Rābiʿa- A Symbol of…

“Düzce in the eponymous northwestern Turkish province has erected a statue of the Rābiʿa sign in June 2017. Mayor Mehmet Keleş (AKP) argued that Turkey needed a symbol after the failed coup that shook the country in 2016. The text under the statue reads: “One homeland, one flag, one nation, one state.” In an unexpected clash of symbols, local members of the Grey Wolves criticized the statue, arguing that the Rābiʿa sign is a Muslim Brotherhood symbol being imposed on the Turks. They claim that the grey wolf is their national symbol, covering the statue with their own flag.”

Figure 1: Nationalists protest Rābiʿa sign.

Symbols, when they have deep roots in history, will never be able to develop completely new meaning. It can carry layers of meaning but never replace the old one. The quote referenced above mentions how Erdogan, the president of Turkey, has adopted the rābiʿa symbol into the AK (justice) party and built a statue for it. But he received backlash from the Grey Wolves party who hated that the contemporary, radically loaded symbol replaced something with such deep heritage: the grey wolf. But beneath the statue, Erdogan wrote the words: one homeland, one flag, one nation, one state. Erdogan did not write we support the Muslim Brotherhood. But people perceived it that way nonetheless. This is because when you deal with symbols, perception is reality.

We can see this with all the symbols we’re discussing today: The swastika, the grey wolf, and the rābiʿa. Each symbol has a history that influences how it is perceived for better or for worse. The swastika, though it isn’t inherently evil, will always carry a layer of the Nazi era and the horrors that happened then. The grey wolf will always carry an entire history of Turkic origins. And lastly, the rābiʿa sign, will always be a symbol tied to a history of anger and suffering. It will always reference the massacre that happened.

Figure 2: Corpses from the Rābiʿa massacre


Article link: https://menasymbolism.com/2019/02/06/the-rabia-sign/

Image sources:

Figure 1: https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/06/22/nationalists-protest-installation-of-rabia-sign-statue-in-duzce/

Figure 2: https://www.yenisafak.com/en/photo-gallery/world/fifth-anniversary-of-egypts-rabaa-massacre-2032148/?page=2

“Sit Down and Shut the F**k Up” – In Response to Asian Stereotypes

“Several record labels balked when they heard the debut single STFU! – an aggressive, explicit response to the racist and festishistic comments she receives as a Japanese woman living in the west (“Have you ever thought about taping your big mouth shut? ‘Cause I have, many times,” she sings in the chorus). According to Rina, an unnamed major label pulled out of negotiations after she played them the track. She subsequently learned one of the executives had been calling her Rina Wagamama behind her back, somewhat proving the song’s point.”

In Act 2, Scene 6 of M. Butterfly, Gallimard finally visits Song after several weeks of not seeing her and finds her drunk and despairing. The alcohol gives Song enough courage to confront Gallimard about his affair with Renee. While doing so, she says that their conflict is due to an “old problem” in which men eventually grow tired of women if they have been with them for too long. Gallimard, knowing the power he has over Song, proposes a solution where she has to sacrifice her innocence, one of her most prized virtues, by stripping naked in front of him. Song expresses her discomfort, and Gallimard completely dismisses her concerns, to which she responds with the following: “Yes—and it is just like a white devil to use it against me. I can’t believe it. I thought myself so repulsed by the passive Oriental and the cruel white man. Now I see—we are always most revolted by the things hidden within us.”

This scene essentially epitomizes the stereotype of the Asian woman being submissive by nature in the crudest way possible. Gallimard was drawn to Song because he fetishized her innocence/modesty, and now, he is insisting that she strip that away in order to please him. In the BBC News article “Rina Sawayama: Turning familial pain into pop gold” by Mark Savage, we get to know the backstory of famous Japanese-British singer, songwriter, and model Rina Sawayama through her debut album Sawayama. On the album, there is one track tilted “STFU!”, which is an aggressive response to the racist, fetishistic, and stereotypical comments Sawayama receives as an Asian woman living in the West. Here are some of the lyrics:

How come you don’t expect me

To get mad when I’m angry?

You’ve never seen it though I know I’m not the only one

How come you don’t respect me?

Expecting fantasies

Leave our reality, why don’t you just sit down and

Shut the fuck up

My reason for choosing this article is that it directly applies to the scene previously discussed. The lyrics of the song “STFU!” convey a conversation where Sawayama confronts a dominant figure, which is most likely a white man. She asks him questions like, “How come you don’t expect me to get mad when I’m angry?” and “How come you don’t respect me?” She claims that he expects fantasies while completely ignoring the reality of what he’s doing, something Gallimard is doing to Song in this very scene. The only difference here is that Sawayama tells the dominant figure to “sit down and shut the fuck up,” while Song just allows Gallimard to take advantage of her. 

