Humor and Satire


Politics rules the news cycle on Islam and the Middle East. Given the colonial history of the region, there have been numerous puppet leaders installed or allowed to dangle over the years. But the latest puppet regime in Egypt, which has had its share, centers around a cosmetically enhanced widow matron that lolls around in a negligeé and talks about sex. Her name is Abla Fahita and she is a puppet in a new Egyptian tv series. She is turning heads in post-Brotherhood Egypt; if Morsy was still in power, it might very well be her own head that would have been in cinematic danger, although she has been on Youtube for several years and made an appearance on Bassam Yousif’s show. She even has her own MTVish video.

Humor has never been in short supply in Egypt, so even if her Friday night show is censored off the air, other puppets will appear. But in the meantime, if you want to laugh along with a lot of Egyptians, who are in need of something to laugh about beyond politics, just put “Abla Fahita” into Youtube, sit back and enjoy.

Commercial giants are playing fast and loose with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. These days it can be a big juicy Ramadan deal, wherever you live, when you go out after avoiding food and water all day long. Fast food chains are especially eager to break your fast. Somehow I suspect that if the Prophet Muhammad were alive today, he would not order pizza and a coke for iftar. If fasting is only about denying yourself for half a day and then living it up for the other half, it loses all spiritual meaning. There are a number of hadiths recording what the Prophet Muhammad said about the holy month of Ramadan. One of these is related as follows: “When Ramadan enters, the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hellfire are closed and the devils are chained” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Modern day businesses are more interested in opening the gates of their franchises and leaving the gates of Hellfire ajar, while quite a few devils seem to have no problem breaking their chains.

Just as Christmas is now about putting presents under a tree and Easter is searching for colored eggs, so Ramadan has become a time to buy rather than contemplate. Capitalism captures religion whenever there is a profit to be made out of a prophet. Restaurants offer special iftar meals, usually with elaborate spreads, and hours are reduced in most Muslim countries so workers can go home and take a nap. Religiosity shines while acting on the ethical principles of the faith takes second place to making sure iftar is exactly at the adhan and not a nanosecond before. This may be the letter of the law, but it misses the whole reason for fasting in the first place.

Then there are the promotions that show the hypocrisy of the appeal. Tsk, tsk British Tesco for inviting Muslims to partake of a Ramadan special like bacon-flavored Pringles. The artificial and the superficial combine to make Ramadan just another shopping holiday.

Newsweek has an interesting article by Christiane Gruber, an associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Michigan, about Muslim cartoons against ISIS. Check it out here.

There is a nicely done satire by Sean McFate on how to take over a small country. Check it out here. Note: Only the rich may apply.

I have been wondering for some time if there is any profession in the world more disgraceful and pathetic than that of being a politician. I realize that there have been and are decent people that get elected to public office and even some good intentioned folk who gain power through other means. I am also aware that every profession has its crazies and I have known my fair share of academics who fit that characterization. But two things came across my Facebook radar today that are too absurd not to call for a commentary. One is an elected official, the Tea Party Wunderkind Tom Cotton, who in only a few months appears to have been drinking something far stronger than the tea of the party that elected him. Given his fast start out of the gate of congress, I am tempted to think he signed a Hollywood movie contract before he ran for office. Perhaps Arnold has already been pegged to play him. Cotton has been having a ball acting like a boll weevil on a Fox News feeding frenzy. Managing to convince 40-odd fellow senators to sign on to a letter that is in some sense an act of treason for anyone who does care about the Constitution was certainly an opening act hard to duplicate. Our allies are surely excited to know that one section of our government has little intention of honoring what the president is authorized to do before he even does it.

But more pathetic than this silly letter, which surely must frighten Iran into accepting everything a tea partyer might dream up, is his Rambo attitude towards his fellow citizens, assuming he considers a large portion (perhaps that percentage noted by Romney in the last election) citizens. I can see the logic here. The bulk of our military today relies on poorer individuals, lots of Hispanics and Blacks. So if we increase the military he must think we will get these potential criminals off the streets where the white folk live. As for those who do not enlist or who return to discover there are few decent jobs for war veterans (unless they are rightwing enough to run for congress), we will obviously need a lot more prisons to hold them all. Perhaps if we invade another country (Iran or some evil state like that) we could set up a penal colony and deport the unwanted. I am sure a select committee in congress could fashion a comprehensive bill defining who deserves to stay in America and who should be sent packing. I can see a possible motto for the act: “America, leave it now whether you love it or not because we hate you.” The list could start by deporting anyone who ever received food stamps and that would make it easier to close down the Food Stamp program.

