Melting Po(in)t

4.0.03

Breaking in a wheel for average citizens and other first world leisures

This text was written by author cherishing liberal society, as much as the right for individual's self-alignment with his/hers natural predispositions, the right for expressing ones identity, the right for choosing ones lifestyle, author concerned about minorities struggling with prejudices (being a member of couple of minorities myself). Especially I do value the right for scrutinizing any subject of interest and importance from multiple perspectives, even the unpopular ones, without it meaning taking sides or accepting labels. My rede is "do what you want, if it concerns yourself and does not harm the others". I do not worship multiculturalism, I like the idea of multiculturalism, to certain extent, I'd like to ensure its survival, I attempt to preserve the better of it. I did study Islamic mythology, history, culture much more than average citizen, equally emphasizing its unique beauties as much as its unique issues. Please do not judge this article by first impression, nor by penultimate paragraph. Please do not get infuriated by words, sentences or chapters - rather try to grasp the message of the whole complex work. As odd as this preamble reads, as odd the authors feels about feeling obliged to write it, nowadays.

Multiculturalists, fascists, islamists, feminists, chauvinists, ... There's a "baby boom" of them – the "-ists" - fervently and reverently fighting for their "-ism". Poor unaligned person who does not feel unanimous affinity with one of the camps. As per NJ manual of "Eight Signs of Terrorism", people who ask the unusual questions, who seem to be out of place, who do not belong - are suspicious of being hidden radical extremists. No one would like to be investigated by the secret service, right? So ... let's hide in the safety of allegiance. Which one?

Or not?

You find courage, inhale and say: "Yes, I agree, but..." And you feel it flying with a speed of light: "Fascist!" How dare you?! How dare you doubt ... or think in the first place? How dare you consider pros and cons of any ideology? How dare you search for positive (and god prevent – negative) sides of any idea? Absurd as it may sound, this is the quality of discussion on the topic of multiculturalism that even many of its proponents offer today. "Do you agree or not? Whose side you are at? Are you with us or against us?" Does this pattern sound a bit familiar?

Several acts of terror committed in Europe (and many more elsewhere), acute migrant crisis, gang sexual harassment incidents – have awoken dread in the "euphoric Europeans of the post-communist 1990s". These fears are suppressed and expressed on individual level as much as in collective behavior. Mainstream media is saturated with questions: Why are people radicalising? Why the extreme right is gaining support? Why Wilders, why Le Pen, why AfD, why Golden Dawn, why PEGIDA? Everyone calls for an alarm, tragi-comically on both/all sides. Thinking individuals are being challenged – to choose if they join the crusade for liberal multi-cultural Europe, or sympathize with once-again resurrected neo-Nazism. False dilemma worth of its perpetrators – intellectually challenged. On both sides.

The choice we are presented with is made sharp as a blade. Try to say: "I agree that we have to help people in need, but..." or "I agree that not all Muslims are terrorists, but..." or "I'd like to live in culturally diverse society, but..." - just one "but" and you'll be sent instantly to the camp of Hitler's fandom. Since we are already labelled, let's try get back to basics. What is the definition of fascism? Why do we hate it? Why is it forbidden to propagate it? Too cheeky questions! For many a citizen, they just accept them as a fact – because it is a proof of being good liberal-democratic citizen. Without questioning, without thinking, they follow the law – wherever it has come from, whatever it is based on. And as such, I daresay, their assumed anti-fascism is fake. It's not based on any deep inner agreement, personal foundation, essential virtue, it is just being followed. (Out of fear perhaps?)

Who is Nazi? You are Nazi!

While for some, fascism is statically attached to symbols or equivalents: "Hitler", "Nazis" or even "Germans", "NSDAP", "world war II", "concentration camps", "gestapo", they are just facts and faces, not the definition of the ideology. It would be like defining feudalism solely by "monarchy" and "queen". Poor Queen! For many older people, the essence of Nazism is not persecuting minorities, vain expansive patriotism, fetishist militarism, infallible leaders and loyal Gestapos of thugs bullying everyone weak enough – elements that many other past and contemporary regimes rely on – but just "Germans invading Slavic motherland". For them, "Germans are the bad guys", even the third or fifth generation. I find it surreal to have to verbalize this trivial idea, but it is absolutely possible to have a regime that will not proudly carry words/terms/labels of "Nazism", but may in essence of its mechanism be Nazi. The ideology is evil by the way it operates, not because of its name! How did we reach a point of needing to explain this? How did we reach a state, where our laws prohibit use of particular symbols instead of sanctioning certain behavior?

In fact fascism was a system that posed one doctrine and violently suppressed any doubt, discussion, or opposition. It proclaimed supremacy of one race and one ideology above everything in the world. It used a minority as a scapegoat of common frustration. It reduced human beings to objects being used and abused to achieve artificial ideals. Any time a state or a mob threatens the individual for his inborn characteristics, any time someone is ridiculed for his opinion, any time a freedom of speech is suppressed, any time a militaristic – machist - traditionalist culture flourishes, the fascism is being revived. However, in many cases, comparison based on qualities (as contrary to the symbols) has fallen out of contemporary etiquette. Be it treatment of Russian patriarchal-militarist-nationalist regime or blasphemous comparisons of holy books to Mein Kampf.

There are more historical parallels on the table. Not even a century ago, a great economic depression, poverty and disillusionment rapidly radicalised majority of a population of one nation (I intentionally avoid naming it) and set it on course of expansion while exterminating the others. Certainly we are afraid that this might repeat - people are unteachable, ideologies untouchable. Of course we are sensitive about the far-right movements. But we are not going to stop it by setting moralist taboos on the topic or by ostracizing those who ask. Instead of judging and labelling, we need to explain. We need a discussion – which is not just talking and edification of the masses, but also listening. Public opinion or personal stance is not a mobile operator program where you buy a whole package or nothing. There are people hesitating in between.

These newborn "extremists" are not marching in arrays from hell. They are not even being hijacked by the far-right, opportunistically abusing the topic of the day. They are literally being thrown there by the opposing side, deaf and blind but definitely not mute pro-multiculturalist love-robots, who execute love of the neighbour and love of the enemy and help to the needy with inhumane absolutism, ready to threat those who disagree (fully) with shameful insults. But isn't labelling a quality of fascism itself? Can we fight fascism with anti-fascism that is fascist in its approach?

There is a fear

Would anyone wonder, that people are tired and craving for different life? There are religious fundamentalists, who are ready to present paradise to the disillusioned. Pointing a finger at them, there is far-right ready to embrace those afraid and dissatisfied. Pointing a finger at them, there are angry engaged intellectuals spitting fire and reminding us of sins of the grandfathers. Media is pretending to point fingers at the populist politics exploiting this hot topic. But what kind of politic would it be, if he ignored the Topic of the Day? As usual, "Watchdogs of Democracy" accuse the others of what they commit themselves – exploiting the Topic to attack the politicians from the other camps then the one they are (in their Holy Objectiveness) affiliated with.

Would anyone wonder, that people are confused and/or embarrassed? It is quite impossible to avoid hearing current opinions, yelled from all corners. There is a mass of people in the center, agreeing a bit with one side as much as with the other one, not really inclined towards extremist excesses of any of them. However, aggressive insisting on picking sides might actually result – surprisingly - in people picking side. The wrong one.

Would anyone wonder, why the numbers of extremists (of any flavour) are growing?

Would anyone wonder, with all these extreme opinions, why there is more fear?

Would you pass a gun to a person who is paralysed by fear, betting on the fact that paralysis will prevent him from shooting? I suggest offering him a hand instead. The first step is to acknowledge his fear. While the root cause may be questionable and reaction may be inadequate, the fear is there. He should not be forced to pretend it is not there, he shouldn't feel embarrassed or ashamed or ostracized for being afraid. Goddess forbid, he should not be (even verbally) attacked! These people, that person that no one is listening to, should be heard. What is he afraid of, why, how does it affect him? That fear is to be answered!

Memoirs and closets of Lady Europe

While no one dared to address the distress of the people scared by migration, terrorism, cultural incompatibility, dark side of multiculturalism – perhaps wrongly assuming that it is obvious – we can start with the fears of their challengers. The history of this continent is packed with skeletons, literally and metaphorically. Remembering the pogroms committed in recent past as much as any century before that, we are tense about the possibility to replay it in the civilized modernity. The fact that we do reflect, if not learn from the previous mistakes, is great. Though the panic of the past might be so intense, that it prevents us from correct evaluation of present, nonetheless acting sanely in the future.

