We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Yet it is the Democrats’ relentless focus on minority issues that has enabled the GOP to capture parts of the white middle and working class vote. Trump exploited that opportunity more effectively than any other Republican. But he did it – with the alt-right’s help – by borrowing from the Democrats’ playbook. Aping the left’s identity politics, Trump adopted the alt-right’s cultural narrative around the oppression of white people. Gone was the traditional Republican belief in individual responsibility. In its place came the leftist credo of perpetual victimhood.

Simon Gordon

Another way of putting it is that Trump is a bit like Bernie Sanders, with skyscrapers and funny hair.

51 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Milo Yobabobanobapolis

    Triggered! How dare you besmirchify God Emperor Trump! 😆

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Milo Yobabobanobapolis

    Yabbadabbadooooo! (as in The Flintstones).

  • Alsadius

    I’ve been saying that Sanders is just Trump with worse hair for two years now. It utterly bewilders the left.

  • bob sykes

    The Democrats have created a situation in which all politics is identity politics. Whites have been driven to the White Identitarian position in mere self-defense. When Whites were a very large majority in American (over 85%), they could afford to indulge in their differences over economic or foreign policy or whatever, without regard to race. It is evident that this is no longer possible, and as the White majority continues to shrink, internal differences between Whites will become irrelevant compared to preserving Whites themselves.

    European obtuseness on these points is quite bizarre. Did Roland die for nothing, or was the defense of Vienna pointless. I guess two world wars permanently changed the European gene pool, for the worse.

  • Watchman

    bob sykes,

    I hate to do this to you, but pedantry demands it…

    Roland did die for nothing – historically the First Battle of Roncevalles was not the romanatic affair of the troubadours, but an attack by the Christian Basques on the rearguard of Charlmagne’s army that was returning to Gaul from Spain after a not-notably successful campaign (and one where considering the nature of the north of the peninsula at the time, they were as likely to be allied to Arabic or Moorish (or Tafia) rulers as opposed to them). The Basques were just asserting their right to the territory and presumably nicking some of the booty from the campaign, and Roland happened to be commanding the rearguard.

    And last time I looked, most of the areas held by the Ottomans prior to the Siege of Vienna (assuming you’re talking about 1683 one) mysteriously remained Christian even until their independence in the nineteenth century, so I doubt it was a major religous affair. The obvious way to understand the 1683 victory is in the fact that the victorious empires (Holy Roman Empire (basically the Hasburgs) and Poland-Lithuania) gained a lot of territory from the Ottomans straight afterwards. Looks very much like a simple clash of large empires to me, and not some sort of epoch-making event (albeit the Ottomans never got an effective military campaign so far again).

    Also not sure how a war changes a gene pool for the worse – unless you believe the best part of the European gene pool was of middle eastern origins?

  • Alisa

    Aping the left’s identity politics, Trump adopted the alt-right’s cultural narrative around the oppression of white people.

    Is there any evidence to support this observation?

  • Watchman


    Yes, but it seems to be mostly left-wing commentators claiming Trump was racist for appealing to a white base…

  • Thailover

    I think this is all complete nonsense. Trump has nothing to do with the “Alt Right”, i.e. race-focused white people (all of whom I don’t sympathize with, regardless of the arguments whether they’re racist or merely culturally proud. Focus on the collective is always a non-starter IMO).
    The idea that people like Trump and Le Pen are “pro-white people” is decidedly stupid. Arguing that Trump is alt-right because the alt-right likes Trump is like saying borsht is Stalinist because Stalin liked borsht.

    Trump is unique in that he actually LIKES his country, whereas the en-vogue is to merely tolerate it as one drags along, doing one’s duty to “sacrifice” with a dour look on one’s face. (Think Theresa May).

    The playbook of the Left (they’re not “liberal” in any sense of the word), is identity politics, divide and supposedly conquer. Slithery “divided” herself right out of the race. Trump’s approach was maximum inclusiveness. “But what about racism against Mexicans” the dolts ask. Well, first off, Mexican ISN’T a race, and secondly Trump said he wants to streamline the immigration process, making it EASIER to come to America LEGALLY and even become an American citizen easier. His headache is with us having effectively no border control. Wanting your homeland to not be a crack house is to not be a dreaded “-ist” of any sort.

