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In 2017 Attacks Increased by 44% Against Muslim Americans

2017 saw another spike in hate crimes against Muslims, however some see a silver lining in a report study that finds that less people support Trump’s “Muslim ban” than previously.

via. Middle East Eye

When President Donald Trump announced his “Muslim ban” – a law that would keep citizens from six predominately Muslim states from entering the US – around this time last year, the country witnessed a wave of Islamophobia. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) found that 2017 was one of the worst years for Muslims in America, with attacks on community members increasing by 44 percent from the year before.

Since then, the so-called Muslim ban has morphed into several versions, with many states’ supreme courts weighing in on the legality of Trump’s executive order, which for now targets Iran, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

But this week, a study published in Political Behaviour, a quarterly academic journal, found that Trump’s anti-Islamic sentiment has backfired in some ways.

A team of political scientists from the University of Delaware, Michigan State University and University of California in Riverside found a silver lining to a survey they conducted. Trump’s anti-Muslim actions, which became a cornerstone of his election campaign and later his immigration policy, have changed national perceptions of the controversial law.

Read the full article…

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  • Mehdi

    End of the article:

    In the past two years several films such as The Witch and Arrival have given the definitive feeling of the postnormal, the anxiety that things are not as they should be, that nothing seems to be normal anymore. But they are unable to come to grips with this anxiety and continue to linger on the dangerous presumption that the normal is still out there. A Cure for Wellness (2016) is a great example of this. When a partner of a major financial firm in New York City sends a letter saying he will not be returning from the European spa he vacationed to, a young, up and coming stock broker is forced to visit the spa and bring him home. When he arrives at the spa he notices various strange happenings that reveal a hidden past to the castle the spa was built into and the disappearance of several patients. At times this film feels like the next great psychological thriller moving from twist to twist until the final reveal, but at other times it feels like the old Hammer exploitative horror films of the 1960s and 1970s. At the same time a narrative delving into greed, excesses of neo-liberal economics and the stresses of the fast paced modern world tries to elicit a message of warning. In the end, a definite antagonist, an ultimate evil is revealed and vanquished. The day is saved and
    everything can return to normal, or so the audience thinks.

    Two other ground-breaking horror films came out earlier in 2017 that invoke a similar feeling. Get Out (2017) and Split (2016). Both of these films take a deep social issue, racism in America and mental illness not being considered worthy of actual medical study, respectively, and exaggerate the circumstances to deliver a thought provoking product. The problem arises again, like in A Cure for Wellness, when the heroes face their antagonists and come out on top. Evil is vanquished. The day is saved.

    The hero goes home. The audience go home. The issue, be that
    corporate greed, mental illness, racism, xenophobia, economic
    inequality, terrorism, they all still exist. Worst: all these heroes make it to the credits not through creative means, but by remaining within their own world views and with the tools conveniently left for them. There is an insatiable desire to find and locate the causes of all our troubles elsewhere. There is no awareness the system we have created, the paradigms we established and work within, are the problem. Postnormal Times is not engaged and thus the turbulent state of the system is in no way appreciated.

    Oddly enough, it is in the rural, blue collar characters of recent
    American cinema that truly postnormal film meets true postnormal heroes. The first example of this new representation of the rural/blue collar character who rises to become a postnormal hero comes from last year’s best picture nominee, Manchester by the Sea (2016). In the film, Casey Affleck delivers a best actor nominating portrayal of Lee Chandler, a down and out day labourer who is suddenly given custody of his teenage nephew after the death of his brother. Lee is a man numb to emotion due to a horrifyingly tragic past and now must face the death of his brother, the pain of his old home town, and the uncertain future of his friends and family. In the film’s beginning Lee is freed from the past, floating along in the present as a maintenance man with no future prospects and without passion for life. Upon Lee’s return to his hometown, everything is familiar, yet unrecognisable. Things that were taken for granted have evaporated, truth now seems to come at random, and the ignorance discovered in uncertainty forces Lee out of himself. Whereas Lee is a dead character at the film’s opening, a shell waiting for his last sunrise, he is now in charge of a young life filled with potential, faced by his ex-wife and the horrifying secret they hold, he must live again. Most importantly he must get creative and think for others for the first time since his leaving his home. In the end, we see through flashback Lee, his brother, and his nephew as young boys fishing and joking in a safe and familiar world. Now they have to navigate the treacherous waters of life and the New England bay area they call home.

