On one of the bloodiest weekends in recent American history, a reported white supremacist gunman took 20 lives in an El Paso Wal-Mart. Only 13 hours later, a reported Antifa sympathizer in Dayton, Ohio killed his sister and her boyfriend as well as seven others at a popular nightspot, though his personal motivation is still unclear. These two young men who seemingly followed opposing ideologies both saw mass violence and death as the solution.
This kind of violence doesn’t stem from either an exclusively left or right perspective, but from an undercurrent of tribalism in our society that can cause young people to feel worthless and hopeless. When people feel isolated, they reach out desperately for somewhere to belong.
Over the same weekend as this numbing violence, the young socialists of America gathered in Atlanta for an annual convention. They bickerered about the gendered use of the word “guys” and how clapping is too triggering and must be replaced by jazz hands. The live streams for the four-day event are a tragicomic, yet stunningly accurate depiction of the self-parody that has become the American left. These ideologues are eating themselves alive, while completely ignoring the effect their divisive language is having on society at large.
However, divisive language is not the sole purview of the left. The right has its fair share of alienating talking points. Fox News anchors miss the mark when they spout off about the dangerous video games pose in radicalizing those like the young El Paso gunman. Xenophobic, identitarian, anti-immigration language doesn’t help either. It’s almost as if there are bad actors on both sides.
While the left blames “white supremacy” for the problem, and the right thinks that a permissive culture that advocates for violence is at fault, often refusing to acknowledge the problem of white supremacists, neither is looking at the issues that are truly tearing us apart. At the root of both the vile scourge of actual white supremacists and the fevered Antifa activist’s dream that everyone who disagrees with them is a white supremacist is the desire to categoize and group people. To put it more simply—identity politics.
Tribalism is a substantial threat to the peaceful fabric of North American life. It leads to censorship, panic, and conspiratorial thinking. We have abandoned our commonality in favour of elucidating and entrenching our differences. We point fingers and otherize, telling those different from us exactly why those differences make whatever our group is better than whatever their group is. When we box and package ourselves, we make it easier to be divided. We assemble according to shared characteristics, and bond over how different our group is from other groups. It isn’t long before groups take pride in those aspects of self that they all share, and it isn’t long after that pride in shared characteristics within the group morph into feelings of group superiority over others.
White supremacists subscribe to identity politics. They use the prevalence of cultural tribalism to be culturally tribal themselves. The left uses identity politics to unify the members of a group, and then to ascertain, identify, or invent commonalities among groups of groups. This is why the left has the appearance of being comprised of groups of groups, while the right appears to be a solid voting block. Media ideologues vie for control of the narrative, pitting labels of white supremacy against armchair diagnoses of mental illness while real life bodies pile up.
People who murder innocents do it for the same purpose: to terrorize a community and instill fear. That’s what these men were doing. Despite reasons given, whether the manifesto of the El Paso shooter, or whatever reasons we may never know from the Dayton shooter, they picked up weapons with the intent of mass murder because they felt this was the only way to assert power. It goes without saying that these were horrible, terrorist acts. But the fact is that they keep happening, with young people radicalizing on both the right and the left.
Is it likely that a boorish, politically incorrect president or hyper-realistic video games or heavy metal music (to invoke a previous social panic) are to blame for the violence of young rebels without a legitimate cause? It seems more likely that the identity politics that dictates ideological safety and group identity as more important than individual freedom and equality under the law has played a major factor.
Identity politics on the left and the right has become so insidious that people of all races, genders, orientations, and religions are afraid to find commonality. We know culture is polarized, but doesn’t have to be that way between individuals.
When people receive the message from culture at large that they’re worthless, whether for reasons of race, immigration status, or gender, how do we expect them to react? Are they just supposed to take it?
While pundits and pontificators have been quick to blame the recent violence on everything from gun laws to Trump to video games, the lowest of the low have used the recent tragedies as cudgels in order to score cheap political points. Violent tragedies like this predate any of the supposed causes that the talking heads put forward.
Every time this happens the response is the same. Calls for things to change, for gun control, more mental health education or access to care, impeaching Trump, twirl on, media. At the memorial for the victims in Dayton, the crowd chanted “do something!” That is a desperate call. What no one says is that this is definitely going to happen again.
We could clamp down on everything, but until young people feel valued by a society that seems more willing to throw them under the bus, this problem of radicalized, ostracized youth will keep getting worse.
We need to face facts. Mass violence has been around longer than Donald Trump, video games, rock music, guns, and all of the other purported causes. But the one thing that’s been around as long as mass violence is tribalism. And let’s be loud and clear about it: identity politics is tribalism. We need to understand that our differences do not make us better or worse than anyone else. If we want to live in a safer and more civil society, tribalism, on the left and right, needs to end.
A Canadian man who was detained by Turkish police in July, is believed to have been carrying a phone containing ISIS propaganda at the time of his arrest, according to the CBC. Ikar Mao was arrested close to the Syrian border in the summer of 2019. He was travelling with his wife at the time.
