Friday, May 31, 2013

Progressive Victim Blaming

In the day to day cycle of reading and writing about feminist topics, it is clear that one thing that is terribly wrong is "victim blaming".

One tragedy of the recent days has been the Woolwich murder.

Currently there are a lot of people playing the "blame game".

It seems to be a typical reaction to an awful scenario. Who could have allowed this to happen?

In the case of rape, one should not find blame in the victim. One can always create a hypothetical scenario in which the victim potentially avoids an attack, of course, but this does not change that there ought to be absolutely no scenarios in which the outcome is sexual assault.

When it comes to terrorist attacks, our thinking about this topic (especially among progressives) changes. Suddenly, all kinds of deconstructions of the event are fair game.

Provided for example is the following article, by way of Glenn Greenwald:

Assed Baig has written an article titled "Woolwich and the Muslim Response".

Following is each paragraph with critiques.

The first bit:
The murder in Woolwich has shocked everyone, no one was prepared for such a killing on the streets of the UK. The response has been of disgust and condemnation. This incident has raised some questions that politicians and the mainstream media have conveniently dodged. I am disgusted and appalled by what has taken place, but why should I have to condemn or apologise for such a crime, it had nothing to do with me.


No one was prepared for such a killing in the UK?

Eight years ago Islamists lit up the transit system in London.

Does anyone seriously read a machete attack in the news and think it is something surprising? Or do people pick up the news and already know precisely what motivations the attacker has already?

This is such old news at this point, and Baig should stop pretending that these are loads of isolated incidents.

Why is it that Muslims and Muslim organisations are expected to condemn and distance themselves from the actions of two individuals? Why is it that Muslim organisations do not even need to be prompted to condemn; they are readily condemning actions that have nothing to do with them. There has been no attempt by Muslim organisations to discuss the causes of the attack, no attempt to question the mainstream media narrative that imposes labels on Muslims. 
I was born and brought up in a majority Muslim area of Birmingham. I have travelled the country and the world. I have come across thousands of Muslims, spoken, debated and challenged opinions. Radicalisation is not a religious problem, it is a problem of society, and specifically, in this case, British society.

In these paragraphs, Assed Baig is essentially asking the question: "What does this guy have to do with us?"

"Like, he presumably attended worship services with us, read the same authors as us, believed in the same supernatural reality as us, but beyond that why should Muslims have to answer any questions about this?"

Muslim leaders have been scared into silence. Prevent officers visiting mosques and community leaders frighten them. They are told that if Muslims display any political opinions outside the mainstream then they are extremists, that if they do not inform on them, that their bank accounts can be frozen, mosques closed and they could face prison. Muslims are afraid. Muslim organisations and leaders are subservient to the state, scared to mention foreign policy as a radicalising factor just in case they are harangued for justifying the murder. It has got to such a state that we do not even realise that our minds have been conditioned through years of media misrepresentation and widespread Islamophobia. Questioning the reason for a murder does not mean condoning or justifying it. Condemning something that has nothing to do with you feeds into the narrative that this is a Muslim problem, that this is something that the Muslim community are responsible for, at least in part.

So, Muslim leaders are too scared to deflect blame away from Islam because people will make them eat their words. 

Sounds fair so far?

In turn so-called Muslim leaders stifled debate and discussion in mosques, too afraid to discuss anything political. For too long they have played a subservient role to the state, asking for a seat at the table and hoping for crumbs to be passed to them. I have not met a Muslim that has condoned the actions in Woolwich, but let’s not ignore what radicalises. British foreign policy radicalises, double standards radicalise, making Muslim youngsters feel like their opinions are not legitimate radicalises, stifling debate and discussion radicalises, not giving people a conduit to vent their opinions and frustrations radicalises, a lack of identity in Britain radicalises, we are either extremists or moderates.

These "Muslim leaders" aren't subservient to the state. They were created by the state.

Governments have explicit policies that curate "diverse communities". The more noise you make, the more representative you must be of conservative religious groups. Often issues of family law is completely deferred to religious arbitration.

Education? That's also under the purview of conservative religious opinions.

The state elevates the power of Muslim leaders to ridiculous proportions.

We are told that Muslims are equal citizens in this country but the reality is something very different. If we say we don’t drink, we are labelled anti-social or not willing to integrate, if we drink we are labelled moderate, if a Muslim wears a hijab, she is oppressed, if she doesn’t she is liberated, if we express an opinion outside of the mainstream narrative, we are angry, if we join a mainstream political party we are passionate, if we sing the praises of the British establishment we are liberals, if we object to foreign policy we are extremists or Islamists.
This is just nonsense.

In a free society, nobody is obligated to like you. Get over it. Bring this stuff up with your therapist.

I for one am fed up of this apologetic and subservient tone. I have nothing to apologise for, I should not be asked to condemn the actions of two men that had nothing to do with me just as a white man should not be asked to condemn the murders committed by Anders Brevik or for the violent actions of the English Defence League.