    Arguably, for a foreigner to become an American, one must put “America first”. If you want to put your religion, your home nation first, then you have no business trying to change your nationality to a USA-er in Trump’s view, and in mine to. Becoming American isn’t a legal snag or a technicality or an electronic key-card, it’s to embrace individualism and the values reflected in the Bill of Rights, with the understanding that ‘voluntary trade to mutual benefit and the recognition of property rights’,(i.e. capitalism) is intrinsic to human dignity and generates wealth for all, not merely those directly involved. (We have the richest poor people on the planet). If one wants a rich nation, one should embrace capitalism (of course, not to be confused with crony fascism or corporatism).

  • Thailover

    Watchman…the snag there is that Trump didn’t appeal to a white base. He appealed to Americans and their self interest. (To the Left, appealing to self interest is akin to saying, “you know that Satan fellow isn’t such a bad guy after all”, lol).

  • Alisa

    Watchman, ‘yes’ as in ‘yes, there is such evidence’?

  • Butler Reynolds

    I think people are reading too much in to the election of Trump. The planets had to line up just right for him to win.

    The problem that I have with these narratives is that Trump didn’t do that great in the election. In the Republican primaries, for example, most voters chose someone else. Voter turnout in the general election did not break any records.

    The election of Trump has more to do with how terribly awful Hillary was. Had the Democrats chosen a candidate that would have at least gotten their base to the voting booth, we’d not be having this discussion.

  • The term ALT-RIGHT is used to mean quite different things. (Sometimes, as with ‘racist’, it is deliberately used to mean different things at the same time.)

    – As a muslim anti-semite can learn the language of the left, and talk of being anti-Israel and anti-Zionist, without in fact having views much different from those of the Grand Mufti in the 1940s, so someone who holds Woodrow Wilson’s style of early-1900s southern Democrat views on black-white race issues can dress it up in modern lingo.

    – The left has noticed that many now refuse to cringe when called racist. They became accustomed to any accusation of racism causing the conventional right to work hard and respectfully to refute it, and are shocked when some instead mock it, or “double-down” on it. To them, it is indeed a new and ‘alternative’ form of right-wing response to left-wing propaganda.

    Between these two attitudes there is a huge range, all members of whom get called ALT-RIGHT sometimes, by some commentators. Alisa (April 10, 2017 at 12:52 pm) is right to ask for evidence. I would add that anyone replying should indicate “evidence of what?” – for what definition of ALT-RIGHT do you offer evidence of Trumpian use, agreement or whatever?

  • Thailover

    “The problem that I have with these narratives is that Trump didn’t do that great in the election. In the Republican primaries, for example, most voters chose someone else.”

    There were a dozen candidates. OF COURSE most people voted for someone else.

    Considering that the “swamp” establishment republicans HATE trump, the RNC hates Trump, that virtually all Leftists hate Trump, that the corporatist Legacy Media, the DNC and the Slithery campaign colluded and conspired and even rigged the primary election…and HATE Trump, I think Trump did fantastic in the election. I don’t know anyone else that could have won an election that was successfully rigged against him on several fronts simultaneously. Especially with nearlly all cable “news” media out to utterly destroy him.

  • Watchman (April 10, 2017 at 12:33 pm) : “most of the areas held by the Ottomans prior to the Siege of Vienna (assuming you’re talking about 1683 one) mysteriously remained Christian”

    This is very far from literally true. Most of the area of the former Ottoman empire is still muslim. The Balkans were a more recently conquered and more recently liberated area of the Dar el Salaam. Descendants (insofar as there were any) of the annual 1%-of-population slave quota imposed as tribute from the Hungarians after the battle of Mohacs (1526) found it necessary to become and stay Muslim. This quota was over and above the law that any male children of Christian parents, aged between 7 and 10, anywhere in the empire, could be taken for slaves at whim by the Sultan’s slave-drivers. (Those childen had to become Muslims and were incorporated into the Janissaries. Scanderbeg was one famous defector, but mostly it seems this young indoctrination was effective enough that the corps fought for the sultan as intended and did not change sides.)

