May 16th, 2013
We’ll get to the topics in just a moment, but first a little note about the podcast. This week is a little different for us. Over the past 9 months now, Jad and I have been recording every Wednesday evening; we’ve missed a few weeks, but who’s counting? The discussion unfolds, topics emerge, and we edit the show down into what you hear. But we didn’t start off that way. In the beginning we actually attempted to start with a specific topic, record at length on that topic, and then edit the show down to just the meatiest parts of the discussion. We quickly discovered two things about that method:
It didn’t take us long to correct this, but there are several recordings from our early days of experimentation that went mostly unused. Until now.
The podcast that you’re about to hear was actually recorded back on September 19th of 2012 and is just now being released. We have a handful of these so-called throwback episodes and will be releasing them as quickly as we can edit them. Thus giving birth to what we’re calling “Throwback Thursdays”, which by no coincidence we intend to release on Thursdays instead of our regular Wednesday..
In this early episode, Jad and I discuss the trials and tribulations of talking to people about politics. We explore typical reactions to polarized topics, consider what it takes to engage people in political discourse, and even consider Islamic views from an aging American population.
Kevin: Hello and welcome to the JK Podcast, a podcast dedicated to free speech, anti-authoritarianism, and the pursuit of liberty, humanity, and equality for all people. We’ll get into the topics in just a moment, but first a little note about the podcast. This week is a little different for us. Over the past nine months now, Jad and I have been recording every Wednesday evening. We’ve missed a few weeks, but who’s counting. The discussion unfolds, topics emerge, and we edit the show down into what you hear, but we didn’t start off that way.
In the beginning we actually attempted to start with a specific topic, record that topic at length, and then edit the show down to just the meatiest parts of the discussion. We quickly discovered two things about that method. One, this made the post-production process terribly time consuming, and two, it left us with tons of really good material that was just tossed aside. So it didn’t take us long to correct this, but there are several recordings from our earlier days of experimentation that went mostly unused – until now.
The podcast that you’re about to hear was actually recorded back on September 19th of 2012 and is just now being released. We have a handful of these so called throwback episodes, and we’ll be releasing them as quickly as we can edit them thus giving birth to what we’re calling, “Throwback Thursdays” – which by no coincidence, we intend to release on Thursdays instead of our regular Wednesday.
In this early episode, Jad and I discuss the trials and tribulations of talking to people about politics. We explore typical reactions to polarized topics, consider what it takes to engage people in political discourse, and even consider Islamic views from an aging American population. This is Kevin Ludlow alongside of my co-creator, Jad Davis. Welcome back to the JK Podcast.
What are your experiences talking with people in the United States about that – or do you even try?
Jad: I try some. I mean, I like to talk to people who are – I don’t talk to people who are just radically opposed to my perspective. I’m not going to – I would be hesitant to talk to somebody who was clearly for the invasion of everywhere or something, you know? There’s no – we’re not going to find a common ground –
Jad: – and so it’s just going to be – it’s just going to be me trying to you know, feel good about myself by saying someone else is an idiot or something like that – I don’t know. And I think I went through a phase where I tended to do that more, or my tendency was to do that. So but when I talk to people who are – especially I think, the progressivy[?] sort of people – it’s really funny how quickly you can get them to agree entirely with everything you say because it’s just true. Like you said, if you go in with a fire brand you know, people can defend against it easily, but if you’re just like you know, these people are dying for no reason and they’re just people like you and there’s nothing different between you and them except that you happen to be on the other side of the ocean from the army that’s stomping around killing people randomly.
Jad: And they don’t disagree with that. They don’t disagree that it’s a bad idea to have you know, a prison system with just without a court system. They don’t disagree with the idea that you should not be banished because of the books you read or whatever. I mean everyone agrees with that, I think it’s just a constant political circus and the noise and all that that people just – if I don’t talk to them for a couple weeks and then we have the same conversation all over again –
Jad: – in a sense, which is fine.
Kevin: Well so the question that comes up all the time in the media – and this is both sides have played this argument to get their agendas passed over the last, let’s say 12 years now – should the United States be involved in the Middle East at all, you know? Let’s go back to Islam, there’s all sorts of hugely negative parts of Islam, from the overbearing conservatism, to all sorts of crazy death sentences from what I can tell.
And when you see the Iranian government for example – and I’m certainly not in favor of bombing them, as many people are right now – but when you see the Iranian government carrying out public executions of people for what we would consider to be the most, most unjust social crimes – a number of homosexual have been hanged publicly by the government. Does the United States have a responsibility in that? Should we get ourselves involved in that, or do we stay entirely clear of it, which is what some of the more libertarian stance of it tends to be.
Jad: Inside the box of foreign policy, I would say you stay entirely clear of it. I mean, it’s such a difficult case to make because it requires some amount of study but not really a lot, and this goes back to the Salman Rushdie thing, that the reason those people are being hung – I mean, this is entirely true – is because the only solution to the political problem that they had – the Iranians – from 1950 to 1980 was to follow lunatics in a revolution. Every other peaceful option was closed to them, including an election in which they picked a person they wanted who was then deposed and replaced with a military dictator by the United States and Britain.
Jad: So I’m sure there are lawyers that act to be like you know, the secret police or taking people unjustly, then those lawyers get arrested, and then you’ve got all the reasonable recourses are squashed until all you’ve got is a person who’s like, screaming death to America, and issuing fatuas[?] to people who write books, and that’s the only guy who is able to you know, to oppose the government because the government is based purely on violence so the only guy who can beat it is even more violent. You know, the Ayatollah Khomeini[?] and his gang would never have been in power if it wasn’t for the meddling 50 years ago of the United States. I mean, Iran was a very reasonable place in 1950.
Kevin: Progressive, in fact.
Jad: Progressive in fact, and very western and I mean again, this is not hidden knowledge. These are true facts and those lunatic religious people were nowhere to be found.
Jad: They are a reaction to oppression.
Kevin: And I’ve tried tying that together if I consider what we asked – or what I asked you a second ago about how do you communicate this with people. When I’ve had conversations with you know, people like my father for example, or just people of that age group who are still of the mindset, it’s difficult for them to wrap their heads around it and I think it largely has to do with the fact that this has existed for their entire life. If you were born in say, the early 1950s or what have you, this was all just starting to take place when you were a child, and the point that I made the other day to somebody was to say you know look, you’re say 55 or 60 years old right now, and I said to them, I said imagine being a teenage in the United States and all of a sudden – take it back to Kennedy or what have you, but Kennedy instead he doesn’t get assassinated, instead he gets overthrown – he just gets taken out by a foreign military super power.
That super power then replaces him with somebody who’s completely oppressive, you have no more options as you just described, and you’re kind of forced to grow up in this environment that you don’t really have much of a recourse – same sort of thing that could happen in the United States obviously, and it did happen in Iran – and so the point that I make to him now is I say, “well, you’re exactly the same age, so now you’ve lived under this for 40 some odd years, what do you think your attitude against the United States might be because it seems to me it wouldn’t be very good lest as you say, you’ve kind of adopted the nationalistic principles that they’re forcing upon you in the first place, which you previously would’ve resisted.”
And I think we saw a lot of that and are still – we’re seeing it less – thank God – in the United States right now, but I think that’s largely what we saw in the United States around 2002, 2003 when you couldn’t say anything negative about the United States lest you be castigated for being a terrorist yourself.
Jad: Sure, right.
Kevin: When all of a sudden a dissenting voice was the worst thing you could possibly be, and in a country that I believe in, the dissenting voices should be the people who are honored and revered the most.
Jad: Right. Well and just to tack on the power of that external foe, even in the United States with probably the paradigm of western liberalism say – as far as speech especially goes – you still have that opinion because there was an external foe that was entirely blamed for I guess pretty much everything for a little while there in the early 2000s, you can’t speak against them – or you can’t speak in favor or against the United States no matter what it does in the name of fighting those people.
Jad: And to go back to Iran, if you – there’s a book called Persepolis that really illustrates this well – that the Iranian revolution was a broadband revolution, but the United States continued to try to influence events there, and that specifically is what got a lot of the intellectual class shut out of the conversation, killed, in exile, or whatever because all of the Ayatollah’s group of people had to do was essentially label anyone who dissented with them as a friend to the United States, and that person was a legitimate target because everyone understood that the enemy was the United States.
Jad: And I’m not saying that’s true, but that’s – once the perception is there, that’s all that matters.
Kevin: Right because that’s what gets sold, and so going back to that point if I – I got a little lost in my own ranting – but what I was discovering the other day or the thing I put together in my head all of a sudden when I had this conversation with my dad in this case was he doesn’t want to acknowledge – and I found this of a lot of people of his age – they don’t seem to want to acknowledge that deeper connection that actually happened in Iran, and instead, their perception is that Iran is the bad guy – if we just use the black and white you know, good versus evil type of dichotomy and they tend to fail to see that whole period you know that just that whole example I gave to say, “well what if you just spent the last 40 years with your life entirely changed because of the super power aggressing against your entire nation, overthrowing your government for their own benefit – what would be your attitude there?”
I think that it’s too deep of a historical point for them to actually touch upon. He doesn’t want to touch it, he doesn’t think that that’s necessarily true and I guess what I find funny about it, or perhaps beneficial or good is that right now there’s events that are taking place that are too obvious that even people of that age group that I know are still saying well, clearly the United States is playing a role here. Clearly we’re doing things that are getting us this so-called blow back.
You know, I’ve heard a few people use that expression now and it – I don’t really have anywhere to go with this other than to say I couldn’t be happier to know that people who are much older than us are maybe starting to catch onto the fact that you know, some of the actions that we may have done may have consequences, they’re just long in the making, I suppose.
Jad: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I don’t have much to add to that, I agree with you. I think that the difficulty for that generation, I think there’s the manifold difficulty. I guess they have the 60s going for them in a sense like that you know, it’s sort of an embracing of alternative viewpoints, but at the same time, if you’re losing relatives and whatnot to Vietnam, you kind of have to believe that there’s a point to it and you know, coming out of the generation that fought the 2nd World War, you kind of have to believe that that kind of real pure evil that just absolutely requires sacrifice of life and treasure, that that really does exist and it really is necessary.
And I think once you have that in your head, it’s – once you have the belief in your head, it’s easy to point to somebody else outside the country and say, “that guy is one of those people too”, and then it doesn’t really matter – the history doesn’t matter – the point is that guy is just straight up evil, so whatever hand you may or may not have had it’s irrelevant, whereas I think you and people younger than you – and maybe I’m on the leading edge of that – the internet generation I guess really – they’re far more cynical. I don’t think they believe in the good evil dichotomy in that way at all.
Kevin: I think much less, I certainly [?] –
Jad: I should say at all, and I’m always calling people evil, so I believe in it I guess, I just don’t believe in I don’t know, I don’t know what I believe in – pure unadulterated evil for evil’s sake.
Kevin: Well I’m happy to take that. I think all people are inherently evil myself, I’ve made the point many times. But I don’t see it as a bad thing necessarily, I think it just needs to be harnessed in such a way.
If you’ve been following along since the beginning, you may remember us eventually covering this topic in episode 4, descriptively titled, “Kevin’s ‘Everyone is Evil Theory'”.
I figured you would pretty much share the same view of that right now. I wish I had you know, more to add to it. I guess you know, my continued goal – and again, kind of going back to the one of the very first things we discussed on tape anyways was it’s an interest of mine to try to promote some of these ideas to a larger audience and I know that you know, you’ve said – and I’m not saying you don’t do it at all – but you’ve said that it doesn’t appeal to you quite as much I think to try and do that. Is that correct, or am I –
Jad: I want to – the thing that I end up doing that I think what I’ve adopted as my M.O. is less dialogue. I mean, I’ll dialogue with anyone who talks to me about it, but I don’t engage people in it. But I do put out a large volume of – I mean, everyone knows my position –
Jad: – and I think it’s that seed-planting sort of thing, like as if you have the idea that that particular paradigm exists – a paradigm in which you know, there’s a narrative in which Iran’s the bad guy – you’ve scanned something where there’s somebody who’s making that claim, and then you hear some story about Iran being evil because they’re you know, whatever, doing something, then maybe you were like, “well wait, that’s kind of like what that person was saying.”
