Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Notes on Manchester Attacks

I don't mean to disappoint you but I don't really have alot to say on the Manchester attacks because I would just be repeating myself, and you would find that boring. Nonetheless, I somewhat feel compelled to write something on this bloodbath, so I will really try not to seem like I am repeating myself or recycle talking points I have used in response to past tragedies.

I feel sorrow for those whose lives were taken, those who were maimed and injured, and those who are looking for their loved ones among the missing, and sadly those feeling the pain and loss of losing a loved one. I cannot even begin to imagine what those poor people are going through right now. We musn't forget that on the recieving end of these atrocities, every time, are living and breathing human beings and wrecked families. I have nothing but complete and unconditional solidarity with the city of Manchester, and my fellow compatriots who have been affected by this tragedy.

 The Burj Khalifa in Dubai in solidarity with Manchester

My emotions are surging full of rage at the evil commited by the depraved savages responsible for this heartless murder of innocents. This wasn't an attack on the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime ministers. It wasn't even directed at armies or police forces. It was aimed at ordinary people. It targeted children, harmless, powerless, innocent children. Religious fascists don't bomb children going to an Arian Grande pop concert because they have a grievance over this or that imperialist crime on "Muslim lands". They do so because they are wicked, lawless, evil and motivated by an ideology that is based on sadism, hatred, dehumanisation, cruelty and absolutism. An ideology that not only denies, but negates any sense of morality, humanity, civilisation and virtue.

As shocking as this is, it should not be surprising. The moral universe of a Jihadist has no issues with decimating children in cold blood. For example massacaring children in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan or firing a bullet (though failed to kill) into Malala Yousufzai's head because she demanded an education. I can go on and give you inummerable examples of these kinds of atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Nigeria etc. They will not hesistate to murder 'their' own children. What made you think they would not be doing the exact same thing to ours? The life of a child has no value to these nihilists.

Saffie Rose Rousse, one of the named victims. 
She was 8 years old. Just 8 years old!
My heart is breaking.
A beautiful little girl decimated by bloody ugly monsters

We cannot prevent every terrorist attack. No matter how sophisticated the national security system, no matter how hard the intelligence service works, even if we turned our society into a totalitarian police state (which I would be strongly against), we still wouldn't prevent every attack. Some attacks are just going to fall through the cracks.

What we can control is our reaction. React we must, but the issue is in what type of reaction we will give. Just as Malcolm X said the racist will never be his teacher, we also must not allow theocratic fascists to be the teachers of free and civilised peoples. We must firmly state that we will not give in to the logic of terror.

We must resist that niggling temptation to sink into the politics of fear and the politics of suspicion, because once we go down that road we will end up in the desolate state of the authoritarian police state to whom we will surrender our hard won liberties to in the hope that they can gurantee us permanent security. Once we arrive at this sordid destination, then we will neither have security or liberty. All we will have is a society paralysed by fear, polarised communities, a broken social fabric and a state with a great amount of power that it will inevitably abuse and use arbitrarily.

How not to respond to terrorism 101

Unfortunately, the usual suspects have, as usual, exploited this tragedy to spread their tendentious agenda. While the people of Manchester stand united, give free taxi rides, donate blood, open their doors to strangers and make general messages of love and solidarity - the people we should really be talking about. Others call for a "final solution" and stir up racial and sectarian hatred.

This is language of fascism and effectively an incitement to genocide. She should face serious moral accountability and really ought to retract this disgusting statement. Part of our reaction must include not allowing this kind of toxic anti-Muslim demagoguery to be pervasive.

Now, we are right to be angry, to be filled with rage, even, to be filled with hate. Often in our public discourse hate is often seen as a bad thing - for good reason most of the time- and how we should focus on love - again often for good reason. But I would say that in order to know what you love, you must know what you hate (and the vice versa applies too) and there is justification in this instance for hate, at least for me, because it is directed at those who deserve it and based on a desire for justice, not directed to those who are innocent or based on revenge or a desire to persecute and demonise others.

I hate the fact that twenty two of our fellow citizens - many of them children- were murdered, I hate the savage who did it, I hate those who will apologise for it, and I hate the filthy, murderous ideology that underpins such barbarism. I want to destroy that ideology and the groups that fight under its banner. Not only destroy it, but obliterate it, extinguish it, and systematically and absolutely disgrace and discredit it. Compromise with this kind of absolutism is unthinkable and not possible. There is nothing to negotiate, I seek its complete destruction. Jihadism and its various terror surrogates must be opposed, resisted and fought wherever they are, and the resistance should only be criticised when it falters or waivers in its opposition to these reactionary forces.

