Alex Blaze

Gay, Muslim, roll-back, and demonization

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 01, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Gallup Poll, islam, LGBT, Muslims, park51

I won't name names, but I've been reading enough mainstream and gaystream media muslim_gay_300x225.jpgfor the past couple weeks to have come across the "Homophobia is over" thesis a few times. Ken Mehlman came out, AFER won their case against Prop 8 with help from Republicans, polling shows more Americans are OK with same-sex marriage, and Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Ann Coulter are playing nice, which all means that the Republicans must have seen that homophobia doesn't sell anymore so they decided to stop demonizing us (a few conservatives haven't gotten the memo, but that's just the bumpkins).

At the same time, and I can't believe that this is still an issue, people have suddenly become concerned about Muslims existing in Manhattan. Very concerned. Hold rallies and talk about it non-stop concerned. As others have asked, what changed between now and 9/11? Muslims have been saying it's worse now, and polling confirms that more Americans have negative opinions of Muslim people now than they did in early 2002. That makes no sense, so what gives?

It's the demonization, of course. Hannity, Limbaugh, and all their friends have been beating this drum to their tens of millions of viewers and listeners (and some of that spills over to their millions of friends and family and coworkers and neighbors), and people are becoming concerned. It's a testament to how much people can be led to believe and feel things that aren't related to the reality that surrounds them but instead are a direct result of manipulation.

Consider this chart that I posted last week on the site:


Notice that dip in what should be the easiest, most basic metric of support for gay people, right around 2004? That was also the same year the Republicans ran on a platform of homophobia, implementing eleven constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage and campaigning on a federal amendment. Not surprisingly, people thought less of us as a result of that campaign; their feelings towards the gays didn't simply get better as more of us came out, a younger generation replaced the previous, and everyone saw more gay people on TV. If that campaign tactic was used any longer, we would have seen more roll-back and significant manifestations of the same.

In 2004 it was us who were supposed to distract the country from sluggish growth and two wars (although there's evidence that that campaign didn't change votes on other issues and ended up just demonizing us); in 2010 it's the Muslims who are being used to distract the country from a terrible economy and two wars. It resonates on a certain level if people actually believe that Obama is Muslim and then blame him for the recession.

The only way that I see around this tactic is to fight fire with fire, to name the villains who are actually causing this country's problems and blame them. People are feeling insecure for a variety of reasons, mostly economic, and unless someone explains to them why, then the people who don't want to be discovered will continue to point their fingers at someone else. Heck, they'll even reach out to us and ask us to join in demonizing the next group (expect Coulter to have a long diatribe at Homocon about Muslims).

All the while, jobs continue to be eliminated, our weak safety net gets even weaker, and the country is worse off for it. It takes a lot of stupid to turn a modern democracy into neofeudalism, but they're doing what it takes to make sure Americans get that dumb.

Recent Entries Filed under Politics:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

"The only way that I see around this tactic is to fight fire with fire, to name the villains who are actually causing this country's problems and blame them."

Religious people, right?

I was referring to economic problems there, and Ayn Rand was an atheist.

Oh, then you did mean Republican people?

Conservatives, generally (which includes lots of Democrats), and more specifically the people who finance conservatism because they want to deregulate their various industries (especially finance), cut taxes, and make working class people suffer.

Well, in our current economic crisis we have two sides: spend more or cut taxes. Neither is a solution. Neither creates jobs. Only solving problems and innovating enough to create sustainable demand can create jobs.

Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals and even Progressives are NOT solving problems or supporting innovation. Less than 2% of our trillion dollar stimulus investment went to innovation. 98% went to "buy" jobs - for another year. Then, what?

While I can appreciate your wanting to blame "Conservatives" (and you mentioned Republicans or famous Republicans 7 times) for all of our economic problems, there is plenty of blame to go around. WE have become fat, lazy and willing to settle for mediocrity. WE created the mess we're in. It's not us-against-them, it's us-against-us.

Cutting taxes isn't a solution; spending more is, especially if it's spent on the right things. But part of the current problem is that money is too tight right now, and credit is too tight, and aggregate demand is down as a result, leading to the vicious cycle of unemployment and decrease in aggregate demand we've been talking about for going on years now.

