I asked my ex, now good friend, if she would ever have an open relationship and she said, “No, I don’t think I could do that” then after a pause and a smile, “but what about love affair friendships?” She went on to describe an impenetrable fortress of female friendship, her own group of best mates who’d known each other since school and had supported and loved each other through almost all of their lifetimes. They sounded far more bonded to, and in love with one another, than their respective husbands. It struck me that we don’t have the language to reflect the diversity and breadth of connections we experience. Why is sex the thing we tend to define a relationship by, when in fact it can be simple casual fun without a deep emotional transaction? Why do we say “just friends” when, for some of us, a friendship goes deeper? Can we define a new currency of commitment that celebrates and values this? Instead of having multiple confusing interpretations of the same word, could we have different words? What if we viewed our relationships as a pyramid structure with our primary partner at the top and a host of lovers, friends, spiritual soul mates, colleagues, and acquaintances beneath that?

dehron:

Showcase: SIXMOREVODKA (http://sixmorevodka.com/)

-teesa-:

3.6.14

Aasif Mandvi interviews Fox Business commentator, Todd Wilemon.

onlylolgifs:

baby arctic fox tries to eat a man alive

Anonymous
asks:
I'm not saying white privilege doesn't exist on a global scale, it does. It just bothers me when Americans try to dictate other people's identifies when they know nothing about their country, or their people's struggles, or treat everyone as though they're American/responsible for American issues, while at the same time not caring at all about issues in other countries.

hoganddice:

cyanwrites:

lediableaquatre:

pookaglamour:

stirringwind:

spookyunity:

stirringwind:

that imo is “American privilege”- it’s a problem here on tumblr. Like yeah, to my American followers, I know lots of you try to learn and I wouldn’t generalise to say all Americans do this- but there’s a big problem especially amongst popular social justice blogs here.

What is very disturbing about the tumblr social justice discourse is that a lot of popular US social justice bloggers like to splatter the US categorisation of race and understanding of racism over the rest of the world. Race, and racism- are both social creations. Therefore, it only makes sense that they can vary from society to society. Here are some issues:

1. Things like insisting that white people cannot face racism in the world. I’m sorry, but I can tell you that’s BULLSHIT in Europe, at least. How people are othered operates differently sometimes. It’s pretty obvious I have Chinese ancestry, for example, but I speak fluent English. That often makes me seem more assimilated and less of an “Other” in the UK, than the immigrant worker from Poland whose accent is plainly obvious. Do Chinese people face racism in the UK? I’m sure they do sometimes.

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  • But my point is that the way xenophobia and hostility is targeted isn’t always based on skin colour. The Holocaust, the Nazis’ deliberate starvation and mistreatment of Soviet soldiers, the genocide of Bosnians by Serbians are all instances where genocide was committed against people who WOULD be racialised as “white” in the US, who were genetically European. I will seriously throttle anyone who dares to suggest no racism is involved or tries to literally posthumously say claim the victims are “POC” to fit their narrative that global oppression is “White people oppressing POC!!!” ( E.g “Bosnians were not really white because they were Muslims.” WRONG. Genetically they are Slavic people- like Russians, Ukrainians…and Serbians themselves). There was more about cultural otherness, religious divisions at play here, about Serbian nationalism really, rather than seeing Bosnians as “less white”.

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Bosnian Muslims in concentration camps in the 1990s 

  • The experiences of “white people” are far from universal AND they can be very familiar with racism, oppression and marginalisation. I mean like try telling a recent Russian immigrant to the US who was descended from Russian serfs that he has MORAL RESPONSIBILITY for slavery in the US? Geez. Yes, maybe he’d benefit from “white privilege” but to say his ancestors benefited from it would be nonsensical when they were getting similarly abused by landowners in the 1800s Imperial Russia. Please tell me how a US POC is necessarily always more familiar with oppression than a Polish person or German whose family lived under Soviet authoritarianism right up till 1989, who lived in fear of the Stasi, aka the East German secret police?

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An extremely privileged, white Russian serf girl listening as two landowners bargain over how much they want to pay for her.

