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April 12, 2015

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The only Muslim I've had extended contact with was one of my research assistants in Manila some forty years ago. He was competent and reliable at the tasks I set him (mostly copying stuff out of archival documents, which could not be photocopied easily or cheaply), as was my other guy, a Catholic Filipino. Both had worked for other historians before and after me; good "help" is hard to find, in the archives as elsewhere! What's most striking is the very ordinariness of it all; there was nothing to say Akil was a Muslim (or Raffy a Christian) except as it came up in passing conversation. // And recently Akil, long retired (as I am) became a Facebook friend. All very pleasant and very ordinary.

I've met many other Muslims at international conferences on Asian studies, etc.; nothing in particular stands out, but that again is precisely the point. Some are nice, some are less so (*); none that I have encountered are demonic in any way.

(*) I used to get annoyed at some Middle Eastern students - presumably Arab, putatively Muslim - when I was a student in London, but that was mostly because they sat in the back of the bus singing "Ya, Mustafa!" I suspect they were equally irked when some of us, on other busses, sang the many verses of "On Ilkley Moor Baht 'at."

i was born and reared in a small town in central texas. there were 84 students in my graduating class. when i was a sophomore a muslim family came to town when the father, vice president of plant operations, was sent by the company which owned the local power plant to be head of operations. his son- adwait- was in my grade and his daughter- wanda- was a grade ahead of me. they mixed in fairly well, at least as well as any teenagers from a large city mixed into the small town environment. adwait did not really run in my social group but we knew each other. he and i did gfo through a similar experience because we were targeted by the youth ministry of one of the baptist churches for attempts to become saved. adwait because he was muslim and i because i was publicly agnostic. he appreciated it one night at a meeting we had both been taken to when i found all eyes on me and was challenbged by the adult leading the meeting to justify my existence and i defended both my skepticism and my right to doubt as well as adwait's right to follow the faith of his fathers'.

as time went by i read a good bit about world religions and when i found myself socializing with a couple of muslims in estes park, colorado they were surprised when i understood the points of divergence between sunni and shia groups. they were hardworking and fun loving folks, as were most of those i encountered in estes.

since my return to texas anfd becoming a school teacher i have had many students who were from muslim families, most sunni but some shia. they have been fairly typical kids and the parents were all very interested in their childrens' progress in school. i have had cordial relations with all of them.

i guess the point of this is to say that while i have no close friends who are muslim, my encounters with muslims have all been positive and i find that so much of what passes for serious discussion about muslims to be, quite frankly, so much horseshit. i don't find muslims to be any more or less a menace as a group than christians, jews, hindus, or buddhists.

Oh, and recently I recruited an Indonesian scholar named Muhammad Ali (I'm not making this up) to write a chapter on Islam in a book on Southeast Asia I was editing. Never met him in person, but over e-mail he was a very good colleague, meeting deadlines, agreeing to revisions, and helping us get the book out only a year or two beyond deadline.

And then there was the time decades ago when we were on a field trip in Malaysia during Ramadan, which meant that no Muslim could eat or drink anything during daylight hours. We Chinese and Westerners were not bound by these rules, so while we had lunch, our bus driver had to stand by patiently and hungrily. But the moment the sun set (officially - the time is listed in the daily papers) we pulled into a diner somewhere so that he could break his fast, along with every other Malay around. (And of course we ate too, because we could, and the food was good.)

Once again: all very ordinary. But since Southeast Asian Islam is said to be, in general, less assertive (puritanical, virulent, whatever?) than Middle Eastern, perhaps the relevance of my experience is limited.

My contacts have been remarkably limited, considering 1/5th of the world is Muslim.

Tutored Arab students as a grad student. Funny and generous, but they often thought that being personable and charming was a substitute for actually studying. An exchange that a friend told me about kind of sums things up

S: Hello, Mr Chris!
T: Hi, you can call me Chris or Mr. Jones.
S: OK Mr Chris

I had just gotten back from Japan though and the idea of students blurbling out whatever was on their mind came as a pleasant shock.

Met an Indonesian teacher and have been trying to organize an exchange. Was totally blown away with the level of English her junior high school students had reached. Unfortunately, Japanese colleagues have a hard time thinking that learning English in Indonesian might be a win-win.

A few other encounters, but the most viewpoint challenging one was going to Kyrgyzstan. By virtue of Russian influence, there is a love of alcohol and Ramadan kind of gets a vague nod rather than being an organizing principle. However, in the south, it is much stronger. It's a very different encounter when you are the minority.

All in all, pretty pathetic considering that 1/5th of the world's population is Muslim.

