Minority politics in the Mediterranean world – Ariana Brown

One thing I liked about this Paul Silverstein piece was the fact that it gives us a glimpse of the Mediterranean that we don’t always discuss. Everyone knows that the Mediterranean is comprised of countries like Italy and Greece, but I don’t feel like we have enough conversation about the others. The discussion of Morrocco and this idea of a “sovereign Muslim state” is what I was talking about when I mentioned getting a glimpse of a Mediterranean culture that I don’t personally generally think of. The new constitution that was in July 2011 proclaimed that Morroco was a “modern, cosmopolitan nation” which I found interesting seeing as though where it was also described as a Muslim state where Islam was given preeminence. I’m not denoting that there is anything wrong with a nation having a declared religion, but Silverstein explained that this new constitution was supposed to modernize the country and it seems as though this new document is still borrowing some of the old language.

For example, article 3 of the new constitution states that Islam is the religion of the state, yet “the free exercise” of other faiths is “guaranteed”. I wonder how true that is. I kind of feel that no specific religion needs to be known as the religion of that specific state if the practice of all religions is guaranteed. The same was said about the official language. One of my other classes is actually centered around minority politics so it’s nice to see that the courses I chose this semester are intersecting, as they should. It seems as though some people believe that instituting minority politics is the solution to previous governments that have marginalized certain people groups. While minority politics may provide a better representation of said groups, I don’t feel that it is the final answer. Basing politics merely off of ethnicity and/or religion can cause other issues.

“Like an Extra Virgin” – Ariana Brown

One thing I appreciated about this reading was the fact that it explained how olive oil became such a popular ingredient in modern culture. Growing up watching the food network with my mom, I remember all of the chefs ranting and raving about olive oil. Rachel Ray made “EVOO” a household term. She loved using olive oil and she probably didn’t go one episode without mentioning it. I found myself referring to olive oil as “EVOO” after watching her show for years and years.

One of the reasons that olive oil became so popular is because it was reported that “the Mediterranean Diet” is extremely beneficial to human health. Anne Meneley refers to it as “a gift of science”. This “gift” aids in the prevention of heart disease, breast and colon cancer, as well as type II diabetes. Olive oil is viewed as one of the “better” fats consumed by humans. As a result of the Mediterranean diet becoming popular, olive oil consumption in the US went from 64 million pounds in 1982 to 250 pounds in 1994. This clearly shows that a trend had indeed started.

Another thing I found interesting about this reading was the discussion of olive oil and its purity. It was referred to as “liquid gold”, in the same way that breast milk is, which is huge. Some people call olive oil “liquid gold” because it comes directly from olives, much like breast milk comes directly from the mother (the source). It doesn’t have to go through an extraction process from seeds (such as sunflowers and soybeans). One pushback on this idea was the fact that Rachel Laudan (a food historian) points out that many foods are indigestible and borderline poisonous in their “natural” state. To me, this means that natural doesn’t always mean good. I’ve taken a foods class at OU before and I learned this same concept in that class. Just because a food comes directly from nature does not inherently mean that it’s better than other foods. Like Laudan said, I learned about several grains and other foods that would kill you in their natural state. A similar idea was proposed when discussing the way in which olive oil is produced and how it has been unchanging. Yet, there was also push back on that idea, stating that there actually has been considerable transformations in olive oil technology. One question that came to my mind while reading this is why people still believe that olive oil is so natural and unchanging if it has been proven that that isn’t necessarily the case?

The Caribbean Roots of European Maritime Interdiction

One thing that I really liked about this reading was the way in which Jeffrey Kahn connected the stories of refugees that fled to the US, as well as those that fled to Europe. When we were discussing migration in class today, we learned that there are thousands of refugees who are pretty much in limbo…they fled their country only to find themselves in yet another terrible situation. An example of this is when Kahn discussed the bodies of Haitians that washed ashore on the Florida coast. It’s almost as if they’re in a lose-lose situation. You risk your life to flee your country, only to pass away on that journey to “freedom.”

One question that I had while reading this story was about interdiction and how exactly that works. In this reading, it was stated that only six of nearly 22,000 Haitians who were attempting to flee their country were permitted entry into the United States to pursue asylum over an eight-year period. In class, Smoki explained that a refugee can be defined as anyone who fears of being persecuted for race, religion, nationality, political opinion, etc, and is unable to “avail himself of the protection of that country” With that being said, my question is what is the exact criteria that The United States was using to allow some refugees in while turning others away? How exactly does a refugee prove that they are in dire need of asylum? And how in the world did only 6 out of 22,000 people get chosen? That’s .027%

Kahn ended this piece by talking about terrorist attacks (Paris and Brussels) and how that fear can fuel interdiction. I think that’s definitely a valid argument, but how much longer are we going to allow fear to keep us from helping people? He stated that hospitality (housing refugees) can leave a country vulnerable, of course. But, I personally believe that conducting a terrorist attack is probably NOT in the top 100 things refugees are thinking about when they are seeking asylum in the United States and Europe.