Facts vs. Narrative, Utoya Edition

by matttbastard

Norwegian journalist Magnus Nome was in the good ol’ US of A when self-styled counterjihadist crusader  Anders Breivik decided to escalate his murderous fantasies about Eurabian conquest from Outer Wingnuttia into the real world.  Thankfully, CNN, Fox News et al were ready to provide informed, accurate, up-to-the-minute coverage of events on the ground:

The news coverage over the following days taught me a lot of interesting new ‘facts’ about the innocent nation of Norway.

1. Apparently we don’t lock our doors at night. Wrong. We do.

2. There is no public debate about immigration. Wrong. Immigration generally, and Islam specifically, have been high on the agenda for more than a decade.

3. We’re all white. Wrong. Norway has become an increasingly diverse society since the early 1970s: almost a third of Oslo now has non-Norwegian origin, more than one in ten being Muslim.

4. Owning a gun is practically illegal. Wrong. Hunting and sport shooting are popular recreational activities, and Norway ranks high in gun ownership.

5. The Utøya victims were all white, and the terrorist did not kill any Muslims. Wrong. The victims reflected a diverse Norwegian society. Several of the dead were Muslims, several were of African or Middle Eastern ancestry. This information was available. It is extremely disrespectful to airbrush them out of the story to make it more coherent.

As they say, read the whole damn thing, especially if everything you know about Norway — and about Anders Breivik & far-right nationalism in Europe — was learned via teh cablez.

Image: apgroner, flickr

Rima Fakih’s Trojan Bikini

by matttbastard

Sometimes it takes well over a thousand words to highlight the absurdity of the viral xenophobia that periodically sweeps over the more Islamophobic denziens of Outer Wingnuttia.

This time it would (at first) appear that a mere picture will suffice:

Of course, as Echidne points out, the rush to silently refute the ridiculously simplistic racism expressed by Pipes, Schlussel, et al with a li’l bit o’ SEO-friendly T&A and some progressive leering pretty much ignores the broader issues surrounding beauty pageants, their continued place in Western culture, and what all that means for women as women, not as SHARIA-SHILLING ISLAMOFASCISTS OUT TO STEAL TEH PATRIARCHY FROM ITS RIGHTFUL WHITE CHRISTIAN INHERITORS!!11one

Quoth everyone’s fav snake goddess:

I have no idea what Ms. Fakih’s religion is and it’s not really relevant, because I’m writing of those guy reactions:

Daniel Pipes manages to mash together his support of the objectification of women (yes! sometimes I have to sound feminazi) with his hatred of affirmative action and his fear of the Muslims to get–what? The idea that the judges in those pageants let Muslim women win for political reasons or multiculturalist appeasement or something like that.

And the liberal guys pick up that ball and fly with it! Nooooh! Muslim women really are dishier and prettier than Christian women, and here are the examples!

If you don’t believe me, check out this comments thread to a related post.

Note how it all became something about ethnicity or religion and how the gender angle was completely and totally lost? Yet I’m quite sure that this was not on purpose. Women’s issues are simply not as visible or as important as all those other issues.

Of course, one could (and should) argue that ethnicity and religion are bound together (or intersect, if you will) with gender. Still, the lack of specific gender-based analysis  among the majority of left-liberal commentators during this latest orgy of manufactured outrage (and a preponderance of progressive responses that tend to reinforce rather than challenge the basic sexist assumptions behind the arguments presented by many on the right) is rather telling. 

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Even in the Age of Obama, Flying While Brown is Still Hazardous

by matttbastard

The more things Change™, the more they stay the same:

Officials ordered nine Muslim passengers, including three young children, off an AirTran flight headed to Orlando from Reagan National Airport yesterday afternoon after two other passengers overheard what they thought was a suspicious remark.

Members of the party, all but one of them U.S.-born citizens who were headed to a religious retreat in Florida, were subsequently cleared for travel by FBI agents who characterized the incident as a misunderstanding, an airport official said. But the passengers said AirTran refused to rebook them, and they had to pay for seats on another carrier secured with help from the FBI.

According to Kashif Irfan, one of the passengers removed from the flight, “five of the six adults in the party are of South Asian descent, and all six are traditionally Muslim in appearance, with the men wearing beards and the women in headscarves.”

Entirely coincidental, I’m sure.

