Die Sehen Doch Sowieso Alle Gleich Aus.

18 Jun

Hach, taz… Ihr lernt auch einfach nichts dazu, ne? Deniz Yücel fand es schon sehr gemein, dass er nicht mehr unwidersprochen N* sagen darf (und sich gar Frauen im Publikum dagegen lautstark zur Wehr setzten, statt zu bügeln – Videospiel-Zitate be damned…), aber das habt Ihr unter “Satire” verbucht, und die darf ja bekanntlich alles. So, wie “Onkel Barracks Hütte” 2008. Oder wie Die Partei mit Blackface. Oder der Dresdner Zoo mit Affen.

showbiz_barack_obama_presidents_chairBarack Obama kommt also nach Berlin, 50 Jahre nach John F. Kennedy, und wird eine Rede halten am Branden­bur­ger Tor, nun in image­schwieri­gen Zei­ten von PRISM und Hunger­streiks von Guan­ta­na­mo-Häft­lin­gen. Es ist zu er­war­ten, dass sich – wie üblich – Oba­mas Rede in Pathos er­giessen wird und man ein bisschen Ameri­can Ex­ceptio­na­lism vor die Na­se ge­knal­lt be­kommt. Das wäre nichts Neues und das wäre auch nicht anders als das, was Politiker_innen weltweit tun (except for the exceptional exceptionalism, maybe) – es ist also keinen besonderen Spott oder besondere Häme wert.

Wozu hat sich nun aber die taz entschieden? Dafür, eine satirische Kolumne zu schreiben, in der Barack Obamas Rede aus Zitaten von Roberto Blancos Liedern besteht.  Mehr noch, diese wird gleich eingeleitet mit einem Bild Roberto Blancos, das folgende Caption trägt: “Der amerikanische Präsident Barack Obama bei der Probe für seine große Berliner Rede.”

Man könnte das unter “nicht lustig” abhaken. Wäre ja nicht das erste Mal bei taz‘schen Satireversuchen. Leider wird hier aber fröhlich Rassismus reproduziert – selbst dann, wenn es als so überspitzt intendiert war, dass man den rassistischen Gehalt dieser Satire als solchen von Beginn an offenlegen wollte.

Barack Obama ist Schwarz, Roberto Blanco auch – das muss als Parallele reichen, um die beiden physisch wie rhetorisch austauschbar zu machen.

Die taz denkt, das sei Satire; vielleicht sogar eine, die Rassismus irgendwie entlarven soll (wie und warum so, bleibt unklar). Dass diese Satire nur deshalb funktionieren kann, weil man sie auf rassistischen Tropen aufbaut, ist der taz dabei egal. Schwarze Menschen wurden seit jeher als ununterscheidbar und deshalb beliebig auswechselbar angesehen; als ent-individualisierte, ent-persönlichte dunkle Masse, der sowohl physische als auch charakterliche Differenzen fehlte – das “anders”/”nicht-weiß” war genug des Markers und der Beschreibung Schwarzer Personen. Die taz bedient sich dieses Klischees, und sie subsumiert Barack Obama nicht nur unter einen von “diesen”, die irgendwie alle “gleich” aussehen, sondern macht aus der momentan politisch mächtigsten Person der Welt nicht mehr als einen phrasendreschenden Entertainer zur Belustigung eines weiß_deutschen Publikums.

Roberto Blanco hat sich seine Karriere ausgesucht, er singt seine Lieder (hoffentlich) freiwillig. Barack Obama ist jedoch kein Schlagersänger, er ist Politiker. Dass es Parallelen/Überschneidungen von Showbusiness und Politik gibt, ist so alt wie langweilig als vermeintliche “Erkenntnis” hier. Dass Barack Obama als “Popstar” gefeiert wurde, ebenso. Nichtsdestotrotz hat man Kennedy damals nicht mit Heino verglichen, und Angela Merkel vergleicht man nicht mit Barbara Streisand.

