June 28, 2016

Milo Yiannopoulos on Trump's Appeal

Milo Yiannopoulos, Journalist, Broadcaster and Entrepreneur-1441 (8961808556) cropped
Milo Yiannopoulos
Why do people vote for one presidential candidate over all the others? That's obvious, isn't it? People listen to the candidates' positions on the relevant issues, and they select the candidate whose policies they believe would be best for our country. This is how everybody votes, right? No, I'm not really that naive. But what if the policies proposed by the various candidates during their campaigns mattered a great deal less than most of us thought? And what if something very different from policies was driving the popularity of one of the candidates currently running for president?

Why are some people supporting Donald Trump for president? I think that most reasonable people recognize that there are many different reasons why someone might support Trump, although there does appear to be a sizable contingent on the left who have convinced themselves that anyone supporting Trump is doing so because of misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and fascism. But if we set all that aside and actually listen to what the people who support Trump are saying, we just might learn something.

Take Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero), for example. He's been quite vocal in his support for Trump. Across a number of interviews (which can be found on YouTube), he's put forward a fascinating theory about the nature of Trump's support. His most startling point is that it has little to do with any of Trump's policy statements. While he says he supports Trump's plans to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and to fix the problems related to poor trade deals, he acknowledges that he does not expect Trump to accomplish much else. In fact, he seems to view this a positive.

June 27, 2016

New Atheists and Atheist Tribalism

Old SchoolIn my Internet travels, I've come across a surprising number of people lately who openly identify themselves as atheists, frequently criticize religion (and oftentimes religious believers), and who go out of their way to disparage those they refer to as "New Atheists." So far, they have all had something in common in that they never bother to define what they mean by "New Atheists" or clearly identify who they are talking about when they use the term. Since they do not indicate what "New Atheist" means to them, I am never sure whether I might be one by their definition or not. And since I don't know what they mean by it, it is not clear whether I should be flattered or insulted if I were to learn that they thought the term applied to me.

I have never considered myself a "New Atheist." I was an atheist for over a decade before Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and others wrote the books that led the mainstream news media in the U.S. to begin paying attention to atheism and subsequently coin the "New Atheist" term. I trace my atheism to Bertrand Russell, thank you very much!

June 25, 2016

What Lessons Should the U.S. Take Away From Brexit?

I am not going to do you the disservice of pretending that I understand all - or even most - of the relevant factors leading up to Britain's recent decision to leave the European Union (EU). My understanding of British politics and how the EU operates is quite limited. From the mainstream news media coverage I have seen, heavily filtered through the lens of U.S. interests like all international news we get through our media, it sounds like there were several cogent arguments on both sides of the debate.

It seems like some of the big ones on the side pushing Britain to leave the EU had to do with many of the same issues currently animating U.S. politics ahead of our presidential election. They include the growing disconnect and sense of alienation many are feeling between themselves and those elected to represent their interests (e.g., resentment toward those perceived as "elites"), concerns over the balance between globalization vs. national sovereignty, and fears related to immigration (i.e., refugees and migrants from predominately Muslim countries) and border security. Or maybe the whole thing was just Obama's fault. I suspect there are additional factors specific to Britain that might not translate well for a U.S. audience, but the ones mentioned above certainly do.

June 24, 2016

The Mindset That Fuels Call-Out Culture

old phone
Prof. Robert A. Rees has written a post at Religion News Service, Anti-LGBT bias means we are all responsible for Orlando, that seems to do the best job of concisely capturing the mindset that has been fueling our ridiculous call-out culture of anything I've yet seen. If you can get past the click-bait title and set aside the liberal guilt it attempts to instill in you for at least a moment, you might find it worth a look for what it tells us about this particular mindset.

After asserting, "We are all responsible for what happened in Orlando," just in case there was any doubt about the title of the post being imposed by an editor or something, Prof. Rees provides a brief anecdote about a colleague who told him that she had recently turned off her television because she saw two men kissing.

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