Now, as some background, out there in the stupider parts of the Internet, there are dudes who think of themselves as ‘alpha males.’ My experience with these fellows is that they tend to be ignorant, status-anxious and undersocialized; they tend to mask their various panic attacks about race, gender and sexuality by maintaining those panic attacks are in fact a sign of their superiority. They disdain those who are comfortable with a world in which diversity is respected and encouraged — especially those who are men — and call them ‘beta’ or ‘gamma’ males and/or describe them as ‘rabbits’ or some other species which they presume to be frightened or prey.
With that in mind, for those of us who are comfortable with diversity, who try not to be racist, or sexist, or homophobic, who don’t see the world as an apocalyptic zero-sum battle to the death between ourselves and whomever we try to hide our confused fear of by considering them as lesser beings, who aren’t in fact appallingly ignorant bigoted shitballs every single waking hour of the day, may I present to you an avatar — an icon, if you will, of who we are and how we choose to live our lives:
EDITED TO ADD: Yes, Gamma Rabbit, who likes people as they are, fears no one no matter how they live their lives, and who is comfortable with himself and his own personal values of kindness, tolerance and diversity. Sure, there are some who look down on him and his ways, but you know what? Gamma Rabbit knows that those people are kooky, silly, wacky racist sexist homophobic dipshits, and aside from looking forward to the day when they might pull their heads out and join the rest of the human race, lets them alone to do their own thing. Because Gamma Rabbit has other, better people and things to think about.
An essay by Carlos Fraenkel, an associate professor of philosophy and Jewish studies at McGill University in Montreal, and the author of the forthcoming book, ‘Teaching Plato in Palestine.’ More on his work can be found at his Web site.
Do read the whole thing here. You won’t be sorry.
About 12 years ago, while studying Arabic in Cairo, I became friends with some Egyptian students. As we got to know each other better we also became concerned about each other’s way of life. They wanted to save my soul from eternally burning in hell by converting me to Islam. I wanted to save them from wasting their real life for an illusory afterlife by converting them to the secular worldview I grew up with.
I did not convert to Islam, nor did my Egyptian friends become atheists. But I learned an important lesson from our discussions: that I hadn’t properly thought through some of the most basic convictions underlying my way of life and worldview — from God’s existence to the human good. The challenge of my Egyptian friends forced me to think hard about these issues and defend views that had never been questioned in the European student milieu where I came from.
Of course diversity and disagreement on their own are not sufficient to bring about a culture of debate (otherwise the Middle East, the Balkans and many other places would be philosophical debating clubs!). Instead they often generate frustration and resentment or, worse, erupt in violence. That’s why we need a culture of debate. In my view, the last years of high school are the best place to lay the groundwork for such a culture.
The high school curriculum already includes subjects such as evolution, which are much more controversial than the skills required for engaging difference and disagreement in a constructive way. To provide the foundation for a culture of debate, the classes I have in mind would focus on two things: conveying techniques of debate — logical and semantic tools that allow students to clarify their views and to make and respond to arguments (a contemporary version of what Aristotelians called the Organon, the ‘toolkit’ of the philosopher). And cultivating virtues of debate — loving the truth more than winning an argument, and trying one’s best to understand the viewpoint of the opponent.
I had a class like that, with a teacher like this author, when I was in high school. I’m not the only one who still appreciates him. The Facebook page that one of his students made for him has over 500 members.
I realize I was one of the lucky ones. The best thing I can think of for the future of this country and this planet is that there be many more lucky ones in school today and in all times to come.
Learn how to think, not what to think. Then you can think for yourself.
The video below is about the “Burkini Surf” series by Kate Sikorski, the surfing trainer & artist mentioned in the source article. Woohoo—you go, girls!
By Cassie Williams, July 6, 2012
As a native of Southern California, I fulfilled my stereotype and learned to surf at a young age. What I didn’t expect to find after converting to Islam in 2001 were many other Muslim girls who shared my hobby. Yes, I may have had an open mind about the religion, but I guess, admittedly, I subconsciously adopted some of the stereotypes about Muslim women that have now been obliterated after I have had the privilege of getting to know so many incredible Muslim women.
It didn’t take me long to realize after interacting on a personal level with hundreds of Muslim girls of all ages, nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds, that these women were just as, if not more, diverse in their interests and hobbies than any other group. These girls are now some of my best friends, some I go running with, some I go shopping with, others I plan fashion shows with, and still others… surf. […]
I’m not sure what to make of this yet—a non-Muslim friend just sent it to me. It looks like it’s going to be a web-based production. I’ve never heard of any of the creators, but I’m sure I’ll be hearing plenty soon.
