MR
08.12.10
Monthly Review Press

Antonio Gramsci
ANTONIO GRAMSCI by Antonio A. Santucci
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Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality
POWERS OF DESIRE: The Politics of Sexuality edited by Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson
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Gender Politics in Latin America
GENDER POLITICS IN LATIN AMERICA: Debates in Theory and Practice edited by Elizabeth Dore
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Women and the Politics of Class
WOMEN AND THE POLITICS OF CLASS by Johanna Brenner
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The Socialist Feminist Project
THE SOCIALIST FEMINIST PROJECT: A Contemporary Reader in Theory and Politics edited by Nancy Holmstrom
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The Fiction of a Thinkable World
THE FICTION OF A THINKABLE WORLD: Body, Meaning, and the Culture of Capitalism by Michael Steinberg
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Cultures of Darkness
CULTURES OF DARKNESS: Night Travels in the Histories of Transgression by Bryan D. Palmer
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The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould
THE SCIENCE AND HUMANISM OF STEPHEN JAY GOULD
by Richard York and Brett Clark

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When Media Goes to War
WHEN MEDIA GOES TO WAR: Hegemonic Discourse, Public Opinion, and the Limits of Dissent by Anthony DiMaggio
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Toward an Open Tomb
TOWARD AN OPEN TOMB:
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Inside Lebanon
INSIDE LEBANON: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky (Ed. Assaf Kfoury)
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Eastern Cauldron
EASTERN CAULDRON: Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq
in a Marxist Mirror
by Gilbert Achcar

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The Politics of Genocide
THE POLITICS OF GENOCIDE by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson
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Fool's Crusade
FOOLS' CRUSADE: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions by Diana Johnstone
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Humanitarian Imperialism
HUMANITARIAN IMPERIALISM: Using Human Rights to Sell War by Jean Bricmont
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The Political Economy of Growth
THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF GROWTH by Paul A. Baran
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The Law of Worldwide Value by Samir Amin
THE LAW OF WORLDWIDE VALUE by Samir Amin
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Eurocentrism
EUROCENTRISM by Samir Amin
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Open Veins of Latin America
OPEN VEINS OF LATIN AMERICA; Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano
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Days and Nights of Love and War
DAYS AND NIGHTS OF LOVE AND WAR by Eduardo Galeano
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The Last Phase in the Transformation of Capitalism
THE LAST PHASE IN THE TRANSFOR-
MATION OF CAPITALISM
by Michal Kalecki

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Theory of Economic Dynamics
THEORY OF ECONOMIC DYNAMICS
by Michal Kalecki

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Labor and Monopoly Capital
LABOR AND MONOPOLY CAPITAL: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century by Harry Braverman
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Monopoly Capital
MONOPOLY CAPITAL: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order by Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy
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More Unequal
MORE UNEQUAL: Aspects of Class in the United States (Ed. Michael D. Yates)
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Naming the System
NAMING THE SYSTEM: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy by Michael D. Yates
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LISTEN TO MICHAEL D. YATES ON THE TAVIS SMILEY SHOW
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The Amoral Elephant
THE AMORAL ELEPHANT: Globalization and the Struggle for Social Justice in the Twenty-First Century by William K. Tabb
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The Next Liberation Struggle
THE NEXT LIBERATION STRUGGLE: Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy in Southern Africa by John S. Saul
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Return to the Source: Selected Speeches of Amilcar Cabral
RETURN TO THE SOURCE: Selected Speeches of Amilcar Cabral
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The Communist Manifesto
THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
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The Rosa Luxemburg Reader
THE ROSA LUXEMBURG READER edited by Peter Hudis and Kevin B. Anderson
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The World We Wish to See
THE WORLD WE WISH TO SEE: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty First Century by Samir Amin
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The Socialist Alternative
THE SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE by Michael A. Lebowitz
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Build It Now
BUILD IT NOW: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century by Michael A. Lebowitz
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The Structural Crisis of Capital
THE STRUCTURAL CRISIS OF CAPITAL by István Mészáros
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Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness
SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND FORMS OF CONSCIOUS-
NESS by István Mészáros

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The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time
THE CHALLENGE AND BURDEN OF HISTORICAL TIME: Socialism in the Twenty-First Century by István Mészáros (foreword by John Bellamy Foster)
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Beyond Capital
BEYOND CAPITAL: Toward a Theory of Transition by István Mészáros
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Socialism or Barbarism
SOCIALISM OR BARBARISM: From the "American Century" to the Crossroads
by István Mészáros

