Sunday, November 27, 2005

I Am Thankful

(and, yeah, a little late) for:
---the flexibility of the 6-year Phd
---The Oxford English Dictionary, which reminds us how the self-evident changes
---the patience of my parents
---the musical genius of the Berkeley Ward of the LDS church
---Immanuel Kant
---Bristol paper
---Wordsworth, always, but John Brown, more so, recently
---Jean Patou perfumes
---the NYC Subway, for its lessons on etitquette in a changing world
---Wacoal bras
---J.S. Bach, whose Goldbergs can make everything alright, for awhile
---The Joy of Cooking, which has, indeed, brought me joy
---the understanding of my sisters, biological and otherwise
---the tangible hope that lawmakers are turning against unlimited executive power
---the return of political muckracking
---the new turn in literary criticism towards a historicized, theorized close reading
---Petit Bateau cotton underthings
---the Bertoldt Brecht/Kurt Weil collaboration
---that be-afro'ed gentleman on public TV who demystifies oil painting
---Ducray facial products
---the modern profileration of biblical translations, indices, and commentary
---Vermont aged cheddars
---Nat Sherman cigarettes
---mostly safe municipal water


Monday, November 21, 2005

Step One: Buy A Whole Chicken...

Out of the average, 2-3 pound chicken you should be able to feed four people the first night and two people for another four days. At least.

Yeah, you'll need some vegetables, but those are usually way cheap.

This post was inspired by my ex's mother, who once, in the 1970s, bought a rabbit for dinner at the extended family's vacation home. The grandmother-in-law, who had scrabbled for food through the Nazi Occupation of France and the post-war food shortages, took control of the rabbit and made it last for four days, for eight people. My ex's mother finished her litany of dishes into which rabbit could be made with an indignant: "And you know what I got out of the rabbit that I bought, with my own money? One paw and an eyeball!"

I've always thought that if surviving the Occupation required knowing how to stretch a single rabbit into food for eight for four days, I would've probably starved. So, I've been practicing long-term cooking.

It's also cheaper, less wasteful, and more delicious, and it suits my intermittently intense style of thinking about food.

Across the skip, a long-term plan for a whole chicken.
Meal One: The Whole Chicken
I really advise buying organic, free-range chickens. They're tastier, more humanely raised, and they're more likely to come packaged with their giblets. Downside: they can be damned expensive. But remember! You're going to be eating it forever.

Roasting a whole chicken is what I think you want to do here. Invite friends over for dinner: this is hard to screw up.

Preheat oven to 400-425. If there are giblets inside chicken cavity, take them out because they're always wrapped in plastic. Brush olive oil, salt, and pepper on top of chicken.
Here's where things get divisive. I always chuck a bunch of things in the chicken's cavity--whole peeled garlic cloves, herbs, sometimes onions, sometimes the giblets--but many will disagree with me. Giblets do cook faster than the chicken will, so they'll often come out in the end not very appetizing in themselves (they do add yumminess, though). A raft of experts have warned vague awful things about food safety. Garlic and herbs and spices, however, do not scare me. Your mileage may vary. If you do stuff your chicken, you should probably tie up the legs. No need to get fancy: I usually use twine.
Chuck the chicken on a roasting pan, and load it into the oven.

Quick! You've got about half an hour to prepare your vegetables. You want to add them to the roasting pan once the top of the chicken browns. Some good vegetables:
smallish potatoes (don't even think about peeling them!)
fennel (coarsely chopped)
leeks and celery (finely chopped)
carrots (however chopped)
But those are just the standard Frenchie ones; I can't imagine that many vegetables would go badly with chicken.

When you see that the top of your chicken is browning nicely and looking crackely, turn the heat down to, say, 350, plop your vegetables onto the roasting pan. Pour over the chicken a cup or so of weak chicken buillion or watered-down stock.

Have some wine, prepare hors d'oeuvres or dessert, and relax. You don't need even to check on your chicken for another half an hour.

At that point, open the over door, check on progress, baste your chicken, and then wait patiently. It'll be good.

Sign of doneness: cut into the chicken between its torso and its wing. The skin should be white, not pink, and the joints should seem easily dislocatable.

Serve with rice.

