Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 30th, 2016

Is US National Anthem Celebrating Slavery?

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Aug. 28 2016
Before a preseason game on Friday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

When he explained why, he only spoke about the present: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”Twitter then went predictably nuts, with at least one 49ers fan burning Kaepernick’s jersey.

Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why?

Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.

Few people know this because we only ever sing the first verse.

But read the end of the third verse and you’ll see why “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not just a musical atrocity, it’s an intellectual and moral one, too:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. But we don’t ever talk about how the War of 1812 was a war of aggression that began with an attempt by the U.S. to grab Canada from the British Empire.

However, we’d wildly overestimated the strength of the U.S. military.

By the time of the Battle of Fort McHenry in 1814, the British had counterattacked and overrun Washington, D.C., setting fire to the White House.

And one of the key tactics behind the British military’s success was its active recruitment of American slaves.

As a detailed 2014 article in Harper’s explains, the orders given to the Royal Navy’s Admiral Sir George Cockburn read:

Let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the Black Population than with a view to any other advantage. …

The great point to be attained is the cordial Support of the Black population. With them properly armed & backed with 20,000 British Troops, Mr. Madison will be hurled from his throne.

Whole families found their way to the ships of the British, who accepted everyone and pledged no one would be given back to their “owners.”

Adult men were trained to create a regiment called the Colonial Marines, who participated in many of the most important battles, including the August 1814 raid on Washington.

Then on the night of September 13, 1814, the British bombarded Fort McHenry.

Key, seeing the fort’s flag the next morning, was inspired to write the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

So when Key penned “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.

With that in mind, think again about the next two lines: “And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The reality is that there were human beings fighting for freedom with incredible bravery during the War of 1812. However, “The Star-Spangled Banner” glorifies America’s “triumph” over them — and then turns that reality completely upside down, transforming their killers into the courageous freedom fighters.

After the U.S. and the British signed a peace treaty at the end of 1814, the U.S. government demanded the return of American “property,” which by that point numbered about 6,000 people. The British refused.

Most of the 6,000 eventually settled in Canada, with some going to Trinidad, where their descendants are still known as “Merikins.”

If those leading the backlash against Kaepernick need more inspiration, they can get it from Francis Scott Key’s later life.

By 1833, Key was a district attorney for Washington, D.C.

As described in a book called Snowstorm in August by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, the police were notorious thieves, frequently stealing free blacks’ possessions with impunity.

One night, one of the constables tried to attack a woman who escaped and ran away — until she fell off a bridge across the Potomac and drowned.

“There is neither mercy nor justice for colored people in this district,” an abolitionist paper wrote. “No fuss or stir was made about it. She was got out of the river, and was buried, and there the matter ended.”

Key was furious and indicted the newspaper for intending “to injure, oppress, aggrieve & vilify the good name, fame, credit & reputation of the Magistrates & constables of Washington County.”

You can decide for yourself whether there’s some connection between what happened 200 years ago and what Colin Kaepernick is angry about today.

Maybe it’s all ancient, meaningless history.

Or maybe it’s not, and Kaepernick is right, and we really need a new national anthem.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“So when Key penned “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.”

No one seems to be aware that our national anthem literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.

Books published lately by Lebanese authors

Stuff We Love. on Aug 28, 2016

By Lynn El Amine

This perpetual cycle of instability and joy gave birth to several generations of lovers, thinkers, artists, writers, rebels, and intellectuals making Lebanon a multi-cultural hub of creativity and literature.

To the Lebanese, creating life with words was not an idle activity, rather an unshakeable impulse that demanded to be tended to, time and time again.

Here are just a few of the must read books that portray the beauty that stems from that very impulse.

1. De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage

In this novel, protagonists Bassam and George tell tales of love, sex, and pain during Beirut’s civil war. The problems that the characters face in this novel are sadly problems that the Lebanese youth still faces today. Both a heart-melting and heart-breaking read.

Memorable Quotes:

– “Dust was friendly and loved us all. Dust was Beirut’s companion.”

– “Death does not come to you when you face it; death is full of treachery, a coward who only notices the feeble and strikes the blind.”

– “Ten thousand bombs had split the winds and my mother was still in the kitchen smoking her long, white cigarettes.”