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Che Guevara: His Revolutionary Legacy
CHE GUEVARA: His Revolutionary Legacy by Olivier Besancenot and Michael Löwy
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Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution
UNDERSTAND-
ING THE VENEZUELAN REVOLUTION: Hugo Chavez Talks to Marta Harnecker by Hugo Chavez and Marta Harnecker

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Globalizing Homophobia
by Georg Klauda

After September 11th, 2001, one of the liberal justifications for the military intervention against Afghanistan was the oppression of women, but also of gays, by the Taliban.  People in Europe and the USA received with shock the news that same-sex couples were publicly executed in the Kabul Stadium by bringing down a wall upon them that was constructed solely for this purpose.1  Others, however, pointed out that not only in the countries comprising the "Axis of Evil," but also among a few allies of the USA, the persecution of homosexuals has been elevated to a raison d'état.  Horror reports from Saudi Arabia and Egypt tell of draconian measures against men who are suspected of same-sex activities.2

Moreover, not only in the Islamic world, but also in Christian Africa, the social status of homosexuals is more than precarious, and the coercive heterosexual norm produces state-sanctioned acts of terror against homosexual women and men.3  Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe announced in February 2002 that, in case of his reelection, he would imprison all homosexuals in the country.  Mugabe stated that homosexuals are "lower than dogs and pigs," since at least the latter can distinguish between the sexes.  The President repeatedly called upon tribal leaders to take action against homosexuality, which "should never be allowed in Zimbabwe": "We as chiefs should fight against such western practices and respect our culture."  Mugabe alleged that homosexuality is "un-African" and a decadent phenomenon of the West.4

But the President of Zimbabwe is only an example of a tendency that has spread through a number of states on the entire continent.  Shortly after newspaper reports appeared in Uganda about a gay marriage in the capital city Kampala, President Yoweri Museveni ordered the arrest and trial of all gays and lesbians.  The Minister of Security demanded their stoning.  Paragraph 140 of the penal code stipulates life imprisonment for sexual practices "against the order of nature".5  In Namibia, President Sam Nujoma claimed in April 2001 that homosexuality is against God's will and "the devil at work."  According to Nujoma, the entire nation must condemn gays and lesbians.6  Before an audience of graduates of a police academy, his interior minister called for eliminating gays and lesbians "from the face of Namibia."7  A leading official of the government even wrote a tract concerning a method for healing homosexuals by means of sawing open their skulls and washing their brains with a chemical solution.8

Finally, there is this example from the Caribbean.  In a report on the 20th of October, 2002, the Observer describes the woeful everyday situation for gays in Jamaica by means of the fate of a 26-year-old man named David.  The week before, David had been granted asylum in Great Britain on the grounds that homophobia in the Caribbean island nation was a threat to his life.  The numerous scars throughout his body left by machetes, knifes, and truncheons are a testament to this.  Several times, David barely escaped death.  Once, when he desperately needed medical attention, after he was attacked in a gay cruising district in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, two taxi drivers refused to bring him to a hospital.  They feared being defamed as "chi chi men" or "batty boys" themselves.  In his bloodied state, David had to haul himself a mile to the hospital.  There, he invented a story about a normal mugging, in order not to be refused treatment as a gay by the doctors.9

Given this crude example, are we not obligated to concede the unmistakable superiority of the "imperialist" West in matters concerning individual rights and sexual tolerance?  Is it not simply true that the USA and Europe are the guarantors of civil freedom worldwide?  In the following, I want to provide a few arguments as to why this view, at least from a long-term perspective, is fundamentally problematic.  For, historically, it was the West itself that inspired by its own example these heteronormative relations of violence.

