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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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21 Responses

  1. Nahida
    Nahida December 16, 2010 at 3:33 pm |

    I wonder if he’s even aware of how belittling he is.

    People usually find out I’m Muslim after they know other aspects of my identity that are very important (like feminism or how passionate I am about the humane treatment of animals) and they’re pretty much always shocked. I think the most disheartening reaction I’ve gotten is, “You’re Muslim? But you’re so smart!”

    I had no idea what to even begin saying to that…

  2. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin December 16, 2010 at 4:08 pm |

    Amazing, that! Women are doing just about anything these days. Soon, they might just run for President.

  3. Jadey
    Jadey December 16, 2010 at 5:20 pm |

    Nahida: I think the most disheartening reaction I’ve gotten is, “You’re Muslim? But you’re so smart!”

    I want to find this shocking. I really, really do, but I just can’t anymore. I know plenty of “progressives” who would make a comment like this without blinking, and argue to defend it too. Microaggressions, much?

  4. Nahida
    Nahida December 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm |

    Jadey:
    I want to find this shocking. I really, really do, but I just can’t anymore. I know plenty of “progressives” who would make a comment like this without blinking, and argue to defend it too. Microaggressions, much?  

    I know what you mean Jadey. Since then, I’ve seen much worse. I read a guy online who was arguing that “You’re really funny, despite being a woman” is not a sexist remark. Another poster told him to go up to a black person and tell him that he’s really smart for a black person, and see if he thinks it’s racist. She never got a reply. Which I was surprised about, because I kind of half-expected him to pull a defensive answer out of his ass.

    But this isn’t nearly as enraging (at least for me) as the way people react when they find out that I was physically abused as a child. After blaming Islam (of course) they proceed to say something like, “So THAT’S why you’re a feminist! You poor thing, you must be an emotional wreck!” As if the idea of being a feminist is so absurd that it needs an explanation like that, and as if everything I say on the basis of feminism and the things I’m passionate about should immediately be discredited because I’m just an “emotional wreck.”

    It’s the same thing in an inverted way, that “something I do or say” must surely have a reason based on a completely unrelated “something I am,” because those two things can’t possibly be compatible.

    I’m not going to pretend to know how gay and lesbian men and women must feel when their sexuality is discredited by suspicions of childhood abuse, because I’m straight so I’ll never know, but I feel like that might be pretty close.

  5. Sid
    Sid December 16, 2010 at 6:15 pm |

    This is something white liberals do often, essentialize minority and foreign people according to the salient characteristics they find most relevant, and it’s something that Kristof does to an especially great extent. The comment on islamic extremism driving islamophobia is disgusting, just as if someone were to claim that black people having murdered people and committed various crimes drives racism. And the line of how “its because of people like her that sweeping denunciations of Islam….rile me” implies that if Kristof were unaware of such individuals, then those claims would be justified.

  6. David
    David December 16, 2010 at 6:44 pm |

    Actually the vibe I got from it was that despite living in a society (somalia) steeped in violence and degradation of women, that she was able to overcome that oppressive environment and create a safe haven for men, women – an entire community. Some people have a hard time thinking up article titles. So we’re complaining about this article because…?

  7. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla December 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm |

    David: Actually the vibe I got from it was that despite living in a society (somalia) steeped in violence and degradation of women, that she was able to overcome that oppressive environment and create a safe haven for men, women – an entire community. Some people have a hard time thinking up article titles. So we’re complaining about this article because…?  

    Because Nick Kristof is implicitly laying blame for extremists at the feet of all Muslims, saying in effect that since Muslims collectively haven’t reined in extremists, that that’s why there’s Islamophobia. Instead of, you know, that Islamophobia is bigotry, plain and simple, no ifs ands or buts.

    Think of it this way: When was the last time you heard anybody imply (or state outright) that all USian Christians are collectively responsible for USian terrorists who are Christian? When Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal center in OKC, how come we didn’t hear a few dozen “new analysts” opine that mainstream Christians aren’t sufficiently speaking up against Christian terrorists?

  8. Jadey
    Jadey December 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  9. Jadey
    Jadey December 16, 2010 at 8:00 pm |

    Also, re-read Nahida’s comments, please.

  10. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe December 16, 2010 at 8:52 pm |

    I’m troubled by this “trot out the good one to disarm the bigots” line.

    The current villainization of Muslims resembles nothing so much as McCarthyism. In his definitive bio of McCarthy, Richard Rovere writes about how, as McCarthy trashed the State Department (and isn’t it funny how State is a perennial wingnut target?), some of his victims provided “wholly gratuitous information” about their educations, civic service, etc.

    [M]any [of McCarthy’s victims] felt impelled to show that they were dues-paying Redmen or Epworth Leaguers or Lions….Not only was the defense humiliating to those who employed it, but it raised the delicate question of what the large sections of the populace who had never been Eagle Scouts…might do if attacked by McCarthy.

