Friday, September 23, 2011

Guest post: "Shit happens" versus "fascism happens"

A guest post by Jogo

Note: This post was originally a private e-mail sent to me by Jogo, posted here with permission. Like all guest posts here, it does not represent Bob's view.

This article is 80% bullshit.

The writer, a commieprof at Sussex University with impressive credentials, builds her argument with two of the most most-used leftist strategies:
  • Using stories of several people who got fucked to make larger points about "America" fucking people as a general practice. Rhetorically, this is no different from telling the stories of, say, several wretched immigrants who became millionaires to support a larger story about America being the land of freedom and opportunity.
  • Applying a Utopian benchmark to America. America's behavior is wrong and shameful compared to some non-existent, unspecified country that would in all ways behave admirably ... in "a better world." America is never compared -- by such people as this commieprof -- to other actual countries.

The first subject of the commieprof's article, Julia Shearson, is a "white American" who became a Moslem AFTER September 11! Why did she do that? What is the story here? We aren't told. She's not only a Moslem, she wears the total hijab and she is a director of the Cleveland chapter of the sinister quasi-anti-American outfit CAIR.

You might say it's nobody's business why she became a Moslem; it's her existential and civil freedom to become whatever she wants. That's true. But if you're using her story to bash America -- to paint America as totalitarian, cruel, racist and treacherous -- I think you owe the reader quite a bit more information.

The commieprof tells us that Julia Shearson is "white," as though that fact .... um ... tells us something about her. Also that "her family" came to America on the Mayflower. These factoids tells us nothing about her. So she's white. She actually sounds kind of uneducated and stupid. There are plenty of morons in this country who can trace their ancestry to the Mayflower, whose passengers started making descendants 400 years ago.

There were no Shearsons on the Mayflower. In 400 years of reproductive activity and marriages it is possible to be REMOTELY related to a passenger on the Mayflower. Does this confer some special status upon the person? Only to racist commieprofs and the millions of poor students whose minds have been fucked by them. Julia Shearson plays the Mayflower Card to give herself added credibility because -- yes -- it is highly unusual for a white person whose ancestry goes back to Plymouth Rock to become a Moslem.

Julia Shearson has a daughter who looks vaguely Arabic. But no visible husband. What is the story here? We are not told. But we remain curious. Was she an other-fetishizer, like Obama's wacky mother? Why is Julia's dear/sweet Moslem husband not with her? I'd like to know a lot more than I've been told about this story.

Now here's a question for you (asked in the REAL world, not the Utopian world): it's a couple of years after 9-11, imagine you're a Fed sitting at your computer looking for red flags turned up by an algorithm. Hmm ... what have we here? A woman in Cleveland, single mother of a child with a Saudi Moslem sperm-donor, works for CAIR, no previous political history, converted to Islam AFTER 9-11. Hmm .... after 9-11, now that's a bit weird. Is this a person of some slight interest? Shall we put her on a list? Yes? No? Might things start out OK (her merely being put on a list) and then -- not due to fascism -- go awry (her getting handcuffed at an airport)? You know, like "shit happens" rather than "fascism happens?"

If you don't like the real world, you won't like that question.


Waterloo Sunset said...

Was she an other-fetishizer, like Obama's wacky mother?

Bob, can I have your most charitable interpretation of this line?

Waterloo Sunset said...

mm ... what have we here? A woman in Cleveland, single mother of a child with a Saudi Moslem sperm-donor, works for CAIR, no previous political history, converted to Islam AFTER 9-11. Hmm .... after 9-11, now that's a bit weird. Is this a person of some slight interest? Shall we put her on a list? Yes? No? Might things start out OK (her merely being put on a list) and then -- not due to fascism -- go awry (her getting handcuffed at an airport)? You know, like "shit happens" rather than "fascism happens?"

Oh, and can you think of any historical parallels for the "dual loyalties" motif?

Bob, you have no right to criticise sections of the left for their accomadation with the Islamist far right if you aren't prepared to put your own house in order. Because you're doing exactly the same thing that you complain about and tolerating bigots, as long as they fit in with other parts of your analysis.

Why do you think you should be held to a different standard then you hold others?

skidmarx said...

I'm sure Bob will find a way to overlook, minimise,downplay or excuse Jogo's racism yet again. After all he's only saying blatantly racist things.

Does Bob read these posts before putting them up? Maybe, maybe not. Many of his links seem to go up without much concern, beyond that they generally agree with his own prejudices. It would be shocking that he could allow a whole post of this stuff,again, but then the "racist commieprof" stuff isn't much different from what he says about the UCU.

skidmarx said...

