Secularism is Not a Western Ideal

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 […]

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Religiously Liberal

Ben gets the lead here for calling Harris and Maher racist. Steele and Kristof do a good job trying to inject the ‘reasonable persons’ argument. My problem is this – Affleck is right. Harris is also right. Islam is not a blind spot for liberals, how we approach intolerance of Muslims while maintaining an anti-authoritarian, anti-theocratic point of view is a confluence of ideological imperatives that takes more than a soundbite to parse and understand. As a person who feels strongly that religious ideology is poisonous to all reasonable debate (and dangerous when mixed with military or police powers), I also recognize that the ‘liberal values’ that Maher is adopting as his shield evolved from Protestant Christian thought during the Renaissance and Reformation. Without the enlightenment, led by many Christian and former Christian/Deist and Jewish philosophers, Maher would have no universal rights of man to point to. Likewise, we Americans give a pass to ourselves and choose to ignore the religious ideation of many of our own value systems when we look at our actions, political or otherwise. Atheist liberals look at the civil rights movement as a victory of humanist ideals, when really it was led by black ministers. When our own terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and Robert Bales kill hundreds no one calls the pope or Rick Warren to account. This is because white Americans see their own foundational beliefs and power structures as natural and progressing toward […]

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Tearing Down the House

Imagine that you owned a house, and you discovered what might be a serious problem with its construction.  This is a problem that you yourself are not qualified to deal with – let’s say that it’s some combination of engineering and local construction code which only someone with intense training and experience could competently solve.  You call a contractor, or an engineer, someone who professes and certifies their expertise in exactly this sort of matter.  You pay this person to inspect the damage and give their honest opinion, and recommend […]

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Doing It Right

By now, many of you have read about the shocking discovery at CERN that muon neutrinos might travel faster than light, a fact that, if confirmed, would upturn much of the theoretical basis for modern physics. Does this mean we can’t trust scientists? Of course not.  If anything, this shows how awesome the scientific method truly is.

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It’s a Theory That’s Out There

In an op-ed in the ‘On Faith’ section of WaPo, Richard Dawkins lays into Rick Perry and every other politician who uses their ignorance of facts as a tool to court the scared and uneducated Republican base. Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as […]

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