The Monsters Are Always Due on Maple Street


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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108 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    That is true my Tod and when considered that way it is also wise on both moral and utilitarian grounds. For fanatical Islam is weak, by far one of the weakest if not the weakest “big scary threat” the US has ever faced. It would only be by persecuting Muslims everywhere that we could make fanatical Islam strong.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    The “fear being called a racist” meme from some on the right is a pretty twisted mama jama. Racism has been a destructive and malign force in human history with plenty of special horrors right here in the the Good Ol US of A. So maybe we really should guard against something which has haunted humans leading us to do terrible things. It’s plenty easy to criticize the flaming nutbag murderers without getting all racist….really really easy.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to greginak says:

      No it isn’t.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Roger says:

        Shortest Roger comment ever.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Roger says:

        “An argument isn’t just contradiction!”Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger says:

        Sorry, my past experience is that to engage in a serious discussion on the racism meme on this site almost guarantees that at least some of those disagreeing will themselves use the race card rhetoric. As such I opt out of respectful discussion. Thus my reticence is self proving ( I am being 90% facetious with this last comment, but am zero percent facetious with the former),

        Instead, let me sidestep it with a related discussion on gender. I will let it speak for itself:

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Roger says:

        Rog, if you dont’ want to play the “I’m the real victim here” card, then don’t. That is also pretty darn easy.

        Interesting essay link. I read the original piece that started it a few days ago. We could easily start an entire post about that. Plenty of people on both sides of that discussion being goofy. In fact far more silly then substance but still some interesting stuff in there.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Roger says:

        @glyph Yes it is.

        @roger I’d never seen that. Thanks.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Roger says:

        “Weaponized shame” is an interesting phrase. I’ll probably use it.

        However, I always get the impression that, on the other end of the spectrum, there is a large group of people who feel like any criticism of themselves of people like them on certain topics — race, gender, religion, whatever — is “weaponized shame,” and a sign that we can’t have an “intelligent discussion” on the topic.

        Between the two you have rampant racism and sexism.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Roger says:

        @greginak @roger

        One of you guys should do a guest post on that.

        I’m tempted to fold it into a post I’m doing on the unnecessary problems we create for ourselves due to a lack of practicing empathy, but it’s already way too long and I need to start chopping, not adding.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Roger says:

        Jeeez, how did you folks get through the thing Roger linked to and on to the next conversation so quickly??? I’m just now reaching the end of it.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Roger says:

        Ah, you must have gotten here earlier than I did if he posted that over an hour ago. I’m not that slow!Report

      • Avatar Zac in reply to Roger says:

        Wow, Roger, that’s a great article, thanks for linking to it. I do hope someone does a guest post on it, it seems like it would make for an interesting and lively discussion.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to greginak says:

      I actually think both things are true: You are correct that racism is a pernicious evil that keeps us from being what we imagine ourselves from being at best / at worst keeps us under thumb. (Depending on who we are.)

      But I also think the right is correct that the left uses is reflexively as a political weapon, and (at least to my eye) seems to care more about using the label to score points then to doing anything to deal with it. I tend to agree with what Ta Nehisi Coates says, that the left just prefers a better class of racism it can feel more comfortable living with.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Do people on the left use racism as a weapon? Yes, no and maybe. I’ll bet we could find cases where some use the word to often. I think people throw the word “racism” around to much and often people who use the word a lot are the most ignorant of their own beliefs ( at least white folk who use the word racism a lot). But as a general statement Leftie types at least admit racism is serious issue which we all need to grapple with and guard against which is far better then at least the stereotypical conservative responses.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        Good point. One of the things I’ve brought up on this ole blog is that no one (NO ONE!) admits to being a racist. (Except for one person I’m aware of.) Even the KKK says, categorically, we’re not a racist organization. Yet, we appear to have a long history of racist practices in this country, those practices were expressions of the cultures (meaning the individuals!) in which they took place, and even when we look at data from our more recent times and currently, we see what sure look like racist practices and policies.

        Now, both of those things can’t be true, it seems to me, which creates a pretty big elephant of conceptual tension in the room, and that tension squeezes out in all the standard directions.

        And I agree with TNC.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Still, Of course the problem is due to liberals talking about racism. If L’s just stopping talking about it and using it as a weapon there wouldn’t be an issue.

        TNC is often correct.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I think Tod’s point, and the point I’m getting at, is that accusing other’s of being racist without also proposing some sort of remedy or fix for the problems which persistently cause (and therefore justify!) accusations of racism in your political opponent can be best explained as an effort to score political points.