One of my neighbors is a young Saudi woman. Yes, her parents are extremely liberal -- it was her father who encouraged her to come and live alone in the States while at college (although her brother does live in a nearby city). She always wears a hijab. She is very nice; I wish all my neighbors were as friendly and quiet.

Back when I was in a social science PhD program, I dealt a great deal with a West African Muslim who was an expert on the area of West Africa I was studying. He was immensely helpful and kind. He was the one I felt worst about disappointing when I ended up abandoning the PhD. I still see him when I can when I go back to the city I was studying in.

In the lab I currently work in, we recently had a medical student do a research year with us. She is from South Asia. She wants to become a specialist in infectious diseases given that so many such diseases afflict her countrymen. She would duck out several times a day to pray. Again, she is a terrific person and will make a terrific doctor.

My favorite coffee shop is run by an Egyptian family who observe both Muslim customs and Coptic customs. They observe Ramadan, which would be more than I could handle if my business was feeding people and giving them drinks! Another great family, except for their unfortunate remembrance of Mubarak's rule as the good old days . . . .

Those are the first few that occur to me.

Back in 2008, when I was laid off in Michigan, the man who hired me in S.C., and became my boss for some years, was a Muslim. He was personally somewhat engaging, and I'll always have a soft spot for the guy who got me out of that bad situation.

Terrible boss, though. Micro-managed, refused to issue orders except verbally, (Which is understandable given his tendency to claim he hadn't issued any that didn't work out.) and (This is his only bad habit that actually had anything to do with his religion!) often demanded overtime during Ramadan; If he couldn't go home to eat dinner, why should you?

He got fired a couple of years ago, after they transferred him from engineering management to production management, and he demanded to be returned to his old job, "or else". I had to be somewhat sympathetic, what engineer wants to get stuck in a job where you don't get to do any engineering?

There are several other Muslims at my workplace, so far as I can tell, all competent, and rather nicer than this dude was.

By the way, I've always wondered how Islam handles Ramadan in parts of the world far enough North or South to experience 24 hour daylight in the summer. When does a Muslim get to eat during Ramadan, in the land of the midnight sun?

Apparently the issue is still unsettled.

My favorite local restaurant features Afghan food, so the folks who run it are Muslim. And I've learned that, during Ramadan, I best get in well after sunset if I want to eat -- because before sunset they are doing the massive take-out orders that will be going out, in addition to families arriving just after sunset.

But most of the Muslims that I know here are rather like Episcopalians or Reform Jews. They may be devout, but their faith really doesn't impinge on anyone around them. You maybe make a note that, if you're having a BBQ, you want to have beef ribs in addition to pork. But that's about it.

Actually, my main (conscious) interactions were when doing a consulting job in Riyadh. The managers at the data center were all Saudis (the technical staff were all ex-pats), and seemed like managers everywhere. Although we did have one interesting interaction.

We were out at the local Starbucks -- that being the best Internet connection we could find to download data to the US. And we were sitting outside, because it was Prayer Time, and all the businesses closed for it. But the Internet connection was still working. There was a Saudi kid (OK, 20-something) sitting next to us in his robes doing something on his laptop. And the Religious Police showed up and ordered him to get himself to mosque. As he was folding up his laptop he shakes his head and says to us, "And those guys really believe all that stuff." Apparently an agnostic, even in the center of Islamic fundamentalism.

Our next door neighbours are Kashmiri in origin, she is second generation British and speaks with a local accent you can cut with a knife; he is first generation and sometimes struggles to express complicated ideas in English, but is up for trying. She is an advice worker; he drives a taxi, in spite of having a degree: such is the labour market. They have three kids. The older boy is a social worker, the younger boy graduates this year in sports management and the girl is a it of an afterthought and still in high school.

They are fantastic neighbours, friendly and helpful and generous. They give us sweets at Christmas, we give them sweets at Eid-ul-Fitr; sometimes we swap meals on special occasions: theirs are better. This is normal neighbourly stuff, isn't it? The fact that they're Muslims is neither here nor there.

Apart from general mutual grumbling about the present government, the only time I've ever heard either of them express a political opinion was at a small party we gave one Christmas for our end of the street, when the guy made me an impassioned and sad speech about world peace and how it's all terrible at the moment. I agreed. It is.

Theirs was an arranged marriage, and they are first cousins. There's no suggestion that they were forced, merely they were childhood friends and it was suggested that it would be a good idea and they went along with it. However, their eldest recently married a girl he had met at university, with the blessing of both families (we went to one of the many parties, which was excellent). I can't see the younger two taking any nonsense either, or their parents trying any.

Brett, I once managed a Muslim lad and asked him how Ramadan was calculated even in Britain, where there is cloud cover as often as not and the phase of the moon is anybody's guess. He said it really depended on which Mosque you went to. Some people depend on astronomy, and others calculate it from observations in Makkah. It does mean that people might start Ramadan on different days, but he said that as long as it's done in good faith nobody much cares. I said they ought to organise a series of geostationary satellites and he agreed that that would probably come eventually.

