Porn, BPPA, and The Left Redux: An Exchange With Ernest Greene

I recently invited Ernest Greene (who happens to be Nina Hartley’s [warning: NSFW link] husband and an sexual rights/BDSM/progressive activist on his own right) to contribute to the Pro-Porn Activism Blog….and ended up with a pretty damn enlightening exchange that points out some of issues on establishing a pro-sex and sex-positive foothold on the political Left.

The full exchange is here; I will simply issue the highlights, which include what turned out to be some crossed signals about the BPPA and its mission that were ultimately cleared up to everyone’s credit.

First, here’s Ernest’s original comment:

Anthony and Sheldon,I’ve now had a chance to visit the pro-porn activism site under discussion, and while its intentions are admirable and its content often valuable and always interesting, I’m concerned that it may be subject to the law of unintended consequences.

First of all, I think I should share with you and other forum participants here a disturbing phenomenon I can clearly observe from the panels available to me as an administrator. Over the past few months, we’ve experienced a high volume of anonymous traffic, much of it originating from geographically centralized IPs in a certain part of the Upper Mid-West, clearly seeking out printable versions of threads dealing with anti-porn feminism. By following the links from your new site, I’m sorry to say I think I know where some of that traffic is ending up. Various items from nina.com have been exhibited and/or quoted (obviously without notice to or permission from us) by presenters at anti-porn feminist events held on college campuses during that time period. The images and information used are extremely specific and, predictably, used to demonize Nina and by implication, other women who share her views.

What worries me is that your new site, just like this one, has the inadvertent effect of channeling traffic to the othewise obscure corners of the Internet inhabited by what is basically a small and isolated group of fanatics of whom the larger public to which we appeal takes little or no notice.

The question we must ask ourselves is this: in attempting to rebut their essentially preposterous arguments at great length and in excruciating detail, are we not giving them the very attention they crave and otherwise could not hope to attract? I already know how I feel about this, which is one reason why I’ve stopped posting on these subjects on this site. I don’t see any reason to encourage them to come here to or arm them with out-of-context snippets of commentaries they can recontextualize for their own despicable purposes.

This is not to say that those arguments don’t need answering or to discourage the establishment of forums for that use, but rather to raise the practical question of how best to neutralize whatever political threat to freedom of expression, their bette noir, they may represent.

For my own part, I’ve elected to engage in a the Japanese practice of “mokusatsu” – literally to kill by silence. I don’t want them using our words against us and I don’t want people from here upping their Alexa scores simply out of morbid curiousity.

Obviously, as genuine advocates of free speech, I would never ask any contributor to stop posting on this topic, but for my own part, speaking strategically, I’ve decided to let them carry on their vendetta with no help, direct or indirect, from me.

Just a thought to consider.

Ernest 

That particular criticism rankled some of the BPPA members as well as me, since it was perceived as a subtle slam at the blog for directing antiporn attacks towards Nina and the forum.

My first response to Ernest follows:

WOW…interesting points.


As one of the main contriibutors of the BPPA blog, I can’t speak for Renegade Evolution (who is the owner and chief founder of the BPPA blog) or any one of the other main contributors…but I feel the need to respond to your points.The main reason why so many antiporn sites are listed there is the stated policy that is agreed on by all the participants there uses the principle of “Know your enemies”; and that the viewpoints of the other side should be openly discussed and sourced whenever possible, with all transparency and clarity.

I understand and appreciate the fact that due to past circumstances and the history of previous attacks on you and Nina, you would feel as you do about attracting unwanted attention to those sites. Nevertheless, I still believe that exposing and repudiating their myopia and their positions is crucial to building an effective opposition to their policies, and that merely allowing them to promote their views unfettered only encourages them that much further. They may indeed be a tiny minority and an isolated voice, but they do have some degree of outreach that goes far beyond their small numbers…and I don’t believe that they should be simply ignored or dismissed.

Obviously, we will be much more careful about seeking your approval before posting or linking anything here in this forum; and if you prefer that we not use anything from this forum to refute their arguments or actions, just say the word and we will respect your wishes. (Here, I do speak for the rest of the members of the BPPA as well as for myself regarding my own blogs and sites.)

I will say that my own personal philosophy regarding dealing with these antipornfeminists is perhaps the exact opposite of what you prefer; I’d rather directly and openly confront all the contradictions and inaccuracies of their arguments, since I feel no need to hold back anything; nor am I hampered by any need to protect my past histories or actions on my part.

But, I do respect highly your position and your situation, Ernest, and will honor your request….and will take your suggestions into consideration along with the rest of the crew.

And I will forward this privately to the rest of the BPPA members for their consideration, too.

Anthony 

And initially, Ren did decide at first to remove links to Nina’s site and forum from the BPPA blogroll.

Ernest did attempt to make an initial offer to clarify his position:

Anthony,Thank you for your prompt and typically heartfelt reply. As I said, I’m not really asking for any specific action on your part or that of your compatriots, whose views I largely (though not entirely) share. I merely ask you to consider the situation strategically. I like to think of myself as a principled person who willingly takes risks on behalf of dearly-held beliefs, but my real-world experience has taught me that the effectiveness of those risks is what makes them worth taking. If by exposing myself or others to potential harm, I achieve nothing more than serving the purposes of my opponents, the risk is not worth the reward.

I completely agree with you that the preposterous arguments of anti-porn feminists must be confronted and exposed for the crypto-mystical, anti-rational, anti-intellectual bunk that they are. I suggest, however, that the most effective ground on which to join that battle is their own. Obviously, as they have nothing but contempt for anyone who disagrees with them in the slightest, indeed for the very idea of reasoned argument, they’re not about to allow you or anybody else to address their vicious lies and warped beliefs on Web sites they operate or at gatherings they sponsor. But there does exist a larger leftist/progressive community consisting of numerous blogs, publications, organizations and events through which they could be challenged to defend their destructive fixations that have cost the left as a whole so dearly, along with the nation itself and the greater world that might benefit from leftist dissent uncontaminated by their toxic brand of identity politics.

It has been their ability to shame and shout down all who do not embrace their rabid fanaticism in those venues that has, to a great extent, prevented the emergence of both an effective leftist critique of their madness and, more urgently, the formation of a unified opposition to the catastrophes of resurgent American imperialism abroad and the rise of theocratic absolutism at home. It is the responsibility of sane leftists with realistic priorities to kick these lunatics to the curb on their own street, rather than making it the onerous burden of those of us already embattled against a rabidly hostile regime bent on throwing as many of us as possible in jail and driving the rest of us out of business to have to fight a second front against this small but vocal claque of hate-mongers on ours.

