Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Why Van Jones is an asshole

Here is something tweeted by Van Jones earlier this year:

There is some confusion about why this is fake news, so let's break it down.

THE CLAIM: "You’re 7 Times More Likely To Be Killed By A Right-Wing Extremist Than Muslim Terrorists"

THE ABSURD PARAMETERS: Excluding 9/11, for some reason. 9/11 is *always forgotten* in progressive statistics


Reasonable people may think that the numbers cited compare politically motivated attacks. However "journalism" in Van Jones style does not fit to the expectations of reasonable people.

By the numbers, this is the comparison most often cited by the New York Times between "right wing" and "Jihadist" killings in the United States since 9/11. (Including only domestic deaths is very silly, but this is a digression)

Quite plainly, there is no "7 times more likely to be killed" anywhere in this chart. It's more like 50/50, at the best of times. And this is including tons of groups - racist, tax protest, survivalist, sovereign citizen, pro-life nutjobs - under the banner of "right wing".

So how does Van Jones arrive at "7 times more likely"?

It comes from a report briefly cited first in NYTimes, then cited again by ThinkProgress, and then repackaged by the Bossip piece that Van Jones shared.

The original quotation in New York Times is the following:

No where else in the paper does it seem that Arie Perliger's data is mentioned, let alone taken seriously. In the publicly available PDF of Perliger's report, there is no indication of how Perliger actually arrived at a number of 254 fatalities due to right wing nutjobs.

Compare this to NewAmerica's data, which has a chart annotated with every attack they categorize as "right wing". The result is a strongly supported final count of 50. Again, this is the count the New York Times uses in their own reports.

It's impossible to debunk Perliger's data, as it's unclear where it even comes from.

Regardless, what Van Jones needs to prove is that Perliger's information is solid, even though the New York Times does not use it, nobody can see what is counted and the data starts in 9/11 and ends in November 2012.

To recap the mistakes, Van Jones says you are "7 times more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist" by doing the following:

  1. Excluding 9/11
  2. Excluding foreign deaths (apparently Americans can't die in a club in Bali or a cafe in Paris!)
  3. Relying on a source that nobody else uses
  4. Excluding San Bernardino 
  5. Excluding Pulse

Let's be clear - only ten days after 49 people were executed in Orlando, Van Jones was busy tweeting bogus data from 2001-2012 that only appears on hack clickbait sites. This happened even though the New York Times was tweeting far more legitimate (but also flawed) data since San Bernardino, which was December of the previous year.

Van Jones didn't do any due diligence, apply any skepticism to the data as it supported a narrative about "Trump's America" and rural whites that he wanted to put forward, no matter what was real. 

If one performed this mathematical distraction against the black community or the muslim community, it would be unforgivable and obviously racist.

But since this is fake news and lies that "punch up", it is on CNN every other night.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Islam's Fake Feminism

Occasionally there is a defense of an "Islamic" version of feminism in which a brave soul tries valiantly to defend against "Islamophobic" sentiments shared in the "biased" media. It's a laugh.

The latest is an article titled : "5 Rights Islam Gave Women Before Western Feminism Did"

Apparently it is to point out to "bigots" what the "real Islam" is like and show that Islam granted women "more rights than western women have gained" in the most recent 100 years.

A quick point-by-point rundown

1. The right to vote

The argument is that since the Quran borrowed a few tales of a "Queen of Sheba", (the Quran is mostly plagiarism) that this then means that Islam is fine with women in positions of power.

Therefore, the argument is then, that Islam granted women are granted a "right to vote". However there are absolutely no citations as to which caliphs women helped select, or which women were ever considered to be leaders. Whatever story there is in a holy book about one Queen or another, it simply didn't happen.

Now, as a set:

2. The right to own property and wealth
3. The right to an education
4. The right to work (or not to)

Beyond the usual rosy view of cherrypicked scripture, the argument goes that the first of Muhammad's wives wore the pants (and may have been the brains behind both the man and the god) and is revered within the faith.

Of course, after Muhammad's first wife died, things became harder for him as he didn't have a sugarmomma to rely on. Eventually he bounced back, and as it turns out one of his rebounds was a 9-year old named Aisha -- but it's a sensitive subject.

5. The right to modesty

Where to even start with this?

It's incomprehensible. In every culture before, since and including Islam, women have been at times regarded as property to dress up or dress down as one desired. The tendency throughout history has been to gift wrap women - Islam merely codified this desire in a religion and gave it the appearance of piety. It is to literally insult god to remove the gift wrap.

The article continues: 
"Islam teaches us that a woman's self-worth does not revolve around physical beauty or approval from men. Islam raises women above all that and frees us from the need to conform to the societal definition of what women "should" look like."

The hijab, of course, is entirely about what women "should" look like. Instead of freeing women a physical form, it chains them with it - women must cover because of what they look like.

Modernity and innovation in how much energy one can invest into appearances makes a hijab seem like an affordable and liberating alternative. After all, perhaps one can save some money on a hairstyling and earrings!

But it's an empty promise, as hijabs merely define the parameters of accessories. Nowhere in the Quran does it say one can't spend more than a day's pay on fabric, accessories, and shoes. The sky is the limit, it's time to get some product to make those eyes shine.

If Allah wants women in gift wrap, it may as well be gold gift wrap.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Six Months of "Islamophobia" at Huffington Post

Now August, it's a good time to check in how Huffington Post's running tally of "Islamophobia" in 2016 is going.

If we split the year up January to June, let's go over how it went, and then continue with some analysis:


