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edited January 2015
Here's another piping hot topic we can start arguing about: FUNDAMENTALISM.

The news in the micro-culture I make my living in are really brutal this morning. There was a shooting at a humor magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in France and four cartoonists (some of them pretty legendary) were killed during an editorial staff meeting. Twelve people died in total. While I didn't know any of the people killed, people who are near and dear to me did know most of them. I don't get to experience this tragedy as my own little drama to get emo about, but just imagine if a group of extremists entered the offices of MAD magazine and killed a bunch of cartoonists who's work you read as a child. It would feel super weird and scary...

I have read many statements about this, the one which struck me the most was that this is not only an attack on freedom of speech, it is also an attack on Islam. Because all of a sudden the level of sympathy for muslims drops once again and people's anger confuses the people who are just trying to live their lives with the ones who's sense of humor is so bad they have to go into an office and kill a bunch of people who draw jokes for a living.

Also, in all honesty, I am not a fan of Charlie Hebdo (the same way I am not a fan of MAD magazine). The jokes tend to be mostly shit-stirring, or really horny. When they re-published the cartoons of prophet Muhamed years ago I mostly felt like they were asking for trouble, they have since published drawings which have made me feel the same way, but none of this justifies burning down their office (back in 2011) or killing off all their editorial staff. Also, they were a really hilarious magazine for many years, so my heart is definitely with them today.

I am scared of the future. Of ISIS. Of the world turning more into a video game between "violent muslims" and "good white people". There were a couple attacks recently in Canada. I think a total of three people got killed? But still, this fuels the hypocrisy of bigots who are looking for a reason to discriminate against other religions (when it was proven that the two events in Canada were not linked, and the culprits were Canada-born dudes with mental illnesses who embraced a weird brand of Islam later on in life, very recently).

Anyway. It seems like we don't really have fundamentalism here, except for some Christians and some Mormons. But the way the world is turning it feels like sooner or later we'll have a new reality. I like to think that I am not racist, that I am open minded, but I wonder how I would feel if I lived in a place where my open-mindedness was challenged daily.



  • edited January 2015
    > I am scared of the future. Of ISIS.

    Nothing particularly scary about fundamentalism. Cops are shot in their patrol cars and outside their barracks. Kids are shot at schools and summer camps. Employees are shot in their offices and cubes. Very few of these incidents are driven by fundamentalism.

    I'm more scared of the way that the internet, rather than pulling us together, seems to be dividing us into smaller and smaller segments. We only watch feeds from our friends and people we choose to follow. We all live in our own carefully curated echo chambers where any action can be justified and rationalized.

  • edited January 2015
    i have thoughts but maybe should ponder them a bit more
  • @FaceTweetPlus

    What you say is true. I am scared of the way cops treat African-Americans in this country, scared of school shootings, or any shootings, really...

    But I really meant to start a thread about "fundamentalism" rather than "fear" because "fundamentalism" is what is on my mind today. Because while humans do really fucked up things to each other every day, there is something that is especially spooky about committing acts of violence "in the name of".

    The attacks today were carefully planned. It wasn't like one lunatic having a mental breakdown and going into the place he got fired from to kill people. It was three shooters who all agreed with each other that this needed to be done, that drawing cartoons of the prophet and publishing them was such blasphemy that all those people working at computers and drafting tables deserved to die.
  • edited January 2015
    I didn't mean to hijack the thread, I just disagree that fundamentalism is spooky or to be feared. It's a ebbing tide. We passed peak fundamentalism a long, long time ago.

    > It wasn't like one lunatic having a mental breakdown and going into the place he got
    > fired from to kill people. It was three shooters who all agreed with each other that this
    > needed to be done

    To me the one lunatic is more scary. It means that a well adjusted non-violent person could "snap" and become a killer due to a chemical balance in their brain. But it should be no surprise that if you brainwash and condition a human from early childhood to solve problems with violence that they will become violent. Condition three (thousand) at the same time and add in small arms training and the results are predictable.

    One thing a bit scary is that the fuckers have figured out the real danger to their way of life, and it's not NATO or the US but rather the satirists and journalists that expose their stupidly and lies.

