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OU Unveils Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley

Originally posted on

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The Sooners new Offensive Coordinator, Lincoln Riley, was officially introduced to the media Saturday by Bob Stoops.

Riley comes in from East Carolina a protegé of Mike Leach and the Air Raid offense which isn’t bashful about throwing the ball.

However, Riley says he plans on getting the ball to the playmakers on the team whether it be running the ball or passing it.

The 31 year old Riley will also take over as quarterbacks coach in addition to his play calling duties.

Bob Stoops says he’s the right man for the job to head in the direction they want to go.

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“You Are So Beautiful” Singer Joe Cocker Passes Away at 70

The above video is one of my favorite videos of all time… It is partially one of my favorite videos ever because this hilarious idea for a video came before Bad Lip Reading existed on the internet. A bigger part of why I love that video is because it features a great performer by the name of Joe Cocker at the original Woodstock Festival, and he passed away today…

When I was about 10 or 11 years old I went to my church youth group’s Christmas party, and when at the end of game of Dirty Santa I ended up with a greatest hits album by some strange man named Joe Cocker I was rather disappointed. I didn’t even know who this old man was. When I discovered that he had covered the great song by Alfalfa on Little Rascals “You Are So Beautiful” I was intrigued. I ended up falling in love with Track 1 of the album “Feeling Alright”, and it has actually been my alarm clock for the last 4 or 5 years.

“Feelin’ Alright”

But of course Joe is going to be most remembered for “You Are So Beautiful”

Thank you for the wonderful music, and hilarious performance visuals that will hopefully be imitated for many years to come, Joe. He will be missed.

Singer Joe Cocker dies aged 70

Joe Cocker

Singer Joe Cocker, best known for his cover of the Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends, has died aged 70.

The singer song-writer from Sheffield had a career lasting more than 40 years with hits including You Are So Beautiful and Up Where We Belong.

His agent Barrie Marshall confirmed that he had died of an undisclosed illness.

He said he was “simply unique” and “it will be impossible to fill the space he leaves in our hearts.”

Known for his gritty voice, Cocker began his singing career in the pubs and clubs of Sheffield in the 1960s before hitting the big time.

He was propelled to pop stardom when his version of The Beatles’ With A Little Help from My Friends reached number one.

His duet with Jennifer Warnes, Up Where We Belong – from An Officer And A Gentleman – hit number one and went on to win both a Grammy and an Academy Award.

He was honoured with an OBE in 2007.

Last year he broke all his own records in arenas across Europe, with a number one album in Germany and what was to be his final concert in Hammersmith, London, in June.

Singer Joe Cocker Dies at 70

Turn Off HGTV, and Come See The Real Deal!!! Open Houses (Sun., Dec. 7th, 2014)

Why a Medical Examiner Called Eric Garner’s Death a ‘Homicide’


Even though there has been a lot of ambiguity in some of these cases of about police brutality against African American males, there is hardly any wiggle room as far as the law should be concerned in this case. Also, the law states that police are not to use choke holds to restrain citizens, especially for petty crimes. These more clearly defined cases are the kinds of stories that we should be discussing. This officer broke the law, and something bad happened because of it – and he was let off. I feel personal insult as I hear about this case, because this was a human, and partial justice is not justice.

Originally posted on TIME:

New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner on July 17 when he grabbed him by the neck and, with other officers, threw him to the ground and pinned him there. But did he commit homicide? And if so, was it a crime?

Everyone from Charles Barkley to Judge Andrew Napolitano has weighed in with an opinion on the matter. The resulting confusion has the potential to take the hard, painful question of equal justice in America and make it harder and more painful.

The key to clearing up the confusion is to understand the difference between two uses of the word “homicide” and to focus not on the medical cause of Garner’s death but on Pantaleo’s behavior.

On Aug. 1, a New York City medical examiner determined that the cause of death in the Garner case was “homicide,” specifically the neck compressions from the Pantaleo’s chokehold and…

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“Well Howdy Stranger” – Immigration Reform: don’t worry guys, I’ve figured this whole thing out!

"We were strangers once too."

“We were strangers once too.”