Even so, AirTran went into full spin mode following the incident:

AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson agreed that the incident amounted to a misunderstanding. But he defended AirTran’s handling of the incident, which he said strictly followed federal rules. And he denied any wrongdoing on the airline’s part.

“At the end of the day, people got on and made comments they shouldn’t have made on the airplane, and other people heard them,” Hutcheson said. “Other people heard them, misconstrued them. It just so happened these people were of Muslim faith and appearance. It escalated, it got out of hand and everyone took precautions.”

Yes, it “just so happened” that the people kicked off the plane for making “comments they shouldn’t have made” were scary brown people wearing scary Muslim clothing.

Ahem.

If you buy that load of frozen high-altitude airplane waste , well, I also have some prime TWA stock available for purchase at a fabulous price.

Vanessa @ Feministing isn’t buying:

The fact of the matter is that if “these people” weren’t of Muslim faith and appearance, this wouldn’t have happened.

Gee, ya think?!

Oh, and what were these comments that were so inappropriate that the plane just had to be evacuated and the FBI called in?

CNN:

“The conversation, as we were walking through the plane trying to find our seats, was just about where the safest place in an airplane is,” [Inayet] Sahin said. “We were (discussing whether it was safest to sit near) the wing, or the engine or the back or the front, but that’s it. We didn’t say anything else that would raise any suspicion.”

The conversation did not contain the words “bomb,” “explosion,” “terror” or other words that might have aroused suspicion, [Atif ] Irfan said.

“When we were talking, when we turned around, I noticed a couple of girls kind of snapped their heads,” said Sobia Ijaz, Irfan’s wife. “I kind of thought to myself, ‘Oh, you know, maybe they’re going to say something.‘ It didn’t occur to me that they were going to make it such a big issue.”

Hah–never underestimate the potential overblown idiocy of jittery airline passengers in a full-on post-9/11 ethnic panic state (“ZOMG TERRORISTS IZ GUNNA BLOW UP THE PLANE–LET’S ROLL!!!!1″) Still, I’m rather astounded at how remarkably sanguine the family is about the entire farcical (if infuriating) situation. Can’t say I’d be so reserved if I somehow found myself sitting across from the FBI, all because I dared to inappropriately express completely understandable concerns over flight safety (while being brown, scary and clad in funny-looking religious garb).

But don’t think a lack of righteous outrage means the family is rolling over:

“Really, at the end of the day, we’re not out here looking for money. I’m an attorney. I know how the court system works. We’re basically looking for someone to say… ‘We’re apologizing for treating you as second-class citizens.'”

“We are proud Americans,” Sahin said. “You know we decided to have our children and raise them here. We can very easily go anywhere we want in the world, but you know we love it here and we’re not going to go away, no matter what.”

Aziz said there is a “very strong possibility” he will pursue a civil rights lawsuit.

“I guess it’s just a situation of guilt by association,” Aziz said. “They see one Muslim talking to another Muslim and they automatically assume something wrong is going on.”

Libby Spencer lays out the bottom line:

If we allow ourselves to diminish our humanity and toss our common sense out of fear of terrorism, then [the terrorists have] won without lifting a finger.

Signed. Off.

h/t The Obscure Store and Reading Room

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

matttbastard at Muslimah Media Watch

by matttbastard

My thanks to the fine folks at Muslimah Media Watch for crossposting my post on Faiza M:

Muslimah Media Watch is a forum where we, as Muslim women, can critique how our images appear in the media and popular culture. Although we are of different nationalities, sects, races, etc., we have something important in common: we’re tired of seeing ourselves portrayed by the media in ways that are one-dimensional and misleading. This is a space where, from a Muslim feminist perspective, we can speak up for ourselves.

As Muslim feminists we aim to locate and critique misogyny, sexism, patriarchy, Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia as they affect Muslim women. Furthermore, we believe in equality — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, and ability.

This blog is meant to be inclusive to all people, with a special focus on Muslim women. MMW strives to create an environment in which our writers and readers feel safe and welcome. We ask that you be considerate towards others and their opinions. This is a respectful forum for dialogue, not argument or personal attacks.

