Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Who speaks, who's silent

We have no secrets
We tell each other most everything
About the lovers in our past
And why they didn't last
-- "We Have No Secrets," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her album No Secrets

Do you scream? Do you cry? That's really the big question as you read this Al Mada article. The author means well. And that should count for something, I tell myself, and try to see it as 'baby steps.' But it's a bit like the author is taking on flat earthers by insisting the earth is three conjoined spheres. While that is a step up from flat, it's still wrong and pushes reality off on another day.

While the author maintains that gays and lesbians were born gays and lesbians and that's worth applauding, facts then get tossed aside as the reader is informed that gays and lesbians feel they were born in the wrong bodies. No, that it a transsexual. And that really has nothing to do with Emo.

A gay man can be anything from uber macho to very feminine, the entire range just like a straight man. But a gay man does not want to be a woman. A gay man does not desire breasts or want to have his penis removed (or any other body modification the author of the article might think up). That is a transsexual. Transsexuals are people who do believe they were born in the wrong body. They can have gender-reassignment surgery.

There's nothing wrong with being trans or being gay or being straight or being whatever. But understand the classifications and don't call a transsexual "gay" because they're not. And vice versa.

Equally true, a woman in a mini-skirt? Not a lesbian just because you call her that in an article.

There is, at the heart of the piece, the sound of tolerance or reaching for tolerance. And that's worth applauding. But it is completing irresponsible to pretend that the facts in this article are correct or scientific.

And the author? The Iraqi Psychological Association.

Again, there are those who will say, "They were trying to be tolerant." Yeah and that's why I've been much nicer about this than I would be normally. Their comfort level? Really not my concern. They need to stop spreading false information which does nothing to help anyone.

It should also be pointed out that even if someone truly is Emo in Iraq, that doesn't mean he or she is gay. The same way that someone working for the security forces in Iraq isn't necessarily straight -- in fact, from the 2009 wave targeting Iraq's LGBT community, we know damn well that a number of 'straight' security and militia men were more than happy to force themselves on males they thought were gay. That's not the behavior of a straight man, no matter how they would like to pretend otherwise.

A cleric in Sadr City can also be gay, as we learn in Peter Graff's report for Reuters which also notes the way some Iraqi youths are dealing with the targeting:

Hafidh Jamal, 19, who works in a shoe store in the upscale Karrada neighbourhood, said he used to dress in black with his hair long in the back, but he fled his home in Sadr City this week and cut his hair. Two friends were killed for dressing in the emo style, he said.
"Let them kill me. They killed my close friends," he told Reuters. "I support emo. I love this phenomenon."

Tim Marshall (Sky News) notes the work of the Organization of Women's Freedom In Iraq to call out the murders:

The OWFI documents some of the crimes here (be aware this link leads to a graphic image) and says the current wave of killings began on February 6th. Gays have always been persecuted in Iraq, but two things happened after the 2003 invasion of the country which led to the wave of anti gay killings in 2009 and now again.

Ali Hussein (Al Mada) notes Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's condemnation of the killing of Iraqi youths for being or thought to be Emo and Hussein notes that the targeting brings back memories of the Saddam Hussein regime when innocent people were behead and tossed into the garbage. Al Rafidayn quotes Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi stating that the liquadation of youths on the pretext of reforming Iraqi society is about embracing violence and terror and that they killers are in violation of the law. Another Al Mada article notes that while Nujaifi has spoken out against the killing, the Ministry of the Interior has remained silent except to deny that any targeting is taking place. MP Chuan Mohammed Taha serves on the Security and Defense Committee and notes that that governmental indifference to these killings is a new form of terrorism and that the Ministry of the Interior is a participant in the killings if only due to the fact that they know about the murders and they hide them from the public. Taha also declares that Emo is the expression of a personality and the law guarantees Iraqis the right to freely express their opinions.

Abe Greenwald (Commentary) offers
his thoughts on the subject:

In a Contentions post, I noted that the initiative allowed Obama to shirk America’s unique role in actually securing human rights around the world, while earning praise from identity-politics activists. The administration’s failure (and disinclination) to maintain an American presence in Iraq after 2012 meant that anti-gay barbarians such as al-Qaeda and Iranian proxies would stay behind and prey upon Iraq’s homosexuals without fear of American influence. If Obama really wanted to protect gay rights from history’s most vicious anti-gay forces, I wrote, he’d keep America in Iraq (and Afghanistan) instead of issuing memos and giving speeches. And if the progressives singing his praises really felt that gay rights were human rights they’d have been more inclined to support George W. Bush’s freedom agenda and less eager to cut and run in our wars abroad. How tragic to have been proven so right so soon.

That will appear in the snapshot today. I'm not a fan of Commentary and I don't agree with the piece (and it's wrong regarding the publication of Jack Healy's New York Times article -- that ran in Monday's paper but was available online Sunday) but I am glad to see that they register the problem and have weighed in publicly -- which puts them ahead of the US State Dept and the White House.

Silence wasn't what the Iraqi press offered on this topic and as various outlets try to claim credit (especially in the UK), it's worth applauding the Iraqi press which wasn't reporting about a problem in another country, which didn't have that level of safety. The Iraqi press is under assault and faces intimidation -- verbal and physical -- on a regular basis. They could have looked the other way, treated it as a secret not to be covered. Instead, they broke the story and they stayed on it when the Western press was either not interested or focused on something else. Al Mada was the first to break the news and reported on it all last week, they deserve to be applauded for that. Dar Addustour and Alsumaria TV quickly began doing their own reporting and they also deserve congratulations. They were the leaders on this story and on getting it out to the larger world. And they did that in a country that is increasingly hostile to its newly emergent free press.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan and Black Agenda Report -- updated last night and this morning:

Lastly, US Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office notes this hearing -- which is this morning -- on the issue of homeless veterans (it should be an important hearing, the witnesses are impressive and well versed in this issue):

Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
Monday, March 12, 2012
TOMMORROW: VETERANS: Murray to Hold Hearing on Veteran Homelessness

Hearing will discuss VA's progress on 5-year plan to end homelessness among veterans

(Washington, D.C.) -- Tomorrow, March 14th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing to discuss the progress the VA has made in its 5-year plan to end homelessness among veterans. During the hearing, the Committee will hear from 2 homeless female veterans, service providers, and officials from the VA.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee

Homeless Veterans

Marsha Four, Executive Director of Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center

Reverend Scott Rogers, Executive Director, Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry

Linda Halliday, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations, Office of Inspector General, Department of Veterans Affairs

Pete Dougherty, Acting Executive Director, Homeless Veterans Initiatives Office

WHAT: Hearing to discuss VA's progress on its 5-year plan to end homelessness among veterans, including the unique needs of homeless women veterans

WHEN: Tomorrow, March 14th, 2012

10:00 AM ET

WHERE: Russell Senate Office Building
Room 418

Washington, D.C.


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