09 September 2007 @ 11:21 am
Painting a gold star on my shoulder  
A couple of days ago, phaballa posted about the stage gay in bandom. This post isn't about that. What this post is about is something that happened in the comments to phaballa's post:

anti-Semitism.

chopchica spells it out here and if you've been following my thoughts on racism (which aren't, no matter how tl;dr I get, the same as "my thoughts on yaoi"), please read her post. Then come back here.

Because this post is a response to chopchica's thoughtful and insightful post.

phaballa raises her Jewish identity in the context of explaining why she understands oppression and why she fights it. She acknowledges that being Jewish is not the same as being of color. That being a visible minority is different (though she rightly points out that at least in some places, and for some Jews, being Jewish is visibly distinctive).

Because she does so in the context of defending her opinion that stage gay = black face, someone else thinks she's "playing the Jewish card"/"raising the Jewish shield" as it were. [eta1:] whether phaballa was or wasn't, which is not my point here, the poster's response to what she said was anti-Semitic. [/eta]

chopchica says about the anti-Semitism of that commenter: The originator of the post and the majority of her commenters are well-known for speaking up against racism and in this case, have responded with dead silence.

Since I read her post, I've been thinking about why I didn't say anything, and why I probably wouldn't have even if it had caught my attention when I read the original post.

The first thing is: we've had the "co-opting the narrative" speech delivered so many times that we scream "don't co-opt" at the mere mention of Jewishness in the context of race. Because of it, I'm very careful of bringing up Jewishness and anti-Semitism in the midst of racewank. Reason being, it can be a really fantastic way to deflect attention from the main argument.

Viz, "Stage gay = black face, I know because I'm Jewish." "Being Jewish isn't the same thing as being black. You Jews are always trying to make it seem like you know oppression because your grandparents lived in the shtetl." "Why do you have be so anti-Semitic?" "I'm not anti-Semitic." "Yes, you are." And, lo, we're not talking about stage gay and black face anymore, and the digression generates more anti-Semitism within the community of those who ought to be our allies.
.
Yet...when someone clearly is being anti-Semitic, and since I'm Jewish and vitriolic on the subject of anti-Semitism, I ought to call them on it. Learn some tools for saying "this conversation isn't about anti-Semitism, and this isn't the place to have this conversation, but what you've said is incredibly offensive to me. I'd like to engage you about it somewhere else."

I mean, I could just say that, right? But... I don't. And it's not for fear of co-opting the narrative. It's because...

It's because it's a fuckton harder to rock the boat on my own behalf than on that of someone else. It's much harder to hear "wtf are you whining about, you people have all the money and all the education?" than it is to hear "will you stop talking about color already? dude, you're harshing my squee."

Lack of courage, some, yes, definitely. Lack of practice, that too. But also, for all the reasons chopchica noted, plus the paradigm of invisibility that goes along with successful assimilation, there's a potent stew of internal anti-Semitism, self-loathing for not being Jewish enough, and at the same time for being deeply sensitive about Jewish issues, authenticity concerns, awareness of white privilege gained by pretending not to be Other, liberal guilt, activist rage, and the kitchen sink that make it so very hard to talk about anti-Semitism at all. Let alone in a place where tempers are already high.

There's sort of self-protectiveness inherent to the assimilation/adaptation that I inherited from my grandparents and it looks like this: fight racist oppressors because never the fuck again but it's not about us, remember, it's them. Don't paint any more gold stars on our shoulders.

I'm perfectly willing to take the smack, the bullet, the wank for saying "don't be a racist pig", but when it comes to saying "don't be an anti-Semite pig", I pretty much want to crawl under a rock. Because I don't want to find out that someone I think is a beautiful, wonderful person thinks Israel's a great idea because if you've got all the Jews in one place they're easier to kill.

No, I am not kidding. There are lots of people who think that.

And I don't want to hear "I'm not anti-Semitic. I have lots of Jewish friends!" or "I'm not anti-Semitic! I support Israel!"

The first's no more helpful in discussions of anti-Semitism than it is in discussions of racism. We look at our friends as our friends and "see past" or "are colorblind" as it comes to them. It's the "you're Jewish, but you're not Jewish" school of friendship.

The second...makes me want to punch things. Support of Israel =/= support of Jews, thank you. Because also, Jewish =/= supports Israel.

Israel is a state, and the fact that it's vaguely a Jewish theocracy does not make it the avatar of Jewishness. That'd be like saying that supporting the Vatican = support of Christianity.

Just because my people originally came from the desert lands of the Middle East does not mean that the state currently situated in that place is my homeland. The land itself, perhaps. I have attachments to the Sinai peninsula, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea that have absolutely nothing to do with "Israel". But that attachment doesn't justify imperialist statism, aggressive settlement in disputed territories, human rights violations, or "there's no defense like a good offense."

Israeli politicians don't speak for me, or to my experience, and I abhor the continuing entrenched anti-Islam and anti-Arabism that lies at the heart of the state's current policies. Never again doesn't mean "never again as long as they're not those other Semites." Sorry, it just doesn't.

And, supporting an Israeli state isn't about supporting Jews for Bush and Cheney, don't tell me it is. Please. It's about two things: a foothold in the Middle East, and the End Times. Either they want oil or they want all the Jews to move back to Israel so that their messiah can come and send everyone who isn't like them straight to hell. Including "God's Chosen" who won't repent and see the Glory. Sorry to screw up your foreign policy, boys, but I'm not moving to Israel and paying taxes to an anti-Arab government so that you can go to heaven.

I'm not a Zionist, but I understand why lots of people are. I don't support the actions of the state of Israel, but I do support the Jewish people. I also don't support the actions of the United States, while loving this country and its freedoms and its gorgeous expanses and the good and decent people who live here. I'm not a Zionist, or a patriot, except in the way that I totally am.

I've strayed a little off my main point, which is somewhat inevitable when I get to talking about Israel and America. I don't do it often enough, so I get emotional and rhetorical when I do. Which is, in its way, brings me back to the beginning, and the real answer to chopchica's implied question.

Why don't I call people on anti-Semitism? Because it hurts, it makes me angry, I have a lot of thoughts, they're jumbled and tangled and twisted up, and...I don't want to paint a gold star on my shoulder.

But chopchica's right, and I've been meaning to do this since ibarw anyway. So let me end by saying this:

Being Jewish =/= being a POC. Jewishness is not > than POCness. The Holocaust does not pwn all other oppression. It's not okay to co-opt a conversation about racism directed against visible minorities because I've been called a kike, a JAP, or lost my best friend because I pointed out to her that saying "he's such a Jew" about a non-Jew who left a bad tip was offensive, stereotypical, and just plain wrong and she told me not to be so damned sensitive.

