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E.T phone China
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-02-15 09:27:01
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The involvement of celebrities in major international issues often makes me feel suspicious and sceptical but, as I have often written, if it helps to highlight these issues and make more people aware of them, then well done and it doesn’t matter if I agree or not with their approach or the methods they use to do that.

There are hundreds of people all around the world who talk about Darfur, show pictures and share their experiences while they worked there with refugees; most likely, everyday tens of people are giving speeches and writing articles about Darfur saying much more since they have personal experience. They saw more than the celebrity driven in a bullet-proof Mercedes, seeing clean kids who could actually recognize the star's face and, after having snacks and sharing biscuits with these kids, they return home to share this experience.

I’m not bitter about them and it is natural that their celebrity status gives them more access to the people than any speaker in a small university hall. There are hundreds of NGOs involved in Darfur and it took a celebrity to reach the Security Council and the Oval Office!

Again, all these celebrities do nothing other than show sensitivity – occasionally, melodramatically – and demand sensitivity or at least humanitarianism from a Security Council that is overwhelmed by geo-politics and interests that most of the time have nothing to do with humanitarianism. Worst of all is that all these celebrities don’t do anything other than look like beggars who try to get money and help depending on sentimentally blackmails and waiting for help.

Nobody has asked responsibility and this is when I was really surprised reading that Steven Spielberg pointed the finger by actually asking from China about responsibilities, with China reacting to the accusations and the resignation of Mr. Spielberg from his artistic advisor position in a harsh and naïve way.

I have to admit that I specially admire Mr. Spielberg as a director and that is nothing to do with E.T. or Indian Jones; there was a period most of us, including me, felt tired of a constant reminding on what happened during WWII and we tried to put it to the back of our mind as a fact we accepted. Exactly when the Holocaust moved from just pages from history books, Mr. Spielberg came to remind us all that never forgetting the Holocaust is our obligation.

I watched Schindler's List a number of times and every time I watch it I have tears in my eyes and I feel grateful to Mr. Spielberg because when I reached the oblivion he woke me up and reminded me. Mr. Spielberg did exactly the same with pointing at China as part of the problem in Sudan.

What Mr. Spielberg did by being an art advisor for the 2008 Olympic Games is under question at least for me if we think about the problems China has with human rights, freedom of speech and a series of other issues. Using the Olympic Games as an excuse, China’s ruling party found the chance to make some public relations using celebrities as the window and outside good excuse and Mr. Spielberg, whether he likes it or not, became one of them and in the future he will have somehow to excuse his decision. However, by resigning his position he managed to show to everybody that the solution of the Darfur problem is not so simple and by only calling the UN and the Security Council is not enough, especially when one of the involved, China, is a permanent member of the Security Council.

China is the main buyer of the Sudanese oil and the main arms supplier. China is the one who can put real pressure over the Sudanese government to resolve the Darfur situation and the Sudanese government is equally responsible with the rebels in what is going on there. China made some steps in good will by sending an envoy and 150 men as peacekeepers but in violation of the UN arms embargo China keeps sending arms to Sudan and nothing will really change as long this status is not changing.

I’m not going to try to understand why and how Mr. Spielberg became the art advisor of the Chinese Olympics but I’m definitely happy he pointed the finger at the Chinese government for the Darfur problem and now more fingers start pointing in the same direction. I hope the Chinese government will make the right moves, you see that’s the thing with celebrities, when they point the finger at you everybody is looking!

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Emanuel Paparella2008-02-15 17:50:20

The self of a whole nation, or its cultural identity if you will, has an inner life too, or what the ancient Greeks called its soul. To become unaware that a nation or a civilization has a spiritual life is to end up living by a mere external ephemeral reality in which power, production and consumption, banks, soccer games, marching armies, Olympic games, value-free science, are predominant, a cultural world wherein showing off such power (the Roman Circus...) becomes the highest priority of a nation. Religion, which contains much of the tradition of a people is declared poison and eradicated even from the cultural lives of other people (to wit Tibet); ultimately even the utopianism present in the original Marxist ideology is lost sight of and the nation thinking itself superior and enlightened falls into self-deception. Erick Fromm Escape from Freedom and Dostoyevsky's The Devils well analyze the desease. At that point of misguided totalitarian-Hegelian scheme of reality, the cultural disease of a society is unto death, as Kierkegaard, the first existentialist anti-Hegelian philosopher, well taught us.

Indeed Thanos, it is fitting and proper for Spielberg to remind the Chinese of those unflinching spiritual realities as he formerly reminded us that the proper lessons of the Holocaust have never been drawn in the Western World, but I would not be too sanguine about the cultural situation in the Western world, since much of the cultural devastation and loss of meaning and nihilism present in China is also present in the Western world and we might have exported much of it. After all Marxism is a Western ideology.

AP2008-02-16 00:29:06
That's true :) hopefully everybody will start looking

Sand2008-02-16 05:39:52
Anyone who can convince himself that illogical devotion to archaic tracts permits committing rape, torture, murder on righteous explosions of brutality such as has been demonstrated by Catholics throughout the Middle Ages and in modern times in Northern Ireland, by Protestants in the genocide of Native Americans in the development of the USA, by Muslims throughout history and as liberally demonstrated throughout the world today is laudable human behavior obviously operates from the darkest side of twisted humanity.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-16 13:22:42
Has the FSM, with his brain in his "meatballs," been visiting again? It is not wise to listen to it, it is a mere idol from the darkest side of reality and an archetype of infinite stupidity.

Sand2008-02-16 14:01:49
It is evident, Paparella, that the Flying Spaghetti Monster has taken firm hold of your imagination, as have several other idiotic religious dogmas. A mind that can convert a silly joke into a serious element of conversation is in deep trouble.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-16 23:57:28
Indeed, Jung had it on target: throw religion out the window and it will come back from the back door as the dogma of the Church of the FSM and other idiocies-jokes revealing a devastated and sick imagination.

Sand2008-02-17 06:59:48
To take the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a serious threat to a world view is a very strong indication that idiotic irony is more powerful than that viewpoint. One of the strongest indications of the existence of a totalitarian system is its vulnerability to humor and its violent reaction to humorous criticism. The absolute dogmatisms of religion clearly fall into this category.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-29 06:39:25
To the contrary the FSM and its devoted creators are hilarious in their ridiculous sham and fakery. Anyone who resorts to the dictionary to look up historical eras and preferes to re-invent the wheel to standing on the shoulders of intellectual giants, would sooner or later invent and establish the church of the FSM. Can you hear the gods laughing?

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