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The Guardian’s Miserable Hat Trick

This is a cross post by Faisal of The Spittoon

The Guardian is on a roll this week.

We’ve already seen two articles by its readers editor, Haroon Siddique who, firstly, came up with this miserable tosh urging Muslims to boycot Israeli dates this Ramadan but which was little more than an advocacy piece on the pro-Hamas Islamist group, Friends of al-Aqsa . This was then followed by an outrageous piece of dishonest reporting and outright fabrication packed into thisarticle about a poll conducted by the Islamist group iEra.

You might have though that from here things could only get better. Wrong.

Earlier this week came this piece of absurd reductionism by Priyamvada Gopal – a fashionable, post-modern, post-colonial, feminist response to this image of the Taliban’s violence against women in Afghanistan published by Time.

Gopal’s article is quite easily the most despicable piece of relativist horseshit I have read on the Guardian. It contains deplorable, crudely argued passages like:

Misogynist violence is unacceptable, but we must also be concerned by the continued insistence that the complexities of war, occupation and reality itself can be reduced to bedtime stories. Consultation with child psychologists apparently preceded Time’s decision to run the image, but the magazine decided that in the end it was more important for children (and us) to understand that “bad things do happen to people” and we must feel sorry for them. The WikiLeaks revelations of atrocities and civilian deaths are evidence of some rather terrible things that are done to people but are bizarrely judged not to provide a “window into the reality of what is happening”.”

She suggests that any Western consideration of violence perpetrated by Afghans on their own people should be “concerned by the continued insistence that the complexities of war, occupation and reality itself can be reduced to bedtime stories”, because these “bedtime stories” are merely symbolic.

“The mutilated Afghan woman ultimately fills a symbolic void…”

How exactly are instances of real violence “symbolic” to the victims? Gopal does not answer this question because she is happier spinning words to construct her “miserable evasion” (h/t Prof Geras). In short, Gopal simply argues against any war effort to strengthen the right of Afghan women to claim their own destiny.

I can only agree with Shiraz Socialist, who writes:

And, by the way, it’s not necessary to be pro-war to be revolted by the reality of this image, and by Ms Gopal’s filthy, relativist equivocation: coming, as it does,  from a privileged woman in academia, who stands no risk of having her nose and ears cut off by clerical fascists, even in the foul, racist “West”.

Edmund Standing adds:

Gopal’s drivel is far from an isolated example. See this article by Lauryn Oates at Butterflies & Wheels which looks at the post-colonial musings found in a paper titled ‘The (Re)production of Afghan Women’. Melanie Butler, the paper’s author, argues that:

While CW4WAfghan [Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan] attempt to challenge dominant narratives of Afghan women, they ultimately reinforce and naturalize the Orientalist logic on which the War on Terror operates, even helping to disseminate it through the Canadian school system. Drawing on post-colonial feminist theory, this paper highlights the implications of CW4WAfghan’s Orientalist discourse on women’s rights, and tackles the difficult question of how feminists can show solidarity with Afghan women without adhering to the oppressive narratives that permeate today’s political climate. It is only by employing alternative models that contextualize the situation of Afghan women in relation, rather than in opposition, to our own, that feminists can begin to subvert the mutually reinforcing narratives that sustain imperialist violence and women’s subordination.