Why do Muslims React More to France Than to China?

By Omar Ali 71 Comments

The last few days have seen two separate terrorist incidents in France, both involving Muslim youth (both refugees, not French-born Muslims) beheading (or trying to behead) French civilians because of perceived outrage over blasphemy. In the first shocking incident a teacher named Samuel Paty tried to do what good teachers do; he was teaching about freedom of expression and wanted to show the cartoons that led to the murderous assaults on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. He told his Muslim students that if they felt uncomfortable seeing those cartoons, they could step outside the class. There is no indication that he himself said anything that could be construed as an attack on the prophet. But the very fact that he showed the famous cartoons in his class was enough to rile up at least one of the Muslim student’s parents, who started to outrage on social media, which led a Chechen youth named Abdullah to travel a 100 km, find the teacher by paying his students to point him out and then beheaded him on a public road before being shot dead himself.

France teacher attack: Seven charged over Samuel Paty's killing - BBC News

If this was not bad enough, today another “refugee” (this one from Tunisia) went on a stabbing/beheading spree at the basilica of Notre Dame in Nice and killed 2 women and a 55 year old sexton. Another person, this time in Saudi Arabia, stabbed a guard at the French consulate before being arrested. At the same time there have been massive protests in Bangladesh, a mock beheading at a girl’s school in Pakistan, official protests from Pakistan and Turkey and boycotts of French products all across the Muslim world. Continue reading “Why do Muslims React More to France Than to China?”

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Book Review: Friendly Fire by Ami Ayalon

By Omar Ali 2 Comments

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Book Review – Friendly Fire by Ami Ayalon

Hamid Hussain

“As you prepare your breakfast, think of others
(do not forget the pigeon’s food).
As you conduct your wars, think of others
(do not forget those who seek peace).
As you pay your water bill, think of others
(those who are nursed by clouds).
As you return home, to your home, think of others
(do not forget the people of the camps).
As you sleep and count the stars, think of others
(those who have nowhere to sleep).
As you liberate yourself in metaphor, think of others
(those who have lost the right to speak).
As you think of others far away, think of yourself
(say: “If only I were a candle in the dark”).”                   
  Mahmoud Darwish

Ami Ayalon’s book is a compilation of an autobiography including his own personal journey from a warrior to a peacemaker and a review of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He narrates his adult life fighting for Israel’s security as naval and internal security officer.  He builds his case to his country men that he is not advocating two state solution as a favor to Palestinians but sees this as the only solution to preserve Israel as a Jewish democratic state.  He fears that continued occupation of Palestinians will end up Israel as ‘a dystopian society that is tyrannical for those under our boots, and toxic and self-defeating for all’.

Ami has the audacity of hope in a very depressing situation.  My own two trips to Israel and Palestinian territories were focused on visiting Crusader era and First World War era landmarks related to Indian army.  However, I interacted with number of Israelis and Palestinians and found hardening of attitudes on both sides.  Tech savvy Israeli youth are focused on advancing their careers and number of young Palestinians making every effort to get away from what to them is a large prison and seek a better life away from their homeland.  Both these groups don’t care much about everyday politics. Israeli society and politics have taken a sharp right turn.  They are using a single verse of Bible in the Book of Genesis 15:18 ‘To your descendants I give this land’ as a property deed for Jewish people and view Palestinians as mere squatters and holders of a stolen property.  If this is the basis of the claim then they have to quote the whole verse that “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates”.   Will they simply be happy with the half of the covenant and not go for the whole inheritance from Nile to Euphrates?

Palestinians are rapidly losing the hope of a two state solution in view of expanding Jewish settlements and rest of the Arab world moving on with their lives.  This impasse has given rise to many trends, but two prominent ones are two extremes of a single state where they will try to get their rights based on universal democratic principles and the other extreme of a continued war until final victory over Jews.

