In history there are Arabs who’ve done bad things and oppressed other groups. It doesn’t make all Arabs bad people, but it does make them an oppressor to other groups (either historically or currently); denying that any of this has happened, especially if you are part of the Arab group that was oppressing in the first place, does not make you impressive, it makes you a gross person
So @fahmadfaiz and I discussed this, and this is so simplistic, and yes, quite like a “PSA” considering most “PSA’s” deliver nothing but cutesy bullshit dressing itself up as important and profound. How can you categorize “Arabs” as a monolith in such a totalizing way? Many Arabs consider the only signifier of being Arab speaking the language Arabic, but of course, for others it is much more complicated than that and includes cultural and territorial dimensions far too numerous to mention that your post doesn’t even begin to touch. Also, “Arab” is not a mutually exclusive identity. One can identify as Arab and Kurdish at the same time, or Arab and Jewish, as you know. Your post is implying, whether you meant it or not, that Arabs bear a collective responsibility for various things other groups of people, who fit into “Arab-ness” but are certainly within disparate sociopolitical spaces, have done. Yes, you mentioned that “it doesn’t make all Arabs bad people”, but you cannot throw around the word “Arab” like “White”. If you want to talk about situations in which certain communities within Arab-ness have acted as oppressors, be specific.
"Many Arabs consider the only signifier of being Arab speaking the language Arabic"
»First of all, you are white. You have never been close to being identified as Arab. I don’t know why you think you can go and say something so stupidly reductionist. I have never heard such a white opinion in my entire life (well, maybe all your other posts count). Do you really want to have this discussion with me? My family has been persecuted for not being Arab enough whether they speak Arabic or not. In fact, in Tamazgha, they were forced to learn Arabic and punished if they did not speak it. We are indigenous to a land that Arabs colonized and forced Arabic on—and you want to slyly imply that because of this, we are Arab? That has so many fucked up implications, I can’t even count them. Go to any Amazigh person and say “If you speak Arabic, or any of your family did, you are Arab.” Say that “many Arabs” will say this. And don’t even begin to mention that Arabs who hold this point of view are ignoring the long history of Arabic being a colonizing language that supersedes the ancient, native language of a colonized people.
"for others it is much more complicated than that and includes cultural and territorial dimensions far too numerous to mention that your post doesn’t even begin to touch."
»No shit. I’m an Iraqi Jew and my family has been struggling with whether to identify as Arab or not since the 1940s. I know a lot more about how complicated the Arab identity is than you, because previously we’d accepted being Arab and Jewish, but after Arab nationalism forced us out of it, it became much harder to accept that as a personal identity marker. What struggles have you had as far as identifying as Arab goes? Have you had to think about the murder and oppression of your people in the context of Arab identity? Have you had to think about disappointing your relatives, being a traitor to your community if you identify as Arab? Have you had to think about disappointing everyone else if you don’t identify as Arab? Have you ever for a second had to think about what it means to be Arab, what it means to be Jewish, what it means to be from supposedly Arab countries and being excluded from the mainstream on both? Have you ever had to hesitate in learning Arabic because it’s the language of the colonizers? Have you ever struggled with any of these? No? Then I hardly think it’s your place to speak here.
There are cultural dimensions of being Arab, and you do not understand a single one of them. It’s funny that you say ‘territorial’ as if Arab identity is based on being from a certain land, when my own reluctance from identifying as Arab comes partially from being from a land that was colonized by Arabs, who now claim that the land is Arab simply because they stand on it? My post may not “begin to touch on them” because I have touched on them a thousand times before, and I’m tired. I’m tired of white guys with no blood of MENA claiming that he is allowed to tell people who do have blood of MENA that “they don’t understand Arab identity.” White guys who have never had any sort of relationship with Arab identity. White guys who are outsiders. My post is valid because I have experienced these things, unlike you; if some white European was making these posts, I would understand the criticism, but I have infinitely more experience and perspective on this than you ever will. This is what we call overstepping your boundaries.
