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robertogreco : matttaibbi   19

The Charlie Hebdo attacks show that not all blasphemies are equal
"After the murder of Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists, pundits have tried to suss out where blasphemy fits into the social life of the West. Is it a necessary project for shocking Bronze Age fanatics into modernity? Is it a way of defending a free-wheeling liberal culture from the censorship of violent men? Or is it abusively uncivil? When directed at a minority religion, is it racist? Is it an abuse of freedom of speech, the equivalent of a constant harassment that invites a punch in the nose?

We have been told that Charlie Hebdo is an "equal opportunity offender." And in one sense that is obviously true. It drew unflattering pictures of Jesus, of Jews, and of the Prophet Muhammad. The spirit of the magazine was anarchic, atheistic, and left-wing. As Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry points out, it was a very French thing, anti-clerical and Rabelaisian.

But not all blasphemies are equal, because religions are not analogous. A gesture aimed at one can cause an eruption of outrage, but when offered to another it produces a shrug. The intensity of reaction may be determined by the religion's comfort with modernity, or by the history of its adherents. Western Christians are raised in pluralist, tolerant, and diverse cultures, and in powerful nations. Muslims experience the bad side of discrimination as immigrants, and come from cultures that have been humiliated by colonialism, autocracy, and Western incursion. But that doesn't explain all of it.

Pissing on a Bible is similar to pissing on a Koran only as a chemical reaction of urea and pulp. As gestures of desecration they mean entirely different things. The challah bread eaten in Jewish homes on the Sabbath and the Catholic Eucharist both have a symbolic relation to the manna from heaven in the book of Exodus, but trampling on one is not the same as the other, and would inspire very different reactions. Likewise, Charlie Hebdo's images are offered from an anarchic and particularly French anti-clerical spirit, but they are received entirely differently as blasphemies by Christianity and Islam.

After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I tried to think of what kind of blasphemy aimed at my own faith would bring out illiberal reactions in me. The infamous Piss Christ of Andres Serrano barely raises my pulse. Although the pictured crucifix reminds me of one I would kiss in worship on Good Friday, I agree with the artist Maureen Mullarkey that it is trivially easy to avoid taking the publicity-and-money-and-status-generating offense it so desperately sought.

But a Black Mass — a satanic parody of the Catholic Mass, in which a consecrated host stolen from a Catholic Church is ritually desecrated — would touch something else in me. I followed the news about proposed Black Masses at Harvard and Oklahoma City intensely in 2014. I monitored the reactions of local bishops. And I thought more highly of Tulsa's Bishop Slattery for his tougher posture. I admired even more the renegade Traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which organized a march and produced a beautiful video explaining the offense of a Black Mass, and why Catholics would seek to make reparation before God for the offense given by others.

Freddie deBoer says that those defending the practice of blasphemy are arguing against a shadow and doing brave poses against a null threat: "None of them think that, in response to this attack, we or France or any other industrialized nation is going to pass a bill declaring criticism of Islam illegal."

Not only does this ignore the chilling effect violence has on free speech, it is also just wrong. In 2006, the British government of Tony Blair asked for a vote on a law "against incitement to religious hatred." It was a law whose political support came overwhelmingly from Muslims.

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood argued that one of the virtues of the law was that it would have allowed the government to edit Salman Rushdie's work. Luckily, the House of Lords insisted on a revision that would exempt "discussion, criticism, or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult, or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents" from the law, rendering it toothless.

But if I thought about it, I understood the MP's reaction. He hoped that a law against incitement could function as a de facto blasphemy law. I hoped last year that laws against the petty theft of "bread" from a Church could be enforced to prevent the Black Masses.

It often seems the debate over the value of blasphemy is determined by what people fear the most. Do they fear the growth of an Islamic sub-culture within the West that threatens the gains of secularism, religious toleration, feminism, and gay rights? Then blast away. Or do they fear that the majority culture, like Western imperialism itself, is driving Muslims into poverty, despair, and a cultural isolation that encourages fundamentalism? Well, then be careful, circumspect, and polite.

Last week, I suggested that Europe's secularism was aimed at Christianity, and that in some respects secularism was a kind of genetic mutation within the body of Christendom. Charlie Hebdo's kind of blasphemy was a Christian kind of blasphemy. Christianity makes icons, and Hebdo draws mustaches and testicles across them. It pokes at the pretension of religious leaders. This is a kind of blasphemy that Matt Taibbi identifies with "our way of life."