Travelogues from the Land of the Perverse

Curiously, not too long ago the "Orient" still served as a projection screen for the homoerotic wish-fantasies of the European bohème.  Countless writers and artists such as André Gide, Oscar Wilde, Edward M. Forster, and Jean Genet made pilgrimages in the 19th and 20th centuries from homophobic Europe to Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, and various other Arab countries,10 where homosexual sex was not only met without any discrimination or subcultural ghettoization whatsoever, but rather, additionally as a result of rigid segregation of the sexes, seemed to be available on every corner.  For example, in a letter to his friend Louis Bouilhet dated 15 January 1850, Gustave Flaubert notes concerning male-male "sodomy": "Here it is quite accepted [. . .] and it is spoken of at table in the hotel.  Sometimes you do a bit of denying, and then everybody teases you and you end up confessing."11

The author and "hoodlum" Jean Genet likewise had his own experiences in 1928 at the age of 18 as a French soldier in Syria.  There he experienced his first great affair with a 16-year-old barber.  What impressed Genet was the affectionate, teasing attitude of the Syrians with regard to his romance.  He says: "everybody, in the street at least, everybody knew that I was in love with him, and they laughed, well, the men did, the women wore veils and were never to be seen . . . but the other boys, the young people, and older, too, smiled about it and made jokes.  They said to me, 'Well go ahead, go with him.'"12

Indeed, in Europe what was more characteristic was revulsion toward such freedom.  Thus the former engineer in the French navy, Charles Sonnini, complained in a travelogue from the late 18th century:

The passion contrary to nature [. . .] constitute[s] the delight, or, to use a juster term, the infamy of the Egyptians.  It is not for the women that their amorous ditties are composed: it is not on them that tender caresses are lavished; far different objects inflame them. [. . .]  This horrid depravation, which, to the disgrace of polished nations, is not altogether unknown to them, is generally diffused over Egypt: the rich and the poor are equally infected with it.13

John Hindley, for his part, informs the English readers of his translation of Persian poetry from the year 1800 that the "disgusting object[s]" of these love poems have been feminized "for reasons too obvious to need any formal apology."14  Such glaring interventions by European translators did not remain hidden from Arab visitors, such as the Egyptian scholar Rifāʿa aṭ-Ṭahṭāwī, who noted in his Parisian travel diary, published in 1834, that "in the French language a man cannot say: I loved a boy (ghulām), for that would be an unacceptable and awkward wording, so therefore if one of them translates one of our books he avoids this by changing the wording, so saying in the translation: I loved a young girl (ghulāmah) or a person (dhātan)."15

The British Orientalist and Africa scholar Richard F. Burton, however, confronts the problem directly in his ten-volume translation of the Arabian Nights from 1885/86, published privately and exclusively for subscribers of the Burton Club.  In no less than 50 pages he develops his own theory over that subject which was "utterly repugnant to English readers, even the least prudish" but the discussion of which is indispensable "in order to combat a great and growing evil deadly to the birth-rate -- the main-stay of national prosperity."16

Burton, though, did not target Islam.  Rather, he saw the Orient as part of a "Sotadic Zone," a geographic belt spanning Asia Minor, Mespotamia, Persia, Afghanistan, and the non-Hindu parts of India all the way to China, Japan, and finally Central America.  The climate in this zone allegedly contributes to a "blending of the masculine and feminine temperaments," so that men are both agens and patiens and the woman becomes "a tribade."17  Thus "what our neighbours call Le vice contre nature"18 is "popular and endemic" there and is "held at worst to be a mere peccadillo, whilst the races to the North and South of the limits here defined practise it only sporadically amid the opprobrium of their fellows."19  As an Orientalist, Burton is indeed certain that the Koran forbids "this pathological love."  But "neither Christianity nor Al-Islam could effect a change for the better."20

All of this seems to make it impossible to attribute the reversal in attitudes toward "homosexuality" in the Persian and Arabian countries solely to endogenous factors.  Rather, Burton already knew that the behavioral modifications he encountered in his over 40 years of contact with Islamic world were attributable to the moral influence of people like himself:

In the present age extensive intercourse with Europeans has produced not a reformation but a certain reticence amongst the upper classes: they are as vicious as ever, but they do not care for displaying their vices to the eyes of mocking strangers.21

That this corresponded for all intents and purposes to the truth is demonstrated by the parallel perception of the great Ottoman jurist and reform leader Ahmed Cevdet Paşa (died 1895), who in the period after the Crimean War in the late 1850s noticed a change in morality with regard to the fact that the "well-known love for and relationships with the young men of Istanbul was transferred to young women as the natural order of things."22

None remained of the group among the upper classes [kübera] known for their love of boys, such as Kāmil and Āli Paşa and their entourages.  Faced with the disapproval of foreigners, even Āli Paşa made a reluctant attempt to hide his pederasty.23

