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Ferguson compared: Kelsey Atherton compiles the tweets

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- easily the clearest and most powerful critique of recent events in Ferguson comes from KD Atherton and friends ]
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Kelsey Atherton has Storified a fine compilation of tweets comparing Ferguson police, their weaponry, posture and tactcis, with military equivalents, in what is essentially an extended DoubleQuotes approach to understanding the “militarization” of US police. Please note that the piece runs two pages to see the second, you need to click for it at the bottom of the first page.

He leads of with a sequence of tweets from Andrew Exum aka Abu Muqawama, of which this is one:

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Two of the tweets Atherton posts use what I call a DoubleQuotes in the Wild format:

and:

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Here are some other examples, pulled from a total of 45 tweets all told — including some from friends of this blog:

One point nicely made by Adam Weinstein is that the “militarization” isn’t military much beyond the gear:

See also this:

Here’s Jimmy Sky:

— which pretty much confirms a point I was making in DoubleQuotes in Foreign Policy: Ferguson and the world.

Three from Nathan Bethea offer further perspective on Iraq:

Again, that last tweet reinforces what I was suggesting in DoubleQuotes in Foreign Policy: Ferguson and the world.

My next-to-last pick: Jason Fritz makes a triple point:

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After requesting further tweets that might be relevant to his Storify story, Atherton includes a handful of tweets from @kudzu81 aka ibreakthings, offering this moderate critique:

Atherton’s own conclusion, which he posts as a sub-head to his Storify:

The general consensus here: if this is militarization, it’s the shittiest, least-trained, least professional military in the world, using weapons far beyond what they need, or what the military would use when doing crowd control.

All in all, an impressive performance — much kudos to Kelsey Atherton, be sure to read his whole piece on Storify — and follow him on Twitter.

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DoubleQuotes as claim and refutation: Ukraine

Friday, August 15th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- DoubleQuotes as an alternative to "on page 16, below the fold"]
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All too often when mass media are caught propagating falsehoods, the apologies and refutations if any get buried away in an obscure corner where few of those who saw the original claim will run across the correction. This tweeted DoubleQuote in the Wild gives “equal time” to claim and refutation:

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So there’s another useful use for the DoubleQuotes format -=- and my hat’s off to Mannfred Nyttingnes.

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The DoubleQuote as Feedback Loop

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- a new variant on the DoubleQuote format addresses loops and escalations ]
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I seem to be thinking about feedback loop diagrams today, eh?

And what with my Twitter feed filling with images from Ferguson, MO, and someone posting an image from the Bundy Ranch standoff by way of comparison, it occurred to me that images of cops taking aim at citizens (Ferguson, MO, upper panel below) and citizens taking aim at cops (Bundy Ranch, lower panel) didn’t just naturally fall into the visual DoubleQuote category, they also formed a potential feedback loop.

And as my just posted mutual escalation spiral is intended to suggest, mutually antagonistic feedback loops like this come perilously close to spiraling out of control.

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So, too, we now have another variant on the DoubleQuote format — the DoubleQuote as feedback loop. I suspect that now I’ve “seen” it, I may find it comes in handy on other occasions.

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Sources:

  • Ferguson
  • Bundy Ranch
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    Yezidis / Yazidis: first gleanings

    Friday, August 8th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- piecing together some background on a remarkable and requently misunderstood faith ]
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    Philip Kreyenbroek opens his book, Yezidism: its background, observances & textual tradition, with the words:

    There is probably no factor that has influenced the perception of Yezidism, both in the Middle East and in the West, as much as the erroneous epithet “devil-worshipper”. In the past, when there was open hostility between the Muslim community and the Yezidis, the epithet probably did more than any theological debate to make it clear to all that the Yezidis were non-Muslims who were not entitled to any protection under Islamic Law. Moreover, it seemed to justify the severe ill-treatment to which they were regularly subjected.

    Today, they are under threat of extinction by IS caliphate troops:

    See also the final words of the Conflict Antiquities post, The Islamic State has not been able to destroy the Yezidi Shrine of Sherfedin.

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    Kreyenbroek continues:

    For Western scholars, a genuine academic curiosity about the phenomenon of devil-worship may have been blended with a romantic interest in this secretive but cleanly and friendly group of Oriental ‘pagans’, whose strange cult might contain traces of one or more of the great ancient religions of the Middle East.

