Monday, January 4, 2010

Fly Mo Air

(Click on image to enlarge)

Tolerance and Inclusion Viewed through an Economic Prism
-On the Danish Cartoonist and Burning Pantsman-

Happy New Year! To each of you, as one of my favorite entertainers Charo says, don't be mean and treat others the way you would want to be treated, coochie coochie.

The Swiss vote to ban further building of minarets in their country has heightened the debate over whether Islam is a religious or political system in Europe. I have long held that good politics (if not an impossible oxymoron) particularly at the local level, is only as good as the Good Samaritan ethics and morality of those who would elect local officials and those who hold office. Ideology, alone, (whether religious, political or both) only goes so far,  and  you can't take Ideology to the bank. In her recent article, Author Ayaan Hirsi takes a closer look at the politics of East/West ideology and asserts that the Swiss ban on minarets was a vote for tolerance and inclusion.
How could this be?

The answer lies in taking a closer look at the symbolism which blends religion with politics as viewed through what I refer to as an economic prism. The author cites two distinct groups that take into account the economic prism that people from two distinct economic classes of people from countries all across the globe now confront under the economic human exploitation banner of “globalization.”

Hirsi defines the two contrasting groups, one  as “working class” and the other  as power holders or “pragmatists”:

These two contrasting perspectives correspond to two quite distinct groups in Europe. The first are mainly the working class. The second are the classes that George Orwell described as "indeterminate." Cosmopolitan in outlook, they include diplomats, businesspeople, mainstream politicians, and journalists. They are well versed in globalization and tend to focus on the international image of their respective countries. With every conflict between Islam and the West, they emphasize the possible backlash from Muslim countries and how that will affect the image of their country.
By contrast, those who reject the ideas and practices of political Islam are in touch with Muslims on a local level. They have been asked to accept Muslim immigrants as neighbors, classmates, colleagues – they are what Americans would refer to as Main Street. Here is the great paradox of today's Europe: that the working class, who voted for generations for the left, now find themselves voting for right-wing parties because they feel that the social democratic parties are out of touch.”

Hirsi is correct in her assertion that  powerless, middle class mingling between peoples of differing cultural, religious and political views  naturally pose clear objections to (extremist) practices, such as attempted honor killings like the most recent attempt on the Danish cartoonist or the recently foiled jihad by Burning Pantsman demonstrate. Clearly, such extremism is NOT going to be welcome by the plebiscite – whether in Europe or the United States or Borneo. Yet, those who would identify with the pragmatists would still conclude that despite such inhumanity and extremism, tolerance is indeed the only - ONLY sane structure or glue to keep civility from becoming unhinged amidst this unleashed monster sold to the middle classes by flat-worldian pragmatists called globalization.

How then, precisely, are the European social democratic parties on the left out of touch? The author emphasizes that political ideas have symbols, and that cultural differences in values between the local population and “newcomers” who arrive with a sense of entitlement to replace local political order are bound to threaten the local working class whereas the “pragmatists” or power class are immune and, at best, oblivious:

The pragmatists, most of whom are power holders, are partially right when they insist that the integration of Muslims will take a very long time. Their calls for dialogue are sensible. But as long as they do not engage Muslims to make a choice between the values of the countries that they have come to and those of the countries they left, they will find themselves faced with more surprises. And this is what the Swiss vote shows us. This is a confrontation between local, working-class voters (and some middle-class feminists) and Muslim immigrant newcomers who feel that they are entitled, not only to practice their religion, but also to replace the local political order with that of their own.”

Although the author does not elaborate on any specific consequences on what sort of “surprises” the power holders or pragmatists would find, she does offer opposing views regarding what constitutes values defining local European order with those of the “newcomers” which would impose their political “Islamic supremacy” on the powerless middle class here:

If it is accurate, then Islam, as a political movement, should be rejected on the basis of its own bigotry. In this view, Muslims should not be rejected as residents or citizens. The objection is to practices that are justified in the name of Islam, like honor killings, jihad, the we-versus-they perspective, the self-segregation. In short, Islamist supremacy.”

But if politics is little more than sleaze, graft and corruption, then it would be (in the marvelous words of our very own pragmatist and culinary ex-con, Martha Stewart) a good thing for the middle class to finally get themselves some - power,
that is – starting at the local level. After all, tolerance of too much power trickling up and not down at the local level without middle class inclusion is surely proving to be a very, very bad thing.

Oh – and about that “inclusiveness” thing? As I said before, It's not the Economy, Stupid. It's YOUR JOB. And about that Us vs. Them business Hirsi mentioned...Europe aside, U.S. CEO's and Wall Street bankers keep slapping themselves on the, er, back over their greedy trickle up economics gained through imported slave labor practices (h/t No Slaves) while our own country's unemployment rate is in the double digits range, harming our own middle class citizenry. Would these corporate and political miscreants who exemplify the highest degree of UNWORTH change course and start leading by example?

For some, I suppose that greed and hate are acquired tastes that even occur naturally, with envy and enmity being close seconds, but there is obviously so much more that CEO's alone could do to improve civility and prosperity for the citizens in our local communities. In spite of this, in the Us vs. Them paradigm of their pragmatic Dark Looking Glass, not tolerating what should be tolerable is 'Up' and including oneself in the 'US' category is 'down' because it is, after all, all about THEM and there is no “we” in these United States anymore.

Party on, plebs!



thetownliar said...

Graphic your _ best, ever.

2Truthy said...

Thanks, TL! Good to see you back in town!