Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

At Uhuru Park, Nairobi

Apr 7th, 2015 9:09 am | By

There’s a vigil at Uhuru Park for the 148 people, mostly students, killed at Garissa University College. People are tweeting from there.

Maud Jullien ‏@MaudJullien 9 minutes ago View translation
Vigil at Uhuru park Nairobi for #garissa victims #147notjustanumber

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Idris-Speaks @IdrissMuktar 39 minutes ago
#147notjustanumber at Uhuru park. Kenyans holding a vigil at Uhuru Park in honor of the lost souls.

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Idris-Speaks @IdrissMuktar 40 minutes ago
this lady came with a baby to honor lives lost

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Idris-Speaks ‏@IdrissMuktar 36 minutes ago
honor of the lost students, young ambitious Kenyans

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Idris-Speaks ‏@IdrissMuktar 12 minutes ago
people posting pictures of loved ones and messages of condolences #147notjustanumber @robynleekriel

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Idris-Speaks @IdrissMuktar  19 minutes ago
#147notjustanumber crosses to signify the lives lost

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The ghairat brigade

Apr 6th, 2015 6:38 pm | By

On the other hand, the interview with Ayaan HA alerted me to this article by Asra Nomani on the silencing of criticism of Islam which tells me some things I didn’t know.

In 2004 a Muslim man she knew told her to stop writing. She did not comply.

It was the first time a fellow Muslim had pressed me to refrain from criticizing the way our faith was practiced. But in the past decade, such attempts at censorship have become more common. This is largely because of the rising power and influence of the “ghairat brigade,” an honor corps that tries to silence debate on extremist ideology in order to protect the image of Islam. It meets even sound critiques with hideous, disproportionate responses.

I’m well aware of that, of course, but what I didn’t know is that it’s organized by the OIC.

The campaign began, at least in its modern form, 10 years ago in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, when the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — a mini-United Nations comprising the world’s 56 countries with large Muslim populations, plus the Palestinian Authority — tasked then-Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu with combating Islamophobia and projecting the “true values of Islam.” During the past decade, a loose honor brigade has sprung up, in part funded and supported by the OIC through annual conferences, reports and communiques. It’s made up of politicians, diplomats, writers, academics, bloggers and activists.

In 2007, as part of this playbook, the OIC launched the Islamophobia Observatory, a watchdog group based in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, with the goal of documenting slights against the faith. Its first report, released the following year, complained that the artists and publishers of controversial Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad were defiling “sacred symbols of Islam . . . in an insulting, offensive and contemptuous manner.”

And on it went from there.

Alongside the honor brigade’s official channel, a community of self-styled blasphemy police — from anonymous blogs such as and to a large and disparate cast of social-media activists — arose and began trying to control the debate on Islam. This wider corps throws the label of “Islamophobe” on pundits, journalists and others who dare to talk about extremist ideology in the religion…

The official and unofficial channels work in tandem, harassing, threatening and battling introspective Muslims and non-Muslims everywhere. They bank on an important truth: Islam, as practiced from Malaysia to Morocco, is a shame-based, patriarchal culture that values honor and face-saving from the family to the public square. Which is why the bullying often works to silence critics of Islamic extremism.

There’s also the political aspect – being called “Islamophobic” is akin to be called a racist, so many people back down.

The OIC helped give birth to a culture of victimization. In speeches, blogs, articles and interviews widely broadcast in the Muslim press, its honor brigade has targeted pundits, political leaders and writers — from TV host Bill Maher to atheist author Richard Dawkins — for insulting Islam. Writer Glenn Greenwald has supported the campaign to brand writers and thinkers, such as neuroscientist and atheist Sam Harris, as having “anti-Muslim animus” just for criticizing Islam.

Most of the criticism takes place online, with anonymous bloggers targeting supposed Islamophobes. Not long after the cable, a network of bloggers launched LoonWatch, which goes after Christians, Jews, Hindus, atheists and other Muslims. The bloggers have labeled Somali author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a born Muslim but now an atheist opponent of Islamic extremism, an “anti-Muslim crusader.” Robert Spencer, a critic of extremist Islam, has been called a “vicious hate preacher” and an “Internet sociopath.” The insults may look similar to Internet trolling and vitriolic comments you can find on any blog or news site. But they’re more coordinated, frightening and persistent.

