I sing in a punk band called the Dwarves. Recently, our website thedwarves.com got hacked by a consortium of fundamentalist Islamists. They bragged about the exploit on social media so we know who was responsible, but no specific reason was given for why we were targeted.
Our band is not overtly political. We mostly sing about vital topics such as sex, violence, and nihilism. We speculate the attack might have been because of all the female nudity that adorns our site, but we always thought of that as a kind of public service. After all, we’re pretty old now and who wants to look at pictures of us?
We’re proud to have been attacked by extremists, though. It does my heart good to know that the same kind of people who think nothing of beheading medical aid workers or forcing young girls into sex slavery in the name of their religion don’t like us and want to shut us up. They hate US and we hate THEM.
Although we’ve been making records since 1985 (that’s 30 years for the mathematically challenged), we’ve survived on the fringes of the music industry through a combination of luck, stupidity, timing, and a dogged perseverance bordering on the maniacal.
This same set of traits would seem to explain Islamic fundamentalism itself, so you’d think we’d be natural allies. Sadly, this is not the case. They hate US and we hate THEM and, if you’re reading this they hate you, too, whether you like us or not. (Most of you have never even heard of us and we like it that way. It’s one of the metrics that proves how great we really are. But that’s beside the point.)
Websites like the one you’re looking at now are banned in the territory run by those who would force the Koran down the world’s throat. All music is suspect to them and if not deemed properly devout, the music you listen to could quite easily get you killed, maimed, or jailed. And not just for possession of annoying punk records with naked women on the cover like the ones we make, either. These fanatics would gladly murder all of you earnest folkies, emotionally scarred indie rockers, retro hepcats, militant transsexual DJs, headbanging metal dudes, weed-addled reggae heads, ragtime enthusiasts, dope-slinging rhyme-spitters, and diversity-loving backpack rappers, too. They hate US and we hate THEM and we should all be proud.
What makes America great (besides Stevie Wonder and the Ice Capades) is the fact that in our Constitution we are explicitly granted the right to free speech, free assembly, and a free press. This is one of the many things that indeed make US better than THEM. I can appreciate anyone from any religious background, ethnicity, gender identity or lifestyle. That doesn’t mean I’ll agree with what they say, I might vehemently disagree. (In fact, I’m so disagreeable there are people still mad at me for things I can’t even remember saying.)
Those of US who reside in this much maligned sphere known as Western Civilization let everyone have their say before we shit on each other in the comments section below. Not so THEM. They don’t want a lively debate, but rather total conformity; hence their penchant for beheadings, stonings, amputations, female genital mutilation, and yes, website hacking among other atrocities. It’s a one-way discussion and your opinion is not valid to them. They don’t even tolerate most of their fellow Muslims, including Sunnis, the sect that gave us both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Another thing that makes US better than THEM is that we don’t approve of hate based on race, religion, color, or gender like they do. It would be naïve to suggest that we’ve conquered all of our prejudices (far from it), but those prejudices are not the stated aim of our foreign policy, even if all too often they wind up influencing it. On the other hand, their stated aim is to kill every last one of us for the greater glory of the Prophet.
Last time I checked, The Dwarves don’t run the United States government, nor are we agents of it. No one consulted with me before invading the Levant. Our little homemade site was created by a typical American melting pot consisting of an Indian guy, a lesbian woman, and a surfer dude from Huntington Beach. (I mostly smoked pot while they did all the work.)
Which brings me to my point. Many of you have been supportive of our situation and we appreciate that support. It signals that most folks haven’t forgotten what makes US so much better than THEM. But amidst the sanity I’ve noticed a small but disturbing trend of virulent haters. Not those who hate the band—we’re used to that and, honestly, we thrive on it. No, I mean something far worse. These haters hate themselves. Although they walk among us they are haters of, for lack of a better word…US.
This comment posted on our social media, and paraphrased here because I got so furious I threw my phone across the room and deleted it, is typical of what I mean:
The word is blowback people, Google it! The American people are like the family of a mafia boss that doesn’t want to know what Dad does for a living, but then act surprised when someone fire bombs their house.
Spoken like a true masochist, my friend, and I’m sure it makes you feel very morally superior to make common cause with a bunch of assholes who would surely kill you and your whole family if they ever got the chance. This is nothing but ‘coexistence’ gone mad. It’s all well and good to see another person’s point of view and value empathy as a general rule. But I’m calling bullshit on this line of reasoning because some things are beyond the pale and need to be inserted in the garbage bin of history for the good of all mankind. (Insert joke about Andy Grammer’s latest release here.)
In the above commenter’s world of Chomskyan liberalism gone berserk, all ideas are equal, all bodies equivalent in worth. The sniper who shoots at passerby from a bell tower is no worse than the policeman who shoots him and brings his reign of terror to an end. (Perhaps the cop should have offered a compromise: “Mr. Sniper, would it be OK if you just shot at people Monday, Wednesday, Friday and alternate Sundays? I think we could live with that. Some of us anyway, the ones who don’t get shot, I mean.”)
Attempting to compromise with Islamic fundamentalism is a useless endeavor. To those of you who are reading this at a squat house and think I’m buying into The Man’s international battles, allow me to remind you of one salient fact. If you lived in Islamic State territory, sitting around with a 40-ouncer watching crabs crawl up your girlfriend’s dreadlocks simply would not be an option. As much as you feel American society has left you behind and good riddance to it, your apathetic ass would be the first to go in a theocracy. So if you value your indolence and your I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, please recognize that while you may feel alienated, you aren’t an alien. You’re one of US.
To those of you whose lens of progressive politics views all government action with suspicion, or who feel under threat from heterosexuals, white people, the wealthy. or any other manifestation of a hated status quo, consider this. There are no ethnic minority rights in IS territory, no privileges for gays or lesbians, only shame, fear and certain death. In Sudan, another Muslim theocracy, black Africans are routinely subjected to rape, torture, and murder just for existing. I could list many more examples, but you get the picture.
Because of the core American belief in freedom of speech at least you’ve heard of Ani DiFranco or Fela Kuti or Laura Jane Grace or Ozomatli or MLK or Eldridge Cleaver or Dan Savage or Catherine McKinnon or Cesar Chavez or Che Guevara or Salman Rushdie or William Burroughs or thousands of other non-mainstream voices that would have been put to death under an Islamic State. In other words, though the very thought galls you to no end, you are also one of US. That includes all the women’s studies majors, social justice warriors and community organizers, too.
Some of you consider yourselves to be citizens of the world, above the fray of petty national interests. You can’t be bothered with patriotism—that’s for those in the flyover states, not a seasoned traveler like yourself. Well, it’s a nice fantasy, but I wonder if because of your enlightened views on citizenship the 9/11 hijackers would have thrown you a parachute before they killed everyone else on those planes. Somehow, I kind of doubt it.
Personally, I opposed both Middle East wars of the past decade on the grounds that they wouldn’t be an effective deterrent to radical Islam, while I was just fine with turning bin Laden and his pals into corpses. I think events have proved me correct, but that’s a debate for another time. A debate I’m willing to have because although I’m an opinionated prick from the word ‘go’ I’m still interested in what everybody else has to say about things. My mind can comprehend nuance and the malleability of moral action under changing circumstances. That would be impossible to achieve if all of my values originated from a single book that’s over a thousand years old.
There is one point I won’t ever concede though, to those from the Middle East or even right here at home who would shut me and my countrymen up rather than hear us out.
I’m on our side not theirs and I’d still rather be US than THEM. How about you?