Re-Claiming Subversion

I haven’t written here for more than a month, because honestly I didn’t trust myself to write without exploding into particles of dust, or if I did manage to write somehow it would only be selective expletives repeated over and over — I’ve been more than just a little angry. Warning to readers, I’m not writing this to cater to your sensibilities, nor is this the moment to profess how you belong to [x] group but don’t do any [abc] I talk about. I am exhausted with keeping my anger inside, and it’s coming out in all insidious ways today.

When I repeat out of frustration to western feminists — yes western feminists get clubbed in the same indistinguishable a bubble as “South Asian feminist” feels to me — that abortion wars here are different, we face different demons, we use different strategies, all they seem to hear is “India doesn’t consider abortion is illegal! They don’t have anything to complain about!”. Yes, factually, the Indian nation-state hasn’t outlawed abortion, that can hardly be cited as evidence to prove that there aren’t any problems. Or on the flip-side, almost every feminist (or not) publication from the Global North talks about the problem of female feticide India — additionally India and China are used interchangeably for some reason, as if any place that is Not the Global North must be a homogeneous mass of cultures  — to the extent that “feminism in India” means “sex-selective abortion”. There is a problem with using and perpetuating such a model, where you start equating a region’s “gender problems” to its feminism is probably the preliminary layer of fail; I’ve talked about  it long enough. What you leave out when you stick to the primitive equation of “Indian feminism = sex-selective abortion” are the many methods that the State designs to keep contraception from people who want to access it, to forcibly sterilise groups which the State thinks need to be curbed and even erased. It infuriates me that whenever one speaks of “sex-selective abortions” and its evils — yes fetuses are being aborted because they’re perceived to be ‘useless’ as they’re female, and it is evil, it needs to end, no disputing this fact. But there’s more to just a “culture thinking females are unworthy” that people don’t want to engage with — what western feminists don’t even consider is the way discourse around contraception figures here; mainly because they’re too busy presuming that it’s the same as it is in their native countries, but I digress.

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Learning Relevance Through Erasure

One of the few things people connect with India besides Slumdog Millionaire and hub of cheap Third World labour are the epics Ramayan and Mahabharat — which are of course, anglicised to Ramayana and Mahabharata. Almost always, these epics are seen as the narrativisation of ‘the great oral tradition of storytelling’, basing this tradition in the past, which not only increases the net worth of such a text but also binds the epic with ‘history’; it’s seen as a ‘pre-colonial’ Indian¹utopia and as the ‘pure’ culture, while neatly obliterating the existence of more than a few hundred narrativisations of these epics — which are subjective to the caste and class of the community they come from — and they’re seen synonymously with Hinduism and our religions — meanwhile western epics like the Iliad and Odyssey are seen as Great Literature and not the representative of a population. Thanks to this pact with ‘history’, these texts are seen as — forcibly — situated texts that describe how Things Were Back Then and almost always read when mirrored with Christianity or the western gaze. So when the text turns out to have any contemporary beliefs or depict any ‘modern’ behaviour, it is hailed as a new ‘discovery’, when in reality these ‘discoveries’ have always existed in the texts. Insert quip about colonisation here.

Lately, there is a new surge of reading ‘religious’ texts through a queer perspective, which perplexes me to no end — for these particular texts, Mahabharat especially, have always been queer texts. I grew up with stories from the Mahabharat and have known tales of Krishna and Radha role-playing and switching genders, Arjun living as a woman for a year with a man’s mind, Draupadi as the daughter born of a man’s body — and these are a few instances I can remember without even looking at the texts my grandmum used to read. Agreeably, in most re-tellings of this epic, even these gender transgressions are somehow inserted into patriarchy — Krishna becomes a ‘womaniser’ who doesn’t mind ‘playing around’, Arjun is written and seen as a character who ‘just dresses as a woman’ while retaining his identity and physical form, Draupadi’s birth is naturalised — however what these studies do is anthropologically ‘carve out’ queer instances and characters, instead of just rescuing the regional-dialectical re-telling from the mainstream one. Not to mention, even these queer characters are seen through the Western lens and then we have debates and papers arguing just why Arjun isn’t a trans* character, without taking into account that being trans* across different cultures or that even ‘queer’ manifests in different forms here. Because of such ritual and continuous exotification, books like Devdutt Pattaniak’s ‘The Pregnant King‘ are a cause for wonder and amazement in the Western world — more like a mild case of, “I used to be Brown but now I Think!”.

