In a prior post I wrote about the attachment of the word “phobia” to terms to describe those who dislike other groups, e.g. Islamophobia or Occidentophobia. “Phobia is commonly defined as “a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no real danger.” Tell the Belgians and Parisians that their fears of Islam are irrational and that it poses “little or no real danger.”
We don’t apply the term “cancerphobia” to those who worry about the disease because if you live long enough it is likely you will come down with it. Being afraid of cancer, especially if you have smoked in your life, isn’t irrational. So I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Europeans are irrationally afraid of Islam when they suffer terrorist attacks, and while more than half of the Muslims surveyed believe the West is at war with their religion.
The usage of such an attachment is based on the notion we can trace back to the writings of Erasmus who believed that ignorance was the base of all conflict, and that if both sides learned about the other they would stop fighting. So the term Islamophobia makes sense because under this assumption people fear Islam because they don’t understand it and don’t know Muslims. Once they learned about Islam and befriended Muslims they would no longer fear them.
This is comforting because it places the power to change in the hands of the person fearing Muslims and Islam. Muslims don’t have to do anything. It is up to us to learn about their ways and as we do they will learn about us and see that we aren’t so bad and stop wanting to kill us. This is the intellectual equivalent of a battered spouse who believes she controls her abusive husband. If she understands him and loves him even more he will see she is a person worth loving and will stop beating her.
But an outsider knows such a situation ends in one of two ways. Either someone leaves or someone dies.
The Danish writer who coined the term Occidentophobia to apply to Muslims who hate the West fails to recognize this deadly assumption. We don’t talk about Judeophobia – we talk about anti-Semitism. We don’t call Klansmen African-Americanophobes, we call them racists. Islamic terrorists aren’t ignorant about the West. They know who we are and they hate us anyway. So using a “phobia” term is misleading. And limiting their hatred to the Occident ignores terror attacks elsewhere in the world.
Jihadis aren’t at war with the West, they are at war with the modern world and everything it stands for: gender and sexual equality, personal liberty, economic freedom, and the separation of church and state. Their true goal is to reverse Time and bring the world back to the 7th Century as it was when the Prophet Mohammed ruled Arabia. This isn’t irrational fear of the West but a rational hatred from the Islamic perspective of modern life and everything associated with it.
This hatred is so expansive that I can’t think of a word that accurately captures it. It’s a hatred of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, of Science and Reason itself. It’s a hatred of all 4/5ths of humanity not Muslim, and the fraction of Muslims who are heretics (like the Shi’a). It’s a hatred of all world history prior to the birth of the Prophet, which is why the Taliban blew up statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan and Isis destroyed Roman temples in Palmyra.
But just because there isn’t a word to sum it up means we should make do with one like Occidentophobia. It’s always better to have nothing than something that misleads, as this term surely does.
Dutch writer Leon De Winter has an interesting article at Politico.EU which compares European attitudes towards Muslim migrants with Muslim migrants attitudes towards the West. In the process he coins a new term: Occidentophobia to “expres(s) a refusal to accept the essential concepts of life in the West,” in short a hatred of the West and all it stands for. It’s an ugly term in many ways. Occident is an antiquated term and phobia is an abused term thanks to the term Islamophobia which De Winter is trying to counter. Phobia is commonly defined as “a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no real danger.” Tell the Belgians and Parisians that their fears of Islam are irrational and that it poses “little or no real danger.”
But De Winter does make a case against those particularly on the Left that seek to “blame the victim” – the West – for hatred expressed by Muslims towards it. He cites a December 2013 study by Professor Ruud Koopmans of the Berlin Social Science Center ,“Fundamentalism and out-group hostility (PDF).” The study interviewed 9,000 people throughout Europe. Some key slides from Koopmans’s study appear below.
The first slide combines answers from three questions: “Christians [Muslims] should return to the roots of Christianity [Islam],” “There is only one interpretation of the Bible [the
Koran] and every Christian [Muslim] must stick to that”, and “The rules of the Bible [the Koran] are more important to me than the laws of [survey country]”.
