Tag Archives: Christianity

Stormy Daniels, Slut Shaming, and the Diminishing Returns of Writing about Trump

Twitter dilemma

It’s very unsatisfying to write about US politics, especially in relation to Trump because whatever outrages me at the moment will soon be overshadowed by another scandal that is bound to come. That, plus with the myriad of controversies surrounding the administration, focusing on one scandal would seem to be doing a disservice to the other scandals/crises which are of equal importance. Just off the top of my head, on March 22, 2018, there is the Russian collusion and Trump’s piety towards Putin where he appears to be bullied/extorted right in front of the world (Putin: Say you congratulated me on my election victory. Trump: Yes, sir.), there is the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal which makes me really want to delete my long-abandoned Facebook account, there is the continuing gun crisis as well as violence against black people, there is the scandal of firing Andrew McCabe 26 hours prior to his retirement, the list goes on and on.

For now, let me focus on Stormy Daniels. There are countless of articles and videos explaining what she’s doing and why she’s doing them. Perhaps she’s doing this for money, exposure, whatever, I’m not really interested in that. She can do whatever she wants, and I really don’t hold it against her for sleeping with Trump back then (he was a goofy character on television). I don’t want to put Ms. Stephanie Clifford in too high a pedestal, but I really do admire how she handles Trump’s defenders and sycophants. Most of them attack her based on her profession and her “lack of morals,” and that’s it. That’s the tired well they keep coming back to. And since she doesn’t really get fazed by people’s slut-shaming, it’s like she’s bulletproof. She just swats their insults off like ugly background noise. And ultimately, isn’t that the nightmare of the conservative male? A strong woman (many of them want to sleep with) who has full control of her sexuality and is unfazed by their slut-shaming?

If Internet statistics are to be believed, the biggest consumers of online pornography in the United States are those living in the Bible Belt. So the same men slut-shaming women who are fighting for their rights, be it the right to use contraception or the right to use their body any way they please, are the same men who probably have had Stormy Daniels cross their screens once or twice when their wives are not at home. It’s a really perverse twisting of self-hate and guilt, and I know self-hate and guilt. I’m a depressed Catholic.

Anyway, it is amazing how so many of Trump’s supporters are willing to ignore his sins while casting stones at Ms. Clifford. I feel like someone should remind them that they’re not married to Donald Trump. They don’t have to live in denial about their partner’s sins. I read one Twitter supporter proclaim that all of Stormy Daniels’ fans are disgusting. This ignores the fact that prior to all of this, Trump was actually a fan of Stormy Daniels, probably one of her biggest fans, enough to send her $130,000. Most men have admired women in pornography before. Many have been obsessed with porn stars. But not many could say they spent $130,000 on one.

In any case, should the whole Stephanie Clifford saga simply just be about her making a name for herself or selling a book or whatever, she’s still coming out of this whole thing not only ethically from a higher ground, but she’s also using a much smarter strategy and employing a savvier lawyer/promoter. She’s never professed to be a good Christian and was never forgiven by evangelical leaders, unlike Donald Trump who has been nothing but a hypocrite throughout this whole thing. If she’s doing this for monetary gain to the detriment of Trump’s marriage, have you ever known Trump to respect other people’s marriages and spouses? Nope. He insulted Ted Cruz’s wife and also McCabe’s. Trump didn’t even respect his own marriages. And really, we can’t really fault her for doing this for monetary gain. Trump has hurt so many people for monetary gain or even just through his public actions (Central Park Five, anyone?). When was the last time Ms. Clifford’s work hurt anyone?

And yeah, Ms. Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, could teach Trump’s legal team a thing or two about looking sane on television while shamelessly plugging his own agenda. I also doubt if Mr. Avenatti would be paying for his clients sexual dalliances through a home equity loan. Seriously, where did Trump’s lawyers get their JDs?

Well, before this gets too long, here’s to Ms. Clifford or Stormy Daniels. May you get whatever you want out of all of this! I really hope the 60 Minutes special does not disappoint. It’s very telling when the only two people Trump does not attack on Twitter are Putin and Ms. Clifford. Please, live up to the hype. And keep on making Trump supporters hate themselves for wanting to be with you while slowly destroying their orange father figure.