The President recently said in his speech regarding his executive action to delay deportation of several million non-citizen humans who live in the United States (rather than amnesty millions like Reagan) that “We were strangers once too”. He is correct, and that is a good reminder, but does that overly simplify this whole thing? Let’s talk about it :-)

*Disclaimer: I decided to give you the answer in technical terms upfront of what I think about Obama’s executive action on immigration recently, followed by a slightly longer explanation of how I see those who would want to live here. It is as follows:


President Obama said repeatedly for several years that he was not a king, and that he could not change the law in regards to who would and who would not receive citizenship in the United States who didn’t already have it. He announced this week (after several years of waiting for action from Congress) that he would be enacting an “executive order” to delay the deportation of people who are not citizens in the United States who had children who were born here in the United States. There was an enormously popular bill a few years ago that was blocked in Congress called “The Dream Act” which would have made these people citizens, not simply delay their deportations until the end of this president’s term. Delaying their deportation does not make them citizens, and thus he did not change the law as he previously pointed out that he could not. It may seem like a stupid formality to say that this is not amnesty, but if that’s how you feel you are wrong, and I don’t say that intending to hurt your feelings. Saying that Obama broke his word in the law is really not the argument that conservatives should probably be making (I must say their obsession with this President never ceases to amaze me). I think instead, for their own political sake, that they should come to the table and say that they are ready to debate this issue right now in Congress (finally), and they don’t want to delay for anyone (even if they had an anchor baby…). Wouldn’t that be the least they could do as a response?

*Disclaimer: by the way, I feel the need to say this yet again – there is nothing wrong with being conservative, but the American conservative party leadership repeatedly disappoints me, as does the democratic leadership. I just find myself most offended by the doublespeak that churns from their actions and talking points. If you are conservative that is 100% great, we probably agree on a most things, as our nations politics are really just a chess game, and we seem to be the pawns. I repeatedly find that my conservative friends and I want almost the exact same government when you get down to it.

The mudslinging in American politics today is not helpful, or even amusing anymore. It’s like watching the TV show “Mob Wives”. It’s like the real housewives of wherever, except that they threaten to kill each other and seriously hurt those around them… I have mixed feelings about the President’s approach, but I hardly find it nearly as shameful as the behavior of Congress! If we are truly a great nation we have to face our broken immigration system, and the fact that most of the people who sneak in know that they wouldn’t get in otherwise is a big problem for the “go home and reapply” strategy. But a larger reality is that most of the people who are in this country illegally did not sneak in, they came to visit legally and never left. Some of these people might have faced oppression at home, and some just like America. We need to learn to take a compliment, everyone wants to come to our party! We need a better bouncer, who’s not drunk and sprawled out on the floor, but we also don’t want Scarface wielding death to all who may attempt to enter… In the end we probably mostly all agree: we need stronger security at our borders (probably less abroad), and we need a functional immigration system (which means a system that won’t leave out the farmhands who otherwise would be forgotten with the current process).

This has been my short form version of my thoughts on the current immigration debate as of December 2014, but below I will try my best to embellish on my ability to talk about this issue.


So, if you clicked on this link my guess is that you heard about the speech that Obama gave in regards to his “executive action” on immigration… We as a nation mostly agree on most things, but we are torn apart by very strategic teamsmanship on most issues, and this is one of them. I think that the idea of better protecting our borders is actually a great idea. That doesn’t mean a “double fence, electrified!” like Mr. Herman Cain proposed. It does however mean that we actually make plans for what to do with people fleeing their homelands for a better life in America in a way that provides dignity, unlike the Joe Arpaio school of thought. That is a big government idea, and even though I don’t endorse most intervention by the government on social behaviors I do think that there are several strong arguments for preserving our ability to actually govern a known population. But that doesn’t mean that we should drop drones on mostly pious folks who simply want to feed their families by crossing our borders. I’m terrified of a police/military state, but we have to have some order, so let’s talk about how we make that happen.

With that said I also find it very difficult to read any of our nation’s founding documents and also justify extreme measures of social engineering that completely disregards the almost surely inexplicable chance that I were fortunate to be born in a better part of the world. How fervently do we as a nation believe that the statement “all men are created equal” is actually true? I believe that we should have more compassion for people who want to come to the United States and participate in our amazing society. I’ve had a few amazing opportunities to travel over the last nine years or so, and I have a hard time looking myself in the mirror and telling myself that I deserve this country more than some of the amazing and educated, as well as the poor and forgotten people I’ve had the chance to meet. I know that it was hard to build this country, and yet I find myself less willing to do so many of the jobs that make this country so comfortable.

To some this may sound overly defensive, but I feel that I must say it anyways – I am aware that it can be a very bad thing for the people and the police/military to clash in the streets, I mean I’m pretty sure that the sick feeling that people have in their stomach from watching the riots in the streets in Ferguson, Missouri isn’t the flu. I’m terrified of the military/surveillance state that seems to be growing around us, but at some point we stopped teaching peaceful protest because it became a dirty word.

Side Note: my high school has actually been at the center of some protesting which has been rather peaceful, but due to the nature of a split in some of the recourse that people are asking for many people who want to show their support don’t show up. There were 3 girls raped by the same boy (you can read about it here), and the school administration being in a tight spot has seen a lot of scrutiny for their reaction. A lot of students and parents have been slow to protest publicly because they don’t want to give the impression that they are against the administration, but they do want to support the victims… See, that’s the problem with protest (old school rally style or digital), is that people are afraid of sending the wrong message.

A video of the Norman High protesters

Ok, let’s get back to what I was saying about us having trouble unifying in protest. I think that our lack of public outcry for better policy is truly the reason why we don’t have better policy. It is hard for me not to agree when charlatans blather about the stupidity of the American people. Look, I’m not a genius, but by watching American approval of policies and then how they vote for leaders who oppose their favorite policies I just find myself perpetually dumbfounded…

The government can’t do everything, but it can do some things. It has midwifed a lot of great ideas (the Internet, space travel, interstate highways). When we find that private industry can take over on projects where the government was the only willing investor it is a beautiful thing! You can see that happening with space travel right now. However, private industry can cause economic instability/unsustainable price increases, and we as a society must create dams and levees to prevent disaster, and this seems to be a never ending back and forth battle that the people have mostly been losing over the last few decades (ie: the repeal of Glass Steagall, as opposed to the implementation of Sarbanes Oxley).

Okay, so I made a silly title just to see if you’d click on it… I don’t have all of the answers, but I do have a few thoughts to share on the idea of peoples who want to live in the United States of America. I’m not the most worldly of people, nor am I the smartest/nicest/strongest/most handsome/coolest (okay me, I get the point!!!!), but I have had some unique opportunities to meet people from other parts of the world, and I can’t help but to emphasize that when I say people I mean they are just like you and me… There are cultural differences between the United States and everywhere else, but the differences in the end are really semantical. I sincerely hope to not come across as preachy, but I’m not sure how else to say all of these things, so I’m about to say a few weird things about places/peoples who I have experiences with…

China: there is no doubt about it that if you are a white person in China they will think that you are probably a celebrity. I mean, in China they totally thought that I was cool! I probably convinced several hundred people that I was either Harry Potter, or his older brother. My Chinese friends loved basketball, and by that I mean they were very proud of Yao Ming. Oh, in China it was apparently not offensive to say that they have yellow skin, just fyi. There are tons of ways that I can make fun of Chinese people (that includes you Figo, I know you’re reading this), and that is ok as long as it’s out of love and you are willing to take a joke yourself.

Egypt: When people talk about the Middle East in the United States they seem to first picture a lot of people running through rubble covered in blood screaming something in Arabic that makes you once again believe that the apocalypse may be upon us… I don’t mean to downplay the fact that this happens in the world, but I have my suspicions about how regularly this happens throughout the entirety of the Middle East… Sure there are places that are unsafe, and there are extremist muslims, but I looked for them and found virtually none – the majority of the people is not a part of the extremist faction of Islam. During my week stay in Egypt recently I found that people thoroughly enjoyed my impression of an Egyptian trying to sell them anything and everything I could find, promising the cheapest of prices because they were my “friend”. They were people, and they had senses of humor, even about themselves… Trust me, most of the people that I met would make great neighbors, but most of them could not get through our immigration process. That is especially true for the small village made up almost entirely of Christians called Zabbaleen, near Mokattam.

*Feel free to read about my experience there by clicking here (I plan to write more about this village soon).