    As the Ottoman tide slowly receded during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, some Balkan Muslims became Christians again (or, in some cases, it may be, became openly Christian again), some were more encouraged to remain Christian, some Muslims congregated in majority-Muslim areas, some Muslims retreated with the borders of the empire, etc.

    The policy of the Ottomans, as of most of the Muslim world, was to impose pressures for conversion. The mass-murder of whole Christian populations used by the early Seljuks was the most extreme method. The random enslaving of children of Christian parents used by the Ottomans was less extreme, but effective in motivating a steady trickle of conversions.

  • Alisa

    Niall, I didn’t even want to refer to Alt-Right, the term being so vague and ill-defined; it only made it into the quote I used because I din’t want to change it – if I did, it would look as follows:

    Trump adopted the … cultural narrative around the oppression of white people

    My point being that his supporters aside, I have never heard or seen Trump even mention the words ‘white/black/race/color’, and I have seen no evidence of him assigning to these things any importance whatsoever.

  • Mr Ed

    Trump’s message to the ‘ordinary’ American was, shall we say ‘Your wishes are being ignored, you are being done over, I will change that‘.

    The bulk of those ‘ordinary’ Americans were of European descent, who happen to be white.

    So Trump appealed, not to a ‘white base’, but made an appeal to a ‘base’ who were, as it happened, in the main, ‘white’, because that is what they are. I blame their parents.

  • Alisa

    I blame nature, and call for equal distribution of pigmentation.

  • Thailover

    Alisa, indeed. “The Left” tend to call anyone against their Minority Supremacy ideology a right-winger, even if they’re not. Not only do they call those who insist that there is no distinction to be made between race and culture, and want to preserve their own culture “alt-right”, they also include non-conservatives that recognize that the Leftist ideology is actually anti-white/anti-“western”. i.e. “The Left” are against racism, sexism, creed-ism (religionism), and colonialism but define these terms so that only western white men are capable of racism and sexism, and only western white people are capable of “being racist against Islam”, and colonizing…apparently.

    I’m not “alt-right” merely because I recognize that the Leftist movement IS racist, sexist, creediest (they tend to hate christianity but “tolerate” the barbarity of Islam), AND colonialists (they want economic and political “refugees” to colonize “western” nation, but ignore the fact that Islamic nations tend to deny them access).

    I’ve been called Alt-Right because I’m an Ayn Rand Objectivist, a charge completely refuted by even a quick scan of The Virtue of Selfishness, especially the chapter titled Racism*.
    Generally speaking, Leftists have no clue what they’re talking about.

    *”Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors. Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.” ~ Ayn Rand, VOS

  • Watchman


    Sorry – I was being flippant. My view was that Trump was only interested in race in the eyes of commentators who saw everything through a racial prism. So the evidence for this claim is entirely their output, recording their views (and surprisingly little actual evidence).

  • Watchman


    Setting aside the Janissaries (which was a population transfer anyway), the only areas conquered by the Ottomans that became Muslim were Bosnia and Albania – all the other areas in the Empire were already mainly Muslim (and retained significant non-Muslim populations) under preceding rulers. I accept there were conversions and counter-conversions, but the Ottomans in general were, like most historical Islamic regimes, perfectly happy to allow people their own religions in the main, with the only normal pressure being a poll tax – albeit progress to positions of power outside the military could be limited.

    Now compare this with contemporary Christian regimes in Europe, who would generally get violent towards minorities who were of the wrong denomination. The lack of established Muslim communities in Al-Andulasia is somewhat different to the the existence of vibrant Christian communities across the Balkans and Aegean up until the twentieth century for example. It is a bit wierd to think Christian = good, Islam = bad in the sixteenth century (or bluntly at any time…).

  • Alisa

    Thanks Watchman, I get it now 🙂

  • Snorri Godhi

    Just to buttress the points made by Alisa and others:
    If Trump had made a direct appeal to White voters, claiming that they were an oppressed race, then i am sure that i would have seen it reported non-stop from the BBC; and i didn’t.

