Sarah Schulman is a mediocre writer and dishonest activist whose biggest bid for attention, after her old attempts at getting gay activists to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, was declaring that gay rights in Israel were part of a conspiracy to “pinkwash” the evil Zionist entity.
Sarah Schulman, a gay rights activist, had to make the confusing argument that gay rights activists should support anti-gay Islamists over Israel. And Schulman was predictably incoherent in trying to make that case. While Sarah Schulman accused pro-Israel advocates of pinkwashing Israel, Schulman was the one actually pinkwashing Hamas.
Still it hardly gets any better than the moment when Sohrab Ahmari, an Iranian-American, challenged Schulman on Hamas, and Schulman responded with high-grade pinkwashing.
“What is we and who is they?” asked one audience member during the question-and-answer segment. “For me, we are all the people in the world who believe that by virtue of being born every human being deserves equal rights [and] self-determination,” Schulman responded. “That’s my we, that’s my team . . . They are people who are invested in systems of supremacy, whether it’s gender supremacy, religious or racial supremacy. Isn’t it amazing that that is controversial?”
I couldn’t help but raise my hand. “So is Hamas part of the ‘they?’” I asked.
Schulman answered: “Hamas—you know, every time I give one of these talks one guy asks about Hamas.” Then a flurry of protests: “I have never supported any political party! I don’t even support the Democratic Party!”
But of course I didn’t ask Schulman if she supports Hamas. “What I meant is: Is Hamas engaged in ‘systems of supremacy?’ Does Hamas fit into your definition of ‘they,’ of people who are implicated in ‘systems of supremacy?’ ”
The answer to this one should be easy and it’s revealing that instead of answering the question, Sarah Schulman broke into a flood of Pinkwashing. And her response should be in a step-by-step guide for leftists who want to avoid dealing with the Islamist question.
“It depends?” Schulman responded, her tone seesawing between the declarative and interrogative modes. “You know, sometimes—I don’t know enough about Hamas to give you a complete, intelligent analysis of Hamas.”
Step 1. Insist that not enough research has been done to give some ridiculously “complete analysis.”
Sarah Schulman, who claims to know everything she needs to know about Israel, apparently hasn’t learned enough about its main enemy to have an opinion on it. That raises the question of how Sarah Schulman can then claim to know everything she needs to know about Israel if she doesn’t even know whom it is fighting.
But there are people who get into all kinds of movements because they have particular needs. And I don’t—let me say it this way: All over the world there is conflict between religion and politics. In the United States we are unable to separate religion and politics, and that’s true in Israel, it’s true in the Arab world, it’s true all over the world.
Step 2. Moral equivalence.
Equate Islamist terrorist groups to presidents going to church. It’s the same thing. “We’re just as bad” is the stock leftist response to any such questions.
But while Sarah Schulman has no problem rejecting Israeli and American intersections between religion and politics, she has trouble doing the same for Islamic terrorists.
Do I think that there should be religious governments? No, because I’m not in favor of that. I’m not a religious person, and I see it as a negative force in the world. But if people elect, democratically elect a religious government, that’s their government. That would be my answer.”
Step 3. I don’t support Hamas, but I don’t oppose it either, because I support the principle of being people able to choose their own medieval theocracy that then stops holding elections and locks up gay men and threatens them with the death penalty.
Leftists used to give variations of the same answer for Iran, so this goes back a while. The obvious problem here is that if the United States elected a theocracy that wanted to lock her up, Schulman wouldn’t hide behind the principle of democracy in order not to denounce it.
Israel does have an elected government and Sarah Schulman has no problem denouncing it. But Hamas winning an election a long while back somehow makes it invulnerable to criticism.
This isn’t even Pinkwashing, this is Ballotwashing.
Sohrab Ahmari finishes off Schulman and her audience in a single paragraph.
Here was the BDS movement in a nutshell. In a room filled with progressive activists, an American academic with unimpeachable progressive credentials claimed she didn’t know enough about Hamas to criticize its views on matters of gender and sexual orientation.
She had heard somewhere that Hamas was “democratically elected”—apparently Schulman had missed the news about how, the last time Hamas seized power in Gaza, it was via defenestration—and that sufficed to render the group above judgment.
Acknowledging the obvious about Hamas would have demoralized the BDS faithful gathered at the LGBT Center that night, and what sort of religious movement would want to do that?