All posts filed under: Features

Sheep and Mirrors: On Being Social

I’m pregnant with our third child when I read Marlen Haushofer’s 1963 novel ​The Wall​. It’s a terrifying thought experiment where the main character is confronted with the possibility she’s the last human being alive. As she documents her fight for survival, I wonder if I’d have the will to carry on if everyone I knew was dead and I had no hope of ever seeing or loving another human again. I suspect every remaining joy in the world would suddenly lose its lustre. But why? Is the ability to interact with other humans really so vital that I’d rather die than live alone? As a wife and mother of three young boys, as someone who thrives on communicating, and lives in an age of astonishing connectivity, I suspect the notion of total solitude is more unfathomable to me now than at any other point in my life. I live on an island in a country full of geographically isolated (but increasingly connected) towns, where internet access is seen as a necessity, not a luxury. …

The Ultimate ‘Concept Creep’: How a Canadian Inquiry Strips the Word ‘Genocide’ of Meaning

In 208 AD, the Roman warrior emperor Septimus Severus arrived in Britain with 40,000 soldiers, intent on subduing the tribes inhabiting the northern part of the island. These tribes were part of the Caledonian confederacy, which occupied modern Scotland. But to the Romans, most everyone who lived outside the empire was a barbarian, full stop. So when Severus became frustrated by the Caledonians’ (sensible) refusal to submit to pitched battle, the emperor settled on another strategy, which we would now call genocide. In 210, he assigned the job of extermination to his son Caracalla, a mass-murdering lunatic who would later assassinate his own brother Geta in front of their mother. It likely was only Severus’ death in 211 that cut the operation short and saved Scotland from a complete holocaust. Caracalla always is listed by historians among the worst emperors of Roman history. But tellingly, his attempted annihilation of the Caledonians isn’t typically cited in the historical bill of particulars. In ancient Rome, genocide was seen as an acceptable military tactic if it was directed …

How Intersectionalism Betrays the World’s Muslim Women

I attended the infamous “#Feminist” speaking event at the Sydney Town Hall. It was a discussion between Roxane Gay, a Haitian-born intersectional feminist, and Christina Hoff Sommers, a self-described “equity feminist.” I went with the intention of confronting my growing disillusionment with the morally proscriptive nature of intersectional feminism and the broader leftist movement. I harboured hopes that the divisive behaviour I was seeing on social media was disproportionately represented by radicals and that the event would bring some sense to the madness. Instead, I left feeling completely alienated from a movement that once brought me so much hope. It was my second crisis of faith in three years, the first being my renunciation of Islam at the age of 21. Free from the shackles of fundamentalism, I embraced the left-wing movement with open arms. Until only recently, I saw it as a celebration of everything I’d been denied as a devout Muslim. As a woman who’d been forced into the hijab at puberty, trapped within the Islamic guardianship system and restricted by groupthink, I …

Denmark’s Blaspheming Mother

“This is a nightmare. We’re in shock,” Jaleh Tavakoli says. Last month, the 36-year-old Iranian-Danish critic of Islam received notification from Danish social services that she is no longer fit to care for the 8-year-old child she’s fostered since birth. Why? Tavakoli, a columnist and author, says it is because of her politically incorrect views on Islam. Social services maintains it is looking out for the best interest of a potentially vulnerable child. Tavakoli lives under security precautions, has been threatened on the streets of Copenhagen, and even survived a jihadist attack in 2015. As she prepares for the most difficult challenge of her life, Danish society must contend with the unprecedented challenge of where to draw the line when radical Islam intersects with free speech and children’s rights. Denmark, a kingdom of just 5.7 million people, consistently ranks among the top countries in the world in quality-of-life indexes. The small Nordic state is envied for its strong universal healthcare system, high levels of trust and extremely generous welfare benefits. In 2018, it ranked third …