        Btw, I think in general current Dems and self-identified lefties are better on racial issues than current GOPers and self-identified conservatives. In general! But that doesn’t mean anyone is doing anything more on a substantive level than merely punting the ball back and forth.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        “I think Tod’s point…”

        Yeah, I think stillwater nails it perfectly (and more succinctly than I) here.

        “Btw, I think in general current Dems and self-identified lefties are better on racial issues than current GOPers and self-identified conservatives. In general! But that doesn’t mean anyone is doing anything more on a substantive level than merely punting the ball back and forth.”

        Nailed that perfectly, too.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        But as a general statement Leftie types at least admit racism is serious issue which we all need to grapple with and guard against which is far better then at least the stereotypical conservative responses.

        That depends on the nature of the admission. This is a very good statement:
        Racism is a serious problem that has and continues to assert itself in American society from all quarters, left, right and center.

        This is not:
        Racism is a serious issue that has and continues to assert in American society, because those of those evil conservatives.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        @j-r Yeah….so i guess i’m glad i didn’t make the bad response. Racism is an american issue we all need to attend to. I didn’t blame “evil conservatives.”Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        Didn’t say that you did, just that the point of view does exist.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        This, among other reason, is why I try not to refer to people as racist. I try to focus on acts, words, etc. I’m certainly guilty of harboring views (consciously or unconsciously) that could be described as racist and, at times, have allowed myself to act on these in a way that could similary be described as racist.

        And because of this, when I point out others indicating a viewpoint potentially negatively tinged by their perception of race, I generally (generally!) try (and sometimes fail!) to do so in a way that encourages reflection on how race may be factoring into a situation in which it should not. For instance, if someone says, “OMG, Black Person X did Thing Y. What an uncivilized thug!” I might say, “Hmm… Did you think White Person Z was an uncivilized thug when he did Thing Y?”

        You know what the response to that often is? “Stop playing the race card! Don’t call me a racist! You’re just trying to silence me!”

        So while many folks on “my side” (which I’ll call the left) certainly use “racist/racism” as a cudgel, we don’t all. And many folks — on all sides — are all to happy to self-victimize and trot out the idea that they are being unfairly maligned simply fir being asked to reflect on their viewpoints.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        @kazzy I think that it goes deeper than this, though.

        Again, I’m leaning hard on Coates, but one of the things he has taught me (through both his own writing and the books he has introduced me to) is that liberals (because they are human, not because they are liberal) are good at getting laws passed to attempt to stop/curb the effects of racism — but that then very quickly and efficiently (and probably not entirely consciously) game that same system so that its effects are negated. The most ardently pro-Civil Rights Act parts of the country managing to simultaneously redline their own cities, and all of that.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I offer no rebuttal to that, Tod. I simply say that sometimes “You are using ‘racist’ as a weapon” is legit and sometimes it becomes a weapon itself.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I offer no rebuttal to that, Tod. I simply say that sometimes “You are using ‘racist’ as a weapon” is legit and sometimes it becomes a weapon itself.

        Now we’re at nose-bleed levels of meta.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        One of the things I’ve brought up on this ole blog is that no one (NO ONE!) admits to being a racist.

        The VDARE crowd uses “anti-racist” as an insult, which is close enough for polemical work.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        It certainly isn’t as insightful as “liberals are the real racists”, or the insistence that racism ended in 1865 1947 1954 1964 2008.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Yeah, it’s only WALL STREET that can get laws passed that end racist policies.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to greginak says:

      A righteous accusation of racism should sting. It should bring a degree of ostracism.

      An accusation of racism, whether righteous or wrongful, should not provoke violence.

      That part doesn’t seem too hard to me.

      Now, a non-risible accusation of racism should provoke introspection, and a willingness to consider changing one’s future behavior. That part might be hard, indeed, very hard. Dismissing, sidestepping, or even mirroring the accusation seems like it would be much easier and probably more fun.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Ain’t that the truth.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

        A wise man whose name sends your comments straight to the spam folder once said, “what is closest to us ontologically is at the same time the furthest away.” Even if we throw out the word “ontologically” (because it probably just confuses), the truth the statement gets at still holds: what’s right in front of us, such as the patterns of our own behavior, are much more difficult to see than what is further away, such as the patterns of others’ behavior.

