Fran Ross: Oreo

Ross, Fran (2015 [1974]), Oreo, New Directions
ISBN 978-0-8112-2322-5

oreo coverLet me apologize in advance if this review is a bit odd, I have not had sleep in quite a while. On the other hand, this likely leads to a shorter review. That said, I hope I’ll still manage to convey to you that Oreo, Fran Ross’ first and only novel, is an absolute masterpiece. A book that should rank among the classics of 20th century American fiction and it’s regrettable that it does not. Originally published in 1974, it appears to have sunk like a stone in the waters of literary attention. In 2000 it was republished by Northeastern University Press (by the way: the series “Northeastern Library of Black Literature,” published by Northeastern University Press, cannot be praised highly enough for bringing excellent and unusual books back into print that have not fared well upon the sea of canonicity. I want to point particularly to their reprints of George Schuyler’s strange and important oeuvre), and then again in 2015 by New Directions, which is the edition that I finally encountered the book. Oreo is a book that feeds off several traditions, and cannot be easily labeled, which may have contributed to its lack of canonical durability. Written at the height of afrocentric literature (and a contemporary of Alex Haley’s Roots), the book rejects the expectations that come with a first novel by a black author. Her book borrows from a Jewish tradition as well as a black one, and it comments on misogyny as well as racism. It is kin to the behemoths of ludic postmodernism such as John Barth, of mythical modernism such as Joyce and Eliot and it is related to older books about the African American experience as well, Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig comes to mind. But more than books preceding Oreo – it’s a newer generation of writers that best shows the power and fascination of Fran Ross’ only book. Black writers like Zadie Smith (Autograph Man) and Paul Beatty (White Boy Shuffle) (as well as slightly earlier examples like Trey Ellis (Platitudes)) offer us novels about the black experience that break with stereotypes and expectations. If Ross’s novel was published today, it would be seen as primus inter pares, as the first among many equals. Back in 1974, however, the novel’s innovative writing and its rejection of simple identity politics impeded its immediate cultural impact.

oreo renaultThe story of the book is quickly summarized: it is a story that’s both old fashioned family history and quest narrative. Following the myth of Theseus (the reference is made plain both by chapter titles and by the author’s afterword), it offers us Oreo, a girl of mixed heritage: her father, an aspiring actor from a Jewish family, left her mother, Helen, who was a similarly culturally talented woman from a black family. Both Helen as well as Oreo’s father left Oreo, so that the young woman grew up with her black grandmother, Louise, who had never found a dish that she didn’t like. Eventually, Helen informs her daughter, that her father had left her a series of clues that would lead her to discover the secret of her birth. She then embarks on that adventure (which, really, is just a trip to New York), encountering many odd characters. All of this fits, in one way or another, the template from Greek myth, up until the catastrophe, which, at this point, we expect. The early 70s is an interesting time to engage not just greek myths but this one particularly. Fran Ross is not the only writer to tackle the topic. Most well known, at that time, I suppose, is Mary Renault’s two volume take on the Theseus myth, the first of which, The King Must Die, is a steaming, passionate retelling of history. Despite Renault’s stated claim of trying to write a more realistic story, it’s full of magic and odd superstitions, including oracles and witches. The Theseus story and various stories surrounding it, has long been a tale of the advent of a new age, a story of rising masculinity (a crucial part of the story takes place in matriarchal Crete) and a fresh Athenian democracy. Theseus’ is a founding myth and if you want to unsettle expectations regarding narrative and history, it’s a fantastic place to start. A good example of how this era of history/myth is used in literature are André Gide and Christa Wolf. Gide, in the 1946 novel Thésée, emphasizes the masculinity, the epochal power of the story, more than Renault, even. Christa Wolf, writing in 1996, only peripherally touches the story of Theseus. Her focus is Medea (the novel is simply called Medea, published in English by Nan A Talese) and her encounter with Jason (Medea is also part of the Theseus story). Wolf takes on a story with a female villain and reverses it, showing, in her use of sources and narrative, to be a patriarchal treatment of a strong female mythical character. Fran Ross, more than two decades earlier, does something similar, but her literary approach couldn’t be more different.

beatty white boy

An underrated, excellent novel on black male identity in our time.

So now I spent a paragraph vaguely contextualizing the book and another one on its story and connection to myth and I haven’t even mentioned the book’s best quality: its incredibly multifaceted and complex writing. In many ways, I think it’s fair to say that Fran Ross’ novel is primarily about language – about the joy of using it, using it to shape stories and silly games. Oreo is a profoundly funny, endlessly quotable book. It contains charts and tables, a large amount of puns, and references that are equal parts clever and silly. Much of it offers us a plea to read the world the way we want to and not the way cultural signposts and expectations want us to read it. The novel comes as close to explaining this point as you can in a novel without becoming just too obnoxious for your own good. It starts with a fictive Wittgenstein quote as an epigraph (“Burp!” is the quote, used because, as the author remarks, “Anything this profound philosopher ever said bears repeating”). There is a list with clues that will lead the protagonist to a secret she is seeking and early on, she decides to read the clues based on her understanding of reality as she engages with it and not the other way around. In other words, contra genre expectations, Oreo, the protagonist of Oreo, does not interpret the note or map and then collect similarities or clues in the real world around her. Instead, she interprets and engages reality and then decided on which clue to connect to it. The linguistic playfulness moves from small observations to linguistic games that pervade the book. Sometimes she plays with the expected gender of words and names, sometimes with the ambiguity of geographical names, sometimes with the tension between story and cultural narratives interwoven with said story. The whole book is also enormously interested in speech and dialect. Early on, we are told that Oreo’s mother Louise speaks in a thick Philadelphia accent, really, so thick and unusual that people generally have trouble understanding her. The author mostly renders it understandable and, early on, even gives us a metafictional aside:

From time to time, her dialogue will be rendered in ordinary English, which Louise does not speak. To do full justice to her speech would require a ladder of footnotes and glosses, a tic of ostrophes (aphaeresis, hypherisis, apocope) and a Louise-ese/ English dictionary of phonetic spellings. A compromise has been struck. Since Louise can work miracles of compression through syncope, it is only fair that a few such condensations be shared with the reader. However, the substitution of an apostrophe for every dropped g, missing r, and absent t would be tantamount to tic douloureux of movable type. To avoid this, some sentences in Louise-ese have been disguised so that they are indistinguishable from English.

Additionally, there is a completely invented dialect, spoken by Oreo’s little brother, as well as the lilt of various Jewish inflections of American English (without falling into the traps of the goy-authored “jewish novel”, as exposed by Cynthia Ozick’s famous takedown of John Updike’s faux-Jewish Bech: A Book), not to count all the other iterations of nonstandard language. The effect is not only magnetic for the reader, who is immediately drawn into the music and rhythm of the book, it also offers an alternate position between the ribald postmodernism of John Barth, where nonstandard speech is usually on display as odd and humorous, but unconnected to the commitments of the work (such as they are with Barth), and the more straightlaced identiy politics of the afrocentric novel, where nonstandard speech expressed identity and difference. A commitment to a different experience and historiography as we have, so far, seen it in novels. Toni Morrison’s scintillating work is an example of that écriture.

medeaI find it important to stress just how innovative and exciting Fran Ross’s enterprise is in Oreo. In what could be read as a thoughtful encounter with Johan Huizinga’s theory of games an playfulness, Ross is engaged in cultural and political criticism without falling into sincerity and seriousness. She clearly assumes that this topic is best tackled with playful engagement and subversion. Replacements and indirect speech mark much of this book’s language and imagery. In fact, the author foregrounds her method: young Oreo has a teacher of English who is obsessed with etymology and will at times only speak indirectly to his student who keeps hunting for words in dictionaries, but

Oreo became adept at instantaneous translations of the professor’s rhizomorphs. “Mr. Benton is worn out by childbearing. Of course, his paper was an ill-starred bottle. I don’t wonder he threatened to sprinkle himself with sacrificial meal.” “You mean,” said Oreo, “that Benton is effete, his paper was a fiasco, and he wanted to immolate himself.”

A few things come to mind. One that, in keeping with the professor’s method, it’s hard not to see the whole episode as an aside referencing the cultural obsession with “roots” among her fellow black writers (which would, two years later, lead to Haley’s blockbuster success Roots). And two, it offers a template for reading the book as using two levels of language (or multiple levels of anything, really; after all, the Theseus intertext also fits in here). Finally, it stresses the role of the reader in assembling and figuring out all the texts sometimes very disparate elements. In this, there are simililary to the Eliotic “mythical method,” but Ross actively undermines the myth, just as she criticises the present. For a black female novelist, the past, mythical or not, does not offer solace or order. The past is mediated by the same cultural tools of oppression as the present, and Ross resists both. This is a book that declines to be part of any group, no matter how tempting or easy it is to attack oneself to a movement. It’s a novel by a writer with a critical eye that asks its reader to look at words and narratives, to look at them and examine their roots. This exceeds simple swaps, even though Ross replaces the virile Theseus with the female Oreo. The book contains violence, deception, an attempted (though hilariously thwarted) rape, but it coats all of it in extraordinarily humorous language.

The cover of the Northeastern edition.

The cover of the Northeastern edition.

For Huizinga, myth-making is, if I remember correctly, a form of play, and play has the power to change, to move things. In the case of Oreo, the challenge is to question everything. Diderot once wrote that “[i]l existoit un homme naturel: on a introduit au dedans de cet homme un homme artificiel, et il s’est elevé dans la caverge une guerre civile qui dure toute la vie.” In a way, and if we stretch the image a bit, a similar war can be said to take place in mid-20th century postmodernism. There are people who are happy to deal with the artificial human inside, some of them using the “mythical method,” which, according to Eliot, is “a step toward making the modern world possible for art.“ They question authority and narrative, but they don’t have anything to put in its place in terms of commitments. On the other side are those writers, like Morrison, who offer a more earnest version of postmodern critical writing. They replace one historical certainty with another, and frequently succeed at establishing tremendous counternarratives. Oreo (and Oreo) declines both possibilities. It is a playful, funny novel that is at the same time deeply cognizant of narrative and oppression. It’s just that Fran Ross appears to believe that playful interrogation is the best way to deal with it. But as the careers of many writers have shown (say, Delmore Schwartz): resisting the siren call of literary movements by being just o so slightly ahead of your time can lead to a quick exit from the memory of literary history. The aforementioned George Schuyler is another frustrating example of this. Look, look, I don’t know whether I made sense 100%, but if you need a tl,dr, it is this: Oreo is an excellent masterpiece. It should have become a classic and we are all fortunate that New Directions decided to bring it back into wide circulation. Now is the time to make up for earlier neglect. Go forth and read Oreo. It is very good.


As always, if you feel like supporting this blog, there is a “Donate” button on the left and this link RIGHT HERE. 🙂 If you liked this, tell me. If you hated it, even better. Send me comments, requests or suggestions either below or via email (cf. my About page) or to my twitter.)

Hunger Games & Racism

I read The Hunger Games last year, when I was in a non-reviewing slump, and so there is no review of the book, and given the insane amount of detail scattered over three medium size novels, I wouldn’t do these books any justice if I reviewed them now, but let me just state that the series is utterly fantastic and magnificent and impressively smart and I was very much looking forward to the movie. A lot of people were. And then this happened. On facebook (cf. this Racialicious post) and on twitter (cf. this Jezebel post), people shared their outrage over casting choices. And the outrage wasn’t directed at the fact that the director chose a pale white girl to play a character described as “olive skinned” (which is, in fact, upsetting (cf. Bitch Media and Julian Sanchez)) – the outrage was directed at the director correctly casting a black actress for a black character. The cries of outrage are eerie, but they do remind me of how cleverly the books are constructed, how the book makes use of class and race lines and provides strong and powerful images of exploitation on a surprising amount of levels. I highly, highly recommend these books.

Alan Moore, China Miéville and Racism

Because I really have very little to add to two rather excellent bits I found online, here’s a short post linking to these things.

1st, a slightly older take on the way Alan Moore treats race in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It’s probably best to start here and start digging. I say ‘digging’ because the blogger has an admirable but slightly exhausting devotion to transparency, splitting edits into new posts etc. etc. I assure you though it’s certainly worth it. If you know Moore’s work, you probably know that the treatment of race in it can be problematic, but the obviousness of the insight doesn’t make this excellent blog a less worthy read. Well researched, well argued, well written and admirably upset. Read it.

The second is just as excellent, if much shorter. It’s an essay by the amazing China Miéville on the recent non-banning of the strikingly racist comic Tintin Au Congo, called “When Did Bigotry Get So Needy?”. Miéville, unsurprisingly, makes all the right distinctions, and there is nothing I could add. So, go ahead and read it. If you prefer, you can also read this really, really excellent essay on Miéville’s own blog here, but that version doesn’t have pictures, and the pictures are rather effective in demonstrating the obnoxiously obvious racism in the book.

