrorized by detention.”

A little more than a week ago, Osama’s father, former President Mohamed Morsy, was forcibly ousted by the Egyptian military and swiftly replaced with a civilian transitional government.

“This is a coup of the revolution, a coup on democracy, a coup on the constitution and the will of the people. The defense minister is essentially saying to the millions that voted in presidential elections and on the constitutional referendum, ‘you don’t know what is best for you. I know what is best for you’.”

Despite the younger Morsy’s outrage at his father’s ouster, the new government is continuing to fill posts. Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi said that 70% of the choices for ministers and ministerial posts have been completed, according to the state-run al-Ahram news agency. The final formation of the government is expected to be announced Monday, according to al-Ahram.

Videos show who is under attack in Egypt

Photos: Unrest in EgyptPhotos: Unrest in Egypt

Youths’ killing ignites outrage in Egypt

Egypt after the coup

Experts predict Egypt’s future

For the millions of Egyptians who packed the streets in a nationwide revolt on June 30 and screamed “Leave!” at Mohamed Morsy, the word “coup” is an insult, a dirty term that denigrates what they believe is revolution redux, but Osama vehemently disagrees.

“June 30 was not a revolution! And history will never record it as a revolution. And no one, not the American administration or anyone else, can call it a revolution. Why? Because there is no revolution in the world that brings military rule. There is no revolution in the word that cancels the ballot box.”

That sentiment was echoed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday at a dinner in Ankara, according to Turkey’s semi-official news outlet Anadoly Agency.

“Every military coup, regardless of its target, country and reason, is the murderer of the democracy, people and the future of the country,” Erdogan said, adding that protests in Tahrir Square did not legalize the coup.

With a 48-hour deadline imposed by the military looming, Mohamed Morsy spoke to his son for the last time before addressing the country on state television on July 2.

“I asked him on a personal level, as a son, for him to remain defiant and move forward and not retreat in the face of the armed forces,” he said. “The Mohamed Morsy that I know is a point of pride as a son, so the Mohamed Morsy that would back down or flee would be shameful to me, even if he stayed president.”

Former President Morsy is currently being held in an undisclosed location for his “personal safety,” Egyptian armed forces spokesman Col. Ahmed Ali told CNN, but for a son missing his father, these reassurances are meaningless.

“Don’t worry about his personal safety. No one, not the defense ministry or interior ministry, should worry about his personal safety,” Osama said sarcastically. “If the situation is to hold him in this immoral and illegal detention, then he must be released! And if it is a legal detention, then I welcome that, and let us follow the law.”

Reporter notebook: Morsy a victim of Egypt’s revolution

The green-eyed father of two had refused to speak in his broken English until the moment he was asked whether he tried to contact his father in custody.

“I am a part of the revolution and I am stronger than asking one of (the military), ‘please let me speak to my dad.’ No! We are in a revolution. A new wave of the January 25 revolution … our democracy path, we will not let it go.”

The January 25 revolution of 2011 led to the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters remain in detention, and the public prosecutor has issued dozens of arrest warrants for top leadership, but the younger Morsy chose to meet in broad daylight at one of the most recognizable mosques in Cairo.

“The revolution will succeed. The revolution that ended the Mubarak regime will continue strong. We know no other way than success,” Osama continued. “This is a peaceful revolution against a bloody coup, but this revolution will be even more important than January 25 because it will strike at the root. This time the revolution will confront the apparatuses of Mubarak, not just the man himself.”

More than two years after a popular uprising toppled former President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year dictatorship, Egypt’s various political factions struggle for the ownership of their beloved “thawra,” or revolution, a faceless and leaderless movement both the Brotherhood and its organized opposition seek to co-opt.

“We elected (Morsy) and succeeded him so he can confront challenges by the principles of the revolution, the concepts of a democratic transition, with sound democracy, and in this transition, individuals are not as important as the will of the masses.”