I have found that our nation can often be overly politically correct, and after I made a few jokes about Chinese people to Chinese people, or the same to Egyptian people, they somehow became more humanized in my eyes, and I in theirs. Part of our problem with immigration reform is that we have a lot of people driving the debate who don’t see people who are different from themselves as quality candidates to be their fellow countrymen… I’m not pointing this out because I want it to be true, it is in our nature, and if you look closely at yourself you will almost surely find that your instinctual pregiduouses pop up. The more I recognize my own simple bigotries the more that I feel capable of recognizing other people who I might have otherwise considered an “other”. I’m going to attach this video to this blog, for what must be the 10th time, about measuring bigotry in babies from 60 Minutes.

Last Thought: I just wanted to talk about this idea of “the other” because I think we should keep in mind our own limitations when we try to have a conversation about legislation like this. I’m sorry that this is so long, and if you read the whole thing I am very proud of you. I hope that you have a great rest of your day!

In The Rough – From The Top To The Bottom We Found Family In Egypt


I blogged a rather personal message on my work blog. Please feel free to enjoy it.

Originally posted on home boy ok:

Dear Humans,

I recently posted a short blurb about my trip to Egypt with my good friend Gavin. I was the tag along since this was his fourth trip attempting to connect with locals who have been forgotten, as well as those of great stature. Being a minister Gavin had a vision for connecting with people of the Egyptian “Coptic” Church (Coptic just mean Egyptian), but we connected with Christians and non-Christians alike. Meeting people who have little to no notoriety was honestly just as exciting to me as meeting the Coptic Pope. I don’t say that to diminish how exciting it was to meet someone like Pope Tawadros, I was just that excited to connect with all of these people with amazing stories. We did accomplish the goal of connecting with people of many different stripes, much more than I’d have ever guessed we might. This website is mostly intended…

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Quick Update From Egypt


It’s my blog, and I’ll blog if I want to.

Originally posted on home boy ok:

Well hello once again,

I have not been posting too much about houses over the last few days because I am currently visiting Cairo, Egypt. I have had a few people ask me to share a few pictures, and in the spirit of architecture, culture, and living well where you are I am posting a few quick pictures.

If you have considered coming to Egypt now is actually a fantastic time. There is less tourism (and thus easier access to anything) because of fear, that has proven to be enormously misplaced, and misguided. There are many things in this world to be wary of, and some of them are in Egypt, but the people are wonderful. They generally love Americans. Even if they have problems with our political system in the United States they don’t all hate us… Separating a people from its government is a necessary curtesy that they…

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New York Trip Summary, and the First Leg to Egypt!!!

Well hello friends and family, and you strangers out there who have stumbled across this silly blog. Last week I went to New York to see my friend Kenneth, and to get in as much comedy as I possibly could. It was an unbelievably funny trip, and over the last few days I keep finding myself laughing about all the funny things that I did not expect to have happen. Who would’ve thought that after sleeping outside on the streets of New York City for a ticket for Saturday Night Live, and looking like a bum, that I would walk up to the FoxNews building and make friends with one of the coolest people I’ve met in a long time, Janice Dean (Fox’s head Meteorologist – who actually didn’t say anything about meteors during the broadcast… ;-) ).This trip was really unforgettable.

The first thing that I did on my trip was go see “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, which won the Tony for best show this year, and afterward I got to meet Jefferson Mays, and I got his autograph. Apparently some how he was snubbed for the Tony for best performance… Watch this and you’ll see why I say snubbed.

The next day I was scheduled to go to a taping of Dr. Oz, but thanks to some poor Apple Maps directions, and a few seemingly oblivious locals I was 4 minutes late and my ticket was given to someone else… I was sad for a few minutes, but if I would have made it to that taping I wouldn’t have had the chance to get in line in time for Saturday Night Live! I had to get in line at about 3:30 PM on Friday, and they gave out the tickets at 7 AM on Saturday morning.

After having slept on the street I decided to walk around the Rockefeller Center area to see what was going on. There was a crowd encircling The Today Show crew, so I snapped a couple of pictures, and decided to move on to something else. I walked over by the FOXNews building and I happened to stumble across a small crowd standing outside talking to a reporter of some kind. I ended up finding out that this wasn’t just any reporter, this was Janice Dean (the head weather person for FoxNews)! After standing there for a few minutes to see if I could get on Fox and Friends I heard Janice and a few of the people around her talking about her new book “Freddy the Frogcaster”. This might not sound like big news to some of you, but in third grade I was the lead of our play, and my character was Freddy the Frog! I told the old lady next to me about this funny coincidence, and she urged me to tell Janice. Apparently I was taking too long to tell her so she called Janice over so that I could tell her about this. When I told her she got very excited and ran inside to get me a book to autograph! I have my differences with certain aspects of FOXNews, but not with Janice Dean, she was outstandingly nice and professional with even some unsavory passerby’s.


