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The Ubyssey Mar 16, 2007

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Array  2
Colours Issue
Friday, 16 March, 2007   THE UBYSSEY
A message from the Colours coordinator:
The Ubyssey would like to use
Colours as an outpost to expose
the campus community to issues
of ethnicity and culture. These
include positive outcomes, such
as multiculturalism, as well as
providing awareness and promoting acceptance of cultures
different from one's own. However, barriers are also established between races in regards
to differences in everything from
religion and language to one's
physical appearance.
Colours  is  not just a  com
mentary on present and historical feelings of discrimination.
Although genocide and racism
are discussed, we would like to
outline practices that are being
implemented to discuss feelings
of identity, not only in an ethnic community, but in individuals. Various forms of media are
being utilised in a positive context to educate the public. They
provide society with an outlet with which they can bring
cultures can come together by
outlining their differences and
similarities.
As you read this edition of
Colours, read actively. Think
about what is being discussed
in each of the articles, and
what point each piece is trying
to make. Think about the issues
discussed not only in the context of society or a certain ethnic
group, but in the context of yourself. How do you feel about these
issues? Can you relate to them
personally?
And don't think that this is
intended  to   entertain  you,   or
alter the way you think. We hope
you come away with a sense of
awareness and appreciation of
our ethnic and cultural diversity, as well as a sense of what
can be done to decrease feelings
of discrimination in society.
Colours alone do not make a
portrait—the blending and interaction of many are required to
create a unified masterpiece.
—Samantha Jung
Colours Coordinator
'twaM/
Designs for a Sustainable
5th Annual Indigenous
World Challenge
Graduate Student
Mar 16,9:00am
Symposium
Grassy Knoll
Mar 17,8:30am
Check out the designs for
First Nations Longhouse
sustainable development
Indigenous graduate students
projects created by 11 teams
sharetheirworkand engage
of students from different
in dialogue with other
faculties.
students in different faculties
Free
as well as faculty members.
Free
Chan Centre 10th
Anniversary Concert
School of Music Concert
Mar 17,8:00pm
Mar 18,3:00pm
Chan Centre
School of Music Recital Hall
A concert featuring Jane
Recipients of scholarships
Coop, Rhoslyn Jones, Rose-
from the School of Music
Ellen Nichols.John Arsenault,
showcase their talent for the
Andrew Stewart, University
public.
Singers, the UBC Symphony
$20 Adults/$10 Students &
and Choral Union.
Seniors
$22Adults/$16Seniors/$12
Students
UBC FUm Society
/f/W / ///f • SINCE 1935
March 16 -18
7pm: The Pursuit of Happyness
Rated PG, 117 minutes
9:30pm: Blood Diamond
Rated 14A, 144 minutes
March 21-22
7pm:Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Rated PG, 93 minutes
9:30 pm: The Blues Brothers
Rated PG, 133 minutes
Screenings @ Norm Theatre in SUB
Admission: S3.50 (non-members) S2.00 (members)
Membership: S10 (students)
For more info, call 604 822 3697 or visit www.ams.ubc.ca/clubs/filmsoc
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Announcements
UBC GOLDEN KEY PRESENTS:
Evening with VP Sullivan! We are
inviting members to a special evening
with UBC Vice President Sullivan to
speak their minds on student issues with
the student-affair leader. March 21st,
6-7pm at the Penthouse. Refreshments
served! Must RSVP by March 19
tocorresponding@ubcgoldenkey.org or
gkey@interchange.ubc.ca and include a
short statement on an issue of your concern.
WITH EVERY PURCHASE
we impact people and ecosystems. Think
about changes to consumption choices
during UBC Responsible Consumption
Week, March 19-23 & Vote With Your
Dollar Fair, March 22-23! More info about
keynote speakers, workshops, panel night
at www.ubc-rcw.org or in the SUB
US/UK OUT OF IRAQ! CANADA OUT
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WEEKEND OF ACTION On the 4th
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ANTIWAR RALLY Sat. March 17 Gather:
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cawopi_ubc@yahoo.ca | 778.858.9418
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Check out the Vancouver Tall Club. First
event March 23. For more information vist
our website at www.vantallclub.com or
e-mail us at vantallclub@gmail.com
FREE ADS FOR STUDENTS!!
GO TO SUB 23 FOR DETAILS!!
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A single donation of blood can save up to
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recently passed away from the blood
disease myelofibrosis. When: March 22,
5:30-8 pm; March 23, 12:30-3 pm (Oak
street clinic) transportation to/from UBC
provided! Check your eligibility at
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Servicegk@gmail.com ASAP with your
name, phone number, birth date &
preferred day. 30 Stamp points!
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THE UBYSSEY
Friday, 16 March, 2007
Vol.LXXXVIII N°43
COLOURS COORDINATOR
Samantha Jung
Editorial Board
COORDINATING EDITOR Erie Szeto
coordinating@ubyssey.be. ca
NEWS EDITOR Brandon Adams &
Colleen Tang
news@ubyssey bc.ca
CULTURE EDITOR Jesse Ferreras
culture@ubysseybc.ca
SPORTS EDITOR Boris Korby
sports@ubyssey.be. ca
FEATURES/NATIONAL EDITOR
Momoko Price
features@ubyssey be. ca
PHOTO EDITOR Oker Chen
photos@ubyssey bc.ca
PRODUCTION MANAGER
Champagne Choquer
production@ubyssey.be. ca
COPY EDITOR Levi Barnett
copy@ubysseybc.ca
Coordinators
VOLUNTEERS Paul Bucci
volunteers@ubyssey bc.ca
RESEARCH/LETTERS
Andrew MacRae
feedback@ubysseybc.ca
WEBMASTER Matthew Jewkes
webmaster@ubyssey.be. ca
The Ubyssey is the official student newspaper of the University of
British Columbia. It is published every Tuesday and Friday by The
Ubyssey Publications Society. We are an autonomous, democratically run student organisation, and all students are encouraged to
participate.
Editorials are chosen and written by the Ubyssey staff. They
are the expressed opinion of the staff, and do not necessarily reflect
the views of The Ubyssey Publications Society or the University of
British Columbia. All editorial content appearing in The Ubyssey is
the property of The Ubyssey Publications Society. Stories, opinions,
photographs and artwork contained herein cannot be reproduced
without the expressed, written permission of The Ubyssey Publications Society.
The Ubyssey is a founding member of Canadian University
Press (CUP) and adheres to CUP's guiding principles.