The Pregnant King is a text that narrativises and fictionalises the tale of a childless king who was a contemporary of the Pandavs, thus we know the setting is around the Kuru-kshtera war, but it moves on to its obscure characters — some of the most fascinating are Somvat a Brahmin boy who transforms to a woman to be with his lover, a queen who cannot rule because she is a woman, a woman who is raised and eventually identifies as a man and the protagonist who drinks a magical potion that makes him father a child and is then uncertain about his identity — written in English to either get a wider (Western) audience or to cache it under the genre of ‘fantasy’ considering the author is on risky ground for ‘questioning the sanctity of the epics!’. It goes without saying, writing such a novel does take courage, keeping in mind the religious-state-sanctioned communal identity most of the politicians thrive on, how most people view these texts as religious dictats and not just tales, how most of the Hindu-cultural identity is coded into these texts and the fact that the author takes great pains to illustrate gender and caste biases wherever possible. So on some cognitive level, I can appreciate the efforts of the author, but there are too many silences and silenced voices in this text to go un-noticed. As the text is written in English, names are anglicised², alienating me in the process — every time I said the anglicised names out loud, they’d seem foreign and harsh as they don’t roll off like the Sanskrit names do — but I’m used to such translations. What really unsettled me is how culture is diluted and broken down into actions — for instance the puja is described as an “appeasement of Gods with flowers, food and waving of lamps” — is if to make sure the Omnipresent Western Reader would understand every ‘exotic’ word used. Much like footnotes used by the British to ‘comprehend the Hindoo animal’ this text too explains each cultural practice. An apsara is called a ‘nymph’, a bhrama-rakshas is called a ‘demon-spirit’, a yaksh is called a ‘goblin’, each time reminding me that the culture I grew up in is legitimate only when tied to a western-marker. I can already see people protesting, “What is your problem if a text is made relevant? This way more people can read and appreciate it” — this is only half-true. More people will read it because it’s a ‘queer’ perspective to a ‘sacred’ text, an aura of taboo mixes with the erotic thus making it more consumable and irresistible. We don’t always need these western-markers to ‘understand’ a text — I grew up reading words, terms, cultural practices like “Chaise”, “Halloween” etc without anyone  explaining what they exactly meant, read Wordsworth’s infamous poems on Nature and Daffodils without ever smelling the flower for instance —  and turned out quite okay. Reading Dickens was a nightmare — besides his countless race and genderfails — because of so many cultural practices he’d mention that I’d never heard of, so it was Dickens Plus Dictionary in my household. Somehow, just somehow I ‘understood’ it all — no one had to tell me ‘English tea’ was nothing like the chai women in my house would drink in the afternoon — I knew our cultures were different and this difference was used to map supposed inferiority in our skins and authority in theirs.

In addition to dilution of culture and specific practices, the climax of the novel is the fact that most gods are male, female, both, neither all at once and then Yuvanashv comes to terms with his identity that presents as a male and yet he gives birth to his son — by the time I got to this bit, reading had become a chore. Anyone familiar with Hindu mythology knows that Gods are not separate from their feminine forms — Shiv is Parvati is Kali is Krishna is Radha is Indra and so on — but because we read these texts as one does Christian (Western) ‘religious texts’ which are more or less gendered, these characters are also confined to the gender binary. Then of course, liberal universities and humanities departments host fests that ‘uncover’ the ‘queer’ elements in the texts — once again re-enforcing a half-swallowed truth: We Don’t Exist, Till They Say We Do. Growing up too, I learnt that to ‘gain’ relevance I must be ‘understood’ — and if you ‘understand’ the Other, you can possess and chart the Other — and this ‘understanding’ comes when I erase myself, a culture I was raised in, markers that tie me to my current geopolitical location, become a tabula rasa and wait for the Nice Imperial Person to write over me, for only then I am given existence. And people still don’t believe that colonisation exists, or that we live such fissured lives because of our colonial past.