Works Cited:

Savage, Mark. “Rina Sawayama: Turning Familial Pain into Pop Gold.” BBC News, BBC, 23 

     Apr. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-52380231. Accessed 28 April 2020.



One slice of pizza is not the whole Pie

GALLIMARD: You live with the Chinese, Sir.

TOULON: I live in China. Not with the Chinese.

These two lines made me think of something that I feel has been going on for way too long. The idea of globalization. The idea of globalizing a sect, or an induvial as a whole. A group, as an entirety. What Toulon is saying here is that yes, I do live in China, however, I do not associate with the Chinese. What does this mean for us, in these times? In the late hours of last night and the early morning, Mayor De Blasio has been under fire for putting out a tweet that read: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.” Yes, he was correct for shutting down a funeral, which in a sense is a social gathering. Yes, a funeral in these times will lead to another funeral, and another one. However, to take to twitter and write “to the Jewish community,” that is wrong. In this situation, our Mayor is Gallimard, accusing Toulon of living with the Chinese, and I am Toulon being accused of living amongst a people. I too, like Toulan has to answer for myself. I must say I do live in Brooklyn, I am Jewish, but what has happened last night is not Judaism. To globalize Judaism and base its values on an extremist group, is no different than saying the Muslim religion is the religion of ISIS. The morals of Christianity, cannot and should not be based on the Crusades. Judaism cannot be globalized as people of extremism. I condemn such acts of extremism. And I and all Jews who act according to our Bibles moral code, have an obligation to answer to Mayor de Blasio’s globalized tweet and say back what happened last night is not Judaism.







Desexualization vs. Fetishization – M. Butterfly

The plot of M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang intrigued me, not only because it was surprising to read at first that, somehow, Gallimard had been tricked into marrying a man disguised as a women. I liked how the work inspired me to think both about the toxic masculinity men experience, and the misogynistic notions of what it means to be a women, in an Asian context. I feel that Gallimard feels threatened by constant comments about his relationship with Song. The fact that he had been tricked and has been deemed as gay greatly threatens his masculinity. In defense, he reacts by reaffirming social constructs that he knows Song is a woman because she is sexually submissive and emasculates himself by acting as Pinkerton, who does not respect women. He is also able to emasculate himself by hardly opposing when his friend, Marc, insists that he can exert his power over women whenever he wants, sexually. This is obviously incredibly sexist, and shows how men who feel that their masculinity has been threatened will turn to affirming that women are submissive to him, which throws LGBT members to the wayside as well, since he was offended to be called gay in the first place.

"Desexualization vs. Fetishization" (2019) by Andrew Kung.

"Desexualization vs. Fetishization" (2019) by Andrew Kung.

An article that I feel represented this duality well is an article by Andrew Kung, who talks his experience as a photographer that explore the different problems that face Asian-Americans. He meets a drag queen, Jeffrey, who must deal with the desexualization of Asian-American men, which Gallimard continues to do to Song in M. Butterfly, and the fetishization of Asian-American women, which characters in M. Butterfly do to women. Marc insinuates that women are just there for pleasure, and therefore Gallimard can overtake them sexually whenever he wants, exemplifying this fetishization. Kung talks about how he wanted to show the soft side of Asian American men in his book, ” Because we have been historically desexualized, there is often an underlying pressure to portray traditional visual cues of masculinity: chiseled jaw lines, elevated cheek bones, sculpted bodies. Instead, I wanted to celebrate a level of intimacy…” He is able to achieve this through Jeffrey’s photoshoot, and present the same problems that M. Butterfly does.

Kung, Andrew. “The Desexualization of the Asian American Male.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Mar. 2020, www.cnn.com/style/article/andrew-kung-asian-american-men/index.html.

Pardon My French

WTF is what I’m sure most of our reactions were when we first read the opening paragraph of M. Butterfly. Some of us might have had to go back and read it twice to make sure you read it correctly. Yes, the protagonist of our story, named Rene Gallimard was actually tricked into believing he was married to a woman for 20 years when in fact it was a male.  I’m sure most of us also wondered how, and so, to satisfy our curiosities, I looked into the actual story.

“He started to explain a story, which was traditional in China,” Boursicot said.

It was a Chinese tale of a woman who lived as a man for her family’s sake. Shi told Boursicot that this was his story, too. He lied and told Boursicot that he was actually a woman forced to live as a man because boys were more valued in China.

“In my journal, I wrote. ‘Revelation! Revealed!’” Boursicot said. “Everything in my head changed.”

A few days later, they had sex for the first time, Boursicot said.