What we have to realise is there is no quick solution to this problem. We cannot ignore it or explain it away with silly turgid masochistic talking points or benign but ultimately hollow statements of 'all we need is love'. Nor can we pretend that we can simply bomb, shoot, torture, legalise and "close our borders" our way out of this. What is required is a very strong and resilient political, social and ideological struggle against this form of Islamic absolutism, alongside those resisting it on the frontlines in other countries, aswell as our own (this has nothing with the 'clash of civilisations' bullshit or Eurabia alarmism), based on international solidarity above all else. But it must be rooted in a different kind of politics.

We need a politics that is unapologetic in defending what these nihilists are out to destroy; the joys of life and our 'infidel liberties'. A politics that seeks to unite people from different communities towards a common goal. A politics that neither rushes to blame the other, nor attempts to explain away evil through moral relativism or victim blaming. A politics that sees the moral outrage in terror, but also understands the need to analyse the political and social context in which terror thrives. A politics that takes religion and ideology seriously but doesn't engage in collective blame, nor calls for the persecution or authoritarian measures against the other. A politics that acknowledges that there are many stupid and immoral ways of engaging in this struggle, that are rooted in chauvanism, hatred and irrational demonology, but understands that there is no principled or intelligent way of being against this struggle. A politics that will call on all of our principles, all of our intelligence and all of our solidarity and internationalism.

In short, a very difficult politics, but a principled and intelligent one.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Notes on Westminister Attack

Tragedy strikes Europe.

Yesterday afternoon, on the anniversary of the Brussels attacks from last year, London was on the end of a terrorist assault. According to the BBC, Three people have died and at least 40 have been injured after an attacker drove a car along a pavement in Westminster, stabbed a policeman and was shot dead by police in the grounds of Parliament.

The dead police officer - who was unarmed as the attacker charged over and stabbed him - is known as PC Keith Palmer, aged 48, a husband and a father. His former colleague in the Royal Artillery and Conservative MP James Cleverly, paid tribute to him by describing him as a "lovely man".

Another victim has been named as 43 year old, mother of two and Spanish language teacher, Aysha Frade. Aysha was mowed down by a the grey Hyundai 4x4 as she walked over Westminster Bridge to collect her two daughters, aged 8 and 11.

The third victim was American tourist Kurt Cochran, who was on the final day holiday with his wife celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary when he was killed.

At least 40 people are known to have been injured. Among them twelve Britons, four South Koreans, three French youngsters on a school trip, two Romanians, two Greeks, one German, one Polish national, one Irish citizen, one American citizen, one Chinese and one Italian.

This attack was an act of Islamist terrorism, ISIS recently claimed responsibility, praising the attacker - a British born jihadist named Khalid Masood- as a "soldier of the Islamic state". However, it remains to be seen whether the attack was directed by ISIS , or inspired by them. It seems more likely that it was the latter, not the former.

As usual, after every one of these tragedies, we subject ourselves to the same rituals we always go through. It really is tiring and immensely frustrating to see one side act as if there is no problem, or if they do they severely simplify and misdiagnose the problem, while the other side will exploit what is a legitimate issue in order to spread bigotry, hatred and unneccessary, irrational fear.

I write this first and foremost as a human being, who has a sense of empathy, compassion and solidarity with my fellow creatures. In the aftermath of every terrorist attack, All of my thoughts and condolences are with the victims and their families, before anything else. They are the ones whose lives have been taken from them, unable to ever embrace their parents, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, children and friends again.

Just imagine being the children of Aysha Frade, eagerly waiting for their mother at school, looking forward to going home to spend time with the family, only to realise that someone had taken her life. Imagine being the wife of PC Palmer, who everyday says goodbye to her husband as he goes off to work always expecting he will return home from his shift safely, but this time, on this day, he doesn't.

Nothing is worse than that and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

 Many have described yesterday's assault as an "attack on democracy", or as Theresa May put it, "a shot against our values of ‘democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law". True, this Jihadist  scumbag and his ideological ilk do hate these values and their universality because it is in direct opposition to everything they stand for: one set of values sets the conditions for human flourishing, happiness and emancipation, while the other set can only bring death, misery and enslavement.

However, let us have some perspective. No individual, no matter how well armed they are, no matter how determined, no matter how committed he is to his cause, can overthrow democracy or enslave a free people. These hard won rights and liberties that previous generations have struggled for are too robust, too vigarous, too steeped in the consciousness of all generations, to be overthrown by a twisted zealot with a weaponised vehicle, a knife, and a perverse belief in a reward of 72 virgins in a celestial orgy for killing 'the kuffar'.