But what if drawing a cartoon of Muhammad is not, theologically speaking, like drawing a parody of Jesus? What if it is more like desecrating the Eucharist, something I think Charlie Hebdo's editors would never do?

Obviously there are debates within Islam about what God demands from believers, unbelievers, and earthly authorities. Just as there are debates about what the Eucharist is within Christianity. And, yes, sometimes state pressure can effect a religious revolution. (Look to the Mormon church and the United States). But Western pressure seems to push Muslims away from liberality.

Fazlur Rahman and other Islamic scholars point out that when Islam was an ascendant and powerful world force it often found the intellectual resources to "Islamicize" the philosophies and cultures it encountered outside its Arabian cradle. But once Islam was humiliated and reduced on the geopolitical stage, these more daring and expansive medieval projects were abandoned. Other modernizing and liberal efforts of jurists like Muhammad Abduh have proven unpopular. Instead, the great modernist projects of Wahhabist and Salafist fundamentalism is what colors movements from the Taliban to the Islamic State.

When Westerners read the editorial from radical cleric Anjem Choudary, they are tempted to think he is stupid for asking why "why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims...?"

"That's not how it works here," we want to reply. But Choudary's view that the state authority is responsible for the moral and spiritual condition of the nation is quintessentially Islamic. It is a reflection of the fact that Islam's great debates are centered on jurisprudence, on the right order of the ummah. This is very different from Christianity where the primary debates center around orthodox faith and morals withing the Church. In an odd way, Choudary's complaint against France is a sign of assimilation. He expects France to assimilate to this vision of Islam. He offers France's leaders the same complaint radical Muslim reformers always offer to lax Sultans and Caliphs.

To ask Muslims to respond peacefully to Charlie Hebdo's provocations makes absolute sense to me, because I want to continue to live by the norms set by a detente between secularism and Christian churches. I suspect many (perhaps most) Muslims want the same. But those Muslims who are faithful to a religious tradition concerned primarily with restoring fidelity to sources from the first three centuries of Islam were not a party to the secularist bargain. And we ought to be aware that we are asking them to live as Christians, and to be insulted like them, too."
michaelbrendandougherty  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  charliehebdo  freedom  freespeech  2015  france  religion  freedomofspeech  racism  islamophobia  extremism  journalism  christianity  andresserrano  maureenmullakey  blackmass  freddiedeboer  blasphemy  islam  khalidmahmood  salmanrushdie  via:ayjay  secularism  fundamentalism  fazlurrahman  anjemchoudary  jurisprudence  assimilation  matttaibbi 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke | | Rolling Stone
"The institutional bias in the crack sentencing guidelines was a racist outrage, but this HSBC settlement blows even that away. By eschewing criminal prosecutions of major drug launderers on the grounds (the patently absurd grounds, incidentally) that their prosecution might imperil the world financial system, the government has now formalized the double standard.

They're now saying that if you're not an important cog in the global financial system, you can't get away with anything, not even simple possession. You will be jailed and whatever cash they find on you they'll seize on the spot, and convert into new cruisers or toys for your local SWAT team, which will be deployed to kick in the doors of houses where more such inessential economic cogs as you live. If you don't have a systemically important job, in other words, the government's position is that your assets may be used to finance your own political disenfranchisement.

On the other hand, if you are an important person, and you work for a big international bank, you won't be prosecuted even if you launder nine billion dollars. Even if you actively collude with the people at the very top of the international narcotics trade, your punishment will be far smaller than that of the person at the very bottom of the world drug pyramid. You will be treated with more deference and sympathy than a junkie passing out on a subway car in Manhattan (using two seats of a subway car is a common prosecutable offense in this city). An international drug trafficker is a criminal and usually a murderer; the drug addict walking the street is one of his victims. But thanks to Breuer, we're now in the business, officially, of jailing the victims and enabling the criminals.

This is the disgrace to end all disgraces. It doesn't even make any sense. There is no reason why the Justice Department couldn't have snatched up everybody at HSBC involved with the trafficking, prosecuted them criminally, and worked with banking regulators to make sure that the bank survived the transition to new management. As it is, HSBC has had to replace virtually all of its senior management. The guilty parties were apparently not so important to the stability of the world economy that they all had to be left at their desks.