That’s why Nina knowingly exposed herself to the savage hostility certain to follow by debunking Chyng Sun’s so-called “research” at AEE on Counterpunch rather than simply railing against it here. As she said at the time, the internal leftist/progressive struggle over pornography is really a battle for the hearts, minds and wallets of liberals who support progressive causes, if not necessarily progressive ideals.

It is the objective of Chyng Sun and her allies to humiliate defenders of free speech into backing away from protecting explicit sexual expression that makes them dangerous not only to us, but to anyone who regards open discourse about sexuality as a progressive priority. The success of the gang from KPFK in forcing NION to give back Larry Flynt’s money both demonstrates this danger and emboldens those to whom suppressing dirty pictures is more important than saving Iraqi and American lives.

Rather than starting up more Web sites and chat groups where we who deplore such moral disasters of the left can tut-tut about them and ventilate our anger and frustration over them (though, BTW, I have no gripe with anyone doing so, as we all need the support and reassurance of like-minded others), the more critical task lies in meeting these false-flagged reactionaries on the common turf of Z-Net and at the university campuses where anti-war groups are bullyed into turning away desperately-needed potential allies in the name of ideological purity.

Certainly, given the vile tactics anti-porn feminists employ and the personal viciousness with which anti-porn feminists attack all who dare stand up to them, I can’t blame anyone for preferring to lob rhetorical water balloons from behind the safe anonymity of friendly homepages. As one of the founders of BPPA pointed out, in contradistinction to the seemingly more menacing foes we face on the right, anti-porn feminists are much quicker to engage in the ugliest kind of trolling, hacking, DOS attacks and ad hominem smears. We’ve experience all these things repeatedly since Nina dared to tread on the sacred cyber-soil of Counterpunch. Nina has become nearly as popular a target as Larry Flynt, an honor I know she appreciates but a noxious burden nonetheless. As an example, here’s a lovely quotation from a recent article by APF stalwart Rebecca Whisnant:

“Thus it is that prominently featured on the website of “feminist pornographer” Nina Hartley is a new film entitled “O: The Power of Submission.” (13) Perusing Hartley’s list of favorite links, one finds a site called Slave Next Door, which carries the tagline “real sexual slavery.” The portal page of this website reads, in part, “Slave Next Door is the graphic depiction of a female sex slave’s life and training for sexual slavery. It contains extreme bdsm situations and . . . sadistic training.” In clicking to enter the site, one is told, one affirms that one is “not here in the capacity of law enforcement or religious activist.” (14)”

I can practically see all the grave faces and nodding heads in the room as Whisnant delivered this laughable “evidence,” which simultaneously distorts Nina’s opinions, this site, my movie, consensual BDSM and the perfectly sweet and thoughtful blog of our friends Master N and embre, to a group of fellow porn-bashers at one of the many recent conferences where said bashers meet to come up with new ways of heckling us. Who wants to be subjected to that kind of treatment?

And yet, if leftists and progressives who don’t buy the APF line hope to prevent it from prevailing and thus further enfeebling an already isolated, fractious and fundamentally ineffective community, that’s exactly the kind of warped logic that must be addressed where it lives. Twenty years ago, it was a group of feminists, led by Betty Friedan (founder of NOW), Rita Mae Brown, Kate Millet, Adrienne Rich and other icons of the women’s movement, who filed the amicus brief in the appeal of the McKinnon ordinance that helped restore mainstream feminism’s committment to civil liberties for all. Sensing an opportunity in the current atmosphere of political repression to undue that courageous stand, the new crop of APF fanatics shows signs of gaining real traction within the tiny, nearly invisible left that remains in America today. If they succeed, they’ll make sure it remains exactly that: tiny and invisible, though surely pure of corruption by the “harms” of porn and its defenders.

No matter how unpleasant the prospect, it’s up to you and your friends to do what Friedan and her compatriots did two decades ago. You must take your fight to the enemy instead of hunkering down on safer terrain. It’s your movement that’s at stake and you need to take it back from posers like Gail Dines, Bob Jensen and Stan Goff. If you won’t stand up to them where they are, how can any of the rest of us be expected to join you when you exhort us to stand up to the real power and potential fury of the ruling elites?

While APFs may claim to have been “censored” and “silenced,” the truth is that Gail Dines can get airtime on Fox News to spout her claptrap at no personal risk whatsoever, while we have members of our tribe facing 75 years in prison for selling videos. We know very well the real dangers of incurring the wrath of the real patriarchs, as opposed to the imaginary version against which leftists are constantly inveighed to do battle. If your gang isn’t ready to haul a few loud-mouthed mountebanks out of their ivory towers and expel them from your midst, why should we trust you to carry the standard into far more dangerous combat?

I’m just raising these questions. The answers need to come from your side. So far, all I read is a lot of electronic bickering. When I see you all picketing outside the gates of Wheelock College, demanding equal time for Nina to answer the slander and abuse heaped on her there, I’ll be more favorably disposed to help you make your case here.

As I do believe in freedom of expression, I won’t oppose your use of our bandwidth to channel traffic to your site, but I hope you’ll take into consideration the nuisances to which you expose us in doing so and offer up something in return that will make it all seem worth the additional trouble.

Ernest

My own rebuttal of that:

Welll…that’s a lot to think about.


I’m not sure, then, that the BPPA would be the proper venue for such a campaign that you would want, Ernest; since that blog is more for a generalized defense of porn rather than an explicitly Left critique. (The founder of that blog is more of a traditional conservative libertarian.)I’d guess that a more explicitly Leftist “pro-porn/’sex-positive” organization which directly confronted the smears and lies of antiporn “feminists” and their allies would be more productive by your suggestions. That would be a splendid idea, especially as an compliment to the more general mission of BPPA; and as soon as I get my bandwidth issues resolved; I will get to work on that by developing a forum dedicated to that very need.

I should say, though, that perhaps your targets should also be turned towards not only people like me who have indeed gone into the bellies of the beast and directly confronted APRF idiocy (remember Gooney Goff?? Z-Net??) but also towards more mainstream liberal and leftist groups who have remained generally silent or have avoided debate on this topic. Whatever happened to groups like Feminists for Free Expression or the Feminist Anticensorship Taskforce, who at least attempted to build a progressive critique to MacDworkinism in the 80s, but disappeared as soon as the battles seemed won?? Why aren’t there more porn talent who happen to be progressives (or even, heaven forbid, even Leftists) speaking out explicitly on the connections between defending sexual speech and expression and other left/liberal values that they profess in supporting?? It can’t all be a one-sided mission, you know.