Over and over again, the 30-year-old judge repeated the well-being of his father is secondary to the principles of democracy and the demands of thousands of pro-Morsy supporters staging a sit-in just outside the window. On Thursday, Morsy supporters continued their sit-in at Rabaa El-Adawiya and has planned to break their Ramadan fast there, Nile State TV reported.

“Mohamed Morsy, even though he is the president and even though he is elected and the legitimate leader, and despite his international standing and his role in the revolution he is not more important than the people killed at the Republican Guard,” Osama said, referring to the deaths of 51 people in clashes earlier this week.

Despite his bold resilience, Osama longed to reach out to his missing father. He turned, looked straight into the camera and delivered this message:

“Dad, you are the legitimate leader, you are the elected leader and elected president. We back any decision you take, even if you decided to leave the office. Your family, we are all proud of you. God bless you.”

CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali, Ali Younes, Mohammed Tawfeeq and journalist Sarah El Sirgany contributed to this report.



Coup3 TariqAlBishriQuote1

| Analysis: The Protests in Turkey, Explained!

The story behind the #direngezipark protests.

— , Mother Jones. 

istanbul protestProtesters flock to the Taksim Square during a protest in Istanbul on Saturday, June 1. Lu Zhe/Xinhua/Zuma

Turkey is experiencing its largest and most violent riots in decades as tens of thousands of young people voice opposition to the moderate Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Hundreds of protesters and police have been injured as authorities try to quell the fourth day of demonstrations with tear gas, water canons, beatings, and a tightening grip on the media. Today, Erdogan accused the protesters of “walking arm-in-arm with terrorism.” Yet his defiant response is only making the crowds larger. In an echo of the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011, the movement has been galvanized by images disseminated on social media, such as a picture of a policeman spraying tear gas at a young woman in a red summer dress, her long hair swept upward by the blast. “The more they spray,” reads a popular Twitter caption, “the bigger we get.”

Click here to go directly to the latest updates.

Why are people protesting? Nominally, the protests were sparked by a government plan to replace Istanbul’s leafy Taksim Gezi Park with a touristy shopping mall—what the country’s leading historian, Edhem Eldem, sardonically derides as a “Las Vegas of Ottoman splendor.” Trees are especially precious in Istanbul, where only 1.5 percent of land is green space (compared to 17 percent in New York). But the protests quickly became symbolic of much broader concerns about Erdogan’s autocratic and socially conservative style of government.

Istanbul’s secularists chafe at the way he has rammed through development projects in this cosmopolitan cultural crossroads with little regard for the European and non-Muslim aspects of its history; a 19th-century Russian Orthodox Church may be destroyed as part of an overhaul of a port. What’s more, Erdogan has placed new restrictions on the sale of alcohol and availability of birth control. And he has jailed political opponents and members of the media.

How widespread are the protests? Since Friday, there have been demonstrations in 67 of Turkey’s 80 provinces, according to Turkey’s semi-official Andalou News Agency. At least 1700 people have been arrested.

What about damage and injuries? Photos show fires in the street and overturned and burned-out cars. One protestor was killed on Sunday night when a taxi slammed into a crowd, but the government’s press office claims the death was accidental. According to CNN, 58 civilians remain hospitalized and 115 security officers have been injured.

Is Erdogan just another Islamist dictator? Not according to Washington, which holds up Turkey as a shining model for democracy in the Islamic world. Since coming to power in 2002, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has twice returned to office with large pluralities of the vote. In recent years, Erdogan has kept up the pace of democratic reforms in Turkey by enshrining individual rights in its laws and placing the military under civilian control. “Yet even as the AKP was winning elections at home and plaudits from abroad,” writes Foreign Policy‘s Steven Cook, “an authoritarian turn was underway…”

In 2007, the party seized upon a plot in which elements of Turkey’s so-called deep state—military officers, intelligence operatives, and criminal underworld—sought to overthrow the government and used it to silence its critics. Since then, Turkey has become a country where journalists are routinely jailed on questionable grounds, the machinery of the state has been used against private business concerns because their owners disagree with the government, and freedom of expression in all its forms is under pressure.