    And Nahida, who the fuck believes that Muslims are stupid? Some of the smartest, sharpest (as well as nicest) people I know are Muslims, including the man who performed foot surgery on me the other day. Either these people know hardly any Muslims or they are themselves too stupid to know a smart person when they see one. Guess which way I’m betting.

  11. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig December 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm |

    Bitter Scribe: I think the ‘all Muslims are stupid’ trope is a subset of the ‘all religious people are stupid’ meme. But I could be wrong.

  12. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig December 16, 2010 at 9:23 pm |

    And they’re both pretty insulting to the smart religious people.

  13. David
    David December 16, 2010 at 10:51 pm |

    Jadey:
    Wow, David, thanks so much for letting us all know what to care about!
    Seriously: Microaggressions. It matters. “Little” things count. Read the posts, and read up on the concept (links are on the sidebar and it’s highly Google-able.)  

    Hey Jadey, I’m not sure if we’re reading the same thing. I saw nothing but praise in there for the heroics of the woman who was mentioned there. The title was “Heroic, female and muslim”. I for one, think that it was actually cool that he associated “female and muslim” with heroic in that sentence.

    Seriously? Microaggression? Are you comparing this column to the hordes of racist passive aggressive slander pieces in the world? I mean, I don’t read much of Nick Kristoff’s work and I haven’t done much research into him, but this column at least looked good. Even if he was one of those racist passive aggressive assholes, I’d give him a gold star for this. Anything that would praise the good work of an underexposed individual, anything that would in the same sentence criticize extremists in the American system who would seek to profit from hate is. a . good. article.

    So Jadey, thanks for letting me know how I should feel. Thanks for suggesting that I should really just “read up” more on this article. Thanks for implying that i’m an unread rube even though I originally found the damn op-ed when I was looking at NYT before Jill even posted it. Thanks for also implying that I agreed with the asshole who made sexist and bigoted remarks toward nahida, and that somehow, this article is magically the same thing as that.

    Links, they’re magic. When you post one, it *must* mean that the thing you’re linking is related.

  14. Jadey
    Jadey December 16, 2010 at 11:28 pm |

    Politicalguineapig: Bitter Scribe: I think the ‘all Muslims are stupid’ trope is a subset of the ‘all religious people are stupid’ meme. But I could be wro

    Hm, based on my experiences (as a white lady who gets to see other white people’s BS, not as a Muslim woman or a person of colour), it’s especially being a Muslim woman, which is code for “oppressed chattel with no will or mind of one’s own”. Condescending, saviour complex, faux-activist, Islamophobic crap, in other words.

  15. Jadey
    Jadey December 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm |

    David:
    Seriously? Microaggression? Are you comparing this column to the hordes of racist passive aggressive slander pieces in the world? I mean, I don’t read much of Nick Kristoff’s work and I haven’t done much research into him, but this column at least looked good. Even if he was one of those racist passive aggressive assholes, I’d give him a gold star for this. Anything that would praise the good work of an underexposed individual, anything that would in the same sentence criticize extremists in the American system who would seek to profit from hate is. a . good. article.So Jadey, thanks for letting me know how I should feel. Thanks for suggesting that I should really just “read up” more on this article. Thanks for implying that i’m an unread rube even though I originally found the damn op-ed when I was looking at NYT before Jill even posted it. Thanks for also implying that I agreed with the asshole who made sexist and bigoted remarks toward nahida, and that somehow, this article is magically the same thing as that.Links, they’re magic. When you post one, it *must* mean that the thing you’re linking is related.  

    What I got out of your comment, David, was you telling the rest of us that we were stupid for caring. So we’re complaining about this article because…?

    I suggested that you re-think that. If you don’t care, fine! No problem! But don’t come onto a thread and criticize people if they do. Derailing for dummies: “Why are you guys bothering with this petty crap? Don’t you know there are real problems?” That is what you sounded like to me.

    And, yeah, the persistent hinting that Muslim women are meek, cowering, and helpless does sound like microaggression to me. The headline is problematic and bogus, regardless of the content of the article.

    For the record, I was not intending to suggest that you were agreeing with the person who said that crap to Nahida, and I apologize for not being clear enough. What I wanted to do was give another clear example of the kind of little cuts that accumulate and hurt, because you didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.

  16. Shoshie
    Shoshie December 17, 2010 at 1:40 am |

    I agree (also as a white lady, but a religiously observant Jewish one). There definitely is an “all religious people are dumb” trope among left wingers that’s pretty frustrating, but I don’t think it’s as bad as Muslim women get. I have had people laugh when I talk about my dealings with the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. Like, what? Clearly you can’t be both an Orthodox Jew and a Feminist. But you might get that same condescending reaction no matter what type of Muslim woman you are.

    Jadey:
    Hm, based on my experiences (as a white lady who gets to see other white people’s BS, not as a Muslim woman or a person of colour), it’s especially being a Muslim woman, which is code for “oppressed chattel with no will or mind of one’s own”. Condescending, saviour complex, faux-activist, Islamophobic crap, in other words.  

