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Your Inner Terrorist
I don't know about you, but it seems I'm a little behind this week, not only in my writing, but in blowing up busloads of innocent people.

Stacy Lawson puts the "ass" in "asinine" with a piece on Huffington Post, entitled "We Are The Terrorists." Here's an excerpt:

To see Bhutto's death as an isolated act of cruelty by an evil group of terrorists, distant and separate from each of us, would be to miss a profound teaching moment.

Lucky for us poor naifs, Stacy has a Ph.D. in bombastic flatulence.

It gets better:

We are all terrorists. Before you dismiss this out of hand, please take a closer look. The terrorist inside you wages acts of aggression on those you believe to oppress you. The dictator inside you declares martial law when it suits you. The suicide bomber martyrs you and wounds others in your attempts to be heard and to be right.

Global events are a mirror of aggressions taking place on a daily basis within each of us. This poses necessary and immediate questions: Who am I terrorizing? What part of myself or others am I assassinating?

It is our instinctual nature to polarize the world (and ourselves) into good and evil and then attempt to eradicate all evil from view - through repression and denial or through aggression and violence. Until we reconcile the violent parts of ourselves that we have dispelled into the shadow, we will continue to play out violent scenes on the world stage.

We have denied and discarded the unsavory bits of ourselves for so long, that we can no longer clearly see how we're creating our troubled world. By definition, it is not easy to see that which is in the shadow. It is outside of our peripheral vision. It is our blind spot, the Achilles heal of the individual and of humanity. What we despise or deny we push deep into the dark recesses of the psyche, hoping it will be forever hidden there. But instead, contorted into all manner of gruesome expression that we no longer recognize as our own shadow, we confront these twisted and alienated bits of self over and over until they are reintegrated. Ms. Bhutto's death is a painful illustration of our collective shadow.

Uh, my "shadow side" wants to ask customer service people at Verizon if they were trained by the Three fucking Stooges, but somehow, I restrain myself. You want to see a real "shadow side"? Here's the result of one or more of them.

But, let's not lose track of the wisdom of The Dalai Lawson:

Our small daily acts of aggression may seem like nothing compared to the brutal assassination of a revered public figure. But the collective consciousness is an assimilation of each of us. As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm. As long as we perpetuate the fracturing and fragmentation of disallowed parts of ourselves, stuffing our emotions and perpetuating a sense of shame and worthlessness even on a small scale, we will continue to create terrorists.

Emil Durkeim meets "I'm Okay/You're Okay" meets "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." (In Ashtanga class at Yogaworks.)

I'm guessing the conversation would go something like this:

"Mommy, where do terrorists come from?"

"We create them when we don't share our cookies."

Stacy earnests on about why we "create terrorists":

Why? Because operating from this fractured consciousness, we don't have the wisdom or the capacity to create a world that fosters wholeness. If we are not whole, we cannot know or create a world that is whole. As such, there will always be disenfranchised, forgotten and expendable parts. Those expendable parts and expendable people will rise up to terrorize us.

In order to heal this schism, we must reconcile with the shadow. It will require us to collect up all the forgotten, orphaned, disowned, disgusting and estranged parts of ourselves...and bring them back home. All that we have denied and disdained must be held with equal love. Only then can we transmute the lower nature into higher forms. Integration of the poles of our experience is the path toward wholeness.

We are all necessary in this collective healing process since "the only true battle is the one that rages inside" of us...

Tell that to a guy whose wife and kids got turned into raw hamburger by a nutbag with a nail bomb strapped around his waist.

My big inner battle at the moment? Figuring out who this girl is trying to be. And/or whose prose she's trying to copy. I mean, real people don't talk or write like this, do they? I mean, not unless they're getting paid to play cult leaders on Law & Order or something.

Oh, wait -- here's something. From another Stacy Lawson HuffPo piece, "Igniting The Modern Mystic":

I've always adored the great mystics - Hafiz, Rumi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross. Their writings transcend our mundane human perception and give glimpses into the rapturous experience of a higher reality. Truth be told, I fancy myself a modern day mystic, someone weaving together these worlds of the mundane and the magical.

And all along, I was picturing a rectum with a Dell.

