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October 25, 2014

Thinky Links

Clearing out my tabs, Part 2:

Jonah Goldberg has an initial exploration of an idea, that we are currently living not in an age where ideas per se are debated, but rather only "narratives."

I would call these "Mythologies." Like all mythologies, they serve to reduce reality into a simplified, stupided-up fairy tale that flatters the limited information of uninformed people and flatters them further by telling them You're Right; You're Good.

These mythologies are quasi-religious in nature, or maybe I should say quasi-cult-making in nature, using "cult" in the European way as a shorthand for a religious/cultural cohort.

A people -- a "cult" -- is defined by the mythologies that sustain them.

The media and Democrat party are the chief creators of new cults and sustainers of recently-made cults.

One question I have about Goldberg's post-- what is the distinction between an "idea" and a "narrative"? To be honest, I think most of what we call "ideas" in politics are actually "narratives," aren't they?

I've read two interesting (and long) takes on this basic idea lately. The first is "I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup."

The Emperor summons before him Bodhidharma and asks: “Master, I have been tolerant of innumerable gays, lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgender people, and Jews. How many Tolerance Points have I earned for my meritorious deeds?”

Bodhidharma answers: "None at all."

The Emperor, somewhat put out, demands to know why not.

Bodhidharma asks: "Well, what do you think of gay people?"

The Emperor answers: "What do you think I am, some kind of homophobic bigot? Of course I have nothing against gay people!"

And Bodhidharma answers: "Thus do you gain no merit by tolerating them!"

His point is that for all of progressives' claims that they are Super-Good at tolerance, in fact, they're not "tolerating" anything. They're championing members of their socio-political coalition and endlessly denigrating -- that is, not tolerating -- people outside of their socio-political coalition.

That's not "tolerance." That's what everybody does, including the most intolerant people in the world.

One Nazi does not "tolerate" another Nazi, for example. He earns no Tolerance Points for supporting a fellow member of the Nazi Party. For the Nazi to show his tolerance, he'd have to tolerate his own out-groups -- his own "Others" -- such as gays, gypsies, and Jews.

Which he doesn't, of course.

Speaking of that, Reuters just reported that gays are being harassed in Liberia because "Christian churches" are claiming that ebola is a punishment from God for homosexuality.

DAKAR/NEW YORK, Oct 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Leroy Ponpon doesn't know whether to lock himself in his flat in Monrovia because of the deadly Ebola virus, or because he is gay. Christian churches' recent linking of the two have made life hell for him and hundreds of other gays.

Ponpon, an LGBT campaigner in the Liberian capital, says gays have been harassed, physically attacked and a few have had their cars smashed by people blaming them for the haemorrhagic fever, after religious leaders in Liberia said Ebola was a punishment from God for homosexuality.


In May, Archbishop Lewis Zeigler of the Catholic Church of Liberia said that "one of the major transgressions against God for which He may be punishing Liberia is the act of homosexuality," local media reported.

This is a legitimate and important news story and I don't want to suggest it isn't. Christian leaders are succumbing to fear and hysteria in the face of a deadly plague (as people often do, whether religious or not), and they're making scapegoats and mythologies to explain the frightening and mysterious.

The church leaders peddling this nonsense should be called out.

But it's interesting to me to see just how forward leaning Reuters is when it can pin some misbehavior on Christian clerics.

I use "clerics" there deliberately, because Reuters is definitely much more shy about tracing harassment of gays to ideas put forward by Islamic clerics.

I could only find one (1) story by Reuters about the Islamist-inspired serial killer of gay men, Ali Mohammad Brown, and you will not be surprised to discover that Reuters completely omits any mention of Brown's religious motivation.

Why Reuters has not provided additional reporting now that Brown's suspected religious motivation has been confirmed is a non-question I wouldn't even call "rhetorical."

Reuters can tolerate anything except its own out-groups -- which are, for Reuters, Christians, and, of course, Jews.

Liberal professors admitted in a survey they'd absolutely discriminate against conservative professors in making hiring, tenure, and publishing decisions, and they see absolutely nothing wrong with this.

They can tolerate the hell out of their own allies. Their out-groups, however? Not so good at tolerating them.

"ClarkHat" from the Popehat blog has a pair of interesting spost about this general topic -- cults and the unending cultural warfares between them -- in the context of #GamerGate, and makes the gigantic claim that all of this KulturKampf is just a continuing culture war between factions that have been fighting since the English Civil War of the 1640s.

It's a big, neat idea. He's got to do a lot more to prove this, but it's certainly a good and juicy Big Thinky Piece for a Saturday afternoon.

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posted by Ace at 03:42 PM

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