  • This is an example of ridiculous mental gymnastics to maintain the “White people oppress POC!!!” paradigm.

image

Haha, ok. So this person (it’s a US blogger) has proclaimed Ashkenazim are not white. Alright, how about some…experts? Like real Ashkenazi Jewish people?

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  • How about this other Jewish person’s opinion? 

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  • See? The “wtf Ashkenazim aren’t white they will slap you” person was American-splaining (yes, they are American) European race categories with clearly a US-centric understanding of race and subconscious failure to realise for Ashkenazi Jewish people, the definition of whiteness CAN FLUCTUATE in the US vs Europe. I understand that how Jewish people conceptualise identity can vary and may not fall neatly into “whiteness” or “non-white”. But the quarrel I have with that comment is because it’s obvious that person completely refused to countenance the notion that those people murdered in the Holocaust could be “white” because they don’t want to think about the complexity of racism around the world, they just want to perpetuate the narrative that racism globally is “white people oppress POC!!!” And that’s wrong, if you are gonna distort and step on other victims’ experiences for your own ends, no matter how noble your own cause is.
  • (Btw, MANY Ashkenazi Americans identify and do look “white” in the US.) Genetically, studies show they’ve enormous amounts of European ancestry because it seems European Jewish communities were formed from constant intermarriage with European women for CENTURIES, before they started to marry within the community. Just imagine how minimal their non-European heritage might be by then- 80% of Ashkenazim can trace their maternal line to prehistoric Europe. See why oversimplifying Nazi racism as “less-white” is kind of a wrong paradigm to understand it? And how it’s kind of wrong if you are so insistent on denying “white people” can face racism when we are not talking about neo-Nazis saying “white genocide!!!” about immigration, but real crimes against people?

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2. “POC” cannot be racist. Sure. I’m laughing. I guess it wasn’t racism AT ALL when officers in the Imperial Japanese Army said they saw Chinese people as “subhuman”. When one of my family’s most awful experience of imperialism was under the Empire of Japan during World War 2. Where Chinese people were buried alive and experimented on. Young men executed en masse. Women forced to become “comfort women” (aka forced prostitution) to service the Imperial Japanese Army. So, my teenage grandmother bound her chest, cut her hair and rubbed her face with ash- and spent the entire time disguised as a boy in order that she wouldn’t be raped. All war crimes the Japanese government doesn’t want to apologise for even till today.

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How about the fact that the people of a group who were victimised at one point can also have racist and discriminatory policies themselves?

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And hurt their OWN people too?

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Purges during the Chinese "Cultural Revolution".

  • So, saying “POC” cannot be racist (or oppressive in general) is offensive precisely because it lets governments who haven’t apologised off the hook. Because, hooray, all racism and oppression only comes from what is the US understanding of “white people” (European origin?) ! How about Ottoman Turkey’s genocide of 1 million+++ Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians? (Greeks! “White” victims at the hands of “non-white” people? I know, shocking, but it has happened. Also, it’s another debate whether Turkey can be so easily be considered “non-European”.) Hideous things like forced death marches to the desert. If what the white settlers did to the Native Americans is genocide, what the Ottoman Empire did to their Christian subjects sure as hell is genocide too. Like you know what, yes I’m glad Turkey criticises Israel for its policies towards Palestinians which indeed look like ethnic cleansing- but at the same time…I think, “what about you? When are YOU going to admit those 1 million people were murdered because you wanted to exterminate them?”

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Wanna bet that anon earlier doesn’t know who this guy is? He’s Mehmet Talaat Pasha btw, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and chief architect of the Armenian genocide.

  • How about the “Death Railway”, where plenty of “white” POWS died working in conditions of near slavery building a railway line for the Empire of Japan, treated no better than the Asian labourers working alongside them?

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  • That’s why the term “POC” doesn’t speak much of solidarity to me with that kind of history. Outside the US…it’s very often meaningless. In Europe, it’s already problematic because it obscures inter-European racism, and in countries where non-European people are a majority, some of the worst things we have suffered were by the hands of other “POC”. And that is exactly why the term “POC” and the entire “white people oppress POC” dichotomy SHOULD NOT be indiscriminately spilled all over non-US contexts and pre-US history.