  • Man says arson attack on his halal food truck was a hate crime
  • Muslim woman ejected from Trump rally
  • Man vandalizes mosque and leaves bacon behind
  • Christian college fires woman for wearing hijab and saying allah == yahweh. Now she works at UVA. 
  • Manufacturing company in Wisconsin changes prayer time rules, fires a dozen of muslims
  • Smeared ketchup found on mosque
  • Man couldn't enter "Muhammad Khan" in a videogame as it matched a name on an embargo list
  • Robocaller in support of Trump said "We don't need muslims"
  • Residents of Bayonne New Jersey opposed a mosque
  • Islamic center of Omaha had a window broken and bacon put on the door
  • Someone made a parody website of the Islamic center of Wheaton, Illinois
  • Drunk college students in Tuscon threw beer bottles off a building and said something racist
  • Sikh man says an incident in December 2015 wherein he was attacked and called a 'terrorist' was a hate crime
  • Man in Florida on Facebook threatens to burn down mosques
  • Men in the Bronx beat up a Bangladeshi man and shout "ISIS"
  • Australian MP was asked routine citizenship questions and fingerprinted at LAX
  • Bill in Tennessee aims to stop "Islamic religious indoctrination" in schools after a teacher asked students to recite the shahada
  • People in Milwaukee don't want a new mosque
  • Man in Philadelphia punched "for speaking Arabic"
  • Poll results find half of Idahoans want ban on muslim immigration
  • Man in Minnesota says Sharia law is coming
  • Hijabi in Michigan called a terrorist
  • California state muslims student association had a "hateful message" left on a table
  • Education administrator in Georgia fired for writing "If you wipe your butt with your bare hand but consider bacon to be unclean, you may be a muslim."
  • Bill in South Carolina legislature bans citing Sharia as a defense
  • Bill in South Carolina OKs bill to create registry of refugees
  • Ben Carson says Islam isn't a religion, says it has an "apocalyptic vision"
  • Megyn Kelly asks Chris Christie : "They saw [packages, muslims] and they did not think that was enough to call the cops. Do you?"
  • Missoula protesters rally to block refugees, say Islam hates Christians, Jews, women, gays.
  • Tea party accused school in Tennessee of white washing Islam by saying it spread peacefully
  • Maryland lawmaker says mosques with ties to terrorism shouldn't be tax exempt
  • Palos Park Illinois don't want mosque built
  • Ariens fires more employees over unscheduled prayer breaks
  • NH lawmaker says Islam isn't a religion
  • Drill in Tampa puts active shooter actor in a keffiyeh
  • Frat brothers in U of Chicago said in private emails that a fellow muslim student was a terrorist and "dynamite and C4" were two fixtures of Islamic culture
  • Dudley Massachusetts doesn't want a muslim cemetery built
  • Fox News host says 'I haven't heard of any' anti-muslim crimes 
  • CNN interviews Jared Taylor, he says 'why would we want more muslims?'
  • Man arrested outside mosque after becoming belligerent and firing a pellet gun at a car
  • NH poll says 65% of GOP voters support ban on muslims
  • Michelle Bachman says muslim immigration is an "invasion"
  • Mayor of Lubbock calls Homeland Security after someone placed a large black Arabic flag with a red heart on an abandoned building
  • Muslim man in Portland killed by man he hired to work on his property 
  • Ben Carson says muslims only embrace democracy if they're "schizophrenic"
  • Proposed Florida bill authorizes military force if "invaders" appear
  • Billboard in Minnesota says Catholic charities are evil for resettling "Islamists"
  • Confusion at Maryland school somehow spread by Pam Gellar leads to false bomb scare
  • Trump tells questionable "pigs blood" story from Philippine-American war
  • Muslim woman says a bank in Omaha made her take off headscarf
  • Minnesota revokes "FMUSLMS" license plate
  • Poll result says have of Texas voters support ban on muslims
  • Oklahoma capitol "Muslim day" receives threats
  • Missouri man says "all of you should die" to muslim family, takes out gun. Blames it on skipping PTSD medication
  • CAIR worker in Tallahassee hears joke "is it safe to ride the elevator with you?"
  • Poll result says most Trump supporters dislike muslims
  • Vandals write "F**K MUSLIMS" on Plainfield Indiana ISNA headquarters
  • Principal in Twin Falls Idaho censors school newspaper article about 'islamophobia'
  • Teenager in Huntington Beach says he was stabbed for speaking Arabic
  • Tennessee lawmakers pass anti "islamic indoctrination" bill
  • Man in Illinois displays silhouettes of a man in a turban getting shot
  • Unidentified woman claims two unidentified hijabis that did not speak english had eggs thrown at them in Buffalo
  • Man in Newark spits on muslim woman
  • Two muslim women removed from JetBlue flight for 'staring'
  • Buddhist monk in Oregon allegedly attacked after hearing profanity about muslims
  • Man in Massachusetts shares a meme photo of JAWS labelled "Throw me a muslim"
  • People on MSNBC are surprised Dearborn voted for Bernie
  • Trump tells Anderson Cooper that he thinks "Islam hates us"
  • Students in Wichita allegedly attacked by man yelling 'Trump'
  • Ibtihaj Muhammad asked to remove hijab at SXSW for badge photo
  • Idaho advances anti-Sharia law
  • Ted Cruz asks Frank Gaffney to be his adviser 
  • Muslim family kicked off United Airlines flight for 'safety issues'
  • Mosque in Nebraska receives threatening email
  • Ted Cruz wants police to patrol and secure muslim neighbourhoods
  • Republicans in DC refuse to answer questions about Ted Cruz's patrolling idea
  • San Martin California doesn't want a new mosque built
  • South Carolina passes bill to create refugee registry
  • Woman in DC library asked to remove hijab
  • Lyft driver in Utah says 'muslims are terrorists'
  • Charles Payne & Ben Carson say Islam was 'born and spread through violence'
  • Letter to the editor in Florence South Carolina paper says Islam is satanic
  • Student in Hayward California has her hair pulled and was called a terrorist by "same guy that was bullying me since third grade"
  • Muslim 8th graders in Stamford Connecticut are questioned after allegations that they were going to bring guns to school
  • Poll result says half of US voters support idea to patrol and secure muslim neighbourhoods
  • Man yells 'Trump' and 'Kill all muslims' at group of muslims in Grand Rapids
  • Letter in Cheyenne, Wyoming says Islam is fascist and that muslims 'lie and cheat'
  • Various websites allege that muslims were shooting at people in a desert in southern California
  • Unidentified man in Michigan says 'I've killed your mfing kind'
  • "StopIslam" and "Trump" written in chalk in Ann Arbor campus
  • Sherrif supports Ted Cruz's patrolling idea
  • Student in Texas called terrorist by teacher, teacher claims it was to demonstrate 'negative stereotypes'
  • "Anti-muslim DVDs" left on cars in Idaho
  • Man in Phoenix rips up Quran in front of mosque
  • "Stop Islam" written in Amherst, Massachusetts campus
  • Ted Cruz adviser says there are "no-go" zones in muslim neighbourhoods
  • "Choose 1 Pro-Islam<>Pro Women's & Gay Rights" written in chalk at University of Kansas
  • "No more muslim violence" and other slogans written in chalk in Ann Arbor
  • Lawmaker in Tennessee hands out "anti-muslim DVDs" to colleagues
  • Businessman in Washington sends anti-mosque postcards to residents
  • Pat Robertson says Islam is an "infection" that must be killed
  • Woman working on school board in Pennsylvania had written a "I am officially against muslims" Facebook post
  • "Islam bloody Islam, doomed by its doctrine!" billboards appear in Florida
  • Ted Cruz refuses to meet with muslim constituents 
  • Muslim woman removed from Southwest flight and given no explanation
  • Ted Cruz adviser says there are "Sharia courts" in Texas and Michigan
  • The Hill publishes Ted Cruz adviser's "anti-muslim conspiracy theory"
  • Mosque in Queens attacked by man high on drugs that claimed he was a prophet and demanded a Quran, yelling anti-muslim slurs
  • Terry Jones & a friend tear up a Quran in Atlanta
  • Letter to the editor in Kalispell, Montana accuses Islam of being a 'centuries old political machine'
  • Blonde Trump supported allegedly pours water on a hijabi in DC
  • Elmwood Park, NJ board of education member on Facebook urged muslims to "stay in their deserts" and "follow your religion in your own countries"
  • Urth Caffee in Laguna Beach allegedly kicked out muslim women for being muslim. The cafe claims it was just to clear the table for other customers
  • GOP candidate for senate in Florida wants to ban 'anybody from the middle east'
  • Man in Vermont allegedly pulls gun on woman and called a terrorist
  • Unidentified muslim woman in Louisana says a courtroom bailiff motioned for her to remove the hijab, and was then removed from the room for noncompliance. Judge in the courtroom says she did not realize the scarf was a hijab.
  • 911 call in Florida claimed 'middle eastern' person was on UCF campus with a gun
  • Los Angeles sheriff's aide apologizes for forwarding racist and 'islamophobic' emails during a previous job in Burbank. Apology did not satisfy muslim groups. The aide then resigned a few days later
  • 19 year old man in Queens is attacked by three men shouting "ISIS!"
  • Students protest SDSU president for not denouncing Anti-BDS fliers posted around campus
  • TSA official in Minneapolis says he was ordered to profile Somali Americans
  • Group protests anti-Islamophobia film in Missoula
  • "Anti-muslim extremist" Ryan Mauro gives talk in New York 
  • Trump repeats "pig blood" story in California

