[Marxism] If Charlie is racist, then so am I by Zineb el- Rhazoui

Charles Faulkner lacenaire at comcast.net
Fri Jan 16 10:58:44 MST 2015

my reply with darkie toothpaste example. 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Charles Faulkner via Marxism" <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> 
To: "Charles Faulkner" <lacenaire at comcast.net> 
Cc: "Marxism Serve" <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> 
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2015 8:25:50 AM 
Subject: Re: [Marxism] If Charlie is racist, then so am I by Zineb el- Rhazoui 

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Aside from death of the author considerations which in my view are 
irrelevant, I don't think she's grounding her case on the lack of 
subjective racism in the magazine's members, but in the context and 
social purpose in which the magazine existed and to which it was 
deployed. It's one thing to say that one can be antiracist and produce 
racist content by accident, it's another thing to say so when this 
content is being used by antiracists to combat racism. At that point we 
need some kind of means to determine how content produced by antiracists 
to combat racists and taken up for this purpose can still be racist. 

yes, i hope that death of author considerations are irrelevant. but that wasn't the limit of beardsley's argument. it also applied when the artist herself was unaware of her intent or worse, deceptive. the upshot was that the work stands on its own quite aside from the intent an artist had when it was made. beardsley concluded that criticism was impossible if we had to rely solely on author intention. 

so when we actually have the artist's intentions expressed we have a complication, not a solution. 

when i was on tour in southeast asia in the marine corps (post vietnam, boat people and killing fields) i often saw darkie toothpaste. my apologies for the content but for those who are unaware of its existence here is a wikipedia link with an image ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darlie ). now if our asian friends mention that it was a harmless image only intended to sell a helpful product for oral hygiene, i hope we would have a response quite aside from standard rhetoric about capitalism. 

i am quite willing to accept that there is a difference between racist art employed by a racist and racist art employed by an an anti-racist but both are offences if only of different degree. 

Well, the key in these distinctions is, in my view, to articulate a case 
for distinguishing criticism of Islamists, criticism of Islam, and 
racism. If you think all criticism of Islam is per se and necessarily 
racist, then sure, she's obfuscating. I personally can't subscribe to 
that position though. 

i don't. 

religion is simply a fact. it goes well beyond simple accusations of oppression. we atheists on the left need to get over ourselves with our pious superiority. we are the minority. denigrating religion with offensive caricatures of its believers is a doomed project. if we want to claim moral superiority over religious hierarchy, we must demonstrate respect for all people and condemn goofy ethnic images. 

I think she addresses this fairly adequately when she refers to the 
oppression secularists and women suffer in the maghreb. Now if your view 
is that this is secondary, or irrelevant, on the light of oppression of 
racial or religious minorities in Europe, you may still consider that 
she's somehow betraying herself. I'm really dubious of propositions like 
this, first because I don't consider religious identities worth much, 
but second because people aren't singly constituted by the fact of 
coming from an area with a given hegemonic religious background. It 
would be like accusing Rosa Luxemburg of being antisemite and 
anti-polish, since both as a Jew and as a Pole she made a firm case 
against religious identities (judaism and catholicism). It also gives no 
room for recognition that such religious identities aren't the end of a 
person and can themselves be oppressive. In my opinion she makes this 
case better than I can hope to, though. 

having been oppressed and then siding with "liberators" who are also oppressors isn't so uncommon. 

i haven't gone back to her text yet but she also uses techniques of distraction. one such, her claim of being married to a black man. it reminds me somewhat of jarheads i knew who married locals, made claims of purity of racial thought with proof in their marriage and then went on to express some of the most unlightened racist garbage i've heard in my life. and i've dealt with klan dialogue! i'm not saying she's being racist herself but maybe, just maybe, her defence of charlie hebdo, at a time that it was being criticized for it's racism, is little more than locating the butter on bread. 

Sure, and all the more likely if the left doesn't come to its senses and 
stops this reflexive defence of religion. 

who would you say is doing this? 

best regards. 

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