Day 6: Know the Opposition

leftandislam

When it comes to social media echo chambers, Twitter may be the worst–a great home for preaching to your respective choirs. Still I enjoy the immediacy of it, and I have a few small windows in my liberal bubble. I follow a few conservatives (mostly never-Trumpers), but as far as I can tell I have only one real alt-righty follower. He mostly ignores my constant Trump trolling retweets and I mostly ignore his Infowars links. Today however, he singled me out with an @mention and a link to a video, saying that the content reminded him of me.

I’ll include a link for those with a strong stomach for, let’s just say, ‘polemic,’ but I certainly understand if you don’t want to contribute a view to their counter, so I’ll provide a summary. In other words, I watched the video so you don’t have to. Here is the gist:

The narrator argues that feminists and leftists who organized (and participated in) the various Women’s March protests have embraced Islam. Because, he claims, Islam is an intrinsically misogynist ideology and Muslims are determined to destroy western democratic states, such a coalition is a deeply hypocritical choice that constitutes a betrayal of the west.

The evidence for this ‘Unholy Alliance’ as he calls it, consists mostly of a short video clip of protesters watching reverently during a Muslim prayer, a fleeting reference to the ‘We The People’ hijab poster that was seen at the marches, and a claim that one of the organizers (Linda Sarsour) supports Sharia Law and has associated with a Hamas terrorist.

Let’s start with the first premise. Feminists/progressives have not allied with ‘Islam’ in the monolithic conspiratorial sense claimed in the video. Some in the anti-Trump left have certainly sought to support Muslim Americans and Muslim refugees to resist the racial/ethnic profiling Trump has proposed (and is now implementing). Does this constitute some kind of alliance with repressive Islamic states or with ISIS? Of course not.

The narrator goes on to enumerate the misogynist laws and customs of various states, with the implication that western feminists are hypocrites and dupes for associating themselves with the religion those states proclaim. The idea that Muslim American women participating in protests constitutes a feminist endorsement of genital mutilation or some other horror is complete nonsense. There’s always been a tension on the  left between respect for cultural diversity and the concept of universal rights, but western feminists have been some of the most influential critics of these practices, whereas conservatives have not. In fact, the level of disingenuousness in conservatives trying to lecture feminists on how to protect women’s rights is phenomenal. Dear alt-right, when you support pay equity, provide access to abortion and birth control, believe rape victims and stop suggesting women are property by using words like ‘cuck,’ then maybe we’ll take your sudden concern for Saudi women drivers seriously.

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