The Problematics of Selective Progressivism, and Selective Media.

[What do you call a white Republican who is against same-sex marriage? If you call them a bigot, then you’re calling 90% of Muslims bigots. While you accuse others of racism, you are actually being racist here because you’re applying different standards to different people based on their race because Islam is viewed as a “brown man’s religion”. You are not being liberal by supporting illiberal ideas coming from people from different countries, religions, and cultures.

I would ask somebody who reads Salon, if you claim to be against homophobia, like I am and many people are, you should stand against it whether it comes from the Evangelicals, the black church, or the Muslim in Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iran. Otherwise you are the racist. If you think it’s acceptable for “other” people do it just because they’re a different race other than a “white male” then you’re not really a liberal — you don’t subscribe to the concept of equal rights and anti-racism. You’re propagating racism and you’re part of the problem….]

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Faisal Saeed Al Mutar is a secular and human rights activist who was awarded The President’s Volunteer Service Award, Gold, from the Obama Administration in 2016. He’s experienced life under Saddam Hussein and lived in Iraq during the American invasion and civil war which followed after. He escaped Iraq in 2009 after the loss of his brother, cousin, and friends to Al Qaeda. Faisal focuses on helping liberal, secular ideas and dissidents flourish in the Middle East and is currently writing his first book. He started the Global Secular Humanist Movement, and recently launched a podcast called the Grey Zone and joined the Secular Jihadists podcast.

I think many people who study liberal arts and subjects like sociology are exposed to only one type of history — which is white history and white colonialism. They’re inculcated with the idea that the Holocaust, genocide against Native Americans, and Japanese internment camps represent white people. When people are only exposed to these ideas, of one oppressor — meaning white people — what they’ll do when they hear a person criticize a foreign culture is to get immediately defensive on behalf of that culture. And they’ll do it to protect a former victim of imperialism, racism, etc. _____________________________________________________________________________________________

[But the people who are most hurt by this — by preventing this discussion — are the minorities within the minorities….

I think another problem is that people see Muslims as a minority, but they’re not a minority globally. They’re the second biggest religion in the world. The true minorities are those living within them who do not subscribe to conservative Muslim values….

I’m all for acknowledging the problem of Islamic extremism and how we should fight it. But that means you have to look for the people with good values within these communities, the individuals who subscribe to ideas of universal human rights, liberal values, and you have to stand with them. Because when you generalize, you are literally equating the fighters of the terrorists with the terrorists themselves. You’re equating the Maajid Nawazs’ of the world with Al Qaeda. That is so far from the truth. If you say that Maajid, Ali Rizvi, Sarah Haider and all of these people are as bad as ISIS, you’re literally advocating for killing us as well. If you’re saying the solution to ISIS is bombings and drone attacks and all of us are ISIS, you’re asking for us to be killed as well just because we share the same skin color and same language….

One of the things many people don’t know about Al Jazeera is that is mostly owned by the royal family of Qatar which is financed by oil and gas. It’s a company that doesn’t rely much on advertising because they have other sources of revenue.

The version I grew up with of Al Jazeera is a channel that is literally the spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood and a light version of Al Qaeda. You can see them entertaining the idea of supporting groups like Jabhat Al Nusra in Syria — which is literally Al Qaeda’s affiliate. Let’s not talk about what they think about homosexuality and Jews and their anti-semitism, because it’s bad….

But then you have Al Jazeera English speaking about Black Lives Matter, pandas, climate change, because what they’re trying to do is make Islam look as good as possible. They want to make Muslims appear victimized. And they want to make the West look as bad as possible. They show the worst that exists in the West. Flint, Michigan — they were reporting on that constantly. Standing Rock as well, you get the idea.

But you never see them criticizing Islam, Islamists, or the Muslim Brotherhood. They only show you the side of Aleppo that is controlled by Islamist and Jihadist groups. They never criticize Qatar but they criticize Saudi Arabia because they’re rivals….

This is one of the reasons why many ex-Muslims and Muslims who support ideas about liberalism and separation of Mosque and State are afraid to speak out. They know they’ll receive a huge backlash from many out there.

The biggest backlash people like me face is actually from Islamists. They think my ideas are antithetical to Islam and an enemy according to their ideology.