So there is absolutely no reason they couldn't all face criminal penalties. That they are not being prosecuted is cowardice and pure corruption, nothing else. And by approving this settlement, Breuer removed the government's moral authority to prosecute anyone for any other drug offense. Not that most people didn't already know that the drug war is a joke, but this makes it official."
matttaibbi  drugs  economics  law  politics  policy  drugwar  warondrugs  2013  banking  hsbc  moneylaundering 
december 2013 by robertogreco
#OccupyEducated Primer Reading List: The Essentials
"If you are curious about why Occupy Wall Street has turned into Occupy Everywhere, if you want a basic understanding of the problems in the system that make this stand necessary, we believe these are the books to start with, in no particular order.* The links go to a description and video to start your Occupy education."

"1. Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein
2. Debt: The First 5000 Years, David Graeber
3. The End of Growth, Richard Heinberg
4. In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan
5. Griftopia, Matt Taibbi
6. Democracy Matters, Cornell West"
cornelwest  naomiklein  shockdoctrine  michaelpollan  matttaibbi  griftopia  indefenseoffood  richardheinberg  davidgraeber  books  booklists  ows  occupywallstreet  2011 
december 2011 by robertogreco
How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests | Politics News | Rolling Stone
"People want out of this fiendish system, rigged to inexorably circumvent every hope we have for a more balanced world. They want major changes. I think I understand now that this is what the Occupy movement is all about. It's about dropping out, if only for a moment, and trying something new, the same way that the civil rights movement of the 1960s strived to create a "beloved community" free of racial segregation. Eventually the Occupy movement will need to be specific about how it wants to change the world. But for right now, it just needs to grow. And if it wants to sleep on the streets for a while and not structure itself into a traditional campaign of grassroots organizing, it should. It doesn't need to tell the world what it wants. It is succeeding, for now, just by being something different."
ows  occupywallstreet  matttaibbi  2011  economics  politics  society  change  revolution  policy  government  protest  culture 
november 2011 by robertogreco
The Great American Bubble Machine | Rolling Stone Politics
"From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression -- and they're about to do it again"<br />
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"The new carbon credit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that's been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won't even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance."
carboncredits  carbon  carbonoffsets  goldmansachs  matttaibbi  2011  bubbles  finance  tarp  bailout  markets  manipulation  greatdepression  dotcomboom  technology  housingbubble  housing  energy  oil  gasoline 
march 2011 by robertogreco
The Tipping Point | Coffee Party
"Years from now, we will think of February 2011 as the tipping point in America’s great awakening. After all the warnings and wake-up calls, this be will remembered as the time when the American people decided to come together, confront the plutocracy that plagues our republic, and do something to change the economic inequality / instability that has grown from it. There is a tide. If you don't yet feel it, here are Ten Wake Up Calls that we predict will help define February 2011 in America.  The more people who get involved, the more meaningful it will be.  So, please share this page with others who may still need a reason to wake up and stand up."