  • Man calls Bangladeshi store clerk a terrorist and then stabs him
  • Letters in Sacramento call on people to execute muslims
  • Vandal leaves 'Ban Islam from America' fliers at mosque site in Washington
  • Muslim student labelled "Isis" in printing of yearbook in Rancho Cucamonga
  • Military college in South Carolina denies request of muslim student for exception of cadet uniform policy
  • South Carolina votes down anti-Sharia bill
  • Anti-muslim protesters in Vermont speak against taking refugees
  • Anti-muslim motorcycle group protests in Islamberg, NY
  • GOP group allows "anti-muslim extremist" to speak in North Carolina
  • Man allows his dogs to attack poodle because his owner was a 'terrorist prick'
  • Florida newspaper publishes letter claiming Quran is a 'plan for world domination'
  • Harris County Texas GOP aide tries to block muslim man from office as Islam and Christianity 'don't mix'
  • Michael Flynn defend's Trump's 'muslim ban'
  • Newt Gingrich wants airport workers to be tested to see if they 'believe in sharia'
  • Muslim woman called a 'terrorist' during road rage incident in Tennessee
  • NY cab driver beaten by  a man calling him a 'muslim asshole'
  • "Anti-muslim speakers" gather at a 'refugee resettlement event' in Florida
  • 'Anti-muslim rally' held outside new Islamic center in Houston
  • Church in Oregon puts up sign 'Muhammad is not greater than Jesus'
  • Boss of company in NY allegedly asked employee to denounce ISIS
  • Former Washington state city manager expresses interest in knowing where Sunni and Shia residents live
  • Muslim woman harassed in ice cream shop in Orange County
  • Islamic center in Golden Colorado receives threatening email
  • 11-year old 'heckled' after asking crowd in Boca Raton if they thought she looked like a terrorist
  • Dudley Massachusetts apparently still does not want muslim cemetery [Same story as February]
  • "Anti-muslim extremist" speaks in Vermont
  • Republican primary candidate in Colorado said Trump's muslim ban 'doesn't go far enough'
  • Democrats say HR 5203 singles out muslim travelers
  • Armed men in Texas film themselves using bullets dipped in pig's blood
  • Anti-arab graffiti found in convenience store in Massachusetts 
  • Speaker in Minnesota church congregation says muslims are using journalists to 'destroy you'
  • Comments on weather service page in Lubbock Texas are offended by use of term 'haboob' instead of 'dust storm'
  • A Sikh man named Davinder Singh was murdered in what his son alleges was a hate crime.
  • During Maryland traffic dispute, woman allegedly yelled "Get the hell out of the country you bitch ass muslims". Driver was charged with a hate crime and denies the allegations
  • Teen charged with hate crime in beating of a muslim man outside mosque in Queens
  • Army reserve officer in North Carolina allegedly threated to kill members at mosque
  • Muslim activist in Texas claims a man in a white pickup truck attempted to run his car off the road
  • Trump delegate leaves "anti-muslim voicemail" for church in Pennsylvania. Voicemail said Islam is "not a religion" and called the sign "despicable".
  • Bullet holes found in ISNA sign in Plainfield, Indiana
  • Man in Seattle threatens to "take revenge" on a mosque.
  • Someone on Twitter tweeted location of ISNA in Dearborn, with hashtag "#CrusadeAmericaCleanagain", and "We must execute the muslim scum"
  • Florida GOP congressional candidate calls for an end to 'every radical muslim institution'
  • Armed "anti-muslim" activist films himself in front of a mosque in Georgia, saying 'the time for war has begun'
  • Muslim woman on Facebook claims that man on train on Queens told her to 'go back home and take their bombs with them'
    • “After some back and forth,” Hasan wrote, “one man said, ‘This is New York City. The most diverse place in the world. And in New York, we protect our own and we don't give a fuck what anyone looks like or who they love, or any of those things. It's time for you to leave these women alone, Sir.’ I couldn't have said it better. Sure enough, our train was stopped. This royal douche got off the train to the sound of cheering.”
    • .... probably didn't happen
  • Mosque in Sanford, Florida had "#StopTheHate" spraypainted on it
  • Mosques in Chicago receive threats in email (no details)
  • Woman on Facebook claiming to be postal worker says she will destroy mail with Ramadan themed stamps on them
  • GOP group leader says a new mosque in NJ would be "unsafe"
  • Muslim woman on Twitter has her mentions filled with "hate" after speaking on Homeland Security panel. The woman had said "9/11 changed the world for good", with "for good" clarified to mean "forever"/irreparably.
  • Man in Ohio interrupts mosque prayer service by shouting "Jesus is Lord!" and claiming to be a police officer
  • Trump says muslim-americans "don't assimilate"
  • Syrian refugees in Arizona allegedly receive hate letter saying they are "not welcome"
    • The family is unnamed and the only source of this incident is Imraan Siddiqi, who manages a Twitter feed devoted to content just like this...
  • Muslim man claims he was kicked off an Alaska Airlines flight departing from Texas after another passenger said he looked "arabic & scary".
  • Man wearing white prayer cap in New York was beaten on his way to the mosque
  • Someone wrote "Muslim trash go home!" on a train in Boston
  • Alabama GOP representative says American muslims want to kill homosexuals
  • Commuters in Massachusetts call 911 allegedly after spotting two muslims praying on a train platform
  • ISNA center in Indiana that had bulletholes in its sign also receives a threatening email
  • OK state rep shares Facebook article that says Islam 'is not a religion'
  • Former FBI agent says 'jihadis' will work with Marxist groups and impose sharia
  • Mosque in Orlando receives multiple threats in email
  • Trump says 'I think profiling is something that we're going to have to start thinking about as a country"
  • Muslim NYPD officer suspended for refusing to trim beard
  • "Anti-muslim activists" claim refugees were involved in an incident involving disabled girl. Prosecutors say this is false.
  • "Anti-muslim activist" says USA should "close every single mosque"
  • GOP committee member apologizes for calling Islam a 'death cult'
  • Man threatens to kill imam in Staten Island
  • Man in Connecticut calls worshippers 'sand n***ers' and 'ISIS'
  • Urth Caffe women file suit, defense lawyer accuses them of waging 'civilizational jihad'
  • Motorcyclists circle mosque in Florida
  • Editorial in WVa newspaper claims refugees will lead to a demographic crisis that will lead to sharia law
  • Mosque that was encircled by motorcyclists also receives threats by email
  • Ted Cruz allegedly invites "anti-muslim conspiracy theorist" to testify at senate hearing
  • Horse in Tennessee owned by a Sikh family was shot
  • Man allegedly yelled 'Fuck Muslims' before shooting two men in Minneapolis
  • Woman at Trump rally asks the candidate to fire all hijabis working for the TSA

The list is growing through July and August, and at the top of the article it currently reads:


This is absolute comedy.

What isn't funny, of course, is the violence, intimidation and plainly false rhetoric used against the muslim community. These acts do form part of the enumerated list of 'ACTS' and are reprehensible.

The funny part is that the Huffington Post thinks this is journalism, and that the Huffington Post thinks it can add.

Let's go over the problems with this list:

It includes baseless conjecture as "anti-muslim acts".

Is there an unverifiable claim on Twitter? A crime that even the police haven't been told about? Did someone shoot a Sikh family's horse?

Even the remote possibility that an attack was motivated by racist or anti-muslim animus is enough to include it as an 'anti-muslim' act.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post needs an allegiance to ISIS signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry before it will believe that Omar Mateen was in any meaningful way motivated by Islamism. Huffington Post bloggers claim Mateen was motivated by "More Personal Pathology Than Radical Ideology"

It's not even limited to 2016

Events listed in January plainly describe events that happened in the previous year, and many of the news clippings are quite ambiguous about when events actually occurred. The only thing consistent is that the date is when the Huffington Post came to know about the 'act'.

It relentlessly double-counts incidents

The "Islamophobia" tracker follows the same "anti-muslim" bills in different stages of becoming law. If it is brought to a house in one month and voted on in the next, it plainly appears as two 'anti-muslim' acts.

Similarly, if a mosque has bullet holes in its sign and bad words in its email inbox, it will appear as two distinct incidents. If a town has a hearing on a new mosque in February and then again in May, same thing -- just count it twice! If there is an extended disagreement like the Urth Caffé incident, count each and every chapter in the saga as a new 'anti-muslim act'.

This is odd when comparing and considering that 9/11 and the Charlie Hebdo attacks are commonly thought of as singular 'attacks'. In reality 9/11 was the coordination of four terrorist attacks, and the Charlie Hebdo shootings included an attack on a kosher grocery.

It's interesting how 'Islamophobia' tends to multiply events but terrorism tends to fold incidents when one tries to claim that '94%' of terrorist attacks are non-muslim. (Spoiler alert: Some people just need Greenpeace to be as bad as al-Qaeda)

It copy/pastes repetitive campaign talking points as unique problems

What did Trump say this week? Basically the same thing he said last week, but it apparently stands out as another 'act'. Same thing goes for everyone surrounding Ted Cruz.

It includes a lack of a religious accommodations as 'anti-muslim acts'

Failing to change a dress code at a bank, military college, corporation, public building or police department to accommodate muslims is arguably discriminatory, but does it qualify as 'islamophobic'?

Is it 'islamophobic' if a bank teller acts strangely when dealing with a customer in a niqab?

If a pool does not allow for a women-only burkini swim time, is it 'islamophobic act' by default?

It includes 'somewhat problematic' opinions as 'anti-muslim acts'

Feeling that Islam is not a religion or that muslims have an agenda are opinions that are not politically correct and are very debatable. To the degree that Islam is a homophobic project is similarly debatable.

However, these showerthoughts broadcast on Facebook are no more Islamophobic -- in fact perhaps even less Islamophobic -- than the mundane opinions shared on social media that detail how Shia or Ahmadis are not actually muslims.

Strangely, even though that this hateful rhetoric leads to the deaths of muslims, Huffington Post does not feel an obligation to find even one person that shared an anti-Ahmadi or anti-Shia sentiment on social media in the entire United States in 2016.

It counts 'acts' that are the opposite of Islamophobia

In May, South Carolina rejected the 'anti-sharia' bill that the Huffington Post was tracking as 'Islamophobia'. Oddly enough, the rejection of the bill appears on the website just the same - and presumably helps add one more to the final tally of '233' Islamophobic acts.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Activist Lies

There's a problem with a number of sources of "journalism" today, and it isn't the usual suspects in the right wing politicized echochamber that seems to desire nothing but the election of their team.

What thankfully limits a lot of extreme rhetoric is that it is shamelessly political. There are indeed people that think men screaming on talk radio or television qualifies as news, but that society seems to more or less work is some evidence that this is not a majority viewpoint.