  • Laird

    I agree with Snorri’s last comment. And I am wholly unimpressed by the article which spawned the original post. A combination of the blindingly obvious and clear error.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I really think Trump wasn’t elected so much for his character or positions, as because the Progressives, in their unhinged opposition to him, convinced the electorate (or enough of it) that there was no alternative to removing them from power.

  • James g

    Trump won because he didn’t do identity politics. He created an identity which was essentially all Americans minus a few thousand elites, American terrorists, bad journalists and anyone stupid enough to allow the democrats to push them into the ring with him. In other words he aggregated up identities.

    Identity politics boils down to discrimination against straight white old men. And special protection of anyone else if they shout identity victim. Trump went out of his way to ignore the identity rules by attacking everyone equally if they attacked him. I can remember no example which goes against this observation. This is why his attacking the muslim mother of the dead soldier was a good move despite the consensus view that he went too far. It was the ultimate demonstration of non discrimination.

  • Thailover

    Person from Porlock, agreed. Perhaps all politics requires “identity”, but to divide the electorate and, indeed, call half of one’s potential voters “deplorable” is unintelligent. Trump’s vilified others are the reified, supposedly monolithic “China” and the nebulous “Illegals”, neither of which should be voting for or against him; a much safer position than making one’s threat “Russia” (despite the cold war popularity of that bugaboo) and “the racist Republicans”. The fact that it was the Republicans that saved the black slaves from the Democrats…I think we can safely ignore that reality as well in today’s political climate and in light of the Democrats success at redacting history and re-shaping reality to suit their will. (Which is why they’re Warlocks, “magick” users who use propaganda to shape the perception of reality to suit their will, and the root meaning of warlock is one who lies, oathbreaker, deceiver, illusion maker.)

  • bobby b

    I don’t see how Trump supposedly played the white identity card in his election efforts. He was decidedly opposed to calling out race or gender categorizations in his efforts.

    That said, many others were willing to go there, and did, and so Trump benefited from the creation of a new white racial interest group. This has been discussed here before – we see a new movement based, not on “white supremacy”, but on “no more scapegoating of whites.”

    Trump didn’t push this view, but he got the votes generated by it.

  • Paul Marks

    I opposed Mr Trump throughout the campaign – and I still do not think highly of him.

    However, there was no playing of the race card by him or his own campaign – we should not repeat the propaganda of the left. Some of the “Alt Right” are indeed racists, but Mr Trump is not and he did not run a racist campaign.

    The left have scored a massive own goal with their obsession with “Identity Politics” – this Frankfurt School of Marxism stuff that now dominates the education system, the media, and the Democratic Party. Supposedly blacks, Hispanics, women (a majority of people), homosexuals (and so on) are supposed to flock to the banner of people who stress such group politics. Actually many blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, (and so on) find the Frankfurt School of Marxism Identity Politics of the Democrats patronising and just blain boring.

  • Eric

    I don’t think it was so much that Trump put out some kind of invisible white pheromone as the fact that Hillary and the Democrats pursued rhetoric and policies that actively pushed white people away, especially white men. Of course they spun it into “Trump rode racists into the White House” after the loss (because that’s all they know), but if you look at the results you realize Trump got fewer votes than Romney, and the votes he did get came from the same demographics and in about the same proportion.

    The story of the 2016 US presidential election wasn’t about who voted, but rather who didn’t vote – black people who had turned out heavily for Obama and blue collar white men who feel abandoned by Democrats. The Democrats have a big problem – when you piece together a bunch of identitarian factions like that you lose if you can’t get them to support each other. The cat lady demo isn’t enough to get you there all on its own.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Watchman- another point to consider is the differing ideologies between Christians and Mohammedans. Mohammed claimed that Christianity, and Judaism, were earlier, inferior versions of the complete truth, which could be found in his religion. Hence Mohammedans feel obliged to keep them alive in the hope that they’ll convert. Also, Mohammedans are not supposed to tax each other, but ‘dhimmis’ can be taxed, thus ‘inferior’ religions can be a source of profit for those who follow the prophet.

  • rfichoke

    If being American is about embracing individualism, the Bill of Rights, and capitalism, we need to strip 95% of the native-born population of their citizenship and deport them.