3. If you’re an American person of colour, I’m going ask you, as a non-American and fellow non-white person, to think twice about trying to claim solidarity with all non-white people around the world and blaming all problems like modern capitalism and exploitation on “White supremacy”. Because that is not true, because that is a shameful abdication of recognising our moral culpability in other forms of oppression.

  • Like…US POCs, imo, are quite culpable in US foreign policy imperialism. How can they not be? Many do benefit from America’s political hegemony over the world even if within their country they’re less privileged than white Americans and still face discrimination. But vis a vis some poor person in another country about to be trampled by the boot of US foreign policy, they are privileged. Many US POCs serve in the US Army. The President is a person of colour.
  • One cannot claim equivalency in marginalisation with the Pakistani man whose family was killed in a mistargeted drone strike- because you are a US citizen. Just as I can’t claim I’m somehow as oppressed by capitalist exploitation as those Chinese villagers whose water supply got poisoned by factories making goods for the MNCs. Because although my great grandparents were poor Chinese who left China amidst the strife caused by the Opium Wars, I am not them. I had an infinitely more privileged upbringing, because I am a consumer in the developed world and actually on the other side- the side that in many ways enables oppression. My hands may be clean vis a vis white supremacy, but they ARE NOT when it comes to the way the developing world is exploited. Are wealthy Chinese businesspeople who mistreat their workers free of moral blame?

Are these people

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as underprivileged or institutionally oppressed as these?

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Are these two’s experiences, privilege and power

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EXACTLY the same as these rural Kenyan kids- who are happy that they now have access to clean running water?

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(Yes, Kenya and the African continent as a whole have made great strides. But it is a fact that these children face more challenges and have fewer opportunities and are much less privileged than most Americans.)

NO.

Just because we have been wronged by others in the past doesn’t mean we may not be hurting others now, and that we don’t have a responsibility to stop it. 

It is one thing to talk about your own experiences and raise awareness about the injustices you face. That is great and should be supported. But it is another to step on other victims so your narrative of oppression is the loudest and drowns them all out. Oppression is not a contest, and we can talk about our experiences in SOLIDARITY with one another, recognising that throughout human history, racism and oppression has worn MANY faces around the world- not just white ones.

Lol no white peoplecannot face racism nice try though

Did you even read my post? I’m guessing not.

Racism is a dynamic between oppressor and oppressed, and yes there is no “reverse racism”, but there are places where other faultlines beyond skin colour exist. Which means people you like to homogenously lump together as “white” actually don’t see themselves uniformly. Just like the Japanese sure as hell didn’t see we Chinese as “yay Eastasians!” during WW2 when they massacred 300,000 people of my ethnic group in Nanking, or how the Rwandan Hutu extremists saw Tutsi as “cockroaches” even though they were both African, even though plenty of Hutu-Tutsi marriages had taken place before the genocide. Unlike the Americas, in Europe, where because a lot of people there are white, other stuff like language, culture, history and geopolitics actually often becomes used as an excuse to murder entire groups of people.

Clearly, you know more about what is or isn’t racism than the law enforcement, than people like the British police- who have dealt with everything from neo-Nazis to attacks on black African immigrants to attacks on Muslims. It’s not like they have the statistics to know there is systemic racism against Poles to arrive at this conclusion or something. It’s not like they’ve had responded to numerous reports of anti-Polish graffiti. It’s not like they know recently, a man got beaten up by 15 people outside a London pub, who yelled “go back to Poland!”

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Clearly, your assessment that white people cannot face racism is more correct than the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, which held that the Srebrenica massacre of Bosnians in the 1990s was genocide. Clearly, you know more typing on your blog than these people trained in international law and the genocide convention, than the witnesses who actually dug up all the bodies of the victims in their mass graves.

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Clearly, what the Greeks experienced at the hands of the Ottoman Empire- forced death marches, massacres, summary executions, forced removal from their lands and destruction of the Christian religious symbols was not racism at all. Because, their magical white skin protects them from experiencing racism, and the fact that they were followers of a minority religion in an Islamic country and a minority ethnic group without much institutional power is totally irrelevant.

