Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Washington Post's Eboo Patel Slams AAF Over Chalkings






Evidently Eboo Patel, a member of President Obama's Faith Advisory Council, occasionally stops in at our blog here. He quoted my earlier posting about our protest chalking in this Washington Post blog entry criticizing AAF, AHA and SHIFT as bigots:

It's not so different than saying that the black students on your campus remind you of the armed robber you saw on the 5 o'clock news because they share a skin color. That's called bigotry when it involves race, and it's called bigotry when it involves religion.
Patel's arguments have all been raised against us several times in the past few weeks and in spite of his high profile, he does not add missing depth that would make them coherent. Patel gives examples of how free speech could imaginably be used poorly and in pointlessly destructive ways, implying but not establishing our actions were pointlessly destructive. For example,

Will the free speech cloak protect you from social outrage if you went to a party dressed in blackface? If you chalked a swastika on the sidewalk leading to the campus Hillel?
It is here implied context and purpose are somehow irrelevant, as if our choice of means was random, arbitrary, and in response to nothing. Patel's logic fails miserably. First, socially unacceptable symbols or phrases really are used in protests and for other reasons by respected members of society. Comedian/activist legend Lenny Bruce frequently used racial epithets and crude language to illustrate the silliness of proscribing words wholesale and the absurdity of racism in the first place. In recent decades the homosexual community co-opted slurs like "gay" and "queer" as in-group speak even though these were considered bigoted or at least crude words. Just months ago Sarah Silverman in front of a huge TED audience riffed about adopting a retarded child in order to prove a point about the hypocrisy of forbidden language. To assert all of these people were just trying to offend is beyond duplicity; it lays bare the aim of people like Patel to attack political adversaries no matter the cost to the truth.

Second, none of the things from his list are actually sacred cows of any kind. Is he asking (suggesting) that the N-word a sacred cow? Are "mothers"? How 'bout cancer? The answer, Mr. Patel, is no. All of these things have been fodder for many satirists and comedians. Denis Leary even named one of his specials "No Cure for Cancer," which has quite a few cancer jokes. There are so many "yo mamma" jokes entire books are dedicated to them. The "N word" has been trotted out regularly for comedy by the likes of Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Joe Rogan. You know why those aren't sacred cows? Because no one ever threatened to kill Leary or Chappelle. In fact no one even suggested it was somehow an affront to diversity that they used those jokes.

In past eras all someone had to do was suggest you had been a communist and you were through. In our time the term is "bigot". It is almost reflexively hurled at anyone who is in political disagreement with the status quo. Patel suggests we used the phrase "you people" to insert racist words into our mouths - none of us ever said that. Like previous eras, it doesn't matter if the claim can be substantiated - the accusation is enough. Like before there is an "in" and an "out" group. This time it's the powerful and Politically Correct who are "in" and they do their damage by suggesting we are "out", we are bigots and "intolerant". Nevermind that we protest our good intentions and that our actions are logically connected to worthy purposes. We're bigots no matter what we say, after all why else would we be accused?

We can't be allowed to harass the put-upon Politically Correct minority, the Muslims, who have no one on their side other than the Assistant Dean of our University and members of President Obama's team. They're practically defenseless against us, 20-odd chalk-wielding students so full of hate only smiley stick figures could quench the thirst for evil.

11 comments:

Bob said...

Patel just loves building up straw men, doesn't he?

That "You people" thing is hilarious. He says it and then continues as if we said it. Immediately, he follows with another made up discussion about race. When did anyone in AAF say anything about race?

He writes the whole article assuming that our mission was directed specifically against MSA. If he spent anytime reading this blog while quote-mining he would have understood that couldn't be further from the truth.

Did the drawings offend Muslims? Of course. Could it be described as insensitive and jerkish? Probably. But Patel and similar people on this blog are really missing the point when they compare this to actions that suggest violence and suppression.

Bob said...

More to the point of why this event is important. And showing that radical Muslims exist on Universities in liberal western countries:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/05/violence_is_not_free_speech.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+scienceblogs/pharyngula+(Pharyngula)&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Edward Clint said...

I'm pretty sure acknowledging that somewhere there are some violent people who are muslim makes you a racist. sorry I had to be the one to tell ya.

Adam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam Chambers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Eboo's remarks drew a response in the NewsReel blog on the Frontpagemag.com website of David Horowitz.

http://www.newsrealblog.com/2010/05/13/no-eboo-it-is-about-fundamentalism/

Edward Clint said...

ahh very nice. Thanks anonymous stranger.

Samuel Heller said...

I'm actually an atheist myself, but agreed with Patel's points. Now, I'm used to snarky and self-aggrandizing behavior of other atheists, so writing something on this blog in an attempt to get a non-annoying response is probably futile, but here's my take on your response to Patel:

You said: "To assert all of these people were just trying to offend is beyond duplicity; it lays bare the aim of people like Patel to attack political adversaries no matter the cost to the truth."

Right, I think the point that many minorities make is that these sorts of comedic endeavors fail, and not everyone does political satire or mockery effectively. Just because you say that I'm mocking this minority group and therefore I'm pointing out how ridiculous attacks at those groups are (i.e this whole meta thing), doesn't mean that you yourself are above reproach, or somehow were able to effectively get your point across. Like, just because Sarah Silverman makes jokes about Asians in an effort to point out how dumb racism is, doesn't make Sarah Silverman the unquestionable bearer of truth. A lot of her shit is not funny, and do we really need a white woman to tell us that racism is dumb? Considering how dumb some people in this country are, they don't get the "meta" effect of her jokes, and just laugh b/c she mentioned small Asian dicks. And considering how little airtimes Asian Americans get, it's not really unfair of them to be annoyed at Sarah Silverman.

Okay, that is just an example. Not trying to pick on Sarah.

You said: "We can't be allowed to harass the put-upon Politically Correct minority, the Muslims, who have no one on their side other than the Assistant Dean of our University and members of President Obama's team. They're practically defenseless against us, 20-odd chalk-wielding students so full of hate only smiley stick figures could quench the thirst for evil."

Okay, that just made me laugh. Wow, college atheists really are the most annoying type. You really ought to walk off campus sometime, perhaps to that school across the way with smarter students...cough...or, I dunno, read a newspaper? Nice way to martyr yourselves and make it seem as if Muslims in this country are just totally represented by the Establishment. Wow, yeah, America really loves its Muslims. I'm an atheist, like I said, but I'm not dumb enough to victimize myself. You mention earlier in your post that all someone had to do in the past is imply you were a commie and wham, you're out. And now you're saying the term is bigot. Well, another one of those terms is "politically correct." You slap that on something and bam! suddenly you can say whatever you want to say and you are beyond reproach. You're playing the same game as Patel, except you used your own phrase - politically correct.

At least try to be original.

Albert Himoe said...

"Anonymous" tries again:

Eboo Patel wrote this. He is out of touch with reality (or lying).

As Rabbi Saperstein - and you and I - know, there are a thousand voices saying a Muslim committed this heinous act.

But a Muslim did not do this. Killers do not deserve the honor of a religious label. The man who killed a group of brave American soldiers deserves one name and one name only: murderer.

Edward Clint said...

Samuel-

You lead your comments criticizing "snarky" atheists and said you're trying to get a "non-annoying" response. Why then do you get so utterly snarky with this needlessly insulting rant

Wow, college atheists really are the most annoying type. You really ought to walk off campus sometime, perhaps to that school across the way with smarter students...cough...or, I dunno, read a newspaper?

After your snark and hypocrisy why should I take you seriously? If only we were smart and educated we'd agree with you? You arrogant boor. Please troll elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that they want to convince the world that a stick-figure deserves condemnation, but stating support for genocide deserves applause:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fSvyv0urTE

Carlos

Post a Comment