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. 

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Fox News: Stayin’ KKKlassy After All These Years

by matttbastard

Wow. So, um, THAT’S what Brian KKKilmeade is like when he’s not flouncing off the Fox & Friends set. (“Other species?”  Buh?!)

h/t Patti Digh (via  The War Room)

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Truthiness and National Priorities

by matttbastard

533,000 US jobs lost in November, raising the unemployment rate to 6.7%. And they’re still fucking talking about that oft-debunked conspiracy theory regarding Obama’s citizenship.

We are so fucked.

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Missouri State Senate Panel Report Blames Abortion For Influx of Undocumented Workers

by matttbastard

UPDATE: My bad — this story is actually from 2006. Not to say that’s any comfort, since, as Ann notes in comments, both Tom DeLay and Mike Huckabee have since repeated the spurious claim that abortion causes illegal immigration. END UPDATE

Via Jill and Sylvia/M (by email), McCain’s consolation prize has further affirmed its right-wing bona fides:

A Republican-led legislative panel [in Missouri] says in a new report on illegal immigration that abortion is partly to blame because it is causing a shortage of American workers.

The report from the state House Special Committee on Immigration Reform also says that “liberal social welfare policies” have discouraged Americans from working and have encouraged immigrants to cross the border illegally.
The statements about abortion and welfare policies, along with a recommendation to abolish income taxes in favor of sales taxes, were inserted into the immigration report by Rep. Edgar G.H. Emery (R), the panel’s chairman.

[...]

“You don’t have to think too long. If you kill 44 million of your potential workers, it’s not too surprising we would be desperate for workers.”

[...]

“The lack of traditional work ethic, combined with the effects of 30 years of abortion and expanding liberal social welfare policies have produced a shortage of workers and a lack of incentive for those who can work.”

Hey, at least they didn’t blame Satan; that’s a small purple post-partisan victory of sorts.

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Birdwatching.

by matttbastard

kkk_0173

(Photo: Joeff Davis, Creative Loafing)

Jonathan Stein, responding to a disturbing AP report on the hundreds of hate crimes that have reportedly occurred since Obama’s election victory, seems genuinely perplexed by the racist sentiment being expressed in some quarters towards the president-elect:

I know no one actually believed that America would transform into a post-racial paradise because of Obama’s victory, but did anyone think we’d see a wave of hate crimes?

Yeah, whoda thunk it? I mean, it’s not like McCain-Palin ran a Wallace-lite backlash campaign, (deliberately) stirring up white working class animus towards an uppity socialist/terrorist Muslim who “just isn’t like ‘us'” (ie, not a ‘real American’) and is now POTUS.

Well, regardless, everything changed the morning of November 5th, right?

Cough.

Mark Potek of the SPLC, as quoted by David Neiwert:

I think there’s something remarkable happening out there. I think we really are beginning to see a white backlash that may grow fairly large. The situation’s worrying.

Not only do we have continuing nonwhite immigration, not only is the economy in the tank and very likely to get worse, but we have a black man in the White House. That is driving a kind of rage in a certain sector of the white population that is very, very worrying to me.

We are seeing literally hundreds of incidents around the country — from cross-burnings to death threats to effigies hanging to confrontations in schoolyards, and it’s quite remarkable.

I think that there are political leaders out there who are saying incredibly irresponsible things that could have the effect of undamming a real flood of hate. That includes media figures. On immigration, they have been some of the worst.

There’s a lot going on, and it’s very likely to lead to scapegoating. And in the end, scapegoating leaves corpses in the street.

Like I’ve said before, the next four years are going to be a wild fucking ride. And nobody with any sense should be surprised that a number of resentful white folk didn’t get the post-racial birdwatching memo.

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The Stench of Desperation (I am [not] Joe).

by matttbastard

Right wing identity politics and carefully-manufactured pseudo-populist rage against ‘vote fraud’; Race/red/God-baiting Obama to ridiculous extremes; the hyperbolic overreaction to McCain’s latest campaign stunt FAIL.