The next question: “I don’t want to have homosexuals as friends”, “Jews cannot be trusted”, “Muslims aim to destroy Western culture” (for Christian natives)/“Western countries are out to destroy Islam” (for Muslims).
De Winters writes Occidentophobia “expresses a refusal to accept the essential concepts of life in the West. Young men like the perpetrators of the Brussels attacks have refused to embrace the social codes of Belgian life. They were raised on the idea that their religious ethics trump the ethics of the infidels (close to non-existent, in their eyes, in any case).”
The survey supports Michael Totten’s conclusion that Europe has done a poor job of integrating their Muslim minorities, and allowing these attitudes to fester. “There are five times as many Muslims in the United States as there are in Belgium, but the United States is not a hotbed of homegrown Islamic extremism. We’ve suffered some acts of terrorism since 9/11—the mass shooting in San Bernardino, the Boston Marathon bombing and the massacre at Fort Hood. If American Muslims and European Muslims were equally predisposed to jihadism, we’d experience roughly five times as many attacks. But we don’t, mostly because Muslims feel more at home in the United States than they do in Europe.”
De Winter concludes, “What did “we” do to “them”? We opened up our cities, our houses, our wallets. And in our secular temples of progress — our metro stations and airports and theaters — their sons are killing themselves, and taking our sons and daughters with them. There is nothing for which we need to apologize. “Occidentophobia” originated in the Muslim community. We need to demand they abandon it.”
Perhaps a better solution would be for Europe to remove the suicidal politically correct elite currently governing it in Brussels, Paris and Berlin. Then perhaps it could implement sensible immigration reforms based on politically incorrect facts such as collecting money from the state without working for it isn’t healthy for young able bodied men regardless of religion, and tell them that their recreating the societies in Europe they escaped from in the Middle East and North Africa will not make them happy.
But as Totten suggests with his Tom Wolfe quip “the dark night of fascism is forever descending on the United States and landing in Europe”, the European solution will likely involve jackboots and shaved headed thugs. Europe has suffered two large scale terrorist attacks in 6 months. At this rate it won’t take much to turn even the most open-minded and non-racist European into a tacit supporter of the far right.
What this should teach us in the US is that our own elite, which looks towards the European elite for its inspiration, needs to be resisted at every turn.
Bloomberg has an article showcasing the winners and losers of a manufacturing company’s move from southern Kentucky to northern Mexico. First the losers. “Randall Williams and his wife, Brenda, were two of those workers. For three decades, they helped assemble the hermetically sealed motors that power air conditioners sold all across America. At the end, they were each making $16.10 an hour. That kind of money’s just a dream now: Randall fills orders at a local farm supply store; Brenda works in the high school cafeteria. For a while, he said, their combined income didn’t even add up to one of their old factory wages… ”
Then there are the winners. “Just as the Williamses were being informed by A.O. Smith that they’d be let go, a young Mexican woman named Zoraida Gonzalez was hired some 1,200 miles away in the hardscrabble town of Acuna, just over the Rio Grande from Texas. To replace its Kentucky output, A.O. Smith was ramping up production in lower-cost Mexico, a move facilitated by the signing a decade earlier of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Gonzalez was brought in to help handle phone calls. Now 30 years old and in charge of payroll, she makes about $1.75 an hour…”
In theory free trade should make more winners than losers. A company that offshores manufacturing should save money. This money will go into hiring other employees whose jobs cannot be sent abroad, or be paid to investors in the form of dividends. This money will stimulate demand or be used for more investment, creating jobs that will replace those lost by the Williams’s while at the same time lowering the cost on the things they buy, though the Williams’s might have to relocate to get those jobs.
