Monthly Archives: January 2015

Pedro Lemebel

Pedro Lemebel, the Chilean activist, essayist, and provocateur passed last week of cancer. With memorials beginning to appear in the English speaking press almost a week later (see today’s article in the New Yorker link to the text below) Lemebels death is a loss. With a legacy of opposition he was a voice who represented those deemed in the periphery – addressing the marginizalization of gays, lesbians, and trans folks in Chile. With his most powerful work  intersecting citizenship and heteronormativity Lempel’s work challenged the public gaze and looked at those who were excluded from the parameters of middle class heteronormativity to include the poor and the ill. Surprisingly Chile’s President, Michelle Bachelet, lauded the political agitator a “tireless creator”.  With a legacy of opposition against all forms of injustice including Pinochet’s dictatorship. neoliberal consensus of Chile’s government, also against resistance from Marxists who referred to homosexuality as a vice and dismissed those suffering of AIDS. Lempel was a queer activist who fought against those he thought profited from the invisibility of those who were not found in statistics (poor, queer, illegal etc).

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/surreal-end-unforgettable-queen-pedro-lemebel-1952-2015

 

Lego Hipsters

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Fantastic News!

Lego has just released a series of new figures modelled after hipsters. The collection of photographs from the recent Guardian article 28 Jan 2015 available here documents some of these images. The figures comes complete with one gear bikes, amish inspired beards, stripped shirts, oversized headphones, and moustaches worthy of the Village People circa 1978.

http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/gallery/2015/jan/28/how-lego-imagines-danish-hipsters-dress-in-pictures

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Far-Right Parties and Mainstream Media Declare War on Europe’s Muslims

this is a disturbing text on far right parties and the mainstream media who are declaring war on the muslim population in western european. interesting discussion of the sweden democrats and the spreading of not only islamophobia but also violence as a result of it in Alternate.
The text is posted below worth reading!
How rising far-right parties are bringing the Islamophobic terrorist Breivik’s chilling vision to life.

When the 20-year-old Eritrean Muslim refugee Khaled Idris Behray was found dead in the German city of Dresden with contusions and signs of stabbing all over his body, the local police immediately declared no signs of foul play. According the haphazard police report, Behray died from unknown causes. Days later, Dresden police have been forced to concede that Behray was stabbed to death, though the perpetrators are still on the loose.

Behray’s murder occurred the day after thousands of followers of a newfangled German group called the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident, or PEGIDA, rallied in Dresden. Drawing from the ranks of the working and middle class across Germany, but particularly in the economically struggling cities of the former East Germany, the movement that claims to defend Christian Western civilization against the advance of Islam. Even as its founder, Lutz Bachmann, has been forced to resign from his leadership role for photographing himself impersonating Adolph Hitler, PEGIDA is beginning to influence the German debate in a way far-right extremists in the country could have never have imagined just a year ago.

To be sure, Muslims aren’t the only target of the PEGIDA supporters, who gather weekly by thousands. The group’s leadership also spreads hatred towards migrants and refugees of other religions and cultures. Average PEGIDA demonstrators do not only express their “worries“ towards Islam (“We don’t want Sharia“ or “They are all terrorists“ are what you hear often from them), they also point out that the “migration flood“ has to stop and that refugees are not welcomed. Statements like this sound more absurd if you consider that in German cities like Dresden, where the right-wing movement started, just 8.2 percent of the population are immigrants while only 0.1 percent of Dresden residents are Muslim.

The situation in other European countries is at least as severe as in Germany. In neighboring Austria, you will not find an extreme right-winged political party in the German parliament, but political life in Austria is strongly affected by the FPÖ (Austria’s Freedom Party), which was founded after World War II by former Nazi politicians. Today, the party is well-known for spreading hatred against Muslims, refugees and immigrants. Heinz-Christian Strache, the party’s current leader, often prefers to pose with a crucifix while claiming that Austria and Europe have to defend itself against a new “Ottoman siege,” a reference to the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman empire that occurred hundreds of years ago. (The Islamophobic blog, “Gates of Vienna,” was a key intellectual influence on Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian white extremist who killed over 70 innocent people at a Labor Party-run youth camp in Utoya).