Banning the Burqa

In the latest installment of NYTimes’ The Stone, Martha Nussbaum proves to be largely correct

Proponents of the burqa ban do not propose to ban all these objectifying practices. Indeed, they often participate in them. (…) Once again, then, the opponents of the burqa are utterly inconsistent, betraying a fear of the different that is discriminatory and unworthy of a liberal democracy. The way to deal with sexism, in this case as in all, is by persuasion and example, not by removing liberty

Judith Butler: I distance myself from this complicity with racism

Butler refused to accept a prize for civic courage at this year’s CSD in Berlin, pointing out outright racism and racist assumptions in what seems a very progressive event. She goes on to enumerate organizations that would have merited the award. For a more thorough discussion, go here.

Racist Apologist

I’m currently disturbed by some political developments in this country and state (I posted about them here) and today remembered someone who would approve, I assume:

In the case of the Roma, we have a lot of anti-Roma feeling in the UK – to the extent that some people seem to consider it an acceptable form of prejudice. But simply dismissing it as racist – even reminding people that the Roma were amongst the Nazis’ victims – does not tackle the issues, and does alienate people. (…) if one ignores the criminality of, say, Roma, then one is actually going to help the development of racism. Saying it’s ‘cultural’ just won’t do and doesn’t work. And igoring such things as Roma women being sent out to aggressively beg becuase one’s scared of being labelled ‘racist’ does absolutely nothing to deal with the central issues.

And you won’t be surprised to discover the old bigot’s straw man, the fear of being labeled racist. Hilarious. But then again, as I look at my country, maybe not so hilarious.

Happy Anniversary!


Witnesses say that police arrived at about 1 a.m. at the Rainbow Lounge on South Jennings Street and arrested seven people. They said one of those arrested suffered a fractured skull during the takedown and is at a Fort Worth hospital. (…)
The raid happened to be on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York which began on the night of June 28, 1969, as a protest by gays against police harassment and helped trigger the modern U.S. gay rights movement.

It makes you sick, doesn’t it? In related news, I was in Heidelberg last weekend, visiting the old folks, and happened upon a demonstration against violent police. Apparently a young African student, who was in Heidelberg to complete his doctorate in mathematics, was searched by the police, restrained when he protested and hit in the face so hard that he had to be hospitalized for five days. Police says he was intoxicated and violent. Friends say he’s one of the gentlest guys they’ve ever seen, and he was on his way home from a long evening in the University library.

“Putting the cauc back in asian” complained about the whitening of the characters of the movie version of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

On December 9th 2008, the lead roles were cast for M Night Shyamalan’s upcoming film The Last Airbender and all of them were originally cast as white actors.

The Nickelodeon show “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” on which this film is based, featured Asian characters in a fantasy setting inspired and informed by a variety of Asian cultures. The characters fight with East Asian martial arts, have Asian features, dress in clothing from Asian cultures, and write with Chinese characters. The cast and setting were a refreshing departure from predominantly white American media, and were a large part of the show’s appeal as well as an inspiration to many Asian American children.

They also (hum) opened a shop at where they reiterated their complaint

Based on the Asian-influenced animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, the movie has now cast three white actors to play lead, heroic Asian or Inuit characters. The fourth white actor cast as the lead, antagonist role had been hastily recast, thereby effectively contrasting three white heroes – existing in an Asian-based fantasy world – fighting an (overall) evil brown nation. The production made a choice. That choice sent a clear message:
“American Children of Color: You are not good enough to play the hero, even if that hero shares your ethnicity.”

and offered for sale protest t-shirts, that had, for example, the words: “The Last Airbender: Putting the Cauc back in Asian”, which they had to take down due to copyright violations (see account of that here and a few more motifs). I don’t really think that glockgal (?) has reason to complain, it’s quite transparently a trademark issue, and she’s selling shirts, FFS. But the bigger issue, which is well illustrated by looking at who was whitewashed and who not (see link above or picture here) is troubling, especially since it demonstrates how little, as a culture, we’ve learned, how little we’ve internalized instead of just paying lip service to humane thinking. It is quite frustrating that so many discussions on important issues are structurally (and partly also on the level of actual phrases and formulations) identical with discussions that we had 40, 60, 100 or 200 years ago. And, sometimes, as with amazonfail, a public manifestation of the encrusted hate proves to be the last straw.(via boingboing)


Wow. Not only is Asher Roth completely irrelevant. Turns out he’s also incredibly obnoxious:

“You guys are always going off about how much money you have. Do you realize what’s going on in this world right now?’ All these black rappers? African rappers? Talking about how much money they have. Do you realize what’s going on in Africa right now? It’s just like, you guys are disgusting. Talking about billions and billions of dollars you have. And spending it frivolously, when you know, the Motherland is suffering beyond belief right now.”

Zero awareness. ^^


If you didn’t notice, currently, there’s the Durban II conference in Geneva, which promises to be as much of a sham as Durban I. I’m somewhat happy that my government (however reluctantly) is not taking part. Here’s a look at one of the participants: a member if Ahmadinejad’s entourage calls Elie Wiesel a Zio-Nazi.

It’s somewhat surprising that the British government would go through with the conference even though the outcome is predictably nauseating.

Already Guilty

The incredible Toni Morrison clarifies a misconception

Do you regret referring to Bill Clinton as the first black President?
People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race.


After March 15 you will find a brief text on Whiteness and “White Trash” here. I decided to not explain these issues on a forum, where some bright bulbs react to criticism of Valkyrie with a simple-minded reference to “Original Sin”. Meanwhile, here’s a salient quote from a NYT review on a new book by Martha Sandweiss:

King, you see, was a white man who for 13 years passed as black. For many, that is unimaginable. Didn’t pigmentation give him up? It didn’t, because, as King’s story reaffirms, race is not really about skin color. If it were, the blond-haired, blue-eyed Walter White, for instance, could never have identified himself as “a Negro,” served as executive secretary of the N.A.A.C.P. or written this paradoxical sentence: “The traits of my race are nowhere visible upon me.” Race is the emperor’s new clothes: we don’t see it; we think it.

On Herman Melville’s “Omoo”

Melville, Herman (1982), Typee, Omoo, Mardi, Library of America
ISBN 0-940450-00-3

Herman Melville is among my very favorite writers. Everything about his work is subtle, fresh and interesting, whether we talk about the Great American Novel, Moby Dick, or the very early works: Typee or Omoo. I have spend quite some time thinking about Typee early in February, but as this blog shows, it didn’t amount to anything. After having had a few thoughts rumbling through my skull again after finishing my reread of Omoo today, and since I have nothing better to do, I’ll just bother you with them. As I said, Omoo was the second book Melville published. It was printed in 1947, a year after Typee. Within ten years he would go on to publish all of his other novels, among them marvels such as the aforementioned Moby Dick, The Confidence Man or the scintillating Pierre. One masterpiece per year. Since most of them are concerned with life at sea and since Moby Dick is the most famous novel about the sea and especially whaling, the preceding novels are seen as studies for the grand masterpiece.

It is, as many people have pointed out, a great injustice to read Typee and Omoo only as imperfect tryouts. They are both completely and utterly astonishing, and bear almost no direct resemblance to each other, since they treat different modes of travel. Omoo is the direct sequel to Typee, picking up the plot where Typee leaves off: the protagonist who has finally escaped Nukuhavi, which is one of the Marquesas Islands, has entered service on the ship that saved him, not that he had much of a choice there. That ship, the lovely Julia, is a breeding ground for unrest, which is a good indicator of many of the concerns in Omoo. Guy, the captain, is not a sailor, he is

in no wise competent. He was essentially a landsman, and though a man of education, no more meant for the sea than a hair-dresser.

He shows, time and again, that he does not understand the necessities of a sailor’s life. The captain is little more than a meek and weak figurehead, since he isn’t able to handle even the smallest technical decisions and the one he does handle leads to mutiny and him losing a large part of his crew.

The actual work of a captain is done by the chief mate, John Jermin. Jermin is a strong, smart and pugnacious man, able to make the crew obey his commands. As a member of the ruling caste, especially since he is the one who has to make tough decisions and has to ensure that the captain’s unpopular commands are carried out, he is constantly at odds with the crew. He looks and acts like one of the crew yet the mere fact of his being in power sets him apart. We encounter quite a different situation with the resident doctor, who only goes by the name of Doctor Long Ghost. He, who could be the third member of the ruling caste, is actually a jester of sorts. Although he is educated and could possibly wield power, he is too unruly, too much of a “wag”, for the captain to put up with him. In due course he has to set up camp amongst the sailors. As we all know, rulers and workers are clearly separated on a ship, so forcing Doctor Long John to literally change sides is highly significant. The physician, however, quickly accommodates himself to the new situation, becoming, in effect, one of the crew. As we see, the main difference here is not education: it’s both power and the line of work you’re in. This may seem uninteresting at this point, yet the novel dwells extensively upon the dynamics on board and rightly so, as we will see.

Upon coming to Tahiti, the captain gets off the ship, being friends with Consul Wilson, who is the British representative on the island. In the meantime, he expects the crew of the ship to stay on board. This, apparently, is viewed almost as an offense by the sailors, who subsequently contrive to get ashore despite the captain’s strict orders. The captain’s behavior is shown to be due to his not being a sailor, to his being a land man. A different captain, later on, is described as “a sailor, not a tyrant.” The contrast between sailors and people who live and work on land, is marked, and it’s not a simple difference either. The sailors show clear contempt for so-called “landlubbers”, as the character called “Rope Yarn” shows, who is not nearly as unlikeable as the captain, who is part of the crew, yet who is not suited to work on a ship; the crew is constantly making fun of him and harassing him at every turn. Among the crew, on the working-class end of the ship, there is a hierarchy as well, equally strict as the one I previously mentioned. The main difference, however, is that it is solely based upon merit.

In a way, although I referred to the sailors as “workers”, this word, with its modern connotations, is not quite fitting. The sailors are more like nomads, with a division of work as in a nomadic hunter-gatherer (and are whalers not, to an extent, hunter-gatherers?) society, which is usually based on merit and not entitlement or race or even gender. This strong focus upon the society aboard ship is a stark difference to Typee, which was largely concerned with a reflection upon a single village in a vale on Nukuhavi. I would argue that one of Omoo‘s main concerns is work, and, at that, work in different environments, and by people of different cultures. Our protagonist is going off board with the others, and due to a mishap, finds himself apprehended by the consul as one of the ring leaders.

This appellation is thoroughly undeserved, if we can trust the protagonist’s assurances, but he and we quickly see that it is due to his being an intellectual of sorts, who can write and reads books, that he is thought and assumed to be a ring leader. The captain expresses a deep dislike ans suspicion towards the readers/writers among the crew. Since the captain’s logic is not ship- but land logic, he thinks in terms of class. In his understanding of the world, a worker doesn’t read, he works. The dangers of being able to read and write are all too obvious: they lead to, or at least aid, mutiny, revolt, and similar distasteful incidents. In a way, it is hard to argue this point with the captain, since, after all, a mutiny has taken place and the two readers are involved. As readers we must never make the mistake of believing the protagonist’s testimony. He is the one whose voice has carried far enough for us to hear it, but must we not think of the sailors, too, as a silenced class, and of the protagonist’s narration as a colonization of sorts?

The concepts of speaking for someone else, of displacing a former way of reading and understanding the world with a new, alien form, is also a central concern of the novel, which dwells quite extensively upon the work of the missionaries. In Typee, which is a novelization of an ethnographer’s wet dreams, we found an almost untouched society, which dealt with the British and French intruders only at its borders. Tahiti and its surrounding islands, has been subjugated by the French and British and is accordingly much changed. Although the events take place at roughly the same time, a few weeks after Typee, the reader is under the impression of seeing the aftermath of aggression and proselytizing upon the society he came to know in Typee. And it has been a disaster which has led to a destruction of a culture and to the death of numerous individuals. Officially, the Tahitians are Christians now, although the narrator never tires of explaining why the Christian creed is ill fitted to the Polynesians:

An air of softness in their manners, great apparent ingenuousness and docility, at first misled; but these were the mere accompaniments of an indolence, bodily and mental; a constitutional voluptuousness; and an aversion to the least restraint; which, however fitted for the luxurious state of nature, in the tropics, are the greatest possible hindrances to the strict moralities of Christianity.

I will not go into details on the proselytizing of Tahiti, it’s an interesting topic in itself, but not the focus of these remarks.

However, the quote on the hindrances is interesting in other ways as well. Omoo expounds on the links between Christian religion and the Western economic system as evidenced by their interaction with the Tahitians. Both of these elements are not suited to the native culture in Tahiti, they are both built on an idea of discipline and sensual renunciation, whereas the Tahitians have parameters such as need, interest and passion. The re-invention of leisure time in the course of industrialization may be the Western countries’ valve to let off some of the steam generated by the need created by being so strict on the passions, but this has come from a state of oppression. The Tahitians are expected to give up their freedoms all at once and that they’re not prepared to do. They do not, however, resort to classical western ways of expressing their reluctance: when their interest abates, they just stop working, creating, to the uncomprehending Colonialists an impression of “sluggishness” or even plain laziness.

Several years ago, the cultivation of cotton was introduced; and, with their usual love of novelty, they went to work with great alacrity; but the interest excited quickly subsided, and now, not a pound of the article is raised.