Often more frustrating is how popular "legitimate" news sources, "concerned" community organizations, "social justice" activists and issues-based activist organizations that have used "the facts" and "data" to create ideas that are plainly lies.

Here are only a few of them:

The Lie: "Toddlers kill more Americans than Islamists."

Where it comes from and why it's a lie: This was "true" for a 5 month span of 2016. Turns out America has existed outside 2016, and the claim is a ridiculous lie. Yet it turns out the Mic article was plagiarism of a dumb idea, as Benjamin Powers announced weeks before the San Bernardino attacks that toddlers had somehow killed more in 2015. 

Who's spreading it: Linda Sarsour, Zak Cheney-Rice, Reza Aslan and the Edmonton Public Library, Benjamin Powers. Meanwhile, Saladin Ahmed thinks there are more astronauts than American victims of terrorism.

The Lie: "94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims."

Where it comes from and why it's a lie: 
  • The data is compiled using a FBI table that uses a very dictionary definition of terrorism, that cites bloodless attacks from "Earth Liberation Front" and "Animal Liberation Front" about 40 times, yet cites 9/11 as a single line item. Pretending that the crimes in the table are similar is to play a semantic game that is insulting, cynical and dismissive.
  • Even if the data had meaning, was accurate, and counting by event instead of fatality was somehow useful - it's still absurd that a subset of 1% of the American population would be responsible for 4% of the count.

Who's spreading it: Dean Obeidallah, Sally Kohn and a number of other idiots talking about "FBI statistics on terrorism".

The Lie: "Right-wing extremists have killed more Americans since 9/11 than Islamists have."

Where it comes from and why it's a lie: 
  • It's misleading to exclude 9/11, USS Cole, 1993 WTC bombing, and other events arbitrarily as there's no indication that Islamism is somehow "over". 
  • It combines a heterogeneous set of extremists and motivations (tax protesters, "pro-life" terrorists, racist groups, non-Islamist anti-semitic attacks) gives them a single label and compares them against a more ideologically uniform group of jihadis.
  • It isn't actually true. If one looks at murders of Americans only on American soil, "right-wing extremists" win by a marginal amount - about 3 murders out of about 50 total for each group. Once one includes American citizens travelling abroad (for example, visiting a club in Bali), the situation changes drastically, with Islamists killing at least twice as many Americans as everyone else combined. 
    • There have been higher estimates than 50 domestic deaths due to right-wing extremists, cited in studies by outlets like ThinkProgress. But these higher estimates (sometimes running into the hundreds) do not actually happen to list what has qualified as a domestic terrorist. (Perhaps armed toddlers?)
Who's spreading it: Most notably, The New York Times.

The Lie: "1 in 5 women on campus are raped"

Where it comes from and why it's a lie: This manipulation is constructed by first doing a study of women, asking if they have experienced "forced kissing" or "unwanted touching" of a sexual nature. Then, when around 20% say yes, the study authors categorize these experiences as "sexual assault" even though the surveys typically ask no such question explicitly. Finally, the waters are muddied further by treating "sexual assault" and "rape" interchangeably. It's like a game of telephone, but played deliberately to generate a "feminist" call to action.

Who's spreading it: Salon, The Guardian, and almost all "feminist" blogs - people like Jessica Valenti be found mixing definitions to suit their ideology.

The Lie: "Only 2% of rape allegations are false."

Where it comes from and why it's a lie: The statistic is typically created by asking different law enforcement organizations (like the FBI or CPS) how many prosecutions were based on malicious falsehoods which are crimes in themselves. The numbers floating around are then anywhere from 1% to 8%, depending on the source of the data and which part of the criminal justice process is being examined. Whatever the statistic cited, the reality is that the veracity of rape allegations cannot be perfectly examined in the justice system (i.e. a failed prosecution is not going to be counted as as a false allegation unless absolutely proven so) and the vast majority of infamous cases in recent memory are not actually documented in the criminal justice system - instead, they are subject to the law of Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.

Who's spreading it: Whoever still thinks Rolling Stone was correct about anything at all.

Where are the corrections?

Lies on the internet are not a new thing and not something to lose one's mind about. However what is very disappointing about this particular collection of "facts" is that this phenomenon is not limited to forwarded emails from a grandparent that has been debunked on Snopes or long understood to be an urban legend. These lies are intentionally written and published by people that seem to want to be taken seriously. Crafted by minds that have been formed by decades of expensive schooling. These kids on the edge of seventeen are a generation's investment.

Some of these champions of reason even accepted debt to ultimately not have a primary school grasp of percentages, comparisons and basic kindness. Clearly what these "journalists" fail to understand is that while it would be understandable to spread misinformation as a funny meme on an anonymous message board - after all, no one expects a pseudonym to be charitable - it is something entirely different to sign off on an "insight" in one's own name.

While these hacks believe themselves to be snarky witnesses of important social change, they spawn entirely new problems from their ignorance and failure to recognize truth from petty political soundbites. It is a nihilistic journalism where numbers really do not matter and retractions do not exist - all that matters is a climax, an orgasmic drop of "truth bomb" at a faceless opponent that is not "woke" enough. One need not play this game wherein players only love one while they are playing.

You can go your own way, go your own way.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Latest in Penis Science

NYTimes has run a piece in its health blog, titled : "Should You Circumcise Your Baby Boy?" and oft subtitled as "Why Science Can’t Help You Much in Deciding on Circumcision"

It's the usual mix of "maybe circumcision has some health benefits!" evangelism, the highlights of actual facts being:

  1. "100 boys would need to be circumcised to prevent one urinary tract infection."
  2. "more than 300,000 infants might need to be circumcised to prevent one case of penile cancer."
  3. There is no benefit regarding HIV transmission rates, as surveys in African countries facing very specific public health issues do not magically apply equally well to every population around the globe
  4. "Surgical complications, while rare, are greater than zero."

This is the same nonsense that has floated around Slate, NPR, the CDC and every other organization looking for an excuse to explain bizarre American medical practices. (Who doesn't love American exceptionalism?)

The odd thing about author Aaron Carroll's contribution to this "debate", is how the talk of science is dealt the obvious religious trump card.

All cards on the table: I’m Jewish, and I’m circumcised, as are both my sons. The procedure has a spiritual weight in my community. When confronted by people who use terms like mutilation, I generally recoil. Circumcising my boys was a personal decision for my wife and me, and I understand the various arguments for and against. People angry about this choice seem to imagine that we haven’t thoroughly considered it.

Yes, this covenant with the almighty God is a contract that needs to see some cut foreskin of an infant or else... something bad will happen. Soon after sharing the article, the author tweets "Today has been another lesson for me that antisemitism is still alive and well."

Within the space of a few hours a headline that is supposedly related to medical science is now about religious bigotry. "Intactivists" may be disregarded until they somehow prove themselves sufficiently tolerant of religious argumentation.

The odd thing about Aaron Carroll's evangelism is that Carroll includes nearly every datapoint about circumcision he could find - except for the many documented cases of infection (and even death) after an unusual bris still practiced in extremely religious communities. It's not clear whether Aaron Carroll thinks this should remain legal or not.

It could be that Aaron Carroll not only thinks metzitzah b'peh should remain legal, but also billable to one's insurance provider. Surely anything as much as co-pay would be antisemitic.

And the final paragraph -
Given that religion and culture are tied up in this, it’s clear that this issue won’t be decided soon. It’s also clear that evidence won’t make anyone’s choice easier. In the end, the decision as to whether parents opt to have their babies circumcised will remain a personal one.

This conclusion makes a mockery of the definition of what qualifies as a "personal decision".

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mehdi Hasan's Multiculturalism

Mehdi Hasan is by many measures a great journalist working at Al Jazeera - or at least a decent interviewer, as witnessed in the pinned tweet of his interview with a Saudi ambassador. It's challenging, fast, immensely watchable and entertaining.

Yet commentary from Hasan is at times a bit odd - out of loyalty or agreement Hasan is found endorsing other "insights" from the network that employs him, and Hasan is often writing some rather ridiculous opinion articles.

One of the most recent is a victory lap made about Sadiq Khan's mayoral win, entitled "Sadiq Khan and the Future of Europe".

