Opposing Islam

I’m so tired, so very tired, of being told I’m ignorant, racist and bigoted for speaking up against Islam. We’ve reached a point now where when you point out that the central doctrines of Islam include making war on infidels, mutilating children, subjugating women, and murdering apostates, people scramble to say “No, no, that’s just a few EXTREMISTS, #NotAllMuslims are like that!” Well yeah, I never said all Muslims are like that, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore the clear call to violence inherent in the religion that causes people to murder others. There’s literally a gay holocaust being carried out in Chechnya right now, and the leader of the country said he will, quote, “wipe out the gay community by Ramadan,” but everyone is pretending like Islam has NOTHING to do with it.
I know that there are good Muslims in the world. There are also good Christians in the world. But that doesn’t erase the calls to violence, slavery and subjugation that are present in the Quran. I try to speak out against women wearing burqas because they’re commanded to keep their flesh covered so that they won’t tempt men, and people tell me that I’m being bigoted, and then somehow have the nerve to do such mental gymnastics as to say that burqas are actually LIBERATING garments and tokens of feminism. I try and say that we should be taking seriously the homophobia present in Islam that contributed to gay people being put into concentration camps in Chechnya, and people tell me I’m just being racist, that I’m ignorant and don’t understand that Islam is a religion of peace.
And the weirdest thing is that the people arguing with me are NEVER Muslims. Not one Muslim has come up to me and told me I’m wrong, it’s always non-Muslims who are being offended on behalf of Muslims, because it’s become politically correct to defend Islam. Well I’m not playing that game. Religion kills people, religions poisons people, it stops conversation and free inquiry, and if the only thing I can do is to stand up and talk about it, or even shout about it, then that’s what I’ll do. But Islam is a philosophy, not an ethnicity. So it doesn’t make me racist to call out Islam for it’s very real prescriptions to violence, misogyny, homophobia and subjugation.
A man will murder someone and shout “I’m doing this in the name of Islam!” and people will all respond “Well clearly that guy wasn’t a REAL Muslim, he’s misinterpreting Islam.” No, take him at his word! He’s doing what he was told to by Islam. And it’s the same thing when Christians lynch black people or murder gay people, and then say they’re doing it because it’s what the Bible says. People respond by saying “Well they’re misunderstanding the Bible, they’re not TRUE Christians.” No, take them at their word, they’re doing it BECAUSE of what the Bible says to do! It’s the same with Islam.
Protecting people from profiling and hate speech is important, I understand. We don’t want to create a culture in which all Muslim PEOPLE are treated as reprobates. And I don’t want that either. And I don’t think that of Muslim PEOPLE. But I do think that Islam itself as a philosophy is abbhorent. And to even say that out loud now results in me being labeled Islamophobic. Maybe I am Islamophobic. The word itself would imply fear of Islam. I am afraid of Islam! I’m afraid for the world. And it isn’t just Islam that I’m afraid of, I’m afraid of Christianity too, and any religion that tells it’s followers to kill and enslave others. But if I speak out against it, people roll their eyes and say “No, that’s just the actions of a few extremists.” Yeah, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s there IN their religious texts. You can say gay men aren’t being killed in Chechnya because of Islam but because of homophobia. But the homophobia comes about BECAUSE of religion. And if we’re going to have an honest dialogue about the murder of gay people, we have to be willing to call out the philosophies that lead to it.
So yeah. I’m tired of being called a bigot because I see something terrible happening and I call it out and say that it’s wrong. And I know that the blog and Facebook feed of one American white boy isn’t going to fix the world, end homophobia, or stop religion from murdering people, but I can’t just sit here and be silent when people are dying.

You Bustin’ Up My Rhythm!

Final Fantasy VII: Remake Recommendations

So I’ve been playing Final Fantasy VII for the trillionth time because I bought it on the Playstation Network store and now I have it for PSP, which is literally the realization of a childhood dream for me, having this game on a handheld device, but I’ve already talked about that previously. But as I’ve been playing through this game, I am well aware of it’s faults, and with that long-fabled Final Fantasy VII remake for the Playstation 5 or something drawing ever closer (I’m thinking twentieth anniversary, because the game is already on it’s seventeeth. I know, it’s crazy for me to realize that too), at least in the imaginations of the fan community, I’ve been noticing a few glaring issues that should definitely be adressed if ever a remake does genuinely happen (or the sequel that they’ve set up with the return of Genesis and just kind of left hanging in the air).

"Ain't no gettin' offa dis' train we on!"

“Ain’t no gettin’ offa dis’ train we on!”

