Everywhere they’re smoothing down imperfections, putting hairs in place, putting ducks in a row, replacing divots.

One thing that you can always count on from the progressive side of blogtopia is seeing through the fog of reactionism that the righties carry around like a lead albatross. It is one of the more puzzling contradictions of conservatives and their ideology to portray themselves as island of self-dependence and yet the victims of some vast conspiracy. The similarites to Osama Bin Laden and his misanthropic sympathizers is uncanny. While I wouldn’t say that progressive minded Americans are victims, I would say that we are feeling the pinch. In their actions American fundamentalists Christians have been guilty of acts of violence, ( here, here ), it is true that the level and incidents of violence have not reached the level of the radical elements of Islam. Americans that try to be faired minded and even handed in their response to injustice and extremism are fighting a kind of nebulous phenomenon with wacky interpretations and practices coming from both directions. Legal fiction says,

Of course, it’s worth noting that the Islamic and American persecution complexes are not the same. Unlike American evangelicals (for the most part), Muslims have a lot of legitimate gripes. This is a critical point and one that needs to be more widely recognized. As Anonymous (Michael Scheuer) observed in Imperial Hubris, when Muslims look across the globe at non-Muslim countries’ foreign policy, they see a lot to be pissed about. They see Israel’s land-stealing wall, Russian repression in Chechnya, Chinese repression in western China, French suppression of religious expression, corrupt autocratic regimes – and America supports all of them. And that’s not even including things like Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

I would add in regards to American fundamentalists ( certainly not the entire Christian realm ) have non-violent avenues of redress of their grievances – they own broadcast media outlets, radio stations, newspaers and magazines and yield considerable, though frequently over rated political power. In regards to Muslims I would add a very important caveat, that the Muslim world may well have reason to feel persecuted, they have no excuse whatever for performing deadly acts of violence. Muslim’s reasons for violence should be addressed, their violence condemned. legal fiction also addresses the “Outrage Industry”, which we find in abundance on right-wing blogs even in the normal course of political events, but has reached a shrill fever pitch in the last week.

….to maintain the loyalty of the evangelical rank-and-file to policies that don’t naturally square with Christian values, the evangelical leadership has constructed an “Outrage Industry.” Its goal is to keep evangelicals both loyal and distracted by making them think they are being persecuted on all fronts all the time. To do this, the Outrage Industry packages and commodifies outrages (Schiavo, Merry Christmas, gay marriage, Ten Commandments) and distributes them through direct mail campaigns, talk radio, and other mediums.

I think something very similar is happening in the Muslim world. Both the Middle East regimes and fundamentalist Islamic leaders have a vested interest in convincing the Muslim rank-and-file that they are being perpetually persecuted. The persecution takes the people’s eyes off of the regimes’ or leaders’ own failures and repressions and directs them toward an “Other.”

This isn’t even advanced Outrage, its Outrage 101 and what arguments are the fundie Christians and rightie blogs using to condemn Muslim reactionary violence ?
Liberal arguments neck deep in the first amendment and for peace and civility. These pretentious arguments by the rightie blogs are dripping with all the false and hypocritical sincerity of Dana Carvey’s Church Lady. The Right is all too happy and smug at the Muslim Outrage Industry because it feeds the right-wing Outrage Industry. Muslim fundies and the American Right are mutual parasites each feeding off the other.

A parasite is an organism that spends a significant portion of its life in or on the living tissue of a host organism and which causes harm to the host without immediately killing it. Parasites also commonly show highly specialized adaptations allowing them to exploit host resources.

Non-fundamentalists Christians or Muslims and others are having a difficult time being heard. The plea for everyone to embrace rationalism and modernity, to be reasonable damnit, isn’t very electrifying or galvanizing. At least not currently. As with all historical reactionism, this current wave will pass. Liberalism will triumpth, the question is will it be in our lifetime.

update: for the sake of fairness –  Muslims tell Yard to charge protesters

BRITAIN’s leading Islamic body yesterday called on Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, to press charges against the extremists behind last week’s inflammatory protests in London over the “blasphemous” cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

Sam Harris takes this a step further in a book called The End of Faith

These are merely species of belief in action. Your beliefs define your vision of the world; they dictate your behavior; they determine your emotional responses to other human beings. If you doubt this, consider how your experience would suddenly change if you came to believe one of the following propositions:

1. You have only two weeks to live.
2. You’ve just won a lottery prize of one hundred million dollars.
3. Aliens have implanted a receiver in your skull and are manipulating your thoughts.