Das Narrativ, Barack Obama als inhaltslosen Popstar darzustellen, das sich die taz übrigens von US-Republikaner_innen der McCain-Kampagne abgeguckt hat, baut  auf Rassismus auf – und hier schließt sich der Kreis zum Obama-Blackface Der Partei: Obama wird nicht nur entpersonalisiert und entindividualisiert durch Austauschbare-Schwarze-(TM)-Fotos, er wird zugleich zum bloßen Entertainment für weiße Zuschauer_innen degradiert; als jemand, der alberne Lieder (am besten mit ein bisschen Stepptanz) vorführt. Ihm wird Handlungsfähigkeit (agency) aberkannt, er wird zum bloßen Spektakel eines white gaze, zur Parodie eines weiß-definierten Schwarzseins.

Die taz greift hier tief in die Kiste rassistischer Stereotype, Narrative und Tropen – schon wieder. Wer immer noch ein Abo hat bei den “Genoss_innen” [sic], der_die möge es doch spätestens jetzt endlich kündigen. Die taz selbst freut sich ganz bestimmt über feedback unter @tazgezwitscher oder direkt hier.

Shhh…

26 Feb

There are certain commenters on feminist and other social justice blogs that I keep wondering about, or rather: whose behavior keeps baffling me. These people (most of them self-identified men) are no “trolls” in the usual sense, i.e., they do not linger around comment threads with the need for petty recogni­tion; the people I am talking about would probab­ly argue that they are ho­nest­ly interested in feminist and other social topics, that they do value the writing people provide on it, and that they are here to argue in good faith. Still, despite all these seemingly benign intentions, even lower-level moderated feminist spaces can’t be bothered publishing or even replying to their comments. But despite the fact that about 90 percent of these commenters’ ideas never see the bright and shiny light of comment thread day, they feel the need to give bloggers the benefit of their opinion on every other post.

Can I just ask… why? What do people think they (or the ones they are confronting with this kind of behavior) have to gain from tactics like these?

Why would you continue to comment (most redundantly) on a blog that has not acknowledged your last ten posts? Why would you think that a feminist blog is very eager to learn your spectacular insights as a white, heterosexual, able-bodied cis-man on every topic imaginable (and why would you think that you actually have the knowledge to talk about all of that)? Why do you think it is appropriate to force your half-assed analyses on every feminist blogger you can get a hold of?

This curious behavior is nestled somewhere between critical commenting, mansplaining and trolling, so I personally find it harder to handle (…engage yet again to repeat the same basics one more time? Ignore? Delete? Spam?). It is, however, quite similar to good ol’ trolling in certain regards: people who have little knowledge on feminist/etc. issues (although they most certainly think they do…) feel the ever-growing need to educate you about either very basic feminist 101 ideas that they’ve just recently learned somewhere and now need someone else to validate them, or about long-refuted hypotheses on, well, The World ™ and how it works. The other possibility (that I find particularly charming) is the devil’s advocate role where some random dudes just start throwing stuff at you (because it’s just the internet, right, don’t take things so personally, you hysterical oversensitive misandrist radical ball buster), even though paying lip service to actually agreeing with you “more generally” – Melissa McEwan at Shakesville has written about that many times, and why it is not only exhausting but privileged and disrespectful behavior in the first place.