Jad: You start to catch those things more – you’re just putting cognitive hooks into people in a sense. That’s kind of more what I’ve fallen back to I suppose, but I mean, your point is well – still pretty correct. I’m not a huge engager.
Kevin: No, I think that’s fine. I think you know, I don’t think there’s a way to go with it, I guess it’s just a matter of you know, what the ultimate goal is in talking about this sort of thing. I mean, philosophy’s always fun, it’s always interesting and I certainly love philosophizing.
But on the other hand, there’s a – in my opinion anyways – there’s a legitimate effort to try to really comprehend the depths of this thing because I don’t see how else we’re going to move away from it and unfortunately the powers that be in this country right now – and I mean the people of the country, not the politicians – there’s the two sides that are just shouting from the rooftops, I mean they’re just screaming, and frankly I think what both of them say is just dead wrong, and it’s just way overstated, it’s completely hyperbole driven and I guess it’s my interest to personally try to bring some balance to that and say, “well you know” – let’s use the embassy as another example, well let’s assume that the agent’s story is false in this case is to say, “OK, well left wingers I guess, it’s not right that the foreign nation killed our ambassador, shouldn’t be encouraging them and nobody should – we should hold people accountable for having killed our ambassador.”
But on the other hand, the right wingers, “we don’t necessarily need an ambassador there in the first place”, and God knows we actually have been doing all sorts of horrible things to their country, so maybe it’s not so surprising that it happened rather than it’s either a good thing, or a bad thing, or an expected thing, or a completely unexpected thing. There’s gotta be a more slightly more centrist view to that and even though some of my positions are a little radical, it’s always my hope to bring that balance to people who don’t really hold that balance.
Jad: I agree. I think – [?] the difficulties you found – but I think the difficulty is when you’re inside the same paradigm, it’s very difficult to make those arguments to either side like it’s very difficult to make the argument to the right that the United States should not be involved in Libya because they feel that it’s to their benefit, they’re part of this organization that the more places it’s at and the more wars it’s winning and the more bad guys it kills, they’re more on the winning side and their position is more justified and maybe their anti-Islamism in it or whatever the heck it is is fueled.
And I don’t personally know many leftists who would go so far as to say the ambassador should’ve been killed – well now I’m getting off on a tangent here, so we should shut this down soon – but I think the left is just as warmongery as the right at the moment. I mean, I don’t think they would advocate a re-bombing of Libya or whatever, but I don’t think there’s any sense that this was a national result of events. I think this is a tragedy of somebody who was trying to help people is probably how they would put it.
Kevin: Yeah, and I think that’s probably a pretty fair categorization of that generalization of people.
And with that, we conclude the first of our “Throw Back Thursday” episodes. Hopefully you agree that it was worth salvaging. As always, thank you so very much for listening. For all of the talking we do, we’d really love to hear from you as well. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for upcoming shows, take a minute and shoot us an email. You can reach the both of us through our podcast website at www.JKPod.com, or you can reach either of us individually at our personal websites – Jad is at Jad-Davis.com, that’s J-A-D dash D-A-V-I-S dot com, and Kevin is at KevinLudlow.com, that’s K-E-V-I-N-L-U-D-L-O-W dot com.
Before we go, we wanted to mention that you may have recently noticed full transcriptions of some of our episodes. We recently hired our first staff person for the show, as such, we’d like to mention that Deidra Alexander of Galaxy Creative Media is now our show’s transcriber. We really appreciate her hard work. Thanks again for listening to the show, and we’ll catch you next week.