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Walker Bragman
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Walker is a political cartoonist and writer with a degree in Governent from Skidmore College. Currently a freelancer in New York City, his work has been called "spectacular," "biting," "ingenious," and of course "thrilling" by some of his friends.

Entries by Walker Bragman

Our So-Called Justice System

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 3:52 PM

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The Lesson Ebola Can Teach Us

(0) Comments | Posted October 9, 2014 | 4:41 PM

I am just going to say it: the Ebola outbreak reaching the United States is a teachable moment. Not only is it proof that human beings are all in this life-on-earth-thing together, but it is also proof that we need to start aggressively treating health care as a human right.

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Another Bill Maher/Ben Affleck Post

(65) Comments | Posted October 7, 2014 | 12:19 PM

Let me begin by stating that I am a longtime fan of Bill Maher's show, but hey, wrong is wrong.

Like many of you, I watched this:

That lively discussion took place on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, and it is all about Islam -- specifically, the question of to what extent violent extremists represent all Muslims. Mr. Maher and author Sam Harris sat in opposition to actor and new Batman Ben Affleck asserting, that Jihadists are very much the result of Islamic doctrine.

Liberals, Maher and Harris said, contradict their own values because they refuse to acknowledge that islam is an inherently violent religion, believing such a position to be racist and bigoted. These liberals have a double standard when it comes to criticizing religious intolerance, and are therefore a "disappointment." As Harris said, "They'll criticize white theocracy, they'll criticize Christians... but when you want to talk about the treatment of women, homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us... We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people." He then went on to call Islam the "mother of bad ideas."

Mr. Affleck on the other hand, repudiated their remarks, calling them hateful, and countering with the fact that Islam is the world's second largest religion. Mr. Maher and Mr. Harris, he argued were painting with a very broad brush indeed. Batman was right, and here's why.

Let's "unpack" Maher's and Harris's statements:

1. Harris: 20 percent of Muslims hold very conservative, extreme views.

Sorry, but "numerous polls we can talk about later" a reliable source, does not make. Harris arrived at this 20 percent number by adding up radical Jihadists who would act on their views, with Islamists who would "work within the system" and "use democracy against itself" to impose their religion on others.

But this is no different from stating that Christian terrorists like Shelly Shannon, who in 1993 shot abortion doctor, George Tiller five times in an unsuccessful attempt on his life, and Scott Roeder who actually killed him in 2009, are representative of all Christianity.

We can arrive at this conclusion in the same way Maher and Harris reach conclusions about Islam. First, we add up people like Shannon and Roeder. Next, we combine that number with the many people who felt Tiller was a "baby killer," as FOX News' Bill O'Reilly put it, who needed to be stopped, but wouldn't themselves have carried out the attack. Having established a definite demographic, we state, as a matter of fact, that these are a significant number of Christians. We can even start combining extremist Christians in Africa for added flavor (of course, I'll get to them later.)

2. Harris: Polls of British Muslims show that 78 percent supported prosecution of the Danish cartoonist who insulted Islam.

I've scoured the Internet looking for these polls to no avail. But, for argument's sake, let's say that number is true. Prosecution is not murder. Prosecution is civilized. It isn't as though Christians haven't wanted to prosecute people they feel have insulted their faith. Here are two examples:

a) In Egypt, Publisher Ahmed Abdallah Abo-Islam, was brought up on charges of contempt of the Christian religion; accusing Christians of fabricating the Bible and threatening social stability and security.

b) In Brazil, the Catholic Church threatened to sue over a commercial which featured the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue wearing an Italian soccer jersey.

3. Maher: "It is the only religion... that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book."

Mr. Maher has, in the past, said that he carries a handgun for protection. I can only assume that this is because he receives death threats for his remarks from right wingers, Christians, Muslims, etc. What I'm getting at is this: extremists from all religions are violent.

For example, in America, radical Christian terrorists kill gay people for having the wrong "lifestyle." 2011 saw the highest number of anti-gay murders in U.S. history. It is even worse in Africa where Christian missionaries have spread the message of intolerance. Uganda is one such country. It recently passed a law criminalizing homosexuality, which has led to rampant anti-gay violence.

Bill Maher and Sam Harris are just wrong.

Maher and Harris fail to see the violence of the Muslim world in context. For decades, the United States encouraged radical Islam as a way to combat the Soviet Union. One could make the argument that it would not have spread organically. Our whole involvement in the Middle East and North Africa has been, shall we say, insidious. I will not go into the whole list of mistakes we made, save to say, we armed the most radical extremists, gave them training, and essentially handed the region over to them, all the while exploiting it ourselves.

As the star of Gigli said, Islam is the second largest religion on the planet, and as with all religions, the views and opinions of its subscribers are many and varied. All religious texts contain violent passages as well as peaceful ones. How said texts are interpreted depends greatly on many things. Religious zealotry is often driven by socioeconomic factors, such as a lack of infrastructure and availability of quality education. Poverty and desperation tend to breed cultures of intolerance and ignorance. So yes, in poorer, less educated, less developed countries, you see more religiosity and violence: whether it be anti-gay violence in Uganda, or anti-Christian violence in Egypt.

I'm still a fan of Bill Maher. Most times, he's spot on. But, and this to Mr. Maher and Mr. Harris directly: please walk back your statements. I'm not denying that the Muslim world is filled with hate, anti-intellectualism, homophobia, intolerance, ignorance and more violence than the western world. I just don't want everyone thinking all atheists are like you...