More turds of wisdom:

When asked at dinner parties or social events what kind of work I do, I find it an awkward question. The simple answer is that I'm an entrepreneur, investor, teacher, speaker and writer. But, there's far more to it than that. As Khalil Gibran once wrote, "work is love made visible." I find building social ventures and connecting with people in a teaching environment as ecstatic as love-making. The ultimate reason to create, teach, speak or write is to dissolve the veil of separation and reveal the intimate union of all awaken a recognition of ourselves as One with all that is.

So when Arianna Huffington asked me to write a column on conscious living and spirituality I was simultaneously thrilled and tentative. Thrilled because these topics provoke great joy for me. Tentative because authenticity demands a level of revealed public dialogue that I've previously saved for engaged audiences or private circles. It demands an even deeper level of "love made visible."

Lest this sound trite, let me add that the mystic's love is not blind to the complication and suffering in the world. It is all-embracing, using the full human experience as fuel for the raging fire of awakening. Our modern lives are difficult. We face social injustices, environmental crises, war, economic imbalances, poverty, hunger, a vast array of suffering across our planet.

A little vaster now that you're blogging -- although we do appreciate the unintended laughs, which should give us a nice little break between reports of actual terrorism. You know, the kind where there are bloody arms, legs, and heads all over the pavement?

Posted by aalkon at January 2, 2008 12:24 PM


This is what happens when you get hypnotized staring into your own belly button. An alternate cause could be seeing every single showing of the Vagina Monologues.

I have spent a few years in the persian gulf, and I could tell you right now that if this woman were to be in Iran and get raped, she would go to jail for it. Then, knowing her from her writing, she would be apologizing for bringing it on herself just about the time they decided to saw her head off with a dull machete. Sadly, I'm not kidding in the least. Some people just don't get it. There really is good and evil in the world and there is no way in hell to equivocate between a person who kills inocent men women and children and those who try to stop them from doing it. If she were born in the thirties, she probably would have coined the phrase 'naziphobes'.

There must be some reason for the deep-seated confusion in this person, like maybe she was molested by an imaginary friend up until last weekend. Her ramblings don't make sense at all. I'm sure she would think that's because I am not enlighted enough to understand.

When I was in Dubai once, I saw this terrific hugh structure out the hotel window, I ask someone if it were a shopping mall, he said no, it was one of the princes summer palaces. Here is what I understand. All of these poor poor people who live in their own waste have leaders who live in fabulous shopping mall sized palaces. They haven't figured out yet that the king is taking all of the money and screwing the hell out of them. Of course, the king needs someone else to blame for their ills, so he points his finger at the evil US, and they believe it, even as they fill their bowls with rice that comes out of a bag with an American flag on it. Then they use the cult of Islam to enforce that thinking and teach them into a state where they will actually blow themselves up in order to kill someone at a hot dog stand.

Keep them fed and stupid and they'll never rise against you.

Posted by: Bikerken at January 2, 2008 2:02 AM

> what happens when you get
> hypnotized staring into your
> own belly button

That's as good an explanation for what the woman's saying as any. Another way of wording it might go like this: People understand that humility is big part of a life well-lived. But recent generations aren't accustomed to it. And without a demanding religious practice, they have no polished rhetoric for it, and certainly no weekly practice. So when they try to acknowledge the evil that's in a lot of hearts, it still comes out like clucking... And like a problem caused by an incompetent State Department.

Let's read her bio!: "Ms. Lawson is co-founder of the Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology at the University of California, Berkeley...
Ms. Lawson is an active investor in technology, sustainable development and social enterprise."

Nobody says she actually makes money, or "sustains" anything. (Except our annoyance.)

Posted by: Crid at January 2, 2008 3:02 AM

Also, the mystic she quotes (Gibran) died of cirrhosis, if you catch my drift, and is effectively mocked here:

Posted by: Crid at January 2, 2008 3:12 AM

What is in the water in Berkeley that causes so many people there to end up with such fabulously defective minds? I mean, seriously.

Posted by: brian at January 2, 2008 4:12 AM

nah, according to Occam's there must be a simpler reason. I think perhaps it just takes more volitile words to impress, when you are writing a puff piece these days...

