Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair July 12th

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Mr. Jolly's picture
Mr. Jolly
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Jul 22 2014 14:08

About as much as atheist == white supremicist.

Joseph Kay's picture
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Jul 22 2014 14:07

Atheists/white supremacists is more of a Venn diagram imho.

Mr. Jolly's picture
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Jul 22 2014 14:21

But they are not equivalent, nowhere near.

Joseph Kay's picture
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Jul 22 2014 14:22

Who's claiming otherwise?

Mr. Jolly's picture
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Jul 22 2014 14:28

The blogger in question ?!!?

'This is racism'

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Jul 22 2014 14:33

I don't think it's saying any and all atheism is automatically racist, just that instance. I don't agree tbh, but 'lol you're stupid you believe in fairy tales' isn't really a materialist or anarchist-communist atheism either.

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Jul 22 2014 14:52

But how could that instance even be considered racist? Maybe I missed something, some daft atheist stickers and a t-shirt. I remember losing my faith and going on a ranty atheist mission as a nipper, had nothing to do with race and all to do with Catholicism and well being a nipper. At school I would have happily put those stickers on my notebooks next to my tippexed Black Sabbath cross. I mean come on!? Not all people imbue such stuff with such violent signifiers, unless of course, they want to make a hackneyed point about how terrible some subcultural scene is?

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Jul 22 2014 15:04

I don't think it is racist (in itself, I mean it's contextual... the same slogan daubed on a mosque takes on completely different connotations).

That said, there is a long 'historicist' tradition of enlightenment racism which rejects innate differences for cultural ones, but nonetheless holds up a particular smug whiteness as the standard (into which immature cultures can grow up). I'd guess that's what the blogger is reading into the sticker.

no1
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Jul 22 2014 15:09

[edit - cross-posted with JK...]

Mr. Jolly wrote:
But how is that instance racist.

It depends on the context. If someone was to put such stickers around mosques in the UK today then it would be racist, because the context is Gove's Trojan horse panic, Britain First "invading" mosques in the name of women's rights, criticism of the brutality of Western foreign policy by Muslims being equated with "radicalisation" as a pre-cursor to Islamist terrorism etc. To some extent, anti-religious criticism in UK political debate has become a dog-whistle for anti-muslim racis.

Mr. Jolly wrote:
Maybe I missed something, some daft atheist stickers and a t-shirt. I remember losing my faith and going on a ranty atheist mission as a nipper, had nothing to do with race and all to do with Catholicism and well being a nipper. At school I would have happily put those stickers on my notebooks next to my tippexed Black Sabbath cross. I mean come on!? Not all people imbue such stuff with such violent signifiers, unless of course, they want to make a hackneyed point about how terrible some subcultural scene is?

Clearly in that context it would not be racist.
Did you think the blogger was talking about that?

I disagree with the blogger and I'm not defending her position, but I also think that a lot of anarchos of the white male variety are blind to a lot of stuff.

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Jul 22 2014 16:12
no1 wrote:
Britain First "invading" mosques in the name of women's rights.

Their amusement others bemusement they thought it their duty to hand out bibles....
The usual racist motif is that its a 'christian country' only a few upper class whiggish hawks talk of atheism.

no1 wrote:
Clearly in that context it would not be racist.
Did you think the blogger was talking about that?

Well what has been reported there were no mosques stickered with atheist slogans in the bookfair.

no1 wrote:
I disagree with the blogger and I'm not defending her position, but I also think that a lot of anarchos of the white male variety are blind to a lot of stuff.

Think you can say that about pretty much everyone.

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Jul 22 2014 19:00

People can have an angry rejection of religion for very different reasons, the people that I know who are most anti-religion feel strongly because of bad experiences of religion when they were growing up, so they are reacting to something from 'their' culture, not treating religion as something that inferior and backward peoples do.
At the same time, yes, there exists a criticism of religion that is basically a way to attack muslim people, sometimes cynically using women's rights rhetoric.

This means that I tend to keep very quiet about religion in public, as I don't want to get myself in trouble, I don't want to add to a racist media onslaught and actually I don't want to upset people.

However, this does get genuinely difficult as I am also a person with my own beliefs and feelings and I often have trouble negotiating this. This is something else I also find really difficult to talk about.

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Jul 22 2014 19:04

To give some examples, I get really upset when I'm told in front of a lot of people that I am dressed immodestly, or questioned at length in public by strangers about whether I'm married. These both happen a fair bit.

