Category Archives: Europe

Covering the Hijab at the Rio Olympics

Past weeks have seen the internet come to blows over pictures from a women’s volleyball game between Germany and Egypt. This picture:

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Now where most sane folks would see a simple game of beach volleyball, the denizens of the interwebs have managed to read in some fantasy about a clash of cultures- “the free and civilized West against the superstitious, primitive savages of the East.” Comment sections have been flooded with everything from sarcastic half-jokes…

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…to open propaganda.

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“Because I, from the comfort of my armchair, know this athlete’s situation better than she does.” -Idiot Commentor

There’s been snide comment after comment directed not at Doaa Elghobashy’s performance in the game, not towards her assertion that what she wears is her own damn business, not towards her teammate (Nada Meawad) who doesn’t wear a hijab…

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And I think it’s because people aren’t actually angry about any of that.

For all the sanctimony, the issue at hand seems not to be with mandates or even just pressure to wear the hijab. It has nothing to do with standing up for women- on the contrary. I do think that the extreme contrast between Elghobashy and her German counterparts hit a nerve that most people didn’t realize they had. I think it does forced folks to ask themselves some truly uncomfortable questions about why they actually watch the sport.

I’m talking about this:

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Now I seriously debated putting that picture up, but as cringingly uncomfortable as it is, I think it speaks volumes about our culture. Continue reading

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CWR’s Brexit Breakdown

Well folks, it happened. In a move that continues to shock the world, Britain has dramatically voted to leave the European Union.

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And make no mistake readers- the Brexit is the worst thing that has ever happened. Or the best thing. Or…

Well, something.

For all the outrage, jubilation, and wild speculation, the reality of the situation is that most folks have been caught off guard by this decision- and probably none moreso than folks on this side of the Atlantic.

Plenty of conservatives- including potential American president Donald Trump- have applauded the Brexit, claiming it to be a victory for small government, autonomy, and “making Britain great again.”

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Which is something that should probably concern the rest of the world…

On the other hand, liberals have been howling that the Brexit represents a secession not simply from Europe but from progressive values, freedom of movement, and a commitment to peace and unity in general.

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With all that noise, dear readers, it can be tough to hear the truth.

And unfortunately, we don’t have it either. The reality is that this is an absurdly complicated issue with far-reaching implications and plenty of ramifications that we can only guess at. So rather than add to the din, we here at Culture War Reporters have gathered the most pertinent issues for your own consideration. Continue reading

The State of the Revolution

Well comrades, it’s that time of year again! Deck your union halls with black and crimson bunting and gather around the tree for the redistribution of wealth! It’s May at last, and revolution is in the air!

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Image retrieved via Tumblr, fair use

Or is it?

The seeds that were planted during the Arab Spring are far from dead, but no one can say that they’re flourishing. Europe has seen (as predicted by yours truly) a massive rise in openly Fascist parties, rising to power on a tide of xenophobia and racism. A similarly ugly nationalist movement has catapulted Donald Trump to the forefront of the Republican party- and lest anyone think that he’s an insane outlier, second in the race is Tea-Party darling Ted Cruz, another depraved bigot who’s even been called “Lucifer in the flesh” by high-ranking members of his own party.

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Which I will never not find funny

And that’s accompanied by a nationwide assault on the BDS Movement, with universities across the country making a concerted push to ban the organization under flimsy (and utterly false) accusations of antisemitism.

So yeah, things could be better.

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“But what about Sanders?”, you ask.

Sanders isn’t a socialist.

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“…by which I mean heavy state subsidies of public services and increased regulation, but let’s not go crazy here.” | image retrieved via giphy, fair use

Continue reading

Five Requests Of An Angry Young Man

I’m not going to pretend that I speak for all Millennials.

I grew up overseas. The 90s nostalgia over cartoons, cereal, and toys was never part of my life. I’d made plenty of trips back to the US, but never really spent any time in the culture until I was 17, arriving on the shores of the new world like the opening of some cliched immigrant story.

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Not quite so dramatically, but I was still very much a stranger in a strange land…

So maybe I’m looking at things through a strange, distorted lens. Maybe I’m alone in feeling that I’ve been seriously shortchanged on my future in the land of opportunity.

But I don’t think so.

Still, as I was writing this, I was starting to have second thoughts. Maybe my tone was too harsh, my criticisms to generalized, my frustration too warrant-less.

And then I watched this SNL skit titled “The Millennials

“Beautiful twenty-somethings (Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Miley Cyrus, Jon Rudnitsky) search for the love and success they’re entitled to on The Millennials.”

We watch a couple god-awful caricatures of Generation Y make outlandish demands of their sensible, long-suffering precursors. Near the end of the sketch, one of the smarmy Millennials threatens to jump out of a window. The two older workers stand back and say:

“Just do it.”

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Cue the applause and cheers from the audience.

So yeah, **** being nice and measured here. Let me break down what I’m sick and tired of hearing from Gen X and their Boomer counterparts:

I. Kindly Ease Up With Demanding That I Get Married/Have Kids

Yes, Millennials are getting married later than previous generations, but the average has only only gone up by a couple years. Yet to hear some folks talk, you’d think Millennials were actively attempting to dismantle the institution of marriage entirely.

