On the 7th of January, 3 masked gunmen got out of a car in France. By the time they returned, 2 police officers and 10 journalists were dead. It was a sickening reminder of the evil of humanity, and the horrors that can be done in the name of religion. The response has been a ritualised outpouring of solidarity. However, some parts of the public response have been less noble.
For the first time, there are disadvantages to telling people I am Muslim. When I saw posts on Facebook that seemed adamant that Islam is a violent religion, there was an immediate barrier. Admitting that I am Muslim meant that before I could enter a discussion, I had to first convince people that I believe in democracy, in the rule of law, in equality, for women’s rights. All because once again, a terrorist attack has sparked a knee-jerk reaction that justifies Islamophobia.
Initially published in the newspaper Varsity – 27th December 2014
Earlier this month, I took part in a debate about whether Christmas had become a force for evil. I argued that the spirit of charity outweighed any benefits to corporations my gift-giving might have. We won. But I’m not sure I really believed myself.
Charitable donations over 2011-2012 declined by 20 per cent in real terms. Preach about charity, and you’re more likely to look holier than thou, rather than a conscientious citizen concerned with the common good. Some people might blame selfishness for this – anyone who does their college’s telephone campaign can testify that people say they “can’t afford it,” regardless of their actual income. But I think it’s more complex than that.
Russell Brand. It’s just a universal fact he never says anything of value, so they say. But rather than critique the man, I’m examining his critics. They are educated, ruthlessly scathing and yet the criticisms they make are ill-informed, woolly, and often inaccurate. People’s revulsion has made the criticism of Russell Brand damaging to society, and that threatens to undo the good he has done.
If you were in charge of Scottish Labour you’d have a bit of a job on your hands. The SNP is trying to milk the fact that Labour campaigned to vote no alongside the Conservative Party, who are about as popular as a diarrhoea flavoured wedding cake. It’s a weak argument, but the opinion polls make it look like it’s working – Labour trails the SNP in Westminster voting intentions at a significant margin. Jim Murphy has been charged with rescuing the Labour Party in the next election – and he was certainly the safest choice out of all the candidates. So why am I afraid for Labour?
For those of you who don’t know, The Red Pill (or TRP) is an online community dedicated to men’s sexual strategy, and it is one of the fastest growing groups on the Internet’s most dynamic hub of content: Reddit. The seeming similarity to a pick-up artist cult, combined with an undeniable anti-feminist subtext mean any discussions about the Red Pill quickly become indistinguishable from a Glasgow Friday night brawl, just with less fists and more violence. The part I find most disturbing is that they often refer to women as “plates” because they want to have “as many plates spinning as possible.”
But does Neo realise that the Red Pill will turn him into a raging misogynist?
Red Pillers however, would disagree. They’re simply wanting to stand up for mens’ rights, to criticise modern gender roles for disempowering men, to give the shy and meek the tools to make themselves a more fulfilled (and more sexually successful) person. All of course, while realising the true nature of men as dominant leadership figures, the “captains” to the emotionally volatile snowflakes that are women. 80,000 subscribers include teachers, bankers, the young, the old, single and married men. Who all buy into these ideals. Clearly, their message is taking an intellectual root in men across society. This cannot be blamed on an archaic view of gender: this is a recently sprung reaction to recent developments in inter-gender relationships. Everyone, myself included, who wants equality for women should be extremely, shitting-your-pants worried.
Few things are as ridiculous to me as torture. Making an individual suffer in terrible ways to save a country sounds to me like a contrived comic book plot. Or a rather unlikely hypothetical moral scenario designed for the philosophy classroom. But the CIA report which has this week shocked the world shows that, while the policymakers had capitulated to the moral dilemma on a day-to-day reality, they weren’t saving anybody.
The full 500-page report can be found here (http://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/12/9/7360291/full-senate-torture-report) for those interested in the horrific detail concerning every tortured detainee. Only the summary of the report’s findings, a hefty 19 pages, is discussed here. Three questions I’m going to ask are: What did the report tell us? What does it show us about how our government acted? How does this change the relationship between people and power?
First written on the 20th November 2014…
It’s done. No to Independence. Alex Salmond is gone. It would seem, judging from The Telegraph’s bitter send-off, that Christmas has come early for many pundits. It seems odd then, that the SNP has never had it so good. Membership is double that of the entirety of the Lib Dems, and at current polling levels they will defeat Labour in the general election.
But is it any wonder? 45% of Scotland felt the need to abandon Westminster, and even amongst the “Noes” there was a desperate appetite for change. University students are no exception, and in many ways it is our needs that are failing to be met by the status quo, and stand to be affected the most by future change. As a Scottish Student studying in England, I feel I can offer a valuable perspective on what should happen next.