Some questionable observations:

Islamophobes are tearing their hair out as they decry the Islamization of Britain. But for all the Muslim baiting, London’s new mayor is part of an encouraging trend. He’s just the latest in a series of observant Muslims who have captured the hearts and minds of the British public. Last October, 14.5 million Britons tuned in to watch the smiling, hijab-clad Nadiya Hussain, the daughter of a waiter from Bangladesh, as she was crowned champion of “The Great British Bake Off,” a TV show. In April, Riyad Mahrez, who was born in Paris to an Algerian father and a Moroccan mother, was awarded the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year trophy after scoring 17 goals for Leicester City, which went on to a surprise victory in the Premier League championship.
In a perfect world, the faith of a TV cooking show star, an athlete or even a major politician would be irrelevant. But in our deeply imperfect — and, yes, Islamophobic — world, it isn’t. British newspapers are filled with alarmist headlines about “Muslim sex grooming” and “the rise in Muslim birthrate.” Earlier this year, Trevor Philips, the former chairman of Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, accused Britain’s Muslims of “becoming a nation within a nation.”
It’s harder to say that now. The tide is turning in the toxic debate on Islam, integration and multiculturalism. As Mr. Khan told Time magazine, the best way to fight extremism is to “say to youngsters you can be British, Muslim and successful” and to “point to successful British role models,” like Zayn Malik, a pop star, and Mo Farah, an Olympic gold medal-winning runner. London’s new mayor may become the ultimate role model. I imagine Muslim parents across Britain are now reciting Sadiq Khan’s name to their kids. It’s one thing to celebrate the Muslim winner of a reality TV show; quite another to have a Muslim elected to one of the highest offices in the land.
Mr. Khan’s resounding victory was a stinging rebuke to the peddlers of prejudice. Here is a Muslim who prays and fasts and has gone on the hajj to Mecca. But he sees no contradiction in being a card-carrying liberal, too. As a member of Parliament, he voted — despite death threats from Islamist extremists — in favor of same-sex marriage and he campaigned to save a local pub in his constituency from closure. He has pledged to serve as a “feminist mayor” of London and made his first public appearance after the election at a Holocaust memorial service.
This sounds like an ode to tolerance, a celebration of multiculturalism. But it is nothing of the sort.

The message this is saying is that muslims can be clean-shaven, pro-gay marriage, pub-loving former members of One Direction that can bake a good cake - just like everyone else, and just like we want them to. This is the polar opposite of religious diversity and makes a mockery of what being "observant" can possibly mean.

In this view, multiculturalism is nothing more than spicy flavors of a secular liberal theme. If this is what multiculturalism is to be, then even "Islamophobes" can be found encouraging this goal. As it is, there are plenty of gay men that would not mind sharing a kiss in a halal grocery. The problem with this is however obvious to all those existing outside a Labour party ukulele sing-along.

While Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have declared multiculturalism a failure, the truth is that their countries, Germany and France, have never tried it. As Tariq Modood, the author of “Still Not Easy Being British,” writes, multiculturalism is the “political accommodation of difference.” For the French, however, difference has never even been tolerated, much less accommodated. In contrast, British-style multiculturalism has treated integration, as even David Cameron conceded almost a decade ago, as “a two-way street” and never required, in the words of Will Kymlicka, the author of “Multicultural Odysseys,” that “prior identities” must “be relinquished” in order to build a national identity.

The claim that Germany and France have "never tried" multiculturalism is completely baseless and non-evidenced, and in this very paragraph it shows that "multiculturalism" is a self-contradictory moving target. Saying that France does not tolerate difference is quite a bold claim after just celebrating all the successful muslims in Britain that happen to think like all the other people - so much so that the rest of the population has elected one mayor of London.

Is it surprising that polls find that British Muslims are more patriotic and take more pride in their national identity than their non-Muslim counterparts and studies show that ethnic and religious segregation in Britain is either steady or in decline?

This is funny as most polls of muslims that are released are dismissed as soon as it's discovered that the muslim population might be a little bit more conservative than Jeremy Corbyn. Now apparently a survey that is valid is one that would compare British patriotism with German.

For quite some time Britain has possibly had a more established sense of self - Britain has James Bond & #Brexit. Britain is the Texas of Europe, and this self-assured attitude without a doubt has an impact on the muslim population.

Meanwhile, Germany was literally in pieces until the '90s, has an incredible skepticism of its own nationalism (for many good 20th century reasons) and perhaps harbours a sense of obligation to the balkanized* mess that is the continent of Europe.

But it's true - if living in the bounds of London manages to instill an immense sense of pride, self-worth and entitlement to a diverse-while-rich-and-socialist population, maybe multiculturalism will work after all.

* - Balkanized : synonym for multicultural

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Where was the white dude radicalized? Absurdity from Al Jazeera and CAIR

Oftentimes apologia in favor of Islam tends to distance Islamist radicals from Islam - that is, the radicals are not following a "true" Islam. The violence inspired by a distorted view of religion that is created by extremists. They are said to spread their ideology through propaganda, or "radicalization".

Recently this has morphed into an argument that attempts to even undermine this idea, going as far as to deny that radicalization is a reality.

The most abrasive and full-throated argument in favor of this idea was run by AJ+, titled "You know that whole "Muslim radicalization idea"? Yeah, it's a myth". After some snarky comments the "points" are made:
"No one asks "where was he radicalized?" when a white dude goes on a shooting spree in a school or theater. White men have been responsible for 64% of mass shootings in this country since 1982."
"And they get the privilege of being lone wolf shooters or mentally ill shooters or "alienated and adrift" shooters"
"There's not much talk about how the real domestic threat to national security are right-wing anti-government groups. And the President hasn't been telling white people there hasn't been "enough pushback against extremism" in their communities." 
"And there's no set criteria for what the "process of radicalization" looks like, or even what "radical" actually is."
[ some explanation of each recent Islamist attacker being considerably different in behavior] 

"With the Boston bombers, we obsessed over Tamerlan Tsarnaev's YouTube History. With the Paris attackers, we focused on gay bars, alcohol - implied promiscuity. And with San Bernardino's Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik we obsessed over Malik becoming more and more religious."

"So is radicalization being religious or not? Is it having anti-U.S. foreign policy views? Is it being isolated from society?"
"In the U.S., you can't be prosecuted for your speech - even if your views are extreme and really gross - except in very specific, hard to prove cases. So yeah, the Constitution protects your right to be a Nazi, to say anti-black crap, it even protects your right to advocate for consensual love between a grown man and a child."

"Because views aren't actions. Actions can be criminal, but views? Nope."
"And continuing to talk about radicalization without any set criteria, and targeting only Muslims when we talk about radicalization, makes anything and everything Muslims do suspect."

"So you get programs like CVE. You get survelliance in mosques, homes, businesses. You get 15,000 informants nationwide, and you get a community that has some serious trust issues."
"And then we get shocked that we have Presidential candidates openly calling for patrols in "Muslim neighborhoods", for banning Muslims from the country and issuing special IDs to Muslims."
"So maybe it's time to rethink the poorly defined language that we use and how poorly defined language creates programs, policies, and dangerous misunderstandings that have an effect on the lives of millions in this country." 
"How's that for a radical idea?"

There are several sophistries in Sana Saeed's speech here, in defiance of basic math and Saeed's own feelings on "radicalization". Some quotes in the video cite the work of Imraan Siddiqi - a local CAIR director constantly tweeting his perceptions of anti-muslim bias in the media.

Much of the dialogue makes one think of Potter Stewart's "I know it when I see it", as nearly every argument is undermined if one is willing to admit that concepts such as "radicalization" do not need outlined in infinite legalese in order to be useful.

Let's get into some realities:

  • White men accounting for 64% of mass shootings is actually surprisingly low, given that white people account for over 70% of America's population
    • Note: If one is thinking "but white males would be 35% of the population!", one needs to revisit basic math and realize that mass shootings do not have equitable gender balance - by a wide margin.
  • White male non-muslim mass shooters happen to have the "privilege" of being called "lone wolf" by usually not having co-conspirators
    • Where was the Unabomber caliphate?
    • Did Adam Lanza have friends that drove him around post-attack?
  • At no point did the United States government decide that the "real threat" was right-wing militias. Naturally authorities with a entirely domestic mandate in places such as Oklahoma City and Waco are particularly interested in "home grown" threats, but this does not mean that the executive branch of the government has arrived at some secret consensus that Islamism could be described as "overhyped".
These points aside, it turns out the video makes arguments so tenuous that writers at The Intercept, an organization famous for being incredibly critical of the United States government, found the content lacking:

As evidence of The Intercept's standing as one of the "good guys" against "Islamophobia", Saeed felt obligated to engage with Hussain's criticisms:

This is a demonstration of both the comical hyperfocus on statistics concerning the United States - this is a game played by many other people advocating for "understanding" of Islam. More than that, it is incredible laziness as it is not at all difficult to determine just how massively overrepresented the muslim community is within the count of terrorist attacks if one is willing to accept Islamists as muslim instead of using weasel words and moving definitions to suit themselves.

