Thursday, June 22, 2017

Denying "standing": how identitarians marginalize the marginalized who disagree with them (focusing on 4th St. Fantasy)

At Followup On Fourth Street, Hopping689 told Steven Brust,
Your opening address was in no way aggressive and I heartily approved of it. Speaking as a disabled woman. 
If a writer has nothing to say about society, I don’t read their work and I certainly don’t go to hear them speak. Why would I, if they have nothing to say? Surely nearly every story is about society and the individual’s place in it. Especially SFF, aka “the literature of ideas.” 
By “safe space” do those who object actually mean “commercially safe space”? If groups are socially and economically disadvantaged to the point they don’t feel safe speaking up in public discussions, hadn’t the panel better address the political forces behind that? If you don’t talk about real things, real people don’t care. They don’t have the time. The purpose of the discussion becomes insular, otherwise; maybe even indulgent. It’s the very thing that puts busy, cash-strapped, tired people off reading in the first place. Anti-intellectualism relies on art which says nothing. 
It seems a fairly typical use of identity politics to quash genuine political discussion, whether it’s done consciously or not. And anyway, (to make the old joke) speaking as a woman, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
But her comments have been excluded from the identitarian narrative because it does not fit. Like Adolph Reed, whose short piece on anti-racism should be read by anyone who is concerned with racism, she cannot be dismissed with the usual ad hominem, so she's simply ignored.

I started thinking about "standing" when I read Cheryl S.'s comment at Steven Brust’s Fourth Street Fantasy Remarks Generate Heat | File 770:
...I commented yesterday that Brust lacked standing. He doesn’t get to redefine the meaning in order to make a rather dubious point while also dog whistling the culture. wars.
Why does Steve lack standing? Because he's a white male who does not accept the neoliberal understanding of privilege developed in the Ivy League.

As a disabled woman, Hopping689 should have all the "standing" anyone needs to have their position taken seriously. But for identitarians, ideology trumps identity, a fact that should be especially obviously when cis het white male identitarians erase her and all the women who did not feel threatened by Steve from the story.

Earlier:

Ideology makes you confuse the literal and the metaphorical--a bit about the 4th Street Kerfuffle

Yes, some people literally did not understand that Steve Brust was speaking metaphorically

"Why the Theory of Cultural Appropriation is Pro-Capitalist"—a guest post by Jonas Kyratzes

Jonas made a comment on My opening remarks at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention that deserves more attention, so I've made it a guest post. -WS

Why the Theory of Cultural Appropriation is Pro-Capitalist

by Jonas Kyratzes

Of course the concept of appropriation is pro-capitalist: it treats culture, inherently diffuse, messy, mixed up and impure, as an ownable good available in limited amounts. It’s an even more extreme version of the logic applied to software piracy. It’s turning everything into a product.

Even the excuse that the point supposedly is to protect people from that culture (and not to police cultural borders) comes purely in capitalist terms – the function is to protect those artists who make a living by selling a purist fantasy. And usually, to be clear, these are Americans who have some ancestral connection to that culture, not people from another country. Because people from those countries are rarely threatened by “outsiders” taking on elements of their culture; in fact, they celebrate it. In Greece, when some element of Greek culture becomes popular worldwide, it tends to make the news. As a good thing. As in hey, we’re poor and miserable and everything is shit, but at least we’re still relevant in the world. People like our stuff! If you all start loving the bouzouki, we’re not suddenly going to run out of music over here.

And the irony is, of course, that this demand for cultural purity actually *diminishes* opportunities for artists from these countries. If certain elements of their culture become part of the global mainstream, that’s actually a chance to have an impact! It makes you more easily understood, makes what you have to offer more accessible. It builds bridges. But the anti-appropriation argument actually just has the effect of limiting “cultural authority” to the tiny minority of English or American middle-class artists who take on the role of “authentic” representative/consultant and perpetuate these rigid Maoist-style ideologies to safeguard their position.

The people outside the US most likely to be against appropriation, i.e. against the mixing of cultures, are fascists. The people most likely to make a big deal about “their” culture are extreme conservatives. That’s what you’re supporting on a global scale when you fight against appopriation – the very worst parts of society, the equivalent of your very own white supremacists. The rest of us are deeply opposed to nationalism, to cultural chauvinism. We’re not insecure about “our” culture. We’re fighting against borders, against segregation, for unity and understanding between cultures. Cultures which, incidentally, simply cannot be ranked in some convenient hierarchy – our histories are way too messy for that.

