Monday, March 9, 2015

Three Points On A Line

Three Points On A Line
One Point On a Line: Jihadi John
The Omnivore has been reading a fair amount about "the creation of Jihadi John," the ISIS executioner who was recently 'unmasked' as well off, educated Briton (hailing from Kuwait with family from Yemen), Mohammed Emwazi. There's a narrative that poor old John was abused by the security agencies until he had no choice but to run off to the desert and lovingly saw people's heads off. The Omnivore is vastly unimpressed--but that's not the point of this article. When The Omnivore wants insight into the psychology of people on the ground in the ISIS mess, he turns, as you should, to The War Nerd. The War Nerd is also unimpressed with the standard narrative. He finds that J-John is living the young, male dream (blacked-out SUVs, a camera crew following him everywhere, and endless concubines--plus: a chance to kill people). He's sad to have to tell you why being an executioner for a movie-grade evil empire might appeal to a young man--because, uh, it does.

The Omnivore buys that. What's interesting to The Omnivore, though, isn't the over-arching story that's being told here (it's an old one--and a pretty banal one) but the added 'twist' The War Nerd adds. Let's take a look:
So what’s going on with the Yemen link? Yemen is poor, tough, desperate, “unspoiled” in the very worst sense of the word. It’s the Old Testament, where girls are given away at an early age and clan hatred is law—which is why it would do America’s Christians a world o’ good to spend some time there, especially as a village girl. Atheism would be rampant the very moment they stepped outside the security zone in Oklahoma City.
So to go from the hills of Yemen, where men rule completely, to Kuwait, where women stroll around the malls in various stages of undress, from full pious black swathe to short shorts (and they do), window shopping $250,000 watches, often without a male guardian in sight—that’s a stretch, for a Yemeni family.
So that’s one huge culture-jump already, but a bigger one was coming. Emwazi’s family left Kuwait when he was only six years old, so any memories of Kuwait would have been held by his elders, passed on to him. His most vivid memories would have been life in a rich Muslim-Arab family that “kept to itself” in the posh neighborhoods of West London. He was “quiet,” he “loved his football,” and didn’t stand out much in any way.
You see that so often in these jihadi profiles, “he loved his football.” It’s so banal that you tend to ignore it, but it actually means a lot. It’s an attempt to find a common denominator, some shared ground that can allow you to be a grudge-holding pious Yemeni loyal son and a West London rich boy at the same time, something you can discuss with people who don’t share your particular—very, very particular—view of what is halal and what is haram.
The War Nerd doesn't quite close the loop--but western readers should be able to: when you get to the nice part of Western London girls who are really religious might be wearing head scarves and everyone else? Might as well be nude.

That's one point on a line. Here's another:

Two Points On A Line: The India 'Rape-Bus' Documentary
The Omnivore is no great fan of 'trigger warnings' but this . . .  if you have issues about rape and somehow don't know the story of the India 'rape-bus' . . . you might want to skip this. It's hard to write. It's hard to think about.

In India there are all these private buses that act kind of like large group taxis. One night, in 2012, one of these was full of no one but rapists. They picked up a young medical student and her boyfriend, beat him, raped her--and fatally injured her in the process. She lived long enough to talk--but the initial police response was atrocious. The case got international attention. It was well publicized--and the offenders were rounded up. There were protests (at which men groped some of the female protesters).

Now, years later, the BBC has made a documentary which India has blocked. Apparently they feel it could promote public disorder. They also apparently felt it would "defame India." Well, uh, yeah. Banning it doesn't exactly 'fame' India either, guys. The key to the defamation isn't the police response though, it's the words of the rapist himself.

How does that defame India, exactly? The guy's condemned to death. Well, because he, uh, says stuff that a lot of India people apparently, erm, agree with. That's the theory, anyway. This includes things like:
Singh, who was driving the bus, also says rape is a woman’s own fault if she is out at night. “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,” he said. “Boys and girls are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.
And this gem:
In the documentary, Singh, who was sentenced to death for his role in the crime, shows no remorse. He explains that the victim's death was her own fault: that if she had simply silently acquiesced to the rape, the men would have "dropped her off after doing her."
While the "stats war rages" over whether India is the rape-capital of the world or not, here are some articles you can look at:
Meanwhile, politicians don't seem to be helping. In early June, Madhya Pradesh state Home Minister Babulal Gaur — who oversees the policecast doubt on whether rape should always be considered a punishable offense.
"It is a social crime which depends on the man and the woman," said Gaur, who is a powerful member of new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. "It is sometimes right and sometimes wrong."
. . .
Gaur's comments come two months after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav — the state's governor — publicly opposed capital punishment for rape. "Boys will be boys," he said. "Sometimes they make mistakes."
The Omnivore, from these, as well as other articles, thinks that the deal here is that with a quickly and somewhat chaotically modernizing economy, women are coming into spaces men previously dominated. They are getting educations, coming to the cities, and displaying autonomy. A lot of men in India are reacting badly to this.

The Rape Bus is the internationally visible tip of the ice-berg. It's not the only India bus gang-rape, after all. The problem is that you have a male culture that's being intruded on by women. They think it's provoking them--so their response, gang rapes, is therefore legitimate.

Three Points On A Line: #GamerGate
Before we do too much here, let's note two things:
  1. However unsavory it is or isn't, at it's worst, #GamerGate isn't on the same spectrum as ISIS and the real-life rape-bus (although, you know, tell that to the female non-game journalist victims who left their houses in fear . . .). The line here isn't a measure of badness. It's about a pattern.
  2. Boko Haram, which means Western Education is Forbidden, just signed on to ISIS (maybe). This is proof that ISIS's brand-name is growing in strength and that their anti-modernity position is very appealing to would-be Jihadis. Boko Haram, like the Taliban, has a significant focus on women's education.
Analysis of #GamerGate suggests that while the tag-line is ethics in video-game journalism the activity is largely around female game critics and game developers. Indeed, on the operational front, #GG finds itself allied with enemies of 'feminism' and 'social justice' more than Big Media (and, to be clear, both automotive and music journalism is more corrupt than video-game journalism could ever be without almost any of the attendant back-lash).

The pattern here is that, again, women are coming into spheres (in the case of #GG this is done in cyberspace) that were generally dominated by men. Of course what's going on with the anti-social-justice theme isn't just an encroachment on the domain of video games: that might be the trigger. Instead, The Omnivore is pretty sure that a larger narrative is playing out in the real world around a general lowering of the "enfranchisement" of men.

While it's not nearly as severe as what is happening in India or Yemen, the same forces at play when women are educated (especially above the 'average male') may be a factor in Western society as well. It should be no surprise that the Norway mass-murderer Breivik suggested in his 100-page PDF manifesto that in his coming Utopian world, women would be strongly discouraged from being educated above a Bachelor's degree. He knows what happens then too.

The point here is, again, not that all these responses are equally bad--but that the drivers that are creating upper-middle class Jihadis and Rape-Buses in some places are also at least partially related to the creation of Twitter harassment communities in others. This force--the engine of which is female educational opportunities--has yet to play out fully--but whenever and however it peaks we may find that masses of, mostly, men who feel disenfranchised will have more sympathy than we might expect for causes that seem targeted at rolling the clock back.

If anyone wants to tell The Omnivore that #GamerGate isn't about harassing women, that's fine--there are mountains of evidence and we can have that discussion. If anyone wants to tell The Omnivore that the Social Justice Warriors "struck first," that's fine too: we can talk about that. But keep in mind that Boko Haram thinks that the western educators struck first and the Taliban thinks that girl's schools have to be blown up or burnt down (ideally with the students still in them) because they brought it on themselves by breaking the rules. If the War Nerd is right about Jihadi John, and The Omnivore thinks there's a pretty good chance he is, then John thinks that those guys he cut the heads off are enemy provocateurs who had it all coming to them and the west is the enemy of Islam . . . because . . . girls (JJ probably wouldn't say that--but the culture shock argument is, to The Omnivore, a compelling one).

In other words: Everyone in a war thinks they're the victims and the other guys struck first. It's a core part of modern thinking. Everyone has adopted it. This doesn't mean there are no legitimate grievances--it means that the big picture is, really, a lot simpler than you think it is. When you have to explain how giant masses of hidden data come together to make a picture you like the odds are that you're assembling a scrap book of your own subconscious--not reality's.
From Here

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