In 1981, when Ami was attending a course at US Naval War College, a Pakistani Colonel approached him and told him that ‘Don’t permit the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to become a contest between Judaism and Islam.  Don’t lift the lid off that Pandora’s box.  We can live with Israel, and your fight with the Palestinians is of no interest to Pakistan.  Just don’t fool around with the Islamic holy sites or use religion to justify your claims.  That would tear apart the entire world”.  Thirty years later, Ami saw both sides taking refuge in religion from their fears. As head of Shin Bet, for the first time, Ami had to run informants among hardline religious settlers and haul them in for interrogation.  Ami has understood this dilemma that ‘the way we understand our history is the barrier to a real compromise because it controls our actions and fears, and therefore our future”.  The religious right of Jews and Muslims are thumping their scriptures to claim holy land.  Jewish Rabbis and Muslim Imams are arguing about who are the chosen people of the Lord and resigned to the coming Armageddon.  I reflected on these claims when I was visiting Megiddo; the place where this Armageddon is supposed to take place.

Ami is not a leftist or a peacenik.  He is a realist who is willing to sit with opponents whether right wing religious fellow Israelis or Palestinians to understand their point of view.  He comes on the peace table with stellar credentials.  His whole life was spent as a warrior.  He was a naval commando and commanded elite naval commando force Flotilla 13, served as chief of Israeli navy and head of internal security Shabak (Shin Bet).  Later, in pursue of peace, he joined politics and became member of Israeli parliament Knesset.

He brings hope to his people as well as Palestinians.  He is not alone in this endeavor. In 2012, he helped Israeli documentary film maker Dror Moreh that was considered as coup when five former Shin Bet heads sat in front of camera and reviewed the policies of internal security.  They concluded that continued occupation of Palestinian territories was bad for Israel.  The film The Gatekeepers was the best documentary film in Academy Awards nominations.  Over two hundred former senior security officials from Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), Mossad, Sin Bet and police have formed an organization named Commanders for Israel Security.  They see two state solution as a guarantee for Israel security. Ami has made the correct diagnosis that ‘We’re so trapped behind our own walls; we can’t see what seems obvious to outsiders’.  Israelis don’t’ need goyim (non-Jew) to tell them what is good for them? They need to listen to fellow Israelis who spent their lives defending the country.

“Tombstones break,

words pass, words are forgotten,

lips that uttered them turn to dust,

languages die like people, and other languages are resurrected,

gods in the heavens change,

gods come and go.

Prayers remain forever.”                               Yehuda Amichai

 

Ami Ayalon with Anthony David.  Friendly Fire: How Israel Became Its own Worst Enemy and the Hope for Its Future (Lebanon, New Hampshire: Steer Forth Press), 2020

Hamid Hussain

[email protected]

25 October 2020

Defence Journal, November 2020

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A Hindu nationalist in the House?

By Razib Khan 32 Comments

Slate has published a transparent “hit piece” on Preston Kulkarni, who is likely to win a seat for the Democrats in Houston. I say hit piece because it doesn’t seem deeply reported, but sourced from Pieter Friedrich, who I have mostly seen online as a rather inflammatory activist, not a dispassionate scholar.

A reporter in the area, Chad Washington, notes that believe it or not, people in and around this area of suburban Houston are not very interested in the fact Kulkarni might have “ties” to the Hindu Right.

There are two issues I want to highlight here as to why I’m putting this post up (which to be frank does amplify what I think shouldn’t be an issue at all):

– The demand that people denounce all sorts of things that they claim to barely even understand in the interests of solidarity and popular fronts is pretty ridiculous. Kulkarni is aiming to represent suburban Houston in the House. His opinions on Indian politics are unimportant. There are cases where Muslims are asked to ritually denounce everything under the sun and everyone they may have shared a stage with. That’s bullshit. And this is bullshit.

– It is strange to me how the “Left” can so naturally use the language of xenophobia to attack xenophobia. Here is the title: “Why Are Democrats Backing a House Candidate With Reportedly Shady Foreign Ties?” Foreign ties? I mean, his last name is {{{Kulkarni}}}. He worships elephants! His white mother married a foreigner. What’s wrong with her!

Obviously, the Indian American writer of the hit piece isn’t anti-Indian as such, but this opportunistic recourse to this rhetoric and guilt-by-association won’t end well.

Update: OK the Republicans/Christian Right are now after him.