One prominent target of the honor brigade’s attacks was Charlie Hebdo, the French newspaper where several staffers were recently killed by Islamic extremists. According to some accounts, as the killers massacred cartoonists, they shouted: “We have avenged the prophet Muhammad.” The OIC denounced the killings, but in a 2012 report, it also condemned the magazine’s “Islamophobic satires.” Its then-secretary general, Ihsanoglu, said the magazine’s “history of attacking Muslim sentiments” was “an outrageous act of incitement and hatred and abuse of freedom of expression.”

That’s how it’s done.

[I]n so many Muslim communities now, saving face trumps critical thinking and truth-telling. This is why reform from within Islam is so difficult. In my experience, if you try to hold the community accountable, you’re more likely to be bullied and intimidated than taken seriously.

Two years ago, Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress, was so battered by online attacks aimed at silencing her that she experienced a physical response to the stress and anxiety, and ended up in an emergency room. When I met her in her office near the White House, she pulled up her sleeves to show me the marks left by IV injections that the hospital staff had administered to get her necessary fluids.

“The attacks just killed me,” Al-Suwaij said, wearily.

Bullying this intense really works. Observant members of the flock are culturally conditioned to avoid shaming Islam, so publicly citing them for that sin often has the desired effect. Non-Muslims, meanwhile, are wary of being labeled “Islamophobic” bigots. So attacks against both groups succeed in quashing civil discourse. They cause governments, writers and experts to walk on eggshells, avoiding important discussion.

It’s very interesting to know that some of this is being orchestrated by the OIC. Very interesting indeed.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Vigil tomorrow in Uhuru Park

Apr 6th, 2015 6:09 pm | By

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Wasting their victory on “trivial bullshit”

Apr 6th, 2015 6:00 pm | By

More about that Daily Beast interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The interviewer is Cathy Young, who writes for Reason magazine among others and is great buddies with Christina Hoff Sommers – in short, she’s a conservative and she takes a very jaundiced view of feminism. She asked Ayaan HA questions carefully shaped to elicit the politically correct (in conservative terms) answers.

Her introduction, for instance, helps to set the tone.

Never one to shy away from battles, Ali has also made a foray into America’s gender wars: Last November, in a speech before the right-of-center Independent Women’s Forum, she declared that feminism in the West has “won” and that feminists were wasting their victory on “trivial bullshit”…

Yes, and this is the very thing we take exception to.

But to be fair, she also says some good things.

So you’re very hopeful about what’s happening right now.

I just want to remind the free world that there was a time when they were not free—Europeans and Americans were not free. There was a time when Christian theology and Jewish theology was used to commit atrocious acts. Remember the witch hunts, remember the Protestants. I think Americans associate religion with something positive. In Europe, Protestants were killing other Protestants, Catholics were killing Protestants, Protestants were killing Catholics, just as the Sunni and the Shia are doing now. That is now in the history books. I look forward to a time when atrocities committed in the name of Islam will be in history books and museums and movies, but not happening to real people in real time.

I have no quarrel with that.

But then they move on to feminism.

You’ve had some reactions from Western feminists to your statements about Islam that you’ve found a bit disconcerting.

We are seeing that Western feminists are shy about pointing out the misogyny that’s committed in the name of the religion of Islam, because they feel we can’t impose our ethnocentric or Eurocentric or American-centric ways. If you read the [faculty] letter at Brandeis, that’s the core of it. Which is—don’t be ridiculous. It doesn’t matter where you are as an individual human being; freedom is freedom. Nobody likes to be oppressed. Human rights are universal. Individual rights are universal. This is the message to American feminists and other Western feminists: the best thing to share is the outcome of the emancipation.

Yes but that’s not feminism per se, and it’s not all of feminism. Much of the left is like that, but not all of it, and feminism is mostly on the left, so some feminists are squeamish about criticizing Islam, for a mix of good and bad reasons. But it’s only some. Yes I know; notallfeminists; bite me.

One women’s issue that you write about and work on is honor violence. Do you think it’s less of a problem in the United States than in some immigrant communities in Europe?