Letters to the editor must be under 300 words. Please include
your phone number, student number and signature (not for publication) as well as your year and faculty with all submissions. ID will be
checked when submissions are dropped off at the editorial office of
The Ubyssey; otherwise verification will be done by phone."Perspec-
tives" are opinion pieces over 300 words but under 750 words and
are run according to space."Freestyles"are opinion pieces written by
Ubyssey staff members. Priority will be given to letters and perspectives over freestyles unless the latter is time sensitive. Opinion pieces
will not be run until the identity of the writer has been verified.The
Ubyssey reserves the right to edit submissions for length and clarity. All letters must be received by 12 noon the day before intended
publication. Letters received after this point will be published in the
following issue unless there is an urgent time restriciton or other
matter deemed relevant by the Ubyssey staff
It is agreed by all persons placing display or classified advertising that if the Ubyssey Publications Society fails to publish an
advertisement or if an error in the ad occurs the liability of the UPS
will not be greater than the price paid for the ad. The UPS shall not
be responsible for slight changes or typographical errors that do not
lessen the value orthe impact of the ad.
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Number 0040878022 THE UBYSSEY   Friday, 16 March, 2007
Colours Issue
3
Carter lays burden of peace on Israel
RAMALLAH: The controversial "security wall" surrounds the West Bank city and gets a heated treatment in Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, jesse ferreras photo
PALESTINE: PEACE NOT APARTHEID
by Jimmy Carter
Simon and Schuster
by Jesse Ferreras
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter seems like a man in the twilight
of his career in his latest book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. In this
work, a boldly titled cry for resolution to the Middle East conflict, he
seems to care little for the grumblings of his critics and gets off his
mind everything he has ever wanted to say about the longstanding
crisis. And responses in the United
States have been harsh.
In addition to expected denunciations by pro-Israel hardliners
such as Alan Dershowitz, 15 of the
ex-president's colleagues at the
Carter Centre (a non-profit organisation devoted to the promotion of
human rights) resigned their positions over a particularly controversial passage and former political
allies have laboured to distance
themselves from him.
The public reaction was so fierce
at some points that Carter was
prompted to apologise for some of
the book's content, including a passage in which he says that violence
by Palestinian groups must cease
only once Israel accepts international laws and the objectives of
the "Roadmap for Peace."
Whatever the reaction, Carter
deserves praise for renewing debate around the Middle East in
the Western world and attempting
to promote peace. However, that
praise should not pass without
criticising the means by which he
expects it to be achieved.
The bulk of Palestine: Peace Not
Apartheid is an account of American diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, coloured with Carter's
own encounters with people and
places in the region. It begins with
a timeline of events that have both
deflated and intensified tension
in the Middle East, such as the
Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War
and the outbreaks of Intifadas I
and II. He devotes an entire chapter to his own diplomatic efforts
as president, making note of his
organisation of the Camp David
Accords. These eventually resulted in a peace agreement between
Egyptian Prime Minister Anwar
Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister
Menachem Begin whose legacy,
Carter claims, is that no conflict
has since taken place between the
two countries.
"Israel is imposing a
system of partial withdrawal, encapsulation,
and apartheid on the
Muslim and Christian
citizens of the occupied
territories"
Jimmy Carter
Former President of the USA
Carter also provides descriptions of significant historical figures who have been involved in the
Middle East crisis, including hardliners such as Begin and former
Syrian President Hafez al-Assad,
which contrast heavily with the
rigid, forceful portrayals that have
circulated in the media. Though he
seems largely skeptical of Begin,
Carter describes him as a "careful
semanticist"—one who studies the
meaning of words—insisting that
Palestinians be granted "full autonomy" in the Camp David agreement. Assad, meanwhile, known
in his lifetime as the "Lion of Damascus" after his repressive policies aimed at maintaining control
of the Syrian presidency, comes off
as more disillusioned than threatening, due to his compliance in
the peace process and a perceived
lack of compromise on the part of
Israel.
In later chapters, Carter outlines steps that place the onus
squarely on Israel to make peace
a reality in the Middle East. His
harshest criticism is reserved for
issues surrounding the West Bank,
such as the planned route of the
much-reviled "security wall," and
what he describes as the "honeycomb" of Jewish settlements in the
area. He claims the wall, or at least
its planned route, is encroaching
upon Palestinian territory and
"imposing a system of partial withdrawal, encapsulation, and apartheid on the Muslim and Christian
citizens of the occupied territories." He illustrates on a map the
route of the wall encircling much
of the West Bank and marks out
a "Proposed Segregation Wall
Route" that allows settlements in
the territory to be connected with
Israel while the wall moves further
beyond the boundary set down by
the United Nations.
Carter ends his tome crying
out for peace in the Middle East
while specifying a series of steps
by which he hopes to see it come
about. While recognising that Arab
states must allow for the state of Israel to exist in peace, he specifies
thereafter a number of steps that
call out to Israel to withdraw to its
pre-1967 boundaries and comply
with the Roadmap for Peace, saying that peace can only be achieved
when "oppression, apartheid and
sustained violence" can be eradicated from the process.
What must first be said about
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is
that Jimmy Carter shows genuine concern for populations of all
faiths in the Middle East, whether
Muslim, Jew, or Christian. He attempts to engage with the people
at various levels, politician, civilian and otherwise. What with his
vast influence as a former U.S.
President, Carter is in the right
position to be crying out for peace
in the Middle East, a conflict that
requires the attention of as many
persuasive and influential people
as possible.
Whether Carter's proposed
steps are practical is another matter. It's been said that the biggest
enemy in the Middle East is stub-
borness. If that is the case, then
Carter's book stands to reinforce
that by laying almost complete responsibility for achieving peace on
Israel's shoulders. An example of
this tendency is the way that Carter
narrates his timeline of significant events in Middle East history.
Events are described in ways that
paint Israel as an aggressor, while
Carter tends to soften the events
of Intifada I and II by mentioning
Israel's "harsh reprisals" and neglecting to mention the multitude
of suicide attacks that accompanied those events.
Meanwhile, Carter's narration
of personal encounters with people
in the region function to paint Israel as a boorish state exerting undue
authority over Palestinians, rarely
if ever emphasising any transgressions on the part of the latter. One
example of this is a passage in
which Carter describes a morning
jog in East Jerusalem accompanied
by soldiers in the Israeli Defence
Force (IDF). While escorting Carter
through the city, the soldiers approach two elderly Palestinians,
whose faces are hidden behind
newspapers that they tersely slap
away to check for weapons. Carter
admonishes them to either refrain
from engaging in such behaviour
again or to leave him to jog on his
own. The soldiers tell him you can
never be too careful.