Wikipedia says of that "sinister quasi-anti-American outfit CAIR":

CAIR joined other Muslim groups in condemning the September 11 attacks in 2001 "within hours of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center", which its considers to be consistent with its general approach to terrorism. CAIR published a paid advertisement in the Washington Post condemning 9/11 and terrorism in general.

Condemning 9/11 is still never going to be good enough for some.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Just curious to know how WS would characterize this description:

"What use is it to continuously highlight the fact that Obama's little black balls are tied up in a knot when it comes to Israel, as if in ALL OTHER AREAS he has been such a raging revolutionary? " (You can google for the source)

Is it racist?

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ CC

Yes, because it brings in Obama's race when it's entirely irrelevant.

It's perfectly possible to heavily criticise Obama (from the left or the right) without resorting to that kind of crap.

Waterloo Sunset said...

To be clear, I don't consider it as racist as suggesting that somebody who chooses to have a relationship with somebody of an other race is an "other-fetishizer".

The Contentious Centrist said...

Really? You mean the cross reference between Obama and sexuality, is LESS Racist than the suggestion that a person might have been motivated by political reasons to have sex with another person of a different color? I'm sure I don't need to tell you the horrible history that is conjured by this racial allusion. Talking about dog whistle and what not.

Do you think the Israeli author Amos Oz is a racist? His first novel was about an Israeli Jewish Ashkenazi young woman fantasizing about dark-skinned Arab men, in Jerusalem, in revenge against her white skinned boring husband. Wasn't that a racial stereotyping? And what about Dany Laferrière, who wrote "Comment faire l'amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer" (How To Make Love To A Negro Without Getting Tired)? As blatant and explicit a case as any of the "other-fetishizer".

I knew you would find some mitigation for the racist Obama slur because it came from your side of the aisle.

jnseward said...

Brilliant! Of course they will come after you with their charges of racism, etc. Plain talk is threatening. Thank you Bob from Brockley for having the courage to guest post an honest man.

Levi9909 said...

jnseward - Bob's always got the "courage" to host racists here, above and below the line and this post has examples of both. After all he is a racist himself.

WS - I'm surprised you're surprised.

Sarah AB said...

What an odd post. Why can't Jogo spell Muslim in the usual way? What does 'the total hijab' mean - clearly, she wears a hijab, as do lots of people. The daughter doesn't look 'vaguely Arabic' to me - I mean, I can see she *might* fit that description but it's not exactly the first thought which springs into my mind.

Levi9909 said...

Sarah - there might be an answer to your question about the spelling, Moslem, here:

Sarah AB said...

Sorry - just read the original article properly - and then Jogo's post again - and I now think it's even worse than I did at first.

We jump from the girl looking vaguely Arabic - to 'Why is Julia's dear/sweet Moslem husband not with her?' to 'single mother of a child with a Saudi Moslem sperm-donor'

And this seems a ridiculous point 'America's behavior is wrong and shameful compared to some non-existent, unspecified country that would in all ways behave admirably' - by that logic we can't ever criticise any Western democracy that gets it right quite a bit of the time.

skidmarx said...

Obviously CC's intervention is a "Don't look here, look over there" attempt to distract attention from Jogo's racism and Bob's complicity with it, but responding to:

It is not Congress or Senate alone or AIPAC money and lobbying that does it.... For the sake of Vanunu and Rachel Corrie, it is foolish to conclude that Jewish money controls the American mind. In a way that is just inverted racist doggerel. Americans will vote for Israel, not because Jewish money makes them do it.


There, now, you are free to fulminate to your heart's delight about perfidious Jews and their global mind-control over governments and peoples.

is to lie deliberately and unabashedly about what was written in the former.

@Sarah AB - as I was polite enough to accede to Bob's request not to comment on the EDL thread, I didn't get a chance to note that "lebensraum" is given as a major new justification for Israeli intransigence here,a link you would have seen at AW recently, but didn't find occasion to suggest it was racist then.

Sarah AB said...

Sorry skidmarx - if I've seen that link before I've forgotten it. I take your point.

modernity said...


I don't know who Jogo is, or care, but if I were you I would get a guest poster with less chips on his/her shoulders and make him/her attend a course on "Tolerance for others, how to do away with your hangups on Muslims/Arabs" as this post positively drips with loathing.

Duncan said...

This is totally mental, what is going on Bob? Why are you hosting this crap?

