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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Nadeem F. Paracha, Wajahat Ali, James Zogby, Margaret Attwood, What is a snark?

The final decision must be left with voters. Let them decide when the time comes who or what was good or bad. The public’s right to effect change must not be handed over to a loud group of journalists, intelligence agencies, politicians with little following, mullahs and businessmen. Nadeem F. Paracha

Because of the backlash against Muslims after 9/11, many Muslims renounced the traditional career path and opted for more challenging roles in the arts and media. Wajahat Ali: The Redefining of Muslim Art by The Obama Generation

The first obligation of any government is to defend the rights of its citizens. Israel appears to have defined its own categories of US citizenship. Arab Americans are not fully recognized. James Zogby: Enough is Enough

Margaret Atwood doesn't think she writes science fiction. Ursula K Le Guin would like to disagree To my mind, The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake and now The Year of the Flood all exemplify one of the things science fiction does, which is to extrapolate imaginatively from current trends and events to a near-future that's half prediction, half satire. But Margaret Atwood doesn't want any of her books to be called science fiction. In her recent, brilliant essay collection, Moving Targets, she says that everything that happens in her novels is possible and may even have already happened, so they can't be science fiction, which is "fiction in which things happen that are not possible today". This arbitrarily restrictive definition seems designed to protect her novels from being relegated to a genre still shunned by hidebound readers, reviewers and prize-awarders. She doesn't want the literary bigots to shove her into the literary ghetto. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

What is snark? Abuse in a public forum of a particular kind - personal, low, teasing, rug-pulling, finger-pointing, snide, obvious, and knowing. How does snark work? Snark is hazing on the page. It prides itself on wit, but it's closer to a leg stuck out in a school corridor that sends some kid flying. It pretends to be all in fun, and anyone who's annoyed by it will be greeted with the retort, "How can you take this seriously? What's wrong with you?" - which has the doubly aggressive effect of putting the victim on the defensive. No one wants to argue with a joke, so this is shrewd as far as it goes. But some of these funsters are mean little toughs. Snark seizes on any vulnerability or weakness it can find - a slip of the tongue, a sentence not quite up to date, a bit of flab, an exposed boob, a blotch, a blemish, a wrinkle, an open fly, an open mouth, a closed mouth. It exploits - slyly, teasingly - race and gender prejudice. When there are no vulnerabilities, it makes them up. Snark razzes pomp, but it razzes certain kinds of strength, too - people who are unaffectedly serious. Snarky writers can't bear being outclassed by anyone, and snark becomes the vehicle of their resentment and contempt. It's not big and it's not clever


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