26 Sep 2012

Mona Eltahawy reflects on her subway mission. Sort of.



Mona Eltahawy reflects on her subway mission.* 

When I woke up in the morning, a habit I had acquired while living as a young girl in Saudi Arabia, there were many thoughts running through my head. This was going to be a big day. Pamela Geller had succeeded in her stunt to attract attention to herself by winning the case to place her Islamophobic ads on the New York subway.

I hate Islamophobia. I believe in the right of Muslims to practice their religion freely in the West. But not to wear a veil obviously. That’s a symbol of male domination. In that case, I support French politicians and the French police. The universally recognized agents of women’s liberation.


I also hate any woman that tries to attract attention to herself by carrying out cynical stunts. Like Pamela Geller. So I hatched a low-key, secret plan to challenge her odious subway ads. I only shared the details with my 160 thousand Twitter followers, but somehow the news leaked out. But I’m running ahead of myself. That evening, I planned to spray graffiti over one of the ads and make a statement against racism.

But first things first. What to wear. I needed something subtle and clandestine. I chose a bright pink coat that would go completely unnoticed among all the Amanda from the Sex and the City lookalikes on the NY subway. I carefully chose a matching color spray can. Attention to details always pays off. I finished with a necklace of the Egyptian goddess of sex and retribution, in that order, Sekhmet, the first feminist in history.

My blood boiled as I thought about how Pamela Geller depicted Arabs and Muslims as savages. What will she do next, suggest that Arab men are backward misogynists who repress women? That all this repression is a deep cultural problem embedded within the Arab male psyche and promoted by Islamists? Outrageous.

Before I went out, I called the tattoo parlor where I get my honorary tattoos done. I booked an appointment to get a tattoo done to mark this day. Maybe a small subtle hieroglyphic inscription of the subway station name on my forehead. I have time to decide. Aung San Suu Kyi wouldn’t think of touches like that.

Well, the plan worked perfectly. Some crazy woman tried to stop me from spraying the ad, but I worked my way around her, all the time mocking her under my breath for her awful hair. Shocking. I suggested a herbal mixture to her before the police dragged me off. I argued with her about the first amendment, which being Egyptian-American I have the luxury to abide by or not depending on how I feel.

The cops showed up with a police dog. An intentional symbol of anti-Egyptian bigotry, everyone knows how important cats are in Egyptian culture. Never underestimate the humiliating tactics that the  police use to put us down. Obviously not the French police. They sent an overweight white cop who looked like he had a donut named after him. But he made his black colleague handcuff me. Divide and rule.

Somehow, despite all my precautions, the news got out very fast and soon everyone was talking about what I did. Which I’m really uncomfortable with, but some causes require sacrifice. When I watched the video, I was pleased with my decision to carry my green handbag. It worked very well with the coat. And Sekhmet was visible throughout. Her spirit lives within me. Somehow, despite only mentioning it fewer than twenty times, #FreeMona was soon spreading on Twitter.  This was like taking on Mubarak. You messed with the wrong #ProudSavage, America. 

*Because Mona wasn't available to write this, we had to imagine what she would have said.

You might like the other parodies:

 Robert Fisk: Reporting from Syria ‘with sensational quotes in the headline

Syria is Iraq and something about a midwife. By Thomas Friedman.

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49 comments:

  1. THANK YOU :)

    The Mona thing is just moronic. Yes, the ads are racist and vile, but Mona serves no cause other than Mona, and clearly she found an opportunity to make the news and boost her image with yet another stupid publicity stunt. Who the hell take a person along to film them when they spray paint a bad sign? And OOohhh - the opposition! How many signs did Mona spray before somebody came along to fight over it? Was this just super lucky for Tahawy, or was this staged? Also - notice how she specifically asked people to tweet about her, and even spelled out her name so they'd get it right. Seriously cheap. Massive media-whoring, and the media, of course, loves a media-whore. I'm amazed at people who think she supports Arabs or Islam, and make her out to be a freedom fighter. Sigh.

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    Replies
    1. you may be right in your sentiment but are not right that the ads are racist. This is the common perception among the ill informed. It specifically addresses those who act in an uncivilized and barbarous manner. It is a reaction to the anti-Israel ads that the media did not care to mention which condoned savage violence against innocents. In light of the current events which illustrate the extremist reaction to those that simply disagree with them it shouldn't be that hard to make the deduction that this isn't a criticism against Islam as a whole but specifically addressing the extremist faction. On top of that, Islam is not a race and if it is addressing specific mandates which are used to justify violence, it couldn't be considered racist in that sense either.

