Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Iran vs. Doug Ireland, Pt. III

My old friend, activist extraordinaire Jesse Heiwa, weighed in on the discussion about Iranian homophobia. The discussion gets into some issues of interest primarily to radical queer activists (I have skipped all the ad hominems against Yasmin Nair, which are part of what she and Jesse are responding to), but there are also issues brought up of wider interest.

My favorite line of Jesse's is probably:

"The main point is, what is Doug Ireland's agenda and does it serve U.S. imperialism in practice. The answer is YES."

Jesse wrote:
My two cents are that I would agree that queers should be opposed to the death penalty, (particularly "radical" queers), that there should be a critique of a mainstream gay identity that often is about reinforcing white (substitute gay for straight) male privilege, which often invisibilizes working class queer lives because we're not as good "consumers" as the affluent among us. That being said, we need to figure out also when to work with each other, even if there's not total agreement on everything. But frankly, at least on political terms (I don't know her personally so I can't comment on that), I agree with Yasmin, also there's a lot of racist crap even among queer "leftists" and I sense that this might have been part of the equation vis a vis "Queer To The Left", but I don't know so can't say for a fact.

The main point is, what is Doug Ireland's agenda and does it serve U.S. imperialism in practice. The answer is YES.


Yasmin Nair then responded:

JLH is right on in the analysis of race matters among the so-called left. To put it bluntly, it doesn't take much for a bunch of self-proclaimed lefties to turn into a lynch mob if a person of colour, especially if a mere and silly *girl*, disagrees. My own issues with some of the more banal forms of identity politics have meant that I've resisted naming my various identities, not all of which will be called forth today, even when they might seem obvious (and they've been known to Ireland and his ilk). And I want to emphasise that this discussion has, admirably, been not about people but issues (except for the notable exceptions). Respondents on this listserv have provided the kind of rock-solid analyses that left all of the July 19 arguments in shreds, so I won't repeat those.

However, in this current context, I think it's worth asking: How bizarre is it that those who claim to be fighting for opressed queer Iranians should have no problems beating up on a queer woman of colour who dares to question their politics around queers of colour/their forcefully imagined Others, anywhere? What does that say about the politics of rescue that overshadows this new and bizarre "movement"? Over and over, Ireland brings up the fact that he knows Iranians, French people of colour - hell, the whole bloody global rainbow is in his living room. But hey, one word of dissent from a part of that spectrum and all hell breaks loose. A dissenter's cultural identity should not, strictly speaking, matter but in this case the proponents of the "Day of Action" seem determined that the Other shall only speak in their language. Perhaps they resent the fact that the dissenter did not offer a harrowing tale that proved her authenticity as a truly marginalised foreign Other. Perhaps it's too much for the rescuers to comprehend that not all oppressions are marked by the plea for help. Or that demanding that subjects only speak if they can articulate particular narratives of authentic suffering is more violent than the project of rescue itself. The mind boggles.

That said, I think these last few days have witnessed some of the best writing on the topic of this "global queer" so-called movement and related matters. I agree with Solomon that our collective thinking about these issues has benefited greatly from the extraordinary output of analysis that this topic has generated.

I'd like to suggest that those of us who haven't already now go ahead and write to one, some, or all of the organisations that have apparently signed on to this strange idea of an International Day Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran (that is, those of us who don't agree with the idea). I believe this includes IDAHO, HOSI, IGLHRC, ILGA and a few others (I believe the last two have signed on). I think it's worth reminding ourselves that writing to organisations and letting them know that their constituents (even if they don't see us as such, and if we don't either) actually have opinions. Maybe next time, they'll be more inclined to actually think about their actions before foisting the consequences of such upon us. I mean, whom do IGLHRC and ILGA represent anyway?

I also think it's worth continuing a discussion about what really counts as queer radical politics and how best to continue to insert that into the public sphere. This entire discussion has shown the great strengths of a critically self-aware radical politics. I used to think it was gay marriage, with its attendant cementing of inequalities and unequal distribution of benefits, that exposed the fault-lines and schisms in left/radical queer politics and brought out all the secret neuroses and dreams of attaining the status quo that had apparently remained hidden from view as we battled conservatives/liberals on a host of other issues. But now, perhaps it's time to consider this "global gay" movement as well and how it reveals and perpetuates the very violence and inequality it claims to eliminate. But then again, perhaps, judging from Daniel's post, there's really not much of a movement anyway -- except in its own bloated head.

Again, full text after the jump.


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