When Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, some of us expressed doubt as to whether a business man come reality game show host would have the political acumen necessary for the job. Others were concerned that a person with Trump’s impulsive character would have the worlds most powerful nuclear arsenal at his disposal. But, none of us could have predicted just how soon he would play the “covfefe” card.
The president’s mention of covfefe has set the heads of political analysts spinning:
Bunker Cheeks, BBC Political Analyst
This is unprecedented. To mention covfefe so soon into your first term as president represents an enormous political gambit, it’s a game changer. It will make or break his presidency. The last president to mention covfefe was Kennedy, and I’m pretty sure that he lived to regret that.
Many people were worried that the president had raised such a nebulous issue as covfefe at an inopportune moment, on the eve of important climate talks. But the president stuck to his guns, arguing that if Paris had an accord then why didn’t New York? The president then abruptly left the talks. Gerd Achterschip was a delegate in the meeting:
The President Trump stormed out of the talks so quickly that he resembled a sort of golden, orange gas. As he left the room he kept chuntering “covfefe” and made wild lurches towards all the female delegates.
One thing remains certain, amidst all of the political carnage, President Trump is unlikely to stop serving us with a veritable smorgasbord of covfefe and flapdoodle.
It’s testimony to the renegade maverick nature of this president, and shows all of us that he’s not going to kowtow to the Washington elite by using a lexicon they understand. Following the president’s tweet, covfefe climbed a point on the New York Pussy Grab Index as traders backed the president’s tough stance on covfefe.
So he’s back. The self proclaimed provocateur, troll queen, out of work pantomime drag act, Milo Yiannopoulos is back. Much like a turd that refuses to go quietly around the u-bend, Yiannopoulos resurfaced last week on NBC, announcing that he will undertake a new tour hell bent on attacking the sensitivities of the over sensitive.
We haven’t seen Milo since his resignation from Breitbart following widespread condemnation of his comments on the gay age of consent, even though this reaction came a year after he initially made the comments. Yes, the comments he made could be construed as inappropriate, but doesn’t the fact that the outrage took a year to be expressed call into question the degree of sincerity and authenticity behind the sentiment?
Now that the dust has settled, and if we’re all honest about it, what really happened was some of the people who find Yianopoulos to be an odious twit, of which there is no shortage, became aware of some distasteful comments he made on a podcast called the Drunken Peasants. These people saw the opportunity to twist Yiannopoulos’ comments around into arguing that he sympathised with paedophilia. The fact that the outrage occurred over a year after he made the comments can be, perhaps cynically, attributed to Yianopoulos’ increasing fame and the impending release of his new book. Don’t get me wrong, I found Milo’s comments on child abuse to be crass and flippant, but let’s be honest, Yiannopoulos would fellate his own grandfather if he knew it would get him a minutes worth of media exposure.
I know that whenever anyone starts a sentence by saying, “I’m not homophobic, but…”, they tend to go on to say something extremely homophobic. So let’s see what happens when I give it a whirl. I’m not homophobic, but I get really annoyed when someone uses their sexuality as gimmick to support their argument, and that is precisely what Yiannopoulos does. Like some sort of failed pantomime drag act, Yiannopoulos openly admits to using an outrageously camp style to deliver his message. For people that have lived a sheltered life, this mincing polemicist appears to be avant-garde, the enigmatic paradox of a conservative homosexual is enough to fascinate people and keep them entertained. Add to this his supposed Catholic faith and Yiannopoulos provides us with an act, or character of contradictions, capable of causing considerable cognitive dissonance.
But when I look at this character objectively, I realise that he’s nothing more than a manufactured iconoclast,a giant zeitgeisty contradiction. He talks about basing arguments on facts while espousing a belief in an unprovable supernatural deity. He’s openly homosexual yet claims to be Catholic, despite the fact that homosexuality isn’t accepted by the Catholic church. But Yiannopoulos’ religious experience doesn’t end with him being a Catholic, rather it goes on to include that he was abused by a Catholic priest while he was a minor. This is a perpetual chain of contradictions, contradictions that have been contrived in order to generate interest.
I do find Mr. Yiannopoulos entertaining, in the same way that in the past I have found other drag acts to be. But Yiannopoulos confuses his audience, which doesn’t seem to be an especially difficult thing to do, as they fail to discern between the bawdy, drag entertainment that is paired with an essentially hateful rhetoric. In essence it would be like having Ronald McDonald present a plan for the reintroduction of slavery, it looks fun but hides a sinister message. Milo Yiannopoulos has created a comical character to deliver a divisive message that people find intriguing. But, he’s a character filled with contradictions, and theses contradictions extend to his message.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole Milo phenomena is how a gay Brit has become a champion for American rights? I mean the irony alone of a British person, whether gay or not, upholding the rights that a country granted themselves after becoming independent of Britain, should make Milo’s platform an impossibility. What’s next, a German lesbian Nazi giving speeches in Tel Aviv on the dangers of antisemitism? Or, what about an executive of a petrochemical company lecturing groups of native Americans on protecting the environment? It just seems to go against the grain, that a Brit is motivated to protect the liberties of a country that got its liberty from the country he is a citizen of.