It is vitally important
that influential people
such as Carter address
the Middle East crisis at
length and seek ways to
promote peace.
This and other similar passages
function to paintjimmy Carter as a
benevolent intermediary between
Israelis and Palestinians, and at
certain points it is almost cringe-
worthy to read. One such passage
occurs when Carter describes a
visit to the home of Yasser Arafat.
Carter writes that Arafat's daughter, Suha, sat happily on his lap
and cried when a photographer
asked her father to hold her for a
photo-op, and reached her arms
out for Carter to take her. The ex-
President writes that the moment
was symbolic of a lack of attention
shown by Arafat to his own daughter, but the episode seems to beg
for his readership to like him in
order that they more easily accept
his framework for peace.
It is vitally important that influential people such as Carter
address the Middle East crisis at
length and seek ways to promote
peace. This book is Carter's way of
doing his part, and it is certainly
surprising that a former U.S.
President would espouse a viewpoint so critical of Israel. But the
distinctiveness of Palestine: Peace
Not Apartheid ends there. The
book leaves it almost completely
in Israel's hands to bring peace to
the region, and in a conflict where
there are clearly two sides battling
against one another, such a proposal is unproductive, and effectively mutes the steps that must be
taken by the other side.
It is absolutely true that appalling actions have been carried out
by both Israelis and Palestinians
throughout this conflict, and Carter's book is a heartfelt cry to put an
end to them. But his solution is an
unproductive entry into the Middle
East debate that leaves the burden
of peace entirely on one over the
other. This already has been tried,
and Carter does not provide a fresh
argument that deviates much from
what has already been said before.
It is only because the voice of argument is so high-profile that it
seems original.
The message is groundbreaking, perhaps, because it is voiced
by a former U.S. President, but it is
hardly an argument that can help
move dialogue forward in a conflict that needs it so badly. $ Colours Issue
Friday, 16 March, 2007   THE UBYSSEY
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My identity struggles
by Samantha Jung
Determining one's ethnicity and
culture can be difficult. While discussing the literary canon in English 121, my class came across an
excerpt from an essay by Henry
Louis Gates, Jr called "Canon-Formation, Literary History, and the
Afro-American Tradition." Gates
used the terms "Afro-American"
and "black" when discussing the
literature of his ethnicity.
Although I did not have a problem with these terms a girl in my
discussion said she disliked the
use of these terms to identify this
group of people. She was Caucasian, but grew up in South Africa.
She discussed Gates's use of the
term 'black' to describe his people
was an assumption, as she considered herself an example of a
white African. She also said that it
was difficult to determine how to
label herself. This reminded me
that it is sometimes difficult to determine one's identity—and this is
something I can relate to.
I am a Chinese-Canadian—ethnically Chinese, but culturally Canadian. My parents were both born
in Hong Kong, but I was born and
raised in Canada. When people
ask me, "What ethnicity are you"
I respond that I'm Chinese. Many
agree, but there are some who tell
me that I'm not Chinese.
Why am I not Chinese? I have
received a few responses to this
question. One of them was that
I've never been to China. So what?
"Ethnic" means of particular origin or culture: relating to a person
or to a large group of people who
share a national, racial, linguistic,
or religious heritage, whether or
not they reside in their countries
of origin. Ethnicity is determined
by genetics. The fact that I've never traveled to or lived in China or
Hong Kong has nothing to do with
the fact that I have darker skin,
almond-shaped brown eyes, and
dark hair, to name a few traits.
Another reason that I'm given
is that I don't speak the language.
This is true but I do relate to the
language, because I belong to that
ethnicity and culture. If you ask a
Caucasian what their ethnicity is,
some will say "white," but others
will say they are Dutch, German,
French, and so forth. Just because
one does not speak their native
language does not mean that they
do not belong to that culture and
ethnicity. Culture refers to the
shared beliefs and values of a
group: the beliefs, customs, practices, and social behaviour of a
particular nation or people. I practice both Chinese and Canadian
customs; for example, I celebrate
both the conventional and the Chinese New Year.
In my experience, those who
were raised or spent most of their
lives in one's ethnic nation usually
identified better with their native
culture than another.
I identify more strongly with
my Canadian heritage than my
Chinese heritage, but that does
not mean that I am not Chinese.
Sometimes I feel as though I do not
belong in the Chinese community
because I am too "whitewashed,"
but I am also afraid that I don't
fit in with the Caucasian community, or that people stereotype me
based on assumptions about my
heritage and ethnic culture. This
problem can affect anyone who
was raised in an environment
that isn't true to their ethnicity.
A while ago, I met an ethnic East
Indian who spoke fluent Tagalog,
as he grew up in the Philippines. I
would have liked to ask him if he
ever feels the same way I do about
my ethnic and cultural identity.
Although it is sometimes difficult to identify with my Chinese
roots, I feel that they are a part
of my identity and help make me
who I am, regardless of what people think. Being Chinese doesn't
mean that one has to be 'pure'
and totally knowledgeable about
the culture, for there are many
different degrees of ethnicity
and culture that determine one's
identityJ THE UBYSSEY   Fnday, 16 March, 2007
Colours Issue
5
Too much otaku make you go cuckoo
An anthropological expedition into the depths of the internet turns up the strange tribe of the Otaku
by Brandon Adams
i i u 11
It's one o'clock in the morning and
I'm staring at my computer screen.
My gaze is locked on the screen as
forum after forum flashes by, occasionally flanked by comments
that seem to blur the line between
ardent fanboyism and a clinical
lack of connection with reality.
Images stand out. Each picture
follows a careful, consistent style:
each picture has a man, usually in
his late-twenties, wearing a colourful and exaggerated school-girl's
uniform, each in a vague martial
arts pose. Despite their age their
faces remind me of the expression
of a prepubescent child at play,
their faces displaying a collective
yearning for the dull world around
them to reflect the 'reality' inside
their heads. This is the world of
the otaku, the land of anime and
manga, and I'm a stranger.
Otaku is Japanese for geek,
nerd, and fanboy all rolled into
one. The term can apply to someone who is obsessive about any interest, but typically applies to those
who are fanatical about anime, the
Japanese loanword for animation,
and manga, Japanese comics. In
other words, otaku are the Japanese of equivalent of the North
American Star Wars geek: socially
inept, chronically single, and hopelessly imaginative.
The language of the otaku is
vast: Bishonen, chibi, moe, kemono-
mimi, sentai, otaku, hentai, bishojo,
mecha, kodomo. The words, much
like the images, are hard for me
to understand—hard for me to
place, to comprehend, and sometimes to accept.