As it turns out, Boursicot (Gallimard) was told by Shi (Song) that she was forced to pretend to be a man. This actually makes a lot of sense in how Shi’s story was believable to Boursicot. And if you add in the play’s depiction of Boursicot being intensely desperate for young love, it sounds more plausible.

The next question is how the physical parts did not raise any alarms.

Shi would later show doctors in a court-ordered medical exam how he could create the illusion that he was female. And Boursicot pointed out that their intimate moments were always in the dark.”

While there are still many more questions, the answer above seems to be plausible.

There are more details in the fascinating article with how the cover-up worked out, and a bit of POV from the man himself, but they may also be spoilers for the story.




“‘I would have a heart attack if my daughter ever brought home a black boy.’ I heard those words a few weeks ago in what began as a normal conversation with an acquaintance. We were chatting about new TV shows airing that night when this person ranted about how the media continues to push ‘unbiblical’ agendas such as interracial marriage.”

Jojo and Michael are an interracial couple and chapter ten shows the defiance from Michael’s family. Whether or not they are strong believers in the Christian faith; the resistance towards Jojo was showed based on the color of her skin. Michael’s family used derogatory terms while Jojo was present and clearly expressed how they feel about Jojo. Additionally, this whole book presents the difference of treatment between a white person and a black person. For instance, at one point when Misty and Leonie were handling drugs; there was the mentioning that Misty would be treated with less punishment due to her race if they were ever caught. This presumes that when this book takes place and to this day there is an issue with discrimination. Additionally, I think “Sing, Unburied Sing,” displays the struggle of acceptance for an interracial couple even within one’s own family. The article, speaks upon the issue of interracial marriage and that there is still a push back on interracial marriage by Christians who are conservative. However, Christianity advocates for unity rather than opposition among the people of faith. The author of the article mentions that a couple were discriminated against in Mississippi when trying to choose the perfect wedding venue. This shows how there still need to be barriers broken down. This connects to chapter ten when we see that Michael’s family does not accept the fact that he is married to Jojo which shows family distress and animosity towards each other.


The Birthday Card – Asian Parenting

““I gave the card back to Lulu. “I don’t want this,” I said. “I want a better one—one that you’ve put some thought and effort into. I have a special box, where I keep all my cards from you and Sophia, and this one can’t go in there… but not good enough either. When I was your age, I wrote poems for my mother on her birthday. I got up early and cleaned the house and made her breakfast,”” (Chua 187).

In “Paper Tigers”, Wesley Yang mentions the high expectations Asian Americans have to live up to and questions whether those expectations set up by their parents can help them to better prepare for the future. Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School graduated from Havard, claims that children are stronger than we think and parents are responsible to motivate them to go further, reaching their full potential. The quote from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother explains how Chua refuses to accept the birthday cards from her two daughters because they don’t fit into her standards. She wants more from them, knowing that they are capable, yet lack a little push. There are complaints but the result, two birthday cards that Chua still has, proves that demanding greater effort in parenting helps the children to achieve. Even though Chua was raised by strict parents but she decided to do the same to her daughters to prevent “family decline”.

Works Cited

Chua, Amy. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Penguin Books; Reprint edition, December 27, 2011.

Documentary ’13TH’ Argues Mass Incarceration Is An Extension Of Slavery

“You know, your film makes an argument, which will be familiar to some people, but which will be quite provocative to others, that actually the way we use the criminal justice system in this country, particularly the way we use incarceration, is really an extension of slavery, that it’s a form of racialized control.”

Randall Robinson in “Thoughts on Restitution” notes that “the black male is far more likely than his white counterpart to be in prison, to be murdered, to have no job, to fail in school, to become seriously ill” (235). The documentary 13th argues the mass incarceration of black and brown people in America is a continuation of slavery under the 13th Amendment. The amendment outlaws all forms of slavery unless it is used as the punishment for a crime. Using this loophole in the amendment, the U.S criminal justice system targets people of color and is able to force them back into slavery. Much of the evidence provided in the documentary itself demonstrates how life for blacks in America is still incredibly difficult and, in turn, proves ideas involving restitution should be given due consideration by politicians.

Martin, Michel. “Documentary ‘13TH’ Argues Mass Incarceration Is An Extension Of Slavery.” Npr, 17 Dec. 2016, https://www.npr.org/2016/12/17/505996792/documentary-13th-argues-mass-incarceration-is-an-extension-of-slavery.