    Similar sentiments can be found in Buster’s Mal Heart (2016),
    where we follow Buster through the two worlds he lives within. In the
    first, he is the family man, over worked, under paid, and under
    respected by superiors and his in-laws struggling to give his wife and
    daughter a better life. In the second he is a nomadic frequent radio
    prophet moving between empty vacation homes hiding from the cops and preaching the coming death of society with Y2K approaching. The first Buster is responsible, loving, and dedicated to life. The second is reckless, disrespectful of other’s property, and free from the cares of the modern fast paced world. These two worlds are brought together by the appearance of the strange character known as the Last Free Man and a dream sequence where the two Busters are lost at sea in a small boat. As the Last Free Man eventually leads the first Buster down a destructive path, the first Buster works to kill the ‘free’ and prophetic second Buster in the boat. By the film’s conclusion both Busters are destroyed yet the audience is unsure if either actually existed. Was this film all just a massive glitch in the matrix, could this all be the fleeting thoughts of a man lost at sea? We must watch the film through both Busters but can never trust either and both must take uncharacteristic steps to evade their utter destruction.

    Lastly, I want to draw attention to Logan (2017). Now this may
    seem a strange pick as the superhero films seem to have more to do with a denial (and potential postnormal lag inducing effect) of the modern world fraught with issues. Logan takes the superhero flick and pivots it in a new direction. Here we see a deconstruction of the
    costumed white knight and perhaps the closest thing to a reconstruction of the hero that postnormal times will allow. Logan awakes to his car being vandalised near the Mexican border in the south of the United States. In traditional superhero narration, the bad guys would be stopped and somehow someone would be saved, everyone lives happily ever after. Instead Logan brutally murders his would be attackers and no one is safe, including Logan himself who suffers a severe amount of injury from the encounter. This world is done with the Mutants who were once heroes as Logan is one of the last of his kind. Done with his days as the Wolverine, he only wishes to help the only man who ever helped him in his past, Professor X, now unable to control his vast powers, and live out the rest of their days away from the sick and dying future they find themselves in. Suddenly a young girl needs the Wolverine one last time. Followed by a dangerous corporation, Logan, this young girl, and Professor X must run north to get her to safety. All along the way, the old way of doing things only ends in tragedy and Logan must even face a
    clone of himself, reminiscent of the old powerful Wolverine as his
    healing ability has faded with time. Logan’s old challenge has been to find the right balance between man and animal to prevail in a world that hates and needs him. Now Logan must find a new place for himself and the future of mutant kind, in the form of lost children, in a dying world, in legend, and deeply troubling postnormal times.

    The fate of all of these heroes is great tragedy. But each makes
    piercing strides against the thick and often impossibly navigable
    ignorance of populism floating in a sea of uncertainty. Each hero must face destruction to be recreated in a new creative way that enables him to navigate the complexity, chaos, and contradiction at the foundation of postnormal times. The rural/blue collar character, the basic block of populism, makes an ideal candidate for this heroic endeavour. These characters are steadfast in their beliefs and suffer the most when the greater forces of the world around them fail. Their ideals create profound conflict as the lines between good and evil, right and wrong, and whether to act or not are blurred or one’s eyes can no longer be trusted. These heroes have the endurance to face almost certain defeat and destruction in the face of postnormal times. As the film moves quickly to represent the conundrum in the social and political nature of American life, as truth is dead and lies, corruption, and tyranny move beyond the regular to become law and the new normal, they are the sacrificial lambs who will redeem their representation in the history of American film by exploiting the stereotypes and contradictions in their characterisation.

  • Mehdi

    rest of the article:

    The earliest representations, during the 1920s through to the 1960s, come in the form of personas that are the Salt of the Earth. These are the little men, the heroes who vercome corruption or society issues to rise above, take on the authority or the norm, and make America great for the first time. These are the Atticus Finches (To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962), Jefferson Smiths (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939), and Tom Joads (Grapes of Wrath, 1940) of the world. They were not always the most intelligent or most noble, but they stuck to their beliefs and eventually win the day. Often based on classic American novels, these characters led America to world dominance and gave birth to the idea of the American dream. The Salt of the Earth person understood that value is created through hard work and that it is no bad thing to exit stage left to an uplifting musical number. Luckily, the presence of non-whites or the socially ‘irregular’ isn’t necessary in order to save the day in pre-1960s America.

