First, let me tell the story in three quick tweets:
@catfitz I hope you’re getting ready to kill yourself because you’re ugly old and fat— Andrew Auernheimer (@rabite) April 18, 2014
@catfitz Catherine, ppl have recommended I call the police b/c you've threatened me so many times. They are shocked by your behavior, not me — Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) February 16, 2012
"I want people to stop sending me rape threats. I want to do my work." http://t.co/LjWKKCGP6k— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) June 9, 2014
So this should establish:
a) I know what it's like to get nasty, vicious misogynous hate tweets from creepy males on the Internet -- most women bloggers do -- there's a sample of just one of thousands, by the creepy hacker Weev (@rabite). I don't have a problem with calling out and condemning this kind of behaviour, but I don't think it's merely a feminist problem; I see it as an anarcho-hacker culture antithetical to human rights and civil society in general for all of us, women, men and children.
b) Sarah Kendzior has a long history, in different settings, of causing provocations, stirring up raging controversies, and then when anyone debates her dubious theses and shifting premises, pretends they are guilty of incivility, harassment, sexism -- and as you can see, even imagining she needs to "call the police" (!) etc. Read my blog Different Stans to get an idea.
c) When I see her latest provocation based on rape threats, I keep this history in mind, although of course I condemn any such threat delivered against any women online. That's not the issue here -- but by once again creating a cocoon of sensitivity taboo and political correctness around a topic, counting on the fact that most gawkers at her provocation don't know her history, Sarah has obscured her active measure and promoted once again a peculiar, oppressive, non-documentary and arbitrary way of addressing the wrongs of the Internet.
Needless to say, I've never made any threat against Sarah Kendzior whatsoever -- it's preposterous. As the record shows, all I've done is...criticize her academic articles or blog posts. It's wild. I've never written her any emails and my tweets or blogs criticizing her don't contain anything remotely resembling a threat. Yet she herself complained about my legitimate criticism of her to my boss at a job to try to create an atmosphere of intimidation for me -- creepy!
Does that mean maybe her claims about these rape threats are fake as well? Oh, they may be very real, but it's her manipulation of this situation that should be examined here as it follows a historical pattern.
First, if you've been in a cave and missed all the Twitters (I did, too, for most of it), here's a summary from the libertarian right and a summary from the loony left -- and here's another summary from the liberal left and the sectarian left. So already you can see the problem.
Trigger warning: no actual rape occurred, and the rape threats that occurred didn't occur from any of these parties but some other (invisible) parties, but people disagree what it all means. Basically, in the course of trying to knock the use of the term "bro" about certain figures that deserved a critique (or conversely, worship, I'm not sure, given that it's Piketty they're talking about as the "bronominist"), the link was made to Sarah Kendzior's tweet about rape threats from a "brocialist," and the Jacobin article seemed to fit that usage of "bro" as one of the cases of trivializing serious things.
Well, you might say no good deed goes unpunished, but it was an odd thing to do to accuse the target of the rape threats of doing something trivializing about her own rape threats to make a point only about "bro" linguistics -- not to get too meta about all this. But then, it's Jacobin. And that's just it. All of these people are sectarian weirdos.
Hence, Sarah's active measure around vilifying the left's various sorry manifestations. Whatever their sins, like good little PC children in the fierce re-education camp that is Twitter, they've deleted their Tweets and links and have written ardent apologies and thoughtful recantations. So that's all good, except, Sarah is now on a rampage and wants blood -- both she and her sidekick Joshua Foust falsely accused Jacobin editors and writers of issuing rape threats against her -- something that even all the sectarian leftists parsing this had to denounce as mendacious because they had done no such thing. But here's the thing:
Sarah Kendzior's purpose in life is to disrupt social movements, to pick out sectarian topics that she can use to pit people against each other, and to promote a "line" that can be shifting, but which generally tends to a) favour authoritarian Eastern governments and oppose Western governments b) favour ideological premises over rights and the rule of law c) favour networks of approved cadres over principles.
In her career on the Central Asian scene:
o She became famous for standing up to a widely-respected but pro-regime professor in the Central Asian studies field by chronicling the Andijan massacre in Uzbekistan, but in the process, both minimalized violent Islamism and created a cover for many more reports later that in fact challenged dissenters or questioned the role of opposition movements (instead of challenging the regimes themselves) and favoured the status quo;
o Once flogged the cause of an Uzbek female student who committed suicide after making a Facebook profile and getting arrested by the secret police -- a story that turned out to be a hoax; then went on to disparage the woman human rights activist who uncovered the hoax with due diligence as well as me as a blogger covering the topic. She joined male academics and think-tankers heckling and ridiculing an establishment woman academic whose views were actually closer to their own than they admitted, and a Russian lesbian investigative journalist because she reported on a higher death toll in a massacre by government forces of workers (the Zhanaozen story is complicated -- and it's one Mark Ames has used to blast Foust but with errors, so if you have questions, just ask.)
