White privilege – An example of exactly how not to think about racial inequality.

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Over the last few hundred years, Western liberalism has enjoyed a long series of well-deserved moral victories over the evils of  slavery, sexism, racism, ableism, ethnic bigotry, religious prejudice, anti-LGBT bigotry, and a host of other social ills.  All of these battles were fought to advance the principle that every person deserves an equal opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  And so Western liberals found themselves repeatedly fighting for the rights of the downtrodden, the minorities, the oppressed.  These victories were hard fought and rife with misery, to be sure, but we in the West undoubtedly live in a better world today due to the efforts of our liberal forebears.  And there are many more battles to fight – more work to be done.  Remnants of the old prejudices and bigotries still influence many people to this day, though it is far less socially acceptable than it once was*.

Despite these many victories, I’ve begun to notice a faction within the Western political left (a bastion of western liberalism  since the latter part of the civil rights movement) that has begun to see the world through what might be called “oppression-tinted” lenses.  To many on the western political left, we continue to live in a bigotry smorgasbord of sorts.  And while I strongly identify with the desire to support the downtrodden and oppressed, I must also recognize that not everything can be reduced down to a binary description of oppressors and the oppressed.  Being a big fan of John Stuart Mill’s idea that a person who knows only their own side of a case knows little even of that**, I will do my best to summarize the opposing side’s arguments in a way they would accept before criticizing those arguments.  In my first post of this series, I’ll be discussing the concept of “privilege.”

Privilege

A privilege is generally understood as a right or benefit given to one person or group, but not to another person or group.  In teaching their children, for example, parents use privileges all the time.  A child might be given regular healthy food for dinner, for example, but have to earn the privilege of getting dessert by behaving well or doing homework/chores.  In this case, all of the children are treated equally with respect to receiving the necessary basics (healthy food), but some might receive the privilege of dessert based upon the quality of their behavior.

But I don’t think that modern leftists are really referring to this type of privilege.  Instead, they describe a wide range of advantages given to some – but not others- due to systemic inequalities in the legal and social arena.  They sort these categories of privilege into things like white privilege, male privilege, straight privilege, Christian privilege, cis-gender privilege, and many others.  They argue that our society is structured to provide these privileges in a systematic fashion to only certain groups.  To return to the parenting analogy above, many modern leftists seem to be arguing that some children are receiving the necessary basics (healthy food) as the default while others must earn the healthy food – and let’s not even get into desserts.  And many modern leftists encourage those benefitting from privilege to “check” their privilege.  The intent here is to get someone to understand how they benefit from their privileges and how the lack of those privileges affect others.  You can even check your own privilege here.

Privilege

In this short piece, I won’t have time to go into every version of privilege on offer.  So I’ll instead talk about the most common privilege mentioned – white privilege – and discuss implications from there.  In her influential piece “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack“, Peggy McIntosh lists 50 privileges that she thinks she is afforded due – primarily – to her white skin.  I doubt McIntosh would claim that her list is exhaustive, but since it is nevertheless quite extensive I’ve reproduced it here in the below three columns:

  • I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
  • I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
  • I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
  • If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
  • I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.
  • I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.
  • I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
  • I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for  advancement than to jeopardize mine.
  • I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.
  • I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
  • If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
  • I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
  • When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
  • My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.
  • I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
  • I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
  • If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
  • I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
  • I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
  • I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
  • Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
  • I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
  • I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
  • I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fi t school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.
  • I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
  • I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
  • I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
  • I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
  • I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
  • I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
  • If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.
  • I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
  • I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
  • I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.
  • I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
  • I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
  • If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.
  • I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps,  professionally.
  • I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
  • I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
  • I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
  • I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
  • I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.
  • If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.
  • I can chose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.
  • I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.
  • I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.
  • My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.
  • I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.
  • I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.

 

You may be wondering why the left column has so many items listed and so few are listed in the middle and right columns.  That is because I recognized some common themes in the items and sorted them by column accordingly.  The column on the left can be thought of as the “healthy food” column.  I think it’s entirely fair to say that – in an ideal society – everyone should have these.  Race should be completely irrelevant to whether a person experiences the items in the left column.  No one should need to earn these.  Like healthcare in the US, having them should be the default as they are (largely) a prerequisite for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The middle column might be thought of as the “dessert” column, in that they shouldn’t be the default (or available at all, really).  In an ideal society, no one’s race should give them extra credibility, or an increased chance at getting accepted at University, or give them an excuse to be ignorant of other cultures.  (I won’t get into the topic of affirmative action at the moment, but suffice to say I can see legitimate concerns on both sides.)

