@randomdijit -- an anonymous person who gives a name "Jake Turk" which is not really tied to any real-world identity behind this blog - made a dramatic gesture of unfollowing me tonight as some sort of drastic punitive action of the commuuunity -- something he'd threatened to do the other night over some disagreement, so I thought it would be helpful to go back to basics.
As this dispute revolved around his casual re-tweeting of Sarah Kendzior's manipulative tweets around her "rape crisis," and my tweeting of a link to my blog critiquing her latest provocation, I thought I'd go back to her actual works.
Usually, when she succeeds in pitting people against each other, it's because she gets them distracted with secondary and tertiary meta issues that emerge in the blogging and re-blogging of the original story and the ensuing debate, and they forget to see what is truly objectionable in her original writings. A lot of times, people don't even look beyond the tweet connected to the pieces. Her original piece is almost something you're never supposed to look at again, as its purpose was to provoke reaction, and get reactions to that reaction, and not have you notice her original bad faith.
So let me ask you, "Jack Turk," fellow human rights advocate and person of concern about Russia and Eurasia and the oppression there, just what exactly are you supporting here?
I'm dead serious.
I've had a number of people harass and bully me over my critique of Sarah Kendzior -- inside and outside of her posse -- but I suspect few have ever sat down and read her articles, especially the academic pieces. Have you?
In Sarah Kendzior's original famous essay -- the one that put her on the map in this field of Central Asian studies -- we get it that it's about confronting the regime in a contrary position to Fred Starr. All well and good. But do you support the distraction from the original violence that the Islamic businessmen perpetrated in springing their comrades from jail, killing policemen, and taking hostages and human shields? Do you support the argumentation based on claims that Akrimiyah doesn't even exist and is a propagandistic figment of the regime to persecute people -- because you're unaware that the businessmen themselves use this term to this day?
Or to skip to the more recent past, as we might never agree on the right emphasis to put on this terrible tragedy of Andijan for which the regime deserves much of the blame -- do you support her decision to publish and demand sympathy for a dubious story that others instantly saw as a typical intelligence agency hoax? What really was to blame was this foolish young woman's desire to express herself on a Western invention when she shouldn't have used the Internet to oppose Karimov, right Jake? Isn't that the thrust of this piece?
Oh, I know she says, "Now let me be clear. Facebook doesn’t kill people; the national security services of Uzbekistan do. But Gulsumoy’s Facebook page was, according to most reports, the only thing linking her to Uzbek dissident causes" -- so we get where it all went wrong, right? Taking part in social media without being anonymous and on political causes, which only lead to trouble -- right Jake? Isn't that right?
You're smart enough to see a Facebook profile made up with "workplace: People's Movement of Uzbekistan" as something that doesn't make sense for anyone actually in an oppressed exile movement to do, right?
Or perhaps you agree with her that the "suicide girl" couldn't possibly have ever been planted by the secret police of Uzbekistan because the opposition is worse, right, Jake? That's what you think?
Or perhaps you support this article, in which Sarah and her ideological partner Katy Pearce discuss "networked authoritarianism" and explain how authoritarian governments discourage people from activism on line -- which means they are winning the Internet, right Jakes? Or read an earlier version of that article if you can't get access because you're not in academia and tell me you share the conclusion that "greater documentation and publicizing of suppressed dissent is often what derails political protest" -- too much activism, you bring persecution on yourself, you know, so cool it ? Right? Even though you spend every day yourself documenting suppressed dissent. Do you think you're only helping to send people to jail, Jake?
They raise questions about those who use the Internet to report gross human rights abuses, implying that they drive others away and deter the growth of the Internet for everybody -- do you share that notion?
This piece on Al Jazeera articulates Kendzior's theory once again that sub-rosan incremental activities are better than activist work in countries like Uzbekistan. So do you agree, Jake? Here it is, that slam of the "loud, proud lobby of the political refugee" that hasn't worked in 20 years anyway, right Jake? So why don't go to the web's "quiet corners, stoked by citizens who might never overtly align themselves with activist causes -- and whose ambigious plight offers little recourse." Those radicals just get themselves in trouble and spoil it for the rest of those more sober-headed reformers, right, Jake?
Or maybe you liked the title of this article -- Stop Talking About Civil Society -- which is a contrived and ineffective and Western-dominated concept, anyway, isn't it, Jake? Wouldn't you say so? Surely you believe we need to get rid of all the problems associated with the US government supporting democracy and human rights abroad -- they're just too impossibly compromised, right Jake, even if they supply some of the daily news feed to which you're addicted from things like RFE/RL, and even if they give people jobs or sustain NGOs you support, right? Using terms like "civil society" forces people to "pick sides" between "the people" and "the government," and that sounds like a bad idea, right, Jake?
Of perhaps this slam of a woman telling the truth about her violent son and her enormous difficulties in getting adequate mental health care for him was something that you felt was just fine, because you took her side against this mother? Right? You, with your concerns about justice. Any parent who tells an autistic child to put on his pants and get in the car, and if he keeps raging and ranting, that he will risk being constrained must be wrong, right? If that kid even took kitchen knives up, it must just be poor parenting, right? Wouldn't you agree that this mom sounds like she's the problem, Jake?
Or perhaps it was Kendzior's uninformed take on the NGO system at the UN in a series of tweets, of which this is only one, which you surely know something about, and the characterization of charity balls that auction off internships as something evil? These groups work to bring attention to violence against women, especially in places where it is epidemic such as civil conflicts in Africa. Do you disapprove and think they shouldn't have unpaid interns and should never have auctions and that they're silly bourgeois white folks?
Or maybe it was her tweet, referenced by a leftist feminist's critique of the all-too-casual use of "bro" -- that automatically trivializes every issue attached to it -- about something as serious as a rape threat. You don't think using "bro" trivializes the issue? You don't think rape threats are serious and shouldn't be trivialized?
Now try this experiment. Read everything on Sarah Kendzior's timeline about Ukraine. Hmm, there isn't that much, even though you care passionately about Ukraine, as I do, as many people not only following this region's politics do, but concerned liberals around the world. Why do you think there isn't much from her? And when she does tweet about Ukraine, it's to approve of articles that discount Obama's critics and say it's not really his war?
Sarah hasn't written a lot about Ukraine, but when she does, it's pieces like The Day We Pretended to Care About Ukraine. Do you pretend to care about Ukraine, Jake? I don't think so! So what's she going on about, exactly? So you think that Gourevitch and Shuster were just doing "apocalypsticles" on Ukraine, Jake? Well?
You must write a hundred times a month about Putin, right? OK, maybe three months. But you're unabashedly critical or you ridicule the obvious, right? What is it that Sarah Kendzior does on Putin, exactly, would you say?
Well, I could go on doing this all night, but hopefully, the lightbulbs are turning on.
Say, is your mind clearing at all about Sarah's method and madness. It should be. If it's not, I could go find 10 or 20 other articles that do the same weird thing -- subvert meaning and pit individual groups against each other and make offenses out of innocuous or inconsequential things.
If you still think I'm the problem, there's little I can do about it. Sooner or later, you will have your own direct experience with this phenomenon of political provocation I'm exposing, and you'll get it. Until then, unfollow back.