Follow Up On My Critique of Liberal Western Feminism

This is a long over due follow up to my March 8 article, “We Need to Talk About Women: The Problem With Western Liberal Feminists”. In today’s post I will address some of the comments, questions and feedback that that article garnered. The main reason I decided to write this follow up piece is because, following the March 8 article on western liberal feminism, I received messages from young women who had shared that article on social media and received a lot of flack (mainly from other young women) over it. Today’s article is dedicated to the young women that bravely shared my article.

As a side note, the fact that some women were bullied for sharing that article, which was unabashedly critical of so called modern day feminism (what I describe as pro-establishment, liberal corporate/capitalist feminism) demonstrates just how intolerant and hypersensitive some of today’s “politically correct” Millennials are. But I digress. Back to the point at hand: Today piece addresses some of the concerns and criticisms that my March 8 critique of liberal, consumer feminism generated.

  1. The Article Bashes International Women’s Day

While the March 8 article was published on International Women’s Day, it was indeed not about International Women’s Day. The intention of the article was to make a statement about a certain segment of the female population in the west (liberal, consumer feminists), within the context of a broader critical analysis of identity politics. I chose to make that statement on international women’s day simply because it is a day where there is dialogue on women. Moreover, despite its title, the larger focus of the March 8 article is the critical analysis of identity politics. That is something I have been writing about for many years.

  1. The Article is Anti-Women

I was not going to reply to this one given its absurdity. But here it goes, anyway. First of all, I am a woman and I love being a woman; I revel in it. I am feminine or “girly” in my appearance, not that this is all there is to being a woman, and I am physically, mentally, and spiritually (in reference to the female essence, so to speak), in tune with and entangled with my femininity/femaleness. If I could be born a million times over, I would not choose to be a man instead of a woman. Well that’s not true, if I actually could be born a million times I would probably want to be a million different things—from an ameba to a giant tortoise and everything in between (including a man)—in order to have a million different experiences of existence. But in this one life that I have, I have never wished to be anything other than a woman; I love being a woman and cherish the experience thus far.

But these are all personal things. With respect to the non-personal stuff and to what people imply when they say that an individual is “anti-women” for writing a criticism of liberal, consumer feminists, I want to stress that being critical of a very particular segment of the female population does not make someone anti-women; it simply makes them critical. News Flash: As a social critic and writer, critical reflection and commentary is what I do. Writers are supposed to make critical observations about the world around them. And readers are allowed and encouraged to critically respond to those observations. Readers are free to disagree with my and any writer’s opinion; it is okay and it is healthy and necessary for society. Public debate and dialogue is a good and welcome thing. At the same time, however, today’s politically correct youth and “social justice warriors” have become so thin skinned and so anti-intellectual that they interpret any form of critical thought, opinion, analysis or commentary as ‘hate speech.’

Nowhere in the March 8 article did I generalize about all women. On the contrary, I explicitly state that I am referring to a particular segment of the female population in the west—liberal, mainstream, consumer feminists (LMCFs). I was not singling out all feminists or all of feminism; indeed I explicitly differentiate between LMCF and other forms of feminism. And while I am not personally a feminist  (have not read feminist theory or literature, etc.), I venture to guess that some, if not many, traditional (i.e., first and second wave) feminists, socialist feminists, and third world feminists would also be critical of the type of ‘feminism’ I mention in the article.

What I critique in the March 8 article would not be considered traditional feminism (I do know enough about it to know the difference). I am talking about the co-opted, corporate, media hyped, establishment version of ‘feminism’ that we see in mainstream media culture today. A criticism of this version of ‘feminism’ is part of a much larger critique of identity politics, which, for me, it is little more than a capitulation by and co-optation of the much of the traditional left en masse. Of course there are still people that are true to traditional feminism and traditional left politics, in general. In the article, I am referring to those women (and “new lefties”) that represent the co-opted, apolitical segment of the “new left”, or fake left, as it has come to be known by many.

Indeed I received positive feedback from politically minded women that identity as traditional (i.e., non liberal, non mainstream, non consumer) feminists. Here is a quote from one woman—reproduced here with her permission—that has been a feminist for almost fifty years. She linked to my March 8 article on her site, stating:

“Editor’s Note: …thank you to Ghada Chehade for so eloquently capturing my own thoughts on the subject…. I became a feminist in 1970, when Ms.Magazine printed its first, authentic edition. I followed up with the ubiquitous Feminine Mystique, The Second Sex, and The Female Eunuch, for starters. I wrote, spoke, and ran a consciousness-raising group and a local chapter of the National Organization for Women. I am appalled at the insouciance and the complete misappropriation of the terms “feminism” and “liberal” today by women who have both the means and plentiful opportunities to know better, and who have become the willing pawns of the ruling class’ classic divide-and-conquer games.

Pink hats? “Inclusive” and “Indivisible”?? Seriously?? So, all women’s genitals are pink on the outside?? And, how do your hats apply to the male “women” you claim to champion? Is a hat a serious or formidable weapon against oppression? Do you have any idea what real feminists – male and female – have gone through to achieve the level of parity you are currently crushing beneath your trivial hats, your layers of makeup, and your preoccupation with sexuality? Again, many thanks to Ms. Chehade for her work…”

I posted this quote not because I agree with everything in it (I happen to enjoy makeup now and then) but because it demonstrates that there are traditional, vanguard feminists that are deeply critical of what passes for feminism today. This is but one example. There are many other female voices out there that are deeply critical of both identity politics–and its apolitical obsession with personal and trivial matters–and liberal, consumer, corporate media-based feminism.

But I will not speak for these women. I am not an authority on feminism or women’s critiques of either feminism or identity politics. I will let these women speak for themselves. If one searches online and elsewhere there are numerous examples of such critiques. I suggest that individuals, male or female, that feel the need to bully or “shame” young women for reading and sharing articles such as mine, explore the numerous criticisms of modern day ‘feminism’ and identity politics–and how they have replaced political thought and action with an obsession over personal issues, personal feelings and personal image–by women from all walks of life.  Just some things to ponder…

 

 

Notes

Source for above quote: http://titaniclifeboatacademy.org/index.php/featured-articles/society/206-we-need-to-talk-about-women-the-problem-with-western-liberal-feminists#Editor

Calling All Muslims: It’s Time For An Anti-imperialist Secular Awareness

SYRIA-CONFLICT

Given that June 20 is World Refugee Day I want to take the opportunity to share some observations and opinions that may ruffle some feathers, but urgently need to be stated, especially by Muslim immigrants in the west. [1]

Part I. An Encounter With a Syrian Refugee

The other day I met a Syrian refugee family that had recently come to Canada. They moved next door to some friends of mine and I said hello to them in Arabic when I saw them sitting on the porch. The wife, a bubbly hijabi woman named Amira who is around my age, was overjoyed to meet someone that spoke Arabic and quickly struck up a conversation with me.

In a matter of minutes I learned that the family had left their small Syrian village three years ago for neighbouring Lebanon and lived there till they were approved to come to Canada as refugees, just three months ago. I also quickly learned that Amira and her husband, like many Syrian refugees, are ardent haters of Bashar Al Assad and critics of secular culture. Amira told me (in Arabic) that, while it was hard for her to leave her family back home, it my be fate that they ended up in Canada so that they can “spread the Muslim faith.” Uh oh…

To a secular Muslim—or, more appropriately, someone that can be described as culturally Muslim, since I was raised by Muslim parents in a Muslim immigrant household but do not practice religion—this set off some alarm bells. This woman left a secular Muslim country—yes, for all the supposed concern over radical Islam, the west is currently trying to destroy a secular Muslim country, with a very open and tolerant mixed society—for asylum in a western secular country and hopes to spread her religious beliefs here? Is that what we’re dealing with, Muslim missionaries? Amira seemed excited about the prospects of spreading the faith and told me that she felt Canadians were far more accepting of Muslims, and receptive to Islam, than Christian Arabs in Lebanon. She also offered to give me “religious advice” in exchange for English lessons in the future.

