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Where To Find Me

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It’s time to update everyone on what projects I’m currently working on, where I’m writing, and what’s in store for next year. First, I’m still writing my Sharp Edges column over at Shadowproof, freelancing as a contributing writer for Paste Magazine Politics, and co-hosting the Delete Your Account podcast with Kumars Salehi. Adding on to this, I’m writing for Mondoweiss, working as a researcher for an independent media publication, contributing to Verso Book’s blog, and I’m working on compiling a collection of essays on Islamophobia and anti-Arab discrimination called Pillars Of The Temple [image of the (work-in-progress) cover is below]

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I’ll be working with an artist to create a fitting image for the cover that can acompany the very minimalist design I’ve created above. This will be an entirely independent project and will feature essays that I haven’t published elsewhere—once it’s done, which I’m hoping will be around February, I will be selling it primarily through my website.

In other news, I’ve pulled the plug on my personal Patreon page due to the many issues I was having with the service, and due to me wanting to drive more traffic to my own website. So, in its place, I’ve decided to run monthly fundraising campaigns here. The first one will cover the cost of putting this collection of essays together, living expenses, and anything else associated with my work. You can donate by using the button below:

  1. If you're able to, consider supporting this project and costs associated with my writing work!
    $0.00 donated of $1,000.00 goal

Finally, I am always looking for freelance work and if you have something available do not hesitate to drop me a line. You can send an email to roq.chams [@] gmail.com

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to send me an email. Thanks to everyone for the tremendous support this year!

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Help Fund My New Project

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Thanks to support from my colleagues at Shadowproof, Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, I’m going to be working on a sort of oral/auditory profile on American Muslims. This project will cover a range of topics—from poverty, xenophobia, and diversity, to gender identity, mental illness, and parenthood. In order to make this happen I’m going to need funding to cover the cost of writing up reports, editing videos and audio, and help covering my monthly pay at Shadowproof. If you’re interested in donating you can do so by visiting the Islam In America project page. For more information I’ve created the following video (embedded below). Please share and donate if you can!

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Some updates

A photo by Sergey Zolkin. unsplash.com/photos/E0Spm6XXn2Y

There are a few updates worth mentioning for those that have been following my work:

  1. I’m co-hosting a weekly podcast with activist and friend Kumars Salehi. You can listen to Delete Your Account on Libsyn, iTunes, and it’s also available on Google Play and Stitcher Radio. If you subscribe for $5 a month you get an all-access pass to bonus content, which includes extended interviews.
  2. My column at Shadowproof, Sharp Edges, is still going and there is a project in the works that I’ll be publishing more about soon.
  3. I’ve been writing for Paste Magazine.
  4. My website now has downloadable content available, and I’ll be publishing more e-magazines.

You can support my work by subscribing on Patreon, and donating via Paypal. All donations go towards new projects, writing work, and feeding my cats!

Also if you’d like me to write for your publication, or if you have a question or comment then feel free to leave a message:

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On The Superficial Defense Of Hillary Clinton

Courtney Enlow’s frenzied “all-caps explosion of feelings“, a contrived, unabashed defense of Hillary Clinton, has become a rallying cry for many bourgeois feminists invested in the Clinton brand. The article, to its credit, has been enthusiastically shared by the former Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, and Texas State Senator, Wendy Davis, and Enlow has amassed a sympathetic following since its publication.

The content is just as expected. Enlow writes that she is “infuriated on [Clinton’s] behalf”, and so she has taken it upon herself to speak sharply in lieu of Clintonian rage:

Hillary cannot yell, since by the virtue of being sane and not a white man she is forced to be the biggest adult in the room, just like Obama has had to for eight goddamn years, I will yell for her.

The article rapidly follows with, just as advertised, an all-caps mess that reads like an outburst from someone who is in the throes of a tantrum:

AND IF YOU COME AT ME FOR EVEN ONE GODDAMN SECOND WITH A “YOU JUST LIKE HER BECAUSE SHE’S A WOMAN” I WILL DESTROY YOU WHERE YOU STAND. I LIKE HER! I LIKE HER POLICIES, I LIKE HER PLANS, I LIKE WHAT SHE STANDS FOR, I LIKE THAT SHE’S GROWN AND EVOLVED AS A HUMAN AND POLITICIAN! I LIKE THAT SHE WAS FOR MANY OF US MY AGE ONE OF OUR FIRST ROLE MODELS OF A SMART, PROFESSIONAL, KICKASS WOMAN AND THAT SHE ISN’T AFRAID OF THE WORD “FEMINIST” AND I’M SICK OF HAVING TO APOLOGIZE FOR LIKING HER, FOR HAVING TO QUALIFY AND SEE YOUR SIDE AND RESPECT YOUR OPINION WHEN I FUCKING DON’T AND YOU FUCKING DON’T RIGHT BACK. I LIKE HER! […]

