Thursday, September 3, 2015

BLAMING CASSANDRA


Ayaan Hirsi Ali does not need me to defend her as an intelligent and worthy spokesperson for intellectual liberation and feminism in relation to Islam. But I do bristle when I see her dismissed out of hand by the "it's all good" crowd of  privileged Western academics. Yes, it's all good for them in their ivory towers, as it always has been and as, they assume, it always will be. 

There has been a concerted attempt by wealthy Muslim-American intellectuals, mostly men, to discredit Hirsi Ali through their Ivy League connections on campuses and in media. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that they are also encouraged by their wealthy and overly influential Saudi classmates, since Hirsi Ali has correctly pointed her finger at the devil she amply knows, Saudi Arabia. 

Cassandra foresaw the fall of Troy in Greek mythology, but the Greeks say she was cursed by Apollo in their favor so that none would believe her. Perhaps some day jihadists will say that The West was deafened to the thoughts of Ayaan Hirsi Ali by Allah to insure their victory. Only time will tell. 

I offer this recent article in Foreign Affairs by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It is not casual reading. It is thoughtful writing on a wide view of foreign policy. I think any intelligent reader will come away with an image of its author as an intelligent, educated and mindful human being. She is wisely defusing the contrived Islamophobia bomb from within by talking about real issues which lie deep beneath the slogan wars of junk media. 

I like this passage:

The conventional wisdom today is that the Cold War was won on economics. But this is a misunderstanding of history. In fact, in the 1950s and again in the 1980s, the United States appealed to people living behind the Iron Curtain not only on the basis of Americans’ higher standards of living but also—and perhaps more importantly—on the basis of individual freedom and the rule of law. Soviet dissidents such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov, and Vaclav Havel did not condemn the Soviet system because its consumer goods were shoddy and in short supply. They condemned it because it was lawless, lying, and corrupt.
Today, there are many dissidents who challenge Islam with as much courage as the dissidents who spoke out against the Soviet Union. Just as critics of communism during the Cold War came from a variety of backgrounds and disagreed on many issues, so do modern critics of unreformed Islam. Qabbanji, for example, has expressed strong criticism of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, whereas other reformers, such as Ansari, are more pro-American. But such differences are less important than what the reformers have in common. They are all challenging an orthodoxy that contains within it the seeds of an escalating jihad. Yet the West either ignores them or dismisses them as unrepresentative.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"YOU HAVE TO HELP US. WE'RE HUMAN."

Migrants grouped at Turkish-Syrian border.

A Syrian teacher, a refugee in Europe, was quoted as saying, "You have to help us. We're human." 

This is certainly an idealistic statement, voiced in desperation. I understand desperation. I have experienced it. Yes, it is possible to experience desperation in The West. However, though truly desperate, I realized that I was responsible for my own salvation. This realization in subsequent life choices/events has served me quite well. I was able to come to this realization through pursuing education and through rejecting much of what I had been bullied into believing as a child. 

Yesterday I posted my thoughts about religion and the current migration crisis in Europe. I am sure it has, and will, rankle those prone to religion and hollow sympathy. That hollow sympathy is best represented by the armchair humanitarians who would indignantly instruct average citizens of Europe to absorb the culture shock and expense of hundreds of thousands of traumatized migrants. 

The demanding Syrian teacher represents the victims of patriarchy/religion/politics who have invested their faith in things they had been taught as children, until their lives have become unbearable. These people have played their part in a written script for their lives. They have schemed for survival and bowed to authority when it suited them. They have had children and done conventional work. They feel they have done everything right and are being unfairly persecuted. I get it, but I do not accept their perception of the greater reality. I do not see them all as hapless victims. 

The failure or inability to gain a realistic view of the world through skeptical education has its consequences. A quick look at the Muslim world will illustrate what I mean. And those consequences are not the responsibility of the rest of the world to assuage. In fact, previous attempts by developed nations to assuage ignorance, violence and poverty where they had held back civilization are now popularly condemned as imperialism and colonialism. 

The supporters of the Muslim religion cannot ethically demand or rationally expect salvation from their own internal ideology and its consequences. Just as we in the Judeo-Christian world cannot be saved from our own indoctrination without doing considerable work on ourselves. The movement from Judeo-Christian fundamentalism and sectarianism has yielded the less violent and improved standard of life which economic migrants to the U.S. and Europe seek.  That is the movement from faith to skepticism. From religious belief (submission) to scientific challenge (discovery). 

Here in my own neighborhood this week I have seen wealthy Muslims, happy Muslim men and grumpy Muslim women in full concealment. I have seen haughty Muslim fathers amusing themselves without care with their sons while their women and daughters slog along behind with suitcases or packages. These Muslims are most likely far from being migrants. They are most likely members of the elites in their societies. They do not look concerned about the Middle East. Like the wealthy in all societies, they feel immune from suffering. And they too are human. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ASYLUM...INDEED.