        I rarely see myself except as reflected in the mirror of others.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Behold, thou hast a mote in thine eye, brother.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Ain’t enough Visine in the world…Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

        (that wasn’t directed at anybody. Just pointing out that someone said it long before the H-man. There is nothing new unde…ah, there I go again).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Oddly, and this relates to what Stillwater says, I think a lot of people across the political and ideological spectra, are capable of and do in fact see racism in themselves, even if they don’t think of themselves as “racists” (I’d link to my guest post about labels and their resulting essentialism here, but I’m too lazy to search for it). What they find truly odious, perhaps, is not to think of themselves as being racist (if not being racists), but to have other people think of them as being racist (or being racists). Something about that mirror, perhaps, but more than that.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

        @chris That seems a fairly universal thing, not relegated to racism.

        I may know in my heart that I am a sinner. But if you call me one at the annual neighborhood potluck? Well, you and I are going to have some words.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:


      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I dunno Chris. Seems to me that a large part of what we all do as humans is resolve cognitive dissonance, so the meanings of the term “racist” are probably very maleable for each and every one of us. The KKK is a good example: I’ve read several Klan leaders who categorically assert that their group isn’t racist. Personally, I think they mean something different by that term than what we conventionally think it means, or politically means, anyway.

        And ironically, that’s not to say a specific Klan member is wrong when he or she uses the word that way. I think they mean something like: “we don’t think we’re better than other races or intend any harm to them; we just want to be around white people.” So I don’t think they view themselves as embodying or embracing the negative connotations that are often conventionally associated with that term or concept. In other words, I don’t think they view themselves as morally reprehensible (or holding morally reprehensible beliefs). All of that may be consistent with your claim that what people most fear is being viewed by others as racist, but even if that’s true, I don’t think anything about their own self-assessment follows from it.

        At least, that’s how it strikes me at a first pass.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Well, this is perhaps a sidebar too far, but IMO our minds have, for lack of a better word, “immune systems”. (This is going to touch on “meme/selfish gene” type stuff, so if you find those concepts top-to-bottom ridiculous – instead of, as I do, flawed-but-sometimes-useful ways of thinking about things – bail now).

        Viruses attempt to hijack our bodies, reprogramming cells to their own ends. Some parasites can actually induce personality and behavior changes in animals (and we are animals) in furtherance of their own lifecycle needs.

        Minds do the same to one another, but with ideas. What we are doing here on this blog on its best days is akin to swapping a bunch of mental spit and passing ideas back and forth, via mutual mind infection – and not coincidentally, reprogramming each other.

        The problem is, minds can also “infect” other minds to bend them to their will – get them to believe something, so as to gain something from that – maybe I am trying to take something from you, or get you to do something for me, or I want you to assist me in taking from others, or at minimum I want you to stay out of my way while I do what I want to do.

        Cult-leader-brainwashing or blind fervent xenophobic nationalism are extreme examples, but at the less extreme end we have all kinds of “infecting”, much of which is benign or even net positive. But still our mental immune systems must be on guard for outside trickery, invasive ideas that are intended as weapons against our minds from other malicious minds.

        When I view my own -ism, well, that’s stuff that’s already inside “me”. I can let it slide. It’s perhaps benign, or even helpful; why else would it be in there with me already? My mental immune system recognizes it, and I’ve lived with it this long, how bad can it be? I can acknowledge it to myself and move on.

        But someone lobbing basically the same thing over the wall, causes my mental immune defenses to go into overdrive. Get it out! No way! Someone is trying to trick me for nefarious ends!

        It’s the reason we sometimes *cannot* accept a particular concept, no matter how obvious it may seem to everyone else; we may even build up elaborate conspiracy theories to account for discrepancies between our perception and reality as it appears to everyone else.

        It’s kinda like our BS detector, as essential to protecting our minds as our immune system is to protecting our bodies, goes haywire with allergic reactions to not only [concept X], but anything that seems related to [concept X] or could be [concept X] in disguise.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Burt Likko says:

        some of the neo-nazis around here think they are better than others. I would figure the KKK is probably the same. They probably mean “we aren’t racist” in the sense of “we promise we won’t killajew”Report

  3. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Lord knows I’m not being pedantic (I can’t spell anything right), but since it’s, like, the eighth word in the post: “viscous”?Report

  4. Avatar dexter says:

    Another potential catch: Tod, your blued phrase “how they need to be shot” takes me to an apple store.
    Question for all: does anybody here expect sanity from Hannity and the rest of talk radio?Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Worth noting…