The only way the terrorist would have any impact on democracy and freedom is if we give him an enourmous helping hand. It will be our response as a society to this act of barbarity that will decide whether democracy is under attack or not.

You can rest assured vile bigots and Muslimaphobic chauvanists who desire to stigmatise and demonise an entire community, are talking this attack up as an act of war, the latest blow by an Islamic army slowly, stealthily conquering Europe. These merchants of racism from the far-right have no other purpose but to spread irrational fear and hatred. They claimed Britain was "cowed" by the crime and London was "shut down" and under "lockdown" as a result of the attack. This is of course a total falsehood, London carried on as normal and people were not cowed and went about their business as usual. All these people desire is the power to subjugate and stigmatise muslims, and they seek to undermine the idea that peoples of different faiths can coexist with each other and build a society.

Meanwhile those often labelled "the regressive left" will indulge themselves in a toxic mix of victim blaming, masochism and a self hatred before the blood of the victims is even allowed to dry, desperately peddling 'grievance' and 'root cause' narratives of how 'we' brought this horror on ourselves; of how these are the deserved punishements for our numerous crimes and iniquities; of why we somehow triggered this poor guy to slam a car into a pedestrians and slit a man's throat.

I have said it before and I will say it again: do not give me this crap that jihadist atrocities are a response (or shall we say 'blowback') to western imperialism.  ISIS are not anti-imperialists, or some strange Islamic version of liberation theology. They are pro-imperialism, they seek to revive a lost empire: their imagined caliphate. This is what their Islamic state project is all about, imposing a purritanical, theocratic fascist empire, first in the muslim world, then across the whole world. Obviously, this project is so utopian and so irrational that it could never be fully established, but let us be clear on their intentions and the character of their ideology.

In response to these two pathologies, we cannot surrender ourselves to the culture of fear and the politics of suspicion because it will potentially lead to us down the barren road of petty authoritarianism, the security state and foul assaults on the liberties which supposedly needed to be defended from the Islamist threat.

While it is understandable and proper that we focus on the tragic nature of this attack and the challenges around other potential attack it provokes. Let us not forget the bravery, heroism and humanity that was on display in the midst of such savagery and the international solidarity and sympathy. We may have seen the worst of humanity, but we also saw the best of it.

Our response to yesterday's assault should be to demand more freedom and democracy, not less. It should be to never allow hatred and fear to colonise our hearts. It should be to remember the victims, their memory and humanise them, as opposed to the manner the terrorist dehumanised them. Ultimately, it is to do everything within our power to make sure that while this bloody, savage act may have succeeded in impacting awfully on scores of innocent people, it will have no impact on our values, our political life, our daily lives, and our sense of security.

This, of course, on its own won't solve the challenges the global threat we all face from the Jihadist internationale, but it is neccessary step to even begin dealing with the challenge. We must resist terrorism not complete it.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Beware of Linda Sarsour

'Brooklyn hijabi' and alleged feminist Linda Sarsour was a co-organiser and leader of the notorious Women's March on Saturday, described as one of the biggest protests in American history.

She recieved alot of criticism afterwards which was described as "Islamophobic" or "right wing" across many media sites that reported on it.

I will concede that some of the blowback she experienced on social media was unpleasant and indeed motivated by bigotry and racism. I condemn this obviously and view it as tragic, as it diverts attention from very legitimate criticisms of her hypocrisy and faux-feminism.

However, the reason she is on the end of legitimate criticism is not because she is Muslim. It's because she is an apologist for oppressive Islamist fundamentalism and an identity politics poser, which many media sites failed to mention. There is an immense, and rather sick irony for someone who minimizes the oppression of her 'fellow Muslim sisters' to lead a Women's March to defend the gains of feminism against Donald Trump.

You don't believe me? Well, let us look at some of her previous tweets.

Her basic message is "Don't worry! Women being barred from driving isn't a big deal because they get 10 weeks of paid maternity leave, while women in America don't have the benefit of paid maternity leave".

The hardships of women in Saudi Arabia goes far beyond them not being allowed to drive. It's to do with a state, a legal system and even a culture that doesn't treat them as human beings of equal worth. That views motherhood and domestic surbordination as the only thing that is worthy of a woman. So yeah, it's not a coincedence that Saudi women are compensated with a sort of generous maternity leave.

