If there is one clear observation when analyzing Islamic onslaught/encroachment to occupy and to rule the world, it is elaborated by the Power Vacuum Theory. Ayn Rand has put it so succinctly: The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise with evil on basic principles.
From its emergence until today Islam works incessantly and relentlessly to impose its socio-political regime and its culture over the Free World, and to make its religion the only legitimate one. The means used were always the same three arms with their many manifestations: Jihad (violence, war, and terrorism); Da’wah (the diplomacy of deceit) and Hijrah (huge immigration to the occupied territories). These were operated in combined processes and according to the circumstances and opportunities.
The Islamic onslaught/encroachment is analyzed on the continuum of Power Vacuum Theory as a recurrent “weakness-containment syndrome.” When the Free world weakens, whether from internal or external reasons, Islam marches on in an offensive onslaught and encroachment to conquer, to occupy, to butcher and to enslave. However, when the Free World is strong enough or when it wakes up and sobers up and fights for its life, it succeeds to contain Islamic aggression and to bring Islam at bay and under control. This was the process of power politics of the War of Civilizations that was conducted for 1400 years, in three rounds or stages.
The first round of the War of Civilizations started in year 630 and ended in year 732. The reason for the emergence of Islam to power was the weakness of the Sassanid Empire in Persia, in the east, and the deterioration of the Byzantines Empire, in the west. During that period of time Muslim armies had occupied vast territories, in the Middle East and North Africa to Andalusia in the West, and from Persia to India and North Western China, in the East. The main motivation of the Muslim armies in these territories were Islamization and Arabization of the occupied territories, while slaughtering, butchering, enslaving and converting its indigenous populations. This imperialist and colonialist onslaught/encroachment has ended at the Battle of Tours, near Paris, in October 732. The Christian Franks headed by Charles Martel were victorious, and the Muslim army of Abd al-Rahman was defeated.
This first War of Civilizations at the Battle of Tours has been a decisive turning point in the struggle against Islam, a landmark battle that signalized the high tide of the Muslim advance into Europe. This was one of the most important epochs in the history of Europe that preserved Christianity as the religion in Europeans, and saved Europe from the miserable situation the occupied territories by the Muslim represent. The Free World used its military power and put the Islamic onslaught/encroachment at bay, as a long process of containment.
The second round of the War of Civilizations started with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, in 1299 and the fall of Constantinople in May 1453. The reason for the re-emergence of Islam by the Ottoman Empire was the political and military weakness, in fact the decline of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire). Until the middle of the 17th century the Ottomans gained control over Anatolia, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, and deepened its control in the Middle East, North Africa, and India.
This period was marked as of political stability and success referred to as Pax Ottomana. The Ottomans main occupation was the Islamization of the occupied territories mainly in the Balkans and Eastern Europe while conducting a second round of black and white mass enslavement. This imperialist and colonialist Islamic onslaught and encroachment has ended with the Battle of Vienna, September 11, 1683, after two months of siege.
The defeat of the Ottoman Empire marked the turning-point of the 300-year struggle in the Ottoman-Habsburg wars, and it was culminated with the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699, between the Ottoman Empire and Austria, Poland and Venice. Following, was the Treaty of Constantinople in July 1700 that ended the Russo-Turkish war of 1686-1700. These defeats marked a new period in European life: the Ottoman Empire ceased to be a menace to the Christian world. The Free World used its military power and put the Islamic onslaught/encroachment at bay for the second time.
Now the Free World is at the very midst of the third round of War of Civilizations. The Islamic push to dominate all other cultures, religions, and regimes has never stopped, and for the first time it is world-wide. There is not even one state in the world that is not under Islamic encroachment, either by Jihad or Da’wah or Hijrah. The question left is if and when the Free World sobers up and wakes up to understand the menace of this reality and evaluate the prices of fighting back. The last round of appeasement was introduced by the Free world to Nazi Germany. Not only its downfall was alarming, but not surprisingly it was precisely Nazi Germany that opened the war by invading Poland. This is indeed the price of defeatism and appeasement.
Douglas MacArthur claimed that the appeasing defeatism breeds more difficult and cruel wars, that there is not even one case in human history that defeatism has brought peace. It was Jan Masaryk, the former Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister once said that a nation with a broken back is doomed, even each and every one of its inhabitants has a tank in his yard and a warplane on his roof. Power ceases when there is no national honor and no commitment to protect the national interests.