While Canada is a multi-cultural country that prides itself on religious tolerance and diversity, as a secular or non-religious person, I should also be tolerated and respected, and not subjected to religious peer pressure or attempts to make me “more religious.” During my conversation with the newly arrived Amira, I was asked why I do not wear the hijab (Muslim headscarf), if I practice Ramadan fasting and if my husband was a Muslim. While she was very friendly about it, the conversation quickly digressed into a religious guilt trip and interrogation. This is something I have experienced many times from “deeply religious” and rather prying Muslims that are “concerned for my soul” for one reason or another. As she talked, I could see her looking me up and down with a judging smirk, as if to evaluate my holiness, or lack there of.

I do not tolerate religious sermons from my own family members, even when I am visiting family over seas. And I should not have to experience it from a complete stranger that has been here for mere months, and is my age if not younger. Now before any apolitical liberals or fake lefties—who fail to see the connections between certain segments of the Syrian refugee population and western sponsored political Islam and Wahhabism—accuse me of being Islamophobic let me remind you that a) I am Muslim and b) I would not tolerate religious lecturing or “shaming” from someone of any other faith as well.

While some might assume that Amira felt comfortable lecturing me in this way because I am Arab and Muslim, and, that she likely would not submit non-Arabs and non- Muslims to the same pressure and religious guilt trip, let me remind you that she specifically told me that she believes that she was destined to end up in Canada so that she “can spread the faith.” While all Syrian refugees probably do not think this, the fact that even some do, is worrisome in a secular country such as Canada. Practicing one’s faith is one thing, pushing it on others is another thing altogether. While non-Arab or non-Muslim Canadians may be too afraid or polite to say this, I believe that I have a responsibility to say it as a secular Muslim.

And so do other secular, non-religious, cultural or “moderate” Muslims. We have a responsibility to speak out against the radicalization that is occurring in the Arab and Muslim world—which has been largely sponsored by the imperial west and its allies in the region like Israel and Saudi Arabia—and the ease with which overly religious people are able to encroach on the public and private lives and views of non-religious or secular types. [2] I should note that I do not like the word (or prefix) “moderate” because it implies that the majority of Muslims are non-moderate or fanatical. While Muslim radicalization has indeed increased and while Arab secularism has practically vanished—phenomena driven partly by the imperial geopolitical aims and objectives of certain states—not all Muslims are fanatical, radical or even practicing, for that matter.

And those Muslims that are secular, “moderate” or wary of religious radicalization have a responsibility to speak out against it. More importantly, we must speak out about the causes of this radicalization. Part two of this article explores some of those causes.

Part II. The End of Arab Secularism and the Rise of Radicalization

In order to understand the increase in outward religiosity and religious radicalization that has been occurring in the Arab/Muslim world for decades, a critical and historical understanding of geopolitics and western imperialism/Empire is necessary. Without it, we are simply criticizing the symptoms of a much deeper and extremely nuanced problem.  Western imperialism is not the only radicalizing factor in the region. There are other internal factors at play, which may or may not be linked to western imperialism. For the purposes of this article I focus mainly on the former.

As I have noted elsewhere, the Muslim/Arab World was once secular and “modern.” It is well known that “from the 1950s to perhaps even the 1980s, the strongest political trends in the Arab world were secular.” [3] This trend shifted for several reasons; a major one being that the west—and the US in particular—started to pursue a full fledged agenda to radicalize Muslims, aligning and allying itself with Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism, which is a Saudi interpretation of Islam; and a very fundamentalist and archaic one.

Before Saudi Arabia and the US fully joined forces in radicalizing the region, there was the bygone era of Arab secularism. “That world can be glimpsed in old newsreels from the Arab cities of the 1950s and 1960s. The cities of the post-war period – Cairo, Beirut and Damascus, Baghdad and Aden – look much the same as many developing countries of the time: American-built cars, European-style suits, a certain easy mingling of men and women.” [Ibid.] It was also the era of the secular pan-Arab Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasserism and secular pan-Arabism are far too broad and nuanced a topic to cover here.

For now, I simply want to point out that Nasser’s attitude towards political Islam and Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood reflects much of the public Arab sentiment around religion at that time: That religion and religious practice is a personal matter than cannot and should not be dictated publicly.

A well-known antidote that demonstrates this point comes from a speech given by Gamel Abdel Nasser in the years after the Muslim Brotherhood was suspected of attempting to assassinate him. In that speech, which is available online, Nasser recounts a meeting with the Brotherhood’s leader in 1953 wherein he asked Abdel Nasser to make the wearing of the hijab or tarha (as Egyptians call it) mandatory in Egypt. Nasser tells the crowd that he told the MB leader that wearing the hijab is a personal matter and choice. Nasser also tells the Muslim Brotherhood leader that he knows that he has a daughter studying medicine, and she doesn’t wear the hijab: “Why haven’t you made her wear the hijab?” Nasser asks, before delivering a now famous punchline: “If you cannot make one girl – who is your own daughter – wear the hijab…how do you expect me to make 10 million women wear the hijab, all by myself?” The crowd roars and laughs in approval.

As Faisal Al Yafai explains, Nasser’s joke reflects the worldview of Egyptians, especially educated middle and upper class Egyptians, back in the 1950s: “that it was ridiculous that the wearing of the hijab could be enshrined in law.” As Yaifa explains, Egyptians “…considered the proper role of religion to be private, outside the realm of government and politics. Nasser himself explicitly declared the same thing.” He continues, “Contrast that with today’s Egypt, and indeed the wider Arab world, and it is clear how much has changed in just half a century”  [Ibid.]  Yafai maintains that Nasser’s punchline–millions of women wearing the hijab–has become Egypt’s reality and that secularism as a worldview has disappeared in the Arab world. Yafai explores only the internal or Arab causes for this change,  failing to even mention western meddling and external influences. Still, he is correct that the once secular Arab and Muslim world has changed tremendously in the last half century. In my opinion, it is a change for the worse.

I am not criticizing Arab/Muslim people for wearing the hijab, far from it. I have the utmost respect and tolerance for people’s religious beliefs and practices. I simply want to demonstrate that once upon a time in the Arab/Muslim world, religion was rightly a personal matter and practice, rather than a public expression and pressure. When I hear Syrian refugees like the friendly and chatty Amira tell me that she feels that it is her destiny to spread the Islamic religion in Canada, I interpret that as a public mission rather than a matter of personal religious observance. To me, that is alarming; and it reflects the de-secularization and Islamic radicalization occurring in the Arab world.

The West’s Connection to Islamic Radicalization

The forces of Islamic radicalization are very nuanced and complex. The motives for radicalizing the Arab world are also nuanced and complex. A large part of the motivation is controlling Mid East oil and the oil trade. Much of the radicalization efforts came after the formation of OPEC and the Saudi-US oil alliance, which forced the world to use the US dollar to purchase oil while also securing the pre-eminence of Saudi Arabia and its promotion of Wahhabi, extremist Sunni Islam throughout the region.

Wahhabism is a strict orthodox Sunni Muslim sect founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–92). It advocates a return to the early Islam of the Koran, rejecting later innovations; the sect is still the predominant religious force in Saudi Arabia.* The phrase “rejecting later innovations” implies that there were innovations to the orthodox or literal interpretation of Islam and that Muslims were modernizing or becoming less literal in their practice,like most people do with time. While Wahabbism was the predominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, it had not deeply impacted (and infected) the rest of the Muslim world. This is evidenced by the reality—which I spoke of earlier—that the political and public sentiment of the Arab world was largely secular till the early late 1970s and early 1980s.

While there are internal factors that contributed to the death of secularism and the rise of a more literal, orthodox and archaic form of religiosity, there is a big external factor that cannot be overlooked: the massive oil alliance that was formed between the United States and Saudi Arabia after the oil embargo of 1973 (that occurred due to conflicts with Israel). This is when Saudi Arabia buried the hatchet with Israel and the US, and became oil partners and staunch political allies. In exchange for Saudi Arabia only accepting US dollars for oil, giving the US and its currency global economic hegemony, the US allowed and (indirectly) helped the Saudis to spread Wahhabism and radical Sunni Islam (and terrorism) across the Middle East.

