International


Katie Cannon once wrote that one of the major problems with being radical is that moral values that do not center the status quo are not disputed, but simply not recognized as such.

There is no such thing, in the American imagination, as a leftist morality. By definition, we are amoral. We can talk all day long about the value of inclusion, for instance, but Ricky Santorum can still get cultural traction for discussing man on dog sex.

Values which oppose the mainstream are not values, they are lawlessness.

Which is the only way i could possibly explain the following quote.

“Fashion statements may seem insignificant, but when they lead to the mainstreaming of violence – unintentionally or not – they matter,” Ms Malkin has written.

Intention doesn’t matter. She’s right on that. But how else can one read that line from the author of In Defense of Interment?

Her words, intentionally or not, have helped mainstream violence against Arab Americans. And, for that matter, against Palestinians, Iraqis, Afganis, and may God forbid it from coming to pass…Iranians.

Values not supportive of the ancien regime are not simply rejected.

-sly

Advertisements

The challenge, however, rests in persuading people that their grandparents, parents and they themselves have harmed their daughters. Moreover, advocates must convince a skeptical public that men will marry a woman who has not undergone the procedure and that circumcision is not necessary to preserve family honor. It is a challenge to get men to give up some of their control over women.

This, by the way, is the difficult and real work of reducing harm and eroding the support of a practice like FGM. It will not be stopped by the shallow and callous bravery of armchair neo-colonialists who demonstrate their commitment by signing a petition.

Legal bans mean little. The force of law does not immediate encompass the power of worldview. This is the long haul. This is the real task. It seems to be taking shape here in community organizing, sexual education, and the recruitment of allies. Now, undoubtedly, there may be some criticisms to be made here, and some might be impatient with this kind of gradualist approach.* But how many genital mutilations have you successfully stopped lately?

Last time out, I took some unholy flak for being some kind of moral weakling, unable to face up to just how wrong FGM is. My point is that my personal opinion matters very little. The ways in which we choose to deal with cultural change do matter. And the simplistic and colonial fantasy of a objective solution has only made things worse.

That’s not irony. It’s our moral culpability.

-sly

*For one, the article notes how reformers have to reassure folks that circumcision is not necessary to prevent homosexuality. I’m not entirely willing to bracket my communities right to exist, but I’m at least willing to discuss the relative levels of harm involved. I’d rather see the beginning of a more comprehensive sexual education model than find a sticking point. There is no obligation to view the currently effective as the long term goal.

Finally, at long last, Dubya compares Iraq to Vietnam.

And says we went home too soon, assigning the moral blame for the chaos that followed on American anti-war efforts.

You know, not mentioning Operation Menu and US aid to Pol Pot…

That omission might be described as willful and malicious.

Never say you’re sorry…

-sly

One of the arguments that I’ve heard about homophobia in communities of color could be boiled down to:

We’re the victims!

Now, I don’t play too many games with this stuff…if someone hates you on account of you being queer, I’m not going to ask if you’ve been following your Emily Post. It’s probably safe to say that they may be a homophobe. Especially if violence, threatened or otherwise is involved. A individual queer gets attacked for being queer, that is not their fault. I don’t blame the victim.

But don’t get it twisted. Communities are not individuals. But on a macro level, we don’t get that kind of consideration. Why? Because we do have power. Maybe not enough, maybe at a high cost, but we’ve got power. In many regards, we have institutional level backing. Conflicted support, sure, but watching the dems dodge the questions last night about gay marriage should remind us that we’re in the room to ask the question, and they at least think they can’t outwardly gay bait us. Did you watch the republican debate?

I’m not celebrating, i’m still fighting. And i won’t stop until queer love has the same legal considerations as straight love. But incomplete power is still power. And that means accountability.

Journey Woman is in Trinidad these days, and finding herself torn. Go read the whole thing, but i’ll post this as a teaser.

At this point I had to fight back the urge to scream, cry and just run away from this all. This is all too much to handle at sometimes.

I want to hold on to my people and this country so tight, but I can only do this if I deny who I am. I find myself now in a bind, do I continue to blend? Or do I make a stand? Do I even have the agency and authority to make such a bold stand? Where is my safe place?

You see, it’s a question we have to ask. Why is homophobia taking such strong root in certain places and culturess? We, as a community, can ask that without violating our own dignity because as a whole we’re not the victims. This is an externality.

