Category: Social justice

The Dead End of Identity Politics.

Pull up a chair. I have a story to tell.

Sigh.
Sigh.

A former colleague of mine posts this on Facebook. Makes you wanna give it an eyeroll or two, right? There is nothing in this critique that one can use to organize or build community around; rather it is simply one more scold in an atmosphere full of them. I challenged the person who posted it to find me something similar on how you can build bridges or educate the mass of people that we will actually need in order to build a coalition for change. She replied that she was not necessarily using it to exclude folks from spaces; fine, I said. I do not understand how one can post something like that and say with a straight face that they “are not trying to exclude”, but I was ready to let it go.

A socialist organizer friend of mine weighs in on the fourth point. I read it and….huh. It kinda does sound like the poster is blaming white LGBTQ+ individuals for their own oppression. I mean, I can kinda see the point (these struggles are connected, and one oppression fuels others), but it was made in such a bombastically ridiculous way as to lose the point entirely. And knowing the struggles that white LGBTQ+ youth endure in the South, this particular admonishment came across as being very unfeeling and insensitive.

The response that he gets from others? Google It, basically. Maybe I should not have done this, but I basically told the person who said that to stuff it. Like, this mess gets very old, very fast. When another person, a queer Black woman, came in and left a big block of text stating that it was perfectly within her right to tell people to Google It, and how I was apparently devaluing intracommunity work by stating that it is an organizer’s job to educate, I stated the following:

Everyone cannot be an organizer. Fine. But please, do not politicize your laziness and comfort.

Her response?

Did you just call me lazy? Did you not hear me say that I am a queer Black woman….

What conversation is there to be had around that? It is as if the mere existence of her identity inoculates her from any critique. How did we get here?

The Past Isn’t Even The Past: Modern Fascism and Hatred of Muslims

Fascism did not die in 1945.

I sit here writing this less than a day after three people were brutally murdered. The slain, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, her husband of one month Deah Barakat, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were all under the age of 26. Barakat was studying at UNC to be a dentist, but he was also busy raising money to provide much-needed dental care for Syrian refugees. His wife Yusor was finishing her studies at NC State before joining him at UNC to become a dentist herself, and her sister Rezan was also studying at NCSU in the School of Design. If you are listening to the media, they were murdered in cold blood over a parking dispute. Nothing to see here, move along, this is just one of those things that happen. This is bullshit, a comforting lie draped over the shoulders of people who have perpetuated hatred against the Muslim community.

The murderer is a man by the name of Craig Stephens Hicks. A ‘militant’ atheist and libertarian, Hicks had a history of harassing his neighbors for their religion. According to the slain sisters’ father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, Yusor said, “He hates us for what we are and how we look,” and that he had a history of picking on the newlyweds. He came to their door at least once clutching his rifle. Some might say that this isn’t enough to prove that he had an animus against these three people for their religion. This is an attempt to deflect guilt by those who have profited off of churning up hatred and contempt against Muslims since September 2001. The fact is that Hicks was able to murder these three people because he did not see them as human beings because of their faith.

Fascism did not die in 1945.

Power and Privilege: The missing element of our Charlie Hebdo debate.

The concept of privilege — whereby one gains certain benefits due to their membership in a sociological group that has a measure of power — is one that has been hard to talk about in recent years. Too often, the concept has been hijacked by those who use it to shut down discussion and tar people that they find disagreement with. Even when it is not being used to that effect, you can peruse sites like Identities.Mic and see the most base and childish discussions of power and privilege imaginable. Take this article by Derrick Clifton, which assumes that no one cares about the bombing of a NAACP office in Colorado because it is not wall-to-wall coverage….on the same day that a shooting kills twelve people at a newspaper office.

Given the aforementioned example of the simplemindedness that accompanies many online discussions of privilege and power, it is somewhat understandable that leftists have avoided a discussion on privilege when it comes to Charlie Hebdo and the shooting that killed 12 of its writing staff. Many of the debates have centered around issues of free speech, the possibly bigoted nature of some of its attempts at satire, and whether satire should be given wide berth to offend in the pursuit of making people think. These topics seem actionable to a degree, and offer a measure of possibility when it comes to political action. Because contemporary discussions of privilege are so badly broken and given to unsightly episodes of social justice performance, it seems that it would be for the better to just ignore the discussion altogether.

But without the consideration of privilege and power, any conversation about this situation will be incomplete.