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1. This is factually  incorrect considering the fact one of the first colonisers were the Iranians, dating back to 1800 BCE and invaded the land of the Dravidians — which is why most of us today aren’t entirely neither Aryan nor Dravidian in complexion.

2. It’s not about what ‘sounds’ better entirely — Sanskrit names are derived from that of one’s father to chart a character’s lineage — by anglicising them, these names and tradition are distorted.

White Privilege: The Stockholm Syndrome Edition

We recently posted a video on our tumblr feed, which demonstrates the pervasive and nauseating totality of White Privilege. The subject was addressed on DailyKos this morning, with the author dealing with the defensiveness, denial and disbelief from whites about whether such a thing exists.

White Privilege not only exists – it is the law of the land.  From the onset, this country has been built on the sweat, blood & tears of non-whites.  The First Nations were systematically slaughtered and culturally obliterated.  Africans were brought here as slaves.  We have sent people to every continent to kill non-whites.  It was only after uber-white Germany attacked us directly, that we engaged in war with whites.  The French & Indian wars were two white empires fighting for control of the right to steal the land from the First Nations.

Since our Declaration of Independence, we have been fighting for white privilege.  The racism of the South / GOP / Bible Belt is proof that we have not shed this desire.

The most vile and disturbing aspect to me is the deliberate efforts of most of the white US to pretend that this racism is not there.  We gladly turn to our TV show, movies, iPods, flat-screen TV’s, double-latte’s, 401k’s, wallpaper for the living room, SUV purchases and any of the myriad distractions / ego-strokes that are provided for us by the very people and system that profit in dollars from the price paid in blood by non-whites across the planet.

But, we’re stroking the hand of our own executioner.  This system is not designed for some white utopia for us all to live in.  It is a very small, gated community – designed to drive 95% of the planet into labor and poverty, 4% to be jailers and 1% to bathe in the glorious light of a Maxfield Parrish dreamland exclusively populated by the owners of this planet: a few greedy, amoral men who will sell us to slaughter.

The grease of this entire system is every “oscillating Richard” white person who goes along thinking “I’m not racist” / “I’m not the problem” / “What me worry?” and any other excuse that will allow them to proceed with their “American Dream” pursuit to join the very smart, very special, very responsible “good people”.  We turn our eyes to our future home, our children’s schools, that new electronic device, the esteem of our peers and making smart choices with our careers.

We don’t see racism because we don’t want to see it and we can get away with not seeing it.

Our success, our joy, our prosperity, our delight, our social standing, the heat in our house, the food on our table, the health of our children – all paid for in the blood of non-whites.

To this day.

“If you’re not part of the solution – you’re part of the problem”

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This is a post by Arvan. As always, a reminder that the wonderful guest posting page is still open to all non-bigoted peeps.

 

DeTonguing The Subaltern

This week all that seems to happen in India is the World Cup and How Incredibly Important It Is, for it is a game that involves super-important dudes with super-important dudes of other countries, and almost every newspaper is discussing the economics,  sport tactics, strategics and politics — I don’t even know what this means when it comes to ‘politics’ of cricket. I counted about eight to nine unevenly shaped blurbs about crimes against women today as the Sports section has taken over the front page news in Times Of India¹; I still can’t believe this is a ‘national’ newspaper. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court initiated an inane bill about ‘rehabilitating’ sex-workers, there are 52 reported deaths of female-identified Maoists in Arunachal Pradesh and there is another case of possible gendered-violence in Kashmir where two girls were shot in the streets of Sopore, in Kashmir for being ‘promiscuous‘ as cited by the military resources. All of this gendered violence in the last two weeks alone and ‘national’ newspapers such as Times Of India and DNA have hardly mentioned any news that do not include the World Cup. I’d like to believe this erasure isn’t conscious; that the stories got mixed up or maybe there was too much corporate pressure to ‘sell’ the World Cup as much as they can. For a while this trick works and I visualise extremely busy and frazzled editors who just had to edit these stories out, out of pressure and not out of choice². And then, TEHELKA covers the mediated-forced sterilisation of Wayanad tribal women and the bubble pops as silences roar.