  17. Times
    Times December 17, 2010 at 10:34 am |

    GallingGalla: When was the last time you heard anybody imply (or state outright) that all USian Christians are collectively responsible for USian terrorists who are Christian? When Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal center in OKC, how come we didn’t hear a few dozen “new analysts” opine that mainstream Christians aren’t sufficiently speaking up against Christian terrorists?  (Quote this comment?)

    Well, for one thing, by Timothy McVeigh’s own words, he was not a Christian. At most, he was a deist, and he was probably more agnostic than anything else.

    And I think we should clarify it is not just fundamentalist Christians who exhibit Islamophobia. Plenty of Jews and atheists do as well. See, e.g., Bill Maher or Christopher Hitchens.

  18. Nahida
    Nahida December 17, 2010 at 11:37 am |

    David: Actually the vibe I got from it was that despite living in a society (somalia) steeped in violence and degradation of women, that she was able to overcome that oppressive environment and create a safe haven for men, women – an entire community. Some people have a hard time thinking up article titles. So we’re complaining about this article because…?  

    He didn’t really say that though. He was instead comparing her to terrorists, extremists, murderers and rapists and people who have done horrible horrible things and happen to consider themselves Muslim and pointing how different she was from them, and how incredible and astonishing it is that she’s different from them even while being Muslim.

  19. David
    David December 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm |

    Jadey: What I got out of your comment, David, was you telling the rest of us that we were stupid for caring. So we’re complaining about this article because…?
    I suggested that you re-think that. If you don’t care, fine! No problem! But don’t come onto a thread and criticize people if they do. Derailing for dummies: “Why are you guys bothering with this petty crap? Don’t you know there are real problems?” That is what you sounded like to me.
    And, yeah, the persistent hinting that Muslim women are meek, cowering, and helpless does sound like microaggression to me. The headline is problematic and bogus, regardless of the content of the article.
    For the record, I was not intending to suggest that you were agreeing with the person who said that crap to Nahida, and I apologize for not being clear enough. What I wanted to do was give another clear example of the kind of little cuts that accumulate and hurt, because you didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.  

    Jadey, I posted what I did because I felt that this article was horribly misrepresented. Rather than be a derail, think of it as an opportunity to talk more about the language that was used and why it was used.

    Persistent hinting… Maybe I thought the opposite when I saw Kristoff associate Dr. Hawa in each paragraph with the following qualities:

    Forcefulness (The opposite of meekness) in
    “Somali Muslim woman named Dr. Hawa Abdi who has confronted the armed militias. Amazingly, she forced them to back down — and even submit a written apology.”

    Leadership (When he mentioned her efforts to get the displaced peoples independent and capable of feeding themselves, as well as the massive operation it must take to tend to the needs of the 90,000 people that stayed in her camp)

    Courage
    “The greatest religious battles are often not between faiths, but within faiths. The widest gulfs are often not those that divide one religion from the next, but those between extremists and progressives within a single faith. And in this religious season, there’s something that we can all learn from the courage, compassion and tolerance of Dr. Hawa Abdi.”

    I really wonder what was so offputting about the article. Was it the mention of the Somali militias in the beginning? Because rather than saying that “this is what all muslims are about” Kristoff was careful to qualify that paragraph (By mentioning that those rapists and murderers are simply extremists)

    By the way. The title wasn’t.. “Heroic, female … and she’s muslim” it was “Heroic, Female and Muslim”. Problematic my ass. I thought that was one of the most proud and positive things that Kristoff could have said about her. Nahida and you are both completely justified in holding whatever opinions that you have on this. I won’t (and haven’t) called you stupid for holding those beliefs. But from what I’ve read from this article I can’t blame Kristoff for laying nothing but praise at the feet of Dr. Hawa Abdi and emphasizing her courage in the face of both people of her own faith and people of other faiths that would wish to see her efforts fail.

  20. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig December 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm |

    Jadey and Soshie: Hmm, you could be right. I suppose it’s because being an observant Christian is seen by the culture as a choice an individual makes, whereas most Muslim and Jewish people are believed to be born into their faiths. (I.E. they’ve always been raised as a Jewish/ Muslim person.)
    I know there’s a population of converted people in both faiths, but I doubt many people realize that.
    (Sorry for the awkward phrasing.)

  21. Dannii
    Dannii December 31, 2010 at 8:35 am |

    “The greatest religious battles are often not between faiths, but within faiths. The widest gulfs are often not those that divide one religion from the next, but those between extremists and progressives within a single faith. And in this religious season, there’s something that we can all learn from the courage, compassion and tolerance of Dr. Hawa Abdi.”

    even if the article has good intentions this paragraph is problematic especially in regards to Islam and who the western media considers being “muslim” and how Islam is constructed. many people in Islam who are labled extremists do not in fact follow the basics of the religion but are considered devout followers by the media because they are suppoedly “killing for God” and willing to “give their lives for God”. Many muslims who live in these countires who deal with these extremiests would not call them Muslims or acting in the way of God because they know what Islam actually teaches, but the media will be quick to say they are because its makes it easier for them to package the story.

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