Since I resigned from Fayetteville’s Telecommunications Board, I have been reluctant to criticize the board or any of its actions, but I find I can no longer do that. But in order to break my silence, I will have to admit to a certain amount of public dishonesty on my part.
I offered up several reasons when I left the Telecomm Board, among which was the standard catch-all that I had other obligations. What I didn’t mention was that despaired of the fact that some of the meetings resembled nothing so much as a high school debating society, with the same points being argued back and forth, back and forth, many times over in the course of the same meeting.
Even as Telecomm Chair, I was unable to fully reign in this tendency on the part of certain individuals to be overly anal retentive.
I draw now to the crux of this letter.
I have several friends on the Telecomm Board, but this letter is addressed to one in particular, a man of great talent and intelligence who, for whatever reasons, seems unable to get past a certain sticking point - the C.A.T. contract.
You have been at odds with Community Access Television for over ten years over some points in the contract, some of which you feel they are not living up to. This has led you into open conflict not only with C.A.T. staffers, C.A.T. board members, but also members of the Fayetteville city staff.
You have even been in conflict with other Telecomm Board members, when they did not fully support you in your efforts.
On more than one occasion, you suggested to me that I should pull my head out of my “public access.”
There were those who opposed you being appointed to the Telecomm Board, though I was not among them. I still feel that having you on the board is potentially one of the wisest decisions the city has ever made.
But, rightly or wrongly, you appear vindictive. It looks as though you have an axe to grind. There are those who point to your behavior as evidence that they were right in opposing your appointment.
You have been counseled on this subject on several occasions, yet you continue to engage in the sort of behavior that drives wedges between people, and not bring them together.
The problem is, I think, that there are so many good things that that you could accomplish with the Telecomm Board, but this one issue - which seems to consume you - may be your undoing, my friend.
I’m not suggesting that you leave the Telecomm Board. Just leave the C.A.T. negotiations to others, and use your generous talents on other areas which would benefit both the city and the board.
Quote of the Day
Noise is the most impertinent of all forms of interruption. It is not only an interruption, but a disruption of thought. Of course, where there is nothing to interrupt, noise will not be so particularly painful. - Arthur Schopenhauer
Mohja Kahf: The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf
A lot of people know Mohja Kahf through her appearances with the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective. But there is a lot more to her than that. An associate professor of comparative languages at the University of Arkansas, she has also written several books, including Western Representations of the Muslim Woman: From Termagant to Odalisque.
Recently, she wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post.
Now she has a novel to add to her many credits. The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf is the story of Khadra Shamy, who (like the author) was born in Syria, but raised in the United States. Though Kahf will tell you that the novel is not autobiographical, it is clear that living for a time in Indiana left a lasting impression on her - for that is where most of the novel takes place, as Khadra and her family struggle to find a place in an often bigoted society, while maintaining the standards that their culture demands of them.
In one sense this is very much a traditional “coming of age” novel, even while many readers may find themselves immersed in a world they know little to nothing about. People struggle to find a sense of identity, no matter the culture.
But in a larger sense, Kahf is taking the non-Muslim into the Muslim world, helping us to understand and appreciate why things are the way they are. And she does so not in a preachy manner, but in a highly entertaining story that demands to be read more than once.
And it isn’t just 1970s Indiana that Khadra explores; the story ranges all the way to Saudi Arabia and Syria and back. We see through Khadra’s eyes as she discovers (to her chagrin) that not all the youth in her homeland are as devout as she and her family, and she is shocked to learn about the hard choices that family members have had to make, just to survive.
As a non-Muslim, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf made me realize just how ignorant I was about the culture of so many people who live amongst us. I am grateful that not only that I learned so much through the novel, but also that Kahf is such as exceptional writer.
Though there has been much praise for Kahf’s novel, I came across a fascinating website - muslimmatters.org - where a spirited discussion was taking place about the issues in the book. Though many of those who posted were critical of the book, a lot of the comments actually inspired me to reread the novel, and understand things from their perspective.
It was just as rewarding an experience reading The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf a second time. And you haven’t read it once yet?
Get thee to a bookstore.