IT IS ABSOLUTELY GUT WRENCHING THAT THIS BADASS, IMPORTANT WOMAN HAS BEEN DIMINSHED [sic] AND WRITTEN OFF AND HATED HER WHOLE CAREER, HER WHOLE EXISTENCE AS A PUBLIC FIGURE. YOU LIKE BERNIE BECAUSE HE DOESN’T PLAY THE GAME, BUT FOR HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FOR A WOMAN, SHE HAS HAD NO OTHER CHOICE. […]

SO, YES, I’M EMOTIONAL AND I’M YELLING. BECAUSE THIS IS FUCKING EMOTIONAL FOR ME. I WANT A FEMALE PRESIDENT AND I WANT PRESIDENT HILLARY CLINTON. I WANT BOTH OF THESE THINGS BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE I WANT WOMEN TO HAVE AN EQUAL FUCKING FAIR SHAKE. I’M SICK OF THIS STUPID BULLSHIT DISGUISED AS POLITICS, MASQUERADING AS POLITICAL OPINION.

SO FUCK EVERYTHING. I’M WITH HER.

Mainstream political discourse regarding Clinton is formulaic; instead of focusing on material realities authors concentrate their efforts on the cultivation of superficial, reflexive agitation. In this case, this method is primarily executed by way of obscuring the line between misogynists and those offering genuine, and arguably aggressive criticism of Hillary Clinton’s policies. Enlow seems to exist in a space many liberals occupy, one where assessment of Obama’s presidential legacy is conclusively satisfying. “Most of you like [Clinton’s] policies because they’re basically [Obama’s policies]”, Enlow contends. Obama’s policies include an immigration strategy which has further militarized the US-Mexico border, deported an astounding number of families, led to the abuse of immigrant women forced inside for-profit detention facilities, and a drone war that has surpassed that of George W. Bush’s in its horrific blood-letting.

And so it must be asked: What lives hold value, and why are they valued over others. What policies are you willing to misrepresent, or excuse? For example, Enlow recently aimed her fury against those who she alleges are going to offer their vote to a GOP candidate, just to spite Hillary Clinton if she receives the Democratic nomination. She tweeted:

“…the most upsetting comments I’ve gotten repeatedly and in large numbers are those saying they’ll vote GOP if Bernie doesn’t get the vote […] Really? You’ll roll back protections for trans people? You’ll eradicate reproductive health measures? You’ll support a giant goddamn wall?”

This tiring use of marginalized communities in order to castigate political opponents and mislead audiences has become procedural. The “giant goddamn wall” she decries was supported by Hillary Clinton, and not just once, but on numerous occasions. During a town hall campaign event in November 2015, Clinton was asked by a member of the audience what she thought about border security, and her boastful response was that she “voted numerous times [as] a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.” She followed this comment saying that she believes the US must control the border.

When it comes to women’s reproductive health, Clinton’s most recent response to the idea of single-payer healthcare was shouting to a crowd of supporters that it will “never, ever come to pass“. Reproductive justice which discounts the intersection of class and race in terms of access to healthcare programs ignores prohibitive realities wherein many women are denied access to these services.

[T]he regulation of reproduction and the exploitation of women’s bodies and labor is both a tool and a result of systems of oppression based on race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age and immigration status. – Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACFRJ)

The banking industry and private prison lobbyists aren’t the only one’s who have compensated Hillary Clinton and the Clinton foundation for her speeches?so has the healthcare industry. Clinton made a staggering $2.8 Million from 13 speeches in the span of two years, according to a report from Zaid Jilani. While Enlow laments having to “apologize for liking her” she has yet to engage with a single critique of the candidate she is investing herself, and her rage, in.

Adding to Clinton’s long list of troubling policies and affiliations are her political relationships with people like Wesley Clark, who has called for the internment of Muslims who are ‘disloyal to the United States’, war criminal Henry Kissinger, and Madeline “the price was worth it” Albright. During her presidential campaign, Clinton has defended her foreign policy experience by gloating about the support being offered to her by the aforementioned group of war mongers and villains, and bourgeois feminists have said little to nothing in response. Despite Clinton’s own criminal history in Haiti, Libya, Honduras, and Iraq, she has been immersed in praise for her role as a proponent of muscular foreign policy. Again, this should lead us to question why so many pro-Hillary feminists are refusing to afford women around the world a voice, and why they are instead working tirelessly to strip them of their very existence.

