Remember not that long ago when so many of us said we loved, not just liked, but loved “Legally Blonde” with Reese Witherspoon? Probably because the movie was so affirmative about women, working class & middle class, Black & white. There wasn’t a single woman character portrayed in a mean or hostile way. That’s the Reese we respect & stand with in her charges against the movie industry for sexual assault on her as a teenage actress. Though to be honest, we would stand with these women even if we deplored the roles they played or the politics they hold. We don’t have to agree with anything about them except that no one has the right to sexually harass, assault, or rape them. Period. On that issue we do not budge an inch. We don’t make apologies for standing with rich & famous women against assault. We would be shamed if we did not–& we will look to them as allies in building a movement addressing sexual crimes against women in war, occupation, & genocide.
The journalist Jonathan Cook is exasperated–‘truly’ exasperated, as he explains in his blog entry “Harvey Weinstein & the politics of Hollywood.” Cook was a respected analyst of Palestinian & Israeli politics until he came out as an Assad supporter promoting the anti-Semitic scenario, shared by fascists, of a “Greater Israel” plan to Balkanize the Middle East. Once you cross into political territory staked out by fascists & anti-Semites, you are compromised & useless. Cook concedes the Assad regime is a dictatorship but to justify his support despite the gulag, torture, forcible disappearances, bombing of civilians, he points out that Syria has social security & high literacy levels. Well, if there is anything that justifies bombing civilians it is certainly the ability to read. Cook considers himself a civilized man but thinks human rights are way overrated. He said it’s “tempting” to use human rights in Syria as the measure of which side to support but the conflict isn’t about human rights. It’s about Balkanization by Israel & to defeat that plan gulags & bombing civilians are a regrettable necessity.
Our man’s disdain for human rights explains his exasperation today. What’s frying his ass about the assault & rape charges against Weinstein is not that so many women sustained violence but that the “story perfectly illustrates how politically disempowering identity politics can be.” Human rights don’t concern Cook but identity politics do. Forget that it’s a non sequitur to transition from charges of sexual assault to identity politics but Cook has an axe to grind because he disdains the struggle for human rights, especially by the oppressed like women, Blacks, Latinos, LGBT. The more Cook talks, the more he shovels horse manure against the tide in a masterpiece of mansplaining. How have generations of feminists across this globe survived without this upper class twit telling us where we’ve gone wrong. He doesn’t appear to have ten minutes of political organizing in his resume but thinks women (not feminists, since he doesn’t believe in identity politics) should form trade unions. A guy who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow about political organizing could be forgiven for confusions about social movements but it would be enough if he just kept his mouth shut about things beyond his comprehension.
If there’s one thing feminism has excoriated brilliantly & without mercy, it is the divide & conquer tactic that tries to keep women pitted against each other, seeing each other as competitors. Feminism works tirelessly to break that crap down. Most of us have had it up to our eyeballs. So when Cook brings up Reese Witherspoon, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence & Gwyneth Paltrow, we understand we’re supposed to cop an attitude toward them because they’re rich, famous, & don’t move in our social circles. To us, brother Cook, they are sisters & nothing you blither against identity politics means we will waver in our support for them against sexual assault & rape. What we will do is take their testimony & move forward to organizing a movement–of identity politics, no less–to expose & end sexual crimes against women in the workplace, in war & occupation zones, in genocide. If you don’t like it, brother Cook, you can stuff it in the same place you stuff your anti-Semitism & Islamophobia.
(Photo is Cook who supports dictatorship because human rights are overrated)
It’s one thing for Abhijan Choudhury to pose this troubling contradiction because it raises the issue of racism & its nexus with violence against women: “Can’t help but wonder, why did it take a bunch of famous millionaire women from Hollywood, with every possible comfort & luxury in the world that life can offer, access to lawyers & money & evident social support, to spark the ‘me too’ movement?
“Not a girl gang raped in Delhi, or a Dalit girl raped by an upper caste man in a remote village in India, or some other woman raped by a religious leader, or an ISIS sex slave raped spanning months, if not years, or a woman raped by UN peacekeepers in an African war zone, or the Iraqi men & women sexually humiliated & raped by US soldiers, or not even a Rohingya woman raped by Myanmar army soldiers, since that is currently in the news, not even the women Trump assaulted. Were all these other women not famous or rich enough?”
It’s an entirely misogynist & contemptible thing to refer to the women victims of Weinstein as “whiny little girls prostituting themselves to live in luxury.” They are white & Black actresses, not prostitutes, who were victims of sexual harassment, assault, & rape. Coming forward with deeply painful & courageous testimony is not ‘whining’ but a political protest. Feminism at its best & most uncompromising has a broad, inclusive vision which demeans no women because of gender, ethnicity, or class.