Recommendation 1: Ditch Barrett’s Street Persona

Yeah, I know, it was the 90’s, even white people thought that they were black, and we all thought that being thug gangster was cool and rap was actually a decent genre. It’s okay, Squaresoft, I can forgive you because I was there too, even if I was seven years old. But it’s time to grow up. As this game has aged, it’s become considerably more apparent just how racist the game’s depiction of Barrett really was. Just because he’s a burly black man does not mean he has to be “street,” which he very much is, and as the 90’s have passed us by and saying “Yo” at the beginning of every sentence is no longer cool, I think I speak for all of us when I say it’s time for Barret to be depicted better.

Barrett is actually one of the game’s more complex characters. It’s difficult to know just how to feel about Barrett. He is literally en eco terrorist who kills hundreds of innocent civilians in the pursuit of stopping Shinra. At the beginning of the game his brash nature and nonchalance about blowing up entire metropolitan areas really show how far gone he is to listen to reason, but as the game progresses it’s revealed why Barrett hates Shinra so much, his history of losing his entire family when his hometown was burned to the ground by Shinra troops, and how he lost his best friend and his right arm trying to run from Shinra. He comes to accept how wrong his actions were, and to regret killing innocent people, but still, there’s the fact that he did do it, and those people are still dead, and it’s hard to know if it’s okay to forgive a character like that.

Barrett has enough depth of character that he doesn’t need a street thug gimmick to make him interesting, he’s interesting enough already. When he’s been shown in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, he still has his thug appearance, complete with corn rows and a huge puffy sleeveless vest, but his street talk has been toned down considerably. Now he seems like more of a hothead than a racist 90’s depiction of black culture, but still, it sounds like his voice actor was trying to go for that original street voice and failed. There’s really no reason why Barrett can’t just speak like any other character, without some street accent. He’s clearly intelligent enough if he can put together a resistance movement, hijack multiple trains and blow up two reactors, even if he is so hell-bent on getting revenge that he doesn’t think about the lives he destroys. And if it’s possible, can we please never hear any character in any game ever speak the words, “You bustin’ up my rhythm!” again?

Stats Screen

Recommendation 2: Give the Characters Stats!

Final Fantasy has grown up a lot since the days when Speed was called Dexterity and Defense was called Vitality, but at the time of Final Fantasy VII’s release, characters were mostly still blank slates with little variation among them in stats. Because of this, you can literally use any character in Final Fantasy VII and it will most likely have little to no effect on battles, because they pretty much all have the same stats. Now, I understand that Materia is supposed to be the deciding factor on whether or not someone has a high stat, but even so, Materia usually only changes stats by 1% or so at a time. It’s mentioned in the booklet’s mini-guide that Cloud is a physical attacker and not to load him down with magic materia, but honestly you would need to have 16 slots filled with mastered magic materia to really notice a drastic change in anyone’s stats.

By the time of Final Fantasy IX and X, Squaresoft had gotten pretty good as diferrentiating magical attackers from physical attackers, with characters like Garnet and Lulu being completely useless as physical attackers, but having some of the highest magic stats available. Even so there was room for customization, and there’s no reason why Tifa, for instance, can’t begin with a very high strength stat and low HP, both of which grow stronger, or change according to what Materia you have equipped. Basically the threshhold at which stats are differentiated among characters, or at which Materia changes those stats, needs to be a lot higher.

The only character in the game who I’ve seen to have legitimately lower or higher stats than anyone else is Aerith, who remains a weak physical attacker and powerful magical attacker from the time she joins the party, though I’m sure this could easily be changed with Materia since her stats aren’t really all that different from everyone else’s, just slightly more so.

Steal Materia

Recommendation 3: Make Steal Work

Stealing is fun. Zidane taught us this, and it has remained an effective way to get some of the best items and equipment throughout the series. This holds true in Final Fantasy VII as well, with someone weapons being steal-only, and certain armor and weapons becoming available much earlier if you steal from the right enemies. The biggest problem with stealing, though, is that is has a very low chance of working when it’s used. I’ve probably spent hours of my life just waiting for Tifa to steal the Hardedge from the SOLDIER’s in the Shinra building or the Shinra Beta from the troops in the cargo ship. Stealing is a great way to get rare items (like Speed Sources from the thieves in the slums; you’re welcome), but it needs to work! It really takes all the fun out of stealing when you have to wait ten minutes to steal one thing, especially when you don’t know beforehand what you might be stealing, and it only turns out to be a Hi-Potion. Also if I could make a request, could Steal evolve into Mug a little bit sooner? I usually don’t even get the ability to Mug until near the end of the game, or if I’m really concentrating on leveling up my materia, the second disc.

I’m sure as I continue to play through the game I’ll probably come up with some more ideas, and all of these recommendations are things that other players have been saying for years, but I just thought I would state my opinions on the matter. Let’s mosey!