"Your post is implying, whether you meant it or not, that Arabs bear a collective responsibility for various things other groups of people, who fit into “Arab-ness” but are certainly within disparate sociopolitical spaces, have done."
»From my original post, “if you are part of the Arab group that was oppressing in the first place” refers to being part of a specific Arab group—for example, being a North African Arab as opposed to a North African Amazigh, and telling people that Arabs can be nothing bad. I think you read it the wrong way and that is fine; context and tone are both difficult to read on the Internet. Whereas you can be dually Arab and Kurdish/Jewish, that hardly means that Arabs have never oppressed Kurds or Jews—what kind of weird mental gymnastics are you doing to assume that? Arab-ness is experienced differently in America than it is in MENA, and it has implications that you barely understand. You have not lived any of this. You are an outsider, and I wish you would realize that for once. (Also directed at your friend—if I’m not mistaken, they are not even Arab, correct? So why do you think that a white guy and a Pakistani person have more say on the complexities of Arab identity than someone who has been affected by Arab nationalism and Arab colonization in the homelands?)
Brandon, you are honestly white as all fuck. You are from America, you are white, you are Catholic, you don’t have the least bit of skin in this game—this isn’t about some cute American bullshit where we’re arguing Arabs vs. ~everyone else~. It’s about the historical oppression by Arabs of other groups in MENA. I’ve never held “all Arabs” accountable for anything—Palestinian Arabs, for example, have nothing to do with Arab colonization in North Africa. My post said “there are Arabs”—not the Arabs, I said there are Arabs. It says if you are a part of the Arab group that was oppressing in the first place, not if you are Arab.
You can come here and be smug about how I need to “be specific,” but the fact is that I have been specific. I have been specific about Tamazgha and Iraq, and your lovely friend has so kindly denied at least Arab nationalist role in Iraq. (Thank you, fahmadfaiz, for being so considerate as to tell me that Arab nationalism didn’t really kill my relatives. I’m so glad that you know more about Iraqi Jewish suffering than actual Iraqi Jews despite doing zero research.)
Basically, stop coming into conversations that aren’t your own. Arab colonization has led to me not being able to speak fluently the language of Tamazgha—Tamazight, which has been banned from even being used in parts of Tamazgha by Arabs, not by Imazighen. Arab nationalism led to my relatives being expelled from Iraq, after seeing their neighbors die and after having their rights stripped away. I do not throw around “Arab” like “White,” I talk about historical and current! oppression.
Unless this post actually says “Arabs, you must all take collective responsibility for this!” you are way out of line. I’m glad to see you still haven’t learned your place in any discussion, whether it’s about specifically Arab-Jewish or Arab-Amazigh discussions or any other discussion. I do not have to water down anything just because you want to pretend that it isn’t valid. When North African and Iraqi Arabs (those “Arab groups” I mentioned earlier—hardly all Arabs) can take initiative and admit the true role that Arab identity has had in the oppression of people. I mention Arab groups because none of these are individual actions of Arabs; they are deeply intertwined with the construction of Arab identity in these spaces and in history, and how the construction of “otherness” in these places leads to cultural erasure, oppression, and violence.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post, but your personal opinion as an unaffiliated white man was not needed and it never will be.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is known as an ad hominem fallacy. Essentially, Brandon is wrong because he is white and Catholic (SIDE NOTE: let’s talk about how someone who claims to know so much about the Middle East posits Catholicism as a marker of foreignness to the region. Let’s talk about the arrogance of it and the accompanying erasure. But in another post).
There is no way to read the OP without taking away that the reference was “all Arabs.” Allow me to quote directly: “It doesn’t make all Arabs bad people, but it does make them an oppressor to other groups…” In that sentence “all Arabs” is clearly the antecedent of the pronoun “them.” If tumblr dot com user and MENA expert city-ghost had intended to talk about only certain communities of Arabs, it is not at all apparent from the wording.
And I’m sorry, no amount of non-whiteness and non-Catholicness can change that.