  • Watchman


    That’s probably partially the explanation (along with the fact that at the time Christianity had a hell of a lot of vested interests involved in demonstrating true adherence to the faith). Although why on earth are you calling them Mohammedans, as this is not a nineteenth-century website (you can tell because it exists (as far as a website actually exists))? It is generally accepted that the religion is called Islam and the followers Muslims, since (unlike Christians) they do not name themselves from their prophet but from their ‘service’. It seems a bit odd, and rather rude, to use another name – a kind of passive-agressive type of identity politics.

  • Chris


    Not sure about that. Democrats are nowhere near 95% of the US population.

  • Mr Ed

    It seems a bit odd, and rather rude, to use another name – a kind of passive-agressive type of identity politics.

    Can’t see anything wrong with the term myself, there’s no ambiguity, it’s not a loan word in any meaningful way, and it is perfectly understandable. It does sound ’19th Century’, but that’s fine by me, and it’s certainly not identity politics.

  • Julie near Chicago

    As a matter of fact, I use it to refer to persons who believe that M. was Allah’s Special Messenger to us benighted humans — or at least those of us who could be induced, one way or another, to worship Allah as “God.” I do that in order to avoid using what have become “loaded” words, at least to some people: Muslim, Islam, and so forth.

    And after all, Jesus is often called “Christ” by Christians, who call their religion by what is effectively His second name.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    ‘Islam’ means submission. You get peace through submitting to the will of God. A Muslim is someone who submits to the will of God. As an unorthodox Christian (in Adam’s last incarnation, he was called Jesus) I am ready to submit to the will of God, but not Mohammed’s alleged message from Him.
    Re, names. We Christians should have called ourselves step-jews.

  • Julie near Chicago

    My own metaphor is a little different, Nicholas. The Jews are the grandparents; the Christians are the parents; and people like me are the (relatively anyway) adult children of the parents.

    So I’m fairly comfortable visiting in my parents’ home, although I moved out some little while ago into my own place; I remember my grandparents and I think kindly and fondly of them, and I enjoy visiting them, but their house has never quite been “home” in the way that my folks’ is. Still, their place has something in common with my parents’ house; and they are all family, and while we don’t agree about everything we can still be together comfortably.

    (I don’t know how idiosyncratic all that really is.)

    Today’s atheistic Jews will have to work out their relationships with Judaism and Christianity for themselves. ;>)

  • Watchman

    Mr Ed,

    How is it not identity politics to impose a label on a group of people whether they like it or not just so you have a way of describing them that suits your world view? That seems to be the heart of identity politics to me: I do not self-describe as straight (because I don’t see the point in a sexual identity) , white (I’m a human, with a fairly pleasant pale browny-pink colour (I tried to look it up on a paint colour chart, but the names are just too silly – who paints a room “muddy puddle”?) if anyone is asking my race or colour) or having a mental health issue (I’m fine that I have depression, but it does not define me), but those who do identity politics label me that way against my will, in two cases to downplay me and in one in order to pretend to speak for me. What you are doing by using your own label for Muslims is exactly the same thing, and with as much consultation and consideration as the “socially-aware” types who want to think they can demand more government on my behalf because I have a slightly defective brain pattern (I might have to look into the physiology of depression one day to understand it a bit better…).

    If we do need to label people, and followers of a religion do tend to need a label so we know which religion they follow, lets use one that is used by them as well – makes conversation easier. Because I’d hate to think people were using labels to create divisions around here – it’s the sort of thing we’re meant to be against.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Actually, I can think of four right off the bat: Zoroastrians, followers of Zoroaster; Buddhists, followers of Bbuddha; Christians, followers of Christ; Mohammedans, followers of Mohammed.

    No doubt there are others.

  • Mr Ed


    How is it not identity politics to impose a label on a group of people whether they like it or not just so you have a way of describing them that suits your world view?

    May I unpack that a bit?

    How is it not identity politics It is just an adjective, it does not seek to politicise anything.

    to impose a label Ah, ‘impose’, that suggests force, compulsion, not simple description. Do I impose upon my neighbour’s dog by calling it a ‘canine’?

