The QAnon Delusion Has Not Loosened Its Grip

Millions of Americans continue to actively participate in multiple conspiracy theories. Why?

A conspiracy theory promulgated by Donald Trump, the loser of the 2020 presidential election, has gripped American politics since Nov. 3. It has been willingly adopted by millions of his followers, as well as by a majority of Republican members of Congress — 145 to 108 — and by thousands of Republican state and local officials, all of whom have found it expedient to capitulate to the fantastical claim that the election was stolen by the Democratic Party, its officeholders, operatives and supporters.

Trump’s sprawling conspiracy theory is “being reborn as the new normal of the Republican Party,” Justin Ling wrote in Foreign Policy on Jan. 6.

A Dec 30 NPR/Ipsos poll found that “recent misinformation, including false claims related to Covid-19 and QAnon, are gaining a foothold among some Americans.”

According to the survey, nearly a fifth of American adults, 17 percent, believe that “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics.” Almost a third “believe that voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election.” Even more, 39 percent, agree that “there is a deep state working to undermine President Trump.”

The spread of these beliefs has wrought havoc — as demonstrated by the Jan. 6 assault on Congress, as well as by the overwhelming support Republicans continue to offer to the former president.

Well before the election, on Aug. 22, 2020, my news-side colleagues Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman described the rising strength of conspiracists in Republican ranks in “The Republican Embrace of QAnon Goes Far Beyond Trump”:

A small but growing number of Republicans — including a heavily favored Republican congressional candidate in Georgia — are donning the QAnon mantle, ushering its adherents in from the troll-infested fringes of the internet and potentially transforming the wild conspiracy theory into an offline political movement, with supporters running for Congress and flexing their political muscle at the state and local levels.

Conspiracy theorists are by definition irrational, contradictory and inconsistent. Polarization, the Covid-19 pandemic and the specter of economic collapse have engendered suspicion. Many on the right see “liberal elites” pulling strings behind closed doors, and paranoia flourishes.

According to Joseph E. Uscinski and Adam M. Enders, professors of political science at the University of Miami and the University of Louisville, conspiracy theorists do not “hold coherent, constrained policy positions.” In “Who Supports QAnon? A Case Study in Political Extremism,” Uscinski explores what he identifies as some of the characteristics of the QAnon movement: “Support for QAnon is born more of antisocial personality traits and a predisposition toward conspiracy thinking than traditional political identities and motivations,” he writes, before going on to argue that

While QAnon supporters are “extreme,” they are not so in the ideological sense. Rather, QAnon support is best explained by conspiratorial worldviews and a predisposition toward other nonnormative behavior.

Uscinski found a substantial 0.413 correlation between those who support or sympathize with QAnon and “dark” personality traits, leading him to conclude that “the type of extremity that undergirds such support has less to do with traditional, left/right political concerns and more to do with extreme, antisocial psychological orientations and behavioral patterns.”

The illogic of conspiracy theorists is clear in the findings of a 2012 research paper, “Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories,” by Karen M. Douglas and Robbie M. Sutton, members of the psychology department at the University of Kent, and Michael J. Wood, a former Kent colleague. The authors found that a large percentage of people drawn to conspiracy thinking are willing to endorse “mutually incompatible conspiracy theories.”

In one study, for example, “the more participants believed that Osama Bin Laden was already dead when U.S. Special Forces raided his compound in Pakistan, the more they believed he is still alive.” In another study, “the more participants believed that Princess Diana faked her own death, the more they believed that she was murdered.” For those who hold such beliefs, the authors wrote, “the specifics of a conspiracy theory do not matter as much as the fact that it is a conspiracy theory at all.”

Douglas, in an email, wrote that “people are attracted to conspiracy theories when important psychological needs are not being met.” She identified three such needs: “the need for knowledge and certainty”; the “existential need” to “to feel safe and secure” when “powerless and scared”; and, among those high in narcissism, the “need to feel unique compared to others.”

Uscinski and two collaborators, in their 2016 paper, “What Drives Conspiratorial Beliefs? The Role of Informational Cues and Predispositions,” describe how they identify likely conspiracy believers by asking respondents whether they agree or disagree with the following statements:

  1. Events like wars, the recession, and the outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people who are working in secret against the rest of us”;
  2. “Much of our lives are being controlled by plots hatched in secret places”;
  3. Even though we live in a democracy, a few people will always run things anyway”;
  4. “The people who really ‘run’ the country, are not known to the voters.”

Believers in conspiracies will often automatically dismiss factual claims disputing their beliefsJovan Byford, a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University in England, makes the case that

Conspiracy theories seduce not so much through the power of argument, but through the intensity of the passions that they stir. Underpinning conspiracy theories are feelings of resentment, indignation and disenchantment about the world. They are stories about good and evil, as much as about what is true.

Byford continues:

Lack of evidence of a conspiracy, or positive proof against its existence, is taken by believers as evidence of the craftiness of those behind the plot, and their ability to dupe the public.

There are five common ingredients to conspiracy theories, according to Jan-Willem van Prooijen and Mark van Vugt, professors of psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in their paper “Conspiracy Theories: Evolved Functions and Psychological Mechanisms.”

First, they write,

  1. Conspiracy theories make an assumption of how people, objects, or events are causally interconnected. Put differently, a conspiracy theory always involves a hypothesized pattern.
  2. Second, conspiracy theories stipulate that the plans of alleged conspirators are deliberate. Conspiracy theories thus ascribe intentionality to the actions of conspirators, implying agency.
  3. Third, a conspiracy theory always involves a coalition, or group, of actors working in conjunction. An act of one individual, a lone wolf, does not fit the definition of a conspiracy theory.
  4. Fourth, conspiracy theories always contain an element of threat such that the alleged goals of the conspirators are harmful or deceptive.
  5. Fifth, and finally, a conspiracy theory always carries an element of secrecy and is therefore often difficult to invalidate.

Van Prooijen elaborated on his analysis in an email:

Conspiracy theories are a powerful tool to demonize opposing groups, and in extreme cases can make people believe that violence is necessary. In this case (Jan. 6), the crowd clearly believed that the elections were stolen from their leader, and this belief incited them to fight for what they believed was a just cause. Most likely the conspiracy theories make them perceive themselves as a sort of “freedom fighter.”

Van Prooijen sees conspiracy thinking as deeply rooted in the evolutionary past.

Our theory is that conspiracy theories evolved among ancestral humans to prepare for, and hence protect against, potentially hostile groups. What we saw here, I think was an evolutionary mismatch: some mental faculties evolved to cope effectively with an ancestral environment, yet we now live in a different, modern environment where these same mechanisms can lead to detrimental outcomes. In an ancestral world with regular tribal warfare and coalitional conflict, in many situations it could have been rational and even lifesaving to respond with violence to the threat of a different group conspiring against one’s own group. Now in our modern world these mechanisms may sometimes misfire, and lead people to use violence toward the very democratic institutions that were designed to help and protect them.

