Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Month: November 2008 (page 2 of 6)

Nostalgia for something you’ve never had…

…Someone really ought to define that. I wonder if any other languages have a special term for this phenomenon that I have experienced all too many times before.

One of my favorite things about traveling – perhaps even the primary reason I do it – is catching glimpses, however brief, into the lives of others. Since I was very young and took my first trip to Disney World I’ve been fascinated with other people, other places, other times; in other words, the other.

Some of these travels, these memories, are easy to put into words: taking a boat ride along the canals of Amsterdam at Christmastime, hoping to catch a peek into someone else’s life for just a moment; peering into the forbidden doorways of mosques in the Fez medina, wishing to understand the driving force behind people’s prayers; taking the tram in Prague to the farthest end of the line, hoping to find solace in the high-rising paneláky of Háje.

Others lie forever on the tip of my tongue. Why is it that I feel so strangely nostalgic for somewhere I’ve never lived, didn’t grow up? Queens does this to me, Brooklyn too. And why for places I’ve never been? My ice-cold dreams of Soviet Russia, dispassionate images of Damascus, and arbitrary yearnings for Almaty find no explanation. And don’t get me started on places that never existed…I spent much of my youth immersed in drawings that can be described as nothing other than architectural plans, albeit poorly executed ones, and nothing fascinates me more than Walt Disney’s unfulfilled dream of EPCOT.

There’s nothing unhealthy about these yearnings. They come from a place of true, unbridled curiosity and despite a fear that I will one day see China with my eyes closed, I know in my heart that it won’t happen: I am still, at 26, as curious as any five-year-old. I still wake up most mornings full of the buzz most people only feel on the first day of school. I wake up each day knowing that anything can happen.

And yet they are yearnings and with yearning comes sadness. Just as I was titillated as a child to think that celebrities were doing something at the exact same time as me, now I am spun into endless wonder over what my friends – all over the world are doing right now. And saddened that there are lives that I will never glimpse, not even for a second.

Free Hoder?

Following my posts here and at the Huffington Post regarding the “arrest” of blogger Hossein Derakhshan (aka Hoder), I realize that perhaps my pronouncements were premature.

Many of you are following this story with skeptical eyes, and I want you to know: so am I. For those of you who aren’t so aware of what’s going on, here’s the breakdown:

A Persian news site, Jahan News, reported Hoder’s arrest last week. Following that announcement, Global Voices Advocacy picked up on the story (clearly putting “arrested” in quotes), prompting activists to contact major media outlets. While the activists had Hoder’s best interests at heart, the media quickly sensationalized the story, and before anyone could blink, the Times Online was reporting that “Iranian ‘Blogfather’ Hossein Derakhshan is arrested on charge of spying for Israel” with other outlets such as Haaretz and Canada’s National Post (which unfortunately quoted me as a news source and not a blog) simply piggybacking on the story.

Yet other sources have kept the story in quotes: Toronto’s Globe and Mail (which I spoke to regarding the skepticism), The New York Times, and prominent bloggers such as Ethan Zuckerman.

Right now, the truth is that we don’t know the truth. With no one to confirm or deny Hoder’s arrest, the best we can do is continue to advocate for him until more details are known.

p.s. Will my faithful readers please write to PostGlobal and ask them to update the facts as well? So far, I have done so without response.

Brouhaha over Al-Manar

It’s amazing to me to hear outrage in the U.S. over Germany’s decision to block Al-Manar TV. Al-Manar is a Beirut-based TV station considered the “mouthpiece of Hezbollah” (media’s words, not mine). It is also banned in the United States, hence my surprise (another point of surprise comes from intelligent liberals who are arguing for the reinstatement of Al-Manar but couldn’t care less about Al Jazeera!)

My favorite quote from that article is this one, from European Foundation for Democracy executive director Robert Bonazzi: “The German government has taken an important step in contributing to European efforts to counter the spread of radicalization and violent ideologies.”

Wow, how nice of the German government! While I’m no lover of Hezbollah, I’ve got to wonder what made Germany decide that Hezbollah is the radical and violent organization and not Israel. I suppose they went with what’s fashionable.

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