All job are bought, there's not need for scarequotes there. When any employer pays an employee, that labor is bought. The point of the stimulus (I quibble that 98% went to create jobs - only about a third did, the rest is going to state and local governments as well as tax cuts) was to put more money into the economy to prime the pump. The stimulus kept the economy from getting worse than it did, but it wasn't nearly enough and not enough of it was directed towards job creation, but to say that the basic rules of macroeconomics don't apply to this situation when we haven't even tried the traditional solutions (spending enough to replace the loss in aggregate demand) doesn't make sense.

Especially since the alternative that you're providing - that Americans have changed dramatically in the last decade and suck substantially more than they did in the 90's when the economy was booming - isn't even reasonable possibility. Obesity did not cause the recession, that's not a reasonable explanation. Americans work longer weeks than most other first-world countries do, and there are tens of millions of Americans looking to work or to work longer hours, so "lazy" isn't a reasonable explanation. I don't know what "settle for mediocrity" means in this context.

What the government should do is put the people who want to work to work. There's no reason not to. People are saying they want to work, lots of people are saying that, so take them up on their offer to perform services and provide goods for the rest of us and put them to work. Private enterprise isn't going to do it; their motivations work in the other direction (they fired around three times more people than the loss of revenue since 2007 has justified because private enterprise's goal is profit, not full employment).

Now, if the government employs them and they do turn out to all be lazy, fat (although they could still do their jobs if fat, so I don't really get why that's a problem), and mediocre, then we can have this discussion again.

Government spending does create jobs. You are wrong Andrew.

Innovation does not create jobs immediately because there is a cost curve in production where making a few of something is more expensive than producing things in bulk. It is at that point that the government needs to subsidize innovation by spending.

Not real jobs. They are simply subsidizing jobs that the economy cannot support. Demand creates real, sustainable jobs. Natural demand for products and services, not just giving away money and hoping it stimulates the economy.

Alex, I suggested we've ALL become fat and lazy. It's a metaphor. We have problems we haven't fixed.

For instance:

1. Half of our electricity comes from burning coal and politicians in both parties have sounded the "alarms" since the 70s - 40 years. In that time only 2% of our electricity generation is now "clean." If electric cars begin selling, half of them will be fueled by coal. Beautiful.

2. 80% of our schools in America are more than 40 years old. They are sub-standard. We've heard the warnings and had the studies, yet we haven't solved the problem. Beyond facilities, 40% of high-school graduates can't even read.

3. Our infrastructure is crumbling, yet we continue to build roads and highways the same way we did 50 years ago - despite trillions of dollars in investment. We keep fixing roads, instead of re-inventing them.

4. Immigration is an ongoing problem, yet we have NO plan to create a fair and necessary system. We just keep deferring or denying.

5. Healthcare continues to be inefficient and unfair, yet we haven't solved the problem. This year's Healthcare Bill had very little "progress" and will probably be cancelled before it takes effect. Almost one-third of our healthcare cost is insurance - why?

6. We just recalled a billion eggs from a farm the FDA had never visited. What regulations? We can't even watch the chickens?

7. We still have pennies, nickels and dimes in our currency although studies in the 80s said they were a burden on our economy. Maybe just some "small change," but we do nothing about it.

8. If we have to visit a pharmacy to fill a prescription, many times we have to wait. If we watch the pharmacist or their helpers they actually count the pills. They fu*king count them. Technology has advanced and pharmacies are allowed to live in the past.

9. We've never solved the necessity for quality affordable housing. Most times it simply throws money at the problem and it only produces corruption, or at least municipal intrigue. Construction remains an industry that hasn't changed for 100 years.

10. America is supposed to be the compassionate nation, yet every year we have a few disasters in the world and nobody responds immediately and effectively. We simply absorb the shame of Katrina or look away from disasters in Haiti, Chile and Pakistan. No, we haven't solved it.