It is a huge issue, and we see—at my foundation, the AHA Foundation—more and more girls and young women coming to us with the exact same problems that we’ve been seeing in Europe. The minute they reach puberty, they are stopped from going to school, their movements are controlled. There are honor killings and there is honor violence. Honor violence is when you’re not allowed to get out of the house. When you have a boyfriend, you’re beaten until you give him up. You’re over 18 years old and your parents don’t allow you to go to college; they get someone from the country of origin and force you to marry that person, and if you speak against it you are threatened with death. I don’t think the story of honor killings and honor violence in the United States has yet been told. And that’s because of the honor brigade. Because every time you start talking about these things, you get these people clamping down on everything—[slams hand] on the press, on the government—saying it’s not Islamic, or it’s Islamophobic even to discuss it, or that you’re racist if you talk about honor violence. Unbelievable.

Once again, you get an argument from some Western feminists who will say that it’s not that substantially different from domestic violence and sexual assault, which also happens in our society, so it’s unfair to single out [Muslim cultures].

What’s feminist about a woman who makes a statement like that? A person who makes that statement is basically saying, let’s change the subject, there’s nothing wrong. And so they are completely letting down that victim who cannot speak for herself, who is voiceless, who has to deal with the entire family, male and female, who are silencing her. It’s for those of us who have the platforms and the voice, and can articulate what’s going on, to talk about it. And the woman who sits there on her faculty saying, “Oh, yeah, this and that”—what’s so feminist about it, honestly?

Nothing, but again, it’s not feminism as such, and it’s not a reason to tell feminists here that feminism has “won.”

Presumably, they would say that we should take all violence against women more seriously, whether it’s honor violence or not.

They can chitchat as much as they like, but they shouldn’t call themselves feminists.

What? Feminists who say we should take all violence against women more seriously shouldn’t call themselves feminists?? That’s an outrageous thing to say – so outrageous that I wonder if she misunderstood what Cathy Young said, or lost the thread. I agree with her that feminists over here should not ignore violence against women in the rest of the world, but that doesn’t rule out also agreeing that we should take all violence against women more seriously. She seems to be saying we should take violence against women over here with scorn and belittlement, and that can’t really be what she thinks. She must be letting her indignation run away with her and let her say things she doesn’t actually think.

The feminist project was a struggle for the rights of women. And now we have those equal rights by law, and most of us are enjoying it and most of us are able to take advantage of it. But we have a large immigrant community—and, by the way, not only Muslim—who are being denied these rights here in the United States. Let’s not silence it.

No. We do not have “those equal rights” by law, not all of them – because it’s not that simple. Having good laws doesn’t just magically fix all problems. She’s right to say let’s not silence immigrant women who are denied right, but she’s dead wrong to say feminism here has done its work.

You’re giving the keynote speech at the American Atheists National Convention [on April 3]. Are you going to talk about Islam primarily?

I am. And I think I have the same message as I have for feminists and for other groups who are addressing various issues in the world we live in today. For atheists, it’s: You address the issues of organized religion and atrocities committed in the name of organized religion. And I want them to focus on Islam today, because it’s in the name of Islam that most lives are taken, that most subjection, most intolerance is spread around the world. So for my fellow atheists, it’s a matter of: Listen, it’s one thing to protest about Christmas trees on December 25, but it’s quite another to witness fellow human beings in cages and burned alive, and women taken as slaves, again, in the names of this religion. So it’s very much a matter of organizing our priorities.

Sigh. That’s just insulting. It’s not only Christmas trees. It’s enormously more than that. And I don’t think she lost the thread in that answer, because it’s about her speech, which she’d had time to think about.

And she does more belittling. Young asks about prejudice against atheists. AHA says there is some, but it’s not like the kind she faced.

There is a massive difference. Same thing with the feminists. Listen, if you’re not allowed into a golf club, that doesn’t sit well with me, but if I were to prioritize, I would say: This girl, she’s just been denied her right to school, she’s just been forced into marriage, she’s just been genitally mutilated. That’s the sort of thing that we need to be, as women, signing up against—and as atheists. And by the way, the LGBT community—I think it’s awesome, and it’s taken some great steps. But in the name of Islam, gay men, or men who are accused of being gay, are put on the roofs of buildings and thrown down by a mob shouting “Allahu akbar!” doing this in the name of their faith. And it’s time that the gay community stood up to this. HIV is no longer the biggest killer of the gay community; it’s [violence] in the name of Islam, and no one’s talking about it.