We have had so many wars, that we are reluctant to lead any new one – even to protect other people from evil regimes or from being attacked by another state. We have survived such fierce ideological periods, that we can't accept the fact that somewhere at some stage the tough reign is the only way to rein the chaos. Disgusted by the holy inquisition and religious persecution and wars, we do not want to even suggest that someone's beliefs are a bit too much. Witnessing such many flavours of absolutism and tyranny any attempt to set certain limits within democracy causes symptoms from rash to rage. In a wider metaphor, we remember collectively so much violence, that we decline death penalty, barely bare the sight of police arresting a murderer or using force to end the domestic violence.

If you see a bully kicking a weak boy – already lying on the ground – would you not interfere, act, try to stop it? Especially if you are in a disposition to prevail? Shocking as it may be, European answer is: "NO". We'd not add to the violence in the world. We'd not respond to the violence with violence. We'd not meddle in a conflict that we do not know much about. It is not easy to decide if to frame this behavior as collective bad conscience, consequence of Christian education of showing the other cheek and carrying our cross, truly capitalist stance of business brings together those who'd normally not like each other, passive aggressive way to achieve moral(ist) supremacy or just fear of confrontation in fragile post-modern urban man. A bit of each?

Eternal fall of the wall

After the disgraceful episode of hosting the concentration camps (of Nazi and communist type), the idea of encamping or fencing or otherwise isolating some people gives us shivers. This reluctance, however romantically humanist and admirable, may prove dangerous whether we are dealing with epidemic or arrival of masses of unidentified people (while I don't want to put the two on the same level). There is also understandable dislike of keeping things out of sight of tourists or "common people" whoever they are. There are crucial events happening in the world and instead of seeing them on TV screen, commenting while stuffing our mouth with sandwiches, some find it educative to have them right there in the streets. Which is an interesting idea, though not without downfalls.

The idea of detention is not something unheard of (read Bacon's New Atlantis) and is being practised universally, though it scares us in such a mass scale, when we – understandably – fail to provide our usual standard of care. Detention and care are terms barely applicable to the horrendous situation in refugee camps, though it does not help to blame ourselves for not being prepared for such mass scale migration. There is a need to balance care for the others with care for oneself. This principle is known in permaculture, psychology, Taoism – but it is challenged by Abrahamic religious concept of self-sacrifice and tendency towards (extremist) absolutes.

While, doubtlessly, one side of the hysteria tries to blow the threat of terrorist blowing up every slightly significant structure, the other side unfortunately responds with total negation. "We must love them, we must help them, we must save them." Most of the people coming to our borders are trying to save their lives, though some percent of them may have malicious intentions. "We must love them, we must help them, we must save them." There are refugees and there are economic migrants. "We must love them, we must help them, we must save them." We should accept also people who could not earn decent living at home, but not all, not without conditions. "We must love them, we must help them, we must save them." And so on. A blind talks to the deaf.

Thou shalt trust

How does a mortal commoner ("driven shamefully by fear!") imagine a visit from a stranger in danger? Taking him to the hospital ... or maybe inside the house ... expecting him to stay in the certain room ... not denying him of basic needs of hygiene, food, leisure, information, privacy ... while trying to preserve the safety of his family and property. If the stranger is to be integrated into the household, there will be a need to gain mutual trust – which must be earned not enforced – and the stranger will have to – from larger part - adjust to the way the family runs. Not the opposite way. The guest never commands his hosts what (not) to wear, what (not) to eat, what (not) to watch or like or love! In the ideal case, the modus operandi will be mutual respect.

What is so otherworldly about the idea of holding migrants temporarily in camps and other secluded spaces, submitting them to the education programs where they are acquainted with the difference between the expected behavior in their native society and the one they are entering, including the evaluations of "integrability", before we allow them to run around the country? The counter-argument may be: Who ever evaluated native Europeans about their ability to coexist in the pluralist and liberal society? Who ever judged if they conform? Isn't it a pride of our liberalism, that we host also non-conformists, provocative artists, potential reformers?

Believe it or not, the natives do pass by this adjustment system. Twelve to twenty years of institutionalized education, living with the family, interacting with peers and wider society. Passing the exams from civics. Getting the behavior grades. Eventually, they conform. If not, upon their first transgression of the common law they will be arrested and prosecuted. Even the most daring of the performance artists, most uninhibited philosophers, crazies street punks – follow the rules of gender equality, peaceful democratic discussion, respect for the liberties of the others. Believe it or not, something so basic may be unheard of in the other corners of the world.

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

Once again, our continent has very nasty criminal record. Aside of communism, fascism, theocracy, inquisition, reformation and counter-reformation, invasions of the barbarians – choose what you (dis)like – we have committed sins upon our neighbours and complete strangers alike. There's not many parts of the world that would not speak (at least at certain time) English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Russian – all the languages from this continent. We have converted many by force to Christianity (them becoming even more zealous followers), to misogyny, to homophobia (them retaining it to these days), to civilized manners (them carrying the torch of fake stiff moralism), to modernity (them loving to consume for show-off even more than us).

Hard not to see the reluctance to commit "cultural imperialism" any more. Our culture is not supreme, it is not better than the others. We should not enforce our standards on anyone, as we do not like their standards to be enforced on us. We should not judge the violence of others, not to be judged ourselves. Christian undertones come to the surface unintentionally, but not unrecognised. Moreover, we should suffer, we deserve it! We deserve the subjects from our former empires, that we have exploited drastically, to come back to the kingdom and claim their money, resources, wealth that we (= our grandparents that we had no control over) have stolen. We deserve the literal blows from those, who escaped the brutal regimes that we have enforced upon them to drill the oil and satisfy our greed for industrial comforts. While we decry collective guilt being applied to the others, we throw it at ourselves without a wink. We are guilty of the deeds of our bankers, industrialists, governments, peers, and even ancestors. We should suffer!

With all that pouring of the ashes, we should watch out not to suffocate. This curious endemic ritual of post-modern Europeans has become a subject of ridicule if not abuse abroad. Some exotic modern nations (drawn on the maps artificially by who else than Europeans) have made it a part of their nation folklore to be permanently exploited, bullied and meddled in their internal affairs by the Big Bad West. All of their past and current miseries are caused by us. Forever. The European self-reproaching was appropriated and folklorised in the "eternal-victim" countries without inhibition or constraints – without translation of the metaphor (West is still the culprit) – as is the peculiar habit of their ("equal to ours", of course) cultures. The cultures, that are immature to recognize their intrinsic flaws – unlike the one we westerners live in here and now – and that we mercilessly grill on daily schedule.

What is culture?

Some cultures are ravaged by poverty and wars, because they contain social mechanisms that prevent them to organize in peaceful and egalitarian ways, whether they are interfered with or left on their own. The fact that they never admit any (at least partially) inner causes of their trouble and always rely on fresh humanitarian support of the "outer oppression" (from West of course), is the other face of their immaturity. The fact that we have gone through that same stage in the past is a poor excuse to stay silent about it. If we so reject the idea of enforcing standards beyond our borders, why do we have them at home, at all?

Our non-supremacist humbleness is admirable, though on the other hand - do we hear what we say? Our culture that respects women as equal to men is not supreme to the ones, where only one (usually male) sex is favored, spoiled and worshipped. Our idea that (sexually) different people are to be respected and loved is equal to the idea that they are dangerous to the society, unwanted by God and should be killed in the most brutal ways. Our concept that at least claims and aims for the folk to elect their governors is equal to the concept of people being born as subjects and slaves. Right to believe (or not), to speak freely, to love based on personal preference – all closely follow.

We live in a cultural paradox, where the very users, producers and protectors of the freedom cherish and preserve the cultures that deny it completely and fundamentally. To grasp this absurdity, we need perhaps different metaphoric perspective. Europe is a continent of travellers. Before, those travellers were called crusaders, then conquerors, then colonists – and today we call them anthropologists. We want everything preserved as it is. Nowadays our specialization is to dream of the good old times when there were wild places and tribes to discover. We miss the uncharted territories that were not ideologically and materially globalized by our proselytizing forefathers. We'd like to keep the cannibals of Papua, giraffe-necked women of Burma, shamans of Africa, sheiks of Arabia, Bollywood and Hollywood in colorful world ZOO.

Open-air museum of cultures

Romantic travellers tend to forget their visitor-bias. If you spend a week of holidays in the sea-resort, in the all-inclusive hotel, taking a tour on camel and setting on a shopping spree in medina, you barely see the country, not speaking of the culture at all. Even if you travel through a state for a month, stopping in a different town every night, being invited into people's houses and being taken care of spectacularly, you still do not know what it is to live in that country or city or household. Renting an apartment and working for a year in the strange place still does not mean you know how it is to spend a life there as a woman, gay man, child.