The mounting migration crisis in Eastern Europe is fascinating to the press, who offer countless heart-rending anecdotes about women with children they had without any idea of how they were going to care for them and scoff at governmental leaders who are attempting to humanely protect their own boundaries and cultures. The promotion of a masochistic Christianity in the face of aggressive invasion by some is simply nuts. Here in the U.S., by the way, poverty among our own citizens is on the rise. Perhaps this is an eventual sacrifice Europeans wish to make in the name of corporate-globalist largess. Perhaps not. Only time will tell. 

The spearhead of the migration invasion of Europe is Muslim and Syrian. This may account for much of the concern of many rational citizens in invaded societies. However, Europe has worked itself into a corner by adopting the Islamaophobia myth which states than anyone who fears beheading and Sharia assassination for being gay (or female or sexually active outside of marriage or resistant to female genital mutilation) is a neurotic and unenlightened bigot.

Well, call me a bigot. At least I can hear you because I haven't been thrown off a building by ISIS or hanged by an Iranian mob or thrown into prison by an Egyptian court or knifed by a Muslim family member for being a gay man, and so on, and so on. 

The word "asylum" seems appropriate when discussing determinedly religious migrants from war-torn Islamic societies. Those who persist in their belief that the ideology which has subjugated them and alienated one sect from another to the point of destroying their home countries perhaps belong in an asylum. Those who are fleeing to The West and have had it with religion altogether may be tremendous contributors to world progress. They don't need an asylum. They need help and resettlement now. It seems to me this could easily be done with a simple means test: "Do you believe in The Prophet and an omnipotent Allah?" A similar means test could also be applied to other 'faiths'. 

This brings me to my point. I believe all gay men from Muslim countries deserve to be considered refugees from oppression. They should be granted immediate permanent visas by all Western countries which have decriminalized homosexuality. After all, didn't the U.S. grant immediate visas to Cubans, regardless of their circumstances, for simply coming into the U.S., based on that island's Communist regime? Being forced to live in a Communist system which is attempting to provide equal education, housing and employment for all seems like a walk in the park compared to the day-to-day lives of gay men in just about any Muslim country. 

So, how about it, Western democracies? Let the gay men in. Let the women who reject patriarchy in. Let the godless in. It is really for your own good. In fact, it may be one good way to prevent your democracies from degenerating into hyper-religious, conflict-ridden madhouses. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

INDEPENDENT THINKING


I have been thinking of leaving Facebook. The recent use of the medium to advertise a Facebooker's assassination of coworkers in Virginia further soured my already souring opinion of Facebook's role in American culture as I experience it. While Americans are increasingly describing themselves as politically independent from the two-party system, two major camps seem quite obvious in media like Facebook: Sniping conformists and enraged reactionaries. Neither group appeals to me.

Facebook is a lure to the voyeurs and exhibitionists in us. But voyeurism and exhibitionism, while quite human, are not the best human qualities. "Look at me." is quite different from "This is what I think after mulling this over." Trying to play to an audience which you already know will agree with you is not a contribution to any subject. Self-consciously presenting a persona which is not real is simply fake and hypocritical. 

Perhaps Twitter is a more honest medium. That may account for the frequent stories of chastened celebrities who get caught being honest in their Tweets. Twitter is certainly no less narcissistic in its general landscape. I find it hard to comprehend what motivates someone to Tweet his/her grocery shopping from a supermarket. Worse than boring. 

I began writing a blog in 2005 to help me develop my mind. It entailed research, consideration and sometimes original artwork to illustrate my process. I was amused by fellow bloggers who chose to write blogs about the latest gay porn stars and their contributions to erotica. Frankly, in retrospect, those folks were more intelligent and creative than people who do nothing but post cat videos on Youtube or videos about their daily angst. 

Being one of a species of billions is not really mitigated by celebrity. The planet is still being polluted beyond habitability. There is no space hotel for refuge. Perhaps this is the underpinning of the sudden outpouring of sympathy for migrants who have ruined their own countries through insane religiosity and are attempting to invade countries who haven't yet been ruined by that ideology. All human beings may be helpless victims of their own folly and destructive overpopulation all too soon. 

Independent thinking is not worry-free. It never has been. "It's all good." was not the mentality which spurred on Gandhi to starve himself. Political correctness of one era is the fascism of another. Conformity does not improve the human condition, it erodes the quality of life for everyone equally. Facebook may be just another phony cocktail party without the food and drinks. How tawdry is that? 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

HEIDENAU


Angela Merkel is not used to being booed by Germans, even though she is hated by Greeks. The working class people of Heidenau, a tire-producing city near Dresden, have been painted with the media's wide brush as reactionary fascists after some violent thugs burned down a migrant center in the city. Merkel was booed off the stage after a pro-migration speech yesterday in Heidenau.
 
Heidenau is illustrative of the conflict between the control of many global governments by the corporate elites and the will of citizens in those countries. Corporate-controlled media in developed countries labels those who protest the rule of the elites as rabble and dangerous extremists. We saw this during the early Occupy Movement. We saw this during the anti-globalization protests in the 1990's.
 