On the other hand maybe it is supersekrit ploy to take empowerment away from the bad guys by making your rage at uncouth starbuckians equal to filling a uhaul with fertilizer and diesel, and parking it next to a federal building. [May their souls rest in peace, serious]

Maybe if she was willing to get out of her little enclave, and see the world, heck she could head to the peace corps, and probably learn a few things. Or not. Some people never do, no matter how much they see. They simply think that everyone is much like them, every impulse can be explained at the reasoned level. If you stick a happy face on a Serb, he'll feel better. In Darfur if you stick a flower in the barrel of an AK-47, the guy with his finger on the trigger will think twice.

It is terror, because it is designed to unhinge, to be so far beyond your reckoning that you cannot think of it, to cost you so much that you will pay any price to keep it from happening. From there it only escalates to where there is no price to be paid, there is no way to win. Where the evil they seek is merely your death. What do you get then? Either you defend, and/or ask for help, or you lose your life. There is no reason or logic there, there is no compromise goal.

Yes Viginia, there IS actual evil in the world. Some of it is held in check by firepower, and some requires destruction to stop. If she were crying over that fact that the world can be ugly this way, I could show pity... After all, who does not want the innocent to remain so? Doesn't seem like that is what I am are seeing... sadly, this seems like the same mindset at the UN that wrung it's hands over Darfur, and did nothing. I'm sure that we'll get blamed for that eventually too.

Posted by: D at January 2, 2008 5:11 AM

Some months ago there was a article in Wired about a gamer who realized he was tapping into the mindset of a suicide bomber while playing Halo. It's a very simplistic view, but ultimately pragmatic. And frighteningly close to the surface for ordinary Americans. A much better look at 'the terrorist inside'

Here's the url (because I am a luddite and cannot figure out how to hotlink in these damn things):

Boy Stacy really is big on the happythink. Personally she lost what little credibility she had when she invoked the 'collective unconscious.' Does she honestly believe that if we all just make ourselves 'whole' (how? therapy? rein in our thetans? heal ourselves with crystals?) that all the bad stuff in the world will go away? That's actually pretty terrifying.

Bah, I'll let the smart and witty people dissect this. Y'all always do so much better than I could.

Posted by: Elle at January 2, 2008 5:38 AM

$20 bucks says she's fucking a new age buddist

Posted by: lujlp at January 2, 2008 5:41 AM

Oh, yeah, forgot to add the one thought I should have lead with...

Does she think it's possible to actually greive Benezir Bhutto's death, before we make it all-about-me/us?

Posted by: D at January 2, 2008 5:43 AM

Crid, the Gibran link isn't working. Can you repost?

Meanwhile, here's another, by Robert Irwin, with more goodies:

He was to spend a large part of his life sponging on women, like Josephine Peabody and Mary Haskell. Josephine was inspired by her meeting with Gibran to write: ‘What ever-lasting symbols women are! I know so well now, when these beautiful moments happen, that it is none of it for me. I know so well that I am a symbol for somebody; I am a prism that catches the light for a moment. It is the light that gladdens, not the prism.’ Handmaidens of genius passed him on from one to the other, paid his bills and took it in turns to correct his spelling and syntax (both quite dreadful). Gibran produced a small body of writings in Arabic and in English, and managed to be soupily soulful and vaguely prophetic in both languages.

...If Gibran is right about the universe, then we are all living in a banal and sentimental nightmare.

He seems to be a favourite poet of those who don’t like poetry.

...As latter-day Prophet, Gibran favoured a mock-Biblical delivery, larded with archaisms, and inversions of word-order for rhetorical effect. A girl is a ‘damsel’, a breeze is ‘frolicsome’ and so on. In his poetry and prose, he stuck to a level of studious generality and was fond of the big capitalised things in Life, like Love, Beauty, Woman, Freedom.

...In his last years he took to drinking heavily and he died of cirrhosis of the liver.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 2, 2008 5:44 AM

Try this to fix the link Amy:
On the Recent Publication of Kahlil Gibran’s Collected Works

heh, I think a spew warning might apply...

Posted by: D at January 2, 2008 6:32 AM

Heh heh...loved it. Perfect mimicking of the Use Of Caps, too.

I used to try to write with great profundity -- when I was 15. You?

As Elmore Leonard says, "If it sounds like writing, rewrite it."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 2, 2008 6:37 AM

To paraphrase Principal Skinner: In a sense, we're all terrorists. In another, more accurate sense, only the terrorists are terrorists.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 2, 2008 6:57 AM

Perfect, Treach.

