Tuesday, June 08, 2004

A "Clash of Civilizations," Sending Pink Sparks Flying?

Do you remember Pim Fortuyn, a gay Dutch politician who rose to notoriety with his call for a moratorium on immigration and whose political party Lijst Pim Fortuyn received "1.6 million votes and 26 seats in the 150-seat parliament" nine days after his assassination on May 6, 2002?

It is common today to automatically associate white gay male politics with the left. From Oscar Wilde, Magnus Hirschfeld, Sergei Eisenstein, Jean Genet, Harry Hay, Michel Foucault, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Guy Hocquenghem, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, John D'Emilio, to Tony Kushner, the finest and queerest of queer male intellectuals have been resolutely of the left (even when political parties on the left didn't welcome them, they remained radically pinko), and landmarks of gay men's activism from the Stonewall Uprising, le Front Homosexuel d’Action Révolutionnaire, Act-Up, to Queer Nation stand on the left side of the political spectrum. While we know that some white gay men have espoused a range of right-wing politics (from Nazism of Ernst Röhm to Cold-War anticommunism of Roy Cohn to Log Cabin Republicanism of Andrew Sullivan), we (especially those of us on the queer left), noting that right-wing gay men are generally marginalized (and sometimes purged) by their fellow right-wingers, think that right-wing gay men have found themselves on the wrong side of the political spectrum, against their own interests.

The rise of Pim Fortuyn, however, signaled a new era of white gay male politics. By promoting anti-immigrant politics vigorously and marketing it with anti-Muslim prejudice demagogically, Fortuyn showed that right-wing populism can very well be gay and enormously popular to boot, as LPF votes in 2002 attest, in the Netherlands, "the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage (in March 2002)" (Wim Lunsing, "Islam versus Homosexuality? Some Reflections on the Assassination of Pim Fortuyn," Anthropology Today 19.2, April 2003, p. 19). It is ironic that the conservative thesis of Samuel Huntington finally found its most charismatic advocate in the most liberal nation in the world:
A prolific author, as far back as 1997 he [Pim Fortuyn] had published Against Islamicization of our culture (reissued as The Islamicization of our culture: The centrality of Dutch identity in late 2001, following 9/11. . .), in which he portrayed Islam in onflict with modern values and norms. He argued that because Islam does not tolerate separation between state and religion, it comes into direct conflict with liberal values. Already in August 2001 he had gone on record saying that 'I am . . . in favour of a cold war with Islam. I see Islam as an extraordinary threat, as a hostile society.' He liked to call himself 'the Samuel Huntington of Dutch politics' because he endorsed Huntington's The clash of civilizations (1998).

. . . [I]n an interview in the Volkskrant of 9 February 2002, he declared that there was no room for immigrants and asylum seekers in the Netherlands, that he was in favour of complete abandonment of the principle of non-discrimination, and that Islam was a backward religion: 'If I can legally manage it, I would say: no Muslim comes in[to this country] any more'. (Lunsing, p. 20)
While Fortuyn's life came to an end at the hands of a mad animal rights activist Van der Graaf, immigrants and asylum-seekers in the Netherlands live with his legacy:
  • The Dutch parliament voted February 17 to expel some 26,000 asylum seekers from the Netherlands over the next three years, marking an escalation in the brutalisation of immigrants across Europe. . . .

    The bill affects all asylum seekers who arrived in the country before April 2001. They include Afghans, Somalis and Chechens facing civil wars or a return to regions with no functioning government. Many of those affected have been in the country for more than five years and have had children who have been raised within Dutch communities. Some have spent up to 10 years applying for residence, and consider themselves Dutch.

    All those who arrived before April 2001, and whose asylum applications have been rejected, are to be offered plane tickets and given eight weeks to leave the country. Levels of payment offered are to be assessed on circumstance by special committees. If asylum seekers refuse, they will be rounded up by immigration officers, supported by armed police if necessary, and taken to a departure centre. Here, for up to another eight weeks, they will come under pressure from lawyers and civil servants to leave voluntarily. The government has already opened deportation centres for the detention of families.