I could go on. But, why? I have no evidence that we have solved any major problems in the last 40 years. We have created new devices and made living more convenient, but the problems are what are hurting America. The failure to solve these problems and the price we are now paying will never be eliminated by lower taxes or higher deficits. It is time to admit we are lazy. Fat and lazy.

Politics, or picking a "side" or ideology doesn't solve any of these problems - only innovation will, and that won't happen until we make it important.

We have become too willing to live with very low expectations and spend most of our time complaining. Demand can only come from making something better, more efficient or more attractive. False demand comes from free money - money we must pay back some day. I'd rather focus on solving problems - printing money isn't a solution.

I don't really see what those problems have to do with the immediate recession. Sure, they're all things that should be fixed (although waiting at the pharmacy isn't as big a problem as paying at the pharmacy), and fixing them will require employing people.

Schools are dilapidated? People should be hired to repair/replace them. Infrastructure is crumbling? Of course, because people who oppose government spending would rather see highways crumble than to pay to hire someone to maintain them. Disaster preparedness also requires, guess what, government spending to hire people to prepare. No private entity is going to take care of any of those problems.

Demand does not just come from making something better. If I go out and buy a broccoli tomorrow, thereby increasing demand for broccoli, it's not because someone innovated a new broccoli. It's because I ate my other broccolis and I hope to get one that's the same as the broccolis that have been around for centuries.

If I lose my income, though, I may stop buying broccolis and start buying cheaper food like boxed pasta. Demand has been decreased in monetary value, and it had nothing to do with innovation. If I get money again, I'll go back to buying broccolis and hope that they're the same as the ones I was eating before.

There are lots of things that Americans have cut back on recently: housing, food (in terms of quality), clothing, vacation, entertainment, even health care. The reason they cut back isn't because there is no innovation in those fields, it's because they have less money.

BTW, all money is free money. It's all printed and the amount of US dollars in the economy is entirely dependent on the federal government's fiat.

Money is based on nothing more than a suspension of disbelief that a piece of paper with "20" on it could have more value than the 10 cents it took to print it. When the government spends to employ people, it creates the money and gives it to people. It doesn't go down to the local bank and take out a mortgage. The federal government is a monetary sovereign, meaning it creates the money it spends thereby creating the rules of the game as it goes. Taxation and bonds are used to keep inflation down, which isn't even close to being a problem right now as we're on the verge of deflation.

So it won't have to be paid back some day in the way a loan has to be paid back. And, if anything, putting people to work would do more to create wealth in terms of things with a practical value (which money does not have) than just having people unemployed and sitting around.

Again, it's a failure of our legal system and our economic management when people who want to work aren't working. They're still being supported through government aid, private charities, and family and friends. The only difference is that they're not producing anything useful for the rest of us. It's just sad, really, that we're wasting all that energy. Sad for those of us on the bottom of the economic ladder, anyway. Those on top will keep on getting what they want.

I agree with much of what you are saying, but the "demand" I speak of is because we - Americans, have made something better, more efficient or more attractive that other options. The "demand" you speak of is consumer demand, the result of having enough money to purchase goods and services. That demand comes from people being employed. If we borrow money to create that demand, we are only postponing our demise.

Solving problems requires ideas - not just employing people. The idea or concept comes first. If it solves the problem and makes economic sense demand will be created. Real, sustainable demand.

As far as the rich-screwing-the-poor part of your argument I don't see it as intentional as you do. Investment capital for a new idea is someone's pension fund. It is a young couples 401k. Sure, we have a bunch of wealthy people and we could argue their intentions, but the vast majority of capital comes from the 50% of Americans that own stock in companies. Business is not the enemy - complacency is. We are lazy. We continue to accept our problems, instead of solving them.

I'm curious. We have 1.5 million members of our military. Only one-third of them have full-time day to day responsibilities. 1 million must "hurry up and wait" to provide service. Would you put them to work rebuilding our roads? Fixing our schools? Doing something productive?

The only way that I see around this tactic is to fight fire with fire, to name the villains who are actually causing this country's problems and blame them.