Strategically, both the US and Israel benefit from the rise of radical Islam. For Israel, having “radical neighbours” in the region helps legitimize its illegal occupation and actions towards the Palestinians. It also ensures that the Muslims and Arabs will be busy fighting among themselves over sectarian religious issues and conflicts between Sunnis and Shiats. The US also benefits from these internal divisions and conflicts. The exploitation and exacerbation of divisions between Sunnis and Shias—the two main Muslim sects—goes a long way towards servicing the imperial agenda of divide and conquer. Moreover, the existence of terrorist groups–that are often created and or aided by the US–allows the US to justify its global war on terror and the billions spent on it.

For the US, the rise of Islamic radicalism and terrorist groups allows these groups to be deployed against secular Muslim countries and leaders that do not play ball with the US and do not accommodate its interests (e.g., Iraq, Libya, Syria).  While it has cozied up to and allied with fundamentalist states like Saudi Arabia, the US has simultaneously pursued an agenda of attacking and destabilizing secular Muslim countries and leaders that do not bend to its imperialist demands and agenda (i.e., put their own national interests before that of the US’). These include Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and, presently, Syria’s Bashar Al Assad. But the attack on secular Muslim leaders began even earlier with the joint US-UK 1952 coup against secular Iranian president Mohammed Mossadegh, for instance. He had committed the sin of nationalizing his countries oil and attempting to reclaim it from the UK.

Undermining Russia

Another US motivation for radicalizing Muslims was to undermine communism and the Soviet Union. The US has been arming and backing Islamist radicals and terrorist groups for decades, especially in its efforts to undermine the influence of Russia in the region.  As the US admitted in the 1990s, American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen—presently known as the Taliban—in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet-Afghan war began in 1979, suggesting that the terrorist group was partly a creation of the US (in collaboration with countries like Pakistan). Ultimately, promoting Islamic extremism and terrorism was one western response to the so-called communist threat (read as the threat to NATO and US power) posed by the Soviet Union. [4]

The same is true today of the US’ indirect support of terrorist groups like ISIS in Syria. As I argue elsewhere, “an obvious yet unspoken component of the US/NATO campaign in Syria, as well as their efforts in Ukraine, and the so-called Missile Defense Shield in Europe, is to undermine Russia’s ability to not only project power but also to defend itself strategically.  These are examples of the West’s attempts to militarily and economically contain Russia.” [Ibid.]

This is something secular anti-imperial Muslims should oppose, not least because Russian and Soviet influence in the region has been a secularizing force (or one that reinforced the already secular politics of post-war Arab countries). Arab countries aligned with Russia after WWII and during the Cold War (and even those that were officially non-aligned) tended towards notions of secularism, anti-foreign interference, and, with the rise of the Soviet Union, socialism. But Arab secularism was not a by-product of Russian influence alone; it is a truly Arab tradition. “The secular conception of the state that animated both nationalist and pan-Arabist politics was widespread in political life.”  In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there was a deep degree “of popular attachment to a secular state among the political class.”  Indeed, “with the exception of Saudi Arabia, no country of the Arab world, from Sudan and Yemen, to Iraq, to Algeria in the Maghreb, was without its secular, nationalist parties.” [5]

But since the 1980s, Saudi Arabia, bolstered by it relations and alliance with the US, has been able to promote Wahabbism in the region. Saudi Arabia has spent millions and billions of dollars propping up and arming Islamist movements and groups in the Arab world; while other Gulf countries, such as (former) Saudi ally Qatar, have been bolstering media outlets that are sympathetic disseminators of extremism and political Islam. These heavily funded entities have been able to influence the culture and population of various Arab/Muslim countries, guiding them even further away from secularism and towards greater and more regressive religiosity.

Western Intervention/Destabilization and Migration Patterns

Alongside all of the above there have been decades of foreign intervention, destabilization, and war making in Arab and Muslim world by western powers. One result of this policy of war and destabilization in the region has been the dramatic increase and influx in immigrants and, especially, refugees from the region. Simply put, the west is “forced” to take refugees and immigrants from countries that they create conflicts and destabilization in, in the first place. If we look at the trends in migration by Muslim people to Europe and North America over the last 30 years, a pattern emerges. Many, if not most, Muslim refugees and immigrants have come from countries that NATO and the US have invaded, attacked, destabilized, regime changed or all of the above.

These include countries like Somalia and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s; Iraq and Sudan in early to mid 2000s; and more recently, Libya and Syria. All of these countries have suffered from western meddling and destabilization efforts, which have included the support and propping up of radical Islamist or Salafi regimes. And many of those that fled and are currently fleeing to the west as migrants and refugees are people that may be  hostile to the pre-invasion (often secular) governments and may indeed support a very radical or extremist Islamic ideology and practice. This is something we must take into consideration when exploring whether certain migrants and refugees are compatible with secular western culture. This is not Islamophobia. I say this as a secular Muslim immigrant in the west that is well aware that political Islam/Islamism is an Empire serving form of religiosity that may not be compatible with secular society and culture; be it Western or Middle Eastern.

Final Thoughts

One can only hope that as certain secular and/or non-Islamist countries such as Syria (with the help of the Russian military) and Egypt continue to resist and withstand the US-Saudi-Israeli sponsored Islamist offensive against them, and as other countries in the region—such the duplicitous Turkey and the recently changed Qatar—move away from the western-Islamist alliance/agenda and cozy up to Russia, that political Islam will fade, leading to a much needed de-radicalization and re-secularization of the region. But it will be an uphill battle, since the forces of radicalization are strongly and deeply rooted.

The great irony in all of this is that while the west, and the US in particular, claims to be at war with Islamic terrorism and radical Islam, it is actually directly and indirectly in bed with it. Directly, the US is a major ally and financial beneficiary to and of Saudi Arabia, which has a radical and extremist interpretation and practice of Islam. Indirectly, the US sells weapons to Saudi Arabia and others—that turn around and arm terrorist groups in the region. It also provides clandestine support for various terrorist groups in the region. Such is the case with ISIS in Syria, a “conflict” that is mainly fueled by western interests and the west’s incessant “meddling”  in the region.

US support for terrorism (including against the Syrian government) has been noted by numerous independent news media as well as by US congress members, such as former Rep. Cynthia McKinney and current Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. When Rep. Gabbard visited Syria in 2016 she reported that the US was giving support to terrorist groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda and others. [6] It is important to note that most if not all of these murderous terrorist groups claim to be Islamist and deeply religious. Now, of course, no one that commits such horrific acts as these groups do–such as the brutal beheading of a young boy by the US-backed “moderate” terrorist group Nour al-Din Zenky in Syria last year–can be said to be truly holy or god fearing. But the fact that these terrorist groups operate under the banner of political Islam and extremist religious ideology, is reason enough to be wary of political Islam or any form of political (and public) religiosity.

Many—but certainly not all—of the Syrians that fled the country and are now living in Canada and Europe, as refugees, are sympathetic to the radical religious ideology of these lunatic groups. If you are Arab and/or Muslim it is pretty easy to suss out if a person is pro-Wahhabi/Salafi Islam—which is a very extremist and archaic interpretation of Islam—in just a few conversations, since politics and religion invariably come up in conversations with people from the region. Such was the case with my aforementioned conversation. As a secular person living in a secular country I get nervous about extreme forms of public religiosity by people of any faith.