But you know what else is not all right? It's not okay to dislike Jews because some of us get too emotional or too invested in conversations about racism and say thoughtless or hurtful things. It's not all right to discount oppression against Jews because the camps were a continent away and more than half a century ago. My family lost at least one entire branch to the Nazis, thank you, and if you don't think that shaped who my family became in the United States, you are oh so very wrong.

And to my people: being Jewish is more than going to shul or making aliyah. It's not kashrut or Shabbos laws. It's the disputation and the diaspora, the persistence of memory, and the refusal to just let go. If you want to call me a heretic or a blasphemer for being Reformed, that's cool, it's who we are to dispute Torah and Tanakh and the meaning of our identity. But Jewishness > religion; it's tradition, culture, and identity. And whatever you think of my religious Jewishness or my assimilation, you just don't get to say "you're not Jewish".

One more time. It's not okay for Jews to "play the Jewish card" in race conversations. But you know what else is not okay?

Anti-Semitism is not okay.



[eta2]: I don't have time to answer everything and everyone, but I'm reading and trying to be responsive where I can. Please feel free to discuss with each other though, as that's sort of the point of this - to lift the lid on a conversation we don't have very often or very well. And to say that while, yes, a lot of times "I'm Jewish so..." deserves a place on the racism bingo cards, it doesn't always, and even when it does, there's no excuse for anti-Semitism in response. [/eta]
 
 
what flavor of angst is it?: distressedGRRRRRR
 
 
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( 149 penances — abandon hope all ye who enter here )
Musey: Peter Fallingmutinousmuse on September 9th, 2007 06:51 pm (UTC)
It's because it's a fuckton harder to rock the boat on my own behalf than on that of someone else.

This is a really interesting inversion of standpoint theory. One thing that frustrates me in discussions about race and power and the things that attend is that so many privileged white people in fandom (and really, in, you know, the world) are reluctant to really engage because they somehow feel that their privilege precludes their opinions. "I'm too close to the center, and benefit from where the center is, so talking about the center makes me uncomfortable... but of course, racism is bad!" This act of "politely" staying out of it due to lack of ownership can also mask an unwillingness to hear new ideas, or take a hard look at one's own position.

Whereas, if I'm understanding you correctly (and please correct if I'm not) your proximity to the center vis a vis this issue is nudging you to silence yourself - quite the inverse of "I own space in this debate so I feel comfortable debating."

I comment on this only because in discussions of power, it always interests me to see who feels like they "get to" or "don't get to" speak and why. I think it's important to take a look at that because claiming or refusing a seat at the table shapes the discussion. Either way, kuddos to you for speaking up.

Support of Israel =/= support of Jews, thank you. Because also, Jewish =/= supports Israel.

Thanks also for bringing this up. I think a lot of people get conflated here, and it's so damn frustrating.
Chicken  Fried Jochickenfried_jo on September 9th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
I comment on this only because in discussions of power, it always interests me to see who feels like they "get to" or "don't get to" speak and why.

As a white gay woman, I don't speak up because it seems that when I do, the things I say are wrong. So I just watch. And read. I have no idea how to understand or appear to understand, outwardly, in an acceptable (to those of color or other) way.

I once had a conversation with a beautiful black girl I worked with about racism. She kept saying 'they do this...' and 'they do that...' and I took her comments to mean, 'white's do this...' and 'white's do that...'. I said to her, 'by they, you mean me, right? Because hey, white here.' And she backpeddled a lot and said, ' not you, those other whites'.

I'm still baffled by this convo. We were obviously friends. I just have no idea how to contextualize what she said. I'm okay personally because why? I'm not a bad white person?

I'd be very grateful to learn how to think about this. That conversation has always bothered me.
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - chickenfried_jo on September 9th, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mr profit's girl friday (and all week long): the challah was takentiferet on September 9th, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what to say to some of this, but I agree with you 100% that anti-Semitism is not okay and that questioning other people's Jewish identity, because they're assimilated or they're converts or they practise differently than you, is not okay either, especially not in public. I'm a lot more Zionist than you, but I don't like the fact that a lot of Israeli politicians want to turn the state of Israel into a religious theocracy, particularly given what that means for women and gays and non-Orthodox people. And fundamentalist Christian "Zionism" pisses me way the fuck off.

I just don't even really know what it MEANS to "play the Jewish card" but I suspect it's something I won't like. I try and stay out of these big racial discussions because I'm absolutely singed and charred from the ones that were had in the HP fandom about how Slytherfen were all anti-Semitic because HP was supposed to be a WWII allegory (never mind that it was a very, very bad one) and how rudely I was treated when I pointed out that I was in one of the biggest Slytherin writing circles out there and it would take me at least ten minutes to think of a member of that circle who didn't have some degree of Jewish identity. I know it's possible to be Jewish and a racist, but at the same time, I dread opening my mouth because it hurts to find out that someone I think is cooler than cool and wonderful and beautiful sincerely believes that all Zionism (which to me, at the centre of things, is the belief that Israel has the right to exist, just as feminism is the belief that women are people, and everything else is open for debate) is inherently racist. :/ Which is not to say that you said that, because you didn't. (But there's someone else I've been seriously considering removing from my flist because if I have to read another one of his posts on the subject I think I'll explode.)
an innovative dabbler: misc_smile_helenatechnosage on September 9th, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC)
For the record: I don't think Zionism is inherently racist.

I do think that the partitioning and the events that lead to the creation of the present boundaries of the Israeli state weren't about Israel having a right to exist but about a bunch of political forces that had very little to do with Jews at all. It's sort of like fundamentalist Christian Zionism.

I have, because of that, a lot of difficulty separating Israel and Zionism from bad international politics and the current anti-Arabism and anti-Islamism of the world. It's very tangled for me.

The fact of the matter is that Israel does exist now, and as such, it has an obligation to behave as an appropriate member of the family of nations. Yk? What that means to me may conflict with some of the things that you believe, but I think that happens in civilized fashion. :)

Anyway, "playing the Jewish card" is sort of a misnomer in this case, and I almost expect to take fire for it. But what I mean is that phaballa raised her Jewish identity as a shield when people told her it was wrong that stage gay = black face. She said, "I understand oppression because I'm Jewish" and then some things about the genoicides in Rwanda and the Holocaust that make people who talk about race a lot gnash their teeth.

It wasn't precisely co-optive, because it's her post and her conversation, but you can probably see how "I'm Jewish queer" doesn't sound like a good response to positive gay play isn't the same thing as black face.

phaballa's remarks troubled me. But the response of the poster that chopchica is taking on was made in a way that's offensive. And that's what she, and I, are responding to.

That's probably not very enlightening...huh? *g*
hell's bells - tiferet on September 9th, 2007 07:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - littlewings04 on September 9th, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - tiferet on September 9th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - delux_vivens on September 14th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Vanzettivaznetti on September 9th, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
You know, I was going to post about this kind of thing with reference to ibarw, because the exclusion of anti-semitism leaves me feeling silenced in a way that I don't feel silenced in the other contexts in which I discuss racism and sexism and all those other isms. I think it's time to dig that out and see what I have to say, there.