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    2. It specifically targets Arab Muslims as being savage, which is racist. Pamela Geller, the woman behind these ads, does think that non-white Muslims are savages and barbarians. She is a racist.

      I could also go into the fact that hatred and criticism of Islam is often bathed in racialization ("Those people should go back where they came from, instead of bringing their religion here" for example), but who has the time? So I'll just leave you some links.

      http://www.racialicious.com/2008/10/02/casting-out-exploring-the-racialization-of-muslims/

      http://etn.sagepub.com/content/7/4/564.abstract

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    3. Racism is the belief that one particular race of humans is genetically, absolutely, and irreversibly inferior to another race--such as when blacks were legally considered to be worth 2/5 of a person, solely because of their race and irrespective of anything else they might be or not be, do or not do...

      Believing that muslims consistently act savagely, and are thus savages is not racism. Calling such a belief rasism is either extremely lazy and stupid, or nefarious as it obscures the real issue, which is the terribly dangerous savagery of large numbers of muslims.

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    4. Don't think it does "specifically target Arab Muslims" as being savages. It targets the jihadi wing of people fighting Israel such as the Hamas "resistance fighter" who fired laser guided anti-tank missiles at a school bus, killing a 16 year old.

      The irony of course in this whole savage/civilised debate is that it is the more civilised who tend to be the biggest savages....

      Danny

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    5. Just about the Hamas resistance fighter who killed the 16 year old. You call him savage, which I agree with. So what do you call the Israeli soldiers who have killed hundreds of Palestinian children down the years using sniper guns?

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    6. Replying to Anonymous 26 Sept 23:25 -
      You need to study U.S. history a little better - well, a LOT better. It was 3/5's, and it was a political compromise. Because a state's congressmen are allocated on the basis of population, the southern states wanted to count all the slaves even though they could not vote. The northern states did not want to count any of the slaves because they could not vote.

      Jay Stevens

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    7. Wow, how wrong so many of you are here.

      First off, out of context, the ad talks about jihadis, not Muslims, but if you are familiar with Geller, you would know that she paints all Palestinians with that same "jihadi" brush...that's why this ad does, in fact, pit Israel against Muslims (or at least Palestinians) and not merely "jihadis."

      Second - racism is not limited to the mere belief that another race is inferior - structural racism—such as that which exists at the current moment in the US against anyone Muslim or even Muslim-looking—may not rest on the inferiority bit, but is nonetheless racism. Racism = prejudice + power is a good sociological definition one might use.

      Geller's intent was not to merely malign "jihadis" (whom I could honestly care less about) but to malign all Middle Eastern residents who are not Israeli. To claim anything less is to ignore years of context.

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    8. "Geller's intent was not to merely malign "jihadis" (whom I could honestly care less about)"

      Of course you don't since there is probably 4000 miles between you and them.

      "So what do you call the Israeli soldiers who have killed hundreds of Palestinian children down the years using sniper guns?"

      What do you call the Hamas terrorists who hide behind palestinian civilians?


      Delete
    9. I disagreed with you for saying they are racists. Those savages are jihadists and racists period. They go to hell. Mona is a big idiot who needs psychologist.

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  2. Mona. Your views, mainly (the support to ban head scarf in france) are clear evidence that you dont have a problem with a war on Islam. Just yet another stunt to bring attention to Mona. Shame on you. You dont represnt Islam. You represent and serve Mona only

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  3. there will always be racism around the world it be jew or black or gay the USA and around the world is full of racism the jews control the media in the USA so not much we can do and i feel if it were not for the isiral we would not have 911

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    Replies
    1. Since when is gay a race? Since when is Islam a race?
      Does that mean if you're Caucasian or Asiatic & you convert to Islam that you change your race?
      If a Buddhist or Christian converts to Islam, then they change their race?
      What if a Moslem converted to Hinduism, does that mean his race has changed?
      Oh & Israel made 19 Arabs slam 2 hijacked airliners into the Twin Towers & scream "Allahu Akbar" didn't they?
      Israel occupies 20,770KM²& has a population of 7·5 Million including 1 Million Arabs.
      Israel is surrounded by 22 Arab countries totaling 390 MILLION KM² & population of 410 Million Arabs.
      And you dare say that Israel is the problem?
      YOU YOURSELF are part of the problem!