Then, unrelated to her academic work, Kendzior:
o bullied, harassed and pilloried a single mom of an Asperger's patient who frequently became violent who wrote a famous article, "I am Adam Lanza's Mother" -- and so pressured her that the woman finally agreed to write a joint statement with her -- although Kendzior accused her of violating her son's privacy and of being a bad mother -- merely for speaking the truth about her situation.
On another front, related to her obsession with unpaid internships, she:
o bullied, harassed and vilified a nonprofit organization working at the UN on violence against women, publishing falsehoods, displaying ignorance about how the NGO system works at the UN, and peddling a sectarian line supposedly about worker's rights, but really much more about naming and shaming her academic colleagues and peers.
Notice a pattern here?
Each one of these stories involve women's rights or human rights in some form or another, but yet in each instance, Sarah uncannily finds something politically incorrect about the women involved, and diguises her own assault on them as some sort of mission on behalf of higher principles of feminism -- even though concepts like women's rights aren't really what she supports -- what she supports is bureaucratic, authoritarian little cabals of only certain women and men bullying others and arrogating to themselves the power to decide what is "right". You know, Bolshevism.
When I saw her consistently backing up and excusing and running interference for the men at the Registan collective (she was the only woman), I called her the "office wife" because that's exactly how she behaved -- without any respect for women's rights and basic due process and decency and without any solidarity. That got me called "sexist" by her partner in crime (and protector in this current dispute, as in past disputes), the former DoD contractor Joshua Foust -- although the original problem with sexism started with her inability to stand up to bullying men -- and men writing awful stuff about women in the field and in general treating others terribly and taking utterly cynical positions on behalf of programs like drones.
It's odd -- and it doesn't make sense until you see it happen enough times over and over, and you realize that she is either a patholitical Internet persona engrossed in some sort of version of Internet hystrionics syndrome -- or working on behalf of some cadre movement or some other sinister power (she writes for Al Jazeera, a state news service of Qatar, which for me is not journalism but propaganda). When you see this pattern happen enough times, over enough years, with ever more publicized results and divided people, you realize there's something "up". Investigation is indeed required.
The three things she has done wrong on this particulate episode with the "rape threats," in my view, although your mileage may vary, is as follows:
1) She has treated the threats and the links to the threats or the casual attitudes toward the threats by Jacobin and Salon writers as somehow specific to these individuals and their superiors at their publications, but not to the leftist Marxist/socialist/radical ideologies they represent.
Imagine, being involved in any incident with something called "Jacobin magazine," and never pointing out that this is a radical movement celebrating Jacobinism, that is, overthrowing the state, and along the way, killing off class enemies with the guillotine. And whatever Salon's liberal genesis, is it now home for many Occupy-style radical ideologues like Natasha Leonard, and the real issue here isn't just their casual response to violence speech or acts against women, but their entire violent revolutionary ideologies that make the end justify the means, and the means coercive and destructive. (In a separate post, I will explain how the extreme, sectarian left ultimately diminishes rape by making it a mere subset of the problem of capitalism.)
The entire story in fact began with a casual remark on Twitter by the notorious Aaron Bady @zunguzungu - he's exactly what I mean by violent sectarianism.
This neglect of the deeper problems of the "movement" to single out only some aspect is what she does with the problem of women in tech -- it's about feminism, and not about hacker culture -- which she wants to preserve for its usefulness in breaking up bourgeois Western states, especially America.
2. She has implicitly denigrated the act of reporting on and publicly documenting one's rape threats or any kind of mistreatment as some kind of "privacy" act that is to be discouraged -- but which she herself is to be allowed "this one time" -- and then, of course, only partially. There's a lot of mystery surrounding the whole thing.
In her manipulative blog post, she lays out those parameters -- (the sectarian Firedog Lake was her Greek chorus in this regard) -- we must never demand that she publicize her e-mails or document her threats because to do so would be to indulge in "rape culture; worse, if anyone else decides to use the route of documentation and publicity, they must be attention whores -- because she's taking the high road by "never" talking about her personal life (the way the woman did who wrote that she was like "Adam Lanza's mother" -- who was first burnt at the Internet stake then sent to re-education school.)
