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Monday, September 17, 2012

Racism Today: Newsweek Loses It

Posted by on Mon, Sep 17, 2012 at 8:23 AM

See it for yourself. Parts of the article's argument, composed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, can be read here. But here's what I think: Islamic fundamentalism in the Arab world makes much more sense than Christian fundamentalism in the US. It's easy to understand why a person, in say, Yemen believes in God, but it's not easy to understand why a person who lives this country does. Per capita income in Yemen is around $2,500; in the US, it's close to $50,000. In Yemen, the poor have little to no social security—food, health, income can come and go like the wind. In the US, there is too much food, incomes are high (if obtained), and a person's health is not continuously stressed by natural forces—poor nutrition, poor sanitation, poor policing, and so on. In Yemen, humans can't offer solutions to the major problems of life; in the US, they can. The question, then, is why are there so many Christian fundamentalists in the richest, most developed, most human country in the world? I answered that question in this post: Manufactured Existential Exposure.

The social production of fear and poverty that leaves millions of Americans with the feeling of existential exposure (this is my term). It's important to understand that the sources of the exposure will not be found in biology or nature but in politics. The number of believers in our society will remain high as long those who benefit politically from the production and reproduction of an environment of fear (fear of violence, fear of poverty) are in power.
The Newsweek cover contributes to this sense fear. One other thing, because poverty in the US is manufactured doesn't mean its is imaginary.


Comments (19) RSS

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Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 1

What about Global Warming Fundamentalists?

Ever tangle with those guys...worse than Scientologists!
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on September 17, 2012 at 8:30 AM · Report this
dnt trust me 2
I read a stat a few months ago that said when you take the whole world into account, every person in the US is in the top 1%. Me, holding hands with Goldman-Sachs execs in a circle. "We're in this together!"
Posted by dnt trust me on September 17, 2012 at 8:36 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 3

The book "Lights in the Tunnel" puts the Mass Market...the people who are inside the tunnel, where you have access to computers and can buy stuff they make in factories at 1 billion.

Everyone else is "outside the tunnel".
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on September 17, 2012 at 8:37 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 4
People in this country are religious because wealth doesn't solve or answer the mysteries of life and death. Science sheds some light there, but for some it's not enough, while others are either too ignorant, simple minded, or scared to think about life in those terms.
Posted by Matt from Denver on September 17, 2012 at 8:43 AM · Report this
Gay Dude for Romney 5
People use religion for spiritual fulfillment. Once you start addressing spirituality and what it means (and people can be spiritual without religion) then your posts on religion should start to improve.
Posted by Gay Dude for Romney on September 17, 2012 at 8:48 AM · Report this
@4, that doesn't explain why religion is taking a nose-dive in most of Europe. Europeans have the same mysteries of life and death. They do not, however, have same paranoia and fear pushed on them by teabaggers.
Posted by originalcinner on September 17, 2012 at 8:50 AM · Report this
I think the liberal/progressive mind revolts against the broad stereotyping required to argue that there is something wrong with "Muslim culture" (if it can even be said that muslim culture is one monolithic thing). Therefore we (I'm a progressive) don't take the question seriously.

The problem is, we conflate racism (always wrong, and a biologically rediculous concept) with critism of a culture (which I think can be legit). In my mind it is possible for a culture to sour, to the point that we can say it is a bad culture.

So I wonder if Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a point. Is the Muslim culture sick beyond saving? I'm truly just asking. I'm not exposed to enough (numbers nor breadth) muslims to form my own opinions, and I don't trust media to portray the average of Muslim culture accurately.

So I don't know the answer but I do think it is possible in theory for a culture to be bad. But not a race. Let's not confuse the two.
Posted by ohthetrees on September 17, 2012 at 8:51 AM · Report this
Criticizing the behavior of Muslims in Pakistan is no more racist than criticizing the behavior of Jews in Isreal, which you do quite a lot and very harshly. What you are complaining about is not racism, but the idea Muslims, Africans or Arabs can be judged by whitey. A rule among Marxists and other leftists is that these 3 groups can judge others, but it is taboo the other way. There are plently of poor Jewish Isrealis- yet you condemn them for any wrongdoing but any Muslim, African or Arab wrongdoing is quickly dismissed as caused by poverty and injustice. There are many Islamic fanatics are PH'd and filthy rich. There are many Christian and Jewish fanatics who are dirty poor and without any opportunity. But in the eyes of people like Charles the former is never responsible for their own behavior and it never reflects badly on them or their society. With the later he is the first to condemn and demonize. Just sayin!
Posted by Andrew S. on September 17, 2012 at 9:16 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 9
Chuck, When you say "existential exposure" is “your term”, I assume you are ignorant of Dr. Martin Stephen Frommer's use of that term, specifically in his 2009 article "The Impact of the Analyst's Existential Exposure: Commentary on Paper by Stuart A. Pizer"? (I doubt he’s the first to grab hold of that term, but I really don’t have time to fact check your drivel.)