It was Sigmund Freud who has stated that when it comes to misconceptions human beings are geniuses. Indeed, as Winston Churchill has noted, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
The Free World does not understand that political culture makes the whole difference; that there are different cultures that shape the behavior and conduct of their followers. In its mirror image misconceptions, it visualizes that we are all the same; that it is the “mac-world,” the Global Village” of Marshall McLuhan, and the English language that determine. We do not understand, we have no clue to comprehend the Arab-Islamic political culture and what motivates it. History teaches us that more appeasement leads to much higher aggressiveness; more tolerance breeds more violence; more disregard, oblivion, and shutting one’s eyes bring more impudence in demands and imposing submissiveness; more financial support and economic aid yield more corruption, poverty and misery.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn has put it correctly: let us not forget that violence does not and cannot flourish by itself; it is inevitably intertwined with LYING. Between them there is the closest, the most profound and natural bond: nothing screens violence except lies, and the only way lies can hold out is by violence. Whoever has once announced violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose lying as his PRINCIPLE. Indeed, as Ayn Rand said: You can ignore reality; but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. That is why George Orwell referred to the fact that the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.
Modern Islamic Salafī-Jihādi (Jihad based on the Islamic ancestors’ roots) demands that Muslims must solely live by the Qur’an tenets, and at the same time they renounce popular sovereignty and every other sovereignty besides that of Allah and the Sunnah. However, the winning movement today is the Salafī-Takfīrī (Jihad based on accusing the other with infidelity for deviating from the ancestors’ roots and strictly abiding by the articles of the Sharī’ah) led by ICS.
The Islamic situation is so dynamic that the extremists of yesterday, the Salafi-Jihadī al-Qaeda, are losing the battle to the more extremists of today, the Salafī-Takfīrī Islamic Caliphate State. Its members look at themselves as al-Tā’ifah al-Mansûrah, the saved or the winning sect, and at their predecessors as Ahl al-Tāghût, the people of mistake and deviation. The interesting thing is that those extremists of the past, the Muslim Brotherhood are now considered as ‘moderate’ and ‘conservative,’ Salafī-Taqlīdī.
These contemporary three layers or stages represent in fact the Islamic extremist framework configuration. More important, one has to understand that Salafī-Takfīrī groups are not the last manifestation of Islamic extremism. As long as ICS is considered a winner, it will lead the movement and continues to be the hero model and attracts followers. However, behind the corner there await new groups that will represent a new layer or stage in Islamic millennialism. It is waiting for the right moment and/or opportunity to emerge. They even might renounce ICS as Ahl al-Tāghût and lead the Islamic agenda to a higher extreme stage that will bring humanity to the verge of existence, perhaps with nuclear or chemical-biological terrorism, or by destroying the technological society by employing cyber terrorism.
The emergence of a “more extreme” Islamic movement that marks a higher stage will occur when ICS stops representing the Islamic role hero model and a new ambitious brutal leader emerges. In the past we have seen this process as follows: Sayyid Qutb has challenged his mentor, Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and led the way to the emergence of Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and to a new extreme stage. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi challenges Ayman al-Zawahiri, his mentor, and has led the way to the emergence of ICS from within al-Qaeda, to mark a new more extreme stage. The only question left is who will challenge al-Baghdadi and when, not If.
However, this cyclical process of Islamic extremism was marked and continue to be shaped not by Islamic millennialism, but exactly by the Free World’s reaction or better say ill-reaction. As long as the Free World continues its policy of weakness, appeasement, ignorance and cowardice; as long as the Free World continues with its mirror image and mental blindness misconceptions; as long as the Free World continues with its empty ideologies of multiculturalism and political correctness and such – Islamic millennialism will step more and more forward with higher brutality and devotion to impose its Islamic values on humanity in its entirety.
This is the history of Islam from its beginning, and just because we continue to ignore the reality of Islam and make artificial and detached from logic differentiations, it does not mean that the reality of Islam will continue to ignore us. In fact, Islam has never ignored its mission to the world nor the ignorance, submissiveness, cowardice, appeasement and irresponsibility of the Free World leaderships and cultural elites – to spread and flourish. The price, when waken up, will be paid with a huge amount of blood unprecedented in history.