Enlow is free to support Hillary Clinton, but using feminism, social justice rhetoric, and Clinton’s identity as a woman as weapons in order to reprimand critics, and to shield herself from criticism is manipulative and inexcusable. Enlow calls out Sanders as a privileged white man?who she also smears as “crazy” and unkempt?and yet Hillary Clinton is spared from being privilege-checked solely due to her being a woman. When Sanders took the stage in New Hampshire alongside Hillary Clinton he was accused of “mansplaining“, not due to what he said or how he said it but for having the audacity to respond to Hillary Clinton. It’s “her turn“, so how dare he get in her way.

Using neologism’s like “mansplaining”, and throwing in people of color when it best suits you in order to undermine justifiable arguments, no matter how uncivil, no matter how rude, is groundless and shows a level of profound cowardice. It’s time to debate Hillary Clinton for what she has stood for during her political career. If you’re unable to defend Clinton’s troublesome history then it may be time to let go, or at least time to stop performing, and acting as though you’re invested in her campaign because of these policies. And if you’re going to use marginalized people, specifically women, as props in your political adventurism don’t be so surprised when they refuse to accept this dehumanizing role.

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Rejecting Bourgeois Feminism

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Right on cue, Jessica Valenti has published an article in defense of voting for Hillary Clinton???a vapid, intensely disingenuous piece that she can now add to a growing collection. Valenti argues that the election of a female president would ?benefit women?, and that criticism stems from what she calls Clinton?s ?unabashed embrace of women?s issues?, and those who take issue with Clinton being a woman. I am not arguing that Valenti is unintentionally misleading her readers but that this is deliberate and formulaic; she is following the unoriginal pattern already mastered by others like Amanda Marcotte and Sady Doyle???they omit in order to misrepresent.

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When Performance Is Your Politics

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After the frightening attack on Planned Parenthood some of the best commentary social media had to offer was in the form of increasingly smug and hollow sarcasm, a cyclic outbreak of facetious questions in regards to the shooter’s religious history, his racial background, and who will condemn his actions. This reaction is repulsive as much as it is procedural. It is deeply formulaic, and after a few minutes on Twitter, for example, anyone with a keyboard and even a minutely popular account is able to reach thousands upon thousands with their own banal witicisms:

When are Christians going to go on television and denounce the Planned Parenthood shooter?
Why didn’t law enforcement kill him? Why is he alive?
Why aren’t they calling him a terrorist?
When is the white community/Christian community going to be surveilled?

These aggravating responses are now plastered across social media, each author putting their own thick-witted spin?some mentioning refugees, others using Muslims and Paris. It’s the use of Muslims that seems to be most popular as of late, undoubtedly due to the attacks in Paris. Using Muslims as a way in which to highlight the establishment media’s perpetual whitewashing of various crimes and criminals by then legitimizing the abuses they face has to be one of the most incompetent and profoundly disadvantageous methods in which to do so.? And this is putting it mildly. Other than feeding into what amounts to pompous social justice methodology this type of sarcasm does absolutely nothing to address systematic concerns, which go well beyond media fabrications. The media is comprised of those who are nothing more than ornamented stenographers to power. Yet rarely are distinct policies examined by those said to be champions of social justice, not at local, national, and especially not at an international level as most of these social justice performance artists are thoroughly US-centric in their world view. Instead, we are all forced to endure performative crowing by the same actors who are after spikes in their follower counts by repeating the same vacuous gibberish, because they know it works. This type of passive, amateurish routine is what has built their brand.

If we’re not devoting our efforts to organizing, heavily, against policies which work to stigmatize, punish, and uproot then we’ll be seeing more insipid posturing

A number of people have answered calls for apologies in the wake of the Planned Parenthood shooting with their own serious, colorful amends and excessive self-flagellation. And so what then? For what reasons should this attitude be normalized, if not for the sake of point-scoring and sanctimony? While members of communities who are oftentimes forced off into the edges of society feel slighted when witnessing double standards, as they should, what does this pietistic show do to address what are clearly two sets of rules? If we’re not devoting our efforts to organizing, heavily, against policies which work to stigmatize, punish, and uproot then we’ll be seeing more insipid posturing from the same characters who routinely warn their followers about the hornet’s nest that they contend is found in this same kind of irony. What many are calling sarcasm is in fact nothing more than an impotent masquerade. It is meant to give the appearance of political depth and awareness where none has ever existed.