Muslims comprise about 1% of the American population. If one includes 9/11, by death toll this 1% is responsible for nearly all domestic fatalities caused by terrorist attacks.

If one forgets 9/11 - as even the New York Times is eager to forget - the numbers are still absurd. Jihadists are responsible for as many domestic fatalities as all other terrorist attacks combined. If one counts American citizens vacationing or working abroad (as one should), then the picture is even more gloomy as jihadists are then killing twice as many as the "real threats" that the AJ+ video laments.

Indeed, if one adds up all the killings due to klan members, nazis, anti-abortion nutjobs, tax protesters, anarchists, communists and ecoterrorists, the death toll still does not match the impact of jihadists domestically. This is an amazing fact.

1% of the American population is responsible for the same number of killings as the other 99%. The muslim community is then a 1%, except nobody is occupying wall street yet.

"Comparative ratio", indeed.

If Sana Saeed was content enough to ignore the math and disregard simple truths so much as to annoy even liberal writers, that would be bad enough. The worst part is that people like Sana Saeed do not actually believe what they say about "radicalization".

As it stands, this is what Sana Saeed really believes about extremist views:

 Apparently one is supposed to believe that radicalization is a "myth", and CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) programs are nonsense - while simultaneously understanding that the some combination of Trump/Tea Party/islamophobes are extremist groups radicalized by some combination of Fox News / Maajid Nawaz / Richard Dawkins / Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani.

How is this irony and hypocrisy missed?

And as it turns out, people are constantly asking each other "where were these white people radicalized?" and mass marketing the idea that the source of the mass extremism is a relatively small set of pundits and media outlets. (Maybe it's even a Christian Republican Zionist plot! Wake up, America!) This is not much different than saying that Islamism comes from a relatively small number of religious ideologues and schools of thought.

Even the concept of informants has been constantly rubber-stamped, as it's a widespread fantasy that information about vile djinn like Roger Ailes or David Koch would happen to wiki-leak its way into the press.

Imraan Siddiqi and Sana Saeed are seemingly two people that would read headlines about the Panama Papers and still somehow find the time to criticize the use of informants within muslim communities. Informants in banks and governments are automatically regarded as heroes while informants in a religious community - no matter what community - are thought to be capitalist and traitorous narcs. This assessment will be made without much evidence to support it, as the people of this opinion have already picked their team and feel obligated to defend it no matter how many cafes explode.

Maybe instead of reflexively and relentlessly propagandizing against "Islamophobia", one could take the time to do the work. Make the numbers make sense, avoid whataboutery, build sound arguments instead of semantic puzzles, and truly live as one preaches.

How's that for a radical idea?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Toddler Taliban: Silly Comparisons from Zak Cheney-Rice and Linda Sarsour

Recently, Linda Sarsour shared a seemingly illuminating article written by Zak Cheney Rice:

The article is amazingly and shamelessly titled, "In 2016, Toddlers Have Shot More People in the US Than Muslim Terrorists Have".

The article continues:
According to the Washington Post, our nation's nurseries are housing more than just unbearable levels of cuteness: Twenty-three people have been shot by toddlers in the U.S. since the start of 2016 — exactly 23 more than have been shot by Muslim terrorists over the same period.

Then there's the other problem: Muslims in America haven't been afforded nearly the same benefit of the doubt as their diaper-wearing counterparts.
Despite Muslim terrorists having killed nobody in the U.S. in 2016, Muslims across the country are routinely made to suffer due to Islamophobic perceptions. There are now at least six documented incidents of Muslims being removed from commercial airline flights since November because their fellow passengers felt threatened by them — including an Iraqi refugee who got kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight in April because a woman heard him speaking Arabic on the phone and got scared.

Apparently one is "islamophobic" is one is not prepared to literally treat muslims like big babies. At this point, this whataboutery is not unique, it fits a formula that has been well regurgitated among "liberal" blogs.

The template is as follows:
  1. Nonsensical focus on concerns in the United States
  2. Cynical comparisons that apply only to Islamists
  3. Gross errors of category and logic
  4. Application of a completely meaningless timescale

 Let's go over each point.

Nonsensical focus on concerns in the United States

Ultimately every liberal "Islamism is a problem but what about this?" blog is about the United States. It's about the United States because the United States is a western nation with many complex social problems and one populous enough (over 300 million people) to allow for every absurd improbable scenario to be witnessed dozens of times in a given year.

Nevermind that Islamism is itself a multifaceted problem with global negative impact that extends beyond simple casualty numbers in the metro area of Omaha Nebraska. The grand comedy is that it's absolutely okay to ignore outcomes for non-Americans if it makes Americans appear paranoid and xenophobic.

Cynical comparisons that apply only to Islamists

Nobody is writing a liberal thinkpiece about how toddlers have killed more Americans than North Korea, the Klan, Craig Hicks, or pro-life activists. These absurd comparisons of death counts to nearly every social ill only apply to Islamists, as establishments like ThinkProgress, Mic and Salon are still willing to cash in on page views on this nonsense as too many otherwise educated people are led to believe that these are deep truths.

Ironically, an article complaining about the dangers of Islamophobia neglects to mention that toddlers have also killed more people than Islamophobes. In spite of this obvious question, the crisis at hand is apparently a few people missing their flights due to a misunderstandings and then being adequately compensated for their trouble.

Gross errors of category and logic

The comparison of toddler accidents and Islamist attacks aims to treat Islamism like the weather - as if the public should pay it no heed as "bad things happen". Islamism is to be treated as a new normal part of daily life, like car accidents. Conveniently ignored for the sake of argument is the enormous superstructures of engineering and bureaucracy built even to avoid typical threats like fatalities due to accidents on the roads and elsewhere. The story is that Americans are not focused on the "real threats", no matter how much diligence and effort is spent on these endeavors.

In addition to this, the reality is that Islamists are people with capabilities that may prove to be unbounded. Nobody has any reason to believe the vile murderous toddlers of America will be emboldened by their early success with living room pistols and find the courage to hijack planes, assemble improvised explosive devices and establish nations of barbaric fantasy in power vacuums in the mid east.

Application of a completely meaningless timescale

The most famous and widely used timescale is "after 9/11". The words "after 9/11" are usually followed by numbers games played by people with no background in statistics, or perhaps even addition.

However there is a certain chutzpah in using a timescale that this article uses, which uses a span from January 1, 2016 to May 1, 2016 based on some article unrelated to Islamism published by the Washington Post.

It is, apparently, 2016. As such, all 2015 datapoints are sooooooo last year.

In this timespan, toddlers shot 23 - a number that includes the toddlers themselves - and as a result caused 11 fatalities. Nine of the 11 were the toddlers.

Let's ignore the self-inflicted nature of injury and assume that toddlers were going to kill 11 other people consistently over every 121 day span.

It would take toddlers:
  • 132 days to match Charlie Hebdo fatality count
  • 154 days to match San Bernardino fatality count 
  • 4 years to match November 2015 Paris attacks fatality count 
  • 6 years to match Bali bombing fatality count 
  • 6 years and 9 months to match Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings fatality count 
  • 90 years to match the 9/11 fatality count
  • 566 years and 5 months to match ISIS' fatality count in Iraq
Despite this, it must be decided that the true threat to modern safety is the hedonists in Huggies, the prophets of the Pampers waiting to for their millenium to wage a final war of wipes and rightfully claim the world that the gracious Gerber god has granted them.

Psycho killer, Qu'est-ce que c'est?


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Literally Every Muslim Country

In an impassioned takedown of Sally Kohn's rhetoric, the following statement was made in a previous post:

"Literally every muslim country on the planet is embroiled in conflict, and the problem is so dire that Nobel prizes are given to anybody that is willing to put down a gun or fortunately managed to survive an assassination attempt."

A conscientious reader objected - it must be noted that challenges like these is what makes writing interesting in the first place:

Even if we consider countries with "skirmishes and clashes that kill less than 100 people a year" to be "at conflict," there are still plenty of Muslim-majority countries that aren't at conflict. Just to name a few: Albania, Morocco, Malaysia, Jordan, Oman, Mauritania, Senegal, and Kazakhstan.
If we use a more sensible definition and only consider conflicts that kill at least 1,000 people in a year, then only about 10 out of the 50 Muslim-majority countries in the world are in conflict. That's terrible, but to say that "ever Muslim country in the world is in conflict" is still beyond ridiculous.