It must be put bluntly and straightforward. The origin of the Arabs is from Arabia, mainly its eastern part called Hijaz. The Arabs were part of tribes and clans, and except of Mecca, their main occupation was raiding (Ghazawat) and taking booty (Ghana’em). When they conquered vast territories under the Islamic religious motivational inspiration they were doing the same. This was their main occupation in history. That is exactly what they are doing today, now under Jihad and Hijrah, with the assistance of Da’wah as a propagation, a diplomacy of deceit, a means to mislead and confuse world public opinion.
And still the Free World is in a deep state of denial and confusion. Indeed, one of the great wonders is how people translate information into knowledge. History proves that lack of knowledge stems from mental blindness and selective hearing, not from lack of information. Only politicians, intellectuals and the media could ignore, evade, and deny what Islam really is. When a society declares boldly, ‘we have to fight Nazism,’ and ‘Nazism is evil,’ and at the same time afraid to relate these words to Islam, it is no longer a free society. -Enemies can be understood within the context of their declared strategic doctrine. Just as we ignored Mein Kampf prior to World War II, so we now ignore what is clearly written in the Sharī’ah.
Since the 9/11 attack and mid-2015 there have been more than 28,000 terrorist attacks worldwide, all of which were perpetrated by Muslims, in the name of Islam and for the sake of Allah. That is about 5 terrorist attacks every day, in which millions of people have been killed. The tragic fact is that over 95 percent of world terrorism and 70 percent of world violence are Islamic, and these figures are on the rise. Literally, all peoples of the world, in all states were infected and influenced by Islamic aggressive advances, by Jihad, by Da’wah and by Hijrah.
At the same time, the cowardice reaction even beyond politically correctness and ignorance of the attacked leaders is reiterated and replayed as to become a ritual. The narrative never changes: “the terrorist acts are not part of Islam;” “the terrorists are not Muslims but in fact are against Islamic teachings;” “Islam is a religion of peace and compassion,” and such oblivion sickening reactions. It is confusing and embarrassing since the unequivocal assertion of the terrorists themselves they are motivated by the teachings of the Qur’an and the examples of their prophet.
Immediately after the terrorist attack has taken place, the president or the prime minister of the Western country declares that this attack had nothing to do with Islam and that the terrorists are evil, while Islam is good and peaceful. This is followed in agreement by other Western leaders, while condemning the terrorist attack, continue the line of rehabilitating Islam being a religion of peace and compassion.
The media joins this lamented horrific situation by Western political leaders and immediately brings an on duty Muslim spokesperson, who emphasizes that Islam does not condone violence and it is totally and absolutely against killing innocent people. The media also interviews the murderers’ families who grieve in sorrow and declare how great and peaceful their children were, and that they are Shuhadā’ and therefore residing in heaven.
The academic experts are called to declare that we should look at the root cause of the issue, as the terrorists are in fact the poor, the alienated and the wretched, and that we have to understand their motives. They also remind us that the terrorists are a small group of fanatics who actually act against the ordinances of Islam. What the terrorist themselves say we should ignore, as it has nothing to do with the Islamic Sharī’ah. They also explain that the core issues are the injustices done to Muslims by the past Western imperialism and colonialism, so mainly we have to blame ourselves for their desperate acts. The academic experts also emphasize that extremists exist in all religions and the Islamic terrorist acts are part of the pervasive violent situation.
Then comes the psychologist or the social worker who concludes that Christian and Jewish emblems and other religious symbols hurt the religious sentiment of Muslims and they should be removed from public institutions, malls and schools. One cannot insult the religion of Islam and defame its prophet. It is not only not polite but we must be very considerate about the sensibilities of the Muslims. At the same time, Muslims should be given permission to act according to their traditional and religious values and their culture, so that their Sharī’ah must be implemented. If all these are fulfilled, the Muslims will become an integral part of our society.
Professional Muslim groups and organization that employ Da’wah, the diplomacy of deceit, to mislead the infidels, join this line by declaring their condemnation of the terrorist act, but immediately step forward to blame the infidels as the core cause of the problem. They call the police to take all the needed measures to protect Muslim communities from any backlash reprisal. They also call to hold meetings and debates of political and religious leaders concerned to stop violence and endorse peace in the spirit of integration and community cohesion.