    ‘a label’ Not a physical label, of course, just a term.

    on a group of people whether they like it or not To be fair, no one has asked them all, but why should they? I suspect that the vast bulk would be rather more annoyed at perhaps being phoned up and asked if anyone may call them by a particular label, and most would be non-plussed. Should anyone ‘label’ me a ‘heathen’, so be it.

    just so you have a way of describing them that suits your world view? Just so Nicholas can do whatever he likes, which is fine by me, he commits no trespass against me, or my neighbour.

    What, pray, is wrong with using a term that suits your world view? Would you use a term that did not suit your world view? If so, why?

    If Nicholas refers to ‘Mohammedans’, I venture that all here know the category of people he is referring to, those who follow Mohammed. That is a large section of the world population, and no one could possibly know them all, but that is another point.

    What you are doing by using your own label for Muslims is exactly the same thing,

    If you are referring to me, I did not use ‘my own label’, I simply commented on another’s label, which is at least, one with sufficient currency to be understood, and not, in my view, a necessarily pejorative term, any more than ‘theist‘ might be.

    After all, if one does not believe in a God, the term ‘Mohammedan’, like the term ‘Christian’ does not suggest that the belief in question has any basis in reality, whereas talking of a religion as if it had a basis in reality might be taken to concede implicitly a point that the speaker does not wish to concede, e.g. stating ‘Mormons believe in God, just like Roman Catholics‘ might be taken differently from ‘Mormons and Roman Catholics maintain a belief in the same God‘.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I stew internally whenever a newsreader reads a report about ‘the prophet Mohammed’. Whilst this is to distinguish this Mohammed from all the other people also called Mohammed, it sounds as though they agree that he was a genuine prophet. Jesus is such a rare first name that he doesn’t need the title ‘the messiah’. Should I be forced to call Mohammed, ‘The Prophet Mohammed’, even though I do not accept that he was a true prophet, just to keep the Mohammedans happy? I would prefer him to be titled ‘The False Prophet Mohammed’. How long would I last if I wore a T-shirt with that on?

  • Paul Marks

    Nickolas – yes, it is a central position of Christianity (and other world views) that religious claims of the 6th century political and military leader Muhammed are FALSE and that his actions were MORALLY BAD.

    The fact that Western political leaders and “mainstream” Christian leaders (such as the Pope) will not say that the religious claims of the 6th century Muhammed were FALSE and that his actions were MORALLY BAD shows that the West is not really even fighting the ideological struggle. And, therefore, must be on the road to defeat – as the forces of Islam are fighting an ideological struggle.

    Indeed after every Islamic attack Western leaders (both secular and religious) rush to say that Islam is a religion of peace and that the 6th century founder of the religion and political ideology that is Islam was a good man. In short even “moderate Muslims” who would not dream of launching an attack themselves BENEFIT from Islamic attacks – as the West (the politicians, churchmen, the “mainstream” media, the education system……) rush to PRAISE Islam and Muhammed after every attack – thus pushing conversions to Islam. And it is a fact that conversions to Islam go UP after every major Islamic attack.

    The above analysis is from David Wood on YouTube – but I can find no flaw in it.

  • Watchman


    I am not sure we want our political leaders determining religious truth do we? Pretty certain that worked out badly (see the thirty years war, the inquisition etc).

  • Watchman

    Mr Ed,

    We seem to be going to semantics here… Anyway, apologies for ascribing the use of the label to you.

    Anyway, to label can include to attach a name/identity to others, so the noun label does not need to be a physical object. And I agree impose suggests force, as that was the point – by using a word to describe a group that none of them (probably – you’re right that I’m not off to survey all the Muslims in the world to check, but considering their strong view that Mohammed is the means not the end as opposed to the Christian view that Jesus was divine, then it would be odd to find people wanting to describe themselves as following him in the same way) accept as a description you are forciablly attaching your own label to them against their will.