Some of the latest examples for this kind of conduct were some of the reactions to Charlott’s post about the Oscars, over at Mädchenmannschaft. In reply to her pointing out the misogyny, anti-Semitism and racism of a show that centered around jokes about topless actresses, domestic violence, JewsControlTehHollywoodz and WeCan’tUnderstandLatin@sAmIRite?!, some people found it necessary to tell Charlott that this is just “the entertainment industry,” and what do people really expect from that? Yeah, thanks for that groundbreaking insight… In reply to Charlott stating the obvious, namely that the Academy Awards are given out by a jury of predominantly elderly white men to predominantly elderly white men, people thought it wise to interject that both in the categories of leading and supporting actor/actress, the same amount of Oscars have been awarded. No shit, Sherlock… When Charlott problematized the racist and miso­gy­nistic treatment of Quvenz­hané Wallis, people found it appropriate to “remind” her of Django Unchained and its oh-so-clear “anti-racist” message, and that this ceremony clearly was all about racial har­mony. Have you been staying under a rock recently…? I’d rather publish another response (ironically) praising the beauty of this “coal black child” than those trying to school feminist and anti-racist bloggers about, well, feminism and anti-racism with the most ridiculous assumptions and a bare lack of know­ledge, all while thinking they have a key insight to contribute to this discussion – over and over again.

shhh2And yet, magically, this happens with a large per­cen­tage of the posts on femi­nist blogs, and it is al­most ex­clu­sive­ly done by the same hand­full of people (mostly men*) in seeming­ly end­less loops of re­dun­dan­cy. So, let me give you a quick ser­vice an­nounce­ment that other bloggers are too polite to give you (…and we all know that subtlety isn’t for me): please shut up al­ready. No one cares about your ill-informed “in­for­mation” you think is pi­votal to the success of some­one else’s blog’s con­tent or their wri­ting sty­le. This is not de­bate cul­ture – this is simply draining re­sources from people who have to deal with you and full-fledged trolls on a daily basis any­way. If you have questions about feminism and/or racism, take a look at a 101 and then come back. There is no responsibility to answer every single douche canoe comment to make people happy, and there certainly is no benefit to having to repeat day in, day out, why feminist bloggers on feminist blogs care about feminism so much or why criticizing pop culture makes sense in a critical post about pop culture.

When you realize at some point that none of your comments (or very few) ever make it through, it might be time to step back from the hard and cruel comment game and start reading and listening a bit more. That’s how most of the feminist bloggers (surprise: including this loud-mouthed one) started out, by the way: shutting up and educating themselves in other feminist spaces, for example – not drowning everyone everywhere in a flood of useless comments. If you don’t have anything else but rudely phrased banalities based on superficial knowledge to add to the conversation (which, by the way, can be quickly determined by people’s reactions to your posts or the fact that your posts are never actually answered or never even appear on the page), you might want to reconsider your actions. You know, the basic common decency approach has proven quite popular here and elsewhere… Because right now, the thing you’re doing is essentially online harassment. You’re the guy who is “just not getting it,” no matter how pronounced one signals you to back off. It’s not sexual harassment, but it is gendered harassment – and No means No (including the “No” that is conveyed when ignoring you).

Now: step away from the keyboard, and try to keep it down.

Performing Against Hipster Racism.

24 Feb

I only came across this performance today, and I thought it’s too good not to share: this is Kai Davis’ and Safiya Washington’s take on Hipster Racism, presented at the semi-finals of the 2012 Brave New Voices.  To be clear: it is a performance, not a nuanced analysis of racism and the role it plays in gentrification, for example, and it does not have to be; it is still so spot-on in many ways... <3… You can find more “spoken word poems” by Davis and Washington here on Women and Media, for example.

What Fresh Hell Is This?

30 Jan

Femen Germany, a direct action group engaged in the tremendously important feminist causes of activism against sex slavery, human trafficking and sexualized violence and which has been modeled after the Ukrainian original “Femen,” has made a bit of a name for itself in feminist activism in germany. Incidentally, they achieved recognition by their forms of protest, that, apparently, always include some form of nudity and some form of discrimination. Whereas the biggest german feminist magazine, EMMA, celebrated Femen as a new generation of amazing feminist activists that evil wannabe-feminists from Berlin (!!11) are trying to stifle using all dictatorial means necessary, the fact that this group has been endorsed by EMMA is interesting in itself, given EMMA‘s stances on racism.

