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Episode 38 : Morocco, Apostasy, and Public Defense with Yassine Meskhout
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Episode 38 : Morocco, Apostasy, and Public Defense with Yassine Meskhout

On today’s episode of Walt Right Perspectives I speak with Yassine Meskhout (follow him on Twitter here).

Yassine is a public defender who immigrated to the U.S. from Morocco at the age of ten. He was a Muslim for most of his early life, but went apostate in college, and has since become a libertarian who participates as a public figure in rationalist-adjacent circles. He has also been a prominent member of the John Brown Gun Club.

Yassine interviewed me on his own podcast a few weeks ago, and I wanted to follow up on this convo with a more laid back discussion about his background and ideology.

Topics include:

  • Did Walt pronounce Yassine’s name correctly?

  • Yassine’s training in economics at George Mason University and exposure to the rationality scene

  • His immigration story involving winning a diversity lottery

  • Would he have been a libertarian had he immigrated to Europe instead?

  • The difficulties Yassine initially experienced trying to assimilate into American culture as a ten year-old immigrant

  • How he doubled down on Islam as a teenager as a way of maintaining his identity

  • How often do people consume alcohol in Islamic countries? Is western-style fraternization between the sexes permitted in Morocco? What are the modern conventions around premarital sex?

  • Do American Muslims take their religion seriously? Why is eating pork more stigmatized than premarital sex?

  • The greater sectoral homogeneity of Islam compared to Christianity

  • Yassine’s apostasy at age twenty

  • How religions and ideologies practically demand performative adherence to certain ideas

  • The extreme cultural stigma of apostasy in Islam

  • Is saying “as-Salamu Alaykum” a signal of ingroup solidarity between MENA people like the famous “black guy nod?”

  • Difference between distinct dialects of Arabic

  • Genetic and cultural difference between Arabs and Berbers

  • How genetic testing works (using “reference populations”)

  • Is there still a national rivalry between Moroccans and Iberian peoples?

  • Morocco as the first country to recognize the United States

  • Spanish enclaves in North Africa (Ceuta, Melilla, etc.)

  • How did Morocco maintain caravan routes through the Sahara to Timbuktu etc.

  • Polynesian wayfinding

  • The Secret of Our Success and its discussion of traditions as useful societal technologies (e.g. rituals to approximate randomness, soaking the Manioc root to remove iodine, marriage norms)

  • Yassine’s work as a public defender—what it’s like defending someone he knows is guilty, frequency of clients lying to him

  • How important is IQ in his clients?

  • How legal competency works in extreme cases of low intelligence

  • How often does jury nullification actually happen?

  • Were Emmett Till and O.J. Simpson examples of jury nullification?

  • Is Yassine still a methodological individualist during jury selection?

  • How much can a client influence the composition of his own jury pool?

  • Are certain people (especially prisoners) performatively angry towards pedophiles?

  • How does solitary confinement work? Do you get books?

  • Would going to prison for a few years be that bad?

  • Yassine’s recent work on a child molestation case where the client was obviously guilty—did he need to dissociate?

  • What it’s like to be on the sex offender registry

  • Incentives for performativity as a public figure (i.e. “beefing” as an eceleb)

  • Yassine’s squabbles with wignats on Twitter

  • How certain groups like WNs will close ranks and become unreasonably intransigent towards outsiders

  • Walt’s goal of building a more continuous Overton Window

  • The importance of being earnest in political discourse vs. the utility of metapolitical hacking and oblique rhetorical tactics (see Hanania’s recent article The Dissident Right Should Engage with the Substance of Ideas)

  • The among people of extreme ideologies that you can’t really abandon

  • Identitarian prestige coding—How MENA Zionists like Yassine or Hanania have greater credibility when speaking about the Gaza War due to identitarian factors

  • Walt’s goal of building an intersectional coalition with identitarians from other groups

  • Is methodological individualism more attractive to people outside the white vs. black racial dialetic?

  • Do white people have more cultural leeway to be weird?

  • The necessity of code switching as an apostate

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