Unfortunately the theory isn’t working that way in practice as a recent paper by M.I.T.’s David H. Autor, UCSD’s Gordon H. Hanson, and the University of Zurich’s David Dorn of the University of Zurich found. “Instead, unemployment rose both among manufacturing and nonmanufacturing workers, suggesting that the ill effects of increased trade had a spillover impact on the larger local economy. On top of that, average weekly wages declined. In general, places like Tennessee were very slow to adapt to the new economic reality—their elevated unemployment rates and diminished wages persisted for a decade, the paper’s authors estimate. The workers there are also saw a lower lifetime income.”
Even the free trade cheerleader The Economist takes American companies to task for hoarding cash saved by offshoring and other job cutting measures instead of plowing it back into the economy. “Abnormally high profits can worsen inequality if they are the result of persistently high prices or depressed wages. Were America’s firms to cut prices so that their profits were at historically normal levels, consumers’ bills might be 2% lower. If steep earnings are not luring in new entrants, that may mean that firms are abusing monopoly positions, or using lobbying to stifle competition. The game may indeed by rigged.”
One of the theories of Karl Marx’s insomnia cure, “Das Kapital” is that under capitalism money tends to accumulate as winners take all and leave scraps for everyone else. When it accumulates it is less useful than when it is spent. It then becomes up to the government to step in and redistribute it – at least until money is completely abolished. Or something like that. I think that’s as far as I ever got in that billion page long book, required reading in my Marxist Economics class taught by a real honest-to-goodness Israeli Communist.
Free trade is supposed to improve the economic prospects of everyone in aggregate. For losers like the Williams’s, there should be winners not just in the USA but in their own communities. But that is not happening. Instead of leading to greater prosperity, free trade has created stagnant wages and diminished prospects for American workers. The economy booms when a company opens, and everyone in the area prospers as the wages filter through the economy. Then the jobs are lost in one area, but gained by another as the wave of prosperity crosses borders and improves the life of those like Ms. Gonzalez.
But the wave will not stop in Mexico. As prosperity descends on northern Mexico, wages will increase and reach a point where there will be an economic incentive for companies to find cheaper labor elsewhere. This has already happened in Latin America as many of the jobs created by NAFTA move from there to China. And even the Chinese are feeling pressure from lower wage nations such as Vietnam, Cambodia and others. People float in an economic sea, and become prosperous as the wave of prosperity raises them up, but then makes them less so as the wave moves on. The question then becomes: Are the people better off after the wave recedes? Will another follow it?
And that’s where the Williams’s come in. Ask them if they are better off. Then pull the lens back and look at the communities in America’s rust belt cities and see whether cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit and Gary are better off today than they were forty years ago. As the paper by Autor, Hanson, and Dorn proves that next wave of prosperity may never come for some.
Marxist Economics class aside, I was educated to believe in the free trade. Even after I suffered the indignity of training my foreign replacement at my tech job, I wanted to believe that my community was better off under the free trade than it would be without it. I remember talking with a reporter about how America’s real religion was free market capitalism, and that our nation had embarked on a great experiment based on the faith that the the free trade would benefit everyone.
But after decades of trade deficits, wages that haven’t changed since the 1970s and the American worker’s Red Queen’s Race, I think it’s fair to ask, has our faith been well-placed?
Take this article and substitute the words “gun owner” or “gun owning” for Muslim and Islam.
WASHINGTON — Cities across the USA are preparing for the next phase that inevitably follows a gun attack: anti-gun backlash.
Across social media, in public forums on college campuses, and even in mainstream political rhetoric from presidential candidates, anger over the deadly gun attacks in Brussels has spawned discontent and suspicion directed at gun owner groups.
The aftermath of an attack “is always a difficult time for gun owners in the United States,” said Nabil Shaikh, a leader of the Gun Owner Students Association at Princeton University.
“On Princeton’s campus, students took to anonymous forums like Yik Yak to comment that there are gun owners at Princeton who are radical and would therefore condone yesterday’s attacks,” Shaikh said. “These comments not only are appalling and inaccurate but also threaten the well-being of gun owning students.”
Unlike in Belgium and Paris following the November gun attacks, the backlash in the U.S. is not as confrontational.