    A self-proclaimed small government, Tea Party candidate for NY governor ran his campaign primarily on the promise to use eminent domain to stop the “Ground Zero Mosque”. His name was Carl Paladino. His supporters saw absolutely zero irony in his plan.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Kazzy says:

      Ironic but its also easy to see the appeal of voting for a Lawful Good character. Really what other kind would someone vote for.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Kazzy says:

      And, of course, there was his running mate, Tim Plar, who proposed to build a hospital on the site instead.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to Kazzy says:

      Kazzy, for them there was no irony to the plan. They saw it as an incredibly disloyal action to the memory of those whom died on 9/11, and for them that site has become sacred. Disloyal in the nature of selling nuclear secrets to Russia, Sacred in the nature of the constitution or the bible. The idea of a mosque on that site would be similar to putting a hog butcher in the main square in Mecca. It says to them terrorism won.

      You may not agree with it (I am kinda indifferent,) but you really need to understand it. These people have a moral compass that values different things than you and @tod-kelly and most of the people who frequent this blog. And until you start to look at things from that other view shit will stay fucked up in this country. Shit that means a lot to you.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to aaron david says:

        Greg Gutfeld said that he wanted to open a gay bar that catered to Muslims across the street from the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.

        I always kinda dug that particular response to the controversy.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        Okay. But you can’t claim “small government” by supporting the use of ED to stop religion.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

        The idea of a mosque on that site would be similar to putting a hog butcher in the main square in Mecca. It says to them terrorism won.

        It’s not that hard to imagine that many Japanese might have reacted very badly if someone had, within a decade of the bomb, announced plans to build a huge Christian cathedral (or American mall) on (or within a few blocks of, as in the case of the “Ground Zero” mosque) the ruins of Hiroshima. US occupation officials censored imagery of the bomb’s aftermath from the rest of Japan, afraid that even after Japan’s formal surrender, such shocking pictures could incite rebellion.

        What if they not only released pictures, but those pictures had been of brand-new Golden Arches?

        It would seem a tad disrespectful, no?Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to aaron david says:

        Kazzy, to this group, I would wager that this is precisely what eminent domain should be used for. In other words, this is something that transcends the size of gov’t.Report

      • Combining eminent domain with a desire to bar the exercise of a specific religion in a particular private area makes it more justified? I have a really hard time swallowing that.

        I get the emotional response to the proposal. I don’t get turning it into a political matter.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

        Hey, at least they tried to use political measures, no matter how ill-advised or unjustified, to respond to what they felt was disrespect.

        They could have gunned twelve people down, instead.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to aaron david says:

        America bombed Japan. Islam didn’t attack the World Trade Center. The idea that it did, and is therefore comparable to the atom bomb, is precisely why opposition to the Islamic center is do problematic.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

        @chris – I readily concede the differences, but that misses the point I am trying to make. The mosque (which again, was not even at Ground Zero proper, and had a prominent Sufi imam at the helm who has condemned the 9/11 attacks and wants nothing more than to promote peaceful understanding) may be a perfectly cromulent idea for any number of reasons.

        But many people were always, always going to react badly to the idea. Why, you might say that reaction was as predictable as the response to provocative cartoons.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to aaron david says:

        I didn’t say I agreed with it, I am just trying to paint a broader picture. To me, its kinda like someone saying that the are for free speech, but Citizens United was decided wrong.
        I personally cannot square that circle, but others can.

        To them, it really makes no difference. I am sure that you disagree with that, but if you don’t understand that viewpoint, you will never change it.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to aaron david says:

        Ah, yeah. I agree
        . And it was definitely predictable, as was the opposition in Murfreesboro, which is like 750 miles from Manhattan.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

        as was the opposition in Murfreesboro, which is like 750 miles from Manhattan.

        I’m sure that many Japanese who did not live anywhere near Hiroshima still would have reacted badly in my hypo (and it’s my hypo, so I must be right!). I don’t oppose the mosque myself, and I certainly don’t approve of the use of eminent domain to suppress religious expression, but now I’m the guy saying “well, you have to understand…”

        I’ve mentioned before that 9/11 made me really, really angry for a long time afterwards. If I saw pictures of the jumpers or whatever, I saw red. It took me a long time – years – to stop feeling that way.

