Tuesday, January 08, 2013

At the City University here in NYC, CLAGS has reported that its April conference on Homonationalism and Pinkwashing is already sold out. These topics--mysterious to most people, even well-informed ones--seem to be the latest enthusiasm among Queer Theorists and the anti-imperialist wing of the gay left. Ostensibly, Pinkwashing is the effort by the supporters of Israel to gain support by spreading knowledge about the progay policies in that country. Since Israel's policies in this area are progressive (unlike those in some other areas) the grounds for this critique seem poorly chosen. However, Pinkwashing is said to be but one facet in a larger problem, that of Homonationalism, as defined by Jasbir Puar, a professor at Rutgers University. According to one summary this is her concept.

"Puar critiques the deployment of homonationalism in the United States as a justification for violently implementing the doctrine of American exceptionalism embodied in the War on Terror. The United States flaunts its supposedly liberal openness to homosexuality to secure its identity in contradistinction to sexual oppression in Muslim countries. This oppression serves as an excuse for the United States to “liberate” oppressed women and sexual deviants in these countries, simultaneously papering over sexual inequality in the United States. United States exceptionalism and homonationalism are mutually constitutive, blending discourses of American Manifest Destiny, racist foreign policy, and an urge to document the unknown (embodied in the terrorist) and conquer it through queering its identity, hence rendering it manageable and knowable." 
Quite a mouthful. The disturbing implication is that we in Western nations must not dare to criticize mistreatment of women and gay people in Third World countries. That would be imperialism, imposing our parochial values on other cultures.Yet in instances such as these, that is exactly what we should do.  In my view, the concept of Homonationalism is odious, because it attacks the universality of human rights.


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