How bad is the crackdown on the press? Pretty bad. At the same time CNN International was broadcasting live from Taksim Square on Friday, CNN Turk, the network’s Turkish-language affiliate, was showing a cooking show and a documentary about penguins.


In 2009, Turkey’s tax ministry levied a whopping $2.5-billion fine against CNN Turk’s parent company, Dogan Yayin, in a move that was widely viewed as punishment for its critical coverage of the government. Some journalists who’ve written negative stories about the government and its allies have been fired or imprisoned. See this year-old CNN report on retaliation by the Turkish government:

So how are people in Turkey learning about the protests? Mostly through social media. “Revolution will not be televised; it will be tweeted,” reads a popular Istanbul graffiti scrawl. According to an analysis by NYU’s Social Media and Political Participation Lab, the Twitter hashtag #direngezipark had been used in more than 1.8 million tweets as of this morning—far more than the Egyptian hashtag #Jan25 was used during the entire Arab Spring uprising. And about 85 percent of those tweets that are geocoded have come from within Turkey.

Here’s a taste of what people are sharing:



Facebook has also emerged as a major source of viral Turkey content as citizen journalists use it to post videos of violent protest scenes. The Daily Dot‘s Joe Kloc has compiled some of the most widely shared street scenes:

A tear-gassed protester getting brutally kicked and beaten by police:

This morning, Erdogan called social media “the worst menace to society,” saying it has been used to spread lies about the protests and the government’s response. That’s probably not the best way to look like you care about what the protesters are saying.

What do hackers think about this? Over the weekend, Anonymous launched #OpTurkey, an anti-government hacking and DDoSing operation that resembles its work in Egypt and other countries during the Arab Spring. It has also given activists tools to skirt government internet censorship.

So is this the next wave of the Arab Spring? Not exactly. For one thing, most Turks are not “Arabs,” and they don’t necessarily view their nationality through an ethnic or religious lens. Compared to Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, or Syria, Turkey is much more Western-oriented, stable, prosperous, and egalitarian. From 2002 to 2011, the Turkish economy tripled in size. Per capita income in Turkey is $15,000 (compared to $6,600 in Egypt), and income inequality is less pronounced than it is in the United States. For now, at least, the protests seem less likely to spark a revolution than simply pull the rug out from Ergodan’s political agenda and electoral prospects. That said, Turkey’s last coup was just a little more than 30 years ago. The power dynamic could change quickly if Ergodan overreacts.

Who do I follow for more news about the protests? The blog What Is Happening in Istanbulhas been rolling out updates. The leading Twitter hashtags are #direngezipark and #occupygezi. The Guardian is live-blogging the protests. Check back here for updates.

UPDATE 6/3/2013 5:15 ET: During a press briefing on the Turkey protests today, White House spokesman Jay Carney voiced “serious concerns” about the violent crackdown on protesters, whom he characterized as mostly “peaceful, law-abiding citizens exercising their rights.” That’s a far cry from how they’ve been painted by Erdogan.

UPDATE 6/3/2013 5:55 ET: Using a crowd-funding website, Turkish protestors have raised enough money to publish this letter to Erdogan as a full-page ad in the New York Times.

UPDATE 6/3/2013 6:54 ET: Turkish media is reporting that 22-year-old Abdullah Comert, a member of the opposition Republican People’s Party, died tonight of wounds to the head. Turkey’s Star Gazette reports that security forces are investigating the incident. Activists on Twitter immediately blamed police for the shooting, which, if true, would mark the first instance of security forces killing an #occupygezi protestor. However, the allegation hasn’t been independently confirmed.


| Gorilla in the room: Another unprovoked Israeli attack on neighbour Syria!

FIRST ON CNN: Sources: U.S. believes Israel has conducted an airstrike into Syria

The United States believes Israel has conducted an airstrike into Syria, two U.S. officials tell CNN.

U.S. and Western intelligence agencies are reviewing classified data showing Israel most likely conducted a strike in the Thursday-Friday time frame, according to both officials. This is the same time frame that the U.S. collected additional data showing Israel was flying a high number of warplanes over Lebanon.