    Story idea ripped from the headlines: ISIS behind Colbert's switch to CBS.
  • edited January 2015
    I think both the lunatic and the fundamentalists are scary when they are lethal.

    But ideally, our society should be able to support the lunatic, should be able to prevent a mentally ill person from killing people out of alienation, and also be able to restrict a person's access to guns and ammunitions when they are clearly going through something difficult and confusing.

    "it should be no surprise that if you brainwash and condition a human from early childhood to solve problems with violence that they will become violent."

    I disagree. I honestly don't feel like that many fundamentalists are brainwashed or even conditionned from childhood. I feel a lot of sympathy for Palestinians, for Afghans, for Iraqis and others around the world (muslim or not) who have been exploited relentlessly through the ages. I feel a lot of sympathy for First Nation People, too. The vast majority of these individuals (I bet it's close to 99.9%) don't get organized and stock weapons to go into cities and kill a bunch of civilians. So few of the cultures who the Caucasian-West has fucked over breed killers, and when learning about the guys behind today's shooting, or the Boston Marathon, or 9/11, you see an awful lot of dudes who's existence wasn't necessarily THAT BLEAK before they did what they did. Many of them embraced Western culture in surprising ways, wearing Nike and Adidas clothing, sporting cropped hair, having girlfriends. They don't "look" like what WE are conditionned to fear.

    In the case of ISIS, from the videos I saw, men who have grown up all around the world are joining. People who grew up with childhoods similar to our own: Ninja Turtles, birthday parties, gel. I don't see brainwashing or conditionning there either. I see a choice made.

    I feel like many of these events are caused by people who are actually pretty smart and level-headed, in a creepy way. Like, they see themselves as soldiers for a cause the same way someone would join the army. They are seeking excitement, they are seeking recognition, and they want to BELONG. No one has asked them to do this, they came to it on their own, feeling a sense of duty, honor and pride.

    A few years ago I went through a Manson phase where I read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies about the Manson family. I developped a fondness for Leslie van Houten, one of the girls involved in the LaBranca murders. The other people present all testified that she was scared shitless and really didn't want to kill anyone and screamed and sobbed as she stabbed what the others called "a corpse". I felt so sorry for her sitting in jail for forty years, unable to be freed. I kept thinking "She was on acid like EVERY DAY. She was brainwashed! She was in a cult!" until a friend of mine pointed out that there were a lot of brainwashed people in cults back in 1969 who dropped acid daily and never felt the urge to kill other humans. That really changed my perspective on the whole thing.
  • Really good points @joey, I would just add that the ninja turtle terrorists are getting their indoctrination online not in training camps. I have built a sphere of liberal tech hipster Portland doucheness in which to live my virtual life, but it's just as easy to build your bubble with beheading videos, and Wahabi sermons.

    Regarding your last point, there are a lot of fundamentalist Christians who aren't Doomsday Preppers, but there aren't many Doomsday Preppers that are atheists. There is something about belief in an apocalyptic jewish cult that results in a greater chance of you becoming obsessed with the end of the world.
  • My feelings about this are complicated. I like what you say about it being an attack on islam too, which seems right.

    the british satirist Will Self wrote this today which resonated with me: "Well, when the issue came up of the Danish cartoons I observed that the test I apply to something to see whether it truly is satire derives from HL Mencken's definition of good journalism: it should 'afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted'. The trouble with a lot of so-called 'satire' directed against religiously-motivated extremists is that it's not clear who it's afflicting, or who it's comforting. This is in no way to condone the shooting of the journalists, which is evil, pure and simple, but our society makes a fetish of 'the right to free speech' without ever questioning what sort of responsibilities are implied by this right."

    Like a good vulgar marxist, I believe that what looks to us like religious conflict is often a way of expressing (or of not-expressing) economic conflicts or other kinds of power differences. But i feel what you're saying about boston bombers etc having not-that-bleak lives so I'm not sure where that leaves me.

    I do think it is true that the dominant form of fundamentalism in the US today, and the most dangerous is definitely free-market fundamentalism. They kill people with deregulation instead of guns, so we don't hear about it.

