Who owns the horror?

My latest piece at MercatorNet simply tries to sift through the confusion and conflict in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre.

When responding to a tragedy, people generally and the media in particular turn to pre-existing narratives to inform their responses. And despite the obviously homophobic nature of this attack, mass murder of homosexuals is simply not a common or contemporary narrative for the public to adopt…

In other contexts we are applauded for showing solidarity with the LGBT community, for being “blind” to sexual orientation. But in this instance otherwise well-meaning and ideologically aligned people have picked the wrong kind of solidarity, a solidarity that normalises the LGBT community but in the process diminishes the specifically homophobic nature of the attack. This conflicts with the LGBT community’s own narrative of victimisation, in which the massacre is an extension of homophobic violence more generally.

http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/who-owns-the-horror

What ISIS really wants

If you only read one epic, exhaustive essay on the religious ideology behind ISIS, let it be this one from The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood:

The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

Know your enemy…

 

China’s Virtuous President

My latest article on MercatorNet examines Chinese President Xi Jinping’s penchant for quoting Chinese philosophers.  China has come a long way since the Cultural Revolution, when Confucius and other great thinkers were derided and contemned.  What does the changing regime have in store for the great tradition of the sages?

Does Xi truly believe with Confucius that “He who rules by virtue is like the North Star. It maintains its place, and the multitude of stars pay homage”? Or is he just looking for a pragmatic new facade for the much more recent ‘tradition’ of unchallenged Communist Party rule?