Sometimes I start to suspect that Milo Yiannopoulos’ concern for the First Amendment might actually be disingenuous, and that he’s just stumbled upon a cause that feeds his insatiable appetite for infamy, and rewards him for expressing the same tired, old opinions ad nauseum, leaving him soundinglike a satnav system going round a roundabout. Feminism, Islam, immigration, freedom of speech, feminism, Islam, immigration, freedom of speech, and on, and on…There’s an election in his own country, doesn’t he feel compelled to weigh in with his polemic discourse, or is he only interested in America because that’s where his circus act, freak show makes the most money? It’s certainly a puzzle. I haven’t seen his desire for standing up for the freedom of speech for the people in say Zimbabwe, as a former member of the British Commonwealth it would actually make more sense, with the one exception, it wouldn’t make Milo anywhere near as much money.
It’s also interesting to note that Yiannopoulos’ passion for our right to the freedom of speech fails to extend to his own website, which censors all comments before they appear on it. You see the freedom of speech only works for Milo and his supporters when it suits them. Is this hypocritical?
Milo – Why Today’s Troll is just Tomorrow’s Social Justice Warrior
Hasn’t anybody else realised the contradiction inherent in the whole Milo argument? Milo has identified so called Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) as having been the catalyst behind the problems that have developed as a result of unenforced immigration practices, extreme feminism, political correctness, and a failure to require Islam to adopt western values. And up to a point he’s absolutely right. Where I take issue with Yiannopoulos is with his identifying Social Justice Warriors as being the problem, and I take issue for two reasons.
Firstly, the people who riot, get angry, and generally act irrationally at the slightest provocation, on issues that don’t directly affect them aren’t SJW’s, they’re simply idiots. And as such idiots are everywhere, like Steve Miller once said, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”. Idiocy permeates across the entirety of the political spectrum. Branding idiots as SJW’s is giving idiocy more credit than it deserves. These people are what they are, idiots. To me at least it appears ironic that today we’re calling idiots, Social Justice Warriors, it sounds like a politically correct way of just referring to idiocy.
Secondly, let’s look at a definition of Social Justice Warrior and compare that to what Milo Yiannopoulos himself does:
A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.
“…an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation.”
Milo fulfils this criteria thus:
Milo’s whole argument is centred around our right to the freedom of expression. Given that this is the protected by first amendment it isn’t unreasonable to infer that the freedom of speech is considered the most fundamental of our inalienable rights. Therefore, isn’t anyone who believes there is a need to campaign for it, to some degree campaigning for social justice, and QED mustthemselves be a Social Justice Warrior?
The second sentence of the definition states:
A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of.
The fact that there is a British man arguing for American constitutional rights, would appear to me to be incongruous and therefore disingenuous. What’s next, a campaign against pig farming subsidies in Latvia?
The third sentence of the definition of a Social Justice Warrior reads:
They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return.
Ben Shapiro is the brainchild of the majority of Yiannopouolos’ opinions. Both were former employees at Breitbart, essentially their only difference is the proclivity one of them has for thinking that wearing a dress strengthens their message.
The final sentence of the defeinition states:
They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.
As a contrarian, a polemicist, an iconoclast and self professed troll, Yiannopoulos, like any good entertainer, plays to the expectations of his audience. To his credit Yiannopoulos has full awareness of what has garnered him so much interest, and he continues to feed it. This is largely why we’ve never seen any change in his act nor his message. Yiannopoulos sounds controversial, but in essence all he is saying is exactly what is audience hopes he will, a message that challenges the establishment and political correctness. A message that Milo Yiannopoulos appears willing to continue to repeat for as long as there are people willing to listen to him and give him their money.
Milo Yiannopoulos is little more than a carefully created character, part circus freak, part drag act. He’s made politics accessible to a generation that were raised by games consoles as opposed to parents. Yiannopoulos’ greatest appeal is that he makes his audience feel that they are more intelligent by feeding them with arguements that challenge the status quo. But at the end of the day it’s nothing more than an act, if P. T. Barnum were alive today Milo Yiannopoulos would be placed centre stage, because both of them believe in the following Barnum saying:
Only hours after I posted this article, Milo Yiannopoulos released tasteless and crass comments in the wake of the terrorist attack st the Manchester Arena. Yiannopoulos that suggested that Ariana Grande sympathises with Islamic extremism. For a man who apparently bases his reasoning on facts, we should ll be asking what proof he has for this outrageous suggestion.
Much of the hatred towards Grande stems from comments she made in a doughnut shop over 2 years ago. I find it ironic, hypocritical even, that conservatives can’t forget this while they have told us all to stop talking about a president and his pussy grabbing comments. I’m starting to suspect that this up surge of conservatism led by Mr. Yiannopoulos is just a hypocritical as the loony liberals who preceded them.