I found this attitude to work and duty reminiscent of Melville’s slightly later short piece of greatness, “Bartleby the Scrivener”, and that story’s protagonist’s mantra “I’d prefer not to”. As Bartleby dies at the end, so the Tahitian civilization suffers from the fact that those who subjugated them failed to understand the culture of those they meant to rule. It is the old confusion of the man-made, culturally conditioned with the natural, that obfuscates issues to this day. This makes the progression from Typee to Omoo particularly salient: Typee focuses on seeing and reading a culture that is so very different from one’s own, while Omoo shows what happens when we actively rule a country without investing into our understanding what makes it what it is. We just assume, so often, that the basic reading of things is alright for everyone. The conditio humana is so often invoked in so idiotic contexts that it makes you, at times, despair. That’s just how we are? Please.

And Omoo, as most of Melville’s stupendous work, concentrates upon these issues. We find variations of people who live their lives according not to their individual creed (and isn’t, for example, the hypocritical celebration of the individual in American popular culture/criticism among the most depressingly inane ideologies?), but according as to how their culture understands life and work (take care: again, no false identifications: cultures do not equal nations, so don’t come complaining). The strongest characterization besides the British and the Tahitians are Zeke and his associate, the Yankees who believe in working hard and partying hard. After having been imprisoned and let free again, the protagonist and Doctor Long Ghost roam the island. The further they progress inland, the healthier and happier the natives become, at the same time, paradoxically, they are working more:

The next day we rambled about, and found a happy little community, comparatively free from many deplorable evils to which the rest of their countrymen are subject. Their time, too, was more occupied. To my surprise, the manufacture of tappa was going on in several buildings. European calicoes were seldom seen, and not many articles of foreign origin of any description.

Melville is all but shouting at his countrymen to stop calling the Tahitians lazy or deficient.

The most fascinating passage in Omoo, however, can be found in the last fifth, where he tells us about white travelers (“roving whites”) to the islands who are “generally domesticated in the family of the head chief or king” and become personal attendants, violinists, cupbearers or what Melville winking refers to as “commissioner of the arts and sciences”. These people are travelers, or rovers in more ways than one, the cultural contexts, the power relationships are shifting slightly, for these few individuals. I hope that the previous paragraphs have made it clear how magnificently Omoo shifts to and fro in terms of cultural preconceptions as related to work etc. and now we see how well Melville chose to pick the sailors as a ‘control group’. The sailors’ friction with the landlubber captain demonstrates their difference to the dominant culture on the islands; there are other, more obvious reasons why they don’t mesh with some of the other, the Polynesian cultures. On land, they have turned even more into hunterer-gatherers, hunting with Zeke and gathering food, shelter and goodwill from the Polynesians.

In the end, the protagonist returns to his own culture, signing on on a whaler once again. It is a completely different whaler from the two he’s been on before. In a way, experiencing that travel has changed something in both of the rovers. As I indicated earlier,these insipid remarks touch but upon one aspect, which is hard to separate from others, possibly more important ones, such as religion or race. Omoo, as any novel by Melville, is stacked with subtle and not so subtle ideas and criticism. Melville is always in need of being read. A grand, grand writer.

Colson Whitehead: The Intuitionist

Whitehead, Colson (2000), The Intuitionist, Anchor
ISBN 0-385-49300-2

I may be experiencing a streak of luck lately with books I read for fun, but this right here is another excellent novel. It’s Colson Whitehead’s debut, published in 1999.Whitehead has since published two other novels to general praise and won a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius grant, and reading “The Intuitionist” it’s easy to see why. It is a very well-written, completely original novel about racism and elevators. It’s not perfect but it need not be. “The Intuitionist” is very good and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It makes use of a fascinating kind of allegory: the protagonist is an Elevator Inspector, and the story is set in the Elevator inspector milieu, in a society which roughly corresponds to 1950s America, I think, featuring scenes at Elevator college seminars, in Elevator libraries, at Elevator inspector conventions, not to forget that Elevator inspecting gets done now and then and quite a bit of Elevator theory is relayed to us,including something that is most certainly a kind of Elevator deconstruction. The Derrida of Elevators is called Fuller, and although he’s been dead a while, he has an important part to play. I wager there isn’t a Derrida in actual Elevator inspecting practice. Although Elevator inspectors certainly do exist, it is not an academic profession, and I certainly doubt the existence of Elevator inspecting theory. Elevators provide an extraordinarily original allegory for a whole category of class concerns, but there is a danger. Racism and topics like that can be perceived as ‘dirty’, unpleasant, but clothing them in a clean allegory may help your rhetoric but it often reduces the inherent urgency of a topic like this. Colson Whitehead is smart enough to recognize that.

On top of this ingenious construction, he has crafted a suspenseful thriller. The plot is wonderfully complex and, true to its genre, only unravels slowly, as the protagonist finds out about intrigues and secrets hidden in every nook of the Elevator inspecting milieu. The protagonist, Lila Mae Watson, is the first black woman to become Elevator inspector. Inspector Watson. As someone who, in the center of power, is relegated to the peripheries, she is made to be the fall guy in what at first appears to be a union dispute. Two factions fight for the leadership of the Department of Elevator Inspectors, and as elections approach, they will use any means necessary to secure an advantage. A pair of elevators recently inspected by Watson suddenly free-fall and crash. Although nobody has been harmed, this is a terrible accident that makes headlines and puts Watson’s faction at a disadvantage. In an effort to clear her name, Watson follows up on different shady leads, has a run-in with the mob, reveals a few secrets and falls in with a bad guy. The book, as far as genre is concerned, is a cross between the bookish thrillers of Dan Brown or Elizabeth Kostova and the detective novels of Chandler, but it is, of course, far more than that.

To understand the way the allegory is weaved into the novel, I think this passage, early in thew book, is significant:

For the first time it occurs to Lila Mae that someone might have been hurt. “That’s impossible. Total freefall is a physical impossibility.” She shakes her head.
“That’s what happened,” Chuck reaffirms. He’s still looking up at the ceiling. They can hear some of their colleagues whooping outside the door. “Forty floors.”
“Which one?”
“Number Eleven, I think.”
She remembers Number Eleven distinctly. A little shy, but that’s normal in a new cab. “The entire stack is outfitted with the new Arbo antilocks,” Lila Mae argues. “Plus the standard reg gear. I inspected them myself.”
“Did you check them,” Chuck asks tentatively, “or did you intuit them?”
Lila Mae ignores the slur. “I did my job,” she says.

In this innocuous passage several important references are hidden. Arbo is an elevator manufacturer, one of the two giants of the trade. The other is called United. The important reference, however, can be found in the dichotomy between “check” and “intuit”: the two aforementioned factions fundamentally differ in their approach to elevators. One of the factions prefers a hands-on approach, to look at the wiring and the mechanical parts of the elevator to check it. They are called the Empiricists and the current Chairman of the Department of Elevators is an Empiricist. The others intuit, they feel the Elevator, they try to sunder elevators and elevator-ness. They are called Intuitionists, and Fuller, the Derrida of elevator theory, is the founding father of that discipline. Lila Mae Watson is an Intuitionist, of course. Interestingly, one of the premises of the novel is that this approach, mad as it may sound, actually works. In fact, the Intuitionists can boast better results and Lila Mae Watson is the best of them all.

The fact that the narrator calls Chuck’s reference to Intuitionism a slur, when it could also be read as a factual question, since, after all, it’s what Watson actually did, points to the fact that it is actually the precarious balance between these two ways of reading Chuck’s words that defines many conflicts in the book. It is not surprising that Lila Mae Watson, the woman on the margins, chooses this discipline. And a secret, not revealed until late in the novel, about the founder of Intuitionism, further expounds upon that intricacy. Empiricism is more than the received and dominant doctrine. It is also the ideology of the dominant power paradigm, reflecting the society’s axiomatic values. So, in a black-and-white reading, Empiricism (as defined in the novel) is white, male, commonsensical, anti-intellectual bullshit. This is reinforced by passages like the following:

See, the Empiricists stoop to check for tell-tale striations on the lift winch and seize upon oxidation scars on the compensating rope sheave, all that muscle work, and think the Intuitionists get off easy. Lazy slobs.
Some nicknames Empiricists habe for their renegade collegues: swamis, voodoo men, juju heads, witch doctors, Harry Houdinis.

One of many strengths of this novel, however, is that such a reading, tethered solely to those in power, does an injustice to the actual intricacies. Watson is the only black Intuitionist, and her guild turns out not to have clean hands, either. For one thing, the novel reflects upon the intricacies of center and periphery, not opting for the easy way out. Pompey, the first black inspector, attacks Watson two thirds into the book:

This is a white man’s world. They make the rules. You come along, strutting like you own the place. Like they don’t own you. But they do. […] I was the first one in the Department. I was the first colored elevator inspector in history. In history! And you will never, ever know what the hell they put me through. You think you have it bad? You have no idea. […] You had it easy, snot-nose kid that you are, because of me. Because of what I did for you.

Problems of identity play a central role in the novel, questions of blackness (Whitehead has clearly read Aimé Cesaire) for example and questions of class, inasmuch as income, erudition and related issues are concerned. The extent to which corporate America was inimical to the young black men and women, to which it has pitted one isolated African American against another, to which it has silenced black voices to better hear the white screech.

Now here’s where the academic dispute becomes salient. It’s clearly intended as a satire on the academic world. In chapters that sketch Watson’s professional career, we are availed of large batches of elevator theory and we are clearly not supposed to take any of that seriously. In fact, as we will find out later, some central textbooks were expressly written as a joke. Personally, however, I think this is not just satire. Communication is a central issue in the novel: I think an especially important reference here is Henry Louis Gates jr.’s theory of the Signifying Monkey. Gates’ theory rests upon the assumption that African Americans have a way of communicating which is all their own, which creates a nonviolent way of coping with oppression and the oppressor, of opening a channel of communication among the silenced. In “The Intuitionist”, all the black characters ‘signify’, in Gates’ understanding of the term; in fact, Intuitionism is, partly at least, most certainly the practice of reading and concentrating upon a subtext in order to order one’s understanding of the whole. All this is wrapped in a light package.

This book is very easy to read and it is enjoyable on a very basic aesthetic level. The language is certainly rich and assured, although, as is expected of a debut novel, it hits a few shrill notes now and then. As I said before, Whitehead manages the genres he’s using very well: it is a suspenseful thriller, until the ending, which is a disappointment but not necessarily because of Whitehead’s ineptitude. On the contrary, I think Whitehead is slowing the book down deliberately at the end, to let his points sink in. He is clearly not interested in letting the reader breeze, untouched by his thinking, through a thriller set in a strange elevator world. He wants, no, he makes us understand what we have been served. And one of the last points we are made to understand is that it is no surreal fantasy world, after all: “The Intuitionist” presents a world that is almost a mirror to ours, a city that is like ours, just with elevator theory. It’s Gotham City, with elevators.

We are never told which city the City actually is, but like Gotham, we are pretty sure the city in question is supposed to be a distorted version of New York. And so, last but not least, “The Intuitionist” can be read as an ode to New York, since, among other things, the City is described as the one which the whole world looks to where elevators are concerned. It is a precarious city, and New York is a precarious city, the city of integration, but also a city of race riots, a city of chances and death traps. When Watson, after the underwhelming finale, decides to start anew, she stays in New York and we accept this: where else would she go, but to Gotham City? Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses. “The Intuitionist” shows us a society that is under a heavy strain by racial and class conflicts, that is on the brink of eruption, with the tired, poor, huddled masses leading this revolt; and it shows us a way out, not the way of assimilation, but the way of intuition, of communication, of finding a voice, and hearing the muffled voice behind the thick metal doors.


As always, if you feel like supporting this blog, there is a “Donate” button on the left and this link RIGHT HERE. 🙂 If you liked this, tell me. If you hated it, even better. Send me comments, requests or suggestions either below or via email (cf. my About page) or to my twitter.)

Skrupellose Asiaten

Spiegel online über die Übernahme der Dresdner Bank

Zum anderen haben die Chinesen nie auch nur andeutungsweise veröffentlicht, was genau sie denn mit der Dresdner Bank vorhaben, warum sie sie kaufen wollen. Eine solche Geheimnistuerei darf nicht belohnt werden. Und wie skrupellos Asiaten mit Zusagen umgehen, hat der Fall Siemens/BenQ unlängst bewiesen – auch wenn hier mit Taiwan Nationalchinesen verantwortlich waren.

Um, no (1)

Fêted writer Paul Verhaeghen writes

It’s just that the literature I care about sings in many tongues: It can be Brits with deep new roots in Japanese society, recovering Muslims investigating the human core at the heart of religion, women examining the true awfulness of masculinity, white Americans having a long hard look at our racism past and present, Jews writing about “passing”, Americans writing in French, Russians writing in English, or dying men turning back to stare unblinkingly into the void of life’s true evil.

Um, no. Since the books in question are David Mitchell Cloud Atlas, Salman Rushdie Satanic Verses, Donna Tartt The Secret History, Richard Powers The Time of our Singing, Philip Roth The Human Stain, Jonathan Littell Les Bienveillantes, Nabokov Pale Fire, Roberto Bolano 2666, the correct answer’s no, the “literature” you “care about” doesn’t really sing in many tongues, at least not in a nontrivial sense.
As far as that Rushdie phrase is concerned, that’s wrong on so many levels, I get bored just thinking about it. Dude, it’s almost like reading your novel.