I'm not sure you'll end up agreeing with it, which is fine either way.

As an aside, I usually tell a specific joke when faced by anti-semitism; I'll add it to the post.
an innovative dabbler: misc_hearttechnosage on September 9th, 2007 07:24 pm (UTC)
I'll be interested in what you have to say whether I agree entirely or not. And I'll happily discuss and debate, because that's part of being who we are. :)

I didn't find ibarw specifically exclusionary, but my post on the language of race discourse includes my own discomfort at speaking and knowing how to speak. And I think chopchica goes to that point as well.

Anything to deal with anti-Semitism is rather welcome. Please feel free to link the post here for others following the discussion.
hell's bells - vaznetti on September 9th, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - vaznetti on September 9th, 2007 11:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - tiferet on September 9th, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - liviapenn on September 10th, 2007 01:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - kita0610 on September 10th, 2007 06:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - liviapenn on September 10th, 2007 08:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - kita0610 on September 10th, 2007 08:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - vaznetti on September 10th, 2007 12:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - liviapenn on September 10th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Empress of Mush: more cowbellginalin on September 9th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)

I didn't find out I'm 1/4th Jewish until I was an adult. I'm trying to think if that affected the way anti-Semitic remarks offend me, and I don't think so. I always found them offensive because I was raised in a family where bigotry against race was just thought of as barbaric.

Although my parents never thought it was wrong to be bigoted against homosexuals, which just goes to show you bigotry can be ridiculously irrationally selective.

an innovative dabbler: misc_blog against racismtechnosage on September 9th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
Although my parents never thought it was wrong to be bigoted against homosexuals, which just goes to show you bigotry can be ridiculously irrationally selective.

Bigotry is always irrational. By which I mean to say to you: I agree.
hell's bells - ginalin on September 9th, 2007 07:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Roga: jerusalemroga on September 9th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC)
Why don't I call people on anti-Semitism? Because it hurts, it makes me angry, I have a lot of thoughts, they're jumbled and tangled and twisted up, and...I don't want to paint a gold star on my shoulder.

Yes. I mentioned in the other post that I haven't actually encountered that much RL anti-Semitism, and I usually don't get involved with fandom meta anyhow - but I identify with this. Because calling someone an anti-Semite put you in the position of the victim. Because of the fear that it will be looked at as an excuse for not acknowledging your own faults (and I'm talking about the Israeli cliche, by now, of blaming anyone who wrongs us of anti-Semitism: the European soccer referee, the Eurovision countries who don't vote for us, the British academia, the taxi driver who overcharged you in Paris. It's a joke, or at least it is for intelligent people I care about - but it makes pointing out real anti-Semitism feel like deflecting blame). Because of the fear that, like you said, calling someone an anti-Semite will make them more of an anti-Semite.

By the way - these are also reasons why while I write fanfic about Jewish characters and even about their Jewish identity, I've never written about anti-Semitism, and I still don't feel comfortable to.
an innovative dabbler: heroes_tough men wear ROSE_sendhiltechnosage on September 9th, 2007 07:21 pm (UTC)
By the way - these are also reasons why while I write fanfic about Jewish characters and even about their Jewish identity, I've never written about anti-Semitism, and I still don't feel comfortable to.

It's why I spent my academic career studying indigenous people and cultural appropriation and forced assimilation but only once did I write about Jewish issues, and when I did, I ran so far and so fast afterward that I left the phD program I was in for another one.

I think what you say about feeling like we're deflecting blame is really insightful. I joke sometimes and I say that Jewish racism isn't "I hate them" but "they hate me". It's the same sort of thing, and it carries the double-consciousness of being both oppressor and oppressed.
hell's bells - roga on September 9th, 2007 07:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
lily_liedtomelily_liedtome on September 9th, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC)
I don't really have any thinky thoughts on it, but I really like this post. Anti-Semitism is never ok. Using the "well you are [insert minority here], so you are too emotionally invested to be logical or have a valid opinion" argument is horrible, and only serves to reemphasize the privilege of the normative party, but calling people on it is FABULOUS.

I think you are fabulous for acknowledging that Jewish =/= supports Israel.

I have a friend I am going to send this to, because she's been having a hard time reconciling her thoughts on the Israeli state with her pride in her racial/ethnic/cultural heritage, and I think you are very accessible on this point.

an innovative dabbler: heroes_claire smilestechnosage on September 9th, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
I think you are fabulous for acknowledging that Jewish =/= supports Israel.

It might've been the scariest thing I said in this whole post!

I'll be delighted to talk to your friend. It's difficult and upsetting subject matter at the best of times and I'm always glad to have more people to help me think about it.
hell's bells - monanotlisa on September 9th, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - monanotlisa on September 9th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 08:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - ladycat777 on September 9th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - monanotlisa on September 9th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - ladycat777 on September 9th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
river: footprintsrivers_bend on September 9th, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
Why don't I call people on anti-Semitism? Because it hurts, it makes me angry, I have a lot of thoughts, they're jumbled and tangled and twisted up, and...I don't want to paint a gold star on my shoulder.

This totally spoke to me. Because I do tend to speak up, until I don't. Until someone says something that kicks me in the guts. Which I feel is when i should speak up the most.

But then maybe part of me also feels like the person will just dismiss any complaint as me taking something too personally. That my experience of being the object of scorn somehow invalidates my experience as the object of scorn. Which again, is backwards. Surely being told you have no right to exist, god hates you, you're going to burn in hell, makes you better able to explain why it's not ok to treat people that way? Somehow it doesn't seem to.

I also find myself wishing sometimes that there could maybe be more conversations about prejudice and bigotry instead of always having to draw lines between 'targets'. I absolutely get your point and agree with you about co-opting specific arguments, about dominant paradigms taking over, about derailing important topics. But on some level being a target of hate and prejudice has common ground. And I'd like to see people finding that common ground sometimes rather than thinking someone else is always trying to one-up them. A queer couple who goes to sign the lease and finds the apartment is suddenly unavailable when the landlord sees they are both women has not had the same experience as a woman who loses her apartment when the landlord finds out her boyfriend doesn't have a US passport. But the lesbian saying, 'you'll never understand what it's like to be me,' doesn't seem to me to help anything.

Saying someone is playing the Jewish card or the race card or the gay card or the woman card seems to take away from the conversation that we should be having. That judging someone for their identity is wrong. No matter what that identity is.

And now maybe I'm co-opting and de-railing. which wasn't my point. Just that issue is one of the things this post made me think of. I like that your posts make me think.
an innovative dabbler: heroes_dearlj_petertechnosage on September 9th, 2007 07:58 pm (UTC)
Nope, you're absolutely not co-opting or derailing. I think that there's a definitive need for common ground conversation, because "you're more oppressed than I am so I can't understand" is every bit as challenging for the end of oppression as "I'm special and oppressed so I understand everything!"

