Sunday, May 28, 2017

Terror Is Not An 'Incident'

The Destruction of Small Town USA

Once upon a time, the city of Erie, Pennsylvania, could be considered a safe place to raise a family. Decent schools, and one of the only cities in America that has a zoo train to entertain one's children.

Then, on the dark days of 2002, Erie and the surrounding area experienced not one, but six acts of extremist terrorism. Worst of all, America has since forgotten what Erie had to endure.

The first act of domestic terror was March 18, 2002, when Erie police discovered the words 'ELF' and 'Stop Deforestation' on a piece of logging equipment. But the nightmare did not end, as police returned to the same site on March 24 to discover that a hydraulic crane was destroyed by arson.

The reign of terror continued, with a third act of domestic terrorism, was an arson attack of a US Forestry lab in nearby Warren, Pennsylvania.

The siege of the cities of Pennsylvania continued with a fourth and fifth attack in May and September that released 250 mink from a fur farm. Then, in late November of the same year, the barn on the same fur farm was destroyed by arson.

Six acts of terror. For the next decade, Pennsylvania valiantly fought to recover. Despite the best efforts of brave citizens, schools closed. Theatres, factories and airlines went bankrupt. The terrorists had won.

The Reign of Fascism in America 

Despite what one reads in the 'biased' media, Nazism is alive and well in the United States. Perhaps no town knows this better than the quaint town of Shirley, Massachusetts.

Shirley is a town of a population of only about 7000. It is a close-knit community, but also a town that is very open to newcomers.

One of those newcomers was John Geoghan, who had been legislatively obligated to move to Shirley as Shirley has what is often called a 'correctional facility' and John Geoghan was what is commonly known as a 'pedophile priest'.

What happened next was quite awful, as John Geoghan would become Shirley's first victim of violent extremism. On August 23, 2003, John Geoghan was killed by his cellmate, Joseph Druce, an admitted white supremacist. In what can only be described in the most vile racist attack Shirley, MA has ever seen, the white Nazi Joseph Druce killed white pedophile John Geoghan in a cowardly attack motivated by extremist Nazi ideologies.

The terror attack cast a dark shadow across all of Massachusetts, and reminded America that racism is not over.


The Facts about Terror

It's easy to be facetious about these examples of 'terror' and 'extremism', but it's not as easy to remain calm as they are cited in the media. The six ELF 'terrorist attacks' are cited in FBI tables as six unique events, but 9/11 is cited as a single line item. This absurdity can be debunked by a single pie chart, yet "94% of events 1980-2005 are non-muslim" remains a stubborn talking point.


One could wish that bad terrorism data remained a misreading of FBI tables that the FBI itself does not promote, but it turns out that the Government Accountability Office wrote this in a report:
Of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far right wing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27 percent).

First, note they are counting 'incidents' and not actually death toll. 62 incidents versus 23 incidents. If it were death toll, Islamists would have put a count of 49 in 1 'incident' in Orlando. But the GAO chooses 'incident' here arbitrarily. There are good reasons to believe this assumption that 'incident' count is what matters is offensive and stupid already, but the GAO goes further and makes fatal flaws in its definition of what is an 'incident'.

This is what counts as 4 'far-right' 'white supremacist' incidents:



White supremacists/Neo-Nazis killing white sex offenders result of 4 'extremist' incidents. In the same GAO report, the sum of San Bernardino & Orlando amounts to 2 'extremist' incidents. So, in the weighting and incidents chosen, white racists killing white sex offenders is twice as impactful as San Bernardino & Orlando attacks. This is how it is concluded that 'right wing violent extremist groups' are responsible for '73 percent' of 'violent extremist incidents'.

To further see how ridiculous this is, consider that a founder of a muslim TV network beheaded his wife yet this was not actually counted in the GAO data as an 'extremist' incident. There is no mention of how GAO concluded that Muzzammil Hassan's beliefs were sufficiently normative (i.e. boring old misogynist beheading of a wife) versus Joseph Druce's being sufficiently 'radical' (i.e. extremist strangling of a cellmate).

The categories of 'non-muslim' terror create an equivalence that is both stupid and offensive to many people. On the one hand, using 'incident' classification and count, releasing mink from a fur farm is exactly as notable as 9/11. On the other hand, using 'incident' classification and count, a white guy murdering a pedophile in prison is exactly as notable as the Pulse shooting.  What message is this sending to victims? Survivors? Everyone?

There is no excuse for this profound stupidity when terror can be more simply measured. Analyze motivations, and more importantly, measure body count. Measure the actual fear that terror creates.

Lives matter. People matter.

So why don't people count?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Emasculated Muslim (Toxic Masculinity & Terrorism)

After every Islamist terror attack, there is a lot of analysis into motives and lots of discussion about who or what in particular is to blame. There is a natural inclination to say that the actions of people that say they are religiously motivated can be blamed on that religion. It seems like quite a solid argument.

But there is a critique of this analysis that points out a bizarre trend - that these terrorists murdering for the sake of Islam are not really great at Islamic history or theology. Some of the attackers have a rudimentary understanding of their religion at best. Therefore placing blame on Islam is an explanation that is found wanting.

Let's explore a different angle. That is, that all Islamist terrorism is the fault of misplaced machismo, broken masculinity, emasculation. This is a narrative that was taken seriously by several publications after the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. (... 3 & 4)

Assume for a moment that one is a young male with a background that can be traced to one of many "muslim" cultures or with a present exposure to "Islamic" ideals.