Another strange irony is the undiscerning support for religious extremists—including refugees [7] —by so-called progressives. Many of these progressives do not see a contradiction or tension in supporting things like women’s rights and gay rights while simultaneously fighting for the human rights of certain extremely religious Muslim refugees or migrants, whose orthodox religious views would potentially see them ideologically pitted against women’s rights or gay rights. Lacking nuanced ideological discernment and anti-imperial analysis, so-called progressives’ blanket and apolitical defense of “human rights” does not allow them to see how their genuine concern could be co-opted or exploited for imperial ends. In Egypt and the Arab world in the 1950s and 1960s it was the educated middle class that supported secularism and rejected religious dogma and orthodoxy. Today, ironically, in the west, it is the educated middle class–especially the young identity politics “left” and  campus “social justice warriors”–that are advocating and demanding the unequivocal tolerance of, and support for, even the most extreme forms of public religious expression, in a non-religious (i.e., secular) society.

Secular Western states are presently scurrying to accommodate refugees that could potentially have religious extremists, or individuals that are intolerant of secular culture, among them. [Ibid] There is a two-fold irony in this current refugee crisis a) The west created or helped to create the conflicts in the refugees’ home countries in the first place; meaning it helped create the conditions of displacement and b) The west contributed to radicalization in these countries, which may now affect western states as blowback.

I wish to close by stating that there is a marked difference between my critique of radical Muslims and refugees and those that come from racist and Islamophobic sources. In addition to being bigoted, the latter are often also pro-Empire and pro war.  On the contrary, mine is an anti-imperialist and anti-war perspective that identifies the dangers of and collaborations between radical Islam, political Islam, and western imperialism.

To all those Muslims that share my position and analysis, it is important to speak up and call for a return to secularism in the Arab/Muslim world; a return to a politics and society that does not promote and exploit religious sectarianism and religious  extremism in the service of Empire.

 

 

 

 

 

*Author’s Note: Many believe that Wahhabism is not a return to literal or early Islam but rather a complete contradiction of and or movement away from it; meaning Wahhabism is not Islamic at all. This clarification should have been made in the article.

 

Notes

[1] My Parents immigrated to North America from the MENA region when I was just two years of age.

[2]  Everyone is free to believe and practice their faith, and to whatever extent they wish. I simply want to stress that people do not have the right to pressure, guilt or shame those that may not believe or practice the same thing (or to the same extent), and vice versa.

[3] http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/the-death-of-arab-secularism#page5

[4] http://www.globalresearch.ca/on-syrias-continued-resistance-russia-and-the-threat-to-western-power/5566176

[5] http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/the-death-of-arab-secularism#page5

[6] http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-why-is-the-us-helping-al-qaeda-and-other-terrorist-groups-rep-tulsi-gabbard/5571358

7] It goes without saying that this is not referring to all Syrian refugees. Most refugees coming from Syria are likely not religiously extreme. There are also many secular (Muslim and Christian) refugees.

 

Trump Continues His Betrayals: Broken Promises and Servitude to the Deep State

Trump war

Pre-election Guarded Optimism

During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign I wrote that I was guardedly optimistic about possible changes to foreign and economic policy under a Trump presidency. Given his campaign rhetoric and promises—which galvanized a type of anti-globalist economic populism and anti-interventionist foreign policy claims—and, more importantly, given that the mainstream media was so venomously opposed to Trump [1], I cautiously believed that positive changes to foreign and economic possibly might be possible. At the same time, I was aware that Trump could be another, and perhaps competing, incarnation of elite power. I asked on the day after the election if the Trump victory represents “a blow to the global establishment or its latest iteration?” I stated:

“Is that what Trump represents, the division within the global power structure? Does he have friends in high places that wish to revamp the current global militarized corporate and banking oligarchy? Or, is he but its latest iteration of it? Is he a gateway to what is to come–Martial Law, etc…?” [2]

In the early days following the election I held on to my cautious optimism about the new direction that economic policy and, more importantly, US foreign policy could take under his presidency. But as names started to surface for potential cabinet members, who were as neo-con and war mongering as the Obama and George W. Bush eras, my optimism began to waiver. In an article for the Asia Times I stated:

“If Trump is willing and able to rein in corporate oligarchy and economic globalization… and if he were willing and able to reign in the imperial war machine, then he would have already surpassed the broken promises of the last administration. But if he, like so many others before him, fails to deliver on what he promised during his campaign, then the people have every right and reason to oppose him.” [3]

Post-election Reality Check: Broken Promises

Now, four months into his presidency, the writing is clearly on the wall. Donald Trump has done a complete 180, broken almost all of his campaign promises, and has totally bowed down or surrendered to the globalist establishment and the imperial war machine. I want to state that, as an analyst and writer, my guarded optimism about potential foreign policy changes under Trump was very short lived.

Trump has so far broken every one of his campaign promises that had to do with reining in US interventionist foreign policy and the pro-terrorism, imperial Deep State. [4] For instance, Trump criticized former President Obama for his military actions in Syria and made overtones about being less interventionist in the Middle East, and then bombed Syria on April 6. During his campaign, Trump criticized Saudi Arabia and stated that the US should loosen its ties to the Saudi state, yet he turns around and signs the single largest arms deal in US history with the Saudis. On May 20 Trump signed a landmark arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which will have the US selling and estimated $350 billion worth of weapons to the Saudis over the next decade [5].

The significance of this arms deal is huge, and hugely problematic. Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, in alliance with the US and Israel and western intelligence agencies, has long been a supporter (through weapons, funding, training, etc) of radical Sunni terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and, more recently, ISIS. These groups’ main purpose is to destabilize non imperial bowing/collaborating Middle Eastern states—secular or moderate Muslim countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya—and terrorize the entire world.

As Larry Chin aptly argues, this arms deal benefits the all-powerful Israeli regime” and …influential Israeli lobby as well as the neo-cons in DC, the all-powerful American Military-Industrial complex, and US intelligence and its international network of terror fronts, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda. With his never-ending foreign policy debacles in the Middle East, “President Donald Trump continues to demonstrate that he is a puppet of globalist masters, the Deep State, and the existing international criminal political establishment.” [6]

For anyone that had the slightest hope that US foreign policy—especially its interventionist, terrorism-sponsoring Mid East policy—would improve under Trump, his policies are a complete betrayal, and proof that the imperial Deep State and globalist war machine is as entrenched and powerful as ever.

This goes to show that the US presidency is little more than an empty suit. No US president will ever be able to change or take on the Deep State. The only US president in history to actually try was JFK, and well…we all know how that ended.

So I go back to my vow–which I made to myself shortly after-9/11–to not take anything in US politics at face value, least of all its leaders.

If change is ever going to come to America and its policies it will come through the people, not politics–though in the US this is tricky because the people are especially powerless.

As I have argued elsewhere, the larger significance of the Trump victory had little to do with Trump and more to do with what its signifies about the American people. Though he is presently reneging on his campaign claims and promises, Trump galvanized a type of anti-corporate, anti-globalist and anti-war populism that crossed the political spectrum. Though they are currently being betrayed, many who voted for Trump did so because they were fed up with business as usual. The desire to turn  the page on globalism and endless imperial war is very real for many Americans.

Addendum

It is interesting to note that now that Trump is on board with the imperial war machine and the globalist Deep State, both the mainstream media and democrats/liberal progressives seem to be backing off of him. How ironic, and tragic, that getting on board with murder, destabilization and mayhem abroad suddenly makes Trump less of a bad guy to these so-called progressives. Just goes to show that the new left/fake left is now part and parcel of the globalist establishment.

 

 

Notes

[1] As a rule, I tend to believe that if the mainstream media is opposed to a person, they must be a threat to the establishment in some way.

[2] http://www.globalresearch.ca/donald-trump-wins-us-presidency-a-blow-to-the-global-establishmentor-its-latest-iteration/5556323

[3] http://www.atimes.com/significance-trumps-victory-little-trump/

[4] He did keep his promise to withdraw the US from the TTP trade agreement, which he did shortly after his inauguration.

