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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Extremism and plausible deniability (2)

This Sunday, I had an epiphany: plausible deniability is the reason why extremism hides behind belief systems. A recent example was the news that Dutch salafist primary schools teach young children that killing "unbelievers" is a commendable deed. The school is protected by the Dutch Constitution that guarantees freedom of religious education.

A very different example is the recent offer by a US pharmaceutical company to settle the very many lawsuits against them. This family business caused the OxyContin opioid addiction epidemic. Their offer looks like a remorse plea: we are not drug criminals but a well-respected business family. At the same time, this family was siphoning billions of dollars from its company before (i) legal settlement (eg, APHuffPostNYT) and/or (ii) bankruptcy (eg, Guardian).

Brexit and climate change are two more topics in which the majority of the population now also claims intellectual and moral superiority. People who dare to mention conflicting facts are disagreeing with the majority opinion. In the majority view, minority views are irresponsible, in denial, and challenging "the truth" (eg, recent Dutch opinion in Financieel Dagblad).

There appears to be a wave of dogmatism in the Western world, in which minority views are being condemned (eg, for lack of political correctness). Despite liberalism, minority views are being tolerated less and less. Liberalism only applies to the majority - of that very moment. For non-liberal countries, there is nothing new: holding minority views was and is dangerous.

When belief systems become obsolete, plausible deniability takes over: "I just expressed the majority opinion but I was still in doubt myself". Such statements are impossible to verify. Another strategy that works well, is mentioned in my 2016 blog: I cannot remember. I forgot. Minority views must always defend and explain themselves (eg, having no children).

Extremism becomes accepted once it's hidden behind a belief system. Sometimes, extremism hides behind two belief systems, like the Political Islam. It's very difficult criticizing the Political Islam because they either hide behind political or religious freedom - or both. Ironically, both freedoms mostly apply to the majority and are largely absent for minorities.

Probably, most extremism, which is not hiding behind belief systems, is of a criminal nature. Drug criminals may claim that they "just" supply to a pre-existing demand. In a recent Vanity Fair article, a Sackler family member argued: “We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”

“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.” A quote by Shantideva (c. 685 - c. 763), an Indian Buddhist monk.

You Ain't The Problem (2019) by Michael Kiwanuka


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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