Reclaiming the word ‘retard’ and other political categories

When I was a child, the word ‘retard’ was used by some kids as a term of mild, somewhat humorous abuse of other kids, and by society at large to refer to people with intellectual disabilities. It’s not a useful word for the latter (if it were, we’d use it in clinical medicine), and no sensible person today would use it for that purpose, unless of course they were a ….

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On Islamophobia

Yet another article on Muslim abuse that misuses the word ‘Islamophobia’…

Let’s get one thing straight. ‘Islamophobia’ as used in the media now is a nonsense term. Phobias are unreasoned fears about things, e.g. some people have them about spiders. Islamophobia, if it means anything it means: an irrational fear of Islam. That’s quite defensible given some of the many things the term ‘Islam’ can represent today. And yet it is used instead as a surrogate for the cry of ‘Racist!’ by ignorant cultural relativists and other unconscious post-modernists.

[edit Nov 01] Originally I avoided following the obvious line of argument that fear of Islam is for many quite rational, rather than irrational, making the word ‘Islamophobia’ doubly meaningless. However, I think that the hideousness of Islamic state’s atrocities (which are simply a public version of the same thing historically conducted in more carefully controlled places) explains ‘fear’ of all kinds to be found at any point on the continuum from the rational (reasoned, informed) to the irrational (emotional).

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Just words on a page? Aslan v Harris

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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.

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What matters in (Green) politics?

I joined the UK Green Party recently. There’s a lot to fix with its internal organisation, media presentation and other peripheral aspects. There are bits of policy that need serious work. But the core thinking on the ecological, economic and social levels is broadly good and coherent.

There is an internal discussion (post mortem) going on after a ‘car-crash’ interview the Greens leader, Natalie Bennett gave on LBC, a radio station this last week. I posted the following on the internal discussion about the car crash by way of reaction. It might be of interest to some readers here (note: below, ‘GP’ = Green Party, not general practitioner!).

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War, vulture capitalism and how to really play a harp – part I

First the harp, since I have a small clip of a wonderful musician called Diego Laverde Rojas from Columbia, who was playing in Old St Tube station last night.

Like me many of you I often just walk past buskers, even good ones, following my imagined prioritisation of things (or just being late to a meeting). But… what could be more important than standing listening to a virtuoso player in the underground on a cold night, conjuring up traditional dances of South America on the least likely instrument? Thanks Diego, you made my night, and I am sure you will make many others happy. [Of course I asked him if I could upload the video of him. He’s a lovely guy to talk to. I was so stunned by his playing I completely forget to give him a few more coins. Londoners, please help me make up for that!]

And now for the dark side.

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