Besides the age-old question whether feminist activism in the nude is actually productive (personally, I don’t care if people choose this form of protest, as long as they do it consciously and know what it entails), Femen Germany have displayed an astonishing lack of knowledge and insight when it comes to feminist theory and action of the last three decades while displaying a special talent for being as offensive as possible towards people who are subjected to racism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, ableism and other forms of systematic oppression. I might add that one of their most prominent activists, Zana Ramadani, has actually been a member of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) for two years, and Femen Germany‘s FB page displays countless german national flags (*ahem*).

Femen Germany, moreover, is not only ignorant towards these issues, but – and that’s the crucial point for me – furthers discrimination by their biologistic “theories” and offensive actions: be it with their Niqab performance at last year’s sl*twalk in Berlin or their newest “protest” in Hamburg against sex work, 24 hours before the Holocaust memorial day, where they had the nerve to compare sex work to (german) fascism, actually wrote “Arbeit macht frei” on a wall, and demonstrated carrying torches (!).

Femen Germany, thus, are not only a bunch of racist impersonators as seen at the sl*twalk, they actually don’t have an issue with equating sex work to the industrialized mass murder of the Holocaust. Femen Germany has thus proven that they take their name quite seriously – they truly are the worst…

Thankfully, the feminist activists from e*vibes have written an Open Letter that challenges Femen Germany and asks them many important questions (in german):

“Innerhalb der letzten Wochen sind wir über Facebook vermehrt auf euch als Femen Germany aufmerksam geworden. Vergangenen Montag dann haben wir von eurer Aktion in Hamburg erfahren. Nachdem wir den ersten Schock überwunden hatten, haben wir uns ein Herz gefasst und schreiben euch nun diesen Brief. Ein Brief mit einigen der vielen drängenden Fragen. Auf eurer Seite verlinkt ihr die internationale Seite Femen.org. Das Selbstverständnis, welches dort zu finden ist, haben wir uns einmal genauer angeschaut. Es hat sich gelohnt, denn bereits hier taten sich einige Fragen auf: Können Frauen ohne Brüste Femen sein? Wie definiert ihr „Frauen“? Was ist mit Trans*menschen? „Activists of FEMEN – are morally and physically fit soldiers“ Was bedeutet „physisch und moralisch fit“? Können „nicht physisch fitte“ Menschen Femen sein? Warum Soldat*innen?”

Go read the whole letter here.

Land of Ideas: 2013.

24 Jan

In case you were wondering to which lows some white German people are not afraid to sink during the current “debate” about racist language in children’s books: take a look at the comment sections of online articles, letters to the editor of every other newspaper and magazine, and this piece of writing by the German author Claus Cornelius Fischer.

Fischer has written this e-mail to Mekonnen Mesghena, the father whose explanatory letter to Otfried Preussler and his family has resulted in their and the Thienemann publishing house’s decision to delete racist language from their new editions of Preussler’s children’s books, such as “The Litte Witch.” Fischer, to be clear, has not been contacted by Mr. Mesghena nor asked for his opinion, but decided to chime in the chorus of terribly affronted German middle-class intellectuals (and I use that term loosely) who agree that this is the single event that has sealed this forsaken place’s fate of terrible, terrible, not-good doom.

We have already heard that an author’s decision to substitute a single racist word in his book constitutes “censorship,” that not using racist language is counterproductive to the cause of anti-racism, that if you don’t read racist bed time stories to your kids, how will they ever learn about racism, and that this is very close to the book burnings by the Nazi regime and its millions of enthusiastic followers.

racism

(c) Beatrice Murch

Sure.

Mr. Fischer, whose crime novels have been successful not only in Germany but in many other countries according to his former publishing house Bastei Lübbe has now successfully solved another riddle in a piece of (potentially) criminal writing: how to expose yourself as the racist that you are. May I quote?