During the last elections, every fourth Austrian voter cast ballots for the FPÖ. And in the last months and weeks, Muslim women were attacked on streets or in the metro stations around Vienna while mosques were smeared with swastikas. Now, the conservative Austrian government wants to enact a new “Islam law“ which forbids Islamic organizations inside Austria to receive foreign money. The law evinces a clear double standard, as it focuses on Muslims while ignoring non-Muslim organizations and it has been described as “racist“ or “undemocratic.“ Austrian politicians like Sebastian Kurz, the country’s foreign minister, even demanded an official, state-funded translation of the Quran, infuriating the Muslim community, which considers any version of the Quran in a language other than Arabic to be an interpretation of the word God, not a “translation.”

In a recent interview, Dudu Kücükgöl of Austria’s Muslim Youth organization said that the attacks on Muslim women have been influenced by “the undifferentiated coverage regarding the rise of the “Islamic State” (IS). The hatred towards Muslims in Austria has grown much, too much”, Kücükgöl complained.

This December, unknown assailants used pepper spray to attack a Muslim kindergarten in Vienna. Twenty children struggled for air while they lay on the ground. Police have still not identified the suspects, raising questions about the infiltration of the far-right in the ranks of Austrian law enforcement. Not only does the FPÖ enjoy strong support from Austrian police, a number of cops posed in election posters for the extremist party.

In nearby Netherlands, the PVV (Party of Freedom) of Geert Wilders is dominating the political debate regarding Islam, migrants and refugees. Wilders, who may be the world’s most well known and influential Islamophobe, and who has risen from obscurity almost entirely on the basis of his anti-Muslim politics, has often repeated that the Quran has to be banned. He has gone as far as comparing it with Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. Despite his rabidly Islamophobic rhetoric, or perhaps because of it, Wilders and his party have become a force to be reckoned with in Dutch politics. Efforts to prosecute Wilders for hate speech have only backfired, as advocates of “freedom of expression” including groups set up by the European far-right have successfully cast him as a martyr of free speech.

This Christmas was open season on Muslim immigrants in Sweden, where a mosque filled with worshippers was firebombed, injuring at least five. A few days later, another mosque in Sweden was attacked, and then another on New Years. The assault on three mosques in three weeks suggests a level of far-right coordination which is unprecedented and aimed entirely at a single, widely demonized group.

The attacks on Swedish Muslims have grown in direct proportion to the popularity of a far-right party called the Swedish Democrats, who became the third strongest party of the parliament after the last elections with 13% of the vote. Meanwhile, assaults on mosques have also increased in Germany and Austria, with mostly right-winged culprits vandalizing mosque walls with Nazi symbols or throwing pig heads inside. As the ghosts of Europe resurface, the police and other state-run institutions in these countries remain curiously reluctant to discuss the attacks as an explicitly Islamophobic phenomenon.

Institutionalized racism and Islamophobia

The current events in Europe are not a surprise. PEGIDA and similar right-winged movements and political parties are a result of institutionalized racism and Islamophobia. The role of German media regarding PEGIDA is notable. Well-known mainstream news magazines like “Der Spiegel” or “Focus” are primary culprits, especially against Islam and Muslim migrants. For years, the magazines have run Islamophobic headlines like “Mecca Germany – The Silent Islamization” (Der Spiegel), “Scary Guests” (Focus) or “Allah’s Rightless Daughters” (Der Spiegel). These widely respected publications routinely feature front page photos or some faceless, Burqa-clad woman or an angry looking, bearded young men. On occasion, the angry young man appears in a hoodie, a symbol of urban discontentment that German conservatives identify with crime, terror and the destruction of the “traditional” way of life.