        I confess: I felt a little that way yesterday. I know that’s not the cool, rational, adult way to view things, but there it is.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to aaron david says:

        Yeah, I saw red as well, then and yesterday when I made the mistake of watching the video at 6:30 in the morning.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        From Wiki:

        “With regard to a planned Islamic community center two blocks from the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City, in late July, 2010, Paladino issued a radio ad which stated, “As Governor, I will use the power of eminent domain to stop this mosque and make the site a war memorial instead of a monument to those who attacked our country.””

        That is the ad I heard.

        Community center > mosque > monument to 9/11 hijackers

        If you are willing to apply that sort of twisted logic to say that a massive government intrusion is justified even under a small government administration, then, well, you have really twisted logic. Thankfully, Paladino mustered just 33% of the vote.

        I understand that you are not taking the position that Paladino did and are simply illuminating how those who did arrived at their position without seeing it as contradictory. I just don’t think there is a logical way for them to square that circle and, as such, I refuse to consider it seriously.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david says:


        “It’s not that hard to imagine that many Japanese might have reacted very badly if someone had, within a decade of the bomb, announced plans to build a huge Christian cathedral (or American mall) on (or within a few blocks of, as in the case of the “Ground Zero” mosque) the ruins of Hiroshima… It would seem a tad disrespectful, no?”

        Well, that depends…

        Was Japan at war with America, and was it America who had dropped the bomb?

        Was the Hiroshima still pretty much in ruins, or was it a vibrant place of international commerce?

        Was the Japanese culture at the time very much based on being a multiethnic, multi-religious melting pot?

        Or to look at it from the opposite side of the Big Pond:

        After 9/11, were Islamic terrorist successful conquers who battled us into surrender, took over and dismantled our government, occupied out country and kept us from having a standing army?

        The problem with every argument I have ever heard against mosques at ground zero (or anywhere in the US) is that it rests on the insinuation — spoken or not — that Muslim-Americans were the enemy on 9/11.

        I suspect it would seem absurd to you if you read about the need not to let an American citizen open a Vietnamese restaurant within a quarter mile of the Vietnam War memorial, or not allow a German-American businessman to open a business at any one of the many WWII memorials around the country. Thats because it never occurs to us that Vietnamese-Americans of German-Americans are the same people who we fought perviously.

        That we say to Muslim-Americans that it is disrespectful of them to lead a perfectly legal and greatly moral life *anywhere* in this country speaks of problems ugly, deep-rooted, and systemic.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david says:

        Oops. I now see that Christ beat me to that punch.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david says:

        … by about 2000 years.

        Also, Chris.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to aaron david says:

        Aaron, I understand it. I grew up a few miles down Highway 96 from Murfreesboro. Those people are very much my people. I understand them pretty well. Not perfectly, of course, but pretty well.

        I understand them well enough to know I can’t change them, at least. Time maybe, and life, but not I.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

        @tod-kelly – I assume my responses to Chris answer your questions as well. I’m not saying the attempts to prevent the “GZ” mosque comprised good argumentation, or an appropriate response to the situation.

        But they certainly strike me as a much more understandable reaction to perceived disrespect than “you drew a cartoon, and now you must die.”

        THAT shit, is pretty much incomprehensible to me.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        Do you real think that is the thinking behind the attacks? Maybe it is and, if so, I agree that I can’t even begin to wrap my head around it (in part because I’m not religious but I think even if I were…). I just tend to think all these things are far more complicated than that. But maybe I have to think about that because the alternative is just so foreign to me.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

        @kazzy – I know, I know, there’s a history, and straws and camelbacks and different cultures and yadda yadda yadda, but at the end of the day some dude got shot for drawing something.

        And it wasn’t by some lone wacko off his meds, it was multiple people who convinced themselves and each other that they were doing God’s work. It would be hilariously absurd, if it wasn’t so fucked-up.

        I am a habitual Francophobe, but right now if I could hug every stinky Galousie-smoking cheese-eating (not today, Glyph, not today) one of them, I would. Tribes within tribes within tribes. Those guys feel like my people right now. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that. 9/11 seemingly imprinted some dark thing on my lizard brain; I thought it was long gone, but apparently it still wants blood, though I well know it would never be satisfied, not even with rivers of it.

        Not the sort of thing you can be proud of, nor say in polite company; not for the first nor last time I am glad of the ability to use a pseudonym here. Forgive me fathers, for I have sinned; I have great anger in my heart.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to aaron david says:

        Because once the Muslims objected to the gay bar, it would show that they weren’t any better than he was. Yeah, that would prove, umm, something.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to aaron david says:

        Here is their response:

        That kinda makes it a little more funny than less funny, from where I sit.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to aaron david says:

        @kazzy @tod-kelly
        The problem that I see both of you having here is trying to apply your logic to their view of the situation. Your logic starts with your gut reactions and then works outward to reasoning. Everyone’s does. The people who are against this had a visceral reaction as it violated massive taboos for them, they then apply their logic to it.