Why, I asked, are Trump supporters particularly receptive to conspiracies? Van Prooijen replied:

For one, the Trump movement can be seen as populist, meaning that this movement espouses a worldview that sees society as a struggle between ‘the corrupt elites’ versus the people. This in and of itself predisposes people to conspiracy thinking. But there are also other factors. For instance, the Trump movement appears heavily fear-based, is highly nationalistic, and endorses relatively simple solutions for complex problems. All of these factors are known to feed into conspiracy thinking.

The events of Jan. 6, van Prooijen continued,

underscore that conspiracy theories are not some “innocent” form of belief that people may have. They can inspire radical action, and indeed, a movement like QAnon can be a genuine liability for public safety. Voltaire once said: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities” — and he was right.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

In their 2014 book “American Conspiracy Theories,” Uscinski and Parent argue that “Conspiracy Theories Are For Losers.” They write:

Conspiracy theories are essentially alarm systems and coping mechanisms to help deal with foreign threat and domestic power centers. Thus, they tend to resonate when groups are suffering from loss, weakness or disunity.

To illustrate how the out-of-power are drawn to conspiracy theories, the authors tracked patterns during periods of Republican and Democratic control of the presidency:

During Republican administrations, conspiracy theories targeting the right and capitalists averaged 34 percent of the conspiratorial allegations per year, while conspiracy theories targeting the left and communists averaged only 11 percent. During Democratic administrations, mutatis mutandis, conspiracy theories aimed at the right and capitalists dropped 25 points to 9 percent while conspiracy theories aimed at the left and communists more than doubled to 27 percent.

The “loser” thesis received strong backing from an August 2020 working paper, “Are Conspiracy Theories for Losers? The Effect of Losing an Election on Conspiratorial Thinking,” by Joanne MillerChristina E. Farhart and Kyle Saunders, political scientists at the University of Delaware, Carleton College and Colorado State University.

They make the parallel argument that

People are more likely to endorse conspiracy theories that make their political rivals look bad when they are on the losing side of politics than when they are on the winning side, regardless of ideology/partisanship.

In an email, Miller compared polling from 2004, when John Kerry lost to George W. Bush, to polls after the 2020 election, when Trump lost to Biden:

A 2004 a Post-ABC poll that found that 49 percent of Kerry supporters but only 14 percent of Bush supporters thought that the vote wasn’t counted accurately. But this year, a much larger percentage of Trump voters believe election fraud conspiracy theories than voters on the losing side in previous years. A January 2021 Pew poll found that approximately 75 percent of Trump voters believe that Trump definitely or probably won the election.

Over the long haul, Miller wrote, “I find very little correlation between conspiratorial thinking and party identification or political ideology.” But, she quickly added. “the past four years are an outlier in this regard.”

Throughout his presidency, Miller wrote,

former President Trump pretty much governed as a “loser.” He continued to insist that he would’ve won the popular vote in 2016 had it not been for widespread election fraud. So it’s not surprising, given Trump’s rhetoric, that Republicans during the Trump presidency were more likely to endorse conspiracy theories than we’d have expected them to, given that they were on the winning side.

The psychological predispositions that contribute to a susceptibility to conspiracy thinking are complex, as Joshua Hart, a professor of psychology at Union College, and his student, Molly Graether, found in their 2018 paper “Something’s Going on Here: Psychological Predictors of Belief in Conspiracy Theories.”

Hart and Graether contend that “conspiracy theorists are more likely to believe that the world is a dangerous place full of bad people,” who “find it difficult to trust others” and who “view the world as a dangerous and uncontrollable.”

Perhaps more interesting, Hart and Graether argue that conspiracy theorists are more likely “to perceive profundity in nonsensical but superficially meaningful ideas,” a concept they cite as being described by academics in the field asb.s. receptivity.”

To test for this tendency, psychologists ask participants to rank the “meaningfulness” of such incoherent and ludicrous sentences and phrases as “the future elucidates irrational facts for the seeking person,” “your movement transforms universal observations,” “the whole silence infinite phenomena” and “the invisible is beyond all new immutability.” The scale is called “Mean perceived meaningfulness of b.s. sentences and genuinely meaningful sentences,” and can be found here.

Adam Enders argued in an email that:

There are several characteristics of QAnon acolytes that distinguish them from everyone else, even people who believe in some other conspiracy theories: they are more likely to share false information online, they’re more accepting of political violence in various circumstances.

In addition, Enders writes,

QAnon followers are, in a sense, extremists both politically (e.g., wanting to overthrow the U.S. government) and psychologically (e.g., exhibiting many antisocial personality traits).

Polarization, in Enders’s view, when joined with conspiracy thinking, produces a toxic mix:

As polarization increases, tensions between political parties and other groups rise, and people are more willing to construct and believe in fantastical ideas that either malign out-groups (e.g., “Democrats are Satan-worshipping pedophiles”) or bolster the in-group (e.g., ‘we only lost because you cheated’). Conspiracy theories, in turn, raise the temperature of polarization and make it more difficult for people from different partisan and ideological camps to have fact-based discussions about political matters, even those that are in critical need of immediate attention.

Conspiracy thinking has become a major internal, problem for the Republican Party, which is reflected by the current turmoil in party ranks over two newly elected congresswomenMarjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, QAnon sympathizers with long records of florid, antagonistic conspiratorial accusations.

There is some evidence that the Republican establishment has begun to recognize the dangers posed by the presence in that party of so many who are preoccupied — obsessed is not too strong a word — with denying the incontrovertible truth of Trump’s loss and Biden’s win in the 2020 election.

Even Mitch McConnell, perhaps the most cunning and nefarious member of the Republican establishment, has come to see the liability of the sheer number of supposedly reputable members of the United States Senate caving in to patent falsehoods, warning colleagues earlier this week of the threat to their political survival posed by the “loony lies and conspiracy theories” voiced by allies of QAnon in the House of Representatives.

“Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” McConnell declared. “This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

McConnell has a history of bending with the wind, accommodating the extremists in his party, including Trump and Trump’s allies, and he voted in support of the claim that Trump’s second impeachment trial is unconstitutional. If the conspiracy wing of the Republican Party becomes strong enough to routinely mount winning primary challenges to mainstream incumbents, McConnell may well abandon his critique and accept a party moving steadily closer to something many Americans (though not all) could never have imagined: the systematic exploitation of voters gullible or pathological enough to sign on to preposterous conspiracy theories in order to engineer the installation in Washington of an ultraright, ethnonationalist crypto-fascist white supremacist political regime.

The problem of keeping the extremist fringe at arm’s length has plagued the Republican Party for decades — dating back to Joseph McCarthy and the John Birch Society — but nothing in recent American history has reached the crazed intensity of Donald Trump’s perseverating, mendacious insistence that he won a second term in November. That he is not alone — that millions continue to believe in his delusions — is terrifying.