Meal Two: Chicken Sandwiches!
No matter how ravenous your guests were, you probably still have plenty of white meat left on the carcass. Perfect for sandwiches. If you're running low on white meat, add more mayonnaise, lettuce, mustard, and sharp cheese. If you made potatoes with your roast and have any left over, cut them into slices and fry them up for a side dish. These roasted potatoes can serve as a booster for Meal Two and a Half. Hint: they're really good with a fried egg over easy.

Meal Three: Healthier Ramen
Add snippets of either white or dark meat in the last minute to your ramen noodles. Extra points if you have any salad to chuck into the mix at the same time.

Preparing for More Meals: Taking Stock
You've eaten all the chicken meat you can stand from the carcass. You refrigerated the extra goop from the roasting pan. You're ready to make stock. This will take a while, and you'll have to be around to monitor it, but it won't be labor-intensive.

Get a big pot. I no longer have a stock pot, but my dutch cassorole has been serving me just fine. Trim visible fat off your carcass. Skim visible fat off your goop. Then throw it all into the pot. Cover with cold water. Turn on heat to high. Get it boiling, then turn it down so that the water is simmering.

Here is the really really important thing about stock: you have to skim off the "impurities," or the little bits of weirdness that float to the top. If you do, you'll end up with lovely golden soup. If you don't, you're liable to end up with a grayish jello that still, miraculously, tastes good when heated.

For the first half hour, you should be nearby, skimming and preparing vegetables.
1 carrot (chopped, like, in five)
1 onion (coarsely chopped)
1 celery stalk (ditto)
maybe a leek, if you've got 'em.
After the chicken has been simmering for hour an hour, throw in your vegetables and a bouquet garnis (some parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, and maybe other stuff if you're moved, contained within a bit of muslin and secured with a rubber band).

This will have to simmer for another three hours. Every forty-five minutes, wander in, skim a bit, add more water to cover all ingredients, wander out.

Finally, you want to line a colander with muslin and dump all ingredients into it, pressing slightly. It would be good to have a container beneath the colander to catch the stock.

Okay, so now what?

Meal Four: Chicken Soup
Take three-ish cups of your stock, add one-two cups of water, dunk in some chopped vegetables, simmer for twenty minutes, and you've got delicious soup. The classic vegetables, of course, are carrots, celery, leeks, and turnips, but I imagine that most vegetables would be good. Extra points if you've got some chicken meat squirreled away somewhere to put in your soup, but it's seriously not required. Barley is really yummy in this kind of soup; throw a handful in at the beginning and make sure it's soft before eating. Note: you're going to need to add salt to your soup, I suspect.

Meal Five: Rich, Rich, Rich Macaroni and Cheese
Preheat oven to 350.

In one pot, boil at least three-quarters of a standard-sized box of your preferred pasta.

In another pot, reduce two cups of your stock to half its volume by letting it boil. Now reduce the heat to "way-low." Whisking constantly, combine into the stock a cup of cream or milk and, gradually, a cup of grated sharp white cheese.* Add some salt, pepper, fines herbes, and mustard.

Combine cheese mix with pasta in a cassarole dish. If you've got some old bread or crackers, crumble them over the top. Bake until bubbly. Shouldn't take more than 20 minutes.

More meals?
So far, I've just listed the ones I've tried, with success. Since your stock should probably yield more than eight cups of liquid, and I haven't yet accounted for them all, you can probably come up with more variations and iterations. Leftover meals have been largely left out of my equations here. I generally find it all too seductive to make a huge batch of whatever, thinking that I'll eat the leftovers for days, and then I open the fridge and am nauseated by the idea of eating that, again. I've stretched a single chicken to three weeks and had to throw out two-three meals'-worth of lovely chicken soup for health-safety reasons. I'm trying to move towards making quantities of prepared foods that will feed me tonight, maybe tomorrow at lunch, but no more. Stock freezes beautifully.

I know I've sacrificed innumerable carrots, potatoes, celery, and herbs to my single chicken, but remember that a carrot costs less than $0.25---in Manhattan, at that. No, the real expense will be in time and equipment.** If you have enough time to have found and read this blogpost, you probably have enough time to keep a chicken roasting or simmering in the background, even if you don't think of your websurfing time like that.

*I'm still working out the exact proportions of the cheese sauce. Last time, I used too much cream (damn leftovers, always tempting one to just "use it up, use it up!").
**Besides the stock pot/dutch oven and roasting pan, every household should have a Joy of Cooking. It's a damned good reference for techniques and ingredients, let alone its index of recipes. It's never condescending, even when it explains how to scramble an egg or how to tell when asparagus are at their prime. Everyone needs one.