Germany has accepted 800,000 displaced migrants, largely from the Middle East. Germany's population is around 80 million. However, Germany's government has stated its interest in admitting many more migrants. And, it seems determined to crush any dissent against this policy. It has raised the specter of Germany's Nazi past as a propaganda tool to suppress protest. This is an extremist tactic for a German government, since the sensitivity of Germans to that past is very raw.
 
So who are the extremists here? I have placed a photo above of the peaceful protest of thousands of Heidenau residents against the migrant influx, which has caused culture shock in this orderly industrial city. This occurred prior to the violent and mindless burning of the migrant center. I have posted below a photo of the masked, ISIS-like, leftist pro-migrant protesters who came out in the dark after the attack on the migrant center. Ask yourself which group you would rather associate with.


Friday, August 14, 2015

USELESS TECHNOLOGY

An example. For more, click here.

There are those in science and engineering who would defend the limitless exploration of any avenue of investigation, particularly when funded by capitalism. They take the position, as does NASA for example, that seemingly irrelevant exploration can yield discoveries and technologies for the greater good. Perhaps this is valid. Perhaps not, when I look at the big picture of human sustainability.

I always look at a burgeoning human population of 7.5 billion and climate change which threatens certain mass misery very soon in terms of human time when I assess news of new technology. For example, the self-driving automobile. Yes, the automobile, which is largely responsible for impending climate disaster, is being improved to allow for safe driving in overcrowded conditions. How about cheaply constructed electric buses and designated bus lanes everywhere? 

Medical science is particularly disorganized. Advances in medical science are based on reactive models. Modern medicine is generally reactive, not preventative. Stamping out one epidemic at a time is not a long-range strategy which bodes well in a world of over 7 billion people with enhanced communication. Eventually, there will be too many fires to put out, based in the extension of life spans, the deterioration of air/water/food quality and the burgeoning rates of obesity. IVF is one example of useless medical technology in a world which needs human population control, not explosions of quadruplets. How about a better way of getting impoverished/unwanted children adopted?

Informational engineering is the most obvious area of useless technology. Whenever I see a pink iPhone in the hands of a gum-chewing airhead on the subway, I realize just how useless much of the current informational technology is, in terms of the quality of life on the planet. The gum-chewer is more detached from his/her environment than gum-chewers of previous generations. However, he/she feels more informed and intelligent. This bolstering of the egos of narcissistic gum-chewers is definitely useless technology.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

OLD BLAME GAME

Black Lives Matter protester harangues Bernie Sanders.

I understand more every day why some old people get crankier and crankier. When you see the same old things happening with the same old results, it gets frustrating. It is most frustrating to see educated people involving themselves in causes which are misdirected by bad leadership, or rather by lack of good leadership. The current Ferguson phenomenon is an example. 

Ferguson has come to represent everything that has never worked for African-Americans. The Black Lives Matter slogan, loosely formed into a political-social movement, is less effective and just as irritating as the Tea Party rants of the 2008 elections. The outrage expressed by Black Lives Matter activists at someone saying "All lives matter." is incredibly ineffectual. It alienates many who would readily support the basic precept of Black equality in the context of universal human rights. The Black Power and Black Panther movements of the 1960's managed the same alienation of supporters by their hostility toward anyone who was not Black. Their fueling of separatist Black hatred for non-Blacks fed the fires of rioting and looting in the 1960's and 1970's 

Requiring all Whites to remorsefully bow their heads in shame over a perceived universal White privilege is a great way to lose support. Cutting all kinds of slack for Black hoodlums with guns who sell drugs and commit violence in their own communities is another way to lose support. Blaming law enforcement for trying to effectively stop lawlessness in a community with limited tools at their disposal is another way to lose support. 

Cocky policemen are nobody's heroes. Police unions which protect corrupt and arrogant policemen of any color or ethnicity rather than weeding them out are nobody's heroes. These clowns are not enforcing White privilege against Black communities. They are just being lousy cops to the disservice of every citizen. 

My concern, as someone genuinely committed to universal human rights and the maintenance of a lawful society for all citizens, is the current exploitation of bad policing by some in the Black community who are willing to blame the lawlessness in their own neighborhoods on White racism. We have seen this before. The Miami Riot (1980), Crown Heights Riot (1991), Overtown, Miami Riot (1991), Los Angeles Riots (1992), Harlem Riots (1992), Cincinnati Riot (2001), etc.. 

The net effect of these riots on positive social change within chronically impoverished Black communities has been nil. Has this all been the fault of White people? Has this been a vast police conspiracy? Or has this been largely due to substance abuse, lack of education, lack of informed parenting, lack of positive role models within those communities, and the development of a dominant criminal culture, aided by exploitative mass media? 

There will never be a post-racial world until everyone on the planet understands and accepts individual responsibility for being a respectful, non-violent and lawful person toward all other human beings. Race is not the only barrier to mutual civility. Behavior often is. Anger and aggressive behavior do not convey blame, they evoke it. Exclusion does not promote inclusion. Demanding respect without giving respect is childish. The blame game may set off a reflex of shame in those who are so prone, but that shame can eventually morph into resentment if it is seen later to be exploitative and unwarranted.