i’ll expand on this sometime soon, but here’s a start, since it’s been on my mind for the past few days:
antisemitism is a specific political movement. it was one of the many innovations of 19th-century european nationalism (looking at nationalism as an overarching political movement with many nation-defining branches), and is alive and well and living all over world. it has a specific history, and a specific ideology.
all anti-jewish bigotry is not antisemitism.
all structural anti-jewish oppression is not antisemitism.
much of it is garden-variety christian supremacism, of a type most closely related to the kind directed against muslims. much of it is garden-variety xenophobia, in north america generally of a type most closely related to the kind directed against (some) asian communities. some of it is a now slightly antiquated type of white supremacism. (and all of it is inseparable from colonialism and misogyny.)
calling it all “antisemitism” is like calling all racism “white nationalism” (articulating that key distinction is one of the solid pieces of analysis eric ward has done, alongside giving progressive NGO cover to his far-right buddies at the ADL). it makes for muddled analysis, drains useful words of their meaning, and (worst of all) gets in the way of effectively fighting antisemitism, christian supremacism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.
or, one thing that happened at foley square on may day.
for the non-new-yorkers out there: we’re at the harmonious point in the five year cycle of cooperation and hostility between the mainline labor unions and the immigrant workers’ organizations (workers’ centers; country/region-of-origin anti-imperialist organizations; &c). what they agreed on this year was not to march, but to hold a three-hour rally in a historically significant park in the middle of the courthouse complex next to the financial district. a place no one goes who doesn’t work in finance or law enforcement, unless they have a court date or have just been released from the tombs. it’s very close to chinatown, but you’d ever know it by who walks down centre street. but at least the music between the endless series of speakers (some of them fantastic organizers and inspiring when not blasting muffledly through a giant stack of speakers) was pretty good, the weather was pleasant, and the socializing was lovely…
at about 6:30 pm, a group of 20-odd fascists appeared at the northeast corner of the park. i was told that they had marched down from union square, where antifa folks had prevented them from attacking another mayday event. i’d seen them perhaps half an hour earlier as they approached the park; i was on my way to get dumplings and didn’t see what happened in the interim.Continue reading of fascists and marshals
I’m perennially sickened by people who distort the relationship between AIDS and the fight for state-recognized partnerships (gay marriage/civil unions/etc.). It’s not that AIDS and the backlash made people get “”socially conservative”” or “”homonormative”” or whatever the buzzwords are; it’s that the AIDS crisis illustrated how vulnerable our communities are without protections for our relationships. You can argue all you want that we shouldn’t need legal protections to be safe, but please understand that terminally ill gay men were evicted from their apartments immediately after watching their partners die horribly because they couldn’t inherit the lease or the property (or couldn’t do so without paying heavy taxes). Gay men were unable to attend the funerals of their long-term partners because homophobic parents had custody of the remains.
This still happens, in states without gay marriage; a woman in Indiana was told that she was an “unrelated third party” when she tried to arrange her wife’s cremation. Reducing this real suffering to “you want marriage rights because you want to prove you’re just like straight people” is horrible, and I don’t know how that argument ever left someone’s typing hands without them realizing that they were absolute garbage.
and i responded, at length:
this post has stuck with me for a long enough that i’m gonna be the killjoy old queen here again, and point out a few things, mostly because i’m old enough to have been around for some of them, and have tended to hang out with older queers and trans folks since i was quite young. everything i’m going to say is about the u.s.; i don’t know how this shit played out elsewhere (especially in the european social democracies), so in other contexts the story may be quite different.
brief theoryhead moment
i’m going to go long on this because OP’s argument is, to me, exactly what walter benjamin means when he says “even the dead will not be safe if this enemy is victorious, and the enemy continues to be victorious”. over the last five or ten years, all kinds of folks have been using the dead bodies of the folks who died in the pre-96 period of the epidemic as props for arguments against left and progressive queer and trans politics – to say that white gay men should be (re?!)centered in our cultural and organizing work (as if trans women and black/latinx folks wren’t the hardest hit), to say that tearooms and other public sex institutions should be highly policed, to push for extremely restricted issue-and-campaign efforts on a (deeply anti-intersectional) identity basis. i could go on about this for quite some time, but i’ll spare you, and talk about marriage, since it’s been a prime example of this kind of thing for a few years now.
the problem at the heart of the original post is the conflation of the push for marriage with other kinds of organizing for (strategic) state recognition of relationships. in gay & lesbian politics, those have never been the same – in fact, they’ve generally been in direct opposition to each other. up to the mid-1990s, the (generally mixed between left and progressive) mainstream of the movement worked for flexible, non-identity-based structures that involved state recognition of the actual structures of folks’ actual relationships, and aimed to allow as little state control and surveillance over our relationships as possible. the push for marriage, which began in the mid-1990s, was not only directly opposed to that project, it worked to undo the victories that had been won up to that point and undermine the coalitions that had been built through that organizing.Continue reading on marriage, hiv/aids, & liberation
nowhere i’ve sent this to seems to want it, so i’m just gonna put it here. enjoy! or don’t.
the unaccustomed capitalization and more conventional punctuation is because of trying to get it published Somewhere Legitimate. my apologies to andrea dworkin, muriel rukeyser, gertrude stein, and all the other folks who are why i don’t generally do those things… (as dworkin says, in putting this into standard typography “I forced you to breathe where I do, instead of letting you discover your own natural breath. […] very few ideas are more powerful than the mechanisms for defusing them, standard form — punctuation, typography, then on to academic organization, the rigid ritualistic formulation of ideas, etc. — is the actual distance between the individual (certainly the intellectual individual) and the ideas in a book. […] to permit writers to use forms which violate convention just might permit writers to develop forms which would teach people to think differently: not to think about different things, but to think in different ways. that work is not permitted.”)
anyway – here’s hoping i can get through the next few decades without having to say anything else about this particular overpriced party with a fucked-up door policy.
Well, I’m as bored of talking about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival as any other trans dyke who came up in the 90s. But I’m finding myself unable to watch its last hurrah go by without reflecting a bit on what we – trans women, dykes, feminists, cultural workers – can learn from how and why it’s ending.
I’d love to claim victory.
To say: it took many years, but in the end a lot of cis women chose to honor the picket line that trans women held (physically and symbolically) for decades around a space that excluded us and fostered our exclusion from life-saving institutions across the continent.
To say: solidarity forced the Festival to choose between actually welcoming all women, or shutting down. To say: cis feminists have given trans women a reason to think that the era of purges that began in 1973 is beginning to end.
But that would be a lie. That solidarity did not exist.Continue reading Don’t Celebrate, Organize! Learning from the Fall of MichFest
building on a critique of the ‘think of the children’ strategy that liberal trans organizing has adopted (another layer of toxic on top of the ‘born that way’ rhetoric imported from the liberal gay/lesbian world):
beyond the strategic problems, another thing that the focus on ‘trans kids’ does is pushes kids towards an extremely restricted set of gender options.
we know from the world around us that some male-assigned kids will end up being binary-identified, conventionally feminine trans women; some binary-identified, butch trans women; some genderqueer trans folks of a variety of gender presentations; some fem gay men (cissexual, but not cisgendered); some butch gay men. and we know that folks may move among those positions many times in their lives. we also know – from our own lives and those of our friends – that kids who wind up in all of those places at, say, 28 years old, often express ‘cross-gender’ desires.
when what we do with all those kids’ cross-gender expressions is either track them as ‘trans kids’ towards binary-identified, conventionally feminine trans womanhood, or dismiss them as ‘not really trans’, we’re not supporting their self-determination, we’re obstructing it.