While the reasonable thing to do would be to backtrack from the possibly exaggerated use of the word "literally", the entertaining thing to do is to double-down and defend the idea that indeed literally every muslim country has a real problem with Islamist conflict.

For example, Senegal arrested 500 people while investigating a network related to attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso. Typically the detention of 500 people can reasonably be labelled a "conflict".

As for Morocco, it's own share of Islamist terror attacks. Authorities in Morocco, a country of only 30 million and the ancestral home of the Brussels attackers, are probably not waiting until the death toll reaches 1000 annually to realize that it has a problem. Similarly, few are planning a destination wedding in Jordan.

Mauritania had a coup d'état in 2008, killed some French tourists in 2007, and blew up bombs outside the French embassy in 2009.

Kazakhstan manages Islamists by deporting people that it thinks proselytize too much. The approach taken is not too far from that of neighboring Tajikistan, which apparently took to shaving the beards of 13,000 to battle "radicalism". Apparently a nation can become an idyllic Islamic republic by managing religion as Donald Trump would.

It is true that Malaysia is quite peaceful, which can be credited to Malaysia's vigilance, tolerance, and success in keeping Valentine's day in check.

Last on the list of muslim countries that apparently have their head on straight are Oman and Albania, accounting for a sum total of six million people existing in comically dysfunctional states.

Given all this, it seems more than fair to describe the entire muslim world as a series of countries that are failed states. A nation in this set can only qualify as a success story when viewed in the "context" of the disaster that surrounds many of them. That is, good marks are only granted when graded on the curve made only of other muslim nations.

Perhaps it is unfair to say "literally every muslim country is embroiled in conflict". More accurate may be to say "literally every muslim country is embroiled in careless corrosive chauvinist corpulence".

View of countries aside, the comment also contained a criticism of the claim that 1% of Belgian muslim men of fighting age have joined ISIS:

Your calculations assume that Belgian Muslims have the same age distribution as the general Belgium population. Given that A) many Belgian Muslims are immigrants and B) Belgian Muslims have a higher birth rate than non-Muslim Belgians, that is almost
certainly incorrect.

Also, given that 2/3 of American and 31% of British Islamic terrorists have been converts, it seems likely that a significant portion of Belgian ISIS fighters weren't Muslim before they joined ISIS.
Absolutely correct - if the Belgian muslim population is not fixed to the Belgium's published population pyramid, then the calculation changes. And born-again bombers do change the calculations even more. This is even more reason for papers to do the "problematic" math and gather the relevant data instead of merely chanting about the moderate "1.6 billion muslims" that are said to exist some number of thousands of miles away.

An analysis of converts would be particularly interesting, as it may turn out that the number of David Headleys and Jihad Johns far outnumber the "marginalized" fighters that liberal journalists like to believe inhabit Islamist circles.

It is not recommend to hold one's breath while waiting for these survey results.

Fixing the New York Times' stupid chart

For quite some time the New York Times has been a fan of a specific visualization that it hopes explain the threat Islamists pose to Americans.

The visual:

The big absurdity in this is that the assumption is that Americans don't exist outside the bounds of the United States. In reality, Americans register about 30 million overseas trips a year. That's about the entire state of Texas deciding to hop on a plane and leave the continent, every single year.

So what happens when one starts counting American citizens killed abroad by jihadists?

A short crappy analysis of recent attacks globally (fixed to NYTimes' timescale) and excluding Iraq and Afghanistan, yields the following table of fatalities which is definitely an underestimate:

2002 Bali Bombings (7)
2002 Daniel Pearl (1)
2002 Zamboanga City bombings (1)
2003 Riyadh car bombings (9)
2004 Riyadh compound bombings (9)
2004 Shooting in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia (2)
2005 Bali bombings  (6)
2006 Karachi car bombing (David Foy) (1)
2008 Mumbai attacks (David Headley charged with killing 6) (6)
2012 Yemen shooting of English teacher (1)
2012 Benghazi (4)
2015 Bombing in Garoowe, Somalia (1)
2015 November Paris attacks (1)
2016 Brussels attacks (2)
2016 Tel Aviv knife attack (1)

Adding this to the NYTimes data, we get the following yearly running total counts:

2002 : 2 domestic + 9 overseas = 11
2003: 2 domestic + 18 overseas = 20
2004: 2 domestic + 27 overseas = 29
2005: 2 domestic + 33 overseas = 35
2006: 3 domestic + 34 overseas = 37
2007: 3 domestic + 34 overseas = 37
2008: 3 domestic + 40 overseas  = 43
2009: 17 domestic + 40 overseas = 57
2010: 17 domestic + 40 overseas = 57
2011: 17 domestic + 40 overseas = 57
2012: 17 domestic + 45 overseas = 62
2013: 21 domestic + 45 overseas  = 66
2014: 26 domestic + 45 overseas = 71
2015: 45 domestic + 48 overseas = 93
2016: 45 domestic + 51 overseas = 96

The actual graph then becomes something like: (Islamist attack fatalities in green)

The takeaway is that jihadis domestically killed as many as every other group of nutjobs combined, (racists, anti-abortionists, tax protesters...) and then managed at least double their casualty count in operations overseas. 

Hopefully one cannot be blamed for not having a New York Times graphics department to select the correct tone, hue and beautifully stitch the line together. Much more time was invested in actually compiling and thinking about the data, and even then the information is full of omissions - both accidental (the count of overseas deaths is actually closer to 87 when using Department of State data, eyeballing Wikipedia data is what resulted in a count of 51) and intentional.

An example of such intentional omission, in this chart and New York Times', is the deaths of Leila Mazloum, Leila Taleb, Hussein Mostapha. They were residents of Dearborn, Michigan that were killed in a bombing in Lebanon in 2015 -- however these deaths do not actually count. They do not count as the bombing did not happen in Michigan, and they do not count as none of them actually have citizenship. Therefore in the view of the New York Times, they are doubly not Americans.

An exercise for the reader (if not the New York Times graphics department) is to improve on this lazy correction and actually publish the experiences of Americans without the myopic, provincial view of what qualifies as the "real" "domestic" threat.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fact Checking Sally Kohn

One cannot be faulted for not knowing who Sally Kohn is. For those that need an update, Sally Kohn is basically an off-brand Rachel Maddow. Kohn makes up for her lack of charm by being edgy and "factual" on Twitter.

One of these facts was shared recently:

The article, titled "Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look at Terrorism and Islam" is filled with the usual falsehoods about Islam that have already been debunked. But let's go over all of them again, for Sally's sake.

The "facts":
1. Non-Muslims make up the majority of terrorists in the United States: According to the FBI, 94% of terrorist attacks carried out in the United States from 1980 to 2005 have been by non-Muslims. This means that an American terrorist suspect is over nine times more likely to be a non-Muslim than a Muslim. According to this same report, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism in the United States than Islamic, yet when was the last time we heard about the threat of Jewish terrorism in the media? For the same exact reasons that we cannot blame the entire religion of Judaism or Christianity for the violent actions of those carrying out crimes under the names of these religions, we have absolutely no justifiable grounds to blame Muslims for terrorism.

Absurd. As explained before, the data treats 9/11 as a single event - and every eco-terrorist "attack" occurring on different days as multiple events. Perhaps Sally Kohn believes Greenpeace is more threatening than al-Qaeda!

2. Non-Muslims make up the majority of terrorists in Europe: There have been over one thousand terrorist attacks in Europe in the past five years. Take a guess at what percent of those terrorists were Muslim. Wrong, now guess again. It’s less than 2%.

Absurd for several reasons. If one follows the links from HuffPo to ThinkProgress to finally the EU paper cited, the data clearly does not come out in Islam's favor. For example, the Islamist attacks of recent memory managed to kill fifty-five times more people than all of the 152 "attacks" by non-muslims in 2013. Furthermore, the wishful figures do not include any analysis of arrest rates, which has been increasing for religiously motivated terrorists and decreasing for every other group.

To add insult to injury - like many of the figures cited about the United States, the European figures do not even bother counting deaths of Europeans killed by Islamists outside of Europe.

3. Even if all terrorist attacks were carried out by Muslims, you still could not associate terrorism with Islam: There have been 140,000 terror attacks committed worldwide since 1970. Even if Muslims carried out all of these attacks (which is an absurd assumption given the fact mentioned in my first point), those terrorists would represent less than 0.00009 percent of all Muslims. To put things into perspective, this means that you are more likely to be struck by lightening in your lifetime than a Muslim is likely to commit a terrorist attack during that same timespan.