What does masculinity mean to this person? If we assume that men need various forms of validation, then we can look at each dimension of the masculine problem. Each dimension is an expression of a masculine need or identity that may compete with a theological explanation.



Nationalism

As demonstrated by Euro 2016 and much of history, national pride is a typical go-to for an undeserved sense of self and excuse for violence. Unfortunately, nationalism is a spirit that excludes many muslim men living in the west - for they've been educated to believe that American and European nations are exploitative, valueless, colonialist nations that have sullied the once-great muslim world.

Yet having complaints about the west means nothing if one does not have a great national identity to attach oneself. This is when the promise of nationalism breaks down for young muslim males - there is nothing much to be proud of. An 'Islamic state' is basically synonymous with a 'failed state'. The state is seen as a variation of disaster, a departure of what could be - over and above what the evil westerners have done.

The exception to this rule is perhaps Turkey and Iran. Turkish and Iranian national identities seem to be intact in that they seem themselves as vastly superior to their nearest neighbours. Sectarian explanations aside, this could be a contributing factor to why the jihadis the west is dealing with usually not born in Istanbul or Tehran. It appears from a distance that Turk and Persian men are more wed to their respective nationalist causes than the broader "ummah" that seeks to live out the fantasy of an Arabic-speaking god.

For the rest of the muslim brothers, it's less likely nationalism will allow one to expend much pent-up masculine energy.


Sport

Europe has football. America has "football". These are only two of the choices available that allow the men of western world to form tribes and obsessively track their progress against an enemy in a completely pointless war. Sport does not have many barriers to entry, does not require much thought, and supplies enough depth to invest a lifetime of effort.

What sport is owned by the muslim male? South Korea has more Olympic medals than every muslim nation combined. (And would also dominate in a round of StarCraft) The national battle that comes close to being interesting is how frequently Pakistan manages to lose a cricket match, a useful distraction from the fact that was the largest country that was net zero in Rio.

There are many muslims that do excel in several sports. However it also turns out that nearly all of the celebrated success stories are those of African Americans - even in the most obscure of sports do not happen to create role models for young South Asian and Arab men that may not culturally identify with the black community. It turns out muslims do not actually exist in a post-racial fantasy world, and the muslim community harbours its own anti-black sentiments that is a complicated subject in its own right.

The simple fact is that young muslim men have slightly fewer reasons to turn on the television on Saturday night and live vicariously through some jersey clad hero.


Art and Music

Often testosterone-fueled passion is consumed by one's desire to create a substantial work of art. To make a cultural contribution that everyone enjoys.

Of course, for muslim men living in the west, this poses the following dilemmas directly related to religious ideals:
  • Music is regarded as haram
  • Commercial animation is largely sacrilegious comedy 
  • Modern art is a clique of the impoverished when it isn't entirely pointless
Take for example that in the western world, the most famous "muslim" rapper happens to sell a brand of vodka, the most well known muslim songwriter is a British dude nearing his 70th birthday, and the remaining man to carry the banner is a member of One Direction. 


Business

Perhaps the greatest thing about a capitalist society is that it keeps all the sociopaths busy. And when there is not sociopathy, there is good old fashioned male competition that helps keep all the startups buzzing. Whether it is due to privileged opportunity or natural inclination, business is a man's world. 

Yet it is a world that largely excludes muslims. Indeed, there are many wealthy muslim nations, but their riches are not generally sourced in entrepreneurship. Muslims are not excluded due to 'systemic bias', but something far more sinister - religious dogma. 

How much financial success can be expected if paying & collecting interest on money is forbidden by one's faith? How does networking happen if one can't be found socializing over a beer with the infidels? What does one do without a student loan, an auto loan, a home loan or even a credit card?

The muslim community has a very fundamental problem due to theology, and a long list of practical problems due to a longstanding distaste for dealing with potential partners that Islam judges harshly. The result is men are underemployed if not unemployed, do not receive mentoring and do not have a means to achieve success in modern life that allows wealth acquired amorally to be displayed ostentatiously.


Women

Islam in many respects is the ultimate sexual fantasy made for men. Four wives, many kids. Women covered up as shrouded gifts to be found, traded, prodded at like Pokémon. What more could a man want?

However the reality is that muslim men do not have an opportunity to truly live Muhammad's wet dream. What is promised as boobies under burqas turns out to be blue balls with blood relatives. Nobody but sleazy desert kings actually get to be the polygamous players -- the vast majority of faithful muslim men are doomed to have a single sexual conquest in their entire lives. To make things even worse, it happens that this conquest is very likely to be a first cousin or other relative. Estimates of cousin marriage in Saudi Arabia is about 40% and holding, rates in Pakistan may be even higher

The situation is even better in Egypt and Somalia, where not only may one be married to a cousin, but both sexes are likely to have been subjected to genital cutting as an infant! Nothing makes sex quite as hot as unnecessary surgery.



More Cuck Than Kaaba, More Beta than Burāq 

Looking at how much pent-up masculine rage the would-be 'radicalized' muslim men have, one can conclude that all terrorism is the result of toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity ties together the IRA, the OK City Bombing, the ETA, Tamil Tigers, al-Qaeda & ISIS under the same diagnosis. "It's not religion -- it's men being bad men."

The only confusion is that this explanation is entirely circular, as religion is toxic masculinity. Religion is toxic masculinity written down. Scripture is like Playboy, if Playboy had no images and was entirely guest edited by fragile homicidal narcissists. 

Islam is a live-action roleplay without the exercise, a creative anachronism without the creativity. Some hobbies are healthier than others. When you suffer, superstition ain't the way.