In reading the details on Gibran, this bit suddenly becomes more clear. Lawson writes:

As Khalil Gibran once wrote, "work is love made visible."

And not a surprise that he wrote that, since it seems he was the swami version of a $20 hooker.

Lawson continues, "I find building social ventures and connecting with people in a teaching environment as ecstatic as love-making."

Right. Do you every believe anybody who says stuff like this?

Let's see...shall we fuck, or just connect with people in a teaching environment?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 2, 2008 7:10 AM

"ever." Sorry, it's early, and I'm cheating on my column, which I'm supposed to be writing now.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 2, 2008 7:11 AM

Bitch is nuttier than a fruitcake. o_O

Posted by: Flynne at January 2, 2008 10:43 AM

Amy, You you are a terrorist with a pen ( or a keyboard as it were) and you make me want to unleash my inner terrorist again. I am a scientist who unleashed my inner terrorist several years back by correcting every religiously inspired utterance of ignorance with an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence. The result was that I had to flee for my life (I was in the Bible Belt). I felt like Dorothy being chased by the wicked witch's flying monkeys (I was getting in touch with my feminine side). Everyone I was working with was extremely religious and extremely conservative & I guess I just snapped. I snapped & I began destroying the belief systems of all around me with logic bombs & ideological booby traps. Ironically, I ended up taking refuge in the heart of Mennonite country. They are pacifists at their core so they are less likely to murder someone like me.

Kahlil Gibran wrote:
"Solitude is a silent storm that breaks down all our dead branches;
Yet it sends our living roots deeper into the living heart of the living earth."

Solitude for me is science, my silent storm (or terrorist) was unleashed by reaching my threshold for tolerance of everyday ignorance. A living root deeper into the living heart for me would be the Brights which did not exist before but are a significant number today. What was Osama Bin Laden's solitude, what triggered his silent storm? Unfortunately, Bin Laden's living root deeper into the living heart seems to be a future with a much larger number of people who would like to destroy the good 'ol U.S. of A.

Where would we be today without terrorists like Richard Feynman, Sigmund Freud, Einstein, Copernicus & Katherine Hepburn? Where can we find a person like the aforementioned to run for President and fix these problems? I would do it but, according to polling data Son of Sam is more electable than someone with my belief system. We need to find someone who has not been outed to run & use Rene Descartes philosophy " we are all actors on life's stage". A bright person to recognize that he or she is an actor on life's stage & say what needs to be said to get into the oval office so we can finally find out what the deal with ovalteen is (Seinfeld ref ;-) ). Once discovered, the secret of ovalteen will cause everyone to forget all about religious hatred. We will then be able to focus on building the global base of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs so that even people in Ethiopia will be able to self actualize. We will all be richer for our efforts in Ethiopia because we will be able to engage in more trade with them & will finally be able to get our hands on a Haile Selassie action figure.

Posted by: William at January 2, 2008 10:52 AM

The Khalil Gibran piece mentioned above was in Arts & Letters Daily a few weeks ago. People who aren't familiar with his work might think the joke gets old pretty fast.... That's the point. How desperate a soul is our Darling Stacy that she should make time for that?

Khalil Gibran was a twentieth-century Mesmer; He enjoyed stronger market penetration at the cost of swifter bullshit detection. His most famous work --beloved by community college enrollees everywhere-- was called "The Prophet." In the 1960's, someone published a brutal parody called "The Profit" by Kellogg Allbran. In Gibranian cadence, it presented golden aphorisms like these, which have guided my insight throughout adulthood:

It is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle when it has been lightly greased.

Just as a starving man does not dream of the crust of bread, a drowning man does not dream of Chateau Lafitte-Rothschild 1927.

Posted by: Crid at January 2, 2008 11:22 AM

Oh yeah...I used to have a copy of that. I think I just got rid of it in my last book purge (regular affairs so I have a place to sit and a spot for Gregg and Lucy, too, among all the books and papers).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 2, 2008 11:40 AM

Honestly, this woman said pretty much nothing in the 800 words she took up. She reminds me very much of my old pastor. (I'm now agnostic) The article that she wrote seems less like a "Let me enlighten you with my superior zen knowledge" and more like a "Argh, I have to fill up a column with words and it's due in 3 days. Screw it, I'm just going to write some wordy bullshit for this one and throw in the word terrorist a lot." This is even more readily apparent by the number of times she repeats herself, and by the quoted poem that's half double-spaced at the end of the column.