One official said the United States had limited information so far and could not yet confirm those are the specific warplanes that conducted a strike. Based on initial indications, the U.S. does not believe Israeli warplanes entered Syrian airspace to conduct the strikes.

Both officials said there is no reason to believe Israel struck at a chemical weapons storage facilities. The Israelis have long said they would strike at any targets that prove to be the transfer of any kinds of weapons to Hezbollah or other terrorist groups, as well as at any effort to smuggle Syrian weapons into Lebanon that could threaten Israel.

The Lebanese army website listed 16 flights by Israeli warplanes penetrating Lebanon’s airspace from Thursday evening through Friday afternoon local time.

The Israeli military had no comment. But a source in the Israeli defense establishment told CNN’s Sara Sidner, “We will do whatever is necessary to stop the transfer of weapons from Syria to terrorist organizations. We have done it in the past and we will do it if necessary the future.”


isr terr1

MLK war chisel

| First Gay marriage, then group marriage?

Gay marriage, then group marriage? ~ Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis and Ryan T. Anderson, Special to CNN.

Redefining marriage would weaken an institution already battered by widespread divorce, say the authors.

Redefining marriage would weaken an institution already battered by widespread divorce, say the authors.

  • Robert George, Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson: Marriage is more than an emotional bond
  • The civil rights rhetoric of “marriage equality” masks an error about what it is, they say
  • Equality mean that arbitrary distinctions in marriage laws should be discarded, they say
  • George, Girgis, Anderson: Redefining marriage would further erode its central norms

Editor’s note: Robert P. George is a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University. Sherif Girgis, a recent Rhodes Scholar, is a philosophy Ph.D. candidate at Princeton and a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School. Ryan T. Anderson is William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. They are authors of a new book, “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.”

(CNN) — The attractive civil rights rhetoric of “marriage equality” masks a profound error about what marriage is.

Of course, if marriage were simply about recognizing bonds of affection or romance, then two men or two women could form a marriage just as a man and woman can. But so could three or more in the increasingly common phenomenon of group (“polyamorous”) partnerships. In that case, to recognize opposite-sex unions but not same-sex or polyamorous ones would be unfair — a denial of equality.

But marriage is far more than your emotional bond with “your Number One person,” to quote same-sex marriage proponent John Corvino. Just as the act that makes marital love also makes new life, so marriage itself is a multilevel — bodily as well as emotional — union that would be fulfilled by procreation and family life. That is what justifies its distinctive norms — monogamy, exclusivity, permanence — and the concept of marital consummation by conjugal intercourse.

Robert P. George

Robert P. George

It is also what explains and justifies the government’s involvement in marriage.

The government takes no notice of companionship for its own sake, romantic or otherwise. But it has powerful reasons to ensure that whenever possible, children have the benefit of being reared by the mom and dad whose union gave them life.

Opinion: Gay people live in 50 Americas

Sherif Girgis

Sherif Girgis

All human beings are equal in dignity and should be equal before the law. But equality only forbids arbitrary distinctions. And there is nothing arbitrary about maximizing the chances that children will know the love of their biological parents in a committed and exclusive bond. A strong marriage culture serves children, families and society by encouraging the ideal of giving kids both a mom and a dad.

Ryan T. Anderson

Ryan T. Anderson

Indeed, if that is not the public purpose of marriage law, then the “injustice” and “bigotry” charges comes back to bite most same-sex marriage supporters.

If marriage is just the emotional bond “that matters most” to you — in the revealing words of the circuit judge who struck down California Proposition 8 — then personal tastes or a couple’s subjective preferences aside, there is no reason of principle for marriage to be pledged to permanence. Or sexually exclusive rather than “open.” Or limited to two spouses. Or oriented to family life and shaped by its demands.

In that case, every argument for recognizing two men’s bond as marital –equality, destigmatization, extending economic benefits — would also apply to recognizing romantic triads (“throuples,” as they are now known). Refusing such recognition would be unfair — a violation of equality — if commitment based on emotional companionship is what makes a marriage.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion

Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us atFacebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.