The right column contains items that I was genuinely confused by.  I’m not sure that it’s just because they’re worded poorly or if they’re just really situational.  For example, as a Caucasian I shouldn’t expect to see members of my race widely represented on the television if I move to Kenya, Mexico, or South Korea.  Academic departments should focus on the published work relevant to their disciplines (and related disciplines) rather than the race of those doing the work.  Being able to avoid people who I’ve been trained to mistrust (or who have been trained to mistrust me) isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Maybe my training was based on an unwarranted stereotype or prejudice?  And the same could be said about those who mistrust me.  Lastly, I’m not confident that anyone should be able to arrange to be protected from the negative consequences of choosing to ignore minority perspectives.

The most interesting thing about the above table to me is that the items are disproportionately “healthy food” items.  Which, if we grant McIntosh’s premise that white people are receiving a disproportion number of benefits in our society, means that the majority of McIntosh’s so-called “privileges” of being white are actually just necessities that most white people are appropriately receiving – but most racial minorities aren’t.  In an ideal world, we would expect everyone to have these.  Which makes them not really “privileges” at all.

So I would suggest that the way forward isn’t to alienate potential white allies by calling them out for having what everyone should have (e.g. “How dare you have the privilege of healthy food to eat!  Check your privilege!”).  It’s to ensure that everyone is, in fact, getting what they need.  From McIntosh’s list, it seems that white people are already largely where they should be in terms of having access to necessities.***  The important work is in bringing other racial minorities up to that same level.  That is where our outrage, our passion, and our efforts should be focused.

And the next time someone suggests the presence of some form of inappropriate privilege, think critically about it.  Are they talking about some benefit that is being unfairly given to someone on an arbitrary basis? (e.g. race, religion, sex, gender, disability, etc…)  If so, this “privilege” may well be something worth our concern.  On the other hand, are they really just using “privilege” to talk about something more like healthy food?  If that’s the case, then perhaps it’s time to delve a bit deeper with that person and help them explore the unhelpful consequences of this idea.

 

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*Imagine the response you’d receive today, versus 100 years ago, if you spoke in favor of racial apartheid in, say, a job interview.

**paraphrased

*** Though anyone who has spent any time amongst poor white people will rightly call this into question as well.

 

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My principal problem with the “God as Heavenly Father” analogy

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FATHER AND SON PLAY ON SHORE AT SUNRISE.

Image from Reuters

In Christianity, it’s common to describe God as being a kind of super father character. He always watches over you, knows you better than you know yourself, protects you, helps you grow through giving you challenges, etc…  These mostly sound like the sort of things that good fathers do, and they’re things that I aspire to as a father myself*.  I do want to know my son extremely well, protect him, and give him challenges that offer him the opportunity to expand his mind and learn new things about himself and the world every day.  And since he’s my son, I especially want to ensure that he has the opportunity to get to know me – if anything to help him learn what I’ve learned and not repeat my mistakes.  In these ways, I can certainly understand the “God as Heavenly Father” analogy.  But it has long occurred to me that there’s one major problem with this analogy right up front.

And it’s this: My son has no reason to be uncertain about the fact that I exist.  I’ve ensured that my existence is unambiguously clear to him.  Why?  Because it’s the crucial first thing I need to establish in order to be a father.  I can’t get to know my son, protect him, or help him grow if he doesn’t even know I exist in the first place.  So I’ve worked to remove all doubt from my son’s mind about this.  If I failed to ensure that my son knew I existed, I think it would be fair to call me an abysmally awful father.

So how well does the Christian God do in this regard? Has the Christian God removed all doubt of his existence from the minds of his children?  The answer is a resoundingly simple “No.”  The existence of non-believers, as well as believers in non-Christian religions**, is all we need to conclude that the Christian God has failed to remove all doubt from his children’s minds about his existence***.  And this is a problem given the other common descriptions of God – namely that he is all powerful, knows all, and is infinitely benevolent towards his creations.