And, it's weird, but you're right. Somehow that being an object of scorn thing...it really really is sitting right up there in my brain. Hrm. Also, I never want to look like Peter ^^^^ (icon for a little smile, we could use one!)

*hugs*
hell's bells - rivers_bend on September 9th, 2007 08:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 08:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - rubynye on September 10th, 2007 03:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
daredevil muffin-y genius: one girl - btvsmonanotlisa on September 9th, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
This is a wonderful post -- yes to what you say, certainly every bit I do understand; chopchica's and another ljfriend's posts made it very clear to me that I don't (yet) comprehend all issues that a Jew is faced with in a Western society.

Some, of course, just need to be pointed out to me. When livredor came to visit and we crossed the square in front of the cathedral, I started to briskly walk by the most vocal of the three demonstrations and protests of Arab groups. She, however, hesitated, half behind me, and when I asked her why, she said, "Mona, you sure it's safe?" She wasn't timid -- she never is -- and her manner was matter-of-fact, but it hit me for the first time in my life that she, as a Jewish woman wearing her kippa on this fine Saturday morning, might be the target of aggression not because of any action she took but merely who she was.

And that, to return to a point of your post, underlined pretty effectively how different various kinds of discrimination are, no matter how similar some manifestations or motivations -- yes, as a woman, I'm belittled for nothing more but having those two x-chromosomes, but I don't have to fear bodily harm while strolling around in public, in the city.

(I told her that judging from the posters, they were a Kurdish group fighting for recognition from Turkey and Iraq; that they didn't seem likely to harm her, and if they so much as tried, I'd kick their ass. But. Yeah.)
an innovative dabbler: heroes_hanatechnosage on September 9th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
Ahhh you deleted the name there. I went looking, wanting to read it, and couldn't find the post!

What I think is really interesting about your friend's action there is that in that case, her concern was potential justified - militant Islamic activists don't tend to like Jews all that much.

But there's an inherent sort of anti-Arabism and anti-Islamism that lots of Jews inherit that says "they don't like me" that Jews automatically apply when faced with a bunch of non-Jewish Semites, Persians, Islamic people, and so on or even just one. Sometimes it's legitimate, but other times it's just fear, and still other times, it's racist.

Not saying anything AT ALL about your friend. It just made me think about the way that I as an American woman, usually not identifying strongly as a Jew, automatically tend to assume that any not Jewish Semite or Islamic practitioner isn't going to like me, and worry about talking to them, and how that generates as much racial tension as it would if I didn't like them.

/tangent.

Discrimination is different in its different forms, but the root of it, bigotry and prejudice is still the same and it hurts, sucks, is wrong, no matter what form it takes. Below rivers_bend is talking about common ground in the conversation. Identity politics are important and powerful, but I think sometimes we need to get past them. Which isn't really entirely responsive to what you're saying either... =/

As always, you've just made me think! *hugs*
hell's bells - monanotlisa on September 9th, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - monanotlisa on September 9th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - monanotlisa on September 9th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Maya Tawi: Abteimayatawi on September 9th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
Wow, I've been thinking about how to phrase this, and I'm afraid it's going to come out sounding condescending and/or reductive whichever way I put it. I mean, this is me co-opting your excellent post for the sake of a side issue. But I'm just going to suck it up and say it, because it's an important point to me.

Thank you for what you said about the Arab/Israel issue.

It's all too easy for me to resort to the whole "I have Jewish friends!" thing-- but it's more than that. I'm a Muslim, I grew up in Georgia, and one of my best friends as a kid was Jewish. (To give you some idea of the diversity of this town: my friend's family was once on the front page of the Religion section of the newspaper just for being Jewish. It was this whole article about, "Look at these people celebrating Hanukkah! This is what Jews do!") Before we moved to Georgia, my best friend was a girl whose mother was Jewish and whose father was Muslim. So I basically grew up with this idea that Jews and Muslims were related, you know, two sides of the same coin, descended from the sons of Abraham, that sort of thing.

When I got older, the whole concept of Jewish vs. Muslim hatred fucking stunned me.

And it kept cropping up in random places. One time when I was in college, my best friend/roommate (who was Jewish) brought this guy from Israel back to our dorm just to hang out, and he started talking about how he didn't think Jews and Arabs could ever get along with each other. And my roommate and I just looked at each other. I just checked out of the conversation at that point. I couldn't deal with it.

So I have this thing-- and it's not my first thought, but sometimes a lingering fear that won't crop up until much, much later-- when I meet Jewish people, the fear that someone I like and respect will one day come down on the anti-Palestine side of the issue. And I realize it's a racist impulse, and say only in my defense that it's a mostly muted one, and one I've not let color my interactions with people so far. (Somehow in college I ended up with every single one of my friends being Jewish. We used to joke about that.)

So-- and here's the condescending and possibly offensive part-- talking to a Jewish person who isn't a Zionist is always this huge relief for me, and I was so glad to read that part in your post. Being Jewish shouldn't mean being anti-Muslim, and being Muslim shouldn't mean being anti-Jewish, and lately I've come across both attitudes with disturbing frequency (my father's wife once sent me an e-mail about the Jewish internet conspiracy-- like, gosh, thanks for giving me more reason to dislike you) and, well, that's pretty much all I have to say, and I hope you take it in the best possible way, but I'll understand if you don't. Still, and again, thank you.

(The concept of an Arab anti-Semite always amused me; self-loathing much? Yeah, yeah, Arabs aren't popularly referred to as a Semitic race, but we are.)
mr profit's girl friday (and all week long)tiferet on September 9th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
I believe, as you do, that Jews and Muslims are two sides of the same coin. I moderate a community where Jewish and Muslim women (and Christian women) discuss issues related to modest dress and finding clothes in this culture. I don't hate Muslims.

But I don't think it's as simple as the "anti-Palestine" side of the issue.

I'm a Zionist, and I believe in the right of Israel to exist, but I don't support every single little thing that Israel does--and I don't hate Palestinians, even though I get freaked out all the time because I live in San Francisco and I can't go even to gay pride, let alone an anti-war march, without running into one of several loud, mostly pro-Palestinian groups being in the forefront of everything and accusing Israel of being responsible for every evil in the world, and my friends back east worry about that, and sometimes I have my own, slightly racist impulses to be afraid of those groups of people because they're kind of scary.

I want you to know that I don't hate you, and I don't want you to be scared of me because I love Israel? Um. I hope that doesn't sound stupid. I'm just reminded of a conversation I had with a Muslim woman at work about how sad it is that there is so much trouble between Arabs and Jews because in every town she's ever lived in, they always live near each other and shop in each other's shops and how she always gets along with Jews and you remind me of her, I really loved her and I'm sad she doesn't work with us any more.

