Tag Archives | Extremism

The Right to Think Dangerous Thoughts

Pic: Felipe Micaroni Lalle

Gabe Rottman writes at the ACLU’s Blog of Rights:

Earlier this month, the White House blogged about its commitment to empower “members of the public to protect themselves against the full range of online threats, including online radicalization to violence,” and announced the creation of a new interagency working group for that purpose. The working group will coordinate the government’s efforts and develop plans—alongside private industry—to “implement an Internet safety approach to address online extremism.”

The White House initiative raises a basic question: Is it appropriate for the government (in cahoots with private industry) to repurpose programs that, for instance, urge consumers to install anti-virus software and protect their credit card information into something that warns them against “bad” ideas?

My colleagues Mike German and Dena Sher have written at length about how “radicalization” models assume, falsely, that you can predict future violence from present sympathies for “radical” or “extreme” beliefs.

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The Problem With Moderates

Plato And AristotleIn a world of ever-widening extremes – from weather patterns to wealth disparities to polarized politics – what does it mean to be a moderate? More specifically, how does this term apply to religion?

Viewed in the context of most everyday activities and situations and in line with Aristotle’s idea of the “Golden Mean” (which states that virtue lies at the midpoint between two vices; i.e. courage lies between cowardice and recklessness, etc.), it could be said that a moderate stance is generally better than an extremist one. For example, being a moderate drinker seems to strike a pretty good balance between being healthy and having fun, as opposed to the opposite extremes of being an ascetic teetotaler or a raging alcoholic. Likewise, being politically moderate, if nothing else, tends to generate far less strife during dinner conversations amid mixed company or at large family gatherings.

Then again, for some activities moderate is still too far from the bell curve – particularly in cases where conventional wisdom has taken up residence at one of the distant ends of the spectrum of possibilities.  For example, while being moderately racist may be an improvement over being a hate-filled white supremacist neo-Nazi skinhead, it still leaves a lot to be desired if hoping to join enlightened humanity in recognizing equal rights for all people based on our shared human condition.… Read the rest

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Ron Paul and Right Wing Extremists: It’s Complicated

Lew Rockwell. Photo: Mises Institute

Lew Rockwell. Photo: Mises Institute

Now that Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy is undeniably viable, no stone can go unturned in the effort to paint him as an extremist. Jim Rutenberg and Serge F. Kovalesky for the New York Times:

The American Free Press, which markets books like “The Invention of the Jewish People” and “March of the Titans: A History of the White Race,” is urging its subscribers to help it send hundreds of copies of Ron Paul’s collected speeches to voters in New Hampshire. The book, it promises, will “Help Dr. Ron Paul Win the G.O.P. Nomination in 2012!”

Don Black, director of the white nationalist Web site Stormfront, said in an interview that several dozen of his members were volunteering for Mr. Paul’s presidential campaign, and a site forum titled “Why is Ron Paul such a favorite here?” has no fewer than 24 pages of comments.

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The Muslim ‘Radicalization’ Myth Debunked

Justin Elliot at Salon.com talks with the author of a report from the Brennan Center for Justice on the difference between Peter King’s hysterical homeland security hearings and actual work to combat terrorism:

When Rep. Peter King’s controversial hearing on Muslim “radicalization” finally convened on Thursday, members of Congress had the opportunity to take some good shots at each other, and the relatives of two Americans who became extremists gave emotional testimony about their experiences.

What the hearing did not feature was any serious, evidence-based consideration of the actual issue of so-called homegrown terrorism by Muslim Americans.

King and other Republicans spent a lot of time going after the Muslim group CAIR and defending themselves from Democratic complaints that the hearing was bigoted. As TPM put it: “Peter King Hearing Focuses On Whether Peter King Hearing Was a Good Idea.”

As it turns out, there is rigorous academic work being done on the “radicalization” issue.

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Sarah Palin Calls Criticism “Blood Libel”

Sarah Palin has posted a video statement about the shootings in Arizona by Jared Loughner, entitled “America’s Enduring Strength,” on her new Vimeo Channel. She accuses journalists of a “Blood Libel” against her, calling it “reprehensible”:

[UPDATE from disinfo ed.: Presumably realizing how awful she sounds, Mrs. Palin has since made the Vimeo stream "private" so we have replaced it with a YouTube stream, but don't be surprised if she has it taken down.]

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Finally, Some Goddamn Truth Expressed on U.S. TV News

Don’t freak with the BS topic of yesterday in this clip, wait until around 2:45 minutes in where Dylan Ratigan (the only mainstream journalist as far as I’m concerned has been calling out these Wall Street crooks for some time) goes on a well-deserved rant on MSNBC’s Morning Joe regarding the unsaid truth about America’s “War on Terror” — he directly calls out the “extraordinary failure of our politicians and our media” to explain the money route behind these operations.

Thank you, Mr. Ratigan.

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Prison Interview with Glenn Beck-Inspired Gunman

Glenn BeckIn 2008 a Unitarian congregation in Tennessee was fired upon by a reported devotee of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage. In the shadow of last summer’s “ground-zero mosque” controversy, a NYC cab driver’s throat was slashed after he identified himself as a Muslim.

Were these the acts of disturbed individuals, already predisposed toward violence, or the natural outcome of so much inflammatory rhetoric being injected into the national discourse? Are hateful demagogues in any way responsible for the criminality of those who take them seriously?

John Hamilton of Media Matters raises these questions in a new piece, in which he interviews Byron Williams, a jailed gunman who credits Glenn Beck and Fox for inspiring his ill-fated insurrection against the Tides Foundation and ACLU.

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United Against The Threat of Cartoons

Jesus as portrayed in 'South Park' (courtesy Comedy Central)

Jesus as portrayed in 'South Park' (courtesy Comedy Central)

Apparently endeavoring to prove that some Christians can be just as stupid and petty as some Muslims, we have geniuses like the Catholic League’s William “13-year olds are not children” Donohue, closeted Family Research Council celebrity Tony “Look How Perfect My Hair Is” Perkins, and conservobot talk show weenie Michael “I’m A Self-Hating Jew” Medved teaming up like a twisted version of the Super Friends to save Jesus from the threat of vile cartooning:

From Reuters/Yahoo News:

Comedy Central’s “JC” is in development, which means it’s still a couple of steps from getting the green light as a series. The project is about Jesus trying to live as a regular guy in New York City and wanting to escape the shadow of his “powerful but apathetic father.” Because Comedy Central recently censored “South Park” for its portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad, some Christian leaders see the prospect of a Jesus cartoon as proof of an offensive double standard.

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Russia Bans Scientology Writings as Extremist

Scott Rose writes in the Moscow Times:
Xenu

Works by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard will be added to the country’s list of extremist literature for “undermining the traditional spiritual values of the citizens of the Russian Federation,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said Wednesday.

The ruling — initiated by transport prosecutors in the Siberian city of Surgut and Khanty-Mansiisk customs officers — is the latest use of the hotly debated law on extremism to target systems of belief that are not traditional in Russia.

Individuals in possession of extremist materials can be jailed for up to 15 days or fined 3,000 rubles ($100). The law also allows for harsher punishment of suspects convicted of other crimes.

Prosecutors said they intercepted 28 individual titles, including books, audio and video recordings by Hubbard that were sent to residents in Surgut from the United States. The materials were sent for study to “psychiatrists, psychologists and sociologists,” who determined that they should not be distributed in Russia, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

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