These otaku subcultures centre largely around the wide-eyed,
large-headed, highly stylised characters first created by Osamu Tezu-
ka—a god among the otaku. He is
best known for his genre forming
Astro Boy universe—a universe dating back to 1963. Yet each of these
subcultures has its own bent, its
own territory in the otaku world.
I'm now on a website populated with fans of 'catgirls', know by
some as nekomusume. A popular
trope in anime and manga, cat-
girls are women who possess catlike features—cat ears jut out from
hair; tails emerge from clothes;
clawed paws stand in for hands
and feet. From the posts I'm reading, it appears that these otaku
take these 'femmes feline' very seriously. One of the first posts I run
into discusses, in great detail, the
biological implications of life as a
catgirl; another tells a short story
about a run-in between an otaku
and a real life catgirl. Most of the
forum members appear to be
males and most seem to take their
hobby seriously.
The thought of a pasty skinned,
overweight guy stuffing himself
into a body suit and attaching cat's
ears to his head and a tail to his
butt makes me laugh, but I feel a
little dirty. That kind of imagination, as far as I'm concerned, is
best left on the grade school playground 'lest you want to spend
the rest of your life at renaissance
fairs or playing Dungeons and
Dragons in your mother's basement. Or, apparently, dressing up
like Sailor Moon.
Other  otaku focus  on  a particular   anime   or   manga   series
and obsess at a level that would
put even the most ardent trekkie
to shame. Popular series, like
the mecha (giant robot) space
opera Mobile Suit Gundam
spawn scores of animated
TV shows,  mangas,  video
games, and movies. The expansive   universes   found   in
Gundam and many other manga
series seem to breed otaku: for
the Gundam faithful, conferences,
homemade models, short stories,
and grown men dressed in robot
suits are the norm.
The otaku's world, for the most
part, rarely moves beyond the in
nocuous and obsessive—a world
filled with twenty somethings
caught in a prepubescent past. But
as I browse further and further
from my starting point; following
links deeper and deeper through
forum after forum, I run into material that really starts to get under
my skin.
On some of the forums I read
otaku joke and talk about lolicon
and shotacon—l get curious and
run into something that I find very
disturbing. Lolicon comes from
the phrase lolita complex. As one
might expect from an art form
named after Vladimir Nabokov's
controversial work and originating in a country which first
banned child pornography in
1999, lolicon, and its male
counterpart shotacon, are
pornographic depictions
of prepubescent children. I
suddenly stop feeling sorry
for these shut-ins and start
feeling like a school-yard
bully—after all, doesn't
someone have to rid these
perverted simpletons of
their imaginations.
I wasn't surprised to
learn about porn for the
otaku: evenbasemen-dwell-
ing, Sailor Moon-obsessed
geeks have needs. And, unsurprisingly, most otaku seem to look towards their animated fantasies to
fulfill them. Called hentai (which
means abnormality or pervert) or
ecchi (meaning naughty or lewd),
otaku have created porn to fill every niche: Pokemon, Sailor Moon,
and Street Fighter fans all have their
hentai. I shut off my monitor—the
thought of an otaku playing voyeur
with Pikachu makes me sick.
Later, as I watch Katsuhiro Oto-
mo's manga-based masterpiece
Akira,   I  reflect on  my journey
through the world of the otaku.
On screen, the imaginary camera
pans to reveal the entire mass of
Neo-Tokyo and I feel drawn to this
imaginary world with its drama
and action. As Kaneda, armed
with a laser cannon, confronts
the the hideous, fleshy mass that
was once his friend Tetsuo, I can
imagine myself similarly armed.
I close my eyes and imagine escaping my boring life—becoming
Kaneda and living a life filled with
action. I like what I see—I hear the
call of the otaku. $
Internationa/ Weekend of Action
US/UK OUT OF IRAQ! | CANADA OUT OF AFGHANISTAN!
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Antiwar + Anti-Occupation
FREE ALL DAY CONFERENCE
The struggle Against
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Confronting tne wars &
Occupations After 9/11
Sunday march I81h
llam-6pm I Registration: 10:3Oam
Britannia Community Center
IE61 Napier Street @ Commerical Drive
UlorHshops on:
(T)   Expansion of the Era of War and Occupation In Africa
■ "-■*-.   War and Occupation In the Middle East: Afghanistan
^      Syria and lran_ Wherry ^n- uut? yuiritj from rWt?
Qy   Building an Effective Antiwar Movement: Past. Present, and Future.
Mobilization Aoainst War + occupation MAWO
uiuiui.mauiouancouuer.org
604.322.1764 I info@mawovancouver.org
Interdisciplinary McGill courses
in Africa:
Learn Like never before.
In partnership with UBC.
Winter 2008 - Visiting students welcome.
Deadline to apply: April 30, 2007
9 McGill
www.mcgill.ca/africa
Sports editor
Photo editor
Copy editor
Volunteers coordinator
Webmaster
Position papers due to
SUB 28 at Noon on
March 21 Colours Issue
Friday, 16 March, 2007   THE UBYSSEY
mmerse yourself
in your passion for
historical fiction
this summer
Summer Institute in Historical
Fiction - May to August
You'll learn research techniques, study contemporary
historical fiction and practice writing historical fiction with
students sharing the same passion. Instructors and guest speakers
with first-hand experience as published authors will share their
expertise. Day-long classes on Fridays will include opportunities
for lunch time socials, and special events including featured
speakers and field trips.
In this unique interdisciplinary approach, you could earn
three university transferable courses this summer.
Attend an Information Session
Mar 20   Apr 2     5pm      Theatre    New Westminster Campus
For more information contact
the Creative Writing Chair at 604-527-5289
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Shamdett GIVEAWAY
Cambodia remains
a mystery
Recognising artrocities in Cambodia so many years ago
by Myles Estey
Year Zero, 1975: a fresh start, and
a new beginning for the Cambodian people. Distorted visions of
radical Marxism and ethnic purity
ultimately lead to the death of an
estimated 750,000 to two million
people throughout the small nation of Cambodia before the end of
1979. This concept of a new beginning was brought by Pol Pot with
little regard for the human costs of
his idealistic political goals.
Despite the number of people
killed, which seems especially
high with regard to the small
population of the tiny east Asian
country (currently less than 15
million), the bloody history of
Cambodia is often omitted from
popular discourse, or forgotten altogether. The relatively small size
of Cambodia, the impossibility of
media coverage during the period
between 1975-79, international
complacency and unwillingness to
help stop the crisis, and the United States' patchy involvement in
these atrocities have all contributed to the lack of overall coverage,
or even acknowledgment in North
American and world history. The
fact remains that just beyond the
lifetime of the average student, a
genocide that killed more people
per capita than Russia under
Stalin's rule silently tore through
Cambodia, decimating a generation of its citizenry.
