The Left must own its shit and stop defending abusers

This post isn’t really about John Minto.  It just started with him, and with a post (now deleted, let’s all act surprised) at The Daily Blog, in which he reproduced some hatemail from a reader (totally kosher) and then, because the reader is a doctor, proceeded to make a bunch of totally hilarious and very progressive “lol I guess one of your mental patients hacked your email” jokes about him.

And then it developed as people began to recall other occasions on which John Minto had been … less than a paragon of social justice.

And then it got to Omar Hamed.

Omar Hamed is, by accounts which will shortly be linked to, a serial creeper/abuser/ignorer of consent who has been consistently handed a pass by other people, especially men, in the left.  Because he’s a leftwing hero and leftwing heroes can’t be creepers, or, perhaps, because being an abusive person when your targets are actual individual women just isn’t as important as fighting the abusive people whose targets are The Amalgamated Workers of the World.

And thus Asher Goldman came to tell the Twitter tale of Omar Hamed – and how John Minto has been absolutely instrumental in silencing critics of Omar’s behaviour and enabling Omar’s continued presence as a respected figure of the NZ left.  That Storify also links to the original open letter which was circulated about him, and other posts discussing the fairly basic concept that leftwing people shouldn’t fucking tolerate sexist and abusive behaviour.

But this isn’t a post about John Minto.

This is a post re-iterating something I’ve said many times before.

The left needs to do a better fucking job.

It must be a movement which respects that there are multiple classes of oppression – and you know what, most of them align pretty nicely with capitalism and the oppression of the majority of workers by an elite, so it’s not even a huge fucking stretch.

Racism constrains people of colour as a class who are simultaneously worth less than the dominant class – making them a source of cheap labour – and also an economic, physical and social threat to distract and inflame working class whites.

Sexism constrains women as a class who are even alienated from their own children and forced into restrictive and oppressive modes of behaviour in order to keep them churning out the next generation of workers and consumers.

Homophobia and transphobia exist to force people into the procreative, consuming, working family model.

And rape, and rape culture, and attitudes which protect predatory men while silencing and shaming their women victims, are all part of that structure.

If you give a single fuck about class warfare and class oppression it’s fucking unfathomable that you wouldn’t recognise that sexism – and racism, and homophobia, and every socially-defined distinction which treats a group of people as innately lesser – is a part of the capitalist/kyriarchal power dynamic we’re meant to be fighting against.

And if you have an ounce of empathy you’d not only recognise it, you’d accept that your precious movement is not exempt from it and cannot pretend it doesn’t exist when people point it out to you.

Unless of course you’re John Minto.  Then you’re a leftwing hero.

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10 comments

  1. MeToo

    Identity politics!!!!!!!!!!!!! You’ve just cost us the election!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously, though, great post.

  2. adam white

    This is why I’m an anarchist – why all my good friends are anarchists and I enjoy the company of anarco-feminists. Because the boys club is fubar. It is all bloke, bloke, bloke that mock 50% of the population with platitudes. Liberty , freedom, and fraternity turned into all the guys for themselves. Well guess what – women are human beings – bloody smart, very intelligent, and you would not be here without one of them. The authoritarian left needs to have a good long hard look at itself – because your just like the right wing – no wonder so many of the S.A. were former communists.

    • QoT

      All I’m saying is that there’s sufficient problems in anarchist groups to warrant the creation of a Commander Riker-themed manarchist Tumblr. Also, the existence of the word “manarchist” indicates not everyone’s as enlightened.
      http://manarchistriker.tumblr.com/

      • adam white

        OMG that is so good, thanks for the link. Yes I agree, I’m glad we have anarchist feminist with good senses of humour and the ability to get the message to sink in – eventually to us slow men folk.

  3. adam white

    I also wrote this on TDB

    “””I really like what you wrote Marama, but on the otherside –

    I read Queen of Thorns post today https://ideologicallyimpure.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/the-left-must-own-its-shit-and-stop-defending-abusers
    and I’m pissed.

    Don’t do platitudes to women and be an abuser – or defend abusers. If the left can’t sort it’s own house on this rubbish – it can’t complain when dirty old men get into it. Seriously, what makes you think just because someone is on the left they can’t be abusive?

    I’m for a more open, equatable society – based on mutual aid and respect. Not one based on the ideology of a few, who think they are better than the rest.

    And guess what the society I want for the next generation and the next, indeed for all time, includes women. Yes women equal to men in questions of pure politics. Forget all anatomical or psychological reasons for difference. In the realm of politics – men and women are equal = end of bloody story.

    So guys do the frelling dishes, vacuum, watch the kids and cook. The personal is politics – so do some housework and clean up – women are not your bloody slaves. And if your girlfriend, partner, wife, mother, or grandmother talks, listen. Simple really – think how you would like to be treated and give it back. Don’t live in the realm of high ideals and ideology – bugger that, be real – the real world is were what you do and say has cause and effect.

    Wake up! divide and rule is everywhere = Let me spell, it out – what best division to begin with than men from women. So stand up, be a human being – don’t make artificial divisions. And please, please, please – don’t defend abuses or people who want to put down or degrade women. “””

    Thanks QoT. I’m over this – when I was a younger I got to met Germaine Greer and I thought she rocked, indeed she is one of the many reasons I explored anarchism and libertarianism in the continental meaning of the word, not the american. I thought, possibly/probably naively, that at least one thing in my life would be the success of feminism. I can’t fathom why men embrace patriarchy, when it leads to so much self loathing ,violence and indeed suicide – and that’s the good points. I know power – but power is fleeting and real power is well out of the majority of men’s hands anyway. The left is a big tent, but some of the players – are boys who won’t grow up and that what I am so over. It’s time for people to either embrace the ideas of equity or vote for the Nats, and watch it all go to hell in a hand basket.

    • NZFemme

      Adam, I can’t see your comment on Marama’s post at TDB. Has it gone the way of the original Minto thread? If so, not a good look for TDB.

  4. Bill

    Said it before…again and again and again.. As long as the left is a left that embodies basic modes of organising that mirror socially dominant hierarchical structures, then the dynamics of racism and sexism will be reasserted, affirmed or preserved within those organisational structures. And the ‘old boys’ of the authoritarian left who hark back to some Trotskyist/Leninist/Stalinist/Maoist ideal BUT WHO THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC LEFT see as being ‘easy’ to work with – and therefore promote to a certain extent – will NEVER shift or go through an attitudinal shift, because that whiff from the rag of power is the sole reason that they run.

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