As you’ve undoubtedly heard, seen, and read about, a tragedy has occurred at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. I simply say “nightclub” because while I watched this horrible event unfold on my iPhone at 2 in the morning, I didn’t for even a second think about the sexual orientation of those involved. Unfortunately, for the alleged gunman, Omar Mateen, this wasn’t the case.
From the evidence that we have now, the Orlando shooting was perpetrated by a deeply disturbed individual with a lot of hatred towards the homosexual community and access to extremely dangerous weapons. He also seems to have been homosexual or bisexual himself, and was known to be a regular at Pulse and other gay nightclubs.
Now, as a good card-carrying, bleeding-heart liberal, I’m supposed to begin my argument here. I should tell you about how countries like Japan, Germany, France, Australia, and Britain have an extremely low gun murder rate in comparison to the United States. I should tell you about horrible atrocities against the LGBT community, like the Matthew Shephard murder, and how they have been committed by people of all creeds, colors, and religions. I should also tell you that many Republican/conservative politicians and voters don’t believe that the LGBT community deserves the civil rights that every other group comfortably enjoys. And if I told you all of those things, they’d all be true.
But this article’s purpose isn’t to grab conservatives by the neck and shake them until they think and act right (boy, how nice would that be?). Its purpose is to talk directly to those on my side, the liberal left, about the choice we have to make about the other big thing that helped form the mind (and actions) of the man who committed the Orlando shooting—his religion.
As reported this week, the Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest the funerals of the victims of the Orlando shooting. They will be criticized and mocked, as they should, but what most of us (especially Christians) realize and say out loud is that these people are using parts of the Bible to legitimize behavior that we today find abhorrent. But at the end of the day, these admitted Christian fundamentalists are spreading hate by holding signs and yelling terrible things at strangers, not murdering people.
Does that mean that fundamentalist Christians are inherently nicer/politer/better than fundamentalist Muslims? Absolutely not. As I’ll probably be reminded in the comments below, yes, the Inquisition did happen. Christians are just as capable of causing harm to individuals and society, and in some cases, maybe even more so. But there is a big difference in how we approach Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism. That, my friends, is where I believe we need to turn our sights and our conversation.
I am completely 150,000,000% behind everyone’s right to practice their religion in the way they see fit, providing they not hurt or oppress anyone else in the process. And the 1st Amendment guarantees this. But today, there is a large section of the Muslim world that either approves of, or is apathetic to, the kind of oppression that goes beyond the right to worship freely.
What do Muslims from around the world believe?
From an extensive 2015 PEW research poll, there are a few highlights that are a bit troubling:
- In 25 countries, a majority of Muslims believe that Sharia law should be the official law of the land, superseding any type of common law. (Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Palestine*, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Niger, Djibouti, DR Congo, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Kenya, Mali, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Liberia)
- 7% of US Muslims say that suicide bombings are sometimes justified with another 1% saying that they are often justified.
- 52% of US Muslims believe that Muslim religious leaders have done well in speaking out against Islamic terrorist groups.
- 62% of Pakistanis (our “ally”) don’t have an unfavorable or favorable view of ISIS.
According to an even more recent poll, and perhaps even more closely related to the Orlando shooting, 52% of British Muslims believe that homosexuality should be illegal with 47% saying that gay/lesbian people should not be qualified to teach children in public schools.
If you look more into these polls, there is good news. Most Muslims don’t consider ISIS to be a true representation of Islam. Most Muslims disparage pre-emptive violence and believe that it is never justified. Check out this interview done by our own Wyatt Redd with an American Muslim who represents the vast majority of Muslims across the globe. But when we are talking about a group with over 1.6 billion members worldwide, even a small percentage is a considerable amount of people. If only 1% of Muslims sympathize with ISIS, that is 16,000,000 people.
ISIS and groups like it are the Westboro Baptist Churches of the Muslim world. The problem is that they do hold some of the same commonly held religious beliefs as everyday Muslims. Intolerance for homosexuals, disrespect for women, a preference for religious law (regardless of the religion) over common secular law—these things are not cultural accoutrements. They fly directly in the face of everything that America and western civilization strives to be.
I am not of the sort that believes that if President Obama begins to address Islamic terrorism by name, terrorism will magically disappear. I am also not advocating violence, intolerance, or bigotry towards anyone of any religion. What I am suggesting is that perhaps we should begin to lambast and lampoon the sillier and/or more dangerous facets of Islam like we regularly do with Christianity.
Should fans care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?
Deadpool is the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture, and that a superhero movie has been nominated for anything other than its effects.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced Monday night its nominations for the Golden Globes, and amidst the usual gossip of snubs and surprises, the biggest shocker came in the form of nominee for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical, Deadpool. This marks the first time that a superhero movie has been up for Best Picture at the Golden Globes, and honestly one of the few times ever that a superhero movie has been nominated for a major award for anything other than its effects. The question is, should we, as fans, care?