How Love Will Defeat Hate | Russell Brand & Deeyah Khan | Under The Skin

Documentary filmmaker Deeyah Khan is determined to confront hate and prejudice by meeting some of the most extremist groups in the world. She has sat down with White Supremicists in the US and interviewed former Jihadists to further understand what drives people to join these groups.
Her film “White Right: Meecomplexting The Enemy” won an Emmy and is available on Netflix. We discuss the role politics, class, feminism and everything in between plays in relation to this issue.

74:08
why do you only care when the
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perpetrator is the other man and
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similarly you see in the Muslim side of
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things as well you’ll see a lot of
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Muslim men who will be saying look at
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white American soldiers who are raping
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our women in Afghanistan who are raping
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our women in Iraq and you sort of go
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when rape happens by a white man you
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suddenly are women’s rights activists
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and suddenly you care I understand so
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it’s sort of like a confirmation bias
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meaning way of validating existing
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prejudice by pointing to truly horriffic
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transgressions and using them to bolster
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a pre-existing ideology of hatred so
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somehow your vile violence is okay
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because the other guy does it too but
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yes all their violence is worth and also
74:59
earth and international level types of
75:01
violence are considered necessary types
75:04
of violence are considered rational
75:06
expedient whereas other types of
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violence that are wacky religious crazy
75:11
hands-on which side of the equation
75:12
you’re on yes do you believe in God yeah
75:16
I believe in love
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hmm yeah so so I use the word love even
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more than I use the word God why because
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to me that’s what it actually means it
75:29
means a kind of a unity of purpose and a
75:31
sort of benevolent oneness yeah how do
75:34
you think that these ideas can be
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popularized and do you think that these
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ideas can be politicized and potent they
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are they already are and and how do you
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popularize it I think the fact that
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somebody like you does this and I think
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that somebody like you I said this to
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you when I walked in as well you know
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you don’t have to do this you can very
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comfortably do whatever it is that you
75:59
do and be you know comfortable deal with
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your own kind of you know spirituality
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and your own practice and and that’s
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fine and your way of accomplishing
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change in the world is just by you
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yourself appearing in the world in in
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the kind of best sort of manifestation
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of yourself as you can and that in
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itself is is changing the world right
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but you’re choosing to go beyond that
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you’re choosing to to speak about issues
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that are difficult to speak about you’re
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choosing to engage with people who are
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difficult to engage with you’re choosing
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to ask questions that are uncomfortable
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and unpleasant but necessary so I think
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how we move the conversation forward is
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everyone doing their version of that if
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they can you know at the same time I
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don’t believe that we should sort of
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pressurize people or make people feel
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guilty or burdened by you know you have
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to do this otherwise we’re all screwed
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you know it’s people contribute in the
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way that they can contribute and if you
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just smile to a person if you don’t
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clutch on to your purse when a young
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Somali boy walks onto the bus and
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instead look at him and actually
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acknowledge him and nod and smile that
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in itself is you’ve changed the dynamic
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in the world a little bit so I think I
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think people underestimate the the
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individual responsibility and the
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individual acts of kindness yeah do you
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not they do well partly out I would say
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that we live in a time that place is so
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much responsibility thanks for those
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lovely things you said about me by the
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way
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that replaces too much responsible
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on the individual that we are told that
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you know that I guess we are given these
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roles in life as consumers we operating
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within quite narrow parameters I think
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what you said about hope is very
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important a lot of people just don’t
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believe that change is possible and when
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I think about why I continue to engage
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in conversation I have a stand what we
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were talking about prior to our recorded
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conversation I have as you clearly do a
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belief in the optimum in in there that
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there is an ulterior reality that’s
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trying to realize itself through the
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purchase nosov human beings that’s
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inviting us to overcome our personal
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darkness and to build systems and
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connections based on the beautiful
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aspects of our nature as opposed to the
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darker aspects of our nature when we are
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culturally encouraged to focus on
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ourselves and our competitiveness and
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our darkness our last and our fear we
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live in a culture that promotes these
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values so you are right in a sense we
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have to discard the way that you did
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when I was asking you about Muslims you
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still really kind of answer I want is
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like or what anywhere a scarf or a job
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all that kind of thing still would have
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liked a bit of a clearer answer about
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that because it’s not necessary that the
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fact that you think that that is
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something that I I should or that that’s
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something that might be an obligation
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you even care about it you care if women
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do it down relevant I mean I run a
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magazine you know where we are
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constantly support I mean it’s set up
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with the purpose of of showing the the
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wide variety of Muslim experiences and
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Muslim women’s experiences that exist in
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the world and in that you know we are
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publishing articles of women who are not
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just you know we’re here jobs but also
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wearing the carbs and you know women who
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write things that I personally disagree
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with but that’s the whole point you have
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to allow people the full expression of
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what it means to be a human being to
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that person and if that means having
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your hair out that means having
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every type of politics it means loving
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whoever that you want to love that means
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all of that doesn’t matter
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our job is to or my job I feel in
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whatever tiny ways that I can is to try
