Hate is not acceptable. Violence even less so. (TW: Violence, homophobia, hate speech)
Early this morning a girl was assaulted in her home. She lives 2 blocks from my old apartment, and is a member of the LGBT community. She was beaten, stripped naked and had the words “Fag, Dyke, and Cunt” carved into her skin. She was then tied up while her house was set on fire. She managed to escape, and survive. She is currently in the hospital being treated for her injuries. There was a vigil tonight in her name, and to let people know that this is not acceptable in our community, in my home.
And this is a link to a fund set up to help her pay her hospital bills and assist in replacing damaged necessities in her home.
Please help, she needs this more than I can even explain to you.
Get the word out on this. Say no to hate.
This is so awful, there really are no words. Please donate if you can, and signal boost.
Re: (dys)functionality, an addendum.
As an addendum to my two previous entries: acknowledging that threatening or violent emotional responses are not acceptable in society (even more so in an ableist society) does not mean it is okay to mock people and call them crazy/insane. As I wrote, I have an anxiety disorder, so I am mentally ill according to the psychiatric nomenclatures. But do I deserve to be mocked as though it is “all my fault” and I “deserve” it?
I don’t think being dysfunctional should be mocked at all. Actually I’m not sure there are valid reasons to mock. By society’s normative standards, yeah, but in the grand scheme of things, what is the point of mocking a category of individuals, other than getting points in the opposed category and reinforce it? It’s useless and hurtful.
And in case it’s not clear, I personally was not trying to prove or disprove that animal-folks are oppressed/not oppressed with my latest entries. I was solely commenting on the subject of dysfunctionality and my point right now is that I don’t really want to get lumped into the same bag as people who mock others or people who believe animal-folks are not oppressed/oppressed (the latter one is complicated, I stand on neither side).
[Usmann Rana] An Open Letter To Marvi Sirmed
(via Usmann Rana)
Respected Ms. Marvi Sirmed,
Let me start this letter by applauding your courage to stand up and defend your beliefs in the face of bullying bigots pervading the talk show scene of Pakistani television channels and discussing issues of importance that are often swept under the carpet, the pretext being issues such as nudity, gay rights and secularism being irrelevant to a country where people are struggling to survive on the daily basis or them being Western imports. How very convenient, is it not,to denounce the logical extensions leading from our cherished deals of humanity and democracy, albeit unacceptble to guardians of honor and shame, under the subterfuge of real politik and realistic grounds.
But what is repugnant is not how guardians of tradition and self proclaimed saviors of faith have no sense of a reasonable dialogue but the way they have taken to pose threats to lives of Pakistani journalists. It is preposterous that certain people should be condemned to death for voicing their peaceful protests in favor of need for reason, sanity and humanity to prevail in a country where ‘holier than thou’ mentality has seeped in,while certain others share fair amount of on air time to spew hatred against religious and sexual minorities, wihout being held accountble for the damage their hate filled speeches might do to members of the concerned communities being targeted. It becomes all the more of a worrying factor in a ‘post-Salmaan Taseer’ Pakistan where everyone of us deems it his responsibility to save Islamic order from alleged youth corrupting western intoxicated agents on the pay rolls of foreign governments and agencies, the allegations being mere delusional with out evidence, of course.
But you are not alone Ms. Sirmed. Given the fact that Pakistan rates as the worst country for journalists, I’d say you, along with Mr.Hamid Mir and Mr.Najam Sethi, are in a good company(in fact Mr. Sethi’s recent discussion of threats from state and non-state actors was alaming). However the fact remains that this nation can not afford to lose yet another Saleem Shehzad.
We have sacrificed far too many lives for a ‘free’ Pakistan to end up as a sham democracy where, as you stated in your note on Let Us Build Pakistan blog, instead of taking any action to protect you, an eminent Punjabi politician calls up your father and informs the old man how a militant group has decided to ‘eliminate’ you. So much for democracy.
What is outrageous is the way your family is having to deal with the situation. Being stopped by self righteous individuals on streets to be told how one ought to be ashamed of raising a daughter who defends immorality is enough to put one under extreme mental duress. Even more so for a man of seventy. How can one blame your family for publicly disowning you, no matter how heart wrenching it was.