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Jul 23 2014 08:37

Maybe it was an anti-papist intervention, given that the only god botherers there were Catholic Worker. :\

Maybe the blogger needs to get her arse down to the Southall Black Sisters and educate them on their atheistic racist ways,

Mark.
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Jul 23 2014 12:29
fingers malone wrote:
People can have an angry rejection of religion for very different reasons, the people that I know who are most anti-religion feel strongly because of bad experiences of religion when they were growing up, so they are reacting to something from 'their' culture, not treating religion as something that inferior and backward peoples do.

Yes, there are now a lot of ex-Muslims online who fit this description.

Quote:
At the same time, yes, there exists a criticism of religion that is basically a way to attack muslim people, sometimes cynically using women's rights rhetoric.

This means that I tend to keep very quiet about religion in public, as I don't want to get myself in trouble, I don't want to add to a racist media onslaught and actually I don't want to upset people.

This is understandable but also problematic, at least if it translates into a political stance. One of the issues that comes up repeatedly on ex-Muslim discussions and blogs is the sense of betrayal at the lack of support and solidarity from the left

Quote:
However, this does get genuinely difficult as I am also a person with my own beliefs and feelings and I often have trouble negotiating this.

For the white (for the most part), non-immigrant left I think it's inherently difficult to negotiate, but necessary as well.

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Jul 23 2014 18:02
Mark. wrote:
This is understandable but also problematic, at least if it translates into a political stance. One of the issues that comes up repeatedly on ex-Muslim discussions and blogs is the sense of betrayal at the lack of support and solidarity from the left
.

I'm interested in this, do you care to expand?

Mark.
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Jul 23 2014 20:02
JoeMaguire wrote:
I'm interested in this, do you care to expand?

I'll look up some quotes from ex-Muslims and come back to this, probably in a day or two.

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Jul 25 2014 10:23
Mark. wrote:

This is understandable but also problematic, at least if it translates into a political stance. One of the issues that comes up repeatedly on ex-Muslim discussions and blogs is the sense of betrayal at the lack of support and solidarity from the left

hey, I said I am scared to talk about religion in public but I don''t think that's the same as lack of support and solidarity. If someone at work came up to me and said they were having problems I hope I would help them as much as I could. I don't exactly go round telling women to go back home and submit to their husbands.
But regarding the wider left, yeah, I remember an argument with a friend who was saying that domestic violence in Muslim communities should be dealt with inside those communities, I was arguing, is that what women are telling you they want? cos I bet it isn't. So I agree there has been a lot of shit on the issue.
I would really recommend the book 'homebreakers to jailbreakers' by Southall Black Sisters on this topic

Mark.
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Jul 25 2014 16:48

fingers - I think I was putting that badly. I wasn't intending to suggest that your reluctance to talk about religion meant a lack of support and solidarity, more that the reluctance of the left in general to deal with issues around religion can leave people on the secular left from a Muslim background very much on their own. On a personal level not wanting to go on about religion seems perfectly reasonable. If it's a whole political tendency avoiding talking about religion then I think it can become a problem.

JoeMaguire - I was thinking particularly about the CEMB ex-Muslim forum. As far as I can make out this was set up mainly to support people, often very young, who have lost their faith and then find themselves in conflict with family, friends, communities, and sometimes, if they live in Muslim majority countries, with the authorities as well. The politics there is generally vaguely liberal left but I don't think it really sets out to be a political forum - it's more that the political issues can't be avoided. My impression is that there's a frustration there that they're mostly issues that get seen as the preserve of the right while the left avoids them. I've been looking for a particular quote on this from one of the people who set the forum up but haven't tracked it down yet.

Mark.
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Jul 25 2014 19:30

Kind of related:

https://aveilandadarkplace.com/2014/04/16/the-racism-of-the-white-wolf-w...

Quote:

There’s a bee in my bonnet. Let’s talk about the racism of the white wolf who cried Islamophobia.

I’m tired of a certain faction of Western liberals, especially white guys, Westsplaining about how anti-Muslim bigotry and Western colonialism and imperialism and international geopolitics provide *essential context* for understanding the sources of Muslim problems, which don’t come from a vacuum, how there are striking *parallels* between liberal critique of Islam and right-wing anti-Muslim bigotry.

Hey guy, I had no idea that you had such an adept understanding of what it’s like to live in a Muslim culture under the influence of the effects Western colonialism and international geopolitics. Please, tell me more, Westsplain to me, oh white man, how imperialism is responsible for me being forced to wear hijab for 15 years, suffering honor violence, and living a dangerous double life until my escape. Please condescendingly explain to me in the terms of your own culture where my oppression *really* comes from.