    My issue with the use of a label that is not applied to themselves by others is simple – it is an empty category into which you are placing others. This may be innocent (I have a temporary category of attractive women I am walking past after all (most humans have something similiar I suspect)), but has huge problems. The most obvious of which is that you cannot talk to anyone in this category because no-one is really in it, so it is a barrier to communications. It is probably not a coincidence that the use of Mohammadean seems to mainly be limited to those who seem to have the most obviously anti-Islam feelings on this board – they are creating an extra barrier to attempting to understand Muslims. For me, who has Muslim friends (shockingly they’re real people, albeit less likely to meet you in a pub (then again I have Jehovah’s Witnesses in the family, so what’s the difference there…)) that seems regretable – if you engage with people you find they are people, not some single ideological group. If you create an ideological barrier by creating a false category you immediately stop any real chance of engagement.

    The other major issue is simply that of self-determination. You use the label theist, but this is a seriously bad example for your case. All Christians, Jews, Muslims etc are automatically theist, as comes to that am I (because I’m to lazy to engage with atheism) despite the fact I have no religious label – this is a category to which you can assign people because it is a label which is implied by religious belief (albeit Budhists and Hindus might be more difficult to fit in) but this is dependent on knowing their religious belief in the first place. However, if someone is not religious you can’t just ascribe them to this category without knowledge of their views – I vaguely believe in a god (he’s like a giant version of me right – it explains the universe pretty well?) but you wouldn’t know that without me telling you even if you asked me my religion. I get to tell you I’m theist – you don’t get to tell me. The same way as I get to deny I am white (I am not as I have a normal skin colour) or caucasian (the Caucases are a long way from where I was born). I get to select my identity, into which categories I fit, and most importantly, I get to select if I switch categories. So if I discover from a persuasive Christian philosopher that if a god exists it is actual a large version of the sort of idiot who thinks the EU is a great idea, then I get to be an atheist (very quickly) – but the problem here is that if you are categorising me as a theist, you still retain that category for me, and label me as such, and treat me as such (as a worshipper of a pro-EU deity!). Which is both inaccurate and actually potentially offensive. So the principle has to be that you can only use labels that others apply to themselves, as the individual gets to determine who they are.

    And ultimately this comes down to this. Someone who was once Muslim but is now not (not wanting to worship a pro-EU deity perhaps(remember the Muslims are another Jehovah-worshipping bunch…)) will still be labelled a Mohammadean by Nicholas, because he has him in a category that defies engagement. So where we should be talking and winning converts, breaking down ideologies that are wrong, by insisting on applying a label to this person he or she would never have recognised you would be reducing the chances of decent interaction. Either we treat everyone as individual humans, or we’re closing off groups because of our own prejudices.

  • Thailover

    Nicholas wrote,

    “Jesus is such a rare first name that he doesn’t need the title ‘the messiah’.”

    Hey-Zeus is a rather common name, (not to be confused with cheese-Zeus 😀 ), and it wasn’t uncommon in Jesus’s day either presuming “Isu” (Greek) aka Yeshua (Joshua actually) historically even existed.

    Indeed, Barabbas, the “murderer” standing beside Jesus to give the Jewish crowd a choice of who to release on Yom Kippur and who to send to their death via crucifixion…was named Jesus. “Barabbas” was Jesus bar Abba, meaning Jesus, son of god, and Jesus proper was introduced to the crowd as Jesus son of Joseph. The entire scene can be viewed as metaphor for the Jewish people’s choosing what form they want their messiah to be, the freedom fighter that would lead their people to literal, worldly, freedom from oppression, (the actual Jewish bible’s version of the Messiah), or the new version, a person to be given the death penalty to pay for other people’s sin-crimes. A literal ‘Yom Kippur’ scape-goat. In other words, the scene can be said to represent the Jews rejecting Jesus as their messiah and releasing Barabbas, aka Jesus, son of god. This is material that WILL NOT be preached about in Christian churches today, the day named after the fertility goddess, Ester, famous for her two fertility symbols, the egg and the hare. Ironically though, hares aren’t all that prolific, though rabbits are famous for their procreational abilities.

  • Thailover

    Julie near chicago wrote,

    “… Buddhists, followers of Bbuddha; Christians, followers of Christ; Mohammedans, followers of Mohammed.”