The far-Left, or the regressive-Left as Maajid Nawaz refers to them, believe in the narrative that to criticize Islam and even Islamism is a form of imposing your own values on them. Regressives consider values like liberalism to be Western values so they think that you are imposing the white Western values on the brown Muslim — and to them that’s terrible. They think that Islam is a brown man’s religion. Even though there are many adherents to Islam who are white, black, Bosnian, Sudanese, Chinese. So any criticism of it from a white person is a form of racism. Any criticism coming from a brown person who was adhering to that religion is the equivalent of a black person supporting white slave-owners. That’s where terms like “Uncle-Tom” and “House Muslim” come from. They think  you are trying to assist the white imperialist “agenda” against the brown victims.

On the far-Right there are strong elements of xenophobia. There are many people who adhere to the concept of white superiority — which is a bad idea — and they subscribe to this idea that there is a clash of civilizations. That there is a war between the East and the West. That’s wrong. There are many people from the East who are liberals and who adhere to universal liberal values. Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, Ali Rizvi from Pakistan, I’m from Iraq. So there’s many people in the East who support universal human rights — sometimes more than the people in the West!]

Faisal Al Mutar on Media Bubbles, the Two Faces of Al Jazeera, and Nuance

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To the Anemic Pedants Amidst Our Pseudo-Progressive Academic Narrows | Or… Someone has a Beef with Slavoj

Hamid Dabashi draws a sharp line in the sand between European and post-colonial philosophers in this provocative introduction to Can Non-Europeans Think?

[Other people are also entitled “to recapture” – as, of course, is Žižek – a world beyond their imagination. Žižek is correct that “In no way does my basic vocation have to be drawn from the past of peoples of color.” But those very “people of color” (as he categorizes them, according to his prerogative) do not only have a past; they also have a present, and a future. Žižek is blinded to that present unless he assimilates it backward into his present, and is indifferent to that future unless he gets (singularly) to define it. He is unconditionally correct that “In no way do I have to dedicate myself to reviving some black civilization unjustly ignored.” But a “black civilization” unjustly ignored is peopled by other people, by other thinking people, kicking people, people who talk, and talk back, and talk past Žižek. He is entirely entitled to say “I will not make myself the man of any past” – and he should not, as no one should. But the people of color he just buried alive in their past are also living and breathing a present of which he seems to be blissfully ignorant. He is, of course, pulling my colored beard when he says, “My black skin is not a repository for specific values.” But mine is, and I am a living repository of not just “values” but universes, emotions, words, sentiments, rebellions that he and all his Horatios have not yet dreamt of in their philosophy.

Žižek and his fellow philosophers are oblivious to those geographies because they cannot read any other script, any other map, than the colonial script and the colonial map with which Europeans have read and navigated the world; conversely they cannot read any other script or map because they are blinded to alternative geographies that resistance to that colonialism had written and navigated. The condition is exacerbated any time people around the world rise up to assert their geography as the ground zero of a world historical event. At these times Žižek and his followers are all up and about trying to read the world back into what they already know. There is a new condition beyond postcoloniality that these Europeans cannot read, hard as they try to assimilate it back into the condition of coloniality. The task is not a mere critique of neo-Orientalism, which always is commensurate with immediate and short-sighted political interests, but to overcome “Europe” as an idea and make it behave as one among any number of other exhausted metaphors, neither less nor more potent, organic, or trustworthy. Europe was “the invention of the Third World,” as Fanon fully realized – both in material and normative senses of the term. I have already argued that we need to change the interlocutor with whom we discuss the terms of our emerging worlds. We should no longer address a dead interlocutor. Europe is dead. Long live Europeans. The Islam they had invented in their Orientalism is dead. Long live Muslims. The Orient they had created, the Third World they had crafted to rule and denigrate, have disappeared. If only those who still see themselves as Orientals would begin to decolonize their minds too.]

Fuck You Žižek!

The Loudest (and Most Romantic) Silence in the World

1111111 PERELMAN

The Man Who Solved the Poincaree’ Conjecture Problem, and Then Vanished | FIRST OT KNOW

[For nearly 100 years, the Poincaré Conjecture remained an unsolvable math problem — stumping even the most brilliant minds on Earth. The Poincaré Conjecture is a problem that involves the geometry of multidimensional spaces and helped to explain the shape of our universe.

That’s why when Grigori Perelman, Russia’s math genius and one of the most famous recluses in the world, solved it in 2002, people were incredibly shocked. But it wasn’t just the fact that he finally cracked the equation that left folks so perplexed.

After solving the Poincaré Conjecture, Perelman ran away from the recognition and fortune that came with it. Regardless of his desire to live a reclusive lifestyle, mathematicians awarded him the Fields Medal in 2006, which is the most sought after prize in mathematics. Of course, he turned down the award — the only person to do such a thing since the awards were created in 1924. He also declined to teach at Berkeley and Princeton.

It was around that time he gave up on math entirely and moved back in with his mother, surviving off of her pension alone. Although me managed to stay out of the spotlight for a few years, the world never forgot about the man who solved the unsolvable math problem.

Four years later, he did something even more bizarre. In 2010, the Clay Mathematics Institute offered Perelman the organization’s first Clay Millennium Prize, which amounted to one million dollars.Yet again, he refused the money, saying, “I know how to control the Universe. Why would I run to get a million, tell me?”

Some believe that he went insane in the process of trying to figure it out, while others think his reason for suddenly bowing out of mathematics was due to his frustration with the academic community.]

I have One of the Best Jobs in Academia. Here is Why I am Walking Away

[…. I can’t understate how rare this opportunity is: Tenure-track jobs at large state universities are few and far between. Landing one without serving a postdoctoral appointment or working as a visiting assistant professor is about as likely as landing a spot on an NBA team with a walk-on tryout — minus the seven-figure salary, naturally.

I had read all of the doom-and-gloom think pieces about the status of the American university system, of course, but it felt like none of that applied to me. I had a full-time position, secured early in my career — the possibilities were endless. Although a legal historian by training, I viewed myself as beyond such simple labels: I was a cultural historian, in command of critical theory and immersed in the latest and best work on gender and sexuality….                                                                                                     I had not just survived the academic Hunger Games — I had emerged triumphant.

Then it all began to fall apart.]

Read the full story here | VOX

PROFESSOR

Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts

[As a philosopher, I already knew that many college-aged students don’t believe in moral facts. While there are no national surveys quantifying this phenomenon, philosophy professors with whom I have spoken suggest that the overwhelming majority of college freshmen in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.

What I didn’t know was where this attitude came from. Given the presence of moral relativism in some academic circles, some people might naturally assume that philosophers themselves are to blame. But they aren’t. There are historical examples of philosophers who endorse a kind of moral relativism, dating back at least to Protagoras who declared that “man is the measure of all things,” and several who deny that there are any moral facts whatsoever. But such creatures are rare. Besides, if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?

A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:

Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.

Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.

Hoping that this set of definitions was a one-off mistake, I went home and Googled “fact vs. opinion.” The definitions I found onlinewere substantially the same as the one in my son’s classroom. As it turns out, the Common Core standards used by a majority of K-12 programs in the country require that students be able to “distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.” And the Common Core institute provides a helpful page full of links to definitions, lesson plans and quizzes to ensure that students can tell the difference between facts and opinions.

So what’s wrong with this distinction and how does it undermine the view that there are objective moral facts?]

Read the full article here | OPINIONATOR | THE NEW YORK TIMES

SOCRATES

The Ghost of Cornel West

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson for The New Republic

[The irony is that, as highly charged as his criticism has become, West is, in some ways, not that different from Obama. The president has long wished to be the grand architect of bipartisanship, the conciliator of left and right, the bridge between conservatives and liberals. West used to fancy himself a similar figure; at least he did when he was riding high on best-seller lists as a progressive icon. West sought to account for the suffering of black America by steering between the arguments of conservative behaviorists and liberal structuralists. He thought it was important to acknowledge self-inflicted injuries as well as dehumanizing forces. As Stephen Steinberg, a sociologist at Queens College, has argued, West set himself up as “the voice of reason and moderation between liberals and conservatives,” as the “mediator between ideological extremes.” Obama has similarly argued that black folk must cultivate moral excellence at home and in the community even as he admits the government must help fight black suffering.]

Read the full article | THE NEW REPUBLIC

WEST

Red is Not Black

Rachel Dolezal and Andrea Smith: Integrity, Ethics, Accountability, Identity

[… a more productive place to begin might be to ask why there has not been any noticeable difference in professional or political expectations of Smith—in her self-presentations, speaking engagements, professional service, and publications? There are certainly many people who knew/know, so why have her ethics and integrity not been questioned or challenged in the same or similar way to those of Dolezal? Why does Smith’s fraud get excused on the grounds of “her good work” but Dolezal does not?

Meanwhile, we’ll all fail to ask why, as Dolezal and Smith present themselves through such complicated personal stories of childhood abuse and family dysfunction, we respond so differently to Dolezal’s blackface and Smith’s redface. We’ll avoid the opportunity to think out loud together about why it seems the entire nation demands accountability of someone pretending to be Black–of literally altering her physical appearance to conform to racist expectations of Blackness–but doesn’t seem to give one iota of concern about those who pretend to be Indian.]

Read the full opinion article | tequilasovereign

ANDREASMITH