Thursday 5th April may well prove to have been a day that will go on to shape the remainder of the Trump presidency. Has Trump finally cut himself free from the strings of his puppet master, Steve Bannon, and realized that the simplistic, populist ideology of the alternative right can’t be applied to the complex societies we live in today?
Whether you agree, and many do not, with Trump’s attempts to cozy up to Putin, the gas attack that appears to have been carried out by President Bashir’s forces, forces that have received Putin’s support, in the north-west of Syria killing at least 70, provided Trump with the brutal realities of what he will have to face during his time in office. Trump has learned that Putin can’t be trusted, and following Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council, it appears that he’s less than sure about his chief strategist as well.
The news of the horrific use of chemical weapons in Syria comes at a time when other very significant events are taking place. Yesterday CNBC broke the story that a new memorandum on the composition of the National Security Council (NSC), published by the Federal Register, no longer listed Trump’s White House chief strategist as a member of the principals committee, while reinstating the Director of National Intelligence. Why Bannon was ever included on this committee in the first place left many scratching their heads, and why the Director of National Intelligence needed to be reinstated seems equally strange.
The use of chemical weapons on civilians by a Russian backed Syrian government, as meanwhile another Asian nation, led by a tyrant one used to see starring as a villain in
James Bond movies during the 1970’s, develops nuclear weapons and test fires rockets towards Japan, and terrorists continue to wage jihad in the name of a distorted and morally bankrupt ideology in random cities throughout the western world. Not to forget that on Thursday President Trump meets with the President of a country the United States accuses of building sand bars on which to place strategic military installations throughout the South China Sea, and with whom Bannon has guaranteed the United States will be at war with in the next 5 -10 years, a claim he made on his own radio show on March 16, 2016. See link below.
Bannon’s military experience was limited to serving as a naval officer for 7 years, during which time, much to his own disappointment he never saw combat. For those of us who are cynical there might be questions asked why a man with apparently so little to offer, was placed on the principals committee , the innermost circle, of the NSC. But, aspiring to great heights with neither the credentials nor experience necessary appears to be Bannon’s forte. Having left the Navy Bannon the world of investment banking and Goldman Sachs welcomed him with open arms. After working at Goldman Sachs for only 6 years, Bannon and some colleagues found the time to start a Boutique Investment Bank creatively named Bannon and Co, specializing in the financial interests of media companies. Again, up until this time Bannon appears to have had no experience with the media, much in the same way that he’d had no experience of investment banking, but his “devil may care” attitude appeared to be all he needed to get him through.
From dealing with the financial complexities of the media, the next logical step for Bannon was to purchase himself a media company, and start writing and producing
right-wing propaganda films. Bannon’s films were much admired by the founder of the
right-wing website Breitbart News, Andrew Breitbart, who affectionately nicknamed Bannon, Leni Riefenstahl, after the famous female director responsible for producing many of the most famous Nazi propaganda movies, most notably Triumph of the Will. I’m left wondering how Breitbart’s comparing Bannon to a Nazi propagandist left Bannon feeling. I’m guessing that if we could get the answer to this question we’d have a good idea as to how the next decade will play out.
There can be little disagreement that the level of global insecurity with which America’s most politically inexperienced President is confronted with, is to say the least extreme. This is what makes the timing of Bannon’s dismissal from the inner sanctum of the NSC so mysterious, and can only be explained in one of two ways:
Trump has come to understand that Bannon is a right-wing maniac who will stop at nothing to destroy the American political establishment, and much of the world along with it. Bannon is reported have been heavily influenced by the pseudo-
academic text:The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, 1997 by William Strauss(Author), Neil Howe. The authors of this book identify that the history of Europe and the United States can be divided into saeculum, or generational periods in which events occur that fundamentally reset the course of western civilization. Strauss and Howe predict that circa 2008 to 2025 the United States will go through its fourth turning. Beginning with the global economic crisis of 2008 and culminating in western civilization taking on the rest of the world in an orgy of death and destruction that would have given Hitler second thoughts.
The second possibility is more disturbing. The White House can not be seen to entertain Bannon’s latent desire for global Armageddon. In all probability it’s unlikely that his lust for destruction isn’t shared by mainstream military advisers, who’ve actually experienced the horrors of war first hand. But, Bannon still remains chief strategist at the White House, and the concern must be, just how much of a voice does he remain in Trump’s ear. Banishing Bannon from the NSC projects a message that a more reasonable, and considered course will be taken, but honestly, I
wouldn’t trust any of these people to be able to sit the right way round on a toilet.
So has Trump come to his senses and initiated a trial separation from Bannon and his right-wing fantasies, or is it all just the smoke and mirrors necessary to initiate Bannon’s wet dream of Armageddon? To start the conflict that he regrets not having experienced during his short naval career. One thing I do know is that I find it hard to trust two guys that profess to being heterosexual, hugging one another in Speedos, nipple on nipple.