Freude am Rechtsstaat (I)

Spon schreibt

Ein Kriminalhauptkommissar legt schriftlich nieder, dass auch Robert Nwannas Verlobte Nicole mit auf dem Revier sei, das Wort “Verlobte” schreibt der Beamte in Anführungsstrichen. Und ergänzt: “Dabei war auch ein circa anderthalb Jahre altes weibliches Kleinkind, augenscheinlich eine Mulattin.”

Harry Crews: A Feast of Snakes

A Feast of Snakes is suprising. Not in the way it all comes together at the end, because the reader expects that, somehow. It’s surprising how complex a 177 page novel can turn out to be that starts off as ferociously and genre-attuned as this one.

The book is steeped in poison, blood, sweat and brutality, laced with a big dose of humor. Love doesn’t have a place in Mystic, Georgia, the place where the novel’s events take place, a place that’s more about power than anything else. The power, at first glance, appears to be favoring white males, they call the shots and theirs is an authority no one cares to question publicly.

However, as is said of the main character: “His job was to be the nigger” and “as soon as he was not around a white man, he quit being a nigger.” Whiteness, as we have known for a while, is indicative more of power relations than of anything else, and the power wielded by the white ‘niggers’ such as the main character, Jon Lon, is a very restricted sort of power. People can be bullied by money and by complex arrangements of words and both of these things aren’t to be found in Mystic, Georgia.

This leads Mystic’s white men to use brutality extensively to legitimize the power structure in place in town. It is not necessary to enforce it, the brutality is more of a show of strength, like a Soviet arms parade.

The novel’s language is reduced and rich at the same time. Descriptions are written in a simple yet never simplistic style that is careful and elegant. The dialogue is almost completely in dialect. The difference between that dialect and the standard English of the descriptions and of the out of town visitors is very pronounced and, again, sheds light on the power relations in and around Mystic. Whereas the white men feel superior enough in their control of language to admonish blacks thusly: “Lottie Mae, try not to talk nigger talk to me.”, the difference to out-of-towners shows that their own language is ‘nigger talk’ as well.

It’s always easy to bully those in a position that those apparently in power perceive as weaker than their own, but it, and the accompagnying false feelings of superiority, blinds the seemingly powerful to his own role in other power structures. As easy as you bully someone, you are bullied, and a generous spirit can help you see this. Many people, though, don’t. Some of which live in Mystic, Georgia.

In the bigger picture, all these whites are ‘niggers’ and their refuge, Mystic, Georgia, is about to be swallowed by the modern world, the richer, smarter and more literate world around them. Theirs is a doomed archaic civilization, where everyone turns a blind eye on rapes, having your dick sucked after cornholing someone is the height of true love and murder is almost an accepted way of meting out justice. And Harry Crews is capable of finding the right words and images for all this, in 177 paltry pages. Diving deep into myth and other granaries of language and culture, he says only what needs to be said. He never overpowers the reader with his language, which he uses only to say something, every word, every image is put to work in the service of the story.

It seems that Mystic, Georgia is beyond the grasp of either government or modern society. It’s governed by its own laws and, at the moment that it faces destruction, its laws turn out to be more of a trap than a help against a foe that doesn’t attack the way the people of Mystic expect it to. They cannot deal with a foe who does not use corporeal violence to conquer them but that is all they have left to deal with the unknown.

Harry Crews’ novel Feast of Snakes is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys novels about the American south or good novels in general. It may seem slight, but it packs a wallop. Very much worth reading.

[if you made it to the end of this erratic, self-important crap I applaud you and apologize] ISBN


As a German, this short piece on the rise of the BNP sends shivers up my spine.

The party’s electoral success came after it began concentrating its attacks on Muslims. Since 9/11 and the Asian riots in the North of England in 2001 it has gained representation on local authorities from Burnley, Kirklees and Rotherham in the North to Stoke-on-Trent, Sandwell and Nuneaton in the Midlands and Epping in Essex.

Der Freund meines Feindes, nein, der Feind, nein, wie war das noch mal?

Albernes (wiedermal) bei Lizas Welt, wo die Autorin in einem Artikel über Frau Amirpur schreibt

Man kann es nicht einmal mehr Appeasement nennen, was die promovierte Koranexegetin betreibt – es ist eine Form von Kollaboration.

Denn wenn man schon nicht die gleiche, wie selbstverständlich RICHTIGE, Meinung vertritt wie Liza, hat man nicht einfach unrecht, nein, im Grunde arbeitet man dem FEIND zu. Subtilitäten sind da reine Korinthenkackerei, nuschelt sie einem ins Ohr, zumindest bei diesem Thema. Man möchte es nochmals unterstreichen. FEIND. Daß das klar ist. Der Feind ist der Feind und der muß WEG! *hust* So einfach kann die Welt gleich sein. Ach ist das lustig. Ein paar Scheiben Jingoismus, eine Messerspitze Rassismus und ein gehäufter Löffel Sexismus, fertig ist die Pampe. Na, Appetit?

Liza schließt mit einem bedauernden (und bedauernswerten) Nachsatz

Leider ist das hierzulande nicht strafbar

In ganz verzweifelten Momenten denk ich das zugegebenermaßen auch. Frau Amirpur meine ich damit aber nicht.

Race & Gender

Maureen Dowd points to a fascinating, -if saddening- case of (overcoming?) race and gender and the consequence of that.

Barack Obama is going to get down if it kills him.

[…] Checking out what the vets were drinking, he announced, “I’m going to have a Bud.” Then, showing he’s a smart guy who can learn and assimilate, he took big swigs from his beer can, a marked improvement on the delicate sip he took at a brewery in Bethlehem, Pa.

Obama is also doing his best to impress hoop-crazed Hoosiers with his passion for basketball. On Thursday night, in shirt and tie, he took on an eighth grader named Aaron at a backyard picnic in Union Mills in an impromptu game of P-I-G. “You know, he’s tough,” Obama laughed about his 14-year-old opponent. “He’s like Hillary Clinton.”

The lioness of Chappaqua is hot on the trail of the Chicago gazelle, eager to gnaw him to pieces, like a harrowing scene out of a George Stubbs painting.

Proclaiming that the upcoming elections in Indiana and North Carolina would be “a game changer,” Hillary and her posse pressed hard on their noble twin themes of emasculation and elitism.

Cherry-bombing the word “pansy” into the discourse, Gov. Mike Easley of North Carolina said Hillary made “Rocky Balboa look like a pansy.”

Paul Gipson, president of a steelworkers local in Portage, Ind., hailed her “testicular fortitude,” before ripping into “Gucci-wearing, latte-drinking, self-centered, egotistical people that have damaged our lifestyle.”

James Carville helpfully told Eleanor Clift of Newsweek that if Hillary gave Obama one of her vehicles of testicular fortitude, “they’d both have two.”

and later

Obama, on the other hand, may seem esoteric, and sometimes looks haughty or put-upon when he should merely offer that ensorcelling smile. But he is very well liked by his Secret Service agents, and shoots hoops with them. And I watched him take the time one night after a long day of campaigning to stand and take individual pictures with a squadron of Dallas motorcycle police officers on the tarmac.

It must be hard for Obama, having applied all his energy over the years to rising above the rough spots in his background, making whites comfortable with him, striving to become the sophisticated, silky political star who looks supremely comfortable in a tux. Now he must go into reverse and stoop to conquer with cornball photo ops.

Alice Walker on Obama

Alice Walker offering her well-reasoned two cents on Obama, Clinton and Whiteness. I’m glad to’ve been able to read it.

I made my first white women friends in college; they were women who loved me and were loyal to our friendship, but I understood, as they did, that they were white women and that whiteness mattered. That, for instance, at Sarah Lawrence, where I was speedily inducted into the Board of Trustees practically as soon as I graduated, I made my way to the campus for meetings by train, subway and foot, while the other trustees, women and men, all white, made their way by limo. Because, in our country, with its painful history of unspeakable inequality, this is part of what whiteness means. I loved my school for trying to make me feel I mattered to it, but because of my relative poverty I knew I could not.

I am a supporter of Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the country at this time. He offers a rare opportunity for the country and the world to start over, and to do better. It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him. Cannot see what he carries in his being. Cannot hear the fresh choices toward Movement he offers. That they can believe that millions of Americans –black, white, yellow, red and brown – choose Obama over Clinton only because he is a man, and black, feels tragic to me.

When I have supported white people, men and women, it was because I thought them the best possible people to do whatever the job required. Nothing else would have occurred to me. If Obama were in any sense mediocre, he would be forgotten by now. He is, in fact, a remarkable human being, not perfect but humanly stunning, like King was and like Mandela is. We look at him, as we looked at them, and are glad to be of our species. He is the change America has been trying desperately and for centuries to hide, ignore, kill. The change America must have if we are to convince the rest of the world that we care about people other than our (white) selves. […]

But most of all I want someone with the self-confidence to talk to anyone, “enemy” or “friend,” and this Obama has shown he can do. It is difficult to understand how one could vote for a person who is afraid to sit and talk to another human being. When you vote you are making someone a proxy for yourself; they are to speak when, and in places, you cannot. But if they find talking to someone else, who looks just like them, human, impossible, then what good is your vote?

It is hard to relate what it feels like to see Mrs. Clinton (I wish she felt self-assured enough to use her own name) referred to as “a woman” while Barack Obama is always referred to as “a black man.” One would think she is just any woman, colorless, race-less, past-less, but she is not. She carries all the history of white womanhood in America in her person; it would be a miracle if we, and the world, did not react to this fact. How dishonest it is, to attempt to make her innocent of her racial inheritance.

I can easily imagine Obama sitting down and talking, person to person, with any leader, woman, man, child or common person, in the world, with no baggage of past servitude or race supremacy to mar their talks. I cannot see the same scenario with Mrs. Clinton who would drag into Twenty-First Century American leadership the same image of white privilege and distance from the reality of others’ lives that has so marred our country’s contacts with the rest of the world.

And yes, I would adore having a woman president of the United States. My choice would be Representative Barbara Lee, who alone voted in Congress five years ago not to make war on Iraq. That to me is leadership, morality, and courage; if she had been white I would have cheered just as hard. But she is not running for the highest office in the land, Mrs. Clinton is. And because Mrs. Clinton is a woman and because she may be very good at what she does, many people, including some younger women in my own family, originally favored her over Obama. I understand this, almost. It is because, in my own nieces’ case, there is little memory, apparently, of the foundational inequities that still plague people of color and poor whites in this country. Why, even though our family has been here longer than most North American families – and only partly due to the fact that we have Native American genes – we very recently, in my lifetime, secured the right to vote, and only after numbers of people suffered and died for it.

When I offered the word “Womanism” many years ago, it was to give us a tool to use, as feminist women of color, in times like these. These are the moments we can see clearly, and must honor devotedly, our singular path as women of color in the United States. We are not white women and this truth has been ground into us for centuries, often in brutal ways. But neither are we inclined to follow a black person, man or woman, unless they demonstrate considerable courage, intelligence, compassion and substance. I am delighted that so many women of color support Barack Obama -and genuinely proud of the many young and old white women and men who do.

Imagine, if he wins the presidency we will have not one but three black women in the White House; one tall, two somewhat shorter; none of them carrying the washing in and out of the back door. The bottom line for most of us is: With whom do we have a better chance of surviving the madness and fear we are presently enduring, and with whom do we wish to set off on a journey of new possibility?


Found this on openDemocracy

A comprehensive FBI report published recently has highlighted the threat from domestic, home-grown extremists from a variety of groups, including those on the “extreme fringes” of social movements such as the “Animal Liberation Front” (classified as “special-interest terrorism”) to far right groups which often take “racist and racial supremacy and embrace antigovernment, antiregulatory” platforms.

The toD verdict: Since 9/11 and the inception of the “war on terrorism”, the threat posed by “domestic terrorism” has been conflated with Muslims residing in the US. Yet, an astounding 23 out of 24 terorrist attacks domestic terrorist attacks that took place between 2002-2005 were carried out by ‘special interest’ terror groups. As the report points out, the greater threat arises from fascist, right wing groups.

Aimé Césaire is dead

Obit in the NYT

Aimé Césaire, an anticolonialist poet and politician who was honored throughout the French-speaking world and who was an early proponent of black pride, died here on Thursday. He was 94.

A government spokeswoman, Marie Michèle Darsières, said he died at a hospital where he was being treated for heart problems and other ailments.

Mr. Césaire was one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated cultural figures. He was especially revered in his native Martinique, which sent him to the French parliament for nearly half a century and where he was repeatedly elected mayor of Fort-de-France, the capital city.

In Paris in the 1930s he helped found the journal Black Student, which gave birth to the idea of “negritude,” a call to blacks to cultivate pride in their heritage. His 1950 book “Discourse on Colonialism” was considered a classic of French political literature.

Mr. Césaire’s ideas were honored and his death mourned in Africa and France as well as the Caribbean. The office of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said Mr. Sarkozy would attend Mr. Césaire’s funeral, scheduled for Sunday in Fort-de-France. Students at Lycée Scoelcher, a Martinique high school where Mr. Césaire once taught, honored him in a spontaneous ceremony Thursday.