To compensate and to facilitate the dire situation they demand for more money to be given to the Muslim neighbourhoods that will bring more cooperation and good mutual spirit in the name of peace. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the second world largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations, immediately resumes its call to the UN to criminalize “blasphemy” against Islam, as “defamation of religions.”
However, as an immediate answer to these flawed declarations, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has once again reiterated in a new audio message: “Islam was never a religion of peace; Islam is a religion of fighting… all Muslims wherever they are, must fight for the Islamic Caliphate.” He has urged all Muslims to take up arms and fight on behalf of the Islamic State as to resurrect the Caliphate.
There is another perspective to analyze the Power Vacuum Theory. In October 2006, Mark Steyn said bluntly: The future belongs to Islam. The Muslim world has youth, numbers and global ambitions. The West is growing old and enfeebled, and lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it. It’s the end of the world as we’ve known it. One might formulate it as follows: Age + Welfare = Disaster for you; Youth + Will = Disaster for whoever gets in your way. Where is the problem? Islam has youth and will, Europe has age and welfare. What’s happening in the undeveloped world is one of the fastest demographic evolutions in history. The median age in the Gaza Strip is 15.8 years. It is UN-supervised European-funded death cult. Demographic decline and the unsustainability of the social democratic state are closely related. The state has gradually annexed all human responsibilities: health care, child care, elderly care, to the point where it effectively severed its citizens from primal survival instincts. The salient feature of Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia is that they’re running out of babies. Greece has a fertility rate hovering just below 1.3 births per couple, which is the “lowest-low” fertility from which no human society has ever recovered. And Greece’s fertility is the healthiest in Mediterranean Europe: Italy has a fertility rate of 1.2, Spain 1.1. By 2050, 60 per cent of Italians will have no brothers, no sisters, no cousins, no aunts, and no uncles.
By “will,” Steyn means the metaphorical spine of a culture. Africa also has plenty of young people, their primary identity is pure tribal without religious political ambitions of global reach as Muslims have. The Western world is too mired in cultural relativism to understand what’s at stake. There is a correlation between the structural weaknesses of the social democratic state and the rise of a globalized Islam. If one thinks the UN and other international organizations are antipathetic to America now, wait a few years and see what kind of support you get from a semi-Islamified Europe.
The Norwegian imam Mullah Krekar told the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet in 2006: “We’re the ones who will change you. Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children… Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours.” It was Qadhdhafi who said back in 1976: there are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe — without swords, without guns, without conquests. The fifty million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.
The question is, as Ali Sina puts, if international laws would be banning cartoons, does it stop there, or continue to all kind of free speech materials? The grand irony is that banning on the basis that Western free speech defame Islam, than it would also, by logical extension, have to ban the entire religion of Islam itself, being the only religion whose core texts actively and unequivocally defame other religions. Yet, the OIC and other Muslim organization do not seem to bother, as they do believe this is the correct natural situation, Islam being the only legitimate religion.
However, the folly of hedonism and appeasement prevails and hypocrisy combined with ignorance and political correctness, runs rampant: indeed, there are extreme verses as much as there are mild in the Qur’an, and this duality is found in every religion; indeed, there are radicals among the Muslims just as in all societies, but they are just a minority, even weeds. The majority is different.
This is the problem with all of its severity. The relevant questions are accordingly:
If that is the true situation – how do we know this? Are there any corroborating studies and data to substantiate this view? Or we only think this is the reality?
Even if a different peace-loving majority exists, is its voice heard? Does it influence policy and decision-making processes? Or is it only in our mirror imaged personality?
Where is public opinion voice, the political parties, the media, which prove there are other tendencies and voices? Or we just assume this is the situation?
How many peace movements, demonstrations marching in the streets rolling for peace and against terrorist perpetrators can be identified? Was any terrorist attack stopped even denounced by the so-called majority? Do the Arab and Muslim states condemn these atrocities and act against? Or is it our imagination alone?
How many pressure and interest groups are there in the Muslim world which actively function against Islamic fanaticism and Jihad terrorism? And if they do, to what extent do they influence? Or we just ignore reality out of ignorance?
How many NGO’s are there acting against the terrorists and preventing aid from their reach? Do they even try to stop terrorism and convince it is act against humanity? Or we just want to believe, we terribly wish that there are such?
If there are moderate peace-loving political leaders, where are they? What influence do they have? Is their voice heard? What do they declare after the horrible acts of terrorism perpetuated, except of blaming the US and Israel? Or is it all our mental blindness and denial?