Look, I’m not denying that imperialism and geopolitics certainly help this ish along, often significantly. I’m not denying that anti-Muslim bigotry is a pervasive and significant problem. But those things are not an *explanation*. They are contributing factors at best that neither sufficiently explain nor excuse the blatant transgressions of Muslims and the horrible conditions in Muslim-majority countries. There is also an ironic lack of focus on Arab imperialism and the manner in which Islam has been reified, propagated, and been used to justify horrors in the Middle East and South Asia *far preceding* the West dipping its fingers into that mess. Sorry to strip you of credit for this, really, but it’s not the West that created the dehumanizing elements of Muslim cultures. There is also ironic lack of focus on the booming (essentially) slave trade disguised as a migrant worker system exploiting Africans and South and Southeast Asians that is utterly normalized in the Gulf and Levant. This isn’t some big bad monster wrought by the damning hand of Western imperialism and anti-Muslim bigotry. It has well transcended reasonable standards of the acceptable under those constraints, and the prevalence of normalized oppressive sentiment is not some fringe side effect of the injustices of white men. Growing up in Hezbollah culture, it was plain to see how Western-driven war and occupation helped fuel the return to fundamentalist Shia Islam, but it hardly exonerates us South Lebanese and Lebanese-Palestinian mashups from responsibility for the decisions we’ve made since then, for our violence and bigotry, for the culture of control and oppression and we’ve rooted ourselves into in response to these problems. Surely it doesn’t come from a vacuum, but you might have to live and be socialized in a Muslim country under the effects of such imperialism to recognize how fully much of it comes from ourselves, how essentialized scripture and deeply-rooted honor-shame codes fuel Islamism and the grave and rote dehumanization built into our cultures.

Sorry, but the West can’t take credit for this too.

And the supreme irony here? The blatant condescension of this PoV. It really is such a white-centric thing to try to explain the Muslim issue in those terms, to essentialize our problems in terms of your culture’s imperialism. It is also–and I’m not holding my breath for anyone to realize this anytime soon–buying into the same anti-brown racism to continually draw analogies between liberal critiques of Islam and right-wing anti-Muslim bigotries, to present eg the often-racist ignorant spewings of Dawkins and his ilk as the FACE of liberal and atheist discourse regarding the matter so you can self-righteously jump to condemn the obviously condemnable just as you raise it to the level of being representative of the entire liberal and atheist community, ironically completely drowning out and excluding the voices of Ex-Muslims and progressive Muslims, especially women, from the categories of ‘Western’ and ‘liberal’ and ‘atheist discourse’, othering us and contributing to our silence and marginalization. We don’t want Dawkins and Harris to be the driving voices of liberal discourse regarding Islam either. Stop excluding us. Stop alienating us. Stop reducing us to the norms of our home cultures, as if we’re incapable of engaging with them or transcending them, and stop creating a binary between us and our values and liberalism and its values.

Stop making our issues about you and your imperialism. By focusing so long and hard on your condemnation of anti-Muslim bigotry and white savior complexes, you are silencing us. You are othering us. You are explaining things about the very people whose marginalization you decry over and above their own voices and lived experiences. Cut that shit out.

And this is what I hear from you when you continually raise the flag of anti-imperialism above all other concerns regarding the Muslim issues. I hear that you do not think well enough of us as Muslims and Arabs and Persians and Kurds and Turks and South Asians and Africans to grapple with these imperialistic and geopolitical forces without being expected to refrain from falling into dehumanization and violence because of them.

That, because of imperialism, it is okay to hold us to standards that deplete to even the sub-human.

That we cannot or should not be responsible, strong, or aware enough to resist becoming aggressors ourselves because we have been aggressed against.

That Western imperialism is a greater driving force than anything we make, say, or do.

That you do not believe that Muslims and Ex-Muslims and people from Muslim-majority countries speaking on the matter–whether in affirming or critiquing ways–are powerful enough voices to speak to their own experiences, or to be taken as key or representative.

That it is okay for you to refuse to acknowledge our oppression as specifically non-white in source in order to avoid enabling the ‘save the brown women narrative’, because you somehow can’t see anything other than such a white-centric result being possible, as if we do not fucking exist as powerful critiquers of our own cultures, as if acknowledging the oppressive matters of fact of our existence suddenly renders us weak or incapable of engaging with it, as if your refusal to acknowledge our victimhood is anything more noble than a silencing mechanism, because you yourself somehow subscribe to some strange essentializing view that a victimized brown woman is a silent and passive one.

I hear you implying, too, that you have any real experiential knowledge from which to assess the horrors of Western imperialism vs the horrors of Islamist control and misogyny and decide which to decry. That in your transcending fear of enabling the right-wing bigotry that leads to further imperialist force, you can and will make judgments as to what is best for us regarding which of the damning powers contributing to our shitty lives should be enabled or discouraged, that you can and will make judgments as to which of the damning powers holding us down and controlling us is more or less serious or grave.