But then, your "original" term was “existential insecurity”… very amusing that you can't even quote yourself accurately.
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on September 17, 2012 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 10
@ 6, I believed I addressed that, or at least hinted at the cause there.
Posted by Matt from Denver on September 17, 2012 at 9:21 AM · Report this
When Charles writes articles for SLOG condemning and judging Jewish Isrealis for hate crimes they committ in another country its fine. He even does the snarky Nazi comparisons. Similar articles condemning Black Seattleites for hate crimes they committ in Seattle and pointing out they are acting like the KKK would never make it into the Stranger. When I point this out and that there have been scores of similar black on white and black on Asian crimes right here in Seattle and the Stranger never covers them I am labeled a racist. "Racism" to Charles is anyone who criticises or judges someone who has darker skin than their own. The other way around is just business as usual. It seems to be a common definition amoung many on the left.
Posted by Andrew S. on September 17, 2012 at 9:35 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 12
@1: what the fuck are you talking about, and please address the topic instead of threadjacking.
Posted by Max Solomon on September 17, 2012 at 9:37 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 13
@ 11, those crimes couldn't be more different, as I'm positive you know. That's why you're labeled a racist (among other reasons).
Posted by Matt from Denver on September 17, 2012 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Keekee 14
And what is your point exactly?
Posted by Keekee on September 17, 2012 at 9:47 AM · Report this
How is criticizing the behavior of Islamists any worse that criticizing the behavior of Zionists or Christian extreamists? Does Charles object to that also? I don't get the feeling he does! Some people based on religion or race can't be judged if they come from countries with a low per capita income? But others can?
Is Oprah Winfrey not responsible for her behavior but a homeless white man is since the average income of a white man in higher than a black woman in the US?
Posted by Chales- Start makin sence on September 17, 2012 at 9:47 AM · Report this
"Such intense hatred and violence is difficult for many of us to comprehend."

Only if they live in a bubble.
Look at the Christian fundamentalists that bomb clinics.
Or those that kill gays because they're gay.
The hatred and violence is all around us.
But it is only when someone outside of the main culture commits it does it get massive attention.

"She ran away, settling in the Netherlands where she cleaned toilets and worked on a factory assembly line."

Is there really a job dedicated to cleaning toilets?
Or is that something better known as "janitor"?

"Her detractors — who would never object to criticism of Christianity or Judaism — are apparently outraged that Hirsi Ali dares to question Islamic doctrine and practice."

So what you're saying is that everyone agrees with her EXCEPT for a small segment of Muslim fundamentalists.

But wasn't this covered already?
Something about how people manage to ignore the "bullshit" they don't agree with in their holy book.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on September 17, 2012 at 9:59 AM · Report this
How is article anymore racist than the front page story a few weeks back in the New York Times about an attack on Palestinians by Isreali teenagers? Charles had a link to it on SLOG. You publish links to stories on many occasions covering hate crimes by Jews then turn around and cry racism for a story coving hate crimes by Muslims?
There was a book published some years back called The Politics of Anti-Semitism. It's high time for a similar book on the politics of racism and Islamaphobia.
Posted by don't kill the messenger or call him racist on September 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM · Report this
the answer to your question is yes.
Posted by jeffy on September 17, 2012 at 1:22 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 19
I read Ayaan Hirsi Ali's autobiography and she's a very courageous woman, but she's horribly shallow. She's a libertarian, which is always sad, and while she's an atheist she thinks Islam is especially bad for no reason other than her genitals were mutilated by people who claimed that was Islamic. Never mind that Christians in her ethnic group underwent the same mutilation, never mind that every act ever committed in the name of Islam has been committed in the name of Christianity, Judaism, or even Buddhism. Human's use religion as a tool to justify whatever human's want to do, and an atheist should be able to see that better than anyone.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on September 17, 2012 at 10:46 PM · Report this

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