    In the face of the turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s, the rural, blue collar hero was abandoned. Often they were made out to be the backwards, lost, and hopelessly uneducated. They are the racist side character, incapable of proper grammatical communication, and fall victim to their own idiocy. Sometimes their fates are tragic, other times they can be written off as innocent in the light of their own ignorance. They are the Ugly Idiot American, often depicted as overweight, wearing hats and denim, and incapable of higher thought or arithmetic. The Ugly Idiot American is dangerous like Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK, 1991), Private Leonard Lawrence (Full Metal Jacket, 1987), and the back-country family of Deliverance (1972). The Ugly Idiot American can be the dopey hero such as Forrest Gump (1994) or Bobby Boucher (The Waterboy,1998). Often times the Ugly Idiot American sits in the background, biding their time for a good laugh or to devise a reckless plan. They usually only have hyphenated names or nick names reminding us of the regions of the US they come from like Tex. They are Maj. King Kong (Dr. Strangelove, 1964), Cletus (television’s The Simpsons), or a variety of roles played by such character actors as Clifton James (often credited as the Dopey Sheriff). They are derogatory caricatures so much so that they have even led many Americans to hide their southern accent out of fear of being judged as less intelligent for having it. This period of representation still exists today as a tool of comedy that has only been made more powerful in the aftermath of certain politicians and reality television stars.

    The newest phase of rural, blue collar representation builds upon the prior two by adding humility and integrity to the character. These are the Comeback Kids. They can simply take pride in the identity they have had thrust upon them. This is easily seen in Chris Kyle (American Sniper, 2014), where the identity is owned and pursuit of heroism unfettered. This can also be witnessed in a pragmatic owning of the identity while refusing its weaknesses. This is most readily observed in Frank Underwood (House of Cards, 2013). This phase of rural, blue collar epresentation is being used in postnormal films and they give us a deeper insight into the anxiety of the age and fresh take on such phenomenon as the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the alt-right political movement.

    Two recent films do a wonderful job of setting the stage for the feeling of these new postnormal times in American cinema. In opposite, yet complementing ways, these two cinematic screenings tell classic and deeply American stories through this emerging lens giving the audience a new, yet essential position to prepare for the futures ahead. The cinematography is key in both to establishing a sense of the eerie and a majestic uncertainty. Through vast landscape shots and focus on the setting, the central roles are minimalised before the titanic space surrounding them. This diminishes the character’s trust for their situations and highlights, for the audience, the uselessness of their preordained world views. Clear navigation towards the character’s resolutions is as muddled as the distinction of genre in these films.

    The first film is Robert Egger’s The Witch (2015). The Witch is, as it subtly suggests, a New England Folktale following a freshly outcast family in 1700s New England as they build their new life, centralised around a fundamentalist form of Christianity, beyond the society of their former English immigrant colonisers. Following the disappearance of one of the family’s children, a grief stricken mother, a strong and passionate father, and four children lost between pubescence, superstition, and religious conviction struggle to hold together against the supernatural forces haunting them in the surrounding wood. Their firm beliefs and moral structure is taken to its limits as their understanding of the world, good, evil, and each other are all called into question. Interfamilial white lies mix with inexplicable happenings that are evaluated with wayward superstition and unshakable religious conviction. In the end the truth is almost as unbelievable as the ridiculous conclusions provided by the family’s not-so-common sense. They are rapidly and hopelessly consumed by a postnormal storm.