Similar observations were made as well by a number of Western observers after the Second World War in other countries.  Whereas Marc Oraison, for example, still reported in retrospect on his time spent as a doctor in Fes in 1952 that Moroccan students openly maintained homosexual relationships,24 Ihsan and Brigitta al-Issa wrote in 1969 in an international psychiatric journal that the "previously almost complete acceptance of homosexual practices" was undergoing "some change" among the Iraqi students surveyed.25  Finally, Charles Lindholm noted in 1982 concerning Northern Pakistan: "Homoerotic relationships were much more common a generation ago than they are now, since Western influence has brought a sense of shame about homosexuality, at least among the more educated."26

This trend is strengthened by the increasing public perception of a homosexual minority, a perception which makes same-sex love into something like a "deviant" mode of existence.  Neither here nor in the Islamic world do people wish to be identified with this stigmatized group, all the more so as it is connected with the clichéd challenge to one's own gender role.  People prefer to do without something that would associate them with homosexuality in the opinion of others.

The feelings of extreme bewilderment that the Western presentation of homosexuals as a distinct group of its own is capable of provoking in Arab countries is illustrated by a travelogue by the renowned Egyptian columnist Fami Huwaidi from July 30th, 2002 in the daily newspaper al-Ahram.  Huwaidi had participated in a congress of the social democratic Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Berlin, which happened to coincide with the Christopher Street Day parade.  In front of his hotel on Kurfürstendamm, Huwaidi witnessed the procession of half a million lesbians and gays:

I had never seen this type of people before and I began to stare at the passers-by in order to get a better look [. . .] I noticed a group of photographers and television crews who had come to cover the march and document the events.  I was disturbed by the thought that my image could be seen among the crowd on the sidewalk, a notion that gave rise within me not to fear, but rather unease.  But I calmed down -- a bit -- since thank God, my wife was at my side, so my innocence must be presumed.  May God strengthen you and protect you from false accusations!27

This passage reveals the extent to which the fear of accusations of homosexuality in Egypt has already flourished.  The paradox of the passage, however, consists in the fact that homosexuals appear to represent in their essence something completely foreign and unknown, but at the same time in their activity represent something deeply familiar that can be attributed with some plausibility to everyone, even a married man.  In the same breath that Huwaidi spurns homosexuals as a purely Western phenomenon, he seeks protection from -- apparently not altogether unfounded -- accusations against himself and his readers.  The particular distance Huwaidi is anxious to express from the "perverse," for example by comparing them with animals,28 is also due to the particular familiarity that connects their stigmatized existence with one's own actions.

Perhaps for that reason we can better understand the grotesque dimensions that the persecution of homosexuals has taken on in countries where the introduction of the homo/hetero binarism is more recent or even most recent.  Is it not precisely in those countries where the greatest force must be expended for the splitting-off of a homosexual minority?  The psychological labor that consists of externalizing the internal, which Freud called projection, therefore takes on the character of a full-blown mania.

Thus, in a hitherto unprecedented trial against 52 allegedly gay Egyptians who in 2001 were arrested in the Queen Boat, a popular discotheque on the Nile, 21 individuals were sentenced to three years of prison each for "habitual debauchery."  The media saw a satanic sect at work in the disco circle.  The day after the mass arrests, al-Ahram, a newspaper close to the government, reported that the "devil worshippers" had attempted to "win new members for their cult."  The protests by human rights groups abroad were commented upon in the Egyptian weekly al-Usbu'a as follows: "The perverts of the world are waging a relentless war against Egypt!"  The newspaper Hadith al-Medina asserted that the supporters of the "perverts" were working with "full power" toward the "destruction of the system of values" that sustains Egyptian society and were even part of the strategy of US foreign policy.  Many months before Ruz al-Yussif had spread details concerning this alleged conspiracy, according to which the homosexuals, who "have become a force in the USA strong enough to influence the most recent elections," were along with the Jehovah's Witnesses part of a network of Jewish conspiracies aiming at "tearing societies apart, sowing doubt towards religion, and talking the insecure into vice."29

The transformation of erotic relationships among men from a system of friendship to that of homosexuality changes the lifeworld in a threatening way.  It marks the panicked beginning of sorting people according to their sexual orientation.  Linked to it is the compulsion to practice a "hermeneutic of desire"30 with regard to one's own sexual activity and, if needed, to confess: "I am different."  Guilt and defensiveness, dissociation and projection are the concepts to be used to explain the terrorist climate of accusations and draconian punishments.