Why American leftists insist on supporting the extreme right, the worst enemies of the very oppressed you claim to want to help, will never make sense. We could really use your solidarity, but that would require an internationalist, transcultural perspective.

Yes, some people literally did not understand that Steve Brust was speaking metaphorically

A footnote to Ideology makes you confuse the literal and the metaphorical--a bit about the 4th Street Kerfuffle:

I completely understand why people find it hard to believe anyone did not understand that Steve was speaking metaphorically. That croggled me, too. But the difficulty of understanding metaphor began with the first comments at 4th Street Fantasy Society:

David Cummer Are you saying Steve intended to make people feel threatened?

LikeShow more reactions
ReplyJune 17 at 2:29pm
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Alex Haist David Cummer He said so explicitly, so yes.

LikeShow more reactions
ReplyJune 17 at 2:30pm

I answered,

Will Shetterly Alex has trouble understanding metaphors, so she did not hear what he was saying. This would not have been a problem had she asked him if what she inferred was what he intended to imply.

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June 18 at 12:30amEdited

Even after considerable discussion about metaphors, there were exchanges like this:

Karen Osborne Because he literally said that we should feel threatened. Good heavens.

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June 20 at 3:54pmEdited
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Will Shetterly Karen Osborne Did he say it literally or metaphorically?
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Will Shetterly I asked Matt Smit this, and he hasn't answered yet: Is it no longer possible to use "threaten" as a metaphor? I'm old, and language changes, so if that's so, it'd be good to know. In my day, anything could be meant literally or metaphorically.
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Matt Smit You asked Reuben, not me, Will.

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June 20 at 3:58pm
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Karen Osborne Will - You already know what he said.

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June 20 at 3:59pm
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Will Shetterly Karen Osborne Yes, I do, and I know it was a metaphor.

ETA: At Steven Brust’s Fourth Street Fantasy Remarks Generate Heat | File 770, Hampus Eckerman doubles down on the idea that Steve's metaphor was a literal threat. I replied, "All metaphors are said literally. That does not mean metaphoric speech is literal speech, even though English would let us say that."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Three thoughts about cults

If you know a cult's buzzwords, you know when people who say they want discussion are only after your conversion.

Secular cults are harder to spot than religious ones. But not much harder.

Cultists always give themselves away when they get angry: they love the insults for outsiders that their group uses.

Ideology makes you confuse the literal and the metaphorical--a bit about the 4th Street Kerfuffle

This year's 4th Street Fantasy Convention was generally fine, but Steve Brust's initial comments were badly misunderstood. His text is here: My opening remarks at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention 

Ideally, you will read that before continuing so my comments won't color your interpretation of what's there.

I'm writing this post because I said something in the discussion on Facebook that I regret, but though I said it snarkily, it seems to be true:
I see several people here are not familiar with a literary device called the metaphor. Perhaps metaphors should be the subject of a Fourth Street Panel next year.

Out of curiosity, why would anyone think Steve would want to turn a literary convention into a place where people are physically threatened?
The people who're upset by Steve's talk are unable to see that his opening lines are metaphorical:
Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is not a safe space. On the contrary, it is a very unsafe space.
And they're unable to see that his third line is literal:
Of course, it ought to be safe in the sense of everyone feeling physically safe, and in the sense that there should be no unwanted harassment, and it should be free of personal attacks of any kind.
If you think about his statement logically, there's no reason to interpret the first two lines as saying he wants 4th Street to be a place that's physically unsafe, and there's every reason to think his third line means exactly what it says.

But humans aren't logical. To people who think of safe spaces as sacred spaces, any questioning of the idea is taboo.

At least one of Steve's critics insists they do understand metaphor. But if that's true, why are they upset?

The answer: Ideology affects our ability to interpret text. Someone first pointed this out to me with Christian sects: they often disagree over what's literal and what's metaphorical, so some Christians think they should be able to handle vipers and some do not.

Secular cults also struggle with what's literal and what's metaphorical. Though Strong Whorfianism has been discounted, they police words fiercely, sometimes to the extent that they treat words as deeds. Cognitive dissonance keeps them from recognizing the inconsistencies in their understanding. When the possibility that an article of faith might be doubted arises--like the idea that a "safe space" may have both good points and bad--they react with anger, then comfort themselves with platitudes.

And so they confirm that Steve's fears are justified. Safe spaces only allow for safe ideas.