I guess I just don’t understand what the big deal is.

Right along there with the pressure to get married is the pressure to spawn offspring- though again, the exact why isn’t ever really covered.

It almost seems to be presented as some kind of civic duty. That establishing the nuclear family is vital to ze velbeing of ze fatherland.

And I could deal with that.

I disagree with it, but I could deal with it as an argument. Just not one presented by the Boomers and Gen Xers.

I mean, seriously.

Boomers? Continue reading

JK Rowling’s Problem With America

I read Harry Potter.

Liked it.

Didn’t love it.

Which puts me in perhaps one of the smallest minorities on the planet, between folks who’ve been struck by lightning multiple times and folks named “Craig Craigerson”.

Now I, like many, was enthralled at first. Tore through ’em at a lightning pace. But as the series wore on, I found myself drifting away from it. Certain issues I’d have been more willing to forgive as a kid just didn’t hold up. Problems like-

  • Why is the reportedly most powerful wizard in the world a high school principal?
  • Why are these kids not also being taught history, literature, and chemistry?
  • Is Voldemort such a nerdy loser that his plan for domination gets undone by his insistence on conquering his old school?

Also, why not just shoot the guy?

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I mean seriously- he clearly views Muggles [non magic-users] in such low regard that he’d never see it coming. Granted, this is the issue I have with Doctor Who, Sherlock, and most British shows, but I do think that there’s few problems a well-aimed .44 can’t solve.

Yes, that’s a distinctly American attitude, and part of my problem with Rowling’s latest venture.

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Escaping Trump’s America: One Writer’s Harrowing Tale of Survival

trump-011It has been 51 days since Drumpf became president, and I lock the door to my apartment for the final time. It’s a cold day in March, but even my thick coat raises eyebrows as I arrive at the station.

They say Mussolini made the trains run on time, but I’m guessing the strange intricacies that seem to govern the Greyhound buses would’ve sent tears running down the fat, doughy face of the Italian despot. My ticket reads 5:30 to Chicago, No. 302, but the sun is already starting to rise over the desert. All the seats have been taken. I find myself a free spot of ground beneath a leering poster of the president. The bitter morning wind, reeking of diesel fumes and cigarette ash, sends loose papers skittering across the concrete. Discarded ticket stubs, crumpled receipts- a single page that looks like it may have come from some shoolboy’s essay. All decadent, unpatriotic schools have been replaced with Drumpf Universities, where we are to be re-educated to stop thinking like “bimbos” and “losers.”

An hour passes, and the guards return- weak, winter sunlight glittering off of their glossy, golden uniforms. They have proper haircuts- as we all do now. Aryan blonde, brushed forward to cover the parts of our head that absolutely aren’t balding. Any illicit hairstyles will earn you and your barber 80 lashings. They takes measurements our hands, to ensure their proper size. They search my belongings. I’ve prepared for this. Just enough clothes for a three day trip. No money. No passport. Just my mandatory certificate proving native birth and authorized religious beliefs. My papers say that I am going to Houghton to visit a sick friend. I am lucky that I already have documents that show I went to college there- at least, to the Houghton in New York. I do not think I could have afforded to have all my papers forged. Continue reading

We’ll Never Be Royals: Why We Need to Kick Our Obsession With the British Crown

It was less than 24 hours ago that yours truly sat at his desk, desperately diving through the dark recesses of the internet in search of something to preach to you about. And lo and behold, dear readers, the internet provided- for yours truly was not seven clicks in before he stumbled across some truly inane Buzzfeed post on Kate Windsor and her offspring.

While the article itself was mostly just pictures of the royal consort and the spawn-of-Windsor (can we please make it a thing to call ’em that?), it was the title that got me. Typical Buzzfeed clickbait, to be sure, but with all that wonder and joy you’d usually associate with a kid on Christmas.

Royal pictures! Princesses and princes! Jewels and castles and- and-!

And all that ****ing drivel.

But don’t you fret, boys and girls, this isn’t going to be another leftist rant against the British crown (the truly sleazy, inbred, useless, parasites that they are).

No, no- it’s a tirade against our obsession with this absurd tradition, and a case for why it’s high time we abandon it.

Now there are doubtlessly those among you who wonder if such a thing is even necessary. The royals are, after all, tucked away in their lavish palaces on the other side of the world. What harm could a handful of random pasty dudes possibly have on our culture?

That, beloved and faithful readers, is a good question. How about we start with…

Undermining Equality

Yes, that most dearly held of American values.

Or at least, formerly most dearly held of American values. With income inequality at historic highs, it’s probably safe to say we’ve let that one slide a bit.

It didn’t used to be like that, though.

Once upon a time, one of the greatest defining characteristics of the nation was a borderline Socialist obsession with equality and the common man. Only slightly more than a century ago the American republic stood unique amid a morass of empires, duchies, and despots, and we, for one, were damn proud of it- even to the point where the practice of tipping was considered to be “un-American”.

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