Because you are a Pollyanna if you actually just take any government at their word that they would not deploy the technology used to suppress any uploaded video in real time, from multiple nodes, against political enemies. Hell, that’s what the call is for up front – a political response to violent extremism. There is no science supporting their call. There is only emotionalism, and this disgusting, ever-present, assumed moral superiority on the part of professionals everywhere, including government. Government is only ever going to ask for more power. There have to be limits. Facial recognition? The ability to target and suppress dissident speech, perhaps even covertly? Really? You go ahead and be okay with that, but in that case fuck you, your opinion no longer matters to me and all I know is that you ought be resisted.
Does no one think it strange that the mainstream (Liberal) news media still avoids articulating the facts surrounding the FISA warrant obtained to spy on Carter Page? Conservative-leaning outlets have been articulating the concerns for months – and we’re talking about concerns regarding matters which are factual and part of the public record. Being factual and part of the record, there is no actual justification for refusing to articulate the specifics of it all, apart from simply not wanting to generate “Brady Material”, or evidence that aids the opposition. But wait – the mainstream news outlets still want you to believe they are neutral, non-partisan, dispassionate, and objective. If they were all of that, they would simply articulate the facts regarding the FBI misleading the FISA warrant magistrate by withholding Brady Material that discounted the very document they used as a basis for the warrant. This is all on the record. I listened this morning, hoping NPR would break the information embargo, but when they brought up the subject of a GOP investigation into this thing, they managed to do a whole segment on it without ever articulating even as much as I have articulated here, and, in addition, they brought on a sympathetic expert to help them discount or deflect attention away from the nut of the thing.
Tell the truth or die in a fire. Either everyone in the NPR newsroom is a liar, or incompetent, or some mixture of the two, apparently. But this is the case at ABC, CBS, NBC, etc, etc…
Also, today, the same group managed to frame the intelligence reports referenced by the White House as justification for sending the aircraft carrier and bomber wing into the ME as misleading and in need of some applied skepticism. It’s strange to me that this wasn’t the response when the same intelligence community asserted to the news media (in the form of illegal leaks) that Trump colluded with Russia. Why skepticism in one case, and none at all in the other? Again, a fatal lack of self-honesty on the part of the people who are the “professionals”. Hiding the truth from yourself doesn’t hide it from other people, yo. I see you. You can have your bias, but own it. Don’t lie to yourself and everyone else, and then have the gall to complain that your viewers/listeners/readers are losing faith in your whole profession because of demagogues. You ARE the demagogues, and your assumed moral superiority is obvious, but not justified.
But I digress. The concerns about the FBI being manned by unelected officials who fancy themselves Tha Guardian Class who may even undo the results of an election, such is their natural moral superiority, is a legit concern, and everyone should share it. It is nothing more or less than Warrior Culture Corruption with a white collar on it. Warrior Culture Corruption, or WCC, for short, is a really tough problem when it emerges in law enforcement forces, but we usually associate it with cops on the beat rather than federal employees of prestigious institutions. Yeah, there’s a lot of bullshit going on in this area of our culture that we never seem to be honest or mature enough to sort out. A shorthand that works for me is, if you’re dealing with a profession that adorns itself with words like “honor” and “service”, you’re already dealing with cultures set up to indulge some of the most needful of recognition for just being Good Boys and Girls (thumotic) among us, apart from performers and politicians. When you have a culture that thinks of itself as set apart and special, well, then you get a culture that thinks it is set apart and special. Funny how those one thing go together, huh?
How else would one explain the mass reluctance on the part of the American news media to simply articulate the charges that have been leveled against Comey, et al? If it is neither incompetence nor dishonesty, then what is it? You know, I’m not trapped in a binary worldview. At all. Binarism is a reflex toward simplification that we lean on far too often, early in life, perhaps prior to higher education. On the other hand, some propositions simply are binary. True/false, black/white, you get the picture. If there is an alternative explanation for the embargo on articulating the specific charges alleged by the GOP and getting into those weeds, I have not seen it. Obviously, I get my news from a lot of different sources.
The FBI’s sworn story to a federal court about its asset, Christopher Steele, is fraying faster than a $5 souvenir T-shirt bought at a tourist trap.
Newly unearthed memos show a high-ranking government official who met with Steele in October 2016 determined some of the Donald Trumpdirt that Steele was simultaneously digging up for the FBI and for Hillary Clinton’s campaign was inaccurate, and likely leaked to the media.