ETA: Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces on College Campuses Can Silence Religious Students - The Atlantic:
Trigger warnings and safe spaces are terms that reflect the values of the communities in which they’re used. ... These advocates routinely use the word “ally” to describe those who support their positions on race, gender, and religion, implying that anyone who disagrees is an “enemy.”
How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus - The Atlantic:
...trigger warnings are sometimes demanded for a long list of ideas and attitudes that some students find politically offensive, in the name of preventing other students from being harmed. This is an example of what psychologists call “motivated reasoning”—we spontaneously generate arguments for conclusions we want to support. Once you find something hateful, it is easy to argue that exposure to the hateful thing could traumatize some other people. You believe that you know how others will react, and that their reaction could be devastating. Preventing that devastation becomes a moral obligation for the whole community. Books for which students have called publicly for trigger warnings within the past couple of years include Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (at Rutgers, for “suicidal inclinations”) and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (at Columbia, for sexual assault).
Trigger warnings: more harm than good? - Telegraph

Three essential points about trigger warnings, Neil Gaiman, and Kameron Hurley; or Trigger warning: Shetterly

Part 2: Yes, some people literally did not understand that Steve Brust was speaking metaphorically

Frederick Douglass and Henry Louis Gates on free speech and hate speech

Frederick Douglass

"To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker." —Frederick Douglass, "A Plea for Free Speech in Boston"

Henry Louis Gates

From "Critical Race Theory and Freedom of Speech" in The Future of Academic Freedom, edited by Louis Menard, University of Chicago Press, 1996:
What you don't hear from the hate speech theorists is that the first casualty of the MacKinnonite anti-obscenity ruling was a gay and lesbian bookshop in Toronto, which was raided by the police because of a lesbian magazine it carried.
From Presidential Lectures: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.:
People do bad things, things they know that are bad, for what they feel at the moment were good reasons. One is to institute speech codes. Trample all over the First Amendment, the right of free speech, because we decide that using certain language hurts our fellow human beings—it demeans their humanity. While that might seem like a good idea, the long-term consequences on the right to free expression are far greater than whatever immediate hurt or pain a woman would feel for being called a bitch or a black would feel for being called a nigger. If we're talking about actual physical harm, laws against that exist already. It's not worth it to me to assuage the pain by killing off the First Amendment.
Speech codes are symbolic acts. They let a group of people say, 'This symbolizes that we at the University of Wisconsin are not the sort of community where we would tolerate someone saying the word 'rigger.'' Well, big deal. But there are other symbolic consequences, like what's the effect on freedom of inquiry. I think we're all bigger and more secure than that. I think we have to allow people to say even unpopular things and nasty things in order to protect the right of us to attack our government and say whatever's on our minds.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Socialist quotes for free speech

"You cannot enjoy the advantages of a free press without putting up with its inconveniences. You cannot pluck the rose without its thorns!" —Karl Marx

"...only those blind or simpleminded could think that the workers and peasants could be freed from reactionary ideas by the banning of reactionary press. In fact, it is only the greatest freedom of expression that can create favorable conditions for the advance of the revolutionary movement in the working class." —Leon Trotsky

"I believe that free speech and press mean that I may say and write what I please. This right, when regulated by constitutional provisions, legislative enactments, almighty decisions of the Postmaster General or the policeman’s club, becomes a farce. I am well aware that I will be warned of consequences if we remove the chains from speech and press. I believe, however, that the cure of consequences resulting from the unlimited exercise of expression is to allow more expression." - Emma Goldman

"Let the guarantee of free speech be in every man's determination to use it, and we shall have no need of paper declarations." —Voltairine de Cleyre

"Without general elections, without freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, without the free battle of opinions, life in every public institution withers away, becomes a caricature of itself, and bureaucracy rises as the only deciding factor." —Rosa Luxemburg

"Laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression; in order that every man may present his views without penalty, there must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population." —Albert Einstein

"If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise." —Noam Chomsky

"...even if Faurisson were to be a rabid anti-Semite and fanatic pro-Nazi ... this would have no bearing whatsoever on the legitimacy of the defense of his civil rights. On the contrary, it would make it all the more imperative to defend them since, once again, it has been a truism for years, indeed centuries, that it is precisely in the case of horrendous ideas that the right of free expression must be most vigorously defended; it is easy enough to defend free expression for those who require no such defense." --Noam Chomsky

"Take away freedom of speech, and the creative faculties dry up." —George Orwell

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” ― George Orwell

Recommended: Leon Trotsky: Freedom of the Press and the Working Class (1938)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Wonder Woman Culture War That Isn't, and the Men Made Uncomfortable By Amazons

Third-wave feminist fans are celebrating the Wonder Woman movie as a triumph of feminism. In itself, that's a little odd—the character's been loved by men and women since 1941. But she has sometimes been written by men in condescending ways, and there have been few female superhero movies, so I completely understand why any fan of any political orientation is delighted that she's finally gotten a movie that the public loves.