Mr. Césaire’s best-known works included the essay “Negro I Am, Negro I Will Remain” and the poem “Notes From a Return to the Native Land.”

Die Gelbe Gefahr


Damian Hockney von der Londoner Stadtpolizei wird in der konservativen Zeitung “Daily Mirror” zitiert: “Solche Leute haben auf unseren Straßen nichts zu suchen. Wenn die Sicherheit eines solchen Umzugs nicht von britischen Kräften garantiert werden kann, sollte er besser gar nicht stattfinden. Wer hat diese Leute geprüft?” Sein Kollege Jenny Jones: “Ich würde gerne wissen, welchen Status sie haben und wie weit sie gehen würden. Sie sahen fies aus. Es war merkwürdig.”

Wie weit sie gehen würden? Hm. Unschuldige Leute auf Verdacht erschießen vielleicht? Ach nee, das wart ihr ja selbst.

Solche und solche

Witziges letzte Woche bei SPON:

Die Sudeten fühlen sich gut vertreten durch die bayerische Staatspartei, lassen sich gern neben Altbayern, Franken und Schwaben als “vierter Stamm” des Landes titulieren.

Und jetzt das: Ausgerechnet Bayerns neuer CSU-Fraktionschef Georg Schmid hat für Verstimmung im so engen christsozial-sudetischen Verhältnis gesorgt. In einer Pressemitteilung, eigentlich gemünzt auf den bisher mangelnden Integrationswillen insbesondere der Türken in Deutschland, verwies Schmid auf das Positivbeispiel der Sudetendeutschen: “Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg ist es zum Beispiel im Freistaat gelungen, dass Vertriebene zu selbstbewussten Bayern mit sudetendeutschen Wurzeln wurden.” Und weiter: “Warum soll das im 21. Jahrhundert nicht mit den Türken möglich sein?”

Ein Vergleich von Türken und Sudetendeutschen – das findet der Traditionstrupp aus Böhmen und Mähren gar nicht lustig. “Die Sudetendeutsche Landmannschaft weist den Vergleich des CSU-Fraktionsvorsitzenden im Bayerischen Landtag, Georg Schmid, zwischen vertriebenen Sudetendeutschen und zugewanderten Muslimen als unpassend zurück”, empörte man sich per Mitteilung an die Presse. “Die Sudetendeutschen waren – wie auch die Nieder- und Oberschlesier, Ost- und Westpreußen, Hinterpommern und Ostbrandenburger – deutsche Staatsangehörige”, wurde der CSU erläutert. Deutsche Heimatvertriebene seien “keine ‘Migranten’ im Sinne des Ausländerrechts”.

Don’t mention the war!

The wonderful Maureen Dowd last week:

Pressed about race on a Philly radio sports show, where he wanted to talk basketball, he called his grandmother “a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, well there’s a reaction that’s in our experiences that won’t go away and can sometimes come out in the wrong way.”

Obama might be right, but he should stay away from the phrase “typical white person” because typically white people don’t like to be reminded of their prejudices. It also undermines Obama’s feel-good appeal in which whites are allowed to transcend race because the candidate himself has transcended race.

Well said.

On Racism and similar matters

Nicholas D. Kristof in a recent column pointed something out which should be pointed out time and again, but strangely enough isn’t:

Much of the time, blacks have a pretty good sense of what whites think, but whites are oblivious to common black perspectives.

This is applicable not only to blacks and ‘whites’ in America, it’s of course something that describes most majority/minority constellations in the West. An interesting area where this is applicable, as Archbishop Williams has pointed out in his thoughtful speech, is in Western discussions of Islam, terrorism, the Enlightenment etc. The sheer refusal to view an issue from the minorities’ point of view has taken on an aggressive shape when it comes to talking about Muslims.

The passive ‘not listening’ has slowly but surely turned into an aggressive droning on and on over increasingly loud voices of protest. This is not simply speaking: it’s preaching. It’s applying ideas such as ‘secularism’, freedom of the press, etc., which could be applied to many different disquieting events, to only this single religious group: Muslims. It appears as if something needs to be talked out of existence, something so alien that the usual rational discourse doesn’t appear to be appropriate any more.

The vehemence with which this version of ‘not listening’ is carried out is shocking sometimes to the humble writer of this blog. Yes, as a reasonably well read person, one is used to racist diatribes, but the fact that, these days, these diatribes, hateful in content and righteous in tone, are coming from educated, smart persons, sends shivers down my spine. These are the people who, for better or worse, make politics. If they are conquered by hate, where is this society headed? I’m worried.

Liar Liar Pants on Fire (Remarks on Daniel Pipes)

This is always a fun game. Look at the truth and tweak it so it still looks like the truth, sharing most facts with it but is actually a malicious lie. People like Daniel Pipes, Oriana Fallaci and Henryk Broder are adept at this tactic when writing their hateful screeds against Islam. A case in point is Daniel Pipes’ treatment of the Westerhoff affair. While Angry White Man/columnist Christopher Hitchens uses the expression “alleged plot”, Daniel Pipes indulges in a bit of his usual hate informed tweaking and describes the affair thusly:

This month, Denmark’s police foiled a terrorist plot to murder Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who drew the strongest of the Muhammad pictures, prompting most of the country’s newspapers to reprint his cartoon as an act of solidarity and a signal to Islamists that their threats and violence will not succeed.

Nice. By the way, this is a different way to look at the affair

Virtually the entire media in Denmark reprinted the notorious caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on February 13.
The decision to re-print came just one day after three men, two Tunisians and a Danish national, were arrested for an alleged plot to kill one of the cartoonists, Kurt Westergaard. At least 15 papers across Denmark reprinted images of the cartoons, in what can only be described as a calculated provocation. Despite having no evidence regarding the guilt of the three detained, since the security service claimed it moved on suspicion and did not have enough grounds to charge the men, the Danish media raced to be first to print the cartoons, supposedly to underline their defence of “free speech.”

Funny, how the second statement fits in better with reports like amnesty international’s which claimed

In its report on Denmark, published in May, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) expressed deep concern at worsening intolerance and xenophobia against refugees, asylum-seekers, minorities in general and Muslims in particular. ECRI noted with concern legislative provisions disproportionately restricting the ability of members of ethnic minorities to acquire Danish citizenship, to benefit from family reunification, and to access social protection. ECRI also highlighted an atmosphere of impunity, created by the low rate of prosecutions for incitement to racial hatred despite, among other things, inflammatory statements by some politicians and the media.

Funny, eh? Ah, it’s always the same. It’s just redundant to write about the likes of Pipes. So predictable (as I am, eh?). In contrast even someone like Hitchens, the “football hooligan of rational thought”, is refreshing in that he bashes Muslims but also bashes Christians, Jews etc. and he is not afraid of clobbering those who hold opinions close to his own.

Here’s a fitting exemplification of this. After digging around a bit I discovered this 2003 essay by Hitchens on Pipes and found it described the man well:

I am not myself a pacifist, and I believe that Islamic nihilism has to be combated with every weapon, intellectual and moral as well as military, which we possess or can acquire. But that is a position shared by a very wide spectrum of people. Pipes, however, uses this consensus to take a position somewhat to the right of Ariel Sharon, concerning a matter (the Israel-Palestine dispute) that actually can be settled by negotiation. And he employs the fears and insecurities created by Islamic extremism to slander or misrepresent those who disagree with him.

[…] To put it bluntly, I suspect that Pipes is so consumed by dislike that he will not recognize good news from the Islamic world even when it arrives. And this makes him dangerous and unreliable.


On more than one occasion, Pipes has called for the extension of Israel’s already ruthless policy of collective punishment, arguing that leveling Palestinian villages is justifiable if attacks are launched from among their inhabitants. It seems to me from observing his style that he came to this conclusion with rather more relish than regret.

You see? That’s why I’m suddenly beginning to like Hitchens. People like Pipes and Broder show me how much worse hateful polemicism can get. Hitchens isn’t racist, unlike Pipes et al. He’s just a wee bit daft, but I tell ye, I’ll take daft over racist anytime. If that were the choice, I’d say thank God for daft people.

Oh Gott ist das eklig.

Ach. Da kündigte der stellvertretende Verteidigungsminister eine Katastrophe an, wenn das mörderische Dauerbombardement aus dem Gazastreifen nicht aufhöre, aber die deutschen Medien übersetzten das Wort ‘shoah’, das offenbar einfach Katastrophe heißt und nur in speziellen Kontexten und mit bestimmtem Artikel das selbe heißt wie Holocaust/Shoah im Deutschen (ähnlich wie mit Nakba), mit ‘Holocaust’ und so wurde aus einer Drohung flugs eine sinistre Genozidankündigung.

Es ist widerlich, wie gierig und uniform sich die deutsche Presselandschaft darauf gestürzt hat, wenn auch eigentlich nicht überraschend. Das von Walser propagierte Wegschauen hat eine abartige Form der Verschiebung der Shoahbetrachtung an eine andere Stelle bewirkt. Es ist eine Doppelargumentation. Erstens: ja, die Nazis waren schlimm, aber das trifft uns nicht, denn wir haben ja mit denen nichts mehr zu tun. Wir sind eine ganz andere Generation. Und zweitens: die Israelis (sprich: die Juden) machen ja heute genau das gleiche, was die Nazis damals gemacht haben. Das ist geschickt, weil man so ausgiebig die Nazis kritisieren und gleichzeitig über Israel (sprich: die Juden) herziehen kann, ohne daß irgendetwas davon auf einen selbst zurückfällt.

Gott. Ich finde es gerade besonders unerträglich, in diesem Land zu wohnen. Ein ausgezeichneter und ausführlicher Überblick findet sich übrigens hier. Unbedingt lesen. Lohnt sich. (via)

Übrigens. Ganz lustig ist auch i.A. die Berichterstattung über israelische Militäraktionen in Gaza. Man kann über die Verhältnismäßigkeit der Mittel unterschiedlicher Meinung sein und über die Frage, was noch Verteidigung ist etc., aber die heimtückische Berichterstattung etwa bei SPON, wo in einer unglaublichen Pentranz aus Militärschlägen regelmäßig “Vergeltungsaktionen” werden und diese Aktionen somit aus dem Gebiet militärischem Räsonnements (über das man gerne diskutieren kann) in den Bereich niederer Beweggründe verschoben werden (Rache) ist keinen Deut weniger widerwärtig als die weiter oben angeführte Pavlovsche Reaktion auf das Wort ‘shoah’. Echt jetzt. Ich muß hier weg.

Denmark, again. Cartoons, again. Racism, again. The old drill, eh?

This is noteworthy and also parts of it resound with basic ideas of the archbishop’s lecture (see here):

Republication of the cartoon has reignited anger

At Friday prayers this mistrust of the media is bubbling close to the surface. One furious man comes and tells the people I am interviewing not to trust journalists. This was after Danish intelligence said they had uncovered a plot by three Muslims in Denmark to kill one of the cartoonists. “We were all punished by the printing of those pictures,” says the imam in his sermon.
He is angry that none of the men accused of masterminding the plot are being put on trial – the Danish intelligence services say revealing their evidence would compromise their intelligence network. Instead, they are expelling two of the suspects who do not have Danish citizenship and freeing the third who does. “How does it make sense that a person who is trying to kill somebody is being arrested, charged, interrogated and then released and yet still we should feel that he’s a terrorist?” asks Imran Hussein, who runs Network an advisory body for Muslim organisations in Denmark. Like many Muslims here he was appalled by the discovery of the plot to kill the cartoonist but now he is more sceptical.
“A lot of people are afraid of Islam today in Denmark and when they are afraid of Islam it means they are afraid of me too,” says Sofian, who was born in Denmark but feels he no longer has a future there.
“I am hurt, as I was the first time,” says Feisal, who works in marketing and was also born in Denmark. He believes the problem is not Danish society but the media.
Feisal says he cannot understand why the media keeps focusing on the idea that Muslims are trying to take their freedom of speech away from them.
“I will never feel one hundred percent accepted here in Danish society,” says Imran Hussein, who has tried hard at integration, getting involved in local politics. He says the cartoons were just part of a bigger picture. “It’s just getting worse and worse because the daily spoken language about immigrants and the portrayals of Muslims specifically are getting worse worldwide, so of course that’s had an effect in Denmark as well,” explains Imran.
Radical Islamist parties have been quick to channel this sense of alienation. Hizb ut Tahrir in Denmark organised a protest against the reprinting of the cartoons. Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets of Copenhagen shouting “God is Great!” and “Freedom of Speech is a plague!” Some Danes looked rather surprised.
Outside the cafe, under the guidance of Hizb ut Tahrir, Danish Muslims were chanting “Khilafat” – supporting the party’s demand for the creation of a caliphate to unite Muslims worldwide.

So far Muslims in Denmark have been talking about discrimination and the need for more respect. But the more they feel nobody is listening to their anger the more susceptible they will be to the message of radical political Islam.