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Clearly, this Czech Jewish girl, with blonde hair and fair skin, must definitely be a POC since she was murdered in the Holocaust. Her name is Hana Brady, btw. Unless you want to say the Holocaust wasn’t about racism, about Nazi Aryanism. Because racism is only the US flavour of white vs POC, because other forms like Aryanism don’t exist. Nevermind how often the Nazis called Jewish people “vermin” and “subhuman” and an “inferior race” and the Holocaust a “purification” of Germany.

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Clearly, white people cannot face racism even though the Holocaust is an internationally-recognised genocide. Because you say so. Or are European Jewish people all “POC”? Hmm? This is amazing. I’m glad the most major genocide in the 20th century wasn’t about racism after all. Humans aren’t so bad after all!

You may also want to share your amazing findings with historians, human rights lawyers and legal scholars regarding the way the Nazis  deliberately starved and abused Soviet POWs to the extent 60% died in custody, compared to less than 5% for British and Americans. Cos, y’know, they think it is genocide. Cos historians know about Generalplan Ost, and how the Nazis elaborated how they intended to exterminate Eastern Europe of Slavic people to increase German living space.

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Or alternatively, you may wanna tell these Russian soldiers that you have just discovered they are not white after all, that they are POC, since racism cannot happen to white people.

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Or you can do the easy thing which is to take off your American-centric lens, realise there is a whole different world outside the US and Canada, and recognise that racial Othering and discrimination doesn’t always function based on skin colour differences.

This is absolutely perfect. Most of tumblr is fixated on the specific race relations of the US which they then apply to everyone everywhere regardless of fact or how those nations are

Shit,it’s blatant in daily life when I have to explain to people exactly why the assumption of nationality of East Asians can be horrendously offensive and messy. I have Chinese ancestry, I have learned some Japanese. In order to practice, I used Japanese in a Japanese restaurant. The proprietor was all smiles until upon her asking if my features were from a Japanese ancestor, I replied no, actually I’m Chinese. She immediately flipped to icy and rude.

My European ancestry is mostly Polish and none of the came to America until the mid 1930’s, yet I have had fun chats about white responsibility for slavery when my family had no involvement. (Except on the Jamaican side which uh…well they obviously weren’t the oppressors there.)

The American experience of race and oppression is utterly alien in other places.

Jews being POC is one of tumblr’s most damaging inventions because it is turning the Holocaust, which is a “european” based atrocity, because it dealed with a European background that involves religion, sociability, and European based prejudices (basically, Jews had been discriminated in European societies long before any definitions of whiteness came along - So OBVIOUSLY the problem goes much farther than that). And people turn it into a white kills POC dicothomy to fit IN AN AMERICAN PARADIGME OF OPPRESSION. Do you see how wrong this is? You’re appropriating the suffering of those people to fit into your society although it’s not the same at all. Do you people not understand that the world doesn’t function according to your society? That there was for ages actually slavery and division between black people and white people in the US and that is something that the European countries never experienced in a large scale? Even the countries that had colonies enforced those systems back in the colonies. For instance, Portugal was the first country to actually abolish slavery in their Continental territory in the 18th century. You know why? BECAUSE IT MADE NO DIFFERENCE. There were really no numbers of significant slaves in Continental Portugal, most people who lived in CP never had to deal with that reality. So the European society in this case (not to mention Asia, which I won’t speak of because I don’t know) is completely different from the basis on which the American society was formed. Therefore, the prejudices are going to be different. It’s really not DIFFICULT.

As a non-American, I’m pretty damn tired of American-splaining. >___>

^All of the above.

infinitemachine:

Character of the Day: Boots by Lord-of-the-slugs

infinitemachine:

Character of the Day: Boots by Lord-of-the-slugs

ricosuave911:

madeofplantsandmagic:

majormitchmajor:

lukeaustinyeah:

little-king-of-the-stage:

His tattoo translates to ‘faggot’. WHY

Because i am one.



“Let me give you some advice, bastard: Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour, and it can never be used to hurt you.”
-George R.R Martin.

This is fucking bravery. Good for you, man.

ricosuave911:

madeofplantsandmagic:

majormitchmajor:

lukeaustinyeah:

little-king-of-the-stage:

His tattoo translates to ‘faggot’. WHY

Because i am one.

image

“Let me give you some advice, bastard: Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour, and it can never be used to hurt you.”