Indeed, there are Muslim intellectuals and liberals, but unfortunately they are very few. They condemn the atrocious terrorist acts; they plead for openness and democratization; they wish for integration and assimilation. However, not only they have no influence on the events, not only they are persecuted and alienated, but above all, they are a very small minority. The reality is, the questions that should be asked, who controls the Islamic communities and in the streets? Which voice is heard and is written in the communication Media? Who is more influential and admired by the youth; in the Madāris, in mosques and in the media? Who are the heroes of the masses? Who leads the way? And the biggest wonder of all: why do we always supply excuses and explanations to the horrific phenomenon we do not understand culturally and ignorant religiously? Or we just have a death wish?
This is amazing. How can we explain the Free World reactions? Is it appeasement alone? Is it hedonism of living the good life? Is it the Petro-dollar power of Saudi Arabia and Qatar? Is it the guilt remorse of “imperialist-colonialist past?” Or it is just political correctness? Or it is our twisted mirror image? Or it is our ignorance? It is as if we don’t want to wake up. We are in a deep state of denial, in a slumber, as if we are on the Titanic and the orchestra continues to play.
However, the uppermost is surely because we are frightened; we are horrified; we are terrorized; because we are cowardice in front of the ruffians, the villains and the savages, and we want to come back to our sanity out of this madness by running away; by giving in; by clothing our eyes in visual amnesia; by paying “protection money,” and by appeasing and subduing.
Joker &the Pathology of Violence
JOKER, director Todd Phillips and renowned actor Joaquin Phoenix’s new take on an infamous comic book villain, will hit the big screen this weekend. It has garnered prestigious awards (such as the Golden Lion), laudatory critic reviews & is expected to attract hordes of eager moviegoers. However, JOKER has also inspired ominous think-pieces from publications such as The Atlantic and Vox. Additionally, the US military and the NYPD have expressed concern that the film could inspire violence.
These detractors of JOKER are arguing that the film glorifies “incel violence” and is thus likely to inspire acts as incel violence. This logic has been used ad nauseam to condemn everything from comic books, to video games, to martial arts, to Marilyn Manson to hip-hop. No credible study has proven that art that portrays violence causes real-world violence. Some people may point out that extreme outliers, like white-supremacist music, could cause violence. However, it would be more logical to argue the opposite: people who compose and listen to white-supremacist music were already enmeshed in a violent ideology. Likewise, genocidal propaganda tends not to focus on explicitly glorifying violence for violence’s sake, but in portraying groups of people as sub-human (Tutsis being compared to roaches, Jews being portrayed as greedy and treasonous, etc.). It’s thus a process of long, gradated inculcation. As Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels realized, there’s no reverse-Ludovico Technique that can magically turn people into killing machines by quickly showing them a two-hour film.
Now, it is true that a few violent criminals have cited works of art as inspiration for their actions. This is statistically inevitable, but insignificant. There are bound to be a few outliers who have bizarre interpretations on art, just as there are a few people who have been inspired to commit acts of terrorism based on personal interpretations of religion or politics. It’s no more logical to suggest that we ban violent video games or art because of mass shootings than to suggest we ban Buddhism because of Aum Shinrikyo’s gas attack on the Tokyo subway, or that we should ban Irish patriotism because of the IRA. Furthermore, some violent lunatics have been inspired by works of art, such as John Lennon’s killer citing Catcher in the Rye, that aren’t even violent in nature. Clearly, the people who commit mass killings are incredibly unhinged individuals who are in a violent frame of mind, regardless of what media they consume. Likewise, 99.99% of people who play FPS games or who watch slasher flicks aren’t going to go on a shooting rampage or create a torture dungeon in their basement.
To return things to JOKER itself, the film in no way “glorifies” violence. For starters, half of the violence is inflicted on the main character (the “incel hero”); there are two scenes where The Joker gets jumped mercilessly and a third scene where he gets sucker-punched in the face. The violent acts that The Joker himself commits are portrayed in a very gruesome manner (in one scene with The Joker and a neighbor of his, the violence isn’t even shown, but is merely implied). When The Joker bashes someone’s head in or shoots someone point-blank, there are no crass jokes, inspirational music or voiceovers quoting The Art of War. The plotline doesn’t imply any justification for the killings. When someone gets killed in the film, audience-goers don’t hoot and holler like they would in a screening of a zombie film or a Nazi-revenge flick like Inglorious Basterds. Rather, there is an awkward pall of silence in the theater at the nihilistic spectacle.
