Of Niqabs, Monsters, and Decolonial Feminisms

By Huma Dar

A woman in niqab being arrested in Paris, April 12, 2011, copyright EPA

Of Civilities and Dignities

On 22 June 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, asserted that burqas (or the burqa-clad?) are “not welcome” in France, adding that “[i]n our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity” and that “the veils reduced dignity.” France’s Muslim minority is Western Europe’s largest Muslim minority, estimated at six-million-strong.  And this is just an approximation, as the French Republic implicitly claims to be post-race and post-religion via a prohibition on any census that would take into account the race or religion of its citizens. (This anxiety mirrors the brouhaha in Indian media àpropos the much-contested enumeration of OBCs or Other Backward Castes in the Indian census surveys of 2011, or the urgency to declare some spaces post-caste, post-feminist, and post-racist while casteism, patriarchy and racism continue unabated.)

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Nato: Going Global

From Al Jazeera’s excellent Empire with Marwan Bishara.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the largest military force ever assembled, with a potential armed force of more than seven million. But as its original enemies, communism and the Soviet Union, were defeated two decades ago, what is the alliance’s new identity or new role?

The Persecution of Michael Jackson

Ishmael Reed ruminates on race, the mad dog DA and the mad dog media in the death of Michael Jackson.

Michael-Jackson_childLast Thursday, while working on some writing deadlines, I was switching channels on cable. On CNN they were promoting “Black In America”, an exercise meant to boost ratings by making whites feel good by making blacks look bad, the marketing strategy of the mass media since the 1830s, according to a useful book entitled The Showman and the Slave, by Benjamin Reiss. The early penny press sold a “whiteness” upgrade to newly arriving immigrants by depicting blacks in illicit situations. By doing so they were marketing an early version of a self-esteem boosting product. One of the initial sensational stories was about the autopsy of a black woman named Joice Heth, who claimed to be George Washington’s nurse and over one hundred years old. It was the O. J. story of the time. Circus master, P. T. Barnum, charged admission to her autopsy, which attracted the perverted in droves. And so, if the people broadcasting cable news appear to be inmates of a carnival, there is a connection since the early days of the mass media to that form of show business. According to Reiss, early newspapers were not only influenced by P. T. Barnum, but actually cooperated with him on some hoaxes and stunts.

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Michael Jackson, R.I.P

He cared about them, and we all care about him. R.I.P brother.

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now
I’m tired of bein’ the victim of shame…
I can’t believe this is the land from which I came
You know I do really hate to say it
The government don’t wanna see
But if Martin Luther was livin’
He wouldn’t let this be, no, no