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and support people and facilitate an
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environment where people can flourish
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and be themselves as fully as possible
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regardless of what that means and
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regardless of whether I approve of it or
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not and whether I think it’s right or
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not but I also ask for that same
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courtesy sort of for myself you know
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it’s why I have to qualify myself as a
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Muslim through having to wear a hijab or
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having to look like this or hold this
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belief or that belief is is sort of it’s
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sort of irrelevant it’s it’s it’s I am
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what I am
and similarly there are the it’s complex
people are complicated and we have to
allow for people to be complicated
why
do we have to fit them into these nice
meat boxes just for our own satisfaction
you know these Nazis I had all these
opinions about them very neat little
boxes of you know they’re just this
they’re just that they’re justice and
shouldn’t they just this or and they
don’t people our people have many layers
to them and and to only define them by
their their their visual or their in any
kind of superficial symbols I think is
is reducing somebody’s humanity all the
work that I do is about is actually
about recognizing ourselves in each
other it is to try and locate the
humanity in someone else not so much to
find their humanity but it’s actually in
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an attempt to hold on to my own Wow you
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know and it’s Annie and that’s important
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and and I’ve said this many times and
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people kind of roll their eyes at this
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but you know it’s I refuse as a woman of
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color as a you know the long laundry
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list of you know the things that I
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consider myself to be I know what it
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feels like to be stereotyped I know what
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it feels like to be dehumanized and
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because of because of that I refuse to
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do that to somebody else even if that
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means a Nazi because if I am willing to
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somebody else then there’s no difference
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left mm-hmm and and that’s what I’m kind
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of working against is this kind of
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simplification of people this kind of
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caricature of people for from my
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convenience it’s not supposed to be
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convenient it’s supposed to just be
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messy and wonderful and complicated it’s
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supposed to just be human and that’s the
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battle isn’t it the you know the whole
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challenge the whole thing is about
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recognizing that I can see myself in you
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and vice versa and there’s something in
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that and once we can recognize that it
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becomes harder for me to harm you and to
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hurt you or to exercise violence against
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you and this is why on a bigger level
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why our politicians encourage us to
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dehumanize each other is so that
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violence becomes possible it is so that
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we can strip each other of our rights it
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is so that we can become reduced just to
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a consumer or just to a voter you know
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we’re not just anything we’re not just a
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hijab we’re not just a woman or just you
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know a famous guy who’s trying to do a
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pod car to you than that there’s more to
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me than that there’s more to the Nazis
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than that there’s more to the jihadis
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than that so the more we can get
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underneath all the noise and and the
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kind of static to the real heart to the
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real the heartbeat of it the closer we
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get to solutions and and you know it’s
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we can’t afford we can’t afford to give
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up on each other is how I feel it’s it’s
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it’s we’re all in this together and I
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think if we give up any if we give up on
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each other then we’re also giving up on
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ourselves and I think then we’re handing
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over you speak about power you’re about
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power you’re about power me too if we do
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that then we’re handing over our power
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and I refuse to do that I spoke to I do
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a lot of work with women’s rights
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activists all around the world and in
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particular in in with women from Muslim
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majority countries and again people in
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the West would constantly
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like to cast us as victims and as poor
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pathetic women who are being abused and
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this that and the other but what I have
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found amongst a lot of these women who I
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consider to be my mentors who I
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considered to be my complete inspiration
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is even in the darkest darkest
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environments they’re able to hold on to
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light they’re able to hold on to
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resistance they’re able to smile they’re
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able to love they’re able to laugh and
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they’re able to just do politics times
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10 and I asked one of them Hina Jilani
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is her name and I remember asking her
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you know why why are you hopeful you
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know why why are you such an optimist
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and she said she said because we don’t
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have the luxury of pessimism and I think
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that’s true and to me if women like that
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in circumstances that seem impossible
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and odds that seems completely stacked
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against them are able to hold on to
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their humanity and they’re constantly
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some of the women that I work with are
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working to bring their boys back from
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Isis and from various militias to try
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and and reintegrate them back into life
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and realize that jihad is not about
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spilling blood it’s about giving blood
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at a hospital if women like this exist
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when they’ve got everything against them
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then because I asked you this why do you
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do the things that you do the reason I
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do it is I was lucky enough to be born
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in a in a country like Norway and I’m
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lucky enough to live in a place like the
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UK for all of its faults and all of its
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stuff I could have been born and I could
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have been born a girl in Afghanistan and
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I think with all the privilege that I
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have and all the advantages that I have
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here surely it’s part of my
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responsibility to do something useful
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with that otherwise what good is it if
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it’s just for me if only I get to
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breathe and I get to be free and I get
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to do what I want to do what good is it
86:10
if the woman next to me is bleeding well
86:14
good is it so privileged do you good
86:17
rent is you see as a duty it’s a
86:22
responsibility
86:23
see hmm you have to do something about
86:26
it have you any thoughts about how men
86:31
and women can relate to one another more
86:34
positively in this time that seems to be
86:38
seeing bifurcation and polarity between
86:40
the genders I think my skill energy has
86:44
to be reimagined I think what it means
86:45
to be a man the fact that the
86:48
associations to that has become about
86:50
dominance and violence and power the
86:54
fact that men some men anyway seek their
