The Regressive Left and the Path to Totalitarianism: “Cultural Appropriation”

Back in Iran, there is this narrative propagated by the government that “We are under a cultural invasion”. You are told you are not free to wear what you want, or do certain things that you want, because that’s only promoting “the aliens (westerners)” attack our culture. People have been arrested just because they wore a clothing that had an undesired logo.

The exact same thing goes for the “cultural appropriation” concept of the regressive left. Culture is most of the times irrelevant, it belongs to no individual, it is defined by no individual and is always changing. Most notably, it can never come first when the rights of individuals are in question. An individual’s right to wear their desired clothing is always the determining factor in the outcome of this scenario.

The racism and tendency to create a gap between people from the regressive left has become more and more obvious as time passes by, and it is increasingly ironic and dishearteningly totalitarian.

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Introduction to Logical Fallacies (Workshop Style): Appeal to Tradition

Trying to persuade other by an appeal to their feelings and respect for a certain tradition. In other words:

  • X is traditional
  • Therefore X is good (or acceptable)

The reason this line of argument is fallacious is a hidden premise: “Whatever is traditional is acceptable”. Immediately we realize such is not the case. Slavery and sexism were (and still are) traditions in different societies. We now do not consider them acceptable, and if we find them in a society today (such as Islamic societies) we condemn them. “Tradition” is not “reason”.

Example: During the course of her carrier, the prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, was questioned about the issue of gay marriage numerous times. Her replies were usually a matter of dancing around the question, starting with “Our position…” or “I and the Labour party have a clear position…”. She usually avoided answering “Why?”, instead repeated her disagreement in different ways.

However, there were some cases which she did try to answer, and that is when our first fallacy is clearly shown. As the Daily Telegraph report here reads, Ms. Gillard tried to justify her disagreement with gay marriage as follows:

“I think that there are some important things from our past that need to continue to be part of our present and part of our future,” she said. “If I was in a different walk of life, if I’d continued in the law and was partner of a law firm now, I would express the same view, that I think for our culture, for our heritage, the Marriage Act and marriage being between a man and a woman has a special status.”

Surely, if we wish to agree with Ms. Gillard, as we saw above we may as well continue slavery and misogyny. After all, they were important parts of our culture and heritage. There is one more thing that is indeed not traditional: Women as prime ministers. I suspect Ms. Gillard should resign according to her own logic.

This fallacy is also important to note in defense of things that may actually be good. Take the whole different celebrations (such as Christmas) that most cultures have around the world. If one asks what is the point of celebrating Christmas (or any other celebration), one may wish to defend the so called “tradition” of Christmas simply because it is a part of the American culture or heritage. But such defence falls into the same category of fallacious argument: If Christmas (or any celebration) is “good”, that does not come from it being a tradition. Traditions are not reasons.

In such case we may wish to argue about the good effects that such celebrations can have on the society. Or perhaps based on the fact that having such celebrations can have positive impact on individual lives.

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References:

  1. Australian PM Julia Gillard: Gay marriage against my upbringingThe Daily Telegraph, March 21, 2011 [http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/pm-julia-gillard-gay-marriage-against-my-upbringing/story-e6freuy9-1226025009815]

Sympathy for Hitler?!

This post is a little different from my usual self. I re-read it and realized I sound very arrogant. I admit, about some matters I sometimes do become very arrogant, to the point of verbal bashing, and maybe I should be in some cases. Justified or not, a teacher who shows sympathy for Hitler seems to be one of them. In the future I shall try to be more reasonable, but in the meantime I will truthfully discuss what happened.

As a note: I wrote this post more than a year ago, almost two years now, and I’m just publishing it now since I feel it needs to be said, and frankly I haven’t had much time to write new things recently.

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One of the interesting and unfortunate things that you can find in the Middle East is those annoying intellectual facades that think “everything is relative to one’s perception”. Believing this statement has serious logical issues, and serious consequences; but before I go through them, let me talk about the last time I encountered such an annoying person. It was in a “friendly” English class and the encounter was with the teacher; who was a 40 year old woman with the brains of a 9 year old. She was really stubborn and childish, not to mention that she made countless logical fallacies and made a fool of herself many times.

The worst part about logic came when one day during a discussion I pointed out some mistakes in her reasoning. After that, I asked her “Why do you make these fallacies?”, “I do not believe in logic!” she said. “But don’t you want to think correctly?” I asked her with a smile; “But what is thinking correctly?” she replied, trying to make “thinking correctly” relative to one’s point of view. Of course, she did not know that she was contradicting herself: You see, to reject the notion of “One can think correctly”, you have to be able to think correctly!

