And, no, it is nothing sexual.

Image for post
Image for post
Image prepared by the author on Canva. Left: Screenshot from The Guardian | Right: Screenshot from The Jerusalem Post

CHOP!

The guillotine was first endorsed by the eponymous Joseph-Ignace Guillotin. This dreaded device, designed to behead people in an “enlightened” manner, was a mainstay of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. During that period, the guillotine was used to shuffle — or, shall we say, sever — the mortal coil of more than 10,000 people. One of these people was a physician with a thing for mechanical contraptions. His name: Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.

CHOP!

Maximilien de Robespierre, the principal ideologist of the French Revolution and an incarnate of Alice in Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts…


Judge Lest Ye Be Judased

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Terence Faircloth on Flickr

Sometimes you just don’t see it coming.

On February 1st, Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood made a J’accuse post on Instagram. She proclaimed that her ex-beau, Marilyn Manson, had “groomed… and horrifically abused [her] for years.”

Really? Marilyn Manson? Surely, we are not talking about the famous Marilyn Manson, you know, the Marilyn Manson who calls himself after the infamous cult leader and serial killer Charles Manson. It can’t be Marilyn Manson, the ordained Satanist who “idolizes” Anton LaVey, founder and high priest of the Church of Satan. It can’t be the Marilyn Manson who defiles graves and smokes human…


The Common Thread That Ties It All Together

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Cameron Smith on Unsplash

Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the — motley crew of misfits and members, confederate cosplayers and nincompoops, dingbats and dunces and dorks unto the nation’s Capitol.

Trump did not use these exact words, but he might as well have when he goaded his die-hard supporters to descend on Washington and “stop the steal,” which culminated in a mob storming the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021.

It was tragic. It left four people dead. It was also a perversion of the democratic process that set a dangerous precedent. It should have called for some serious introspection. …


Cast Out Cthulhu From the Living Room

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

It is a typical social call. I arrive at the residence of those I am paying a visit. I knock, and a lovely couple opens the door. They are more than cordial; they are earnestly warm. “Please, come in. Make yourself at home.” Pleasantries are exchanged as they usher me inside. I step in, a genial smile on my face, and follow in their footsteps as they lead the way. Innocent, unwary… I enter the living room.

My heart skips a beat as I mark it on the wall. It is staring at me with its tenebrous eye. A prodigious…


The degradation of the masculine ideal

Image for post
Image for post
Left: Image by Dejan Krivokapic from Pixabay Right: Courtesy of Netflix.

What do the Witcher and the Spartans have in common?

On the surface, we can observe that both are famous for their martial prowess: the Witcher, Geralt, for his finesse with the sword and his lightning-fast acrobatic pirouettes, the Spartans for their fortitude and formidability while fighting in a phalanx. But looking beyond the obvious, we see another aspect that ties the White Wolf with the legendary warriors of Lacedaemon (the original name for Sparta): They are both bastardized by popular culture.

First, let us take a closer look at Geralt, specifically, as he is depicted in Netflix’s adaptation of…


A Tale of Hollow Men

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Amazon.

What is the nature of man?

Throughout history, there have been many attempts to unravel this philosophical Gordian Knot. Though the answers borne by these attempts vary in their content, they have one thing in common: they give us a better understanding of the societies that facilitated their genesis or adopted them. The ideas of Hobbes, Rousseau, and Marx are nothing alike, but they all open a window onto the cultural milieu in which their ideas thrived.

Blindness, a novel by the Portuguese Nobel-Prize winning author José Saramago, is one of the more recent attempts to answer this question, though…


and perchance lead a revolution

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Rome, The Ides of March 44 BC

Julius Caesar, hitherto leader of the Roman Empire, lies dead on the senate floor, having been stabbed thirty-three times by a conspiracy of senators. Word of the assassination gets out, and people flock to the senate. They are agitated, they sense the gravity of the developments, but they do not yet know where they stand with regard to the assassination. Was his death an opportune demise or a vile murder? Do these tidings call for revel, or revenge?

To assuage the people and allay their fears, Brutus exits the senate building and gives…


… though few seem to tell the difference.

Image for post
Image for post
Courtesy of Netflix.

Rambo mows down wave after wave of Spetsnaz commandos. John McClane picks off a group of terrorists, one-by-one, walks on glass, and saves the day. James Bond keeps his cool as he foils one supervillain after the other — and fools around with the fetching Bond girl du jour.

These are but a couple of examples. Popular culture provides a bountiful selection of this form of male power fantasy. Through video games and movies, whether in Call of Duty or Jason Statham’s latest flick, young males are spoiled for choice should they choose to live vicariously. …


Some politically incorrect insights drawn from Adam Hochschild’s book King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Amazon.

Everyone knows about the Holocaust. To a lesser extent, people know of the mass murder of millions by Stalin and Mao Zedong. One episode of mass murder in modern history, however, of European origin and roughly contemporaneous with the other two, is so rarely mentioned that it has slipped from our collective consciousness. What I am referring to is Belgium’s brutal regime in the Congo at the turn of the 20th century, which claimed the lives of more than one million people.

Reading Adam Hochschild’s book King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, one…


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing protests that erupted across the United States, Muslims all over the world have come out to lend their support to the Black Lives Matter movement. Not only did they heap effusive praise upon it, but they also adopted BLM and championed it as their cause célèbre. “Black Lives Matter is your issue,” announced Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour to her Muslim audience during the 15th MAS-ICNA annual convention held in Chicago. Other Muslim public figures zealously echoed Sarsour’s position. …

Muhanad Halvani

Writer and university lecturer based in Istanbul, Turkey. Author of Dangerous Narratives: An inside look into ‘the mind-forged manacles’ of the Muslim world.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store