But the effects of this process, which play out at the level of transcendental forms of thought, remain inscrutable to practical reason, which is primarily concerned with concrete actions.  To practical reason, they thus appear as machinations of "devil worshippers."  Once more it is the Jews who serve -- along with American intelligence agencies, Western human rights organizations, and homosexual organizations -- as sinister puppet masters.  In Europe, the Jews have already been made responsible for the sexual degradation of the "national community of morals" since the beginning of the 20th century.31

However, just as the aforementioned effects of historical transformation are inscrutable to local observers in Egypt, events in the Arab-Islamic world are, to the Western eye, also only accessible on the basis of a perspective that naturalizes identitarian forms of thought, in a way that acts out one's own superiority, which is ultimately racist.  This is noticeable in discourses concerning countries outside of Europe, in which the existence of lesbians and gays is assumed without question.  Thus a German scene magazine writes concerning the events in Egypt: "At least we homos civilized in the West wish to save face and distance ourselves emphatically from the unbearable conditions under which our sisters in Egypt suffer."32  The addressing of sisters in Egypt assumes in a completely un-problematized way the existence of one's own forms of thought in the land on the Nile.

That one's own self is a product of a specific epistemological order, a "wrinkle in knowledge,"33 appears to go unnoticed by "homos civilized in the West."  Instead, the author subliminally denounces other forms of same-sex attraction: "As soon as two Islamic men walk holding hands on down the street, this has a different meaning; that is an expression of friendship . . . oh well, different countries, different customs."34  Here, a demonstrative incomprehension is being produced toward "friendship as a way of life"35 (Foucault), which after all constitutes in many non-European countries a prevalent alternative to the Western identity model.  At the same time, the difference is chalked up as a cultural, with the help of which Egypt or the "Orient" can be constructed as the other.

The author, who is usually concerned with the inviolacy of gay tourists from Germany rather than for the situation of local people, represents a widespread ignorance in Western culture with regard to non-identitarian models of "homosexuality."  Such models are simply not seen: one plays blind.

The "unusual affections" of the soldiers of the Afghan Northern Alliance during their march toward Kandahar are hence regarded as a mere curiosity.  "They sleep together in one sleeping bag and sing poems in each other's ears," recounts the Munich photographer Thomas Dworzak with disbelief concerning his experiences on the Afghan front.  "Whether that's homosexuality in the European sense of the word, I don't know."  In any case, a foreign journalist went completely ballistic when an Afghan solider touched his crotch, and wanted to beat up all the mujahedin.36  The Scotsman of May 24th 2002, on the other hand, reports concerning the mission of the Royal Marines in the Afghan mountains: "The hardened troops, their faces covered in camouflage cream and weight down with weapons, radios and ammunition, were confronted with Afghans wanting to stroke their hair."  Corporal Paul Richard (20) is quoted as follows: "It was hell.  Every village we went into we got a group of men wearing make-up coming up, stroking our hair and cheeks and making kissing noises."  Afghan men are "more terrifying than the al-Qaeda" according to the Marine James Fletcher.  "They go about hand in hand, mincing around the village."37

Philip Smucker arranges his June 22, 2002 report "The Royal Marines and a Gay Warlord," for the Sydney Morning Post, in a similarly sensationalist manner.  Concerning the former Taliban commander Malim Jan, who is today employed by the US military to patrol the jagged border with Pakistan, Smucker writes:

He admits that he has two wives and "several boyfriends", and has now taken a fancy to the Royal Marines who have visited his camp.  "Very handsome boys, much cleaner shaven and prettier than the American special forces," he said of the marines, as his own fighters -- whom he refers to as "beautiful young boys" -- smiled up at him.  Major Rich Stephens, commanding Zulu Company of the marines' 45 Commando, said earlier that the "unusual affections" of Afghan men had come as a complete surprise to his lads.  He put it down to a "possible cultural misunderstanding", but Commander Jan said homosexuality was "a tradition here in these mountains".38

Only the behavior of the Afghan men appears strange to Smucker, whereas the behavior of the "British boys" is not read as the expression of a European tradition, but rather remains fixed as a universal norm.  At the same time, the "foreign tradition" of the Afghans is rendered within a familiar order of knowledge, in that it is labeled as "homosexuality" and the warlord Malim Jan is referred to as "gay."  What Jan says about himself, which words he uses in doing so, and in what language he expresses himself, remains completely unknown.

