Monday, July 18, 2016

Anti-Queer Terrorism, What a Joke

By Kelly Cogswell

Listen to this. It's hilarious. So a guy walks into a bar. A gay bar in Orlando on Latino night. He has an MCX and a 9mm-- No, you haven't heard this one before. That was a pipe bomb and New York. No, not that it either. That was New Orleans and fire. Let me finish. -- So a guy walks into the bar where all these Puerto Rican fags are dancing and drinking, maybe even kissing or something, and he starts shooting.

And I forgot to tell you. He's called 9-1-1 to explain he's doing it in the name of the Islamic State. So anyway, he kills 49 people and wounds 53. Almost every single one is queer. And here's the hilarious thing, nobody says it’s anti-gay or terrorism. I mean, aren't you just ROTFL? C'mon, you have to laugh.

I'm not making it up. It started as soon as they released his photo and name, and several men came forward identifying Omar Mateen as a gay man, or at least somebody who had sex with men. That's when the U.S. media changed gears and the narrative of "Terrorist Attack in Orlando" became a story about "One More Self-loathing Faggot Bashes Other Queers." Which is funny, because in France the coverage focused almost exclusively on terrorism. French media and politicians twisted themselves into knots to avoid mentioning that Pulse was a gay club and the dead were almost all unseemly queers.

If U.S. queer activists didn't put up much of a fuss at how the story shifted, it's because we'd rather talk about anything besides religion, especially Islam, or even plain-old homophobia. Gun control quickly became the big story. Because nobody would ever think of plowing a truck into a crowd like they did in Nice and killing a scant hundred people that way.

Black Lives Matter especially, in a bizarro statement on their website, did a real intersectional number on Orlando. Denouncing anybody that blamed Islam even a tiny little bit for the attack, and explaining it was "... born from the anti-Black white supremacy, patriarchy and homophobia of the conservative right and of those who would use religious extremism as a weapon to gain power for the few and take power from the rest...Homegrown terror is the product of a long history of colonialism, including state and vigilante violence. It is the product of white supremacy and capitalism..."

I don't know if it was their goal, but they seemed to imply that the victims, who were mostly Puerto Rican, weren't really killed because they were unapologetically and even joyfully gay. Readers also might get the misleading impression that the killer was a white American. Not a Muslim-American of Afghan origin who lived in terror of his fundamentalist Muslim Afghan father. And quite clearly announced that he was going to kill a bunch of people in the name of the Islamic State. Whatever.

I still wasn't prepared for the FBI to join the ranks of the jokers, and declare that there was no evidence that Omar targeted Pulse because it was a gay club. It's like they bought the whole fucked up homo-narrative that it was all about his mental health and personal history. So they threw up their hands when they didn't discover any real evidence of his reportedly gay lifestyle that reportedly left him conflicted. No photos in his computer. No Grindr account. No "gay slurs during the shooting spree inside the club."

So much for the dead gay bodies. And the 9-1-1 call, and his commitment to ISIS, which encourage good Muslims to kill us and regularly puts videos on YouTube of jihadi tossing queers out of windows and over balconies and parapets. For committing sodomy. For extramarital sex. Maybe most importantly, for polluting a pure and sacred apocalyptic Caliphate. But Why? Why? Why would Omar Mateen target Pulse?

What is everyone's fucking problem? A guy goes into a synagogue, a black church, and kills a bunch of people we know it's anti-Semitic, or anti-black and racist. We don't need somebody to draw us a picture. And it used to be that when somebody explained their act as terrorism we believed them as soon as we saw the blood. We didn't ask for a membership card or a certificate of mental health. We certainly didn't look for alternative explanations. Did you trip with your finger on the trigger? Were you playing Pokeman Go? Was it... capitalism?

Terrorism has always been a DIY operation with small cells run by borderline crazies. And post-social media it's easy to recruit worldwide. ISIS is brilliant in this regard. While Christianity produces queer killers pretty regularly, that was not the case here. And it does no good to look away. You can almost hear them chant, "We're here, we kill queers. (And Jews and those secular French) Get used to it."

Monday, July 04, 2016

Income and Equality on Independence Day

By Kelly Cogswell

It's the Fourth of July, and Independence Day in the U.S. seems especially ironic this year, since Britain, the country we won our independence from, just voted to sever ties with the European Union and is already regretting it.

Those who voted to leave said they didn't like EU taxation, (even though they had representation!) Neither did they like how EU immigrants could compete for jobs in Britain. They were shocked to discover that dumping their obligations would also mean losing access to the benefits, like the EU single market and trade deals (the source of many jobs), or even that agreement with the French to stop migrants from crossing the Channel at Calais.

They seemed particularly surprised to learn that the European banking industry that made London its capital and spent years fueling British growth no longer had any reason to be there post-Brexit. So out with the bath water go those massive companies and their employees who spent a gazillion pounds a day on goods and services, paying taxes, creating work.

I'd sneer, except that both Trump and Sanders are happily pushing for the same isolationism and anti-globalization. This is partly to satisfy garden-variety xenophobia and racism, but also as an alternative reality solution for income inequality. If you believe them, there will be plenty of good jobs at home once corporations are forced to keep them in the states.

It might even have been true at one point, but at last week's summit between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, Obama reminded us that one of the biggest reasons for job loss wasn't outsourcing, but automation. The U.S. is actually manufacturing more steel than a decade ago, but there are simply less jobs for humans. Robots do everything from building cars to assembling computers. They even stock shelves and pack boxes, carry and fetch, count and send.

Tech of course has affected middle-class jobs too. Retail stores have given way to Amazon's robots, too. Like bank tellers, though not bankers. Thanks to the Huffington Post, and other new media, journalists exist, but are expected to work for free.

For the U.S. to create, industrial-economy jobs in the twenty-first century, you wouldn’t just have to roll back trade deals and alliances, you would have to smash the machines and turn back time. Anything short of that, would be Brexit redux. We'd maybe gain a few jobs here and there, but we'd lose far, far more which have been created by our global, service economy. And we'd also lose manufacturing jobs, because the global shock waves would devastate developing markets. All we'd create are more poor people.

The world these days is complicated and interdependent. Solutions to inequality and poverty have to be, too. Even improved means of communication can build invisible walls. These walls don't divide the 1 percent and the rest, but the great bulk of our population from a bottom tier that includes a disproportionate amount of people of color, and LGBT people of all races.

It's not like the old days when the differences between the rich and middle-class and poor had a lot to do with the model of your car, or the size of your TV. Even most poor people could afford a set, and no matter what size TV you had, or how many, they still broadcast the same shows. Even if they excluded you, and you were watching them from outside with your nose pressed up against the screen.

Now, money doesn't just buy better technology or more, but something entirely different. You can't replicate the experience of owning a smart phone, for instance, by having a cheap cell, plus spending a few hours on a computer at the library. No, without a smartphone you're in a different universe where even the sense of time is different.

News doesn't depend on daily newspapers but instantaneous pings from Facebook, Twitter, and newsfeeds. A question can be answered as soon as it is posed. A wrong turn in the real world can be corrected immediately by GPS and Google maps. Instead of waiting for a car service or a cab, you log in to the Uber app and get a ride that is both quicker and cheaper.

And of course, you can network perpetually and instantaneously without taking the time out for coffee or meals or cocktails, reinforcing and augmenting the privileges you already have. Which helps some people when they need to do a job search. Because employers look not only at the resume you submitted online but at your entire network of friends and followers to see if you'll fit in with the company culture. The drawback is you may find yourself on the employment version of Grindr. No fats, no fems. No...

Maybe most troubling is how this technological divide leaves the poor on the wrong side of the tracks in the democratic process which we are supposed to use to fix things. And even as politicians celebrate the apparent accessibility of social media, and hold town meetings there, we discover that smart phones and internet access are like entry fees. And not everyone can go.