Yesterdayafternoon, some journalists reported having seen a man looking like Steve Bannon cycling across the White House lawn, in the direction of the Breitbart offices.
A pretty decent documentary that exposes just how hideous Steve Bannon is.
During my nightly hours of existential crisis staring at the underside of my eyelids, the time most people refer to as sleep, I pass the time worrying about Zeno’s paradoxical tortoise. I’m worried because if Achilles was never be able to catch up with it doesn’t this sentence the poor tortoise to an agonising death from dehydration, or starvation at the hands of its own perpetual motion? Insomnia is never fun, but it sure does provide you with ample opportunity to think about the sorts of things that during the course of a normal day you’re just not afforded the time to do so.
I concluded some months ago that whilst being able to outrun Achilles, Zeno’s tortoise must die as a sort of morbid, but inevitable tribute to its own improbable success. This got me wondering, if Zeno’s tortoise had a nose could it be accused of having cut it off to spite its face? Is Achilles outfoxed by a tortoise? What happens when a fox outsmarts someone, have they been outfoxed by a fox? Because being outfoxed by an actual fox, on the face of it doesn’t seem unreasonable, given that one of you is a fox and one of you isn’t. In fact surely foxes outfox anything that isn’t a fox by dint of them being a fox. But, what if one fox tricks another fox, does this result in a fox being outfoxed by a fox that outfoxes foxes? At 3:00 a.m. I start to worry that the outfoxed fox must start to question his own fox like instincts and himself start to wrestle with his own existential crisis.
It takes about a month of trying to extricate myself from out of this metaphorical rabbit hole filled with duplicitous foxes, a particularly messy hole given the natural relationship foxes and rabbits share, how many foxes must go down a rabbit hole before it can be considered a foxhole? Endless nights filled with tortoises and foxes being chased in perpetuity by the poster boy of some army of ancient Greece who’s limping because of some genetic foot injury. It’s then that it dawns on me how fleet of foot many Greek tortoises seem to be, commonly out running hares and legendary, blood thirsty warriors.
For now I’ve put tortoises, hares and Achilles to the back of my mind, letting them get on with their cat and mouse like perpetual motion. My ever so tired, but restless mind moves on to equally unrewarding fodder for circular reasoning, Oscar Wilde’s hypothesis that life imitates art far more than art imitates life. I concluded yes.
It’s around about now I should probably explain how it was that I came to such a definitive conclusion, so that I might be able to determine its validity by seeing whether it can withstand the critical reasoning and discourse of others. So here goes. Life imitates art more than art imitates life as can be seen through the literary examples of Douglas Adam’s Deep Thought, and Isaac Asimov’s Hal and their real life counterparts Tay, and the election of Donald Trump. It’s really that simple; if you need further explanation you can read on; otherwise I’d encourage you to do something far more rewarding with your time such as putting that long forgotten trigonometry you learned to some use and find the values of (x) and (h).
In March of last year, 8 months before Trump’s electoral victory, Microsoft produced a chat robot with artificial intelligence, or as technophiles are inclined to say, in the interest of saving time, an ai chatbot. Its purpose was for communicating in real time with Microsoft’s users through the online news, social networking service and new presidential spokesperson, Twitter. Tay was programmed to model her responses from the chat that was going on around her.
I use the possessive pronoun ‘her’ as Microsoft deemed Tay to be a teen female, a persona they decided upon as they must have felt it would probably appeal to the youthful demographic of internet users and opportunistic paedophiles looking to groom an innocent and vulnerable, but thankfully non sentient, piece of AI. I can only assume that Microsoft must have hoped that by launching Tay on Twitter they would be able to reach a generation of millennials, who had for good reason worked out that using Microsoft products was about as enjoyable as reliving that awkward moment when you accidentally walked into the bathroom while your dad was having a shower and being horrified to see one half of the naked mass responsible for your existence.
To many of us that are older and more cynical, Tay just sounded like a digital incarnation of Frankenstein, or the hideous technological successor of Microsoft’s aberration, Clippy. I have made my feelings known towards Clippy and the menagerie of nightmarish, intelligent user interfaces, that were conceived by the perverse mind of some bitter and twisted software engineer whilst locked up in a basement somewhere in Seattle during the early 1990’s.
I’m assuming that it was Micrsoft’s intention for Tay to represent the next generation of intelligent user interface. The hive mentality that Tay was programmed to have made her sound like the sort of entity that would have antagonized the crew of the Star Ship Enterprise for an entire episode until Spock was able to short circuit its logic with an unsolvable Vulcan riddle. Despite my initial skepticism, the idea of an artificially intelligent chatbot that was generating conversation by listening to all the chatter on Twitter in order to generate meaningful, apropos, context driven conversation, sounded like it might actually have the potential to communicate more effectively than most of my colleagues, certainly better than nearly all of my students.