86:58
sense of self through through those
87:02
things I think we have to reimagine what
87:04
it means to be a man we have to
87:06
reimagine what masculinity means and I
87:08
think we have to liberate men from the
87:11
very very tiny tiny incredibly narrow
87:14
destructive boxes that they get to
87:16
operate within and I think we have to
87:18
make it okay for men to feel things and
87:20
to articulate their feelings and to say
87:25
and this is why I appreciate what you
87:27
again I appreciate what you do because
87:29
again you being in the position that you
87:31
are and you being is open and willing to
87:33
be vulnerable and willing to admit that
87:36
oh my goodness you do have feelings you
87:39
know I think it’s so important for young
87:41
men to see because I think we constantly
87:44
talk about women being at the receiving
87:47
end of toxic masculinity but I think
87:50
toxic masculinity is also killing men so
87:52
I think we need to liberate men from
87:54
that as well so how do we do that is I
87:56
think we have to speak about it as much
87:59
as possible and we have to make young
88:01
men understand that the liberation of
88:03
women is not and feminism is not just
88:06
about women
88:08
it’s actually about equalizing the sort
88:10
of playing field and also liberating men
88:13
from this cage yes liberation for men
88:16
from the narrative roles that they have
88:20
been granted which ultimately I would
88:23
say our roles that are prescribed by the
88:26
powerful directly but oh you know so
88:30
like we meant that I think this has gone
88:31
on for substantially longer than
88:34
was intended you know often and I don’t
88:36
trouble you with this kind of detail
88:38
people would hold up like a things and
88:41
like I really mean it’s 90 minutes now
88:43
and it continues but I think you’ve done
88:45
such an incredible work already I’m
88:47
fascinated to see the work that you will
88:50
continue to do and I hope that I can be
88:52
of some help to you does it make sense
88:54
what I’m saying no I think you may be
88:56
mentally of course it makes sense what
89:00
you’re saying I think but do you believe
89:02
that it’s doable do you believe that
89:04
what I’m saying that on an individual
89:06
level is how we start oh and building
89:09
solidarity between people yes beginning
89:13
has to be non judgement and well-being
89:15
while being personally discerning I also
89:17
believe that we have to have a
89:18
relationship with the transcendent which
89:20
you seem to understand that I think that
89:21
perhaps the primary problem is we define
89:23
ourselves by outward and material ideals
89:27
I think that if we can start to
89:29
challenge them we can start to break
89:31
down identity and reform identity I’m
89:34
not talking about some sort of
89:35
postmodern nightmare where no one knows
89:38
what England is anymore I’m saying is
89:40
that was you suggested in your very
89:42
first controversial insighting interview
89:45
that we have to reimagine states that
89:49
includes all of us the best version of
89:52
all of us and I think it’s this
89:53
obliteration of hope to which you
89:56
continually refer that is an important
89:59
factor that we need to reignite rien Dao
90:02
encourage people once more to believe in
90:05
a new vision one thing I did want to
90:07
pick you up on was when you spoke about
90:09
politicians and their visions you sort
90:11
of spoke of it in the abstract and in
90:12
fact your body language was you placed
90:14
it over there somewhere
90:15
and I think that possibly the
90:17
responsibility lies with us the the time
90:20
for abstract leadership particularly
90:22
within bodies there as we now know sort
90:24
of operate primarily at the behest of
90:25
corporate interests you know with the
90:30
excluding one or two noble I think the
90:34
extremes are actually reacting to
90:36
exactly what you’re saying
90:38
I think the extreme that the the all
90:40
these kind of convulsions that we’re
90:42
seeing on the fringes of our societies
90:44
is an actual reaction to the
90:47
that we’ve been reduced down to
90:48
consumers were being reduced down to all
90:51
these incredibly dehumanizing labels and
90:53
I think their attempts are actually
90:58
Noble in Anna and I kind of it’s a bit
91:01
uncomfortable for me to even say they
91:03
sort of feel this but I think some of
91:05
their intentions are actually no wolf in
91:07
that they’re fighting it mainstream is
91:09
well yeah and in the you know that their
91:11
intentions are actually about love
91:14
believe it or not it’s actually not hate
91:15
that drives them I know we keep talking
91:17
about hate when we’re speaking about
91:18
people like that but it’s actually love
91:20
and loyalty for each other and for a
91:23
future that they believe is it better
91:25
they don’t want to they are kind of the
91:28
collateral damage of global
91:30
globalization of of kind of this
91:32
consumer hyper extreme capitalist system
91:36
as well and so they’re trying to create
91:40
more meaning and and to become powerful
91:43
instead of powerless they want to matter
91:46
because they don’t and also as a culture
91:49
we only you have to you know sort of
91:52
think that the only time we reward these
91:54
guys with our attention is when they do
91:57
horrible things
91:58
so they matter to us when they commit
92:01
crimes sorry they’re telling you that
92:03
was ninety five minutes that we don’t
92:05
even have a sign for that sorry so I’m
92:07
not to make a new side to amalgamate the
92:10
five and the ninety signs never been
92:12
used before in completely new territory
92:13
an imagined realm history itself but no
92:17
less I just wanna do these quick could
92:18
do you mind if I ask you these quick
92:20
questions which we may be able to use
92:22
for clips and stuff because they’re more
92:24
to do with contemporary issues okay so
92:27
we talked about Tommy Robinson and Asian
92:30
grooming gangs and you were extremely
92:32
passionate weren’t ya it’s inspired one
92:34
of your girl greater rants one among
92:36
many in the league table of deer and
92:38
stars in constructing his Donald Trump a
92:42
real threat to Muslims and minorities in
92:45
America yes how
92:52
because he is dehumanizing anyone who
92:55
doesn’t fit into his vision of what it
92:57
means to be an American and what it
92:59
means to be a citizen and I think his
93:02
continuous reduction of people’s
93:06
humanity in this way will ultimately be
93:10
a recipe for violence really good and
93:12
surprisingly sinked he’s wearing a hijab
93:15
or burka anti-feminist
93:18
I think wearing a hijab can absolutely
93:24
be feminist burka I have real real
93:27
issues with personally right but again I
93:32
am a feminist concealing well the worker
93:35
also you meet very often it also
93:37
includes a niqab so it means you know
93:38
only your eyes showing so I have
93:40
problems with that when it comes to
93:43
hijab I completely will support women’s
93:45
rights to to choose that and to wear it
93:48
line then where’s the cutoff it’s like
93:50
it’s a creeping bit of fabric that’s
93:52
gotta be stopped at a certain bit the
93:54
face I think well I think it’s a matter
93:58
of the creeping fabric but I think it’s
94:00
also a matter of the age of the the
94:01
woman I think you know like I don’t
94:03
believe in compulsory veiling for
94:04
children I think that if you are at an
94:06
age where you can make an informed
94:08
decision about you know your politics
94:10
and your your body and how you manifest
94:12
your you know idea we don’t even think
94:14
that the Nazis are making informed
94:16
decisions we think they’re making
94:18
misinformed decisions we think that your
94:20
hat isn’t making misinformed decisions
94:22
that no one’s making informed decisions
94:24
people are responding to stimuli that’s
94:26
bogus distracting and misleading what
94:30
autonomy is there what free will is
94:31
there what is there accept abandoned in
94:33
fact of our individual identity at the
94:37
sack to be sacrificed at the altar of
94:39
some higher ideal called love or God no
94:42
but I I don’t think that it’s as fluid
94:43
as that I think you know it’s it’s all
94:46
really went for it you know but but you
94:48
know you look at Iran you know
94:49
compulsory veiling you know it’s a nanny
94:51
and if a woman just you know lightly
94:52
loose and surveil you know it’s it’s
94:53
it’s a it’s a reason for her getting
94:55
punished
94:56
you know violently or with prison
94:57
sentences or with social ramifications
94:59
same in Saudi Arabia you cannot walk
95:02
you know the the the kind of conduct
95:06
that women are expected to expected to
95:08
participate in is incredibly reductive
95:12
when it comes to their humanity so I
95:14
think it’s not as fluid as that but I do
95:16
think in Western countries you know with
95:18
so many of my Muslim female friends who
95:20
do choose to wear the hijab I absolutely
95:23
support it I choose not to my
95:24
grandmother didn’t use it my mother
95:26
doesn’t use it but a lot of other women
95:28
do they have done in the past and they
95:30
will continue to in the future and I
95:31
support that when it comes to the burka
95:33
for me personally not so much will if a
95:36
woman sits herself down here right now
95:38
and says look here this is my choice I
95:40
really feel more comfortable this way I
95:42
would say great I will fight for your
95:44
right to do so but when it comes to
95:46
three year olds four year olds five year
95:48
olds I’m not a fan of that but can it be
95:52
feminist it can be I don’t particularly
95:54
like I don’t know how many times I’m
95:57
gonna say that I don’t particularly like
95:58
the book as you can imagine about it
96:01
yeah what about auntie fur our Auntie
96:05
fur as bad as the far right how do you
96:07
mean by as bad as you know volatile
96:10
aggressive extremists I do think that
96:14
aspects of the auntie fur are becoming I
96:18
think there’s a Co radicalization going
96:20
on I think the extreme right and the
96:22
extreme left are kind of feeding off
96:23
each other and I do think that in in and
96:26
again I think masculinity comes here
96:28
more than anything else I think in in
96:29
the attempt to outdo the other end of
96:32
the spectrum I think both sides are
96:34
becoming more and more willing to to
96:37
relegate their political views to
96:40
violent expression which I disagree with
96:43
regardless of which side it comes from
96:45
but obviously my political leaning is on
96:48
the left anyway so I mean I’ve been a
96:50
part of kind of the ante for protests in
96:53
my own life and you got that spray the I
96:56
did I used to be a Nazi when I see
96:58
remember that other day yeah remember
97:00
that one are they as bad as each other I
97:04
think it depends on their behavior I
97:07
don’t agree with violence no matter who
97:11
perpetrates it does have some general
97:13
principles like that isn’t it let’s not
97:14
have violence there
97:15
let people express their individuality
97:17
and up to harming others yeah consent
97:22
just basic ideas right there are some
97:25
general principles that we can have the
97:29
label saying no have we surpassed all
97:32
that people are just saying five stuff
97:33
out there now they’ve gone it’s just you
97:36
know people I am recording this we’re
97:38
having this conversation hey this is the
97:43
thing say when I chatted to Jordan
97:45
Peterson and he says that much of the
97:48
rise of the current wave of feminism and
97:51
the anger inhered within it is in
97:54
accordance with us a archetype known as
97:58
the I can’t really the exact sort of the
98:02
exact archetype is saying that it’s in
98:04
accordance with an idea of that sort of
98:05
a negative female energy like the
98:07
devouring mother that what we protest
98:10
against is the sort of like you know
98:11
that there’s the possibility for the
98:13
positive male the you know benevolent
98:15
king they’re cruel King the benevolent
98:18
mother they’re cruel mother that we are
98:21
experiencing not you know people took a
98:23
lot about toxic masculinity what about
98:25
toxic femininity that’s a good more
98:27
succinct way of saying that there is
98:30
such a thing do you think so toxic
98:32
femininity do yeah that’s the my
98:34
question I mean III don’t know how that
98:36
manifests itself I don’t know how was
98:38
right – rage rage against the patriarchy
98:42
commerce but how is that toxic I mean