Women of this tribe are sterilised to ‘control’ the population, most times they don’t know the surgery they are consenting to. As the article mentions, other women — possibly sterilised too — to recruit women for a price, so that more women can get these procedures done; all in the name of the Religious-Capitalist-Oligarchal State Controlled Reproduction loosely translated as, “Your men have no control, so we will curb your reproductive ability! It’s a win-win for both!”; except when it’s not as most patients don’t get sufficient post-op care — one can’t think of ‘recovery’ and ‘healing’ when there are mouths to feed — further deteriorating the health of these women. One would think this makes for Important News, especially since this is State-sanctioned violence, but then this LadyBrain will remind you that no news that really happens to uteruses is newsworthy; not when we can report the state of cricket, global sports and predict performances of teams. Meanwhile the thousands displaced to make space for the stadiums, the cuts in the budget to ‘accommodate’ expenses for the World Cup are ignored. Theoretically speaking of the Third World Woman (or Feminine-Identified Body) is relatively easier, I can go on creative bents but when it comes to actual and physical erasure, words fail me yet again. When encountered by this gendered detongued subaltern, all that remains is forked tongues and silences, yet again as mainstream Hindu feminism remains quite as narrow as it was 20 years ago. Today perhaps multi-lingualism has entered Hindu feminist theory and practice, but when it comes to going beyond the frame of the privileged, upper-caste Hindu body, we draw blanks.

Erasure of bodies that cannot be classified under ‘upper caste’, ‘Hindu’, ‘able-bodied’ and ‘Woman’ are predictably excluded, it’s really not a co-incidence no matter what I keep telling myself. Ironically, these Othered women’s — and feminine identifying people — bodies become the starting point for capitalism to build empires — where else can you find the dreadful combination of Poor, Woman, Caste-Social-Religious minority? Their homes and fields are ideal campsites for testing drugs and fairness creams, they’re also hotbeds of toxic dumps and this isn’t a co-incidence again that the most amount of gendered and sexual violence (at the hands of Upper Caste Men) happens in these neighbourhoods. Everything adds up to one equation — DeTongue The Subaltern, Disrobe Her Voice. And the ‘solution’ isn’t adequate healthcare like many Western-Leaning-Hindu feminists suggest, as again the healthcare that comes in is thoroughly western and still riddled with colonial whips — these patients can’t sign their names, so male relatives have to sign for them and subsequently ‘choose’ the healthcare, sometimes treatment papers are disguised as drug-trial consent forms — and repeatedly all we do is further violate this fissured Subaltern Woman’s body. Even interventions of privatised philanthropy fail sometimes as the zeal to define the colonial and corporate power through the Western gaze takes over, or on other occasions it is the reliance on capitalist-prescribed values of private medicine — which again work to exclude more bodies than it does to include them — that results in yet another system of oppression. Culturally, these communities are rich in what First World Feminists (read tourists in exotic places) like to call “indigenous knowledges”, this knowledge is communally shared among the tribal and peasant women for domestic, local and public use are then subject to Western ideologies of intellectual property rights which are only functional and understood in a controlled, possessive and privatised form. Thus this idea of an intellectual commons among tribal and peasant women actually excludes them from ownership and facilitates corporate biopiracy. Not only do they lose medical care and support, but even their knowledge is fetishised and tokenised by us, by western feminist theory and privatised philanthropy.

This is the space that mainstream Marxist axioms get engulfed in, as these women and feminine-identified bodies are violated in every imaginable way, under a religious-capitalist-oligarchal state controlled patriarchal system. This is a community of women made invisible and written out of national and international economic calculations mainly because it’s convinent and besides, no one notices such discrepancies. We have sports people to please and fret over. This is an open letter to mainstream Hindu feminists to pay more attention to the everyday localised experiences of tribal women and the micropolitics of their — ultimately — anticapitalist struggles. We need to start seeing the embedded of their local and particular lives with the ‘global’ and ‘universal’ norms that we’re so fond of; justice and equality has to be re-membered in transborder, trans-communal terms.

— From an Ex-Hindu.

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1. Continuously referring to rape survivors as ‘rape victims’ and stating ‘allegedly’ before any woman-related crime are a few of the many reasons TOI does wrong, on an alarmingly regular basis.