Intellektuelle Bankrotterklärung: Broder, die Zeit und andere

Ich schreibe gerade einen englischen post über den Archbishop von Canterbury und seinen Vortrag über die Sharia. Aber eine deutschssprachige Anmerkung habe ich zuerst: mal abgesehen davon, daß die SPON-Berichterstattung gewohnt tendenziös und halbgar ist, toppt Broder das alles natürlich wieder einmal, indem er nicht nur nichts verstanden hat, sondern sich auch nicht die Mühe gegeben hat, sich zu informieren. Ein Beispiel:

Nur irrt sich der Bischof, wenn er glaubt, man könne eine Gesellschaft wie eine Betriebskantine organisieren, deren Benutzer die Wahl zwischen einem Fleischgericht und einen vegetarischen Menü haben. Ein wenig Scharia kann es genauso wenig geben wie ein wenig Schwangerschaft. Die Scharia regelt das ganze Leben, wer sie nur in Teilen übernehmen will, hat von der Zwangsläufigkeit, die ihr innewohnt, keine Ahnung. Es ist, als würde man in einem Freibad das Nacktbaden unter der Bedingung erlauben, dass jeder Besucher darüber entscheiden darf, welches Kleidungsstück er ablegen mag. […]

Da ein Teil der Migranten nicht willens oder nicht in der Lage ist, die Regeln der Gesellschaft anzunehmen, soll die Gesellschaft die Regeln der Migranten übernehmen. So kann “Integration” auch definiert werden – als ein Auftrag an die Mehrheit, sich der Minderheit anzupassen.

Wie hier nachzulesen ist, liegt Broder in so ziemlich jedem Detail daneben. Weder hat der verstanden, was Dr. Williams mit der Scharia meint, noch was für eine Art rechtliches Modell (das in britischer Jurisdiktion übrigens längst möglich ist und auch durchgeführt wird) sich der Erzbischof vorgestellt hat, und vor allem nicht, daß Dr. Williams die Einwände kennt und sie sorgfältig und nachdenklich bespricht. Er nennt Bedingungen, die einzuhalten die einzige Möglichkeit sind, solch eine Änderungen in der britischen Jurisprudenz einzuführen. Entsprechend wäre nach des Bischofs Plan keine einzige der von Broder aufgeführten “Schreckensszenarien” nach des Bischofs Plänen überhaupt möglich.

Wogegen argumentiert Broder also? Der Schlüssel liegt in seinem Bestehen auf dem Ausdruck “Migrant”. Dr. Williams, der durchaus problematische Meinungen vertritt, seit er Erzbischof ist, sieht, daß es hier darum geht, daß man ganze Gemeinden von Staatsbürgern hat, die nicht vom System erfaßt werden. Der Grund dafür ist unerheblich. Denn mit diesem Problem gilt es umzugehen. Herr Broder jedoch, der den gemeinen Moslem offensichtlich nach wie vor als Fremdkörper im Land begreift, kann das nicht verstehen, oder er will es nicht. Drum bläst er ins selbe Horn wie der rechte Flügel der CDU/CSU, die NPD und andere nette Parteien. Man möchte Broder immer wieder schütteln, bis er versteht, was er sagt, wenn er das Wort “Aufklärung” in den Mund nimmt, aber da ist wohl sowohl Hopfen als auch Malz verloren. Söder bringe ich Vernunft auch nicht mehr bei.

Und das Traurigste ist, daß bei dieser, na, man möchte fast: Kampagne sagen, auch die Presse hübsch mitmischt. So wie die Zeit, deren Titelbild unlängst übrigens wieder sehr *hust* hübsch war. In einem Kommentar war sie, im Gegensatz zu Broder, aber wenigstens ehrlich und gab zu, die Rede nicht verstanden zu haben (wobei ich bezweifle, daß sie sie gelesen hat):

Der Sinn des Vortrags, den er vergangene Woche vor 1000 Juristen hielt, erschließt sich selbst nach sorgfältiger Lektüre nur schwer.

Das hielt sie aber nicht davon ab, die Rede aufgrund zweier Sätze zu kritisieren, die “an Klarheit nchts übrig ließen”, die sie aber offensichtlich schlicht und ergreifend nicht verstanden hat:

Die Übernahme von Elementen der Scharia in britisches Recht bezeichnete Williams als “unvermeidlich”. Auch nannte er die Position, ein Rechtssystem für alle verbindlich zu erklären, “ein bisschen gefährlich”.

Peinlich, da die ZEIT sich auf den Vortrag bezieht. In einem am selben Tag gegebenen Interview drückte Dr. Williams sich weniger sorgfältig aus, aber das ist hier ja unerheblich. Im Vortrag sagte er erstens nicht, es IST unvermeidlich, sondern es SCHEINT unvermeidlich. Und zweitens sagte er das nicht absolut, sondern er formulierte es als teil einer wenn…dann Konstruktion. ‘Wenn wir sozialen Frieden wollen, dann scheint es unvermeidbar,…’

Das Verhalten der ZEIT und Broders in diesem Disput ist nichts weiter als eine weitere intellektuelle Bankrotterklärung. Hurra wir kapitulieren? Sicher. Vor der Vernunft, soweit es die Zeit und Broder betrifft. Für eine offene Gesellschaft ist dieser dem Bürgertum ins Ohr geträufelte Hass reines Gift.

Islamophobie in den guten Kreisen (Update)

Der Soldat vergaß nicht zu erwähnen, daß Manöver und Rüstung entbehrlich wären, sobald die Ausbeutung des Menschen durch den Menschen in allen Ländern abgeschafft wäre. “Und die Ausbeutung der Frau durch den Menschen.” sagte Beatriz. “Wie”, sagte der Soldat. Sein Unverständnis erklärte sich Beatriz mit den idealen Zuständen seiner Heimat.
(Irmtraud Morgner)

Es ist mir ein Rätsel, nicht nur mir, aber ich bin ja der mit der großen Klappe, also rede ich von mir, daß Menschen, die in bestimmten Belangen zu einer guten und kleinteiligen, sorgfältigen und ausgewogenen Analyse fähig sind, diese Fähigkeit in anderen Bereichen völlig vermissen lassen.

Ich dachte immer, es gibt sowas wie eine Fähigkeit zum kritischen Denken, die man entwickeln kann. Wenn man sie hat, wendet man sie an. Oder so. Dass ich seit einiger Zeit über die blogroll von classless kulla an den blogs verschiedener, entweder der gleichen Szene wie Kulla (ich bin mir unsicher. Ich sach mal: antideutsch. Das sind aber auch mindestens zwei verschiedene Szenen, habe ich bei der Kloppe, die Antideutsche untereinander manchmal verteilen, den Eindruck. Eine Klarstellung fänd ich hilfreich. Schreiben: mir!) oder einer ähnlichen Szene angehöriger Menschen, mitlese, desillusioniert mich da ein bißchen. Da findet man ausgezeichnete Analysen des Antisemitismus und freut sich schon und dann schlägt der Dorn-Effekt voll zu (hier im ersten Satz beschrieben.).

Denn, lo and behold, es stellt sich manchmal plötzlich heraus, daß man es mit einem islamophoben Menschen zu tun hat. Und zwar mindestens auf dem Dämlichkeitsniveau eines Herrn Broder. Aber was ist denn mit den anderen Sachen? Was ist denn plötzlich passiert? Mit einem Mal findet der bestürzte Leser Analysen auf dem Niveau einer knapp bestandenen mittleren Reife. Etwa hier, wo jemand die offensichtliche Islamhetze in den Medien so vom Tisch wischt:

Zwar mühen sich ausnahmslos alle etablierten Medien damit, den Islam vom „Islamismus“ und die (angeblich oder tatsächlich) friedlichen von den terroristischen Muslimen zu trennen; zwar beruft der Innenminister „Islam-Konferenzen“ ein, von denen dezidierte Kritiker der selbst ernannten Religion des Friedens ausgeschlossen bleiben; zwar wird allenthalben vor einem „Generalverdacht“ gegen die Anhänger des Propheten gewarnt und auf die kulturellen Leistungen des Islams hingewiesen –

Das, meine ungläubig schauenden Lieben, ist wirklich ein Argument der Autorin. Da kommt nichts mehr. That’s it. Das war’s schon. Man könnte nun glauben, gut, diese Autorin ist leider etwas oberflächlich, nicht interessiert, zum Beispiel an der Tiefenstruktur, die rassistischen Argumenten meist zugrunde liegt, etwas in der Art, bitteschön. Das hätte ich auch fast geglaubt. Aber nur wenige Zeilen später findet sich diese Bemerkung:

Rether merkte entweder gar nicht, welches antisemitische Klischee er da bediente, oder er nahm es bewusst in Kauf; die letztgenannte Möglichkeit ist bei einem, der Israel auch schon mal als „ganz normalen Apartheidstaat“ bezeichnet, zumindest nicht auszuschließen.

Ach? Auf einmal gibt es also die Möglichkeit, Klischees zu bedienen? Wohl gemerkt, Rether hat Juden nicht einmal erwähnt. Selbstverständlich hat die Autorin recht in ihrer Analyse, aber das hier ist ein völlig anderes Maß, das hier angelegt wird. Und wieso? Zeigt ihre Analyse, zum Beispiel auch in diesem völlig angebrachten Artikel, nicht, daß sie es kann? Daß sie es besser wissen müßte? Bei der Auflösung dieses Rätsels greift vielleicht ein Vorwurf, den sie dem armen dummen Kabarettisten vor seine kabarettierenden Füße wirft:

das könnte Rether wissen, wenn er es denn wissen wollte

Ja eben. Sie könnte es besser wissen und sagen. Nur mit dem wollen, da hakt es etwas. Es ist, als sei es unbewusst eine so große Überwindung, nicht antisemitisch zu sein, daß man ein Ventil braucht, um den Hass loszuwerden. Und wieso sollte das nicht der Islam sein? Den konnte man schon immer ganz gut hassen, alte Islamverunglimpfer wie Bernard Lewis, denen ihre Unwahrheiten Mal aufs Mal nachgewiesen wurden, erfreuen sich noch immer einer hohen credibility, aber versuch du mal, Weininger zu zitieren. Lewis geht immer noch runter wie Öl. Und das Beste ist, daß man sich beim Islam, im Gegensatz zum Antisemitismus, bei dem man sich zwar keine neuen Klischees ausdenken mußte, aber durchaus ‘neue’ Leute, denen man sie anhängen konnte, man konnte mit einem Mal zB nicht mehr einfach ‘der Jud’ sagen, wenn man den Jud meinte, gar nichts neues ausdenken mußte. Früher meinte man genau die gleichen Leute, die man heute meint, man verwendet exakt die gleichen Klischees, exakt die gleiche Argumentation und auf deutsch kann man auch immer noch sehr schön ‘Araber’ sagen, mit starker Betonung auf dem ersten A.

Ich würde ja sagen: whatever gets you through the day, aber traurig macht mich das schon. Wenn schon die, die eigentlich auf der ‘richtigen’ Seite stehen, dies nur deshalb machen können, weil sie mit einem Bein eigentlich noch auf der anderen Seite stehen, um dem kinderschändenden Ziegenficker einen Tritt zu verpassen, da kriegt man bloß wieder Kopfweh. Und damit schlagen wir den Bogen zum Eingangszitat aus einem Roman der großen Irmtraud Morgner. Natürlich, so stellt sich heraus, hat das Unverständnis des jungen Soldaten einen anderen Grund. An diesen Aspekt hat er nämlich gar nicht gedacht. Oder nicht auf die gleiche Art und Weise.

Übrigens. Das mag mir auffallen, weil ich gerade den prison break/doctorow artikel umgeschrieben habe (die Änderungen sind noch nicht online), aber daß die Autorin des hier zitierten blogs ausführliche Artikel über die Fußballbundesliga schreibt, ist vielleicht nur ein blöder Zufall. Hm.

Ps. Daß ich hier diese spezielle Art der selektiven Blindheit gewählt habe, heißt nicht, daß es nur die gibt, ein ganz anderes Beispiel aus einer anderen Richtung hätte ich mit Arne Hoffmann gehabt, der u.a. auch für den watchblog islamophobie schreibt, und der ganz eigene blinde Flecke entwickelt, wenn er wiederum über Antisemitismus oder Feminismus schreibt.

Nachtrag Lange bevor ich diesen post geschrieben habe, hat sich übrigens Herr Broder zu Wort gemeldet, was ich beinahe übersehen hätte (via):

“Wehe uns, wenn hier demnächst die Moscheen brennen, dann wills WIEDER keiner gewesen sein”, orakelt der Dhimmi und meldet sich freiwillig zum Dienst bei der Leibstandarte “Osama”.

Das Wort Dhimmi ist übrigens von seiner Wucht, Brutalität und Menschenverachtung heute im bürgerlich einigermaßen akzeptierten Vokabular kaum zu übertreffen. Es findet sich zum Beispiel auch unter den Fittichen von classless Kulla, bei dem Kommentare stehen wie

Deine Argumentation ist inhaltlich eher die eines Dhimmi

Dieser Kommentar, wohlgemerkt, steht unter einer simplen religionshistorischen Auslassung eines anderen Kommentierenden und wird von Kulla gebilligt, anders als das bloße Anführen von Personen übrigens, die in einem völlig anderen Bereich antisemitismusverdächtig sind. Kulla selbst schreibt über Rassismusvorwürfe etwa an Adresse der bahamas, die ich oben an einer signifikanten Stelle zitiert habe

Wenn es jemand für rassistisch hält, wenn sich zugunsten von Israel und von nicht-ethnisierten Migranten ausgesprochen wird, weiß ich auch nicht, warum ich mit ihm unbedingt diskutieren muß.

