Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

The power of the megaphone, the call to prayer — Jdanspsa Wyksui


Over the last month I have been attempting to coalesce some rather vague notions revolving around community, individuality, inclusion, diversity, language, and power. I have had four partly written posts that I just have not been able to complete. Then I happened across the post linked to below, and I though why re-invent the wheel, when there’s a perfectly good one is staring me straight in the face (apologies for the mixed metaphor).

Who has power, and how do they wield it in their words and actions, especially in a crisis?

via The power of the megaphone, the call to prayer — Jdanspsa Wyksui

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

8 thoughts on “The power of the megaphone, the call to prayer — Jdanspsa Wyksui

  1. Nothing like using any opportunity for a good old fashioned drive-by smear to earn cred from the gullible and regressive Left. Yes, the shooters like Brevik and this Christchurch mass murderer were motivated by the likes of a Sam Harris donchaknow because, hey, he’s a strong critic of Islamism. And we can’t have that. Any strong criticism of Islamism BY DEFINITION must be anti-Muslim bigotry, am I right? After all, that’s what we’re teaching kids these days along with confirmation by politicians and mass media so it must be true.

    Except, it isn’t true.

    But what’s true doesn’t matter to these ideologues and their fifth column supporters. What matters is to believe in the ideology first and foremost, which means that Muslims are always victims in need of such lies to help protect them, which makes the lying about Harris perfectly fine and dandy. After all, he’s part of the problem that causes mass murders to happen, you see, because he is a bigot… by that handy dandy definition!

    Whew. Good thing we’re all on the same page and, besides, who cares if a strong classical liberal like Harris gets vilified by acceptable lies when we all seek to serve The Greater Good (aka, the regressive Left’s totalitarian ideology) and protect those poor Muslims?

    • On an article about inclusiveness, walking in the steps of those without power, acceptance of multiple views with infinite shades of meaning and values, and the realisation that we all, including myself and the original author have in some ways, no matter how subtle, contributed to the “othering” of some groups in the community, and that we all have a duty to invite all, including those we may not agree with, to a welcoming embrace within our community, and you come up with a piece of narrow, black and white vitriol about a “drive-by smear to earn cred from the gullible and regressive Left”. Can you not see the irony?

      Has it never occurred to you that it is the manner of the criticism, the choice of words and phrases, the partitioning of ideas and people into narrowly defined boxes that contributes (not motivates) to others to also view things in absolute black and white, right and wrong, truth and lies, good and evil? The truth is there are no absolutes, everything belongs on a multi-dimensional spectrum of grey. No matter what the idea, concept, object, they each contain beneficial and detrimental elements.

      This spectrum applies to people who follow a specific ideology as well. In the case of Muslims, they can be the victimiser or the victim, and it’s possible to be both at the same time. In the situation in Aotearoa New Zealand, and as the links contained in the original post shows, Muslims can be dis-empowered and discriminated against in many subtle ways, not always intentional. Extremism does not grow in a vacuum. It takes many small steps to plant the seed that will eventually grow into a force where confirmation bias feeds on itself and blinds the “believer” to any option other than to completely destroy the perceived enemy.

      I’m not sure if your one eyed viewpoint is capable of understanding that criticism of Harris’ criticism of Islam is not necessarily disagreeing with the facts or evidence he provides. The criticism is of his attitude, how he refers and responds to the religion and it’s adherents that is the issue. So no, all strong criticism of Islamism is not by definition anti-Muslim bigotry, but some can be, and it can also lead to anti-Muslim bigotry in others, whether by design or not.

      Personally, while I find myself agreeing with some of the concepts you promote, I find myself up against your “ability” to place everything into boxes, labelled either black or white. This I find abhorrent because not only do I think labeling in this way is harmful, but from my perspective, there are no boxes at all. When you refer to opinions of others as a smear, a vilification or a lie, because you disagree with that opinion, then in my book, you are contributing towards the very issue raised in the original article. This is why on my blog, you will remain in moderation, not because of what you say, but because of how you say it.

      • I know this comment won;t pass moderation so use it for your own consideration, Barry. Or don’t. Entirely up to you.

        What you think of as intolerant black and white framing by me for which you presume to be judge and jury and find me guilty as charged, I see as standing firmly on vital principles and not prevaricating for self-promoting reasons. Primary among them is respecting what’s true and not promoting lies and deceit so that I can feel good about myself because others tell me this is how to do it. Not equivocating on what’s true. Not willing to incrementally betray what’s true. Not collaborating with lies and deceit in the name of some faux ‘respect’, faux ‘tolerance’, faux ‘diversity’, faux ‘differences’, faux ‘truth’. I stand firm because that’s the ONLY way to maintain the essential value of respecting what’s true, needed to remain true to the principles that respect you and me equally.

        Where we part company is where you assume a false middle ground exists where none exists in fact – a middle ground that I have argued you have created by thinking that circumvents respect for what’s true and then pretend that middle ground exists outside of you and is also true. I argue plainly (with explanation) that this is the perniciousness of the group-based ideology you use that undermines fundamental principles of respect for what’s true. And what’s true is that what we share is our individuality.