But then perhaps I am being unfair. If al-Qaida allies with the Mexican drug lords, then we will see shariah law west of the Pecos. If East Coast liberals continue to push for gay marriage (and the Presbyterian Church USA just moved to perform gay marriages), then our population will decline so drastically that the Republicans will never have a chance to rule the country into the ground forever. Then there are those hippies in San Francisco who need to be weeded out (same goes for Coloradans and all those other psychedelic states). If we start the draft again (I remember how popular it was when I was of draft age but I think it would be better to have it run by annual income rather than birth date to make sure only the lower class goes off to fight), then these druggies can go off somewhere, kill our enemies (which are everywhere) and get high all they want on the drugs overseas. We could send more to Afghan and give them first dibs on the poppy fields.

Then there is Egypt. It seems that a notorious belly dancer wants to run for parliament. I think there is no fear that she would harbor any sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood. One of her music videos could be a rather effective campaign message. Imagine a politician who can shake her belly and not just fill it up with bribes. The world needs more female politicians for sure, so who would not support this candidate.

So who should be a politician? It seems that the more bizarre you are, the more incentive there is to run for office. But I think I have been asking the wrong question. The real question is who should be a voter that elects politicians? If the majority of those elected is a representative sample, then it may be that no one should vote. Sorry Athens, but democracy is just too dangerous to promote any more. Now with Cotton in congress and Sama al-Masri attempting to dangle both her zaina in Sisi’s newly formed Egyptian parliament, the new model for government should be Sparta. Hail Leonidas.

The Republican Party, inebriated with tea partisanship, seems to shoot itself in its elephantine trunk in attracting presidential candidates. This certainly worked to Romney’s favor last time around, as he certainly looked far more presidential than “what-was-the-third-one” Rick Perry, Call 999 and pay your taxes Mr. Cain, Sarah “I can see Alaska from my bedroom” Palin, Ron “I will run even when I am in my grave” Paul and the other circus acts that paraded through the primaries in 2012. Once again we are seeing a run (at the mouth some times) of former Governor and Fox News celebrity Mike Huckabee. He is apparently willing to overlook the fact that having two presidents from the state of Arkansas within only a couple of decades is going against Las Vegas odds. But here he is again, hitting the mash potato and Bible verse quoting circuit and about as Iowa bound as a candidate can get.

The latest bit of Huckabeeswax has a nasty sting to it. Echoing the Gold Meir canard that there are no “Palestinians” on his most recent Bible Land tour (I suspect that Huckabee is guilty of not reading Twain’s Innocents Abroad), the Arkansas traveler said that there aint no such thing (well he is reported to have said “is” no such thing but who knows what the meaning of “is” really is) as a Palestinian. “The idea that they have a long history, dating back hundreds or thousands of years, is not true,” Huckabee said.

So if there are no “Palestinians” but only “Arabs” who made up the term to spite Israel and drive them into the sea, who exactly was living in Eretz Israel before 1948. Here are some scenarios. (more…)

The lunatic fringe is no longer a fringe on Youtube. Every wild idea you could possibly think of is out there somewhere. For example, not only is Egypt the mother of all civilizations, an idea that has been around for awhile, but today we see ancient Egyptians being cloned. There is Obama, who must be relieved to know he is an ancient Egyptian and not a Muslim. And there is Michael Jackson, who probably would make a great MTV video if he had only known his true roots. If you want more proof of the clones, just check out this Youtube video.

Faux News expanded its crusade against President Obama (who is reduced to POTUS in their pseudo-news hocus pocus) and Islam (which is only newsworthy when it is called extreme) with a line right out of Monty Python. At the White House Prayer Breakfast (which Fox seems to think only included “evangelicals”) the president made a simple moral point that we should get off our “high horse” and remember that atrocious acts have been committed in the past by Christians in the Crusades and Inquisition. He might have added that “witches” were routinely burned at the stake in Christian Europe. The response from the right was that the president must hate Christianity if he compares the horrific acts of ISIS to marauding Crusaders and Torquemada. Some have such vitriol for Obama that they claimed the Crusaders were acting in self-defense.

I do not have the stomach to watch Faux News (and mercifully I choose not to have a cable connection in Qatar), but the tidbits that float through Facebook and Youtube cannot be easily avoided. (more…)

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