Political Leanings Quiz

OK, people, here’s a test. Look at the following image and tell me what you see:


Do you see a circle?

Answers are under the fold.

Continue reading “Political Leanings Quiz”

Trump As a Fundraising Opportunity

Hillary didn’t impress either. “I can read ISIS’s mind; don’t spook Muslims or they will reach for their Kalashnikovs; let me pander to those who get soothed by trite formulae.” Gosh, what won’t people do to get elected?

But hey, it’s got to be more fun to bash Trump than to write uncomfortable articles for the New York Times titled something like “I swear Wall Street doesn’t like me all that much.”

Mea culpa

I was wrong. The San Bernardino couple turned out to be real, hardcore terrorists. I passionately wanted them to turn out to be just a pair of sad, crazy fucks, and that clouded my judgment.

I was also wrong in my suspicion that the Obama administration was going to sell out Ukraine in return for a Putinoid promise to kinda sorta fight ISIS. Hollande caved, Merkel vacillated, but the US stood strong and Ukraine wasn’t sold out. For now, at least. That’s very positive, and I’m grateful.

It’s good to recognize one’s mistakes every once in a while.

Let’s Talk About Trump

I watched a lot of news yesterday and listened to a lot of radio today, and here is what I can conclude: NPR and MSNBC do a lot more to propagate a negative image of Muslims than Fox News. It got to the point where I had to switch off NPR because I realized that I was starting to experience feelings that I didn’t experience before listening and those feelings were scaring me. It’s easy to rant about Trump and Fox News but nobody wants to look at how they are contributing to a shared narrative of hatred.

The MSNBC and NPR shows I’m talking about featured maybe a couple dozen Muslims who were saying the same thing: they are angry with Obama‚Äôs speech because “he wouldn’t ask any other community what he asked ours. Why are we expected to when nobody else is.” The words “why not any other community” were repeated, in a drone-like manner, by the majority of the speakers who sounded as if they were reading from a script. Nobody said ANYTHING that would depart from the script.

Forget about the content of the message and think about the format. What message does one get from observing these interviewees? Obviously, that all Muslims are the same and very much given to groupthink. The idea that 2 billion Muslims can’t all be the same gets overshadowed by the spectacle of such totalitarian unanimity. Fox News, at least, featured different Muslims who said different things.

As for the “why did Obama single out our community” message, it transmits the image of Muslims as oblivious, entitled, and dishonest. I mean, at this point in time, Obama is your biggest enemy? Really? If after Theo Van Gogh, 9/11, London subway, Atocha, Charlie Hebdo, Paris, San Bernardino, etc Obama said, “Buddhists should start looking carefully at their own communities, trying to eradicate the message of hate,” it would be understandable if Buddhists were puzzled. But for Muslims to ask, “Why is our community singled out?” is not a thing that provokes huge respect. Because it’s not happening in any other community, that’s why!

I have no doubt that it would take NPR, MSNBC and the New York Times under 10 minutes to find Muslims who have something else to say and an interesting analysis to provide. But they are not even trying because, I believe, there is confirmation bias at play here.

I have a growing suspicion that a lot of outrage directed at Trump is not really about Trump. I think that many people are scared of their inner Trump and need to repudiate him loudly to distance themselves from these nasty feelings. But the nasty feelings are slowly winning out.

It’s not just Trump, folks. He sprouted in a ground that had already been fertilized and prepared in a million insidious and, I’m sure, mostly unconscious ways. I believe that we all made this happen and now we should all start undoing the damage. And yelping self-righteous about Trump The Fascist is not nearly enough.

Book Notes: Almudena Grandes’ Los besos en el pan

My book is pretty much done but I still feel obligated to read all novels of the crisis I come across, especially when they are written by writers as famous as Almudena Grandes.

Grandes interrupted her work on a series of novels about the Spanish Civil War to write this crisis novel, and, oh, how much I wish she hadn’t.

Because this novel sucks.

And then it sucks some more.

Grandes adopts this aggravating posture towards people who suffer as a result of the crisis that drives me nuts. Her central idea is, “Ah, enough with whining over the crisis. It’s not that bad. Think of people who survived the Civil War. They had real problems!”

Grandes did not live during the war. She is a very well-off person who has no business lecturing people on being more resilient. She comes off as a dick when she dismisses the suffering caused by the crisis.

Grandes’s husband also wrote a crisis novel a couple of years ago, but his novel mostly avoids this condescending didacticism.

In short, it’s a very crappy novel, and I suffered through every page. The novel ends with every character getting over themselves and valiantly confronting the crisis. Except for the Muslim character who – I kid you not – goes to Syria to join ISIS. And that’s the last sentence of the novel, the Muslim fellow joins ISIS. Oh, and the novel’s Chinese characters, what do they do? Right you are, they procreate.


Offensive Defense

Yet another fellow on TV suggested that “ISIS wants us to turn against Muslims because that will make it easier to recruit.”

This oft-repeated idea paints an offensive picture of Muslims as people who are uniformly two seconds away from turning into terrorists and mass murderers. Nobody says shit like that about anybody else. “Don’t say anything mean about Ukrainians or they might run away and join a gang that rapes children and murders people for fun.”

Can’t we, instead, just say that it’s not acceptable to persecute Muslims because it’s wrong to do that to people and not because we are terrified of the inner animal that supposedly hides in every Muslim?