[5] http://www.globalresearch.ca/trump-signs-single-largest-arms-deal-in-us-history-with-saudi-arabia-worth-350-billion/5591313

[6] http://www.globalresearch.ca/trump-bows-deeply-to-globalists-surrenders-to-puppet-masters/5591488

If You Can’t Take the Heat…. Bomb Syria: Trump Lifts Russian Collusion Heat By Bombing Russian Ally Syria?

trump-putin

As the saying goes, everyone has a breaking point. Apparently for Donald Trump, the threshold is paper-thin. He came in a like an anti-Washington policy cowboy, vowing to stand up to Washington, “make America great again,” and focus his attentions at home. He trashed those that came before him for wasting time and money and US soldiers on the Middle East. He urged former presidents not to bomb Syria no matter what the circumstances, alleged chemical weapons attacks included.

And yet, less than three months into his presidency, he does just that: bombs Syria over a conveniently timed and highly suspect chemical weapons attack. Really? Is that all it took? Did Trump really fall for the played out “Assad is gassing babies” meme? It’s doubtful. There is likely more than “gassed Syrian babies” at work here. Some claim that Trump was under immense pressure; that the unrelenting political and media attack against him, especially with respect to accusations of collusion with the Russians, was too much to bear. And perhaps it was. We do not know what was happening behind the scenes. Maybe he was being threatened with impeachment over supposed collaboration with Russia during the presidential election (a fabricated pretext). Maybe it was something worse?

Whatever was happening behind the scenes, it appears that Trump couldn’t take the heat. It took less than three months for Trump to diametrically change his tune on Syria. What better way to take the heat off of him, and show the world that he is not in bed with Russia, than to bomb Syria, Russia’s ally in the fight against western proxy war and US-sponsored terror groups (like ISIS and Al Qaeda) in Syria. Whatever his motives for caving and surrendering to the deep state, Trump’s actions are a line in the sand. There is no coming back from this– for him and for those that believed or hoped, even for a brief moment, that Trump would back up his cowboy pestering and stick to his guns on foreign policy in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that Trump benefits some how from his bombing of Syria. But what he has gained may pale in comparison to what he stands to lose or has already lost. Any geopolitical and foreign policy support he may have had from the “alt right” and the anti-imperialist left—not to be mistaken with the pro-war, fake left of the liberal progressive mainstream—is either completely obliterated or on very shaky ground.

What makes his bombing of Syria all the more mystifying is his earlier sentiments about not getting involved in the Middle East and not continuing Bush and Obama era follies in the region. It seems he doth protest too much.

He may have proven to the powers that be—and the mainstream media, which is hypocritically praising the man they loath for this recent act of war—that he is not in bed with Russia, but in doing so, he now appears to be precariously in bed with the deep state.

What this means going forward is anyone’s guess.

Trump Bombs Syria–and Obliterates His Anti-Interventionist Promises

crazy Trump.jpg

On the evening of April 6 the U.S. military fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria. The bombing was a “response” to the alleged chemical weapons attack by the Assad government, which critics of the American deep state and the US imperial agenda have called a false flag attack.

The U.S. assault, which was done without congressional approval, marks a complete reversal of Trump’s campaign trail anti-interventionist claims as well as his condemnation of previous US presidents’—Bush and Obama’s –military actions in countries like Syria and Iraq.

As Think Progress reports, this action marks a “dramatic reversal from Trump’s position when Obama considered military action against Syria” after Assad allegedly used chemical weapons in 2013. “Trump repeatedly derided the idea of striking Syria, characterizing it as a foolish and expensive waste of time.” At the time, Trump released a series of quotes urging Obama not to bomb Syria. Some of Trump’s tweets stated:

Given Trump’s dogged resistance to and criticism of Obama’s involvement in Syria and his campaign rhetoric about focusing less on other nations as well as his numerous overtures about improving relations with Russia, many commentators—myself included—were guardedly optimistic about potential changes to US foreign policy under Trump and a movement towards less intervention aboard. This was compounded by the fact that the mainstream media was and remains staunchly opposed to Trump. [1]

But it appears that the opposite is true. With this bombing, Trump has joined the neo-con/neoliberal humanitarian imperialism band- wagon, which uses so-called “concern for human rights” as a pretext for imperial wars, ‘regime change,’ and invasions abroad. That Trump got on board with this meme indicates that he is as beholden to the deep state as any president before him.

bombs-2

Despite his condemnation of Obama’s involvement in Syria and despite his claims and allusions about making American less interventionist, it took less than three months for him to expand the US imperial war machine. With this move Trump is likely to lose much of his support base, including among the “alt right”, which is far less war mongering than the neo-con right, and is indeed often anti-war.

Syrian Chemical Attack a Ploy?

Many are calling Assad’s supposed chemical attack an obvious false flag attack, not least because it came just days after the U.S. Ambassador to the UN and the U.S. Secretary of State overtly maintained that it is up to the people of Syria to decide their leaderhip and the country’s future.

Former Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) has denounced the chemical attack as a false flag attack and believes that there is zero chance Assad is behind it:

 “Before this episode of possible gas exposure and who did what, things were going along reasonably well for the conditions…Trump said let the Syrians decide who should run their country, and peace talks were making out, and Al Qaeda and ISIS were on the run….“It looks like, maybe, somebody didn’t like that so there had to be an episode, and the blame now is we can’t let that happen because it looks like it might benefit Assad.”

The timing of the chemical attack is just too convenient and too suspect. Though, it takes much longer than two days to plan such an attack; and one can surmise that it may have been in the works for a while. What it took to get Trump to diametrically change his tune is anyone’s guess.

It will be interesting to see if mainstream “progressives” and “liberals”—i.e., the fake left—will applaud Trump’s bombing of Syria. This group has supported the imperial agenda to oust Bashar Al Assad (for so-called humanitarian reasons) from the outset. Now that Trump seems to have gotten on board with this agenda, liberals may have some strange common ground with the man they call public enemy number one.

Final Thoughts

Just when I thought that U.S. foreign policy might become just a bit less belligerent and less interventionist, things get even more belligerent and far stranger. It took less than three months for my guarded optimism to be dashed. I suspect I’m not the only one feeling this way at present.

This goes to show that the deep state is stronger and more entrenched than ever.

Notes

[1] Though the war mongering, mainstream media backed his bombing of Syria. Little surprise there.

We Need to Talk About Women: The Problem With Western Liberal ‘Feminists’

femen-not object-2.jpegToday (March 8) is International Women’s Day. No doubt there will be numerous articles about women’s issues, women’s struggles and women’s triumphs. In this article I take a different route and address an issue that is rather taboo and off-limits, but ought to be discussed. Before I do, I want to stress that women in the west have come a long way and have a lot to be proud of. Western women have fought hard and bravely for rights and privileges that were denied to generations of women before them and have made vast strides towards greater equality and representation in society. For this, western women and traditional feminism should be applauded.

At the same time, the version of feminism that presently functions in the west—liberal, consumer, mainstream feminism—has become problematic. That is what I wish to address in this article. I want to honestly address the issue of women. I don’t mean “women’s issues”; those have been discussed at length. I mean the issue with women, meaning the problem with certain segments of the female population in the west, namely: liberal, mainstream, consumer feminists. Before you bring out the PC (politically correct) lynch mob, please read on to understand what I mean by this.

There is a segment of the female population in the west today that is very puzzling and frustrating, especially to traditional or former left-wingers, such as myself.1 I am referring to the slut marching, pussy rioting, liberal consumer feminists that fancy themselves progressive or liberal or “left wing,” today. These are the women that fight the sexual objectification of women by sexually objectifying themselves (topless FEMEN protestors anyone).2 Or the women that talk about ‘girl power’ then turn around and applaud when a Woman of the Year Award is given to a male-turned-female woman. Or the women that think revering and emulating cheesy, female pop stars—like Madonna or Beyonce or Niki Manaj—makes them ‘fierce feminists.’