Posted by: Bad Kitty at January 2, 2008 11:50 AM

And Treacher's right about the word "sense." It's the best warning you'll ever get that a silly person is about to say something stupid. Sometimes under duress, but still... I remember when Carly Simon got breast cancer, and she said (close paraphrase) 'There's a sense that if this disease happened to men more often, treatments would be better.'

I remember trying to imagine what it would be like to serve as her clinician the day after she said that. After all, she comes from old, wordy money in the Eastern United States, and made a fantastic fortune of her own selling piffle to children. And as she fell ill, some of the world's smartest people, snapping at the end of an ancient whip of medical genius, were ready to help her fight for her own health. (And ten years later, she appears to be thriving.)

Golly. In a sense, it's like she thinks a life should never have any bad news that can't be blamed on the shabby hearts of others.

I really think Sister Lawson is trying to get past that kind of thinking. But she pretends that evil is this cloudy wad of voodoo that might spend a weekend in my house while you're being good, and then might move to the trunk of your car which I do some charity work early in the week.

Real evil is personal, and it's important to judge how much everybody has.

Posted by: Crid at January 2, 2008 12:25 PM

"It is our instinctual nature to polarize the world (and ourselves) into good and evil and then attempt to eradicate all evil from view - through repression and denial or through aggression and violence. Until we reconcile the violent parts of ourselves that we have dispelled into the shadow, we will continue to play out violent scenes on the world stage."

Hey, isn't that the speech Colossus gives at the end of The Forbin Project before he vaporizes the silo maintenance crew? I guess in time we'll come to regard her now only with respect and awe, but love.

Well, I don't know about you but it's after 1 and I could really terrorize some rolled tacos heaped with cheese and slathered with chunky guacamole!

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at January 2, 2008 1:40 PM

If you see a DVD of Colussus, the one with the soap opera guy, pick it up and I'll pay you for it when next we meet.

Posted by: Crid at January 2, 2008 2:46 PM

I know they have one out but it's pan and scan.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at January 2, 2008 3:13 PM

For most of the HuffPo crowd (the writers and the avid readers), there is only one true evil in the world, and everything else wrong in the world comes from or is a reflection of that one true evil.

I'll give you one guess as to which country those folks believe is the only true manifestation of evil in the world.

Posted by: xwl at January 2, 2008 3:48 PM

'There's a sense that if this disease happened to men more often, treatments would be better.'

What idiocy. Actually, it's man-cancer that's more poorly funded:,1,5939875.story?coll=la-headlines-health

About 230,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and 27,000 die of the disease -- statistics that are roughly comparable to breast cancer. Yet federal funding for breast cancer research is more than double that of prostate cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health.

I just despise this kind of insta-victim'y thinking.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 2, 2008 4:47 PM

I mean that Ms. Simon is being all knee-jerk women-as-victims.

The actual victims -- of prostate cancer -- are getting...sorry...the shaft.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 2, 2008 4:50 PM

Amy wrote, "Emil Durkeim meets "I'm Okay/You're Okay" meets "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." (In Ashtanga class at Yogaworks.)"
LOL! Amy you are hilarious. The parenthetical is pure genius.

Posted by: Jeff at January 2, 2008 7:00 PM

Thanks! We try.

Posted by: Amy Alkon Author Profile Page at January 2, 2008 7:39 PM

When people start calling themselves mystics, poets, eyes roll so far up I can see my own brain.

If I had to suffer an insufferable bore like Stacy, when all I want to know is what she does for a living, I would probably eat my wine glass just for the possibility that it would kill me on the spot.

Posted by: Wymyn Unyt! at January 2, 2008 7:42 PM

"When asked at dinner parties or social events what kind of work I do, I find it an awkward question."

I'd suggest "a narcissistic wussie" as the answer to her question. As if anybody wants to real her lengthy monologue on how Hitler, Stalin and Mao were no worse than someone who is inconsiderate. While I may be annoyed at someone who cuts me off in traffic, I do recognize a certain difference between them and a person who has killed a few million people. And I can state this difference in less than 1,000 self-absorbed words. Which is probably why poetry has gone to hell since Milton.

As far as Kahil Gibran, many years ago I read "The Profit," a completely hilarious satire of his empty babble. "What I have come to teach you has cost me many years. What you are about to learn has cost you $14.95."

