World Culture

Hello Monday

Goodbye to March. Goodbye, for now, to Women's History Month (although we won't stop following women who make history, we promise ... even if it happens in May). Goodbye to winter, hello to spring. Goodbye (almost) to basketball, hello baseball.

I mentioned on Friday that we are tracking the controversy over Fitna, the film by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders that some are calling a provocative stance for free speech, and others a gratuitous insult to Islam and Muslims around the world. We followed reaction to the film over the weekend and found there to be very little. We're still following and debating.

We note that Morning Edition covered the controversy Friday morning with an interview with the Dutch Ambassador to the U.S.

... But, obviously, we would do this differently. We've been thinking about a journalists' conversation on whether to air, or not to air this film. But we're still not sure if it's all a tempest in a teapot — deliberate provocation designed just to hurt or offend, and/or legitimate news. Still debating.

And, in our weekly visit to the pages of the Washington Post Magazine, we talked about travel. I am not going to use the word "exotic" to describe the travel highlights because anything's "exotic" if it's new to you, right?

Check it out for yourself.

And, just in time for our last day of Women's History Month, a new book in timeline form about some of the many women who had an impact on U.S. history — everybody from diplomats to native American scholars, to confederate spies to formerly enslaved Africans who fought for freedom (their own and others'). Plus, learn about scientists and artists. The book is very readable and runs the gamut. Madeleine Albright wrote the forward to the book.

And special bonus: if you want to know how Albright gets her groove on, we can tell you.

Onward ...

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I am an African-American living in Holland and I must say free speech does not include the right to make mockery of one's religion or racial background. What is lacking in Dutch culture is cultural sensitivity. I must point out that black face is used in advertising over here. They call it zwarte (pronounced swa-tah) piet. It is a white person who puts on black face and acts unintelligent. You can see these images all over store fronts in the month of November and December. Many blacks have protested here but the Dutch say that this is their tradition during the holiday "Sinterklaus". They are not even willing to open the discussion. Perhaps this Geert Wilders film will expose the xenophobic fear of Dutch society with regards to their new Islamic immigrants. So much for so called "tolerance"...

Sent by L. van Echtelt | 5:39 AM | 4-3-2008

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