Julia Shearson has a daughter who looks vaguely Arabic. But no visible husband. What is the story here?

OH NO! A single parent!

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ CC

There's an even more glaring parallel with what Jogo posted. N***** lover.
Swap the two round and the sentence in no way alters in meaning. jnsedward obviously thinks that racism is speaking truth to power. (I've seen what he said used, pretty much word for word, by Holocaust deniers).

Sarah's pointed out most of the other problems with Jogo's post. Apart from this one:

She actually sounds kind of uneducated and stupid.

Yeah, dumb chavs. How dare they not have gone to university.

Owen said...

This is very peculiar.

Scott said...

What on earth happened to this blog?

Waterloo Sunset said...

Never thought I'd say this, but I'm starting to think Will Rubbish may have had a point...

The Contentious Centrist said...

Who needs Will when you've got skidmarx to do the dirty work.

Waterloo: I didn't understand your response to my comment.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ CC

The gist of it, or the asterisked racial slur?

The Contentious Centrist said...


"There's an even more glaring parallel with what Jogo posted. N***** lover.
Swap the two round and the sentence in no way alters in meaning."

The Contentious Centrist said...

Oh, I see. You are claiming there is a moral equivalence between "N***lover" and "Other-fetishizer".

There is no moral equivalence between "nigger" and "Other"; Other is not a slur. Neither is there an equivalence between "Lover" and "fetishizer".

"N-lover" is a slur because it claims it is wrong to love a person who is not white.

Someone who develops an unhealthy irrational attraction to someone else for no other reason than that someone is an "Other", is a fetishizer.

It is a dubious kind of "love" that is based on a fetish.

There is a short story by Chekhov in which the main character is married to a Jewish woman and he hates her. He calls her "a Jewish bitch". This gave rise to the accusation that Chekhov was being antisemitic. But actually he was not. The character married her in the first place for no other reason than she was Jewish and he, being a political anarchist or some kind of a socialist activist, wanted to defy the norms of his culture by choosing to marry this girl for whom he had no genuine affection. Her only merit was her Jewishnwess and thus could be used as a tool and a symbol for his rebellion. It is safe to say he was an other-fetishizer. Normal persons would feel sorry for the wife because she was not loved for herself but for the accident of her race, which means she was not loved at all and was married to a de-facto racist.

kellie said...

Amongst other things, I'm curious about how Jogo got to know Obama's mother. Was it a brief meeting? A long acquaintance? What other insights into her character did he gain?

bob said...

Been off-line since posting this. I expected it to generate a little heat, but not this much.

Several things to say, but doubt I'll have the time to say them all now and might have to leave some for another day.

1. I knew you would find some mitigation for the racist Obama slur because it came from your side of the aisle.

One of the big problems I have with lots of blog arguments is the idea that people are on one side of an aisle or another and that everyone on the other side of the aisle is basically the same and you don't need to pay attention to what they think or say, of which there are lots of examples in this thread.

Flesh said...

Jogo-bashers, keep in mind that Obama himself writes of his mother:

"I suddenly realized that the depiction of childlike blacks I was now seeing on the screen ... was what my mother had carried with her to Hawaii all those years before, a reflection of the simple fantasies that had been forbidden to a white middle-class girl from Kansas, the promise of another life, warm, sensual, exotic, different."

Flesh said...

Jogo's saying:

1. When it comes to these alleged US govt attacks on individuals perceived to threaten US-ness, the author tries to pass off anecdotes as evidence. This reveals a prejudice on the part of the author.

2. Many far left academics apply a double standard when they talk about the US. ("Commieprof" is a pretty inflammatory term).

3. All of this is disrespectful to readers.

4. The article's author has stuck many badges on Julia Shearson (white, Mayflower, Muslim) and neglected to explain them. Her attempt to paint us a sympathetic figure backfires with Jogo and he (with injured resentment overriding what I'm sure is his natural sympathy and kindess) proceeds to speculate unsympathetically about all the gaps in the story.

5. Julia Shearson is going to look borderline dodgy on a security algorithm. After all she's thick with a pro Muslim Brotherhood organisation (here I'm cherrypicking from the same Wikipedia article as the one Skidmarx cherrypicks from).

6. The US is taking anti-terror measures which entail profiling by all kinds of markers, including religious ones. Officials flagged her, but they let her go. This is the real world, post 11/09.

So, what does anybody make of that?