    This is most unfortunate, since the first emanation from God and leader of the archangels, known to the Yezidis as the Peacock Angel, Melek Taus, (see illustration at the head of this post) resembles Iblis, the fallen archangel who refused to bow before Adam and was banished for his pride in Islamic teachings, but is entirely different from Iblis in that in Yezidi tradition his refusal to bow before Adam follows a divine command and carries no negative connotation. Evil, in Yezidi culture, comes not from the Peacock Angel but from choices made in the hearts of humankind.

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    My own special interest is in the varieties of end times theology.

    Yezidi eschatology features both a Mehdi, or end times savior identified with the angel Sherfedin, and a Tercal, his “evil opponent” — compare the Dajjal in Islam — described in the Yezidi Qewle Tercal or Hymn of the False Saviour on p. 364 of Philip Kreyenbroek & Khalil J. Rashow, God and Sheikh Adi are perfect: sacred poems and religious narratives from the Yezidi tradition.

    Other striking features of Yezidi end times belief include a forty year Sultanate of Jesus in Egypt followed by his death with the Mehdi Sherfedin at Mount Qaf (the earth’s farthest point, beyond which is the realm of the imaginal in Henry Corbin‘s exposition of Iranian sufism), subsequent reigns of Hajuj and Majuj (better known to Bible readers as Gog and Magog), and the purification of the earth by al-Hallaj (the renowned Sufi martyr and subject of Louis Massignon‘s great 3-volume opus) — after which the world will be “smooth as an egg” (Kreyenbroek and Rashow, p 365).

    FWIW< the YezidiTruth site contains this much simpler preduction:

    Yezidi prophecy maintains that Tawsi Melek will come back to Earth as a peacock or rainbow during a time of intense conflict, poverty, famine and distress on the Earth. He will then transmit some prayers to a holy man, probably a Faqir, who will then take them around the Earth and give them to representatives of all religions

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    I’d have run across the Yezidis in Idries Shah‘s book, The Sufis, which I first read in the early 60s, but it was a 2003 article, Ancient religion is on the side of the angels, that made me curious about them, and only the tragic events of the last few days that have finally sent me searching for in-depth materials on this, one of the ealiest known religious traditions, influenced by Sufism yet predating Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam alike…

    Kreyenbroek’s two books and Christine Allison‘s The Yezidi Oral Tradition in Iraqi Kurdistan — all hideously expensive — are now on my reading list, and for updates on the situation, I’m following Kreyenbroek @Philipgerrit and Chicago’s Matthew Barber, @Matthew__Barber, reporting from near Mosul, on Twitter.

    Perhaps the most striking thing about Yezidism is that it is an essentially oral religion, and thus lacks the central doctrinal authority of a scripture and allows for wide individual divergences in interpretation — fascinating, from the POV of scholars accustomed to scripture-based religions — but I need to dig deeper into Kreyenbroek before saying much more.

    I’d welcome additional pointers — historical, theological, and contemporary.

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    Balancing acts & mirror images: 1

    Friday, August 1st, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- first in a series of (at least) three posts, mostly about Gaza ]
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    There are a whole lot of uses of balancing acts & mirror images around these days on Twitter and elsewhere, and without prejudice I’d like to repost some of them. Individual items of this kind may be designed to “take a side” — but with any luck, presenting a slew of them together will encourage a more thoughtful response.

    First up, one that compares and contrasts the Gaza situation with that in Syria:

    Why the double standard is a great question to ask, but I’m not sure any one answer will be the right one. The juxtaposition of the two death tolls, however, clearly provokes thought. And besides, as the Reverend Dean of St Pauls, John Donne saith:

    any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee

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    Here’s a “mirror image” with built in asymmetry that is clearly used to convey an Israeli point regarding Hamas:

    This gains its psychological force as argument precisely from the symmetry between the two sides — and from the way in which that symmetry is broken.

    And here’s a variant that I posted earlier, to much the same effect:

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    Here’s a “twinning” of tweets that I put together myself, providing what may be a less obvious symmetry, and again one that takes us ourside of Gaza, though not out of the neighboirhood entirely. There’s this:

    And then there’s this:

    As I say — remembering as I say it, specifically, the injunction to “love thy neighbor” — it’s all in the same neighborhood.

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    Really, the number of ironies, paradoxes, mirror-images and so forth cropping up in my Twitter feed these days is overwhelming.

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