98:45
it’s it’s if you are on the receiving
98:46
end of persecution abuse violence
98:50
oppression for centuries
98:53
then if women dare to be angry for once
98:58
and not fill that the prescribed boxes
99:01
of be a good thing of government be
99:03
obedient
99:04
be be you know be a good girl don’t
99:07
react to be polite if women for once get
99:11
angry at being cut walking brutalized
99:14
and that’s it yeah yeah but what about
99:19
min ago when you just said with Muslims
99:22
we can’t have one category that is
99:24
Muslim with 1.5 billion people this the
99:27
need
99:29
to verify the the feminism is that there
99:32
is such a thing as a woman and that
99:34
there is such a thing as female
99:35
oppression couldn’t we similarly regard
99:37
oppression as happening at the level of
99:39
economics of under classes that occurs
99:42
regardless of gender well but it happens
99:46
because of agenda it happens but but you
99:49
but there are multiple layers of
99:50
oppression though that there’s not one
99:52
women don’t experience oppression just
99:55
because of their gender women also have
99:57
class women also have race you know all
99:59
these other markers aren’t just the
100:02
luxury of men or just the identifiers of
100:05
men they’re also identified identifiers
100:07
of women so women experience all the
100:10
layers of oppression that for example a
100:12
working-class man a working-class woman
100:14
experienced all the same forms of
100:17
oppression that are working-class mandus
100:18
but she has one added form of oppression
100:22
which also is assigned to her gender so
100:25
a woman can be standing out in in the
100:29
streets of or Tahrir Square in Egypt
100:31
right fighting against the oppressor
100:33
against Mubarak at the time
100:36
the Arab Spring when that was going on
100:38
she can be standing shoulder to shoulder
100:40
with her male you know there they were
100:42
demanding for freedom and and liberty
100:44
and dignity and bread and and you know
100:46
various other things but that woman also
100:50
has the added pressure of being
100:53
oppressed and abused potentially by her
100:55
father brother husband partner but the
100:58
man doesn’t I also work a lot with
101:00
artistic freedom and an artists who are
101:02
persecuted and in prison and tortured
101:04
and censored for various reasons women
101:07
experienced all the same things as their
101:08
male counterparts female journalists
101:10
experienced the same thing as their
101:12
their male counterparts with the added
101:14
layer of abuse that comes with the fact
101:17
that you’re a woman I understand this
101:20
Jordan Peters I think I actually only
101:21
got familiar with him through your work
101:23
actually people kept mentioning his name
101:25
I’m you know I’m still not that familiar
101:27
with him I appreciate the fact that he
101:29
is tracked he trying to speak to
101:30
something in men who are really
101:32
struggling and are really searching for
101:34
something I really appreciate that and I
101:35
think it’s really important that
101:36
somebody speak to that however I don’t
101:39
think that that needs to be at
101:40
expensive women and at the expense of
101:42
women getting to manifest their there
101:45
for Humanity it doesn’t have to be
101:47
either/or that’s what I do but perhaps
101:49
then we shouldn’t be opposing those
101:52
arguments by using its binary opposite
101:55
perhaps we should be continually
101:56
rejecting those terms those labels
102:01
female male you know I’m not suggesting
102:04
that we’ve become some kind of beingness
102:07
but just be human we can I agree with
102:11
you I agree with you but I think I think
102:13
we can try to aspire to the label of
102:16
human but the the reason these labels
102:19
matter in the process of getting to that
102:21
place is until and until oppression and
102:26
violence and an abuse of women stops in
102:30
the name of their gender in the name of
102:33
because you are a woman you are less
102:36
than until that stops we don’t get to
102:40
the category of we are all human
102:42
all women want all feminism is about
102:44
it’s not an T male it’s not we want men
102:48
to have less rights or we want now it’s
102:50
the time of women they want women to
102:52
take men to take a back seat
102:54
it is about liberating us all to just
102:57
yeah but when you speak on behalf of a
103:00
kind of spiritual progressivism you
103:03
speak as an individual when you speak in
103:04
terms of gender you speak as if feminism
103:06
is one you near when I would imagine
103:09
there are possibility many times I feel
103:10
it is different no no no I I don’t speak
103:12
of it as a unit I speak more as the
103:17
general experiences of women across the
103:21
world having done the work that I’ve
103:22
done and of course I can only you know
103:24
be in contact with so many people
103:26
personally but in the contact that I
103:28
have had it is absolutely undeniable
103:33
that women are suffering in so many
103:37
different contexts around the world
103:39
whether it comes to equal pay whether it
103:43
comes to equal protection under the law
103:45
whether it comes to protection from
103:47
violence whether it comes from there
103:50
just basic dignity and human rights when
103:53
something is expand
103:54
even as global as that how can you know
103:56
like I’m a man and but my most important
104:00
relationship in my life are with women
104:02
there all of them like so like I
104:05
obviously have a vested interest in the
104:08
people I love most living in a fair and
104:10
equal society
104:12
yeah I’m not particularly unique among
104:17
men
104:18
you’re not other than the charisma and
104:19
the eyebrows let’s not rule them out I
104:21
like it in loads of ways I’d like my
104:23
priorities would be the people I love
104:25
and the people I love are women and this
104:27
is where I do have I mean I do have
104:29
arguments with my feminist friends who
104:30
basically say you know me some of them
104:33
do say you know men are kind of a lost
104:35
cause all that kind of right there are
104:37
different types of feminism I’m not
104:39
saying that there aren’t I’m not saying
104:40
that there aren’t to me the goal is that
104:45
we all get to a place where we are just
104:47
human that’s got to be the goal that is
104:49
the goal that absolutely is the goal and
104:51
that is also the goal of a lot of
104:53
feminists maybe not all as a woman
104:57
believe that one of the areas that most
104:59
needs to be addressed is gender
105:00
inequality and then I as a man believe
105:02
for some quirky biographical reason
105:05
think iceberg to do with class and
105:07
oppression that have dinner Lille I know
105:09
but it’s I don’t believe that it’s just
105:11
got to do with gender I believe that
105:12
it’s got to do with gender class race
105:15
icon it’s got to do with all of it
105:18
that’s that’s the difference I’m saying
105:21
that gender is one more layer of
105:23
identity or one more layer of the
105:25
experience of being a human being that
105:28
defines what that experience is for for
105:30
an individual for a human in the time
105:33
that we have here so I’m not saying that
105:35
it’s not class not race not all of this
105:38
it absolutely is but one more experience
105:41
is also gender and I also want to say
105:43
that you being a man and like you just
105:45
said you know your closest relationships
105:47
or you know kind of investments in human
105:49
beings are actually with a lot of women
105:51
I think where a lot of feminists are
105:56
struggling or where we need to do better
105:59
if I mean I don’t really like a group
106:01
thing anyway but there you go if we have
106:04
to speak in those terms I I think we’re
106:06
feminists could
106:07
better is to understand that we are only
106:10
going to win these battles shoulder to
106:12
shoulder it has to be man and women
106:14
together
106:15
it cannot be women will win this battle
106:17
and men will win this battle and then
106:19
we’ll somehow figure it out together
106:20
it’s we have to fight together but you
106:22
tell me how do we involve more men you
106:24
know every like when I’ve been to
106:26
conferences and and conversations or
106:28
whatever about violence against women
106:29
the entire room it’s filled with women
106:32
the perpetrator is male so where’s the
106:35
guy I reckon it’s by you know luck when
106:38
we talked about James Baldwin I mean it
106:40
go yeah it’s by reconciling that the
106:44
identity is non-binary of sort of a
106:47
modern gender politics idea within that
106:51
you have to liberate the femaleness that
106:55
is almost like a kind of internal brexit
106:59
well fifty-one percent you know wanna
107:01
leave forty-nine percent want to stay
107:04
any man is almost female that we are
107:08
closer to reject these terms to liberate
107:11
the female within yourself to
107:12
acknowledge that women are the most
107:15
important people probably in your own
107:17
life and not to commodify and objectify
107:21
other human beings and to look at how
107:25
look at your own life and see where you
107:27
do that and see and be willing to change
107:30
a lot of people aren’t willing to change
107:31
I think you can do with anyone who’s
107:33
willing to change you hasn’t ossified
107:34
into a belief system that they use
107:37
instead of an identity yeah but I think
107:39
that that means that both sides of the
107:41
argument have to as you said be willing
107:43
to stand shoulder to shoulder willing to
107:44
reconcile willing to have a shared
107:46
vision is about creating an ideal as
107:49
opposed to venting ray yes and I mean
107:52
ultimately the goal like we said you
107:53
know it is about how do we ensure that’s
107:56
that people’s full humanity and whatever
107:59
their dreams and their hopes and their
108:01
their loves and and and whatever that
108:03
whatever their vision of themselves and
108:06
their future is that that gets to
108:08
manifest its manifest itself in its full
108:11
flourishing positive wonderful glory and
108:14
how do we how do we do that together how
108:17
do we do that without demeaning each
108:20
other
108:20
and to me the answer it’s sort of in my
108:23
kind of personal sort of small life is
108:26
being empathy empathy is kind of one of
108:28
the most important tools and one of the
108:30
most instruments I think that we have
108:32
available to us that we need to deploy
108:34
in that and and there within that is
108:37
it’s about stories how do we tell
108:40
stories in a way that we see ourselves
108:43
in each other where we recognize our
108:45
humanity in each other where we make it
108:47
possible for a disenfranchised man to
108:51
recognize what it might be like to be a
108:54
woman who’s experiencing violence and
108:56
vice versa you know and how do we and
108:58
also for us to recognize that a lot of
109:01
these barriers are sort of barriers and
109:04
divisions these walls I mean Trump keeps
109:06
talking about building a physical so
109:08
what are you for but but you know he’s
109:11
been so successful at building walls
109:13
between us as human beings already that
109:15
wall doesn’t the physical doesn’t exist
109:17
he’s already being successful in that so
109:19
how do we break down those walls how do
109:21
we create some more in plural inclusive
109:24
future you’re an incredible person I
109:27
think that what you are doing by placing
109:32
yourself among the people that you would
109:34
have the most obvious conflict is a
109:37
brilliant way of metabolizing our
109:40
potential to transcend those barriers
109:44
and boundaries and create connections
109:46
and ultimately having the optimistic
109:49
perspective that you clearly have that
109:51
love is more powerful than I that we
109:53
will get there that you will never undo
109:56
hatred with more hatred and that we have
109:58
to continually reach out in love to the
110:00
people that we have opposed it and
110:02
certainly those that oppose us yes dear
110:05
Wow what an incredible conversation that
110:06
is I feel a little bit like I’ve taken
110:08
drugs word drugs likewise thank you
110:14
you know thanks for watching this
110:16
podcast and going all the way to the end
110:18
of it was using kind of to kick the bell
110:19
when I’ve been able over there and
110:21
they’re subscribing so that we can
110:23
infiltrate your serenity and peace of
110:27
mind with jangling bells and buzzers