I always dither about it, to be honest. I think Jogo's scorn of the article is justified but because it's badly argued and evidenced. I've heard it argued convincingly that it would only take a couple more 7/7s here to break down all our libertarian scruples, and (this is where I hope I'm right in disagreeing) the best way to preserve those is to offend, upset, disrupt, and worry a small number of people people by adopting the intrinsically discriminatory and stereotyping practice of computational profiling.

So you end up with an innocent person subjected to a flashing "armed and dangerous" generated from a crap algorithm. There has got to be a better way - follow the bomb-making stuff rather than the people? Electronic noses?

PS Jogo, Bob - "commieprof" is a bit of an aisle word though, wouldn't you say?

bob said...

2. Other-fetishizer.

I don't know anything about Obama's mother (apart from that one of her husbands was African the other Javanese), and don't know whether it is fair to call her wacky or an other-fetishizer or not. I don’t know if it is at all fair to wonder if Julia S is one. But I don't see any problem with the term. Googling the word “interracial” is one indicator of how much fetishization there is of the otherness of racialized black bodies. Philosemitism is a form of other-fetishization. Social Republican, I think, called the Oi-Va-Goy blogger a “fanboy of the Jews”, and I think someone mentioned the example of Julie Burchill, whose philosemitism is often expressed in sexual ways. I know two middle class white women who came home from holiday with a young Gambian and young Cuban husband respectively, and I am fairly sure there was a lot more (racist) exoticism in their relationships than any kind of “love” as I’d know it. Class others are fetishized too, as the terms “posh totty” and “a bit of rough” show.

With the West’s relationship of Islam, there is an enormous amount of other-fetishization, mixed up with Orientialism. The term “hijab porn” is something like the 20th most popular google search that leads people to this blog. Male and female Muslims are fetishized in the West in a whole variety of ways, some more benign than others. Is it impossible that Julia S’s relationship with her absent Saudi-resident husband has something in common with the Gambian-husband phenomenon?

bob said...

3. "Moslem"

I should have edited that. It's what most Americans use. Google "Muslim" about 275,000,000 hits. Google "Moslem" about 14,700,000 results, including ("a web site advocating the worship of GOD ALONE. Quran is a fully detailed book and no other source is needed as a source of guidance") and the Lebanese Moslem Association.

bob said...

4. Commieprof

Yes, an aisle word, and inflammatory, and dodgy.

I take it to mean something like the following. Someone who uses their status, credentials and usually secure professional position (often tenured) within the cosseted, ivory tower world of the university, part of the state apparatus - to promote un-scholarly radical dogma and not critical thinking. Because someone is a professor, they have access to OpenDemocracy, CiF, and many other more mainstream publications, and are taken seriously, as "experts".

I take issue with the "commie" part, but don't know what would be better. I take "commie" to be a derogatory term, sometimes humourous, sometimes not, for what I might call a "leftie". (Unlike some people here, I don't see "red-baiting" and "commie-bashing" as in themselves bad in today's context, although would if it led to innocent people, say, losing their jobs.)

bob said...

5. "She actually sounds kind of uneducated and stupid." Yeah, dumb chavs. How dare they not have gone to university.

I agree with that criticism.

bob said...

6. Oh, and can you think of any historical parallels for the "dual loyalties" motif?

This is the criticism that is the most serious and worth making. I don't think, though, that it is justified in this context, but it does skirt close. The first of the two obvious historical parallels are presumably the age-old Jewish dual loyalty accusation. The other parallel is Irish in Britain during the IRA bombings. This is a better parallel than the Jewish one for obvious reasons.

But there's really no parallel at all in the first case, and a limited one in the second. In the case of Muslim Brotherhood linked organisations in the age of 9/11, it is not pure paranoid racism which creates suspicion. People inside and outside the West have and continue to be slaughtered or closely avoid being slaughtered, by bomb plots and suicide bombings that are not the figment of the Islamophobic imagination. I frequently take the bus route that was bombed on 7/7. I was scheduled to fly on a plane targeted in the foiled 2006 lucozade bomb plot. I'd like to live in a world with no police, but in the meantime...

There is nothing concrete comparable behind the Jewish dual loyalty accusation. Behind the Irish dual loyalty accusation, there was obviously a layer of soft support for Republican terrorism among the diasporic Irish (more, probably, in America, though, than in England).

I would say the policing of the Irish community in Britain then was enormously more out of proportion and draconian than the policing of the Muslim community in America is now.

But anyway, Julia S is an example in the appalling OpenDem piece, not of misplaced racial profiling as a Muslim, but of misplaced ideological profiling of someone involved in organisations like CAIR.