*Update: As I post this, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy playmate who had an affair with Trump, is now on television talking to Anderson Cooper about their affair. Also, Trump just tapped one of the chief architects and cheerleaders of the Iraq War, John Bolton, as National Security Adviser. Congratulations, people who voted for Trump because Hilary Clinton was a hawk. As I look back on the entry, it just seems so old now. But then again, I’m sure we’ll be back to talking about Ms. Clifford come Sunday.

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White, Male Christian? Probably not a Terrorist.

It’s impossible. Caucasian, male Christians cannot be terrorists. The media has now effectively made the word “terrorist” apply only to majority brown/black people and Muslims.

The last person I could recall who was Caucasian and was labelled a terrorist by the media after committing a heinous attack was Anders Behring Breivik. He killed 69 people, mostly children, on 2011 to save them from the invasion of Islam.  He never claimed to be Christian, but his sentiments against Muslims and immigrants ring far too familiar with what’s been happening in the US and in Europe at the moment. And yet, when it comes to talks of terrorism, the focus is mostly on immigrants and Muslim men. No one ever recalls someone like Breivik and suggests more surveillance on Caucasian extremists and hate groups. Everyone just focuses on minority populations… you know, the ones that already have enough grief in their lives.

Over the weekend, Planned Parenthood was attacked by an armed gunman. He barricaded the facility and ended up killing three people. He was Caucasian, Christian, and was motivated by the recent fake videos released by anti-abortionist groups depicting fetuses being harvested for “baby parts.” He was even quoted saying “no more baby parts” after the arrest.

After the Paris attacks, calls for more surveillance on Muslim populations have been rampant. More security at the border, do not take in any Syrian refugees (you know, the ones fleeing from terrorism), allow only Christians in the country. Politicians rode the wave of anti-minority sentiment which was fueled by the media, from “neutral” media like CNN to outright fascist outlets like Fox News. And yet, after the attack over the weekend, crickets. Not a peep from any major right wing political candidates regarding the attacks. Nothing from the same characters who were quick to vilify Muslims and immigrants after the Paris attacks. The only Republican to comment on it recently was failed CEO Carly Fiorina who still doesn’t call the gunman a terrorist and even reinforces his motivations for his actions. “The vast majority of Americans agree what Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong.” So what do we do, Carly? Shoot it up?

Let’s compare two groups, shall we? The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters and the anti-abortionists. The right wing media has been vilifying BLM as a hate group, that they are violent and have been responsible for the hate against police officers, neglecting the fact that the very reason BLM exists is that police officers have been targeting minority populations disproportionately more than other populations, with some encounters leading to death. Now, when BLM protesters unwisely got caught chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon” during a friendly back and forth with police officers, the media and politicians were quick to spin it as a call for violence. And when a police officer was found dead a few days later, they were quick to blame the movement for the violence. Unfortunately for the right wing narrative, the police officer was later found to have committed suicide. In any case, the damage has already been done. BLM is now a hate group according to some politicians.

But when people put out anti-abortionist material that call for violence, no one in mainstream media really calls it for what it is. A highly-edited hoax video showing baby fetuses being harvested was treated as if it was actual fact. Even members of the US Congress referenced it during a hearing against Planned Parenthood. No one thinks that in a country that is rife with guns that Christian zealots would see that video and react violently. And when a shooter goes to Planned Parenthood killing three people, effectively terrorizing women to go to such centers and preventing doctors from helping women, no one calls the shooter a terrorist. No one connects the shooter with fundamentalist Christian values. No one asks Christian communities to apologize for the action of the shooter.

And when Caucasian shooters terrorize people, instead of blaming it on whatever motivates them, be it fundamentality religion or some twisted logic, their actions are often blamed on mental issues. “He was suffering from schizophrenia.” It was never the people he listened to or the book he read.