Further, we are treated to the dubious thesis that "to talk about rape threats is to make them happen again or make more happen therefore we must never talk about them or link to them" -- a position that puts us not into feminist empowerment but submissive cultdom or frightened omerta.
This position is very much similar to her odd thesis in Central Asia studies journals that people who talked about the gross human rights violations and oppression of the regimes of Central Asia or the Caucasus were "scaring off" more ordinary Internet users and "ruining it for all of us" and thereby preventing a more moderate and incremental Internet space to be created. Fortuntately, activists in the region paid not the slightest attention to her.
3. She has favoured suppression of free speech over the old principle of displacing bad speech with good speech, thus joining the ranks of the PC and those who seek brow-beating and self-criticism circles on the open Internet, "trigger warnings" and removal of speech or forced apologies or shunning (in this she is just like her dear friend Jillian York who, counter-intuitively, is a program director at the Internet freedom organization Electronic Frontier Foundation.)
I had never heard of some of the newer feminists Kendzior has allied with or conversely attacked, although of course I know of Katha Pollitt and have gone to hear her speak in New York on a number of occasions and read her in the Nation.
Few women who read Mikka Kendall have actually laid in critical condition, bleeding on the operating table with a fetus with placenta abruption. I have. So I can look her dead in the eye and say I'm sorry for your terrible experience, I've had it, too, but here's the thing -- pregnancies at the stage of late-term abortion/premature birth are very hard to manage, but in our country with advanced medicine they usually don't end with the death of the mother, and all but a handful of Catholic hospitals (which make up 12% of all hospitals in the US) are not going to have second thoughts about abortions at this stage (if they really can establish it is 20-22 weeks). (I was offered an abortion, although also only after hours of painful waiting, but opted to have a very premature baby and have her treated in the NICU. She died a month later.) So I'd like to hear some more eyewitnesses to this story.
I usually don't favour Pollitt's own sectarian old-style socialist politics that have trouble finding fault with violent Islamist movements dominated by men and her embracing of the atrocious Anonymous provocation around the rape of the student in Steubenville.
I think what Sarah is doing now is a lot like the Anonymous disruption in Steubenville, which actually led to further vilification and shaming of the rape victim, the exposure of her name, the unjust persecution of innocent people, and obstruction of justice by making it difficult to gather testimony and get court witnesses.
Nothing that Anonymous was doing there was really about stopping rape culture -- a rape culture they themselves embraced before, during and after Steubenville in some of their outrageous statements on women, including against me, as a blogger covering their antics.
Rather, it was about disrupting the justice system as an institution of society and helping to break up society so that anarchy could prevail. There is some evidence that forces like Al Qaeda and foreign governments like Russia infiltrate and manipulate these hacker movements (the Snowden hack is only one very big and obvious example), and this is how they succeed -- while appearing to be an ordinary protest movement of the sort that has had legitimacy in American society.
What is the end result of what Sarah Kendzior is doing with this latest outrageous caper of hers? Is it really about pushing back against the outrageous behaviour of especially male techies and hackers online against women, and trying to create a safe space for women to excel? Not really, because that's not the result. The result is:
o splitting an already divided left even further -- although to be clear, the problems of the left's cohesion is not my problem and they will be doomed to division as long as they embrace radical and even violent ideologies over the rule of law;
o establishing only certain online figures as authorities on how to interpret the issue, and quashing dissent and the due process of publications and debates;
o discouraging the documentation and publication of human rights abuses, including online threats, under the guise of "privacy", and refusing to submit to due process and the rule of law to address the issue of violence against women; instead of building institutions, enabling networks to run roughshod over others who step out of line.
Trust me, the problem of violence against women, which is very big on the Internet even if it is cyberspace and injuries are psychic and not physical, does not get solved by creating a cabal of a few bullying, coercive females to rule the roost and discourage not only dissent, but calls on themselves to be accountable.
It's like the problem of misogynist men in tech is definitely not solved by having Anil Danish threaten, bully and get fired a coder who happened to make a tasteless rape joke on Twitter -- and then vow to run him out of the field all together. No women were raised up by Dash's Bolshevik tactics, and we don't want to live in a society where people like Dash, using those methods, prevail by force over others using positions of publicity and power.
The problem of hatred and misogyny is not solved by discouraging documentation and publication and thwarting the steady building up of movements of rights and solidarity. These methods sound old-fashioned in a world where we are supposed to achieve justice by getting links removed or tweets deleted or people blocked or banned. They only recur because those digital solutions do not change or curb human behaviour.