        You and I are identical this way even if different in every other.

        This is what you and I share with every other human being on the planet regardless of all other differences. Each of us is an individual worthy of equal respect on this basis, for this fundamental shared fact. That’s the core value of classical liberalism. The ideology that suppresses this truth and casts us as individual representatives of groups of people is a group-based ideology. It core principle is just this, the Big Lie, that each of us is just a representative of the groups to which we ‘belong’.
        But the truth is that you are not a group. You cannot be subdivided this way. You, the individual Barry, is the base unit. You are not a representative of some variety of groups. You are you, the individual known as Barry. Barry is not defined by which groups I place him in any more than anyone else is defined by this pernicious group-based ideology by which I then assign and afford different rights and responsibilities and ‘truths’ and expect everyone else to go along with my decision to make you into some conglomerate representative. And it’s even more reprehensible if I take this one step further and pretend disagreeing with my group-based assignments for Barry makes Barry the individual out to be a bigot, a racist, an intolerant and deplorable person with a questionable character that needs moderating because his, tone, you see… his tone is such a problem when he disagrees with my group-based assignments. What’s lost is any sense of respecting what’s true.

        I will not pretend I have either the right or the means to decide for you who you are, what your character must be based on my assignment of your group affiliations. And I will criticize anyone who pretends they have such a right, be it directed at you or, in this case, a Sam Harris. Because both of you are individuals, both of you deserve the same respect for the individuals you are as I expect in return from both of you. That’s a value that can unite us in spite of other differences. All of us are individuals and responsible for who and what we are, what we believe, what we worship. You are not divisible into some middle ground I create for you. That’s the black and white thinking you accuse me of exercising, a value you think of as being a vice. I see it as a virtue. And it is an essential virtue when it comes to respecting what’s true.

        For example, I see that one either believes in a god or one does not. You presume a middle ground exists by altering the belief claim into a prevaricating knowledge claim. That’s a deceit. I see either creationism is true or it is not. You presume a middle ground exists by altering the claim to be about something unrelated in any knowable way to time or space. That’s a deceit. I see the fundamental precepts of Islamism as incompatible with individual rights in law. You presume a middle ground exists because you want it to even though I suspect you have no real clue what these precepts are in fact. And so on.

        Whereas you believe in this middle ground, and that it exists independent of you, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I do not. I say as much. Because I say as much, you declare it is how I say it that matters most to you. You alter my position from being faithful to respecting what’s true to my being unwilling to use both eyes to allow you to go along with a lie, go along a pretend that’s two contrary claims are really just different versions of what’s true and therefore a virtue of tolerance and respect. This approach is neither; it’s disregarding what’s true at its core, creating a faux middle ground that does not exist and assigning it to be tolerant and respectful. It only costs respecting what’s true, a price I am not willing to pay.

        That’s why I call bullshit on this post. It’s promoting a lie by pretending the lie is tolerant and respectful when it is neither. I do not think you should be promoting it as if it’s true if you truly respect what’s true!

        You seem oblivious to the fact that my declaring no middle ground exists on these issues (because no one can show me this middle ground exists except by deceit-filled creations unsupported by reality) means I cannot change how I say that to suit your need to have your middle ground respected; all I can change is the attempt I make to get you to see that what you think I say and that you then label as intolerant, black and white thinking is itself a deceitful framing you import and apply. I am trying to get you to see that doing this is detrimental to us both because it does not respect that which is true. It demands I alter what I see very clearly as a vice into a virtue because you insist I must… or be moderated. Surely you can understand that any virtue of conversation must begin with respecting what’s true first and foremost because without that commitment from both of us then nothing either of us says has any truth merit at all. It’s just a waste of time. That’s how echo chambers are built. And neither of us can learn a damn think if all we are willing to listen to is an echo of our opinions.

        When that commitment to respect what’s true is framed as being intolerant and bigoted and racist and discriminatory, which is the hallmark features of this group-based ideology, then we have a real problem that precludes any truthful conversation. So when I encounter this kind of pernicious misrepresentation of what’s true in fact that smears someone by an imported group membership labeled as intolerant and bigoted and racist and disrespectful of the individual, my principle of respecting what’s true tells me to stand up to this lying and point it out.

        That’s what I’ve done here. That is what you’re really accusing me of doing: daring to stand on principle and call a lie a lie. Shame on me. How very intolerant of me. What a bad person I must be.