I can relate to your concerns for your family. Often there are times when I think twice before voicing my opinion, my birth right to protest against what I deem unjust. Not because I am concerned about my well being for the day I chose to take a firm stance, I picked up the other end of the stick as well, knowing full well the repercussions of honesty in a country like Pakistan.
But Ms.Sirmed this is not only about you, Mr. Sethi or Mr. Mir. It is about the basic freedom of free expression no matter how much we disagree with one another. About facing the discriminatory world and defending what is just and humane. About fighting ‘hate speech’, which our ‘free’ media and nascent democracy has still not been able to demarcate from ‘freedom of expression’. About the troubles that we have to face, that we must ensure are not there for our children so that they can reach their optimum potential and work for the betterment of the world instead of trying to figure out the next best survival tactic. It is against the message of the moral police, the ghairat brigade,if you may, to the youth of Pakistan. A message of subjugation, hate and fear. And thus the need to take a stand.
Let me clearly state that I have disagreements with you. And you may not subscribe to my opinions, ideals and thoughts. But that is the beauty of democratic ideals. We all hold some small part of the objective reality and it is only through reason and dialogues and constructive criticisms that at the end of the day we may still be having a peripheral vision of truth, goodness and reality, but we are still somewhat more closer to them than before.
But alas, how difficult it is to explain it to the defenders of faithful bigotry. You are right to argue that these hooligans know nothing of the humane underlying principles of Islam, and in fact of any religion in the world. For understanding the verses they so often quote in the socio-historical context would be a direct blow to their political ambitions and power dominations. It is to save Pakistan from such sub-humans that we must continue speaking for what is humane, regardless of our differences.
It is a fight not only for Pakistani Liberals but every sane Pakistani out there whether conservative or secularist as the threat looms over the head of us all by letting militant organizations and terrorist student wings of political parties operate effectively while the politicians pander to the voters on the ‘democracy is the best revenge’ and anti corruption slogans and the religious ulema decry the discrimination faced b Muslims by being tagged as terrorists who can not be integrated into open and democratic non-Muslim societies, arguing for the compatibility of Islam and democratic principles.
Why should Muslims , and this case Pakistani ones, not be tagged as terrorists and religiously motivated self righteous thugs, Ms.Sirmed, if it is them posing death threats with the most spiteful and vilest language one could imagine to anyone breaking the spell of bad traditions and misuse of religion’s name and rule f the deep state? Is it not the Muslim world which is boiling with anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and racism? Of course this is not a letter in defense of the likes of Pamela Gellar whose bread and butter depends on spewing hate against and fears of Muslims. But these are some thoughts worth pondering over. If Muslims, in general, and Pakistanis, in particular, all over the world wish to change the perception regarding their communities, they must speak out and walk the walk, instead of empty talks, including the so called ‘moderate’ elements within the societies. No 21st century open, humane and democratic state ought to allow violation of its citizen’s rights to life, security, free expression et al.
[American Grotesque] The Genocide of Intersex People
(via American Grotesque)
BEWARE: Very political, this post might upset you or make you think!
The society that we are living in with all its discourses of power/knowledge wants to make us believe that there are only two sexes. But what if this wasn’t so? What if there are as Gilles Deleuze once famously proclaimed “a tiny thousand sexes”. What if 1 in 1000 or 10 000 newborn infants were intersexed, meaning that we couldn’t put the child in our neat little categories of male or female? What would our mostly Western societies be capable of doing in order to make them disappear? Because if we want to believe that there are only two sexes and such an inconvenient thing as an intersex person comes along and threatens to overthrow our belief system the easiest way of dealing with that problem is to make it disappear. Would they (different discourses, for example the state, the law, the medical establishment, the parents etc.) go so far and operate on that child, against its will to normalize it. Would they mutilate it’s genitals and sexual reproduction organs?
Yes, they all would. They all do!
The medical discourse constructs intersex people as an anomaly and this anomaly, this pathology has to be normalized- has to be taken care of- this is what medicine as a discourse according to Michael Foucault did from the very beginning. The discourse categorizes who and what is normal and who/what not and what then can be done to “cure” it.
The law- in Germany at least- tries to enforce that there are only two sexes too. This can be exemplified by the law (§ 12 BGB) and it’s guidelines that state that a child can’t be given an ambivalent first name. The first name of a child has to be either clearly female or male. No ambivalence is allowed. The law doesn’t state though that intersexed children have to be operated on, but it also doesn’t explicitly forbid it either.