-George R.R Martin.

This is fucking bravery. Good for you, man.

No True Scotsman

nashscribblings:

I’m an atheist.  

No … no no, please come back.  Stay with me to the end.  I have a point here, I promise.

Being an atheist wasn’t exactly a choice I made; it was more like a realization I came to, eventually.  I realized I didn’t believe, and despite exploration and thought on the matter, couldn’t believe.  So I accepted it as part of who I am.  I understood it wasn’t a majority view, and while it could make me sad and angry (and sometimes still does), I accept I live in a world with creeds other than my own.  I try to find my place in all that.

Unfortunately, there are so very, very, very, VERY many asshole atheist online.  So many.  Turtles all the way down, you might say.  They engage in bad behavior.  They pick fights.  They’ve contributed to the death of the trilby and the vilification of the fedora.  They insult people of faith, women, other ethnicities, you name it.  They’re about a goosestep away from proclaiming themselves the master race, and it drives me nuts.

They don’t represent me or my beliefs, but they claim membership in my “tribe,” as it were.  They make me look bad.  I have to apologize a lot.  Any step toward acceptance atheists have in society gets pushed backward every time they open their mouths.  And there’s not a damned thing I can do about it, except own up to it, be embarrassed, and try to be a better example.

I don’t deny that they’re atheists.  I don’t tell people that’s not how “real” atheists would behave, because every group has huge chunks that make them all look like mouth-breathing savages.  I don’t try to disassociate myself to make myself feel better, because that would be denying that yes … this is a problem in my sub-sect of humanity.  This is my house, and like it or not, the kids have covered the walls with poop.  Calling it “wallpaper” doesn’t make it stink any less.

So … I have to own it.  I’m very, truly sorry for the bad behavior.  I would like to express there’s more to atheists than what you’ve been lead to believe, but I truly understand if your experiences with us have left you with a bad opinion that you can’t shake.  All I can do is be responsible for myself, and try to be better.  I’m sorry that’s the limit of my ability, and I sincerely hope it helps.

Now, here’s my point: when your group has bad actors, own it.  Don’t deny it, don’t try to sub-group the sub-group.  The People’s Judean Front is still the People’s Front of Judea, kids.  Don’t defend them.  Don’t ignore them.  Don’t pretend like they don’t exist, or deflect the criticism, because I’ll tell you: no matter how righteous the cause or truly wronged the party, you have assholes.  Worse, you have assholes that have every right to your label, who speak from that label, and use that label to justify some horrific bullshit.

This is not pointed at one of you.  This is pointed at aaaaallll of you.  If you keep pretending that asshole in your clan isn’t REALLY in your clan, not only are you excusing their actions but you’re hurting your cause just as much.  You’re permitting it, because at the end of the day it’s embarrassing, and frustrating, and the best solution to make yourself feel better is to create a new category that is perfect, pure, and asshole-free.

My friend, there ain’t no such thing.

Step up.  Beyond acknowledging the bad behavior, acknowledge it’s happening in your house.  When someone shits on your rug, you don’t pretend like it never happened.  You clean it up.

We each, ALL OF US, have housecleaning to do.  The next time you see someone in your group being an asshole, speak up.  You might get called a traitor in so many words.  I have.  But I’d rather speak and make clear what I’m about than pretend like it’s okay.

It ain’t okay.

valeria2067:

Pure Happiness. (x)

A town known as the “town of books”, Hay-on-Wye is located on the Welsh / English border in the United Kingdom and is a bibliophile’s sanctuary.

skellyscoo:

The Author from Cyndago’s "Danger In Fiction":

Chapter I // Chapter II // The Host

descentintotyranny:

