Earlier today, Xeni spotted an item by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, encouraging black people to embrace the LGBT status of some of its heroes. Tatchell's been in the news of late for another reason, too: another tussle with fellow progressive activists.
The subject is Tatchell's vocal opposition to Islamic fundamentalism, assailed in "Gay Imperialism: Gender and Sexuality Discourse in the War on Terror," published by Raw Nerve Books. As a result, authors Jin Haritaworn, Tamsila Tauqir and Esra Erdem have come under fire. Raw Nerve was even induced to confess a list of "untruths" aimed at Tatchell.
Here's an illustrative paragraph from the apology:
Mr Tatchell has never "claimed the role of liberator and expert about Muslim gays and lesbians." He is not Islamophobic and is not "part of the Islamophobia industry." ... Mr Tatchell has never described "Muslims as Nazis" and he has never made the equation "Muslim=Nazi" or "Muslim=Evil." He has never "collaborated with the extreme right" and never "participated with several racist and fascist groups."
On one hand, Tatchell's "celebrity activist" style irritates those who feel sidelined by his prominence and threatened by his "litigious" reputation. Despite a lifetime building anti-racist credentials, he's often criticized for conflating Islam in general and homophobic muslims.
On the other hand, the paper's attacks could hardly have gone unchallenged. The argument seems compelling, but is layered throughout with a catty academic animus that speaks for itself. Defenders claim that the paper's constructions ("he often describes Muslims as Nazis", "he willingly collaborates with the extreme right", "reducing Islamophobia...to a fad which they can cash in on") were taken out of context. That Tatchell hasn't sued them shows not a little restraint, the obviously-forced apology notwithstanding.
The best line in the paper: "Criticism of him is dangerous." Woops!