A Contribution to the Critique of Culturalism

The culturalization of the persecution of homosexuals as a "peculiarity" of the Islamic world also has very practical effects for Arab and Turkish immigrants in Germany, in that the picture of their countries of origin is projected onto them.  At the same time, the reigning assumption is that youths of Turkish descent live in Germany according to completely different cultural rules than those of their "German" peers.  Thus, Alexander Zinn of the Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland (Lesbian and Gay Alliance of Germany -- LSVD) writes in his theses for an "Expert Discussion concerning the Construction of an Encounter and Information Center for Gays, Lesbians, and Immigrants" that "particularly youths from Islamic countries [. . .] on the basis of the cultural and religion persuasion" have difficulty "recognizing the homosexual way of life as equal."39  This statement relies primarily upon the reports of the Gay Assault Report Hotline of Berlin, which register a heightened participation of "foreign" youths in homophobic acts of violence.  Other, often far more obvious explanations for this phenomenon are completely ignored.  Thus second- and third-generation immigrants are stereotypically identified as "foreigners," even if they have long been in possession of a German passport.  For that reason alone the comparison between official "foreigner" quotas and data which are taken from the subjective ethnic classification of the perpetrators is extremely misleading.  Furthermore, charges are pressed more frequently against immigrants, whereas the accusation is more seldom corroborated in court.40  Further factors are the lower average age and the far more frequent membership in the underclass -- both of which are directly connected to the commission of violent acts.

Last but not least, such statistics are also gathered with political goals in mind, such as underlining the necessity of financing a gay Assault Report Hotline with public funds.41  Thus the sexual orientation of the victim is emphasized, not the motive of the perpetrator, who is maybe "only" concerned with stealing a briefcase and not consumed by hatred towards gays, who attacks gays not out of contempt but because he hopes to be met with less resistance.  Whereas "foreign" youths dominate in such economically motivated crimes as a result of their prevalent poverty, perpetrators identified as "German" still lead the statistics, as Christoph Ahlers has shown,42 in the case of homophobic hate crimes.

But even the simplest demographic connections are ignored by serious statisticians.  "The focal points of the gay scene (Schönenberg, Charlottenburg, Kreuzberg)," argues Tjark Kunstreich, "are also places of residence for most of Berlin's immigrants.  In a conversation with B. Finke," the director of the Gay Assault Report Hotline, "he named these factors, but not in the annual reports."43  So is this a case of conscious concealment, in order to construct an image of immigrants as public enemy number one?  At least that's Tjark Kunstreich's interpretation: it is clear "that the general, depersonalized homophobia, which is difficult to attack, is projected onto a concrete group and thus as a concretized homophobia obtains a 'name and address' -- while at the same time acquitting the majority society of any resentment."44

However, "foreign" youths react to threats to their sexuality through the stigma of otherness no differently than Germans: they attack those who externally embody their repressed desire.  The construction of a "cultural difference" here merely serves to conceal the fundamental mode of functioning of homophobia, namely the violent rejection of one's own -- albeit latent -- homosexuality through projection onto a minority.45  The homophobia of youths is inseparably connected with the identitarian homo-hetero binary, and it cannot be abolished on that identitarian basis.46  Even the most insistent pleas for tolerance toward "others" addressed to school students can do nothing to alter this structural relationship.  The violent reactions toward the threatening of one's own desire by a social stigma -- which as always is directed towards the wrong object -- might be, though this ultimately remains unproven, differentially distributed among youths of "domestic" and "foreign" origin.  But apart from highlighting factors like class background that influence the criminal processing of this anxiety, such a consideration doesn't serve to illuminate anything.  On the contrary: it obstructs the view of the underlying mechanisms, in that homophobia, instead of being understood as a necessary characteristic of a society that sorts people according to sexual identities, is mistaken as the expression of varying cultural traditions.

 

1  During their brief reign, the Taliban publicly executed at least five men in this manner.  See Paul Varnell, "Helping Islamic Gays," Chicago Free Press, February 2, 2002.

2  Michelangelo Signorile, "Hate Crimes: Like the Taliban, America's Middle East Allies Tyrannize Gays and Women," Village Voice, October 3-9, 2001.