The parents are often persuaded by doctors to allow the various “procedures” (read: mutilations) because otherwise the child will have a very hard time in this society and “we wouldn’t want to make the child feel like it is different”. They never seem to question that the child might only have such a hard time because of people like them.
These mutilations are justified by saying that it’s for the child’s own good. But is it really?
What about the hard childhood because they might have to operate on you more than once?
What about the adolescence in which you have to take hormones?
What about if no one ever really tells you what’s “wrong” with you but you know that you are somewhat different? After all other children don’t have to go to the hospital and take pills like you.
What about if because of these “procedures” you were only partly able to feel sexual pleasure because of numbness of some of the skin?
What about they never tell you and you have the feeling you are in the wrong body and finally decide to change your sex until you find out that they turned you into that body in the first place? You had a vagina/penis or a mixture of both but your parents preferred a son/daughter – or the doctor said “it’s easier to dig a hole than build a pole”? Thus you were turned into your body.
How would you feel?
Cheated, Angry, Hurt, Sad, Betrayed?
You had/have to go through all this just because people don’t want you to exist.
You have to because
Medicine decided that you are a not normal and the doctors want to try out fancy new techniques of sex reassignment surgery.
Your parents are too easily convinced because they only want your “best” and are thus complicit with the medical establishment.
The law acknowledges you only as male or female but not as neither or both.
We ( the Western nations) with our firm belief in human rights always point our finger at Africa and condemn the crimes of female genital mutilation that are committed in the name of tradition or religion. But we are actually doing exactly the same! The human right to psychical integrity/inviolability is violated either way.
Under German law (§ 2 GG) this right means that because of the human free will- any person has the right to decide what happens with his_her* (by writing in such a manner I try to make the existence of intersex and transgendered people visible) body and that you have to prove that a person no longer can execute this free will before you can for example operate on him_her*. The law also states that if you nevertheless do it you are committing a crime (§223 and § 226 StGB) and in case of, for example children, it can be interpreted as abuse or misuse of the duty to shield children from any harm.
If we have this law, why then are intersex people still operated out of existence? Why are we still waging a genocide against them?
Because according to the state there are so few?
Because we think we have the right to take their human right to bodily integrity away from them because they are not normal? Because we pathologies and construct them as such in the first place?
Because we can’t deal with the fact that “reality” is more diverse than we want it to be?
Because we are afraid of everything that threatens our “illusion” of two distinct sexes and that we would have to change our way of relating to the opposite sex(es) and to each other?
We are all part of this society and it’s not an abstract thing. Society lives and is re-produced through each of us and our deeds. We do society in our everyday life and can thus (help to) change it! The private (what we do and how we think) is political!
What’s your excuse (of letting this genocide happen)?
Or what do you do to make it stop?
South Dakota Kidnaps Indian Children and Sticks Them in White Foster Homes
If you find typos here, it’s because my hands are trembling in fury over the keyboard as I write this. That comes from reading Part 1 of National Public Radio’s three-part report on yet another round of cultural genocide against the Indians of South Dakota. What it amounts to is state-sanctioned kidnapping. You can read or listen to Part 1 here and, starting at 4 p.m. Pacific Time, Part 2. I hope that, after you do, you’ll take action to help bring an end to the continuing effort to separate Indian children from their families. Here are the bullet points from the kick-ass investigation Laura Sullivan and Amy Walters put together over 12 months:
• A 2005 study found that 32 states are, in various ways, failing to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Congress passed that law in 1978 after a century of federal policy had forcibly removed tens of thousands of American Indian children from their families and sent them off to abusive boarding schools.
• Under the law, social services agencies are supposed to place Indian children they remove from troubled homes into Indian foster-care homes. But that requirement is being ignored. And in South Dakota, more than 700 Indian children are removed from their families each year, often under questionable circumstances. Over the years, state records show, only 13 percent of these children have gone to Indian foster parents.Boys at the Pine Ridge (S.D.) Reservation/Aaron Huey
• Anecdotal evidence indicates that foster-care homes licensed to Indians are ignored by the state’s social services agency when placing children removed from their families.