So either:

  1. God wants us to know who he is but can’t, or
  2. God can show himself to us but won’t.

Option 1 means that God isn’t all-powerful or all-knowing. Option 2 means that God isn’t infinitely benevolent (i.e. not the super father character he’s described as).

Now, when I present this criticism to believers, the consistent response is that God would be violating our free will if he removed all doubt from our minds about his existence. We have to choose to follow him, their response goes.  As my criticism is a variation on the Argument from Divine Hiddenness, I can’t say I’m surprised to see people responding this way.  But when I ask believers why it’s ok (if not mandatory to being a good father) for me to remove all doubt from my son’s mind about my existence, but not ok for God to do it for his children, I get blank looks followed by some variation on it requiring faith to believe.  And that, of course, leads to other interesting discussions.

 

*Except for the “always watches over you” part. Kids need unsupervised time to grow and develop their own self-worth and capacity to solve problems on their own.  The last thing my son needs is for me to be watching over his shoulder all the time.

**See Hinduism, certain variations of Buddhism, folk religions, etc…

***I suppose that you could go so far as to doubt the sincerity of all non-believers and non-Christians and argue that they really do believe in the Christian God – but are just denying it.  You’d need to have really good evidence to back up that claim, though, and I haven’t encountered any influential theologians or mainstream Christian apologists who are willing to go that far.

 

Science vs. Religion – An Epistemic Cage Match

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In this post I’ll be discussing the value of the scientific method when coming to conclusions as compared to the religious method.  It is split into two complementary halves.  The first half is in a basic discussion format, while the latter is in a syllogism format that might be more enjoyable (and easier to critique) for the philosophically inclined readers.

Wrong-Distance-Estimation

Image from Topbow.net

Discussion

How important is accuracy?  Well, I suppose it depends on what your target is.  If it’s a series of circles like in the picture above, it’s probably not a huge problem if you miss.  You can just keep practicing.  If your target is something that’s trying to kill you, however, your ability to reliably hit your target becomes crucial.  The same could be said for the accuracy of your beliefs.  If the question is whether the Taco Bell down the street is open for breakfast, the accuracy of your belief that Taco Bell is open for business probably isn’t that crucial.  If it isn’t open, you can just drive over to a restaurant that is open for breakfast.  Likewise, if the question is whether to devote your entire life to the service of an invisible all-powerful deity, the accuracy of your belief about the deity’s existence (and commands) becomes crucial.

Given the above, I think it’s fair to say that the importance of accuracy increases as the importance of the target increases.  Hitting a target with a bow and arrow is far from easy.  It takes time and a great deal of practice.  Arriving at beliefs that accurately describe the world around us is similarly difficult.  For, as physicist Richard Feynman famously said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”

We are, indeed, very good at fooling ourselves.  Our species is well known for arriving at conclusions that confirm what we want or expect to be true (also see “motivated reasoning“).  We are very good at ignoring anything that conflicts with what we have already concluded.  And if we do become aware of something that suggests our conclusions may be questionable, we can even continually deny it outright such that – over time – we can begin to internalize and actually believe our denials.

I’ll take it as a given that, in principal, none of us want to fool ourselves.  So how do we avoid it?  How do we safeguard our beliefs from inaccuracies, or at least reduce the number of inaccuracies ?  The best answers so far come from psychological studies like those linked above, as well as from the hard sciences.  We’ve learned that we have to first be aware of our biases and then figure out how to lessen their effects.  We have to develop a method that makes it very difficult for our biases to affect our conclusions.  This takes work.  And the more important the question, the more important it is that we put in the work to make sure we’re getting as close to an accurate conclusion as we can.

Thankfully, psychology and the hard sciences have gifted us a variety of tools that make this process much easier.  Firstly, knowing that our biases can affect us without our being aware of it, we should always give provisional acceptance to any belief.  That is, we should always be willing to revise or discard a belief if we later find better explanations.  Secondly, our beliefs should be predictive of other ideas.  The more specific the predictions the better, as this allows us to more easily observe whether our beliefs actually pan out* in reality.  Philosophers often call this process falsification.  When we do this, we are much more likely to arrive at a consistent set of beliefs.  Thirdly, we should expose our beliefs to the marketplace of ideas.  Oftentimes, other people are much better at seeing our biases than we are.  Lastly, we should follow the advice of William of Ockham (see Occam’s Razor, or the Law of Parismony), who advised that we not add unnecessary elements to our explanations.