JOKER makes it very clear that the title character’s violence is motivated by nothing but his utter insanity. The Joker descends into a killing machine after being released from an asylum and after he stops taking seven different psych meds (which weren’t helping him much, anyway). When being interviewed, he admits that he isn’t compelled by any ideology whatsoever. Rather, The Joker literally views the act of killing as a joke.
Nor does The Joker gain any tangible reward for his violence; he gets fired from his job, arrested, hit by an ambulance and committed to an asylum as a direct result of his actions. Joaquin Phoenix’s character gets a thrill from the media coverage that his killings elicit (and a standing ovation from fellow thugs in the film’s penultimate scene), but that not’s a real reward, but rather a feeling that many real-life killers in fact get when they are portrayed in the news. For instance, the as-yet unidentified Zodiac Killer literally played games with Bay Area news outlets, sending them letters that boasted about his kills, contained cryptic puzzles and threatened to blow up a school bus if he didn’t receive even more media attention. Many other serial killers who were apprehended were found to have hoarded newspaper clippings that documented their crimes. Similarly, coverage of a mass shooting often inspires “copycat mass shootings”. The takeaway from this is that the media should be careful about inadvertently turning stories about mass shootings and terror attacks into personal biographies of the killer. When covering these kinds of attacks, some news outlets, like The Young Turks and The David Pakman Show, deliberately choose to blur the killers’ faces and avoid naming them, so as not to give the killers the attention that they wanted to garner and to avoid inspiring other violently-deranged individuals who crave attention.
The fact that JOKER doesn’t merely portray the villain as an Evil-Incarnate caricature doesn’t mean that it is therefore glorifying violence. The audience is meant to sympathize with The Joker when he get jumped without warning or when he talks about the crippling depression that he has felt for literally his entire life. There are scenes showing The Joker comforting his mother and entertaining sick children. The mere fact that The Joker is portrayed as a full human being, good traits and bad traits, doesn’t mean the film is justifying how he releases his violent rage. No human is evil 100% of the time: there is no villain who tortures hamsters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is only by studying the causes of violent criminals’ various motivations that we can ever hope to ebb the tide of violence. Most violent criminals have suffered from childhood abuse, childhood poverty, a missing parental figure, bullying and/or mental illness (The Joker had to deal with all five of these traumas). By empathizing with these plights, we can create programs (drug treatment programs, stamping out bullying in school, removing children from abusive households, etc.) that can reduce violent crime.
It’s not comfortable to acknowledge that history’s most evil people had humanity or that societal norms (like persecuting people, tolerating child abuse or underfunding mental illness and addiction treatment programs) can fuel violence. It’s evident that Todd Phillips, through his direction and screenplay, and Joaquin Phoenix, through his tortured portrayal of The Joker, meant to give us a glimpse into the mind of a demented killer, not so we can sympathize with the protagonist’s brutal violence, but so we can sympathize with the myriad factors that drove the protagonist to criminal insanity. The nearly uniform media portrayals of mentally-ill individuals as Pure Evil only serves to misinform the public and to scare those suffering from mental disorders from seeking help. Hopefully, the discussions being generated by JOKER will encourage people to learn more about complex diseases like schizophrenia and to be more proactive in reaching out to loved ones who are displaying signs of mental anguish.
Women outnumber men in higher education but gender stereotyped subject choices persist
Education is essential to achieving gender equality. From the earliest schooling to the highest levels of post-graduate study, education influences the opportunities that can shape people’s lives.
This is why education and training of women is one of the 12 critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action, while target 4.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for the elimination of gender disparities in education by 2030.
In the UNECE region girls tend to outperform boys in terms of learning outcomes in schools, and women outnumber men in tertiary education (university level and beyond) in almost all countries of the region.
Women remain in the minority, however, as students of stereotypically “masculine” subjects such as ICT and engineering, although in recent years they have begun slowly gaining ground.
Tertiary level graduates
In 39 out of the 47 UNECE countries with data, more than 55 per cent of tertiary graduates are women. Iceland has the highest share, with 66 per cent women. Seven countries are close to gender parity, with the share of women ranging from 48 to 55 per cent, and only in Uzbekistan are women in a clear minority, with 38 per cent of tertiary graduates.