2. Koolaids: The Art of War by Rabih Alameddine

Image via

This book constantly jumps through space; through various journal entries by different characters, the reader is told two mirroring stories. The first is that of the civil war in Beirut, and the second being of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. Rabih Alameddine’s whimsical writing style gives the reader a sense of closeness and identification with the struggles told in the book.

Memorable Quotes:

– “In the commemoration of death, I unearthed myself.”

– “The Syrians killed my father, but I blame Yoko.”

– “I did not really know the good old days. People started dying when I came out.”

3. Nietzsche’s Camel Must Die by Rewa Zeinati

This hilarious and refreshing gem reveals the adventures of Lebanese-American poet Rewa Zeinati in Beirut through a series of unrelated Facebook posts. Easy and fun to read, this book offers insight into different social issues found in Beirut, without the heaviness of facts and figures.

Memorable Quotes:

– “Right. So my gym membership expired. Finally. Now I can finally wake up, and not go to the gym, and not feel an ounce of guilt about it.”

– “Everything is a big fucking deal when you’re still under thirty.”

– “In a world that lacks, I’m not sure what’s the best thing one can be accused of. The second best thing must be: indecisiveness. It implies the availability of choice.”

4. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

This book tells the tale of Aaliya, a childless divorced woman who is now cast as “unnecessary” by the society she lives in. An Unnecessary Woman does not only offer readers beautiful language, but it also offers insight into the lives and struggles of “unnecessary” women in Lebanese society.

Memorable Quotes:

– “If literature is my sandbox, then the real world is my hourglass — an hourglass that drains grain by grain. Literature gives me life, and life kills me.”

– “There is non more conformist than one who flaunts his individuality.”

– “I used to find old people, men and women, terribly narcissistic. All they ever want to do is talk about themselves. But then, what are these pages if not an exercise in narcissism?”

Of course, there are several Lebanese and non-Lebanese writers that have experienced Lebanon’s exciting ride through time, and many have described it in their literature. You can read about them here.

Launching Maku on Kickstarter:  Cool sandals?


  1. Perfect fit: The 3 straps are individually adjustable thanks to the proprietary Maku RedLink™ fastening system
  2. Respect toe natural spacing: Custom-built straps compress between your toes without separating them
  3. Cotton feel: Gentle on the skin for all-day comfort
  4. Shock absorbent: Without introducing bulk or compromising on ground-feel
  5. Hug your heel: The deep heel-guard protects your heels and keeps them clean
  6. Four ways flexible: Respects the natural movement of the foot, decreasing foot fatigue for all-day comfort
  7. Puncture resistant sole
  8. Griping sole: Less trip-ups and more stability with a grip that’s perfectly balanced for city streets, wet surfaces, and light trails
Back in 2009, I thought that going barefoot would solve my knee pain. It didn’t, but something unexpected happened. Back then, I had made myself sandals to run in but ended up wearing them more than all my other shoes.
I wore them almost everyday until they broke.
That’s when I decided to buy something similar. This was very frustrating because what I found either felt like cardboard or was bulky or unrefined. So I made my 2nd pair, improving the design and durability. This same story repeats 37 times!
At some point I had made a pair of sandals for my partner Hanane, and we’d wear them almost everywhere. People were regularly coming up to us on the street asking us where we got them from. It was obvious that there was something special about these sandals.
We began accepting orders, and had people buying them across 4 continents. That started a long process of “get real-world feedback, improve, repeat.”
With every upgrade, we wanted the best materials so the sandals would be even more comfortable and durable.
5 years and 37 tries later, we finally had it right. So right in fact, that as soon as we sold 50 pairs, a hundred more lined up.
With each pair taking us 4 hours to make by hand, we knew we had to find a better way to bring Makus to the world.
And that’s why we’re here today, reaching out to you.
Launching a Kickstarter campaign will help us deliver the unmatched quality, comfort, and design of Maku sandals to you and to the world.
We love our Makus, and we hope that you want your own Makus as well. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us! William Choukeir

After years of pouring our hearts into designing and creating these cool sandals, we’re really excited to only be days away from launching Maku on Kickstarter.

We never intended to make a business out of them, but people have been loving them so much that we couldn’t resist (anymore). With your support, what was once limited to a very narrow circle can finally be something that people around the world can enjoy. We’ll be sure to let you know when we’re live on Kickstarter.