Islam is a very pragmatic religion. I know somebody who gets a dispensation from fasting in Ramadan because they have diabetes, which is obvious, but I also know someone who gets a dispensation for being mildly anaemic. Apparently their imam once told them that if their doctor thought they should drink the odd bottle of Guinness for their iron deficiency, God would certainly approve.

I toured through India for three months in 2010. I suppose it was some sort of walkabout as I tried to figure out just exactly who I was becoming.

During that time I dated a woman who was Muslim by heritage, if not in practice. My first night in Bombay I had nowhere to stay and wound up being brought by a tout to Dongri. I didn't see a white person for a week – simply ate delicious street food and drank loads and loads of chai.

Later, in Bangalore, I stayed with a Muslim family for two weeks in Yelahanka. I never learned their real names; they were simply Auntie and Uncle to me. Uncle watered the plants on the rooftop religiously and Auntie taught me how to make biryani, a recipe I still use to this day.

When I had circled the subcontinent and made my way back to Bombay, I went back to my hotel in Dongri and asked for a room. Wazil, the hotel manager, and I still occasionally email one another. He has six daughters and one son. He is one of the most gracious and pleasant men I've ever met.

I live in Brooklyn near a mosque, and hearing the muezzin sometimes brings up all of these memories. Sometimes a blog post does, too.

That seems to be the approach of most religions (outside the fundamentalist fringes). If there is a good reason, medical or otherwise, they will exhibit some flexibility over the various behavioral bits where are not really core to the faith.

I recall a friend of a friend who was a staunch Catholic. They were trying to do the rhythm method birth control, but had the problem that her periods were very irregular. So the priest says, "Well, there is a way to regularize them. It's called The Pill." Problem solved. ;-)

If there are Muslims in my workplace, they keep a low profile. I may very well work with Muslims, but the issue of what-religion-are-you literally never comes up (except in conversations with my boss, but he and I are friends and have known each other for 30 years, now).

I do know of one Sikh and one Hindu. The Sikh is easily recognizable as such, and the Hindu is a guy I rode across most of Sweden on a train with, so we had a long time to chat.

I have had no contact with Muslims that I am aware of in private life. I have had a LOT more contact with Mennonites and Amish, but those two groups are easily distinguishable, visually, whereas Muslims are not necessarily different in dress and aspect.

i've worked with a few Muslims, all men from India or Pakistan. except for the Ramadan fasting (which interrupts our group lunch routines), their was nothing about them that was much different than any of the other India/Pak people i've worked with.

i never danced with any of them.

Yeah, that's about my experience. Individually, Muslims are about as nice as any other group of people. I just think they've got an unfortunate group dynamic going when in large numbers.

My experience is mostly like cleek's. I've worked with Muslims from India and Pakistan. Some, most or all, I might not have known they were Muslim but for their names.

Otherwise, one of my best friends married an Egyptian. She is Muslim and he kinda-sorta converted. He was raised kinda-sorta Quaker, kinda-sorta Universalist, which I guess he still is - perhaps an expanded Universalist, of sorts. At any rate, she's a wonderful person whom I liked almost immediately upon meeting.

The only thing of note, which may be more of an Egyptian thing than a Muslim one, is that they always have the Best Fncking Food Ever whenever hosting anything.

I work with and know socially a number of people who are relatively likely to be Muslim, i.e., they or their families come from places which have high percentage Muslim populations.

In most cases I don't know what their religion is. I used to think the Lebanese family that owns the gas station I patronize were Muslim, but then I noticed the picture of Mary holding Jesus over the office door, so now I assume they are (probably?) Maronite.

I worked with an Egyptian guy who always complained about how hungry he got during the day during Ramadan, so he was Muslim.

But in general, I probably know some Muslims, and the fact that they are Muslim is not that relevant to anyone other than themselves.

Net/net, identity as a Muslim seems to be about as much of a thing as identity as anything else.

This seems to be pretty much everybody's experience here, so unless we are all astoundingly fortunate in the Muslims who happen to be in our orbits, maybe broad statements about the character or behavior of Muslims writ large are not really worth much, or useful.

I just think they've got an unfortunate group dynamic going when in large numbers.

Heh. That's basically what I think about libertarians:)

Re Muslims: I have not worked or otherwise associated with anybody that I can say for sure was Muslim. Come to think of it, I'd have to say the same about Episcopalians.

--TP

Here's what I think about that, russell:

The Muslims I am likely to run into in the course of professional or personal life are not the cloistered radicals that might threaten me.