The phone had been sent ISIS related videos using the encrypted messaging app, Telegram. The man claimed that the videos were downloaded without his knowledge or intent.
In October, the couple were able to make their way back to Canada after being acquitted.
The man denied joining ISIS and claimed that the couple was not planning on going to Syria.
The FBI was not convinced by the couples claims. According to the CBC, terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann said, “It’s a huge red flag.”
“Up until the last few days Telegram was the chief means that ISIS and its supporters were using to communicate with the mother organization — the mother ship as well as with each other.”
The man is scheduled to attend court on Friday near Toronto. He is currently abiding by the courts bail conditions which include very limited access to internet, a curfew, as well as an ankle bracelet.
The videos sent to Mao’s phone contained ISIS propaganda as well as armed soldiers. We are not yet sure if the original evidence has been seen by Canadian authorities.
Kamran Bokhari who is with the Center for Global Policy in Washington was quoted saying, “If you have Telegram and then you have footage inside your Telegram account that shows jihadist videos or jihadist pictures or messages or memes, then of course that’s a very telltale sign.”
Telegram is an app that ISIS often uses.
Further evidence shows that the couple said they intended to join ISIS in a letter that was intended for their family.
Kholmann also said, “It could very well be a part of propaganda efforts inside of Syria. ISIS produces a tremendous amount of propaganda. They produce a lot of videos. They produce a lot of audio, and a lot of this stuff is harvested directly from the battlefield,” he went on to say, “In order to carry this material backwards and forwards — in order to transfer it between cameramen and the media editors and whatnot — it takes media devices to carry it.”
Kohlmann believes that the death of former ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has not slowed the ISIS organization and said, “ISIS is not dead, and these cases are proving that the appeal that ISIS has to Westerners is still there, and they are still traveling to Syria and Iraq to the battlefield where ISIS still has a physical presence,” he went on to say, “This organization is no longer just an organization. It’s a hybrid. It’s an organization and it’s a movement. These folks, they don’t need Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi anymore.”
Bokhari is still open to the possibility that the whole situation is a misunderstanding. He noted, “It’s possible that they did not have any intention of engaging in violence and they just wanted to be part of a context or an environment which they call ‘under Islamic rule,” and added, “But again, it’s a hard case to make because everybody knows — and these individuals who decided to make this journey also knew — that there was a lot of violence associated with this regime, the jihadist regime that ISIS had established. So it’s a hard case for the defence to make.”
The family and the lawyers of the couple have declined to comment on the situation.
More charges have been laid in connection with an antifa-related protest at Mohawk College in September. Hamilton police are still looking to identify some additional suspects.
Alaa Al Soufi, 27, was the latest to be arrested on Nov. 19 and has four charges pending including assault, theft under $5000, intimidation, and disguise with intent.
The charges stem from an earlier altercation that took place during a Dave Rubin and Maxime Bernier fundraiser for the People’s Party. The fundraiser was held at Mohawk College on Sept. 29, 2019. The event went viral after video appeared of an elderly woman having her pathway blocked by a group of protestors.
Soufi’s parents own a Syrian restaurant in Toronto called Soufi’s which had to temporarily close, citing death threats after the protest.
Soufi allegedly went up to a woman at the event in the parking lot, “impeded her way” and “slapped a baseball hat that she was wearing off her head,” said Hamilton Police Inspector David Hennick said in a public police report.
Police have since managed to identify the female victim in question and she supports the charges being laid. The theft charge is for stealing her hat.
Charges were also laid on Michael Lickers, 27-years-of-age from Hamilton. He is being charged with assault level one and intimidation. Lickers has since been released on a promise to appear with court date of Tuesday, December 24, 2019.
Police have released photos of the remaining suspects and ask that anybody who has any information to come forward.
Consent culture is touted as the antidote for rape culture. Only it’s not really the opposite or a salve, but a perpetuation of the infantilization of women. Articles abound on how rape culture is perpetuated, by parents to children, in entertainment, and by women’s fear of men. Consent culture posits that the asking of women for their permission prior to the commencement of sexual or romantic contact could remedy this. The preponderance of rhetoric around consent does not liberate women, or even give them the autonomy it seeks to, but turns romance into bureaucracy.
Consent culture seeks to redefine how we think about relationships, sex, and our own impulses. There’ve been hot takes about how it’s wrong to make little kids hug their grandparents and missives about how a yes can be retracted in medias res. On some college campuses, there’ve been directives on asking for consent during every step of a sexual encounter, while still having the conceit that if the sex is later regretted, it can be reclassed as rape, despite consent. Now we’re treated to a new kind of ask for consent, consent for sexting.
“Ask consent for all sexual encounters, yes, even sexting. I just came up with this script that you’re all welcome to borrow!”