But fandom's identitarians don't seem to notice that conservatives are part of the public that loves the movie. For example, in My Adventures at the Segregated 'Wonder Woman' Screening, Stephen Miller praises the movie at length, saying things like:
Wonder Woman, in terms of tone, may be the best superhero film since The Dark Knight and that’s mostly attributed to director Patty Jenkins who was able to bring a seriousness and sharp cinematic eye to the surroundings that is severely lacking in the bloated cartoonish CGI festivals of Marvel’s universe.
And yet third wave feminists are producing articles like Ben Kuchera's A letter to my sons after watching Wonder Woman which claims,
You know how the first chunk of the movie featured no men? It’s kind of tempting to think that uncomfortable feeling we both experienced is what women feel every time they watch a superhero movie with a mostly male cast.
Who are these men who felt uncomfortable watching the first part of the movie? I don't doubt Kuchera is one, and it's possible his discomfort was picked up by his kids, but why is he upset? Men like Stephen Miller aren't uncomfortable. Men like me, second wave Baby Boomer feminists, aren't uncomfortable. Men older than me aren't uncomfortable—they grew up with movies like High Noon where the cowboy's true love was a woman who saved his ass when he needed her. Conventionally sexist men think the first part of Wonder Woman is great—it's all hot women in skimpy outfits.

I suspect the only men who are uncomfortable are men who spent their formative years among third wave feminists. When I raised the question at Facebook, one fellow responded,
I spent most of my youth hanging around a particular kind of feminist activist community, where I managed to internalize that feeling attracted to women was oppressive and problematic. That even *looking* at a woman and feeling sexual attraction was The Male Gaze (and inherently awful and oppressive), and that even having sexual thoughts about a woman who hadn't given consent to having someone have such thoughts was tantamount to wanting to rape her.

So I spent most of my youth so massively ashamed of my own sexuality that anything that would remind me that I even had one would make me incredibly uncomfortable. In fact, at some point I managed to make this association so complete that I didn't actually *feel* sexual attraction anymore; I just got really anxious. In fact, when I started taking anti-anxiety meds, I actually became able to *feel* sexual attraction again.
I hope Kuchera's sons grow up in a world that recognizes that equality and sexuality are not at war with each other, that just as there's a male gaze, there's a female gaze, that humans like to appreciate the human form, and that has nothing to do with equality. It only has to do with appreciation.

If you're wondering what I thought of Wonder Woman, I tweeted this after I saw it:
Wonder Woman film: A or F if you're an obsessed WW fan, A- if you love superhero movies, meh if you don't like superheroes. Me: A-. Emma: A.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"Who is this person who demanded a candidate they agreed with 100%?" a guest post by Avedon Carol

Avedon left this as a comment here. I thought it deserved more attention, and she has given me permission to share it.

Who is this person who demanded a candidate they agreed with 100%?

by Avedon Carol

I see people arguing with a straw man and working themselves up into a self-righteous frenzy over something that doesn't exist.

Who is this person who demanded a candidate they agreed with 100%? I have not seen this person even on the internet, let alone in real life. I have not seen evidence of a single Sanders supporter who agreed 100% with him on anything except maybe free college and some version of government-funded health care for all. (That's not Medicare-for-All, btw, because a lot of us have looked around and seen that the whole world has better health care systems than Medicare, but we know expanding Medicare is probably the best we can hope for in the US at this time. See? We're *pragmatic*.)

We all agree, as do most Americans, that the rich need to pay higher taxes, but Bernie's prescription didn't really demand enough of them. Sure, they'd pay a bit more, but not enough to stop them from being more powerful than some state governments. No one should be that powerful.

Sanders knows perfectly well that with a fiat currency, taxes don't have to be raised to pay for college and health care - Stephanie Kelton is one of his advisors, ffs! - and yet he still talks as if we need to raise taxes to pay for services. He's not going to fight that fight any time soon.