        Casting partial blame for a mass murder at a classical liberal like Harris who respects and holds in the highest esteem individual rights law – not least of which is the right to life for all individuals – is a lie. Presenting criticism of Islamism – an ideology that does not respect the individual, the rights and freedoms of the individual, but demands complete subjugation to a single totalitarian religious model for everyone – as responsible for forming a community from which such mass murderer finds motivation and then emerges to go kills Muslims – is exactly opposite to what Harris has always said. It not just a lie that this linked article is advancing, not just a drive-by smear of a man’s character; it’s the kind of lie that is so pernicious that it twists the truth to such an extent that even you cannot see it but, instead convinces you to not only go along with it thinking well of yourself as tolerant and respectful by doing so but do your part to advance this lie as if it says better than you your thoughts on it. What this shooter has done is act in complete and total opposition to what Harris advocates, opposite to the very foundation of Harris’ criticism of Islamism! This fact is completely lost in the post and you are not resurrecting it even though this is true. This is what’s true. But you’ve modified it by this ideological method to be opposite to what it is in fact, that Harris by your own creation is now partially to blame for the shooter’s motivation, and so I stand up because I respect what’s true and point this out.

        When what’s true has been removed from what defines acceptable commentary, acceptable tone, then something on your blog has gone very, very wrong.

        • One thing I must say is that I admire your ability to compose a response to my comment within two hours. And here I am 2 days later, trying to comprehend precisely what your point(s) is(are). I have read your comment countless times , each time thinking I have grasped the gist of what your intent is, only to realise, after writing several paragraphs in response, that I have misunderstood a sentence or entire paragraph, and start the process of reading, interpreting and responding to your comment all over again. Rinse and repeat.

          I’ll acknowledge that for my part, I find the English language as used by neurotypicals (non-autistic people) just as confusing as does my wife, for whom English is a second language. This might contribute to my inability to clearly understand precisely your message, but as I (usually) grasp the intent of others who comment, I need to ask why I often find your comments not only incomprehensible, and irrelevant to the topic at hand, but also offensive.

          I’m not going to respond directly to your comment, as I have taken too many incompatible meanings from it, and it will need more evaluation on my part. But I will touch briefly on several points. Firstly, as I see it, your understanding of individuality is different from my own. You state “Each of us is an individual worthy of equal respect on this basis, for this fundamental shared fact“. I would argue it’s not a fact. It appears more like an article of faith to me. It might be a core value of classical liberalism as understood in North America, but that alone does not make it a fact. It makes it a widely shared belief. A belief, I might add, that is in conflict with the traditional cultural values of a significant minority of New Zealanders. Values that are being taken on board to varying degrees by the rest of the community. I don’t see this as being a middle ground, but as the creation of a new ground, an alternative ground. Standing resolutely in a basis of “classical liberalism true, traditional values false” is a recipe for conflict and disaster.

          What I found disappointing in your first comment is that you completely ignored the sentiments expressed in the author’s post, and which i summarised in my reply to you, and you appeared to treat the entire post as a “drive-by smear” of Harris. The Christchurch attack is our 9/11 in relative size and its effect on our society. It has caused us to pause and consider what is important, what our response should be, what sort of society we should be striving for. The original article was part of that process. Yet you appear to be concerned solely on the reputation of one individual who you mistakenly believe has had his character attacked in the article.

          I find it ironical that you feel the character of Harris has been attacked, yet in the second paragraph you imply (1) that I don’t stand firmly on vital principles, (2) that my post and comment were for self-promoting reasons, and (3) that I used prevarication (I presume deliberately) to achieve those ends. You then go on to suggest (4) that I promote lies and deceit so that I can feel good about myself because others tell me this is how to do it. It seems like you are saying that you believe that I’m unprincipled, self-promoting and evasive individual. The character of Harris was not attacked. His means by which he expounds his ideas are questionable, not his character. But it would appear you can’t see the difference.

          I sometimes think your attitude towards Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens approaches adoration and no criticism of them is tolerated by you, but I’m probably mistaken. None of us are perfect, even Harris. His attitude to Islamism is controversial, and there are other people, equally qualified as Harris, who disagree with his stance. One of the privileges of living in a pluralistic society is seeing the concept of pluralism rubbing off on new arrivals, and if not on them, then on the next generation. Pluralism affects religious thought just as much as it affects other spheres of life, so I do not view Islamism in the same light as you or Harris. I might be wrong, that is a risk I’m prepared to take, for as I see it, not taking that risk is taking a certain path to an alternative disaster.

          I’ll pick up on some other topics you cover in later blogs. Further discussion along similar lines to those you have already made here will be off topic and will not be appreciated. If you have something to contribute in the Spirit in which the original article was written then your comments are welcome. If you find those terms unacceptable, then please take your comments elsewhere, or post on your own blog. If you do and, and it’s relevant to either the original article or to our conversation here, then should wish to put a link here, I will allow it.

      • Oh, that is beautifully put. Thank you.

        • I wish I felt the same way. On reviewing my comments I can see evidence of my exasperation with tildeb, and in hind sight I could have handled it better. Unfortunately he is the only person, on line and off, that has that effect on me. I wish I fully understood why.

  2. Why not publish those four as one post. It might be contradictory, it might have unfinished sentences, and it might be wrong in an illuminating way. I would be interested in your failures. There is a time when “That’s not quite it” can still be useful.

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