Friday, November 18, 2005

All This Talk Going Round About Fifth Columns

There is finally dissension and balking in the ranks, even though our President gave a historically partisan Veterans' Day speech; still, his war is attacked, with Congress demanding timelines and verifiable goals and such. Yesterday, Democratic Representative John Murtha, a former Marine who has voted stauchily for the Iraq War and its appropriations, gave the most excoriating in a series of recent speeches attacking the Bush strategy. While he suggested that an "over-the-horizon" force be kept ready for emergencies, he essentially called for a troop withdrawel from Iraq. The tide seems to be shifting--although, given the extraordinarily tight adhesion that the Majority leaders and administation held before, any slip seems a landslide.

So it is with some rueful humor that I note the launching a new site by Josh Trevino (Tacitus): Here is the mission statement, sorry, manifesto. Long on attack, short on specifics, I would say. The very abbreviated version, as I understand it, is that America should, rather must, muster its will to prevail in Iraq--and that all those who doubt our ability to "prevail" are born doubters and naysayers who probably hate America.

And here's another link that I've always wanted to have handy: William M. Darley's article "War Policy, Public Support, and the Media" (Parameters, Summer 2005), which attempts to rebut the idea of the traitorous media head-on. Remember, Parameters is a publication of the Army War College. He conducts a fascinating study of public attitudes towards the war and stated policy of the war in Vietnam, compares it briefly with a few other wars, and concludes that:
when boldness, clarity of objective, and effectiveness of policy are reflected in deeds in accordance with Clausewitz's theory, the nature of the ruthlessly competititve modern media system ensures that the media will report that clarity and resolve to the public as the factual content of its news message. The news media remain the principle messengers of bold policy, and they will report it as a consequence of relentless marketplace competition, irrespective of whatever baggage of bias some quarters of the media establishment may attach to it. As a consequence, assuming the correctness of the policy in its articulation and the boldness of its execution, domestic public support will take care of itself.
If I may translate that: if the public understands clearly what the war is about and sees what the war-effort is accomplishing, then the public will support the war, no matter what interference some bias of some part of the media might effect.

So that's my advice to Trevino and his associates. Don't attack the doubters. Don't accuse us of treason or of being--what was the most recent neologism?--oh yes, being "flee-bitten." Instead, convince us. Present a coherent policy for success. Show how current efforts in Iraq are leading to that success. And, above all, show how that success is important to the lives of Americans today. If nobody can articulate what we're trying to accomplish in Iraq or why Americans should care about the future of Iraq, well then, guess what? Americans are going to disengage with this war.

So, please: if it's so important to stay in Iraq, if we really can accomplish something there besides smashing and dying, if it's not too late to avert a civil war, please, talk to us like adults. As Darley says, if you can come up with a coherent, forceful policy met with effective deeds, we're more than likely to wish you well.


You Know You Need A Haircut When...

...You start absentmindedly "shaping" your coiffure, slightly tipsy, while sitting at your computer.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

More on Sarkozy

I apologize for the spelling mistake in the below post. It should be "banlieues" rather than "banlieux," and at one point I had had that hammered into me.

Second failure: I labelled Sarkozy an Enarque (and a hypocrite), as had many of many apparently ill-informed French friends. According to Wikipedia, Sarokozy muddled through and finally dropped out of a Sciences-Politique program at Paris X-Nanterre. I think this dropping out, actually, a good call on Sarkozy's part, as Paris-X is one of the grimmest places I've ever been, and even a good degree from there is hardly a means to anything.

So how exactly did Sarkozy get from Nanterre to Neuilly, which is perhaps the poshest suburb/village I've ever seen in the Paris area? (It's like an 18th-c designed version of Palo Alto or Brooklyn Heights, except that there are only a very few colored people slipping through the cracks in Neuilly.) The sad fact is that even to get into a minor governmental role in France you need mad connections. Maybe the UMp sponsored him after his glorious speech as a fiery young Gaulliste. Maybe his father's respected name granted him piston. Maybe, after all, this is an American achievement sort of story.

I'll be keeping a closer eye on the French news after this, you can be sure.