Yes, indeed, there is a great need for sex-positive progressive folk to directly confront antiporn ideology whereever it wields its head; and to be much more open and loud about it. That will take both time and effort, however, and even some patience.

Also….considering the closed-loop policies of such organizations as Z-Net in its obvious biases towards antiporn ideology, wouldn’t it be more useful for sex-pos progressives to develop their own institutions of support and outreach and education, rather than waste time and energy attempting to roll over existing organizations that are simply too rooted to change??

Finally….like I said before, I am only one person, with limited time and resources; I’m sure that no one will question my dedication to the mission of defending the principles that I believe in; and I most definitely don’t question you or Nina’s dedication to the same. All I ask for is that we all respect our own methods and tactics, even if we may disagree with whatever tactics we may persue to the same goal.

Just my own personal opinion.

And may I assume that you speak for Nina as well on this??

Anthony

And in the next post, I cited both Trinity and Ren defending the mission of the BPPA blog (cited with permission from the both of them):

Incidentially enough; here is Renegade Evolution’s response…..


…upon learning of Ernest’s critique (posted originally via email, with permission granted by her to post here)

Quote:
I can understand Ernest’s concerns, but hey, as my people are wont to say “Silence = Death”…and I will point out that the BPPA is, for me, not only somewhat FUN, its also a theraputic and LITERARY way to point out my flaws. It’s not as if I’ve not “taken these issues to the people”…after all, I did engage in that long and futile email forum debate with Bob Jensen, I, along with Jill and others, sent letters of protest to Weelocke for NOT including sex workers in their conference, sent letters of protest and raised quite a stink about their use of porn performers images without consent or question, I then informed the porn companies whose work was sited of the use of that work by Wheelocke, and well, I’m a member of both HIPS and SWOP East…so yes, I BLOG about porn, sex ed, anti porn tactics, the 1st Amendment…I also DO in real life. I also know that I’ve had a decent number of “on the fence” feminists say by reading what I’ve put out there, they’ve rethought their feelings on porn and other aspects of sex work, and even some rad fems reconsider their beliefs on the matter, and to me…well, that counts and progress.I also think exposing the tactics the other side uses is important, because there still are a lot of people sitting on the fence, and I’d rather have them leaning to our side and have places where they can read the other side of the story and rebutals to the MASSIVE amounts of anti-porn propoganda out there. I mean gee, it’s not like I’ve been threatened or outted before, right? Damage is already done…I might as well, both in life and on the net, stand up for what I believe in.

Ren

Incidentially, she has also went ahead and removed all links to this forum from the BPPA blog as well, out of respect for Ernest’s concerns.Update: Trinity of A Strange Alchemy; another contributor to the BPPA blog; just recently added this question for Ernest:

Quote:
Anthony,I’m a little unclear on what exactly Mr. Greene wants us to do.

Is he saying he wants us not to link to NIna’s spot, or that he thinks we shouldn’t link to the *antis’* spots (because then they’ll see the trackbacks)?

Because if it’s the second, I think it’s important to link to them to prove what we’re saying AND to allow opponents to rebut. Think about how gross it is that they don’t link to us, and can make up any context they will for what we say. I don’t think it’s right for us to do the same.

Trinity

A legitimate question, I’d say.Anthony

To which, Ernest finally comes correct and makes his points clear, and directly addresses Ren’s and Trinity’s concerns [special emphasis added by me]:

Anthony,Thanks for getting back to me on this, and for a number of points well-made, as usual.

I think I may have created some misunderstandings that need clarfication and you have raised a question or two that need answering.

First of all, let me say that I don’t think sites like BPPA are bad things. On the contrary, I agree that exposing the lies and distortions of anti-porn feminism in whatever forum is a good thing. I do have concerns about amplifying their volume by callling attention to them, but that concern only applies if nothing else is done beyond preaching to the converted. I merely suggest that activism consists of more than just sharing opinions with those of like-mind.

As such, I give full credit to you for your willingness to take the battle to the other side’s terrain, and I commend ren for doing the same. I particularly appreciate ren’s challenge to the use of our intellectual property against us, and would offer as a further possibility the idea of acquainting APFs who use stolen explicit images in their propaganda that they, too, are subject to the requirements of 2257 and may find out for themselves the truth about just how “lawless” and “unregulated” our industry really is if they continue to do so. The measures you and ren describe are exactly the kinds of things I’m talking about and I hope you’ll do more in the future. I hope your influence grows on the left and that eventually you’ll help return some balance to the conversation about porn in that community. In short, I’m not criticizing you, your friends, what you’re doing or what you’re not doing. I’m merely raising strategic questions about how best to achieve our common goals.

In response to Trinity’s question, and yours, please remember that I began my post by saying that I am not asking for any specific action concerning BPPA. I didn’t ask that the link to our site be removed, or that you not link to APF sites. In fact, I’m sorry if that’s how my comments were interpreted. As far as linking to nina.com is concerned, the damage was done long ago by the other side, which knows all about us and will continue to come around here whatever you do. I’d as soon have our link back on your site, as at least we might get a few more friendly contributors as a result. And I fully agree that air and light best serve in separating good arguments from bad, so I don’t support the idea of silencing any point of view. I think knowing one’s enemies is important and I appreciate BPPA’s willingness to address all points of view and to expose the specious claims of our opponents. Frankly, I’m sorry my comments seem to have been taken some other way and apologize for not stating them more clearly. Personally, I would like to see our link restored at BPPA. We are all part of the same struggle and I don’t wish to see us excluded from solidarity with your efforts over there.

Where you and I don’t agree is in your implied criticism of progressive elements in the industry for not joining you at the barricades. Those of us who can certainly do. Nina is most definitely a case in point, as it was her blast on Counterpunch that made her such a popular target for APF attacks. And while FACT seems dormant for the moment, FFE is very much alive. Indeed, BPPA links to their site, where you’ll find such familiar names as Carol Queen and Candida Royale.

And I don’t buy the argument that the larger leftist community and its organizations and media are so closed to counter-arguments about porn there’s no point in confronting them directly. That’s a costly concession of defeat when the other side has simply dominated the floor by intimidation and should be challenged, as they were successfully twenty years ago, which was one of my main points earlier. Setting up alternative institutions is fine as far as it goes, but ceding the larger leftist entities to the other side, which is exactly what happened at NION, carries dangers not only for those of our particular persuasions regarding the expression of sexuality, but for the left as a whole, which the NION episode demonstrates all too vividly.