Coming right on the heels of All-American Muslim this bound to raise some hackles. Oy vey—growing pains. I guess they can’t be avoided if we’re ever going to be accepted. If nothing else, I suppose at least this will be the last year that American Muslims can be accused of not speaking out. It should prove interesting to find out who, if anyone, actually had any intention of listening…
Three friends from Queens, New York band together to save their local mosque from eviction. As they navigate New York City’s red tape, they discover darker, more sinister forces at work. Meanwhile, within the community, greed and extremism threaten to tear the mosque apart.
The teacher, the social worker, the activist, the student –– just some of the protesters furious at Wall Street who have taken over the grassy area around City Hall in downtown Los Angeles and public streets and parks in other major cities around the world. — LA Times
The new CBS/NYT poll has promising numbers for supporters of Occupy Wall Street: 43 percent of those polled say they agree with the views of the movement, while 27 disagree. 30 percent have no opinion. Also, 66% believe that “wealth should be more evenly distributed.”
Continue reading at TPMLivewire.
As difficult and emotionally devastating as this situation must be for everyone involved, it lays bare how so many of our preconceived ideas about who and what “The Other” is have little or nothing to do with DNA or other biological factors, and everything to do with our upbringing and familial & cultural terms of reference.
The former cannot changed, but the latter most certainly can since they are things we were born into, not things we consciously chose. Change will only happen, however, when and if we are willing to open our hearts & minds and put forth the effort required to overcome the fear, ignorance, and prejudice that prevent us from fully appreciating one another’s humanity.
Unfortunately, the racists, bigots, power hungry demagogues, and sundry other “supremacists” among us will doubtless continue doing their level best to stop that from happening since our ire would then be turned against them instead of each other. We’re not mindless marionettes—never have been, never will be—so why should we allow others to attach strings to us that they can yank whenever they please?
Anyway, enough of my grousing—on to the story.
Two Russian families are united by a terrible event more than a decade ago. Their newborn daughters were accidentally mixed up in the maternity hospital and grew up with the “wrong” parents.
In a tiny flat in the Ural Mountains, Yulia Belyaeva and her 12-year-old daughter Irina are looking through family photos.
One of the pictures shows Irina as a newborn baby swaddled in a blanket. It was taken the day mother and daughter left hospital. But 12 years on, Yulia Belyaeva has discovered that the baby she’d taken home - the daughter she’d thought she’d given birth to - is not her child.
“I found this out when my ex-husband refused to pay maintenance,” says Yulia. “I took him to court to prove that he was Irina’s father. We did all the DNA tests. But the results were a total surprise. Not only does my ex-husband have no biological link to Irina - neither do I.” […]
In the house is Naimat Iskanderov - the man Anya thought was her father. Naimat is from Tajikistan. He had married a Russian woman, but they had divorced. It was Naimat who brought up Anya and his other children as devout Muslims. When police told him about the mistake at the maternity hospital and that Anya was not his daughter, to begin with he refused to believe it.
“Then the detective showed me a photo of the other girl, Irina, the one they said was my real daughter,” Naimat tells me. “When I saw her face, it was like seeing myself. My arms and legs began shaking. It was awful to think that my child had grown up with another family. And that I had brought up someone else’s daughter.”
The two families meet regularly now. But the parents admit there is tension between them. […]
This part struck me the most:
For now the two girls say they do not want to swap parents. They are just glad to have found each other.
“To begin with we were a bit shy,” Irina tells me, “but now we’ve become the best of friends.”
“What I’d like,” says Anya, “is for all of us to live in one big house.” […]
We all already do live in one big house, little one—we’re just too busy squabbling with one another from behind the locked doors of our separate rooms to notice. Perhaps one day we adults will appreciate the wisdom of what you girls have already learned: It’s better to be friends, to be glad we have the companionship of fellow travelers on this this long, unpredictable journey we must all take together.
Yesterday, Amy Sly and I headed down to Wall Street to interview and take pictures of people participating in the Occupy Wall Street protest. Amy took the pictures and I asked the questions. This should give you a pretty good idea of the different types of people occupying Wall Street.
Walter the WWII veteran at Occupy Wall Street (Amy Sly/BuzzFeed)
Role at Occupy Wall Street: Occupier.
From: Uptown, New York City.
How long have you been Occupying Wall Street: Several days. He has started going every day.
How did you find out about Occupy Wall Street: TV and newspaper.
Job: Retired World War 2 veteran.
Describe why you are occupying Wall Street in less than 5 words: “I sympathize with the people.”
Favorite website: None. He’s 89!
Andrew the architectural intern at Occupy Wall Street (Amy Sly/BuzzFeed)
Role at Occupy Wall Street: Occupier.
From: Springfield, Illinois.
How long have you been Occupying Wall Street: A couple of hours. He planned on staying for the rest of the day.
How did you find out about Occupy Wall Street: The newspaper.
Job: Intern architect.
Describe why you are occupying Wall Street in less than 5 words: “Stand up to greed.”
Favorite website: Twitter.
Article originally appeared on Business Insider as See The Many Faces That Occupy Wall Street.