While they may think themselves politically avant guarde, many of these women come off as rather apolitical and seem to have purchased ‘feminism’ as a media constructed/promoted lifestyle; hence the term consumer feminists. Their ‘feminism’ or girl power is reflected largely in the products they purchase or the lifestyle choices they make. These consumer feminists mistake buying Activia yogurt (a product marketed solely to women) or practicing yoga (in stylish and expensive yoga outfits) for being political or “progressive.” Newsflash ladies: these are lifestyle choices, not political acts or movements.

Western Liberal Feminism and the US Presidential Election

And when these liberal, consumer feminists do attempt to tackle politics or political issues, it is often done through reactionary identity politics, which substitutes the personal—personal identity, personal feelings, etc—for the political in a manner that negates broader politico-economic understanding and analysis. For instance, women that support candidates like Hillary Clinton simply because she is a woman—despite her many political and geopolitical crimes and blunders. Mired in identity politics, their femaleness forces them to support a female candidate simply because of her sex, while ignoring her political actions and behaviour; however heinous it may be.

This reflects one of the many follies of identity politics: It excuses the crimes of people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama–which includes the slaughter of innocent women and people of colour all over the world–based on their gender or race. As I argue elsewhere, it is not rational to support a president or presidential candidate simply because they are a racial minority or a woman. And I say this as a female racial minority.

Nor is it constructive to build a “political” protest movement centred mainly on feelings of personal offense.  A few days ago I was offered a pink hat with cat-shaped ears on it (the “pussy hat,” as it is being called), to wear as a symbol of “women’s resistance to Trump.” The pussy hat is part of the Pussyhat Project, a project begun by two American women following the 2016 US election. According to Business Insider, the hat’s name was inspired by Trump’s 2005 comments in the Access Hollywood audio leaked in October 2016, “in which he bragged about grabbing women by their genitals.”3

pink march.jpgAccording to one of its co-founders, the Pussyhat Project is “about women refusing to be erased from political discussion,” reports Business Insider.  While I am not sure exactly what she means by this, it seems to suggest that given that Hillary Clinton is a woman, and given that she lost the election, women—especially those women that voted for Hillary Clinton—are now being “erased” from political discussion. That does not make much sense. Are we to believe that Hillary Clinton lost the election because she is a woman? Last year in the UK, a female Prime Minister, Teresa May, was voted in and replaced the former male Prime Minister, David Cameron. Does that mean that men in the UK are being “erased” from the political discussion?

While there is a disproportionate amount of men in western politics in general, this did not begin with the 2016 US election, and statements about women being erased from political discussion need to be politically and historically situated and qualified. The Pussyhat Project and the sea of pink at the “Women’s March on Washington D.C.” on January 21 (the day after Trump’s inauguration), with thousands of women adorned in fuzzy pink ‘pussy hats,’ served to confirm something I have thought for many years now: That western women—especially liberal, consumer ‘feminists’—are extremely conformist and easy to manipulate as well as contradictory.

Where was the female indignation during the eight years of the Obama administration, when Obama and a female Secretary of State (in the first four years) repeatedly and systematically war mongered and deployed drones to kill scores of innocent people overseas, many of them minorities and women? Where was their women’s march on Washington, D.C. then? It simply did not exist. There were no mass women’s marches or female protest movements against the previous US administration, despite its myriad political, economic, and geopolitical crimes and atrocities.

While the Obama administration was among the most imperial and war mongering in US history, continuing and intensifying many of the policies of the George W. Bush era, and while Obama failed to keep any of his campaign promises, such as his promise to close Guantanamo Bay or to end the war on terror, there was no mass female uprising against him and his administration. Of course, during the Obama administration, the mainstream media were its biggest cheerleaders. The media was not helping to “trigger” women and rile them up as they are at present.

But protesting topless or wearing a pink hat does not, in and of itself, make you political. At best it makes you a cliché and, at worst, it makes you controlled (or fake) opposition. For there is nothing genuinely political or oppositional about following a herd trend, even if that trend is said to be a political statement or a “symbol of political resistance.”

Identity Politics is a Diversion From Bigger Issues

Identity politics is a form of political capitulation that gives into the establishment. It is a distraction from, and substitution for, a failed economy and a failed political system. Identity politics replaces political and economic power and choice, or lack there of, with personal choice and personal empowerment. The personal freedoms granted under identity politics—for instance, the freedom to choose among the ever-growing number of genders, etc—can mask how politically and economically un-free and powerless we are.

Under the present global neocon/neoliberal politico-economic mono-culture, people are increasingly politically and economically disenfranchised and dis-empowered. Rather than focus on the ever-creeping economic collapse, escalating unemployment, political dis-empowerment, the growing police and surveillance state, and the general economic despair that plagues much of the world’s population, identity politics (and contemporary progressives in general) points our attention towards differences, personal identity and personal choice. How convenient for the global power structure/elites. This is especially true among that segment of the western female population—liberal, consumer ‘feminists’—that I describe above.

Western Liberal Feminists are Largely Apolitical

pussyhat

While Donald Trump’s misogynistic comments may  warrant criticism, the problem with pussyhat wearing mainstream/consumer feminists is that they protest against him largely because they are personally offended. These women are apolitical in the broader, general sense. While they are raging against the pussy-grabbing Trump, they are silent on—if not oblivious of—the myriad other political, economic, and geopolitical problems and crises that plague humanity at present.

If these women were truly politically or critically minded, they would not have rallied behind the likes of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. This is not about “defending Trump,” but about pointing out that a lack of political perception and critical analysis makes many ‘feminists’ blind to the crimes of the previous US administration as well as to the globalized, militarized, neoliberal/neocon politico-economic power structure in general.

Western, liberal mainstream/consumer feminism is different than radical feminism, socialist feminism, and, especially, third world feminism. This topic is too complex to address here. For now I merely wish to note that much of what passes for ‘feminism’ in the west today would potentially be questioned by veteran feminists and/or more political and class-based understandings of feminism as well as by third world feminism.

For instance, unlike many western feminists, who tout gender neutrality and the “anything you can do, I can do better” mentality, “African feminists do not attempt to rob the man of his value and worth. They simply want to be given value and worth, as well.” As Dr. Hildra Tadria of Uganda, member of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) and co-founder of the African Women’s Development Fund explains, “For us, the fight is to dignify what the African woman does, not to try to get her to do what the African man does.” 4

For African feminists one of the most curious aspects of western liberal feminism is its emphasis on “sexual liberalization” or hyper-sexuality. Most third world feminism is not about sexual freedom but freedom from over sexualization and over objectification. While mainstream western feminists often use the term “rape culture” to describe the west, there are many countries in the world wherein women do indeed live under the constant threat of rape–where rape and sexual violence are rampant and ignored by the state. For these women, feminism includes the desire and struggle to be less sexualized.

Ironically, while contemporary western ‘feminists’ also claim to oppose the sexual objectification of women, they often employ sexual objectification as a tool to fight or denounce it (see the slim and sexy FEMEN protesters in the picture above). While this tactic may be aimed at reclaiming the female form and female sexuality, it is ultimately counter-productive in a society where the naked form (both male and female) is still seen as sexual. Protesting topless or naked takes attention, especially media attention, away from the issues these women are protesting, and focuses it instead on bare breasts and naked bodies. Here, the image ultimately distracts from—and upstages—the message.

I am aware that criticizing these types of women may be seen as catering to the divide and conquer tactics of the power establishment on some level; since we should seek to unite with others, not criticize them. But the liberal feminism of the fake left has reached a point of absurdity and counter-productiveness that simply cannot be ignored. And western women have to have the courage to call it out.

While wearing a fuzzy ‘pussy hat’ or slut marching topless may be said to be a symbol of ‘resistance;’ I ask, resistance to what? It most certainly is not resistance to globalist power or the US establishment. Let us not forget that, prior to Trump’s victory, there was very little anti-government dissent among so-called feminists and progressives in the US. Nor was there much resistance or opposition among them to the imperial war machine and western interventions abroad, which was as robust as ever—if not more robust—under the supposed feel-good regime of Barack Obama and his sidekick, Hillary. Indeed many on the new/fake left (including liberal feminists) support these imperial, regime change interventions, in the name of liberating oppressed women or protecting human rights,etc.