These are mere words—until you believe them. Once believed, they become part of the very apparatus of your mind, determining your desires, fears, expectations, and subsequent behavior. There seems, however, to be a problem with some of our most cherished beliefs about the world: they are leading us, inexorably, to kill one another. A glance at history, or at the pages of any newspaper, reveals that ideas which divide one group of human beings from another, only to unite them in slaughter, generally have their roots in religion. It seems that if our species ever eradicates itself through war, it will not be because it was written in the stars but because it was written in our books; it is what we do with words like “God” and “paradise” and “sin” in the present that will determine our future.

and one last bit from Mr. Harris about tolerance, about which a few on the center-left are grappling.

Moderates do not want to kill anyone in the name of God, but they want us to keep using the word “God” as though we knew what we were talking about. And they do not want anything too critical said about people who really believe in the God of their fathers, because tolerance, perhaps above all else, is sacred. To speak plainly and truthfully about the state of our world—to say, for instance, that the Bible and the Koran both contain mountains of life-destroying gibberish—is antithetical to tolerance as moderates currently conceive it. But we can no longer afford the luxury of such political correctness. We must finally recognize the price we are paying to maintain the iconography of our ignorance.

This may be too strong a statement for some and it leaves the gap of trying to define then, what is moderation. This being a blog post and not a doctoral thesis I’m not going to try to give some ultimate empirical definition, that in practical terms tolerance and moderation is the rejection of the extremes to be fought with reason as much as possible. Moderation is probably best served by what some have called an enlightened tolerance, an embrace of modernity, a rejection of violence ( self protection is a moderate act ), and that science trumps dogma.

a couple of items from dKos, GOP Attacks Non-Partisan Congressional Research Service

The Congressional Research Service, the non-partisan research arm of Congress, has issued two devastating reports on the domestic spying program. The first carefully deconstructed every administration defense and concluded that the program was on shaky legal footing, at best.

and while this society was created sans Sirs, Lords, and Lady’s, too many people have deemed to praise wealth as a virtue and work as peasantry, The Value – and Devaluation – of the Work Ethic

Which brings me, at last, to why I’m a Democrat (with a big “D”): Our party has a long and proud history of striving to ensure the safety, efficiency and dignity of the individual worker – and by extension, honoring the value of work itself. We’ve led the fight in abolishing exploitive child labor, legislating safety protections, instituting the eight-hour workday (both a safety and efficiency issue) and challenging workplace discrimination. To Democrats, workers matter.

This Is More Like It, Mr. Keller

Evolutionary theory does not say that humans evolved from chimpanzees or from any existing species, but rather that common ancestors gave rise to multiple species and that natural selection — in which the creatures best adapted to an environment pass their genes to the next generation — was the means by which divergence occurred over time. All modern biology is based on the theory, and within the scientific community, at least, there is no controversy about it.

“You can’t put democracy and freedom back into a box.” George W. Bush, Taleban clash ‘leaves many dead’

Nearly 20 combatants have been killed in a battle between Afghan troops and Taleban fighters in the southern province of Helmand, officials say.

Helmand’s deputy governor told the BBC that at one point, he and 100 soldiers were surrounded by 200 Taleban.

“And the second way to defeat the terrorists is to spread freedom. You see, the best way to defeat a society that is — doesn’t have hope, a society where people become so angry they’re willing to become suiciders, is to spread freedom, is to spread democracy.” —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., June 8, 2005

Paper-like display in two years, says Philips

Philips Polymer Vision, has announced more progress in the area of rollable displays for the mobile-device industry.

Context is everything. Dress me up and see. I’m a carnival barker, an auctioneer, a downtown performance artist, a speaker in tongues, a senator drunk on filibuster. I’ve got Tourette’s. My mouth won’t quit, though mostly I whisper or subvocalize like I’m reading aloud, my Adam’s apple bobbing, jaw muscle beating like a miniature heart under my cheek, the noise suppressed, the words escaping silently, mere ghosts of themselves, husks empty of breath and tone. (If I were a Dick Tracy villain, I’d have to be Mumbles.) In this diminished form the words rush out of the cornucopia of my brain to course over the surface of the world, tickling reality like fingers on piano keys. Caressing, nudging. They’re an invisible army on a peacekeeping mission, a peaceable horde. They mean no harm. They placate, interpret, massage. Everywhere they’re smoothing down imperfections, putting hairs in place, putting ducks in a row, replacing divots. Counting and polishing the silver.

Excerpted from Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem Copyright © 2000 by Jonathan Lethem