Friday, March 27, 2009

From Bob's archive: Opposing patriarchal murder is "orientalist"

I'm away this week, so I'm posting some stuff from the archive, from May 2005. My greatest hits that never were, because no-one read me then. Please leave comments in the present.

Jews sans frontieres says:
"A friend of mine told me that Peter Tatchell was again at the Free Palestine demo yesterday. Apparently he was with a group of about thirty people (with a police escort) bearing placards saying 'Stop the Honour Killings'. The expression 'honour killings' is usually used to refer to domestic murders of women deemed unworthy. It's used by western Orientalists to suggest that there is something worse about this than the two women killed by men every week in the UK. So why is Tatchell using the expression to condemn the killing of gays in Palestine? And why does he see fit to demonstrate against Palestinians at a Free Palestine rally? When he first invade the demo last year he bore a placard with the inane slogan 'Israel stop persecuting Palestine - Palestine stop persecuting queers'. Now by conflating homophobia in the third world with extreme domestic violence, and putting as orientalist a spin on it as he could think of, he's crossed the line from seeking to embarrass Palestinian officialdom to full-blown anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia."
So, Jews Sans Frontieres (henceforth JsF) thinks that to use the words 'honour killings' by definition (at least 'usually') makes you an 'orientalist', by definition means that you don't care about domestic violence committed by white people. This is obviously absurd. Surely anyone with a working moral compass should oppose domestic violence and murder, whether it is committed in the Arab world or the western world. Drawing attention to domestic violence in Arab countries does not detract attention from domestic violence here.

I hear the term "honour killings" primarily from feminists rather than, say, from Tony Blair. I googled the term, just to check. The first hit was from Gendercide Watch, who campaign against the killing of women across the globe not just the Arab world - current news items draw attention to Russia, the former Yugoslavia, Congo and India - as well as Sudan and Iraq. And when drawing attention to "gendercide" in Iraq, their source is, the anti-occupation group. The second hit came from Spotlight, an anti-zionist outfit. The third hit is Kurdish Womens Action Against Honour Killings (KWAHK) (although maybe JsF thinks they're orientalist too, because they call for a secular Iraq). Then we get to an Aljazeera item on Palestinian women decrying honour killings. And so it goes on...

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Matt said...

Here's just one post from Muslimah Media Watch. It seems to me that the term really does bother a lot of muslim women, especially as they feel that Western feminists are forcing them to choose between being feminists and muslims. For my part, before seeing something there, it hadn't really occurred to me to ask if honor killings are different from intimate-partner violence in the West.

I doubt that's really the politics behind the criticism of Tatchell here, but the term is worth interrogating.

TNC said...

Most people who use the term “orientalist” are dunces, just like those who throw the word “hegemony” around. They are words used by pseudo-intellectuals to make themselves feel intelligent.

Matt, honor killings are usually of a different nature than the intimate-partner violence to which you refer. The reason being is these killings are generally done by members of the woman’s family, usually her father or brother. It is more about sullying the reputation or honor of the wife’s blood relations than a conflict between boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and wife.

And it isn’t about making women choose between Islam and feminism. It’s about women challenging and changing cultural norms. It was not that long ago in other parts of the world where similar notions of familiar honor were prevalent.

Lastly, if “honor killing” is offensive, lets use the term in Urdu or Arabic or whatever language is used by the people doing these crimes. What do they call it?

nwo said...

Most people who use the term “orientalist” are dunces, just like those who throw the word “hegemony” around. They are words used by pseudo-intellectuals to make themselves feel intelligent. --- TNC

Hear, hear!

And most of the time these words are uttered by the Western Left.

The sooner the Western Left drops this foolishness and goes after non Western societies with the gusto and vengence that it has and continues to go after Western Culture and Civilization....the better off this planet will be.

Feminism is one of the strongest attacks you can make on Islamic culture.

Its intersting how much of the Western Left has decided to frame themselves not as univeralists but as mere antagonists of Western Culture and Civilization. This has weakened progressivism worldwide and weakened Western Civilization, even Western Conservatives ability to promote progressive movements and ideas in the places in teh world which need it the most.

The Western Left has esentially become a regressive movement that is primarily concerned with attacking, hamstringing, and villifying teh most Progressive cultures and nations on planet Earth. In its search of "Perfecting the West," it has lost the larger plot.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. -- Voltaire

This is has been the Left folly sense its inception. Its utopian vision, which invariably ends in dystopian realities duly ignored and brushed over. Man is not perfectable. This has led the Left to apologize for or villify those that would oppose however imperfectly the big menace's of the 20th Century. Communism, Fascism(Orwell criticism of the British Anti War Left plus the Soviets postions and how the Left in the US and Britain changed with them), and now Islamism.

Good Lord!

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. This third time certainly the criticisms of the past have been validated and the core of the ideology(ies) has to be questioned.

Certainly the West (America) has done dastardly things in pursuit of a greater purpose, being the strong opposition of the most dangerous and villianous ideologies on Earth. And however imperfect that opposition to these regressive totalitarian, anti liberty and freedom ideologies were, they understood the big picture correctly and moved in Burkean fashion to "do something," as good men so that evil will not prevail.

Sorry for rambling.

ModernityBlog said...

you could hardly accuse JSF of being a hot bed of intellectuals, not even pseudo-intellectuals!

fleshisgrass said...

"So why is Tatchell using the expression to condemn the killing of gays in Palestine?"

Why does he assume that when Peter Tatchell says "honour killings" he means against gay people? Tatch is good on a different specific human rights, and not necessarily all at once.

PS When Mark Elf tries to communicate it seems like furious squeaking to me.