• Some children are taken for legitimate reasons, but most are removed because of “neglect,” a fuzzy definition that often is arrived at because of a failure of the mostly non-Indian social-service workers to understand Indian culture. “[E]ven Native American children who grow up to become foster care success stories, living happy, productive lives, say the loss of their culture and identities leaves a deep hole they spend years trying hopelessly to fill,” NPR reports.
• While Indian children make up less than 15 percent of the state’s population, they are more than half the children in foster care. South Dakota receives thousands of dollars from the feds for every child it takes from a family, and typically gets more money if a child is Indian.
• South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugard once headed a group that was a major recipient of federal money provided for foster children. As lieutenant governor, he was on the group’s payroll when it received tens of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts, a “highly unusual relationship.”Meteor Blades :: South Dakota Kidnaps Indian Children and Sticks Them in White Foster Homes
“It enrages me,” says Crow Creek tribal council member Peter Lengkeek. “We’re very tight-knit families and cousins are disappearing. Family members are disappearing.”
The Crow Creek tribe has lost more than 33 children in recent years. The reservation only has 1,400 people. Last year Lengkeek asked social service officials to tell him where the children were and who they were placed with.
Seven months later, he received a list. Lengkeek says every single child was placed in a white foster home.
He says if the state had its way, “we’d still be playing cowboys and Indians. I couldn’t imagine what they tell these kids about where they come from and who they are.”
“It’s kidnapping,” he says. “That’s how we see it.”
Except for the obvious reasons, many people may wonder why this matters so much to Indians, why it arouses our fury more intensely than just about any other conflict between Indians and non-Indians in today’s world. That’s because the foster-care program contains a powerful echo. Our rage arises out of a history that is, for many of us, devastatingly personal.
For instance, among Indians who participate in the Daily Kos group Native American Netroots, at least four of us have relatives who were yanked away from their families and sent to boarding schools (aji: great-grandmother; me, grandmother and great-aunt; navajo: mother; cacamp: grandparents, parents and himself).
Some went to government-run schools; others were taken in by church operations, Catholics and Mormons being among the prominent proponents of this approach to “civilizing” us.
In addition to being physically abused and treated as sexual prey in many cases, children in the boarding schools had their language, culture and religion yanked away. That wasn’t collateral damage. It was the whole point. The concept behind the boarding schools, more than 150 of them by 1900, was “Kill the Indian…save the man,” as noted in an 1892 Denver speech by Col. Richard H Pratt, founder of the U.S. Training and Industrial School at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. In short, demolish Indians by literally stealing their children.
Apache children on arrival at the Carlisle Indian School wearing traditional clothing.
The same children at the Carlisle School four months later. Note the haircuts.
Here’s cacamp - Carter Camp - giving the short version of his boarding school story:
I was a repeat run-away same as my Mom, so I didn’t graduate until I was 19. Mom never did because her Dad hid her from the agent after the first time. In my parents’ day the schools were run like military academies where the kids marched in formation and drilled like soldiers. They had disciplinarians and jails and ran farms, which the students worked on to feed themselves. Those were the bad old days. By the time I got there, they were more benevolent but still strict about erasing our cultures. We still had to work on the farm two hours a day and more if we got in trouble.
The Navajo had it especially rough since they were forcefully rounded up like my parents were and taken up [to] Kansas, far from home, while the rest of us were sent by our parents because of poverty. We were high school age; so were the Navajo but they hadn’t gone to any school before and most spoke no English so they had “special ed” and were segregated in different dorms. Funny thing though, we met and became friends with students from all over and later on became tribal leaders and American Indian Movement leaders who knew each other and could work together for things like tribal sovereignty.
Back then the Bureau of Indian Affairs agent stole the kids and ran roughshod over the parents and tribe. Today it’s the State and the welfare system that is doing the same thing. We call our lost children “Lost Birds” after the baby girl who survived [the] Wounded Knee [massacre of 1890] and was adopted out to a white family but finally (recently) came home to her people to be buried again at Wounded Knee.
Each year we have “lost birds” coming home who have turned 18 and come seeking their families and yearning to learn their culture. Many times they don’t even know who to ask for and sometimes they’re quite old, grown up and with their own children looking for a connection to their past. Winter Rabbit reminded me of such a lost one. The majority of the stolen kids know their families and come home ASAP, so we have a large population of Indian kids who were brought up outside the tribe and have now come home. They almost all have stories of abuse. Only a few were lucky enough to find love and stability. Most are passed around in the system and bounce from foster home to foster home. This has been going on so long that thousands of lost ones are out there from every nation in America. It needs to stop.