Final Thoughts

It appears that second and third wave western feminism has degenerated into something that is at once apolitical (or faux political), consumerist, and a service to the global establishment. In the midst of the feel-good, reactionary spectacle of contemporary western feminism, there seems to be very little that is political or left wing in the traditional sense, meaning politics and protest that is critical of hegemonic power, Empire, imperial wars, economic collapse and despair, unemployment, and class issues.5 You know, all those “old fashioned” and un-hip issues that the left used to care about before identity politics took over and/or forced its way in.

It also appears that contemporary ‘feminists’ have been manipulated through marketing and mainstream media and sold a clichéd lifestyle as politics and political opposition. Yet, as mentioned above, their form of politics—i.e., identity politics—actually serves the establishment inasmuch as liberal feminists, and liberals or ‘progressives’ in general, readily support imperial wars, policies and interventions. In this way, these groups have (unwittingly) become pawns and proxies of the global politico-economic power structure.

While the personal may be political, it will never be more political than actual politics and political consciousness. In reality, identity politics is the opposite of politics, in that, traditionally, politics or public engagement dealt with common issues, whereas identity politics further fragments consensus and is extremely divisive. Identity politics–women competing with men or racial groups pitted against one another–reflects the divide and conquer desires and strategy of the elite, since the masses are always weaker when they are divided. It forces a false polemic that stands in the way of consensus building, collective identity, and unity. As the old activist saying goes, “the people united will never be defeated.” Identity politics flies in the face of this and does the exact opposite; it divides people at a historical juncture when unity is most urgently needed.

Western liberal feminism has succumbed to the divisive and diversionary agenda of identity politics. I for one am not moved by the media-driven, diversionary spectacle of women in pink hats or topless FEMEN protestors, which is reactionary and provocative but lacking in deeper political thought and analysis. Like so much else on the establishment or fake left, it reeks of simulacra, or, put another way, it is more spectacle than substance.

So you can keep your pussyhat, ladies, this woman has more on her mind than what’s between her legs.

 

 

 

 

 Notes

1 I no longer use the term left wing due to identity politics. It should also be noted that I do not identity as a feminist. If I had to use a label it would be anti-imperialist humanist.

2 I am not “shaming” women for going topless but simply pointing out the contradiction of doing so in order to oppose the sexual objectification of women.

3 While misogynistic comments—such as those made by Trump—may warrant criticism, he made those comments privately. As Hillary Clinton once told a group of Wall Street banking executives in an email exchange leaked on wikileaks, “you need both a public and private position.” I’m sure Hillary’s husband Bill’s private “position” on women would be even more shocking than Trump’s. Bill is a notorious womanizer and his private comments on women and their bodies would likely leave many horrified.

4 http://www.newdmagazine.com/apps/articles/web/articleid/76478/columnid/default.asp

5 Today class is not just about money or income, nor is it simply about the means of production. Today class it is arguably equally about, if not more about, similarities in the way people live and the things they do.

The Roots of the Refugee Situation: Rising Above the Forest to See The Trees

This post is a follow-up to my previous article on the refugee situation in the United States. For me, this is not about Trump. The fact that I even have to say this shows how anti-intellectual and devoid of rational dialogue our society has become, especially among the so-called left. Accusing someone of being a “Trump supporter” simply for being analytical is not a PC scare tactic I respond to.

It is because the majority of so-called progressives were sleep walking in an identity politics, feel good la la land during the foreign policy disasters of the Obama administration—which the mainstream media was completely silent on—that the current situation has come as such a rude awakening to so many.

But for those of us that have a political memory longer than nine weeks, the refugee situation can be interpreted within the context of a much broader geopolitical and foreign policy landscape that includes several previous administrations, including and most notably the Obama administration.

At the risk of feeding into the false and diversionary duality of good administration/bad administration, I wish to point out the following two things. First, in the wake of the arrest of two Iraqis in Kentucky on terrorism charges in May 2011, the FBI suggested that dozens of terrorists might have entered the US posing as refugees. This led the Obama administration to reexamine the records of 58,000 Iraqis that had been settled in the US and to impose more extensive background checks on Iraqi refugees, limiting intake for up to six months, according to the Washington Post. I do not mention this simply to point out that previous administrations were already scrutinizing and limiting refugees from certain Muslim countries—that is just a side note and something that has already been noted by others.

Continue Reading

On Donald Trump’s Syrian Refugee Ban: From A Muslim Immigrant in North America

trump-bans

Article Published on globalresearch.ca  

On Friday (Jan 27) President Donald Trump signed an executive order to halt all refugees to the US for 120 days and to indefinitely ban refugees from Syria until “extreme vetting” measures could be put in place. It also limits VISA issuance to individuals from six other predominantly Muslim countries. While humanitarian groups are up in arms, this action needs to be given some serious politico-historical context. I say this as a Muslim immigrant in North America.

Like all incoming presidents, Donald Trump has inherited the mess of previous presidential administrations. Arguably the biggest mess is that of the US led ‘global war on terror,’ which was begun by George W. Bush and continued under the Obama administration, notwithstanding promises to the contrary by Obama.

Despite its supposed fight against terrorism and terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda—the reason this war on terror was purportedly initiated in the first place—it is now known that the US has been supporting certain terrorists groups in countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya. While the US has long claimed to be opposed to Islamic extremism and Islamic terrorism, it has been directly or indirectly fostering it in the Middle East for decades. For everyday people in the US, this might be confusing. Why would a secular country that claims to be opposed to radical Islam and Islamic terrorism actually support these things? Because it serves its political, economic and geopolitical interests, that’s why. I have written on some of these interests elsewhere.

Here I simply wish to state that despite its rhetoric about combating religious extremism and terrorism, previous US administrations have actually promoted terrorism and Islamic extremism in the Middle East while targeting secular Muslim leaders, such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and, presently, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. The same is true of Lebanon, a secular mixed-religion country that has suffered decades of western meddling and sectarian destabilization tactics. Part of the reason these countries and governments are targeted is that they do not comply with the US’ (and Israel’s) imperial agenda and policies in the region. Rather than supporting moderate, “modern” and secular Middle Eastern states, the US has hitherto declared war on them while allying with the most backward and extremist countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia.

So What Does Any of This Have to Do With Syrian Refugees?

When the US (and its western and Middle Eastern allies) fund and support Islamic extremists and violent terrorist groups against these secular countries, there are people internally that will opportunistically join forces with them, either as paid mercenaries or for ‘ideological’ reasons or other personal or political reasons. Many join the terrorist groups and kill and plunder alongside them, as has happened in Syria, Iraq and Libya. These are not the type of people any population would want to welcome as refugees and immigrants. Yet, without strict vetting practices, it is possible that such individuals could enter countries like the US and Canada under the pretense of seeking refuge or asylum.

This becomes more likely as terrorist fighters lose ground and are forced to retreat, as they currently are in Syria. With the many terrorist groups in Syria presently being defeated by Syrian and Russian forces, one can imagine that thousands will be frantic and eager to evade capture and escape the country. One way to do this is to leave the country as a refugee and head for the west, especially to sympathetic countries like the US, which were indirectly funding and arming these groups (until very recently) in the first place!

Anyone capable of historical-political analysis, and anyone with a critical and nuanced understanding of the current mess in Syria, and the US’ role in creating this crazy mess, should be capable of understanding this. It is naive to believe that not a single terrorist fighter could be among the thousands of Syrian refugees entering the US. While I do not support a permanent and indiscriminate ban of Syrian refugees, especially for children and women, it may be necessary to implement vetting and screening practices to try to ensure that none of the western-backed terrorist fighters and murderers find their way into the US. This would be a form of blowback that no one would benefit from.