In this tweet she attempts to downplay the issue of forced veiling in Saudi Arabia. Of course, veiling is not THE issue for Saudi women, but it certainly is AN issue. The issue is the fundamental right of women to choose what they wish to wear, not for the nanny state acting in the name of Allah ordering women what to wear. As a "feminist" how does she fail to see this very simple principle?

This is a such a doltish and dishonest tweet. She appeals to women in high positions in the Muslim world (all of them women of privilege by the way, to use a word butchered by her and her ilk) as though it somehow alliveates the conditions of the average Muslim woman.

The same moronic logic is used by those who say because Barack Obama was president of the United States therefore America is "post-racial". I know she doesn't accept this logic in regards to race relations in America- in fact she poses as a defender of black lives and black bodies to gain ebonic points- but she will use this logic in regards to gender relations in Muslim majority countries.

Never mind honor violence; never mind the injustices rape victims are subjected to by shariah courts; never mind all the discrimination and repression of women. But, of course, women in high places, therefore "what's this whole sexism issue Islamophobes bang on about?"

"Shariah law is reasonable". Really? Does she not realise that in countries that adopt shariah apostates and homosexuals are executed; women alleged to have committed adultery are stoned to death; women who could not gather the testimony of four "pious" witnessess neccessary for a rape conviction are at risk of being stoned to death and religious minorities are repressed. Of course, all that matters to Linda is interest free loans. The experiences of those who have to endure the injustice of actual existing shariah is barely a concern to her.

Romanticism for shariah is an easy position to hold when you don't live under it and have to experience its full consequences.

If her Shariah apologism wasn't bad enough for you. You then have self-proclaimed Liberal personalities and celebraties defending her as a symbol of decency, tolerance and compassion, against her critics. Who by definition are 'haters', 'trolls and 'bigots'. A lame and abject hashtag #IMarchWithLinda was started to express their solidarity.

When was the last time Naomi Klein said anything intelligent?

Further praise and support came from New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera condemned “online trolls” attacking Sarsour.

NY Daily News columnist Shaun King described Sarsour as "one of the most effective, skilled, passionate organisers in the world". At least the white ally showed up.

Even Bernie participated in this orgy of adulation. I like Bernie and I wished he was the Presidential candidate instead of Hilary Clinton. But he is plain wrong on this one. As demonstrated previously, Linda is not a progressive. I am pretty sure they are tweeting their support for Linda out of ignorance of Linda's less than progressive stances on Saudi Arabia and shariah- or at least I hope so. So I will not condemn Bernie and the others too harshly.

From their point of view they see a poor hijabi activist, who superficially agrees with their progressive program, getting a hard time from 'bigots' and 'haters' with their 'gendered Islamophobia', naturally they spring to the defence of the percieved victim. Still, they ought to know better.

I, however, cannot respect the SPLC's (an organisation I have respect for) tweet of solidarity with Linda. Not after they unfairly put secular liberal Muslim Maajid Nawaz and liberal ex Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali on their nonsensical Islamophobe watch list (hit list more like).

I have problems with both Ayaan Hirisi Ali and Maajid Nawaz and don't agree with everything they say. But I would definetly have them over the charlatan Linda Sarsour. Any day of the week, it's not even a contest. Those two are far more deserving of the SPLC's support than this merchant in victim politics. It's saddening to see the SPLC regress like this.

Linda Sarsour is the product of this primitive and solipsistic identity politics that has permeated American politics for the past couple of decades. It has allowed her, with her pseudo radical bluster, to impose herself as the representative of American Muslim women (especially young ones) and for mainstream liberals to take her seriously.

What is most worrying was not Linda herself, necessarily, but the uncritical praise and support she recieved from squishy progressives.

It is worrying because it gives credence to this toxic, quasi-orientalist idea that in order to be seen as an 'authentic' Muslim and an ally of progressives, liberals and radicals, you have to be a faux-militant, Malcolm X wannabe, rabble rousing 'unapologetic' hijabi.

If you deviate slightly from this construction - like a Muslim woman who has the daring idea of not wearing the hijab and is a consistent advocate of human rights- then mainstream progressives and Hollywood liberals will not take you seriously, or even notice you, since you are not 'Muslim' enough for them.

Linda does not represent Palestinian women or Arab women or Muslim women, nor should she be regarded as such. She is a poser; a showboat run amock, dying for the camera. And worse, someone who attempts to minimize the oppression of women and the marginalised in Muslim majority countries. Pointing out her hypocrisy is not 'right wing', 'Islamophobic' or 'fake news', its actually being consistently progressive.

I don't take her seriously and I hope, comrades, you don't either.