Category Archives: politics

Secularism is Not a Western Ideal

"God Does Not Exist" ... "HE DOES."

“God Does Not Exist” … “HE DOES.”

As my friends on the Left settle into what I consider a reductive understanding of Charlie Hebdo’s work as racist, Islamaphobic, problematic, whatever – here’s a collection of cartoons by Cabu (one of the assassinated cartoonists) which evidence a more nuanced progressive point of view at that magazine.

The cartoonist Cabu (who drew all of the cartoons shown here) was consistently anti-colonial and anti-imperial in his work, just like the rest of Charlie Hebdo. This character, a French soldier on the cover of a fictional magazine called ‘the pacifist union’ says “France doesn’t have oil, but we do have an army!” The magazine used crude stereotypes and often provoked the sensibilities of readers, often to a problematic extent, but almost always in an attempt to lampoon commonly held beliefs which led to bad policy and intercultural conflict in French society.

Cabu was not shot because of France’s occupation of Algeria, Mali and Syria.  He was not shot because of the American-led War on Terror (which France largely bowed out of in 2003, if you’ll remember), Guantanamo, or Abu Graib.  He was not shot because French immigration policy, or scarf laws, or the 2nd Crusade.

Cabu was shot in cold blood for committing blasphemy by cartoon, just as his killers said.  

The characterization of Hebdo’s work as mostly directed (‘downward’ as they say) toward Islam and as pointlessly insulting avoids the more complicated reality that not every joke is for every person, especially when concerning religion, ethnicity and politics. It’s not the funniest magazine and certainly it used some grotesque stereotypes, but it hardly had a single point of view and was a part of a French tradition of mockery which has a long and problematic history. These distinctions are constant when reviewing satire and speech of any kind and engaging with these differences when the threat at hand is so explicit and so gruesomely vile to me misses the point monumentally.

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Iconoclasm in Kiev


Click over to the Guardian to see protesters in Kiev pull down the statue of Lenin, and read about how statues – invisible symbols of entrenched and assumed power in our everyday lives – becoming sitting ducks during an expression of revolutionary disobedience. Since the dawn of man, in our freest moments we have torn the idols down.

Some pics from RT:

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Direct link to video:

#OccupyLA: Eviction and the Detention of Tyson Heder

I drove myself down to City Hall on Tuesday night to take part in what would probably be the most important political event in our city for a long time.  I live tweeted as much as I could – right up until my Android phone ran out of batteries.  For those of you who thought I may have been arrested or hurt – do not fret.  Yours truly stayed well out of the way of both protesters and the police, I didn’t even yell and scream.  I just wanted to be there to show support for all involved, and to witness and document a moment in history.

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The End of Apocalypse Nobody Noticed

There is a lot going on right now with all the subjects I like to write about: Occupy LA is getting evicted (probably tonight) to make way for a movie shoot (starring Sean Pennironically).  CitiBank’s deal with the SEC to protect them from fault in the MBS mess was overturned by a New York judge.  SOPA and PIPA are threatening the free space of the internet for the sake of protecting intellectual property laws conceived in the 19th century.

But I wanted to point out some good news that I stumbled upon while reading an article on ESPN about the recent success of Tim Tebow’s high-school style offense for the Denver Broncos:  The age of multi-megaton, city-destroying  nuclear weapons has come to an end.

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Why I Left My Bank

Let's chat about bank fees, shall we?

#remember X 2


#BankTransferDay #treason #plot



#BankTransferDay is Upon Us

It probably wouldn’t surprise you if I told you I was participating in Bank Transfer Day, the Occupy-inspired day of protest where people are encouraged to move their deposits into credit unions and out of the major banks.  You might be surprised when I tell you it was primarily a personal budget decision between my partner and I, and not one made from idealism or outrage.  I even did it early, to avoid any trouble with my November rent check.

It isn’t often that the prudent aligns with the ideal.

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#OWS: The Morning After

Hope is not an exit strategy.

You know the argument about a rising tide, and how it lifts all boats?  This has always seemed a dubious metaphor to me because of all the assumptions it must make in order to apply, and all of the obvious features of the ‘tide’ that it conveniently leaves out of the idiom.

Join me while I break it down.

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#OccupyLA: Who Speaks For Us?

We Don’t Need a Leader, But We Need Something

When the General Assembly in Woodruff Park in Atlanta declined to allow John Lewis, famed civil rights activist and sitting U.S. Congressman to deliver a few words of encouragement, I believe this movement made a curious and possibly detrimental turn toward the irrelevant.  The reason for this is straightforward:  I do not believe you can assault our broken democracy and our broken economic system simultaneously.  By rejecting elected and aspiring representatives of the people from engaging in this movement and taking its message to city halls, state houses, and the impotent galleries of the U.S.  Congress, there is a chance we could doom this protest to the alternate fates of destructive riots or perpetual but inconsequential unrest.

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