Reza Aslan Destroys Anti-Muslim Generalizations (Young Turks)

“Religious scholar Reza Aslan took some serious issue on CNN Monday night with Bill Maher‘s commentary about Islamic violence and oppression. Maher ended his show last Friday by going after liberals for being silent about the violence and oppression that goes on in Muslim nations. Aslan said on CNN that Maher’s arguments are just very unsophisticated.

He said these “facile arguments” might sound good, but not all Muslim nations are the same. Aslan explained that female mutilation is an African problem, not a Muslim one, and there are Muslim-majority nations where women are treated better and there are even female leaders.”* The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

The Cambridge Analytica Whistle-Blower

 

 

Is Andrew Sullivan a conservative?

We ask Andrew Sullivan:

Do you still consider yourself a conservative?

Andrew Sullivan replies:

Absolutely. I wrote a book on my conservatism, ‘The Conservative Soul.’ But in so far as the word has been hijacked by religious fundamentalists and emotionally arrested Randians, I am not one of them. I’d fit easily into a conservative party in any other western democracy. But the GOP is a rogue in the western world – the most extremist right-wing party in any modern democracy by a mile. Banning all abortion and all gay marriages? Denying climate change science?

They’re not conservatives, they’re the loony right.

xx
a

P.S.: [William F.] Buckley favored legal pot. Where are the celebrations of freedom at [the National Review]?

Donald Trump broke the conservative media

“If in 96 days Trump loses this election, I am pointing the finger directly at people like [House Speaker] Paul Ryan and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and John McCain and John Kasich and Ted Cruz — if he won’t endorse — and Jeb Bush and everybody else that made promises they’re not keeping,” Hannity exclaimed, later threatening to endorse Ryan’s far-right primary challenger.

