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Imperialism is not queer liberation August 24, 2010

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anti-imperialism, Queer politics, Transhumanism.
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In the comments on an article entitled Israel’s Value to TransHumanism, Hank Pellissier tells American gays to get in line. He writes the following:

Israel is an extraordinarily progressive nation, especially compared to its neighbors. For example, Israel is very gay-friendly, gays have long been accepted in its military and in society. In contrast, Palestinian gays are persecuted, jailed, tortured and often seek asylum in Israel. Kyle, I believe you are over-emphasizing the value of immigration and not recognizing the dangers. I am also constantly amazed at American gays and gay-friendly activists who protest for Palestinian causes, without realizing that they’re simultaneously supporting homophobia.

The more I think about it, the more offensive I find this passage. It places queers and Palestinians in an inferior position and sets them against one another. It’s a classic divide-and-conquer strategy by means of a false dilemma.  We queers in the United States are supposed to realize that the meager tolerance we enjoy has Western military power behind it and so become supporters. Palestinians appear as the barbarians at the gates; they’re nothing more than a danger lurking the shadows.  By the ugliest interpretation, there’s a direct threat to queers: Conform or we’ll let those terrible homophobic Muslims have you. It reminds me of how the Shin Beit treats queer Palestinians.

Similar constructions abound; they’re often invoked against feminists. Look how good you have it here, the argument goes. In Saudi Arabia they wouldn’t even let you drive. Support the U.S. military or you’ll end up in a burqa. At best, these narratives involve assimilation into privilege not unlike the deal Greek strikers accepted after the 1912 takeover of the Bingham mine. They became white at the price of abandoning their Japanese comrades. It’s a devil’s bargain. While in a vacuum, winning greater rights and acceptance for the queer community is obviously desirable, such gains can serve to bolster other systems of oppression. I demand liberation for all of us, not just respectable white gay men. Instead of trying to do better under the current rules of hierarchy and competition, we need to move to a new game where nobody loses.

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Comments»

1. Valkyrie Ice - August 26, 2010

While I will defend Hank by saying I know from previous conversations that he’s a pro equal rights guy for everyone, and argues frequently for gay rights, womans rights, and gender equality, I do have to concede that there are some rather disappointing memes that he has allowed to cloud his views.

Don’t let the whole back and forth in the thread fool you. Hank and I often see eye to eye on future issues, and the actions needed to promote a beneficial future for all people. I do hope that this current argument doesn’t damage the friendship we’ve had, but I’m not going to change my stance about the dangers of “Exceptionalism”

No side is all angels or all demons. We cannot blindly support any ideological ideal, but must work towards the best goals we can, while doing our best to prevent the human urge to “make exceptions for our side” that allow us to justify actions we would condemn from others. Sadly, Hank fails to see that, having fallen into the trap of “I refuse to see any evil from the side I support.”


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