Dialogue with a friend:
…they want to obsessively talk about Islam or Muslims.
What I don’t understand is why you are not talking about their illegal wars, war crimes and criminality?
All this hot air, these bullshit ‘Islam is good’ or ‘Muslims loves peace’ statements to curry favour from power only reduce you further in their eyes. Who gives a damn if Islam is good or bad, wrong or right? How have you so easily allowed them to own the entire discourse?
Do you not realise that mendicants are only spit on.
Speak back. Speak loud. These are criminal wars, imperial wrongs, colonial brutalities and racist murders. From Israel to Syria, From Iraq to Yemen, we are witnessing mass brutality, suffering, destruction and madness.
Drones. Torture. Renditions. Bombings. Militia. Invasions. Occupations. Colonial crimes.
Men and women are dying. Others have fled their homes and are dying on borders. But these bastards drop more bombs, murder more people, and you are talking about whether Islam is good?
Get a grip.
Discussion with a colleague:
…again and again and again you see the cowardice of the ‘concerned’ liberals. these fraudulent attempts to ‘understand’ are mired in the same wilful hypocrisy that maintains 1) an absolute silence of injustices and brutalities being inflicted on Arabs and Muslims by European/American regimes, 2) the genuine righteousness and rationality of a politics of dissent against these wars and 3) a refusal to show solidarity and understanding for this dissent and its meaning. ISIS’ military footprint, might and reach pale in absolute and metaphorical terms when compared to the USA/NATO actual presence, actions and fundamentalism.
Reminders to a friend:
As the French teeter towards a hell of their own making, drunk and lost in delusions and hysteria their own beautiful, paparazzi-loving, ‘intellectual’ and war-mongering class created, lets remember Badiou’s warning from the last time we were in this haze:
“And behind all this, for a long time, for over twenty years, who do we find? Who are the glorious inventors of the “Islamic menace”, which according to them is in the process of disintegrating Western society and our beautiful France? Who but the intellectuals engaged in their infamous task of fiery editorials, twisted books, and rigged “sociological surveys”? Is this a group of retired provincials and workers in deindustrialized towns who patiently erected the whole affair of the “clash of civilizations”, the defense of “republican pact”, the threats to our beautiful “secularism”, the “feminism” outraged by the daily lives of Arab women?
Isn’t it unfortunate that only the leaders of the far right (who simply pull the chestnuts from the fire) are interrogated–without ever exposing with more frequency the overwhelming responsibility of those on the so-called “left”, and more often the teachers of “philosophy ” rather than supermarket cashiers? Why not interrogate those who passionately argued that the Arabs and blacks, especially young people, are corrupting our educational system, perverting our suburbs, offending our freedoms and insulting our women? Or that there were “too many” in our football teams? Exactly as one use to speak of Jews and “metics“– that because of them eternal France was threatened with death.””
History doesn’t repeat itself. It is the habits of intellectual and moral comfort that simply continue.
“But I do believe a president, this president, can take steps to bring Muslim Americans more fully into our culture and society. That doesn’t mean just reading them their rights. It also means reading them their responsibilities. Obama started down that road Sunday night.”
It isn’t Trump that is the problem. It is racist bigotry such as this, and the one Obama and his ilk, demonstrate when they hide their violence and wars, murders and tortures, and instead lecture to an imaginary ‘Muslim American’ community about ‘responsibility’ and ‘ferreting out’ the bad. It if America’s lobotomised liberalism that has paved the way for America’s lobotomised right-wingnuttery. It is racist and deflecting sweet nothings of a liberal left war machine – one that speaks of inclusion but pushes policies of surveillance, torture, entrapment, judicial double-standards, drones, renditions, indefinite detentions, repression of political speech and more, predominantly against Arabs and Muslim states and individuals. And silences about all this abound. But hystetical noise about ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ Muslims is everywhere. Trump is nothing. A mere shyster. The real evil are our liberals and their followers who delude themselves with their own sweet words, as they press the buttons of mass murder and destruction with a glee that would make Dr. Strangeglove envious!
And by coincidence, Glenn Greenwald wrote about this very piece, the very same day, pointing out:
These are the people who have laid the rancid intellectual groundwork in which Trump and his movement are now festering. Just yesterday, the Daily Beast’s supremely loyal Democratic partisan columnist Michael Tomasky — who in 2013 instructed us all to celebrate the Egyptian military coup of the brutal tyrant Abdel Fattah al-Sisi because it got rid of the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood — repulsivelydemanded that American Muslims first prove they are loyal and can be trusted before they are “given” their rights.
To a friend at the airport:
Its not profiling. Its not racism. Please stop saying that it is.