(I know I've just made a very rambling set of un-connected points, rather than a coherent argument. I might re-marshall my thoughts by the end of the weekend.)

bob said...

P.S. And I thought people would have a go at me for the John Lennon post! I got lulled into a false sense of security. By the way, a completely different guest post scheduled for Monday might annoy a different set of you even more.

Flesh said...

"stupid and uneducated"

Well at least Jogo distinguishes. I thought she didn't sound stupid, so much as sounding like she thought *we* were stupid.

But that is the very intriguing US sociolect I call (for want of its proper name) "inflecting as if addressing tiny children".

Sarah AB said...

I still think the bits I quoted were offensive - all the bits about the daughter's presumed father. It was that as much as the substance of the argument which got to me. I'm sure if Flesh or Bob had written a piece with a similar argument in a non inflammatory way I wouldn't have objected.

Sarah AB said...

And another thing - yes, there are all sorts of ways in which it's fine to talk about a sexual interest in the 'other'. It's just that I don't think Jogo's way is one of them. For example I remember once my husband and I thought it amusing when someone we knew slightly advertised in a lonely hearts column, requesting an Irish, Jewish or (?)Italian boyfriend. But we were laughing at her rather than at those groups she fancied. And, although this friend's method was a bit direct, I don't think there's anything terrible about being attracted to someone because they are a bit different,'exotic' - that's all quite human.

I accept that security is important and that sometimes that conflicts with liberty - but I can still sympathise with any Muslims affected by that - including someone I was talking to recently - this woman

who also wears a hijab - and who was given a bit of a hard time at a European airport after a holiday. She wasn't complaining - she was simply talking about her different experiences as a Muslim in the different countries she'd visited.

Levi9909 said...

Flesh - racists don't get a free pass to appropriate and distort the self-description of those they attack. If someone freely chucked around the n-word disparagingly I doubt if you would invoke NWA as justification but maybe you would.

Bob - the sides of the aisle nonsense is sheer hypocrisy when you consider your own description of various bloggers as "friends" and "comrades". Also look at your links though, apart from Harry's Place, you might not find a post like the one above this thread on the blogs you link to.

The "other fetishizer" was pure racism and your wordy discussion of the relationships of others only tries to obscure what is plainly fucking obvious.

"Moslem" is another way of spelling "Muslim" so could be considered entirely unproblematic but that is the only thing you think should have been edited. You've posted yet another racist diatribe by Jogo and the only mea culpa from you is over the least contentious element.

"commieprof" - another overwordy "analysis" by you. Jogo is a left hater and so are you.

"chav" - well spotted after it was brought to your attention

"dual loyalties" - of course there's some kind of similarity with the Irish in the UK but NOT (according to you) with Jews because G-d forbid anyone could compare any kind of racism to racism against Jews. BTW, catching underground trains could be scary in the seventies and the last Provisional IRA volunteer to be killed in London whilst planning a bombing and shooting campaign was raised in London, lived in London and was an activist with the London based Wolfe Tone Society. No excuse for rendering a whole community suspect. The UK eventually settled on the idea of looking into the main sources of Irish people's grievances. Perhaps we should advocate the same with regard to sources of Muslim grievance.

I had hoped the post would simply be removed with a brief apology but as vanity blogging this has been a master stroke. The ever more ingenious contortions in defence of racism are quite entertaining but how far you and your friends are willing to go in promoting and defending racism is more worryingly embedded in the mainstream and we need campaigns against it, not posts and comments in favour.

bob said...

Two more things I should have added. First, this did not originate as a guest post, but as an e-mail to me and a couple of others, in a long, on-going and at times heated argument we have. I asked for permission to publish as a guest post and did a tiny amount of editing. With this post, I should have edited the "total hijab", which comes across as ignorant.

It should go without saying I don't endorse it content fully, any more than I endorse the content of other gust posts. The views expressed in guest posts are, quite obviously, wildly incompatible with each other. I didn't like the "uneducated" comment before WS pointed it out. (Much as I didn't like it when WS had a go at Mod's spelling!) And there are other things I don't like.

Second, I had another look at Cynthia W's article. Can anyone really tell me it deserves to be published in OpenDem? It is terribly written, patronising to readers and the people it's about, and full of rubbish. And to publish it as a 9/11 piece makes it worse. Would it have been published if some ordinary person sent it to them, rather than a high paid academic? (Makes me wonder what she teaches her students. Do you really think she teaches critical thinking?)

bob said...

re aisle thinking. My "friends" and "comrades" are on all sides of any aisle. There's no comparison. If you think me, Mod, WS, CC and Jogo are on the same side of any aisle, you need to think a bit harder.