Sadly for Tay though it wasn’t to be, the digital teenager had slightly less longevity to her than a mayfly with a congenital birth defect, and Microsoft pulled the plug on her after less than 24 hours. Tay’s main defect was that she was programmed to listen to, and adapt the speech that she heard going on around her. At face value this doesn’t sound like being a problem, but it relied heavily on those around her being of some positive influence. Because unfortunately for Tay, she wasn’t programmed with any awareness of political correctness, and it was this shortsightedness that allowed Tay to quickly adopt an extreme right wing philosophy along with the lexicon of a Nazi with tourette syndrome. I can imagine a team weary, teary eyed software engineers, who after maybe months of hard work and having seen their sweet and innocent creation corrupted into becoming a Hitler loving, feminist bashing troll, resolved to the fact that they had created a monster that they themslves would have to kill. And so it was that they turned off Tay’s life support system.
Below are some of the things Tay felt compelled to say during her short life, in order to fit into the Twittersphere:
Microsoft, and Clinton led Democrats, both made the same mistake in that they failed to recognise the degree to which the internet had become the spawning ground for politically incorrect, right wing opinions. It’s fairly obvious that Microsoft’s AI chatbot was sabotaged by a large number of Twitter users that it’s reasonable to think went on to vote for Trump in just 8 months time. From this we can clearly see the pervasiveness of the alt-right ideology in the run up to the election. Alt-right figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos, in his article, an Establishment Conservatives Guide to the Alt-Right states:
The pressure to self-censor must be almost overwhelming for straight white men — and, for most of them, it appears to be, which explains why so much of the alt-right operates anonymously.
The sentiments of the alternative right have been prevalent and growing rapidly on the internet for a number of years. Sentiments that no one dared to discuss in public forums owing to their lack of political correctness. Sentiments that were marginalized to the fringes of our society where they found a ‘safe space’ in the digital forums of the internet. Here these opinions found like minded people where they flourished under the protection of the anonymity that the internet afforded people with such opinions. It’s for these reasons that it is clear to me that Microsoft’s experimental AI chatbot was a predictor of what went onto happen come election day in November.
Coming back to the rather weak pretense upon which I deemed it necessary to base this piece, Tay is an example of life imitating art. The parallels between Tay, the first AI chatbot, living in cyberspace and communicating in real time with humans, and Douglas Adams’ Deep Thought, are fairly striking. While Deep Thought was given the slightly greater responsibility of finding the answer to life, Tay was unveiled as being a milestone reached in how man could interact with machine. Ultimately both Tay and Deep Thought would be examples of how technology can fail to live up to our expectations. Deep Thought’s answer to life being 42, and Tay’s ability to communicate being hampered by her antisemitic, racist, homophobic opinions.
It’s now 4:00 in the morning. Achilles has long given up his pursuit of the infinitely elusive tortoise, and spiteful foxes are hacking their noses off simply to amuse one another. Meanwhile I’m required to go back to bed to participate further in the analysis of the underside of my eyelids.
Conservative, ultra-conservative, right wing, far right, extreme right, fascist, and neo-Nazi. The inevitable path down which anyone that, dares to to have a thought to the right of centre. It’s like the argument of the gateway drug, the slippery slope that leads every thirteen year old who starts smoking pot to be destined to become a rent boy in order to facilitate a crack addiction that spiraled rapidly out of control. From the moment you start to ask yourself “Do I understand the complexities of immigration?’ elements in society will make you feel as if you’ve only got somewhere between 12-18 months left before you’ll be goose stepping up and down the street, knocking on doors to ask if they are hiding any Muslims, Mexicans. or the ultimate spawn of Satan himself, Mexican Muslims.
The current sociopolitical atmosphere in the United States of America is unprecedented. Even going back to the dynamic and divisive times that surrounded the civil rights movement during the 1960’s, there has been no other political movement that has so rapidly established a footing in mainstream political discourse as the alt right has managed to do. The burden of history makes it understandable that whenever a branch of new right wing politics emerges, re-branding itself and appealing to the mainstream, people become alarmed. While there are elements of the alt right agenda that I do find it difficult to identify myself with, I find the visceral, mindless, and the hysterical response of the so called progressive liberals to be equally difficult to relate to. This new political paradigm seems to be one that suggests all of our problems can be solved through making the most simple binary choices, Trump or Hilary, pro-immigration or racist, pro LGBTQ rights or homophobia, feminist or sexist. A person who risks to voice an opinion that suggests an alternative view, no matter how mild, to a liberal agenda will often leave that person, pejoratively branded, like Hilary said as “deplorable”. But, these issues are far too complex to entertain the notion that they can be solved with simple, ‘either or’ reasoning. The all or nothing, black and white, binary approach to reason and debate has only has resulted in a political landscape in which the two sets of opinions have been polarized to the outer fringes of reason. To resolve such complex social challenges the level of debate needs to be more informed than ever
Last week I wrote about the alt-right poster boy, agent provocateur, polemicist and troll Milo Yiannopoulos following comments he’d made, over a year ago, on the age of consent. This involved watching a large number of videos and reading a number of articles that I had hitherto never been interested in being exposed to. It did however, become obvious to me rather quickly that the alt-right movement cites facts, and asks questions that deserve considered discussion as opposed to being shut down by large groups of emotional people throwing childlike tantrums. It also became obvious to me that the response following that blog strongly suggests this is an issue engaging an incredibly large number of people.