We’d love your help in spreading the word! Please Share this post and Like it!
The Maku team (William Choukeir, Hanane Kai, David el Achkar)
(David, Hanane, William)

See More

That’s a question we get asked often. It’s not just all the little things that make them what they are. It’s that those who try them often end up wearing them more than anything else. For us, this says a lot!– Hanane & Will
Maku's photo.
'PERFECT FIT The 3 straps are individually adjustable thanks to the proprietary Maku RedLink™ fastening system'
Maku's photo.
Nadim Sioufi. Interior Designer, Canada, was the first one to wear Maku

I have very sensitive feet and was concerned about irritation before getting my Makus. But when I started wearing them, I was extremely pleased and realized how comfortable they are.

I run, dance, sail, and exercise in them, on land, rocks, sand, and salty water. My Makus follow me everywhere.

They ‘ve been through two Wicker Park festivals, several Greek Islands, the Turkish and Italian coastline, the Montreal summer, and more! I like to experiment a lot with fashion, and have enjoyed wearing them with everything from jeans to Japanese Hakama.

Kristyan Sarkis. Award winning type designer, Amsterdam. Second person to wear Maku

Before my first pair of Makus, I had never worn sandals because I didn’t find them comfortable or good looking. And today, I use my Makus for everything: walking, biking, hiking, etc. What’s funny, is that when I used to wear ‘high tech’ shoes, my feet would get tired only after a few hours. With my Makus I can walk all day and my feet still feel fresh.

Romy Assouad. Entrepreneur & Dancer, Beirut. 22nd person to wear Maku

On a trip to Brazil, after a long day of walking, when all my friends were complaining about their feet hurting, my feet still felt fresh and free. I was surprised by how comfortable my Makus were, as opposed to the common feeling of tightness and hotness at the end of a long day.

Note: William is my nephew and living in the same building. And he didn’t make me a Maku to try out since 2009.



Lou Andreas-Salome by Francoise Giroud

Une histoire de femme libre

Loise, Loita, Lou Salome (1861-1937). She was compared to George Sand, half a century ago, for a free life style, though Sand had a richer gamut of emotions and engagement.

She could lead this kind of life because she received a monthly stipend from the Russian government due to her officer of a father.

Lou got close relationships with Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, Freud, Paul Ree, Heinrich Gillot, Zemek (Friedrich Pineless, a Danish neurologist who was 7 years younger)…

Before the age of 35, Lou never engaged in love making: She was anorexic, flat chested, and had probably bad experiences in physical contacts with her brothers and father (incest?).

After the age of 35, she got totally in sexual activities, mostly with younger men.

Zemek was the first man she shared sexual intercourse with and she confined to Ernst Pfeiffer at a late age: (Zemek) was the man she feels most ashamed of (the muddy routes of sensuality?)

She decided to marry Andreas, a professor of Oriental and Central languages at the university of Gottingen where she settle down till her death.

Each Spring, Lou would travel around Europe, tackled by Zemek, until he was sick and tired of carrying around her luggage while she had sweet eyes to the young boys.

She wrote: Natural love is based on the principle of infidelity (like many animals?)

Lou could Not dissociate love from spirituality: Sexual Love must be short and fugitive: Must be regenerated at each amorous fiesta.

She never had the courage to put in this world a human being: We had to be more than ourselves, a course of living that requires immense focus.

At the age of 50, she gets initiated to psycho-analysis around 1912.

She landed in Vienna in August 1912 in order to attend the Wednesday sessions of Freud disciples

Freud mentioned that that her stay in Vienna may have been the most exciting and fruitful period in her destiny.

Lou and Freud had frequent and lengthy correspondence for many years.  They started the trend of exchanging portraits.

She disagreed with Freud on the subject of narcissism.

She practiced psycho-analysis during and after the WWI in Russia and invested many hours treating soldiers of their trauma.

She adopted Marienchen, an illegitimate girl of her husband, and made her heritiere.

Her abundant correspondence and articles were Not translated from German. Such as “Anal und sexual, 1916”, “Creation of God”, My life, Love of narcissism, Eros.

Fenitchka and Rodinka were translated.

Lou might have destroyed many lives (men committing suicide, like Victor Tausk, Paul Ree…) and laid waste to many marriages, but her company was stimulating.

Men felt larger in her presence and she delivered them from their strong personality, though she was never delivered herself from her personality




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