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Caste in 2nd Generation American Diaspora

By The Emissary 52 Comments

Saw some very interesting conversations on caste in America in the recent Open Thread and wanted to hear more perspectives as well as sharing my own.

Growing up, I wasn’t aware of my caste nor my friends’ caste. I still am unaware of most other Indian-Americans’ castes (besides obvious ones like Sharma and a few Gujarati ones I know) and never thought too much of it. Caste just doesn’t seem to factor into 2nd Gens…except this trio of exceptions:

  1. The SJW Brahmins

  2. The Victim Card Dalits

  3. Poonjabi (NOT INDIAN!!!!) Jatts

Group 1 seems like a case of White Guilt with a few drops of saffron. Read any BuzzFeed-esque article written by this group and you could easily Find & Replace “White” with “Brahmin” (or “Hindu” if they are really deep in the hole) and “Black” with “Dalit.” Simple transpositions on an infinitely more complex topic.

Group 2 is enrolling in the grand Oppression Olympics that is underway in America. While I recognize the dire need to address the discrimination against Dalits in India, I cannot for the life of me understand how any 2nd gen would even be aware enough to discriminate against another 2nd gen based on caste. I can’t memorize that many last names and their associated caste. Maybe it happens amongst immigrants, but I can’t imagine any impact between Indian-Americans born in the US.

Equality Labs is probably the vilest and most prominent example of this new vehicle in action where they even want to make caste an official marker in the USA.

Both Group 1 and 2 label any “Hindu” practice, no matter how inconsequential or innocent (like Holi, vegetarianism, pujas, tilaks, the literal color orange, etc…), as Brahminical Patriarchy, fascism, and/or casteism. The agenda is pretty clear cut. See my “Brahminism” post. 

Group 3 is honestly a conundrum to me. I just don’t understand the “why” in this group. But the lack of understanding makes it the easiest group to lampoon. Can only listen to music where the word “Jatt” is rammed into the song at least 40x, or else it’s Hindi music. This clique proudly flaunts their caste like they’re back in India (oops, sorry I meant Punjab). They’re in an intermittent digital war with Hindu E-Trads (who are already a shitshow themselves), many times because of some unnecessary and out the way slandering of India/other Indian ethnic groups or E-Trads disgusting edgelording over 1984. There is a heavy pour of Punjabi/Jatt chauvinism (and Scythian???). In the end, it goes back to what I said at the beginning – I don’t get the “WHY” for this group.

When I initially asked my fairly religious Punjabi Sikh friends why the singers keep saying “Jutt” in all the bhangra music I listened to – they rolled their eyes, explained it’s a caste, and then called them dumbasses and we laughed off. They then told me to call anyone who engages in that behavior a “tatti di sabzi.” I think that’s a fair response for all of the above.

Save for these 3, I don’t think caste is that important to most Indian-Americans, including normal Brahmins, Dalits, Jatts (note – I am none of these so it’s just my outside perspective).

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Documenting selective truth, lies, rhetoric

By Phyecon1 25 Comments

Continuing present theme of figuring out solutions. One thing we can do is document people making up brazen lies and incidents of bad rhetoric for posterity. Good standards require us to do so at least in regards to journalists and scholars.

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-reactionary-present/article7727181.ece

“Under a government of the Hindu Right, India is witnessing yet another phase of reaction and orthodoxy, a return to medieval Brahminical values that seek to monopolise rights for a select few and turn everyone else out of the body politic.”
This is said by a historian, Ananya vajpayei .

“You can either erect a Hindu Rashtra that is already always a caste society and a patriarchy, or you can build an egalitarian, secular, pluralist and inclusive India. “

“The first step in protecting our Constitution is to recognize the seamless continuum between caste-based discrimination and communal hatred that provides the very plinth of Hindutva.”


There is a question going around in twitter asking that “if journalism is filled with many inaccuracies and lies, how trustable are historians?”. In this case,it is a clear lie to say that bjp is trying to foist caste once again on India society.

What is interesting is that liberals and left in India seem to keep making arguments, whether journalism or in academia of associating negative values to Hinduism in its totality and exculpating any negative values to other religions or ideologies.