        Now, we need to look at each others logic, and see where the others are coming from. At that point we can say “look, I know you are feeling X, but look it it this way…” and at some point we will start having useful conversations. Because their feelings are every bit as valid as yours, every bit as moral, just different.

        But if you start with thinking that they are lairs, or stupid, or any such thing, then you will take steps that shut down the conversation.

        And we need to have these conversations. Not just from the left, but from the right also.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        I actually wasn’t referring to history and back-and-forth and the like. My apologies for being unclear.

        I mean one of two things:
        1.) These guys have a broader agenda and the drawing of these cartoons gave them a very handy excuse to begin (or continue) working on it.
        2.) These guys are mentally unstable or otherwise have their decision-making compromised.

        I struggle to see a sane person sitting down to the breakfast table, opening up the paper and seeing the comic, and thinking, “Well, time for some killing.”

        But that might be wholly a function of my inability to look beyond my own way of thinking about these things.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to aaron david says:

        You can open whatever you want.

        We are not even half as dumb as you think.

        If you won’t consider the sensibilities of Muslims, you’re not going to build dialog.

        If instead of talking to us like a grownup, you’re just going to try to bait us in ways that wouldn’t fool a six year old, go fish yourself.

        Yeah, pretty hilarious stuff. Sure. I guess.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

        @kazzy – I dunno. One person, I can pretty easily go with “lone nutjob”. Two, can get on their folie a deux. Three starts to look like something else; though obviously that number or even more doesn’t rule out either “agenda” or “madness”.

        Maybe it’s akin to a Helter Skelter situation. But Charlie made up his own religion, and there were only a few Mansonites.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        This is why I’m curious to really learn more about these guys. Were they affiliated with something larger? How long was this planned?

        Though… now I have to wonder… maybe this isn’t so crazy. I mean, how many people do you know who are of the, “What’d that guy say about me? Well, I’ll go give him a piece of my mind,” before walloping the dude in the face type? Now, I know we all know a lot more people who *say* they’d do that than would actually do it, but we probably know enough between the two of us to get a good game of pickup basketball going.

        And walloping a dude in the face for hurling an insult isn’t the same as shooting up a newspaper for publishing cartoons… but it also isn’t entirely different.

        These guys didn’t like what someone was doing. They resolved it with violence, presumably under the impression it would make them (and perhaps others) stop. That actually feels like all-too-common a tale.

        None of which JUSTIFIES it by any means… just might help us understand how and why this happened…Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

        @kazzy – I don’t know what to say. News reports indicate (of course, take with a gain of salt especially so close in time to the incident) that witnesses heard them shouting “Allahu Akbar!” and “We have avenged the prophet Mohammed!”. CNN’s site says that French intelligence has told the US that at least some of the perpetrators are known to them to be Al-Qaeda affiliated.

        As @jaybird has pointed out, radical imams can get published in USA Today saying that it is the duty of Muslims to kill those who insult the prophet; though their ideas are not particularly popular in the West, in some places, with some people, they are very popular. They exist. I see no reason not to assume for now that this is pretty much what it looks like: politico-religious fanaticism.

        Which brings me to two disturbing trains of thought. Yesterday Burt said something to the effect of, “we are much closer to the lone-nutjob end of things, than the Mein Kampf clash of civilizations end of things”, a sentiment I fully agree with.

        And yet: the madman who wrote Mein Kampf was closer to the “lone nutjob” end of things just a few short years before he managed to lead a broke and beaten country to savagely clash against civilization. OBL apparently didn’t turn out to be The Guy, but is The Guy still out there somewhere, waiting to take advantage of the pride and the resentments of millions?

        If he is: what, if anything, can or should we do about that before he rises from lone-nutjob status to The Guy status?

        Or do we just have to wait until that happens?

        The other (related) unpleasant train of thought is this: yes, Islam is a religion of peace (except when it’s not, and in this it differs not at all from Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, et al); but we know, from the Charlie Mansons and the Aum Shinrikyos and Jonestowns and Spanish Inquisitions and Salem Witch Trials (on the religious end) to the Nazi Germanies, Cambodias, Soviet Unions, North Koreas, ISISes etc. (on the “political” end) that religions and ideologies can either start out, or become, poisonous. There was either something bad in them to begin with, or a tipping point was reached where they became so.

