Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Found a Muslim, Others Found Life "Off the Grid" (plus: Ron Paul party!)

I wanted to avoid having two outsiders debate about what to do with an unrepresented tribe of others, so I’m glad I found a Muslim (Stephen Suleyaman Schwartz of the Center for Islamic Pluralism) to argue the “no” position in our planned Sept. 5 (8pm) debate on the question “Is Muslim Immigration a Threat to Democracy?” His opponent, arguing “yes,” will be singer-turned-movie-producer Brian McCarter.

Surely, rational debate is a nicer way of addressing West/Islam tensions than, say, unleashing 3,000 deadly battle droids on Iraq, though that (real) plan, the U.S.’s latest, admittedly bears a strong resemblance to the (fictional?) battle-strategy devised just last month by Meredith Kapushion, L.B. Deyo, and me.

Somewhere in between rational dialogue and war, of course, lies cultural pressure, such as that exerted by the inexorable advance, even in Saudi Arabia, of rock videos and USO comedy shows featuring two-time Lolita Bar debater Jen Dziura. The thought of a woman who blogs about — and has been photographed as — Wonder Woman traveling in a country where Wonder Woman comics are illegal (a law that made me question the wisdom of aiding that nation in the first Gulf War) is a bit troubling.


Luckily, I’m in free-spirited America, where some people abandon rules and laws altogether to live amid guns, marijuana, and ramshackle shelters out in the southwestern desert — and other people make a documentary about it called Off the Grid, which I plan to see at the impending 8pm Thursday, August 16 show. All anarchists, Burners, survivalists, and Tusken Raiders should join me. Jesse Walker of Reason wrote about the production of the film.

Check for my friend Dave Nugent (brother of Chris, who has posted a few comments on this blog) getting thanked in the credits. He also did some distribution work on the indie sci-fi film Robot Stories a few years ago — a film whose writer-director, Greg Pak, has gone on to become a very popular writer of Marvel Comics such as this summer’s blockbuster “World War Hulk” story.

(I will probably make this the last film I see in the theatre until — well, until the last big nerd movie of 2007, itself rather survivalist in tone, since it’s the third movie adaptation of I Am Legend, starring Will Smith and previously filmed as The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price and The Omega Man with Charlton Heston — and as if that weren’t an odd enough zombie-film trifecta, I must note this year is also scheduled to see a remake of Day of the Dead, which means the entire “Dead Trilogy” — Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead, has now been remade, which may well be a cinematic first, so to speak.)

You can understand the appeal of being a lawless loner — perhaps even “hulking out” — when you see things like the mayor of Omaha trying to solve the problem of over forty people being shot there last month by declaring a harsh curfew, which surely is (as liberals traditionally decry) a case of fighting symptoms instead of the disease (those darn kids tend to get into such mischief unless they’re snug in bed). Sometimes, it almost seems as if a series of violent death-matches would be a more honest way of getting to the bottom of some intractable social problems, and quickly.

However, I should make it clear that while I am technically an anarchist (and a conservative and a liberal and obviously a libertarian and in some sense even a moderate), because I want to get rid of the government, I am not opposed to civilization in general (nor, certainly, capitalism) — so I am not what has come to be called an “anarcho-primitivist,” “green anarchist,” or “anti-civilization anarchist.” These folks apparently believe that society’s corruption runs so deep we should at the very least reverse the industrial revolution but probably also abolish agriculture, and for the coup de grace, end “symbolic communication” in favor of a return to grunting and smelling. I wonder if any of the anarcho-primitivists are also furries? Shudder.

(I don’t promise that any of these people will attend the aforementioned documentary or be featured in it — but perhaps some freegans, who believe in eating out of garbage dumpsters to avoid wasting food, will show up, like the one who headed the anarchist rally I confronted last year, Adam Weissman — an incident that shows I wasn’t joking around when I said recently on this blog that feuding libertarians can call me “Mr. Diplomacy.”)

I like civilization and think we could do with a lot more of it — though I do love the song “Calm Animals” by the somewhat green-anarchic-sounding New Wave band the Fixx (and having failed to find that song on YouTube, I give you their Luddite lament “Driven Out” by way of partial compensation). I’m not sure they’d be able to use their synthesizers and electric guitars after the green-anarchic revolution, though.

Of course, the under-educated masses all around us already constitute a sort of “urban primitivism” — like the two teens I heard at a local bookstore engaged, I kid you not, in the following dialogue:

TEEN 1 (looking at a book): Do you say that word “librarian” or “liberrian”?

TEEN 2: Uh…I think they’re both spelled the same way. Yeah, they’re spelled the same way.

Perhaps a return to grunting and odors would be the path of least resistance.


If it’s freedom from government you want, though, instead of freedom from civilization, you need to attend the Ron Paul fundraising party — for a mere $20 suggested donation (plus first drink’s free)! — going on at 7pm this coming Monday, August 20 at Village Pourhouse at 64 Third Ave. (at 11th Street), celebrating Paul’s libertarian-themed presidential campaign (I sure hope those campaign workers are hard at work getting him on the ballot in New York when they’re sober, though — hint, hint, if you campaign workers are reading this!).


JP said...

You found a Jewish Muslim?

Todd Seavey said...

What better man to represent the Center for Islamic Pluralism?

Karol said...

No, seriously, you found a Jewish Muslim?

Todd Seavey said...

Son of a Jewish father and Protestant mother who converted to Islam — and went from labor activist to hawkish (but not anti-Islamic) neoconservative to boot. It’s a complex world. Attend the debate to learn more.