Proud Boys

Last year, I worked on an article about the Proud Boys that never got published. My experience with trying to write about the Alt Right is that editors are extremely hostile to it and then, low and behold, exactly what I wanted to talk about blows up in the wider world.

While I talked to an individual from the organization (not going to say his name), it was truly bizarre. He emphasized many times that his group wasn’t racialist, that most the members had biracial families, but that the group was “cultural chauvinist” and thought that the way the West does things is simply the “only way,” so to speak, and that he was “ready to fight” for it.

Despite trying to appear more mainstream than, say, Identity Europa, all the street fighting is still there and their different message probably only means they’ll have more pissed off young men of different backgrounds joining them, like some sort of reactionary Fight Club. With the whole #metoo thing and descending in a place like Portland, Oregon, I can only imagine what they would turn in to.

The guy I interviewed was extremely hostile, screaming on the phone and swearing at me before I even asked questions or introduced myself. It was hard to understand what he was even angry about. A real trip.

Random Political Thoughts Number One: Elizabeth Warren

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There is a reason Trump adores Andrew Jackson. During that era, Americans of his ilk slandered Thomas Jefferson by saying he was an atheist, the product of an Indian white love affair of some kind, and in an affair with a black slave. Alexander Hamilton also got shot during that period. A good amount of ideas for governance may have gotten lost during that period, as both Hamilton and Jefferson had some unique ideas for governance. We also got the Trail of Tears. Jefferson and Hamilton neither were exactly radicals – it was Jefferson that expanded America’s land mass and set up western expansion. His intelligence and demeanor alone seemed to piss people off. Elizabeth Warren should have read her history and not taken the bait with some really nasty stuff that certainly has precedent. That’s not even the only example of it.

Why You Should Be Hopeful About China’s Silk Road

A whole bunch of negative (or somewhat negative) stories have come out about China’s involvement in Africa, as well as the project of its continued economic growth generally.

One story came out about a Chinese national who was recorded referring to blacks as “monkeys” while living in Kenya. He was subsequently deported. (I have heard black people refer to Asian people’s eyes more than a few times so whatever.) There was also another anecdotal news story about a Chinese national who married a woman from Cameroon and experienced difficulty and judgment from his family in China. Kenya has also issued a government crackdown on Chinese run brothels, filled with Chinese prostitutes, and one Foreign Policy article insinuated that the rise of China isn’t quite as big a deal as people think.

Whatever Chinese people can be like or not be like as persons, the reason the Silk Road model will be better for the world is because they are creating networks for their products and others created in Asia to divert out to as many parts of the world as possible. Western systems were the exact opposite – it was all about getting as many resources from all over the world in to Western Europe and North America. Western countries take vegetables from developing countries, throw the bad ones out, give it back to said country, and call it “aid.” The first Silk Road built by China was utilized by multiple parties when it was built and is being created in tandem with many other parties this time around.

China is also in the position it is in because it got nuclear weapons early on during the Cultural Revolution. As Mao Tse-Tung once said, “Political power comes from the barrel of a gun.” Mao was wise and understood that he could not display weakness against the vultures of the west. Several world leaders have tried to create alternative trade systems to the West’s and the West murdered most of them. Muommar Gaddafi had a dream of a unified Africa and even created infrastructure for it. America’s first black president made sure Africans wouldn’t see that realized when he had Gaddafi publicly and explosively murdered. That’s how the world really is, not some fantasy stuff.

Likewise, Foreign Policy magazine noted that “by the most important measures of national wealth and power, China is struggling to keep up and will probably fall further behind in the coming decades” and that “the United States is and will remain the world’s sole superpower for the foreseeable future, provided that it avoids overextending itself abroad or underinvesting at home.”

FP writer Michael Beckley is not wrong. China built a Silk Road before. More people would understand that if non-European history was taught in schools. It resulted in a multipolar world. It wasn’t omnipotent and didn’t look like western colonialism.

China simply is going to build a lot of stuff around the world, often in places largely ignored by global trade. Laptops and other high tech goods will become more available in the deepest recesses of Eurasia or sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to them. This century will be shared by multiple parties.