In November 2015 at least 27 states—represented by more than half the nation’s governors—opposed letting Syrian refugees into their states (this was before Obama approved the intake of 10,000 refugees). The reason for this is not simply that they are racist, Islamophobic xenophobes, though this possibly could be said of some of them. The larger reason is because, whether they are willing to publicly admit it or not, these governors understood that part of the blowback—military speak that basically means when our actions abroad come back to bite us in the ass at home—of America’s duplicitous policies in Syria (i.e., supporting and arming terrorist groups while claiming to be against terrorism) could include some of these terrorists fighters/Obama-era proxy mercenaries entering the US later on as refugees.

Of course, the current executive order is far too sweeping and will impact people genuinely effected by US-initiated conflict and destabilization zones abroad, including in the other countries named in the order. The executive order prohibits entry to the United States for nationals from six other Muslim-majority counties — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — for at least 90 days, Reuters reported. The US created many of the crises in these countries and continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of the people of Yemen, where the Saudi offensive has resulted in near famine. While the order may be aimed at limiting entry of (US-backed) terrorist fighters and hardcore Islamists, there are people in these countries in actual need of help or refuge. One can only hope that following the initial ban, a screening system will be worked out that helps those that genuinely need it.

In the meantime, one has to remain cognizant of the context that led to all of this. To summarize the main points above, under previous US administrations, murdering lunatics were propped up in the Middle East, including in Syria as part of a US-led effort to oust Bashar al-Assad and completely destabilize that secular Muslim country. Now that this mission has failed, it is not unlikely that some of these murderous US cronies/terrorists could end up in the US as supposed refugees. This is a situation that would benefit no one; and makes a vetting process necessary. And I say this as a Muslim immigrant. [1]

While Trump’s sweeping executive order is likely to create serious upheaval and uncertainly for refugees and migrants already en route, it is borne of an even greater mess and chaos begun by previous administrations and their radicalization and destabilization campaigns in secular countries in the Middle East. In order to understand the current situation, one must have a critical understanding of that larger context.

 

Notes

[1] As a nonpracticing  person that was raised by Muslim parents.

Trump is Officially In…And It’s Still Not Really About Him?

Donald Trump Is Sworn In As 45th President Of The United States

Since Trump’s presidential victory in November I have been speculating back and forth about what a Trump victory and presidency might mean. Right after his win I commented that it was odd that a man who claimed to oppose the establishment was able to win in the first place. I found it strange that the deep state—the financial, corporate and economic powers that actually run the US, using the military and politicians for their own interests—actually “let him win,” given his campaign rhetoric. I commented that the fact that he won might suggest that there are divisions within the larger establishment with some seeking to change the agenda. One of the first questions I asked was “…is that what Trump represents, the division within the global power structure? Does he have friends in high places that wish to revamp the current global militarized corporate…oligarchy? Or, is he but its latest iteration.” [1] Those questions remain. Since then I have entertained both possibilities: that Trump may have friends in high places that want him in power and helped him get there; or, that he may indeed want to change or challenge some of Washington’s policies.

I have been criticized for the latter, for even wondering whether policy might shift under Trump. Trump has voiced intentions to make changes to economic policy and foreign policy, by moving towards a more protectionist trade economics and improving US-Russia relations, respectively. [2] The question that arises is who or what will such changes serve if they are put into motion? If the elites are “fractured,” then Trump may represent particular factions that want policy changes, such as improved relations with Russia and other changes, for whatever broader reasons.

Noted analyst and journalist Pepe Escobar makes references to possible behind-the-scenes power divisions in a recent article.  Escobar maintains, based on an inside source, that, among many other things, there is a new or competing elite agenda to bring industry and production back to America. [3] This could explain Trump’s emphasis on economic protectionism and making “America great again.”[4] If Trump’s win does represent some type of ‘competing establishment,’ with a new agenda; we may be in store for a clash of the titans.

So where does this leave everyday people– the little guy? If the elites and/or political officials that support Trump wish to see a return to Fordist economics (i.e., American production with “decent” wages) it could mean more jobs. But who knows what else it could mean.[5]

Trump’s popularity had much to do with his ability—genuine or otherwise—to galvanize a type of economic populism among the droves of Americans plagued by unemployment and economic despair. During his campaign, Trump made claims and promises about standing up to corporate power and creating jobs; things people were desperate to hear and issues the identity politics (aka divide and rule)  “liberal left,” which John Pilger aptly points out is neither left nor liberal, [6] has continuously failed to address.

It may be said that Trump was able to fill the vacuum created by the so-called “liberal left.” Years of refusal to address larger common issues—that unite people across the gender and racial spectrum, such as class and unemployment—allowed for the type of economic populism (genuine or not) that Trump tapped into. Many, including ardent Trump detractors, have argued that it was economic populism and a desperate desire to be saved from corporate power that drove most of his supporters. As I’ve argued elsewhere, when interpreted economically, even some of Trump’s racial statements speak to an unemployed population—many of them working class whites—that sees outsourcing and illegal immigration as contributing to joblessness in the US.[7] I’ve been accused of being a racism apologist–by identity politics types–for calling this out (even though I’m a brown immigrant). But that’s okay.

The reality remains that Trump tapped into the economic grievances of large segments of the population. What, if anything, he will do to actually help them, and for what larger purpose, remains unknown.

 

UPDATE: Two days after this article was written Trump issued an executive order removing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that would have worsened the plight of the middle and working class. Bernie Sanders commended his actions, stating: “If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers, then I would be delighted to work with him” –https://www.rt.com/usa/374852-sanders-trump-tpp/

Notes

[1] http://www.globalresearch.ca/donald-trump-wins-us-presidency-a-blow-to-the-global-establishmentor-its-latest-iteration/5556323

[2] http://www.globalresearch.ca/what-to-expect-from-the-trump-administration-a-protectionist-and-pro-corporate-america-government/5569054

[3] https://popularresistance.org/heres-how-the-trump-presidency-will-play-out/

[4] While global and domestic elites all tend toward globalism, it might be that some are more nationalistic than others and benefit more from “domestic friendly” policies.

[5] If this is some sort of power struggle among elites, the people, as always, will be pawns for their game. Unless, of course, we stop allowing them to divide us and unite, regardless of who is in the White House.

[6] http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/17/the-issue-is-not-trump-it-is-us/

[7] http://www.atimes.com/significance-trumps-victory-little-trump/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Syria’s Continued Resistance, Russia and the Threat to Western Power

Putin-Assad.jpg

As a new year begins I wish to reflect on the Syrian government’s continued resistance and impending victory—with the help of the Russian military—against western backed terrorist forces. The defense of Syria, after an almost six-year-long proxy offensive against it, has served a blow to the western imperial agenda while greatly strengthening Russia’s position globally. 

The western imperial machine has failed miserably in its regime change agenda in Syria. The US-led failure to oust Bashar Al Assad’s secular government is a global game changer that may decidedly tip the balance of power away from the US and its western and Mid East allies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and, until very recently, Turkey). Syria’s withstanding would not have been possible without Russian involvement, firmly placing Russia as a counter to western power as we move into 2017. As Argentine journalist and analyst, Pedro Brieger, aptly maintains, Russia has emerged as the key actor in global politics, in recent years: “Russia proved that it has become the key player in the international arena. If you want to understand that just look at what is going in Syria,” Brieger told Sputnik News.

It was Russia’s direct involvement in Syria and its provision of crucial military and strategic support to the Assad government that allowed Syria to resist the dirty proxy war that has been waged against it for the almost six years. It was also Russia, in cooperation with Iran and the purely opportunistic Turkish regime, that brokered a nationwide ceasefire between anti-Assad terrorists and the Syrian government, which came into force yesterday (December 29, 2016). One of the biggest turning points has been the recent liberation of the strategic and once most-populous city of Aleppo from Daesh/IS control and occupation. With instrumental help from Russia, the Syrian government has been able to take back the city. In mid December the Russian Reconciliation Center evacuated 50,000 civilians from eastern Aleppo. The evacuation of 5,000 ‘rebels’ and their family members from eastern Aleppo, via a humanitarian corridor, began around the same time.

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