I'm curious about what "Muslim grievances" might be. Should we also look at "Jewish grievances"?

skidmarx said...

I'm curious about what "Muslim grievances" might be. Should we also look at "Jewish grievances"?

A multiply fatuous remark. You're not curious, you undoubtedly know what those grievances are, from being universally stigmatised as terrorists to the occupation of Muslim countries, but all you really want to do is dismiss them with a "can't we talk about antisemitism now?"

My "friends" and "comrades" are on all sides of any aisle.

What a load of rubbish. They're generally united in their Israel-advocacy and demonisation of those who oppose NATO's wars. WS is about the only one that can't be quite so pigeon-holed, and even he says he takes a "you're all as bad as each other" position on Palestine (though that's often Hamas and Hezbollah are a bigger problem than the Israelis).
[Note to WS: here are some anarchists that are noticeably more pro-Palestinian]

Scott said...

I have this site on a list of UK blogs I drop by occasionally, and I was suppose I was taken aback to find such a puerile and pointlessly barbed post here.

Isn't it only the deranged sections of the right which bang on about Obama's mother?

The woman was an anthropologist, and they tend to be, you know, interested in non-Western cultures. She spent years knocking about Java doing research on village culture there, and apparently produced quite a respectable PhD (the NYRB carried quite a long and interesting review of it a few months back).

I would have thought that the sort of systematic empirical study which Obama's mum was engaged in was the exact opposite of the sorts of 'Othering' of foreign cultures which give rise to romantic or sinister cliches? 'Othering' tends to be based upon a lack of hard information and the projection of fantasies or fears, not thousands of pages of fieldnotes.

I'm sure Obama's mum was prompted to dive into the cultures of Java by some sense of romance or desire for adventure, but this hardly seems a point against her. Was the poor woman supposed to stay in Kansas all her life?

I suspect that the author of this post, with his wearying cliches about ivory tower academics, sinister Muslims, white women who have the hots for exotic darkies, and so on, is the real 'Other-fetishiser'. And the disdain for cosmopolitanism and accusations of dual loyalty have some pretty unpleasant precedents.
I associated this site with discussion of anti-semitism and racism, so it is bizarre to find this sort of stuff here. I suppose that it might have a sort of value as a representation of what some folks are thinking but, boy, don't we get enough of it on Fox News and Glen Beck's radio show and a million tedious blogs?

I prefer a thoughtful right-leaning text to a dumb left-leaning article any day of the week, but this sort of stuff hardly seems to enrich discourse in the blogosphere.

skidmarx said...

It should go without saying I don't endorse it content fully, any more than I endorse the content of other gust posts

This "gust post" was just blown in by the wind, was it? How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn't see the racism he's pushing on his own site? Quite a few times it seems. We never did get an explanation of why you allowed Jogo to talk about "shit-fingered Arab monkeys" last time round either.

skidmarx said...

Would it have been published if some ordinary person sent it to them, rather than a high paid academic?

That's highly paid academic, unless you are alleging that she's on drugs and still receives a stipend.
This is the sort of comment that belongs to the US pro-capitalism school of attacking the left for being some supposed elite school of thinking. You keep making references to your friend Michael Ezra. If he was just an ordinary person and not obscenely wealthy, would he still be your friend?

It is terribly written, patronising to readers and the people it's about, and full of rubbish.

You don't like it and have no specific points to make about it.
I notice that Cynthia Weber has interviewed a number of people about their post 9/11 experiences, and this woman is just one of them.

socialrepublican said...

I think there's be a mistake. Someone accidently put a link into the first line.

Bob, if you want to put provide a platform for this essentialist bigotry, your choice. If you can't see the coy rhetoric of left over "racialism", Bar stool "analysis" and spiteful catharsis in this piece as with all of Joga's pieces, your problem. If you see no problem in your herioc defence of "other-fetisher", fuck you.

Tata, Bob

The Contentious Centrist said...

"this piece as with all of Joga's pieces, your problem. '"

Jogo, Noga, all those names with G's and O's in them are too much for some.

Is that what's called "essentializing"?

bob said...

I accidentally closed comments here overnight last night. I meant to just to turn moderation on, but is not very good at the subtleties. Back open, but with moderation.

bob said...