The message is that this is how intimacy should be initiated, cordially, without nuance. Rather, a straight appeal to the logical mind is what’s required. If this is the kind of message you feel you must send to find out if a person wants to sext with you, perhaps that’s not the right person to sext with. Are we so closed with our feelings that we can’t express them except in the form of yes or no answers to direct questions? This seems like the type of question one should only ask if they’re sure of an affirmative response.
The reaction to the consent for sext script was swift and fierce. But as we try more and more to control what we say, how we say it, and the thoughts from which our expression derives, this is the direction in which we’re headed. Mediated communication, even in our most intimate moments, a script for how to talk to those we feel passionately about simply to ensure that no one is offended, are the ways we are being directed to initiate and stay in romantic relationships.
Does asking for consent in this way work? Does it achieve the goal of getting someone to read your illicit thoughts? The response to this request to sext could go one of two ways: yes, or no. If yes, the initiating sexter may imagine that this is a green light to off-screen romance, but what if the mere act of asking has an impact on the answer? Perhaps the respondent, in saying okay, is actually feeling coerced by the existence of the question into accepting the terms of this new form of contact. This script is intended for both the asker and the asked, after all.
If that’s the case, then gaining consent isn’t even a good enough measure of her willingness to sext with you. As this poster points out:
In this context, consent culture is an extension of rape culture. It’s not something that can stop women from getting into uncomfortable situations, but the first bit of pressure that leads them down the road to coercion, where every yes is more easily followed up by an additional yes. How do you tell a guy whose sexts you’ve accepted that you don’t want sex, is the question this post asks.
Both the initial script of how to ask someone to sext with you and the note about how the expression of consent is not evidence of consent assume that a woman does not know her own mind. Either she needs to be asked directly if she is interested, presumably because she has not given any indication of being intrigued by her potential suitor, or even when she affirms her intention, she is not telling the truth.
There’s this idea that we know what healthy relationships look like, and that we can engineer them, from the outset, to follow a prescribed course to attain that result. This new relationship model is in direct reaction to the old patriarchal one, where men led the family and women submitted to their husbands. That model still works for many families– are those couples doing their relationship wrong, even if those within the family are thriving?
Romance isn’t really an appeal to logic and reason. What works for one couple may not work for another. Individuals don’t come to relationships from a position of knowing what they want, how to get it, or even fully how they want to be treated. We’re all basically damaged, and the implementation of checklists into relationships makes things worse, not better. There is no script for how to communicate, despite the tweets or BuzzFeed quizzes. There is only, as always, open communication, respect, kindness, love, and honesty. Nothing else is even remotely relevant. Speak with an open and loving heart. Don’t let romance be carried off by paperwork and rules of wokeness.
Bruce Arthur, dubbed Sportswriter of the Year in 2012 by Sports Media Canada and featured in Sports Illustrated’s list of top 100 people to follow on Twitter, may sound like your average sports columnist, but there’s much more to the man than hot takes and sports. He also has a passion for hurling abuse at strong conservative women. Specifically, Candice Malcolm.
Malcolm is the founder of True North, an independent media outlet in Canada. She tweeted out a reply to Justin Ling, a man who describes himself as a “consulting killjoy,” “perpetually unemployed” and “painstakingly uninteresting.”
Ling had said in a Hill Times article that True North, the independent news outlet founded by Malcolm, was a “tiny start-up” from “worrying ends of the spectrum.”
Malcolm stood up for herself and her outlet:
And this is when Bruce Arthur showed exactly why he was voted by SI as one of the top 100 people to follow on Twitter, saying to Malcolm: “You’re garbage.”
At first, I was confused by this nasty response. But then I looked into who this guy really is. It turns out he’s the kind of guy who would imply that if you watch conservative news programs like former hockey legend Bobby Orr does, then you might be a “white supremacist.”
Slandering people and blithely calling a woman “garbage”? I think Trudeau should reconsider all of that media bailout money he’s giving the Toronto Star and Arthur.
According to today’s woke standards, Arthur—a mediocre white male—should be cancelled for typing such a reply to a female journalist. It’s the kind of thing that is condemned as “hate”—rooted in misogyny and toxic masculinity. Will that happen in this case? Of course not. You see, Malcolm is conservative and Arthur is liberal. The standards are never applied equally.
Candice Malcolm has stood up for Canadians, our freedom of speech, our servicemen and servicewomen, tackled terrorism, broken stories others only wish they could have, and has taken the Trudeau government to court for and won on behalf of freedom of the press. For a sports columnist to state that Malcolm, an obvious pillar of Canadian media is “garbage” is completely inaccurate and out of touch.
Freedom of speech belongs to everyone. That freedom should not be limited or suppressed. Arthur has the right to hurl insults at conservative women all day long if he so chooses. But it does speak to his lack of character. How we use our language is a choice we make, and this choice was, quite frankly, garbage.
Bruce, if you want to save your credibility, take the plank out of your eye before commenting on the speck you see in someone else’s. Or, just stick to the sports highlights and leave the real work to Candice Malcolm and True North.
I guarantee that Malcolm would still defend your ability to speak freely and call her names. That’s the kind of professional she is.