Indeed, when you propose that liberals should take a more active role in this struggle, you make my point for me. First of all, they are the ones who do so most effectively. Nadine Strossen and the ACLU have done more to protect sexually explicit expression than all the self-identified leftists in the land. They’re the people who put up the money and the time to fight the court battles that directly impact what we do. However, they’re largely excluded from leftist forums in a way that avowed leftists are not. Moreover, they are the very element Chyng Sun and her friends are trying to shame into abandoning us over here, and to some extent (I’m not defending this, BTW), traditional liberals have been cowed by the ferocity of APF rhetoric into avoiding the whole debate. As someone who doesn’t much respect liberals when it comes to stands on principle, you of all people can hardly expect them to conduct a campaign to reassert support for Amendment One among leftists who have largely turned against it. Liberals and their organizations have no credibility on your side of the fence.

The suggestion that working porn performers could get in the fray is problematic as well. Most are very young, very busy with learning their way in this business while trying to sort out their own sexualities, and generally not politically inclined. They’re extremely resistant to organization, as we’ve found to our dismay through repeated attempts to do so over the years. Morevoer, when they do step forward, as a few have on talk shows and in other mainstream media, they get beaten to pieces, much as Belladonna was by Diane Sawyer and Jenna Jameson by Bill O’Reilly. They don’t get the kind of respectful treatment APFs can always count on from fundamentally conservative news sources.

As to confronting APFs in their campus strongholds, both Nina and Ron Jeremy have done so and will continue to do so, not only because they believe in the importance of this work, but also because they have the luxury of time and the visibility that come with being senior members of the industry. Remember too that we’re involved in a much higher-stakes conflict with the feds. Come October, at least two major obscenity cases will go to trial in federal court with long prison sentences on the line should our side lose. That’s a battle outsiders don’t face and I’m sure you can understand why we conserve much of our strength for it. That’s the place where we must make our best arguments, not only for our own sakes, but for those of anyone who values freedom of expression, even that of our enemies.

No one questions your dedication or your principles and while I may respect your choice of methods and tactics, I would hope you and your friends would be open to some outside examination of the latter. We’re all seeking the same thing, but we may not agree on every article when it comes to the best method of achieving it.

And yes, Nina and I have discussed this at length and are in agreement on these issues. She will be out debating Susan Cole on college campuses this fall and will continue to take the fight wherever she can get on the field. She just leaves this part of the task to me, as we’ve found that letting her do the talking and letting me do the writing is a more effective distribution of labor. We’re on the same page as far as basic philosophy is concerned and share the same tactical perspective born of many, many years in this struggle.

In no way is this a one-sided mission. We all have contributions to make suited to our resources and beliefs. Nina and I welcome support for the cause from virtually any source. Unlike our enemies, we have no litmus test that excludes leftists, progressives, libertarians, sexual liberationists, liberals, or anyone else who embraces individual liberty.

The last thing I wish to do is add to the internal dissension within that loose coalition. I hope you and your friends will regard this as a message of solidarity and conciliation and will simply consider the practical issues I’ve raised.

Again, I’m not attacking anyone here or proposing any specific changes of approach. I’m merely offering a perspective for others to examine.

Ernest 

Based on that post, the links were put back up…and they remain to this day.

Later on in the thread, Ernest goes on on what he sees as one of the main problems with passive Left acceptance of antiporn propaganda:

Oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood…


I think it’s smashing too. Lot’s of good, thought-provoking reading and many important ideas, (and Sheldon’s too – kidding) all centralized in one place. Excellent. I wish nothing but the best for BPPA. I don’t even have to agree with everything said there to see its value.I like to think I make myself pretty clear, but sometimes I wonder if all these years of W.’s rule haven’t started to affect my relationship with the English language. Never intended to be critical of BPPA, its value or its intentions.

That said, I’m still stuck, if that’s the correct word, with my worries about what might actually be effective in countering the hammerlock that APF thinking seems to have gotten on leftist debate. By an ironic coincidence, in a completely unrelated thread in this section, Eric posts a letter he’s sent to Noam Chomsky seeking clarification of Chomsky’s denunciation of Hustler after having granted Hustler an interview.

I may not always agree with Chomsky, who was a huge presence in the left of my own radical era and remains one in the left of today, but he’s always been a man of courage and committment regardless of the waxing and waning of his popularity. I’d like to think he’d speak his mind when it comes to Hustler or pornography in general without worrying about how his comments might be received in certain quarters. And yet I’m not optimistic that Eric will get a straight answer on this one out of Chomsky – or any answer at all.

That’s what I’m really talking about on this thread. When figures of Chomky’s stature have to engage, as he did, in all kinds of backpedaling for having dared allow his words to appear in Hustler, I can’t help worrying about the APF influence on the left as a whole.

This sort of degenerated into one of those endless and useless wrangles over who is more responsible for the current state of affairs, when what I really want to hear discussed is what might be done to take back some of the ground we’ve lost. Why was there no counter-pressure from our side in the NION affair? Why did no one raise a voice in anger when KPFK devoted an hour of airtime to (using a favorite phrase of Stan Goff) San and Ann Simonton to bash Nina and subsequently refuse her even the courtesy of an explanation for refusing to allow her an on-air rebutttal? Why does the left cave so quickly to identiy politics of all kinds, this kind in particular? What is to be done if there is ever going to be a broad-based anti-war movement to resist what threatens to be a much longer and even more destructive conflict than Vietnam? Kronstadt may think the domestic anti-war movement was largely irrelevant to the outcome that time and that the NVA simply hammered the Americans on the ground, but I was here at the time and know otherwise.

For the left to regain credibility as a political force in American life, whether the issue is pornography or Iraq, it will have to address the problem of identity politics directly. No faction’s individual interests or orthodoxies can be allowed to so dominate the discussion as to exclude literally milliions of potential supporters from participation in dissent against the worst and most dangerous policies this nation has ever adopted.

I’m still waiting for anyone on the left to take on the very real issue of what to do in the face of a Supreme Court that will be hostile to civil rights cases for the rest of most of our lives. Even within our own interest group, where there was once hope that laws against so-called “adult obscenity” would be overturned by the current porn prosecutions under Lawrence v. Texas, there is now the grim realization that, should any of those prosecutions actually reach the high court, those laws will not only be upheld, but may be substantially broadened.

In short, my real complaint is that the left is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic in much the same fashion as Bush where Iraq is concerned. In both instances, a defeat of epic preportions looms with terrible human costs, and no specific means to prevent either of these related disasters has yet been put forward.

I’m not a leftist myself anymore, but I know this nation needs leftist activism now even more than it did three decades ago, and I’m not reassured by what I see so far.

Again, this is a general observation that implies no criticism of the nice folks at BPPA, any individual here or any other well-intentioned person. It’s just a lament and a plea for action where action is urgently needed.