I guess I can't win. Levi tells me off for not talking about antisemitism alongside Islamophobia, then Skid tells me off for talking about antisemitism instead of Islamophobia. WS tells Jogo off for getting at someone for being uneducated, then Skid tells me off for my spelling and grammar mistakes. (Just typed "grammer", but the browser corrected me. That would have been embarrassing.) Skid accuses me of Ziocentrism, and then he tries to turn the comment thread to a discussion of anarchist attitudes to Hamas.

I think there are two important lines of criticism of Jogo's post. (The "uneducated" barb is not exactly important.)

The first is the one that WS and Scott identify, that of accusing Muslims of dual loyalties. My response to that (posted, I notice, at 01:15, not normally my finest hour!) was very clumsy. I think there is a strong parallel between the criminalisation of Muslims today and of Irish in Britain in the period of the IRA bombing. I don't approve of this criminalisation, but I also think it is a perfectly fair point to dispute what is an example of creeping fascism, what is an example of un-acceptable targeting of communities, and what is an example of "shit happens". The Muslim in question here was on a list not because she was from some ethnic "Muslim community"; she was not ethnically profiled. She was on the list because of her ideological affiliation, which is in fact what Cynthia Weber's article was about. Weber uses the term "politically profiled".

The other serious line of criticism is the one Sarah AB makes, which was actually what I thought was the main point of Jogo's e-mail, and one of our main areas of disagreement. He claims that judging America for this sort of thing is judging it by an impossible, utopian standard, and that's wrong. I disagree. America is one of the 20 or 30 free-est countries in the world and looks pretty good in comparison to lots of countries that leftists defend. But we should still hold these 20 or 30 countries to a high "utopian" standard.

Instead of these two fundamental issues, commenters have fixed on the "other fetishizer" point.[continues...]

bob said...

Instead of these two fundamental issues, commenters have fixed on the "other fetishizer" point. It may be that the reference to Obama's mum was irrelevant, a distraction, and played into the Obama Derangement Syndrome that rightly rings some leftist alarm bells. I don't know anything about Obama's mother, and Scott's case in her defence is quite persuasive. it may also be unfair to even ask questions about Julia S, given we are told so little about her.

But the concept itself seems to me completely uncontroversial. At the very minimum, who can deny that, in Scott's words, "the sorts of 'Othering' of foreign cultures which give rise to romantic or sinister cliches" is extremely prevelant, and that it plays out in the West in relation to Islam?

You're all familiar with this picture, used to illustrate Said's book on orientalism, and with images like this, this, this, this, these or these. There are huge volumes of writing about the more benign and more malignant effects of this stuff, and some of the more ambiguous. I think, for example, we've discussed Pater Lamborn Wilson/Hakim Bey before.

These sorts of erotic tropes are surely present in at least some conversions to Islam. Religious conversion is a complex, fascinating thing, and there are all sorts of dimensions involved, but sexuality is one of the dimensions. This piece by Julie Bindel (if you get past the opening illustration) is interesting, as is this report for Faith Matters (pdf), which suggests that two thirds of British converts to Islam are female (including 84% of those who fell into the "other white" ethnic monitoring category). I can't see why it is controversial to suggest that the long histories of sexual fetishization of an othered Islam might be at play in a woman's fascination with and conversion to Islam.

bob said...

Two quicker things. First on the "Muslim grievance", "Jewish grievance" thing. If X accuses Jews of dual loyalties, is the best way of challenging X to talk about "legitimate Jewish grievances"? Of course not. This would be manifestly absurd, and would fuel the, er, othering of Jews rather than combats it. The same is true of Y accusing Muslims of dual loyalties.

Second, on anarchists. I can clearly remember WS on at least one occasion, and probably more, expressing support for Anarchist Against the Wall. I cannot recall any occasion, however, in which Anarchists Against the Wall expressed support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

skidmarx said...

Specifically on Julie Bindel

Bob, if can't see the difference between seeing love between the races and a positive thing and complaining about race-mixing and miscegenation, and that Jogo's use of other-fetishizer to characterise Ms.Shearson and Mrs.Obama falls into the latter category, then the only people who aren't going to see you as an apologist for racism are racists.
[also an apologist for sexism]

bob said...

This is interesting: Convert orientalists

jnseward said...