Why I Think Mike Pence Would Calm America Down

A little note – Tilhas still is primarily a music project. Most of the posts will be about Tilhas releases or neofolk music that is out there. I got a good amount of likes on Twitter for political commentary so I thought I would keep it going here.

A lot is being made of the continuing clusterfuck of insanity that is Donald Trump’s presidency. There is some new release every day in which someone from the administration has left, leaked, or even written an anonymous editorial to a major newspaper criticizing the president.

Reports are going now that Trump is now purging his administration for the individual who leaked the editorial, with Talking Points Memo reporting that he frets he can “only trust his children.”

I read the editorial and there was some vocabularly in there that gave some obviously clue. The phrase “first principles” is something I heard so much in my time as a conservative – it is a highly vaulted phrase of the Hillsdale and Heritage Foundation class of conservatives. More to the point is the word “lodestar” – an unusual word that Mike Pence happens to use frequently while speaking.

If it really is Pence, this just goes far in perpetuating the theory that my friend Larry Bernard has that we have only gone through an odd remix of the 1960s and 1970s these past few years. Trump is Nixon, while Mike Pence is his Gerald Ford, here to save us from our “long national nightmare.”

I also have a theory as to why a man like Mike Pence would help finally knock America out of its marasse and social chaos. Before his death at the hands of US funded rebels, Muammar Gaddafi wrote a book called The Green Book in which, despite his bonafides in helping Nelson Mandela end racial apartheid in South Africa, he attested that multi-racial societies are generally not a good idea. More differences leads to more potential conflict.

When I first read that, I thought of an experience I had in college in which a friend, a Chinese man who grew up in Russia, got in to an intensive argument with a Japanese man. It was a flurry of different languages as they spoke and I never saw my friend, Boris, so upset. The Japanese man had apparently shouted at him “Why did you invade us?” and it had rolled along from there, ending with Boris saying “stupid Japanese man.” The argument was based on the invasion by the Soviets to liberate inner Mongolia from Japanese control. There were multiple layers of racial and national difference to that argument that I didn’t understand until I did historical research.

America must and will continue to let people of great difference, visit, live, and work in its country. That’s not about to stop, although hopefully massive refugee situations are less likely in the future. All countries, even homogenous ones like Russia or China, regularly allow in guests to study and to work. It is only fringe individuals on the Alt Right that imagine something else occurring. America especially would have trouble functioning, the way it is built, if it ever really closed the door on the world.

Given all that, societies must know who they are. A student from Morocco who travels to Moscow knows that he is in a country that sees itself as Russian, and that there is a set of norms to accommodate to accordingly while he is there. This makes being a guest easy, in a way that it is not in a place where norms are a big question mark or non-existent as they have been in America in recent years.

Mike Pence fits as closely to a norm as there is for America. Christian, conservative, mild mannered, and career driven – there isn’t the sort of ambiguity that we first had with Barack Obama, a man who almost seemed created by an advertising agency as opposed to being an actual person, and Donald Trump, an incoherent madman. Every country needs norms to keep on track and America is no different. Perhaps, if and when he becomes president, this long national nightmare will finally be over.

Of course, there is a whole other theory as to who wrote that editorial:

America – Obsessed with Being Offended (and Offensive)

Back, a couple of years ago, I worked in Washington D.C. With respect to the privacy of those involved, I will just say it was largely conservatives. While there, a black relative passed away from health problems. He was the son of my aunt, whose daughter had passed (also from health problems) the same season when I was born. While working there, I was on and off the phone with them as they prepared for a funeral.

During that same period, I heard a good amount of racial or racialist comments, again, without going in to any sort of specifics. It was a bit pronounced where I was at but then it was also felt throughout Washington D.C., even in much different environments. Being black in D.C. has just never been a good scene. The political correctness and cold culture of Seattle, where I was raised, didn’t prepare me for that sort of raw humanity. I hadn’t really ever heard people talk that bluntly about such things and it wasn’t the best time for me to hear it.