I am a Zionist but my dream would be for Palestinians and Jews to both be happy and safe and live and work together in Israel, and you and I may not be in agreement over how the best way that could happen would be--but I want you to know that I don't hate you, or any Muslim or Arab, or any Palestinian, just for being who you are.

I don't know how to make all this shit go away, and I bet you don't either. But it's not what I want, and I don't think most of the good and decent people on either side want it.

I've been dropped by people who found out that I support Israel, as though that suddenly changed everything they thought they knew about me.

And yet, ultimately, you grew up in Georgia and I grew up in West Virginia, and we probably have more in common than not.

And again, I'm flailing a lot here.
hell's bells - mayatawi on September 9th, 2007 08:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - cold_poet on September 9th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - roga on September 9th, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - kudra2324 on September 10th, 2007 04:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 10th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - mayatawi on September 10th, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - tiferet on September 9th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Wednesday Addams in Grad School: Heroes//Mohinder 5 years gonelittlewings04 on September 9th, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC)
Jewish identity is complicated, isn't it? When to call antisemitism, when not; when we're a minority, when we're not; when we're oppressors, when we're not; when it's "okay" to talk about it, when it's not. I think I'm weird. (Well, I know I'm weird, that was never a question.) But I minored in Jewish Studies, I'm still really involved academically in Jewish Studies, I spend a lot of time thinking about the race/religion/culture/ethnicity and the double-bind of being someone who is a racial minority and a Jew at the same time (even though I pass, which makes it worse, sometimes). So I never know if I should put myself out into the race discussions because I do have opinions and perspectives, or if I should shut up because antisemitism is derailing and not on-point and I'm just trying to align myself and my experiences with the victim so I get some of the sympathy or whatever, I don't know. I'm awful in these sorts of discussions.

Ironically, I'm in a grad class on Race and Racism, and one of our big discussions this week is going to be on pre-modern antisemitism as the precursor to the modern expressions of racism, and I never know if I'm "allowed" to talk or if I'm not, if I'm "white enough" to be the oppressor or if my ethnic card holds. You ask the Klan members in my home town, I'm not white enough and thanks to them, I never forget it. But I just feel...adrift, I suppose, in the larger discussions where I feel that as someone who can pass, whose experiences of oppression aren't immediate and obvious, I'm not entitled to talk about those experiences.

I don't know if this is on point, you've just got me thinking, perhaps not constructively, but at least around the similar issues.
mr profit's girl friday (and all week long): green meat isn't good for you Gabrieltiferet on September 9th, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
Driveby love, and how unsurprised I am to see you here.
hell's bells - littlewings04 on September 9th, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 09:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - littlewings04 on September 10th, 2007 05:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
Raina: diversityraina_at on September 9th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
A bit of a cultural note: In Austria, while there's still of course latent anti-semitism, voicing it in public is followed by shocked faces and hushed silence, while expressing opinions about black people isn't nearly as socially stignatized, which may or may not be because there are maybe 1000 black people in all of Austria.

What I find ridiculous in the entire "you're co-opting the issue" stuff is that racism is racism, discrimination is discrimination, and wrong is wrong, whether people discriminate you because you're Jewish, African-American, gay, or of non-majority ethnicity, discrimination=wrong. We should all remember that this is the principle that should unite us all, instead of telling each other about all the ways we're different.
an innovative dabbler: misc_black is beautiful_khctechnosage on September 9th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
While I agree with you in principle that discrimination = discrimination, the forms it takes and the impacts it has can be quite different. I think there's a place and a need for identity politics. Owning the space of discussion. Safe spaces for black speech or Jewish speech or queer speech or feminist speech or Asian speech and on that aren't co-opted by speech about other forms of discrimination.

There's also a need, very strong, to unite and be allies. I don't think, though, that we should ignore the ways in which we're different. The differences inform who we are. I don't want to ignore that. Yk?
hell's bells - raina_at on September 9th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - kudra2324 on September 10th, 2007 04:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
aliquid stat pro aliquomaygra on September 9th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
I've got nothing to add here really except that a) I'm glad you posted, and b) I'm sorry you're in conflict about posting about it from a kind of backed into the corner position. I also am glad to see the Jewish =/= supports Israel & American =/= supports Bush administration analogy because yes and so, no, no, no. There's every reason in the world to support the right of the State of Israel exist that doesn't necessarily equate to embracing all of Israel's policy's any more than it does for America and the current administration. I'm not sure the Vatican =/= Christianity works as well, mostly because on both sides there's huge numbers of people who think the two things have nothing to do with each other (which is only one thing of many that drives me batshit insane about christianity as a whole, and protestantism specifically, but also the RC's, which makes me love my own church even more because as Fr. T says, the Rapture is not for us and the Vatican isn't terribly fond of us either.)

As with race, this isn't something I can speak to personally, because unlike you I don't really have worlds to straddle, even to the extent of being a woman and queer because the impact of the former is again something I haven't had to deal with much except by referral (the glass ceiling, the condescension of males to females either unconsciously or consciously) and the latter either because being out is so recent and so not a part of my day to day life, I again, only get the discrimination 2nd hand.

I can admit to a certain amount of Jewish envy -- of the religious kind, if only because I have so many friends who are so very immersed in their own faith, in the traditions and rituals, and there devotion to learning, that I'd like to have some of that fire and passion when mostly in my own faith it's a constant source of conflict both spiritually and culturally. Whereas some of the richest sources of tradition in Christianity have become so commercialized in my own faith, that sometimes I wonder if people are even aware of the irony of Christmas and Easter.

Bleah...rambled on when mostly I just wanted to give you a humongous hug and say I'm glad you posted.
an innovative dabbler: misc_hearttechnosage on September 9th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
♥ I think you just articulated why the Vatican analogy does work *g*, at least from my POV. Israel =/= Jewishness. It might have a lot more to do with Judaism, but that's one of those complex religious/cultural/weird things. But I hear your point, take it, and hug you for it.

And hugs too for the speaking to personally. No need, you know? It's enough to know that you think it's wrong to be anti-Semitic and you don't want people to be going around saying mean things about me and my own and you wouldn't let them hurt me if they meant to. *hugs*

I'm starting to get to the point of meltdown with all this, so I don't really have a coherent way to be responsive to what you're getting at (I have Catholic envy though, b/c my settledness in my own faith is far from a sure thing, we can talk about that over drinks though!), except to offer a fairly huge I love you.
ring the bells that still can ring: doubtful_guestlinaerys on September 9th, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)
Part of being Jewish is letting in adoptees too, which also changes the equation. With thousands of questions about what it means, and why we're here, and whether we belong at all, but as you say, questions are a part of it all. Not meaning to make it about me, but to add that every struggle is different, and has a different face.