The concerns were flagged in a typed memo and in handwritten notes taken by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec on Oct. 11, 2016.
Her observations were recorded exactly 10 days before the FBI used Steele and his infamous dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s contacts with Russia in search of a now debunked collusion theory.
It is important to note that the FBI swore on Oct. 21, 2016, to the FISA judges that Steele’s “reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings” and the FBI has determined him to be “reliable” and was “unaware of any derogatory information pertaining” to their informant, who simultaneously worked for Fusion GPS, the firm paid bythe Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign to find Russian dirt on Trump.
That’s a pretty remarkable declaration in Footnote 5 on Page 15 of the FISA application, since Kavalec apparently needed just a single encounter with Steele at State to find one of his key claims about Trump-Russia collusion was blatantly false.
In her typed summary, Kavalec wrotethat Steele told her the Russians had constructed a “technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election” that recruited emigres in the United States to “do hacking and recruiting.”
She quoted Steele as saying, “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami,” according to a copy of her summary memo obtained under open records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United. Kavalec bluntly debunked that assertion in a bracketed comment: “It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.”
Kavalec, two days later and well before the FISA warrant was issued, forwarded her typed summary to other government officials. The State Department has redacted the names and agencies of everyone she alerted. It is unlikely that her concerns failed to reach the FBI.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Government Operations, told me late Thursday he had confirmed with U.S. officials that Kavalec’s memo was forwarded to the FBI in the Oct. 13, 2016, email.
“This once again shows officials at the FBI and (Department of Justice) DOJ were well aware the dossier was a lie — from very early on in the process all the way to when they made the conscious decision to include it in a FISA application,” he said. “The fact that Christopher Steele and his partisan research document were treated in any way seriously by our Intelligence Community leaders amounts to malpractice.”
FBI and DOJ officials did not respond to a request for comment.
But it is almost certain the FBI knew of Steele’s contact with State and his partisan motive. That’s because former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland says she instructed her staff to send the information they got from Steele to the bureau immediately and to cease contact with the informer because “this is about U.S. politics, and not the work of — not the business of the State Department, and certainly not the business of a career employee who is subject to the Hatch Act.”
Even if the FBI didn’t get Kavalec’s memo, it is just as implausible that the bureau couldn’t figure out, during the many hours that its agents spent with Steele, what Kavalec divined in a few short minutes: He was political, inaccurate, spinning wild theories and talking to the media.
All those concerns would weigh against Steele’s credibility and should have been disclosed to the judges under the honor system that governs the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, experts say.
Kavalec’s handwritten notes clearly flagged in multiple places that Steele might be talking to the media.
“June — reporting started,” she wrote. “NYT and WP have,” she added, in an apparent reference to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Later she quoted Steele as suggesting he was “managing” four priorities — “Client needs, FBI, WashPo/NYT, source protection,” her handwritten notes show.
Those same notes suggest Steele spun some wild theories to State, including one that the Russians had a “plant in DNC” and had assembled an “HRC dossier,” apparent references to the Democratic National Committee and Clinton.
She expounded in her typed memo. “The Russians have succeeded in placing an agent inside the DNC,” she quoted Steele as saying.
Steele offered Kavalec other wild information that easily could have been debunked before the FISA application — and eventually was, in many cases, after the media reported the allegations — including that:
- Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with Russians;
- Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort owed the Russians $100 million and was the “go-between” from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Trump;
- Trump adviser Carter Page met with a senior Russian businessman tied to Putin;
- The Russians secretly communicated with Trump through a computer system.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, released last month, dispelled all those wild theories while hardly mentioning Steele, except for a passing reference to his dossier being “unverified.” That’s significant, because the FISA request from October 2016 that rested heavily on Steele’s information was marked “verified application” before the FBI submitted it to the court.
And, as I reported earlier this week, Kavalec’s memo clearly warned that Steele had admitted his client was “keen” to get his information out before Election Day. In other words, he had a political, rather than an intelligence, deadline.
David Bossie, head of Citizens United, called on State and the FBI to release the rest of Kavalec’s information they redacted: “Christopher Steele was a political operative. The American people have a right to know why the FBI took this garbage to the FISA court.”
Kavalec’s notes aren’t the only red flag that should have caught the FBI’s attention before the bureau vouched for Steele’s credibility.