For many, Middle-East means smoking dozen of flavours of hookah, eating thousand and one sugary sweets, listening to hypnotic music, seeing colorful costumes and being awakened at 5 AM by muezzin. Ramadan fasting, shooting in the air with machines guns, respecting women by ignoring them - may be a bit weird customs, but bearable. A different culture. "Not better, not worse." What about the enforced gender roles? Institutionalized machismo? Inability to walk the street alone as a woman? Inability to get custody of children by default? Inability to leave country without male family -member's permission? Inability to physically and publicly express love to the person whom you love? Inequality before the law? Inability to walk the street with face in the sun? Inability to decide if you choose this way to live or if you don't like it?

We tend to see the world as a colorful atlas of photographs. So much variety, so lovely! But that does not describe the everyday life in those places, not even spending a short story of one's life bound to that space. Multi-cultural dogma as it is being presented now is serving the world as an open-air museum of "cultures", a fashion show of costumes, a feast of sensual stimulations – food, songs, dances. That can be seen as very cool ... or sick. Both these perspectives are worth considering. Maybe there are many people, who do not want to live in this ZOO. They do not want to act out our tourist dreams all their life. Outside of Europe or in Europe.

Who is Europe?

One of the origins of our stressed adherence to multiculturalism might be the lack of cultural definition of our own. Without presenting it as a "bad thing", Europe seemed to be lost in its self-definition discussion for some time. After all that painful history, there will be always someone resisting to define us as ... Christian, catholic, protestant, pagan, atheist, rationalist or any of that. I would not like to live in a country with state religion, as much as I would not like to live in scientific-materialist dictatorship ridiculing or persecuting any spiritual quest. Conservatives deny that we should call ourselves a liberal or libertarian society. Of course the other side would strongly protest against proclaiming some obscure traditions as our roots and fundamentals of our law.

I feel pity that Europe resigned to lead these discussions and squabbles to any resolution. It feels like we negotiated sort of a stalemate truce between Christians/believers/conservatives and atheists/rationalists/liberals – by not talking about the topic. In critical moments, the unresolved issue proves to be our weak point. Though, with respect to all, the answer might be already there. We are not a society with state religion. We are free to believe what we want or not to believe at all. We are liberal society, we are just afraid to name it. Maybe we are scared, perhaps shy, or lost in academic pseudo-philosophical rummaging, but we resist to put in words (and words of law) what we already mentally or subconsciously protect and caress and nurture. We live as liberals, ashamed to compare this self-definition with those calling themselves Islamic society, Christian society, Confucian-Taoist-Buddhist society and others.

The reason may be also a controversial but simple fact that liberalism is of completely different nature than religious or ideologically based arrangements. They cannot be really compared as equals. In Christian society, everyone who is living according to Christian values of a local sect can live a decent life, without prosecution, achieving pre-defined happiness. In Islamic society, everyone who is behaving in accord with the proper ways of a Muslim in the local sect can live a decent life, without prosecution, earning pre-defined satisfaction. Everyone else is imprisoned, mutilated or killed. In Judaist, Hindu or Buddhist society, the same applies as well – while the punishments very. All of them are equal in many crucial points – being derived from a Prophet, referring to perfect but unchanging Holy Book, monopolizing truth, requiring conformity, penalizing dissent. That is the cultural diversity in traditional understanding – many very similar religions, cultures, societies, that peacefully exist within and may tolerate each-other outwards.

Minimal law

Liberal culture allows any of those denominations to exist together, simultaneously in one society. It replaces laws based on given manual of life, mythology, traditions that "were there for many many years" with universal and ideally minimal law, that facilitates coexistence without imposing particular story. It allows to think, to doubt, to question – even itself. While in any religion/ideology-based culture, the person who challenges the Book cannot live safely, that is not the case with a human being of the liberal society. While liberalism protects its liberal character as well, it does not punish those who discuss it without piousness.

That is the case with minimal law. As a Wiccan Rede says: "Do what you will, so long as it harms none." - which in various ways resounds in the most of the religious doctrines of the history. Just with many more extra restrictions. If religion enforces a complex set of bizarre superstitions, commanding how to behave in particular situations, liberal society forbids little and allows much – leaving the particular way to deal with situations on person's abilities and knowledge and judgement. Whoever wishes can self-impose additional rules on himself, but he does not have to. He can self-impose it on himself, but cannot impose them on others. Thus, allowing any other ways of life and being above them, liberalism is incomparable to the other cultures by its own definition.

Are we better people? Are we less fallible people? Are we more gifted? No. Liberalism just allows us (more, better) to search for, recognize and develop our own innate potential. It returns human to the human. We may talk, criticize power, create, commit blasphemy, believe in anything, not believe in anything, run around nude. Maybe it should not be called a culture at all – because it does not enforce costumes, cuisine, music, books, or constraints on thinking. It might be scary – new – to live in such society, to live in no culture, especially for us, the collectors and sponsors of the cultural artifacts everywhere else.

What is multiculturalism (for) then?

Even if answered above and depicted in horrific nudity, let's talk again about how do we imagine this multi-cultural society that we've dreamed out? Christian conservative with queer artist, Muslim together with Hindu, harp player and death metal fan, MMA fighter and pacifist, a vegetarian side by side with carnivore, lambs and lions ... a beautiful colorful salad. Everyone with his beliefs, opinions, taste. Have we ever given it a thought? How do these categories relate? Can they be compared? Can these so called cultural differences coexist?

In the multicultural vocabulary, if in some country a gay people are executed – because it is right/good thing to do per religion (that we "respect") - we call it a cultural difference. How cruel euphemism. And yet, we claim to support LGBT rights. (What a vent for homophobia that cannot be expressed publicly any more in the Civilized West!) If a husband beats his wife (because his masculine supremacy is core value of his belief system) – we do not act. We should not impose our values (cultural imperialism!), we should not interfere in other people's affairs (paternalism!), we might need to do the business with a man ("markets round off the edges", "technology brings information", "poverty makes people savage, wealth will civilize them"). What are the limits of tolerable cultural differences? Should there be any constraints? Can we argue about it?

There are many questions that are kept in ashamed silence. No discussion. The worst feature of multicultural system nowadays is that its essence is not liberal. We are not given a gift of freedom, instead we are asked to worship multi-cult. It is here for some time, no one ever asked anyone about it, we just should want it. We don’t have chances to like it and enjoy the benefits of diverse society, we have to stand on the right side. Watch every step, every word, not to commit hate speech. If a person attacks sermons of Christian or Muslim priests (their non-sensical, harmful and hateful content) he is committing "hate speech" no matter if he is just "being true to his liberal conviction". If those priests call people sinners, satanic, evil, urge for their punishment, medical treatment or removal from the face of the Earth – they are not uttering "hate speech", they are just "practising their belief". It has become quite difficult to tip-toe between these artificial - i.e. not living - double standards.

While I find multiculturalism at least from its better part a good thing, the natural outcome of painful European experience (both conjunction and intersection of multitude of personal stories), the way it is presented unfortunately undermines it. It does not make a slightest attempt to explain itself. It might be these particular tense times that force us into either-or, or just lack of insight on the side of agitated promoters, who have invented a religion of their own. Wasn't the multiculturalism idea of coexisting different opinions? Why it has become either-or – "are you for multiculturalism or against"?

Invisible hand vs. kicking leg

Perhaps, as much as transitional period between feudalism and capitalism wasn't nice, the multicultural society built out of democracy is not perfect. While we may agree that democracy is better than anything tried before, it is not terminal social arrangement. In democracy, ideas & ideologies compete – someone wins the competition – and at the end majority vote is imposed on minority. Of course, minority rebels, challenges and undermines the conflicting decisions. So called "beauty" of the democracy then lies in how much the majority outnumbers the minorities and how well (or brutally) it counters their dissatisfaction.

The inner operations of the multicultural society copy the outdated political and economic models as well. While the capitalism (in theory) explains itself through the benefits of competition (quality, innovation, customer focus, minimizing energy inputs) its inherent flaw is, that competition is won by someone at the end and then there is no more competition. The ideal of "multiple around-the-corner-shops creatively struggling for customers" ends up in a big corporate bureaucratic Moloch. Instead of coexistence of religions and ideologies, multiculturalism is a battle of religions and ideologies. Free market competition with advertisement, marketing, PR, determination to sink the opponents, zeal to prevail. Of course, if any side ever wins, there will be no more multiculturalism any more.

On the other hand, at least in politics, there is also a possibility of consensus. A decision making where we try to answer concerns and needs of every or most of the involved parties. The outcome is more robust, widely accepted, trusted, supported and protected. In democracy, you vote and win – in consensus, you need to listen. You hear the fears and the objections and try to adjust the final decision to address them, while implementing what you want. If the fears of the downfalls of multiculturalism were properly heard, dark sides discussed and the form of it would be slightly adjusted (to make the proponents happy and the opponents feeling safe), then the system itself would be understood across the society and it would not find itself endangered in we-or-them kind of battle. What is understood does not need to be worshipped, what is accepted does not need to be tolerated.