    First, the Father, the patriarchal pillar of wisdom, tells us he is allowing his family to fall into exile due to the village’s incorrect views on the Bible. We the audience must trust that he knows best. We want to trust him as the pinnacle of truth as within a few frames we see that he has provided a small estate for the family and they appear to be thriving. Then the youngest child disappears under the eldest child’s watch. The Father is certain it was the work of a wild animal. Then we find out the Father has stolen the Mother’s priceless heirloom cup and sold it for provisions so the family may survive the coming winter. But stealing is wrong. This also means this perfect home he has created has flaws. The crops aren’t taking to the land. He is also secretly teaching his son how to hunt, taking him into the woods against the Mother’s wishes. The son and the daughter go out looking for their lost brother and only the daughter returns. The Mother, having appeared to have lost another child turns to blaming the foul play on Satan himself. The Father allows his daughter to be blamed for the missing cup and the son’s knowledge of the woods when he knows it is his fault that led the boy on the fool’s errand. The suspicion that they are being stalked by a witch is quickly taken as a viable possibility and the Father, once our rock, now is left uncertain as to whether or not his own daughter has given herself to Satan and become the witch that haunts them.

    The second film is Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016). While The Witch is the classical form of American story, Arrival takes on the more futuristic sci-fi aspect. In America’s infancy its greatest fear was the agents of Satan and repression, as America became a super power, its antagonists had to take on other-worldly, extraterrestrial embodiment. Arrival begins with the original greatest threat: Aliens have appeared from somewhere and they must want something. Worst of all, we do not know how powerful they are and they could potentially destroy us all with little to no effort. Traditionally in alien encounter movies English is taken as the intergalactic language of choice. Arrival turns this class-act idiotic Western assumption and a linguist becomes our film’s hero. This film is steeped in uncertainty as the world waits for one linguist to save us from our ignorance. Meanwhile the military and humanity itself stands ready to act before they attack us. At its heart it is a classic encounter with the other story. Our hero, Louise, who cannot count on the alien language having any similarities to any Earth forms of communication (that which she has dedicated her life to studying), must try to communicate nevertheless. Her colleague attempts to offer her
    mathematical truth, but even this, removed from the living and subjective, can offer no solace. She must defeat her own mental bias and break out of her way of thinking to save the world from its ignorance-driven actions.

    The first shots of this film are quite different from The Witch
    in that we find the characters trapped in small rooms. This gives a sense of claustrophobia which is gradually expanded. First we move up to a large lecture hall but are given the point of view of a screen. Suddenly the watchers have become the watched as the audience sees a room of students and the teacher, our hero, look on as the news reveals that we are not alone in the universe. This shot gives the American audience a remembrance of where they were and how they felt on September 11, 2001. Steeped in uncertainty, we are brought to a large expanse. An open land of rolling hills and centred in it, the alien space craft. A large metallic concave essence. Audience and characters are all belittled before the massive metal contact lens looking craft as seemingly miniature helicopters fly by it.

    Finally, the telling of this story lends to the ignorance felt while viewing this film. We are hearing a love letter to the hero’s daughter. The letter is written with the knowledge that a great tragedy is going to occur, but we cannot tell if the letter is a flashback or an afterthought of the alien conundrum before us – the audience. At moments we see our hero struggle with both memory and intuition, left in pain as she breaks beyond her all too human linear progressive timeline of thought. Hers and our perspective is taken beyond the confines of time.

    Beyond the cinematography and flexible truth of both The Witch and Arrival, the musical score ties the bow on this postnormal package deal. The musical editing gives one the illusion that no score exists, though when one looks back they are almost certain they heard bass beats or even the scratches of stringed instruments. In fact, both films blend natural sounds (although enhanced even to the point of hyperbole) with very subtle musical accompaniment. This blend is refined with a sharp emphasis on sound effects from footsteps, to crunching, knocking, and even the handling of various items. There is no safety in the ignorance and uncertainty surrounding these films. The audience can expect no comfort from an elaborate plot and feeling driving musical score either.

  • Mehdi

    Stalkers of Anxiety by C Scott Jordan:
    A new distinct shadow is emerging within
    contemporary American film. This new other does not have a proper face so it cannot be furnished with appropriate make up, accent and other character tropes. This other is abstract and as such not easy to pin down. It is anxiety-inspiring, and often wrapped in, enigma.