    If they still refuse to leave the country, they face a six-month prison sentence. They will then also lose any entitlement to a job, welfare, housing and health care. The government hopes that this will both force their expulsion and satisfy its obligations to support “voluntary” departure under international human rights conventions. (Paul Bond, "Dutch Parliament Votes to Deport Asylum Seekers," WSWS.org, February 21, 2004)

  • Newcomers and settled immigrants will be forced to successfully pass an integration examination to prove they have integrated into Dutch society.

    The law is primarily aimed at non-EU family unification immigrants —- especially those from Turkey and Morocco —- who will be required to complete a basic integration test in their country of origin before arriving in the Netherlands.

    The Netherlands is the first country in the world to demand permanent immigrants complete a pre-arrival integration course. US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese nationals are exempted from the pre-arrival courses.

    The changes come on the back of a Cabinet decision in March requiring Dutch residents earn at least 120 percent of the minimum wage before being allowed to bring their foreign partner into the country. Both the partner and Dutch resident must also be aged at least 21.

    Moving on, the Cabinet agreed on 23 April that after arriving in the country, a newcomer must report back to the local council after six months to monitor their integration progress. Authorities will determine when they will be assessed again. Those who fail to report will be fined.

    If the immigrant wants to be compensated for course costs, they must pass the integration exam within three years. If a newcomer has failed to integrate after five years, they will be fined. . . .

    A residence permit for an indefinite period can only be obtained once a foreigner has passed an integration exam.

    Settled immigrants will also be required to complete the integration exam except those who have already gained relevant diplomas.

    The Cabinet asserts that about 450,000 settled immigrants have a language deficiency and should thus be forced to integrate. . . .

    To combat the growing problems in socio-economic disadvantaged areas in cities, the government has allowed the four largest cities demand that new residents earn a minimum level income before being permitted to settle in the city. . . .

    Taking up the fight against illegal immigrants, the Cabinet resolved on 23 April to boost the capacity of the foreign police and double the cells at deportation centres to about 3,000.

    Rental contracts can be dissolved if inquiries indicate that landlords have rented homes out to illegal immigrants. In the case of illegal subletting, the official tenant might also lose his or her home.

    Employers will be threatened with stiffer fines if they employ illegal workers. The average fine of EUR 980 will be increased to EUR 3,500 per illegal worker.

    More raids will thus be carried out and employers will also be forced to pay retrospective social security premiums and taxes if the illegal immigrant has worked there for six months. That bill could reportedly amount to EUR 6,000. (Aaron Gray-Block, "Changes in Dutch Immigration Policy," Expatica, May 19, 2004)

  • The Dutch government plans to scrap the law allowing third generation migrants to maintain dual nationality. Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk said it is "not permissible" for this group of people to have two passports. ("Dutch Set to Scrap Third Generation Dual Nationality," Expatica, May 21, 2004)

  • Dutch political culture is sowing hate and criminalising migrants, former Liberal VVD leader Hans Dijkstal has claimed. He particularly slammed a proposal to publicly identify migrants on how much they have integrated into Dutch society. ("Dutch Political Culture 'Cultivates Migrant Hate,'" Expatica, June 7, 2004)
Will the phenomenon of a gay man successfully popularizing the rhetoric that pits "Islam" (misrepresented as inherently and monolithically homophobic and misogynistic) against the "Western Civilization" (made out to be inherently and monolithically feminist and pro-gay) remain unique to the Netherlands? Or will the Netherlands be a harbinger, as more white gay men, now integrated in the militaries and soon to gain the equal right to marriage in most rich industrialized nations, lose the ability to identify with other outcasts like the Palestinians and migrant workers that once defined the politics and aesthetics of Genet (e.g., Prisoner of Love) and Fassbinder (e.g., Ali: Fear Eats the Soul)?