There is a notable gap
in the middle age of the
population, a generation lost to the policies
of radical reformers.
At the centre of this regime
was Saloth Sar, more commonly
known as Pol Pot, and a small cadre of his collaborators, including
fellow French-educated leaders
Ieng Sary and Son Sen. Through
widely disseminated propaganda
campaigns throughout the late 60s
and early 70s, these leaders drew
on everything from nationalism to
communism, anti-Vietnamese to
anti-monarchy rhetoric in order to
garner support for their collective
goal of achieving an agrarian state.
This, combined with the jockeying
for political power with then-ruler
Sihanouk, played a major role in
creating the Khmer Rouge, a party
of Communist extremists made up
of ethnic Cambodians (Khmers),
who grew rapidly in numbers, and
functioned as an informal army,
providing the power needed to
carry out the ideals of Pol Pot and
his co-conspirators throughout
this period.
With the advent of Year Zero, the
militarised factions of the Khmer
Rouge began a campaign to prepare for the leader's vision of an
ideal agrarian state. The cleansing
included a nearly all-encompassing list: people from urban areas,
anyone perceived to be an intellectual, anyone who spoke a language
other than Khmer (which, with the
French colonisation of Cambodia
that had only ended two decades
earlier, was no small number), any
foreigner, any religious minority;
anyone perceived to be an enemy
to the state of any kind, for any reason. All such offenders were rounded up and killed on sight, sent to
prisons where torture, malnour-
ishment, or execution would soon
bring the same fate, or shipped to
the provinces to perform labour on
the new collective farms, which often resulted in imminent death.
Accounts of the ruthlessness
of these killings and the heavily indoctrinated bands of Khmer
Rouge enforcers provide images
of utter brutality. Killing family
members in front of each other
was routine, and on top of this,
an informal practice existed in
which soldiers would gather and
kill whole families, beginning with
the youngest to oldest, in order to
maximise the suffering of those
forced to watch. In an interview
from April 2001, an ex-Khmer
soldier told me how he watched a
friend's family forced at gunpoint
to clap and cheer as their father
was mutilated to death in front of
them, only to face similar deaths
themselves. Pictures taken in the
infamous Tuol Sleng prison—the
largest centre of incarceration during the four-year genocide—depict
soldiers at the edge of mass graves
throwing infants into the air and
spearing them on bayonets, as
well as soldiers beating perceived
enemies to death with pieces of
rock, stick, and concrete in an effort to save bullets.
Exactly how many people died
in such ways will likely never be
known. Many of those counted
dead under the Khmer Rouge
among the also died of hunger,
disease,  displacement and over
work in the fields. Many died at
the hands of so called "party discipline" which, much like Stalinist
Russia, included paranoid purges
of any Khmer Rouge member
who was thought to be suspicious.
Countless others died during the
complicated pattern of fighting
between Khmer and Vietnamese
coalitions, both of whom are said
to have forcefully conscripted
those they captured. But the fact
remains that a large number of
Cambodians wound up dead as
a result of torture, or otherwise
close-range violence.
The fact remains that a
huge number of Cambodian people ended
up dead as a result of
torture, either physical
or otherwise close-range
violence.
Cambodia, as a nation, still
struggles to fully come to terms
with the immense implications
of those horrific four years. The
government has made insufficient attempts to reconcile or even
acknowledge the brutality that
gripped the country, and until very
recently acted overtly against any
attempts by citizens to do so. Cambodia remains littered with land
mines, unexploded ordinance, and
the seemingly endless victims it
has left in its wake. There is a notable gap in its middle aged population, a generation lost to the policies of radical reformers.
Today in Phnom Penh, trips to
the sobering Tuol Seng Prison or
the killing fields they fed are as
easy as hailing a moto-taxi. In a
strange twist of commercialism,
many of these drivers offer this as
a part of a "special deal" for foreign
backpackers. The deal permits
one to visit these locations of mass
murder in the morning, then in
the afternoon go to another Cambodian attraction to shoot off AK-
47s, grenade launchers and, it's
rumoured, sometimes even bazookas—many of which were left over
from the Khmer Rouge regime.
This perhaps exemplifies the ineptitude of the world to fully grasp
the gravity of the atrocities in
Cambodia. Its importance seems
to have been lost in world history,
and as such, the genocide remains
a mystery to many throughout
the world. « THE UBYSSEY   Fnday, 16 March, 2007
Colours Issue
The Holodomor: A 'Plague of Hunger'
Ukraine Famine, 1932-33
7
Is it important to categorise an ei
with a definition? When millions of n
women and children starve to death, c
it matter whether it is termed a fan
or genocide?
Yes. But more importantly, what i
ters is that it's remembered and lear
from, so that immediate action is take
ever something similar happens agaii
From 1932-33, it is estimated
seven out of ten people perished
Ukraine. According to one account
the height of the famine there were
deaths per minute, totalling 25,000
day. Debates wage to this day as to
direct causes of the mass loss of life,
in general, historians and scholars a±
that the famine was pre-meditated by
lin and the government of the USSR.
1930s plan of national "Russificati
culminated in the deportation and e>
mination of the cultural leaders and ii
lectuals of the country to destroy UI
nian nationalism. Thousands of cle
artists, and writers were killed.
In 1929, the USSR implemented a
icy of forced collectivisation. Labourers
were placed on farms and earned wages
in the form of a percentage of the agricultural yield. Meant to raise money for the
government, the policy actually lowered
agricultural production. Coupled with
bad weather conditions existing from
1930-34, the policy exacerbated already
troubling conditions.
By 1932, 69 per cent of peasant households were collectivised. Extreme measures were taken to meet grain quotas,
which were raised by 44 per cent in the
same year. Unless these quotas were met,
no grain was distributed to farm members.
Te___
of     th>
sands of go
ficials were seni mio me countryside io
rule these farms with deadly discipline.
Members were prevented from leaving
the farms and people were prevented from
leaving the country to inhibit the flow of in
in       about
son caught taking
red, imprisoned, or
PHOTO BY OKER CHEN
. states. The export declined in the
~s of the famine, however a thousand
a half tons of grain managed to make
ir way out of a starving country and
the pockets of the Soviet government.
d Ukraine's citizens, and they slowly
ved to death.
n 1988, a US Commission on the
"aine Famine declared that "...there
io doubt that large numbers of inhabits...starved to death in a man-made
line...caused by the seizure of the 1932
p by Soviet authorities." The minimal
I that was produced by the government
executed.
mgh of a work force alive to produce
vests.