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Liberals, Stop Posting Russell Brand's Interview and Vote

(11) Comments | Posted November 4, 2013 | 9:47 AM

Recently, comedian Russell Brand gave an interview with Jeremy Paxman of BBC's NewsNight which earned him the respect of many liberal-minded individuals. In 10 minutes he summed up many of the largest problems with politics today, from the disproportionate influence of money on elections to global warming, and...

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Actually, Racism Is Behind the Shutdown

(339) Comments | Posted October 10, 2013 | 1:59 PM

The Daily Beast recently ran an article by former chief strategist for the Mitt Romney Campaign, Stuart Stevens, which asserts that the Republican Party's shutting down of the government is not driven by racism. However, the article, aptly titled "The Shutdown Isn't Racist" draws a little too heavily...

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Tax the Churches

(185) Comments | Posted September 16, 2013 | 6:03 PM

Last August, while I was down in South Carolina, I found a flyer on my car inviting me to an anti-Obamacare rally. I've gotten many of these windshield invites to political events, but what struck me about this one was that it was being organized by a church.

Politics...

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The End of the GOP: Why I Disagree With Nate Silver

(24) Comments | Posted August 6, 2013 | 4:17 PM

It's been a bad couple weeks for Mitch McConnell. To start off, last week it was announced that the Senate Minority Leader will face a primary challenge from the Tea Party, and this week we've learned his Democratic opponent is leading him in the polls -- though that was to...

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iAtheist: Being Godless in America

(25) Comments | Posted July 31, 2013 | 7:44 PM

I was deeply disturbed by the news that the House had passed a measure to bar the Defense Department from appointing atheist military chaplains, but I was not surprised.

I am an atheist. I do not believe in any god nor I do not believe in the supernatural;...

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The Race Mongers: Conservative Media's Efforts to Delegitimize Justice for Trayvon Protesters

(70) Comments | Posted July 16, 2013 | 10:38 PM

"Race-profiteers, some of whom put what remained of their credibility on the line agitating against Zimmerman, are determined not to let the verdict be the end of the polarizing case." wrote Alex Newman of The New American. Newman's was one of many voices from the right trying to...

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If You're Pro-Choice You Should Take Heed

(2) Comments | Posted July 12, 2013 | 11:02 AM

The North Carolina state legislature recently a pushed forward a motorcycle safety bill which had in it a provision to limit abortion rights. North Carolina is the latest in a string of Republican states to attempt to restrict women's access to reproductive care. But why now, 40 years...

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What Republican Electoral Strategy Tells Us About the Voting Rights Act

(6) Comments | Posted June 28, 2013 | 9:42 AM

On Tuesday morning, June 24, the Supreme Court announced its decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which designated certain states, counties, and townships, based on their history, for pre-clearance from the federal government before allowing them making changes to their voting laws. Chief...

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The Real IRS Scandal

(63) Comments | Posted June 10, 2013 | 12:01 PM

As Congressional hearings commence to investigate the IRS targeting of conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status, Republicans nationwide are up in arms. They assert that the IRS overstepped its regulatory role, persecuting applicants based on their political beliefs. Several members of the House GOP have even stated, as a matter...

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A New Movement to Reform Campaign Finance

(24) Comments | Posted May 10, 2013 | 6:00 PM

Imagine for a moment that you are on trial. While you are waiting to begin proceedings, you notice the prosecution handing the judge and members of the jury briefcases full of money. Would you trust that you had a fair day in court, or would you feel like the odds...

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The Significance of Mark Sanford's Win

(16) Comments | Posted May 8, 2013 | 11:35 AM

To conservatives, Mark Sanford's victory against Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the South Carolina special election is a sign of hope that their values are making a comeback, but they miss its real significance which might prove disappointing for them. Sanford, a Tea Party favorite in spite of his...

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For Gov. Rick Perry, My Sincerest Regards...

(1) Comments | Posted May 1, 2013 | 12:08 PM

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Islamophobia: Fear in Perspective

(4) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 1:40 PM

We've heard it everywhere, on every station, every major news outlet, and every talk radio show: Islamophobia is alive and well in the United States. The recent Boston Marathon Bombings have relit the flames, and once again its okay to demonize all Muslims over the actions of a few. FOX...

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Minimum Wage: A Simple Fact Check

(44) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 8:53 PM

The right wing would have us believe that the secret to success is less government intervention and less help for the common man. Recently they've taken aim at minimum wage. An op-ed published on Yahoo! Finance by Robert Weinstein is the latest effort by conservatives to discredit the...

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Correcting Rand Paul on the GOP's Troubling Civil Rights Record

(38) Comments | Posted April 12, 2013 | 11:04 PM

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) recently spoke to students at Howard University in an effort to reach minority voters. During the interview Mr. Paul revealed a troubling lack of concern for history regarding the Republican Party's record on civil rights. The purpose of this piece is to set the record straight.

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The Future of Gun Control and 3D Printing

(28) Comments | Posted April 9, 2013 | 6:51 PM

The Internet has revolutionized the human experience. Everything from our privacy to the way we do business has changed as a result of computers. The sharing of ideas on the information super highway has proven unstoppable and to this point, mostly beneficial, but what happens when it creates a clear...

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Gun Control: A Case Study in How Money Has Changed Our Political System

(5) Comments | Posted April 4, 2013 | 3:13 PM

In spite of what the National Rifle Association says, the majority of Americans favor tighter gun control legislation. The outcry following the Sandy Hook shooting was tremendous. News networks and publications dedicated both airtime and column space to exposing the truth about guns, and ordinary people reached out to their...

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