After meeting one another we struck up a fun little online friendship that even somehow got picked up by the “twitchy team” on Twitter, which has 170,000 followers!


This all made for a very weird story to try to explain to people, but nonetheless it was great. oh, and by the way I totally did sleep outside! So let’s get back to Saturday Night Live.

I really did sleep on the street.

If you think that you would like to have a similar experience some day I definitely recommend it! I do urgent however to get/take a blowup mattress that self inflates, and does not need to be plugged in. Also make sure that you have sufficient clothing. And maybe the very most important thing to bring his earplugs, the city is loud at night.

It was unbelievable how the whole process worked. This line is a standby line, because the season tickets are all divvied up in August. I would have probably wanted to sleep on the street for SNL no matter what, but since the host was Jim Carrey (and he was my childhood idol) there was almost no question that I was going to do it! When they come around the next morning you have to decide whether you want to be in the standby line for the live show, or the standby line for the dress rehearsal. The dress rehearsal has 30 more minutes of skits, and it’s generally considered a safer bet to get to see the show, so I went with a dress rehearsal. I didn’t regret it one bit, and if get to go you should consider doing the same.

That whole experience was truly unbelievable, and there’s just too much to say about it for anyone who might be a Saturday night live/comedy fan, so I’ll probably write a post about the whole thing later.

My next little adventure within this larger adventure was going to a taping of the Colbert Report!


This entire trip was partially spurred on by the fact that the show will be ending soon so that he can take over for David Letterman, and I had to go to a live taping before his character “died”. Mr. Colbert it’s going to have to reintroduce himself to the nation/world once he takes over for Letterman, and I wanted to see him before that happened. After sleeping outside for a ticket to Saturday Night Live showing up to the Colbert Report about five hours early didn’t seem like a very big deal. I got the number 2 ticket, and I was put on the second row right in the middle. Right before the show I got to ask Stephen a question “out of character”, and I asked my standard comedian question of “how old were you when you realize that you were funny?”. His response was something that I had kind of heard before in an interview, he said that when he was a little boy and he wanted to watch Johnny Carson, and his parents would try to make him go to bed, so he would try to be funny and make them laugh, then slowly sit back down beside the couch to where they wouldn’t notice him. He was unbelievably fun and candid with his audience… I really want to be his friend.

At one point during the show he was launching bracelets into the crowd, then he slowly pulled out a throwing knife and raised an eyebrow to get some laughs. A little overzealous perhaps I decided to stand up and bend over, close my eyes and open my mouth… He looked at me with a surprised face and then started laughing! I know I was being weird, but it was one of the funniest moments of my life. I’m a huge Stephen Colbert fan, maybe mostly for his ability to make us look inward and laugh when it’s uncomfortable.

The last very funny thing that happened on this trip was that I decided on my last night but I was going to go to a comedy club, and after getting tricked into going to a very terrible club I ended up finding myself outside of the Comedy Cellar talking with a comedian who I like a lot, Godfrey. He was very nice, and I begged him to come to Oklahoma. He guaranteed me he’d be in Dallas at some point, and that he’d consider coming to Oklahoma City. I want to start a petition to get them here!


When I got home I had the chance to work on a job that I love, and I got to spend time with loved ones!


So that brings me to where I am right now, sitting on an airplane about to fly to Cairo, Egypt with my buddy Gavin to connect with the “old church”, and have a grand adventure!!! I am literally writing this on the plane about to take off… I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors, I had to dictate most of this on the run.

I love you all, and I’ll will be posting from Cairo soon!


This Bill Maher and Ben Affleck Exchange Is Incredibly Important For Liberals and Conservatives


Let me first just say that I’m not sure if keeping score on something like this is good for anyone… But Bill had a strong point to make, but so did Ben actually.