Self-preservation instinct

Does the multi-cultural society have a sense of survival at all? The fierce - if rugged – voices suggest there is something willing to keep it going, though this will is recognizable more in symptoms (as a fever suggest body's drive to continue) then in healthy nature. We know how it kicks and bites if it feels cornered, we yet have to feel how is it if it thrives. Instead of panic mode, it has to develop its immune system and sanity checks.

There is a feature of youth (though not limited to young people), that we could roughly describe as romantic absolutism. "Eternal friendship", "married happily ever after", be independent (no comment on what, when, to what extent), "make love not war", "know no limits", "remove all the borders and let everyone go where they want", "tear down all the walls" .... It permeates whole society – in folklore, superstitions, religion. We'd like to do everything, go everywhere, love everyone. However, maturity means recognizing our vulnerabilities, fragility, limitations. And living creatively discovering, respecting, negotiating, communicating and responding to them. There is absolute, uninhibited, limitless – and there is reality, gravity, carnality. Our skin cannot withstand burns. Our joints cannot stretch to the moon. Our immune system cannot welcome every possible bacteria and virus into our body.

This absolutism reflects our dreams, imprinted by the belief systems aiming for eternity, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, quest for happiness. Religions teach us to forget the body and transcend our limitations. Sportsmen push their limits, deny their pain and achieve unachievable. Technology strives to materialize unimaginable. Dependence, limitations, impossibility – have become bad words. However – look at our bodies. They have finite height, width, our limbs are from here to there, we have bones, muscles, skin and then and there "us" ends. These limits define us. Where "I" stop and where "you" or "her" or the environment or the other objects start. The limits are not bad or good, they are.

Some time after the war we have prohibited Nazi imagery, without a wink of doubt if we are still liberal society. To consternation of some, many Eastern-European countries prohibited the communist imagery. Unexpectedly this raised a question, if prohibiting symbols (often stolen from other innocent philosophies) equals to suppressing the qualitative evil of those ideologies. For better or for worse, clumsily or genuinely, we’ve defined our liberalism by posing certain limits – to what we deem the opposite of its very essence. Why we are not consistent with this approach?

If "black" or "gay" have become forbidden words and referencing to migrants in negative light is a intellectual taboo, why do we tolerate use of words like "heresy", "blasphemy", "apostasy", any reference to male supremacy, or calling inborn orientation a "sin"? Why don’t we erase and penalize them in the same fashion? Aren’t they in very opposition to the fundamentals of liberal multicultural society that we aim to create? The way how some religions and sects will deal with their scriptures containing those words is not our problem. We can help them with all our historical experience and accumulated knowledge, but we cannot contradict ourselves in what we are and what we build.

Whip and then sugar

We Europeans, so burdened by our collective memories, should remember, that Fascism got its grip over throats of many through the regular democratic mechanisms. Nazis were elected. Even their less-extremists flavours were empowered through popular/majority wish. Democracy can kill itself. Liberalism can kill itself. Multiculturalism can kill itself. If we like it, if we value it, if we want to preserve it, we must stop it from committing suicide. Strong words? Maybe it behaves like a child that enjoys running freely in whatever direction, without a fear of being hit by a car on the next road. While it may tear our heart to grab it and make it cry with dissatisfaction of being constrained, no one would doubt this parental effort. Unfortunately here, we are both worried parents and careless children of this society.

What are the limits then? The question hangs in the air: Can we tolerate intolerance? But it has become shunned with a blush. Can democracy allow a party that wants to abolish the democracy – and let it run for support? Can liberalism host the ideology that constantly attacks and undermines liberalism and craves to annihilate it? While of course, we can discuss the pros and cons of democracy versus totality, we can criticize certain features and mechanism and outcomes, we can highlight the others, we can blasphemously defame it – but we do not blow it up. This discussion about the discussion is not being led at all, for some unknown reason it has become taboo. Instead: "Are you for or are you against multiculturalism?" Where is that multiculturalism at all?

I'd like to imagine a multicultural environment as a dark street, where dark-skinned visitor, citizen with kippah and locks on his head or anarchist with long hair will not be afraid to pass through in the night. But, it feels absurd to support freedom of speech & choice, liberty of trying and failing, ownership of one’s body – and in the same time religions that deny it. Taking particular example – support LGBT people and in one breathe also the religions that condemn them to death. In broader outreach, it feels weird to prosecute neo-Nazis, hate crimes, domestic violence, robberies and theft, murder, bullying, but in the same time worship its cause. Machismo, subject-object culture, possession, competition. Support passive sport in the stadiums, active competition on the pitch as much as in the office, on the stock market and in almost every imaginable aspect of life. "We against them, who will win and who will lose, who will prevail and who will perish, ..." We support competitiveness, the ideology of battle, fight, struggle, stronger over the weaker, majority versus minority, blue against red, green against gray, male versus female – while we condemn the direct outcomes of it?

I have an opinion

Multiculturalism is being presented as a space where different opinions are tolerated and even welcome. Opinions to what? What is opinion? "I have an opinion that Mondays should be cancelled." "I have an opinion that walking in the rainy weather is a sin." "I have an opinion that blue-eyed people are bad." "I think that kissing on mouth is disgusting." What opinions we allow? What acting upon this opinions we allow? While it hurts none that someone has an opinion that eating sea-food is abomination, forcing others not to eat it (or even punish them) becomes a problem. However, we know how the ideas spread. Someone has an opinion that theocracy would be a better government, next day we have ten of them. Shall we allow this kind of opinion to spread? How to select out?

Instead of labelling this way of thinking as "causing panic" and "ideology of fear", we should acknowledge those fears. But, what answers our blessed multicultural society has to offer? There are severe anomalies in our cult. Liberalism allows the liberal and totalitarian thought. Our openness allows for openness and fundamentalism to coexist. Our non-literal understanding of Christianity allows for literal and mystical streaks of the religion. We allow kids being raised in ecumenical households as much as in Mormon, Adventist, Amish and other bizarre types of doctrines. Not speaking of the other denominations. It's not consenting adult (purposefully using term from sexuality domain) who - having been given general overview of dogmas and sects - decide freely on their preferred religion – it is kids that are being raised in one particular religious doctrine and taught that everything else is wrong. How can multiculturalism allow this and wish to be broadly accepted in the same time?

The clauses of political correctness have become so absurd, that they are being understood ironically before they are even taken seriously. Unfortunately, we have replaced good old "be whoever you want to be, not inhibiting the others from being what they want to be", to dozens of tiny rules about whom particularly we should not disrespect nor disadvantage nor offend. We should not discriminate based on gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, color, opinion, political affiliation, creed, belief, religion, sect, ... Maybe we should not discriminate people who want to listen to the loud music in the public spaces and cannot stand that oppression of silence? Maybe we should not discriminate hooligans, who enjoy good fight, unlike more orderly and boring lifeless citizens? Maybe we should not discriminate colleagues sympathizing with extreme-right ideology and call them Nazis, it's their creed, isn't it? These examples – yes, absurd – lead us back to the common sense, from creeds to Rede: "Your freedom ends where others’ freedom starts."

Phobias

However, some contradictions cannot be bypassed. The current law protects both those who are atheists ("I don't believe in religion – so I probably think it is pure non-sense, something invented by people with low credibility.") as well as those who believe in something from being offended by hearing that their faith is ridiculous non-sense and their prophet is a liar. The same law protects LGBTTQIAF minority from being killed, beaten, discriminated at work, targeted with hate-speech – and also the religion who is the sole originator of the hate. A gay person cannot call religion shameful, misguided, stupid, evil, fascist – because he would commit a crime of hate-speech, denigration, discrimination based on faith. While it is in the very fundamentals of the religion to shame gays, educate its children that homosexuality is sinful, excuse the executions of different people elsewhere in the world as justified. For example, we fight against homophobia and in the same time so called "islamophobia" – while Islam is homophobic in its essentially literal nature. There is no consistency in our effort.

In the process of emancipation, gay movements have assimilated certain techniques: Village processions (with display of the best of the harvest, beauty queen, football champions, veterans) have been borrowed for the concept of gay prides. We have drawn our own striped flag. We have claimed gay marriages and adoptions. We have assimilated assimilationism – being "normal", "like everyone else", with suburban middle-class aspirations. We have appropriated former insults – queer, gay, fag, fairy, queen. We have employed the positive language of inclusion, friendship, love, care, public service. However, someone has learned his lesson.

Anything we used to erode the conservative establishment of previous millennia, is now creatively recycled (!) by the current bigots. Now they organize straight prides (just like gay ones, only ten times bigger and everyone wears the same dress). They use positive sound of "yes" votes and talk about "saving family and children" (that are not in danger at all, but motherly and warrior instincts are awakened) – instead of saying "no" to gays or "ban the gay rights" - while in reality they just do that: they constrict gay rights, unrelated to family and children at all. On top of that they present their hateful voice as an "opinion", part of freedom of discussion and belief.