1 Egypt; 2 Bob Herbert's Challenge To America; 3 The Protest & the Prank Call in Wisconsin; 4 Johann Hari's article in The Nation; 5 It's the Inequality, Stupid; 6 The Great American Rip-off; 7 BP makes US sick; 8 House of Representatives run amok; 9 The Stiglitz Deficit-reduction Plan; 10 Tax Week, April 11 to 17, 2011."
2011  tippingpoint  us  politics  policy  plutocracy  change  gamechanging  egypt  bobherbert  matttaibbi  bp  corporations  corporatism  capitalism  corruption  campaignfinance  josephstiglitz  johannhari  inequality  disparity  incomegap  taxes  crisis  banking  finance  government  bailouts  foreclosures  unions  unionbusting  wisconsin  deficits  deficitreduction  teaparty  coffeeparty  kochbrothers  havesandhavenots  money  wealth  influence  power 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics
"So there you have it. Illegal immigrants: 393,000. Lying moms: 1. Bankers: 0. The math makes sense only because the politics are so obvious. You want to win elections, you bang on the jailable class. You build prisons & fill them with people for selling dime bags & stealing CD players. But for stealing a billion $? For fraud that puts a million people into foreclosure? Pass. It's not a crime. Prison is too harsh. Get them to say they're sorry, & move on. Oh, wait—let's not even make them say they're sorry. That's too mean; let's just give them a piece of paper w/ a government stamp on it, officially clearing them of the need to apologize, & make them pay a fine instead. But don't make them pay it out of their own pockets, & don't ask them to give back the money they stole. In fact, let them profit from their collective crimes, to the tune of a record $135 billion in pay & benefits last year. What's next? Taxpayer-funded massages for every Wall Street executive guilty of fraud?"
economics  finance  politics  us  policy  corruption  wallstreet  crime  2011  fraud  matttaibbi  wealth  discrimination  favoritism 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Lara Logan, You Suck -- RollingStone.com
"If I'm hearing Logan correctly, what Hastings is supposed to have done in that situation is interrupt these drunken assholes & say, "Excuse me, fellas, I know we're all having fun & all, but you're saying things that may not be in your best interest! As a reporter, it is my duty to inform you that you may end up looking like insubordinate douche bags in front of two million Rolling Stone readers if you don't shut your mouths this very instant!"...
afghanistan  matttaibbi  media  journalism  politics  propaganda  television  rollingstone  military  ethics  iraq  us  2010  laralogan 
july 2010 by robertogreco
On the Bailout Hustle - Matt Taibbi - Taibblog - True/Slant
"My feeling is similar to what Barry Ritholtz proposed. He said that “we should have gone Swedish on their asses.” The Swedes after a similar bubble burst in 1992 temporarily seized control of insolvent institutions, forced banks to write down losses before they got aid, & gave taxpayers a huge share in the upside of recovery. It was a tough-love approach that really worked & forcefully addressed the moral hazard issue in a way we never touched.
economics  bailout  sweden  corporatism  matttaibbi  barryritholtz  recovery  crisis  2010  housingbubble  banking  us  policy 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Wall Street's Bailout Hustle : Rolling Stone
"the biggest gift the bankers got in the bailout was not fiscal but psychological. "The most valuable part of bailout was implicit guarantee that they're Too Big to Fail." Instead of liquidating & prosecuting insolvent institutions that took us all down with them in giant Ponzi scheme, we have showered them with money & guarantees and all sorts of other enabling gestures. & what should really freak everyone out is the fact that Wall Street immediately started skimming off its own rescue money. If the bailouts validated anew the crooked psychology of the bubble, the recent profit & bonus numbers show that the same psychology is back, thriving, & looking for new disasters to create. "It's evidence that they still don't get it."
matttaibbi  banking  goldmansachs  corruption  finance  business  policy  wallstreet  fraud  bailout  economics  politics  economy  crisis  aig  2010 
february 2010 by robertogreco
The Builders' Manifesto - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
"What leaders "lead" are yesterday's organizations. But yesterday's organizations — from carmakers, to investment banks, to the healthcare system, to the energy industry, to the Senate itself — are broken. Today's biggest human challenge isn't leading broken organizations slightly better. It's building better organizations in the first place. It isn't about leadership: it's about "buildership", or what I often refer to as Constructivism. Leadership is the art of becoming, well, a leader. Constructivism, in contrast, is the art of becoming a builder — of new institutions. Like artistic Constructivism rejected "art for art's sake," so economic Constructivism rejects leadership for the organization's sake — instead of for society's. Builders forge better building blocks to construct economies, polities, & societies. They're the true prime movers, the fundamental causes of prosperity. They build the institutions that create new kinds of leaders — as well as managers, workers, & customers."
constructivism  innovation  business  economics  future  design  productivity  umairhaque  leadership  barackobama  middlemanagement  finance  2009  policy  politics  healthcare  creativity  motivation  work  management  administration  builders  organizations  value  evanwilliams  billgates  wallstreet  elinorostrom  matttaibbi  nicholaskristof  maureendowd  benbernake  mohammadyunus  statusquo  sarahpalin  nelsonmandela  power  thomasfriedman 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Obama's Big Sellout : Rolling Stone