By far, Germany’s leading news source promoting Islamophobia, racism and hatred towards migrants and refugees is Die Bild, one of the world’s most high-circulated tabloids. The paper is owned by neoconservative Axel Springer SE, an aggressive support of Israeli and American foreign policies who acts as a German version of Rupert Murdoch. As rallies raged across Europe against Israel’s military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, Bild initiated a public campaign to stain Palestine solidarity activism as a form of anti-Semitism. The paper declared: “Jew hatred – Never again!” A few days after the the demonstrations, Bild published an explicitly Islamophobic article in which the author, Nicolaus Fest, called Islam an “migration barrier” and added that most criminals are migrants with Muslim backgrounds who bear an endemic hated of women and homosexuals. Fest’s rant was so overheated that even a few Bild staffers felt compelled to distance themselves from it.

The case of Ramsis Kilani highlights Bild’s double standards in blinding relief. Born and raised in Germany, Kilani lost his family during Israel’s attack in Gaza this summer. Ibrahim Kilani, who married a second time and moved to Gaza few years ago, had been killed together with his wife and his children after the IDF bombed their housing block. Although all of them were citizens of Germany, Ramsis, his mother and his sister only learned about the mass murder through social media. Germany’s mainstream media seemed to have studiously avoided reporting on the atrocity that slaughtered an entire family of Germans who happened to be of the wrong religion and ethnicity. Following public pressure, a few papers published accounts of the killing and ultimately, even Bild interviewed Ramsis Kilani. Yet the paper never published the story. Instead, it ran a giant and entirely sympathetic spread on Israeli soldiers killed by Hamas fighters during the invasion of Gaza.

The German government has not mentioned the death of the Kilani family until recently. “Migrants like us are second-class citizens in Germany”, says Kilani, whose family even did not get an official condolence. The young German-Palestinian has campaigned to spread the facts regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine across his country, but to little avail. For his public crusade to educate Germans about the plight of Palestinians and for his activism on behalf of migrants, he has become a target of PEGIDA followers. “Right-winged trolls contacted me regularly and called my murdered father an ‘Islamic terrorist’ and his wife a ‘birthing machine,’” Kilani told me. Like many other young and educated Germans with “foreign roots,” Kilani is considering leaving the country of his birth one day if the situation continues to deteriorate.

Spreading hatred behind the Israeli flag

It is not a coincidence that media outlets that take a pro Israel line and rail against anti-Semitism play a significant role in spreading hatred towards migrants and Muslims. Right-winged parties like the Austrian FPÖ have discovered that it is much easier for them to spread their hatred beneath pro-Israel cover. For instance, the FPÖ made it clear that “supporting the Jewish State against Islamism” has become one of their new political pillars. Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, has learned the same lesson, scrapping her father’s overt anti-Semitism and opposition to Europe’s special relationship with Israel and replacing it with an aggressively neoconservative outlook. In turn, she has attracted support from right-wing French Jews and cultivated a mainstream appeal her father could have only dreamed. But the seething racism that was a hallmark of her father’s politics remains firmly entrenched in the platform of her National Front.

Geert Wilders and his Party of Freedom were among the leaders of the European far-right’s alliance with Israel’s rightist Likud. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal, an American neoconservative operative funded by right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Wilders declared that Israel is the “only light of democracy in the Middle East”. He then demanded that the European Union and the United States stand by Israel’s side in the clash of civilizations — a war pitting the 
“Judeo-Christian” West against Islam. Wilders declared that the name of the state of Palestine should be changed to “Jordan,” suggesting that Palestinians either be forcibly expelled from their homes or stripped of national identity. In 2014, Wilders agitated unsuccessfully but flamboyantly for a commemoration for former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Dutch parliament.