Now first off let’s just say that Deadpool was a hell of a movie. It zipped back and forth between crass and witty in a wonderful comedic ride that stayed true to the heart of the titular character that even the best of superhero films struggle to accomplish. The story of how the film came to be made probably deserves a documentary all it’s own, with the climax, of course, being the moment the test footage was leaked to an adoring public. No one is trying to say that Deadpool didn’t deserve to be nominated as one of the best comedies of the year.
The Golden Globes have been notorious for years as the ultimate “Who Gives a Shit” awards. The Oscars have a voting pool of over 6,000 members, the Emmy’s have more than 18,000 members, and the Screen Actors Guild gives a vote to each of its 165,000 members. And how many people vote on the Golden Globes? 88.
And these are 88 people with some of the most tenuous of credentials possible. To become part of the voting bloc, an applicant must first be sponsored by two people who are already a part of the HFPA, but after that, all they must do is produce four published articles a year. This combination of nepotism-based admission and one of the lowest bars imaginable to maintain membership has always marred the Golden Globes and kept them from being truly respected as an award. Thus, them nominating anything for anything has very little meaning to it.
As we said earlier, Deadpool‘s nomination marks the first time a superhero film has been up for Best Picture. In a way, it is a huge accomplishment for a genre that has always been viewed as merely action spectacles with little substance. Every year superhero films have managed to take a few steps closer towards wide-spread critical legitimacy with recent films beginning to take on serious topics and truly explore the emotional complexities of its characters.
When viewed from that light, Deadpool‘s nomination for Best Picture, even if only for a Golden Globe, could, in an incredibly optimistic, best-case scenario, serve as a precedent for future superhero films to earn awards beyond Best Visual Effects.
Which brings us back to the original question, should fans of superhero films care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?
Sadly, no. While Deadpool is no doubt deserving of the honor, even should it win the award – it won’t, it’s going to go to La La Land, we’re calling it now – the Golden Globes simply aren’t respected enough for their opinions to sway any of the other award communities.
If you are one day hoping to see all of the Avengers (or the Justice League . . . I guess) on stage accepting the Academy Award for Best Picture, then please, don’t hold your breath.
Reasons to take a news break over the holidays
I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.
Donald Trump has taken up residence in my brain and is making himself at home. And he’s invited Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and all his other white nationalist friends over too. They’re even tickling my brain and invading my dreams. Well, as the holidays approach, I say “NO MORE!”
That’s right. I am determined to take a “Trumpcation” (A portmanteau of “Trump” and “vacation”) during the forthcoming holidays. Chanukah and Christmas overlap and, as a Jew who celebrates both, that means that my Trumpcation will last for a full eight days. That means no reading about him, no talking about him, no going out of my way to check his Twitter to see the latest gaseous explosion that spurted up out of his mind. Now the man is so ubiquitous right now that it’s impossible to completely avoid him, so if he comes up in a conversation or happens to be on TV, that’s fine. But other than that, I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.
Of course, that is what I said two days before Thanksgiving. I planned to spend the entire weekend in a Trump-free bubble. I thought I had prepared by blocking his Twitter feed and yet the Twitter feed did not block me. Facebook friends posted screen caps of his latest bilious Tweets. Relatives and friends brought him up in nearly every conversation. His orange visage glowed forth from every TV I passed. And, of course, once somebody brings him up, I’ll be knee-deep in an endless conversation about our rage, our sadness, and our fear. Because I am a hopeless news junkie and I maybe have a masochistic streak where I fill my head up with the scariest news stories I can.
Intellectually, I know that it is high time for a Trump break. Writer Martijn Schrip, of the site High Existence, makes the argument that taking a news break is good for the brain. He states that too much Facebook checking for the latest horrible newsworthy event makes us neglect the issues in our own lives in favor of the bigger problems facing the world. In addition, too much reliance on news makes us “junkies” looking for our next fix of information. People go to the restroom solely to check Facebook and whip out their phones whenever they see someone else on their phone, as if it’s a Pavlovian response. For me, it gets rough because one of my first acts when I wake up is to check Facebook. Since I have so many friends ( ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)) and am following so many pages, my brain gets inundated with a typhoon of information, think pieces, rants, and listicles. And since Trump is everywhere, he is usually the first thing I see every morning. Talk about a great start to my day….
It’s rough, guys. My way of coping with my intense fear of what’s coming is to constantly see what Trump is up to. His Twitter feed gives me a weird feeling of control. I know I don’t actually know what he’s doing but, since he Tweets so often, I trick my brain into feeling like I’m keeping tabs on him. I’m obsessed with seeing what new policies he is adopting or which old ones he’s backing away from. That’s how I cope. I enmesh myself deeply in Trumpism so I don’t forget that he’s out there.