Nein, ich auch nicht. Und das ist auch nicht das Problem und das wissen wir alle. Duh.

Das schließt wieder den Kreis zum Artikel, unter dem dieser Nachtrag steht. Wäre diese Argumentationsweise an anderer Stelle, etwa bei Arne Hoffmanns Antisemitismusverteidigung, so aufgetaucht, ich glaube Kulla hätte sich (zu Recht) nicht einmal damit befaßt. Also wieso…? Wieso hält er solchen islamophoben oder zumindest antiislamischen Rassismus für eine “offene Frage”? Ich weiß es nicht. Ich weiß es einfach nicht. An der Blödheit kann es nicht liegen, blöd ist nämlich weder Kulla noch Liza. Noch Broder. Aber woher kommt das? Antworten nehme ich gerne an, obwohl zum Beispiel individualpsychologische Begründungen à la wojna (“du kommst mit deinem Leben nicht klar”) natürlich Unfug sind.

Broder, oder der Haß. Eine Komödie in vielen Akten.

Ach, was soll ich noch sagen nach gefühlten 100 Kommentaren über Broders erhellende Weisheiten. Der gute Herr Broder hat sich wieder im Ton vergriffen und zwar nicht gerade wenig. In seinem Kommentar zu Jens Jenssens unglücklich formuliertem ZEIT-Videokommentar, der tatsächlich nicht unproblematisch ist, nutzt er die Gelegenheit, seinen gewohnten (gewöhnlichen?) Haß zu verbreiten. Da sagt er

Vollends auf die “Ausländerfeindlichkeit” fixiert, will er nicht wahrhaben, dass es […] nicht nur “Bürger mit Migrationshintergrund”, sondern auch “Migranten mit kriminellem Hintergrund”.

und demonstriert, was genau Jenssen mit Ausländerfeindlichkeit meint und mit dem Klima der Intoleranz. Tatsächlich geht es rein sachlich in dieser Debatte um Bürger mit Migrantionhintergrund und nicht um Migranten. Rhetorisch hat das Verwischen der Grenzen nur einen einzigen Zweck, und das ist uns allen klar, sogar, wie ich vermute, Broder, ebenso, daß man weiterhin bei Gewalt mit Migrationshintergrund nicht die einfachen Schlüsse ziehen kann, wie er das im direkt folgenden Satz sagt:

Stellt man ihm die Frage, warum es bei Migranten mit primär asiatischem Hintergrund nicht die gleichen Probleme wie bei Migranten mit arabischem bzw. muslimischem Hintergrund gibt, schreit er gleich “Rassismus”, obwohl es nicht um Rasse, sondern um Kultur und Erziehung geht, die sich im täglichen Verhalten niederschlagen.

Ein Blick in Polizeiberichte könnte Broder vielleicht bei der Differenzierung helfen. Oder Nachdenken. Integration in eine Gesellschaft, die, wie Broder quasi selbstlos demonstriert, die hier geborenen und Aufgewachsenen als im Grunde gerade erst Zugewanderte begreift, bei gleichzeitiger deutlicher Abwertung des Zugewanderten gegenüber dem hier Geborenen, ist eben ein schwieriges Unterfangen. Nicht überraschend in einem Land allerdings, in dem erst seit knapp mehr als zehn Jahren die Bindung von Staatsbürgerschaft an Blut aufgegeben wurde. Das spricht sich eben nicht so schnell herum. Dem von Broder Angegriffenen der “gleich ‘Rassismus'” schreit ist im Übrigen beizuspringen. Den Broders Attacke zugrundeliegenden frustrierenden Sachverhalt hat Lysis erkannt und beschrieben:

Ich finde es immer wieder verblüffend, dass Statistiken, die in Deutschland quer durch die politische Bank zur Hetze gegen Migrant_innen verwendet werden — nämlich dass “Ausländer” an Straftaten überproportional beteiligt seien —, im Diskurs über Schwarze in den USA allein für die Gewalt rassistischer Verhältnisse stehen. Es ist wie verhext: Selbst die Jungle World käme nie auf die Idee, die mit “Südländern” vollgepropften Gefängnisse als Teil einer die gesamte deutsche Gesellschaft durchziehenden rassistischen Maschinerie zu deuten. Denn auch hier wird die “Kriminalität”, die von migrantischen Jugendlichen “ausgeht”, noch immer diesen selbst vorgehalten statt den Verhältnissen, die sie dort positionieren, wo man zum Delinquenten* (gemacht) wird.

Nun. Dem ist nichts weiter zuzufügen. Außer der in meinen Broderkommentaren fast schon erwarteten Empfehlung an den herrn Broder, doch mal ein gutes Buch zu lesen. Und der Hoffnung, daß Broder das nicht ernst meint, sondern nur vonm rechten Rand aus ein bißchen provozieren will. Durch sein Endorsements gewisser ähnlich schwachdenkender blogs (wie der hier kritisierte) sinkt allerdings die Wahrscheinlichkeut für sowas.

Watchblog Islamophobie ist geschlossen.

lysis schreibt letzte Woche

Das Watchblog Islamophobie ist an diesem Wochenende leider abgeschaltet worden. Hauptgrund ist die Erkrankung von Bigberta, deren langjähriges Engagement von Huib Riethof hier noch einmal gewürdigt wird.

Im Hintergrund dürften aber auch die Angriffe durch Udo Ulfkotte eine Rolle spielen, der mit seiner Organisation Pax Europa den “Counter-Jihad” ausgerufen hat und seit einiger Zeit an einer Allianz rechter europäischer Parteien gegen den “Islam in unseren Städten” schmiedet. Durch Klagen konnte er die Betreiber des Watchblogs, welche ihm u.a. diverse antisemitische Äußerungen nachgewiesen hatten, in gleichermaßen ruinöse wie nervenaufreibende Prozesse verwickeln, die, um es vorsichtig auszudrücken, der Gesundheit von Bigberta sicher nicht förderlich gewesen sind.

Ich hab den watchblog aus meiner blogroll genommen, aber die verlinkungen zum watchblog in verschiedenen Artikeln hier werde ich wohl nicht so schnell austauschen können.

Europäische Islamophobie

SPON berichtet über eine neue Studie

Klare Mehrheiten in allen untersuchten europäischen Staaten empfinden eine “verstärkte Interaktion zwischen dem Westen und der islamischen Welt” als Bedrohung: 79 Prozent in Dänemark, 68 in Spanien, 67 in Italien und den Niederlanden. Die Vermutung, Israelis und Amerikaner müssten sich mindestens ebenso bedroht fühlen, ist so naheliegend wie falsch: 70 Prozent der Amerikaner und 56 Prozent der Israelis finden mehr Interaktion gut – ebenso wie umgekehrt Mehrheiten in Ägypten, den Palästinensergebieten, der Türkei und Iran.

Woher die besondere Berührungsangst der Europäer? Die Autoren der Studie führen das wachsende Unbehagen an der Zuwanderung aus islamischen Ländern an, die Wahrnehmung, der Islam bedrohe Europas kulturelle Identität. Belege dafür gingen kürzlich auch beim SPIEGEL ein, der zu Weihnachten eine Titelgeschichte über den Koran druckte: Leserbriefschreiber berichteten, sie fühlten sich “vom Islam überrollt und erdrückt”, Europa werde “gezielt islamisiert”; die Religion der Muslime “nerve”, Leser des Korans liefen “als ein Rudel Schwachköpfe, Bombenleger, Kinderschänder und Steinzeitproleten durch die Gegend”. Ausruf eines Lesers aus Berlin: “Gott schütze uns vor dem Islam.”

Fand ich ganz interessant. Der Artikel selbst ist schlecht durchdacht, aber na gut. Das gleiche (“na gut”) gilt auch für solche Studien im Allgemeinen, aber immerhin fand ich den Artikel zumindest lesenswert.

Die FPÖ ist lustig. SPON nicht.

SPON schreibt

Die Spitzenkandidatin der Freiheitlichen Partei, Susanne Winter, nutzt den Empfang, um die Anhänger ihrer Partei zu mobilisieren, einer Partei, die sich in der Vergangenheit immer wieder auf Kosten von Ausländern und Minderheiten profilierte.

Doch was ihre Anhänger jetzt zu hören bekommen, war bisher noch nicht da. Die Spitzenkandidatin sieht ihr Heimatland in Gefahr: Es drohe ein “islamischer Einwanderungs-Tsunami über Graz”. In 20 oder 30 Jahren werde die Hälfte von Österreichs Bevölkerung muslimisch sein. Es gelte daher, den Islam – “ein totalitäres Herrschaftssystem” – “dorthin zurückzuwerfen, wo er hergekommen ist: jenseits des Mittelmeeres”.

Trauriger Höhepunkt ihrer Tirade ist ein Angriff auf den Religionsgründer selbst: “Im heutigen System” wäre Mohammed “ein Kinderschänder”. Winter spielt damit auf die angebliche Ehe des Propheten mit einem sechsjährigen Mädchen an und zieht eine Linie zu kriminellem Verhalten in der Gegenwart: Es gebe “einen weit verbreiteten Kindesmissbrauch durch islamische Männer”, sagt sie. Außerdem, so polemisiert Winter weiter, sei Mohammed ein Feldherr, der den Koran in “epileptischen Anfällen” geschrieben habe.

Das werde ich zwar nicht kommentieren, aber hinweisen möchte ich schon darauf, daß SPON ähnlich dumme und rassistische Äußerungen ungekürzt publiziert (von mir in diesem blog mehrfach kommentiert) und ähnlich dumme und rassistische Sentiments bedient. Weil es aber die FPÖ ist, ist es auf einmal “traurig”. Das ist doch die blanke Heuchelei, um nicht zu sagen: Bigotterie. Das ist doch zu blöde.

On Islamophobia and Homophobia / Über Islamophobie und Homophobie

There you go. A good essay on Islamophobia and an even better one on Homophobia at the same time. Highly recommended.

Islamophobia has, at least in this country, its relevance not as a mass phenomenon, but as an elite discourse, which, shared by considerable numbers of leftist, liberal, and conservative intelligentsia, makes possible the articulation of resentments against immigrants and anti-racists in a form which allows one to appear as a shining champion of the European enlightenment. What Islamophobes accuse people of Turkish and Arabic heritage of would not even be understood as a reproach by the majority of Germans: opposition to Jews and Israel, dislike of gays, and the sexist degradation of women — all established forms of German everyday practice, which in Islamophobic discourse are construed as special qualities of Muslim immigrants which should disqualify them as members of German society.

Bitteschön. Ein sehr ordentlicher, man möchte euphorisch rufen: ausgezeichneter! (was er dann doch nicht ist) Artikel über Islamophobie und zugleich ein noch besserer eigentlich über Homophobie. Sehr sehr lesenwert.

Islamophobie hat, zumindest hierzulande, seine Bedeutung nicht als Massenphänomen, sondern als Elitendiskurs, der es beträchtlichen Teilen der linken, liberalen und konservativen
Intelligenz ermöglicht, Ressentiments gegen Migrant_innen und Antirassist_innen in einer Form zu artikulieren, die sie zugleich als glühende Verfechter_innen der alteuropäischen Aufklärung erscheinen lässt. Was Islamophobe türkisch- und arabischstämmigen Leuten zum Vorwurf machen, ist etwas, das die Mehrheit der Deutschen vermutlich gar nicht als solchen begriffe: gegen Juden und Israel zu sein, Schwule nicht zu mögen und Frauen sexistisch herabzustufen – alles gängige Formen der deutschen Alltagspraxis, die im islamophoben Diskurs aber als spezielle Eigenschaften muslimischer Einwanderer konstruiert werden und sie als Mitglieder der deutschen Gesellschaft disqualifizieren sollen.

Broder nach Zahlen (Update)

Ach, ich weiß gar nicht, ob ich dazu was sagen soll. Aber der Vollständigkeit halber. Broder, der wie ich offenbar nichts besseres mit seiner Zeit anzufangen weiß, als herumzupöbeln (ist er auch krank? Ein Arzt hat mir heute gesagt: erstmal 12 Stunden nichts essen und schwarzen Tee (in Massen) sowie moderate Mengen ausgesprudelter Cola trinken. Bitteschön, lieber Henryk), schrieb zum Attentat auf Bhutto folgendes

Zwei Tage nach der Ermordung von Benazir Bhutto breitet sich in Pakistan das Chaos aus, und der Rest der Welt ist entsetzt und ratlos. Wie konnte es nur soweit kommen? Wusste Frau Bhutto nicht, welche Gefahr ihr drohte? Warum wurde sie nicht besser geschützt?

Unruhen in Pakistan nach dem Bhutto-Mord: Die Welt ist entsetzt – und ratlos
Und vor allem: Wird es in Pakistan im Januar demokratische Wahlen geben?


Dass die islamischen Fundamentalisten, die nicht nur Frau Bhutto ermordet, sondern auch Tausende ihrer Landsleute vom Leben zum Tode befördert haben, nur noch eine Armlänge von der Verfügungsgewalt über Atomwaffen entfernt sind, bereitet den Kommentatoren nur leichte Kopfschmerzen. Denn wenn Indien die A-Bombe hat, dann kann man es den Pakistanern nicht übelnehmen, dass sie mit dem großen Nachbarn auf gleicher Augenhöhe kommunizieren wollen.