When I have the time, I do hope to get over to BPPA and post a purely friendly and completely non-critical greeting. I can only offer my full and unconditional support to such a worthy enterprise.

Now, if somebody will tell me how we’re going to keep Rob Black and Lizzie Borden (whose work I don’t like at all but who shouldn’t be facing ruination as a result of it) from going to the pen for the rest of their lives, I’ll feel a bit better.

Ernest

 Interesting and fascinating questions…anyone up to the challenge???

An Open Letter In Support of Amanda

[UPDATE: Shakespeare’s Sister lead Melissa just announced that she’s resigning from her position at the Edwards campaign as well.  Sad to see that, too.]

I know that I have had many differences with Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon….mostly on her incomprehension of liberal versus radical Left policies and her quite passionate advocacy towards feminism and women’s rights. (Her approach I’ve argued…not her base politics.)

There comes a tiime, though, where you have to suspend the pettiness and join in social solidarity in defense of a fellow or sista progressive who is under the barrel of a gun….and this is definitely the case with Amanda and the ensuing battle called "Bloggergate".

To reset; Amanda —  along with Melissa Ewen, the lead voice of Shakespeare’s Sister —  was approached by the John Edwards for President campaign to run their website and basically run interference with the A-list liberal bloggers.  Naturally, both accepted the offers, since it would give them major credibility and engage the progressive netroots with the larger political climate.

Not everyone was so happy, though — some from the further Left such as Dennis Perrin  of Red State Son decried the deal as a sellout of progressive principles; quoting some of Edwards’ latest statements implying that he would have no problems with bombing Iran or continuing the war in Iraq.  But that was mere politeness compared to the howls coming from the Right…and especially the Catholic wing of the Christian FRight led mostly by Michelle Malkin and William Donohue, chief spokesman for the Cathollic League for Civil Rights.

The latter two (especially Donohue, using his media cred on MSNBC and FOX News) then launched a bitter and brutal campaign against Edwards, mostly rehashing some past quotes from Amanda’s blog implying "bigotry" against Catholicism and the Roman Catholic Church, to taint Amanda and Shakes’ Sis as "dangerous anti-Catholic bigots" and called for the Edwards campaign to immediately remove these evil feminist radicals from their campaign.  There were also noises coming from the more traditional "centrist" media as well, with Fightin’ Joe Lieberman leading the verse that Edwards was pandering to the "far Left" by hiring such dangerous women on his payroll, and that he was risking alienating those key Catholic "swing voters" unless he relented and removed them quick.

For a while, it seemed to succeed; Salon.com on last Thursday released a story claiming that Edwards had indeed fired the two women (followed up by another story the next day saying that they had been rehired)….but this set off a firestorm in the progressive blogosphere in defense of Amanda and Shakes’ Sis as martyrs of freedom of speech and decrying Edwards as a craven chicken allowing a right-wing extremist to dictate his campaign strategy. 

On Friday, Edwards himself released a brief but terse statement at his campaign site basically admonishing the two women for stirring up controversy and asking them to cool it down…but allowing them to stay on. Seperate statements by both of the women apologizing for their ways were also released simultaneously.  

That sorta ended the controversy….actually, it didn’t, since Donohue announced that he would turn up the heat on Edwards and the two women for their "bigotry"….and some others (like Brownfemipower over at Women of Color Blog) openly asked if the actions of Amanda and Melissa amounted to back door censorship for past actions.

Finally, on Monday, Amanda announced at her blog (Pandagon) that she had resigned from the Edwards campaign, citing the wish to not inflame the campaign with excess baggage and the affect of squelching her own freedom of speech in responding in kind to the lynching antics of Donohue and his allies. The original note was released at Pandagon, but wasn’t accessible due to an Denial of Service (DoS) attack launched by Donohue’s allies to silence and shut down her blog. (It is currently open for the moment. Fortunately, Steve Gilliard of The News Blog reprinted Amanda’s statement at his blog, it can be found here.)

In addition to all that, Amanda found herself buried in an avalanche of hate email launched by Donohue’s followers…and most of it was pretty ugly and even explicit in its loathing and hatred for her stances. A couple of examples, as posted by Amanda recently to her blog:

[from "R.R." in Tallahassee, FL]
Amanda,
after reading your vile screed against Catholics and the Holy Spirit, I just had to see what you looked like. (I envisioned you eyebrow-less, with no visible pupils, and a blank, dead stare.) I see I was correct about the blank, dead stare, but other than that you’re not too bad. I then thought maybe you were mad at God (and by proxy Catholics) for making you ugly, but now I’m figuring you’re just mad at him for making you a woman.

 [from Vivian Thomas]
Catholics are concerned about killing unborn children, you stupid bitch. Chop away if it suits you, but we don’t have to accept that as moral. That’s why it’s called a religion. Look into it

 But those are virtual love letters compared to the more…..shall we say, expressive and explicit greetings thrown at Amanda from what appears to be sexually frustrated Christian men…or MRA wannabes. ByrdBrain would probably blow his wad be mighty impressed at the following screeds:

[from Andy Diggers of Dallas]
Problem with women like you, you just need a good fucking from a real man! Living in Texas myself, I know you haven’t found that real Texan yet. But once your liberal pro feminist ass gets a real good fucking, you might see the light. Until then, enjoy your battery operated toys b/c most real men wouldn’t want to give you the fucking you deserve b/c the shit that would come out of you ears.

I guess someone forgot to tell that asshat that Amanda is already hetero. 

 [from Paul Bernard of Scottsdale, AZ]
i like the way you trash talk i don’t particularly want to have sex with you but i would like a blow job.

Oh, but I thought that she was one of ‘dem radicallesbians that don’t do men, huh???

And then there is this typical wishful wingnutty greeting from someone named Bud Phelps (no relation to the "Reverend" gay baiter Fred Phelps, no doubt):

It’s just too bad your mother didn’t abort you. You are nothing more than a filthy mouth slut. I bet a couple of years in Iraq being raped and beaten daily would help you appreciate America a little. Need a plane ticket ?

Oh, goody, goody….does dewd know that most of the raping and beating in Iraq is being done by…you know..FREAKIN’ AMERICANS?!?!?!? And how about a Christian who is supposedly "pro-life" and "anti-abortion" openly wishing that Amanda was…well, aborted??  I guess that some fetuses are more sacred than others.

But the grandaddy of all roundhouse insults — at least the ones Amanda chose to print — comes from a fella named Romanco de Lorne who is so passionate about defending his church from "bigotry" that he resorts to all caps:

YOU RACIST WHORE. FAT UGLY BITCH. SUCK MY LONG COCK ASSHOLE I HOPE YOU KIDS NEVER LIVE AND YOUR PARENTS DIE A TRAGIC DEATH YOU ASSHOLE BITCH!
I HOPE YOUR WOMB IS BARREN AND YOUR CAREER PLUMMETS TO HELL YOU BITCH

Yup….nothing like  good, solid Christian men defending their religion, isn’t it??