I was upset at first but, despite some potential media to it, I never pursued it besides one blog post that I later took down. As I thought about it years later, I remembered my aunt (whose son had passed) joking about the “n-word” with me nonchalantly when I was a teenager, with me afraid to repeat what she was saying. I remembered all the rap music that I listened to during the 1990s and 2000s, with rappers like Black Thought or Nas who sometimes had songs where every bar ended in “nigga.”

“Nigger” or “nigga” (and the alleged difference between the casual “nigga” and the word with the hard “er” really is ridiculous – it is the same word) is, after thinking about it for some time, the core example of American neurosis and self-loathing. The last few years have been a gradual process of “political correctness,” the decorum that people exemplify to one another while living in one of the world’s most diverse societies, breaking down. Of course that breaking down would lead to a symposium on “the N-word” – that mark is the center of our neurosis. It’s a word that is meaningless and jovial for some while the center of hate and evil for others. Sometimes it’s both those things for the same people.

On one hand, Hollywood and other parts of industry have allowed the #metoo campaign to rampage through creative circles, leaving all sorts of creative men jobless and tainted doing to allegedly saying this or that. The most jarring and recent example is James Gunn, who was fired from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise after old tasteless jokes about pedophilia were found on his Twitter account. Unlike many who were accused of sexual harassment, Gunn has had stars from his brilliant film series GOTG rush to his defense. Dave Bautista, who plays Drax, has even said he won’t be involved in any further GOTG movies unless Gunn is.

A professor that I knew at Seattle Pacific University, Gregory Wolfe, lost his job as head of the MFA program after it was found he had made unwanted sexual advances. In our sexually tense society, that is an accusation that could potentially bring down any man. The accusations listed were not physical and involved him saying stuff like “maybe we met for a reason” to female employees.

There are some things that are morally repugnant and unforgiveable, sure. We blacklist pedophiles, rapists, murderers and the like. However, our signals on what is okay to say are completely schizophrenic. Our society is getting offended by something said within it every day and we seem to be more obsessed with words that were said than anything that could potentially positively impact our lives. Donald Trump rose to the presidency while Bernie Sanders was left in the dirt as one was talking about policy to improve our lives and the other was keeping people’s attention by making egregious statement after egregious statement, again and again. It should be no wonder that it is hitting its crescendo mark with allegations that Trump dropped “nigger” repeatedly – that would be the high mark in a candidacy and presidency that is essentially a rebellion against political correctness. If he really is a man “with no impulse control,” that was part of the appeal.

Meanwhile, major cities like San Francisco are littered with homelessness, with tent cities and encampments that look like refugee camps. Bills that could have eliminated zoning regulations have been rejected. Our country cannot repair a bridge while China, with its One Belt, One Road initiative, is literally rebuilding most of the world in a project that is quite literally not mentioned in American media at all.

Maybe our challenges are so daunting that we’d rather be offended (or be offensive) by them than take them on. Depending on where you are at or who you are, claiming to be offended or trying to offend provide a sense of power an incompetent society can’t otherwise grant.

TILHAS – SAMURAI EP (LISTEN NOW!)

Following is the completed version of my EP Samurai, the second effort by Tilhas. I’ve been pretty slim on promotion and have just been trying to teach myself to put together the kind of music I want people to hear. Each song has a clear premise:

“Samurai” is a story of resurgent nihilism that was my way of expressing the strange state of the world today. I think everyone can get their own personal message out of it.

“Prayer in Reverse” is a flip on how many people present life in a declining civilization. Perhaps prayer works in reverse, with God praying for us?

“The Animal that says ‘Ye-a,’ the Dionysian animal” is a song about the strange (a word I’m using an awful lot) metamorphosis of Kanye West.

“Cans in Ukraine” is about the emptiness that goes on in the world when we sit back and say nothing. I recommend everyone do exactly that after they listen to this music. It will be relaxing.

“Udesh” was my attempt at playing the keys for the Mongolian folk song “Ulaanbaatariin Udesh.” I wasn’t the best at it and so played it a bit slowly. The way it turned out seemed better suited for an instrumental song. Listen.