What this is in fact is the American state using its institutions of coercion to monitor communities and polities that it has a legitimate right to fears because it has done these communities egregious harm, and knows it.
It fears these communities and polities because it knows that it has wronged them, and it respects then enough to know that they are not stupid enough to not know this.
These are the acts of a state that knows that Iraqis, Yemenese, Somalians, Afghanis, Pakistanis, to name a few, have all the reason to hate the Americans and all the reason to seek revenge and justice.
So the state, like Dr. Frankenstein, watches its monster closely. From fear. From love. The latter being the love of a narcissist for the mirror.
But the love doesn’t come. Not the unquestioning kind. a contingent, calculated, measured love is offered. So the state watches. It seeks to enter the hearts of the wronged. It knows what should lie there – anger, hate, refusal, disdain, rejection, and it knows why.
So it monitors the community it knows it needs to monitor because it knows that the injustices can’t be ignored without a violence from without (state surveilance) and from within (personal silence)
And in response to a student of mine who wanted to work on a project high lighting ‘good Muslims’ in Europe, just as some other more famous ones were on media talking about their own ‘good Muslim’ projects, I had this to say:
I see a whole host of Muslim / Islam apologists lining up to shed fraudulent ‘concern’ and ‘apologia’. This includes photographers who seem to think sending out images of ‘good’ Muslims, or ‘tolerant Islam’ or other such nonsense, is a good idea.
In fact, it is ridiculously racist because it simply mirrors the racism of European societies that place the blame of violence on a collective whole, and on cultural ideas, rather than accept the blame for their decades of wars and violence that they unleash and inflict on others.
Instead of confronting the fact of massive power imbalances between Europe and the others, the massive violence and wars, brutality and torture, societal destruction and pillage, that has marked the footprint of the United States / European powers in the Middle East, these apologists fall prey to same Orientalist / Racist discourse about Islam, and it being the one and only descriptor and explanation of reactive violence that periodically, and very periodically, infiltrates our bastions of ‘civilisation’.
But you cannot avoid the wars. You cannot avoid the fact that entire nations have been torn to shred, their people murdered and scattered, far and wide, on the basis of Western greed, mendacity, blood-thirst and brutality. For after all, publications like the New York Times or the BBC, may love to throw up elaborate and beautifully produced stories about the barbarism of ISIS, but we find it hard to forget that the same publications were at the front line of producing the elaborate and beautiful publications justifying illegal wars and invasions.
And now come the Muslim-explainers. These ridiculous clowns with the memory of a goldfish. These empty-minded reactionaries who not only don’t have the courage to speak out against Western wars and brutality, but have the cowardice to resort to ahistorical and pseudo-cultural apologies for reactionary violence.
I wrote about this back in 2009. And there are other old pieces, reminding me that these discussions remain as idiotic and mindless as they have ever been. That for years we have been repeating the same arguments about Western brutality and madness, and its planned and calculated determination to create something called ‘Islam’ that is deviant, inherently violent and anti-modern. The two strategies go hand-in-hand, making sure that our ‘peace loving’ citizens in the West, remain quiet, and acquiescent about the horrors we inflict on the rest of the world, and gleefully have a ‘monster’ to blame with the periodic, few, chickens come home to rest.
No ‘good Muslim’ narrative will undo a determined strategy. You cannot confront racism and mendacity with tales of ‘goodness’. This pandering of apologia is a bigger reflection of unthought, and immorality, than anything I can think of. First, because it reveals the protagonist’s silence in the face of mass suffering and near-genocidal violence (yes, Iraq remains that, and so does what is taking place in Syria, and we can also talk about Yemen, all wars that have massive Western involvement and backing!), second, it reveals how they are afraid to speak out against the powerful and in the face of such suffering, and third, how they fall prey to a pathetically ‘derivative discourse’. all these people speaking about ‘peace’ and ‘love’ and ‘humanity’ are the very same people who look away in the face of mass murder of brown bodies and minds.
There is a hierarchy of morality and of justice. Part of that hierarchy is the simple fact that European lives matter more, and the rest are ungrievable and discardable. Too many people have a hard time accepting this fact, and prefer to wallow in the dreamscape of global equality under international law and under sentimental empathy.
It is this that has to be confronted.
More bombs are being dropped. More wars are being planned. Those who try to escape Europe’s violence, and seek refuge in the few safe cities in the world (all European), are humiliated, killed, kicked back and returned to die like stray dogs. Europe cries her tears, Europe confronts her ‘Muslim’ evil, Europe tells its citizens to search for the evil in the Koran, and Europe ensures that no one can hear the bombers overhead, the screams of the innocents underneath, the blood and skin that lace cities across the Middle East, the racist occupations that pull blood from veins, and the freedom of murder at will that has become a European right!