Eventually, documents were de-classi-
i, information was released, and facts
re realised. As much as it is important
Dring justice to past grievances, it is just
necessary to move on. If you fall down,
l't stay down, make stepping stones out
stumbling blocks.
Mykola Ponomarenko, the director of
w.holodomor.org, describes her search
the spiritual cause of the tragic famine
1 how internal causes were as much to
me as external. She sees the future of
raine as a strong, capable, and unified
ition, one that must use past downfalls
mel the successes of its future.
Signed by 25 members, a 2003 UN
Joint Statement states, "We do not want
to settle scores with the past, it could not
be changed, but we are convinced that
exposing violations of human rights, preserving historical records and restoring
the dignity of victims through acknowledg-
While the "breadbasket" of the USSR     ment of their suffering, will guide future
was suffering, the grain was being shipped
to other parts of the country and to west-
societies and help to avoid similar catastrophes in the future." H
IN PERSON
Mike Farrell
Wednesday, March 21 at 7pm
Chapters Robson
Meet Mike Farrell, best known
for his eight years on M*A*S*H,
as he offers inspirational
reflections on his path from
fame to progressive activism
and signs copies of his biography
entitled, Just Call Me Mike.
^k^HR^H^R* "
"THIS IS mt MOST REVEALING AND HONEST PERSO
^  1 HAVE READ IK A LONG TINE. A GENUINE GEI
SENATOR   GEORGE   McCOVERN
Chapters
www.chapters.ca/events
NOTTOOMTE TO KEEP WRITING! Colours Issue
Friday, 16 March, 2007   THE UBYSSEY
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SciFi
Issue
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Publication
webmaster@
ubyssey.bc.ca
Baggage
Claim
by Kentaro Ide
PHOTO BY KeEGAN BtJRSAW
This goes out...
...to all the white guys learning
Japanese just to get with Japanese
girls
...to any education system that
neglects its obligation to teach
about other nations
...to all those who think Chinese
Japanese and Korean are all the
same
...to you, you, you, you, you...us,
them, who?
I speak Japanese when I'm saying something bad about you
That's right—everything you
suspected is true
Raw fish was just a joke just to
see if you'd eat it
And you get all-you-can-eat
'cause we succeeded
Small part of our revenge for
those who got sent to detention
camps
Citizens born and raised on
somebody's "home and native
land"
This supposedly multicultural
international tapestr^^
Just a great white northern
fallacy
Some have the audacity to say
"don't take the history personally"
But don't you see? Back in the
40s they'da taken my life from me
Sign of continuing times when
it still bears saying
That Japanese-Canadian is still
Canadian
So don't ask me why I don't
[have an accent
Why don't you have an accent?
e all got accents
From small towns to cities
|shore to shore
This country is as much not
mine as it is not yours   •
Just listen to the soundscape—I
catch Japanese all the time on the
streets
And we're not just tourists here
for the week
The Asiatic is more than a design element for your tattoos
It's relevant to you
This goes out...
...to all the people who believe
that Japanese girls are all yellow
cabs
...to all the Japanese girls who
give people reason to believe that
they're all yellow cabs
...to all the girls who think Japa-
i'm
nese guys aren't good enough
not bitter...
.. .to you, you, you, you, you.. .me,
us, them, who?
Knock knock, who's there? Elections Canada
Here to make sure that every
eligible voter is registered
This lady looked at me then
looked past me and asked me
"Any of your roommates Canadian?" What about me?
The hypocrisy of descendants of
immigrants
Complaining about immigrants
in the national element
As if the coolies aren't the ones
to hammer the last spikes
Out of sight, out of mind, outside of being white
It's color-coded and not because
I wrote it
I'm just making it easy for those
who can't see me as a regular human being
I'm just an exotic attraction
A monkey up on stage rapping
I'm not a man, just a body of
evidence
My presence proof-positive of
Canada's worldly benevolence
An Asian face to go on your
pamphlet covers
Next to a black guy, a brown girl
and some other Others
The truth is undercfflffir^^are
not as advertised
And it's not just the tourists who
believe the lies
My civics lesson is based upon
my cynical aggression
It's not social, it's personal shit
that I'm addressing
This goes out
...to Tom Cruise for being the
last samurai
...to David Suzuki for being
one of CBC's top ten greatest
Canadians
...to those who wanna discriminate against me but use the wrong
stereotypes
...to you, you, you, you, you...us,
them, who?
...to all the pioneers who faced
racism and stood their ground
...to those who think that the existence of minorities is something
to be tolerated
...to the oppressors and to the
oppressed who can sometimes be
one and the same
...to the yellow the white the
brown the black the full the mixed
the half*
Contemplation
by Michelle Moore
Fluidity,
blending into one.
We are the same—no?
No two the same.
Alone against the elements
fighting the internal fight—identity.
Colours blend
do they not?
Spectrum of shades
concealing one beating heart within—the same.
Individuality.
No repetition.
Each bonded in their distinction—separately.
Alone, yet united—we are man.
One man, every man—are we not?
Colour?
Look beyond. THE UBYSSEY   Fnday, 16 March, 2007
Colours Issue
March 21 — The International
Day for the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination
by Michelle Radley
Get your red pens out and circle
March 21 on your calendars because this is an important date that
should not be forgotten by anyone.
This day marks the little known
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a
holiday organised by the United
Nations in an effort to raise awareness about the ongoing problem
of racial discrimination. It was
established in 1966, following the
Sharpeville massacre of March
21, 1960, when 69 South African
students were brutally killed while
peacefully protesting segregation
laws. The holiday acts as both as
a means of commemorating those
who died in this tragedy, and as a
promise of nothing like it ever happening again.
However, 41 years have passed
since the South African massacre,
and sadly no country in the world
can yet claim to be discrimination-free. Even in Canadian society, racial discrimination continues to be a problem. There may
not be massacres in our country,
but racism can still be seen on the
streets, in the workplace, and in
classrooms. It may be something
as simple as a derogatory joke,
or the hiring of people based on
their ethnicity, but it is racism all
the same.
Because this year's theme for
the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
deals with "Fighting Everyday Racism," it can be hoped that Canadians, especially young Canadians,
will take this message to heart.
The onus is placed on today's
youth to stand up and simply say
"no more." No more will racism
have any part of our lives and society in Canada. No more will ethnic jokes be considered funny, nor
will stereotypes determine our
actions. We are called to practice
acceptance in every aspect of our
day-to-day lives.