The comparison is stupid.

Here's the thing: Islam is not a race.

White Norwegians are not responsible for Brevik.

Similarly, white British people are not responsible for the EDL.

However you can bet the EDL is responsible for the EDL.

After the Woolwich murder, nobody is asking black people for an apology. And nobody is asking the Arab population for an apology.

The message being sent is a firm, clear "WTF!" to the Muslim community.

Have Muslims not proved their worth to this country? Muslims have bled for this country during WWI and WWII, they have fought for Empire, they have served as colonial subjects, they have waved the flags, sang the anthems and anglicised their names –Mo and Ed. But still we are not accepted; we still hear ‘Muslim appearance’ in the mainstream media, which basically means non-white, not one of us.

The joke here is the outright denial that someone can look Muslim.

One can.

The religion has firm dress codes for men and women.

Muslims have an identifiable appearance, just like hipsters and stock brokers have an identifiable appearance. To deny this is insanity.

I am privileged, I went to university, I had an abundance of left-wing white friends that never questioned my opinions because of my religion or ethnicity, that accepted me as an equal, and made me feel that I had a place in society, we shared our politics as well as our battles.

Shared our politics?

Apparently "politics" in this sense is limited to opinions about worker's unions and the posted speed limits.

If Baig were to deeply inspect his political opinions, he may find that they don't overlap in all areas.

For example, can we expect to see Baig at the next gay pride parade? Probably not.

My parents still fear that I will be arrested for writing and expressing an opinion as a journalist. I have been inundated with calls since the attack from Muslims that are afraid of a backlash, one even asked me if there would be ethnic cleansing. I told them not to be afraid because I had faith in the British people to see through the fog that politicians and mainstream media perpetuate.

Don't worry, you won't get arrested unless you say something anti-Islam.

Draw a cartoon, perhaps.

Why is it that Joe Glenton can say that foreign policy is a radicalising factor but our so-called Muslim leaders tiptoe around the issue? Why is it that George Eaton can say that Muslims should not have to distance themselves from the attacks, but our so-called leaders are falling over themselves to do it? Why is it that Glenn Greenwald can question whether the attack is terrorism, but my fellow brothers and sisters are afraid to do the same?

Why can't someone say Islam is absolutely garbage without being called a racist "Islamophobe"?

I was born here, I am British, I am standing in the tradition that says that my opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s, that I have a right to object to the hypocritical treatment vented out to Muslims without being accused of condoning or justifying such attacks. There are Muslims that will disagree with me, that is fine, we must understand that we are not a homogenous group, Anjum Choudry and his motley crew do not represent me, neither do the Muslim Council of Britain with their 400 affiliated mosques run by old men in committees. Unfortunately non-Muslims in the public sphere represent my views more than our so-called Muslim leaders.

Shouldn't be surprising, as you previously stated you share "politics" with a bunch of "left-wing white friends".

To be ‘leaders’, senior Muslim figures must lead. Whilst politicians and the media carry on scapegoating Muslims, a true community leadership must face up to the reality of foreign policy and suppression of Muslim communities over the last decade, and call it out for what it is.
This is overwhelming absurdity.

First, Baig states that Muslims really aren't answerable to the actions of other Muslims.

Then he states that Muslims are British, should be commended for being "colonial subjects", fighting for the Empire and fighting in both world wars. Supporting British foreign policy, in other words.

In the midst of a lot of strange comparisons, Baig attempts to say that Muslims aren't a homogeneous population, they don't necessarily agree on everything, and this is perhaps why he thinks that a "Sorry" is not required.

Then finally, in a climax of contradiction, Baig chastises Muslim leaders for their inability to call a spade a spade and blame it all on British foreign policy.

Wait, didn't Baig say that Muslims didn't have to agree? That Muslims didn't need to apologize?

Now all of a sudden Muslims must join in solidarity, and ask the British government (and presumably its people) for an apology for the murder in Woolwich.

This is the same old "progressive" dead horse.

Woolwich, in Baig's and Greenwald's mind, is just another incident of "blowback".

In their eyes, Islam is absolutely blameless and is a completely inert political ideology. Somehow, Islam can convince someone to wake up at dawn to pray but magically cannot convince one to cut up the nonbelievers. Even when the books pretty much spell it out.

For many "progressives", the real culprit is western foreign policy and western "Islamophobes".  Somehow, unstable people from Nigeria, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, etc are losing their minds over minute details of British foreign policy!

To the western world, Baig and Greenwald are saying "Look at what you're wearing. I mean really!"

"With that top on, who wouldn't want to kill your innocent citizens?"

"You dress like you want a jihad!"

1 comment:

  1. False equivalence, top to bottom. The Woolwich "murder" and blowback in general is more the equivalent of a witness to a gang rape dishing out some vigilante justice to one of the perps. Maybe you think that's still objectionable, but it's another argument entirely.