So that’s feminists, atheists, and LGBT people who all need to stop paying so much attention – or maybe any attention – to local issues, and pay attention to violence in the name of Islam instead.

The American Enterprise Institute would like that, wouldn’t it.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Not just a number

Apr 6th, 2015 2:47 pm | By


Edith Honan @edithhonan 12 hours ago
Leah N Wanfula, 21, missing from Garissa, 1st of 9 to go to college, popular, loved Christian activities, mathematics

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Leah Wanfula

Ian @ianmslim 8 hours ago

R.I.P Ivy Betty Wanjiku (Shiko) 1st yr student #GarissaAttack #147NotJustANumber cc @Maskani254

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Ivy Betty Wanjiku

Edith Honan @edithhonan 9 hours ago
Gideon Mwakulegwa, 21, died in Garissa. He loved football, to dance, to sing. “He was my bro, I’ll never replace him”

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Gideon Mwakulegwa

Maskani Ya Taifa @Maskani254 2 hours ago
Selpher Wandia, 21. Her dream was to be a teacher. #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames via @edithhonan

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Selpher Wandia

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

More faces

Apr 6th, 2015 2:26 pm | By

The #147notjustanumber hashtag was started by Ory Okolloh Mwangi @kenyanpundit.

Edith Honan @edithhonan 14 hours ago
Risper Mutindi Kasyoka, 23, died in Garissa. A-student, loved gospel music, planned to start biz consulting firm

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Risper Mutindi Kasyoka

Edith Honan @edithhonan 13 hours ago
“This is my lovely Doreen Gakii who lost her life in Garissa. She was a 2nd year taking bachelor of education, arts”

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Doreen Gakii

Edith Honan @edithhonan 12 hours ago
Edward Wafula, missing from Garissa. “Preached God’s teachings.” Loved playing with kids, wanted to be a teacher.

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Edward Wafula

Edith Honan @edithhonan 12 hours ago
Obedy Okiring Okodoi, missing from Garissa. “He was joyful, focused, wanted to achieve the highest,” a teacher to be

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Obedy Okiring Okodoi

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Lives snuffed out

Apr 6th, 2015 12:16 pm | By

Way too soon.

Daily Nation ‏@dailynation 11 hours ago
#GarissaAttack: Lives snuffed out too soon #147notjustanumber

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Three more lost

Apr 6th, 2015 10:55 am | By

Three more.

Godfrey Simiyu @Simiyuhiphoree
This is #Liz Musinai from #Kitale #GarissaAttack #147notjustanumber #RIP our dear one [5 words omitted]
12:11 AM – 6 Apr 2015

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Liz Musinai

ZION @Kirinyaga_
Lived & died for country … KDF Soldier Solomon Oludo. We honor your life & sacrifice. #147NotJustANumber
12:32 PM – 4 Apr 2015

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Solomon Oludo

W A F U L A H @GazzahBuoy
Alex Omurwa Mogaka,,Engineer student ,,,from Nyamira #TheyHaveNames #147NotJustaNumber RIP bro…
1:43 AM – 6 Apr 2015

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Alex Omurwa Mogaka

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

More faces from Garissa

Apr 6th, 2015 10:38 am | By


cynthia cindy ‏@cynthiacindy4 4 hours ago
Joy Chepkorir, a daughter,niece, sister and friend to many…

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Joy Chepkorir

Tom Makau ‏@tommakau 6 hours ago
Veronica Syokau from Kitui. 2nd year. Loved swimming. Her mom still in shock. #147notjustanumber

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Veronica Syokau

bwiboh makulusabaa @ODMtoto01
This is Rispher Maggy a student in Garissa. She is nowhere to be seen even in the mortuary.
12:25 AM – 5 Apr 2015

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Muthoni☆ @MsoMuthoni
Alex an only child 19.Killed under a hail of bullets. #GarissaAttack #147NotJustANumber
2:22 PM – 5 Apr 2015

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

How dare we

Apr 6th, 2015 9:59 am | By

I’m seeing lots of consternation and alarm at the fact that some of us disagree with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Dear Muslima or Fallacy of Relative Deprivation or Not serve you cake or Who does the dishes question. How dare we disagree with Ayaan HA on anything, don’t we understand how much worse it is in Somalia or Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia than it is here?