2. I can be quite the willfully ignorant unicorn when I want.

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David Cameron, What A Racist

David Cameron, our benevolent and democratically-leader, here in the U.K, recently made a speech about the widespread problem of terrorism which the world currently faces, and the causes there of. You might be surprised to discover that this speech is almost entirely devoid of racism! Cameron instead focuses on actual and true facts, that just happen to be about the Muslim community. He kindly agreed, in his benevolent and democratic manner, to answer a few of my foolishly naïve questions about this incredibly unracist topic¹.

That Fucking Hippy: Thank you Mr Cameron, for joining us here today to talk about the problem of terrorism. Can you tell us something of where the problem stems from?

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Conservative Party: Thank you. Well, the new and various threats that we face which are certainly not linked exclusively to any one religion or ethnic group.

TFH: Rrright.

DC, PM: Though, we should acknowledge that this threat comes in Europe overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam, and who are prepared to blow themselves up and kill their fellow citizens.

TFH: How, Prime Minister, do you get from not blaming any one particular ethnic group or religion, to, well, focusing specifically upon one gender in a certain sector of a very specific religion?

DC, PM: W need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism.

TFH: That isn’t…that just isn’t what I asked, Sir. I…how do you come to these conclusions? That it is Islam which encourages terrorism?

DC, PM: No, you misunderstand me! Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing.

TFH: But you are still blaming terrorism solely on Islam, no?

DC, PM: ….

TFH: Surely an extreme version of this peaceful and devout religion would be a super peaceful person?

DC, PM: ….

TFH: I suppose that if you wished to make an analogy, you could use Christianity? You know, that peaceful carpenter dude who encouraged people to love their neighbours as they loved themselves, and then the USA, claiming to be a Christian nation, went and laid waste to some countries, killing its citizens and ravaging the infrastructure? And that would be Christian extremism? Taking the peaceful doctrine to a conclusion which has very little to do with its progenitor? Is that what you think has happened in Islam, Prime Minister?

DC, PM: ….

TFH: In that case, how do you propose to prevent further terrorist action?

DC, PM: Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries. Of course, that means strengthening the security aspects of our response, on tracing plots, on stopping them, on counter-surveillance and intelligence gathering.

TFH: Sounds a bit like you want to follow around young, male Muslims and check their bags.

DC, PM: But not in a racist way.

TFH: Of course not, Prime Minister. What, then, do you think the reasons are for these young, male Muslims becoming terrorists?

DC, PM: Well, some people point to grievances about Western foreign policy and say, ‘Stop riding roughshod over Muslim countries and the terrorism will end.’ But there are many people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who are angry about Western foreign policy, but who don’t resort to acts of terrorism.

TFH: Pardon me, Prime Minister, are you suggesting that if there were more terrorists you would take the claims of colonialism in Muslim countries more seriously? How many terrorists is enough for you? I myself do not identify as a terrorist, and am angry…if not critical! of Western foreign policy, which I believe to be ridiculously harmful to the rest of the world, but if I was, would you take more vote more seriously? I’m not, I’m just not sure what you’re suggesting here.

DC, PM: Now, I’m not saying that these issues of grievance about foreign policy are not important.

TFH: But you are suggesting that they’re not relevant…

DC, PM: Yes, we must resolve the sources of tension, not least in Palestine , and yes, we should be on the side of openness and political reform in the Middle East .

TFH: Is that what we’re calling the illegal invasion of Iraq?

DC, PM ….They also point to the profusion of unelected leaders across the Middle East and say, ‘Stop propping these people up and you will stop creating the conditions for extremism to flourish.’ But this raises the question: if it’s the lack of democracy that is the problem, why are there so many extremists in free and open societies?