Wow… I love a good debate, and this really was a huge debate to watch. On one side you have the liberal force of “tolerance” so that we don’t lump groups in a distortion of their true character (represented by Mr. Affleck), and on the other side we have the liberal cornerstone of an activism that has zero tolerance for any social and economic oppression subjugated by any ideology (represented by Mr. Maher). This article sums up a good portion of how I feel, but I think there is more to it. I think that what Bill was saying is incredibly important, and I think that what Ben was saying is crucial to actually solving the problem. Bill was pointing out that renouncing your faith should not be cause for being put to death, which it is perceived to be for many people. He quoted that something like 90% of Egyptians felt that leaving Islam should result in capital punishment, and I thought I’d heard the same about Saudi Arabia. That is astounding to me, and assuming that the polling is correct I am left terrified of how we might bridge the divide in our cultures.

Ben however, was taking a firm stance that you can’t just throw entire regions and cultures out like this – which I find admirable in terms of how we may ever have to address this problem. Where I find myself frustrated on this front is the double standard between the Middle East and the Heartland of America. Liberals like Ben (and maybe not him more specifically) almost predictably take this stance of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater on people and their cultures, until it comes to the Christian coalition (not the necessarily the actual organization with that name) of people across this country who are reamed constantly by the media for having faith. Some groups and individuals who call themselves Christians probably deserve some harsh feedback, but we don’t usually hear this same kind of nuanced approach with Christianity in America.

If someone wants to go after religion they don’t necessarily hurt my feelings – society needs people like that so you don’t end up with a population that thinks we should kill people who don’t believe in what we believe in and can’t prove. BUT, if you are going to do it you should remain consistent, and nuanced in your value judgements of these differing groups and their ideas. I wish Bill wouldn’t be so willing to throw people out like he does, and I wish Ben would clarify his standard, as well as recognize that what Bill was saying is scary. If those poll numbers don’t scare you then you must not be paying attention…

I will actually be taking a trip in November with my good buddy Gavin to Egypt, and I just want to say that I can’t wait to meet these people who are often villainized by the media – and who like me don’t have the world figured out yet. I’m sure we could come up with some astounding polling from the United States over the last century, so to side with Ben for a second I hope that we can work on finding our common ground so that maybe we can work on exchanging our best ideas, and not just harp on our differences.

So, here is the exchange, and below is a very interesting article about the whole thing. Please feel free to give me your feedback:

And due to neither of these men being representatives of Islam I figured we’d throw in this Reza Aslan interview that would most support Ben’s thinking for before you read an article about why Bill is right:

The Daily Beast

Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0

The Real Time host’s spat with the Gone Girl star gets to the heart of a major and longtime problem within contemporary Western liberalism

Every once in a great while, something happens on television that you know while you’re watching it: Well, this is unusual. Those old enough to know what I’m talking about when I say “Al Campanis”  will remember that that was one of your more extreme cases. The exchange between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on last Friday’s Real Time wasn’t a Campanis moment, but I knew instantly—watching it in, well, real time, as it were—that this was going to spark discussion,  as indeed it has.

In case you missed it, the two—both committed and thoughtful liberals—got into it on the question of whether Western liberals can or should criticize Islam. Mentioning freedom of speech and equal rights, Maher said: “These are liberal principles that liberals applaud for, but then when you say in the Muslim world, this is what’s lacking, then they get upset.” Sam Harris, the atheist author, agreed with Maher and said, “The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people. That is intellectually ridiculous.” Affleck, as if on cue, challenged Harris: “Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam?” And then: “So you’re saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing?” Right after, Affleck said that such criticisms of Islam were “gross” and “racist” and “like saying [to Maher] ‘you’re a shifty Jew.’”

It was cracking good TV, but it was more—it hit home because they were describing one of the most important debates within liberalism of the last…10 years certainly, as pertains to Islam, but 40 or 50 years as relates to arguments between the developed and the developing world, and close to a century when it comes to discussions of how culture should affect our understanding of universal, or as some would have it “universal,” principles. Reluctance to criticize the failures of other cultures has been a problem within contemporary liberalism, with negative consequences I’ll go into below. So this liberal is firmly on Maher’s side, even as I recognize that his rendering is something of a caricature.

