This week readers raised some controversial questions. You discussed the Joe Biden campaign and attempts to present “queer” Muslims. We share your letters for “Sanders, Biden, and the Electability Scam” and “BAR Book Forum: Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo’s ‘Halal If You Hear Me.’”
In “Sanders, Biden, and the Electability Scam” Glen Fordexamines the reality behind the electability narrative being advocated for the Biden campaign and its effects on black voters.
“The Dems have been portraying every election as the most important one ever and their Republican opponent as the most dangerous and awful ever. Then they nominate someone who is an establishment shill and only marginally better than the Republican. This year, their scare tactics are more justified but they don’t appear to be willing to nominate someone who can actually win.”
“Biden was the original DLC candidate who moved the Democrat Party post-Reagan in 1988 towards the right wing corporate party it now is. No surprise Biden continues to defend the mass incarceration regime he and Clinton created. Why is Ms Harris always laughing? I cannot take her seriously. While ‘Reverend’ Jackson calls out Biden for his role supporting the mass incarceration of Black people, I will always remember the time Jackson spoke in Long Beach in the days after the L.A. Riots/Rebellion in May 1992 and called for the National Guard to be deployed to round up poor people looting stores.”
“BAR Book Forum: Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo’s ‘Halal If You Hear Me’” discusses a new collection of poems and essay by queer, gender non-conforming, trans and other Muslim writers.
Patrick El Hagewrites:
“The irony of the nominally anti-racist push to queer Islam is that it implicitly validates imperial propaganda on at least 3 levels.
“First, it implies that some multi-faceted cultural understanding of Muslims is somehow necessary when guiding our political decision making. It isn't. Every last single Iraqi could have personally participated in the stoning of a gay man or woman, and it would be thoroughly irrelevant to whether or not to oppose the invasion of Iraq.
“Second, while it is true that patently false cultural narratives often serve as the backbone of imperial propaganda, it is beside the point to try to counter these with the ‘correct’ cultural narrative (an identitarian and ultimately colonial notion in and of itself, regardless of how multifaceted it is). This would be as misguided as insisting that if Europeans had had a better understanding of biology, the trans-Atlantic slave trade would have never occurred. Indeed, where biology failed religion replaced it, and vice versa. The roots of imperial policies lie in the actual class interests that underlie them, not the cultural narratives that are constructed as moral band aids to justify them. The correct anti-imperial approach then is not to counter with a ‘better’ cultural narrative (whatever that means), but to expose the cultural approach as a non-sequitur that is meant to mask the political. To put the matter more bluntly, the anti-imperial response to ‘Muslims are homophobic’ is not ‘no they are not’, it's ‘who cares, you are clearly just after the oil under their feet’. This is all the more important when the vast majority of the world's Muslims are homophobic, and the more loudly anti-racists insist this is not the case or at least that some nuance should be added to that statement, the more clear they make it that if it were the case then imperial arguments for their immediate bombardment would indeed be valid in their minds.
“Finally, the very use of the word ‘queer’ is a transparent projection of western liberal academia's latest post-modern ramblings on gender (the implications of which have been brilliantly dissected by Adolph Reed). In other words, the supposedly anti-racist agenda pursued here seeks to humanize Muslims specifically by showing that they too can fit into the western left's new darling framework, queer theory. Ironically, queer theory gets a pass as a supposedly anti-colonial approach to sexuality because of its aim to encapsulate every sexuality under the sun by the very same crowd that you would think should be weary of applying liberal western frameworks to global questions.
“Such blatant self-tokenization (‘Halal if you hear me’? Seriously ?) should be taken as seriously as Republican claims to opposing racism by voting for Herman Cain. If we do not seek to replace cultural narratives with materialist (i.e. political) ones, then we are not opposing the liberal empire. We are merely preparing for its next ‘more inclusive’ iteration.”
It is important to discuss role of queer theory and cultural narratives in imperialism and anti-colonial resistance. We will have to maintain the courage to debate these issues in the movements ahead for peace and justice.
Jahan Choudhryis Comments Editor for Black Agenda Report. He is an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia, PA.
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