Notes and testimony from senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr make clear Steele admitted early on that he was “desperate” to get Trump defeated in the election, was working in some capacity for the GOP candidate’s opponent, and considered his intelligence raw and untested. Ohr testified that he alerted FBI and other senior Justice officials to these concerns in August 2016.
Steele eventually was fired by the FBI for leaking to the press — in violation of his source agreement with the bureau — and lying about it. But that did not happen until Nov. 1, 2016 — after the FISA warrant was secured. And, even then, the court wasn’t notified until a few months later, well after Election Day.
Steele’s admission of media contacts on Oct. 11, 2016, and the mere existence of his meeting at the State Department likewise violated his confidentiality agreement with the bureau and clearly were discoverable well before the FISA warrant was secured Oct. 21, 2016.
If the State Department and Ohr could figure out that Steele was a partisan, paid by a political client and facing an Election Day deadline to broadcast raw intelligence that in some cases probably was false, the FBI should have done the same before it ever envisioned taking his evidence to a FISA court.
John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill. Follow him on Twitter @jsolomonReports.
Note: This article was updated from the original version to include information from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).
- 1.the temporary disregarding of strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slackening, usually without altering the overall pace.
- 1.performed rubato.”a rubato phrase”
I just learned this term and it’s wonderful, and what makes it so is its versatility. It is immediately clear that this term can be used outside of music. The idea is to always maintain the pulse of the piece, but use the quickening or slackening of pace to smudge the smaller subdivisions of time for interest and expression.
As a modest example of the concept I rehash Gillian Welch’s The Revelator and draw your attention to the last verse, wherein, in beautiful harmony, Welch and Rawlings sing the line
“And watch the waves, and move … the … fader. Time’s a revelator…”
Note the intentional slackening of pace when they sing “move the fader”. Now, the sentiment expressed in the lyric at that point is one of seeking to head back home, or to some place where one can live life at a slower pace, and so the intentional slowing or slurring of tempo in the vocals is also an example of another favorite concept and word, prosody.
Those days are over. In fact, there are many cases where there is no doubt the suspect did the deed, and the deed is so heinous that it defies logic to spend any money on warehousing the criminal. Emmanuel Aranda, for example. I would gladly open his skull, and I see no compelling reason to warehouse him. Home invaders? Summary execution. So many kinds of cases. The Charlotte cop who just killed a man who complied with her orders? Shoot her in the heart with the same gun. All of those who would initiate violence unjustly. Death is a fitting reward.
It’s the only fucking way to actually give Palestinians back some power. Make their ghetto, no-man’s-land a part of Israel proper, and then give them voting rights they never had, before, as a consequence.
That’s the actual gambit. It’s meant to dazzle and explode the brains of idiotic and/or opportunistic Jews who break the law cuz “Gawd told me it’s mine.” Give them EXACTLY what they want, and correctly calculate that, even if they see what the logical implications are for the actual improvement in the situation of Palestinians over time through civic engagement, they cannot not take the bait. They can’t not do it. They’ve been fighting to do it for years and years and years and that train won’t be turned around.
Welp, their book does say “by way of deception”, and so it is. And the 3rd Temple? NOT having it is the only thing that empowers pre-tribulation Christian horseshit. Pre-tribulation interpretation of the Bible is erroneous theology, but holy shit, there’s also no stopping that train. All you can do is pull the trigger on their End Times machine and watch as absolutely nothing happens. What could they possibly do about it, then? Well, like the Jewish settlers, nothing.
It is the only way to end this stupidity. Pull the trigger on it and watch as hilarity ensues, and not supernatural warfare.
Our tour guide, George, was himself of Mayan descent, and an indigenous person who earned enough money whilst on the reservation on the Yucatan Peninsula to buy himself a proper Mexican Social Security number and status as a real human being, and not merely an animal, which is how the indigenous Mayans are treated by the Mexican authorities.
He explained to us that do-good German society people and the Church pretty much cobbled together many of the “ruins”, and his facts are accurate. Even according to orthodoxy, the pyramid was “discovered” by a German architect, who paid the natives to bear him on a litter through the jungle, where he found “the site of a torn down pyramid”, where not one stone stood atop another. The German architect proceeded to “rebuild” the pyramid with the “available stones” to its “original form”. That’s a convoluted way of saying he made it up and had the training to build a pyramid, anyway, as an architect. You have to kind of be an asshat to not be able to extrapolate that. I’ll chalk it up to gullibility and motivated reasoning, but mostly it’s due to the fact that the authorities lie you to directly about it, to this day.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Go there, yourself, visit the Pok-ta-pok court and the stellae, where a fanciful carving suggest that people from all over the world, including Europeans in suits of armor (!) came to watch the famous ball game. Uh huh. It’s an open secret. It’s right there, and apparently rude to “take it away from them”. I think that’s horseshit. They are stone-age people, just like indigenous folk all over the world, and they already have dignity, unless you think they don’t and thus you need to make up a back-story for them. But if you do think that, then you don’t really see their dignity, but seek to cover up what you perceive as shame. Man, fuck you all for being so stupid and shallow. How many other “historic” sites, the world over, “discovered” by the Church, are merely inventions?
Tell the truth or die in a fucking fire.
[Sure enough, the news block in which this article was contained was populated with exactly the kind of bullshit this article predicted. This was the only headline in the block that didn’t scream SS armageddon. Why don’t I trust the professionals in this country, or anywhere else? Because primary programming (self-advancement) seems to actually trump every other motivation. Bet on it and never be disappointed.]
The Social Security Board of Trustees has just released its annual report to Congress. If past reporting is an accurate guide, it will be misreported.
Thanks to decades of a billionaire-funded campaign to undermine confidence in Social Security, the Trustees Report will likely be greeted with cries that Social Security is going broke. The truth is that Social Security is in strong financial shape.
The just-released Trustees Report shows that Social Security has an accumulated surplus of roughly $2.9 trillion. It further shows that at the end of the century, it will cost just 6.07% of GDP. That is considerably lower, as a percentage of GDP, than what is spent today by Germany, Austria, France and most other industrialized countries on their retirement, survivors and disability programs.
Unsurprisingly because Social Security’s income and outgo are projected out so far – three quarters of a century – the Report projects a modest shortfall. (This is a much longer valuation period than private pensions use and even than most other countries use for their Social Security programs.)
According to the new report, Social Security is 100% funded for the next sixteen years, 93% funded for the next 25 years, 87% funded over the next 50 years and 84% funded for the next three-quarters of a century. There is no question that Congress can raise enough revenue to eliminate the projected shortfall. Indeed, we can afford to expand Social Security.
That brings us to the second misreporting we are likely to see. Along with that modest, unsurprising shortfall being the cause for breathless media reports about supposed collapse, the report will be greeted, again if past experience repeats, with lamentations from many observers that Congress has no plan to address Social Security’s projected shortfall. That is incorrect.
Democrats have specific concrete plans that they stand behind. They plan not just to ensure that all promised benefits will be paid in full and on time for the foreseeable future, but to address our nation’s retirement income crisis by increasing Social Security’s modest benefits.
It is only Congressional Republicans who have no plans – at least that they are willing to publicly embrace. That is perhaps because (given that they reject requiring even the wealthiest to pay more) their preferred “solutions” involve benefit cuts, which areoverwhelmingly opposed by voters across the political spectrum, including Tea Partiers and the most conservative Republicans.
Democrats are moving forward with their plans. The Social Security 2100 Act, introduced by Rep. John Larson (D-CT), is one such bill. It has 203 cosponsors in the House of Representatives—over 85% of all Democratic representatives. Larson has held several hearings on the bill and intends to bring it to the House floor this spring.
Several other bills to protect and expand Social Security benefits have been introduced in the House and Senate, and nearly every 2020 presidential candidate serving in Congress is a member of the bicameral Expand Social Security Caucus.
Again, it is Republican politicians who have no plans that they are willing to stand behind. Not only has not a single Republican this Congress cosponsored any of the Social Security bills introduced by Democrats nor introduced one of their own, they appear to be standing in the way. No one believes that the Senate will act – once the House has passed a bill expanding Social Security, while restoring it to long-range actuarial balance.
Notwithstanding that none of the bills have Republican cosponsors, they are totally bipartisan – at least, by the measure that matters most. As divided as the American people are over many issues, we are not divided about our deep support for Social Security. Support for Social Security expansion, and opposition to benefit reductions, cuts across ideological divides. An overwhelming majority of Republican voters, according to poll after poll, support Democratic proposals to expand Social Security.
