Donald Trump

Glimmers of Light in the Toxic Smug

Gestures and good will count in a climate of fear and ridicule.

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Several hundred people turned out this past Sunday at the Islamic Center of Virginia, in Chesterfield County, for a show of unity and solidarity. There's a lot of that going on these days. Similar events have taken place at Islamic centers in California, Colorado, and even Wyoming.

Events like those don't really produce tangible results. They don't pass any laws or upend any executive orders or launch any products or feed any hungry kids. But then neither does sending a get-well card to a friend in the hospital. Neither did putting up American flags after 9/11, for that matter—but just about everybody felt it needed doing. Gestures count.

It's not all mere gesture, though. At the end of last month a mosque in Victoria, Texas, caught fire and burned. This was right after Donald Trump issued his executive order on immigrants and refugees. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but people could be forgiven for wondering.

Anyhow, what's worth noting is the aftermath: The folks of Victoria, pop. 65,000, rallied around the congregation. Four Christian churches offered their buildings so the Muslims would have someplace to pray. A representative from Temple B'Nai Israel went to the home of the Islamic center's president and handed him the keys to the temple. In the meantime, a GoFundMe page set up to collect donations for rebuilding has raised more than $1 million.

Then there was the story out of New York, where someone had scrawled swastikas and vile anti-Semitic messages on a subway car. A group of riders undertook a spontaneous cleanup with hand sanitizer and tissues, and in less than five minutes, the graffiti was gone. One of them posted the story on Facebook, and it quickly went viral.

Which should come as no surprise. The national climate lately has not exactly been all butterflies and rainbows. On one side you have a lot of folks who seem to think a dark shroud of fascism is about to be draped across the land as uniformed men with cattle prods start rounding up dissidents. On the other you have a lot of folks who are outraged by all the fear and outrage from the first bunch—and who seem to take grim pleasure in turning the machinery that's been grinding them down for so long against the people who used to run it.

Polarized media—traditional and social—help keep animosities jagged. "This Awful Person From the Other Side Just Said This Crazy Stuff About Our Side" is, unfortunately, the sort of headline that gets the juices flowing and the mice clicking. It's also an easy headline to write, because every side has its bug-eyed-lunatic contingent. (If you think yours doesn't, just spend a little while on websites favored by the opposing team. You'll see.)

Solzhenitsyn understood the tribalist impulses that drive such motivated reasoning. "If only it were all so simple!" he wrote in The Gulag Archipelago. "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being."

Granted: There are evil people, and they do commit evil deeds. But few of them think of themselves that way. The wicked man is right in his own mind, to paraphrase a maxim. Still, you can't make a Utopia by weeding out the wicked. Every time that's been tried, the result has been atrocity on an industrial scale. The wicked usually have some good in them, and vice versa. You might get even the Dalai Llama to endorse homicide if you stuck him in a traffic jam on I-95 for a few hours.

Back before the election, Pedigree (the dog-food company) sent a woman in a Clinton T-shirt to a Trump rally, then sent her to a Clinton rally in a Trump T-shirt. In each case she brought a "lost" dog and pretended to be trying to find the owner. Rally attendants noted her shirt, but they let it go. Turns out dog lovers belong to every political persuasion. (You can watch the 3-minute spot by Googling "a vote for good.")

That's worth keeping in mind these days, as black plumes of toxic rhetoric belch forth from the foundries of scorn and hate. And it's worth looking for the stories about subway riders and solidarity-makers, too. Because, in the dark smog of our political climate, they are like the lamplighter of old—who used to walk through the streets at dusk, setting the lamps aflame. It's been said that if you looked out your window, you couldn't actually see the lamplighter. But you could see where he'd been.

This column originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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82 responses to “Glimmers of Light in the Toxic Smug

  1. Not possible. This cannot have happened without the guiding hand of FedGov cause ordinary people are wicked and must be herded in the proper direction.

  2. OH MY GOD REASON ENOUGH OF THE ENDLESS TRUMP BASHING HE IS NOT HITLER FOR GODS SAKES HE JUST WANTS TO MAKE THE COUNTRY SAFE AGAIN FROM THE MUSLIMS AND ILLEGALS AND BLACKS AND STOP WITH THESE FLUFF PIECES IGNORING ALL THE TERRIST ATTACKS GOING ON ALL AROUND US

    1. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour… This is what I do

      =========================== http://www.4dayjobs.com

  3. At the end of last month a mosque in Victoria, Texas, caught fire and burned. This was right after Donald Trump issued his executive order on immigrants and refugees. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but people could be forgiven for wondering.

    Yes, it certainly is a strange coincidence

    1. Yeah, funny that. Then again it could have faulty wiring or any number of other things.

      1. Or the God of Texas could be Smiting them. Never rule out a capricious smiting.

    2. Unbelievable that they’re trying to pin a white man’s crime on a black man. Only a white man can commit a hate crime. A black man burning down his own church is engaged in performative activism. That’s not arson, that’s community organizing.