3  Scott Long, A. Widney Brown, and Gail Cooper, More Than A Name: State-Sponsored Homophobia and Its Consequences in Southern Africa (New York: HRW and IGLHRC, 2003).

4  R. W. Johnson and Tom Walker, "Mugabe Makes New 'Gay Britain' Attack," London Sunday Times, March 19, 2000.

5  Amnesty international, "Museveni hetzt gegen Homosexuelle," MERSI, March 1, 2000.

6  "Namibian President Keeps Up Attacks," The Advocate, April 6, 2001.

7  "Namibian Minister Tells Police to 'Eliminate' Gays," Afrol News, October 2, 2000.

8  Laurie Goering, "African Leaders Target Gays as Cause of Continent's Ills," Chicago Tribune, June 17, 2004.

9  Tony Thompson, "Jamaican Gays Flee to Save Their Lives," The Observer, October 22, 2002.

10  See Joseph Boone, "Vacation Cruises; or, The Homoerotics of Orientalism," in Postcolonial, Queer: Theoretical Intersections, ed. John C. Hawley (Albany: SUNY Press, 2001), 43-78.

11  Gustave Flaubert, Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility Tour, trans. and ed. Francis Steegmuller (Chicago: Academy Chicago, 1979), 84.  Concerning Flaubert's own experiments with same-sex "sodomy" in Egypt, see Jarrod Hayes, Queer Nations: Marginal Sexualities in the Maghreb (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 29-31.

12  Jean Genet, The Declared Enemy: Texts and Interviews, ed. Albert Dichy, trans. Jeff Fort (Standford: Stanford University Press, 2004), "Interview with Hubert Fichte," 147.

13  C. S. Sonnini, Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt: Undertaken by order of the old government of France, trans. Henry Hunter, vol. 1 (London: Stockdale, 1807), 251f.

14  John Hindley, Persian Lyrics, or Scattered Poems from the Diwan-i-Hafiz(London: Harding, 1800), 33.

15  Rifāʿah Rāfiʿ al-Ṭahṭāwī, Takhlīṣ al-ibrīz f ī talkhīṣ Bārīz, in M. ʿAmmārah, ed., al-A'māl al-kāmilah li Rifāʿah Rāfiʿal-Ṭahṭāwī, vol. 2 (Beirut, 1973-81),78.  Quoted and translated in Khaled El-Rouayheb, Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 62.

16  Richard F. Burton, "Terminal Essay," in The Book of The Thousand and a Night, trans. and ed. Richard F. Burton, Vol. 10 (London: Burton Club, 1886), 204.

17  Ibid., 208.

18  Ibid., 204.

19  Ibid., 207.

20  Ibid., 225.

21  Ibid.

22  Ahmed Cevdet Paşa, Maʿrūzāt, ed. Yusuf Halaçoğlu (Istanbul: Çağriı Yayıları, 1980), 9.  Quoted and translated in Dror Ze'evi, Producing Desire: Changing Sexual Discourse in the Ottoman Middle East, 1500-1900 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 164.

23  Ibid.

24  Marc Oraison, La question homosexuelle (Paris: Seuil, 1975), 96.

25  Ihsan al-Issa and Brigitta al-Issa, "Psychiatric Problems in a Developing Country: Iraq," International Journal of Social Psychiatry 16 (1969): 15-24.

26  Charles Lindholm, Generosity and Jealousy: The Swat Pukhtun of Northern Pakistan (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 224.  Further empirical studies are referenced in Stephen O. Murray, "The Will Not to Know: Islamic Accomodations of Male Homosexuality," in Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature, ed. Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe (New York: New York University Press, 1997), 35f.

27  "Besuch in Berlin: Fahmi Huwaidi über den Christopher Street Day, den Bush-Besuch und die Möllemann-Affäre," trans. MEMRI Deutschland, Special Dispatch, August 2, 2002.

28  Huwaidi, who had heard secondhand about the orientation of a so-called "intercourse parade" in Berlin (maybe the Fuck Parade), gets stirred up about it: "When I heard this, I said this is something that animals do, whereby the animals are still better than the gays [shudhūdh, actually 'abnormals' - G.K.], since we at least don't know anything about whether animals -- whether male or female -- would have intercourse with others of the same sex" (Ibid.).

29  All quoted in Götz Nordbruch, "Sexualität als Vehikel der Globalisierung," Gigi 16 (2001), 10-13.

30  Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume Two: The Use of Pleasure (New York: Vintage, 1990), 5.

