[-empyre-] the bush card

Naeem Mohaiemen naeem.mohaiemen at gmail.com
Thu Feb 7 16:18:35 EST 2008

Hey John
I totally understood where you were coming from regarding the terrorism debate.

I brought up the EPW/India/"genocide" vs "civil war" controversy
(which is a slightly more raging controversy in my life right now,
empyre disagreements are quite polite in comparison) just to
underscore the point that sometimes I write things and then later
wonder about other possible interpretations.

When I wrote the text, which quoted John Gray, it was for 16 Beaver
Group's "Continental Drift" series. The organizers of that event are
friends and allies, therefore they already know many of my political
positions. Reproducing that text on empyre, which is an unfamiliar
space to me, can quite naturally lead to people asking for further
elaboration. So no worries, I took your commentary as another slice of
an interesting debate.

Yes, I do think the so-called "radical Islamist" politics in places
like Bangladesh is playing to western cameras as well as a domestic
audience. I was a bit stunned at that same rally when the BBC
photographer boldly reached over and moved the microphone stand (while
the "radical" was giving a speech) just so he could get a better shot
of that bearded face. No one blinked. They were quite pleased that the
BBC guy was getting a clear shot.  I could imagine the "beard" later
coming up to him and conspiratorially whispering "will I be on 9 on
clock news? did you get my good side?"

I'll try to put up one of the clips from that rally on youtube
sometime soon. It's fascinating stuff.

- Naeem

On Feb 7, 2008 8:34 AM, John Haber <jhaber at haberarts.com> wrote:
> As I say, I'd hoped that my other comments would be more on topic and
> more productive, on issues relating to (a) the limits of street theater
> as artistic expression and politics, (b) the problematics of claiming
> that one has rejected Western norms or vice versa while playing to the
> camera, and thus (c) the problematics of a global capitalism that
> creates these dilemmas.  And this IS allegedly a discussion about art,
> media, and site-specific in a context of transnational media and cultures.
> Moreover, I don't feel terribly obliged to prove my leftist,
> anti-imperialist credentials. I'm a rather lousy poster boy myself for
> Judeo-Christian deontological ethics. I had also put it in the form of a
> question, of how Naam's post should be interpreted, not as a judgment.
> Thus even to continue on the subject seems to me unwise. However, since
> people seem to think I have to explain this, let me just note the
> passages that raised the question:
>  >>
> John Gray points out that "projecting a privatized form of organized
> violence worldwide was impossible in the past.  Equally, the belief that
> a new world can be hastened by spectacular acts of destruction is
> nowhere to be found in medieval times...." {. . .]
> Within their violent program (what some mistakenly call
> "Islamo-anarchism") is fury at an economic system that has left them
> behind. But you could also argue that it is hypercapitalism that has
> rejected them, because it doesn't know how bracket in communities of
> intense, rigid faith. Perhaps, those you cannot sell product to cannot
> be allowed to exist.
> <<
> Let's just say that this could be interpreted to mean that capitalism
> makes spectacular acts of violence inevitable and just by, among other
> things, denying faith.  By the same logic, it seems to me, one must
> support the Bush program that 9/11 makes the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis,
> the exile or displacement of more than a million, and the loss of an
> economic future inevitable and just.  One might also then have to accept
> bin Laden's desire to alter the faith and politics of the entire Arab
> world as the Arab world's denial of faith.  So please don't start
> playing the Bush card against me.
> There's a problem with most debates about Mideast conflicts, that they
> come down to "he hit me first." This doesn't work for little children at
> recess, and it has an awful taste when the subsequent hits are directed
> at noncombatants.
> John
> _______________________________________________
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