The rise of movements like Pegida and the far-right surge across Europe is the fulfillment of the vision Anders Breivik laid out in his 1500 page manifesto. Breivik fancied himself as the eventual commander of a continent-wide movement to guard Europe against the multiculturalist onslaught, waging war through politics and paramilitary means against the liberal elements he described as “Cultural Marxists” and of course, against the barbarian hordes washing up on the gilded shores of Christian Europe. Breivik claimed that he carried out his attacks with accomplices and that he left behind sleeper cells of Islamophobic activists ready to carry out his plan while he languished behind bars. Breivik was himself influenced by a wide array of hardline American right-wingers from Daniel Pipes to Robert Spencer, and quoted at the length the work of the German neoconservative author Henryk Broder.

Broder writes mostly for “Die Welt,” a paper described as the “BILD for intellectuals” which also belongs to the the Axel Springer SE empire. Puffed in the neoconservative Tablet Magazine as a curmudgeonly “satirist and gadfly” who represents “Germany’s most annoying Jew,” Broder is in fact a key actor in the constellation of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian forces across Europe. Broder maintains close ties to the right-wing Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is known for its annual list of “Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs.” (Alternet editor Max Blumenthal and frequent contributor David Sheen made the #4 slot on this year’s list, though the Wiesenthal Center failed to explain how the two Jews’ behavior was in any way anti-Jewish). In 2012, Broder convinced the Weisenthal Center to name the famed German journalist and left-wing publisher, as the world’s ninth biggest anti-Semite. The public denigration of such an esteemed figure highlighted the sense of inviolability and arrogance that had come to characterize the pro-Israel forces who influenced German politics on left, right and center.

During the past week, mainstream media outlets have described the Charlie Hebdo massacre as “the worst terror attack on European soil.” Of course, Breivik was a terrorist who killed 77 innocent people — 65 more than the Islamic extremists who murdered the staff of Charlie Hebdo. But the characterization is no accident. Indeed, Western media outlets and politicians prefer to not view Breivik as just another white, psychopathic mass murderer while reserving the highly subjective term “terrorist” for swarthy people from Muslim backgrounds. Thus they obscure the role Breivik played in galvanizing the resurgence of Europe’s far-right and ignore the inspiration he drew from an established and well-funded global network of Islamophobes.

If the Western intellectual class wants answers on the radicalization sweeping across Europe, it can start by looking in the mirror and examining its own pale reflection.

http://www.alternet.org/world/its-open-season-europes-muslims-far-right-parties-and-mainstream-media

Agnes Varda Criticizes Lack of Recognition for Women Directors at European Film Awards

An article that briefly addressed Varda’s comments during last years european film award’s seems all too applicable again when thinking about the lack of diversity.
Agnes Varda
By Inkoo Kang | Women and HollywoodDecember 15, 2014 at 11:13AM
Ilmars Znotins/AFP/Getty ImagesAgnes Varda

One of the world’s most respected female directors has spoken out against the lack of recognition given to women in the film industry.

Upon receiving a lifetime-achievement honor from the European Film Awards, experimental documentarian Agnes Varda expressed gratitude for the distinction but also disappointment that so few other women received commendations at the ceremony.

“What I have noticed is that it is very sweet to receive this award but when I see the nominees here, I feel there are not enough women,” she said. “I think more women should be included. I know a lot of very good female directors and women editors, and I would like them be more represented and helped by the European film academy.”

The Polish film Ida took home the EFA’s top prize. Its producer, Ewa Puszczynska, echoed Varda’s criticisms.

“There are a lot of women directors not recognized yet who I believe are very talented. The same with cinematographers,” she noted. “There are various reasons why there are less women. We have families, we give birth to children, and that’s usually what keeps us back from being in the mainstream of our professions. In this industry it is still very difficult to leave to have a family and then come back. So very often it is a matter of sacrificing something, and that has led to there being less women in the film industry than there should be.”

