A painting of me

Web 2.0 vs. the Islamofacists

   9 November 2005, lunch time

If you are interested in Sri Lanka, an entertaining site to read is LankaWeb. (The keyword is entertaining. My sincere hope is that LankaWeb is trying to be satirical.) Lanka Web’s news stories are usually baseless, full of hearsay and, for the most part, made up facts. It’s like Fox News, but based out of Sri Lanka.

Little Green Footballs is a conservative web site. It is similar to LankaWeb in tone, and I imagine the readership are of a similar mindset. That is to say, the readers have an opinion, and are looking to have their opinions reinforced. It’s not a news site in any sense of the word.

LGF is a good place to go if you want to read about the Islamofacists and the great Islamic conspiracy. What are Islamofacists? They’re like the Communazis McBain fights in the Simpsons. That is to say they are the current sum total of everything America has decided to be afraid of this year. And probably next year, and the year after that. (The Communists had nuclear weapons and huge armies, but somehow terrorists who claim to be fighting in the name of Allah are scarier.)

Islamofacists are scary. They make people do and say all sorts of things.

the crusades were responses to Muslim invasions on what was once land occupied primarily by Christians. From approximately 200 A.D. to approximately 900 A.D. the land of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, etc. was inhabited primarily by Christians. Once Islam began to spread and become powerful, muslims invaded these lands and brutally oppressed, enslaved, deported, and murdered the Christians living in those lands. In response, the Roman Catholic Church and Christian kings / emperors from Europe ordered the crusades to reclaim the land the Muslims had taken.   —  source

That history lesson didn’t come from LGF, it came from a reader over at 37signals. Yesterday my head exploded reading this stuff. Jason over at 37signals decided he would explain why people are rioting in France. I thought he was talking out of his ass, and was one of the first people in the thread that followed his post to tell him so. My comments fell on deaf ears for the most part. I was probably being too obnoxious.

An exercise in clarity: Explain what’s happening in France in 15 words or less.
Beginning of islamic jihad against Christians and the western world.  —  source

This isn’t 37signals speaking, this is their readership. (Not that I’m all too impressed with what 37signals has to say mind you.) I was amazed to read this stuff at what one could argue is one of the more progressive design sites on the Internet. This isn’t a republican hot-bed — I had thought anyway. It’s not LGF. And yet, when a discussion on immigration and the riots in France come up (two very loosely related topics), you get replies you could lift right out of a thread at LGF.

It was foolish of the politicians who ushered in such liberal immigration policies in the 1960s to let in so many immigrants when those immigrants are so poor and backward, and when the populace was likely to be prejudiced towards them. ed. Emphasis is mine.  —  source

The people writing this stuff are interested in folksonomies and social-software? People like this are interested in open communication and breaking down barriers?

Martin Luther King said once “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. Jason, Kyle, Michael, myself, and the other posters are not judging the islamist rioters by the color of their skin, we are judging them by the content of their character. ed. Emphasis is mine.  —  source

This was a common theme in the thread, that the rioters were islamists, even though news reports suggest this is not true in the least. They are French teenagers who happen to be Muslim — probably because their parents are. (I should point out, this idea wasn’t something suggested by Jason, though he still seems hung up on treating the rioters as outsiders.) Now, I’m a Hindu basically because my mom and dad are. If I joined in a riot, would I be a Hindu rioter? Probably. Is that right? Probably not. (Also, if you are going to bring up Martin Luther King to defend your position, at least argue he would be against the violence of the protest.)

My objection to what Jason said stems from the above point. Many of the people in the thread, make assumptions about the rioters based solely on their religion and ethnic background. Jason actually says he is not doing this

I’m not basing this on color, race, religion, class, or economic standards. I’m basing it on a desire to be part of the society at large. You can be black or white or any shade in between, you can be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, you can be rich or poor. But you have to be French. Or American. Or Italian. Or whatever country you want to be a part of.  —  source

but to me his words ring hollow. (Nevermind that what it takes to be to be French or American or Italian is never really spelled out.) I said as much in the thread:

Obviously the rioters are unhappy with the situation they are in. They aren’t happy with France. Does their violent dissent make them less French? ... Is the will of the majority always right? I would argue no. In the case of France, you have disenfranchised youth who were not considered a problem till they started burning cars in the streets. The majority had no interest in them, or their problems. Reading your comment, this would appear to be a non-issue. The rioters don’t want to be French. I wouldn’t either if I was in their shoes.  —  source

My original objection was to the post itself, and my most articulate reason as to why I was so offended is given below:

Jason, what bothered me about your post is the suggestion that France’s current woes are due to France letting immigrants who don’t want to be there move in. You used the phrase, “France is seeing these differences right now in flames.” You have taken two separate issues and mixed them together in a way that is offensive. As Huge — whose comment is one of the few gems in the thread — and others have pointed out, the problems in France were bred in France. It ceases to be an issue of immigration when the children rioting are in fact French citizens, children born in France. By framing the riots as an immigration issue, you suggest that the children rioting are outsiders. And no doubt they are, as this seems to be how they are treated.  —  source

The riots are an immigration problem; this was/is Jason’s opinion, and it is what sparked this whole mess of a thread.