Well, that’s a fatuous question, for a start. Of course we do. I for one write and post about it all the time. But I also write and post about other things. That’s all there is to it, really – we can pay attention to more than one thing, and it’s really not up to Ayaan HA to decide what we’re allowed to pay attention to.

I wouldn’t object if she just said pay more attention to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Daesh. There’s always room to pay more attention. What I object to is her saying pay less or no attention to more local issues. Last week I objected to Dawkins’s explanation that he tells us that FGM is worse than sexual harassment, as if we didn’t know that until he told us. I objected to it because of the obvious implication that we should stop paying so much attention to sexual harassment (the implication that he made explicit-through-sarcasm in the actual Dear Muslima). This week I object to Ayaan HA’s explanation that issues of domestic division of labor are less important than not being allowed to leave the house, for the same reasons. One, we all know that, and two, I reject the implication.

PZ did a post on the subject on Friday. Today he posted about some of the pushback he’s getting, which included a claim that “Ayaan is deserving of SUPPORT in her efforts, regardless of any perceived gaffes.”

Well that’s quite a generous arrangement. Regardless of any perceived gaffes? So if she advocated genocide for instance we should still SUPPORT her, because she’s deserving of SUPPORT?

Also, it’s always so particular, isn’t it. Ignore the “gaffes” of the famous important conspicuous people, but of course not those of the smelly peasants who dare to criticize them.

Sorry, but no. I think Ayaan HA is right about many things, but she is also a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and she seems to be talking only to her colleagues there.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Name them

Apr 5th, 2015 5:58 pm | By


Cyprian, Is Nyakundi ‏@C_NyaKundiH Apr 4
R.I.P Ruth Esiromo she was killed by the terrorists according to her boyfriend. Indeed #147notjustanumber

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Ruth Esiromo

Team_Player ‏@Awesome_Neythan 9 hours ago
Rip Angela #147NotJustANumber @C_NyaKundiH @kenyanpundit #GarissaAttack we will name them by names

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Angela Kimata

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

They have faces

Apr 5th, 2015 5:23 pm | By


d. winny ‏@winmitchxxtk  34 minutes ago
Elizabeth Nyangarora #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Elizabeth Nyangarora

d. winny ‏@winmitchask 36 minutes ago
Dadly Mose #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

Dadly Mose

d. winny ‏@winmitchklyv 1 hour ago
Tonie Wangu #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Tonie Wangu

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

They have names

Apr 5th, 2015 5:02 pm | By

And more.

Maskani Ya Taifa ‏@Maskani254 13 hours ago
Erick Ondari Nyabuto #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Erick Ondari Nyabuto

Private Developer™ ‏@Crazy254n 13 hours ago View translation
“@TRENDINGKENYA: Lydia Melody Obondi #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames ~@Maskani254 ”

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Lydia Melody Obondi

Laurence Parisot ‏@LaurenceParisot 7 hours ago
9) @Maskani254: Faith Kendi #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Faith Kendi

xmax444 ‏@xmax444 37 minutes ago View translation
#TheyHaveNames Tobias murió en #GarissaAttack
147 jóvenes asesinados, ellos no son números,son hijos,hermanos,amigos

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Four more names and faces from Garissa

Apr 5th, 2015 4:50 pm | By

More from #TheyHaveNames and #147notjustanumber.

Warning: they’re making me blub, and I’m hard as old boots, so fetch a towel.

d. winny ‏@winmitchytcuy 4 minutes ago
Isaac Kosgey aka. Pop Lord Bushen #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Isaac Kosgey

Tom Vandenbosch ‏@TVandenbosch 3 hours ago
RIP Angela ‘Ka/Jojo’ Kimata.
We will name them one by one.
#147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames
via @GhekoLishous

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Angela ‘Ka/Jojo’ Kimata

Mr. B ‏@Benogola 3 hours ago
Yap, we will remember these happy moments #147NotJustANumber

Janet Akinyi

Auntie Mimi ‏@amoitmiriam 5 hours ago
Yvonne Makori, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a family’s only hope #TheyHaveNames #147notjustanumber

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Yvonne Makori

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Like what? Who does the dishes at home?

