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We start off the show referencing two tweets. They are below for you to gaze upon.
King then doubled down on CNN.
Ben quickly mentions how important capital was in the creation of race, and why the slave trade precipitated race instead of the other way around. It’s good evidence that these are social constructs that have far-reaching implications into today. Here’s a piece on that argument.
Related, here’s a good genealogy of ascribed racial characteristics given to Mexicans in the run-up to and the resolution of the Mexican-American war; somethign you’ll notice contains shifting characteristics depending on what the elites needed—warmaking priorities resulted in characterizations of Mexicans as lazy mongrels, while labor priorities 30 years later resulted in a stereotype that matched an unintelligent “hard-worker” ethos; and those contradictions exist today.
Blatant inconsistency is the essence of anti-Mexican politics in the United States. As Trump shows, Mexicans and Mexican Americans have been stereotyped as both exceptionally lazy and annoyingly employable—as both the laggard characters in the background of Speedy Gonzales and the crafty, manic, ever-busy Speedy himself.
Here’s the report of the Countering Violent Extremism program becoming the Countering Violent Islamic Extremism program under Trump, stripping the program of its directive to halt all extremism, include white supremacy movements. We know how important federal signals can be to reinforcing or creating racism. This shouldn’t need much in the way of cites, but because it’s good practice, here’s evidence of a recent rise in hate crimes. As for the specific hate crimes mentioned in the piece, here’s coverage of the Kansas incident, the Florida incident and the Wisconsin incident. Ben referenced a stopped “Charleston”-style shooting at a synagogue in Florida, and this is the event he’s referencing.
Anti-racism not inevitable with progress. The books Race in the American South: From Slavery to Civil Rights, David Brown and Clive Webb and Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen both reference the “nadir of race relations” in the United States as a moment where the flames of racism were fanned higher than they were before or after 1890—its lowest post-war point, with Northern retraction of support for civil liberties and rights, and a lack of willingness to intervene to protect black bodies. We can see it in the political cartoons of Thomas Nast, “And Not This Man?” in 1865 vs “Colored Rule in a Reconstructed(?) State” in 1874.
We made mention of the influence Islam had on the Enlightenment, and the case is laid out in the book Eastern Origins of Western Empire by John Hobson. We know that scientific contributions from the invention of Algebra to the preservation of Roman surgery techniques were lost to the West but retained by Muslim scholars. One book, Al-Tasrif li man ajaz an-il-talif, may have single-handedly preserved medicinal knowledge from the Greeks and Romans. Navigation and agriculture were famously innovated or preserved by Muslim scholars, and the knowledge of chemistry they created and retained may be responsible for the myth of the Philosopher’s Stone.
Relevant to this episode is the fact that one of the first books to tackle epistemology and metaphysics in the modern world came from Islamic thought. We mentioned on the podcast that Steven King cannot claim a defense of European culture through its democratic and Enlightenment ideals without acknowledging that Enlightenment philosophy evolved out of Muslim thought. One of the most influential and foundational books in Enlightenment history is Hayy ib Yaqzan, by Ibn Tufayl.
The Vital Roots of European Enlightenment is a collection of essays which deal with the influence of Ibn Tufayl, a 12th-century Arab philosopher from Spain, on major European thinkers. His philosophical novel, Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, could be considered one of the most important books that heralded the Scientific Revolution. Its thoughts are found in different variations and to different degrees in the books of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Isaac Newton, and Kant. But if Ibn Tufayl’s fundamental values, such as equality, freedom and toleration, which the thinkers of the European Enlightenment had adopted as theirs, paved the way to the French Revolution, they certainly marked the end of the age of reason in southern Spain and the rest of the Islamic world. Ibn Tufayl’s philosophy was appropriated, subverted, or reinvented for many centuries. But the memory of the man who wrote such an influential book was buried in the dust of history.
None of this is to say that European contributions to Islamic welfare or Chinese influence on them both aren’t hugely significant; just the opposite—we argue that cultures are co-productive and have been for millennia, so an argument like King’s that relies on unique cultural artifacts cannot stand to scrutiny.
Here’s a very good piece on how the Overton window as a concept intersects with the politics of Donald Trump. It’s not just a book by Glenn Beck, but an important tool in our analysis of politics, especially today.
Arif mentioned that white evangelicals feel more discriminated against than they think Muslims are. Here’s the survey that substantiates that.
We mentioned the Control Room documentary on the podcast. We highly recommend it. You can see its IMDB listing here and it shouldn’t be too hard to find a copy online.