Monday, November 14, 2005

A Cautionary Tale

A friend who is staying with me for a few days came in late last night. She had said that she was going out with a friend to look for a suit for her job interviews, so I was mildly curious about what she might have been up to. This evening, when she came in, she said she had had a crazy night. We waited for the tea to boil. Then her cellphone rang, she took the call, and it was obvious that she was speaking rather formally to someone she didn't know. I drifted into that half-consciousness almost oblivious eavedropping of someone who isn't either invited in or excluded from a conversation. It was when she said something like "no, we didn't leave the scene until later" that I snapped to.

She and her friend were standing on the corner of 17th and 7th. They had bought a newspaper and were had spread it out over the top of the newsbox to check the movie listings. Out of the corners of their eyes, perhaps, they noticed a movement, looked up, and saw a man plummeting to the ground from perhaps eight feet out of the sky. He fell vertically, and landed directly on one side of his brow. This was at most three feet from her. She said that everyone, everything seemed to stop.

The interviews that my friend was buying a suit for are for ER residencies. While her friend dialed 911, she felt for a pulse and checked the man's airway. NYFD and ambulances were on the scene within a few minutes. They cut away the clothes that had been obstructing the view to the man head, and she says she saw that the man's face was totally compacted one side. One eye was not where it ought to have been; she was mercifully vague.

She spent the next few hours talking with cops and some print reporters. Here is a truncated NYPost version, which doesn't mention a few things:
--the driver was a Correctional Facilities Officer
--that he was "in shock," according to my friend
--that he tested spotlessly negative in a breathalyzer
--that the victim was turning back to the curb after his attempt at crossing proved too dangerous
--that every eye-witness out of about forty seemed to report something different (at least one claiming that "the cab" didn't see the pedestrian, although the driver was in a black Honda).
My friend, whose relevant testimony I think is contained in toto above, was interviewed "like twenty times" by NYPD--and, then again, the next day, as the phone call makes clear. I wonder whether this kind of investigation is the standard for what I would presume might be called "vehicular manslaughter" (IANAL), and I wonder whether more than due diligence might not be performed on behalf of a fellow uniform. Frankly, I'd be happy if either were true. It sounds as though if the guy survives, it might be in a very different condition than before last night. As many facts as can be gathered now, checked and doublechecked, should be an appropriate standard, before either criminal or civil proceedings go forward.

We drew a number of advisories out of this truly senseless, awful tragedy. For these, click through. 1) For God's sake, look both ways before crossing the street. It's very chic, very cosmopolit, very devil-may-care to jaywalk, but if you get hit by a car, not only might you die or be maimed, the person who maybe inadvertantly hit you might be destroyed. This is harder for New Yorkers to remember than it ought to be. I'm typically speed-walking down the street with WNYC in my ears and a free newspaper in my eyes--because I've walked the same stretches every day for six years and I'm bored by them. But it's crucial, folks, to get a reminder every once in a while, so consider this it: look up, look around, take care of yourself.

2) This is a much more contenstable point, but since my friend said that numerous eye-witnesses confirmed that the victim tried to turn back and since my experience bears my moral out to be true, I'll go with it: If you're going to jaywalk, having judged the timing of the (lethal) competition, be consistent. In most utopian of senses, jaywalking is a contract between the driver and the pedestrian: the pedestrian gauges the likely speed of the car and proceeds, while the driver gauges the likely speed of the pedestrian and proceeds. Here's the problem: if the pedestrian freaks, his or her only option is to go back to the curb. If the driver freaks, he or her options include: swerving and braking. My general advice to jaywalkers would be: For God's sake, if you are going to jaywalk, be as brazen and determined about it as possible, so as to signal to drivers that you won't break. Hopefully, that advice presumes the caveat that you've looked both ways before crossing the road.

3) For God's sake, drive carefully, for your health, physical, fiscal, and psychological, depends on it. I know more than one person for whom a car accident was a defining moment in their lives, a before and after that could never be reversed. My brother-in-law's family was hit by a drunk driver, killing the father, irreversibly maiming a brother, and changing their family forever. The maimed brother, by the way, recieved a gigantic payment for damages--a payment he deserves, since he's missing a leg, has a withered arm, extensive scarring, and needs to go in for burn therapy regularly. A woman at my childhood church got drowsy at the wheel, ran into another car, and her passenger, her sister (if I recall correctly), was killed; her subsequent testimonies, many years after the fact, showed that this incident preyed upon her mind. My aunt and uncle, also drowsy (and probably at least slightly tipsy) at the wheel rammed into a tree. She lost her kneecaps; he lost his front teeth and an incentive to physical exercise. They are now both in alarming heath, after years of inactivity.

