On a day when more destructive protests against the cartoons of Mohammed are in the news together with further developments in the Abu-Ghraib torture story, I was very, very glad to be able to read something illuminating and strong on my Live Journal "Friends" list:
What is the problem with constructing such a narrative in which particular subjects must first be "civilized," or cultivated (to use a particularly loaded nineteenth century term), in order to enjoy "rights" which claim human equality? The contradiction is apparent in the statement itself: supposedly we are all "equal" and therefore must all be represented as such in order to live in "free" society, yet some people are not yet ready for this kind of freedom. This notion of having to first prepare oneself to be equal actually negates the initial contention of equality, designating human concerns as significant only when they come from "developed" interests or parties. This essentially relegates the "not yet" subjects to a less human space, what Chakrabarty has aptly termed the "waiting room of history." Seated in that waiting room (or tied with a chain around one's neck, or seated with woman's panties covering one's head and then photographed, take your pick), marked by degrees less human and conveyed readily through various narratives and images, are Iraqis, Iranis, Muslims of all backgrounds, and countless others. The racial and economic factors undergirding who is in this waiting room paint a disturbing, yet by no means new story about power; the fact that the waiting room has become self-evident or commonsensical--"Of course they need to become ready before they rule themselves"--exposes western hegemony in a frightening and dehumanizing moment.Thank you wondrousbeauty for bringing civility and insight to discourses that generally lack them.