Here’s some quick history for you. First, the Enlightenment happened, and humankind developed the idea of universal rights. ’Round about the 1920s, some scholars in the then-newish field of cultural anthropology started to argue that all rights, or at least values, were not universal, and that we (the West) should be careful about imposing our values on societies with traditions and customs so removed from our own.

A big moment here came with the debate over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which asserted the universalist position without apology and which was pushed mostly by mainstream political liberals (Eleanor Roosevelt most notably). There were many critiques of the declaration from what we would today call “the left,” but those voices had little juice in those days, and when the UN adopted the declaration, it was a great victory for liberalism.

Fade in, fade out. Then came the anti-colonialist uprisings of the 1950s, Frantz Fanon, postmodern political theory, Vietnam, the Israeli occupation, the intifada, et cetera et cetera. All of these and many other kindred events seeped into the liberal bloodstream, still rich in universalist cells but now also coursing with the competing cells of cultural relativism (invariably a pejorative these days, although it wasn’t always).

And so, yes, we have seen in recent years from liberalism, or at least from some liberals (a crucial distinction, in fact), an unwillingness to criticize the reactionary aspects or expressions of other cultures, expressions that these liberals would have no hesitation whatsover in criticizing if they were exhibited by, say, Southern white Christians.

The most obvious example that comes to mind is that of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Muslim-African-Dutch-and-finally-American feminist intellectual. She of course is famous, now mostly for some of her more incendiary comments, but recall how she first became so: She and her collaborator, Theo van Gogh, had made a film critical of the oppression of women in the Muslim world. He was murdered, and she received death threats. She fled to the United States.

Now, here was a key moment: When she came to America in 2006, where was Hirsi Ali going to plant her flag? As she tells the story in her book Nomad, she met with liberal and conservative outfits. She says the liberal ones were “tentative” in their support for her and her ideas, but the conservative American Enterprise Institute embraced her totally, even though on certain issues (like abortion rights) she’s no conservative.

Hirsi Ali, of course, has subsequently gone on to say, quite controversially, that not just radical Islam but “Islam, period” must be “defeated.” But here’s the question: Before she started talking like that, why was she unable to find a home within American liberalism? It should be, and should have been, a core part of the mission of liberalism to support secular humanists and small-d democrats from all over the world, but from the Muslim world in particular. Most of these people are themselves liberals by Western standards, and they are desperate for the United States to do what it can to oppose the theocracies and autocracies under which they’re forced to live.

Maher, and certainly conservative critics, overstate the extent to which liberals fail to make common cause with such folks. Christian evangelicals who do work on, say, genital mutilation (which Hirsi Ali suffered) get a lot more attention in the media, because it’s more “interesting” that white conservatives give a crap about something happening to nonwhite women halfway across the world. But as the writer Michelle Goldberg pointed out in a review of Hirsi Ali’s Nomad for the journal I edit, Democracy, numerous women’s organizations and feminist groups do work to advance women’s rights in the Muslim world.

Goldberg wrote: “A few years ago, I visited Tasaru Ntomonok, which is the kind of place Hirsi Ali would probably love—it’s a Kenyan shelter that houses and educates girls fleeing female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Among its supporters are the high profile feminist Eve Ensler, the feminist NGO Equality Now, and the United Nations Population Fund, a bête noire of many conservatives. There are similar grassroots organizations working toward women’s liberation all over the world.”

Even so, Maher has identified a problem within Western liberalism today. Debates about multiculturalism are appropriate to a later stage of development of the infrastructure of rights and liberties than one finds in some other parts of the world. That infrastructure has existed in Western countries for a century, and it is the very fact that it was so solidly entrenched that opened up the space for us to start having debates about multiculturalism in the 1970s and ’80s.

But in much of the Arab and Muslim world, that infrastructure barely exists. So—and how’s this for a paradox?—to insist that our Western standards that call for multiculturalist values should be applied to countries that haven’t yet fully developed the basic rights infrastructure constitutes its own kind of imposition of our values onto them. A liberated woman or a gay man who lives in a country where being either of those things is at best unaccepted and at worst illegal doesn’t need multiculturalism. They’re desperate for a little universalism, and we Western liberals need to pay more attention to this.

via Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0 – The Daily Beast.

So You Think You Can Carlton?! – the reason I’ll probably watch Dancing With The Stars this season

Feast your eyes on my favorite thing on the internet right now!

Video by buzzfeed.


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