I am writing this post despite the sense that the last three posts I wrote unrelated to Islam are about race and I am kind of eyeing how it throws off my usual variation here.
Before I introduce all the twitter drama, let me recount the incident to which it refers—infamously christened EG, or ElevatorGate.
Rebecca Watson, an atheist feminist and the well-known writer of Skepchick, delivered a lecture on hostility toward women in the atheist community. As she entered an elevator at a very late hour following the presentation a man asked her whether she’d come up to his room for coffee, an invitation Watson declined. Watson casually mentioned the incident in passing, denouncing that a man would advance right after she disclosed such behavior as a source of discomfort for her and advising guys to get a clue.
For this Watson was accused of hating men and received a number of death threats.
Then Richard Dawkins took it upon himself to criticize her—since she is a Western woman—for complaining about misogyny, because there are Muslim women in the world who are having their genitals cut dammit. Thus the old tactic of silencing a woman by telling her she should be grateful she isn’t being stoned to death was employed. Not only was Watson accused of misandry, but of cultural insensitivity and racism—for talking about how she didn’t go out with some schmuck. Insert gif that reads, “I turned down someone for coffee–therefore I hate Muslims” here.
That is Dawkins’s logic. Of course, Dawkins and his supporters, as racially sensitive and globally aware as they are, failed to notice that the only people making this claim were white. They also failed to notice how extremely offensive this comment was to the Muslim women (some of whom are also Western women) that these men supposedly care so much about, women who can save our damn selves and don’t need white knights like Richard Dawkins conveniently using our oppression to silence white women thank you very much.
Yesterday on twitter, as I was speaking to Ozy, one of my awesomeful friends, some douchebag decided to introduce himself to the conversation, and this happened: (he parades in at the 5th tweet)
“Primitive.” Your language isn’t suggestive of racism at all. (I take it though that he was referring to religiosity.) Opening with condescendingly informing me Islam and feminism are incompatible (thanks XY)* and that believing in God is like believing in mermaids is totally logic and not proselytizing. Geez, you’d think calling Dawkins a racist ass is equivalent to criticizing a religious leader.
Then, unable to resist, he unblocked me to tell me
in reference to my telling Ozy that I don’t need a man to lecture me about my feminism. And then he blocked me again. Because he is so in control. The best part is when he re-tweeted my tweet denouncing white atheists to his followers as an example of hypocrisy. Dude thought he struck gold. He must have pissed himself in excitement when I said that. In fact not only did he re-tweet it, he then linked it.
Awwwe, he wants to marry my tweeeeet!
The guy has class:
Oh the virgins. Yay. No Islamophobia here–move along!
Let me stop here to say that I acknowledge atheists, who are at an immense systematic disadvantage, have a lot to be pissed off about. I know I disparaged the strong reaction to my criticizing Dawkins and likened him to a religious leader, but religious leaders who mock other religions in an equally belittling manner as Dawkins aren’t met with nearly the same level of hatred as atheists who mock religions. Unlike the presumptions of this jackass, this is not about atheism. This is about racism and people not knowing what the hell that is—and not understanding the underpinnings that classify something as racist and thus perpetuate racism. And how these people are usually white. Another atheist had taken the time to ask me to clarify this allegation against Dawkins—and he had been of color; naturally the concern was understood.
It annoys me to no end when people can’t identify racism unless it’s overt. Dawkins doesn’t even know he’s racist because he’s “obscured” the essential message of inferiority behind the sentiment that Muslim women need to be saved from the heinous crimes of Muslim men, which has a thousand different oppressive implications–and this guy was doing the same racist thing. Then I blatantly state “white atheists are the WORST” and there’s outrage because that’s the only thing they can recognize as a generalization! Even when Dawkins’s and others’ wordy prejudice actively illustrates racism as a contextualized function rather than being a simple declarative. They don’t register it until it’s made frank for them and put in the simplest terms–which means they don’t understand racism at all. They just look for a formulaic sentence.
It reminds me of advice I read on tumblr. “One of the worst ways to stop someone from telling sexist jokes is to tell him the joke isn’t funny. He’ll assume that you’re humorless and that he needs to save the good stuff for the right audience. If you really want someone to stop telling sexist jokes, you need to tell him, ‘I don’t get it’ and then step back as he tries not to say, ‘It’s funny because women are stupid.’ ”
That’s just it. They can’t tell unless it’s in the simpest terms. Because they don’t really understand racism or sexism, don’t understand the dynamics of the systematic functions of oppression. They just know a formula of a sentence. They don’t understand racism is systematic, not a sentence, and therefore something like a sentence is racist when it contributes to that racist system.
I don’t know how long I’ll leave this up–it feels lowly like gossip, but I’ll keep it for at least a while to get the point across. Or edit it somehow to take out that stuff… somehow, since that’s the reference.
*–WILL EVERYBODY STOP TRYING TO SAVE ME PLEASE!