Add MMW to your bookmarks/blogroll/subscriptions (assuming you haven’t already done so)

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Yes, Virginia, People Actually Get Paid For This Horsesh!t.

by matttbastard

(h/t Red Tory)

“Muslim in his blood“? What, like cancer, or *ahem* an opiate? Naomi Klein throws a bucket of common sense on the bonfire of racist stupidity that is fueling Middle-Namegate, calling on Obama to forcefully douse the “controversy” once and for all:

Occasionally, though not nearly enough, Obama says that Muslims are “deserving of respect and dignity.” What he has never done is what Singer called for in Poland: denounce the attacks themselves as racist propaganda, in this case against Muslims.

The core of Obama’s candidacy is that he alone–who lived in Indonesia as a boy and has an African grandmother–can “repair the world” after the Bush wrecking ball. That repair job begins with the 1.4 billion Muslims around the world, many of whom are convinced that the United States has been waging a war against their faith. This perception is based on facts, among them the fact that Muslim civilians are not counted among the dead in Iraq and Afghanistan; that Islam has been desecrated in US-run prisons; that voting for an Islamic party resulted in collective punishment in Gaza. It is also fueled by the rise of a virulent strain of Islamophobia in Europe and North America.

As the most visible target of this rising racism, Obama has the power to be more than its victim. He can use the attacks to begin the very process of global repair that is the most seductive promise of his campaign. The next time he’s asked about his alleged Muslimness, Obama can respond not just by clarifying the facts but by turning the tables. He can state clearly that while a liaison with a pharmaceutical lobbyist may be worthy of scandalized exposure, being a Muslim is not. Changing the terms of the debate this way is not only morally just but tactically smart–it’s the one response that could defuse these hateful attacks.

Expanding on Klein’s sentiments, some “politically isolated” American Muslims (yes, they vote, too) feeling singed by the flames of bigotry say they want more than empty apologies from pols for perpetuating the proxy attacks on Muslims and their faith (h/t Kate Sheppard @ TAPPED):

American Muslims complain their faith is being used as a scare tactic, possibly inflaming prejudices already heightened by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the subsequent war and terrorist bombings. The recent ploys, leaders say, insinuate that simply being or associating with Muslims is sinister.

[...]

“It would be good if the president and leaders of both parties would say: ‘Enough. We’re better than this,’ ” said Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “It’s disconcerting to me they haven’t.” Republicans have criticized some of the tactics, as has the National Council of Churches. Muslim leaders say while the politicians’ admonishments are needed, they fall short of the full-throated defense other religions would receive.

“They’re not apologizing for the bigotry, but rather it’s unstatesmanlike to insult each other,” ElGenaidi said.

And while the Village Idiots endlessly parse the difference between “denounce” and “reject” as it relates to (evilscaryangryMuslimneegro) Louis Farrakhan’s unsolicited support of Obama, John Sidney McCain III openly and actively courts anti-Papist apocalyptic end-timer “Christian Zionist” John Hagee, who recently endorsed the Maverick.

Yes, that John Hagee:

Sez Saint McCain:

I don’t have to agree with everyone who endorses my candidacy. They are supporting my candidacy. I am not endorsing some of their positions. . . .

And I am very proud of the Pastor John Hagee’s spiritual leadership to thousands of people and I am proud of his commitment to the independence and the freedom of the state of Israel. That does not mean that I support or endorse or agree with some of the things that Pastor John Hagee might have said or positions that he may have taken on other issues.

Glenn Greenwald nails it:

“White evangelical Ministers are free to advocate American wars based on Biblical mandates, rant hatefully against Islam, and argue that natural disasters occur because God hates gay people. They are still fit for good company, an important and cherished part of our mainstream American political system. The entire GOP establishment is permitted actively to lavish them with praise and court their support without the slightest backlash or controversy. Both George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent formal greetings to the 2006 gathering of Hagee’s group.

By contrast, black Muslim ministers like Farrakhan, or even black Christian ministers like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are held with deep suspicion, even contempt. McCain is free to hug and praise the Rev. Hagees of the world, but Obama is required to prove over and over and over and over that he does not share the more extreme views of black Ministers.

Or, as dnA succinctly puts it:

So Hagee hates black people, Jews, gays, and on and on. McCain has appeared in public with this man. So why is he acceptable while Farrakhan is viewed with such hate?

Because he’s white [and Christian, and a Republican - mb].

Simple answers, kids. Somebody wake my ass up on November 5th.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

“The only reason to call that…a ‘demographic winter’ is if you’re overly focused on which babies are being born.”

by matttbastard

Kathryn Joyce on anti-choicers, European xenophobia, and the “The Demographic Winter”.

More here and here.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers