How Will Michael Jackson Be Remembered?

Michael Jackson’s memorial service at the Staples Center in LA was an extraordinary event to view. First, I was grateful that I watched it on a local channel that didn’t clutter it with needless commentary as it went on. There was, simply, no need. The memorial spoke for itself. It was well organized, celebratory, reverent, sad, and passionate all in one.

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What struck me, and has since his death at the age of 50 was the sheer volume of his work. As radio stations played his music, I kept realizing how much of it I’d forgotten, or wrongly attributed to another artist. His musical legacy alone is astonishing in its depth.

His revolutionizing of the music video was equally as profound.

The memorial managed to make the negative coverage of his passing look well, cheap, tawdry, totally unnecessary.

Michael Jackson was a human being who managed on a certain level to transcend all the attempts to marginalize his genius.

Keep in mind 1.5 million people went online to get tickets to this unique memorial service. That in itself is extraordinary. In life, he may have been the King of Pop. In death, as Berry Gordy put it, he stands alone as the greatest entertainer who ever lived. That’s not hype. People from around the world knew and acknowledged his greatness as a performer.

As to those incidents in his life that were less than stellar, keep in mind that every genius is ever so slightly twisted. For Michael Jackson, that twist seemed to lie in his lifelong quest to experience a childhood denied him because of his gifts.

For every Peter King, the Long Island congressman whose anti-Jackson rants indicate he must be getting ready to run for something, there are millions who can cite signposts in their lives that were marked by his music.

And, there’s this. Michael Jackson, more than any artist before or since, presided over a paradigm shift in music. What had previously been a strictly aural medium suddenly became both aural and visual. The next performer who will herald such a change hasn’t even been thought of yet. Such was his impact that kids today know his music, as did their grandparents four decades ago.

And so , leave the questions about what drugs were in his system, who prescribed them, how much debt he was in, who will look after his children, and all the rest to those who make their money asking them.

Tuesday’s memorial wasn’t for them. It was for the tens, no hundreds of millions of people around the globe who were touched by his music, by his dance, by his soft spoken and often childlike manner.

Do you remember the time?

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Uighurs Back in the News- How Much Do We Really Know?

We posted about the plight of the Chinese Muslim minority group the Uighurs some time ago. Then, the question was whether the US would resettle a small number of them freed by the courts in this country.

Now, they’re back in the news, and again, American media is largely playing catchup. This time, the Uighurs are making news in their homeland as they clash with Han Chinese in the western desert region of the country.

The violence, which flared over the weekend, has left 156 dead and more than 1000 injured. The Chinese government, apparently fearing whatever governments fear when people freely express themselves, have locked down the regional capital of Urumqi. They’ve also taken the trouble to cut off cellphone and Internet service. They want accounts of what’s been going on to be their accounts. However, things reportedly aren’t going exactly as the government has planned.

Hundreds of Uighur men, woman, and children are defying police and crashed a state run tour of the riot torn area for Chinese and foreign journalists.

Sometimes stage managing of human misery doesn’t work.

Xinjiang

The protestors want the government to release Uighur men they say have been detained after the violence started. Make no mistake. This is the worst ethnic violence in China for some time. And what is at its root? Could it be the inability of Uighurs to freely practice their Islamic religion without government interference?

There’s also the issue of continuing tense relations between the Uighurs and the Han. The Uighurs charge the Chinese government favors the Han when it comes to jobs and services. In fact, the rioting that took place last weekend reportedly began as a peaceful protest demanding an investigation into a deadly brawl between Uighurs and Han that took place thousands of miles away. Despite the paucity of information western news media have had access to, new technology has played as great a role in this situation is it has in Iran.

Published reports say the calls for protest by Uighurs were spread through Web sites and the most popular instant messaging program in China.

That would explain why the government prioritized shutting down cell service in the region, as well as cutting off Internet service. Hopefully, it won’t work.

Despite our ignorance and suspicion about Uighurs living in the US, their situation in China cries out for our scrutiny and concern.

Violence, be it religious, ethnic, racial, whatever, ought to be condemned. Despite the secretive nature of the Chinese government, they’re not immune to international calls for justice and fairness.

What’s happening to the Uighurs makes you wonder. What other people around the world are crying out for a level of basic humanity from their government and their fellow citizens?

Uighers.dancers

I’ll bet there are more than a few we don’t know about.

The question is, do we care?

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