Murtaza Hussain — Malala and Nabila: worlds apart
Unlike Malala Yousafzai, Nabila Rehman did not receive a welcoming greeting in Washington DC.
Nov. 1 2013
On October 24, 2012 a Predator drone flying over North Waziristan came upon eight-year old Nabila Rehman, her siblings, and their grandmother as they worked in a field beside their village home. Her grandmother, Momina Bibi, was teaching the children how to pick okra as the family prepared for the coming Eid holiday. However on this day the terrible event would occur that would forever alter the course of this family’s life. In the sky the children suddenly heard the distinctive buzzing sound emitted by the CIA-operated drones - a familiar sound to those in the rural Pakistani villages which are stalked by them 24 hours a day - followed by two loud clicks. The unmanned aircraft released its deadly payload onto the Rehman family, and in an instant the lives of these children were transformed into a nightmare of pain, confusion and terror. Seven children were wounded, and Nabila’s grandmother was killed before her eyes, an act for which no apology, explanation or justification has ever been given.
This past week Nabila, her schoolteacher father, and her 12-year-old brother travelled to Washington DC to tell their story and to seek answers about the events of that day. However, despite overcoming incredible obstacles in order to travel from their remote village to the United States, Nabila and her family were roundly ignored. At the Congressional hearing where they gave testimony, only five out of 430 representatives showed up. In the words of Nabila’s father to those few who did attend: "My daughter does not have the face of a terrorist and neither did my mother. It just doesn’t make sense to me, why this happened… as a teacher, I wanted to educate Americans and let them know my children have been injured."
The translator broke down in tears while recounting their story, but the government made it a point to snub this family and ignore the tragedy it had caused to them. Nabila, a slight girl of nine with striking hazel eyes, asked a simple question in her testimony: “What did my grandmother do wrong?” There was no one to answer this question, and few who cared to even listen. Symbolic of the utter contempt in which the government holds the people it claims to be liberating, while the Rehmans recounted their plight, Barack Obama was spending the same time meeting with the CEO of weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
Selective Memory
It is useful to contrast the American response to Nabila Rehman with that of Malala Yousafzai, a young girl who was nearly assassinated by the Pakistani Taliban. While Malala was feted by Western media figures, politicians and civic leaders for her heroism, Nabila has become simply another one of the millions of nameless, faceless people who have had their lives destroyed over the past decade of American wars. The reason for this glaring discrepancy is obvious. Since Malala was a victim of the Taliban, she, despite her protestations, was seen as a potential tool of political propaganda to be utilized by war advocates. She could be used as the human face of their effort, a symbol of the purported decency of their cause, the type of little girl on behalf of whom the United States and its allies can say they have been unleashing such incredible bloodshed. Tellingly, many of those who took up her name and image as a symbol of the justness of American military action in the Muslim world did not even care enough to listen to her own words or feelings about the subject.
As described by the Washington Post's Max Fisher:

Western fawning over Malala has become less about her efforts to improve conditions for girls in Pakistan, or certainly about the struggles of millions of girls in Pakistan, and more about our own desire to make ourselves feel warm and fuzzy with a celebrity and an easy message. It’s a way of letting ourselves off the hook, convincing ourselves that it’s simple matter of good guys vs bad guys, that we’re on the right side and that everything is okay.

But where does Nabila fit into this picture? If extrajudicial killings, drone strikes and torture are in fact all part of a just-cause associated with the liberation of the people of Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, where is the sympathy or even simple recognition for the devastation this war has caused to countless little girls such as her? The answer is clear: The only people to be recognized for their suffering in this conflict are those who fall victim to the enemy. Malala for her struggles was to be made the face of the American war effort -  against her own will if necessary - while innumerable little girls such as Nabila will continue to be terrorized and murdered as part of this war without end. There will be no celebrity appearances or awards ceremonies for Nabila. At her testimony almost no one even bothered to attend.
But if they had attended, they would’ve heard a nine year old girl asking the questions which millions of other innocent people who have had their lives thrown into chaos over the past decade have been asking: "When I hear that they are going after people who have done wrong to America, then what have I done wrong to them? What did my grandmother do wrong to them? I didn’t do anything wrong."
Murtaza Hussain is a Toronto-based writer and analyst focused on issues related to Middle Eastern politics.
Follow him on Twitter: @MazMHussain

descentintotyranny:

Murtaza Hussain — Malala and Nabila: worlds apart

Unlike Malala Yousafzai, Nabila Rehman did not receive a welcoming greeting in Washington DC.