TFH: Smooooooth. If these extremists are, as you say, young Muslims, living in the U.K which is, ostensibly, a democracy, and perhaps you could remind me later exactly how it was that you came to power, Sir, but you question why these young Muslims might want to cause trouble within the ‘free and open’ societies in which they live now…the same free and open societies in which the leaders are calling for the policing of their social lives, their religious practices, their families…while these same Muslims may feel a great, shall we say, kinship? for the oppressed Muslims of these other countries in which unelected leaders are being kept propped up by, um, equally unelected leaders of these free and open democracies and may even be related! To people in, well, you mentioned Palestine? Do you know what is actually happening in Palestine, Sir? And if you do, if that was your brother over there, being suppressed by Israel, and you knew that the U.S.A, of which you were a citizen and in which the white majority were being taught to fear you and the Government of which supported Israel and the media of which misrepresented the plight of the Palestinian peoples, do you think that maybe you would want to call attention to all of those problems?

DC, PM: Even if we sorted out all the problems that I have mentioned, there would still be this terrorism. I believe the root lies in the existence of this extremist ideology. I would argue an important reason so many young Muslims are drawn to it comes down to a question of identity.

TFH: I believe that you might have nailed this whole question on the head, Sir! I don’t suppose that you, yourself, have ever suffered from any kind of oppression? Being the able-bodied, upper class, well-educated white man who you are? I hesitate to make any assumptions about your mental health.

DC, PM: In the UK , some young men find it hard to identify with the traditional Islam practiced at home by their parents, whose customs can seem staid when transplanted to modern Western countries. But these young men also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity.

TFH: Our collective identity? What…is that? I…barely share a collective identity with my family, at the moment, so I’m not really sure how the entire country, coming as we do from a multitude of backgrounds, might share a collective identity…Could you explain further, Sir, for the equally confused readers at home?

DC, PM: Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.

TFH: What is this ‘our values’? I…am a white genderqueer FAAB non-binary individual, well-educated, middle class, well off…privileged, some might say. Just like you…but I doubt, very much, that we share similar values. Firstly, I try not to be racist! You’ve made an entire speech around policing Muslim lives. If our collective identity is fucking racist, then I choose not to be a part of that. My values are also, attempted anti-racism. There is an analogy that I would like to share with you here. Society is like a moving walkway, heading towards racism. Some people are walking along it, quite fast. These people are actively racist. These people, are you. Some people are just standing on it. They have multi-racial friends, they don’t use racist slurs, but they still benefit, if they are white, from white privilege. In order to NOT BE RACIST you must be walking fast in the opposite direction to the walkway. You must actively take part in anti-racist actions. I am trying to walk in that direction. These are my values. I don’t think they line up with your values, Mr Cameron. And yet, I am white! I have lived in the U.K my entire life! My parents vote Tory! I am not a Muslim! Neither am I a terrorist! And yet, we do not share the same values! HOW CAN THIS BE?!?!?! Also, I believe this ‘mainstream’ to be one of those strange, illusory beasts which you believe in and many others have never seen. What is it that you believe the ‘mainstream’ to which Muslims ought belong actually is? If Muslims live in Muslim communities, then Islam is the mainstream, in that area. Or is culture only valid if it’s suitably white?

DC, PM: When a white person holds objectionable views, racist views for instance, we rightly condemn them.

TFH: I might have to take a minute, Sir, to get stark raving drunk in order to be able to finish this conversation of magical folding logic. Can you hang on a minute? [A few minutes pass] OKAY! Let’s get this racism back on the road! What, exactly, do you think is the problem here? How is such a peaceable religion becoming a HOTBED OF TERRORISM? Sorry, sorry, I get loud when I’m drunk and people aren’t making any logic.

DC, PM: The problem comes when Muslims meet together and talk to each other. Internet chatrooms are virtual meeting places where attitudes are shared, strengthened and validated. In some mosques, preachers of hate can sow misinformation about the plight of Muslims elsewhere. In our communities, groups and organisations led by young, dynamic leaders promote separatism by encouraging Muslims to define themselves solely in terms of their religion. All these interactions can engender a sense of community, a substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply. Now, you might say, as long as they’re not hurting anyone, what is the problem with all this?

TFH: YES! That is exactly what I was going to say next. Although, I also planned to inform you that the Muslim community is not a ‘substitute’ for anything, it is a community. Or would you also say that the people I play badminton with are a substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply me. Should we be going on picnics with our entire neighbourhoods? Do you want to come down to Bristol for a cup of tea, Prime Minister? You haven’t met my Grandma and I feel as though her only seeing her family, her carer and her cleaner is a mere substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply.