On one of the last sessions we had, she said that she felt “sympathy for Hitler”. Well, I raised my eyebrows and asked: “Do you feel sympathy for, for example, the fact that he was good to animals or he was a human being? Or for what he is condemned for?” The reason I asked that was simple: I wanted to keep her from backing off, obviously Hitler was a bad person, but that doesn’t logically follow that whatever he did was bad (e.g. he drank water, he slept at night etc.). And she answered with nonsense like “For what he is condemned for, because everything has two sides.” And then went on talking about a half baked conspiracy theory of how Jews control the world.

“Why are you making a face for me?” She said suddenly, maybe realizing what she had done. She was mentioning my raised eyebrows of course, and the fact that I usually made a face for her (not surprising at all!). Then she talked about how she is not “just an English teacher.” And how she is older than me and can bring shame to me. But these had nothing to do with what I said about her statement. At that point I realized I had to do something. Remaining silent, I waited for the next session (which was my last); because I knew I needed to properly bash pathetic claims.

In the next session, I briefly talked about how Hitler used and abused that strong sense of Antisemitism among European Christians (in Germany) to gather the masses around him in order to seize power. To do that, Hitler lied to people (specifically in Mein Kampf and about Jewish people), bullied them and deceived German politicians.

My personal attack to her was harsh, but then again I think it should have been. I made her face a dilemma that I had prepared and written down the day before:

“I was sincerely going to write a really long text to debunk your nonsense about Hitler, but suddenly a dilemma presented itself to me. A dilemma with two horns ready to hook the likes of you:

I. Those who show sympathy for Hitler’s crimes; they are showing sympathy for genocide.

II. They are either aware of what Hitler did and what genocide means, or they do not know enough about it and are ignorant.

1) If they show sympathy for those horrific deeds knowing they were wrong, they are dangerous and belong to jail or a mental hospital. And one thing is for sure: they shall never hold a position of power, no matter how small.

2) If they are showing sympathy for Hitler not knowing enough about those evil deeds, then they are only guilty of ignorance, and that is no crime. But one thing is for sure: They shall never be teachers. Teachers have responsibilities.

Since you, as someone who is called a teacher, will never be able to escape the horns of this dilemma, therefore you are either mad or a criminal, or you do not deserve to be called a teacher. To hell with not “just” an English teacher, you are no teacher at all.”

Well, I ended up only reading the dilemma part completely. She suddenly jumped in and asked: “Where are you going with this? Are saying that I am ignorant or mad?” And when I just looked at her, she went on: “Well I am! What are you going to do about it now?”

Well, what could I say: I rest my case ladies and gentlemen?!

Now, there are two things that should be said by now. The first is that showing sympathy for Hitler, Nazism and racism in the Middle East is not strange at all. These people are really deluded; most of them not educated or intelligent enough to know a great deal about the events of WWII (or even a small deal for that matter). And the fact that many of them have a very strong sense of Nationalism does not help at all: They easily delude themselves into thinking they are special. And these aside, Holocaust denial is indeed very common among them because of the governments and Islamist propaganda and their own version of racism.

I myself have had numerous debates on different web based forums about the history of the Third Reich and Hitler. And these pro-racism and Nazis’ either believe in a stupid lie that someone has told them before, or they just simply don’t know anything: They are blindly following an Ideology. Ideologically, people in the Middle East are deeply troubled. They do not know enough, and yet they just talk too much. They say many things that are historically and even rationally incorrect, and they say them over and over again until they believe them. For them, “conspiracy theories” are not rubbish at all; they take them as “literal facts”! That, combined with Islam, which has never passed a renaissance, and is the business of making mindless beasts of of people, you can find these bizarre ideologies among them, and that’s why they become fundamentalists without even knowing it themselves.

But this is not the worst. The worst is the intellectuals’ reaction to fundamentalism. There is a strong sense of relativism among both intelligent people and intellectuals in there. “Everything is relative to one’s perception” is considered to be the motto of an intellectual. People think that anyone that gives this line to almost any question is a very understanding person, and they think that just saying “well, this is my opinion” would immediately create immunity for “any” stupid claim.

How many times I had to explain this to my own family is a very good example. One of our relatives is an Islamist fundamentalist and pro Islamic regimes. Each time that I had an argument with him (and usually a heated one), my mom blamed me; Saying: “Well, he has his own opinion and you should respect it.” And no matter how much I explained to her that his opinion is wrong, and does not deserve respect (“he may deserve respect, his idea doesn’t ”); she kept coming back to the same thing each time. I don’t know why, but people think that “respecting” an idea means “accepting” that idea!

To show what is wrong with “Everything is relative to one’s perception” I only have to show that it is self refuting. If that is true, then the truth of that statement is also relative to our perception. If I think that that statement is incorrect I am right, and if you think that it is correct you are also right. Therefore that statement is both correct and incorrect; “Everything is relative to one’s perception” is only relatively true!

This is dangerous: It takes away the engine of intellectual critical thinking. Because if you agree with every idea possible, or do not disagree with wrong ideas; then all of them can have a station among masses of people and grow without any opposition; even Fascism, racism, Islamism, or other kinds of fundamentalism.