Take Peter Tatchell, perhaps the most famous queer activist in Britain, for example. Unlike Fortuyn, Tatchell is still capable of gesturing toward the existence of tolerant Muslims, but a number of his writings suggest a paranoid fear of political powers of Muslims:
  • The New Dark Ages are already with us. For hundreds of millions of people in parts of the Middle-East, Africa and South-East Asia, the ascendancy of Islamic fundamentalism has ushered in an era of religious obscurantism and intolerance. The liberal, compassionate wing of Islam -- although it still has large numbers of adherents -- is being forced onto the defensive and increasingly eclipsed. (Peter Tatchell, "The New Dark Ages," 1995)

  • The political consequences for the gay community could be serious. As the fundamentalists gain followers, homophobic Muslim voters may be able to influence the outcome of elections in 20 or more marginal constituencies. Their voting strength could potentially be used to block pro-gay candidates or to pressure electorally vulnerable MPs to vote against gay rights legislation. (Peter Tatchell/OutRage! Press Release, "The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Britain," April 10, 1998)
While the politics of extreme Islamism presents indeed a danger (mainly to Muslims themselves rather than white British gay men like Tatchell), alarmist (and factually inaccurate) screeds like Tatchell's do more damage than good to the very Muslims who are fighting for reforms -- both in secular and religious arenas -- by giving a gay obscurantist cover to the politics of intolerance. If Muslim voters are so vulnerable to radical Islamists' persuasion, why not restrict their immigration to England, as the Dutch have sought to protect their "liberalism" and "civilization" by implementing more and more anti-immigrant measures? I won't be surprised if Tatchell one day crosses the thin boundary between his rhetoric and Fortuyn's.

Already, Tatchell's politics may be properly called the advocacy of the Pink Man's Burden, the White Man's Burden in queer left drag:
Peter Tatchell, Britain's best-known and most notorious gay rights activist, still has 'severe headaches' from when he was set upon by President Robert Mugabe's bodyguards after he tried to carry out a citizen's arrest on the Zimbabwean leader in Brussels in March 2001.

'I was battered far worse than most people think', says Tatchell. 'Thrown to the floor, kicked, punched....I still have a bit of brain damage, and damage to my left eye. It's not serious now, but I'm a bit slower than normal.'

So can we expect similar sparks to fly during the UK election campaign, or has Tatchell learned his lesson about taking on figures in authority?

'It's long overdue that there were strong street protests against Blair's authoritarian and pro-business policies', says Tatchell. 'He will continue to promote a social democratic version of Thatcherism, so long as people let him get away with it.'

So how about a citizen's arrest, to stop Blair in his tracks? After all, like Mugabe, Blair has been known to 'break international law' and show 'contempt and disregard for human life' (think Kosovo and Iraq). 'Yes, but I'm not sure about arresting him', says Tatchell. 'I think you'd have a harder time getting to Blair than you would to Mugabe. And I don't think there's any comparison to the murders taking place in Zimbabwe.' (Brendan O'Neill, "Me and My Vote: Peter Tatchell," May 11, 2001)
Mugabe is an authoritarian strongman who is no friend to democracy in Zimbabwe, to be sure, but he has not shown as much contempt and disregard for human life and international law as the multinational power elite like Blair who manage the empire of capital under the US hegemony, imposing the Washington Consensus globally with far bloodier results than Mugabe's human rights violations at home. The Pink Man's Burden, like the White Man's Burden, has a way of obstructing the political vision of those who carry it, however.

Having left the Labour Party, which is to his credit, Tatchell has found a new political home in the Green Party. I hope he will at least remain where he is politically, without transforming himself into a British Fortuyn, who will stage a "Clash of Civilizations" that sends pink sparks flying.

3 comments:

piet said...

gee, I try comment here and I find myself having published a whole new blog (besides my trusty and ancient html wise one) just over a minute later cause I didn't even have to go get some log in code at me email adress (which would have added minuteS on this phone(y) line!!!).

alritee, here it be:

Do you remember Pim Fortuyn, a gay Dutch politician who rose to notoriety with his call for a moratorium on immigration and whose political party Lijst Pim Fortuyn received "1.6 million votes and 26 seats in the 150-seat parliament" nine days after Fortuyn's assassination on May 6, 2002? It is common today to automatically associate white gay male politics with the left. From Oscar Wilde, Magnus Hirschfeld, Sergei Eisenstein, Jean Genet, Harry Hay, Michel Foucault, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Guy Hocquenghem, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, John D'Emilio, to Tony Kushner, the finest and queerest of queer male intellectuals have been resolutely of the left (even when political parties on the left didn't welcome them, they remained radically pinko), and landmarks of gay men's activism from the Stonewall Uprising, le Front Homosexuel d'Action Révolutionnaire, Act-Up, to Queer Nation stand on the left side of the political spectrum. While we know that some white gay men have espoused a range of right-wing politics (from Nazism of Ernst Röhm to Cold-War anticommunism of Roy Cohn to Log Cabin Republicanism of Andrew Sullivan), we (especially those of us on the queer left), noting that right-wing gay men are generally marginalized (and sometimes purged) by their fellow right-wingers, think that right-wing gay men have found themselves on the wrong side of the political spectrum, against their own interests. The rise of Pim Fortuyn, however, signaled a new era of white gay male politics.