Apr 5th, 2015 11:31 am | By

The Daily Beast talks to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and gets yet another scornful Dear Muslima out of her. We get it, Ayaan: you have contempt for feminists in the US. Thanks a lot for the solidarity.

There’s an argument, which I’m sure you’ve heard, that Western women face their own forms of oppression, which are different but may be just as bad, or almost as bad—

Like what? Who does the dishes at home? That’s what it boils down to: How can we balance work-life.

Of course that’s challenging. But can you imagine how far we’ve come from the points when women weren’t allowed to get out of the house, couldn’t be in public, couldn’t take public office, weren’t allowed to vote, couldn’t own their own bank accounts. Even the money they inherited wasn’t theirs, it was for the male guardians to look after. And now, [it’s], “Who loads the dishes in the dishwasher, who does the unloading?” And I think it’s still very important; I have massive fights with my husband about who does what at home. But that is more on the micro level, and it’s a luxury. And I don’t think that the government can do anything about that. What kind of law are you going to pass that says who does the dishes, who does the diapers, who looks after the children, who’s going to work and whose career is going to go up or down?

First: no, that’s not all that’s left. Far from it – or to put it another way, don’t be ridiculous.

Second: who the hell said feminism is only about what the government can do? What’s that got to do with anything? Feminism is about how everyone thinks about women, views women, makes assessments of women – everyone including, of course, women ourselves. It’s not just about laws, and never has been, not even in the first wave. There have been some feminists who focused only on laws, and there still are, but that doesn’t mean feminism itself has focused only on that or that it does (or should) now. And no, that is not trivial, it is not “the micro level” in a pejorative sense, and no it fucking is not a luxury. If a peaceful secular coup replaced the Saudi monarchy this afternoon and all the anti-woman laws were repealed, that wouldn’t mean everything was perfect, or so close to perfect that the remainder was a “luxury.”

Brandeis was wrong when it invited Ayaan HA to speak and receive an honorary degree and then grabbed the invitation and the honorary degree back, and Ayaan HA is wrong when she says US feminism is about who washes the dishes. She’s insultingly wrong, scornfully wrong, Christina Hoff Sommers wrong. Phooey.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The wages of revenge porn

Apr 5th, 2015 11:08 am | By

Revenge porn extortionist Kevin Christopher Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Friday for posting naked pictures of women online and demanding money to take them down.

Eight women told Superior Court Judge David Gill how they were victimized by having the pictures appear on the website.

One woman said she received 400 messages on social media after the pictures were shown. She said she was forced to quit college and seek help in a mental hospital.

Cue the shouts of “special snowflake!” and “get over yourself!” and “free speech!” and “get off the internet if you can’t handle criticism!” and “shut the fuck up, cunt!”

Prosecutors said that Bollaert created a website that allowed the anonymous posting of nude and sexually explicit photos. The website required that a person posting a picture to include the subject’s name, location, age and Facebook profile.

Prosecutors said more than 10,000 images from California and other states were posted between Dec. 2, 2012, and Sept. 17, 2013.

Court documents include emails to Bollaert’s website from women demanding that pictures of them be removed. In the emails, the women say that posting of the pictures left them angry, scared and feeling violated.

Which was the whole point of sending them to Bollaert, wasn’t it.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

It can always get worse

Apr 5th, 2015 10:26 am | By

Daesh has overrun the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.

Reports of killings and even beheadings were beginning to circulate on Saturday, worsening what is already a longstanding humanitarian nightmare for the 18,000 residents of the Yarmouk refugee camp.

This won’t end well.

[T]he move suggests that as the Islamic State loses ground in Iraq and northeastern Syria, the most daring response it could muster on the ground was to attack one of the most vulnerable populations in Syria.

Most of all, the attack was a perverse answer to the question of how life in Yarmouk could get worse. Many residents’ very presence there is a scar from a previous war; they are descended from Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes in the 1948 war over Israel’s founding.

The BBC reports that a few have managed to escape.

Unrwa spokesman Chris Gunness told the BBC that the situation in Yarmouk was extremely difficult.