After reading the above paragraph, try to think about the last time you encountered a scripture or heard a modern religious leader that encouraged any of the above methods?  If you can think of many, then that’s awesome!  Leave a comment and let me know which scripture or religious leader this came from, as I’d be genuinely interested!  If you can’t think of many (or any), then ask yourself why this is.  Why wouldn’t our religious traditions encourage this kind of accuracy in how we form beliefs?

And as a follow-up question, I would ask you to think about how many of our religious traditions threaten punishment for those who openly doubt or question them.  Does the western religious concept of Hell ring any bells?  Everlasting torture** for those who are not convinced of God’s existence?  Ever sat through a sermon about “Doubting Thomas,” or listened to someone describe how the Devil works to deceive us into questioning God’s word and losing our salvation forever?  Ever heard Pascal’s Wager, in which we are strongly encouraged to bet on the existence of one particular version of God so as to avoid His punishment and enjoy salvation?  These kinds of threats aren’t just a failure to encourage good methods for arriving at beliefs.  They aren’t neutral.  They are, in fact, actively opposing the kinds of methods that help us weed out inaccurate beliefs.  Ask yourself why that is.  Why would anyone develop a religious tradition that encourages its members not to carefully assess their beliefs.

When you’ve arrived at your answer, I suspect you’ll have a very good sense for why religious methods for assessing beliefs should be discarded in favor of the scientific method.

And now for something completely the same: the syllogism half of this post.

Syllogism

Premise 1:  All beliefs exist along a scale of accuracy, with “Increasingly Inaccurate” on one end and “Increasingly Accurate” on the other.

Belief Accuracy

Premise 2:  It is preferable to hold beliefs that fall more towards the “Increasingly Accurate” end of the scale.

Premise 3:  Some epistemological methods are more successful than others for arriving at beliefs that fall more towards the “Increasingly Accurate” end of the scale.

Conclusion 1:  Therefore, it is preferable to revise or discard epistemological methods that are found to be less successful for arriving at beliefs that fall towards the “Increasingly Accurate” end of the scale when compared to other known methods.

 

Premise 4:  Religious belief is a kind of belief.

Conclusion 2:  Therefore, it is preferable to revise or discard religious epistemological methods that are found to be less successful for arriving at beliefs that fall towards the “Increasingly Accurate” end of the scale when compared to other known methods.

 

Premise 5: Due to its strong emphasis on provisional acceptance, predictive power, bias mitigation, observation, falsifiability, consistency, and parsimony (see Occam’s Razor), the scientific method is demonstrably the most successful method currently available for arriving at beliefs falling more towards the “Increasingly Accurate” end of the scale.

Premise 6: Religious epistemological methods are not required to incorporate any of the above characteristics of the scientific method noted in Premise 5.  (In fact, they are often diametrically opposed to the characteristics noted in Premise 5.)

Conclusion 3: To the extent that they fail to incorporate the characteristics noted in Premise 5, religious epistemological methods should be revised or discarded in favor of the scientific method.

 

 

*A hypothetical example: If I arrive at a belief that gold reliably forms alongside a specific type of mineral (let’s say calcite), I can then more easily determine how accurate my belief is.  I merely need find some calcite deposits and look for gold.

**or utter annihilation,  depending on the religious tradition.

What is religious faith?

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What is religious faith?  And how does it differ from faith in a more general sense?  In my years of discussing faith with people from a variety of religious backgrounds, as well as in my readings of theology, I’ve come to understand that people mean at least one of the following four concepts when they use the term “faith.”

  • Belief
    • Example: “I have faith that God exists.”
  • Trust
    • Example: “I have faith that that my child is being honest with me.”
  • Hope
    • Example: “I have faith that everything will turn out ok.”
  • Loyalty
    • Example: “I have always been faithful to my spouse.”

 

Whenever I talk with someone about what they mean by the word “faith,” I always try to ensure that I understand which one (or which combination) of these concepts they’re expressing.  And what I’ve found is that many faith statements, when broken down into their composite pieces, start to sound quite odd.  Consider the following common statement of faith:

“I believe that God exists through faith.”

