Friday, May 04, 2007

There's Kasparov and then there is mediocrity...

Time Magazine has announced its list of the 100 most influential people of our present time. Gary Kasparov made it to the list. Obviously, Kasparov's political efforts in Russia got people's attention. His group, The Other Russia, a coalition of those opposed to the rule of President Vladimir Putin, has become his vehicle for change although Kasparov stressed that he is not the leader but only the moderator. Well, that's all very commendable really. However, how seriously should we take this list? When it is put in terms of " the most influential " people, one would naturally consider the extent by which their work impacts our lives. I am very skeptical when it comes to " lists " of this and that. Okay, perhaps in Kasparov's case, if political and social change occurs in Russia through the efforts of The Other Russia, those changes could impact our lives in the long run since Russia is a player in global politics. This distinction is less clear when it comes to other people on the list like Maher Arar. He is a Syrian-born Canadian arrested in the USA under suspicion of terrorism, and sent to Syria for interrogation. Syrians insisted that Arar was never tortured there. The write-up for Arar in Time Magazine pointed to our ( USA ) willingness to compromise our sacred principles of liberty and freedom for the sake of national security. If you ask me, this is all liberal crap. Anyway, given that Arar's story is sad, how was he judged as one of the 100 most influential people of our time? Is being a victim enough, or does one have to have a body of influential work to make the list? Going through the list, I am more inclined to consider idolatry, hero-worship, and plain old stylishness as the criteria rather than the good effect that a certain person's work has on our lives. Now, to drive my point home, here are several more people on the list: Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, Rosie O' Donnell, and Tyra Banks. Lord have Mercy!


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