"This is their idea of debate - hog the Public Square and drive everyone else out!"
-Dinesh D'Souza, Kings College debate with Christopher Hitchens, Oct 22, 2007
Last Friday over at the popular website Very Smart Brothas, I participated in a discussion on the question of Street Harassment, the latest tempest-in-a-teapot "cause" on the part of what have come to be known, perhaps appropriately so, as Internet Feminists. A number of them have raised a ruckus over the past few years, and seems to have been successful in garnering their fifteen minutes of infamy.
The discussion that I refer to at VSB was presented in the following manner: one half of the hallowed blogging team, one Mr. Damon "The Champ" Young, appeared on a panel of talking heads to discuss the matter on Huffington Post Live. The 22 minute segment featured Champ, who got to be on the panel in the first place, because he wrote a piece for Ebony.com where he appropriately did what comedian and commentator Bill Maher described as "making Women nod". He was the only Man on the panel, and no one there to actually present a balanced or even nuanced view of the matter under examination, regardless of gender.
And what, pray tell, was the matter under examination? The idea that there is a horde of lecherous Men who can't, or better still won't, control their gaze, and keep it movin'. When this discussion comes up we're regaled with tales of Creepy Guys following Women around, throwing bricks at them for being rebuffed and so forth - no empirical evidence whatsoever is needed, of course. It's a matter of national security! Stop Street Harassment Now!
The problem with this line of histrionics, actually several problems, is that it (1) cheapens any chance for actual thoughtful discourse on the matter; and, (2) it actually slaps yet another layer of profiling the putative offenders.
Why do I say that?
Because - and this has been borne out on the aforementioned discussion obtaining on VSB - the "source" of the "problem", such as it is(?), appear to emanate from lower-class Black and Brown Men. As a rule, Men regardless of color, who are nevertheless from the upper stratas of society, don't form up on street corners in sketchy neighborhoods and harass the ladies as they walk by. Quite a few of the ladies who took part in the discussion on VSB last Friday confirmed my initial analysis of the matter - and in so doing, couldn't help from squirming in their realization.
Because, you see, if indeed my surmise is correct - and this is important - to identify exactly WHO is doing the "street harassment" - it then raises all manner of very interesting questions for those who consider themselves as being Out for Social Justice; which brings us to the star of the show.
Enter one Ms. Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, the "activist/artist" who's staked her claim by claiming that "street harassment" is a cause for national concern. Her posters, which remind me of the "Wanted, Dead or Alive" posters of the Old West, features sad-faced Women of Color with defiant captions underneath, such as "I don't exist for your enjoyment!" and so forth. While no one would accuse Ms. Tatyana of being the next Leni Reifenstahl - let's face it, she's nowhere near as talented - there is something to be noted in drawing the comparison, because like the great film maker and Nazi sympathizer, Ms. Tatyana too is a propagandist, peddling in hype and hysteria, and in the latter case, scapegoating Men who are already on the bottom rungs of society, and all for a cheap buck and getting her face seen all over the place. She's the latest in what seems to be a gathering storm of She-Fascists, who use the media, moral rectitude and "activism" to attempt to push human beings they don't like out of the Public Square, out of the Shared Spaces such as the street, and further marginalize them on the sidelines of American life. I find it fascinating - and deeply ironic - that Ms. Tatyana makes her home in New York City - the same NYC that recently had to check its equally fascist Stop-and-Frisk policies, which also happen to target the same demographic Ms. Tatyana and her erstwhile #Outraged allies rail against.
And it's not like others don't know this - they most certainly do. Both Panama and Champ freely admitted this in their own take on the matter - that "issues" like these, are being driven not by the reasonable Middle, but the Crazed Fringe, who have the shrill voices and all the time in the world, to gin up yet another round of "Guys I Don't Like" hate. Notice again the HuffPo Live video and see for yourself - Champ was barely able to get in a word edgewise - and he's both a friend(!) to Women like Tatyana, nor does he fit the putative profile of the supposed street harasser. Talk about being a Useful Idiot.
But, you see, when one frames the issues based not on empiricism, thoughtful discourse and healthy skepticism, but instead on "personal narrative", perpetual grievance and Identity Politics galore, you get the likes of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh - the very name and visage of which, puts her smack in the middle of the times we are now in - where, if one has the right look and sound, can forge a "cause" for concern that, if you don't buy into, or even have a few questions about, marks you out as a Meanie at best, an out and out Racist/Misogynist/Homophobe/Sexist/Etc. at worst.
After all, why would someone like Tatyana distort the truth - or fudge the facts - or, gasp! - tell a lie?
I find it deeply ironic - and quite entertaining, I might add - to see that the very same people who railed about being marginalized by another group of people, now do not seem to have any qualms about marginalizing other people themselves - and once again pours a big ole bucket of ice water onto the notion of "Black Male Privilege". The Black and Brown Men who serve as scapegoats in this latest crusade probably don't even know such a thing as HuffPo Live even exists, let alone has the ear of the Chattering Classes, like the Mikki Kendals, Jamilah Lemieuxs and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh's do.
George Orwell would be proud.
Now adjourn your arses...