But don’t take our word for it. Many prominent leaders of the campaign to redefine marriage make precisely the same point. (We provide many more examples, and full citations, in the amicus brief we filed with the Supreme Court on the harms of redefining marriage.)

Opinion: America is at a crossroads on gay rights

University of Calgary Professor Elizabeth Brake supports “minimal marriage,” in which people distribute whichever duties they choose, among however many partners, of whatever sex.

NYU Professor Judith Stacey hopes that redefining marriage would give marriage “varied, creative, and adaptive contours …” and lead to acceptance of “small group marriages.” In the manifesto “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” 300 leading “LGBT and allied” scholars and activists call for the recognition of multiple partner relationships.

Influential columnist and “It Gets Better” founder Dan Savage encourages spouses to adopt “a more flexible attitude” about sex outside their marriage. Journalist Victoria Brownworth cheerfully predicts that same-sex marriage will “weaken the institution of marriage.”

“It most certainly will do so,” she says, “and that will make marriage a far better concept than it previously has been.”

Author Michelangelo Signorile urges same-sex partners to “demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution.” They should “fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, because the most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake … is to transform the notion of ‘family’ entirely.”

These leading same-sex marriage advocates are correct.

Redefining marriage would, by further eroding its central norms, weaken an institution that has already been battered by widespread divorce, out-of-wedlock child bearing and the like.

Listen: Voices from the Southern closet

People who think that would be good for children, families and society generally should support “marriage equality.” People who believe otherwise shouldn’t be taken in by the deceptive rhetoric


Gay Wed 1

| Anthony Bourdain: Human race is ‘essentially good!’

Anthony Bourdain: Human race is ‘essentially good’ ~ Anthony Bourdain, CNN.

Anthony Bourdain reads the paper next to a local market in Yangon, Myanmar.

Anthony Bourdain reads the paper next to a local market in Yangon, Myanmar.

  • “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” takes you across the globe to exotic destinations
  • The CNN personality will share his unique perspective and insights while traveling the world
  • Bourdain: “People, wherever they live, are not statistics. They are not abstractions”
  • He hopes to show “what people are like at the table, at home, in their businesses, at play”

World-renowned chef, best-selling author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain is the host of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” CNN’s new showcase for coverage of food and travel. The series is shot entirely on location. “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” premieres Sunday, April 14, at 9 p.m. ET

(CNN) — Before I set out to travel this world, 12 years ago, I used to believe that the human race as a whole was basically a few steps above wolves.

That given the slightest change in circumstances, we would all, sooner or later, tear each other to shreds. That we were, at root, self-interested, cowardly, envious and potentially dangerous in groups. I have since come to believe — after many meals with many different people in many, many different places — that though there is no shortage of people who would do us harm, we are essentially good.

That the world is, in fact, filled with mostly good and decent people who are simply doing the best they can. Everybody, it turns out, is proud of their food (when they have it). They enjoy sharing it with others (if they can). They love their children. They like a good joke. Sitting at the table has allowed me a privileged perspective and access that others, looking principally for “the story,” do not, I believe, always get.

People feel free, with a goofy American guy who has expressed interest only in their food and what they do for fun, to tell stories about themselves — to let their guard down, to be and to reveal, on occasion, their truest selves.

Meet the crewMeet the crew

Anthony Bourdain previews new CNN show

I am not a journalist. I am not a foreign correspondent. I am, at best, an essayist and enthusiast. An amateur. I hope to show you what people are like at the table, at home, in their businesses, at play. And when and if, later, you read about or see the places I’ve been on the news, you’ll have a better idea of who, exactly, lives there.

“Parts Unknown” is supposed to be about food, culture and travel — as seen through the prism of food. We will learn along with you. When we look at familiar locations, we hope to look at them from a lesser-known perspective, examine aspects unfamiliar to most.

People, wherever they live, are not statistics. They are not abstractions.