Europe has seen occasional anti-gun rallies in Flemish cities such as Antwerp and Ghent. Some gun owner leaders have accused police in Europe of overtly targeting gun owning communities in lockdowns and raids of homes.
“The average gun owner still feels intimidated, still feels scared, still feels insecure.”
Khusro Elley, Chappaqua, N.Y.
Gun owner communities in the U.S. face opposition more in the form of rhetoric — but in an election year, such rhetoric can lead to sweeping change.
Yesterday on St. Patrick’s Day I was celebrating my Irish ancestry by listening to Irish music, from traditional jigs and reels by the Chieftains to the punk tunes of the Pogues. Today I’d kill for a Japanese curry (Digression: Why are there no curry restaurant chains in this country? Curry houses are almost as common as sushi shops in Japan.) and listening to Wagakki Band.
And all this is happening in rural North Carolina.
I’ve been meaning to write about “cultural appropriation” which evidently is a hot topic on some college campuses (Digression: Why aren’t getting good grades, landing a good job, or the skyrocketing cost of higher education hot topics? Instead of talking about the mind-expanding process of learning we seem to be talking instead about the mind-closing process of safe spaces and cultural appropriation.)
I am an American male of Irish and Slavic ancestry. My great-great grandfather and great-great grandmother escaped the genocide of the Irish brought about by the British occupation policies. (Digression: The potato famines (yes there were several) weren’t natural events. Sure the potato crops were blighted, but the famines were brought about by the political decisions and actions of the British.*) My Slavic ancestors were peasants of the Austro-Hungarian empire who escaped central Europe in the late 1880s and early 1890s. My hybrid genes have left me with a tendency towards sentimentality and alcoholism from the Irish coupled with an instinctive paranoia and natural talent for baking that kept my Slavic alive while oppressed. I have lived in two non-Western nations – Japan and Tanzania – and my experiences abroad educated on what it means to be American, as well as made me appreciate Western Civilization so denigrated today by nearly everyone.
At the same time those experiences also left me with a deep appreciation of other cultures, particularly the Japanese. To put it bluntly, I think the Japanese are a crazy people. They are racist in ways you have to witness to believe. They are silly, stupid some times and downright ignorant at others.
But this world would be so much worse off without them and their culture. Listen to the song embedded above and watch the video. Wagakki Band has taken traditional Japanese instruments and added American heavy metal to create a unique sound. You don’t have to like it to appreciate its vitality, its energy and its unique character.
By current Leftist standards on college campuses what Wagakki Band has done is culturally appropriate an American sound to create something new. One character trait of the Japanese over the past 1,500 years is their skill at cultural appropriation. In the 7th century they appropriated Chinese religion (Buddhism), writing, and government – then blended it into their own unique culture. Their Buddhism was never much like the rest of Asian Buddhism. As for their writing they may use the same characters as the Chinese but they pronounce them differently and have stuck to a syllable-based language represented by their own writing kana forms. And their form of government was very different from the Chinese, lacking the complex meritocratic bureaucracy of the Chinese. Later Japan would emulate various elements of the Portuguese, British, Prussian and Americans. Strip away all the cultural appropriation and very little would be left of Japanese culture, and what remains would be rather dull (although Shinto has its moments – especially at drunken fire-festivals).
Fredrik deBoer has some good comments about cultural appropriation that got me thinking about all the above since Japan factors into his argument. deBoer writes, “when white progressives complain about culture appropriation, (it) is the denial of the agency of people from other cultures. To accept the idea that, say, an art museum holding an event at which people wear kimonos is necessarily a heinous act of appropriation is to presume that you know that no Japanese people would ever approve of such a thing, even though actual people in Japan will be very happy to at least sell you a kimono. I’m sure some Japanese people wouldn’t like Kimono Wednesdays. I’m sure some Japanese people would find it flattering. I’m sure many wouldn’t care either way. A common response to the controversy, in Japan, appears to have been bewilderment that anyone could be upset about it. But to become offended on the behalf of Japanese people, you have to presume that Japanese people have no agency[emphasis added]. You have to presume that no Japanese person could say to him- or herself “I’m gonna make a choice, not as an avatar of a culture of millions of people but as an individual, to accept/encourage/facilitate white Americans wearing kimonos.” In place of their agency, you put your own righteous judgment.