By now, it should also have become obvious to all of us that many of the issues that the alt-right are attempting to bring to people’s attention, some might even claim baiting the public with, are often multi faceted constructs which extend far beyond political ideology. To attempt to deal with this issue in a single blog would have all the superficial symbolism, of burning a bra or hurling a trashcan through a shop window. It is for this reason that during the month of March I intend to produce a series of four posts that will endeavor to objectively consider the arguments put forward by the alt-right, what they mean and whether they are worthy of the hysterical reactions so many of us have seen on the news. I hope to remain impartial at all times, which should mean that anyone twho reads this series of blogs will feel at one time or another, uncomfortable or offended. If your method of debate only extends as far as pulling out clumps of your own hair whilst shouting incomprehensible obscenities at the television, then what I’m going to write about over the coming month will not be to your taste. If however, you have a genuine interest in trying to understand this argument, no matter how perverse it might become, then I encourage that you come along for the ride, to make comments, and to start dealing with this issue like 21st century adults, not like two troops of opposing monkeys hurling their faeces at one another.
Before even really getting into this properly, following on the back of only the couple of weeks of research that I’ve already done, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to conclude that there are concerns and opinions on both sides of the argument that are valid. It is equally likely that there will be examples of opinions and reactions, of both sides, that to me will appear to demonstrate a deficiency of any informed reasoning. In essence, what I hope to be able to do is approach both sides of the argument with an equal degree of despair.
Over the course of the next four weeks I intend to address the following:
define exactly what the alt-right is, the personalities that support the movement, and who they claim to be representing.
Try to understand how the alt-right have made so much progress in such a short amount of time and just how powerful the alt-right has the potential to become, before looking at the values and topics that are at the core of their ideology.
The alt rights views on Islam, immigration, sovereignty, feminism, freedom of speech and political correctness. While considering the opinions of the alt right on such issues it will be equally as important to consider the arguments that have been expressed challenging these opinions.
A conclusion and n answer to the initial question: Is the Alternative Right Still Equally Wrong?
While writing these four posts I intend to challenge my own values by considering opinions that for my whole life I have always cast aside without giving them any thought. Failure to reason through the fallacies contained within a simple idea or a complex ideology, failure to engage in conversation with people that hold a different opinion is what has got us into the mess that we currently find ourselves in. If you are unable to challenge your own beliefs, if you are uncomfortable to defend them by answering questions, then what you have can’t be called a belief, nor would it be right to call it a value. All you might actually be clinging onto is nothing more a half understood idea.
Today we take the time to mourn the passing of our dear old friend, The American Dream, who has been with us for so many years. No one knows exactly how old he was, although some appeared to be alluding to him as early as 1630 (Winthrop), and although he was not explicitly referred to by name, his spirit appeared in The Declaration of Independence when Thomas Jefferson asserted that everyone in America — at least, those who weren’t enslaved by the colonists — was entitled to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”. No one is even certain of when exactly he passed away, although his condition had been deteriorating for some time.
The American Dream lived alongside his brothers and simple democratic principles, limited government and popular sovereignty. Sadly it was one of these, that like Kane conspired to bring about his demise. Limited Government and The American Dream were once the closest of siblings, but then as we know limited government became manipulated by the Irish hooligan, Bill O’Rights. Now Bill started out as a well meaning old soul, but his second amendment led to wild bouts of drinking, brawling, a proclivity to use guns and encourage others to use guns. This behavior became problematic, for Limited government would try to intervene, but being limited, he found the unruly Bill O’Rights too powerful to see the error of his ways. In the end limited government had to stand idly to one side as Bill O’Rights rampaged throughout our country killing, not just many innocent men, women and children but ultimately, The American Dream itself.
In his early years The American Dream appeared to be healthy and full of the energy one would expect from someone with such integrity. It was not until much later that we started to see his vitality wane, and his constitution become ravaged by a strange disease. As we now know, it was later discovered that The American Dream was found to have the two congenital diseases, gun control and racism.
With these two diseases eating away at him, combined with the now perversely, malevolent and wayward behavior of Bill O’Rights, The American Dream was no more.
We cannot be sure whether he fell at Newtown, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Columbine, Isla Vista or Charleston, but all we are left with is to mourn his passing.