"What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside."
barackobama  economics  politics  bailout  government  finance  policy  matttaibbi  wallstreet  banking  fraud  democrats  corruption  banks  citigroup  goldmansachs  money 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Matt Taibbi - Taibblog – Elizabeth Warren for President - True/Slant
"Obama ran an incredible campaign last year, managing to turn himself into the stuff of political iconography...But he also inherited a terrible financial crisis & completely whiffed on it, siding with the financial status quo, who happen to be the bad guys. & in general, policywise, he has turned out to be eerily in sync with the previous administration...We need someone who will run on one very basic principle — the refusal to accept corporate money. That someone will have to be willing to be a symbol of voter empowerment. If someone like Warren doesn’t want that responsibility, well, she shouldn’t have gone into office & gone on TV making all that sense & shit. She’s pushed for transparency in the Fed, is openly furious about the misuse of bailout money & seems to take personally the chicanery that credit card companies & banks use to game the suckers out there. I simply cannot see her suddenly flipping & holding $2000-a-plate fundraisers with Lloyd Blankfein & Jamie Dimon."
elizabethwarren  barackobama  politics  crisis  goldmansachs  finance  economics  matttaibbi  democrats  us  policy  2009  2012  presidency 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Matt Taibbi - Taibblog – On the Nobel Prize for Occasional Peace - True/Slant
"You never, ever get a true dissident from a prominent Western country winning the award, despite the obvious appropriateness such a choice would represent. Our Western society quite openly embraces war as a means of solving problems & for quite some time now has fashioned its entire social & economic structure around the preparation for war. ... when a fringe presidential candidate named Dennis Kucinich announced plans to create a “Department of Peace,” he was almost literally laughed off the campaign trail. ... We ebb toward war most of the time. But sometimes, out of necessity, or when we run out of bullets, we ebb the other way. And it’s then that we give ourselves awards for our peace-loving behavior."
matttaibbi  afghanistan  peace  war  barackobama  nobelprizes  politics  thewest  policy  geopolitics  economics 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Matt Taibbi - Taibblog – Will Obama listen to ex-Fed chief Paul Volcker’s warnings? - True/Slant
"There is a larger story to be done about how Obama did a bit of a bait-and-switch, hiring progressives to run his campaign and jettisoning them once he got into office. I hear about this phenomenon from different corners of the policymaking universe, from health care to defense and intelligence spending. But my sense is that the switch was most violent in the realm of economic policy, which means stuff like this bears particular attention. Will Obama act on Volcker’s recommendations? We should probably wait and see, but I’m not holding my breath."
matttaibbi  barackobama  economics  paulvolker  policy  politics 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The Great American Bubble Machine : Rolling Stone
"Matt Taibbi on how Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression"
matttaibbi  goldmansachs  finance  history  democrats  banking  markets  fraud  billclinton  glass-steagall  merrilllynch  collapse  politics  business  economics  depression  crisis  2009 
july 2009 by robertogreco
The Great American Bubble Machine : Rolling Stone
"Matt Taibbi on how Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression"
matttaibbi  goldmansachs  finance  history  democrats  banking  markets  fraud  billclinton  glass-steagall  merrilllynch  collapse  politics  business  economics  depression  crisis  2009 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Taibblog » Blog Archive » Tom Friedman Strikes Again » A True/Slant Contributor
"The other day I was thinking about how I’m going to turn forty soon, how scary that is and what it means going forward. And one of the things I thought, when I was thinking about this, was, “I’m going to have to stop picking on Thomas Friedman after I turn forty. Forty is way too old to still be picking on a guy just because he happens to have been born with a big hunk of granite in his metaphor center.”
matttaibbi  thomasfriedman  pundits  language  writing  metaphors  analogies 
april 2009 by robertogreco
The Big Takeover : Rolling Stone
"As complex as all the finances are, the politics aren't hard to follow. By creating an urgent crisis that can only be solved by those fluent in a language too complex for ordinary people to understand, the Wall Street crowd has turned the vast majority of Americans into non-participants in their own political future. There is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read: Literacy is power. In the age of the CDS and CDO, most of us are financial illiterates. By making an already too-complex economy even more complex, Wall Street has used the crisis to effect a historic, revolutionary change in our political system — transforming a democracy into a two-tiered state, one with plugged-in financial bureaucrats above and clueless customers below."
2009  crisis  banking  wallstreet  politics  economics  recession  corruption  aig  us  matttaibbi  money  finance  business  bailout  investing 
march 2009 by robertogreco

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