Bad things happen to good people all the time. When they do, hopefully, you’ll have a better idea who, and what, on a human scale, is involved.

I’m not saying that sitting down with people and sharing a plate is the answer to world peace. Not by a long shot.

But it can’t hurt.

Anthony Bourdain
Hotel El Minzah, Tangier




| White men can’t … be profiled!

David Sirota on CNN: The media doesn’t profile white men ~ Salon.

The columnist discusses a double standard when it comes to infamous killers VIDEO.

David Sirota on CNN: The media doesn't profile white men

Salon columnist David Sirota spoke with CNN to elaborate on his observation that recent mass shootings have been perpetrated by white men, and that “if this was any other kind of demographic, you would be hearing that in a much different way, a much uglier way.”

| CNN losing Bradley Manning story: Manning was reporting a War Crime: “The Van Thing!”

CNN Losing Bradley Manning Story: Manning Was Reporting a War Crime, “The Van Thing” ~ Ralph Lopez Daily Kos.

You could have knocked me over with a feather that the major media was talking about the Bradley Manning trial at all, after years of being confined to the progressive Internet, but although it is important for Manning’s treatment in virtual isolation be a focus, the real  story is being ignored.  Bradley Manning is where he is in the first place because he was reporting a war crime.

No matter what Manning’s treatment, many Americans, not always the most big-hearted people, will believe Manning deserved every bit of it unless context is provided.  The CNN reports on the trial which have run so far delve no deeper than his complaints about being forced to stand naked, not being allowed to sleep, and being harassed under a bogus “suicide watch” by being asked every five minutes “are you okay?”

Manning wrote to his then friend Adrian Lamo of the Wikileaks video which has since made the news:

“At first glance it was just a bunch of guys getting shot up by a helicopter…No big deal … about two dozen more where that came from, right? But something struck me as odd with the van thing, and also the fact it was being stored in a JAG officer’s directory. So I looked into it.”

Manning was talking about the now-famous video in which an American Apache helicopter crew is seen firing upon a group of Iraqi men in “New Baghdad” in 2007.  Most of the public debate has since centered around the first of two attacks in the video, in which a Reuters journalist is killed.

Manning’s eyes were elsewhere, and in perhaps a sad commentary on the rules of engagement at the time, accepted the first attack as “just a bunch of guys getting shot up.”  It was the second attack, the “van thing,” which caught Manning’s attention.  Manning knew a war crime when he saw one.

In the second attack, unarmed men are attempting to evacuate a wounded man, an act which since the Geneva Convention of 1864 is protected.  Article 12 of the Geneva Convention of 1864 states that,


  “…Members of the armed forces and other persons (…) who are wounded or sick, shall be respected and protected in all circumstances. They shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party to the conflict…Any attempts upon their lives, or violence to their persons, shall be strictly prohibited; in particular, they shall not be murdered or exterminated…”.

In the second attack a man is seen crawling upon the ground after the first attack, when a van pulls up with men who attempt to evacuate him.  The Apache gunner in his bloodlust requests and receives permission to open fire, muttering the words “just pick up a weapon,” even though no weapons are anywhere visible near the crawling man.  It is in this attack that two children in the van are wounded, whereupon the gunner remarks “that’s what they get for bringing their kids to the battle.”

These are the children saved by Spc. Ethan McCord, who brings them to a Bradley vehicle after another soldier, upon discovering them, runs away vomiting.  A documentary has been made about the shooting featuring McCord which has won the award for Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival“Incident in New Baghdad.”

A perusal of soldier’s and veterans blogs shows surprising unanimity even among the battle-hardened.  Remarks go roughly: First shooting, tough sh*t.  Second shooting, war crime.

If it came out that Manning had been hung upside down and beaten on the soles of his feet, many Americans would conclude it was deserved given the incomplete reporting which merely mentions that Manning is accused of leaking classified documents.  This may be part of it, but the fact also remains that Bradley Manning was reporting a clear war crime.

Bradley Manning’s “van thing” can be seen starting at about 9 minutes.


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