Nov. 1 2013

On October 24, 2012 a Predator drone flying over North Waziristan came upon eight-year old Nabila Rehman, her siblings, and their grandmother as they worked in a field beside their village home. Her grandmother, Momina Bibi, was teaching the children how to pick okra as the family prepared for the coming Eid holiday. However on this day the terrible event would occur that would forever alter the course of this family’s life. In the sky the children suddenly heard the distinctive buzzing sound emitted by the CIA-operated drones - a familiar sound to those in the rural Pakistani villages which are stalked by them 24 hours a day - followed by two loud clicks. The unmanned aircraft released its deadly payload onto the Rehman family, and in an instant the lives of these children were transformed into a nightmare of pain, confusion and terror. Seven children were wounded, and Nabila’s grandmother was killed before her eyes, an act for which no apology, explanation or justification has ever been given.

This past week Nabila, her schoolteacher father, and her 12-year-old brother travelled to Washington DC to tell their story and to seek answers about the events of that day. However, despite overcoming incredible obstacles in order to travel from their remote village to the United States, Nabila and her family were roundly ignored. At the Congressional hearing where they gave testimony, only five out of 430 representatives showed up. In the words of Nabila’s father to those few who did attend"My daughter does not have the face of a terrorist and neither did my mother. It just doesn’t make sense to me, why this happened… as a teacher, I wanted to educate Americans and let them know my children have been injured."

The translator broke down in tears while recounting their story, but the government made it a point to snub this family and ignore the tragedy it had caused to them. Nabila, a slight girl of nine with striking hazel eyes, asked a simple question in her testimony: “What did my grandmother do wrong?” There was no one to answer this question, and few who cared to even listen. Symbolic of the utter contempt in which the government holds the people it claims to be liberating, while the Rehmans recounted their plight, Barack Obama was spending the same time meeting with the CEO of weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

Selective Memory

It is useful to contrast the American response to Nabila Rehman with that of Malala Yousafzai, a young girl who was nearly assassinated by the Pakistani Taliban. While Malala was feted by Western media figures, politicians and civic leaders for her heroism, Nabila has become simply another one of the millions of nameless, faceless people who have had their lives destroyed over the past decade of American wars. The reason for this glaring discrepancy is obvious. Since Malala was a victim of the Taliban, she, despite her protestations, was seen as a potential tool of political propaganda to be utilized by war advocates. She could be used as the human face of their effort, a symbol of the purported decency of their cause, the type of little girl on behalf of whom the United States and its allies can say they have been unleashing such incredible bloodshed. Tellingly, many of those who took up her name and image as a symbol of the justness of American military action in the Muslim world did not even care enough to listen to her own words or feelings about the subject.

As described by the Washington Post's Max Fisher:

Western fawning over Malala has become less about her efforts to improve conditions for girls in Pakistan, or certainly about the struggles of millions of girls in Pakistan, and more about our own desire to make ourselves feel warm and fuzzy with a celebrity and an easy message. It’s a way of letting ourselves off the hook, convincing ourselves that it’s simple matter of good guys vs bad guys, that we’re on the right side and that everything is okay.

But where does Nabila fit into this picture? If extrajudicial killings, drone strikes and torture are in fact all part of a just-cause associated with the liberation of the people of Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, where is the sympathy or even simple recognition for the devastation this war has caused to countless little girls such as her? The answer is clear: The only people to be recognized for their suffering in this conflict are those who fall victim to the enemy. Malala for her struggles was to be made the face of the American war effort -  against her own will if necessary - while innumerable little girls such as Nabila will continue to be terrorized and murdered as part of this war without end. There will be no celebrity appearances or awards ceremonies for Nabila. At her testimony almost no one even bothered to attend.

But if they had attended, they would’ve heard a nine year old girl asking the questions which millions of other innocent people who have had their lives thrown into chaos over the past decade have been asking: "When I hear that they are going after people who have done wrong to America, then what have I done wrong to them? What did my grandmother do wrong to them? I didn’t do anything wrong."

Murtaza Hussain is a Toronto-based writer and analyst focused on issues related to Middle Eastern politics.

Follow him on Twitter: @MazMHussain

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