3) For God's sake don't play brinksmanship with drinking and driving. If something really, really bad happens when you've had even a glass or two to drink before driving, you're screwed. Maybe if you're below the legal limit, you might avoid criminal penalties. Maybe. But, good lord, if this Corrections Officer dude had had one beer at the bar with a friend before driving home? A couple of points on the Breath-alyzer? At the very least, someone at work would've pushed him out. Even if the pedestrian had in fact walked straight into his car, a drink or two in the driver's system would be understood by most people as utterly condeming. Eye-witness testimony being so much more dubious than chemical tests. Much, much safer to avoid this kind of grief with DDs--better yet, advocate for public transport near you!

4) The most helpful thing you can do at the scene of a serious accident is to call 911. If the victim has no pulse or isn't breathing, or if you're in the middle of nowhere, then the rules change--but I'm talking for the most of us who aren't properly trained. I decided to cave under the overwhelming social pressure to get a cell phone only last year, but really, I think everyone should have one, even if it's linked to only the cheapest of plans that allow one only to call 911. It is of course also useful to get certified in First Aid, but as my friend's story above shows, even the best training should wait for the EMS in many circumstances. It's the other circumstances we should worry about, and, after Katrina, I'll be the, well, ten thousandth to remember that being generally competent is an ideal that our current order does not privilege, until that order breaks down.

5) Here's the last, most tendaciously political point: cars are dangerous: for drivers who forget how fast they're going because they're impatient and for pedestrians who seem them as velocities in a landscape. I'm not going to bother to look up all of the statistics about how many Americans die in car accidents of one shape or another per year because anyone reading this outpost is probably aware of how awful they are. What my friend saw last night isn't an amazing, unusual event. It shocked her, even as an ER doctor ("I'm used to seeing them all packaged," she said), but this kind of horror is happening all the time. Given the fatality rates, I would hope that people are looking into how best to mitigate sprawl and to enable walkable downtowns. I know that many of our effete designers and socialistic planners have proposed improvements, but I suspect that if we package it right, we can get even the most manly men to sign on to reducing cars in heavily pedestrian areas.

I'm really glad that because of my friend's emergency training and general sanity she won't be haunted by seeing a man die three feet in front of her. I know I couldn't have been so competent or sane, yet this sort of accident happens all the time. In the crassest of senses, this was a statistic, one of the thousands who die every year from automobile accidents.

I suppose my plea should be reduced to this: can't we all go a little slower, please?


Friday, November 11, 2005

Comment-Spammers Be Damned

My recent enforced hiatus (thanks, Verizon!) has opened my eyes. I have more comment-spammers than commenters. I don't blame anyone who might read this rather intermittant blog, but I do refuse to be a stop on a link farm. So, with apologies to all sincere commenters, I'm enabling human-verification for comments. Should any human have a problem having problems commenting, I will be very receptive to emails.


The French Riots dans les banlieux

Since when did the translation of "racaille" as "scum" become unproblematic in the US media?

On NPR--my only intelligent media outlet when internet is down--it wasn't until yesterday that the original French was referenced. I loathe Sarkozy, an Enarque who fancies himself hardcore because he talks like Giuliani, but this particular comment, while impolitic and misjudged, seems to have been universally mistranslated.

My dictionary has it as "rabble, riff-raff," and my experience would render it as "f*cking hoodlum trouble-makers." Self-avowed leftists (dark and light skinned) use the word to describe the young men who hang out in downtown Paris with nothing to do but harass girls. There's even a banlieusard version of the word, no less perogative: "caille-ra."

I'm not saying that a politician should have used this word in a public statement, but I wouldn't have translated it as "scum" without qualifiers.

Maybe the fact that qualifiers seem necessary to me is a testimony to how profoundly racist French society is--I know I was astonished to hear that this word, which I had only known from old novels, was still current, and I was uncomfortable to realize that it was being used predominately for Maghrebins.

Before I commit myself any more, without reading the thread carefully, I'd really caution anyone against fitting these riots into a narrative about Islam. Most of the second generation Maghrebins I met in France didn't care about Islam; their only real concern was racial discrimination, which was real enough. Hell, I knew a Francais-Francais guy with dreds who went through the rigamorale to get an apartment.