And then there's his foreign policy. Have you ever heard anyone say they loved Sanders' foreign policy? No, of course not, because even though he is better than everyone else who ran in the 2016 primaries, his foreign policy is still essentially in the same ballpark as theirs. Bernie was definitely the least toxic on foreign policy, which we were willing to accept because he was still far and away the best on domestic policy. The Republicans were fairly insane on foreign policy, as usual, but the biggest warmonger of them all was unquestionably Hillary Clinton, the woman who tried to prevent the Iran deal and pushed Obama into Libya and *still* shows signs of wanting to start a war with Iran for no apparent reason.

NO ONE who supported Bernie Sanders was/is an ideological purist, because no ideological purist would be satisfied with someone who had no critique of neoliberalism, no objection to the pretence that we are still on the gold standard, and meekly went along with the basic assumptions of our foreign policy package.

But we supported Sanders in the primaries for three very good reasons:

1. He intended to move the country back on track to a more equalitarian levelling and restore basic rights to Americans, expand our social safety net, and improve our economy.

2. He had shown in Vermont that it was possible, over time, to change the entire legislature if they would not go along with popular policies. No other candidate even believed this was possible, and yet he had already done it, and it was exactly what was needed if anything was going to be possible. Obama lost both houses of Congress and his own popularity declined as he made it clear he had more in common with Wall Street than he did with mainstream Democrats and even half of registered Republicans. Hillary Clinton was not going to win back Congress, ever. Sanders knew how to do it.

3. He could win the general election. It is extremely rare for a party to retain the White House after eight years in power, it's only happened once in my lifetime and then only because the economy appeared to be doing well in the moment - a moment that didn't last long, thus treating us to the also-rare experience of unseating an incumbent president. But Obama's policies had left half the country in a depression, wiped out black America's wealth along with impoverishing large swathes of minority communities as well as many whites, and left women in a lurch. People had voted for positive change in 2008 and gotten the reverse. They still wanted that positive change. When Bernie entered the race, it meant there was actually hope to win the election for our side.

It would have been nice to have someone who had a real critique of American foreign policy, who would explain to the public that we already *have* the money to pay for free college and free health care, that the US government *can't* go broke, who clearly understood just how badly Clinton and Obama had screwed us, and who was younger. But we didn't. Bernie wasn't perfect, but he was all we had, and it might just work.

And Bernie, though hamstrung by his refusal to truly go on the attack against Clinton, would have no such handicap in the general election. He has never hesitated to unleash the fire when it comes to going after Republicans.

Sanders consistently polled better against every Republican than Clintnon did. That wasn't surprising, because even if she hadn't campaigned as Obama's third term, she was even more a symbol of the odious status quo than Obama himself was. Her campaign technique actually emphasized her fealty to the moneyed class, her big-ticket fund-raisers standing in stark contrast to Sanders and Trump, who were talking to crowds of ordinary voters.

This is what some people never get. We had ONE CHANCE to win the election and get America back. It was not Hillary Clinton. Clinton couldn't win, especially not against Trump, who her campaign was completely unprepared for. He made everything about personalities and she played right into his hands. Sanders was not going to return the favor when Trump ran around calling him names, he was going to talk about what he wanted to do for Americans. All that was required was for Democrats to get on board and say, "Yep, we can do that." But no, we had the entire leadership of can't-do Democrats acting as if free college and free health care were fairy dust, even though we used to have lots of good, free colleges in America, even though the whole world has been showing us since WWII that free health care requires no magic.

Sanders had no support from the party leadership or the media, who dutifully repeated every poisonous Clinton campaign talking point, ("doesn't connect with minorities" - a lie), and yet his support shot up from 5% to 45% as people got some exposure to him. This *should* have made voters think twice about whether he was "unelectable". But Clinton and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz remembered all too well what high exposure had done for Obama in 2008 and deliberately gave up millions of dollars worth of free television air time that would be vital to generating enthusiasm and activism for the rest of the campaign (and the party), hurting not just Sanders, but the Democrats' general election position, by delaying and curtailing the debates that had so helped Democrats win in that year.

We lost the election the minute DWS announced the debate schedule. And when I say "we", I mean you, too. Everyone. Because if Democrats had stood up behind our ONE CHANCE to win, he almost certainly would have won.