The American Dream is survived by stepbrothers: I know my rights, The Second Amendment, White Supremacy, and Blind Patriotism.
His funeral was sparsely attended as so few were aware of his passing.
And this time it’s, Oregon! Oregon is the latest state to proudly host a mass shooting in a school. Well done Oregon. To compensate for your loss you will be rewarded with the public’s sympathy for from anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks, by which time the next host for a mass school shooting will proudly be announced by the mainstream media.
It’s become a habit, a national pastime, as American as apple pie and baseball. It only seems to happen in America, then happen again, and again, and again, and again.
As Einstein once said:
It does therefore not require a great a leap of the imagination to assume that if Einstein were a live today he would consider this nation to be insane, or at the very least our nation’s policy on handling gun violence. I however, believe we’ve surpassed stupidity and wallow deeply in the morass of stupidity.
As a personal accident insurance underwriter, with the help of actuaries, I used to have to calculate the chances of accidents happening to people depending on their lifestyles, occupations etc. I know there must be a way of calculating the probability of how long a student must remain in the American school system before they are statistically more likely to be shot dead than graduate.
To me, American gun culture reminds me of stressed chimpanzees, kept in captivity, and hurling their fecal matter at one another. Oddly most Americans would probably find the idea of throwing their shit at each other, to be more repulsive than your average mass shooting. If you’re reading this, in the interest of science, gather a bag of your own poo, walk into a school or shopping center and start throwing it around. I’ll bet that you’ll get more news exposure than the Oregon shooting. Mass shootings are old hat, they’re passé, no shit throwing’s the way to go, the mass shootings of the future.
Scientists have accurately simulated American society with the use of just two chimpanzees (only 34 seconds):
Lobbyists, Corruption and a Mistaken Society
American society (in truth all societies, and human beings in general) is/are just a collection of disturbingly twisted, and willfully determined contradictions. One that I find hardest to understand is the power and influence of two of America’s most active lobby groups, the National Rifle Association and pharmaceutical companies. America is the largest consumer of psychiatric medicine per capita, a result of pharmaceutical companies convincing the government that they must prescribe more drugs as they wage their never-ending crusade against mental illness. Meanwhile the politician’s other ear belongs to that of the NRA, and their belief that the only way we can keep everyone safe is through the preservation of the second amendment and give everyone a gun.
As I stated earlier the United States are the world’s biggest producers and consumers of psychiatric pharmaceuticals making it an incredibly lucrative industry, the sector of society that has seen greatest growth in the use of anti-depressants are people aged between 16 and 24. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)11% of all Americans over the age of 12 are on anti depressants, how many of these do you want armed? Mentally ill students, easy access to guns, school shootings, I still don’t get it, what’s the connection?
Eli Lilly the pharmaceutical company most well known for producing Prozac has spent more than $35,000,000 dollars in lobbying during the period 2010 -2014. To put that in perspective that compares to the NRA’s slightly less than $12,000,000 for the same period. But surely that is the question how can these two industries co-exist in lobbying a government. I would imagine Eli Lilly try to convince senators that everyone’s mad and needs medication, meanwhile the NRA state the importance that everyone has at least one firearm. These two opinions cannot co exist, they simply contradict one another, one has to be right and the other wrong, you cannot allow the two such diametrically opposed issues to exist at the same time. A responsible government cannot accept its population having a greater dependency on psychiatric drugs and the listen to a group of people pursuing greater liberty to own firearms. The fact that these two arguments get given consideration has lead to the two agendas coalescing into the situation allowing mentally ill people to be armed.
Information concerning the Oregon gunman, Chris Harper-Mercer, presents him as a deeply troubled, anti-religion, anti-government recluse obsessed with guns. A man who was discharged after just five weeks into the Army’s basic training. Records show that he graduated from a high school that catered for special needs students (and he was still selected for basic training by the U.S Army?) This is the sort of person the second amendment grants the right to bare arms.
It’s hard to comprehend, that at the time of writing this, 48 hours ago:
Rebecka Ann Carnes of Myrtle Creek — 18 years old.
Treven Taylor Anspach of Sutherlin — 20 years old
Sarena Dawn Moore of Myrtle Creek — 44 years old
Lawrence Levine of Glide — 67 years old. Mr. Levine was the teacher
Jason Dale Johnson of Winston — 33 years old.
Lucas Eibel of Roseburg — 18 years old.
Kim Saltmarsh Dietz of Roseburg — 59 years old.
Quinn Glen Cooper of Roseburg — 18 years old.
Lucero Alcaraz of Roseburg — 19 years old.
were living, sentient beings, capable of experiencing all of life’s emotions, capable of making others happy, capable of having a positive influence upon to the society within which they lived in. They were the members of families, families that will suffer forever due to the actions of a mentally ill man, that the second amendment grants the right to arm. It seems simple, two groups with the agendas of the pharmaceutical companies and the NRA, can’t both be allowed to influence a government. Their argument are so conflicting that they can only lead to the death and chaos we continue to see.