I lived in Japan 5 years and never wore a kimono but many of my gaijin friends did on occasion and the Japanese always seemed to appreciate it. When a non-Japanese decides that wearing a kimono is racist against the Japanese, s/he presumes to speak for 120 million Japanese people. That strikes me as pretty arrogant, particularly when those worried most about cultural appropriation seem to have spent very little time in the cultures they profess to speak for. I have friends who have spent 30+ years in Japan and have citizenship (Digression: Very difficult to get unless you are a sumo wrestler) who wouldn’t presume to speak for the Japanese, so some college brat doing so seems laughable. But it’s not that funny; as deBoer states “you have to presume that Japanese people have no agency.” This means that the college kid has decided that s/he has more power to speak for the Japanese than the Japanese themselves do. That’s the modern equivalent of what the White Man’s Burden of a century ago. Not surprising considering that the efforts to separate the races on American campuses are nothing more than Leftist versions of separate-but-equal post Plessy v Ferguson America of the early 1900s. All we need is a progressive version of the Ku Klux Klan for completeness.
deBoer concludes, “Like so many other elements of contemporary culture, the economy of offense is revealed to be just another expression of our own ego. We need to remember that we are not the cosmos, that the world is full of other people making their own adult decisions. To forget that isn’t progressive. It’s, well, a kind of imperialism.”
And that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking. This progressive effort to define and then separate the cultures strikes me as conservative to the point of being reactionary. It’s fascism without snappy uniforms and all that goose-stepping. First it wields power over a group of people without their consent. Then it makes decisions telling them what they can and cannot eat, “You are Chinese therefore you must eat Chinese food. No Big Macs for you.” How to dress, “You are German. You must wear lederhosen and dresses like Julie Andrews wore in ‘The Sound of Music’.” And what music to make, “You are Japanese. You must not play rock music; instead you must play traditional Japanese music with shamisen and koto. What the Koto isn’t Japanese, it’s Chinese? Well then no Koto for you Japanese girl.” It’s actually a lot like what Tokugawa shogunate did, mandating the jobs people and their descendants did forever, creating the classes and setting their interactions – and the Tokugawa shogunate isn’t exactly a progressive icon even if the average progressive knew what it was.
I’m confident this whole movement will pass. Any movement that restrains freedom and prevents people from appreciating Japanese curry is doomed to fail. And any group that would keep Wagakki Band from rocking it like Ono no Komachi meets Motorhead deserves to be ignored.
*The tone of that statement reflects my feelings towards the British government during the Irish occupation. Just because I have issues with the treatment of the Irish during those years doesn’t mean that I support the IRA or hate the British governments post 1922. Quite the opposite. In fact I’m a bigger fan of the British government rather than the Irish Republican government due to the latter’s support of the PLO and neutrality during World War 2. Yes I’m one of the few who believes the Irish have some explaining to do over their actions during that war.
Watching events unfold this election year is proof that the Chinese saying “May you live in interesting times,” is a curse. 2016 is an extremely interesting time in American politics, and with each passing day I’m convinced that once this election is over things will never be the same thanks to Donald Trump.
Trump’s success has spawned a cottage industry of political navel-gazers trying to figure out how this brash and egotistical real estate developer commandeered the grassroots of a major political party. Dan Balz of the Washington Post writes, “At the core of Donald Trump’s political success this year are the grievances of a sizable and now vocal block of disaffected voters, many of them white and working-class, and a Republican Party that has sought and benefited from their support while giving them almost nothing tangible in return.”