Oh, and my personal favourite, McCarthyism redux from Rep. Michele Bachmann:

Everywhere you turn, it seems doctrinaire right-wingers, in concert with the McCain campaign, are flailing wildly, lashing out with every trick they know, every demonstrative tactic that used to be filed under ‘slam dunk’ in the wingnutosphere handbook.

But you know what?

None of it means a goddamn thing, because–sorry, wingnuts–it’s still the fucking economy, stupid; all the irony-free ‘I am Spartacus’ circle jerks in the world won’t magically reverse the real average Joe and Josephine’s negative home equity, protect their jobs, nor will it restore their 401k, inoculate them from losing it all. Like it or not, in this election cycle, issues are trumping (trouncing, trampling) identity. Which is why your out of touch, totally overwhelmed and over-matched Maverick is losing.

Deal with it.

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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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Citizenship and Submission

by matttbastard

I’m having trouble reconciling the following with “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”:

France has denied citizenship to a Moroccan woman who wears a burqa on the grounds that her “radical” practice of Islam is incompatible with basic French values such as equality of the sexes.

[...]

The woman, known as Faiza M, is 32, married to a French national and lives east of Paris. She has lived in France since 2000, speaks good French and has three children born in France. Social services reports said she lived in “total submission” to her husband. Her application for French nationality was rejected in 2005 on the grounds of “insufficient assimilation” into France. She appealed, invoking the French constitutional right to religious freedom and saying that she had never sought to challenge the fundamental values of France. But last month the Council of State, France’s highest administrative body, upheld the ruling.

“She has adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes,” it said.

The article goes on to explain the Council of State’s definition of ‘radical':

The legal expert who reported to the Council of State said the woman’s interviews with social services revealed that “she lives almost as a recluse, isolated from French society”.

The report said: “She has no idea about the secular state or the right to vote. She lives in total submission to her male relatives. She seems to find this normal and the idea of challenging it has never crossed her mind.”

The woman had said she was not veiled when she lived in Morocco and had worn the burqa since arriving in France at the request of her husband. She said she wore it more from habit than conviction.

Someone who adheres to a non-mainstream religious practice “out of habit” rather than “conviction” doesn’t strike me as all that “radical”.

Daniele Lochak, a law professor not involved in the case, said it was bizarre to consider that excessive submission to men was a reason not to grant citizenship. “If you follow that to its logical conclusion, it means that women whose partners beat them are also not worthy of being French,” he told Le Monde.

I really do find the use of the term “radical” interesting. The connotations are that the practice of Faiza M’s beliefs somehow pose an existential threat to French society, thus the rationale behind the denial of citizenship. And it’s telling that it’s the women who always seems to be the ones who are placed in the position of having to justify their existence (damned if you do, damned if you don’t).

But what about the men to whom she has “submitted”? They are already French citizens, and seem to be facing no consequences for making such “radical” demands upon Faiza in the first place. She has, in effect, been denied agency, reduced to a wayward vessel who deserves to be punished for, in effect, not saying ‘non’ as a ‘real’ Frenchwoman would (except when they don’t, as pointed out in the article). Once again, Muslims–specifically, Muslimahs–who dare to practice their oh-so-freaky religion in ways the majority find distasteful serve as public whipping posts for the sins of the nebulous ‘other’ which, by virtue of mere existence, is apparently chipping away at the structural integrity of the liberal democratic secular state.

And that’s really all I feel comfortable saying at this point, and probably won’t comment further, apart from moderation duties. I would much prefer to hear from women–especially Muslimahs–about what they think and how they feel about this.

Thoughts?

Update: Also see this thread @ BnR started by Chrystal Ocean of Challenging the Commonplace.

Edited at Chrystal’s recommendation (thanks!) to incorporate additional commentary originally posted at BnR/in comments in slightly different form (ie, I corrected some typos)

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“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.

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