Not that there are terribly many of those, but they'd likely not hang out with the likes of me.

I think we're all overlooking, though, the Muslim that we all know: our President.

I think I sprained both my tongue AND my cheek, there.

Can a Libertarian have a group dynamic?

I'm collecting my thoughts on this post, but Tony P. already preempted my crack about Episcopalians, so I'm recalibrating.

I think there are some quotable lines from "Life of Brian" that are applicable to the Libertarian group dynamic...

BRIAN: "You are all invividuals!"
CROWD: "WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS!"
BRIAN: "You have to think for yourselves!"
CROWD: "WE HAVE TO THINK FOR OURSELVES!....
TELL US MORE!!!"

Applies to all too many groups, in fact...

I know some and yes, all ordinary people. This conversation is absurd.

Otherwise, one of my best friends married an Egyptian. She is Muslim and he kinda-sorta converted. He was raised kinda-sorta Quaker, kinda-sorta Universalist, which I guess he still is - perhaps an expanded Universalist, of sorts. At any rate, she's a wonderful person whom I liked almost immediately upon meeting.

i know two people in the exact same situation - which i'm embarrassed to say i forgot about.

she's Egyptian and he's culturally Christian (and named Chris). when they married, he had to convert, ceremonially i guess. and for that he took the name Mohammed (of course). now AFAIK, they live a basically secular life. i didn't even know she was Muslim until they started dating and they had to hide it from her parents.

I know why we are having it, but it is still silly

I think we're having it because it's as good a way as any to break up any build-up of negative thoughts surrounding any particular group. Spend enough time listening to the radio or watching television (or even frequenting certain internet sites) and you're liable to start harboring certain feelings about "those people" even if you don't mean to. Yes, you can pretty much guarantee that everyone involved with ISIL or ISIS or IS or whatever moniker they've adopted this week is a Muslim since it's right there in the name. Not every Muslim is interested in joining this new would-be caliphate and I'd go so far as to say most would prefer to be left alone to go about their business of living their lives in peace.

It may seem silly, but others may find it useful, and that's good enough for me. :)

Some people depend on astronomy, and others calculate it from observations in Makkah.

Some also do local moonsightings. Last I knew, the Kingdom doesn't actually go by sightings, but it was still keeping a pretense of it, so you'd sometimes have occasions when it was physically impossible for the moon to have been seen from Mekkah, but oh yes, it was sighted there, right on schedule.

(As someone who spent most of the last decade trying to get to the point where I could sincerely make shahadah before concluding I was too fundamentally agnostic and giving up, I've had more interactions, and more pointedly religious interactions, with Muslims than most here. And yes, they're people like any other.)

I know some and yes, all ordinary people. This conversation is absurd.

This was actually my reaction to the thread as well. I was honestly rather tempted to give it a skip. It's a bizarre conversation to be having.

doesn't seem so bizarre to me. we discuss Muslims as generalizations all the time, here. taking a couple of minutes to think about the individual real-life Muslims we know could put future discussions into a different, and hopefully better, perspective.

I know that's why we are doing it, but that just shows how screwed up the conversation is, that people even think it necessary to say these things.

that just shows how screwed up the conversation is, that people even think it necessary to say these things.

So, maybe not so much silly, as regrettable.

It's a regrettable world.

I do take your point DJ, and also NV, but I also see cleek and Areala's.

It's too bad we even have to discuss how normal Muslims are, and how mundane their presence in our lives are. To the point where most of us here are not even sure which among our acquaintances are Muslim and which not.

But the thing that's regrettable about it is not, I think, the fact that we're having the discussion here.

Well, this wasn't really just a 'Muslim are people too' thread, I thought that the process of talking about this might provide the opportunity to learn some things. Frex, the talk about Ramadan is interesting, though note that Brett somehow is able to highlight something absurd about the religion (ha ha, they can't handle a 24 hour day!) I wonder if he has similar thoughts about how Episcopalians handle apostolic succession or understand their relation with the Church of England.

I think figuring out which day Easter falls on is bad enough, never mind Ramadan. Although there's an algorithm for determining Easter. Ramadan, not so much.

FWIW, I agree with DJ and NV. I'd say more, but it's largely been said.

Charles, figuring Ramadan is dead easy. Once you realize that you are dealing with a lunar calendar rather than the solar calendar that you grew up with.

Being a lunar calendar is also why the muslims you know may be slightly conflicted about how many years old they are . . . at least during some parts of the year. ;-)

I though I read somewhere that there's been some conflict between different Muslim sects as to when Ramadan starts. One sect might view another sect as being heretic for not starting Ramadan when they thought they should.

My neighbor is a convert. We share an interest in gardening.

Part way through the Iraq War she started dressing more conservatively and wearing a hijab, as lots of Muslim women did. I think it was to make a political statement about identity.

Well, we have arguments among Christian sects (or at least different conclusions) about when Easter arrives, too. And while they may not use the term "heresy" today, that was definitely a feature when those sects were going their seperate ways.

So, there may be an algorithm. But it might be closer to say that there are a couple of (conflicting) algorithms.

Speaking of unfortunate group dynamics in large numbers and how we judge groups according to tragic events perpetrated by their members, I get the willies whenever I see a lone white guy enter a movie theater, a public school, a bar, a church, drive any kind of panel truck near a government building, gaze longingly at bell towers, load up his pickup truck with fertilizer at the Home Depot or hang around seeming to bide his time while in the vicinity of either of the two remaining Beatles.

When I'm stopped at night by a white traffic cop and a second police car shows up presently, I have to calm myself and stop my heart palpitations and the flop sweat and remind myself that I'm not Chris Rock, so I'll be OK.

I'm sure you feel cool and ironic while getting the willies under those circumstances. Meanwhile, most of the countries run by white guys are democracies, and virtually all of the countries run by Muslims are regressive police states where you'll get executed for things the first set of countries regard as civil rights.

And that's what I mean about group dynamics. Cartoonists getting murdered. Protesters being stoned in Dearborn, Michigan.

But, go ahead, get the willies any time you see a white guy loading fertilizer at Home Depot. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

And strangely, Brett will say he isn't a racist. Yet Brett won't talk about how "white guys" in democracies may support torture by theUS or apartheid-like policies in the West Bank or deny atrocities committed by the democratic governments they support, while claiming in other circumstances to have the deepest darkest suspicions about government. Except when they kill Arabs, apparently.

There probably is something to this group dynamic thing, however. A friend in real life is one of the nicest, gentlest guys you'd ever want to meet, but he gets his politics from Fox News and the various Islamophobic writers. Consequently, when I tried to tell him about the Nakba in one of our Israel-Palestine discussions, he assumed I was just spouting some propaganda I'd read somewhere. He knew who commits all the atrocities.

Perfectly nice decent people can believe some really awful things if they identify with some ideology or tribal group. For some reason Brett can see this in those others, but not in himself.

"And strangely, Brett will say he isn't a racist."

Yup, strangely I don't think Islam is a race.

And of course some black Americans effectively live in a corrupt police state of the sort that Brett worries might some day oppress white guys like himself. People in Ferguson, for instance. But gosh,how could that be Brett? It's almost as though there is some white dynamic going on--maybe we could call it something. Since it seems to involve race, maybe race- based bigotry would work ,or maybe there is shorter word.

For some reason Brett can see this in those others, but not in himself.

it's because he's here to troll us and to educate us and to make us see the things he wants us to see - not the other way around.

Meanwhile, most of the countries run by white guys are democracies, and virtually all of the countries run by Muslims are regressive police states

How'd that happen?

History, how the **** does it work?

Yup, strangely I don't think Islam is a race.

I think the word folks are looking for here is bigot.

most of the countries run by white guys are democracies,

And here I thought they were socialist hellholes that placed incredible restrictions on individual freedoms.

I'm perfectly aware that Middle Eastern despots are not democracies and they tend to hunt in packs, mostly preying on their own people, the sick f*cks.

I'll also aware that American mass killers, who are mostly white males, hunt alone with weapons Tench Coxe believed they should possess.

They hunt their own kind too, the sick f*cks.

That America arms both types of psychopaths is the uncool, but ironic part.

So now you have a problem with profiling.

It's also weird to compare countries run by Muslims to countries run by *white guys*, and then say that it's not about race.

Muslim countries exist in a vacuum, and 'white' countries do nothing to prop up pliable dictators and tyrants.

it must be true.

To the extent that I've read them, every single thread like this (and by "like this," I mean touching on one of Brett's pet topics) devolves into Brett saying crypto-bigoted or explicitly bigoted things and everyone else attacking him or trying to reason with him. It has made me much less interested in following this blog. You guys have a troll problem.

What Julian said.

You realize that another way of describing the situation, is that this little corner of the internet regards perfectly normal, indeed common, views as "crypto-bigoted or explicitly bigoted", and reacts badly to being exposed to what's going out outside the echo chamber. Where your cherished assumptions aren't considered unchallegable truth.

Say, I hear Hillary Clinton is running for President. Any truth to that rumor?

During my lifetime terrorists in the UK have mostly been Christian Irishmen with a sectarian grievance. Apparently Christians have an unfortunate group dynamic, even though individually they're just as likeable as anyone else.

Speaking of Muslims on the other hand, there is one odd thing about them: all of them I've got close enough to to ask disbelieve in the theory of evolution.

"Say, I hear Hillary Clinton is running for President. Any truth to that rumor?"

I believe she's running for campaign donations, (A large portion of which she should be able to divert into her own bank account.) which requires her to eventually make an effort to end up on the ballot. But I find it hard to believe she's actually trying to become President.

I mean, she's basically without any notable accomplishments, (But with a huge number of scandals dogging her.) and at an age where sensible people take up gardening. The idea that she should be aiming to be sworn into the Presidency shortly after qualifying for social security?

Madness.

I hear Ronald Reagan was faking it, too. It makes sense, given his age at the time. Man, he must have been surprised when he actually was elected, especially the second time.

So, Brett, you tell us that bigoted comments are normal (meaning, I take it, usual) elsewhere in the world. I'm perfectly willing to take your word for it. But I don't quite see why we should feel it incumbent on us emulate that particular behavior.

As for us being in an echo chamber, there appear to me to be a variety of points of view here on most topics, even not counting yours. Admittedly, it does sometimes happen that people from all of those different points of view disagree with you. But that doesn't mean that they routinely echo each other, which is what I take "echo chamber" to imply.

Oh yes, the other feature I notice. Regardless of their personal point of view, I have seen almost everybody here, at one point or another, say something like "Oh, I didn't know that. I'll have to reconsider my position on this." But I can't recall you ever doing so -- which may be my poor memory, of course....

Re: echo chambers, weren't your comments over-written at CT? Were you also banned? (It would seem logical that would have been, if they bothered to over-write your comments.) Somehow, you don't get banned, censored or even ignored here.

I guess there are echo chambers, and then there are echo chambers.

Say, I hear Hillary Clinton is running for President. Any truth to that rumor?

yep!

but real patriots know that "Eight Years Of One Demographically Symbolic President Is Enough".

oh those wacky 'white guys'

"So, Brett, you tell us that bigoted comments are normal (meaning, I take it, usual) elsewhere in the world."

No, I'm telling you that you've defined as "bigoted" perfectly ordinary opinions.

I say that the best way for Michael Brown to have survived that day in Ferguson was to not rob a convenience store and then assault a cop? You call me a bigot.

I say tha Trayvon Martin might still be alive today if he hadn't sucker punched Zimmerman, and then tried to beat him to death? You call me a bigot.

I say that Muslims are individually nice people, but something goes wrong when too many of them get together? Point to the decided lack of Muslim majority liberal democracies? Suggest that the Palestinians might lay off launching rockets into Israel if they want the occupation to end? You call me a bigot.

These are all common-place observations outside your echo chamber. They're not bigotry, they're a refusal to ignore what's in front of your face.

And, yeah, CT banned me, you haven't. That's a big point in your favor, IMO. This might be an echo chamber, but you haven't welded the door shut and hammered home the ear plugs yet. Might never, thankfully.

this place is an echo chamber alright - every time Brett says something, we all echo it back to him.

Certainly, most people here lean left/liberal. And they won't necessarily suddenly change their minds about things or fail to react negatively to certain ideas. But engaging and tolerating opposing viewpoints is not something that happens in echo chambers, if my understanding of what an echo chamber is isn't largely incorrect.

It's also entirely possible that you have a bit of a blind spot where generalizing about different groups of people is concerned, or recognizing that racism is at all likely as a factor in certain situations, Brett. But, yeah, maybe everyone else is the problem here, and you're always being treated unfairly when those things come up.

I'm telling you that you've defined as "bigoted" perfectly ordinary opinions.

There is nothing whatsoever out of the ordinary about bigotry.

In My Humble Opinion, noticing that many countries led by people who happen to be Muslim are oppressive, and then drawing the conclusion that when Muslims get together in large numbers they automatically engage in bad behavior, is evidence of bigotry.

Bigotry is an obstinate devotion to one's own kind, or one's own opinions or point of view, and an intolerance for others.

That is what bigotry is.

There are a number of specific and concrete reasons that many of the Muslim-led countries have authoritarian, oppressive governments. Many of those reasons are related to US foreign and economic policy, as it turns out. Not many of them are related to the professed religious faith of the people who live in those countries, or of the people who lead them.

To be honest, I find myself in agreement with Julian's 9:09. Sorry to say.

This might be an echo chamber

You can tell it is by the nearly hourly knock-down, drag-out fights. We are utterly lockstepped, here.

This is some sort of tunnel vision thing you have going on, Brett. Most of the liberals here don't agree on much outside of the sky-is-blue kind of thing.

The thing we are at present is much diminished from our peak days in terms of the number of regulars. And, granted, the fights we used to have were a bit more extravagant.

I blame myself.

I find myself in agreement with Julian's 9:09. Sorry to say.

And to clarify:

My agreement with Julian has nothing to do with your point of view.

ObWi may be left-leaning, whatever that means, but there are a really wide range of viewpoints expressed here.

The reason I find myself in agreement with Julian is because you, Brett, do not appear to actually be interested in conversation. You appear to be interested in finding or making opportunities to rant about a small collection of issues that are of particular interest to you.

You're not particularly interested in engaging with other people's arguments. You frequently change the subject or simply fail to respond when people challenge points you make, or ask very reasonable questions about them.

It appears, to me, that you are basically here to vent about your personal hobby horses.

We all have some of that in us, just ask me about corporate personhood.

But to make this place work, that has to be balanced with a willingness to entertain and engage with other points of view.

And entertaining and engaging other points of view is not the same as simply shouting your own even louder, or with increasing frequency.

That's how it looks to me. As far as I'm concerned, you're welcome here, you've been here a long time and you often have informative things to say.

But a lot of us are tired of dealing with what feels like an abuse of the welcome that is extended to you.

Enough from me on the topic.

The sky is not blue today in Seattle. I blame Hilary.

The sky is not blue today in Seattle. I blame Hilary.

No man, it all goes back to Nader.

one thing that's making like Hillary today a bit more than i did last week is the frantic desperation of the GOP's opposition. their conniption machine is just spinning-up but it's already slipping gears and throwing bolts. so if her candidacy means i get to watch the GOP blow itself apart, i'm all for it.

On that theory, who should I support? Chris Cristie? Nah, probably Bill O'Reilly.

Seriously, accepting foreign donations to her foundation while doing government policy relating to those governments is a reason to vote for her, just because Republicans complain about it?

accepting foreign donations to her foundation while doing government policy relating to those governments is a reason to vote for her

i didn't say that.

just because Republicans complain about it?

that she drives the GOP into fits of self-destructive inanity makes me like her more than i did before.

Ok, I can understand that, but at some point, both parties have to be willing to say, "I appreciate that "X" drives the other guys to foaming fits, but that doesn't make "X" fit to hold office."

I'm sure Hillary could drive Republicans to foaming fits with a position on MSNBC, too, and less risk of running the country into the ground in return for foreign graft.

Clinton is as fit to hold office as any of the chum the GOP has thrown into the water so far.

i'm done with purity. effectiveness in getting beneficial policy through is what really matters.

Well, I hope you're certain that the majority of the donations to her foundation are coming from the right people, 'cause that's the only way you'll get the right policy out of her, IMO.

As Colombian Oil Money Flowed To Clintons, State Department Took No Action To Prevent Labor Violations

The very idea that a candidate for President would have a 'Foundation' accepting donations from foreign governments gives me the squicks.

i don't actually care about her foundation. if she broke the law, file a lawsuit. otherwise, meh - it's no less shady than 501(c)s and PACs and all the other ways we tolerate bribery.

It's so very nice to see Brett take an interest in the rights and safety of workers as they sweat under the yoke of capitalist oppression.

Onward, comrade!

I wish it were nice to see Cleek in full out "I'd vote for the Devil if his opponent were a Republican" mode. Just hypothetically, what would she have to do to put her beyond the pale?

Snarki, I'm not so sure the US should have a position on other countries' labor laws, but if we're going to, I would certainly prefer that the Secretary of State not be up for sale on the matter.

Or at least that the proceeds go to the general fund, instead of her bank account.

Just hypothetically, what would she have to do to put her beyond the pale?

Murder a deputy White House counsel.

that she drives the GOP into fits of self-destructive inanity makes me like her more than i did before.

I'm kind of like that with Scott Walker sometimes, but then I try to grow the hell up.

I see, selling her office to the highest bidder isn't bad enough.

Don't think she murdered Vince Foster, BTW. Does look like somebody planted a fake suicide note, though, just to extract some political mileage out of a real suicide.

Anyway, back to topic:

All the Muslims I've met were fairly nice people, for all that my former boss wasn't a very good boss.

I think that pretty much every group consists mostly of fairly nice people. Being fairly nice in isolation is a common human trait.

It's only in groups that normal people become dangerous...

well, she'd have to do something other than what every other top candidate in recent history has done.

pick a candidate and google "foreign donations %CANDIDATE% -Clinton". they all turn up, from Gingrich to Romney to Bush to Gore to Obama, and yes Clinton. if she committed a crime, prove it and take her to court. otherwise, i don't care about it and i'm going to chuckle quietly to myself every time you bring it up.

"I'd vote for the Devil if his opponent were a Republican"

that isn't actually what i said.

i'll vote for any Democrat over anyone the GOP is likely to nominate because right now, the GOP is a danger to this country. they've elected too many yahoos, racists and reactionaries; and they simply can't be trusted to govern this country.

