Not being on social media has been brilliant, but it’s also meant that I no longer write about the other things I’m reading, listening to, or currently fascinated by. It also has meant I haven’t been promoting other people’s work, which is something I’ve always enjoyed doing.
So I’ve decided to change that with a new monthly post, Interesting Things.
Gordon White: Talking Cancellation
First off, this morning I woke to an excellent episode of Rune Soup by Gordon White with the folks from “Fucking Cancelled.” It’s a great conversation, and I highly recommend it. If you are new to either Gordon or the Fucking Cancelled podcast, this is a great introduction to all of them.
I had meant to mention this one when it first came out, but life happened: Angie Speaks did a brilliant episode on Critical Race Theory.
She’s dressed in fetish gear because of something she and I had talked about personally, which is the way “mutual aid” and “reparations” has morphed into a kind of fin/dom fetish online. I have a trove of screenshots from one such group on Facebook, where white people are told that paying the cell phone bills or funding the gender reassignment surgeries of individuals would absolve them of their white guilt by “paying reparations.”
It’s not reparations, of course. The point of reparations was to demand the capitalists re-distribute the stolen wealth generated by the labor of slaves back to their descendents.
The whole thing really became just like the Catholic Church selling indulgences to get people out of purgatory. The group was called something like “Anarcho-Communism Learning Space” or somesuch, but there’s nothing leftist about that kind of grift.
“You Little Slut”
As you probably know by now, an antifascist attacked and threw a woman reporter to the ground and broke her cameras in Portland, Oregon last weekend, while also calling her some not-so-woke names. That was all part of what has now become a fully American past-time: role-playing the “revolution.”
I’ve put off writing about brand-name Antifa lately and have tried to keep on their good side, mostly because many of the core people in the “decentralised” leadership consider me either a rival or a potential target. I’d fully expect some sort of attack in response to anything too critical that I write.
That being said, I will write about this all. In the meantime, though, go read Freddie DeBoer’s short essay about this.
The Identity of Empire
In the most recent Empires Crumble podcast that Alley and I did on Afghanistan, I mention the way that identity politics has been used to fuel US imperialism and how this will only increase.
If you’re not a supporter, you can hear that episode 5 September on Soundcloud, Spotify, or iTunes when it releases to the public (follow us for free on any of those services to get notified when it goes public).
However, Angela Nagle just posted something that points even better to the problem that we talk about. The links she provides are really worth reading to get some perspective on all this:
Relevant to all this is the problem of imposing Anglo-American gender theory onto the rest of the world, particularly onto conquered peoples. Telling Afghanis that they deserved occupation because US conceptions of gender are more enlightened is really just telling them they are stupid primitives who need to be disciplined.
"Thus, as she formed a ragtag group of freedom fighters or militia men and spoke of missions to Cuba and Venezuela, Ms. Hari secretly looked up 'sex change,' 'transgender surgery,' and 'post-op transgender' on the Internet. As she purchased military fatigues for their 'missions' she also purchased dresses and female clothing for a planned trip to Bangkok, Thailand, for male-to-female surgery. She was living a double life,” Elkins added.
The person who organized the attempted massacre of Muslims in Minnesota now identifies as a woman, and the defense lawyer is attempting to get a lighter sentence for the act due to gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria has recently become a common defense tactic in many high-level legal cases, and this is neither good for trans people nor for anyone else. The problem here is that is replicates the “panic defense” problem. That defense tactic gave lighter sentences and even full exoneration to people who killed gay men and trans people because the killer was reacting to a perceived threat to their own sexual identity and orientation. Basically, how you felt internally about your own sexual identity could then excuse any manner of violent act against someone else.
My guess is that the story will be ignored by the woke, while far right groups use this as proof that Hari wasn’t actually “one of them.” Of course the other possibility is that the woke might see Hari’s trans identity as a mere cynical ploy to get a reduced sentence and better jail conditions. However, questioning Hari’s identity will only highlight the internal contradiction in the idea that identity can be declarative and therefore cannot be questioned.
That’s all a huge ideological knot I don’t think anyone can unravel.
But going back to a larger political problem, Hari tried to kill Muslims. To give a lighter sentence on account of gender dysphoria is to tell those who Hari tried to kill that their lives are less important than how their would-be killer felt internally about gender.
Let’s be clear: if you want to increase animosity towards queer and trans people in the Islamic world, this is how you do it. In Europe, people understand something that Americans don’t. Here, when a government makes a ruling that is seen as harmful to particular communities of Muslims (as, say, in the burka bans or laws against halal butchery), it doesn’t stay an isolated thing, nor is it seen as just a localized event. It becomes seen as something all Europeans stand for, and thus all Europeans are seen as potential targets to extremist rage.
The best anyone can hope for is that the judge ignores all this and sentences Hari according to the actual attempted murder, rather than any extenuating circumstances. Like, really: forming a terrorist cell meant to eradicate Muslims from the earth isn’t really the most ideal way to deal with a feeling of gender disconnect.
This is also somewhat relevant as well to the Antifa question, but that will have to wait for another essay.
The other part of not being on social media is that I don’t get many recommendations on new things to read, listen to, or watch. So, please consider returning the favor! Tell me in the comments what has recently held your attention.