        I agree that this issue is not one that Islam has as a whole; at most, we can say that there is a dark strain, as there is in nearly any religion, of violent fundamentalism and fanaticism.

        But how will we know if/when that strain has become large enough to be a real problem, and will it be too late to deal with it then?

        The thing about the Charlie Mansons and the Jonestowns and Aum Shinrikyos and the like is that while they have certain similarities in broad outline, they are also discrete events with regard to the specific ideology, and each had a relatively-limited amount of followers and resources to do damage with. Each one is, in some way, a “one-and-done” (even if down the road we know we will see history rhyme).

        But even if this fundamentalist/fanatic strain is a small one within Islam, there are a lot of Muslims overall; so even a fraction of them, is a whole lot. Anders Breivik and Tim McVeigh have certain similarities, but they subscribed to somewhat different ideologies and weren’t both shouting the same thing when they pulled the trigger, years apart and on different continents.

        Please understand that what I am asking is more of a “numbers/analysis/tipping point” type question when it comes to belief systems with large numbers of adherents, than a critique of Islam specifically. You could as easily ask this same question of Christianity, and the Dawkinses of the world might say we’ve *already* reached the tipping point, that it does more harm than good, and the fanatics now outnumber the reasonable people.

        The question is: if we know ideologies can be or become poisonous, and help enable people to do great evil – why do we assume that just because a given religion is one of the world’s “great” ones (that is, long-running, with many many followers, which is just about all that distinguishes a “religion” from a “cult”, as far as I can tell) – that this cannot happen to it (or at least a large enough branch of it to be dangerous) too?

        And if so, when/how will we know that this has happened; and what do we do about it?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        I also wonder how much timing matters. How many more Mansonites would there have been if the internet and Twitter and Facebook had existed than? Would Jamestown have been Jamescountry if he could have ‘recruited’ followers online?

        None of this is an excuse or justification for anything that has happened or will happen. Just a recognition (or consideration?) that tipping points function very differently across time and space. So I don’t necessarily know that there is something unique about the virulent strain of Islam as much as I think that those who are looking to further the virulent strain of Islam have better tools at their disposal than previous proponents of extreme ideologies.

        I mean, it took Christianity a few hundred years to gain much of a foothold on a global level because the only way to promote it was to get a donkey and ride to the next town and knock on doors. Compare that to Scientology’s spread*, which has been much faster in large part because they can sell you books on the internet.

        * Note: While I think Scientology is problematic for a number of reasons, it in no way compares as a ‘threat’ to the virulent strand of fanatical Islam. I simply offer it as an example for illustrative purposes of how ideas can spread nowadays relative to how they spread back in the day. Another factor is simple math in terms of population growth. You can set up a “Stress Test Booth” in the Times Square Subway station and expose your ideas to more people in a day than Jesus probably ever met in his life.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

        @kazzy – I think you are correct as far as technological changes (speed of transportation, and speed of communication) being part of all this, and unfortunately it works against the hope I was having this AM, when my dark spirits have lifted somewhat.

        Elsewhere in this thread, I was going back to the whole meme-as-virus thing, and I was thinking about Jonestown etc., and how very deadly viruses often burn themselves out quickly. Kill your victims too horrifically fast, and you can’t transmit from one to another.

        I was thinking there might be an analogy here, in that very virulent ideologies maybe have to moderate – become less like Ebola, and more like the common cold – to really spread and flourish and take wide hold.

        So maybe such a thing destructs internally before it gets too big, like Jonestown; or maybe the efforts we seemingly always historically see when a new religion/ideology pops up, to strangle it in its crib, are “defense mechanisms” – if a new religion gets too far out of line, everyone else either burns it to the ground, or else it mutates/moderates/becomes less acutely toxic/dangerous, and spreads.

        This would be a good reason to, overall as a rule of thumb, “trust” the old/”great” religions over newer ones (or at least, fear them less).

        But of course, again like Ebola, we now have the technology to move ideologies faster from place to place (and mind to mind), allowing nasty ones to spread faster/farther, instead of remaining contained and burning themselves out.

        And even the flu, which we’ve mostly learned to live with, is supposedly a mutation or three away from being a global pandemic again at any given time; which means the old, “great” religions aren’t 100% safe either.