Now, the word homophobia was stolen to create the accusations of islamophobia (more bizarrely - particularly this one denomination). Paradoxically, statement that "religion/priest/believer is homophobic" can be labelled as islamophobic.

Staying consistent with one thinking system and one moral standard, it is hard to imagine how these two terms can coexist in one world (of one mind).

However, if anyone believes in fact, that non-Caucasian or LGBT people are equal in abilities, good will and capacity to love, equal citizens, equal human beings – he cannot put the discrimination against race or sex/gender/sexuality on the same level as discrimination against religion that challenges the very essential and corporal facts of human existence. Person is born woman, is born gay, person is born with skin color, person is born somewhere – however person becomes patriot, person becomes believer, person becomes follower. Whether by years-long continual education (brainwashing), self-study or by choice. Inability to distinguish between innate and chosen proves absolute misunderstanding of the basic concepts of liberalism, tolerance or human rights. Human nature (what is inborn) is always above artificial mental constructs (ideologies, religions, myths). Putting them on same level is actually a sign of disrespect, the opposite of proclaimed intention.

Incorrect correctness, respect versus submission

Not sure if this is a feature of too-young democracies, or relics from ancient regimes – but we still have laws against offending of the police or judge. We entrust power and coercive tools into hands of certain group, but we disallow the critique. Basic feedback, power-checks, control measures, limitations to the entrusted power - are denied. These groups decide when they are offended and who shall be punished for it. Thus, these institutions stop serving us and start commanding us. If you ask someone to carry a gun to protect your family, would you allow him to punish you if you criticize the way he used that entrusted power? In some pointed situations the offence can be the only way of critique. The same applies to the untouchable status of state symbols. What else do we have flags for, if not to burn them if we dislike the way state operates? The last but not least is the post-feudal elevated status of the religions. How can a state, that prohibits insulting invented ideology (wherever it traces its origins from), call itself democratic, liberal, free?

Symbols, ideologies, religions, churches, books, idols, human prophets, mental concepts (god) - must be insulted! They must be questioned, subjected to jokes and irony, satire and sarcasm, they must be criticized, analysed, grilled. They must serve us, not rule us! By disallowing public scrutiny of the religions – out of respect to the believers – we disrespect non-believers, we disrespect all the people who died resisting regimes based on cruel ideologies, we disrespect all the people in history, who have fought for religious freedom, for right to trust science instead of prophets, for right not to believe at all – i.e. those who are silently (by the act of non-believing) calling the religion pure non-sense. What would Giordano Bruno think, if after all this liberal progress our imperfect society has made, all the scientific exploration and discoveries, technological progress, attempts for democracy, we'd charge someone for christianophobia?

With all the progress done not only in terms of 0s and 1s, but also medicine, psychology, art - how come we are so afraid of comparisons? Someone has once used term islamofascist. Is it worse than calling certain group efforts clerofascist, in the Christian context? Is it worse than calling certain policies of religion-based state of Israel towards Palestinians as Nazi – even if Jews in the past were subject of Nazi genocide themselves? Again, if we cannot distinguish acts from names, labels from qualities, what worth are our morals? Both Nazism and religions base their ideology on infallible leader, unchanging man-written book, artificial dividing line between good and bad, have strong traces of machismo which they institutionalize, in their practice include persecution of non-followers, scapegoating minorities, objectifying people and using them in wars, justifying aggression with abstract principles, repressing sexuality, ... One can hardly find qualities in which they differ.

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone

Western Europe used to look with suspicion at the way Eastern Europe named "Roma problem" or even worse "Gypsy criminality". Using such expression has become socially unacceptable. Considering the latent xenophobia of the post-communist population, it is partially understandable. We are trying to resist mob lynch, fascist-style group persecution, abuse through collective fault and employment of popular superstition with complete denial and silence. This ostrich approach (animal will pardon my zoophobic remark) has not increased general tolerance, but pushed the ashamed silent mass (who's concerns were not satisfyingly addressed) to the extreme side. On top of that, they have developed mistrust in the official institutions that routinely proselytize tolerance. Would it hurt admitting, that there is higher rate of crime in certain ethnic group, due to some circumstances, without suggesting that their innate features make them more prone to become criminals? They are in special situation and need special attention, help, support. How else a problem can be resolved properly, if we do not admit having a problem in the first place? Surreally, respecting the taboo on naming the ethnic-based problem has become a badge of belonging to the intellectual circles.

The same stiffness surrounds the naming of immigrant criminality or Islamic terrorism. For the first - it is obvious, that impoverished maladapted minority who speaks different language or have different social habits, will have problems not only with integration but also finding resources to survive and will be challenged to seek them in illegal ways. For the "Islamic terrorism" - we do not have Christian terrorism or Jewish terrorism or Buddhist terrorism on the random places around the world, but for some reason most of these attacks are being justified on the basis of Islam. Is the religion hijacked by madmen? Why the other faiths are not being so popularly exploited? We know that the angry young men are searching for purpose, they strive to change the corrupt world of their fathers for better, they crave for admiration or even divination. But why their peers of other denominations have more inhibitions in using other people as objects, as targets of cruel actions?

The self-proclaimed intellectuals do protest: "Islam is not the cause." "It's not only Muslims committing crime and violence and terror." No one denies that. No one says we should annihilate all Muslims. There are Nazi-motivated attacks, mafia bombings, and even sectarian violence ... almost everywhere on the planet we find something. However, the incidence and indiscriminate omnipresence of assaults explained through Islam is unique. If this statistic is misguided, why don't we ever hear the counter-arguments, aside of defiant "no"?

Equal but not same

Another paradox: While resisting putting equal sign between religions and other ideologies based on qualitative characteristics (idols and fetishes, dogmas and myths), we do not only mix up religions with affiliations with opinions with physical characteristics with identity - without a wink - but within the group of religions we deny any differences. Our attempt for ecumenism is admirable, considering the millennia of sectarian wars it is even understandable, but its systematic mechanical disregard to differences is self-imposed discipline, not a result of research and insight. Once again, we see people in different costumes in the world atlas.

Some religions had 1500 years to evolve, some 2000, some 4000 and more. The younger ones suffer the bias of the youth – they are less patient, more zealous, less tolerant, more either-or, less listening, prone to more angry young men style yelling. We should consider that there is a difference between history of faith and its present state. In its golden age Islam was the center of science, culture, business, with public health and general wealth incomparable to Christian Romanesque grime – and negating this is as stupid as blindness to the other fact, that while not being the poorest, the Islamic world today is ravaged by violence, that cannot be mindlessly explained only with the keywords like oil or poverty or lack of education. It is one of the least respectful ideologies in relation to human nature. It fails to support peace in Indian peninsula, Indonesian islands, Central Asia, Middle-East or Europe. Even if we parallel the Shia/Sunni schism with our reformation-catholic wars of the past, it is still hard to understand the form and intensity of sectarian violence in this information age. This is here and now.

Maybe, instead of watching the costume show, we should open the books finally. While both Christianity and Judaism and Islam (and others) had its mystics and Gnostics, the metaphorical approach to Islam is very rare in the faith nowadays. It is its peculiar feature that it insists on literal (non-)interpretation of the Recitation that is preferably memorized, not understood nor explained. It is the most practical of the religions, manual for life, dictate of simple prohibitions and commandments. This feature of simplicity is very fashionable among modern men. However, while other religions now consider some passages of their scriptures to be symbolic, informative, historical or simply outdated, Islam insists on perfection of the whole Recitation. While Christians (and atheists of the same cultural space) get inspired by their saints, Muslims imitate the habits of theirs. While Yahve led ancient Israeli armies to convenient wars and played morbid games of obedience, Christ taught people to love neighbours and enemies alike, show compassion and sometimes even the other cheek, but the narrative of Islam is unapologetic invasion of warriors to countries that are given choice to either submit and convert or die.

Masculinity

While each era brings different flavor to the use of religion – e.g. from crusaders to Sunday Christians – the person who tries to abstract from fashionable interpretations or distortion by power will try to dig towards the core of the faith. And the shape of that core can significantly differ among belief systems. We should observe how the particular religions treat men, woman, in-betweens, believers, infidels, what it requires, what it promises. While folk idea of Heavens full of sterile white good loving singing cherubs is popular among laïcs (who never ask "what the hell am I going to do there for eternity?"), the academic theology of after-life is more psychological: being with God, reunification with Origin. The Quranic idea of Paradise is fairy-tale garden of honey, wine, gold, gems. It may be perceived as infantile in imagination, calculative in jurisdiction (everything that is forbidden in mortal life), chauvinist in content (boys and virgins providing obedient service).