I don't have anything to add here. Or maybe too much, because plenty of commenters had something unpleasant to add to the attitude of the responses, even as I agreed with the overall sentiment. Maybe one of these days people will learn that everybody's oppression is different. Maybe people will learn that we can and should support each other's struggles rather than trying to one-up them, maybe we'll learn never to say the phrase "those people" the way it's been thrown about in this debate.

Anyway, thanks for this.
an innovative dabbler: heroes_I love you_nathantechnosage on September 9th, 2007 09:37 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Being Jewish absolutely does mean letting in adoptees. And you're no less Jewish because you've adopted the religion, love. Not in my eyes.

And to the rest of it, just...yes.
hell's bells - linaerys on September 9th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 9th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - tiferet on September 9th, 2007 11:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - linaerys on September 9th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - tiferet on September 9th, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
~Deboniorchid on September 9th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
Wow. I'm going to momentarily be ineloquent and just say that I found this post to be an intense exploration of what's going on in your head in relation to what went on in that problematic thread and I really appreciate you putting yourself out there in this way. I feel like I learned things or was pulled to see different perspectives, ask different kinds of questions of myself and situations in the world. (Most of my "insider" perspectives on Israel coming from pro-Israel Jews and anti-Israel Indigenous rights workers connected to Palestinians.)

I know little of anti-Semitism, honestly, but I'm always immensely bothered by efforts to create "safe space" for discussion of one kind of discrimination that use bigotry as a foundation for any of the walls surrounding that "safe space". Using anti-Semitism as a tool to silence Jewish people in race discussions or any other discussions isn't okay. It's never necessary and it's always counterproductive to the larger goal of ending oppression globally. So, you're absolutely allowed to be upset.

I wanted to say, too, that I have similar feelings of discomfort in talking about most of the parts of my identity that don't fit into hegemony (which is pretty much all of them). And, I haven't read all the comments here, but I know for me, sometimes, it's not just about how difficult it is to "out" myself and wade into the fight for an identity that belongs to me because of the hurt of it all. I think it's also a bit of that notion that marginalized people shouldn't always have to be the educators, the confronters, the people who, at every corner, have to stop off for random asides from our everyday lives and try to help people move away from discriminatory ideas and behaviors. If I said something every time I saw a comment in someone else's journal that was problematic in terms of race or gender or sexuality or spirituality or anything else important to who I am, I'd go batshit insane, Allie. I think we all would. So ... maybe some of it is just that, despite the efforts of millions of people through the years, problematic comments are prevalent enough to bother us but also drain us to the point of being unable or unwilling to always go back and bother the people who really need it, the ones making such comments.
an innovative dabbler: misc_hearttechnosage on September 9th, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)
If I said something every time I saw a comment in someone else's journal that was problematic in terms of race or gender or sexuality or spirituality or anything else important to who I am, I'd go batshit insane, Allie.

Drea, baby, I think you hit the nail on the head here. It's exhausting, and we can't always, and sometimes it's just not worth it, it's not our fight, not today. Sometimes it's really just... Idk, I sat here and stared at this post for a long time before hitting enter. I kept asking myself "do I really want to do this? Do I really want to do this today when I have all these other things to do, things I've promised people I love, and entire life to live that isn't about this?"

In the end, this time, I said yes. Yes, because I've been sitting here NOT speaking about it for days and months and just not knowing how to say "you guys, LOOK, you don't get to be anti-Semitic just because this one Jew was ineloquent or careless or thoughtless, you just don't" and also not knowing how to say "this is what I feel about this". There's so much more here, trying, even to talk to you about it - because you are my friend, because I do adore and respect you, because I know I've probably made mistakes that make you want to smack me, because I want us to understand each other, and because, in the main, I think we really really do - that I'm sort of sitting here with the tears of sympathy and frustration and wishing you know for the hug that makes it all not matter all that much...

and...wow, emo-spooge at you. Sorry! *HUGS SO TIGHT*

I agree, is what I think I'm trying to say. ♥
hell's bells - eboniorchid on September 9th, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 10th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
you have the boldness of a much younger womanciderpress on September 9th, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post and for hosting the discussion in the comments. It's hard to be this brutally honest about yourself and the discrimination you personally face because of your identity and yeah. I always find it an incredibly hard topic to talk about or write about and I appreciate your candor and frankness.

Like you but backwards, I've always found it easier to call people on their anti-Semitism than their racism *because* I'm a POC. Gut feeling, I think it's worse (or maybe more overt) this decade than it was the last, partly because of the rising tensions in the Middle East and the fact that somehow, someone -- in fact, everyone in the Middle East is solely to blame for the violence that targets the West -- which is such a patently ignorant view of modern world history that it makes me want to weep. The conflation and simplification of people, of history, of ideology, of cultural identity, of anything foreign to our own personal experiences: it's the human condition to be like this but you know, I wish that it weren't.

Racism is worse, anti-Semitism is worse and what's worst of all to me personally is that a lot of the collation building people used to do between Jewish and POC groups is dissolving because society has to blame some "other" group and well, here we are.

I think that, hmmm, discrimination is discrimination and while none are the same (if they were, no POC would be sexist, no woman would be homophobic etc), I can, from my own experiences, learn to listen when people say, this hurts me and this is why and I can learn to reply and disagree without demeaning views or language.

Er, I'm rambling but yes, thank you for the post.
an innovative dabbler: misc_hearttechnosage on September 10th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)
I think you're right that racism and anti-Semitism are worse and that the coalition-building has screeched to a halt. Certainly the Middle East crisis is to blame for that. But no one particular side of it.

I also think that we've gotten out of the habit of talking to each other, you know? Safe spaces and identity politics are awesome forces. But this, what you just did coming to talk to me in my space, and me coming to talk in yours, that's even more awesome.

And...I'm being rambly and emo by this point (it's really really really hard to out myself this way because I have just an enormously hard time even thinking about it) but what I really mean to say is thank you for this, and ask if you think there's anything we can do to start fixing what's gone wrong and building coalitions again?
hell's bells - ciderpress on September 10th, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
her soul like a prism: coexistchopchica on September 9th, 2007 09:44 pm (UTC)
I have so much to say to this and I want to thank you SO MUCH for writing it, but first I have to reply to the insane amount of comments I seem to have gotten while I was out buying tomatoes and swimming with my dog. Consider this my place holder, and again, this was amazing and it meant so much to me to read this.
an innovative dabbler: misc_hearttechnosage on September 9th, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
Place held. Thank you for speaking up and prompting me to. I don't know if said before how I found you, but it was via synecdochic. *hugs*
hossgalhossgal on September 9th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
And, supporting an Israeli state isn't about supporting Jews for Bush and Cheney, don't tell me it is. Please. It's about two things: a foothold in the Middle East, and the End Times. Either they want oil or they want all the Jews to move back to Israel so that their messiah can come and send everyone who isn't like them straight to hell. Including "God's Chosen" who won't repent and see the Glory. Sorry to screw up your foreign policy, boys, but I'm not moving to Israel and paying taxes to an anti-Arab government so that you can go to heaven.