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Why Your Hot Takes On Paris Suck

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After the horrific attacks in Paris many are clamoring at the opportunity to share comments from Muslims voraciously denouncing, and in some cases even apologizing for, what took place in the City of Light. For most non-Muslims this is because they are well intentioned, possibly wanting to amplify the voices of good Muslims, it’s their way of saying ‘see, not all Muslims are bad‘. On the other side we see that Muslims have quickly revived the hashtag campaign #NotInMyName, using it to condemn ISIS and to show others that what was done in Paris goes against real Islam. All of this, unsurprisingly, has followed a sort of formulaic methodology. When a Muslim commits a crime, or has been alleged to have committed a crime, thousands upon thousands rush to reject the criminals and their act. It seems sensible, for one to spurn offenders who are accused of having been from among them. What many are not acknowledging is that these performative denouncements, and the cringe-inducing show of nationalism that usually accompanies them, further otherizes and helps cast aspersions upon all Muslims.

Those incessantly demanding that Muslims condemn acts of terror don’t care if one is offered or not. They ask in order to castigate.

How do we know this? We check the response when a condemnation is offered, which usually goes something like “well, more Muslims need to stand up against [so-and-so]“, “that’s not enough!“, “why aren’t you doing [such-and-such]?”, ad nauseum. Never mind that Muslims remain the leading victims of groups like ISIS, that Muslims were killed in the attack in Paris, that there have been countless protests against religious extremism, and that there are Muslim-led initiatives aimed at stopping extremism amongst young Muslims and others. Due to obnoxious naivete, or possibly a desperate need to perform for the public gaze, some Muslims seem to be under the impression that you can argue the case for your humanity with clear-cut, unashamed advocates of bigotry. To some degree this desperation is understandable, but seeing as this has all become mechanical in so many ways, you would think the cowering would end at some point, that the hashtag campaigns would at least get creative, and more importantly that they would move beyond the nauseating reminder to those who do not matter and do not care that we are actually good.

Nationalist rhetoric is also being used by and against Muslims in light of the attacks in Paris, which again follows an implicit formula post-tragedy. Across Europe and the United States Muslims have long been accused of having dual loyalties, and so they are pressured into proving their patriotism?from acts of flag-worship to name changes to alleviate hysterical, xenophobic locals who seem to be comforted, to some degree, knowing you have flags plastered across your lawn. Recently on Fox News one Saba Ahmed, founder of the Republican Muslim Coalition, made a television appearance wearing a US flag as a hijab. For this she’s been called “a total badass” and has been hailed on across social media for ‘being brave’ and ‘throwing shade’. Ahmed has defended her decision to wear the flag as a hijab, arguing that she only wanted to show that US Muslims are patriotic ‘like everyone else’:

“I love the flag. That?s why I?m wearing it, because I?m so proud of it. I went on the show wearing the flag to show that we?re proud Americans. We want to live in peace. And what ISIS is doing doesn’t represent our religion, and we shouldn’t be targeted because of a few bad people.”

The use of nationalism by Muslims during periods of heightened Islamophobia is a defense mechanism as much as it is a way for them to attempt to make their way into the fold of greater national culture. In order to make themselves feel more a part of mainstream society they often attempt to mimic the actions of the most vocally patriotic members; oftentimes this is in hopes of being safe from attacks. The idea here is that the Muslim who is?of us?will be draped in a flag or wearing a red poppy.

That Muslims, the racialized other, continue to be viewed as a hindrance unless they join dominant society is a marker of orientalism. But the widely held conviction that Muslims are one homogeneous body is turned on its head by liberal writers and commentators, who then go on to contend that the solution is to have Muslims take on identities that would push them into rejecting their own. Dr. Ana Maria Sanchez-Arce, a member of the ‘Postcolonial Studies Association’, argues in Identity and Form In Contemporary Literature that “nationalism’s inherent drive to unify populations and repress difference may go hand in hand not just with classism, but also with other discriminatory practices such as racism.”

By praising those like Saba Ahmed, and even well meaning advocates of mindless hashtag campaigns like #NotInMyName, we fall into the trap of performative, nationalist identity politics which are increasingly coercive and work to further the isolation of entire communities already marginalized.


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