After decades of increase in women’s participation in higher education, women substantially outnumbered men among tertiary level graduates in most countries by 2012. Since then, women’s share has declined in 32 out of the 47 countries with data. Whilst in Azerbaijan and Turkey fewer than half of tertiary graduates were women in 2012, more women have entered tertiary education in these countries since and the 2017 data already show gender parity there.
Subject choices of women and men
The subjects studied at tertiary level by women and men can reflect stereotypes of “masculine” and “feminine” subject areas. Some subjects may be preferred by potential employers and may affect occupational segregation once graduates enter the labour market. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction (EMC) are two broad groups of subjects where male students have historically predominated.
Women remain a minority among ICT students in the UNECE region, with percentages ranging from 11 in Belgium to 33 in Greece. The four countries with the largest share of women among ICT students are all in the Balkan region. Among students of EMC, the share of women is somewhat higher, but still falls far short of parity, ranging from 14 per cent in Georgia to 44 per cent in North Macedonia.
In both of these subject groups, the recent trend shows small gains for women in some countries but reductions in others. Overall, progress towards gender equality in these two typically male-dominated subject areas is uneven and slow.
UNECE Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting
Progress in achieving gender equality in education will be one of the areas in focus at the upcoming Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting for the UNECE region, with a particular emphasis on how women and girls can enter currently male-dominated fields.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 (Beijing Platform for Action) is the most ambitious road map for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere. In 2020, it will be 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action outlined how to overcome the systemic barriers that hold women back from equal participation in all areas of life.
The Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting (29-30 October 2019) will take stock of where the UNECE region stands on keeping the promises of the Beijing Platform for Action. Bringing together government representatives and key stakeholders from the UNECE region, the meeting will tackle a number of obstacles that keep girls and women from realizing their full potential. UNECE is joining forces with the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia to deliver a two-day multi-stakeholder meeting to exchange concrete policies to accelerate the realization of gender equality. The outcomes of the meeting will feed into the global review of the Beijing Platform for Action taking place at the sixty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York from 9 to 20 March 2020.
Call for Action from Leaders and Business on Violence against Women
Spiralling levels of violence against women in Africa require immediate action from governments and businesses, including tangible measures to create safe spaces, experts from across the continent told the World Economic Forum on Africa today.
Protesters in South Africa have taken to the streets and social media to demand action, following the rape and murder of a Cape Town university student who was attacked in a post office. Uyinene Mrwetyana was just the latest of many victims of brutal assaults in a region where approximately 45% of women and girls over 14 years have experienced physical or sexual violence.
“I’m dumbfounded by the idea that we can continue with business as usual,” said Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, Director of African Monitor, who urged technology companies to take a lead in delivering solutions. “It would take a click of a finger for a tech company to say we are going to deploy a software that can assist us with an emergency response system for poor women in South Africa free of charge.”
The potential for technology to help in the fightback highlights the need for businesses to think creatively, given that cyberbullying can also contribute to discrimination in the first place. Mniki-Mangaliso said the wider business community should also step up to the plate by backing a gender-based fund to address the deep-rooted problems behind the rising tide of physical and sexual assaults.
Hafsat Abiola-Costello, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women in Africa Initiative, said Africa could learn from China, where decisive action was taken to ban harmful practices like foot binding and polygamy. African governments, by contrast, too often fail to enforce bans on polygamy or genital mutilation, thereby reinforcing a culture of discrimination against women that becomes embedded from childhood.
The failure to protect women is not just a moral issue; it also comes with a high economic cost. “Who drives African communities? It’s our women. Our women can drive Africa’s development, if given the chance, if protected, if their rights are respected,” Abiola-Costello said. “Africa missed the first industrial revolution, we missed the second, we missed the third. If we don’t address this issue, we will miss the fourth.”
Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili, who spearheaded the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in Nigeria and is a fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy, said calls for women to help drive African development will simply ring hollow if violence is not addressed. “The world lacks the moral pedestal to stand on to ask girls to aspire if we cannot have the back of those who are vulnerable,” she said.
With 16,000 deaths due violence against in women every year in South Africa alone, Akudo Anyanwu, Associate Dean at Johns Hopkins University, said: “Our presidents and the leaders in government need to come out and take a position. We need to have our leaders come out and call crimes a crime.”
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