Posted by: David Hardy at January 2, 2008 7:58 PM

Ms. Lawson reminds me of nothing so much as the whatcha-ma-callit bird that flew in ever tightening circles until it finally flew up its own rectum.

And who was it who said of Berkeley that it's too small to be a state but too large to be an insane asylum?

Posted by: Kirk at January 2, 2008 7:59 PM

I connected to the "collective consciousness" once. I found it filled with fruitcakes. And no one likes fruitcake!

Posted by: JKB at January 2, 2008 8:02 PM

Otter: Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests - we did.

But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!

Posted by: Jeffersonian at January 2, 2008 8:07 PM

Rather than vast, I find her writing half-vast.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at January 2, 2008 8:10 PM

We have a saying we use for those Berkeley types here in the mid-west.

"There but for the Grace of God goes the rest of us. "

How much you wanna bet she supports the troops when they shoot their officers

Posted by: Paul at January 2, 2008 8:17 PM

Hey Amy,
The cancer funding reflects a fundamental truth:

Twice as many boobs as prostrates.

Anything less would be "Unfair".

Posted by: Old Bob at January 2, 2008 8:21 PM

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill HER!

I keep two words taped to my monitor because I think they're funny. One has been referenced. It is "omphalokepsis" - contemplating one's navel. Maybe, she should try that instead of writing.

The other word is "retromingent" - pissing backwards. That would work for her too.

Posted by: DADvocate at January 2, 2008 8:34 PM

What Ms. Lawson is doing is generously relieving herself of the moral responsibility to oppose terrorism.

Using an aggressive tone at a cocktail party in Berkeley is no different from blowing up 150 women and children with a bomb full of ball bearings, rat poison, and human feces. Since we're therefore all terrorists, we have no right to judge the bombers, and we have no need to try and stop them.

This woman's droning, boring, fatuous flatulence obscures the profound evil of her world view. She utterly negates hideous agony and unbelievable suffering, wiping it all away with one swing of her mammoth, placid, self-satisfied ass.

Posted by: Tom W. at January 2, 2008 8:40 PM

I met an Iraqi in Baghdad who works as an interpreter for the U.S. Army. He and one of the platoons he was out with came upon a gruesome scene outside the city.

The sister of one of his Iraqi colleagues was kidnapped by Al Qaeda. She was cut into pieces and thrown in the river. Her baby boy was left alive in a pool of her blood. All they found was his legs and his shoes. The dogs ate him.

That's terrorism.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 2, 2008 8:51 PM

"bombastic flatulence" - Still laughing. People tomorrow will be wondering what I'm chuckling about as I walk down the hall.

Posted by: JGsez at January 2, 2008 8:56 PM

Tom W.

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winnah!

Posted by: stevieray at January 2, 2008 8:56 PM

Geez Michael Totten I would love/hope/need to think you are totally making that up.

Only, I know you are not.

Posted by: paul at January 2, 2008 9:01 PM

Amy, you missed the important point of Stacy Lawson's Huffpost.

The purpose of the post is to make the case that the correct and only proper definition of "jihad" is "a spiritual inner struggle" that every person (Muslim or not) confronts every day.

Posted by: Seafarious at January 2, 2008 9:02 PM


I don't think Skinner said that - wasn't it the guy at NASA who was training both Homer and Barney to be astronauts?

Call me Instapedant

Posted by: fidens at January 2, 2008 9:09 PM


Where's my interpetive dance? I was promised interpetive dance!!

You know, the one that will solve that.... um... global....problem... of.... bad stuff... and things.

Get steppin' honey.

Posted by: Andrew X at January 2, 2008 9:10 PM

The sister of one of his Iraqi colleagues was kidnapped by Al Qaeda. She was cut into pieces and thrown in the river. Her baby boy was left alive in a pool of her blood. All they found was his legs and his shoes. The dogs ate him.

That's terrorism.

Thanks, Michael J. Totten, for posting that. The juxtaposition with Lawson's ridiculousness makes her piece all the more obscene.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 2, 2008 9:35 PM

Amy, that nice lady (she would hate being called that, hence my term) has never read of the Sokol Hoax.