In terms of rhetoric there seems to be little differentiation between bigots of other religions and them. Many journalists in India have used “cow piss drinkers” etc jibes to others, something one finds in common with islamic bigots for example. or disparaging the word “bhakt” which is similar to the word “muslim” or “christian”. It is not surprising that a lot of people dont trust many of these people.

https://twitter.com/moronhumor/status/1201015238210080768

https://twitter.com/moronhumor/status/1201021574717071360

when dhume was pressed on it, he says its merely making fun.

https://twitter.com/dhume/status/1201026098248716288

https://twitter.com/dhume/status/1201044455039614977

It would make better sense for people to just document lies and such rhetoric for posterity.

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Comments!

By Razib Khan 7 Comments

They say blogs are dead. They say comments are dead. To my surprise, this website has surprised me. In the later years of the Sepia Mutiny weblog the number of comments started dropping off. The theory was that people were commenting more on Facebook (Twitter wasn’t huge then). Google Analytics says that more than 20,000 people are reading this website in a given month. That’s not trivial, but it’s small. That being said, the comment threads are often “hopping.”

This is good and nice. How do we maintain this? I don’t moderate much at this point but am worried about things getting out of control. That being said, this is not a job and I have lots of other things to attend to. Thoughts?

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Open Thread – 10/24/2020 – Brown Pundits

By Razib Khan 503 Comments

Going to post some notes on the latest podcast here. I talked to Fred Martin, who is of Haitian origin, but pretty stridently French, and a liberal. We discussed the killing of Samuel Paty, and Islam and Islamism in France. We also mooted the differences in relation to race between the USA and France, and our contrasting experiences. Finally, we talk about the coming winter of coronavirus in Europe.

A lot of the discussion centered around the contrast between France and the USA, which is always interesting to explore.

Thanks to everyone who is a Patron. I’ve started posting podcasts which you can’t find elsewhere yet there…

On Twitter, Suhag Shukla has been pushing back on the “caste is a huge problem for Indian Americans” narrative. I think she’s right on the specific issue. But, I am skeptical when she seems to attribute caste to colonialism, or, that it is not tightly integrated into Hinduism. I think Hinduism has a caste problem like Islam has a religious oppression problem. Religions are made by humans, and how they play out is a human matter. For whatever reason, Islamic societies have not been pluralistic in an egalitarian manner to other religions, while Hinduism in India is hard to disentangle from caste and jati. This doesn’t mean they’re necessary connections. Caste and jati are not major issues in Balinese or Cham Hinduism, though varna does exist.

The major dynamic which needs to be reiterated is that American Hinduism is very distinct from Hinduism in India, just as American Islam is very distinct from Islam in the Near East. I’m 99% sure that the Indian Americans I know (Generation X) would exhibit no caste bias of any note because in the USA it’s just not relevant in any way.

Brown Pundits Subreddit.

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Not all societies are identical

By Razib Khan 56 Comments

There is some discussion on “Hindu Twitter” and elsewhere about the French response to the murder of Samuel Paty. In short, France is going “medieval” on the asses of a lot of Muslims, even nonviolent but very conservative organizations. To use a German phrase, the French state is entering into a Kulturkampf against militant Islam. Or at least it is signaling that it is.

To all this, some on the Hindu Right are asking why some liberal or Left intellectuals are applauding or tolerating France’s reaction, which is hitting down hard on the Muslim community. Would they be so tolerant of India clamping down on Muslims? My own answer is simple: different nations have different histories, and abstract universal values and standards are often not useful.

Continue reading “Not all societies are identical”

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Tibeto-Burmans, Munda, and Bengalis

By Razib Khan 23 Comments


I’m pretty sure I posted this Chaubey lab work as a preprint, but it’s now a published paper. For those who can’t understand the table, it illustrates a big difference between Tibeto-Burmans and Munda. The samples from Bangladesh look to be generic Bangladeshis, the 10% frequency for O2a seems to match the other data I’ve seen for East Bengalis.

This confirms that the East Asian admixture into Bengalis was not Munda. And, the Tibeto-Burmans of the nTibeortheast have no assimilated Munda ancestry. I think it does lend more credence to the idea that the Munda arrived in the Indian subcontinent across the Bay of Bengal, landing in Odisha, rather than from the northeast.