“We now have an intense armed conflict raging in the streets, people are cowering in their homes, too terrified to move,” he said.

Some civilians have managed to leave. Unrwa confirmed that 94 civilians, including 43 women and 20 children, had escaped and been given humanitarian support.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Damascus told the BBC that hundreds more had fled from this area of Damascus over the past two days.

Another zero on humanity’s report card.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Four out of the 147

Apr 5th, 2015 10:06 am | By

There’s a Twitter hashtag, , where the murdered students of Garissa are being named and remembered.

Tom Vandenbosch @TVandenbosch 7 hours ago
Mary Muchiri Shee, Miss Garissa University
We will name them one by one.

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Tom Vandenbosch ‏@TVandenbosch 3 hours ago
RIP Elizabeth Nyangarora. Graduated in 2012 from St Andrews Kanga Girls High.
#147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Maskani Ya Taifa ‏@Maskani254 5 hours ago
Doreen ‘Specialrose’ Gakii #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Maskani Ya Taifa ‏@Maskani254 6 hours ago
Dadly Mose #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Guest post

Apr 4th, 2015 5:40 pm | By

Originally a comment by Chris Lawson on The worst the Christian community can do in America.

The problem with the Dear Muslima argument:

1. “Dear Muslima” implies that one should only combat the world’s worst examples of a problem and never the less dramatic examples of the same problem immediately around us.

2. “Dear Muslima” minimises the importance of mild and moderate aspects of a problem by asserting that they’re not worth tackling.

3. “Dear Muslima” minimises the importance of geography by assuming one’s efforts are better spent on addressing a problem on the other side of the world in a culture one is not a part of. (Note: I have nothing against people trying to address a problem in distant lands and unfamiliar cultures, I’m only against the attitude that this is the only acceptable way to do it.)

4. “Dear Muslima” assumes that progress on a problem in better-off countries has no effect on progress on the same problem in countries where the problem is more entrenched, when we know full well that as more and more countries adopt a culture change, the resistant countries become more and more isolated and feel more pressure to change (e.g.: the Arab Spring, the spread of gay marriage equality, the rise of democracy in Europe in C18-20).

5. “Dear Muslima”, at its worst, underplays the severity of problems in better-off countries; as Ophelia and Zug have already pointed out, being denied a wedding cake is NOT the worst thing that can happen to gay people in the US.

6. “Dear Muslima”, on the observational evidence, is exactly what Saad says: a rhetorical tool for dismissing concerns about the treatment of oppressed groups in better-off nations in order to maintain the status quo; it is a deeply conservative message that essentially says “no effort should be made to address local inequities until they have been eradicated in all distant parts of the world”, i.e. never.

Let’s imagine these “Dear Muslima” prescriptions being used in international health.

1. “We cannot treat your malaria here in Brazil because the disease is far more prevalent in Africa.”

2. “We’re not going to treat your testicular cancer because it has a much better 5-year survival rate than pancreatic cancer.”

3. “We’re not going to put any money into researching AIDS vaccines because the people who really need the vaccine are in Africa, not here.”

4. “We’re going to stop vaccinating against polio because we feel like ignoring the benefits of vaccinating neighbouring countries to reduce transmission everywhere.”

5. “We shouldn’t treat heart disease because the worst that can happen is unpleasant chest pains.”

6. “Of course we’d like to improve the health of First Nations people in the US, but our hands are tied until Australia and New Zealand close their health gaps; it saddens me to say it, but our First Nations people are just going to have to accept the situation with the admirable resilience they have honed over centuries of mass murder and land displacement. Our thoughts are with them, but not funding or political change.”

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Tom Cotton’s Dear Muslima

Apr 4th, 2015 5:31 pm | By

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said it to Wolf Blitzer on CNN: check your priorities, aka Dear Muslima. Arkansas’s RFRA is no big deal because hey, it doesn’t kill you.

But I also think it’s important we have a sense of perspective about our priorities. In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay; they’re currently imprisoning an American preacher for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in Iran. We should focus on the most important priorities that our country faces right now.

So passing the RFRA was an important-enough priority, and signing it was an important-enough priority, but objecting to it apparently is a frivolous diversion. How does that work, exactly?

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)