About my Blog

I am writing this blog from a radical political point of view. To be a political radical is to examine everything critically. It is about taking today's news, today's unmentioned news, history, or even just the way we think about ideas, and adding a totally new perspective to them. If you are a radical, and a socialist, like me, you will agree with a lot of what I have to say. If not, I hope I at least make you think about things that you previously took for granted. Most of all, I hope everyone enjoys this blog.

About Me

I have just graduated from college, where I wrote opinion pieces for my school newspaper. Though I started out a liberal, I have moved far to the left since then. Despite my politics being different from most people, many people found a lot of what I had to say interesting and insightful. I hope to continue challenging people to think here on my blog.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Problem with Burning the Koran, Part II

Pastor Terry Jones is being told that burning Korans is offensive by the likes of Sarah Palin.  Everyone from military officials to President Obama are telling him, and us, that burning Korans represents a threat to national security.

I think we've already established that Muslims will find the book burning in Florida very, very, offensive.  But would we normally assume that a group of people will act with violence just because someone decided to hurt their feelings?  Or are we being told to assume that one particular religious, or in the eyes of the ignorant, racial group, can't handle being insulted?  

The implication by almost everyone in the establishment is that one particular group of people, Muslims, are fundamentally different than everyone else.  One particular group has an anger management problem.  If you offend us our feelings are hurt, but if you offend them you die.

It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to see that this is racist.  If some other group assumed that they had better not offend Christians because they will react with violence, shouldn't Christians be offended?  Of course, to make this an equivalent analogy, when these people said "Christians, they would mean all Americans, including those who are not Christian or even White Anglo Saxon Protestant.  How should we feel about that?

You might object that those who believe that the burning of the Koran will lead to violence are only talking about extremists.  This ignores the fact that a terrorist organization like Al Qaeda that views itself as being "at war" with the United States isn't going to act or not act depending on what a pastor in Florida does.  Such a statement also ignores the fact that insurgents are not going to stop opposing the U.S. occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan just because a pastor in Florida decides to not burn Korans.  To the extent that we're talking about the security threat to troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, the real threat to their security is the fact that they are occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and the people in those countries don't want them there.

The problem is that the establishment as a whole, both the Democrats and the Republicans, the generals and the politicians, want us to believe that Islam is a violent religion.  For 9 years, this has set the grounds for the second perpetual war, since the Cold War did what perpetual wars are not supposed to do, it came to an end.  Back then, the supposed enemy that made people in the U.S. become patriotic and forget about what the government was doing to them, was Communism.  Today, it is terrorism, which the government has decided stems from Islam, despite the fact that there are many non Muslim terrorists, and that the state shouldn't have any more of a right to kill people than non-state actors.  The establishment has learned that if it wants to justify curtailing civil liberties forever or create a permanent imaginary enemy than it had better take something more permanent than the Soviet Union.  Unfortunately, Islam, with over a billion followers around the world, fits this bill perfectly.  If we don't want to become a nation driven by racism, we had better reject this propaganda, whether it comes from Bush, Palin, or Obama.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Problem with Burning the Koran, Part I

Since I wrote my post about being offended, a lunatic pastor in Florida, has made plans to burn Korans on the anniversary of 9/11.  And everyone has decided that this must be condemned.  However, some people, have decided that the problem with burning Korans is not that it is hateful, but rather that it is offensive.

The notion that it is offensive is implied everywhere, but this argument that what matters is how many feelings are hurt is made explicit by Sarah Palin.  Sarah Palin made a statement, which, according to the Huffington Post, ended with this line:

"Our nation was founded in part by those fleeing religious persecution. Freedom of religion is integral to our charters of liberty. We don't need to agree with each other on theological matters, but tolerating each other without unnecessarily provoking strife is how we ensure a civil society. In this as in all things, we should remember the Golden Rule. Isn't that what the Ground Zero mosque debate has been about?" 
The easy interpretation is that this is gibberish since nothing Sarah Palin says ever makes sense.  Unfortunately, its not.  It's a fairly explicit mention of the implicit principle that we should not offend each other.  If we should "do onto others as you would have others do onto you" then, according to this argument we should not offend people, since we would not like to be offended.  Aside from my previous comment on this matter (namely that if you're offended by justice, you deserve to be offended) I would like to add a few things.  First of all, I can claim that I am offended by just about anything, and according to this rule, we must censor it.  If I am offended by vanilla ice cream, everyone should stop eating it, according to this principle.  Obviously, this makes no sense.

Therefore we must place the onus on words and actions themselves, not how others feel about it.  In this example, the pastor in Florida, Terry Jones, has decided to burn Korans.  The act is inherently a statement of hate.  How people feel does not change the fact that this act is intended to paint over a billion of the world's people as evil.  I would say that this is simply because of their religion, but Islamophobia typically takes on a racist dimension, where it becomes more relevant that you look "Middle Eastern" than it does that you follow the Koran.

Building a community center at ground zero (or even a mosque, which this isn't) is entirely the opposite.  It's only taken as a statement of hate if people who want to take ground zero and turn it into a "no Muslims allowed zone" choose to be offended.

Unfortunately, racism isn't limited to lunatic pastors or even Sarah Palin.  In part II, I will show why the establishment's argument that burning Korans is "dangerous," is also racist.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's Just Too Bad if You're Offended by the "Ground Zero Community Center"

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard about the "controversy" involving the community center two blocks away from ground zero.  I'm not going to rehash all of the arguments being made.  Instead, I'm going to focus on the main point those who oppose the community center are making.

The position is this:  The Constitution guarentees the right to build the community center, but we shouldn't do it, because it is offensive to the victims of 9/11.  Some people have argued that the community center should be built because it is a right under the constitution.  This argument is a circular argument, although I think its based on the implicit notion that freedom of religion is a principle, not just a right.  This is ultimately correct, and should be made more explicit.  It's all fine and good that the government is not supposed to be able to deny this right, but if people who are not the government can trample on your freedom of religion, you don't really have that freedom at all.  The same applies for speech and anything else, provided we actually buy the principle.  

There is however, an even more absurd principle being advanced by opponents of the community center.  Just as freedom of religion is a principle, so, we are being told, is the principle that no one should be offended.  While not offending people is undoubtably a good principle for getting along with other people, it is downright immoral as a political principle.

Justice offends people who oppose it.  The racist will always be offended by racial equality.  Sexists are offended by feminism.  This is logical and obvious.  No one would argue that the civil rights movement was wrong because it hurt the feelings of the Ku Klux Klan. 

Likewise, I'm sure Muslims are offended by the notion that this community center is offensive.  They should be.  To suggest that a religious group that consists of 1 billion people represents terrorism or 9/11 in some way is a statement of discrimination against that group.

Not all offense is created equal.  To pretend that bigots deserve the same respect for their feelings that people  who are being discriminated against do puts all logic on its head.  If you find the notion of equality offensive, than you deserve to be offended.