Amanda herself hits the nail square on the head when she riffs:

Reminder: Donohue was claiming to be so hurt by my “bigotry”. Yet, for some reason, his supporters write me and they are more interested in telling me that my womanhood is repulsive to them. Interesting—almost as if his claims to speak for Catholicism were in fact dog whistles to scare people about women’s equality.

As I told some close friends in the days that Donohue was on the news, spraying code words about “get the feminists” (which explains why he roped Shakespeare’s Sister into this, even though she really had nothing to do with any of this—except she’s pro-equality, which is what is really what offends Donohue and all the people who gave that anti-Semite airtime), a good half of my hate mail could be summed up, “You have a pottymouth, you stupid cunt.” 

[…]

Right wingers right now are pretending like sexism has nothing to do with me, which is an argument that works if you think a) men get emails about how they need to suck a dick on a regular basis and b) that there’s nothing whatsoever sexist about allowing men to curse but hitting the fainting couch if a woman does.

Oh, but Amanda…try being a gay man, or someone who fits the type….I’m sure that they’d get the same treatment.

Time to wake up and smell reality—real bigots follow the siren call of the fascist right wing. Why would they even bother with liberals and all our equality and human rights and other tedious ideas?

[….]

But I shan’t belabor the point. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the hate mail the Bill Donohue’s “Christian” campaign against me has inspired. This is all stuff from days ago—I’ve gotten more than 100 since. Hell, from the looks of my email from last night, I’ve had more than 100 in the past 12 hours from self-proclaimed Christians who want me to know that I have hurt their feelings and this has nothing, nothing whatsoever to do with their own misogyny and tendency to witch hunt.

In short, this is nothing more than the classic "slut-baiting" that happens to any woman who dares to challenge the wacky Christian FRight’s principles on sexuality or women’s position in society.  This could have been launched just as strongly and just as easily against Nina Hartley or Joycelyn Elders, or Dr. Susan Block or Dr. Carol Queen or Dr. Gloria Brame, or Renegade Evolution or the Queer Bitch or Brownfemipower or Blackamazon, or Vicky Vette or Bridgett Lee, or Kira Reed or Shauna O’Brien, or Annie Sprinkle or Susie Bright, or even Lani Guenier or Hillary Clinton…it’s just that Amanda Marcotte and Melissa Ewen happen to be strong women and feminists who dare to be open about calling the fascists out on their bullshit…and happen to get way too close to real politifal power for the wingnutter’s comfort.

This is what you get, Clones, when you don’t defend to the death the basic principle of "My body, my choice, my damn business and nobody else’s"…and that other principle "Keep your Jesus off my penis (or clit) and your morals off my balls (and wombs)". An injury to one is still, in the long run, an injury to all.

Well done, Amanda….go get that mountain of human crap, and don’t ever let him up when you get his ass. The can of Whupass is at your full disposal if you need it.

Like I said….sometimes you put principle ahead of personal differences.  I’m backing Amanda on this one.  How about thou7??

\

Presente, Miss Molly…And Goddess Bless

Very sad to see her pass on….but her sprirt and her humor — and her ability for instanteous smackdown of evildoers, will survive beyond her.  Hopefully, she’ll get to lay some smack down on "Shrub" (her gloss for Dubya) on his way down.

The story of the passing of Molly Ivins from the Associated Press today:

 

       

Molly Ivins dies of cancer at 62


 

   

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal who skewered the political establishment and referred to President Bush as "Shrub," died Wednesday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 62.

Ivins died at her home while in hospice care, said David Pasztor, managing editor of the Texas Observer, where Ivins was co-editor.

Ivins made a living poking fun at politicians, whether they were in her home state of Texas or the White House. She revealed in early 2006 that she was being treated for breast cancer for the third time.

More than 400 newspapers subscribed to her nationally syndicated column, which combined strong liberal views and populist humor. Ivins’ illness did not seem to hurt her ability to deliver biting one-liners.

"I’m sorry to say (cancer) can kill you, but it doesn’t make you a better person," she said in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News in September, the same month cancer claimed her friend former Gov. Ann Richards.

To Ivins, "liberal" wasn’t an insult term. "Even I felt sorry for Richard Nixon when he left; there’s nothing you can do about being born liberal – fish gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed," she wrote in a column included in her 1998 collection, "You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You."

In a column in mid-January, Ivins urged readers to stand up against Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.

"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war," Ivins wrote in the Jan. 11 column. "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!’"

Ivins’ best-selling books included those she co-authored with Lou Dubose about Bush. One was titled "Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush" and another was "BUSHWHACKED: Life in George W. Bush’s America."

Ivins’ jolting satire was directed at people in positions of power.

"The trouble with blaming powerless people is that although it’s not nearly as scary as blaming the powerful, it does miss the point," she wrote in a 1997 column. "Poor people do not shut down factories … Poor people didn’t decide to use ‘contract employees’ because they cost less and don’t get any benefits."

In an Austin speech last year, former President Clinton described Ivins as someone who was "good when she praised me and who was painfully good when she criticized me."

Ivins loved to write about politics and called the Texas Legislature the best free entertainment in Austin.

"Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are accustomed to discerning that fine hair’s-breadth worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick slightly less awful than the other. But it does raise the question: Why bother?" she wrote in a 2002 column about a California political race.

Born Mary Tyler Ivins in California, she grew up in Houston. She graduated from Smith College in 1966 and attended Columbia University’s journalism school. She also studied for a year at the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris.

Her first newspaper job was in the complaint department of the Houston Chronicle. She worked her way up at the Chronicle, then went on to the Minneapolis Tribune, becoming the first woman police reporter in the city.

Ivins counted as her highest honors the Minneapolis police force’s decision to name its mascot pig after her and her getting banned from the campus of Texas A&M University, according to a biography on the Creators Syndicate Web site.

In the late 1960s, according to the syndicate, she was assigned to a beat called "Movements for Social Change" and wrote about "angry blacks, radical students, uppity women and a motley assortment of other misfits and troublemakers."

Ivins later became co-editor of The Texas Observer, a liberal Austin-based biweekly publication of politics and literature.

She joined The New York Times in 1976, working first as a political reporter in New York and later as Rocky Mountain bureau chief.

But Ivins’ use of salty language and her habit of going barefoot in the office were too much for the Times, said longtime friend Ben Sargent, editorial cartoonist with the Austin American-Statesman.