That, friend, is what is fucking racist.

-Marwa

Mr. Jolly's picture
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Jul 28 2014 08:19

Because Richard Dawkins this woman is a dick.

Mark.
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Jul 28 2014 11:56

?

I wouldn't agree with her about Dawkins, if that's the point. I don't think Dawkins is guilty of racism so much as some very poor judgement in statements he comes out with. I think she has a valid point though about people picking up on the faults of Dawkins and others when criticising current atheist discourse while ignoring what ex-Muslims have to say.

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Jul 28 2014 12:45

I was taking the proverbial, that the assumption that everyone who talks atheist is some sort of racist. That since Dawkins everyone who talks about atheism is a 'dick' or whatever.

There is a rather a monotonous drone of 'atheism' == racism that people think is cool to mouth off about for the last year, troll Dawkins for extra points and say 'your a dick' alot or say 'did you realise that Marx when he said opuim of the people blah blah'. The only thing I can put it down to is a kind of cliquey politics based on 140 characters or less, that no-one outside of university politics and 'radical' postmodernist seminars have a clue what its about.

Mark.
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Jul 28 2014 12:07
Mr. Jolly wrote:
There is a rather a monotonous drone of 'atheism' == racism that people think is cool to mouth off about for the last year, troll Dawkins for extra points and say 'your a dick' alot or say 'did you realise that Marx when he said opuim of the people blah blah'. The only thing I can put it down to is a kind of cliquey politics based on 140 characters or less, that no-one outside of university politics and 'radical' postmodernist seminars have a clue what its about.

Yes fair enough, I can agree with that. I've been finding some of the recent criticism of atheists a bit puzzling.

Mark.
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Jul 29 2014 16:37
Mark. wrote:
JoeMaguire - I was thinking particularly about the CEMB ex-Muslim forum. As far as I can make out this was set up mainly to support people, often very young, who have lost their faith and then find themselves in conflict with family, friends, communities, and sometimes, if they live in Muslim majority countries, with the authorities as well. The politics there is generally vaguely liberal left but I don't think it really sets out to be a political forum - it's more that the political issues can't be avoided. My impression is that there's a frustration there that they're mostly issues that get seen as the preserve of the right while the left avoids them. I've been looking for a particular quote on this from one of the people who set the forum up but haven't tracked it down yet.

I still haven't tracked down that quote but found this instead:

Reflections on six years of the ex-Muslims forum

Quote:

In 2007, a group of people who met on websites sceptical of religion and Islam decided to create a forum specifically focussing on the many issues facing ex-Muslims in the modern world.

They felt uncomfortable with the atmosphere and attitudes of many existing forums which were critical of Islam. Too often these websites existed to service Christian proselytising, or a political agenda that fitted into wider far-right nationalism.

It was felt that there was a lack of a space sympathetic to the experiences of those whose free conscience rejected Islam, who wanted to express this rejection in the spirit of secularism, humanism, feminism, individual rights, atheism, science and rationalism.

In some ways, the need to create this space suggests the dilemma of those who reject Islam in liberal, secular non-Islamic countries. Despite having members from around the world, those who founded the forum were ex-Muslims from the West, and the general orientation of the forum originates from this experience.

To be critical of Islam, and to reject Islam in a society like Britain, is to be assailed by immense pressures and contradictions.

On the one hand, certain reactionary values and precepts of Islam, and the violent, often murderous hostility towards those who leave Islam can crush an individual. These pressures emanate from family, peers, and the wider Muslim community.

But another pressure exists externally, the pressures caused by those whose concern for Muslim apostates is rooted in an agenda that seeks to assert general hostility to Muslims collectively.

The rise of organisations like the EDL and other far-right xenophobic movements in Europe and America presents an extremism that mirrors the extremism of Islamist identity-politics. In so many ways these movements feed off each other, and ex Muslims are caught in a paralysing bind by these tendencies.

So navigating this landscape is difficult, and doing so presents moral dilemmas and inhibiting pressures that can be intimidating and silencing.

It is not surprising then that the voice of ex Muslims is so stifled, both by the theological and socially sanctioned hostility towards apostasy within Islam, and by the treacherous waters of modern multicultural politics.

Because one of the tragedies of the ex Muslim experience is that too often a section of the social tendency that should be their natural home is either tacitly or actively hostile towards them.

There is a sense that some parts of the Left would rather ex Muslims, and their criticism of Islam, did not exist. This is understandable in some ways.

Instinctively, the Left seeks to be inclusive and sympathetic to minorities, especially in the face of far-right activism.

But this means that sub-minorities, in this case dissenters and apostates from Islam, are neglected, and sometimes betrayed by those who should be their natural friends.

[...]