        Which all suggests to me that this is just the way things are, and we have to learn to live with it; and to my initial question, the only answer may be, “we’ll know it when we see it, and this isn’t it yet.”Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to aaron david says:

        it’s a lot easier to say that Scientology isn’t a threat, when you haven’t had people you know brainwashed. or assassinated.

        Humans aren’t perfectly predictable, but the personality traits of those who fall into these ‘let’s kill them all’ religions (by which we mean small subsects of Judaism/Christianity/Islam/etc) are fairly consistent.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to aaron david says:

        I fear a Prince more than I fear a radical Imam.
        The mental illnesses of the Powers That Be run towards sadism, paranoia, psychopathy.

        And, unlike the radical cleric, the Prince has the power to indulge… and plan long-term.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    After 10 years or more of the “global war on terror”, you cannot now say “this ain’t much of nuthin”. Gotta keep the sheep in fear and the dollars flowing to the well connected…..Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Islam is of course a religion of approximately one billion adherents and the majority of these people will not hurt anyone. An overwhelming majority or commit an act of terrorism.

    From what I’ve read, we should still be doubting whether North Korea was capable of pulling off the SONY attack. There is also the fact that North Korea is very much an abstract threat to most people in the United States. The probability of being the victim of a terrorist attack is probably pretty slim but it is more real than the chances of being the victim of a violent attack by North Korea. North Korea is a scary totalitarian country but they are also comically ineffectual in many ways. To the United States at least.

    How much of American fear of Islam is because they do pray/worship in a very different way from Americans? I wonder if people had the same reactions to Jews coming over from Eastern Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They probably did. Why do you pray like that? What are these weird things you wear? Why can’t you eat pork and shellfish?

    People still view the Haredi Jews as being rather exotic and come up with all sorts of weird beliefs like they idea that they have sex with a sheet between the man and woman and the sheet as a hole in it. Sometimes non-Haredi Jews will get asked if we have sex this way.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Just say “no, two holes” and let them wonder.Report

    • @saul-degraw

      Excellent comment, and as you probably well know, this

      I wonder if people had the same reactions to Jews coming over from Eastern Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

      tracks pretty closely to the early 20th-century cartoonish view of the “typical” anarchistic bomber a someone with a long beard and hooked nose. Maybe the view wasn’t purely antisemitic, but it had antisemitic (and anti-slavic) undertones.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Taking Upright Citizens Brigade seriously is weird.
      But, um, when something’s on TV, I don’t think it’s “people come up with weird beliefs”.
      I think it’s “someone was browsing the TV and missed the joke”Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      yeah, from what I’ve heard, the FBI’s data is actually solid, for once.
      Hacking is one of those businesses where you can’t afford to screw up — ever.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Saul, it was the assimilated German Jews that fretted about the orthodoxy of the Ostjuden. Non-Jews fretted about the political radicalism of the non-religious Ost-Juden. The German Jews feared the bearded, kosher keeping Jew and the non-Jews loathed Emma Goldman.Report

  8. Avatar zic says:

    Competition. Us vs. Them.

    It’s built into human nature.

    So I’d proffer the notion that Maple St. is simply the home court, and somebody will always be the away team.Report

  9. Avatar neal says:

    Do not invoke the gods, manufactured, or otherwise. Dancing, OK. That is a War that can leave many breathless. Like that changes anything.Report

  10. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    This is a fantastic post, Tod.Report

  11. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Just wanted to add that I love the Twilight Zone reference- increasingly, I’m coming to see that show as one of the key works of American art of the 20th century.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to Rufus F. says:

      This. If for no other reason than beautifully visualizing our collective postwar fears.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Well, and in a way Serling is the forerunner of the modern TV auteur, someone who was very opposed to corporate and sponsor meddling in his personal vision (it’s my understanding that he was paid far less for TZ than he was known to be “worth” as an experienced screenwriter/playwright/producer, in order to retain near-complete control of the scripts and show, which he fought for fiercely), and very willing to strongly defend television (and speculative fiction) as valid vehicles to communicate intelligent and important themes and stories, as opposed to simply vapid entertainment.Report

  12. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    “There is, as far as I have ever seen, heard, or read, no instances where Americans are glancing suspiciously at their Korean-Americans neighbors and demanding a price be paid for the actions of Kim Jong-Un.”

    We also haven’t had forty years of people telling us that maybe what the North Koreans was bad we must look at it in the context of decades of oppression and marginalization and imperialist aggression and racist bigotry and so you can understand how they might feel some entirely justified anger at their situation.Report