"She was just like a force of nature," Sargent said. "She was just always on and sharp and witty and funny and was one of a kind."

Ivins returned to Texas as a columnist for the Dallas Times-Herald in 1982, and after it closed she spent nine years with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In 2001, she went independent and wrote her column for Creators Syndicate.

"She was magical in her writing," said Mike Blackman, a former Star-Telegram executive editor who hired Ivins in 1992. "She could turn a phrase in such a way that a pretty hard-hitting point didn’t hurt so bad."

In 1995, conservative humorist Florence King accused Ivins in "American Enterprise" magazine of plagiarism for failing to properly credit King for several passages in a 1988 article in "Mother Jones." Ivins apologized, saying the omissions were unintentional and pointing out that she credited King elsewhere in the piece.

She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, and she had a recurrence in 2003. Her latest diagnosis came around Thanksgiving 2005.

Associated Press writers April Castro in Austin and Matt Curry in Dallas contributed to this report.

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Although I ultimately became much more radical in my political philosophy than Miss Molly would become, she was one of my first influences in politics as not only a female journalist and a principled liberal/progressive who was unashamed and unafraid to defend and bear that label, but as one of the best political satirist and humorists alive on the face of the earth. From her days at the Texas Observer to her regular columns over at The Progressive magazine, to her regular syndicated columns, she always seemed to combine the perfect mix of passion, anger, humor, and smack….and always in defense of common working people against the inanety of corporate and political powermongers.

Not to mention the fact that Miss Molly was as proud a Texan as ever…even if she ripped their politicians new orfices every day.  I’m sure that even at her deathbed she probably was giving a one-finger salute at Dubya with one hand…and the "Hook ’em Horns" salute with the other. Even a Louisianian like me had to respect her loyalty.

There were few like her, and in this age of herd journalism, I fear that there will be fewer to carry on her legacy (well, there’s always Keith Olbermann..if he wasn’t a Cali-bred). 

Step right in through the gates, Miss Molly…you’ve done well. 

 Update:  Here’s one of the best examples — relevant to the theme of this blog — where Miss Molly showed her expertise at laying some serious smack on the stupidity of some legislators….this time, on the subject of the inane laws against the possession and sale of…sex toys.  (Warning…definitely NOT safe for work or for children.)

 The Dildo Diaries (a short documentary about Texas’ anti-sex toy laws featuring Molly Ivins, courtesy YouTube)

 

Only exception to that excellent smackdown for me: it ain’t just Texas, Miz Molly, that’s full of "dipshits" who put more emphasis on regulating women’s wombs and clits than the regulating the environment or the budget; take a trip further east to Louisiana or Mississippi or Alabama or Georgia with a Pocket Rocket and see how the authorities will respond.  They don’t call this (red) neck of the woods "the Bible (Chastity) Belt" for nothing, you know.

Only Linda Ellerbee represents badasssss Texas feminist journalism as well as Molly Ivins did….Please, Goddess, try not to take Linda away before her time.

On Boobs, A Boob, A Really Bad Burqa Joke, and Liberal Cultural Imperialism (Part One)

First off, my apologies for not blogging for a while…work and other stuff, you know.  I’m currently enjoying a week of paid vacation, so I’ll just take advantage of it for playing catch-up. 

Now, I’m wondering myself why it took me this long to add my penny’s worth to all the fireworks and water works going on over former President Bubba Clinton’s recent soiree with the Liberal Blogospheric A-Team, and the ensuing Cat 3 hurricane in Left Blogomania…but since everyone else in this freakin’ nation has had a say or fifty about it, then why not moi???

To give a abridged version of the whole story:

Bubba invites several of the lib blogosphere’s heavy hitters to his office in Harlem for a informal luncheon, basically to soften them up for Hilliary’s 2008 Presidential campaign, I’d guess.

One of the invitees happens to be a quite striking young woman named Jessica Valenti, who writes the Feministing blog.  And I do mean quite striking, too….though that should have nothing to do with her competence as a writer, now should it, gang??

Anyways, part of the soiree includes the obligatory portrait, where Ex-Prez Bubba looks all Presidential and all the participants put on their best grins for the camera…so that they can say to their blogging friends that they got up close with “The Big Dog”. 

Jessica just so happens to place herself right in front of Bubba.  Wearing a very casual and dressy and quite appropriate (for a lunch meeting with the former President) form-fitting blouse. 

The results are shown here (*from Jessica’s Flickr gallery):

ClintonSoiree_OriginalPhoto.jpg

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), Jessica (as do almost all women) happens to have…..well, what we in the human race call “breasts” ….and quite decent ones, too.  And the particular blouse she wore (although not in any way revealing, since no cleavage was shown), did manage to emphasize that segment of her anatomy more than the usual. (No big deal here, either, since she wasn’t there to flash or put out, just to represent her share of the blogosphere.)

Just as unfortunately, as you can plainly see, Jessica happens to be a brunette and decent looking. Combined with the setting, the form-fitting dress, and the subject of the honor, you’d think that it wouldn’t take long for some of our wingnutty whackjobss to put 2 and 2 together and utter those two words of doom: 

Monica.  Lewinsky.

And sure enough, here comes libertarian conservative “feminist” Ann Althouse, who has a real beef with Bubba for obvious reasons (like, she hates his policies and his ways with women).  First she comes out and attacks the whole shindig as mere pandering to a failed president (unlike the current President-Select, whom she thinks is just jolly-fine because he’s a grown-up, mature conservative family man…..his alleged drinking, cussing, and fussing to the contrary). 

And then, when some visitors to the blog decide to point out Jessica and the resembulance to Monica, she comes back for a much more detailed and vicious personal attack on Jessica (or at least, her boobs), claiming her to be nothing more than a Monica wannabe, a publicity whore, and a brainless slut who’s bringing feminism down to the “raunch” level. She even attempts to bring in the Feministing logo (a series of matching “mud flaps” featuring a sihoulette of a scantily-clad woman) as proof of Jessica’s (and in Althouse’s view, most liberal feminists’) lack of seriousness.

Needless to say, the feminist and progressive A-list blogosphere went up in righteous anger and rose up in almost unison to defend Jessica (and, it’s nice to say, Jessica herself smacked Althouse down pretty good herself); and rightfully so, in my word.  I mean, it’s not as if she went in there with full cleavage and short skirt and snapped her thong…she was there on serious business. Perhaps Althouse was just jealous that someone at least prettier than her (and obviously smarter, too) got to get close to the President she hated)…or maybe it’s just that old right-wing hatred of Clinton for coopting their agenda so well. 