It is impossible to deny that Islam is the most unapologetically macho religion that this world offers. Its God is machist, its dogmas are machist, its aims are machist, its measures and justifications are machist, its tone is machist, its form is machist. It conserves male-centered society, objectifies the women into obedient servants, it fiercely persecutes non-binary non-heterosexual people in general. It presents all the well-known hooligan traits and chauvinist dominance as ideals. It is at some points more sex-positive than Christianity, however underscoring the heteronormative dominant sex, but on the other hand more body/nudity/variance-hysterical. We might argue that male perspective leeks from other faiths (Judeo-Christian especially), but not in such extent and intensity and shameless straightforwardness. We might argue that Islam had significantly improved female rights at its birth-time & birth-place, but has lagged behind for centuries afterwards.

While some may see the way it tasks the men with guarding the women's purity (translatable as protecting them from rape by the other men) as romantic, we could endlessly reflect how sexually repressed men crave for sex and in the same time herd their wives and sisters to secure them against the other sexually charged peers. How do women feel in this holy patronizing effort? It might be the society, not the religion – if we can ever dissect them - that creates this peculiar setting. However, a young boy taught to preserve, value and develop his childish pride and so called "male honour" and supremacist arrogance as proper masculine features, will never mature. Children raise children. They will never grow out of objectifying – if their toys are taken away they cry, if "their" wives are taken away they rage. If their beliefs are insulted they hit – as children often do.

Emergency exit

I'd like to live in this multi-cultural fairy-tale paradise, where all the religions differ just by the costumes, songs and temples. I'd like to live safe by the side of Muslim neighbour, free to discuss my and his views of life and beliefs of afterlife without fear for life because of committing blasphemy. My predisposition does not make me unable to respect nun, Buddhist monk or Islamic priest. However, there is some way to go in the latter case.

Stop blaming everything on oil. Stop pointing finger at the western interference. Stop playing on the note of offence. Religions must be offended, it is basic trait of liberal society, that we cannot inhibit right to think freely, to speak freely, or even to make fun of the human-invented Holy. Be it our native Supreme Being or guest’s deity. For several thousands of years we could not freely discuss God, Church, Bible or Christ. Now when we finally can, we should whimsically dispose of the right by paying fake respect to something (religion) that we do not even believe in? Just in order not to offend? It is that same liberal society and its laws that allows Islam to co-exist there, that allows also the blasphemy, the secularism, the sexual minority, claiming one’s own body, indulging in discussion about the "things that are not discussed". Muslims should understand that their tolerance to what they choose to name "insults" is the same tolerance that allows them to believe what they want in non-Islamic – liberal – cultural space. Moreover, the one who really believes cannot be offended. The one who deep down does not really believe (because the subject of his belief is too absurd maybe) will force others to believe the same (to substitute certainty with quantity) and fight those who resist (to cover his own doubts).

Stop blaming everything on poverty or lack of education. While those two may be fertile soil for the extremism, the seed is sown particularly through the Islamic (mis)interpretations. Poor African animists, poor indigenous tribes from Amazon or Andes, poor Christians from Philippines, poor Buddhists from Myanmar – do not blow themselves up. There is something peculiar in Islamic society of all regions, something that maybe not directly invokes but at least allows space for this atrocious behavior. Some inhibitions are missing in the Scriptures. This perspective should lose its taboo status and be seriously analysed, if we want to save Islam and Muslims and all the others from getting involved in vicious circle of mutual retaliations.

Guest not ghost, host not hostage

If a guest comes for a visit to his friend, he naturally accepts, that the household he enters is run by certain rules given by his host. From leaving the shoes in the hall, through the rooms he may or may not enter to the ways how to address the adults and children. "Feel like at home" does not mean the guest is free to command women or even children – if he was used to do this at his place. It is something almost unimaginable. The first Muslims were guests to western society. As guests, they had to adapt to the restrictions as much as liberties of the society. Though, what to do with several generations of Muslims that were born and grew up as Europeans? Are they guest or hosts? Are they allowed to form public opinion and laws – make them more restrictive to suit their own needs?

Is it the same thing – to ask for law prohibiting homophobic remarks – and ask for law prohibiting Islam-offending comments? What if they are mutually exclusive? Can one be proper Muslim and non-homophobic, if the Scripture (that must be followed literally per religious tradition) requires persecution of queer people? In both cases we speak of minority asking for restricting majority to execute free (hateful) speech. It becomes a Gordic knot of superficial western intellectualism – that is just left unresolved – homophobia and islamophobia described as equal pathological phenomena. If we look deeper, we see one minority asking for protection on basis of innate feature. While the other asking for protection to persecute the other minority based on human invented ideology. Unfortunately, many consider "given sexuality" as an academic hypothesis open to questioning, while we respect religious belief (something someone is raised in or takes in his head) as untouchable intimate zone.

"I am offended by the style of western women. I am offended by having to respect the gays. I am offended by the blasphemy of the atheists." – how can we help him? In the context of guest & host, the answer might be easy, though what about the offended Muslim Europeans? How far can we go with business of offence and political correctness? Can someone be offended by people that get offended by liberties of others? While we enjoy a lot of freedoms, apparently we are lost in tracing where do they come from and what structure they follow.

Western-born European is challenged with lots of post-modern terms. At times it feels like walking the grass trying not to harm any being – tiny creatures, insects or bacteria. Cultural or gender insensitivity, cultural appropriation, cultural imperialism, islamophobia, homophobia, sexism, machismo, chauvinism, bigotry, fundamentalism, not to forget the subject of gender neutral pronouns. We are taught how to tolerate and accept other’s peculiarities – costumes, eating or mating habits, self-expression – though in the same suggesting the cultural education of the immigrants is causing uproar. Request for integration is almost equalized with notion of cultural supremacy. The natives of this liberal cultural space (if it is still proper & polite to say so) are to tolerate diversity – even of the believers of the religions that establish and enforce non-diversity (at least within the confines of family and community). We include those that seclude themselves. We tolerate those who do not tolerate. We allow those who impose. Why don't we apply same strict standards and social awareness demands - to those that we protect and accept to live with us?

We must demand non-literal interpretation of the faith.

We must demand right for satire, ridicule of any secular or sacred ideology, blasphemy, critique, dismissal of belief - without it being labelled as insult to minority, libel of faith or racism.

We must demand integration, not "do whatever you want" freedom nor pseudo-spiritual and pseudo-humanist "all welcome".

Minority report

As a naturist that feels unnecessarily oppressed by conventions of society with its restrictions on outdoors nudity, as a gay that knows well the righteousness of the majority with its traditions of coupling, as an art-consumer that experienced the preference towards taste of the masses – I can feel the empathy towards Muslims existing as a minority in Western society. At last, the minorities are slowly becoming tolerated, even accepted by some and honoured for the way they enrich us with different perspective, offering sanity check, being the conscience of the majority. Though this comparison founded on numbers may be just mechanical. If we ask: What does each of these minorities miss? What do they fear? – then the qualities of oppression may become incomparable.

The naturist wants freedom to be nude for himself, his enjoyment, without requiring this from others. Resisting the artificial hysteria of others "being offended" by seeing him in his pretense-less truth. The gay person craves for personal right not to be told whom to love, as by the way he loves he does not hurt anyone, resisting the others getting offended by their own pointless imagination of what he does in bed. The believer should be free to follow rules he chooses, dress as he likes, visit temples he honours – without offending the others. It makes no sense if the acts that he claims do insult him are presented as denied rights. Why does he want others to follow some of his ways (what not to say, what not to wear)? Why does he ask others to suppress their liberties - so that he is not "offended"?

I stand on one leg, because my God commanded my prophet so and he has written it in a holy book. People who stand on two legs insult me and therefore should not stand so in public. It is culturally insensitive from them being so ostentatiously bi-pedal.

If the western tourist visits Muslim countries, man is expected to wear long trousers, women to wear non-revealing clothes and head cover, as much as respect the restriction on certain artistic expressions, discussions and notes. If the Muslim tourist visits west, he is not required to wear Christian dress, or not to question multitude of faiths found here. We are not following "tit for tat" rule – and so an asymmetry is introduced. While restrictions are placed on westerners abroad, the liberties are given to the foreigners – with only one requirement – to respect the liberties of the others.

Intransparent veils

Those women who escaped from the traditional societies may enjoy the liberty not to wear hijab, not to obey husband or father, or not to believe at all. But liberalism and conservatism alter throughout history. The new generation may feel lost in the colorful mass of self-expressing individuals of liberal society. They seek a way to distinguish themselves. To be unique and to belong simultaneously – the basic yin-yang needs of the social aspect of human soul – and the minority religious community is serving this purpose as good as any peer tribe, martial arts class, circle of film fans, anarchist vegan commune, etc. They may choose to veil their faces, or wear recycled second-hand clothes, skinhead outfit, gothic black or Adam’s robe. So what is so irritating about the women in chadors and burqas?

