Come into my skirmish world…
Under picture: Birch Skirmish by Jesse McCloskey
By Jay Dubbs
“The great divisions among humankind will be cultural,” said Samuel Huntington in one of his most notable works ‘The Clash of Civilizations’. Samuel Huntington was an ethnocentric racist whose broad generalizations of Arabs, Muslims, Latinos, Africans, and Asians have been refuted by many scholars including Edward Said. He stated that the Clash of Civilizations was “[where] the personification of enormous entities called “the West” and “Islam” is recklessly affirmed, as if hugely complicated matters like identity and culture existed in a cartoonlike world where Popeye and Bluto bash each other mercilessly, with one always more virtuous pugilist getting the upper hand over his adversary.“
The concept of clashing cultures/civilizations is inherently xenophobic and simplifies rich dynamic societies into one homogenous “other”. This “other”is easy for North American and European audiences to digest easily. This “other”, whether it is Arab or any non-white entity, becomes the antithesis to the white liberal’s notion of “freedom”, “liberty”, and “democracy”. It is this construct of a foreign “other” through an Anglo-Saxon lens and the attempt to frame this “other” into a predefined “Westernized” mold that creates true conflict.
We have seen this conflict arise repeatedly throughout history and regularly in current events. We have seen wars and countless human lives lost in the name of “Western” democracy. We see the imposition of White American “feminist” rhetoric in Arab countries through the work of NGOs, American/European foreign policy, the media, etc. We see it in the titles of bestselling books and popular articles such as “Behind the Veil” and “Jihad vs. McWorld”. This creation ofan “anti-Western” orient has been the rationale behind the colonizing and conquering of the Arab World as well as the moral rallying cry for the white liberal whose only mission is to save those ‘oppressed’ by Islam and/or Arab dictatorial governments (often times propped up by North American/European aid).
“In recent history white liberals with their “white Jesus” complexes have taken on a new crusade, which is the liberation of Arab members of the LGBTQ from their less civilized, backward, sexually repressive Islamic societies.”
Freedom and liberation is an excuse frequently used by the ‘powers that be’ to justify economic, social, and military invasions of the Arab world. The backing and subsequent hypocritical chastising of Arab dictators after the Arab spring is a prime example of this opportunistic “Free the Arabs” agenda. Take the Egyptian revolution for example, America backed Hosni Mubarak financially and militarily during his entire reign, however after the revolution it was in their best interest to push for him to step down and transfer power. The situations in Libya and Yemen are very similar examples. This opportunism is not isolated to mere political reform, we find it regularly in the “Western” critique of the role of Arab women in Arab/Muslim societies. Although countless studies, articles, books, television reports, etc. have been printed, published, and mass circulated criticizing Arab’s misogynistic traditions and practices, America’s closest ally in the Middle East remains Saudi Arabia. The hypocrisy of preaching women’s empowerment and liberation as well as pumping funds into foreign NGOs in the Middle East for women’s liberation work, while maintaining a close personal relationship with Saudi Arabia, a country that bans a women’s right to drive, does not need to be emphasized.
In recent history white liberals with their “white Jesus” complexes have taken on a new crusade, which is the liberation of Arab members of the LGBTQ from their less civilized, backward, sexually repressive Islamic societies. This white man rescue mission is not a new one. We can draw similarities between the white liberal’s fight for “gay Arab/Muslim rights” with that of “Arab/Muslim women’s rights”.