But that debate of all-hawk and no-spit over the importance of Jessica’s boobs was a mere cover for another, far more substansial debate that was raised later on: the lack of invites to bloggers of color.  This was especially important regarding Clinton because (1) he was considered to be America’s “first (unofficial) Black President (amazing what playing the sax on Arsenio Hall’s show and playing alongside Grambling State University’s “World Famous” marching band will do for a President’s image….it might even cover up his actual record towards Black people, like his support of racist crime bills, executions and welfare “reform”); and because of the Harlem venue.

(To be fair, one popular A-list liberal Black blogger, Steve Gilliard of THE NEWS BLOG, posted that he would have declined on personal philosophy if any invites were given to him to meet and greet Bubba…but he did admit that he wasn’t invited, either.)

While it was mostly the outsider, more radical Black blogging community (including Brownfempower, Kevin Andre Elliott, Bint Alshamsa, and especially Blackamazon, who laid a particularly lethal strike on the pretentions of White liberals here), the fun actually started when Liza Sabater of culturekitchen used her blog to bring out the lily-white nature of the lunch klatch in Black Harlem and how it represented how privileged White liberals seem to take people of color for granted and use them as recyclable refuse to raise their personal ratings.

Unfortunately, the way in which Liza expressed her rage brought out the dander of some of the liberals in response; including a particularly nasty ad hominen rebuttal by someone named TRex (nee’ David Ferguson) using the Firedoglake blog (owners Christy Smith and Jane Hamsher happened to be two of the invitees at the Clinton lunch). Apparantly, TRex used his creds as a White gay man to tell off Liza and other supposed Black know-nothings on their notions of representation in the liberal blogosphere; and even got off some personal jabs at Lisa’s writing style:

“So, Liza, dear, before you go assailing your betters and making Jane stand in for every blond white woman who ever pissed you off, maybe you should head back to eighth grade English and, you know, learn to spell and to write in a linear fashion.” 

[That was the original quote…..since then, T-Rex has gone and edited it to remove the more offensive remarks….barely.] 

Uh, huh. Very nice of him to lecture a Black woman on her “inferior” writing style.  I’ll bet he says this for all the uppity nigg….errrrrrrr….Black women writers, too.

[And visions of all the crap that Nubian has had to endure comes to mind, too.]

Of course, this has a real history to it….because Liza had earlier whacked FDL for allowing a portrait of Fightin’ Joe (for the GOP) Lieberman altered in blackface (as a part of their hatefest against him for his Republican policies…..as if Black people were too stupid otherwise to oppose him on his merits). [Note: the original pic from FDL (and originally posted at Hamsher’s Huffington Post blog, have long since been deleted from both the FDL and Huff Post servers; but Slate.com’s John Dickerson did manage to cache that image for an article critical of that effort.

Now all that would have passed and gone and had been forgotten as the usual election year inaniety. It would have, too…except that here, from out of the dugout in porn liberal feminist left field, came Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon to pour some high-octane rocket fuel to the debate ….in her attempt to defend Jessica from the evil bad fundamentalist woman-hating neocons.  In her attempt to score some humor and some smack points against Althouse and her boob obsessions, Amanda decided to import the time-honored image of a Muslim woman dressed in a burqa as the symbol of what she thought Althouse and her haters thought Jessica should have been wearing.  To that effort, she enlisted the help of a regular Pandagonite, Auguste, to do some Photoshop magic reconstruction to the original Clinton blogger soiree, the result shown here being attached to a biting rant Amanda posted to her blog:

ClintonSoiree_JValenti_in_Burqa.jpg

[Click to see the full image]

That may have silenced the Althouse crowd…but it created a literal firestorm of rage from both radical Arab and Muslim women bloggers and WOC bloggers, who saw not a lighthearted joke, but a gratituous insult and an appropriation and mocking of another culture’s (and another race’s) most precious religious symbol…not to mention the blinding of Clinton’s own role in the destruction of Muslims and Arabs (who in the Middle East mostly consist of people of color) as a means to score brownie points against other White elitist women. 

[A similar discussion had emerged earlier when the Tennessee Guerilla Women, a liberal feminist blogger collective, decided to launch a campaign for reproductive rights in the US  using the burqa as a collective symbol of women’s oppression (Operation Red Burqa)….and got strongly rebuked by Black and Brown feminists for abusing and appropriating that Muslim symbol in that way.  (This essay by none other than Bitch | Lab (who is not a WOC, but radical enough to support their struggles) exemplifies the latter position quite well. The latter came as a response to one of my earlier essays from my former blog defending TGW’s position.)] 

But back to the here and now….things quickly degenerated into a nasty Pier 6 brawl (wrasslin’ term) when some of Amanda’s defenders in the liberal (and feminist) blogosphere started biting back that the complaints of the WOCs were being “selfish” and amounted to “black nationalism” in their attempts to shame White feminists into submission to “racist tactics”. Two particularly acidic responses came from Lindsey at Majikthisse and a young man named Alon Levy, who even went as far as to break out the old “Islamofascist” card in saying that critics of Amanda were simply soft on the innate evil of Islam amongst women, if not active agents of “Islamofascism”.  There was even a nice rant posted to Alas, a Blog by a “Greenconscionse” which attempted to recruit people into the War on Muslims using radfem rhetoric (an excerpt follows):

We should do more than criticize, we should support this war, expand it into Iran and Saudi Arabia, blow up the patriarchy everywhere possible. Support the immigration of women to the US from any Moslem country without husbands or fathers, forbid the oppression of women by Muslims in this country. Call it slavery and act against it wherever we can. The boys shouted us down in 1972 and they will do it again except for the decent men – shout back. Better yet turn your back on them and reach out to your sisters in Afghanistan and if it ever gets safer to your sisters in Iraq.

[emphasis added]

Meanwhile, in the midst of all this, Amanda decided to make an effort to crawfish her way out of the controversy with an attempted explanation and apology for the burqaized Jessica image; unfortunately, some of the WOCs decided not to quite buy into it, because it didn’t (to them) address the fundamental issue of how liberal White feminists appropriated wrongly the image of a POC for their own selfish motives without even addressing their interests. This set off some of Amanda’s supporters even more, who publically implied that she should have never apologized in the first place and that the critics were just evil reverse racists who were simply attempting to call themselves off as saviors of the entire third world though the usual Mau-Mauing and guilt tripping.

And so, the matter stands up to date…with bruised feelings everywhere.

What’s my personal take on all this??  That’s for Part Deux, soon to follow.  Stay close….

BTW….Go check out Bitch | Lab; she has a whole collection of discussion threads on the entire controversy…far too many to link here…but this post and discussion will do as a start.