  • I also think about the relationship between the symbolic and the real. One thing I hate is how symbolic politics displace the real material politics, which is a trait i hate about a lot of politics, even when it's politics i agree with. here is a cartoon about this
  • edited January 2015
    I like that Will Self quote, it summarizes well the way I felt about the prophet cartoons, until today. Today my feelings have changed, slightly.

    I was just thinking of the movie "The Interview". When I first heard about that movie coming out I was like "What a bunch of idiots." because I'd read some books about North Korea and watched many documentaries, it was once an obsession of mine. And I felt like making a comedy about a real-life leader who is oppressing his own people as we speak was a shallow, dweeby move.

    Then that whole Sony security breach thing happened and things got weird. Part of me was like "It's just a stupid movie, I don't care." but the other part thought "What the fuck? Why can't we make the art we are inspired to make?". I don't see "The Interview" as spreading hate, it is a comedy, an ignorant/clumsy one, but still, just a comedy. Then I saw the movie and it was so dumb, not deserving of how much attention it got. Meanwhile, other North Korea-inspired projects that I was actually interested in were shelved because people became afraid.

    But if Seth Rogen or James Franco had been murdered over this movie, it would have changed my opinion again. I'd still think the jokes are moronic, but I would be very afraid for the future of free speech. Which is weird because I am so rich in free speech that I never think about it, I take it for granted and then get very offended when someone exerces their right to it to spew hatred...

    All that to say that when those cartoons came out, I felt uneasy. I thought they were doing it on purpose to offend and I found that lame. I don't like the idea of offending other cultures just because you can, but I also know that living in France or Denmark right now is not the same as living in Anacortes, Washington. The people killed today were all very left-wing. One of the cartoonists was super anti-military, a 76 year-old man with deep, thoughtful things to say. And still, he drew some of those offensive Mohamed cartoons, he believed it was necessary to hit a nerve. The idea of him getting slaughtered over that is extremely disturbing.

  • It's super-disturbing, yeah.

    I found this kind of clarifying:
  • edited January 2015
    also I can't believe you watched The Interview!

    I would be tempted except I just watched Joyful Noise (Dolly Parton & Queen Latifah) and a terrible Hunger Games parody movie so that's my "horrible movie" budget for 2015.
  • edited January 2015
    I just watched an interview (in French) with Cabu (one of the cartoonists killed today, the one I like) from 2007 and listening to him explain his need to hit that nerve has convinced me that they were honestly trying to get things moving in a positive direction.

    The prophet cartoons were first published in Denmark back in 2006. It took FOUR MONTHS for anyone to make a fuss. Two months after their publication in a Danish newspaper they were published in Egypt and again there were no true reactions. It was a Danish Imam who was the first to talk about blasphemy. Charlie Hebdo was the second French newspaper to publish the cartoons, in response to the editor of France-Soir being fired for publishing them. An act of solidarity.

    @kdawg, I think that piece you linked to is cool. Sure, who disagrees that murder is wrong? But I like the discussion about where the line is and what is intentionally, purely offensive and what isn't.

    @swamp_knobbler13, that Onion cartoon sort of misses the point for me. It just reiterates this common belief that Islam is a fussy, narrow-minded religion. It alienates it by making it look like all the others are good sports. I think this is dangerous. Many people/communities who are practicing their muslim faith constantly denounce the bigotry of extremists. A few of them have stated today that "murder offends them more than any cartoon could".

    Back to the "attack on Islam" thing, whenever something tragic happens and someone posing as a muslim is a suspect, tons of muslim leaders come out against it. It must be so draining to have to apologize for your faith all the time.
  • Oh, and @kdawg, I was not planning on watching the Interview. Let's just say a MENTOR (as in older friend in town who's name starts with a B) told us it was funny and that was all I needed to be convinced to watch it. I'd say the first ten minutes are worth seeing, just because of Eminem and the satisfaction I got from hearing him say certain things.
    The rest of the movie is a turd, though.
  • I think all religion is fussy and narrow-minded. I just like seeing the gods fuck and suck each other.
  • edited January 2015
    Anyway, even though I don't think Charlie Hebdo's 'satire' is particularly funny, I like this quote from Salman Rushdie:

    "Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."
  • Something that I keep thinking of (and maybe it's not analogous) is "slut walks." Just those images of women marching topless, with signs that say "Still not asking for it." Making the point that it doesn't matter what you are (or aren't wearing), you still have a right to not be raped. Is this similar? No matter how "offensive" my cartoon is, I'm not "asking for trouble" as much as I'm establishing my right to draw whatever I want without being murdered for it.

