Friday, May 30, 2008

Racism is in the Eye of the Beholder

James Stewart one turn away from winning the first moto of the 2008 Glen Helen National.
Photo by "mx_984", gomxracing.com

A
bbas Hawazin at Catharsis is one of my favorite Iraqi Bloggers. He'd be the second to tell you it's not because we always agree on everything at all times. Not by a long shot. He does pass my litmus test of being against the violence directed at Iraqi civilians, government and security forces, and I don't think he's a fan of attacks on US forces either, though I predict that may change to ruffle our feathers - hopefully not in sincerity. But his posts are often thought provoking, his sense of humor well-functioning, and his coverage of a diverse range of topics makes him very high up on my "must read" list.


I don't expect that will change, but as you may know, I am now banned from commenting there along with my co-contributors.

Just for background, Abbas issued a slightly tongue-in-cheek
fatwa against IBC here. That was all fine, but lately comments between him and IBC'er Mister Ghost have turned ugly. See here (in comments), and here. So, now Abbas is banning us here, and again here.

In the first post, he has this to say:
Personally, I don't tolerate bigots, so, and while I have previously issued a fatwa against their blog, it was slightly in jest, as of today, I ban all members (although Rhuslancia wasn't really bad, but I'm sorry) from commenting at my flawed, prejudiced, cowardly blog.

And then in the second, this:
On a personal note, I cannot stand them, I totally abhor their views, their ongoing campaign to blame everything on the inferiority of Iraqis, their racist, sly mockery of Arab-Muslim culture, among other things.

I do appreciate the personal close-but-no-exception, even though I think a ban of Mister Ghost in particular or the collective banishment of IBC in general are neither warranted nor the best way to solve any problems he has with us. But, it's his blog and if he thinks that's the best way to approach this then it's his decision to make.

There are a couple of strange things here I'd like to note.

First, the second post announcing the ban has resulted in quite a number of IBC non-fans lining up to encourage Abbas, pat him on the back, throw feces at us, and so on. I am not too surprised at this. I know from experience that many of the arguments they make day after day and year after year regarding Iraq simply do not hold up to scrutiny. One example is the "Resistance to Occupation is a legal right under international law". Sure, there is some truth to that, but the exact legal principals do not apply to Iraq's legal status under the same international laws. Oh my, how they
do get upset when you ask them to prove otherwise! They can't, so the only thing left is to resort to insults and try to silence their opposition. Of course they're pleased that Abbas would do this for them.

Second, it is really weird to have so many comments devoted to us at IBC on his post, yet we are not supposed to be participating? The ban is apparently on our honor, because as far as I know he has not yet deleted our comments or blocked our IPs. In fact, in reviewing the comments just now I see he is being lenient, and maybe his sense of humor is shining through a bit (by deleting Jeffrey's comments).

Third, it is odd that "racist" comments from Mister Ghost may warrant banishment, but calling someone a dirty Indian cow-worshipper are not racist, or not bannable offenses? (Thanks, Anand, for defending us, by the way. Personally I think such overtly racist and hateful slurs against you come because a commenter has nothing grown-up to say to refute you).

Fourth, and to the title of this post, I believe racism is in the eye of the beholder. I really doubt Mister Ghost was
trying to be racist when he said what he did, but it was perceived that way by Abbas and he is clearly offended. I guess I can't speak to Mr G's character except for what I've seen, and his In-T-Views have been excellent in my opinion. I do see how Abbas could take offense in some of his comments, however.

As for my own possible racism, well, I appreciate those people (Abbas, Anand, Marcus) who have stood up for me. Full disclosure: I am Caucasian, blond-ish, blue-eyed, and of decidedly European ancestry. I listen to Air Obama all the time, and since I cannot see myself voting for him due to his Iraq position that alone might make me racist according to them. I don't know.

I do think the anti-Iraqi position is the more racist one- you know: the one that says A-rabs need dictators 'cause they can't do democracy and so on. I disagree with that strongly and think Arabs, Kurds, and Muslims of all sects can and will have a successful democracy and a stable Iraq. I personally chalk this up more to general optimism instead of racism, but maybe you see it differently.


Anyway, since I like those little polls, here's one for you:

Is RhusLancia Racist?
Yes
No
Yes, and he smells funny too
pollcode.com free polls
Let's hear it!

Abbas, I seriously doubt you give a rat's *ss about me or my opinions. But I do enjoy reading yours and I hope that all goes well for you.





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