.. In fact, throughout the election season, it has appeared that Republicans have fielded more attacks from their supposed friends on the right than their political opponents on the left.

.. “The analogy that I think of is somebody who has a baby alligator in their bathtub and they keep feeding it and taking care of it,” said Charlie Sykes, a popular conservative talk show host in Wisconsin. “And it’s really cute when it’s a baby alligator — until it becomes a grown-up alligator and comes out and starts biting you.”

.. three key forces: Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Matt Drudge.

.. Simultaneously, the conservative news media sought to lock in its audience by characterizing the mainstream press as an industry comprising dishonest liberals — something with which the GOP was more than happy to go along.

.. “What it became, essentially, was they were preaching this is the only place you can get news. This is the only place you can trust. All other media outlets are lying to you. So you need to come to us,”

.. To avoid being called a RINO (Republican in name only), a Republican would have to take a hardline conservative position on nearly every issue. If, say, they were to hold conservative positions on 90% of the issues, the conservative press would focus on the 10% where there was disagreement.

.. only one candidate could be conservative enough to support for president: Cruz.

.. But something went awry. The most aggressive right-wing members of the conservative press — the members who constantly lambasted certain Republicans for not toeing the hard-right line on every issue — got behind perhaps the most unlikely candidate of all: Donald Trump.

.. “We have reached the bizarro-world point where, for all intents and purposes, conservatives are RINOs,” said John Ziegler, a nationally syndicated conservative talk show host who called Andrew Breitbart a friend. “There is no place now for real conservatives. We’ve also reached the point, I say, we’ve left the gravitational pull of the rational Earth, where we are now in a situation where facts don’t matter, truth doesn’t matter, logic doesn’t matter.”

.. “You look at someone who a few cycles might have been derided as a right-wing lunatic, now they aren’t conservative enough,”

.. he believed some conservative pundits were “just drawn to Trump’s style more than policies.”

.. “I think that some of them just like Trump and were willing to cut him some slack on his shifting of positions because he’s a fighter and they like that,”

.. Ratings may have also played a role, according to conservative talkers who refused to jump aboard the Trump train.

.. Hannity in particular has faced criticism from some colleagues in the conservative-media sphere who allege he has been too cozy with Trump. Ziegler, the conservative radio host, said there’s “there’s no question” a “monetary element” drove coverage overall.

.. “Hannity is desperate for every ratings crumb on the Fox News Channel. … It’s all about ratings,” he said. “Hannity is not particularly talented, he’s not a smart guy — he used to just be a Republican talking points talk show host who happened to be in the right place at the right time. So he’s very vulnerable at any time.

.. while there are other outlets that belong to the conservative media apparatus, they lack the influence of the hard right. The National Review or Weekly Standard might earn the eyeballs of elites in Washington, but those in the heartland seem to prefer the style of the more aggressive pro-Trump outlets.

.. That has left conservatives who oppose Trump in a tricky position when trying to get their message to supporters. No longer can Ryan or Cruz turn to Hannity for a softball interview. They can’t work with Breitbart or rely on Drudge to help with their legislative agenda.

These Republicans have effectively been exiled from the conservative news media

.. “We have taught conservatives for many years to trust nothing other than what they hear in conservative media. Yet the conservative media has now proven to be untrustworthy.”

 

Why Is Trump Tacitly Supporting Corruption in Guatemala?

The administration’s silence empowers President Jimmy Morales to continue ruling with impunity.

When President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala announced last monththat he would not reauthorize a joint United Nations-Guatemala anticorruption commission to remain in the country, he set in motion what some are calling a slow-motion coup.

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known as Cicig, has been operating there since 2007. In the mid-2000s, Guatemala was on the verge of becoming a narco state — and Cicig’s international prosecutors and investigators, and their Guatemalan counterparts, were tasked with fighting organized crime and ending the institutional impunity that gave free rein to powerful criminals and corrupt officials.

Cicig has become especially effective since Ivan Velazquez, a renowned Colombian prosecutor, was appointed commissioner in 2013. In the last five years, more than 60 criminal groups, many deeply embedded in the government, have been exposed, and some 680 people have been jailed for corruption and related crimes.

In 2015, President Otto Perez Molina was imprisoned, along with his vice president, for presiding over a corruption network. Nearly 70 percent of Guatemalans view Cicig favorably.

President Morales, a former television comedian, is widely regarded as corrupt. His government is backed by a so-called juntita of retrograde military officers and a bloc in the Guatemalan Congress derisively known as “el pacto de corruptos” for its efforts to pass legislation granting members impunity from prosecution for corruption and other crimes.

Cicig has been investigating Mr. Morales for accepting undeclared campaign contributions, and the commission recently asked Congress to lift his immunity from prosecution. In response, Mr. Morales not only refused to extend Cicig’s right to operate in the country, but he sent armed military vehicles to the United States Embassy to intimidate the American ambassador, who publicly supports Cicig.

Last week, Mr. Morales went on to bar Mr. Velazquez, who was in Washington for meetings, from re-entering the country. On Sunday, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court ruled that Mr. Morales had to readmit Mr. Velazquez. The Morales government responded by demanding that the United Nations nominate a new commissioner.

The United States supplies 40 percent of Cicig’s funding, and historically Cicig has received firm support from American presidents, both Republican and Democratic. But as tensions have risen between Mr. Morales and the commission, the Trump administration has been too quiet.

The administration’s tough-talking foreign policy chiefs — including President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton — are not standing up to a leader who faces credible accusations of corruption and is aggressively defying a United States ambassador.

The administration’s silence helps pave the way for a possible coup, and chaos and violence that would most likely result. One firm step by the Trump administration could be enough to stop Mr. Morales’s dangerous gambit. Mr. Trump or his lieutenants could

  • join the United States Congress in threatening to cut off economic assistance to Guatemala. They could
  • slash military aid. They could
  • reiterate their support for Cicig’s anticorruption work, including its investigation of Mr. Morales.

Some commentators say that the Trump administration wants to reward Mr. Morales for moving the Guatemalan Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Others speculate that Mr. Trump’s advisers fear provoking Mr. Morales into swapping American patronage for that of China.

But it’s important to remember why Cicig was founded. In the post-civil war period, elite Guatemalan military officers, politicians and other powerful groups and individuals, recognizing that the era of Cold War American largess and unconditional support was over, found a new master: organized crime.

And the country remains a key transit point in the drug corridor between Colombia and Mexico. As recently as 2014, the State Department estimated that as much as 80 percent of the cocaine that eventually reached the United States passed through Guatemala.

An international solution is needed to fight transnational crime. This insight led to the establishment of Cicig.

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, wrote in a Sept. 10 article for CNN: “Corruption spurs revolutions, enables extremist groups and fuels civil wars. Combating corruption is not just about good governance, it’s about maintaining peace and security.”

Those are important words. But when it comes to Guatemala, the Trump administration appears to have a different standard. Instead, in his silence, Mr. Trump is embracing corruption and organized crime.