    I could be way off base here, it's just running through my head.
  • Male violence is definitely the common link there, though.
  • edited January 2015
    Kevin said what I was trying to say yesterday and then deleted. It's easy to not notice the fundamentalism of the free market because we're so entrenched in it, but it's important to try to realize that America literally invading other countries and killing HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS (not 12, not 3,000 or however many died in the WTC, but hundreds of thousands) of innocent human beings solely due to the necessity of opening up middle eastern markets to foreign investment is fundamentalism of a particularly brutal kind.

    fundamentalism = strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline.

    free market capitalism has become a fundamentalist ideology. If something opens up investment opportunities then it is morally good and righteous and worth killing people for, and even trying to question it on moral grounds meets with a sort of confusion that can not be overcome with logic or ethics. That is scary to me. Also, Islamic fundamentalism is a RESPONSE to the violence of free market fundamentalism, which is another thing we all too easily forget. We bulldoze our values across the globe and then express shock when those values are resisted with increasing violence.

    I definitely do not think the age of fundamentalism is ebbing. We live INSIDE of that age and it is only getting worse and worse, because the "structural adjustment" that America and other western countries are very explicitly and intentionally implementing across the world is causing more and more violence, social disruption, and displacement of peoples worldwide. Of course some fraction of those disrupted peoples will turn to a fundamentalism that they see (in one way or another) as opposed to the hegemonic value system we are trying to impose on them with drones and soldiers shoving hummus up their assholes. I quite frankly don't know how ANY middle eastern person could read the torture report and NOT want to murder every westerner that they see.

    Imagine how upsetting it is, to see the thousands and thousands of people who turn out in heroic support of Charlie Hebdo, when nobody gave a shit about the torture report; nobody gives a shit about drone strikes in Palestine; nobody gives a shit about Israel's ongoing Gaza genocide. I mean, it legitimately is enough to drive you insane. I think awful shit like ISIS is a pretty understandable (if bad and wrong, of course) response to being on the losing end of the capitalist culture war that America, France, Germany, et al, have been waging for decades. I'm surprised that people are so surprised by Islamic fundamentalism, frankly. And if we're scared of Islamic fundamentalism, we need to BEGIN by looking in the mirror, not by trying to blow up every village in Afghanistan or whatever. But that's fundamentalism for you--the idea that OUR values could be the wrong ones (or, at the very least, simply one set of values among many) is not a thinkable thought.

    I'm not afraid of ISIS nearly so much as I'm afraid of the inexorable march of free market capitalism that is ultimately going to turn every single one of us into a wandering refugee.

    Also I am way more afraid of cops than ISIS. The rage of ISIS at least makes sense to me, historically and culturally speaking. The rage of the police system is so much worse because it's a rage ON BEHALF OF private property and the state AT THE EXPENSE OF human beings. To me, that is scarier.

    And more than any of that, I am afraid of the fundamentalist war on women being promoted at the highest levels of our government! When you read statements against abortion--things said by educated congressmen! not the ravings of backwoods maniacs--you can see ideology writ large. Literally there is no sense that logic or science or just human compassion can make a dent in the RELIGIOUS BELIEF that abortion is murdering babies. Which is a belief that actually covers up an even more fundamentalist belief, which is that women should be prevented from attaining power in society.

    anyway, yeah, it's all fucked.
  • edited January 2015
    "free speech" is usually a red herring

    quoting from David Harvey: The word ‘freedom’ resonates so widely within the common-sense understanding of Americans that it becomes “a button that elites can press to open the door to the masses" to justify just about anything .

