A Large Wooden Horse
An Army of Doubt
So I intended to code some Python tonight. But, unfortunately for me, I also happened to finish listening to an exhilarating, fantastic, and somewhat infuriating podcast series while doing the dishes—the podcast at fault is The Trojan Horse Affair, from Serial Productions and The New York Times.
But I Come Here for the Code
Okay, if that's you, feel free to move along. I know the world is pretty disheartening right now, and there are far too many straws and way too few camel's backs. I promise to bring more of that riveting, beginner-friendly Python content soon enough.
I've been spending a bit of time preparing for a little tutorial I'll be giving in late April, but doing so has helped me put together some content for this site.
Okay, if you're still here, this is where the Python-talk ends.
In Plain Sight
The Trojan Horse, according to the Aeneid, was a pretend gift prepared by the Greeks and given to their enemies the Trojans, allowing an elite number of soldiers to enter the city of Troy right under their noses, and as such, securing a Greek victory.
The Trojan Horse Affair retells the story of a similar plot line that continues to be written and rewritten and rewritten, that it puts Hollywood sequel-itis to shame.
What do I mean by that? I'll get to that.
Unironically, the actual Trojan Horse Affair that the podcast refers to is a supposed plot within UK schools nearly a decade ago that was detailed in ... well, something less impressive than a large, wooden horse—rather, a flimsy, badly written and largely debunked anonymous letter.
While the plot detailed in the letter points to an insidious attempt by Muslim educators to destroy English/Western society from the inside out, the actually insidious result is the destruction of already marginalized individuals by a complicit and willfully neglectful system of governance.
And even though I'm using the term system, I want to stress that the system is made up of people, and those people are at fault and should be accountable for the distress that they have caused.
These are educators, law enforcement officials, lawyers, judges, journalists, organizations, and... ordinary folks too.
Does It Matter?
I sympathize with Hamza Syed, one of the reporters on the podcast, as he expresses his disillusionment in a recent interview conducted by Vulture.
The interviewer asks Syed how he feels about the disinterested (or even antagonistic) response the podcast has received in the British landscape (media, government, etc...). Sure, the podcast is popular around the world, but he points out:
We might find out that two or three million people ultimately listen to this podcast in Britain, but that won’t matter if you can’t convince one reporter or one person in authority to do some follow-ups. The news won’t matter. The journalism won’t matter. What I feel like I’m seeing is the journalism dying and the story propagating further and further.
A lot of times, I feel that futility as well. It doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum you land on. There seems to be a complete disconnect between opposing viewpoints, and it seems like, even with overwhelming evidence, hardly any one is ever held accountable.
Plenty of people suffer, but I assure you that they are not the ones that are primarily responsible.
Look, I don't have much of a dog in this fight. I'm neither Muslim nor British, and I live in California.
It very well may be that The Trojan Horse Affair ends up being just another reason to be disheartened by the seemingly infinitely-growing rift between an opposing political (moral?) spectrum.
But I do think that it matters.
It matters that we care. It matters that we understand. It matters that we discern and wrestle with these societal realities.
Remember, this is not a problem that is isolated to the UK, or the Muslim community.
The same thing happens all around the world, to different marginalized groups, for many of the same reasons.
But ignoring it won't make matters any better.
In fact, we, as consumers of media, should be thirsty for more journalistic content that is thorough and compelling. We should be wary of opinion pieces and baseless Tweets.
And we should try our damned best to ensure that young people respect and seek out avenues of credible and thoroughly investigated information, instead of content that is rife with bias, entitlement, baseless inferences, and sometimes straight out racism and xenophobia.
If we teach them that skill, we won't need to tell them what to think. They'll be smart enough to figure it out on their own.
I Have My Doubts
I tend to be fairly melancholy and mostly a glass is half-empty kind of guy. Because of that, I tend to enjoy philosophical or religious musings, but mostly when talked about in the abstract.
Otherwise, I tend to steer away from political or societal discussions, knowing full well that my Cynicism™ will do nobody any good.
But I have to beware as well. The large wooden horse on my doorstep is filled with an army of doubt, which is all it will take to invite an avalanche of indifference to come in and lay its claim.
I am grateful for The Trojan Horse Affair and many of the great reporting outlets that I have within reach. My challenge is to stay informed, wary, critical, involved.
Ugh, but is that enough? I doubt it.