I realize that you're probably speaking from personal experience with insensitive twits, and I'm not about to deny that there are people just as you have described.

It has been my experience, however, among the people I have met and spoken with, that "non-Jewish" "Christians" who "support Israel" generally do so without much reference to "end times". And (as a person whose memory extends prior to 1990) not entirely dependent on being anti-Arab. Stubbornness, self-sufficency, taking care of one's own, and a desire for self-rule are, by many people's count, virtues on their own, without regard for the religion of the person who holds them.

I offer this info as...a data point? To let people who are willing to do so, to think well of 'people who support Israel' without feeling that, in doing so, they are necessarily thinking postive thoughts of Christian fundamentalists. Or of any Republican adminstration, ever - if such charity was offensive to the person in question.

Otherwise - a good post, and bravo to you for making it.

- hossgal
an innovative dabbler: misc_smile_helenatechnosage on September 10th, 2007 12:01 am (UTC)
It's an excellent point you make, and well-taken.

I don't actually mean to indict all Christians or even all fundamentalists. I probably ought to have been a bit more clear there that I'm speaking specifically to the argument that the US isn't anti-Semitic b/c Bush and Cheney are pro-Israel.

It was a slide off into my personal politics and confusing and potentially offensive. If I offended you, please accept my apologies. Meantime, I'll work on a way to signal your point in my post.

Thanks so very much for commenting. I appreciate it!
hell's bells - hossgal on September 10th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
xanphibian on September 9th, 2007 11:23 pm (UTC)
Fantastic post; thank you.
an innovative dabbler: misc_blog against racismtechnosage on September 10th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
hell's bells - xanphibian on September 10th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
moveablehistory on September 9th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
I read phaballa's post, and chopchica's and yours, and so I've got all these ineloquent thinkythoughts I'm going to spew, apologies in advance. :))

There's a lot for me to learn, I think. Growing up, I had few Jewish friends, and only a small percentage were practicing. I haven't been exposed to anti-Semitism past history classes, and my parents - while being pretty bigoted about certain things - were always extremely careful about not saying or doing anything that could in any way be construed as anti-Semitism.

Reading through chopchica's post, I was especially struck by "I’ve seen people freak out when I dared to suggest that Secret Santa exchanges weren’t all-inclusive." You know, it never even occurred to me that someone may be offended by this. I mean, I was taught that I should say 'merry christmas' around the holiday season, because that's my faith, and if someone says 'happy hanukkah" or "happy kwanzaa," I should understand it as an equal greeting. But then again, up until recently I thought being colourblind was a good thing, so, yeah. *shrug* And Santa was Christmas but not christianity; I think that contributed to my evidently mistaken belief that the poor dude was wholly nonoffensive.

Anyways. What struck me about your post was "It's because it's a fuckton harder to rock the boat on my own behalf than on that of someone else." I sometimes see things where I get offended, perhaps for no reason, and other times I feel like I have legitimate cause, but because I'm not an always visible minority/kinsey 6 lesbian/etc., I don't have the right to be upset, even though I am. So, I guess I fall to your opposite?

Either way - I'm so glad for this post, because you've brought up not only anti-Semitism in fandom, but a whole... invisible framework that people may work around and not even realise it. So, thanks. ♥
an innovative dabbler: misc_squishhugstechnosage on September 10th, 2007 01:26 am (UTC)
No need for apologies! Spewage is welcome here even if I can't respond to all of it.

Secret Santas - don't bug me. At all. But we celebrated Christmas in my house. OTOH, I can see how a Jew could find them exclusionary and if they came out and said so and someone told them to get stuffed, then I'd be pissed. There's nothing offensive about Santa in general! Just that to say a Secret Santa exchange is "inclusive" isn't correct.

As per the other, I don't think you fall to my opposite. I think it's more to do with when and where we're willing to speak and what constitutes good cause. Neither of us speaks when it's us who are offended. We speak when others are. The reasons may not be the same, but I think we're closer on that than you think.

♥ Love you, G.
LadyCatladycat777 on September 9th, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)
Okay, once more with may be the whole post:
But you know what else is not all right? It's not okay to dislike Jews because some of us get too emotional or too invested in conversations about racism and say thoughtless or hurtful things. It's not all right to discount oppression against Jews because the camps were a continent away and more than half a century ago. My family lost at least one entire branch to the Nazis, thank you, and if you don't think that shaped who my family became in the United States, you are oh so very wrong.

Yes. Similarity is not the same -- and to get respect you have to give it. That means standing up and going "you know what? I didn't get that before. Now I do, and I'm sorry." and I am just as guilty of that -- on a large variety of things -- as anybody else ever could be.

Thank you for this post.
an innovative dabbler: heroes_hanatechnosage on September 10th, 2007 12:56 am (UTC)
Re: Okay, once more with may be the whole post:
We all have lots to learn, including me. Thanks for coming over and reading. ♥
squeeze me, stomp me,  make me winemoosesal on September 10th, 2007 12:06 am (UTC)
Really great post. I tend to stay out of discussions of oppression (of any sort) because I just can't deal with the stress anymore. I wrote a lot of op eds back in college and I sometimes think I used up all my arguments back then. We have to pick our battles and I don't often find that a battle on LJ is worth wading into for me.

I missed the anti-semitic comments on phaballa's post because I'd already bailed over some comments on gender and sexual identity that really got me rather upset. I was tempted to wade in on those comments but I felt like others had already stated it better. The issues that get me the most worked up, that make me the most willing to wade in, also tend to leave me unable to express my feelings and thoughts.

But what I really want to talk about here is that your post really got me thinking (as I walked the dog between reading and commenting) about the issue of being an invisible minority -- of passing as white whether you want to or not.

In middle school I had a friend who was half Arab-half white. Her father was an Egyptian Muslim and her mother a Canadian Catholic (of course, what I always found so odd about them was the visual of her mom being 5'1" and her dad 6'5"). She and her brother were raised Muslim and attended Arabic school on weekends. Physically she looked like her mom -- white, blonde, blue eyed -- not your average Egyptian. Her brother, on the other hand, had darker skin, hair, and eyes like their father. Their household was very much Arab and Muslim and that's how she identified, but outsiders just saw a white girl. She moved away before high school and we only spoke a few times, but I saw just before then and in those few conversations that it was weird for her. People who knew her brother would ask if he was adopted because he was dark-skinned.

My mom's family is similar. She's 1/4 Irish, 3/4 American Indian. My mom and one sister look stereotypically Irish -- pale skin, red hair. Her other siblings have darker skin, black hair, etc. and while they can pass as white, if they tell you they're Indian you believe it. My mom and her sibs, however, were taught to pass as they grew up. They didn't want people to know they weren't white and my grandparents didn't pass on beliefs/practices/etc. from the Indian side.