Posted by: Mike K at January 2, 2008 10:38 PM

Wow. Stacy Lawson exists on a higher plane. One day I shall astro project over there and have a cuppers of higher consciousness tea.

Posted by: bour3 at January 2, 2008 11:14 PM

I feel real bad about harshing Carly Simon because of one word she used in a time of life-threatening illness ten years ago. Never met the woman, she never poked my puppy with a stick, and there's absolutely no reason not to give her the benefit of the doubt. She's presumably a conscientious taxpayer, loving mother, and defensive driver. It wasn't just a stupid thing for me to say, it was a prototypically bloggy kind of stupid thing. I should be ashamed, and I am.

So let's get back to making fun of Lawson. Seafarious is here to help us do that:

> the post is to make the case
> that the correct and only proper
> definition of "jihad" is "a
> spiritual inner struggle" that
> every person (Muslim or not)
> confronts

1. Says who? Are you speaking for Lawson? It doesn't matter: I'd no more listen to a Berkeley lefty define Jihad than I'd let a Hasidim Israeli present the "correct and only proper" definition of transubstantiation. When people of those faiths tell me I'm not like they are, I listen. Why do I need Lawson to make Islam more comprehensible? Not that she was trying to do that, because....

2. The word "jihad" does not appear in her article.

3. Even if it did, jihad is certainly not about "collective grappling and grief," the theme that appears in her first sentence. I'd guess this is the quintessential theme of this woman's whole life as well... A feminine, chatty, undersocialized fascination with connectedness and sharing. (Boys tend not to be that way so much, at least the masculine ones.)

4. The words "a spiritual inner struggle" don't appear in that post or this one, so your use of quotation marks is inexplicable. (Google returns that phrase --from your comment-- in the second position of a text search. It's comforting that the boys in Mountain View are taking such a thorough, prompt interest in what goes on in here.)

5. If it's "spiritual" in the Berkeley sense, then it's "inner" by definition.

6. Lawson's reflexive linkage of evil in my heart (which tends to be about bad food, worse music, and mildly weird sex) with the genuinely murderous, oppressive forces which killed Bhutto doesn't convey a thoughtful big picture, but a soul untested in the real world. She should spend less time with skirts and blackberries in the office, and a little more with the blue jeans and bar code readers on the loading dock.

In short, Seafarious, as you continue your oceanic expeditions, know these truths: aggression is not conflict, conflict is not war, war is not murder, and Lawson is not worth reading. If you want to fault people on this web page for their comments, fault us for shooting fish in a barrel. No, Seafarious, I don't confront the impulse to shoot a national political figure "every day."

(Though, again, that Simon thing I did was way outta line.)

Posted by: Crid at January 3, 2008 2:08 AM

For those not in the know about the Sokol hoax, it was a "study" that was complete bullshit but was published anyway in a journal because it sounded just like all the other bullshit nonsense that po-mo journals publish. Here's the wiki entry:

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 3, 2008 2:11 AM

The Profit, via Metafilter dot com's Wednesday night Gibran post.

Posted by: Crid at January 3, 2008 2:39 AM

Garbage in, garbage out...? Et tu, Jabberwock? Then die Lawson!

Posted by: Broadsword at January 3, 2008 3:59 AM

"I find building social ventures and connecting with people in a teaching environment as ecstatic as love-making. "


I'm not sure which would scare me more in that analogy, her sex or her teaching.

Posted by: TallDave at January 3, 2008 8:01 AM

Regarding Gibran, I was always under the impression that he wanted to be William Blake, from his writing to his artworks, such as they were.

On the plus side, if you're a young man in a college town, publicly reading Gibran in the Student Union will get you laid.

Posted by: IllTemperedCur at January 3, 2008 8:15 AM

Terrorists need HUUUUGS. That's the real terrorism right there. Not hugging Islamofascists. The poor little Jihadists are suffering the anomie of insufficient hugs. Uncorrected, this could lead to Carpathian Kitten Loss, with all the baleful consequences that entails.