Just last month, on March 21, the Pew Research Center released a poll showing that 68% of those identified as Republican/Lean Republican believe that Congress should make no cuts to Social Security whatsoever. A year ago, in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, Public Policy Polling found that 56% of those who voted for Donald Trump and 55% of those who identify as Republican would be more likely to vote for a candidate who “supported expanding and increasing Social Security.”
Furthermore, a 2014 National Academy of Social Insurance surveyfound that 80% of Republicans believe that Social Security is more important than ever; 72% of Republicans responded that they “don’t/didn’t mind paying Social Security taxes;” and 65% of Republicans agreed that “we should consider increasing Social Security benefits.”
And this bipartisan, consensus view of the American people is the right one. Social Security is a solution. It is a solution to our looming retirement income crisis, which threatens the retirement of so many of today’s working families. Social Security is a solution to the increasing economic squeeze on middle-class families, a squeeze which jeopardizes the economic security of all generations. And Social Security is a solution to the destabilizing and immoral income and wealth inequality, which has resulted in a handful of Americans richer than Midas, while most Americans find their economic security crumbling. In light of these challenges and Social Security’s important role in addressing them, Democratic leaders – and the American people – are asking the right question: Not how can we afford to expand Social Security, but, rather, how can we afford not to expand it?
Republican politicians are standing in the way. For those for whom Social Security provides basic economic security now or promises to do so in the future – that is, virtually all of us – what we must do is clear. In 2020, we must make our voices heard. Those office seekers who support expanding Social Security and restoring it to long-range actuarial balance must be voted into office. Those who don’t should be retired. Fortunately, for them and thanks to the rest of us, they will have their Social Security to fall back on.
“All science goes back to something that we believe because we believe it. We believe it because we believe it and we have no proof for it. It’s like a religion.”
Anyone who has read Dune won’t struggle to believe that those are the words of Frank Herbert. The celebrated American author has made a career of cross-pollinating his literature with themes of religion and science and none of his work does it with quite so much vigor than his infamous Duniverse.
Beginning with the 1965 novel Dune, Herbert delivers a poignant examination of religion, mysticism, politics, ecology, science, sociology and humanity through the futuristic lens of a feudal interstellar society that exists thousands of years into the future. His story revolves around a young noble boy called Paul Atreides who is caught up in the political rivalry over the control of the most valuable commodity in the universe (melange/spice) but ends up becoming a prophet to an oppressed people looking to take their freedom and land back from tyrannical powers. Now forgive the rather basic summary of the plot of Dune— there are of course far more narrative twists and turns that I could talk about, but for the purpose of this piece I’m going to focus on the religious influence on his prose and characters.
Herbert was raised Catholic before converting to Zen Buddhism, but there are several religious theologies including Christianity, Judaism, Navajo and Islam he has appropriated in the novel or reworked to create new religions that play a significant role in the evolution of this feudal society. More often than not, religion is used as a weapon by authorities to keep people, planets and the universe in place and allow the few to control the many. The superpowered sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit is among the worst culprits. For centuries, the matriarchy has engineered various religions to include myths and prophecies of their own design in order to utilize them later for their own gain. The Bene Gesserit did this to the Fremens and it is their religion that takes center stage in the book and most closely borrows from Islam.
For this desert-dwelling race, whose home is on Arakkis where the spice is farmed, Herbert mixed elements of his adopted Zen Buddhism (several of the epigraphs are his own version of Zen riddles/koans) with Sunni Islam in order to create their religion. The Fremen are thus descended from Zensunni Wanderers, a religious faction who, according to the Terminology of the Imperium, broke away during the Third Islamic Movement from the teachings of Maometh, also known as the “Third Muhammad.” It is because the Zensunni escaped from slavery and persecution to Arrakis that the Fremen people, through a collective religious resolve based in ecology, were able to survive the treacherous climate, evade the capture of the Emperor’s forces and make the planet their home.
Much of the Fremen language is laced with Arabic (the language of the Quran) and Islamic terminology too. “Auliya” is the Arabic word for “saints” and in the Duniverse it means “the female at the left hand of God” or “God’s handmaiden” in the Zensunni Wanderers’ religion. “Ulema” is another word with Arabic origins as in the book it refers to a Zensunni doctor of theology while in reality, it is the name for a Muslim doctor of the science of religious law.
Paul, of course, has a Fremen name with origins in the Arabic language too. In the novel, “muad’dib” is a mouse admired by these nomadic people for its ability to survive in the desert and the young hero adopts it for himself. “Mu’adibs” in real life means “teacher” in Arabic, which is, of course, an apt title for Paul who becomes not just a teacher to the Fremen but a prophet too.