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Scale – In Satyagraha, Societies, and Statecraft

One writer who caused an evolution of my thought is the fiery Nassim Nicholas Taleb. His brash yet precise style, swashbuckling smashing of intellectuals, and ancestral Mediterranean insights provided an alternative thought diet in a world that force-feeds the same message to me on television, social media, and amongst my friends here in a buffet of American coastal elites. From the jest of randomness, the beauty of black swans, the advancement of antifragility, and piercing skin in the game, Taleb created a dancing sequence of jabs and hooks to create a battle-hardened mentality to approach the world and knowledge.

One of the biggest yet most nuanced lessons I learned from Taleb was that of scale – how inputs yield outputs differently, depending on size and magnitude. An easy example of this common-sense concept is the difficulty in enforcing an exercise and diet regimen for oneself versus one’s entire family versus one’s entire community and so on. Trying to do good things is easier and possibly more effective in the long run when done on a smaller scale.

It’s one thing to change oneself on an individual level, another to create a visible shift in societies, and another to execute proper governance accounting for different groups along with the externalities and the headaches that come along with policies.

The Search for Truth

Satyagraha or the holding of truth paved the road in Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent struggle for India’s independence. Inspired by the ahimsa of Hinduism and Jainism, Gandhi brought his own interpretation taking an ancient concept to new frontiers.

The principles of satyagraha:

  1. Nonviolence
  2. Truth
  3. Not stealing
  4. Non-possession (not the same as poverty)
  5. Body-labor or bread-labor
  6. Control of desires
  7. Fearlessness
  8. Equal respect for all religions
  9. Economic strategy such as boycott of imported goods (swadeshi)

Admirable qualities that built the legend of the Mahatma, the great soul. Selflessness at its apex captured the hearts of Indians across the subcontinent in a mass non-violent movement at such a scale that it has no parallels in world history before or since. While an individual taking on satyagraha is highly laudable, expanding it to society proved a double-edged sword.

With the British reeled from a cataclysmic World War at home and a cracking crown jewel in the Raj, their leaders eventually acquiesced to the rightful demands of an independent India. Truth had met victory in the eyes of the Mahatma’s disciples, but this satyagraha would now face a much older foe that had made its home in the subcontinent over centuries.

Jinnah and Gandhi Prior To Their Falling Out Early On In The Indian Independence Movement

Naiveté crept into a population until it was maimed by the madness of a maniac with Muhammed Ali Jinnah’s call of “Direct Action” severing the dreams of Gandhi and millions of other Indians for a united India. What Gandhi and his ideological descendants, Gandhians, got wrong is how values apply at scale. Stunningly noble principles for individuals could not be forced upon a people who were facing a polar opposite ideology filled with aggressive malice and cultivated by despicable men to match.

“Hindus should never be angry against the Muslims even if the latter might make up their minds to undo even their existence.” —Mahatma Gandhi, Birla Mandir, New Delhi, on April 6, 1947; Partition Would Occur 4 Months Later

The beauty of satyagraha was smeared with the ugliness of Islamism and this duality incarnated by way of a bloody partition. An assassin would cite the suicidal idealism of Gandhi as the gunpowder to his fatal and fateful bullet that transformed a man into a martyr and Gandhi into a god. The last breath of Gandhi permeated throughout Indian politics since.

Forsaking looking at others’ faults and focusing on your own to improve are great actions on an individual level. Trying to apply this mentality at a large scale is impossible and can be disastrous. Gandhi’s goal to apply the kindness and tolerance that he practiced throughout his life at a larger level provides a testament to the dangers of this ruinously beautiful ideal.

Primus Inter Pares

While I may have been harsh on Gandhi, his satyagraha was a very inspirational movement that achieved its primary aim (with the help of several violently resisting Indians of course, too) and would echo in the minds of different generations and geographies. Its failures would only truly come to fore when reciprocity broke down as scale increased and satyagraha faced the sinister.