For me, I always feel odd weighing in on race. Given my background on my mom's side, I think of myself as mixed-blood when it comes to race, but I tend to publicly identify as white because 1) it's what people see, 2) it's pretty much how I was raised (due to racism and my mom's own upbringing) and 3) sadly, it's just easier. Telling people I'm Indian too often leads to the very annoying response along the lines of, "Oh me too! My great great grandma was a Cherokee princess." (They're always Cherokee princess and it takes everything I have not to stab them or myself.)

Throw in my complicated gender and sexuality issues and it just gets too hard to get involved. So I tend to stay silent, posting or commenting only in my head (often while walking the dog).
an innovative dabbler: blr_pony notebooktechnosage on September 10th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
of passing as white whether you want to or not.

This. Just yes. I mean...I am Other, I know I am Other, and yet, if I want not to be seen as white I have to FORCE the issue and that generates anti-Semitism. So, that's...unpleasant. And difficult, and sometimes as you say, it's just easier.

"Oh me too! My great great grandma was a Cherokee princess." (They're always Cherokee princess and it takes everything I have not to stab them or myself.)

*stabs for you* I went to UCBoulder. I studied Federal Indian law and worked for NARF and I can't TELL you how many times I heard Cherokee princess. I just...what?! Do they not even know that that in itself is so offensive? Think about how your great great great grandpa ended up with a Cherokee wife? Do you REALLY think they fell in love and lived HEA? I mean, sure, definitely in some cases they absolutely did! But an awful lot of the time, people who are some little tiny bit American Indian are because of oil brides amongst the Osage or land claims during allotment or... *froths*

Um. Yes. I should probably not be telling this to you, and I might be being offensive. If I am, I am SO truly sorry. I mean to express support and understanding, but possibly I'm being anecdotal and overdoing.

Thanks for coming and commenting to me. ♥
hell's bells - moosesal on September 10th, 2007 02:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - alias_sqbr on September 11th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Dean Thinkingpoisontaster on September 10th, 2007 12:13 am (UTC)
Interesting post. Both yours and chopchica's, which I didn't really comment on. But my thought, reading both of them, is that (for a non-Jew) some percentage of the silence (and I'm unwilling to conjecture what percentage, but I personally think it's a large one) is ignorance.

I mean, in questions of race, you still encounter so many people who are not educated in comparative culturalism or even ways to talk about race. I've spoken to white people who have never even really spoken to or SEEN a POC, people who (within the US) had never MET a POC before me. And that's within a visual minority.

Taking a step further, both your post and chopchica's are a poignant reminder of a) how little *I* know about being Jewish or Jewish experience or any of the attached nomenclature and thought processes and I've spent at least a WEE little time (and I emphasize the WEE) thinking and talking and listening.

Do you remember when I was posting for IBARW and you made a comment to the effect of your Jewish experience was so stereotypical and I commented that a lot of people wouldn't even know what "the stereotypical Jewish Experience" IS? I was thinking specifically of The Roommate when I said that and when I was talking to him about it, BEFORE I got to my reply to you, he flat out said, "I don't even know what the stereotypical experience IS."

So I think there's a big argument that (again, for non-Jews) there's something of a blindness that the problem EXISTS. Not in abstract, obviously, we all know Antisemitism exists, but in the specific. Recognizing that this comment, right here is an anti-Semitic comment.

(I think I have more to say...hang on...new comment...)
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Flailspoisontaster on September 10th, 2007 12:19 am (UTC)
I think secondarily, there's a (personally annoying) sense of "not my fight, not my problem". As the adage goes, people pick and choose their battles and I speculate (only speculate) that there are those who think that they have enough to do holding up their own cause (be it feminism, sexism, classism, or racism...pick your -ism) that it's up to the Jews to fight their own -isms, even though they may not support Antisemitism.

I mean, I think a lot of people could look at the comment in zvi_likes_tv's post and not even RECOGNIZE the Antisemitism implied there, because they haven't trained themselves to think in those terms.

Which doesn't excuse any of it and I am certainly NOT trying to be an apologist for any of it. I think it's all connected and The Cause is The Cause is The Cause. At the same time, I recognize that I am trained/conditioned/Pavlov'd to see certain kinds of -isms and I am curiously blind to others unless it's pointed out to me. So it's not an excuse in any way, but it is a reason.
hell's bells - technosage on September 10th, 2007 02:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - poisontaster on September 10th, 2007 02:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 10th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 10th, 2007 01:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - poisontaster on September 10th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 10th, 2007 03:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
bespectacled abracadabra & metaphoric whoopee: Jewish: turns out we own broadway tookita0610 on September 10th, 2007 12:19 am (UTC)
Hi, you don't know me.

I'm Jewish, I'm Zionist, and I love your post.

the end.

:)
an innovative dabbler: heroes_hanatechnosage on September 10th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
I do know you. :) I almost made a big comment on one of your last posts on this subject! But it was going to be this huge emo-spooge and all anecdotal and omg thank you so much mush from someone you didn't know. I should've said thank you though, so thank you.

Thanks much, hon. It means a lot. Because I think one of my greatest fears about speaking out is often what the other Jews will say. Sad...isn't it?

So, yeah, \o/ that you came over here. Um, and I'll stop saying 'thank you' any minute now...
hell's bells - kita0610 on September 10th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 10th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - kita0610 on September 10th, 2007 01:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 10th, 2007 01:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - kita0610 on September 10th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
hell's bells - technosage on September 10th, 2007 01:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
You can't trust a bunnyelucidate_this on September 10th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
This is amazingly brilliant.
an innovative dabbler: heroes_hanatechnosage on September 10th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
Brilliant's probably pushing it, but I do very very very much appreciate the sentiment! :) Thanks for reading.
revelininsanityrevelininsanity on September 10th, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)
I'm not in Bandom, and I've almost been ignoring all this(probably a bad thing, but I run in a whole shitload of small fandoms and stuff and I was actually thinking of my own personal rant on the portrayal and general attitude in fandom on mental disabilities), but I wanted to say your post really made me think and I really enjoyed reading it.
an innovative dabbler: heroes_hmmph_sendhil & greg makeouttechnosage on September 10th, 2007 01:05 am (UTC)
It's not a bad thing, I don't think, to ignore it. It's a strange and difficult issue in that it's investigating the way that positive portrayals of gay behavior might be damaging queer people. phaballa and some others think it does, and I'm not part of Bandom but basically I think fluid sexuality is a good thing and labels are a bad thing, so I disagree with her. Hrm. It's worth reading but the comments are a bit of a stew by now.

Anyway, thank you for reading, and if you do make the post about mental disabilities, will you link it to me?
hell's bells - revelininsanity on September 10th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
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