ETA: A linkfest for Clinton fans who are still in denial

Friday, June 2, 2017

The railroad robber baron Jay Gould explains the two-party system

"It was the custom when men received nominations to come to me for contributions, and I made them and considered them good paying investments for the company. In a Republican district I was a strong Republican; in a Democratic district I was Democratic, and in doubtful districts I was doubtful. In politics I was an Erie Railroad man all the time." —Jay Gould

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

If Dogland influenced American Gods, other works influenced it more

Dogland was published four years before American Gods, so it's possible my take on old gods living in the present had some minor influence on Neil's, but I'm inclined to think we were both inspired by the same sources. I'll only mention two, one that's obvious to anyone who knows the history of our genre, one that calls for a love of both fantasy and comics:

Thorne Smith wrote about old gods in modern times long before Neil or I were born.

And Jack Kirby wrote about them during our childhood. You can read American Gods as Neil's adult tribute to Kirby's Marvel work with old gods and his DC work that included a book titled New Gods.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Why writers should treat fans the way teachers treat students

I was once in a flamewar where, to my astonishment, people were angry that I was disagreeing with them as though they were my equals—they behaved with the curt rudeness that's common in heated arguments, but they expected me to treat them the way good adults treat ignorant youths, with a gentleness that hides the awareness the person being addressed simply hasn't a clue. I mention that now because the phenomenon's described at Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog: Funny--On Academic Bad Manners:
Philosopher Tad Brennan at Cornell writes with an explanation:

Journalists are surprised that academics can be short with them because they last met academics in the classroom, and most professors are kind and generous when dealing with students. Serious academics save their scathing put-downs for colleagues and equals--I doubt that those quotes from Fodor and Sterelny document interactions with students.

Instead of feeling pained and affronted, the bloggers and journalists should take it as a compliment: 'hey, those academics are treating me like an equal!' That can help to salve the bruises, anyhow. And it also shows why a sharp-tongued critique directed at a non-student is no betrayal of the "tone" appropriate to an "educator". If you are my student, then I have an obligation to be your educator; if not, not. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

A handy timeline of Islamist terrorism in the West and Western meddling in the Middle East

People who blame Islam for Islamist terrorism cite the long clash of empires, which makes as much sense as blaming Christianity for the brutal conquest of the Americas—empires expand for profit, and religion is one of many excuses. This post focuses on the history that the West began to make after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

It begins with the tangled history of Israel. Since this post is meant to be short, I'll note two facts:

In 1948, Israel takes more land than the UN gave it.

In 1967, Israel attacks its neighbors and takes more land. See 1967 War.

In 1979, the CIA begins Operation Cyclone to fund and train the Mujahideen in the war against Afghanistan's secular socialist government. The Mujahideen's most famous member today: Osama bin Laden.

In 1982, Israel begins the Lebanon War. In response, Hezbollah is born, and so is Islamist suicide bombing. Initially, Islamist terrorism is confined to the Middle East, but it comes to the west in 1985 in Spain's El Descanso bombing. The targets are believed to have been the US soldiers dining there, but many civilians died too.

In 1988, bin Laden founds al-Qaeda.

In 1990, the Gulf War begins. Sanctions against Iraq are harsh. The U.N. finds that half a million Iraqi children died as a result. In a televised interview, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, clarifies US priorities:
Lesley Stahl: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.
In 2001, Osama bin Laden masterminds the destruction of the World Trade Towers, using 15 Saudis, 2 people from the United Arab Emirates, 1 Lebanese, and 1 Egyptian. In response, the US begins the War in Afghanistan.

In 2003, the US begins the Iraq War.

In 2011, the US decides to overthrow Libya's ruler. See Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall - The New York Times: "The president was wary. The secretary of state was persuasive. But the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi left Libya a failed state and a terrorist haven."

At the same time, American-led intervention in Syria  began.

What follows that, you should know.

Recommended: A short history of suicide bombing | AOAV:
Muhammad Hussein Fadalallah, a spiritual guide of Hezbollah, described under what circumstances suicide bombers were to be deployed: ‘We believe that suicide operations should only be carried out if they can bring about a political change in proportion to the passions that incite a person to make his body an explosive bomb.’
Terrorist Attacks On Americans, 1979-1988 | Target America | FRONTLINE | PBS

US Aid to Israel and the Palestinians: "The U.S. provides Israel $9.8 million in military aid each day, while it gives the Palestinians $0 in military aid."

US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria:
...the US-led coalition killed a total of 225 civilians between April 23 and May 23, the highest 30-day toll since the campaign began in 2014