      And this is the same Mona who got raped in Tahrir Square last year by "beasts" or "savages" aka her Islamic Brethren & now she is out rooting for their "cause" i.e. ban any criticism of Islam while it's OK to criticise everyone else. Hypocrisy much?

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Vandalizing others property which seems to be Mona E. way of doing things is a way of protesting that we see a lot in the middle east.

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  5. Hostility to Mona is not only for her self-promotion. So many of the player-haters on twitter are also self-promoters.

    Its because she also criticizes Arab culture. I saw an interview with her where she appeared with Tariq Ramadan. You could see the hate in his eyes and he called her a Zionist.

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  6. Following now. That was perfection.

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  7. Beautiful. As a person born in NY, thank you. The interfaith associations, orgs and people creating positive outcomes in the face of hatred, without inciting any hatred or drama, are the heroic ones.

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  8. Bigotry is not defeated by purists only. It's defeat needs people who think they can become famous by defeating the bigotry. In this sense such famewhores are useful tools in the ultimate defeat of bigotry. In fact the more the famewhores join a cause the more successful it is becoming. Famewhores actually test the motivation of the original nobles that laid the groundwork for the fight. Did they lay the groundwork because they sought recognition, or because they thought it was the right thing? Being rendered invisible and forgotten is what defines the true hero.

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  9. Keep in mind that many of these ads were effectively and quietly defaced with labels that said RACIST well before Mona's stunt. Once again Mona manages to make an issue of public deabate effectively an issue about Mona. She is a disgusting publicity whore.

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    Replies
    1. Completely right! Mona did not add anything productive to the fight against Pam Geller's brand of bigotry. In fact, by Mona re-focusing the spotlight onto herself and her exploitative actions she made a mockery of and sidelined the issue of hate speech and racism.

      Mona's egoistical, pathological behaviour shares, at it's foundation, many qualities with Glen Beck and other loud, self-promoting, comical personas.

      __________

      KARL: I don't think I have ever read anything this good in quite awhile, but then you had some great material :-) You captured the Mona zeitgeist, now let's hope you contributed to defusing her larger-than-life ego!

      Delete
  10. Love your columns, Karl, and wow re inclusion in the NYT Lede! Green with envy here. I just did a bit on Mona, too, which I'm shamelessly promoting here. No Lede ref, alas.

    http://egyptmonocle.com/EMonocle/arab-in-nyc-an-arab-american-superhero/

    Keep up with the great stuff. will be following your work, uh, religiously

    Cheers, ali

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Ali, and great work. That comment about following religiously is hilarious! Cheers, Karl.

      Delete
  11. you obviously don't know Mona Eltahawy. Do you dislike women so much that you have to trivialize them in this way? It's bad enough that we have to read about what every woman in the world wears instead of what she thinks, says, or does. But please don't you dare imagine that this is how Mona speaks or presents herself.

    First of all, Mona got out there and did something which is probably no more illegal than every gang member in Philadelphia or LA defacing public property - but the point is she has correctly identified it as racism. Your post is snide, racist and sexist.

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    1. really? That's strange, because she did say this today: "It was pink to match my pink raincoat" http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/poster_gal_pink_can_zlKqdX8otLtcvbrSoEJetO?utm_source=SFnewyorkpost&utm_medium=SFnewyorkpost

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  12. I love that post!!

    As a Muslim Egyptian female Mona El Tahawy is certainly somebody I don't want to continue to see speaking for my country or my religion, I think many Egyptians and Muslims like myself would think the same way.

    It's sad she's capable of spreading her nonsense left and right, even more sad Americans probably are sold easily to it because it fits into the rhetoric the U.S media has been using for ages. Colonial feminism is the last thing we need here.

    For those who are not familiar with her she is for the niqab ban and all what it comes with it for Muslim women in France, she is against the BDS, she doesn't leave a chance to victimize Arab, Muslim and Middle eastern women on all sort of visual and written media, she's a western media darling and an attention seeker who built her career speaking on behalf of Muslims, Arabs, Egyptians with an orientalist narrative.