The testimony of privileged women exposing the scope of sexual crimes among the elite can be used to highlight the monstrous sexual crimes against unprivileged, mostly black & brown women & children including women of the oppressed castes in India & elsewhere; women under military occupation or in war zones as in Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, the Congo, Somalia, Syria, & elsewhere; women subjected to genocide as the Rohingya & Mayan women; women subjected to forced sterilization all over the world.
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Burma & Bangladesh between November 26th & December 2nd. In Burma, he is scheduled to meet with Suu Kyi & the generals & later address politicians, diplomats, military leaders, & the highest Buddhist authorities in Burma, who all support the Rohingya genocide. Now the question is, what will he be talking about?
Last May, just a few months after the several month genocidal offensive against the Rohingya in 2016-2017, Suu Kyi met with the Pope in the Vatican to discuss establishing full diplomatic relations between the Vatican & Burma. Maybe Pope Francis is naive about politics & hopes to persuade Suu Kyi & the generals that genocide is contrary to religious teachings in all religions. But naiveté is unlikely since the Vatican has the resources to get the Pope up to speed on what is going on in world politics & how it’s folly, if not idiocy, to think you can talk fascist genocidaires out of genocide. Pope Francis should realize that he compromises the Vatican & the Catholic Church by publicly meeting with Suu Kyi & the generals whilst they are conducting a genocide that has caused 582,000 Rohingya to flee for their lives because their villages are being torched & thousands murdered, raped, tortured.
Does Pope Francis fear that if he doesn’t compromise with Suu Kyi & the generals the estimated 450,000 Catholics in Burma will suffer consequences? As a religious leader, he ought more to fear the moral, spiritual, & political corruption he will generate among those Catholics by compromising with fascism & genocide & appearing to legitimize monstrous human rights crimes. He ought to stop mollifying the fascist junta & make vigorous calls for the Catholic Church in Burma to actively oppose the Rohingya genocide. The Pope should not be held to a lower standard of human rights than we hold ordinary Catholics who should be horrified by his compromises.
He could begin by rebuffing all diplomacies with Suu Kyi & the generals & by summoning Cardinal Charles Maung Bo & the other Burmese bishops to the Vatican for censure & threats of excommunication if they don’t stop supporting the genocide. This is a video of the speech the Cardinal gave to that October 10th interfaith rally where he is ardently cheering on Suu Kyi & the generals. It shows him not to an unwilling participant in this rally but an enthusiastic, bloodthirsty adherent of the military junta, Suu Kyi, & the Rohingya genocide.
(Photo is Suu Kyi at Vatican in May 2017 by Tony Gentile/AFP)
A valuable interview with Kashmiri human rights advocate Parvez Imroz:
Are you noticing how many politicians & governmental bodies are calling for repatriation of Rohingya refugees without also denouncing & calling for an end to the genocide that sent 582,000 fleeing for their lives? That’s because they don’t want to provide humanitarian aid or accept refugees so to make the problem go away they call for repatriation back to certain death in Burma. The human rights imperative is: no decisions about the Rohingya refugees made without the direct & democratic involvement of the Rohingya people. It is what they want that matters, not what the UN, Bangladeshi, or other officials propose to cover for their back-handed collusion with the Burmese junta & Suu Kyi.
Photo is Rohingya refugee with his two kids. It is what he wants for their future that matters. Period.
(Photo from Twitter)
You just can’t make blanket condemnations of the Indian people on my wall. There are a billion Indians, including some of the most oppressed people in the world like child workers, homeless people, slum dwellers, dispossessed farmers, indigenous people, & oppressed castes. Indians aren’t all deranged nationalists; many are engaged in organizing against caste oppression, the growing militarization of India, the persecution of Muslims, the attempts to deport Rohingya refugees, the occupation of Kashmir, the alliances with Burma, Israel, the US. If you want to criticize the government of India or the corruption of Hindutva nationalists, go at them with vehemence but don’t condemn “Indians” without clarifying which ones you mean or your condemnations lend themselves to misunderstanding. Do a lot of them support Modi? The purpose of political organizing is to win them over or overwhelm & defeat their corruption with the political power of the oppressed.
Good luck to those dumb-assed nationalists trying to write the Taj Mahal out of Indian history because it’s a Muslim mausoleum. Nationalism & racism make you stupid. Really stupid.
It’s so remarkable that the pregnant American woman biked her little kids to safety from the wild fires. As of a week ago, an estimated 18,523 pregnant Rohingya women fleeing for their lives entered Bangladesh, many of them carrying toddlers.
We should take a moment to pay tribute to these remarkable women & to the sacredness of mother love.
(Photo from Mohammadi News Agency)
The UN refugee agency announced today that an estimated 582,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25th; that 10,000 to 15,000 have crossed just since Sunday night at only one crossing; that up to 15,000 are still stranded on the Burma side of the border. Several other sources report that there is no let-up at all in the surge of Rohingya fleeing for their lives from villages which are still being torched.
Photo is a Rohingya child living without shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Stand with the Rohingya people against genocide & for full human, democratic, civil, & refugee rights.
(Photo by Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)