"if she committed a crime, prove it and take her to court."

Are you unclear about how crimes are prosecuted in this country? Might be such a thing as a "citizen's arrest", but we don't have "citizen's prosecutions".

The only way Hillary is getting prosecuted for that, is if she pisses off Obama. Otherwise she's above the law.

I'm kind of like that with Scott Walker sometimes, but then I try to grow the hell up.

hey, once you're done growing up, maybe you could try working on your sanctimony problem ?

cleek and slart, are you guys trying to poke a hole in the wall of the echo chamber?

russell: It's also weird to compare countries run by Muslims to countries run by *white guys*, and then say that it's not about race.

You beat me to it, russell.

The thing about being racist is, you don't have to admit you are one to be one. Not even to yourself. All you have to do is quack like one.

--TP

The only way Hillary is getting prosecuted for that, is if she pisses off Obama. Otherwise she's above the law.

did Obama abolish the FEC ? if solid evidence of wrongdoing came out against her, surely Congress would make noise, and the FEC would make noise (if not more), and all of that would damage her chances considerably.

ok. ok. i'm out.

see y'all some other time.

Of course it's weird, but you respond to weird, you respond with weird.

I'm not the person who compared "white guys" to a religion. I just responded to it.

I'm not the person who compared "white guys" to a religion.

Actually, you are.

Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin were all "white guys".

Sure, not so numerous as those Muslim dictator types, but they made up for it with their awesome pale-skinned work ethic.

Personally, I'm hoping that the Democrats once again see someone come out of nowhere and derail Hilary's easy walk to the nomination. Because I would really, really hate to vote for her for President.

But I really don't see any significant probability of the Republicans nominating someone I would prefer to her. Which I consider appalling, but unfortunately that's the world we live in today.

I'm kind of dubious about the prospects of the Republicans coming up with somebody worse than Hillary, myself. But they could easily come up with somebody bad enough I just wouldn't dirty my hands voting for them.

At some point the lesser evil has to not be lesser enough, or you're just enabling an endless downward spiral.

I have to disagree. If you don't want to go with a "lesser evil," the time to do something is earlier on -- to get someone you like into the general election. Because if you refuse to vote for a lesser evil, what you are enabling is the greater evil.

It's one thing to sit out an election if you see no difference between the candidates. But if you can see the two candidates as "bad" and "worse" I would say that you have a moral imperative to vote against "worse". Even if that means voting for "bad".

I think given the restrictions of the U.S. political system today, as enmeshed in the Constitution and unlikely to change, well, ever, that voting for Hillary (should she win the Democratic nomination) is just fine.

Even if the GOP nominated the least objectionable GOP governor/Senator from a Democrat's standpoint (who that might be I don't know), he/she is going to bring a GOP policy apparatus to the Executive Branch. In contrast, Hillary's will be a Democratic one.

That's a gigantic difference, even if I'd rather someone other than Hillary was the Democratic nominee - and, I would note, she seems much less objectionable to me right now than she did in 2007-8. Perhaps she's learned something in her time as Secretary of State. But perhaps that just because we aren't quite into the full campaign yet (thank god).

Brett: But they could easily come up with somebody bad enough I just wouldn't dirty my hands voting for them.

I believe that Brett believes the above statement to be true.

I believe that it is theoretically true.

But I don't believe it for a minute.

Or, to put it differently: I'd like to know the name of any person who
a) the GOP could "easily" nominate, and
b) Brett would not vote for, against Hillary.

--TP

"and, I would note, she seems much less objectionable to me right now than she did in 2007-8."

You've gotten more jaded. That's all.

You've gotten more jaded. That's all.

Could be true. Or more realistic. Or I better recognize what a return to the GOP sh1t show circa 2001-2009 would mean (and it would be that) and there doesn't seem to be a current Hillary-alternative on the Democratic side. A President Warren would be fun, but she's not running.

You can not believe it if you like, but John McCain did NOT get my vote in 2008. Couldn't stomach him.

Sorry if you're not willing to believe somebody else has lines they won't cross.

We should run a thread on the wackiest candidates anyone has ever voted for.

I voted for Commoner in 1980. My mom voted for Anderson, I think because he had that pretty white hair and a nice soft voice.

I think I've voted for Jill Stein at some point, probably for MA governor.

I just spend my votes like a profligate wastrel, apparently.

Julian has hit it. Thread after promising thread has been ruined for me by Brett trying to hijack it with his pet peeves and then succeeding when everyone else jumps in on his topic rather than the original theme. And so I, among others, just tune out. There are other blogs, I'm told, that don't have this particular problem.

DNFTT.

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