The Sly Accusation of Islamophobia

I think we're all making a big mistake in defining "Islamophobia" as "hates Muslims."OF COURSE it's wrong to hate people. But it's not wrong to have serious reservations about a religion, a philosophy or a culture. It's not wrong to judge IDEAS, and to find them wanting.Because there really are inferior cultures and beliefs, cultures that deserve to be hated and stamped out. I grew up in one of them -- a racist Southern culture which insisted that skin color should be the decider for … [Read more...]

Starbucks Cups: Yeah, Get Angry … Suckah!


And so the annual "War on Christmas" begins -- the viral claptrap that comes out every year like Christmas lights, earlier and earlier. Here's this year's volley.A number of articles from mainstream news sites -- New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine, New York Daily News -- say "some Christians" or "Christian evangelists" take exception to Starbucks' new plain red cups ... but they never actually name the "some Christians" they're talking about. Is it the Catholic Church in all its … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: The Poison of Stories

I'm having this idea. Haven't worked it out completely, but … here's the main part.First, let's go back to earlier in the year and look at this post: Beta Culture: Seeing the Brackets. (Its illo is just to the right here.)This is a sister post to that one, and to me clarifies and expands what I was really getting at back then. So:A great deal of what we humans do in day-to-day living is creating stories to live by.Some of them might be stories of personal identity – Faithful Bel … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Dealing With Conservatives

Had a little epiphany today about the sense of humor, and why ultra-conservatives don't seem to have much of it.Humor requires a certain flexibility of mind, a capacity to quickly change mental directions. The lead-in to a joke sets up a certain expectation, then the punchline forces a radical departure from that expectation. The unexpectedness makes us laugh. A Hasidic Jew walks into a New York City bar with a frog on his shoulder. The bartender says "Where the heck did you get THAT?" The … [Read more...]

One Billion Atheists

When I started as an atheist activist 15 or 20 years ago, one thing was clear to most of the atheists I talked to: Every person had to get here on his/her own.In other words, it was decidedly wrong to proselytize. The thought was that atheism -- the good, solid, workable kind -- was this conclusion reachable only after much personal introspection and observation. That merely getting people to say "I'm an atheist" was empty and useless. Such an atheism would be no different from religion -- a … [Read more...]

A Dark Tide in Human Affairs

Dark Tide copy

I was thinking today about large-scale social motion in a negative direction. Not as some sort of accident, but as the result of some deeper human sociological/psychological tides.I think of bikers and biker culture. The skull motif so penetrates biker culture that it makes its way onto everything -- bikes, t-shirts, leather jackets, bandanas, helmets, face masks, even tattoos. It's interesting to me that this nihilistic image is of such unquestionable importance, and has no … [Read more...]