Monday, June 13, 2011

When the White Man poses as the Native "girl"

The admission by Tom Macmaster that he was the man behind the blog "a gay girl in Damascus" should not end the conversation.  I thank may friends and readers who kept on investigating this case until it was cracked, but the primary credit goes to Electronic Intifada.  This story is bothersome on so many levels, but i was even more upset when I read Macmaster's remarks to the Guardian in which he criticizes Western media coverage of the Middle East and even took a shot at Orientalism.  Macmaster should know that he is worse than a classical Orientalist (and clearly does not possess the knowledge, erudition, and rigor of classical Orientalist).  This man is delusional and racist: he took it upon himself to fabricate an identity of a native "girl" (I mean, is there anything more Orientalist than the White Man of the West posing as a Damascene "girl" and writing on her own behalf?  Is there anything more racist, sexist, patronizing, and offensive?)  Macmaster does not know what he has done and he has the chutzpah of writing this:  "While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground."  What did he mean by that?  He basically is saying--if I now pose as the racist White Man in the West for a second, and I don't mind taking that license from somebody posing for a long time as a lesbian "girl" and even exposing and communicating with many in the gay and lesbian community in Syria and the Arab world--that while he lied and fabricated but that his lies and fabrications are true and accurate.  He really sounds delusional and is divorced from reality.  This is the White Man privilege, which permits MacMaster to lie and fabricate and to arrogantly claim that his lies and fabrications are not inaccurate.  This mentality behind the creation of this identity is the same one that was around during colonial times.  The natives can't speak for themselves: that they have to be represented by the White Man who can best explain them to the West.  Beyond all that, Macmaster damaged the efforts of well-meaning and sincere Syrian dissidents (I am not talking about the lousy Ikhwan or Khaddam or Ma'mun Humsi or Rif`at Asad or other pro-Saudi tools): this scandal is a great help to the propaganda of the Syrian regime.  Macmaster should not only apologize to the readers of the blog: he owes a bigger apology to the people of the Middle East and to gays and lesbians in the region, and even to Middle Eastern studies.  This is a smug and arrogant and delusional White Man.  I bet he hears voices in his head: probably the voices of Lord Cromer.