The Army of God, Aryan Nations the Ku Klux Klan… these are just some Caucasian groups that cling to the bible and fundamentalist and nativist values.  Dylan Storm Roof, a male Caucasian, killed a group of black church goers. Is he labelled a terrorist? Not really. There’s a mass shooting in the US almost every week. Are they classified as terrorist attacks, even by a small percentage? Not if the shooter was Caucasian.

Caucasians just don’t fit the traditional terrorist narrative.

I guess one factor that affects the narrative is the victims of such attacks as well. In order to be labeled a “terrorist,” not only does it help if the perpetrator was a minority, it also helps if the victims are Christians or Caucasians. If the victims are members of a minority or people that are deemed to be deserving of such violence, like people who “want” to abort their babies, then the perpetrator won’t be labelled a terrorist.

Dr. George Tiller was murdered by Scott Philip Roeder. Dr. Tiller was providing late-term abortions. He was murdered after being called “Tiller the Baby Killer” by prominent right wing media personality Bill O’Reilly. Dr. Tiller had been a victim of anti-abortion violence several times before. His clinic had been firebombed and there had been another attempt at his life. And because the killer was Caucasian, and despite the fact that him and his group effectively terrorized people, he was not labelled as a terrorist. O’Reilly after the murder never suffered a backlash for his comments. Certainly not the same backlash BLM continues to suffer after their “pigs in a blanket” chant.  And the women who are now afraid to seek help… they’re just the same as other minority populations, just as disposable. Violence against them doesn’t get as much media play.

Compare the victims of recent attacks in Paris versus the recent attacks by Boko Haram. No one pays much attention to Boko Haram despite trending a year ago and causing just as much violence as ISIS (albeit towards black, Muslim populations). And yet with Paris, everyone changes their Facebook photos to the French national colors. Boko Haram is a terrorist organization, but their actions against black populations are as mundane as the seasons. ISIS and their actions against the French, it’s headline news.

So there you have it. Caucasian, male and Christian? You’re good to go. You’re bound to be diagnosed with schizophrenia when you shoot a number of people, but you won’t be labelled a terrorist. Call it a holy war, just make sure you’re holding the right book.

Heck, when George Bush called for a jihad in Iraq, no one called him a terrorist. And yes, it was a jihad. God told him to “end tyranny in Iraq.” Now, how often do you hear those brown, Muslim ISIS fighters talking about wanting to “end tyranny” in the west?

crystalball

I just noticed the anti-menstruation leader who the #HappyToBleed campaign is fighting against is a member of Cobra.

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Why, Richard?

protester

So this 14 year-old kid Ahmed Mohamed goes to school with a clock he made for a science project, shows it to several teachers, some of them say that it “looks cool.” Then one teacher gets nervous, thinks it’s a bomb and calls the cops. The school wasn’t evacuated, the cops say it wasn’t a bomb, and the kid was handcuffed anyway. Now, people are saying that this was a case of Islamophobia. And I would say yes, it seems patently obvious. I don’t think a box with wires sticking out of it in a school is any more menacing than a couple of people brandishing their AR-15s in a Walmart. Both are legal, only the second example is designed to elicit an example. Only the second example involves things that are actually designed to kill people.

And if you compare the incident to how predominantly white gun-carry advocates walk around the country unmolested, there’s a good argument that this is just as much as being a person of color in America as it is about being a Muslim.

I already talked about how Bill Maher sometimes loses me with his Islamophobia. It is one thing to be an atheist, but it is another thing to be an Islamophobe. The hysteria over the brown kid carrying a science project around school showed such an abandon of logic that I was hoping someone as intelligent as Bill Maher would not try to justify. I tend to be sympathetic to atheistic arguments, and I really don’t want to claim that there is religious persecution after many fundamentalist Christians cry wolf about their “suffering,” but when he said that people were reasonable to be suspicious of Ahmed Mohamed, this is exactly the type of light Islamophobia that results in children being handcuffed.