DC, PM: Well, I’ll tell you why.

TFH: I was hoping you’d say that.

DC, PM: As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by what some have called ‘non-violent extremists’, and they then took those radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence.

Whether they are violent in their means or not, we must make it impossible for the extremists to succeed. Now, for governments, there are some obvious ways we can do this. We must ban preachers of hate from coming to our countries. We must also proscribe organisations that incite terrorism against people at home and abroad. Governments must also be shrewder in dealing with those that, while not violent, are in some cases part of the problem. We need to think much harder about who it’s in the public interest to work with. Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism.

TFH: WAIT. Are you suggesting that we, sorry, ‘we’, ought to police Muslim communities? Decide who they can and cannot have preaching in their places of worship? Not give money to certain organisations because they’re Muslim? Islam is…a gateway drug? To terrorism? Is that…Are you…

DC, PM: So we should properly judge these organisations: do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separation?

TFH: Mr. Cameron, Honourable Sir…DO YOU?!

DC, PM: The extremism we face is a distortion of Islam, so these arguments, in part, must be made by those within Islam. So let us give voice to those followers of Islam in our own countries – the vast, often unheard majority – who despise the extremists and their worldview. Let us engage groups that share our aspirations.

TFH: That sounds almost reasonable, actually, Sir. Are you sure you’ve thought this through? Letting Muslims speak for themselves? About an issue which concerns them? Oh wait, sorry, what was that last part again?

DC, PM: Let us engage groups that share our aspirations.

TFH: Thank fuck! I thought I’d stepped into an alternate reality where you were becoming thoughtful, and not-quite-as-racist! You’re only going to let the Muslims who agree with you have a voice. Everyone who doesn’t, I imagine, will be accused of supporting those extremists you’ve been banging on about. What else?!

DC, PM: Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active, muscular liberalism. A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality.

TFH: I’m…flabbergasted…again…You…freedom? You’re promoting…freedom? But Muslims don’t get to choose which preachers come to their places of worship? They don’t get to hang out in internet chatrooms because you’re afraid they might talk about how pissed off they are with the West? They’re not allowed money from the Government for their organisations and societies? And this is…freedom of speech, freedom of worship, equal rights? Please, continue! I am intrigued!

DC, PM: I also believe we should encourage meaningful and active participation in society, by shifting the balance of power away from the state and towards the people. That way, common purpose can be formed as people come together and work together in their neighbourhoods.

TFH: Um. Is…so…Muslims are only meaningfully participating with society if they are chilling out with the white man? Muslims hanging out in Muslim-only communities, where, y’know, they might feel, uh, safer, because there are less racist white people who think they’re all terrorists, isn’t participating in society? My Grandma barely leaves the house except for medical appointments and talks only to family, but I guess because she’s white and racist, that’s totes cool? Let’s get old people on the streets! They need to meaningfully and actively participate in society! C’mon Mabel, what do you mean you’ve had two hip replacements and keep having mini-strokes? ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE WITH SOCIETY IN A MEANINGFUL WAY, DAMMIT, for the Prime Minister has decreed it thus.

DC, PM: So, let me end with this.

TFH: You mean, you’re going to be quiet after this? Thank…thank…oh no, shit. You still run the country.

DC, PM: This terrorism is completely indiscriminate and has been thrust upon us.

TFH: Whut? I…that 9/11 thing, which targeted the Twin Towers and the Pentagon…the USAian centers of commerce and war…that was indiscriminate? I always thought whoever did it was kind of saying, um, QUIT FUCKING UP OUR COUNTRIES WITH YOUR ECONOMIC POLICIES AND WARS. But, hey! I guess I could be wrong. Thank you for joining us, Mr. Cameron. It’s been emotional.

—–

1. This a mock-interview. Just want to make this clear before I get swarmed with e-mails saying “But the PM gave no such interview!”

This is a guest post by That Fucking Hippie. That Fucking Hippy points at things That Fucking Hippy does not like and says “I don’t like that”. TFH is a FAAB genderqueer non-binary individual who is made of sheer awesomeness as you can see nice people of the olde interwebes. I’d like to show you this magical page and tell you how it still works!


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