On Feministe, Jill wrote the following short post in response to the Times (UK) headline: "France stunned by rioter’s savagery."

Here’s Jill’s post, which is short but to-the-point.


Posted by Jill @ 8:46 pm

Headline writers choose their words deliberately. And when they choose the word “savage,” they are trying to paint a very specific picture for you — and can guess the colors they’re using (hint: white is not on the palate).

A commenter smartly wrote: "The term ‘savage’ has a lot of racist baggage from its use in colonial and post-colonial discourse in Western societies."

This is true, but the Times article (while not good) was not, by any stretch of the imagination, the worst article or commentary piece on the recent riots. The worst, in my opinion, were those from far right bloggers and newspaper columnists that attempted to paint riots about race relations and social exclusion as Islamist activities.

Debbie Schlussel, frequent Fox News guest and owner of one of the most popular political blogs, referred to the riots as “punk jihad” and the rioters (not all of whom are even Muslim to begin with) as “unrequited 72 virgins yearning romeos.” Other right-wing opinion-shapers have stressed over and over again their annoyance with the “mainstream media” for not including in every piece on the violence the fact that the rioters came from Muslim and non-white backgrounds.

What really disturbs me is that Schlussel, Steyn, Malkin, the “Little Green Footballs” crowd, and the rest know very well that the riots in France have nothing to do with religion and everything to do with discrimination. However, they see in the images of cars aflame and teenagers with dark complexions hurling stones at riot police a ripe opportunity to bolster their theories of a “clash of civilizations,” a European takeover by Muslims (the “Eurabia” theory), and the unassimilability of non-white, non-Christian peoples into majority white, irreligious, and Christian European societies.

At the heart of these theories (which do differ slightly, and thus require different methods of de-bunking) is white supremacism, and a profitable kind of white supremacism, too. The bigoted blogging of Michelle Malkin and Debbie Schlussel and the multimedia Islamophobic, Europhobic, eugenicist, and sometimes even genocide-justifying screeds of Mark Steyn generate cash. Their authors know they’re full of you-know-what, but they also understand that there is an international market for their kind of bigotry. This makes them morally far worse than the thousands of idiots who buy into their absurd, fever-dream theories wholeheartedly.

I used to think the best ting to do with people like Malkin, Steyn, etc was to ignore them, to not dignify their prejudice-inciting ramblings with an intelligent response. I also felt like this was the best way to handle Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis, coincidentally. A European professor of mine changed my mind when she very persuasively argued that Holocaust denial should not be criminalized anywhere outside Germany or Austria, and that instead of jailing or fining Holocaust deniers, they should be encouraged to enter into public debates with legitimate historians and social scientists. This, she argued, would result in the hate-mongers’ public humiliation and banishment to the realm of obscurity. Now, I believe that all purveyors of hatred must be confronted head-on, in the public sphere, and in ways that not only disprove their theories, but show them to be the malevolent charlatans they are –in other words, shame and discredit them completely.

What I’m advocating here isn’t "fighting fire with fire." What I’m advocating is fighting hate propaganda with the full force of reality.