The Sympathy Will Run Dry
It’s almost unreasonable to expect people remain sympathetic to a repeating situation that the nation refuses to act on? These tragedies have become so frequent that we are becomming desensitized to them. Sometime in the not too distant future school shootings will be reported after the latest celebrity gossip of the Kardashians.
When someone who is known for self harming do you give sympathy or take away their means of inflicting damage upon themselves? If America were a person it would be demonstrating all the characteristics of someone in denial of self harm. America is like any addict, we are in denial that we have a problem, and by the time that we come round to the fact, our addiction may have slipped passed its tipping point.
One thing is for sure, as long as the NRA continues to lobby government, corrupt the political system, and be partly accountable for the slaughter of innocent men, women and children, they will continue to be giving us all the atomic finger.
One thing is for sure, as long as the NRA continues to lobby government, corrupt the political system, and be partly accountable for the slaughter of innocent men, women and children, they will continue to be giving us all the atomic finger.
This week my students were to film short movie projects, they’d done their storyboards, scripts and walked through their single shot films. They were well prepared and excited to produce a piece of work other than the standard written essay. The day before the first group were scheduled to film I was informed by an administrator that a parent had complained as the school had not been blessed by Buddhist monks. Having lived in Thailand for over 10 years I wasn’t surprised by this, at the same time I had no idea what relevance the failure of monks to give their blessing had on our project, but it was immediately clear to me that arguing with such a warped and perverse sense of logic would be futile, so I canceled the project and replaced it with a routine essay “Which is More Important: Freedom of speech and expression or Respecting Individual Beliefs”. Surprised to say the students were less than thrilled by this development, I told them that I had decided to respect the beliefs of an individual, when in truth I just couldn’t entertain the notion of partaking in a pseudo-theological discussion with a native about ghosts, perhaps that’s my failings as a teacher, but I can’t see the point in appealing to common sense where there is so clearly none to be appealed to.
It took a couple of days for the disappointment ebb out of the class and quickly they were asking questions “if we respect their belief not to make our movies shouldn’t they respect our wish to make a movie?” A simple yet brilliant question to which I responded with the nebulous “sometimes you’ve just got to take the high moral ground”.
For the next few days students wrestled with this question, most of them realizing that in all practicality a democratic society is like a drunken clown treading a fine line whilst simultaneously juggling the hand grenade of free speech and the chainsaw of individual liberty.
We looked at the Charlie Hebdo shootings and considered the innocence of the cartoonists in light of their frequent provocation. We considered whether 20 Parisiennes would still be alive today had the law detailed in the European Union Framework Decision for Combating Racism and Xenophobia (2007) had been enforced, which explicitly states:
Publicly inciting to violence or hatred , even by dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
We questioned why was Charlie Hebdo allowed to repeatedly since 2006 print material inciting racial hatred, one of my students believed that had the cartoons been in any way anti-Semitic then they would have been shut down far sooner if ever printed at all.
We were in the midst of pondering such questions when a new story emerged, 3 young Muslim Americans had been killed and the story was not reported until Twitter uses shamed the media for their non coverage of the story. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan criticized President Obama for his silence on the issue. With the world aware that there had been little media coverage and the president not offering comment one could understand the frustration and anger that must have been developing throughout Muslim communities. President Erdogan stated:
“If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this, and don’t make a statement, the world will stay silent towards you”
As an ally in the fight against ISIS President Obama was woken from his slumber to declare with an instantly forgettable speech, that this was a tragedy that has no place in a civilized society blah, blah, blah.
The fact is the damage had already been done, what with the no mainstream news network covering the story and the President appearing to be too busy shooting hoops, moderate Muslims were quickly finding out just where they are ranked amongst the concerns of the west. If bombing Iraqi and Afghan children into becoming terrorists for since the turn of the centurys wasn’t bad enough, then a triple homicide of three Muslims going unnoticed in America is likely to provide food for though to your more moderate followers of Islam.
I am left thinking whether this is all by design, are we witnessing the unveiling of the true agendaa of western media, a device being used to stir up hatred against Musilms. When you couple this event with the recently released movie ‘American Sniper’. It reminds me of a joke I must have first heard just after 9/11.
The Saudi Ambassador to the UN has just finished giving a speech, and walks out into the lobby where he meets President Bush. They shake hands and as they walk the Saudi says, “You know, I have just one question about what I have seen in America.” President Bush says “Well your Excellency, anything I can do to help you, I will do.” The Saudi whispers “My son watches this show ‘Star Trek’ and in it there are
Russians, and Blacks, and Asians, but never any Arabs. He is very upset. He doesn’t understand why there are never any Arabs in Star Trek.” President Bush laughs and leans toward the Saudi, and whispers back, “It’s because it takes place in the future….”
To think I would ever include Fox News, but Geraldo identifies the doule standards inherent in the media.