(More musing after the fold.)
My ex, who had a perfect French name, who had features that could be traced to Normadie, who was cute, who had well-established (white) parents, hopped to the front of a real estate line despite the utter dubiousness of his employment and credit. And he knew why. He was embarrassed about it--he often remarked on how few people of color were in the (huge) building--but he wasn't about to make a stink about getting a well-lit and laid-out Haussmannian apartment.

In 1999, a jewelry maker in the 6th told me that the Chinese were destroying craftsmanship in town. In 2000, a taxi-driver told me that Arab youths had made it unsafe for young women to travel at night. And this was in Paris.

In the countryside, the distrust and racism was even worse. In Orange, a city that voted majoritanian Front Nationale (a neo-fascist movement, let nobody convince you otherwise), I stayed in the 18th-century farmhouse of a woman who had resigned in protest. With the mansion, she had inherited old-school, heavy linen sheets; as we made up a bed for my ex and myself, tucking in the stiff corners, she feigned an apology, that "she had no other." I looked at her perfectly coiffed, blond head, I looked at the blanched, inherited sheets, I looked at the heavy, old stone walls and the wooden slats that would keep out the day's heat, and, remembering my position, I muttered, "Well, I think this'll be fine." And I didn't dare even think about the distance between my hostess's principled resistance to the FN and her obvious--and snobbish and isolationist--pride in her aristocratic heritage.

France remains a country when connections matter tremendously. I know a number of people who have sought to get their child into daycare--a state institution, if not a right--who have wearied of the waiting lists and then turned to what "piston" (pull? connections?) they could exercise. Most jobs, particularly in the lower sectors, are obtained through "piston." And it seems obvious that in such a society of connections, an immigrant community might have a hell of a time breaking through.

It's even worse than that. I mentioned above that Sarkozy is a graduate of l'ENA; he is an "enarque." To take him as an exemplar, his having graduated from this school means, primarily, that he passed an arduous entrance exam when he was about 19. This system of examining exams for qualification to the elite schools was set up by Napoleon in the attempt to form a new meritocracy, but it has become more and more clear that the privileged have been able to game the system. One year in Paris, I lived next to two schools that promised to prepare students for the qualifying exams. These schools, typically, offered 1-2 intensive prep courses, and since the exam was so background-blind, the massive fees in preparation were well worth it. Obviously, the poor, uneducated, and immigrant populations that such merit-based tests--idealistically conceived, let us have no doubt--tend not to perform as well as the prepared, trained, white, bourgeois kids. And here's the tragedy: once the kids pass into the "meritocratic" system, their future is made. They are the talking heads, the scholars, the politicians, the scientists, the research fellows, etc. I've seen French scholarly books (published!) whose authors have signed their credentials with nothing more than "Diplome-[Grande Ecole]."

Oh--and if you make it into a upper-division program in a public university in France, odds are that your average professor will be cynical about your chances. They know, after all, that the grandes ecoles candidates win more slots than do the public school candidates. They know that the grandes ecoles provide tutoring, provide stipends (which enable concentration). They know that their students, knowing that their options are limited, have already turned their ambitions elsewhere. Public schools provide a social status (student, which still means something in France) and a way-station, for young French citizens who might still have some hope for bettering their condition.

I'll leave it there for now, but a really, really important thing to consider is the difference between male and female reactions to being first- or second-generation. I have the impression that a substantial portion of the present discontent is about sexuality. First or second generation Maghrebines are able to buy sexy clothes and marry up and into Francais d'origine privilege, while their equivalent males are left to struggle, to complain, to rail against privilege, and to harrass and destroy what they can't have.

To wrench these musings back into the American narrative, it should be said that Islam is not a principal factor in these riots. The bored, frustrated kids propositioning and then just as rapidly insulting me on the street of Paris were not inspired by Islam--yet these kids were what my French friends referred to as "racaille," and it is very possible that such inept "drageurs" turned their frustrations into violence. These riots reflect a racism that has been brewing for a long damned time. I really don't see any Muslim content in them--unless such a content be forced upon dark-skinned, former-colonial people who otherwise would simply see themselves as advocativing for their rights.

In other words: let us tread softly on what we may not understand.