    DH also notes that the fact that our public discourse never takes up the question of what freedom means or should mean is "astonishing"
  • edited January 2015
    America's war on women is horrible and I oppose it on every level, but Islam is arguably much worse in terms of women's rights and LGBTQ rights. And ISIS isn't a rage that's at the expense of human beings? I'm not trying to single out Islam here but MOST religions are terrible for women and oppressed populations, just as capitalism is.

    Capitalism is certainly a brutal system, but how much more brutal than the (faux?) Marxism of the USSR under Stalin or China under Mao or North Korea or anywhere else that "revolutionary Marxists" have succeeded?

    This is why I'm a secular democratic socialist with a belief that well-regulated markets, a progressive tax structure, and a strong social support system is the best way to go in our current fucked-up age. The world has been so fucked by free-market capitalists and fundamentalist religions that this is probably impossible. But we can still try for something better than what we have.
  • We as humans have always been shitty to each other.
  • edited January 2015
    yes, Sharia law etc. is totally aborrhent in terms of women's rights--I'm just pointing out that it often seems like we displace our outrage on behalf of women onto Islam at least partially as a means of justifying our various wars against them. We sure don't seem nearly as outraged on behalf of women when it comes to our own fucking senators, you know? Or when it comes to domestic violence in America, or crazed misogynist gunmen in America. But all of a sudden when it's Osama bin Laden, our government is all "women's rights" this and "LGBT rights" that. As if the American invasion of Afghanistan had fuck-all to do with liberating women.

    Also, political economists like Silvia Federicci and David Harvey have persuasively argued that a lot of global violence against women, or crazy sectarian/ethnic violence like the Rwandan genocide, actually happen because of outside imposition of capitalist systems onto other kinds of traditional cultures. Federicci wrote a whole book about how literally everywhere that the World Bank has imposed itself into a traditional culture--in Africa, in South America--we see not only mass growth of refugees and civil wars but also concentrated violence against women (witch hunts, basically). This also is what happened during the first transition to capitalism, in the 15th-16th century ish.

    I think a lot of times the attempt to create a new system--like communism--becomes horrible because of capitalist nations' concentrated efforts to destroy that system. I mean, what is the historical North Korea or China or whatever supposed to do, when it becomes communist and promptly has massive trade sanctions imposed against it by all the western countries or whatever? North Korea has been starving for decades because no wealthy nations will trade with it. And yes, Kim Jong-Un seems like a maniac and a lot of the stories that come out of North Korea are pretty horrifying, but, just as I argued re: ISIS, above, I think it's wrong to pretend that our own country isn't implicit in the crazy turns these isolated other countries sometimes take. It would be interesting to see what happened to a true communist country if it didn't have to first overcome the opposition of all the most powerful countries in the world.

    I also suspect that a lot of dictators are systematically caricatured in the western press to make them seem like isolated lunatics, when actually a lot of them are very smart and politically aware. Fidel Castro is a good example of this. We thoughtlessly assume the leader of a communist country is a "dictator" who uses the power of the military to strip people of their freedom or whatever, and while I'm sure this is often the case, it can't ALWAYS be the case. Look at the fucking coup in Chile---the American military was deployed to ASSASSINATE A DEMOCRATICALLY-ELECTED leader, because he was opposed to American privatization of Chile's natural resources. That is fucking insane. How are other systems of governance supposed to succeed, if the American military just parachutes in and murders everybody whenever they try?? Or the Paris Commune of 1848, when the city of Paris was briefly turned into an anarcho-socialist utopia, only to have all of its members literally lined up against the wall of a cemetery and shot by the French military. You can go run your hands over the bullet holes. So there's an example of a significant number of people trying to implement a new way of life, only to have their own government violently prevent them from doing so.

    We blame utopias for never succeeding, but often their lack of success is not due to any inherent failure on their part.
  • in conclusion, we as humans have always sucked
  • edited January 2015
    Mao and Stalin were certainly power-hungry dictators who killed millions of their own people intentionally. I think the USSR would've been much better under Trotsky. :(

    Hugo Chavez was a socialist who did good for the poor people in his country but also his country's entire wealth was built on the extraction of oil from the earth which is now coming back to bite them now that the price of oil has dropped so much.