But this may have the complete opposite effect, unfortunately. For all of my posting the hashtag #ThisIsNotNormal, I feel as if my constant obsession with the latest outrage is normalizing him in my mind. And that is not okay because this may lead to me passively accepting whatever horrible thing ends up happening.
I wish it were possible to be on Facebook for even a day and not run across his scowling face. Before Thanksgiving, my thinking was that I can avoid him for a few days and know that he would unfortunately be there when I got back. But, alas, this was not to be. But I am determined to actually do it for the eight days of Christmakkah (A portmanteau of “Christmas” and…oh you get it). If I run across his name or face on social media, I will quickly scroll past. I’ll change the channel if he’s on TV. It’s going to be tough but I think it’s important to try. I need to keep my brain sharp and ready to fight.
Real talk about identity politics
This piece is a quick and dirty run down of what identity politics is and what it’s about.
The term identity politics inhabits a similar space that political correctness did in the 90s when some people were like, “Oh shit! Words matter!” and other people were like, “I am confused and resistant to change.” This piece is a quick and dirty run down of what identity politics is and what it’s about.
First of all, while the rise of the term “Identity Politics” in popular discourse is relatively recent, the idea that groups of people will have shared perspectives and experiences based on aspects of their identity, which will then affect their political goals and positions, is pretty old. The Civil Rights Movement, suffragettes, even the Huguenots incorporated aspects of identity politics. Of course, this is also true of the Nazis, the Cultural Revolution in China, and the KKK. However, most of the time you will see the term used is in regards to those who are marginalized in some way: minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, women, and more.
To understand how identity politics function, you need to understand what I mean by marginalization. Marginalization doesn’t mean that the people in these groups are never wildly successful, never assholes, or don’t contribute to oppressing others. Indeed, many suffragettes were racist AF and the Civil Rights Movement had issues with sexism. What marginalization means is that it is culturally acceptable in large and small ways, consciously and unconsciously, to limit how certain people interact with the world. This can mean fewer opportunities, curtailing of civil rights, the threat of violence, or discounting and/or appropriating their contributions.
Another factor of marginalization and how identity politics function is that individual achievement alone does not erase problems with marginalization. Female Olympic athletes are still picked apart for not being properly made-up or skinny enough, despite exemplifying physical prowess. President Obama still faces racism as one of the most powerful men on earth. Yes, gaining power, wealth, PhDs, sponsorships, etc. may lessen the ways an individual is affected, but they do not make a systematic problem go away.
So if you are a marginalized person who is ignored, not taken seriously, or threatened, you can find people with similar backgrounds and views to organize and create coalitions. You figure out how to best get your interests taken care of, whether it’s through piecemeal legislation, all out protests, lawsuits, awareness campaigns, etc. Several people whose individual concerns were deemed unimportant become a larger political entity that demands attention and creates change.
Sometimes people take action organically without a ton of planning, and sometimes they are highly organized. That doesn’t mean everything always goes smoothly, of course, because shared perspectives do not translate into everyone in a group having the same beliefs. People will have different ideas about how to get things done; the classic example in the U.S. is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X. People within a group will also have their own prejudices, which can limit their effectiveness and cause further conflict.
If it sounds like identity politics is flawed, messy, and uncomfortable that’s because it is. There are also people who consider it the purview of the frivolous, overly sensitive, and divisive. So why bother with identity politics? Especially when they apparently need a whole article to explain the basics without a single gif or picture?
For one, people engage in identity politics all the time; it’s just usually considered less controversial if they say, “as a parent,” or “as a small business owner” when explaining their perspectives, indeed if they note their identity at all. We may as well talk about our politics accurately instead of pretending some people are objective and neutral while others who have different views are advocates of special interests or worse, maliciously divisive.
This brings me to my second point. Those who believe that talking about marginalization causes societal fractures are usually those who haven’t had to deal with it. The fractures were already there; it’s just that these people weren’t aware of them. No amount of playing nice, conforming, or achievement protects you. Think of the sexual harassment of female Fox News anchors, or the treatment of Tim Scott, the only black GOP senator. Having an education, good job, and loving family did not save Sandra Bland.
To assume that party politics and platform building is neutral or more serious when they do not include different perspectives is disingenuous at best and bigoted at its worst. (Think of Gov. Mike Pence’s policies targeting the LGBTQ community and punishing women who have abortions.)
Identity politics isn’t some kind of silver bullet against every ism or injustice. Like I said in the beginning, identity politics are also at play in hate groups and dangerous nationalism. Who you are and what’s important to you shouldn’t overtake the rights and liberties of others. But identity politics can help us recognize and address problems even when they don’t directly affect us, and help us make an impact in our own society.
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