    The fly in the ointment there though is that many (I dare say most) people who follow the Buddhist religions (not to be confused with the Zen followers who are usually under the mis-impression that “Buddhism” as a whole is a philosophy, not a religion), haven’t read the Pali scriptures. Indeed, it’s common for Thailanders to have only a 6th grade education and leave things like religious expertise to the monks. And if indeed most, i.e. the majority of Muslims are harmless, as even the most argent critics of Islam suggest, then most Muslims don’t read the Koran and take it seriously (i.e. literally). And, indeed, if most christians actually read the gospels (much less the New Testament), with comprehension, they would be shocked and appalled by “Jesus’ actual teachings”.

    What we have in the real world is A. what the religious tomes say, and B. what millions of practitioners around the world THINK they say. This explains how there can be more than 33,000 different denominations and sects of Christianity, for example, based upon what is roughly the same limited text.

  • Thailover

    Watchman wrote,

    “You use the label theist, but this is a seriously bad example for your case. All Christians, Jews, Muslims etc are automatically theist, as comes to that am I (because I’m to lazy to engage with atheism) despite the fact I have no religious label – this is a category to which you can assign people because it is a label which is implied by religious belief (albeit Budhists and Hindus might be more difficult to fit in) but this is dependent on knowing their religious belief in the first place. However, if someone is not religious you can’t just ascribe them to this category without knowledge of their views”

    In theory, Buddhism has gods who occupy the highest level of reincarnated existence, (who don’t live forever, but rather a very long time) who are considered unfortunate because their existence is pleasant enough that they feel no onus to escape the Samsara wheel of life, (reincarnation), leaving them the burden of…er, I guess existing.

    Hinduism and it’s predecessor, Brahmanism, are probably evolved versions of animism, the belief that all “things” and “systems” have a nature-determining controlling spirit.* and these spirits are personified by people via the human tendency to anthropomorphize everything. (Jung would call them projected archetypes). The same can be said for the Nordic-Germanic pantheon with Odin, Thor, etc. The Roman pantheon was very non-literal and nebulous until it merged with the Greek pantheon, which was much more personified.

    Relgion is the belief in the power or powers that control human existence which can be appealed to and altered to improve one’s destiny. (Destiny, as opposed to fate, which can’t be changed).

    The-ism is god belief.
    To make matters even confusing, there are religions with no god beliefs, (the Tao, or Karmic beliefs for example) and there are god beliefs with no religion (Deism. There’s no need to appeal to a god who isn’t listening or has moved and left no forwarding address).

    Atheism is a handy term when used in a context involving Abrahamic religions because all three religions are very literal about “an” existing god, (even though he may have a “triune” nature), but it loses meaning when the context is one where religions are more vague about whether their “gods” are mere descriptions of the spirit that controls the nature of weather or the ocean, or whether Odin is supposed to be a real person, albeit a super-person.

    (*Compare what the Oracle said about programs controlling the behavior of birds and the leaves, etc in either the second or third Matrix movie. “There are programs running around all over the place.” 😎 )

  • Thailover

    Watchman, IMO, people who are against “labeling” people are often REALLY against being identified.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Dear Nick-the-Joker (are you really Jack Nicholson en masquerade*?),

    About the newsreaders: The ones who do that are under the impression that “theprophetMohammed” is all one word. This is because PC.

    Or else they’re under orders from Upstairs, which insists for the same reason, or in order to be tight with the Kool Kids, or because Upstairs is courting Middle Eastern money.


    *”Masquerade” looks like French to me. Babelfish says the French say “macarade,” which looks more Spanish or Portuguese to me (but lord knows I don’t know either language. Zilch. Zippo. Nada). It also makes me think of the disgusting — regardless of either sauce or degree of doneness — pasta called “macaroni.” Yecch.

    On the other hand, macaroons are quite nice. :>))

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Watchman, a scientist might label you ‘Caucasian’, whether you want him to do so, or not. Your determination to defy labels is nullified by the determination of other people to label you. I do not give you the right to control my system of classification.
    As to what I should call such people, I will stick with Mohammedan, for now. Out of politeness, I might call such people Muslim when near them, but that is only out of my own sense of politeness.
    A point for clarification- is any regular Samizdata writer a person of the Mohammedan variety? Do we have any people here who feel offended by these terms?