From March 19 to 23, UBC students will have the opportunity to
get even more fully in the spirit of
multiculturalism through Realities
of Race Week, a week-long series of
events designed to raise awareness
of racism in our university community. This annual event is destined
to be its largest ever this year, with
including speakers, workshops
and lively debates. A full schedule
of events can be found on the Alma
Mater Society website.
So when March 21 rolls around,
remember the International Day
for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; use the day as an opportunity to examine your everyday actions and take part in some
of the events going on around campus. By changing small attitudes,
big progress can be made against
racism in Canadian society. $
WE HAVE A VOICE
"We Have a Voice: An Anthology of African and Caribbean Student Writing in BC" was
launched in mid-February at the Vancouver Public Library as part of Black History Month. A
publication funded entirely by students, the anthology is comprised of academic and creative
compositions that explore and discuss the transnational experiences of African and Caribbean
students at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. Future editions of the anthology
expect to extend well beyond the post-secondary level and encompass the experiences of the
African Diaspora provincially, nationally and internationally. All proceeds go towards the establishment of an African and Caribbean Resources Library at UBC. benjamin ralston photo
Computing your
Summer Semester
University Transfer Courses @ Langara College:
Transfers to UBC:
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Introduction to Unix administration and scripting languages,                      LANG CPSC 1280 & LANG 2280 = UBC CPSC 213 (4) & UBC CPSC 2nd (2)
utilities, tools and techniques.
CPSC 1401 - Introduction to Computer Electronics
Includes a thorough, comprehensive, and practical coverage of
basic electrical and electronic concepts and circuits with special
emphasis on trouble shooting and applications in computer systems
UBCEECE263{3)
CPSC 2280 - Operating System                                                                      UBC CPSC 2nd (3) if taken alone;
Introduction to distributed systems; process scheduling and                      LANG CPSC 1280 & LANG CPSC 2280 = UBC CPSC 213 (4) & CPSC 2nd (2)
management; memory management; file systems; I/O services;
driver architecture; operating system management and security
CPSC 2720 - Distributes & Concurrent Computing
Covers Client/server models, processes and threads,
concurrence issues, and inter-process communication.
UBC CPSC 2nd (3)
CSIS 2500 - Management Information Systems -- Online Course                 UBC COMM 391 (3)
Explores the many ways technology assists organizations to
function and to understand the effects of information systems on
organization structure, management and its employees
Register now.
For more information contact csis@langara.bc.ca
www.langara.bc.ca/computing
?arn more. Langara College. Colours Issue
Fnday, 16 March, 2007   THE UBYSSEY
DEGRASSI; THE NEXT GENERATION — CTV
PRIME TIME TELEVISION PROGRAM
NEXT DEADLINE: MAY 16, 2007
What makes a great TV show? It starts with superb writing. Our alumni have been
credited on more than 80 shows. Through industry driven training you will learn to
write for episodic television in a collaborative environment, acquire real skills, meet
industry contacts, develop and pitch your own original series. We will put you on the
fast track to becoming a professional TV writer.
For upcoming deadlines, more information or
to download guidelines and an application
package, visit www.cfccreates.com.
CFC PRIME TIME TELEVISION PROGRAM
416.445.1446 x217   ioldford@cfccreateE.com
2489 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, M2L 1A8
DREAM IT. LEARN IT. WRITE IT.
DFC
Canadian Film Centre
If you have a university degree in any field, you may be able to earn a
BCIT diploma in one year. BCIT's advanced placement into diploma and
post-diploma business programs can fast-track you into a career in:
Financial Management
> Advanced Accounting
> Professional Accounting
> Finance/Financial Planning
> Taxation
Contact: Tim Edwards, Associate Dean,
604.432.8898
Operations Management and
Information Technology
> International Trade and Transportation*
> Information Technology Management*
> Operations Management*
* relevant business degree required
Contact: Mary Tiberghien, 604.432.8385
Business Administration
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> Business Management
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Marketing Management
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> Entrepreneurship
> Marketing Communications
> Professional Sales
> Tourism Management
Contact: Kadi Rae, 604.432.8293
For more information, visit bcit.ca/admission/transfer/advanced
Apply now for Fall 2007
TECHNOLOGY
CHANGES
EVERYTHING
Writing back:
the literary
politics
of reaction
by Kentaro Ide
The question of what it means to
be Canadian is constantly being
debated, especially as the population of new immigrants and
visible minorities continues to
grow. Literature has long provided
a theoretical "space" within which
the politics of Canadian identity have been defined, contested,
and redefined repeatedly. A key
struggle now is moving beyond
simply reacting against racially
discriminating ideologies to begin
creating new discourses from the
ground up.
For those who find literature of
little relevance to their lives, the
following examples should demonstrate how the written word
remains crucial in defining our
understandings of race and
national identity.
The dominant conception of
Canadian identity is undoubtedly
Caucasian, and this conviction has
been shaped and refined throughout much of Canadian poetry. One
of the most famous examples is E.J.
Pratt's epic poem, "Towards the
LastSpike." Pratt's immense poem
outlines the long and arduous process faced by Scottish-descended
Canadians creating the Canadian
Pacific Railway, the completion
of which symbolises the unifying
of this enormous landmass into a
single nation. Pratt's poem, which
stresses in great detail the race
and genealogy of its characters, argues that the heroic determination
of the Scottish race is what led to
the project's success.
In his piece "All the Spikes but
the Last", poet F.R. Scott points
out a fundamental flaw in Pratt's
vision by asking, "Where are the
coolies in your poem, Ned?" With
his simple response poem, Scott
shines a light on the hitherto invisible, the "thousands from China,
who swung/Their picks with bare
hands at forty below." Likewise,
Chinese-Canadian BC poet Fred
Wah uses his poetry to respond
against what he refers to as "the
sacrosanct great railway imagination dedicated to harvesting
a dominant white cultural landscape." Wah adds that "the real
last spike is yet to be driven," thus
directly adding his own voice into
the literary discussion over Pratt's
poem and the racial discourse it
represents.
Although such responses are
crucial steps in criticising and
dismantling that "dominant white
cultural landscape," they also signal another problem for Canada's
racial minorities. That is, in reacting, one remains trapped within
the vocabularies and the themes
set by the dominant discourses.
Thus, the "immigrant" or the "visible minority" Canadian, for example, remains defined in terms
of a white normalcy. Jamaican-
Canadian poet Hope Anderson
articulates this problem of lacking
an indigenous vocabulary in his
poem "1980", writing, "i become /
the speech of the other/the one to
which i speak."