Reading through the critical comments on jogo’s post, it seems that for the most par, the objections are to the language in which the argument is expressed. The argument of course is that Julia Shearson’s article is 80% bs. There is very little, if any, commentary addressing this contention. Instead it is all, oh, he said “total hijab”, or he said, “Moslem” (instead of Muslim), or he said “commieprof”, or he said “other-fetishizer”. One looks in vain through the critical comments for rational arguments against the actual thesis of the post. It is pretty much entirely a response to violations of rhetorical political correctness. Read through them again, and tell me I’m wrong. These rhetorical “excesses” on jogo’s part are, for me, simply a linguistic indicator of the passion and seriousness with which he brings to his theme. You can object to his language or you can object to what he has to say. If you feel unable to argue with the substance, then going after him on pc grounds is probably your best bet.

Levi9909 said...

You're wrong. Only Sarah objected to the way in which the post was expressed. Others said exactly the opposite which is that the racism and other issues were expressed in a thinly coded language, ie nasty stuff said "nicely".

The main objections were to racism, sexism and classism.

Sarah AB said...

I don't think the language one uses is an issue which should be dismissed as unimportant. Of course I agree that there are problems with the substance - with the assumption that the little girl's father was a Muslim and the rather obsessive focus on that whole issue - but this is exacerbated by the *way* he writes: For example the phrase "dear/sweet Moslem husband" to me has a nasty, sneering, gloating quality, and the phrase 'Saudi Moslem sperm donor' is similarly disdainful and dehumanising - if he's Saudi, it hardly needs to be stated that he is also Muslim. He seems obsessed with Muslims, as opposed to identifying some difficult contests between freedom and security, or expressing concern about Islamist groups.

I should add that although some see this post as somehow typical of this blog or imply that it confirms their (low) opinion of Bob's views - I have never had anything like such a negative reaction to anything posted here before.

skidmarx said...

going after him on pc grounds

Refreshingly un-P.C. If you're afraid to salute bigotry, don't worry, here's your get out clause.

O/T Maybe it is true about Hezbollah taking over the world.

Levi9909 said...

jnseward is claiming that the only issues anyone had with the post were stylistic rather than substantive. His first comment was "Brilliant! Of course they will come after you with their charges of racism, etc. Plain talk is threatening. Thank you Bob from Brockley for having the courage to guest post an honest man."

Clearly not a mere reference to the style.

Earlier up the thread, in response to Bob defending the post and Flesh positively enthusing about it, Sarah said, "if Flesh or Bob had written a piece with a similar argument in a non inflammatory way I wouldn't have objected." Sarah's latest comment appears to be a reversion to her earlier disapproving comments.

There is much here that is typical and even Bob seems to think so given that he thought the John Lennon post would attract more criticism. The post is clearly pro-establishment and anti anyone who might challenge it. If it's atypical it is the explicitness that is unusual but it's not unusual for this Jogo character. We've been here before with him.

bob said...

Thanks skid, for the notes on rhetoric. I liked this one:

Barred If you have been barred from a blogger's comments thread it is always because you 'reminded them of some uncomfortable truths', you 'told it like it was' etc, never because you were an insufferable troll or (for example) a tedious prick whose diversionary ramblings and clumsy put-downs were an embarrassment to all but yourself.

Sarah AB said...

Levi - I'd have to go back through the comments and the post to answer your comment fully but I suppose I a) felt there were problems of substance as well as tone in the piece and b) thought Flesh and Bob were taking parts of the argument and glossing them in a much softer way which seemed to 'decontaminate' the potentially edgy subject.

bob said...

Mentioned my next guest post, sent to me by a reader. Just wanted to say I won't post it until next Monday, as don't have time to deal with too much of this in one go.

Thanks for thoughtful responses, by the way, Sarah, Scott, Flesh and John.

Solidarity, Sarah, for the vicious treatment from John Wight at Socialist Unity. At least he didn't call you a "oaming at the mouth, rancid reactionary" like Michael, but maybe that'd be a compliment coming from him, just as I see it as a compliment to be hated by Levi and Skid.

The Contentious Centrist said...

You mean my comments were not thoughtful, Bob?

bob said...

Of course they were! As always. But a while ago...

Sarah AB said...

Thanks Bob - 'moral turpitude' makes a change from 'on the fence', at least! I was much more upset (really) by the comments under Andy Newman's perfectly reasonable piece about Atzmon.

Rosie said...

Hmmm - if John Wight praised me for being a morally upstanding being I'd be distraught. He's full of hyperbole and crap, that guy.

Will said...

oh dear - what a calumny - all abandon ship.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Or: Off with his head

"The players all played at once without waiting for turns, quarrelling all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in a very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting `Off with his head!' or `Off with her head!' about once in a minute.

Alice began to feel very uneasy: ... They're dreadfully fond of beheading people here; the great wonder is, that there's any one left alive!' "