Hijab is being demonized and celebrated in two polarized fashions. As Hitchcock would put it – we are the most afraid of what we don’t see. Faceless and shapeless beings in black stimulate too many fantasies in westerner’s – from experience with home violence, collective memories of middle ages and hard-fought too-recent fragile gain of women’s rights, through the fears of radical religious dystopias, to plain acts of terrorism. This put aside, the everyday truth for many Muslim women is that wearing hijab is not their choice. It simply must be worn, thus becoming a symbol of oppression, objectification, lack of personal space. Even if they internalized and they claim to "like" this oppression. The defenders present wearing veal as "a right", offering them privacy in "over-sexualized" world. The multiculturalist robots second them: "Wear what you want. That’s freedom." For some yes, for some not at all. We should not overlook this dual quality, never simplify the topic one-sidedly. It is not a freedom to be forced to wear something by a family. Hijab has become much more than "what you wear", it has become a symbol of approach to life, forming society, collective dreams and nightmares. Intellectual elites should not forget the myths that form our reality often much more than we’d admit.

While some young women searching for their tribe might revolt with showing off hijab as choice, causing astonishment among their parents who escaped the duty to wear it, other ones may find themselves forced to wear it by their parents, grand-parents, uncles and aunts. Charter of children’s rights speaks of choice to choose religion, education, friends and whatever – in practice this is rarely to be found. Christians raise their children as Christians, Muslims as Muslims, right-wing conservatives as right-wing conservatives, liberals liberally, hippies as hippies. State and his laws have little reach towards worshipped concept of Family. Almost all of us were raised in the environment, where parents were always right, even decided some life choices for us, we got used to the fact that leader of the wolfpack is to be obeyed. How skilled are we then to form a society that asks us to grant others their liberties?

Liberalism of conservative choices?

There is an obvious but thin line between self-imposing requirements and imposing them on others. It is so clear to the intelligence and intellectuals, that they often miss the fact this is not so clear to the common folk. Especially if one community is relying on divine interference and thus has not developed sensitivities to the personal responsibility, from civil law, through environment issues, to population explosion. Especially if that community requires everyone to procreate - and as much as possible – as the divine requirement. All side-effects will be fixed by God. The other side shrinks for various reasons – affordability, eco-sensitivity, allowing for alternative lifestyles, queer unions, non-emphasizing growth. There arises a fear of a minority overpopulating majority and adjusting the laws to their more reckless or strict values. While this fear might be labelled insignificant, it exists – and for better coexistence it should be discussed and addressed – instead of shunned. Because there are others who may answer it more radically than we’d ever like to see.

We tend to perceive liberated and liberal world as a place where various religions can coexist in peace. But it is actually abandoning those human-invented belief systems that claim to contain the knowledge of gods that allowed for this peace. Conservative Christianity, conservative Islam, conservative Judaism cannot coexist in peace. Yes, they are equal in some way – by being stubborn, fundamentalist, non-compromising, always right, possessing the only truth of this universe. It is the history of how we limited them, diluted them, interpreted them non-verbatim – that allowed for ending of the centuries of God-excused conquests, witch burning and holy wars. And any time we flirt with more simplistic and literal grasp, they are reviving again.

The liberalism allows me to wear suit, bag of potatoes or nothing at all. Liberalism is not a freedom to impose this or that dress code on your children, wife, colleagues, friends, neighbours – because what would they choose themselves would offend me. The dress understood in the widest possible metaphor – what we eat, buy, enjoy in free time, what we like, love, make love with, what we choose, what we write, what we say, what we think.

Unseen average

The western people are being told – by their elites - that the fears they feel are unfounded and shameful. Contrary to the whole modern concept of acknowledging emotions and their influence on our acts, learning to express them, be heard and hear others in mutual safe sensible sharing. The presented simplification is, that average Muslim is like average western person. In what sense? As human being, equal in rights, our fellow peer? Definitely. Aiming for his own selfish good – and good of his family and friends and whatever ethnic or religious or national group he feels connection with - in scope of what he thinks or was educated to think of as good? Oh yes, we are no different!

The terrorists are then just the marginal lunatics that are to be found in every culture. Crazy minds that should be taken care of professionally in institutions. The specific incidence of religion-excused terrorist acts in one particular faith is not to be discussed. "Remove the giraffe from the middle of the room, it has nothing to do there, the implications of it being there are too much to cope with." The average citizen - Muslim or not - cares about food, house, kids, school, job, mortgage, sports. Why don’t we hear more of them? Why don’t we hear of their non-extremist interpretation of faith? Is there non-literal understanding of Quran and hadith, current open to female, queer, corporeal, sexual, philosophy freedoms? There is nothing that would help the mutual understanding more.

The modern Europeans grew up with very mystical, superficial and metaphorical interpretation of the "native" religion. "God is love", "show the other cheek", "do not steal, do not kill" (and the vague notion of the other commandments), "love thy neighbour", "help the needy, be compassionate", "do not herd riches". In vivid and uncensored conversation about the core values and the whole origin of religion with their neo-pagan and atheist peers. After hippie wave, yoga hype, Buddhism fashion, Islam is being taken in as "another one". We get unpleasantly surprised by the religion that insists on word-by-word understanding of its Book that has come from desert tribes in 7th century. The Scripture, Prophet, God – is not discussed. Period. Blasphemy, apostasy, criticism is punishable by death. How do we deal with that, in our liberal all-embracing welcome?

Innocent religion - guilty individuals?

How do we talk to Muslims? How do we discuss the way how to discuss the religious matters? As if we have gone out of practice, after our own fundamentalists were banished to dark ages. If the Islam that is non-literal and open to consider certain doctrines as outdated tribal laws (that may have been sensible in certain historical context, but unthinkable nowadays) exists or will exist – we shall have yet to see. Though once we acknowledge this problem, we may work on it. Find ways how to approach the common people, how to deal with zealous priests, how to work within Islam to reinterpret Islam. The non-structured world community without Vatican-like authority that would fine the edges (de-centralized, in modern newspeak) is both blessing and pain. But the topic seems to be too hot to touch now. Though, the hot iron is best to forge...

Of course, we should not be selective in targeting just the Islam. What about the mad televangelists in US, export of radical priests to Africa – those who preach death to gays and that condoms are from Satan. What about micro-nation of Israel, that migrated to already settled area and keeps half of the planet busy, stressed and tired of local skirmishes overgrowing to global scale. What about sectarians, who raise their own children to accept the madness as truth? Addressing our own mistakes might disarm extremists of the incessant recycling of colonialist past, cultural imperialism, clean your own backyard and other popular phrases.

Untidy backyard is not reason for shameful silence about the littered wasteland of the neighbor. We should still stay sensitive to the scale. Our own imperfection is not a justification to stay mute about fundamental flaws of the others. Of course we’d have to have at least a rough idea about what are our fundamentals, core belief of the society with no given belief, what are hard limits for our sensitivity to the pain. Not just pain of starving kids, not just pain of people displaced by war, but also people with variant desires or opinions being murdered (bureaucratic euphemism "executed" is inappropriate) by their own peaceful co-citizens.

Hard limits

I’d prefer to welcome and save LGBT migrants & beaten women, than these lovely innocent just a bit homophobic families that used to support if not carry out gender oppression and executions of "perverts" at home. If we’ve accepted all those who aspire for it, we’d fill in more than a capacity we have. What about the refugees from war? Whose war? If we put aside a bit tiring phrase that West is guilty of every war in the world (because oil, because resources, because political interference), we might see that certain environments are a bit more prone to violence than the others.

Societies that created cultures based on cementing patriarchy, strong hierarchy, infallible mystical leaders – are naturally more abundant in machismo, infallible secular and religious leaders, clan and tribal disputes between these educated-to-be-stubborn individuals. There is more allegiances, their natural opposite: the betrayals, blind loyalty, vain pride, abstract honor and other artificial male values. More executions carried in the name of justice means less sensitivity to suffering – contrary to popular belief that this will enforce stronger rule of law. These cultures will not find peace even if their religion is called Peace (think of Orwell’s doublethink), if the faith perpetuates notions like there are saints who are never wrong, entities to be always obeyed, everything is to be taken literally and without exception, dogmas never change, trespassers and critics should be executed.

Here in west, we got trapped in contemporary fad of relativism. "Everything is relative." Cool and simple phrase. Followed with mindless zeal. That might in a way reflect the zealots we fear. Gay is a western concept, feminism is western concept, democracy is western concept, liberalism is western concept, human rights are western concept. Not applicable and best for everyone. What about anti-racism as western concept? What about respect to other religions as western concept? What about academic relativism as western concept? Bizarrely, what allowed us to be a little bit more open and tolerant is the very same matter that protects this relativizing of that tolerance. We think that post-modern liberties come out of a closed box, but this "perspective" of them being something endemic came out of the same "box".