That's only true if you include Democrats and their enablers, everyone who's rich and everyone who owns or manages a company that hires workers among the villains. It's important to include those who build support for Republicans and their cousinbrothers the Democrats.

Attacks on muslims and Arabs (as opposed to islamists) have three origins - the zionist idea that the only good muslim is a dead muslim, the christers crusader mentality and right wings attacks on muslims to justify the war for oil.

I think it's as premature to say that the Republicans are through scapegoating us as it is to say that Democrats are going to stop throwing us under the bus.

Christopher Hitchens' latest commentary in Slate Magazine addresses the latest demonization of Muslims in this country. He attributes it to "White Fright," the dawning realization that at some point in the near future, whites in the U.S. and in Europe will be in the minority.

He connects this growing realization to the recent rise of nativist movements (on both sides of the Atlantic), the ground-zero mosque controversy, anti-immigration sentiments, homophobia and events such as Glenn Beck's recent religious rally in Washington.

Many on the far right credit the rise of Western Civilization itself to white heterosexual Christians. They view any change in demographics as a threat to Western culture.

I'm curious - does anyone here know how Hitchens, who supported and supports the war in Iraq and believes that wars over oil are just fine, squares his current analysis of the demonisation of Muslims with his pro-war stance?

Does he think that the two are unrelated - when in fact what we're seeing today, in terms of the hatred towards Islam is directly linked to the "war on terror" which Hitchens supported? Or is it just that his analysis as a white dude who can decry the demonisation of Muslims can also effectively dull us to the fact that he is directly responsible for the brutal effects of such demonisation. Or that when a white Oxbridgian like Hitchens tells us it's wrong to hate Muslims, we listen, but not so much when actual Muslims say the same thing.

Have I just missed something about Hitchens in the last few years? Unlike so many of his admirers, I don't happen to think he's super-intelligent and I've never forgiven him for his support of the war. So what gives? Is anyone pointing out this contradiction?

I noticed, but considering that this column is full of... not entirely true statements and conservative memes, I'm not very impressed. Mainly when he talks about Europe, which is sort of the crux of his point about the US. He's wrong that:

1. Nativist movements started "More recently" than the books he cites - jeez, nativism was the founding doctrine of Naziism, he should know that. The first people they kicked out who weren't political ideologues were immigrants. The Spanish did the same thing centuries before; European anti-semitism has always had a nativist element to it.

2. "the majority population now feels itself unwelcome in its own country." It's hard to say that it's the majority of the population that feels unwelcome, if he meant it that way. For example, uber-nativist/Gaulist Jean-Marie Le Pen only got like 17% of the vote in his best run in 2002. They are the majority and will be fore a good long time - there have been Muslims, specifically, and immigrants, generally, coming into France for centuries. Heck, they participated in slavery and colonialism and even conscripted Algerians in WW1 and brought them all up to Europe.

If he meant "white people" by the "majority population" I'd say he's even more incorrect - to flatly posit that all (or almost all) white people in Europe "feel unwelcome" (I'm guessing he's calling them racist) just isn't the impression one gets over here.

3. "It will be astonishing if the United States is not faced, in the very near future, with a similar phenomenon." Jean Marie Le Pen looks downright normal next to Pat Robertson. America is doing, and has been doing, both worse and better on the racial front. We have worse racists (and had lots more and better organized before, like the KKK, so it wouldn't be a new phenomenon), but we also have people working against it more than out here... it's weird. But we've faced a similar phenomenon before.

4. But here's the biggest whopper: "In a rather curious and confused way, some white people [in the US] are starting almost to think like a minority, even like a persecuted one." Really? Starting? LOL. Some of them seceded from the union because of that feeling, made little militias around the concept through Reconstruction and the Depression, fought the civil rights movement with signs that said "Integration violates our civil rights!" and whined their way about how Christian, white males are the most oppressed minority all the way since the 70's.

In other words, he wants to make this all seem like a new, foreign phenomenon, when the tea party rallies are as American as apple pie. But he called Glenn Beck and Republicans racist so liberals and Democrats love him. And it works for him - like Sullivan, et al, now that Democrats are more popular then Republicans, they switched teams.