Absurd.  Think of the conclusion of this. Essentially, the argument is that Islam could be responsible for all terrorism, and presumably also all FGM, polygamy, domestic violence, etc - yet still be blameless due to some entirely unexplained population-based moral reasoning. It's completely nonsense.

If one still accepts the premise anyways, applying the appropriate data controls results in a vastly different number. In the case of Belgium, as high as 1% of muslim men between 20 and 29 years old may have left to fight in Syria/Iraq. This is appropriate filter of those that have means and opportunity - Molenbeek does not become less of a problem simply because a HuffingtonPost blogger decided to put all the senior citizens in Indonesia in their chart.

4. If all Muslims are terrorists, then all Muslims are peacemakers: The same statistical assumptions being used to falsely portray Muslims as violent people can be used more accurately to portray Muslims as peaceful people. If all Muslims are terrorists because a single digit percentage of terrorists happen to be Muslim, then all Muslims are peacemakers because 5 out of the past 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners (42 percent) have been Muslims.

Absurd. Literally every muslim country on the planet is embroiled in conflict, and the problem is so dire that Nobel prizes are given to anybody that is willing to put down a gun or fortunately managed to survive an assassination attempt. If this makes one a peacemaker, then anyone that manages to at least keep the entrance of their apartment clean is then an impeccable homemaker.

5. If you are scared of Muslims then you should also be scared of household furniture and toddlers: A study carried out by the University of North Carolina showed that less than 0.0002% of Americans killed since 9/11 were killed by Muslims. (Ironically, this study was done in Chapel Hill: the same place where a Caucasian non-Muslim killed three innocent Muslims as the mainstream media brushed this terrorist attack off as a parking dispute). Based on these numbers, and those of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the average American is more likely to be crushed to death by their couch or television than they are to be killed by a Muslim. As a matter of fact, Americans were more likely to be killed by a toddler in 2013 than they were by a so-called “Muslim terrorist”.
When a drunk driver causes a car accident, we never blame the car manufacturer for the violent actions of that driver. This is because we understand that we cannot blame an entire car company that produces millions of safe vehicles just because one of their cars was hijacked by a reckless person who used it to cause harm. So what right do we have to blame an entire religion of over 1.6 Billion peaceful people because of the actions of a relatively insignificant few?

Pure ignorance. It's offensive, insulting and crazy to believe that Islamism isn't a problem until it approaches the accidental death rate in a country of 300 million people. Imagine if the Pope made an apologetic speech - "Things are bad, but statistically speaking your child is far more likely to be hit by a car than be raped by a priest." Truly winning hearts and minds.

Thankfully the United States is a very safe country - because it has a functioning government. Americans are more likely to be killed in mundane ways simply because the Department of Homeland Security and other organizations are at least somewhat effective. If planes, trains, drugs, automobiles, alcohol, chicken wings and toddlers happen to kill more people than Islamists, then please do call the NTSB, DEA, ATF, CPSC, FDA and CDC. It is the entire reason these organizations exist.

Americans may be Islamophobes or not - but let's not pretend that Americans are not also Salmonellaophobes. Recall that United States is ready to close borders and quarantine all the nurses just as soon as anyone says the word "ebola".

If Americans put focus on Islamism as they put on other issues, one would need to be 21 years old to enter a mosque. Chris Hansen would be asking catfished jihadis to have a seat. It is ultimately foolish to make the comparison between Islamism and "the real issues" when one does not fully grasp how much effort is put into "the real issues".

Muslims should be thanking Allah and all his silly prophets that they not treated like casual marijuana users. For it's comedy that while it's legal to circumcise one's sons and force women to wear uniforms, it's a very serious crime to sample cannabis.

Let's simply treat Islam as if it were an adult Justin Bieber. Irresponsible, narcissistic, and given too many excuses.

Is that so hard?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Disgraceful Exploitation and Lies

PZ Myers thinks people are out to get him again.

In a post titled "Disgraceful exploitation", PZ Myers writes:
A woman says she was raped by Neil deGrasse Tyson in grad school. She contacted me and asked me to share her story. But here’s the disgraceful exploitation that’s going on.
She did not know who I am, at all. She came to me because she was advised to…by slymepitters. The same people who have been indignant for years that women might speak out against harassers. They are trying to deploy this woman as a weapon.
Now, unfortunately, I looked at her story. I can’t say she’s wrong, and she’s definitely sincere, and I can’t rule out the possibility, but her supporting evidence is terribly weak: it’s her personal testimony, which I do not reject, with no other evidence. Her web page does not help her case at all, either — it’s a lot of astrology, and a scattering of youtube videos that are completely irrelevant to her claim. That’s it.
I told her that I won’t go on the record supporting her accusation, because there is no corroborating evidence at all to support it. I took her story seriously, read the case she made, and found no independent evidence to back up the claim that she even knew Tyson.
You can guess where this story is going next.
Now those same assholes are howling that I accepted the accusation against Shermer with no evidence, and that I’m not accepting this one because the victim is a black woman. They must believe their own lies.
I treated this case in exactly the same way as the one against Shermer. What these people have forgotten (or are intentionally lying about) is that before I posted that story, (Post Titled: "What do you do when someone pulls the pin and hands you a grenade?") I got independent evidence that the woman was at the conference, that she was interacting with Shermer, that she was in his hotel room — there was opportunity. I further got accounts of the distress the woman experienced afterwards. Without all that, I might have been willing to believe her, but I would not have been able to step forward and present her account as true, believable, and supported by witnesses.
It’s the same story here. I am willing to believe Tchiya Amet (although I’d rather not believe such a thing of Tyson), but there is no corroboration of any kind, and I cannot go before the public and state that a good case has been made that this crime occurred. It hasn’t.
But I can say that the exploitation of this woman’s pain by a group of people who have been consistent in denying the difficulties women face is one of the more cynically despicable acts I’ve seen them commit.

A comment on the post adds:

27 January 2016 at 10:30 am
Also PZ, the fact that this story is linked to the Slymepit is a huge flashing sign that it’s completely fabricated bullshit. That alone is enough to dismiss it out of hand.

PZ Myers wishes everyone to believe that this woman approaching him with her story is a frame-job setup by his enemies to demonstrate his hypocrisy. And it may be just that, but that wouldn't be a problem if PZ Myers took the opportunity to explain his approach to accusations of rape and sexual assault. This is what Myers attempted to do, but only managed to further confuse the matter.

PZ Myers would have you believe that his critics are "weaponizing" a possibly mentally ill woman to make a shallow point in a sordid drama.

The facts:

  1. PZ Myers literally profits off of every view of his blog post - his blog is unreadable without an ad blocker. If anybody has incentive to keep the disgusting drama going, it is PZ.
  2. PZ Myers had every opportunity to take the discussion with the accuser to a private forum. Instead, he chose a half dozen tweets and a blog post chastising his enemies. (Proving point #1)
  3. The accusation that critics are "weaponizing" rape victims is absurd and ironic as PZ Myers himself called the accusations he published against Shermer "a grenade". 
  4. Rape survivors relying on their story going out as a part of PZ Myers' pioneering reporting are about as successful as those that chose Sabrina Erdely (another known career-building weaponizer).
  5. PZ Myers actually dismisses the accuser's allegations in light of her supernatural views ("Her web page does not help her case at all, either — it’s a lot of astrology")
  6. There was again no mention of the allegations of sexual assault made against PZ Myers that he managed to quickly dismantle in a calculated way. 
  7. PZ Myers regularly references massacres of women only to use the memory of the victims to smear his opponents as violent and misogynistic. 
  8. The "Slymepit", labelled as creating "fabricated bullshit", was the forum of mischief that outed FreeThoughtBlogs' Avicenna - one of their most prolific writers - as a serial plagiarist. If anyone is truly in the bullshit fabrication business, it is FreeThoughtBlogs.

As much as we can dissect, we can rely on simple truths to describe PZ Myers' actions. PZ Myers won't throw his name behind this victim for the same reason that he's not supporting Elyse - the accuser has no one connected to Myers' inner cabal of "feminist" friends to vouch for her, so she may as well not exist.

Furthermore, there is the obvious matter that the accused - Neil deGrasse Tyson - is a diverse darling within the "community" that PZ Myers cannot afford to be seen to treat unfairly. There is no upside opportunity for Myers to sap NdGT's limelight, and a lot of downside if Myers' "progressive" compatriots happen to finally notice that Myers is a bearded white man with a superiority complex that makes side money by co-opting the lived experiences of marginalized women.

With over 200 comments in a matter of hours, Myers' post about this accusation may be the most visited article he's written in several months. 

What a selfless ally of women everywhere.