Funny how that happened. Starting in 1994 the GOP faithful elected a Congress who was supposed to implement a “Contract with America” to lower spending. Instead what they elected was a bunch of neophytes who immediately started acting like Democrats feeding from the trough, throwing a bone to the rank and file by attempting to impeach a sitting president over his infidelity to a woman they all hated anyway. In 2000 the GOP grassroots do what they are told and elect an establishment candidate – who then goes on to start a war that his father left unfinished, blowing a hole in the budget almost as wide as any crater in Iraq.
But they do as they are told and re-elect him in 2004. And they do as they are told again in 2008 before revolting in 2010 by electing a bunch of Tea Party firebrands who… sidle up to the trough just like their Contract with America forebears did 16 years previously. The party elites are professionals at co-opting rebels, and the GOP’s did absolutely nothing to improve the lot of the grassroots. Instead their economic prospects continued dwindling as the GOP majority cut deal after deal with the Democrat minority and their liberal president.
The GOP grassroots voted for GOP candidates and found the men and women they elected to Congress were Democrats in all but name. It’s as if the Democrats had controlled Congress as well as the presidency since 2008. The Democrats push to flood labor markets with illegal aliens to boost union membership and their own party’s roster, and the GOP - beholden to the same corporations bankrolling the Democrats needing cheap labor – agree. Meanwhile American citizens watch these illegals take their jobs and drive down the wages of those they don’t.
Now some of the GOP elite are claiming they are going to vote for Hillary instead of Trump, something they had warned Trump against doing when they hoped he would flare-out last Fall. Why this may seem shocking for them it’s no surprise to the Republican Party faithful; they understand the GOP elite has been Democrats all along. At the very least it undermines their past arguments that any Republican is better in the Oval Office than any Democrat.
The GOP peasants are revolting and they have chosen as their leader the only man willing to voice their concerns. For years they have sought a fighter who would take a punch from the Democrats and hit back twice as hard. They finally found him in of all places, Donald Trump. The New York Times reports, “The problem, for figures like Mr. Forbes and Mr. Romney, is that Mr. Trump’s supporters seem profoundly uninterested at the moment with the image, expectations or traditions of the Republican Party, according to interviews with more than three dozen voters, elected officials and operatives. They are, in many cases, hostile to it. “I want to see Trump go up there and do damage to the Republican Party,” said Jeff Walls, 53, of Flowood, Miss.” Perhaps Mr. Romney would have won the election of 2012 had he hit Obama then as hard as he’s hitting Trump now.
The GOP elites are feeling the people’s pitchforks at their hindquarters, but the ultimate goal is for the champion of the grassroots to take power and represent their interests and address their concerns instead of serving the same Wall Street/Silicon Valley masters as the Democrats.
On the surface the Democrats are gleeful, watching their sworn enemies implode. But talk to a supporter of Bernie Sanders about how they feel about their candidate’s treatment by the DNC. See how they feel about being told to “get into line” and support Hillary Clinton, a woman whose income from a single speech to investment bankers puts her among the top 1% of Americans. A Bernie supporter must be feeling the Bern watching a known pathological liar like Clinton promise to redistribute the wealth from the very people who made her the wealthiest first lady in history. If Clinton sinks like Romney this Fall, perhaps 2020 will be the year the Democrat grass roots grab their pitchforks and unleash terror on their own party elite. But they have plenty of time to gloat until then.
Any party that treats its members as poorly as the Republican Party deserves revolution or death. In a healthy democracy people need to elect representatives who actually representthem. If a party cannot meet that demand, then it deserves oblivion. The GOP elite should be afraid, very afraid. It deserves to feel a bit what its rank and file have felt for decades.
Gavin McInnes, writing at Taki’s Mag: “The petulance of the left is based on Daddy issues and getting rid of Daddy only makes it worse. This is why Trump is so popular right now. Obama is Pippa Bacca. We let him run the show for seven years and he left America naked and strangled in a ditch. Trump isn’t popular because of his policies or his record in politics. He’s popular because he reminds us of Dad after “kids day.” Nobody got any sleep these past two terms and we consumed nothing but cultural junk food. We need a patriarch to rein it in.”