      1. Also, he’s stimulating the economy, someone’s got to rebuild that church.

    3. That burned-up mosque is just about a half mile from my apartment.

      1. Aw shit, I just put myself on the suspects list, didn’t I?

        1. Yes. Yes it did. Particularly since “Uber Alles” is German and we all know that means you are a member of the alt-Right.

        2. You can expect a no knock SWAT raid any minute now…

        3. I think you want your name to be “Ober alles,” which would be “over all.” “Uber Alles” is “super all,” or something nonsensically similar. Unless you are going for nonsensical, which is completely fine. Good talk.

          1. I think you’ll find it’s the premium tier of a ride sharing company.

  4. It’s also an easy headline to write, because every side has its bug-eyed-lunatic contingent.

    Well that’s not a very nice thing to say about the Hit & Run readership.

  5. OH MY GOD REASON WERE AT WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO KILL ALL OUR PRECIOUS GAYS JUST FOR WANTING TO HAVE BUTTSEX WITH EACH OTHER N WERE DYIN FOR THEIR SINS

  6. It’s actually kind of surprising that you don’t see more combination church/synagogue/mosques around. Since they all have their sabbaths on different days, you could really save on real estate and utilities, and all you’d have to do is replace the icon at the front of the house.

    1. Welcome to the Abrahamic Fellowship. Please kneel/sit/stand while praying and leave your aggressions at the door.

      1. Quiet, both of you, we’ve got a good thing going here with the three divided faiths, don’t screw this up.

        /Illuminati

      2. Pretty sure donuts and coffee are both kosher and halal.

        1. Pretty sure donuts and coffee are both kosher and halal

          said the guy who didn’t think for 2 seconds how donuts are made

          1. The 2nd point in that article is that most places use vegetable shortening rather than lard.

            1. oh, so now its “SOME” donuts are halal and kosher. gotcha.

          2. It’s ok, just say the lards prayer over them, and you’re gtg.

            1. the lards prayer

              +1 “Our father” (fatter?)

            2. Our fatter, who art a lardass, fatty be thy gut,
              Your dinner come, your food be ate, on earth as it is in heaven
              Give us this day our daily lard, and forgive us our diets, as we also have forgiven our dietors.
              And lead us not into vegetables, but deliver us from health food.

              1. *Covers host in half a can of spray cheese*

          3. Any religion that shuns donuts is not for me.

        2. The Brits said that about rifle powder packets.

          It didn’t go well.

          1. Masterfully understated.

    2. You know what would be even easier? Putting together a Church of Religion that everyone could worship together.

      1. The problem comes when Bear Odinsson sacrifices the rest of the congregation for his blot.

        1. FREEDOM OF RELIGION!!

          he he he

          Seriously though, if I didn’t know better, I might think you have a problem with human sacrifice or something.

          1. *Helps Bear prepare the Blood Eagle posts*

            Now remember John, if you cry out in pain, you don’t go to Valhalla.

            1. Oh yeah, sacrifice the time traveler to your pagan gods, that’s gone so well the other four times someone’s tried it.

      2. Bahai and Unitarian Universalists both have a “No fat chicks” policy.

        1. Even the chubby Iranian chicks are… yowza.

    3. And possibly reconsecrate the building.

      +1 multiplier effect

    4. If you just had them all on the same day, would that be Unitarian Universalism? Because it sounds like Unitarian Universalism. We love donuts AND coffee.

  7. These Muslim solidarity hug fests have been going ever since September 2001.

    I’m waiting for Muslims to sponsor a love in for Azidis or Coptic Christians, assuming that any are left.

    1. Maybe we’ll get to know our wonderful new Muslim neighbors as well as the Europeans do now. Only 55% of Europeans want Muslim immigration banned outright Almost enough to make you wonder if Western civilization, freedom, and Islam are a really bad mix. Wish there was an open-minded libertarian publication willing to honestly explore the issue.

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02…..-be-banned

      1. It’s almost like the more you directly deal with Muslims, the more likely you are to not want them in your vicinity. How could that possibly be?

        1. Remember when having scorn for religion was considered cool? Now we show our enlightenment by embracing stone age organizations that overtly attack most of what humanity has gained since then.

          Imagine if it was a neo-nazi group’s headquarters that was burned down. And a brownshirt organization lent the nazis a place to meet, and everyone pitched in to build a new headquarters. Hinkle would be all “awww isn’t that nice”.

      2. Western civilization, touting freedom while violently interfering in the political climates of nations halfway across the planet and sorta-accidentally spurring their effective collapse / the unnatural and precipitous rise of fringe militant factions, and Islam don’t mix, I can’t agree with you more there.

  8. Dear “reason staff”-

    Thanks to your fucking autoploay video ads, I just installed an ad blocker.

    Nice going, dumbasses.

    Watch this next: “This one stupid trick could cost you tons of ad revenue!”

    1. Hah, shows what you know – now you’ll never know what happened to the girl who wore the Mentos bikini into a tub of Diet Coke!

    2. I’ve been getting redirects lately but it’s a mobile format. They need to police their ad providers.

    3. You could just install a flashblocker and quit being a raging dick about everything.

      1. quit being a raging dick about everything.

        And water could stop being wet…

      2. No, if you’re gonna go you have to FLOUNCE. What’s the point if you don’t tell everyone??

  9. Meh, who cares. Just mind your own business and sacrifice your sheep to the invisible sky gods or whatever it is you do, and everything will be fine.

  10. Too much local news, let’s have some national stories.

  11. ‘Dogs bring out the good in all of us’….except nervous cops.

    1. Dogs bring out the good marksmen in cops.

      1. Well, except the one that got threatened by a dog so he shot a toddler.

        Blood’s still boiling over that one.

        1. That’s so unfair. Toddlers can safely be assumed armed and dangerous.

  12. quit being a raging dick about everything.

    Oh, fuck off.

    1. No, *you* fuck off, fucker!

      I mean, can’t we all be civil and loving?

    2. See, you’re getting better already.

  13. Don’t forget this one from 2015 (it resurfaced in one of my feeds a couple of days ago):

    Satanic Temple offers help to Muslims amid post-Paris backlash

    At least two chapters of the Satanic Temple announced this week that its members would be happy to help any Muslims made uncomfortable by the recent surge in anti-Islamic sentiment.

    “If there is anyone in the San Jose region who is Muslim and afraid to leave their home out of fear for some kind of backlash, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would be glad to escort you where you need to go without advertising our presence ? just big dudes walking you where you need to be. We would also happily deliver you some groceries,” the San Jose chapter of the Satanic Temple advertised on its Facebook page Wednesday.

    1. “Thanks for the help…but don’t tell my imam, he wouldn’t understand.”

  14. But I think we can all agree on one thing: There are people who would actually pay money to hear a band called “A. Barton Hinkle and the raging dicks.”

    1. You could have done better, Eddie.

      A Barton Hinkle’s Raging Dick

      1. 1 dick < multiple dicks Just don't let 'em touch.

  15. This was right after Donald Trump issued his executive order on immigrants and refugees. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but people could be forgiven for wondering.

    If the person wondering is retarded maybe.

    Anyhow, what’s worth noting is the aftermath: The folks of Victoria, pop. 65,000, rallied around the congregation. Four Christian churches offered their buildings so the Muslims would have someplace to pray. A representative from Temple B’Nai Israel went to the home of the Islamic center’s president and handed him the keys to the temple. In the meantime, a GoFundMe page set up to collect donations for rebuilding has raised more than $1 million.

    Yes it is worth noting. And it shows how little actual prejudice against Muslims exists in this country.

    1. PROG: “Are you *sure* you’re not prejudiced?”

      NORMAL DUDE: “We’re all Americans with the same rights and duties…regardless of religion…”

      PROG: “So, being unprejudiced, I suppose you wouldn’t mind letting in more Muslim immigrants?”

      NORMAL DUDE: “Consistent with the country’s economic capacity, so long as they’re peaceful and vetted and supportive of American institutions…”

      PROG: “So, you *are* prejudiced, I knew I’d be able to get behind your lies and penetrate to the Hitlerism underneath! Why don’t you vote for us, we have your interests at hear!”

        1. Hear hear!

  16. Whenever I read these heart-warming stories, am I a bad person for wondering: Are there frequent cases where Muslims have offered up their mosques to other religions as a place to worship?

    1. If there were, you would have heard about it. And no you are not a bad person for wondering that.

    2. What’s frequent, I guess? I don’t hear about these sorts of cases often, either. I have heard of a few, but I don’t pretend that proves it either common or uncommon. If we can only name a few, or if we can’t personally think of any, how much more frequent is the former, really?

  17. Solzhenitsyn understood the tribalist impulses that drive such motivated reasoning. “If only it were all so simple!” he wrote in The Gulag Archipelago. “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”> One of my most appreciated quotes/observations from Solzhenitsyn’s book, which I highly recommend.

    That’s worth keeping in mind these days, as black plumes of toxic rhetoric belch forth from the foundries of scorn and hate. I also appreciated this colorful line.

    And, of course, Hinkle mentions Diogenes at the end.

    1. Dang it! Another HTML failure within two weeks.

      Fortunately, I have faith in the intelligence of my fellow commenters (and H&R readers who perhaps wisely do not comment).

      1. I have faith in the intelligence of my fellow commenters

        huh heh. (drool)

      2. H&R readers who perhaps wisely do not comment

        H&R readers, meaning people who actually read the articles, rarely if ever comment. Frequent commenters rarely if ever read the articles. IT IS KNOWN.

  18. At the end of last month a mosque in Victoria, Texas, caught fire and burned.

    The folks of Victoria, pop. 65,000, rallied around the congregation. Four Christian churches offered their buildings so the Muslims would have someplace to pray. A representative from Temple B’Nai Israel went to the home of the Islamic center’s president and handed him the keys to the temple.

    Show of hands: who thinks that if the Temple B’Nai Israel had burned down, would the mosque have handed the keys to the mosque to the rabbi?

    1. “would the mosque have handed the keys to the mosque to the rabbi?”

      Only if the Rabbi promised to confine his chicken swinging to the parking lot.

  19. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour… This is what I do

    =========================== http://www.4dayjobs.com

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