Many readers have likened Muad’Dib to Muhammad, the founder of Islam and it is obvious why. Muhammad was exiled from Mecca by the Quraysh, a powerful tribe, after preaching that there is just one God (he called Allah) compared to the many gods believed to exist in pre-Islamic Arabia. After finding sanctuary in Medina, Muhammad united his followers and many tribes under one religion, Islam, and together as Muslims, they took back Mecca. In Dune, Paul is run out of his home and threatened with death but escapes to the desert and soon enough he and his mother Lady Jessica, of the Bene Gesserit, secure their safety within the Fremen community by exploiting the Messiah legend that her order had put in place.
Like Muhammad to Muslims, Paul becomes a prophet-like figure to the Fremen and under his leadership, they take back control of Arakkis as well as the entire universe. However, this religious power comes with severe consequences as Paul knows that if he leads the Fremen rebellion against the Emperor it will trigger a mass genocide across the Imperium. Herbert again uses Islamic terminology to describe this massacre, a “Jihad,” which in modern times is more closely associated with terrorism and the extremists who manipulate Islam to justify their destruction. Herbert, however, wrote this book in the ‘60s, so jihad had a slightly less loaded meaning. Khalid Baheyeldin makes this point in an article on the subject.
“In Dune, ‘Jihad’ is described as Holy War,” he writes. “The contemporary stereotype of Jihad in Western media conjures images of planes crashing in buildings, or young men in suicide bombing missions. However, in Dune, ‘Jihad’ is given more of a realistic meaning: struggle for justice against oppression, a fight against evil by the masses, even by rebellion or armed resistance. The Harkonnen and the Emperor’s Sardukar are seen as oppressors, and the Fremen (especially the Fedaykin), use armed resistance against them. This is labeled by Frank Herbert as ‘Jihad,’ and is very close to the real meaning of the concept.”
Herbert does not, therefore, seem to be using his appropriation of religion, Islamic in particular, to portray the various theologies in a bad light. In fact, many readers of the Islamic faith have enjoyed his work. “None of my friends or I came across anything offensive, even the more conservative ones,” Reddit user amifufu writes. “Rather we found it interesting to see how a culture we are familiar with influenced Herbert’s universe. It’s not something you see very often.”
Others, however, that by creating a Lawrence of Arabia figure in Paul, he is using Islamic culture to perpetuate a white savior narrative. “Herbert relies on the fact that you don’t know Arab Islamic history to lend the story exoticism and fantasy,” writes Zaina Ujayli. “Add that their prophesied savior is the son of the colonist extracting Arrakis’ resources and you have Orientalism at its finest.”
Maybe they’re both right. Yes, Herbert does appropriate Islamic tenets and terminology to create his own brand of fictional religion, but the people who practice it, at least in the first book, are the ones you are rooting for. They are the equivalent to the Resistance in Star Wars, the heroes when so often Islam is associated in pop culture with the bad guys. However, when the Islamic prophet of Muhammad is seemingly white-washed into the image of Paul Atreides, Herbert is still guilty of creating religious appropriation in his text.
Paul is part of the dominant society and he and his mother use their powers to manipulate the religious beliefs of a disadvantaged minority culture to their own advantage. The fact that we’re going to now see this play out on screen in a new movie by Denis Villeneuve, with no Arab or Islamic actors playing the main Fremen roles only perpetuates the issue.
In the end, Dune is a 50-year-old book in which Frank Herbert borrows a large amount of material from various theologies, cultures and even other sci-fi novels (check out Sabres of Paradise) in order to write. Yes, he appropriated religious ideas, but it wasn’t to put them totally in a bad light. In fact, Herbert was critiquing the messianism of science through the Bene Gesserit and their psychology powers just as much as the messianism of Paul by the Fremen. As Timothy O’Reilly, author of Frank Herbert, writes, “It is too easy to see messianism as something that happens only to desert peoples like the Fremen. Less immediately apparent is the fact that to Herbert the neurotic use of science in modern Western civilization betrays the same pattern as messianic religion.”
Herbert didn’t like the idea of being trapped in the box of absolutism that both science and religion champion and Dune was his way of using each belief system to hit that home. “Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense,” he writes in Book Three. “But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”
Well, I believe in that.