    How did Donald J. Trump get elected President of the United States?
    It is a question that is being asked by conservative and liberal alike. Republicans and Democrats are all left in a sort of awe at the very phenomenon. Numerous questions arise. What happened to the good old rural, blue collar citizens on whose back the wealth of this nation was created? How can citizens make political choices that are against their interest? How have they come to see the federal government as the arch enemy out to get them? How come the rural folks have elected candidates who refuse to regulate the pollution of the lands and waters essential towards clean drinking and fish supplies which are the staples of their economy? These are obvious, natural questions but the answers are complex and call into question the entire history of American democracy.
    We can point to large demographics. We can say with some confidence that everyday rural, blue collar citizen is forced to sacrifice health for wealth and ineffective government for freedom. In the ignorance of these uncertainties and artificial dichotomies, a deep anxiety rules the hearts of these people. Then, there is the anxiety on the other side: those who are concerned with the rise of populism in America. This accumulated anxiety has a distinctively postnormal feel to it. It is through postnormal times that this new movement in film can be identified and studied.

    The films that capture the anxiety of these tumultuous times are
    still being written. But the atmosphere of anxiety surrounding American life is now beginning to filter in Hollywood and is slowly being represented through film in varying ways. Within the last year there have been a few films that have begun to shed light on the absurdity that permeated the air of American life during the rise of Donald Trump and other alt-right movements. Riddled with uncertainty the films present characters with relatively high intelligences faced with insurmountable challenges that are bordering on the utterly ridiculous.
    This produces an improbability that cannot be shaken over the course of a feature length film. On top of this our narrators are horrendously subjective and often untrustworthy. Indeed, even when the main character is our narrator, and sometimes the hero, they cannot even trust themselves. After all, often times the hero and narrator are living in different realities, different times, even if these two roles are contained within the same character. Then again, this is a post-Truth world. Truth is dead or at least stripped of its innocence. The combination of the settings’ uncertainty and the ignorance (either recognised or hidden) creates an anxiety felt by both characters and audience. Watch Starz’ American Gods and see what I mean.

    In this anxiety, we see another fatality, the death of genre. These
    films feel like a horror film, but over the movement of the plot one is
    left unsure of whether one is watching a horror film, or a comedy, or a tragedy, or a romance. The traditional narrative of genre is blended beyond the recognition of its constituent definitions. The dominant theme is anxiety which is often played out with the revelation this postnormal movement in film has best been played out with the more rural, blue collar characters. In the steadfast held values of these protagonists, there is a real life or death struggle to overcome the conflict postnormal films present.

    Of course, the representation of the rural, blue collar citizen in
    American film has a long history. It is worth noting how it has changed. I would argue that this change has occurred in three distinctive movements.

  • Mehdi

    Hi Khizer and thanks for your message.
    My view is yes and no, Trump represents and has unleashed an important portion of America (35-40%? More? Less?) and has allowed them to shamelessly express their hatred, racist and inherent violence. Not that they didn’t exist before but they have no issue expressing their feelings in the open now.
    When you say “America” and “American”, I feel more like saying “Old male white America” (and even that is a bit oversimplified), the people who have owned the country and whose grip is gradually losening, they are going nuts to see the country’s demography gradually shifting and believe his delusion of making it great again, pressing rewind will not change anything at all.
    America is becoming more mutlicultural, that’s a fact, and I see Trump’s electoral victory mostly as a reactionary racist, sexist, violent, bigoted reaction from the old male white american middle class to stop this shift.
    In the long term this is doomed, in the short term it’s a lot of damage.
    Will share a couple of articles along that trend.

  • Khizer

    Trump is basically the culmination of American racism, sexism, exceptionalism and bloodlust throughout the years. He is an idiot with a hole filled sponge-brain, but he is America’s bigotry stripped of the ‘pleasant language’ that Americans (specifically democrats and shit liberals) fetishise about, and is American’s nastiness and stupidity layer bare in front of the world.

    Trump is America’s bastard child America does not want to acknowledge. Trump is the result of America’s destructive late stage capitalism. Trump is the rebuttal to the lie that
    America and other Western nations got to where they are in the world now through their ‘virtuous’ ethics and ‘morally superior’ beliefs. America is a stupid bully who takes from others who can not fight back, hurts them, dehumanises them, and when they fight back, America blames their retaliation on their ‘savage’ beliefs and lack of ‘morality’.

    Trump is America layed bare.

    Trump is the product of Capitalism.

  • Mehdi

    Here we see the Trump effect, unfortunately, even if he gets empeached, he’s already unleashed a monster with effects that will go on for years… That discourse during the elections about Clinton and Trump being equally bad was so wrong.

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