Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You don't think she's a terrorist sympathizer? Then YOU must be a terrorist sympathizer!

At Feministing, Samhita wrote a fairly emotional (which is to say, not entirely fact-based or scientific) post about her unease with the NY Times even referencing the idea that M.I.A. might be a terrorist sympathizer...of course, it didn't take long before a commenter suggested Samhita herself is a terrorist sympathizer (not just for the Tamil Tigers, but the PKK as well).

The accusation is absurd and such a threat to reasonable dialogue, and well, kind of a threat to Samhita as well, as she rightly points out in the thread.

But look, here's the thing: This conversation has repurcussions far beyond the details of the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan Civil war and M.I.A. The fact that we in the West feel the need to identify who is right and who is wrong in international conflicts, and then if we decide someone is wrong, completely disengage from their politics, is a serious problem.

If we can't, in a feminist space no less, distinguish between the tactics of a group and their cause, or between people who can humanize those involved in a cause, even if their tactics may be violent, and those who approve of violence against innocent people, then seriously, how can we ever have reasonable transnational discussions?

There's just a certain degree of rationality that has to be involved in order for conversations to not be complete failures, and if it includes deeming anyone who shows any interest in understanding the political goals of even the most vicious looking groups a "terrorist sympathizer," it's a failure.

For the record, here's M.I.A. herself distinguishing between the cause of the Tamil people and the tactics of the Tamil Tigers, and pointing out the danger of conflating the two and neglecting the interests of both.

No comments: