Reading Recommendation

A student was very excited to hear that I’ve read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and has recommended My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Dixon.

It makes me very happy when students recommend reading material. So obviously I’m getting the book.

Ig Nobel

An Ig Nobel Prize award has been given to a study that every single reader of my blog will find relevant:

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, UK, USA]: Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.

REFERENCE: “Creatures of the Night: Chronotypes and the Dark Triad Traits,” Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 55, no. 5, 2013, pp. 538-541.

Maybe we should rename to blog to “Self-Admiring, Manipulative Psychopaths’ Blog.”

Why the US Needs to Destroy ISIS

An article in The Atlantic makes a disturbing kind of argument for why the US should not destroy ISIS:

Apparently the kind of terrorism that’s hardest to fight is the kind that ferments at home.

And what makes it ferment? In both the Boston Marathon and the Fort Hood cases, the attackers seem to have been driven by the perception that the U.S. is at war with Islam, as evinced (in their minds) by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So, if homegrown terrorism is fostered by the perception that the U.S. is at war with Islam, what should we do to counter that perception? Here’s what I don’t recommend: Declare war on an entity that calls itself the Islamic State, enmeshing yourself in combat that will last for years.

Every word of this is uninformed and stupid. Muslims are depicted as people on the verge of freaking out and becoming terrorists whenever a bizarre fantasy visits them. There is also this unhealthy need to see oneself as the center of the universe which has become really pathological among the people in this country. The terrorists of ISIS can’t tolerate modernity and want to go back to the Middle Ages. They said that a gazillion times. They would attack anybody who is dealing with modernity better than they are (and that’s pretty much everybody else.) The US is not causing ISIS’s actions or existence. Just like the US isn’t causing Putin’s actions in Ukraine. Just like the US didn’t invade the Iberian Peninsula back in 711, unlike my Freshman-level students have suggested time and again.

The US absolutely has to destroy ISIS. In the world of the crumbling nation-states, a state has to find a legitimating principle in something. If the nation-state is being destroyed by the fluidity of life in our technological society, the new form of state can only gain legitimacy through protecting citizens from fluid, mobile threats that know no borders. Today, the US needs to prove its chops, so to speak, as a functioning post-national state. And I hope it will.