Jordan Peterson, And the New Chivalry

In his recent appearance at Liberty University, Jordan Peterson delivered this verdict on the dominant attitude toward masculinity among our society’s elites: “I don’t think we do a very good job at the moment of encouraging men. We have this idea that there’s something intrinsically oppressive about the patriarchy and about masculinity in general. And I think that’s nonsense. I think that strong, honest, truthful, courageous men pursuing noble goals is of great benefit to everyone, male and female alike.” Members of the student audience applauded loudly, little knowing that not 10 minutes later, a scene would unfold in which Peterson would have an opportunity to match action to words. By now, tens of thousands of people have seen the clip of the desperate young man who slipped past security to rush the stage and appeal to Peterson for help. The high-definition video feed was cut, but amateur footage shows Peterson leaving his seat and following David Nasser, Liberty University’s Campus Pastor, to engage. Nasser assures the troubled boy that he is “in the right …

Headline Rhymes

If there’s anything to learn from the report by Mueller Whether you’re on the blue team, red team or another: If your news comes from just a couple of mainstream sources You’ll keep getting hoodwinked by a couple of mainstream forces We tell our kids, never believe everything you hear Then gorge on social media till our senses disappear It’s okay to stay bubble-wrapped for the sake of mental health But then consider keeping the propaganda to yourself Views on the news, delivered so smooth. This week’s inspired by: News, Pre-News, Fake News, and Statistics Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.

How a Fake Scandal Took Down a Brazilian Fashion Editor

If you’re looking for evidence of racial inequality in Brazil, it isn’t hard to find. Racism is a serious problem in my country, as indicated by statistics showing that Black Brazilians are disproportionately likely to be poor, die young, and suffer from criminal violence. But rather than focusing on such real problems, many Brazilian elites now take their cue from the current Western obsession with aesthetic representation, and instead focus their attention on fake racism scandals that play out on social media. The latest example played out in February, at the 50th birthday party of Donata Meirelles, the (now former) editor of the Brazilian edition of Vogue. The party was held in Salvador, the capital of Bahia state, and a city renowned as a centre of Brazilian black culture, being 28% black in a country where blacks (sometimes known as Afro-Brazilians) make up only about 8% of the total population. Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion, is stronger and more visible in Salvador than in the rest of the country, having been melded into the local Catholic …

Want to Change the World? First, You Have to Listen to It

The essay that follows is adapted from Irshad Manji’s newly published book, “Don’t Label Me: An Incredible Conversation for Divided Times.“ Liberals, among whom I count myself, are sometimes wise. So wise that we should take much of our own advice to others. In the wake of 9/11, for example, many of my fellow liberals said that Americans must strive to understand why some Muslims gravitate to jihadism. Only by understanding, they stressed, can effective solutions be found. Bull, I remember thinking—or, rather, emoting. At the time, my emotions equated understanding with excusing. I was wrong. As a reformer within my faith of Islam, I’ve spoken with plenty of ex-jihadists. While I can’t claim this for every crusader on a homicide mission, the guys I met abandoned militant extremism only after they felt heard. Not coddled. Not swaddled. Just listened to by folks who excoriated their ideology yet accepted them as individuals with backstories. What if we applied this insight to white supremacists and those who support them? Let’s conduct a thought experiment. Richard Spencer, …

The Value of Exercising Civility—in Both Oikos and Polis

“I’m done with my grandfather,” a friend confided in me after a recent family gathering. “He compulsively talks about how George Soros is to blame for everything—and then refuses to recognize any evidence to the contrary,” she said. “He has his talking points, and there’s no changing his mind. It’s not even worth having a conversation.” In our polarized moment, we sometimes struggle to fulfill basic social or professional obligations with family, friends and co-workers who hold views we find objectionable. But we ought not cut people off without thinking carefully the consequences. It’s not just that we risk losing important relationships. People whose ideological or political opinions we oppose may still have something to offer. Cutting them off leaves us both intellectually and emotionally poorer. Most of us have stories like the one my friend told me. And while the details differ, they all go to a central question: What is the unspoken social contract that governs how we discuss ideas? At what point do we no longer have to listen to what another …

Headline Rhymes

A person’s a person, no matter how small And a hate hoax is a hate crime, are they different at all? Some say Smollett has “started a conversation” Since when did extortion beget good relations? Maybe racism demand has outstripped supply And a professional victim would rather tell a lie Than let it die Views on the news, delivered so smooth. This week’s inspired by the sad story of Jussie Smollett. Some discussion on racism:  Racism and Underdetermination by Evidence The Racism Treadmill Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.