Read my latest article in Spiked: “Cultural Appropriation” Is Really Cultural Appreciation.
It is reassuring to see that open critiques of various entries in the social justice Newspeak dictionary are now more commonplace. The first of these to really get my hackles up was the concept of the “safe space” which I covered in an earlier article, though South Park did a better job of ridiculing this infantile notion than I ever could. Unfortunately, as well as being more frequently critiqued, this new pseudo-lexicon is also becoming more widely used (and even accepted as gospel), both among the censorious twits that invented it and the well-meaning and easily misled – I was disappointed to see that George Takei, who I am fond of, despite his occasional Panglossian naivety, shared an article defending “Trigger Warnings” by way of some fatuous reference to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (as if every blue-haired student activist is teetering on a psychological precipice akin to an Iraq war veteran). Read More…
Truth is the first casualty of war, as the saying goes and is proved right time and time again.
The 21st century has thus far been consumed by Western wars in the Middle-East. Most of which have been complete catastrophes. Just last week, Westminster MPs released a scathing report of David Cameron’s foolish foray into Libya in 2011. The Foreign Affairs select committee criticised Cameron for intervening in Libya based on poor intelligence. And much of the media which supported the action was also bamboozled by what Peter Hitchens has described as atrocity propaganda. The same pattern has repeated itself in the reporting of the Syria conflict, which long-time Middle-Eastern correspondent Patrick Cockburn has described as the worst he’s ever seen.
The most striking thing about Patrick Cockburn is that when reading or listening to him, you’re not just receiving his opinion or ideology (as is so common in journalism these days), but very important factual information. This is becoming rarer and rarer. And probably one of the reasons why people are so confused about what has happened in the Middle East.
From our archives…
If a city-dweller were to find a heedful vantage point from which to view the metropolis, he would observe a rhythm to everyday life.
There is an orchestral order to the seemingly random movement of the city, expertly conducted by the schedule of the daily commute.
Dawn breaks with a light percussion of traffic, a gentle sparse beating of early commuters and bleary eyed pedestrians in the streets. Read More…
A short video which explains who we are and everything we celebrate. As we say in our bio: “We exist to celebrate all the wonderful human virtues of imagination, achievement, intellect and beauty, that are so often denigrated in a culture suffused with stunted political ideologies.” We really do mean that.
In a recent podcast, philosopher, neuroscientist and vocal critic of religious extremism, Sam Harris, made the following comment:
“At this point I view most of my career as a massive opportunity cost. Most of what I spend my time talking about I do not find intellectually interesting, but I do find politically and morally necessary – how is it that I am living a life where I even have to know what honour killing means let alone spend time talking about it?”
This statement gave me pause for thought in regard to my own work. Of course I can’t claim anywhere near the readership, reach or back-catalogue Harris has to his name, nor can I (at least at this point) count my writing as a “career” so much as a passionate side-line. That being the case, I began thinking about how our focus at Imagine Athena, as well as my own, has shifted, or at least superficially appeared to do so, in recent years. From its inception, this website has been a platform to celebrate what makes life most worth living to us: the examined life, freedom of thought and expression, the values of the Enlightenment, human progress and virtue, the nebulous boundaries of art, science, philosophy, the numinous and transcendent (the only kind of “intersectionalism” that interests me). These concepts are at the core of everything we do. Read More…
This widely shared video confirms what I wrote last week about the Ellen Degeneres controversy.
I believe that much of the moral posturing and recreational offence-taking that we see over things such as “cultural appropriation”, “privilege”, etc. is really just about giving bullies something seemingly “virtuous” to hide behind.
In the video, a shrill, humourless woman recorded herself berating a Lyft driver – she had only just met – for a Hula bobble doll he had on the dashboard of his car. She accused him of “appropriating” Hawaiian culture and of being “an ignorant, privileged male”. Acting like a Soviet-era commissar she antagonised him up until the point of becoming very aggressive and agitated, calling him a “fucking selfish dumbass idiot”, at which point he summarily ejected her from his car.
Like a true cry-bully she acted as if she was the victim, rather than the aggressor. This is not serious political criticism. It is the juvenile politics of the playground.
Listen to me on the Write With Courage podcast.
On Wednesday, we bore witness to a stark demonstration of the hypocrisy of social media activism, the callousness of so many of its practitioners and, unless some action has been taken by them in the interim, the double-standards of the platform custodians themselves.
Rapper, activist and self-important intellectual non-entity Talib Kweli Greene took to Twitter to condemn the liberal Muslim reformer and anti-extremist activist Maajid Nawaz as a racist shill and a tool of white supremacy and anti-Muslim bigotry. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr Nawaz, his journey spans an immense distance between extremes; after a rough start in life involving direct experiences of violent white racism in his native UK, he became radicalised and worked as an Islamist agitator under the banner of Hizb ut-Tahrir, for which he languished in an Egyptian prison, undergoing hardships I can’t imagine.
He has since done more to build bridges between faiths and communities, and fight extremism from every direction, be it xenophobia, jihadism, anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Semitism and racism in all forms. But the irony of throwing accusations like this at such a man as Nawaz seems lost on Greene, who, on the other hand, is an evidently privileged narcissist who attempts to pass off his thoroughly banal pseudo-intellectual masturbation as some kind of liberationist activism. The sort of person who thinks bellowing “Black Lives Matter!” and “White Supremacy!” at various intervals should confer certain additional privileges upon you. Read More…
The most disturbing aspect of the recent Ellen Degeneres controversy was not so much that she was falsely accused of being a racist and isn’t one, but the fact that a mere allegation inspires such dismay in our culture that she was forced to acknowledge and deny it. She paid verbal fealty to a spurious narrative that is sustained only through fear.
Of course, Degeneres is a celebrity who is probably hyper-conscious of her public image, so she’s going to do everything she can to prevent any damage to that. It’s not so easy to ignore denunciations of that kind when it affects your bottom line.
But the reason I was opposed to her acknowledging the moronic witch hunters on Twitter is that I think that even the slightest flinch before their finger-pointing only encourages them to do it again. Especially, if they can make a seemingly untouchable megastar like Degeneres react. Read More…