Link Love: Libya, Decolonial Feminism, and Multiculturalism

1.) Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Iraq 2003

Alexander, of The Ruh of Brown Folks, writes an excellent rebuttal to Juan Cole’s claims that the recent western imperialist invasion of Libya is “different” than the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Alexander points out the following:

The same Libyan people that rose up against Qaddafi also railed against foreign intervention. Those that did call for a no-fly zone did not call to be bombed, which is is happening now – and the US military admits it has trouble identifying civilians, which has led to some (like Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League) decrying the invasion for killing Libyan civilians. It’s disingenuous to conflate the popular movement against Qaddafi with a popular movement in support of the US/UN invasion. There were also Iraqis that supported the 2003 invasion, and Saddam was probably opposed by a majority of Iraqis, but the invasion itself was overwhelmingly unpopular.

2.)  Decolonial Feminism & the Privilege of Solidarity

Houria Bouteldja, “the spokesperson for the political party organized by people of color in France called Les Indigenes de la Republique,” stresses on the importance of decolonizing feminism and speaks on the question of Islamic feminism.

How to legitimize Islamic feminism? For me, it legitimizes itself. It doesn’t have to pass a feminist exam. The simple fact that Muslim women have taken it up to demand their rights and their dignity is enough for it to be fully recognized. I know, as result of my intimate knowledge of women from the Maghreb and in the diaspora, that “the-submissive-woman” does not exist. She was invented. I know women that are dominated. Submissive ones are rarer!

3. Dr. Sunera Thobani: Multiculturalism displaces anti-racism, upholds white supremacy

Restructure! highlights on Dr. Sunera Thobani’s important talk on multiculturalism in Canada and how the mainstream discourse on multiculturalism has been very effective in silencing anti-racist politics:

Multiculturalism has allowed for certain communities – people of colour – to be constructed as cultural communities. Their culture is defined in very Orientalist and colonial ways – as static, they will always be that, they have always been that.  Culture has now become the only space from which people of colour can actually have participation in national political life; it’s through this discourse of multiculturalism. And what it has done very successfully is it has displaced an a…nti-racist discourse.

And multiculturalism is the dominant discourse now through which all of us have to, are forced to, articulate our politics. And I think multiculturalism has, in that way, it’s done a big disservice. Because it has just silenced anti-racist discourse and anti-racist politics in this country, which now has been defined as an extreme kind of politics. And meanwhile, the deeply-embedded racial inequalities in Canadian society continue to be reproduced. And multiculturalism masks them, it glosses them over, and it has become a policy of governing and managing communities of colour, so that those politics only get articulated in the name of culture, and culture is defined in highly patriarchal terms.

4.The Absence of “Political Correctness”

Amy, of Daughter of Guidance, writes a fantastic piece on why the term “political correctness” needs to be eliminated from our vocabulary. The term is just a pathetic attempt to legitimize racism and bigotry!

Now, verbal attacks on Muslims have become commonplace in today’s political discourse, but the effect of bigotry disguised as truth has spread. Take, for example, the video posted by UCLA student Alexandra Wallace in which she criticizes …the ‘manners’ of her peers (specifically, Asian students in the library.) She starts her rant by saying ‘So we know that I’m not the most politically correct person so don’t take this offensively.’ In other words, she admits that she’s about to be very offensive but defends herself by saying she’s just not politically correct. As if that’s a legitimate excuse. And shouldn’t it be? After all, that’s what so many politicians are doing when they attack Muslims, blacks, or poor people.

2 thoughts on “Link Love: Libya, Decolonial Feminism, and Multiculturalism

  1. Indeed, Libya is the repeat of Iraq. The only difference I have been able to identify is the ownership of this Libya problem. America knows how unpopular the war in Iraq and Afghanistan has become amongst it own citizens, taking ownership of yet another war in Libya has not gone down well. In the past where America by-passed UN and Nato and went into war in Iraq and Afghanistan today its requires holding hands with nato, simply to contain public opinion.

    Ironically – Libya was attacked on 19 March 2011 and eight years earlier on the same day “Operation Iraqi Freedom” was launched into Iraq – ironic or what?

  2. this is late, but these were my thoughts on the second article back in march:
    (originally posted here: )

    Erm, I liked all of this until it got to the point where it was like, hey, gender justice in the sacred doesn’t matter *at all*. There was an extended conversation about this on facebook and I don’t want to make public conversations that are relatively private (sort of) of the parties in question, but basically, while I’m down for decrying imperial feminism, I’m also not so happy with the assumption 1) that Muslim women do *not* want gender justice in prayer/ sacred spaces 2) that there isn’t a huge debate among Muslim women about what that gender justice looks like 3) that this is just “pandering” to the expectations of the “white world” rather than rooted in Muslim communities based on some imaginary consensus of what Muslim women want…

    Also I’m sort of offended on a personal level of calling out Amina Wadud by name for pandering to white folks. Like, if you want to talk about the practice or whatever of women leading prayers, fine, she may have been involved in one of the more well-publicized events, but it kind of seemed to be *personally* calling her out for developing a “wrong” type of American/Islamic feminism that panders to white folks, and I’m not saying public figures shouldn’t be engaged with critically or whatever, but I bridle a lot at saying she panders to white people. Out of any public figure involved in “American/Islamic feminism”, I think she is the *last* person I would lobby this charge at. And really, that act of leading prayer is one of the things she de-emphasizes and she does *so much more* than just that. If you want to focus on someone who *only* seems to focus on battles of the sacred, focus on Asra Nomani or someone. Amina Wadud’s practice is pretty deeply rooted in an engaged spirituality and practice in many different spheres and she is much more rooted in justice in communities here and abroad… I don’t know, I’m just really not happy with that part and I’m finding it difficult to articulate my thoughts without being super defensive.

    I’m down for the basic premises, but battles are fought on many fronts and are not just distractions/ pandering to dominant/hegemonic forces.

    EDIT: Ok I thought about it and I realized why I’m so defensive? It’s because I am SO TIRED of separating out my radical leftist revolutionary anarchist-communist side from my Muslim/sufi-oriented/spiritual/interconnectedness side. It’s because when I found the work of Amina Wadud and others, while I didn’t agree with approach/analysis in everything, I had been so desperate and so grateful to find this work. These parts of me, they are not separate— not to sound too sufi. None of it is separate! And that is why I desperately searched as a child for gender justice that *incorporated the sacred and political and social* because I needed something like that to adequately address my lived experience. And I think many Muslim women need that— and here I am not making an assertion of what needs are truly ok and what aren’t, but an assertion of what it seems like many Muslim women have told me. Now, I do not identify as a feminist. And I do not agree with everything all these Muslim feminists say or their approach or whatever. But I think the work of integration is needed. If you are not down with the spiritual, that is fine. But I bridle at the assertion that “Muslim women do not need this” because you know what? I think this [justice in the sacred] is a major battle for every single Muslim *I* have *ever* known, in the global South or global North, working class, upper class, queer, straight, trans, genderqueer, any kind of marginalized identity (even the conservative/mainstream/dogmatic/island mentality ones!). Not to say the need to address justice in the sacred *supersede* any other need, but why cannot this be seen as *part* of it all? To declare and assert and uplift your humanity in every sphere?

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