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    1. Desert dweller
      you said what I wanted to say =)

      Delete
  13. What characterises the responses from leftists on here (and elsewhere on the defacement of the 'Savage' ad by Mona Eltahawy and others), is one of their very own unabashed hatreds - that of free speech with informed debate.

    They don't wish you even to see the (perfectly valid) debating points and facts presented by Spencer, Geller and others; so they resort to physical defacement and brain-dead sloganeering in an attempt to shut down the argument without further engagement.

    This is then followed up by ideological defacement. Any attempts at reasoned discussion are met with characteristic ad-hominem and hysteria - again typical of debate with liberals - the 'R' bomb in particular; which, is almost always deployed to provide cover for lack of facts.

    Geller and Spencer bravely (and by that I do mean at the risk of their own lives) take to task the backward, brutal and insidious doctrine of Islam (for Islam most assuredly is a doctrine, not merely a religion) - not Muslim individuals.

    Indeed, ex-Muslims feature strongly among their supporters. One of Geller's supporters is a black African ex-slave (the enslavement of blacks in Africa by Muslims continues to this day).

    The Left, on the other hand, conveniently ignore Islam's seventh-century backwardness, homophobia, intrinsic violence, misogyny and hatred of non-believers, partly in order to cover some racism of their own- their abiding execration of Israel and Jews.

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    Replies
    1. So what you're saying is to give hate a chance?

      .....
      Mr. KarlreMarks, it's a very funny parody!

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  14. Raped by 'beasts'... broken bones... Islam is wonderful... please do me again, I loved it

    WTF??? Stockholm syndrome par excellence?

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  15. When Mona wakes up boiling with rage then she is the savage we must not let our children near.

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  16. MS.Mona Eltahawy either ignorant, or a hypocrite and above all self aggrandizing fool. Her article for Foreign Policy Magazine, "Why do they hate us?", which draws an uncompromising picture of misogyny in the Middle East. The hatred of women, of which Ms. Eltahawy writes about, runs through the politics of the Arab world, from driving bans in Saudi Arabia to sexual violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation in Egypt, Afghanistan, Sudan. These acts that she wrote of are the behaviour of savages, period. Yet, Ms. Eltahawy seeks to stop the lawful and legitimate First Amendment right of another woman. She calls this an accepted practice, which demonstrates her blindness to principles of Free Speech.

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  17. Perhaps Mona should just accept her people's place in history. The corporatocracy behind NATO wants to rape the countries Muslims live on and so it is necessary to dehumanize them by painting all Muslims with the broad stroke of "Savage, Jihaddists."

    The poster is an example of that slippery slope we saw at the beginning of Hitler's reign and if we keep up our current military campaigns across the region, we should be able to reach Holocaust numbers in no time.

    With Obama's passage of the NDAA, the new SS,(DHS) now has the legal right to take Mona to one of those re-education camps that were recently revealed in 2010 US Army documents. Or maybe she can just be disappeared into the many black sites we have around the world.

    Perhaps Mona is so upset because she saw the collapse of WTC 7 and she realizes Muslims are the straw man in the war on terror.

    Why be so upset Mona?

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  18. Enough of the BS and selective memories... The ad criticizes those who act with savagery. Savages are not a race. Therefore criticizing them cannot be considered racism. Many Muslims do not practice Jihad. Those who do, act like savages. Those willing to blow themselves up so that they may kill other innocent people around them - are savages. And so on... The BS those flies around trying to distort the truth is astounding.

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    Replies
    1. http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/information-minister-vows-take-faraeen-channel-air
      THAT S HOW THEY TREAT FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THEIR COUNTRIES...And we will accept it also here???

      Delete
  19. In order to claim that the ads are racist, you have to go thru the following contortions of logic:

    the ad calls jihad savage. (i agree)
    jihad is a race. (definitely not true)

    or maybe
    the ad calls jihad savage. (i agree)
    all palestinians? support jihad (definitely not true)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Discussing her way of dressing and her taste in colors and jewellery? Your article can be described as cheap and tabloid-like at its best.

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  25. I am a great admirer of Mona, and I am a loyal follower of her on twitter.
    Mona Eltahawy is one of the greatest people on the planet.

    No matter how great or good a person is (living or dead), that person should be subject to satire and criticism . After the subway incident I sent her a few tweets criticising her for reckless behaviour.
    @d4maths

    ReplyDelete
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Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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