Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Re-Wiring the Problem

Honor killing of Muslim girls is not an Islamic problem. It's a man problem. The rest is just "set dressing":

To be fair, according to some estimates, 1/5 of honour killings in the year 2000 occured in Pakistan, where the Parvez family originally emigrated from. But putting an inordinate level of focus on Islamic fundamentalism (or supposedly “backwards” foreign culture) as the primary culprit is to place too much stock on a mere symptom, not the disease (ie, the denial of women’s agency in cultures where women are seen as mere property, to dispose of at whim–again I stress that Western culture is not immune, even if the set dressing is different). At some point, Aqsa’s father (and, in the capacity as accessory after the fact, brother) made the choice to kill a female family member.

People who decry honor killing are hypocrites who somehow are blind to the fact that "white Western (Christian) women are murdered at the hands of male family members."

The absence of overt religious motivations doesn’t negate the fact that guys kill girls for cheating; husbands kill wives; fathers kill daughters. Intrafamilial and intracommunal violence is horrific and sad, but let us not pretend that it somehow affects the adherents of this or that sect more acutely than some other.

Among other things, too, we learn that uppity woman Michelle Malkin doesn’t strike author "Mattbastard" "as the sort who would normally give two shits about uppity wimminz ...."

Here's the thesis statement: "domestic violence stems from a universal culture of patriarchal dominance ...."

It's possible that the people who write such things are hip to higher truths that have been denied to mental mudsills like me, who never went to graduate schools. But it's also possible that, as I suspect, they are using an expensive education as a crowbar to try to whack reality into the shape of their dogmas.

You start with a problem that is absorbing the attention of people the writer doesn't like, and which seems to affirm things the writer wishes to believe are not true.

But the problem can somehow be framed or distorted so that it is not a problem that arises from some disturbing reality. It can be re-visioned into being just one small expression of a general problem. Then it becomes possible to further bluster and twist with words to make it seem the problem is just as bad if not worse in one's own society or family.

And therefore the only correct and honorable way to show one's valid concern for said problem is to attack existing social institutions in one's own society or family. And any attempt to address or even notice the problem in another context is de facto either racism or enabling of the problem at home. And all this can be bolstered by arcane allusions to the kind of theoretical trifling taught in graduate school lit crit seminars.

By this logic, there's no point in trying to eradicate malaria in Africa, say, because people die of disease everywhere, and the problem is the "universal culture of viruses and bacteria," not Africa. If you live in Berkeley, you're a fool and a racist if you feign concern about Africa. The only thing you legitimately can do is speak out and march against pneumonia and tuberculosis at home.

People in suburbs are off the hook for worrying about crime and failing schools in the cities. Attend to the shoplifting children in your subdivision and forget about guns and drugs in the ghetto. And you'll be doing your part much more effectively against the "universal culture of juvenile criminality."

By this logic, a tragedy that happens in the course of human criminality and is punished by authorities and condemned by religious leaders is on an equal plane with a tragedy that happens with the sanction and encouragement of cultural and religious authorities.

This kind of argument is not new. I've read it many times before this, in the apologists for Southern slavery who persuasively frammed the "peculiar institution" as just another form of labor management and social structuring, and overall a more efficient and humane one than the way of work and life in the North, and told the meddlesome Yankees to get their own house in order before bothering the South. Having read both, let me say the argument reads better without the post-modernist mumbo-jumbo.

It would almost be possible for me to extend the benefit of the doubt to these better-educated beings, if they did not consistently tangle their feet in their own thinking as they march toward utopia. In stupidly lumping together everyone who disagrees with them and presuming identical prejudices among them all, for instance. Or in failing to call for people in that other culture to struggle against the problem in their culture in any serious way. Or for not being able to make up one's mind whether it is more convenient to believe the original culture-specific problem even exists or whether it does not.