piet said...

apologies for the mere quote above (one of several glitches at 5 in the euromornin).

here's the comment (as it appeared ((under the there just as colourfully rendered article above here)) in my blog http://members.lycos.nl/vadercats/logbriefer.htm today):


pp goes pietpoetic

Wow!! Clutching the ashes of clip n clear straw claspery . .. I mean, where to start defusing this all too common selfrighteous indignation over a nation she on the other hand really digs (and what has it dug onto even the other world's and other's world side)? Sure, generalizations are really bad and decisions have a way of severing stuff (good intentions get displaced by bad practice, good trappings severed from the long long road towards perfection, expulsions, relocation, trans-, im- and exports are perpetually perped, etc) but I prefer to look at its roots radically and principles positively first and foremost. In service of/to 'the one thing' an ideal act makes room for new life in between formerly to formal tight and uniform fronts, formations/factions, etcetera (more like respacing and preplacement, not the dis- version then innit? Stick to basics and nobody gets hurt).

In my so humble it tends to crumble Ipinion Dutch liberality has cost too high a price (though paid pretty much in full till just as pretty recently) for (similarly specced, too high that is) tolerance is a dutch disease you too suffer by looking away from the real problems multiculturalism engenders and (looking) even further away from the problems which engendered its tumulticult in the first place (which is not to say it has no potential, the rise and fall of races proves that but if you so much as attempt to sequence that sort of stuff all of the pilotackily correct crowds line up to fall all over and against you too). For instance, taking America as home to the weary and hungry or wondering which group benefits most in the jostle leaves the reason for the hemorrhaging of places all these various folks hail from equally far out of the picture. Demography and cultural mores, economics, mindsets and lores are to be grasped in/as one clearly and vitally flowing, tightly fitting and fractal concept/process and hell, that takes the kind of practice squeezed further and further out of same (punkcheer). Yoshie, you prove these far and widely ramified factors and aspects of population pressures (in the Dutch case nevertheless undeniably and therefore easy to admit self inflicted (pp), the turning of price into reward of admission (pp), kind of like zionist tactics (pp) in reverse, ironic for such an unhealthily pro-israel (pp) babbleboible (pp) below biggarbeltwoild) which threaten a real inundation (either that or morph'm into ugly aliens, they're limbering up with alienationisms already methinks, the densely populated Dutch case seams a not even that much exxagerated version of some damn near universally human problems against which some of them are, admission time again, draconically struggling) are pretty much off limits, out of bounds and totally taboo to her and hers, the messy masses minded.

Before I say anymore let me emphasize I am a firm believer in peace- and all the more forceful solutions (power to powder, lust to dust); now that we have that out of the way I hasten to add that the 'mistakenly' and 'made out to be' firm and irreconcilable Huntingtonian antagonism, the 'inherently and monolithically' this vs that is really much more of a tit vs tat, a hitting on one cheek which nevertheless insults them both hurt. The monotheisms and other factors furthering monomania and mindmoldies for the masses have been enjoying a winning streak against the, dare I say inherently, more richly variety filled and fielding narcissisms of small differences, I mean the less generalization triggering happy (militaristic pun intended), less scale-invariant (some Winter vs Kohr reading required here; meant is action/energydirection not indifferent to but to the contrary, hungry for scaling, the clinically clean, almost scientific term which tries and pretends to shed the karma of, but will forever at heart still remain a remnant and echo from, the materializionist side of the mixed bag known as the bible) though, of course, sometimes no less deadly, but still, evermore local, difference.

pp, the indybloggin idialog goes pietpoetic soon as power goes, adds up and comes to powder, it's senses that is.

piet said...