A communal concoction that had been boiling for centuries spilled over once again just as Gandhi tried to ease the concerns of an ambitious Jinnah and company who were decided in their choice to break India. What went so wrong here?

Good behavior scales badly. Bad behavior scales goodly.

An essential lesson to impart here is that the kindness that we should all so admire shouldn’t be extended frivolously in the world at large scales. Strive to be exceedingly kind to all the individuals in your life, but expect less of a return as familiarity decreases and quantity increases. The world of geopolitics and governance is witness to how might towers over magnanimity as scale maximizes. And it is here where we need to examine a powerful chapter across world history for the past several decades – social justice.

Inspired By Gandhi’s Non-Violent Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. Marched For Civil Rights and To End Segregation

Social justice has yielded some of the greatest moments in politics as policies such as apartheid and segregation were thrown into the abyss, while reservations in India helped lower castes climb out of the abyss. Tangible benefits were born through simple and actionable policies and goals.

Today, however, social justice movements have been plagued by vague goals and a lack of dynamic leadership. Faceless protests descend into rioting at an alarming rate with politicians taking advantage of the chaos and righteous movements thwarted by themselves. No Gandhi’s, no Dr. King’s, no Mandela’s lead the wave of change today. The absence of these emissaries who create a dialogue between the masses and politicians means that when social justice is applied at scale, it descends into disarray with vultures disguised as politicians picking and prodding at a soon to be carcass of a movement. Justice has inherent danger when applied at scale and needs the right leaders and values to guide it properly.

On the flip side, there are also the potential horrors of hyper-local justice such as in the panchayat system of rural India, where a clan of elders decides the fate of the accused, sometimes with cruel and Hammurabi style punishments. We are seeing this hyper-local eye for an eye type justice now extrapolate to larger scales amongst many intelligentsia and political leaders, a notion that would lead to disastrous strife if the scale continues to ramp up.

Virtualism

Bruno Maçães, a prominent political analyst and now part-time philosopher, proposes that America is entering a period where fantasy supersedes reality. The digital world at your fingertips is shaped by the hand of technology. What you see and consume on your timeline is a lens with a distorted scale of the world. What is anecdote becomes amplified into annals as the speed of the extreme races past the mundane on the information superhighway.

THE SPREAD OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY HAVE BLURRED THE LINE BETWEEN FANTASY AND REALITY

Outrage oscillates the Overton Window wildly as technology’s reality distortion field melds our perception. This pendulum pushes our politics in an increasingly divisive direction as upstart politicians wield clout and clicks on social media steering agendas into fantastical territories that are disconnected from realities and history. Technology and social media have brought notions of the past closer to us than ever as rabid battles over who oppressed who pan out in the digital theatre of war.

Elite consensus is upended by guerrilla historians, sometimes erroneously but many times rightfully. These intellectual insurgents zoom out and in on specific instances to promote their perspective, occasionally out-of-context but every so often right on the money. The thin selection of stories published by establishments has given way to an explosion of untold chapters bypassing traditional media and academia, all with the help of technology.

Protests Have Quickly Descended Into Riots Across The US As No Leader Stands On The Same Platform As The Giants of the Past

However, this has directly lead to an exacerbation of the application of justice. Crimes of the past are scaled out to include those in the present. Justice morphs into its fraternal twin, revenge. Now, I don’t believe it’s right to silence the discussion of the horrors of the past as that is essential to reconciliation. However, this discussion must be joined with efforts to bring real justice – opportunity and truth – to those who have been oppressed and not extend the hatred of the past to the descendants of oppressors in the present. Funny enough, the answer to opportunity may lie in economics (whether welfare reform, access to capital, ease of business, tackling inequalities, etc…) rather than culture wars.

Today’s society values performatives over pragmatism. In the quest to fight historical injustices, we can’t ask for revenge that spirals into a wheel of fire. We should remember the great effort to organize mass non-violent movements such as satyagraha and civil rights in an era today where the embers of violence quickly follow the gasoline rhetoric of many of our politicians and “activists.” For only great men, great women, and great movements transcend the limits of scale and sculpt our tomorrow.

This is a repost from The EmissaryPlease visit the blog for more content and thanks to Brown Pundits!

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