I wrote this because I wanted to sum up the France at Night thread while it was still fresh in my mind, and my opinions on the matter hadn’t dulled. The thread is entertaining to read. You shouldn’t mind what I have to say; sometimes I read to much in to what people have to say.



  1. After reading the first 5 or 6 posts of the France at Night thread, I became too pissed off to continue.

  2. After reading some unexpectedly sober and balanced comments on the thread today, I’m beginning to wonder if this change in tenor has got something to do with it being European daytime right now… I think I should have a look again tonight.

  3. I’m impressed with some of the follow up comments. I think you may be right about the timezones. It will be interesting to see if the responses continue. The thread is so huge now, it is probably hard for someone to jump in at this point. I wonder if the people at 37signals will respond in the thread once more. I’m a bit disappointed they didn’t come out against a lot of the blatantly racist stuff that was said. Of course, arguing with such people is a waste of time, as many comments in the thread indicate. I’m glad Jason has kept the thread up and the comments open.

    And Martha, the thread only gets worse once the “Islam is the Evil, onward Christian Soldier” crowd start posting.

  4. Another thing that astounded me on this thread is how quickly the focus of the discussion shifted away from the riots in France. Only today’s posts corrected that emphasis-wise. I guess I hadn’t expected the “Islam is the Evil, onward Christian Soldier” crowd to be so predominant in seemingly any discussion that involves Islam somehow.

    And because it’s 11-9 today and I’m from Germany and to give one more example for how complicated things are when you look closely: On November 9th, in Germany

    • the end of the liberal revolution of 1848 was being heralded by shooting a prominent revolutionary,
    • the first German republic was declared (in 1918),
    • Hitler undertook his first attempt to gain power (the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923),
    • the worst riot in German history took place (the so-called Kristallnacht in 1938 which marked the beginning of large-scale anti-Jewish violence),
    • the Berlin Wall came down (in 1989).

    Only one day, only one country.

    Of course this is off topic, and of course I’m preaching to the converted here. But maybe it’s of interest for you.

  5. I may have given Jason too much credit. He’s most definitely a dumb-ass. The linked post is actually more obnoxious than the one I was offended with, and the comments are even more ignorant. I seriously can’t believe i’ve been reading this stupid site for so damn long, yet missed this stuff.

  6. Ram,

    With all due respect, your rhetoric is getting a bit tiring. He bitches about islamists, you bitch about the US. He presents his world view and you do yours. To a casual observer what is the difference? Oh yeah..you are right and he is of course wrong. I am sure he feels the same way too.

    Chill man. You are taking this too seriously.

  7. People can form their own opinions on his post. I’ve formed mine and what i’ve written here is it. I don’t like the great American empire, and I don’t sugarcoat my opinion, and I don’t hide it. That’s my bias. I won’t pretend I don’t have one. I don’t think my opinions on this thread have anything to do with that however. He’s just spouting nonsense about the woes of immigration.

    I think Jason’s sentiment is more inline with some of the more vocal posters in the thread. The thread is 185 posts now, and he or his fellow 37signal co-workers haven’t said anything about all the other comments in the thread? My comments were the most objectionable? They aren’t even the most visceral.

    And wait. What’s this about me not being right all the time? That’s the first time I heard about that.

  8. I’m a daily reader of SVN, and I have to say I was pretty insulted by the whole thread myself. The thing about it is that Jason is a big blowhard who likes to hear himself talk. Plain and simple. He’s always right, and whenever someone calls him on anything, he always finds some slippery language to make himself sound right again. Usually, he can pull it off, but when it comes to politics, it’s like “shut the fuck up. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” So don’t sweat him. And the only reason I still tune in to SVN is because of the conversations with other regulars, not the posters themselves. Most of what they say is holier-than-thou nonsense. Oh, and their software isn’t nearly as awesome as they act like it is. =)

  9. Check it out, now SvN is abandoning comments from its blog. I guess they don’t want to hear about how huge their (Jason’s) ego has gotten. Boo hoo! =)

  10. I noticed that as well. I have to say though, I agree with this choice. Moderating the noise on that site would be a full time job. I was going to make one last comment in the thread announcing there are no more comments, but really, what’s the point. (update: I did comment. I can't stop myself sometimes.)

    For the past few months we’ve been pretty disappointed by the noise.

    Really? Then stop posting racist screeds, or stupid rants. Dumb asses.

Don't be shy, you can comment too!

Some things to keep in mind: You can style comments using Textile. In particular, *text* will get turned into text and _text_ will get turned into text. You can post a link using the command "linktext":link, so something like "google":http://www.google.com will get turned in to google. I may erase off-topic comments, or edit poorly formatted comments; I do this very rarely.