I think the commenter who used the term omphaloskepsis above has it right. One of the main criticisms Sokal and Bricmont raised in Fashionable Nonsense (and Gross and Levitt in Higher Superstition, another excellent addition to the canon) is how relentlessly self-referential is so-called scholarship in the PoMo theatre. An academic paper or book in the field is choc-a-bloc with cites from other practitioners, and bereft of anything that could reasonably be called original thought (except inasmuch where it's original, it's wrong, and where it's not it's banal). Work in the field is almost wholly an endogenous process, so densely coiled in on itself that scarcely a glint of light is allowed to fall and illuminate what the hell is being talked about. This echo-chamber effect, coupled with the sheer awfulness of the prose, makes the job of assessing the worth of this stuff almost impossible for an outsider. This is deliberate, naturally. It erects a barrier to entry which takes a heroic effort such as the Sokal hoax to surmount. In addition, the PoMos and structuralists are intellectual jackdaws: they see a shiny piece of abstruse mathematics or physics and purloin it to make their nests look pretty, not out of any genuine understanding of what it means . It's a classic case of Feynman's cargo cults.

Posted by: David Gillies at January 3, 2008 8:46 AM

"What Ms. Lawson is doing is generously relieving herself of the moral responsibility to oppose terrorism."

True, but you are giving her too much credit. She's just a sad flower who needs to get out more. Stacy, you spend too much time alone and your writing sucks. So typical of pre-internet writing where you could go to a coffee shop and say, "Black, black" and everyone would clap and you could feel so profound for spewing such meaningless nonsense. Now, with so much to excellent writing to read online, Stacy would do best to confine her nonsense to her diary and coffee shops where the lonely and depressed can still feel that they alone have the keys to knowledge.

Posted by: Becky at January 3, 2008 9:58 AM

So this loony tunes is ripping off Jesus Christ and claiming that thinking is the same as doing? (though, if you ask me, even presuming we all have thoughts like this is ridiculous; personally, I've never had an urge to blow up women and children or set someone on fire). We've all been angry at others but, no, bitch the difference between us and terroists is that when some twit like you irritates us, we don't desire to torture and/or kill said twit, let alone act on it. And, hello, no, for the record, thinking is not the same as doing.

As for this: "When asked at dinner parties or social events what kind of work I do, I find it an awkward question. The simple answer is that I'm an entrepreneur, investor, teacher, speaker and writer." No, the simplest, more honest answer would have been, "I'm a con artist."

Posted by: Donna at January 3, 2008 10:01 AM

There was another writer who lived through a war between civilized people and tribal barbarians. George Orwell summed it up, clearly and briefly. He wrote ''Pacifists are pro-Nazi.''

Posted by: David at January 3, 2008 10:05 AM

That's why I would never say I'm "anti-war." Sometimes war is necessary to preserve the peace -- and a democratic way of life, which, go figure, I happen to prefer.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 3, 2008 10:20 AM

Re: Prostate cancer

According to the latest data, men can reduce their chances of contracting prostate cancer by about 20% by having 20 or more orgasms per month.

So guys, your health is in your own hands! (Sorry, I coudn't resist!)

Posted by: Brutus at January 3, 2008 10:39 AM

If you see a DVD of Colussus, the one with the soap opera guy

mmmmm. A young Eric Braeden. Better, a young Eric Braeden nekkid. mmmmm

I'm sorry, what were we talking about?

Posted by: Achillea at January 3, 2008 10:50 AM

I'm a Berkeley resident since the 60s, UCB alum,
and parent. Thank you for accurately noting these hard truths, and stimulating the same from earlier commenters.

Stacy Lawson and her colleagues are telling the terrorists to escalate, they need fear no reprisals. As our kids are learning in the local schools: don't relate, INTIMIDATE.

Posted by: L. Avila at January 3, 2008 12:15 PM

Crid, regarding your recantation of your comments about Simon - did you lose a bet? Surely this isn't due to an attack of conscience, or lawyers...?

Posted by: Michelle at January 3, 2008 5:04 PM

Conscience. It's an annual thing, and it was time to get it out of the way.

Posted by: Crid at January 3, 2008 5:22 PM

Oh my! You were actually able to slog through that drivel? I'm impressed at your stamina...

Posted by: Fred at January 3, 2008 7:37 PM

Gentle-and-not-so-gentlebeings, I present to you a unit of measure I think appropriate for this sort of writing: the NTU. That's "Nephrometric Turbidity Units". It's a measure of light transmission though a cloudy fluid, invented in the 1870's.

Or you could use the "Pinkwater" (as heard on Car Talk); Mr. P's ample fundament is approximately a yard wide.

Posted by: Radwaste at January 3, 2008 7:47 PM

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