Friday, August 26, 2005

When the 'relatives' come to town

"Why is it that with all this touchy-feely cultural respect stuff, it’s always the bigoted culture that wins?" asks Jason Kuznicki on the blog Positive Liberty.  

It’s a question I’ve been asking a lot lately.

The first time I realised that something might be amiss is when OutRage! (of which I am a member) started getting accused of “racism” for supporting the Jamaican gay rights group JFLAG in a campaign to highlight the murderous incitements to gay-bashing peddled by certain Jamaican Dancehall artists.

Apparently what we hadn’t taken into account was that homophobia was “part of Jamaican culture”, and if that wasn’t the one-eyed jack, then the ace was certainly that homophobia was part of “strongly held religious beliefs”.

When we asked our accusers whether being gay-bashed by their heterosexual neighbours was simply part of gay Jamaican culture, they looked startled, but only for a second, because as one learns, when logical politics fails, some simply turn up the knob of the shrillometer. Racist! Imperialist! It just got louder, because name-calling is easier to manage than having to make an honest assessment.

Why is it that the assertive and oppressive faction is always considered the ‘authentic’ representative of a culture? Why is it that patriarchal males who control the power in a society get the thumbs up, while women, gays, and other minorities – who surely have as much claim to being an authentic part of a culture – are marginalised by the very people who ought to be championing them? Yes, that’s us on the Left, the liberals, the progressives – we would never silently tolerate abuses of women, gays and other minorities in our own culture, but any one of us who pipes up with the suggestion that the marginalised in other countries be the beneficiaries of our solidarity has their head bitten off.

There is a word for treating people of other cultures and races with double-standards: racism. And, many – in their fear of being called racist – end up acting like racists.

When a child makes a mistake you may overlook it, excuse it or go easy on them because.. well, it’s a child, they make mistakes. But infantilising other cultures is racism. And that’s what it is when you refuse to criticise Jamaican singers or politicians because of their homophobia.

Then the issue reared up again in a big way when we dared to criticise Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi for his views on homosexuality. He described homosexuals as “perverted” and “a disease that needs a cure” and is a primary apologist for the death sentence meted out under Sharia law… by any objective standard he is a vocal homophobe.

So why is it “racist” and “Islamophobic” to say so?

Imbeciles like Bob Pitt (of Islamophobia-Watch) claim that criticising Qaradawi is de facto Islamophobia (which he says is a form of racism). But hang on a moment – weren’t those criticising Qaradawi reacting to his homophobia? Isn’t he the one who started spouting the bigotry? Why aren’t they criticising him for his homophobia instead of us for reacting to it? Oh, I forgot, if they criticised him, they would then be Islamophobes – which would make their enterprise nonsensical.

Isn’t circular logic marvellous?

Now as OutRage! distributed a document yesterday by (black – for, alas, it needs to be said) gay Zimbabweans about the impact Robert Mugabe’s Operation ‘Clean Up The Filth’ campaign is having on them, already the accusations are coming in of… you guessed it… racism. Not, I hasten to add, from stooges of Mugabe’s regime, but from people, who really ought to know better.

Peter Tatchell wrote an essay on this issue a few weeks ago. Read it here.


At 11:59 am, Blogger The Beak said...

Brett - thanks for the link to the Tatchell essay. Says so much of what I've been thinking lately. Love the blog!! Will be linking to this post and the essay on my own, hope you don't mind!

At 9:57 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Nope - go ahead! Glad you liked the post.

At 12:11 pm, Anonymous Heath Hallum said...

Excellent, that was really well explained and helpful


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