He is not alone in this either. Even Richard Dawkins tweeted that the kid was a fraud. He suggested that the kid passed himself off as an inventor and made a clock that suspiciously looks like a bomb. All of it just to get arrested, create a viral story, and later on get scholarship offers and an invitation to the White House. Bravo, Richard Dawkins. You’ve just become a Twitter nut job (at least in this case). There’s always the possibility that we’ve all been victims of this brilliant kid’s masterful hoax, but Occam’s razor suggests that it’s probably just a kid who made a suspicious-looking clock.

Steven Levitt once wrote about atheist books and the mysterious market for them. Who buys these books? There is a market for holy and religious books, after all, the religious need the books to enlighten themselves more about their faith. And the religious would never buy atheists books. At least, I imagine they won’t. Why would they? But what about atheists? If you truly don’t believe in the existence of God, then why buy a book to affirm your belief? You don’t need reinforcement on a non-belief. As Steven put it:

“So who is making these anti-God books best-sellers? Do the people who despise the notion of God have an insatiable demand for books that remind them of why? Are there that many people out there who haven’t made up their mind on the subject and are open to persuasion?

Let me put the argument another way: I understand why books attacking liberals sell. It is because many conservatives hate liberals. Books attacking conservatives sell for the same reason. But no one writes books saying that bird watching is a waste of time, because people who aren’t bird watchers probably agree, but don’t want to spend $20 in order to read about it. Since very few people (at least in my crowd) actively dislike God, I’m surprised that anti-God books are not received with the same yawn that anti-bird watcher books would be.”

I think Steven kinda brushed on the reason why anti-God books are selling recently. Conservatives hate liberals and would buy books that bash liberals. I’m guessing that some atheists actively hate the religious, or at least see them as intellectually inferior to some extent, and perhaps get some joy out of bashing them. Instead of adopting a liberal attitude about things and truly not caring about religion unless said religion affects them somehow, some atheists get trapped into a sort of game of one-upmanship the same way political parties do. Of course, this is not something truly unique to atheists. The same could be said about some of the religious.

And this is where Bill Maher and Steve Dawkins sometimes sink to. Yes, yes, religion is bullshit. But that’s coming from our “enlightened” bubble. Ethnocentrism is judging others based on their ethnic group, especially in terms of customs, language, and religion. Perhaps people find value in their religion in ways that I do not. Who knows? I’m not about to judge other people as long as it doesn’t affect me. Believe in God or don’t, just don’t make it my business. But when giants of the atheist way of thinking start bashing huge swaths of people, it sours the whole thing for me. It is lazy and misguided. The same way some current feminists are spoiling the movement by being hyper-sensitive, censorship-advocating, misandrists, some atheists are turning into outright bigots.

I’m not saying that the religious are being persecuted. I’m not, especially in terms of Christians in North America. But casual bigotry towards other religions makes cuffing children, not allowing refugees into countries, and outright bombing cities, a tad easier to do.

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What Have I Done Now?

Noah_Dove

 

Religious Rant Warning!

People have different religions, and even those of the same religion have different versions of the of the god they’re supposed to be worshipping. Muslims, Christians, and Jews all worship the same God. I’m a Roman Catholic, and there are two different versions of my personal savior, the Old Testament version and the New Testament. The New Testament is a Trinity as well, so there are three different versions of Him. I hope things get better for me though, cause lately, I feel like my personal savior is the Old Testament God… the vengeful and jealous version who tests his followers, makes dietary requirements, brings plague and pestilence, turns the curious into pillars of salt, banishes people from paradise, and takes away everything he has given.

Or maybe that’s just my Catholic guilt.

I wish I was raised more with the Christian God who loves unconditionally, the one who understands that we are human with human weaknesses, the one who loves the sinner, encourages us to turn the other cheek, and keeps us from hell.

But teaching me about that God was too much to ask for the headmasters in my old Catholic school. How else can you control a classroom with fifty kids? You scare them into obedience, that’s how. And now when things beyond my control go wrong, I usually think, “What have you done, Joe? This is somehow related to your failings. You’re an awful person.” as opposed to, “Don’t worry, Joe. It’ll be alright. You’re only human, and shit happens.”

I end up punishing myself mentally until I get ulcers.

Update: Less than ten minutes after this post, bad news hit me.

 

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