Dieser Artikel spricht ja im Grunde für sich. Es ist ja der selbe dumme Mist, den er auch schon in Buchform veröffentlicht hat. Interessant ist nur, daß es ja nur womöglich gar keine Islamisten waren, sondern die machtbewußte Regierung. Oder so. Es ist schon faszinierend, wie schnell Broder aufschreit, sobald ihm etwas in sein schlecht denkendes (und unterirdisch unbelesenes) Hirn paßt. Ich muß mal suchen. Es gibt bestimmt eine Stellungnahme von Christopher Hitchens.

PS. Tatsächlich, es gibt eine und Hitchens’ Stellungnahme ist weit weniger haßerfüllt als Broders. Klar, daß sich die Meinungen dieser beiden Geistesgrößen nur wenig unterscheiden, aber durch die Hereinnahme von Bhutto in den Kreis der zumindest teils Bösen ergibt sich irgendwie (correct me if I’m wrong) differenzierteres Bild.

Who knows who did this deed? It is grotesque, of course, that the murder should have occurred in Rawalpindi, the garrison town of the Pakistani military elite and the site of Flashman’s Hotel. It is as if she had been slain on a visit to West Point or Quantico. But it’s hard to construct any cui bono analysis on which Gen. Pervez Musharraf is the beneficiary of her death. The likeliest culprit is the al-Qaida/Taliban axis, perhaps with some assistance from its many covert and not-so-covert sympathizers in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. These were the people at whom she had been pointing the finger since the huge bomb that devastated her welcome-home motorcade on Oct. 18.

She would have been in a good position to know about this connection, because when she was prime minister, she pursued a very active pro-Taliban policy, designed to extend and entrench Pakistani control over Afghanistan and to give Pakistan strategic depth in its long confrontation with India over Kashmir. The fact of the matter is that Benazir’s undoubted courage had a certain fanaticism to it.

Albern II

Nachdem ich mich gestern geärgert habe über die Aufnahme der neuen Studie zu Muslimen, traf ich heute angenehm kühlköpfige blogeinträge an, etwa bei Entartetes Engagement

Im Auftrag des Schäuble-Ministeriums erstellten die Hamburger Forscher Katrin Brettfeld und Peter Wetzels die Studie “Muslime in Deutschland”, bei welcher in vier großstädtischen Regionen rund 1000 Muslime befragt wurden. Insgesamt sehen die Ergebnisse wie zu erwarten aus. Nur eine Minderheit der Muslime (5,5%) hält Gewalt zur Ausbreitung des Islams für gerechtfertigt. 90% der befragten Muslime halten Selbstmordanschläge für feige und eine ebenso große Anzahl an befragten Personen lehnt das Töten von Menschen im Namen der Religion ab. Jedoch fühlen sich 50% der Muslime von der Gesellschaft ausgegrenzt und 20% erlebten selbst in den vergangenen zwölf Monaten Ausländerfeindlichkeit.

Die Anzahl der Muslime, die antisemitische Voruteile mit sich tragen und demokratiefeindlich eingestellt sind, sind, so die Forscher, etwa mit den Zahlen aus der deutschen Bevölkerung zu vergleichen.

via classless


Mir mißfällt der Ton in dieser Debatte.
SPON tönt

Eine neue Studie zu Muslimen in Deutschland zeichnet ein düsteres Bild: 40 Prozent sind fundamental eingestellt, 6 Prozent gewaltbereit. Die Zahl der Rechtsstaatsgegner ist ähnlich hoch wie die von deutschen Nichtmuslimen. Politiker und Experten sind erschrocken, halten die Daten aber für realistisch.

Was daran düster ist, daß es genausoviele Muslime mit demokratiefeindlicher Einstellung gibt wie deutsche, etwas, das durchaus nicht von SPON unterschlagen, sondern hier ausgeführt wird

Der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologe Werner Schiffauer sagte dem Blatt, die Hamburger Studie komme auch zu dem Schluss, dass demokratiefeindliche Einstellungen bei nicht-muslimischen Deutschen etwa ebenso häufig anzutreffen seien. Daher könne nicht gesagt werden, dass der Islam Demokratiefeindlichkeit stärker fördere.

erschließt sich mir ehrlich gesagt nicht. Müssen Muslime ‘besser’ sein als nicht-muslimische Bürger, damit das Bild nicht mehr “erschreckend” ist? Die Rhetorik der beiden SPON Artikel finde ich, na, nicht erschreckend, eher erwartet, aber unangenehm. Diese Aufregung, wenn sie nicht u.U. höchst unangenehme politische Maßnahmen zeitigen könnte, wäre als albern zu bezeichnen. Siehe auch, was für die Studie unter “fundamental” fällt.

40 Prozent aller befragten Muslime in Deutschland sind “fundamental orientiert”. Hochgerechnet auf die Gesamtzahl der in Deutschland lebenden Muslime wären das 1,2 Millionen. Merkmale dafür sind: eine enge religiöse Bindung, hohe Alltagsrelevanz der Religion, die starke Ausrichtung an religiösen Regeln und Ritualen verbunden mit einer Tendenz, “Muslime die dem nicht folgen auszugrenzen sowie den Islam pauschal auf- und westliche, christlich geprägte Kulturen abzuwerten”. Die Zahl ist nach der Studie indes nicht gleichzusetzen mit dem Umfang des Potentials demokratieskeptischer, intoleranter oder gar islamismusaffiner Haltungen unter Muslimen.

Also? Inwiefern unterscheidet sich das gros dieser Ausführungen von den Forderungen des aktuellen Papstes? Oder weiter Teile der CDU/CSU? Die find ich erschreckend. Abstrus, das alles. Und, wie ich bereits sagte: das unangenehmste an dieser Studie ist ihre Darreichungsform. Düster? Erschreckend? Erschreckend sind auch teils die Autoren dieser Studie, die “problematische Einstellungsmuster” feststellen als ob es sich bei den Muslimen um ungehorsame Schüler handelte. Kopfschmerzen.

Marco W. und die junge Schlampe (Marco II)

Also. Ich habe ja hier schon ein paar Bemerkungen über Marco W. dahingeknurrt. Einen Aspekt habe ich vergessen, der auch in enormer Weise irritierend ist und von einem aktuellen SPON-Artikel gestützt wird

Ein Wort noch zur Familie des angeblichen Opfers, das mittlerweile traumatisiert sein soll – kein Wunder bei der aufgehetzten Stimmung in seiner Umgebung. Wer eine 13-Jährige unbeaufsichtigt in eine Discothek lässt und nicht darauf achtet, wann und mit wem das Kind zurückkehrt – Marco brach schließlich nicht gewaltsam in das Hotelzimmer des Mädchens ein, sondern wurde bereitwillig mitgenommen -, verletzt seine Aufsichtspflicht. Er oder sie, die Mutter, die im Türkei-Urlaub dabei war, darf sich dann nicht wundern, wenn Jugendliche eine solche Freiheit ausnützen.

Alle Schuld auf einen 17-Jährigen abzuwälzen, dem in der Aufregung vielleicht etwas passierte, was er gar nicht beabsichtigt hat, und die Medien dann mit einer Horror-Story zu füttern, um vom eigenen Versagen abzulenken – das ist unanständig.

Es ist ja gut, richtig und, äh, korrekt, die Täter- und Opferschaft der an einer möglichen Straftat Beteiligten zu klammern, solange gerichtlich nicht geklärt ist, ob eine Straftat vorliegt und welche Straftat genau. Aber faszinierend ist es doch, daß bei jeder Erwähnung von Marcos Anklage die “dünnen Beweise” betont werden, aber man ganz schnell dabei ist, von einem “angeblichen” Opfer zu reden. “Angeblich” geht auch als Ausdruck weit über den normalen Rahmen hinaus. “Angeblich” bedeutet eine Vorverurteilung des Opfers und tatsächlich folgt im zitierten Teil auch eine richtige Verurteilung der Eltern von Charlotte, die ich in den letzten Tagen tatsächlich häufig von den Guten Deutschen gehört habe. Faszinierend daran ist, daß nach meiner Kenntnis des türkischen Strafrechts auch Marco nicht in der Diskothek sich hätte befinden dürfen, mithin ein Rundumschlag gegen beide Eltern berechtigt gewesen wäre.
So wie es ist, findet die Diskussion gefährlich nahe an der “she was asking for it”-Grenze statt. Sie hat ihn doch angesprochen, sie war doch zu knapp bekleidet, sie war doch in der Disko, ihre Eltern haben doch ihr unsittliches Verhalten erlaubt, klagt die doch an. Irritierend. Irritierender aber ist, und dies läßt auch die ganze gegenwärtige Diskussion um Kinderrechte in einem etwas anderen Licht erscheinen, daß dort offenbar der sexuelle Mißbrauch von Kindern flugs umdefiniert wurde in: harmlose Handlungen mit einer ziemlich nuttigen jungen Frau. Deshalb griffen die ganzen alten Vergewaltigungsargumente wieder. Das kennen wir doch alle zur Genüge und eigentlich sollte uns allen davon schlecht sein. Es ist, vorsichtig gesagt, unangenehm, daß die sogenannte “Schlampen”-Verteidigung (wild aus dem Englischen paraphrasiert) immer noch greift. Das, mein lieber Spiegel, ist wirklich unanständig. Die faszinierende Mischung aus Frauenfeindlichkeit und Nationalismus, die hier die Umdeutung von Charlotte nicht als Tochter, sondern als Frau, die fast auch schon als Täterin durchgeht, ermöglicht. Siehe auch die Altersnivellierung im zitierten Abschnitt, in der Marco und harlotte kurzerhand zu jugendlichen vereinigt werden, wobei anderswo Marcos Jugendlichkeit eines der lautesten Argumente für die behauptete türkische Willkür ist, also etwas schützenswertes. Charlottes Kindlichkeit kann das nicht mehr sein, da sie in den Stand der Jugendlichkeit erhoben wurde. Dankeschön, kann ich da nur sagen.
Ich habe in den letzten Tagen im Internet eine Diskussion geführt, in der, in alter rassistischer Manier die ‘Nachteile des Islams’ aufgezählt wurden in einem Atemzug mit einer Verteidigung des armen armen Marco W. Interessant ist, daß es aber genau dieselben traurigen Gestalten waren, die im weiteren Diskussionsverlauf voll in die frauenfeindliche Bresche gesprungen sind. Traurig.

Marco W. ist frei und die guten Deutschen freuen sich

SPON schreibt

Den meisten Uelzenern ist es gleich, wann Marco in seine Heimatstadt zurückkehrt. “Hauptsache, er ist dort weg”, sagt ein Mädchen von seiner Schule. “Sein Leben hat einen totalen Knick bekommen, den kann man nur ganz schwer wieder ausbügeln.” […] Der Ort zelebriert die Nachricht mit einem Autocorso und einem Hupkonzert wie zu Zeiten der Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft. Doch als der Gottesdienst beginnt, verstummt das Gebrüll. “Da legen wir nach, wenn Marco wirklich hier angekommen ist”, sagen drei Halbstarke mit Stadion-Trompeten an der Eislaufbahn in der Stadtmitte.

Die Solidarität und das Mitgefühl in der niedersächsischen Kleinstadt sind ungebrochen. Jeden Mittwochabend gab es seit Marcos Inhaftierung eine gut besuchte Andacht in der St. Petri-Kirche, die entgegen der üblichen Öffnungszeiten jeden Tag von acht Uhr morgens bis halb neun abends ihre Tore öffnete.

Jubelnde Massen von Deutschen, die sich freuen daß er “dort” weg ist. Das hat mehr als nur ein Geschmäckle. Es hat ein bißchen was vom Friedmann-Fall, sowie verschiedenen Übergriffen Israels auf seien Nachbarn, die wochenlang Antisemitismus als normales Diskurselement wieder eingeführt hatten. Der Fall Marco hat ähnliches für Islamophobie und ganz gewöhnlichen Rassismus geschafft. Solange Marco noch eingesperrt war, konnte man seinen Rassismus hinter pseudogutmenschlichem ‘Engagement’ verbergen. Das war besonders angenehm für solche, die sich für keine Rassisten hielten und halten, da konnten sie mal gut vom Leder ziehen, ohne daß ihnen mulmig wurde. Das ist die alte “Ich hab nichts gegen Ausländer, aber…”-Fraktion. Bezeichnend ist diese Passage, in diesem sonst mäßig geschriebenen SPON-Artikel:

Am meisten freuen sich die Deutschtürken über Marcos Heimkehr. “Ich wurde hier in der Firma täglich von deutschen Kollegen wegen Marco angemacht”, erzählt ein Türke aus Duisburg dem Hürriyet-Forum im Internet erleichtert. “Wenn noch einmal so etwas passiert, bitte schickt den Beschuldigten sofort zurück in seine Heimat. Die Leidtragenden sind zum Schluss doch nur wir und unser Land.”

Immer lesenswert auch classless’ schlaue Kolumnen wie dem Ökonomischen Gottesdienst.