Could this use of faith include the concepts of “loyalty” or “trust”?  That seems a bit like putting the cart before the horse, as someone would have to believe that God actually exists before swearing fealty to or trusting in God.  And I suspect that folks willing to make the above statement aren’t using faith to mean “hope” here either.  “I believe that God exists through hope” doesn’t seem a particularly compelling foundation for one’s religion.  Which means that we’re left with “belief” as the only remaining option.  That leaves the restructured statement as follows:

“I believe that God exists through belief.”

Restated with greater clarity, the statement becomes a meaningless tautology.  In my experience, this is a very common consequence of asking for more precision when it comes to statements of faith.  And it need not be arrived at through argument or debate.  Politely asking people to break down what they mean by these statements into less ambiguous terms, and periodically summarizing what you’re hearing them say, is often one of our most powerful tools for revealing underlying confusion.  You can even try it on yourself!

The Muslim Reformation and Obama’s Realism

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I’ve long considered religious faith, when understood as a method of coming to conclusions about reality, to be among the worst problems plaguing humanity.  I’ll expand upon my reasons for that in a future post, but suffice to say I’ve long been motivated to help people reason their own way to this conclusion as well.  I think the world would be a significantly more prosperous, egalitarian, and peaceful place were this to happen.  But recently I’ve begun to think that helping people to move away from religious faith, while still admirable, isn’t alone necessarily the best and only path available to us.

Last year I read the excellent Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz.  In it, Nawaz points out how tremendously unrealistic it is to think that the solution to Islamist extremism is to de-convert the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.  And he’s got a point.  Cultural change takes time, especially when the beliefs needing revision are strongly held.  As much as I’d like to say that the solution to Islamist extremism is to engage people in dialogue and help them work through the problems that accompany their religious faith (see Street Epistemology), a broader multi-pronged approach seems more likely to be effective/practical at this point.

As a result, I’ve come to agree with people like Maajid Nawaz, Asra Nomani,  and Maryam Namazie who favor an Islamic Reformation.  And I’m not the only one.  Well known atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and many others have shifted their efforts to more unambiguously support Islamic reformers.  (Nawaz’s well-articulated distinctions between Muslims and Islamists appear to have been extremely helpful in this regard.)

Interestingly enough, Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent article in The Atlantic presents President Obama as coming to very similar conclusions – albeit from the opposite direction.  From the beginning of his presidency, Obama has echoed the patently absurd notion that Islamist extremism has nothing to do with Islam.  This, despite the never ending stream of specifically Islamic theological justifications that Islamist extremists offer us through their propaganda on a daily basis.  Or the violence that makes absolutely no sense in the absence of Islamic theology (Throwing gay people from rooftops, the recent attacks on Christians in Lahore, Pakistan during Easter celebrations, or the murder of Asad Shah).

Obama’s concern about naming Islamism as an underlying causal problem appears to be that it could enflame the xenophobic bigotry of the political right in the U.S., further stigmatizing non-violent Muslims and putting them at greater risk of violence.  And that’s certainly a concern I share.  But I agree with Nawaz that failing to be straightforward about the situation at hand only feeds a narrative that Obama – and liberally minded folks in general – doesn’t understand what’s really going on.  And this comes across as classic denialism.  As a result, the only people willing to loudly talk about the problem of Islamism are the xenophobic bigots.  And so, we liberals have ended up ceding the discussion to some of those least capable of constructively addressing the issue.

I am pleased to see that, privately, Obama appears to recognize Islamism as a significant underlying problem.  I’m not convinced that he’ll be publically forthcoming about that during the rest of his term.  Nor am I convinced that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will publically recognize it if either of the two of them are elected.  But perhaps they might find other, less publicized, ways of supporting a reformation in Islamic theology?  Perhaps they might nudge the prodigious power of the US media voice to support reformers?  Perhaps they might find ways to fund organizations seeking to confront Islamism’s theology, or assist refugee Muslims with assimilating into their newfound cultures?  I’d prefer that this be more broadly coupled with a publically stated opposition to Islamist theology.  But it would be better than the head-in-the-sand denialism of the “nothing to do with Islam” canard with which we’ve so far been inundated.