The Artificial Utopia of Human Extinction

Image result for Transhumanism

“If “individual human minds” are downloaded on a computer disc, indeed it would appear that we could solve some burning ethical issues, such as overpopulation. We would no longer have to worry about life and death as such, not to be concerned of physical pain, aging, and disease, feel fear, attachment, emotions of failure, and success neither could we experience love, hate, and other emotions related not only to the meeting of minds but also to that of bodies (Hellsten)”

        To live is Christ, To Die is Gain (Philippians 1:21). Meghan O’Gieblyn was a former Christian enthusiast who became fascinated with the world and overall ideological atmosphere of the transhumanist movement. The despair she felt with the absence of God was healed and replaced by the promise of restoration, through science, and the process of transfiguration towards a nonbiological substrate of supercomputers. The parallels presented in Ghost in the Cloud between the transhuman enthusiast and Christian philosopher on the idea of eternal life for humans were uncanny. Meghan states, “Trans-humanism offered a vision of redemption without the thorny problems of divine justice,” and she contemplated with the idea that AI will serve the role of Jesus Christ and be our ultimate savior to bestow to humanity the experience of true eternity.                        

     Megan O’Gieblyn had spent a considerable amount of time dedicated to dreaming about the “postbiotic future” of transhumanism and its connection with the ideologies of Christianity. However, she has been insouciant to the fact that Christians believe death is an essential experience for a human to understand life. Death is the center of our existence and is what defines human purpose and individuality. We gain meaning, relation, urgency, happiness, and feeling from death. Death was God’s greatest gift to humans. I think about death multiple times a day, not in a morbid or suicidal way; however, I understand that I need to make the most out of my limited time in this life. The idea of fusion with technology as the next stage of human evolution does; in fact, allow humanity to achieve resurrection and immortality, but this process stirps us away from every single quality that makes us human including the ability to learn, chose with our own perspective, and determine the course of our own actions.

           Ray Kurzweil, the pristine, god-like, and illustrious prophet of modern transhuman belief, is the reason Meghan O’Gieblyn believes in the contemporary world of transhumanism. She analyzes Kurzweil’s perspective and perpetuates a certain belief to the reader that he is carrying on the legacy of the Enlightenment and furthering human progression with pushing for technological advancements to human transcendence. Kurzweil believes our bodies would become incorruptible and limitless and we would acquire knowledge by uploading it to our brains. This utopian dream would evidently eradicate careers, intellectual growth, educational institutions, relationships, creativity, and every other aspect that is a part of the human experience. In his academic journal “The Meaning of Life,”, Sirkku Hellsten further analyzes Kurzweil’s illogical and inhumane way of thinking. Kurzweil notes the change to humanity would perpetuate “Singularity,” which accentuates that there is no metaphysical category of person. In essence, we lose our defining characteristics…lose our value, ethics, and morals. We lose our sense of appreciation for life and therefore would completely lose the idea of hope and emotion. I particularly enjoyed the integral question purposed by Hellsten revolving the “divine ruler” of transhumanism that was not addressed in Ghost in the Clouds, “if all human minds could or would move into virtual reality and continue “living” in cyberspace then who or what is left behind to maintain the operations?” It is difficult to imagine a world ran by artificial intelligence; a government or ruling class led by computer information systems that are “exponentially more intelligent” who decide on pressing and difficult issues relative to the well-being of the general public that would be programmed to think a certain way. Human progression is predicated on the divergence of thought and a future founded on the tempting fallacy of computer-generated singularity will precisely halt human progression, and ultimately the human race.

Works Cited

Hellsten, Sirkku K. “‘The Meaning of Life’ during a Transition from Modernity to Transhumanism and Posthumanity.” Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, Unioninkatu, Edited by Scott M. Fitzpatrick, vol. 2012, no. 210684, Feb. 2012, doi:https://www.hindawi.com/journals/janthro/2012/210684/.

The New American Religion of UFOs

 “She says we’re going to find life, we’re going to find habitable planets and things like that. So that gives this type of religiosity a far more powerful bite than the traditional religions, which are based on faith in things unseen and unprovable.”

Our most recent reading “E.T. and God” by Paul Davies illustrated how the discovery of life outside of Earth would affect already existing religions, but not how it could spark new ones. In his article, “The New American Religion of UFOs,” Sean Illing describes this new religion’s differences compared to older ones. Obviously, instead of a God or gods, these people believe in extraterrestrial life. However, the fundamental belief system is different from other religions in the past. Rather than believe that something has happened such as how Catholics believe that Jesus died on the cross and that Moses parted the Red Sea, these people believe in the future. They believe that their religion is something that will be proved and undeniable.

Works Cited

Illing, Sean. “The New American Religion of UFOs.” Vox, Vox, 4 June 2019, www.vox.com/culture/2019/6/4/18632778/ufo-aliens-american-cosmic-diana-pasulka.