31  James Steakley, "Iconography of a Scandal: Political Cartoons and the Eulenburg Affair in Wilhelmin Germany," in Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, ed. Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr. (New York: Meridian, 1990), 235, 241f., and 248.

32  Jens Brodzinski, "Pack die Badehose wieder aus …!", gay-press.de 3 (2002): 10.

33  Here I'm playing upon a formulation by Foucault.  What he asserts about "man" as a whole can be said with even greater justification concerning "the homosexual," namely that he is "only a recent invention, a figure not yet two centuries old, a new wrinkle in our knowledge, and that he will disappear again as soon as that knowledge has discovered a new form." -- Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, "Preface" (London: Routledge Classics, 2002), xxv.

34  Jens Brodzinski, "Pack die Badehose wieder aus …!", 10.

35  Michel Foucault, "Friendship as a Way of life." The Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984, Volume One - Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, ed. Paul Rabinow, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: The New Press, 1997). 135-140.

36  "Schwule Taliban," gayforum.de (2003).

37  Chris Stephen, "Startled Marines Find Afghan Men All Made Up to See Them," The Scotsman, May 24, 2002.

38  Philip Smucker, "The Royal Marines and a Gay Warlord," Sydney Morning Herald, June 9, 2002.

39  Quoted in Tjark Kunstreich, Diskriminierung als Medium der Anpassung: Kritische Überlegungen zur Identitätspolitik der Schwulenbewegung, Master's thesis (Berlin: Alice-Salomon-Fachhochschule für Sozialarbeit, 2000).  For a broader context see also Jennifer Petzen, Gender Politics in the New Europe: 'Civilizing' Muslim Sexualities, Ph.D. (Seattle: University of Washington, 2008).

40  Christoph J. Ahlers, "Gewaltdelinquenz gegen sexuelle Minderheiten," in LSVD-Sozialwerk e.V., ed., Hassverbrechen: Neue Forschungen und Positionen zu antihomosexueller Gewalt (Köln: n.p., 2000), 25-155.

41  Concerning the critique by left groups over a number of years, see Markus Bernhardt and Michael Bunte, "'Unseriöse Statistiken über Angriffe auf Schwule'," junge Welt, January 22, 2005.

42  Ahlers, "Gewaltdelinquenz," 40.

43  Kunstreich, Diskriminierung, 37f.

44  Ibid., 51.

45  That homophobia is based upon the repression or denial of one's own "homosexual" arousal is one of the few post-Freudian hypotheses that can be confirmed by the statistical method of experimental psychology.  See Henry E. Adams, Lester W. Wright, Jr., and Bethany A. Lohru, "Is Homophobia Associated with Homosexual Arousal?" Journal of Abnormal Psychology 105 No. 3 (1996): 440-445.

46  In a kind of ironic twist, a repeat study of youth sexuality conducted by the Hamburg Institute for Sexual Research demonstrates that, paralleling the "emancipation" of gays and lesbians, the homo-hetero binarism has only become more deeply entrenched in society over the last few decades.  According to the study, in 1970, 18 percent of male youths admitted to having same-sex experiences, as compared to barely 2 percent twenty years later.  "Ever since homosexuality has been dealt with publicly as an independent form of sexuality, the fear has arisen among youths of possibly being regarded as a 'gay'," explains the sexologist Volkmar Sigusch.  For reference, see Gunter Schmidt, ed., Jugendsexualität: Sozialer Wandel, Gruppenunterschiede, Konfliktfelder (Stuttgart: Enke, 1993), 35; Volkmar Sigusch, "Jugendsexualität -- Veränderungen in den letzten Jahrzehnten," Dt. Ärzteblatt 95 (1998): A-1240-1243 [Heft 20].


Georg Klauda is a sociologist in Berlin.  Translation by Angelus Novus.  An earlier version of this article appeared in Phase 2 No. 10 (December 2003).  In 2008, it reappeared as the first chapter of Georg Klauda's book Die Vertreibung aus dem Serail: Europa und die Heteronormalisierung der islamischen Welt (Berlin: Männerschwarm-Verlag, 2008), the second edition of which is to be published in December 2010.  This is the first English version.  See, also, Georg Klauda, "With Islamophobia against Homophobia?" (MRZine, 12 November 2007).
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