    I don't think communism can really work because of Power, and some people won't do their dishes or whatever.

    Glad we're finally starting to normalize relations with Cuba though. Could be interesting.
  • edited January 2015

    "I don't think communism can really work because of Power, and some people won't do their dishes or whatever"

    feel that.

    I do think that as a rule, you can't turn people entrenched in capitalist values of freedom, liberty, independence, and technological progress into functional communists. We just fundamentally lack the ability to truly think and behave communally. Thus, I don't know what is going to happen.
  • Trotsky was a cool dude. And Stalin was a thug.
    It's true we always seem to suffer under thugs. We live in the Age of the Thug.

    Down with thugs
  • Except for Young Thug!!!
  • and Bone Thugs n' harmony
  • edited January 2015
    And "Thugs n' Hugs," my new anti thug-based violence workshop
  • Kinda funny how the fundamentalism thread just became another capitalism thread, huh? The two cannot be extricated.
  • God I should REALLY do some work instead of UHX/Facebook right now
  • @YoursTruly, I totally agree with pretty much everything you say. I guess I just feel like turning the conversation into "American free-market fundamentalism is worse" makes it really fucking hard to even think of doing anything about it, or to even make sense of how one feels about radicalization in general. Like if there was a terrorist attack near-by and we were all there, would the right attitude be "Welp, we've fucked over these people for long enough, we deserve everything that is happening right now.".

    When you speak of the thousands of people who marched in support of Charlie Hebdo last night and how hard that must be for people who are like "No one gives a shit about our struggles." I think you are missing the special human link. The reality for a lot of people in Paris right now is that they know someone who knows someone who got shot. Or they have been reading some of those cartoonists' work since childhood. And it happened in their city. So the inclination to gather around and show the world you are not afraid is more powerful. The crowd is already outside, waiting, and you feel stunned and have been talking about this with your friends all day so the urge to go out in solidarity is more easily felt.

    (Plus, weren't there protests with 100 000 people before the invasion of Iraq? It probably wasn't enough, but it's not like nobody ever ever cares.)

    Like I said earlier in the thread, it wouldn't be ok for me to treat this event as something that is torturing me more than others because I am a cartoonist. But to give you an example of how close to home this thing has hit, my French publisher whom I am very close to and adore was friends with all of the editorial staff at Charlie Hebdo, so he knows the survivors as well as the victims and has been crying all night about it. As soon as I heard the news I knew I had to write to him. It's very different when it happens to someone you know.

    Something else which has crossed my mind: shootings are such a common thing in this country that I honestly think most of my American friends are desensitized to them. No offense everyone. Living here for all these years I am probably becoming desensitized, too. It's just that in other (mordern, rich) countries these types of carnages are ALWAYS surprising and super emotional. They pointed out yesterday that France had not had such a deadly killing spree since the sixties. And this is TWELVE people we are talking about, when is the last time twelve innocent people got killed in the U.S.? None of us remember because it was probably two weeks ago or something. Like I often point out, in Canada the shooting of fourteen women back in 1989 is still a wound that needs tending every single year. I can only imagine what the shooting in Norway feels like to Norwegians.

    @MirandaJuly, I think women doing the slut-walk thing and therefore standing up against rape is different. These women are fighting oppression.

    The cartoonists were not oppressed. They just simply refused to bow down to a rule imposed on them, or their publishers, by what they thought was unfair and non-sensical. But they were not oppressed. Just threatened, eventually, then killed.

  • Really good point about mass shootings being felt more deeply in other countries, Joey, I think you're so right. I'm always struck by the general responses to mass killings in Norway, England, whatever, they seem so much more reasonable and appropriately emotional than here. That makes a lot of sense.
  • edited January 2015
    I think fundamentalism can be mostly ok. People get handed unbearable sadness and suffering to the degree that none of us can even imagine and I think that is generally religions best purpose. It helps people get through things they other wise would not be able to deal with and helps create community and support in communities where there just is none. We can sit here in Portland and look down on religious people, but if we were starving everyday and seeing our families killed and had no access to counseling or and mental health facilities things would probably be different. A story about a guy who was nice to everyone and who promises a better life after this one would probably sound pretty great even if it is a trick, and anything that would help get you through those days can't be all bad. Many religions help people stay empathetic to the rest of the human race even through those painful circumstances where it is very easy to slip into narcissistic rage. The old saying that there is no such thing as an atheist soup kitchen, although totally not true, is I think probably statistically more correct than not and in my experience a lot of those people working the soup kitchens have dealt with some real sadness. The problem is the leap to "Everybody else has to be on board with this or I will make them!" and the people who teach that to those people in desperate situations, but there is evil everywhere with that line of thinking that is not necessarily religious even if religion does seem to be the culprit often.