Gay window

I have touched the topic of gender inequality, sexual minorities or corporeal freedom too many times to be inconspicuous. Although the homophobia/islamophobia paradox is a case by itself, although gay rights within religious doctrines is an unforgivable fault of the "perfect books" (and is an evidence of their human not divine creators) there is more to be seen through what Harry Hay used to called "gay window". LGBTQIA communities often non-voluntarily act as pariah, scapegoat and conscience of the societies that institutionalize their own biology-driven taste as law. We are eternal flaw in that law, last missing piece in too instant too perfect constructs of men without self-perspective, on their mission to fulfill the task of gods, given "coincidentally" to them - prophets. Though our own mythology places us in the spectrum somewhere between male and female ideal. Thus, we are naturally born and socially raised to look at things more from the center.

We don’t take sides so easily. We have perspective over the thinking imperative that sees all the events of the history as "who against who", "who is right and who is wrong", "who is good and who is bad", "who will win and who will lose", "who will rule and who will submit", "who will be the boss and who will listen", "who will lead and who will follow". Choosing camp, choosing dress, choosing flag, holy book, territory, king or sex – are pointless concepts for us. This is the root cause beneath all secular and religious wars, fight for land and resources, stadium mayhem called "sport", capitalist competition with all its negative externalities in environment and health, competition for wealth that drives some to such sportive rage that they steal and kill, murders of jealousy (the anger of losing one’s possession), men beating their wives ("who will be the boss"), children ("you must obey me") or just bullying classmates and colleagues.

Dozens of religious systems, each one claiming to have the patent for divine truth, each one claiming that the others are wrong or not completely right, each one preserving the hate towards difference for further generations – is just another black and white, blue and red, green and grey Olympic competition for us. It does not matter which team in what color of dress will win, since ultra-radical fans of each one will most probably want to beat someone – out of joy or disappointment. The psychological profile of the authors of the Scriptures is somehow too familiar for us. Even the feminism (that is often being connected with gay rights) – so disliked by the Islamic scholars, considered absurd western peculiarity even by western academics – seems to us just taking side against machismo and so even feminism is machist in essence. Posing fake question: "Who will rule – men or women?" Where do we stand in it? In the middle of the battlefield, shot at from all sides.

Fundamentalism and fundamentals

Struggle between traditionalists and liberals, extreme right and multiculturalists, neo-Nazis and migrants, fascists and antifascists, pro and con – does not seem much different from it at the end. The zeal of battle that many a reborn Viking warrior enjoys for the sake of "good fight", leaves often the values behind – as much as zealous armed crusader did not take regards to love of the enemies and showing the other cheek. The human being is trapped in the middle. Angry young men are born in every culture and every generation, they want to fix the world and they take the first inadequate tool to complement their own inadequacy. There is no acknowledgement, no study, no public discussion, no education subject on this archetypal and dangerous element.

Young men get radicalized and travel to participate in distant wars that they eventually bring home. And no one knows why. It just happens, out of the blue. The ultimate mystery of the post-modern age. It is quite obvious that those young men have abundant energy that they cannot spend in knightly tournaments in the modern times, they have justified anger over the world of their fathers where everything is grey and every one a bit guilty, they enjoy reading about conspiracies, they seek quick fixes, need to balance need to be unique (exclude themselves from the big society) and in the same time belong (include themselves in a small circle). Everyone was there, everyone felt it, everyone is a bit embarrassed, no one speaks of it.

Some cultures support the violent excesses, hastened-grown food solutions or macho heroism more than the others. Of course, not because they are lesser humans, just because they are closed and had no time to grow out of it. Some even created mechanisms that prevent them from growing out of it. Some religious doctrines encourage more vicious type of radicalization. Some martyrize themselves by helping others, sacrificing oneself, enduring suffering, committing good deeds that go beyond what average family-feeding man dares to do, while the others martyrize "themselves" by killing hundreds of unknown foreigners, taking away their choice to become or not to become martyrs. If we strip those acts off the mysterious veil of romantic idealism – we find that what they are doing is just using (degrading) their victims as the objects.

Subject-object

This plague of subject-object thinking towards the others is prevalent in the straight world. Children are objects of their parents dreams (good grades, diplomas, prestige, reason to boast, proxy wars with their business competitors, continuation of one’s own ambition beyond the scope of his personal space and life), wives are objects owned by their husbands (decorative trophies, household robots, walking wombs producing sons, source of boasting and jealousy), husbands objects of their wives (protectors, walking purses, having responsibility to feed the family is thrown on them, husband’s business success source of wife’s pride and status), employees objects to use for the achievement of the egoistical ambitions of their employers.

Religions conserve, encourage and educate their sheep in subject-object thinking, in competition, possessiveness, taking sides, hierarchies. They are the creation coming from straight world, suitable for straight world. They are living example of shift of the ideas towards ideals and shifts of the ideals towards ideologies. They are not equal - some are better and some are worse in the pursuit of these pseudo-values. Modern man, in a complex world where nothing is black or white, nothing is good or bad, nothing is just healthy or poisonous, seeks simplicity. Something to follow, line by line, without experiencing discomfort of thinking and deciding. Can we educate people to transcend this habit? Paradoxically, we seek some real transcendence here while the religion proudly claims to use it as both a tool and a goal.

Even the terrorist that decides to turn dozens of unwilling victims into martyrs uses them as objects to achieve his personal goals. Whatever divine excuses he invents. Turning a human being – with his/hers/their life story, social connections, free will, aspirations, dreams – into a thing, that can be move or removed to further someone else’s ideas – is the ultimate evil that this planet knows. Objectification is behind theft, robberies, kidnaps, murder, deceit, fraud, domestic and gender violence, any sort of known real crime. Suppressing objectification is the objective superior to any moral, religious, national, secular or ideological codex.

In order to do that, we cannot limit ourselves to our own cultural or intellectual space. Some religions and ideologies name and persecute some of these objectification-based deeds, while they perpetuate objectification in the same time (e.g. in form of machismo, justification of violence, enforcing of the faith) and in the same time criminalize non-objectifying behaviors (e.g. sexual libertarianism) in which the religions actually commit objectification – they rape human being with the ideology. Therefore, there is no place for fake cultural sensitivity, objectification will disappear from the whole world, or it will not disappear at all.

"Be in" though don’t "fit in"

Last note from the gay perspective. Some minority within minority is looking with suspicion at the assimilation trend of LGBT movement converging into the mainstream culture. They imitate straight unions, family values, traditions (just carefully eviscerating any reference to homophobia), partake in religious celebrations, aim to get our unions blessed by priests, they want children, mortgage, suburban standard. Nothing against it if this need is a result of deep personal inquiry – and not just wanting what others have, thinking this will ensure our acceptance and safety. We can offer more than just being "like everyone else". Offer our unique perspective.

While teasing assimilationists, we don’t like to hear, that the guest minority – migrants from Muslim countries – are being asked to assimilate. To accept our "western values". We could feel the empathy here – and it is good that we feel it – that means we are still capable of it, we still can see things metaphorically. But we should also distinguish assimilation from integration. By not being assimilated we aim to offer our unique features as a gift to the society: a perspective, a feedback, a conscience, draw new ways, be the enrichment. We want to help it, we don’t aim to destroy it or force others to be like us. We are on the fringe, at the edge, or even beyond – but we cross the border with friendly intentions. In some way we are out of society, though still we are integral and healthy part of it, we are integrated, we co-create it, we develop it, we gently & lovingly tease it and provoke it. There’s no shame or imperialism in expecting this same from our guests. We are not enforcing beliefs, just ensuring that everyone is free to have (or not to have) his own beliefs.

We can offer the idea and the experience of interacting as equal subjects. Being with someone not because he is useful for us, but because of his oddness, his inherent and intrinsic value that he brings into the world – something that we can explore, caress and protect.

We can pose the alternatives to fierce competition for the sake of competition, boasting and dominating. We can propose cooperation, care, empathy, listening, mutual learning. It is native to our kind.

We can show how to listen to those who are afraid, instead of labeling them and shaming them – in the fervour of the competition of the ideas. We can transcend this framing of everything as a battle. We can find clever ways to refuse to be dragged into it – not being available for our enemies as the enemies, competitors, opponents, the other camps, the other side.

We can pioneer non-possessive forms of relationships, in some time presenting the viable ways out of self-denying "we", boring marriage, ever-after fairy tales, jealousy, male or family honour insults and killings.

We can share the insight of the in-between-ers. Harmonize the world of male and female. Bring understanding among faiths, teach non-literal interpretation, metaphorical thinking, uncover the common humane core of the teachings. Mediate between physical or rational view and soul or spiritual quest. End thousands of wars of this or that truth.