< < <
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Queering Palestinian Solidarity Activism
by Louis Proyect
07 June 2004 13:30 UTC < < <
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Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:
What approach, then, might GLBT activists in Palestinian solidarity
movements take? Firstly, as a statement by QUIT! (Queers Undermining
Israeli Terrorism) -- one of whose founders is a Palestinian gay man
-- shows, GLBT activists in Palestinian solidarity movements must
reckon with pro-Israeli-occupation propaganda that comes with a
seemingly pro-gay twist . . .

Tatchell is an upscale English version of a red-baiter named Michael
Pugliese who used to post on the Marxism list. Tatchell's politics are a
combination of rancid social democracy and gay advocacy, where the
latter is often used as a cudgel against governments or movements that
are in need of "policing" by the soft left. For example, Tatchell has a
spittle-specked attack on Cuba at:
http://www.galha.org/glh/213/cuba.html, which complains about Castro's
lack of "liberalism". Indeed.

From what I can gather, the intervention at the Palestinian
demonstration was nothing but a provocation. Nobody can deny that
organized Islam is hostile to gay rights, but his contingent was not
intended to change minds but to piss people off. This incident has
become a 'cause celebre' for reactionary elements globally. You can find
an article about it on David Horowitz's Frontpage website:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=13433

You also have to recognize that despite the backwardness of orthodox
Jewry, the Israeli government is anxious to demonstrate its openness to
gays in contrast to the "backward" Arabs. For example:

Gays parade in Jerusalem

Gay Pride 2003 has passed off peacefully in Jerusalem and the port city
of Haifa despite fears of disruption by Jewish religious groups.
Thousands of homosexual men and women danced in the city streets, many
of them dressed in drag and waving rainbow flags.

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, himself an ultra-Orthodox Jew, shrugged
off criticism of his decision to approve the march - only the second in
the city's history.

"Everyone has his own parade," he said. "I myself will be marching in
another parade."

Rainbow flags put up along the march route earlier in the week had been
torn down - an action claimed by the outlawed Jewish movement Kach who
said the parade undermines the city's Jewish character.

When a small group of right-wingers tried to protest at the march on
Friday, police physically removed them from the route.

The Israeli Interior Minister himself, Avraham Poraz, brought a message
of support to the marchers.

He said: "There are a few ministers in the government who aren't happy
that I'm taking part in this event but, despite everything, I have come
to wish you a happy holiday. We are all proud of you."

full: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3008496.stm

Finally, it is important to understand that Tatchell has made an
unsubstantiated charge that is potentially very damaging to the struggle
of Palestinians for self-determination. He has stated that Palestinian
gays risk "punishment beatings and murder" by Yasser Arafat's Fatah
movement.

Taking advantage of my free access to Lexis-Nexis at Columbia
University, I did a keyword search on "PLO" and "homosexuals" and could
find absolutely nothing to support Tatchell's allegation. When I did
another search on "Fatah" and "homosexuals", I did come up with
something revealing but nothing at all that jibes with Tatchell's big lie:

The Jerusalem Post
June 20, 1990, Wednesday

TWO STABBINGS IN NABLUS FOLLOW CHARGES OF HOMOSEXUALITY

BYLINE: By JOEL GREENBERG, Jerusalem Post Reporter

Masked Hamas activists burst into the homes of two Fatah backers in
Nablus on Monday and stabbed them in revenge for accusations that a
local Hamas leader was a homosexual.

The incident is considered one of the most serious cases of
inter-faction violence in Nablus.

Hamas, an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, has vied with
Fatah for leadership of the uprising in the territories, criticizing its
rival's readiness to negotiate with Israel.

The violence erupted after Fatah supporters alleged that a Hamas figure,
known as Sheikh Hakam, was a homosexual. In response, Hamas activists
arrived at the homes of Jihad Hamami, 20, and Faisal Abu al-Hayat, 20,
and stabbed them. The two are currently in Ittihad a-Nisa'i Hospital,
where one is in serious condition, and the other in fair condition. The
incident has aroused widespread concern and embarrassment, and Nablus
residents have been warned not to discuss it with outsiders.


--

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