Mainstream advocacy, movements, and cultures directed at and created by us are responsible for the choices we make. And some of those choices, such as unchallenged racism and complicity with traditional power structures, may be part of the fuel that feeds this fire. And even when it’s not our doing, but the cynical manipulations of others that pits communities of color against us…

We can do better than playing the victim. To the extent that we’re safe, protected by whiteness, class, or situation…we have to do better. Because we’re not bearing the cost of our actions and rhetoric. It’s become an externality, where queers of color, our alleged siblings in the struggle are taking the hit, and feeling a double alienation and a painful disconnection.

I’m a white queer, and this is the question I can be asking and the work I can be doing. I cheer on and give any (appropriate) support to movements within communities racked by homophobia that seek to challenge that. And I’m honored by the friendship of folk who are doing just that. There’s no reason for delay, no accounting to be made if we’re still the disadvantaged party who ought to wait for the other to do right. As if our open arms and healed relationships will not give those allies more strength for their work?

The bottom line is that some of us are being asked to choose between parts of themselves, made to cut their identities apart.

We have to treat our family better than that.

-sly

Sly’s done it again. For the third time in just over a week, my neck has gone haywire. It still hurts like nothing else, and I can’t think much.

But I’ll lay out a contrast I noticed.

Quixote at Shakesville goes Neo-con on us, and Mandolin at Alas (writing earlier) notes why self-righteousness is tasty, but is not particularly useful against a cultural practice.

Note the language differences. Scare quoting “culturally sensitive” is something that white racists do. “It’s happening right here at home!” is something xenophobes say.

Previously, I winged by this topic by way of foot binding

Seeing the grays is not an optional thing. Telling the full truth about a situation means recognizing complexity.

White Supremacy is not a feminist act.

-sly

So…damn.

The Anglican Church in Canada has declined to authorize same sex unions. The silver lining here is that it seems to be a provisional decision. Basically, it seems like they’re going to wait for the US church to split the communion, and then they’ll probably follow suit, confirming the worst stereotypes of Canadians. This time it really will be a shame, because leading the charge here would have been a real act of justice. It’s not just about ordination, but the broad participation of queer communities in Christendom as priests, laypersons, and seekers.

The vote was close, damn close in fact. Which makes it all the more frustrating. Holding fingers in dikes (teehee) is not a solid policy plan. The church is splitting, but we have to stop pretending that it is our innovation that is causing the rift. Homophobia is a modern invention, and the cynical appeal to “tradition” is the post-colonial backlash of a troubled institution. I have to think that if in the mission field, the Anglican Church had been more strongly identified with democratic movements and liberation, we wouldn’t be here…where conservative appointees of the African church take the money and plaudits of the conservative first world church and sell their “authenticity” back to their patrons.

Akinola in particular, strikes me as particularly fraudulent, hawking his Africanness as unimpeachability while promoting the criminalization of opposition in his own country and staking a position as a well heeled thug. His comments following the Muhammed cartoon dust up were nothing less than terroristic threats, and a display of the worst kind of judgment, that which believes that the outer limits of behavior are determined by what one can get away with.

His reverse colonization of America with missions may strike his constituency as ironic revenge on the West, but the fact remains that he serves only two interests. Himself and his patrons. The Nigerian Church will not benefit from this in the long term…the parallel church in America may provide funds to him, but their benevolence will not come without conditions. Warren and his other American allies will do what they have always done, which is to colonize. Providing moral cover for conservatives by playing race against orientation will not give African churches autonomy.

Adding to this, I perhaps have not mentioned it much here…but I have been in the process of re-alighning myself again within Christendom. While my love for the Baptists is deep and enduring…the simple reality of someone who travels is that finding a church on a given Sunday is a major concern. I’ve been going back to the Episcopal Church as an ironic haven of sorts. The contraversy is strong there, but there are organized allies too. And while i sorrow at the impending split, I can take great comfort in the pattern of worship I find there. No matter what else happens in the worldwide church, bread is broken and wine poured out. So i’ve learned to genuflect again, and begun conforming myself to the pattern of worship. It is an odd thing to know that one is actively being made in this way, shaped by the habitus of practice. But it is interesting to choose it, not knowing all the ways that it will play out.

I still affirm my call to ministry in the Baptist tradition, but it is becoming more and more apparent to me the ways in which this is inseparable from the call to love this other tradition as part of the laity.

-sly

Recall when various members of the Government and Congress, including leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee could not describe the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims, or even identify which factions were prevalent in which nations?

Apparently, the Let’s Bomb Iran crowd either doesn’t know either, or is counting on that ignorance to help propel the march to war.

Look for Juan Cole to cover this claim.

-sc

Next Page »