[via The Guardian]

see one of many examples from the new york times

 January 15
It’s altogether fitting that a movie called “Whiplash” was the last one named Thursday when the nominations for best picture were announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.If the 87th Academy Awards lineup reflects anything, it’s an industry painfully — and occasionally exhilaratingly — torqued by social, technological and creative forces it can’t quite keep up with.As the lucky nominees were identified — first by the directors J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón, then by actor Chris Pine and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs — an organization that has already been criticized for being old, white and male looked increasingly so. With such right-on exceptions as Sandra Adair in the editing category, precious few women were nominated for the top technical and creative awards. High-profile snubs included the author Gillian Flynn, who adapted her novel “Gone Girl” for the screen, and “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, who just a few weeks ago became the first African American woman ever nominated in that category at the Golden Globes. And David Oyelowo was overlooked for what most critics and viewers agree is an electrifying performance as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the film.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/2015-oscar-nominations-show-lack-of-diversity-in-a-year-when-films-didnt/2015/01/15/676f2cc2-9cc1-11e4-a7ee-526210d665b4_story.html

Antonio Negri: Some Reflections on the #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO

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this is well worth the read – its a bit of info on his new text

link to verso below

By Rosie Warren / 02 January 2015

Antonio Negri reflects on the recent #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO, insisting upon the re- appropriation and disruption of capitalist modes of development and thought.

The Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics (MAP) opens by noting the depth of the current crisis – “cataclysm” – and a negation of the future by “coming apocalypses”. No need for alarm however: there is nothing political- theological here whatsoever, so those who came looking for that might as well stop reading now. Absent, too, is the usual refrain about the imminent breakdown of the planetary climatic system. Or rather, it is mentioned, its importance, but it is wholly subordinated to industrial politics, and can be addressed only through the critique thereof.

http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/1800-antonio-negri-some-reflections-on-the-accelerate-manifesto

Shaka McGlotten: Political Aesthetics of Drag

“The talk presents drag aesthetics as an ethics, focusing specifically on the ways artists and activists use drag to respond to, or reframe, some of the pressing political crises of our times, including racism, austerity, and police and military violence, among others.”

https://www.ici-berlin.org/event/624/

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From ICI Berlin

Drag can be a means of touching queer and other publics, or of mediating one’s economic precarity. It can function as art by other means, or by any means necessary. And like politics, drag can be a duty, a contentious pleasure, or something to dread. The talk presented drag aesthetics as an ethics, focusing specifically on the ways artists and activists use drag to respond to, or reframe, some of the pressing political crises of our times, including racism, austerity, and police and military violence, among others. It was constructed as a series of interlocking ethnographic portraits of contemporary drag across three sites, New York City, Berlin, and Israel/Palestine. These stories foregrounded some of the interlocutors’ competing desires for doing drag—for some it provides a stage from which they can articulate a radical politics, while for others it is a sensual refuge away from politics as they are ordinarily understood. Indeed, in keeping with the lecture series’ theme “Desire’s Multiplicity and Serendipity,” McGlotten showed how the desires that animate the drag personas and performances of his informants reflect a diverse array of lived conditions and political aesthetic orientations.

Shaka McGlotten, currently living and working in Berlin as a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, is Associate Professor of Media, Society, and the Arts at Purchase College-SUNY, where he teaches courses on ethnography, digital culture, and queer studies. He is the co-editor of Black Genders and Sexualities (Palgrave, 2012) and Zombie Sexuality: Essays on Sex and the Living Dead(McFarland, 2014). He has written and spoken widely about public sex, virtual worlds, gaming, and hook up apps, preoccupations that appear in his monograph, Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality (SUNY Press, 2013).

Communication and Peace: Anthology

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Great news the new anthology Communication and Peace is coming out early February. This text is comprised of many of the leading voices in communication studies and peace and conflict studies amongst others. Its an interesting text because it works to formulate important intersections that have too often remained neglected. A must read for those interested in communication studies, peace and conflict studies, and cultural studies.