On 8 November 2016, a reality show celebrity and business man with no political experience of any kind became US President Elect, against all expectation. Earlier that year, on June 23 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU, against even the expectations of those vociferously running the ‘leave’ campaigns. These events need some explaining.
Let’s have a look at Trump first. There’s a prevailing view that people who voted for him are essentially racist, misogynist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and generally nasty. Internet memes such as this one make fun of this.
I laughed too. And then, on 8 November, Donald Trump won the election.
Anyone who follows the debate on fundamentalist Islamic terrorism will be familiar with Sam Harris and Reza Aslan. They usually come across as intellectually diametrically opposed, but are both clearly humanists and deep thinkers. The fact that two such intelligent students of world affairs, belief systems and geopolitics cannot find a common reference point from which to have more substantive debate is informative.
This post is about how hardline militancy about potentially good ideas (eating less meat, open source software, reducing alcohol consumption) cruels rational debate, and often has the opposite effect in the real world of that intended. Militants are essentially ideologues and fascists and need to be called out for it.
Firstly, to any vegans or vegetarians reading this: I like all both of these things. In moderation:) Now read on…
Recently I accidentally become embroiled in a comments section discussion / flame war attached to an Alternet.org article called ‘Unsavory: The Problem With Angry Vegans Who Push and Preach Their Ideals‘. Most of the flaming was by other people and for other people, so I escaped with only minor charring around the edges. Continue reading
I posted last week on my outrage and revulsion of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, 7/Jan/2015. Those of us in the UK, France, other European and Western countries, and many around the world, expressed similar outrage. Now what?
I spent a good part of the last week thinking about my own reaction, and researching all manner of Islam-related topics on the net. To my surprise, along with much to be depressed about, I found some specific and unexpected resources – all created by Muslims – that give me some hope. (See ‘Resources’ in the middle of this post).
Is the aftermath of the most recent gun massacre in the US any different from those before? Many hope so due to the fact that the dead were mostly little kids of the ages of 5-7; it seems such an unacceptable atrocity that even the gun lobby would realise the need for change. Right? I doubt it. But it doesn’t mean no progress can be made. [this post updated with DailyBeast poll link under opinions 23/12/2012].
No it’s not Obama and Mitt. You know them. This is Ron Paul talking to Bill Maher, which for me symbolises better what this election is about. Well, it’s about various things. I’ll get back to these two in a minute. Continue reading
Today on the London tube I was reading the introduction to ‘The Monstrosity of Christ: paradox or dialectic?’, a debate between Slavoj Žižek and John Millbank, edited by Creston Davis, the latter the author of the introduction. My post here is not about the main subject matter of the book (two views of theology / christianity) but the final sentence of the introduction stayed with me for the day:
The monstrosity of Christ is the love either in paradox or in dialectics – and I believe, may be the pathway beyond the current popular-absolutist rule of finance, spectacle, and surveillance.
Although we can argue about the faith part of this (or even reject it out of hand), the two sides this statement resonate nowhere better right now than at tent city in the forecourt of St Paul’s cathedral, in the heart of the City of London.
Belgium and France signalled in the press this week (22 Apr 2010) that they would ban the Islamic veil known as the Burka (total body coverage with mesh ‘window’ for seeing), and also the Niqab (open slit for seeing). Before legislation is even passed in either country, arguments and insults are flying back and forth. In France, the State Council warns that such bans may violate the French constitution as well as the European Convention on Human Rights [RFI 30 Mar 2010].
Woman wearing a burka
I find the appeal to ‘religious rights and freedoms’ here very interesting, not to say disingenuous. Moral ‘rights’ based on religion have been invoked in countless abhorrent events in human history, from the Crusades (a mostly wrong-headed series of adventuring under Christian flags featuring long periods of boredom punctuated by short episodes of massacre and mayhem) [Amin Maalouf’s ‘The Crusades through Arab Eyes‘ is a wonderful read by the way] to the hideous practices related to ‘honour’ maimings and killings common (but not limited to) in the Islamic world. In the modern world, religion is never far from bombs and violence – Northern Ireland, Palestine, Nigeria and Iraq being just a few examples. These extreme situations are all easy enough for peace-loving individuals and governments alike to condemn.