In essence, one of the key
struggles for marginalised peoples
is finding and creating their own
cultural reference points, instead
of remaining located solely within histories that are foreign and
hostile to their identities. BC poet
Wayde Compton, for instance, has
compiled an anthology of black BC
literature called Bluesprint, and
much of his own poetry is centered
on situating himself within that
racial lineage. Compton creates a
foundation for black BC writers to
build upon, allowing them to "see
that the subjects and subjectivities
which appear in their writing are
not isolated features, but rather
parts of an experience that is over
150 years in the making."
Creating new narratives is not
about ignoring one's relationship
with the pre-existing dominant
narrative; that dominant narrative is always present in the background. Belonging to multiple narratives is not a contradiction; it is
a central part of being mixed race,
or having multiple nationalities or
cultural backgrounds. Once one
learns to criticise and reject racial discrimination, the task then
turns to the more complicated
process of creating new ways of
understanding cultural identity.
Literature, by playing an integral
role in defining our cultural vocabularies, provides us with the
spaces we need to shape these
understandings of race, ethnicity
and national identity. $ SOCIAL PROGRAMS
HEALTH + MEDICINE
CUSTOM GROUPS
•n truly changed by tn(s
experience and can't wait to go back.
Emily Wftson
Ghana Social Program
infofcvolurtteerabrosrlea
volunteerabroad.ca lours Issue
Friday, 16 March, 2007   THE UBYSSEY
i
■
■
kflnu
■
;/   v   5
;
osque, big sensation1
mm
Saskatchewan
sheik shines in
new show
by Cheata Nao
CBC's new hit comedy Little
Mosque on the Prairie has generated a lot of buzz in its first season,
and for good reason. The cheeky
comedy about the lives of a Muslim community in rural Saskatchewan in a post-9/11 world is the
first of its kind on North American
television. Just under 2.1 million
curious Canadians tuned in for
the season premiere.
Little Mosque on the Prairie
takes place in the fictional small
town of Mercy. The show is about
the lives of a small Muslim community, its interactions with the
non-Muslim community, and all
the hilarity that ensues. It is a humorous look at relationships, family life, love, the generation gap,
and balancing Muslim beliefs and
traditions in a prairie setting.
However, if you're looking for
a highly political show that aims
to preach at its viewers, this isn't
it. The program is not a political
show with aspects of comedy, it is
a comedy with aspects of politics.
What's great about Little Mosque is
that it is not meant for just Muslim viewers. The themes present
in each episode are universal, so
people of any ethnicity and religion can relate.
The characters are universal
as far as sitcoms are concerned:
there's the big shot lawyer who
leaves the city and moves to the
country to pursue his true calling,
the single father trying raise his
teenage daughter while dealing
with the generation gap, and his
daughter's budding romance.
While the show is not afraid
to   tackle   political   issues   and
use humour to do so, it exposes
the absurdities of the post-9/11
climate without offending viewers. In the first episode, Amar, the
new Imam, is in line at the airport talking on the phone with his
mother, who thinks he's throwing his life away by moving to the
Prairies.
"I've been planning this for
months, it's not like I dropped a
bomb on him," said Amar.
He adds: "Well if dad thinks
it's suicide so be it. This is Allah's
plan for me." Immediately the
woman in front of him steps out of
line before hearing him conclude
with, "I'm not throwing my life
OKER CHEN PHOTO
away, I'm moving to the prairies."
He was then swiftly taken away by
airport security for questioning.
What's important about Little
Mosque is that it places Muslims
as central protagonists, something
that is rare in much of Western
television.
Proving that laughter really
is the universal language, Little
Mosque on the Prairie shows us
that even though we may be different in ethnicity, skin colour, or
religion, we are all surprisingly
similar when it comes to family dynamics, romance, and our
attempts to balance our religious
and secular lives, i
Cultural adjustment is film's Namesake
THE NAMESAKE
NowPlaying
by Patty Comeatj
Based on the book by Jhumpa
Lahiri, The Namesake explores
the shared life of a Bengali
couple living as first-generation
immigrants in New York and the
generational gap between these
parents and their two children.
Although the film ultimately
follows the story of Gogol Ganguli
(Kal Penn), in the title role of a
character named for Russian
author Nikolai Gogol, Salaam
Bombay director Mira Nair's
latest film is as much a story about
his mother as it is about him. It
addresses equally the attempts by
second-generation immigrants to
fit into Western society while their
parents maintain a stronger link
with their cultural tradition.
Beautifully literary, the film
begins with access to the inner
life    of    both    Ashima    (Tabu)
and Ashoke (Irfan Khan) and
triangulates with the addition of
Gogol to the family. As he grows
up, the narrative favours Gogol's
story over that of his sister's while
maintaining the heartbreaking
distance of a loving parent. The
viewer gains an appreciation for
the lives of Ashima and Ashoke
as individuals and as a couple,
in ways that do not come easy to
their American-born and raised
offspring. The sadness they
feel on account of their son's
emotional distance is much more
palpable than Gogol's own wish
for self-determination.
As many multi-generational
films do, The Namesake felt long.
Over 25 years pass in the course of
the narrative. That said, very little
of the content felt superfluous; the
length develops empathy for Gogol
and his family by drawing out their
experiences of loss and longing for
self-determination in coexistence.
Rather than depicting oppression
(whether spousal or parental) and
a struggle to assert individuality
this film embarks on a much
more complicated task: it seeks to
understand the complications of
a generation gap combined with
cultural difference for one young
man and his family.
A visit to the Taj Mahal inspires
Gogol to take up architecture;
the same qualities that he finds
so striking in that field (art,
engineering and aesthetics) are
central characteristics of The
Namesake itself. Strong themes
of travel and transition combine
with a meticulously crafted plot
and colour rich photography to
produce a film with great emotional
impact. Kinship, whether found in
the suburbs of America or among
generations of relatives in India,
solidifies networks of quietstrength
and support for the characters.
In spite of some overplaying on
the part of Penn andjacinda Barett
(in the part of his girlfriend), The
Namesake had some genuine
comedic   moments.   The   gentle
compassion, patience and
compromise that Ashima exhibits
in her relationships with her
husband and family is a guiding
force for much of the film's action.
Similarly Ashoke's love for her and
his children seems boundless.
I'd recommend The Namesake
to  anyone  looking for  an alter
native to the cookie-cutter
predictability that the majority
of Hollywood films in this genre
bring to bear. Never radical,
but pleasingly different, this
film caters to those who prefer a
noticeably intelligent screenplay
and a steady cast to shock value
and gimmick, i

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