[Content Note: racism, sexism]

“Dear Mr. Mesghena, How pathetic you are! Thanks to your ridiculous initiative, the Thienemann publishing house is acting as a censor of children’s book classics. Heinrich Böll would turn around in his grave, given the rubbish you are staging under the guise and letter head of his foundation! I am not in the mood for anything but writing a children’s book that is full of Neger, Eskimos, Turks, Gypsies, Sheiks and Indians, and all of them are eating Negerküsse or Mohrenköpfe [racist terms for chocolate coated marshmallows]. After that, surely “the” [using the neutral “das” instead of feminine “die”, thus mocking germany’s federal family minister for giving an interview saying that she thinks God has no gender] family minister Schröder has a reason for outrage, and you and she can blush while reading to somebody. Oh, God – blushing! That’s a no-go! And dressing up as a Turk or an Indian, good gracious! Why don’t you rather care about the literature of your home Ethiopia than the country that has admitted you? Surely you can annoy many people with your laughable political correctness there?! Alert regards, Claus Cornelius Fischer, author” [translation of his German letter that you can find here]

I trust I don’t have to explain why this is a racist letter by a person who seems to lack every trace of basic human decency? Even better: according to Wikipedia, Fischer himself is a children’s books author, using a pseudonym.

The one thing Fischer did not anticipate, however, is that Mr. Mesghena published Fischer’s e-mail (…whoops! Suddenly, racism in public isn’t all that fun, I suppose?), and Fischer is now actually threatening to sue Mekonnen Mesghena.

The other thing that Fischer also might not have expected is that I and, as I hope, many more people will write to his publishing house and alert them to the kind of person they are paying to write tacky crime novels and what said person does in his spare time – not merely as a “private person,” but explicitly as an author fantasizing about discriminatory literature to punish uppity minorities, I suppose. I would like to ask Bastei Lübbe Random House whether this is the kind of example it wants to set, and let them know that I wouldn’t want to throw money down the drain either as a (non-white) reader or a (non-white) parent and thus won’t indirectly subsidize a racist author by buying any of Bastei Lübbe’s Random House’s books.

So please, join me in sharing the benefit of our knowledge with them (cf. a letter proposal by Sula in the comment section):http://www.luebbe.de/Kontakt

Edit: According to the e-mail I received from Bastei Lübbe, Fischer is no longer affiliated with them, but solely with:

Random House’s “Karl Blessing Verlag” that published his latest books: tweet @randomhouseDE or write to kundenservice@randomhouse.de

And if you’d like to let Mr. Fischer know (politely, of course) why his attitude is a bit problematic, here’s where you can reach him: mail@ccfischer.de

Finally: many thanks to the most courageous Mekonnen Mesghena to whom you can write a note of support.

[Update, January 25th:] Claus Cornelius Fischer has now written a letter of apology after, as he notes, he has received many objections to his previous two letters to Mr. Mesghena. Mekonnen Mesghena has accepted his apology (while noting that he disagrees with Fischer’s line of reasoning in this third letter yet again). Not being even half as gracious as Mr. Mesghena, I believe that the mere fact that Fischer essentially (and passive-aggressively, I might add) apologizes solely for the “severity” of his “tone,” defines “German” as white (by saying that his previous racist letters could have been sent to a “well tanned German,” too… m( ), cites the opposition he has encountered as the primary reason to apologize, and finally, given the fact that one has to issue a [Content Note: racism, victim blaming] for this link to his apology (in German) shows that Fischer and many other people still do not understand what racism is and, despite being horribly offended when being associated with that term, can’t help but argue in the most blatantly racist ways themselves. And here’s a random thought: perhaps Mr. Fischer’s attorneys, who he swore he would contact because Mr. Mesghena published his hateful letters, might have told Mr. Fischer that Mr. Mesghena has a better case in pressing charges against him than the other way around? That would certainly explain this nonpology of a person who essentially told Mr. Mesghena to go “home” just a few days earlier but firmly believes he is “not a racist.”

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