    "In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on." -DFW

    I often envy people who are so easily able to accept religion for these reasons.
  • edited January 2015
    Other side of the coin, my brother Loki is a real dick about his fundamentalist views.
  • I think DFW is wrong there. Atheism doesn't mean that you don't follow ethical principles or that you don't find meaning in certain practices/objects/activities. It just means you don't believe in a supernatural all-knowing sentient deity or deities. That's all. It's that simple.

    And I'm not looking down on religious PEOPLE, just the idea of religion. People are free to believe whatever they want, but it's ok to critique those beliefs, especially if tenets of those beliefs -- homosexuality is wrong, women have less rights than men, non-believers should be stoned to death, non-believers are all going to hell, etc, etc, etc -- are harming others.

    The best parts of religion are the things that you mentioned - community, empathy, helping others, and probably "don't be a selfish dickhead". I'm glad that religion can provide those things for people. But you don't need to believe in supernatural beings to have those characteristics.
  • edited January 2015
    I think DFW is just pointing out that we all have our unhealthy obsessions whether consciously or unconsciously and picking something bigger than yourself will generally keep you happier and mentally healthier over the long haul.

    The best parts of religion are the things that you mentioned - community, empathy, helping others, and probably "don't be a selfish dickhead". I'm glad that religion can provide those things for people. But you don't need to believe in supernatural beings to have those characteristics.

    Agreed, but I think there is a level of sadness or suffering with no help where you reach it and you kinda have to make a choice between either killing yourself or picking a way to go a little insane and I think religion can offer a lot of people a way to lose their minds a little and still be productive and compassionate members of their community. I recognize that it can totally go the other way as well, and make really fucked up and violent/oppressive religious people.
  • edited January 2015
    Yeah, that makes sense to me.

    Like, there are so many older pro skateboarders who used to party SOOOO hard and have totally out-of-control lives, and now they're all born-again Christians because they just needed that in order to get sober and get control over their lives.

    I guess it's such a big thing for me because I went the other direction. I grew up in evangelical churches and I saw how awful, judgmental, and right-wing so many Christians were and just had to totally leave it behind in order to become a better, more open-minded person.
  • I really like this from smart friend David Sessions. It feels more responsive and less defensive than my whole "la la capitalism is worse" trip. He wrestles with this question: "Is Charlie Hebdo both a champion of free expression and an exponent of racialized French secularism?" in a pretty brave way. (it rests on some history i don't know very well so i am taking his word for some of it)

    I think that Onion cartoon is a MASTER CLASS in point-missing.

    @Joey: That is HILARIOUS about Mr. Mentor. I know "free speech" is really core for him so I can see him getting into it, actually.

    I had never seen that David Foster Wallace thing before but he seems to be basically paraphrasing Paul Tillich's "Dynamics of Faith" which is awesome.
  • That's a great article kdawg. I liked this:

    "Inquiring into the origins of specific cases of violence and the structural conditions that created them is by no means to "justify" those acts or excuse their perpetrators. But contrary to the way it is often portrayed in the media, reactionary violence is not driven by some sort of pure evil or wild irrationality; it is usually a specific response to specific conditions. Changing the social and economic conditions that make it more likely people will respond with violence is the only democratic way to prevent them, not some secular iteration of a moral and ethical exorcism. Even the most extreme authoritarian alternatives (domestic militarization, racialized deportation regimes) aren't guaranteed to prevent every single attack."
  • Good stuff Team.
  • edited January 2015
    Yeah, we are very good at nuances. All of us.
    Honestly, yesterday I was so obsessed and upset about this thing. I craved discourse about it pretty bad and here we are, all these cool people sharing their piece.

    I really did come from a place of not appreciating Charlie Hebdo's cartoons. They were too raunchy for me. If anyone had asked me what I thought of Charlie Hebdo a week ago I would have said "They are mean and pervy and stir shit up just for the sake of stirring shit up.". But like I said, my opinion has changed a bit since.

    The reality of Islam in Europe is very different from what we have here, even in big cities. Obviously when I hear of anti-muslim groups protesting in Germany I think of those groups as "bunches of assholes, bigots". It is good to point out that even though Charlie Hebdo made really nasty jokes about ALL RELIGIONS, muslims have it particularly hard in France. They are not treated like catholics, or jews, or all the others. There is something different, a larger gap, going on.

    And that is where I have to admit that I truly don't know where I would stand in the spectrum if my reality was different. The only comparison I can make is based on my very limited exposure to the hassidic jewish community in Montréal. I had always had this passionate love for them in my mind, walking around their neighborhood, looking into their homes at night as I strolled by, seeing all the books on the shelves. I'd hear people complain about them "They want to block the windows of our YMCA because they don't want to look at women working out!" and think "Oh, well, maybe there is a way for everyone to get along...".

    Then one day I sat on an airplane from JFK to Zurich. It had a group of about 20 hassids, mostly related, travelling to Israel. All of the passengers had to shuffle around and change seats because it goes against their religious beliefs to have the men sit next to a woman they are not related to. And so you'd sit down, put your stuff in the seat pocket, put your headphones on, and then this lady would come and ask you to move somewhere else because her grandpa should sit in your seat and he can't even look at you. The flight attendant was about to have a meltdown and the plane couldn't leave. We all kept switching our seats. I had to move three times. I gave up my prefered, carefully selected online seat to sit in the middle row. This other lady traveling alone and I had two little kids sitting between us. The ENTIRE flight the little kids kept climbing over us to see their mom, to run around the plane, to ask for another Coke. One kid tried to shotgun their can of Coke and spilled the whole thing on the other ladies lap as she was finally catching a snooze. She complained to the kids' mom and the lady said "It's your fault, you didn't want to give up your seat for us".

    That flight was memorable in the sense that it made me understand that it's really easy to be respectful of other people's religious views until they start fucking with the way you live YOUR life. I would never be one of those people who say that wearing a veil is wrong, because when a muslim woman says that it is her choice, I choose to believe her. But if any super observant-religious (of any faith) family moved next door and the women were covered up and kept to themselves and didn't look me in the eye, I know I would feel creeped out. I don't know how else I would feel, but I'd be creeped out.
  • Ok, wait, about the article @MirandaJuly linked to...

    I feel like there is a definite vibe going on in the American internet right now that is taking the Charlie Hebdo cartoons way out of context. Every article I have seen in English in the past two days features a selection of the same, very worst cartoons they ever published. Charlie Hebdo was not a purely anti-muslim publication. They did have some good stuff going on in their pages.

    A lot of people who don't get the context and don't understand French seem to be relying on other people's summary to say "I am not Charlie Hebdo" today. I am not Charlie Hebdo either, but I feel like I have enough information to make that decision for myself. I do feel like it would be wrong for me to tweet or tumbl "I am not Charlie Hebdo", it sort of feels like a (less awful) transformation of the hashtag #blacklivesmatter to #alllivesmatter. This is not the time to be an asshole and be all righteous. I think Charlie Hebdo have received plenty of criticism in recent years, and I am sure they will get more. It's not just that we are boiling it down to saying "free speech matters" and "killing is wrong", there is a question that many people are actually trying to get at, which is "Should we censor ourselves when we are threatened with violence?". I don't think Charlie Hebdo would have kept on publishing these types of cartoons if they had not been threatened upon first publication. I think it would have been a one-off thing.
  • Part of what interested me about that link is how it spoke to what you said about the fact that the people at Charlie Hebdo were not truly oppressed. "White men punching down is not a recipe for good satire, and needs to be called out."
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