Aji tells the story of her great-grandmother:
[My mom’s grandmother] died without ever knowing who or what she was; it’s taken a lot of work, years later, to piece her “self” together. Initially, the family thought she was of Scots descent, not realizing that the Scottish surname was that of her by-then-widowed mother’s second husband. Her adoptive name was English. There is no record of what her traditional name (or any surname) might have been; they were more interested in covering up the very fact of adoption than anything else.
In the 1870s, the Catholic Church in Michigan was very invested in saving Indian children from an alleged “epidemic” of illness. What they were really doing was stealing kids and farming them out as fast as they could to reliably Catholic families who would … “save the [wo]man by killing the Indian.” No one knows how many were lost to white families via church theft. Hundreds, at a minimum. Probably thousands over the course of one generation alone. But one day in the late 1870s, a good white Catholic couple of English extraction left their home and traveled to the rez for two months, and came back bearing their new little Indian “papoose,” promptly given a white name and identity, with never a reference to be made to the adoption, much less from where.
Ironically, when she married, her husband ran his father’s logging business, and during the summer months, he traveled around the state; in his absence, she ran the business for him. She hired and fired - you guessed it - Indian laborers, some of whom were undoubtedly relatives, but neither side ever knew it. She died thinking that 1) she was English, and 2) she was the lineal descendant of those English “parents.” To this day, I’m not sure how they explained the differences in coloring - probably via the “Gasp! That’s not discussed in polite company” method.
Also ironically, after her adoption, her new parents went on to have nine biological children of their own. You’d’ve thought they could’ve been a little less greedy about acquiring someone else’s child as a possession.
Nobody is suggesting that the foster-case system in South Dakota is treating Indian children the way the boarding schools did back, in Carter’s words, in the “bad old days.” Or that children are being snatched in quite the same way that the churches did decades ago. But many of today’s Indian foster-kids are still losing their culture and the connection to their heritage.
Take the case of Janice Howe, one of the grandmothers that the NPR team focused on. Her four grandchildren, the children of her daughter Erin Yellow Robe, wound up in foster care despite the 1978 law.
Except rarely, that law requires that Indian children be placed with relatives, a tribal member or at the very least, another American Indian. And it requires states to do all they can to first keep a family together through services and programs. Surely, a grandmother qualifies.
But nothing Howe did over 18 months brought her grandchildren back until she told the Crow Creek tribal council that they were about to be put up for adoption. The council passed a resolution warning the state that if the Yellow Robe children were not returned, it would be charged with kidnapping and prosecuted. Nobody thought this would work, but it did.
“Antoinette came in and said ‘Grandma, Grandma. We get to stay! We get to stay!’” …
Howe thinks the babies were treated well. But Rashauna and Antoinette left a size 10 and came back a size smaller. Howe says they hoard food under their pillows and hide under the bed when a car pulls up.
“I feel like they were traumatized so much,” Howe says.
The children don’t remember their native dance, something Howe says is especially important for Antoinette, the oldest.
“We go to sweats,” Howe says. “We have ceremonies at certain times a year. She’s got to be getting ready to learn these things that she has to do in order to become a young lady. They took a year and a half away from us. How are we going to get that back?”
Among other tasks, Danny Sheehan works for the Lakota People’s law office. He has about 150 case files on removals.Danny Sheehan
“These are all the different people who had their kids taken away from their entire families. … Not one of them has had their children left with a relative of any kind.”
He hopes one day he can sue. …
“Maybe if we devoted all our resources to a particular case and said, look, we’re going to land on you like a ton of bricks [social services] and make you give this one kid back and sue you and do everything else, they would probably just turn the kid loose,” he says. “But it wouldn’t change anything. It wouldn’t stop them from doing it a hundred times again.”
But why should lawsuits be necessary? There is a law against what’s being done. It’s just not being enforced. A good deal of the reason for that is because the centuries-long efforts to make Indians disappear, to make us invisible, has succeeded. Our political clout in such matters, even in places where we can still be found in substantial numbers, is next to zero. The 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act appears to us to be just another ignored bit of paper, like hundreds of treaties, and nobody official is doing squat about it. When it comes to invisible Indians who enforces the enforcers?