suggested reading — 24 May 2012

Happy Thursday:

1) Bolivar’s Ghost
by Pedro Sanchez and Gord Westmacott
The Walrus (2006)

An older article about the line of charismatic leftist leaders who have emerged in Latin America. I met Pedro during my internship at the CBC. He’s a producer with The Current.

For now, the populist wave has cast its lot with the democratic left. But populist movements have a long history of flying any number of flags of political convenience, from doctrinaire Marxism to military dictatorships. Such movements also show a persistent and problematic willingness to blindly deliver their collective power into the waiting hands of a caudillo, the archetypal and charismatic strongman, the father figure who is not always benevolent.

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2) The Storytellers of Empire
by Kamila Shamsie
Guernica Magazine

A novelist from Pakistan asks why American writers haven’t done enough to enlighten the people who, after 9/11, asked “Why do they hate us?”

In this moment of darkness, I found myself looking to my tribe, my people. I found myself looking to writers. Where were the novels that could be proffered to people who asked, “Why do they hate us?”, which is actually the question “Who are these people and what do they have to do with us?” No such novel, as far as I knew, had come from the post-Cold War generation of writers who started writing after the 1980s when Islam replaced Communism as the terrifying Other. But that would change, I told myself. The nation that had intervened militarily with more nations than any other in the latter half of the twentieth century but had itself come under attack infrequently would now see its stories bound up with the stories of other places. The writers would write. The novels would come.

They didn’t. They haven’t.

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3) Congress Should Ban Armed Drones Before Cops in Texas Deploy One
by Conor Friedersdorf
The Atlantic

It’s Texas.

CBS News quotes him explaining that “those are things that law enforcement utilizes day in and day out and in certain situations it might be advantageous to have this type of system.” That’s rather vague, but there’s no getting around one thing: the situations would all involve police deliberately shooting rubber bullets or tear gas clouds at civilians from an unmanned drone.

Even Fox News doesn’t like this: “You might as well live in Havana.”

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See you tomorrow!

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