, 11 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
In an age of disinformation, 'fake news' propaganda fed by anonymous bots, it's tiring to respond to erroneous accusations. But it's precisely because of the age in which we live that it is important to do so when one can: especially when you're not an Anglo-Saxon male. #Thread
I have to say, I came to this realisation late. For years, I ignored scurrilous attacks on my own work, because ignorance doesn't deal well with knowledge. It's all too often a ploy to just whip up anger and hate, instrumentalising a writer or author in order to do so.
But, I've changed my policy in that regard. Because the reality is, this is not merely about one's own reputation: it's about the state of knowledge production at work. If ignorant attacks are left unchallenged too often, ignorance becomes the basis of public narrative.
Not too long ago, a reporter, for reasons as yet rather unclear to me, attempted to characterise me as somehow sectarian. It was a completely baseless accusation, and she was attacked for it almost immediately online. I could have left it there, but decided not to.
I insisted on a corrective because it was so wrong - but also because if someone who has worked hard to draw attention to sectarianism is then erroneously considered to be sectarian themselves, then where does that leave people when they look for accurate analysis on the subject?
[In this case, the reporter privately apologised on email, and removed all the offensive public statements. Of course, that only happened after the reporter was informed their employer would be notified (I have all the emails and messages screen-shotted). But c'est la vie.]
All too often, the efforts of such misreadings have really just one purpose: to arrogate the right of defining the frames of discussion to people who are not actually effected *by* those discussions. We call this 'white privilege' in other contexts - and rightly so.
For example, I've seen too many non-Arabs try to define the frames of discussion about the Arab world - instead of taking their lead from those who actually know the region and speak its language (literally). This is a massive problem - from people on both the left and the right.
In that regard, power dynamics cannot be ignored. Anglo-Saxon Westerners have disproportionate access to international media & academia outlets as compared to people of colour (Western or not). If they use that privilege to deny or limit agency to others, that's disgraceful.
Rather, as we increase in privilege in the public sphere, it is our duty to use that privilege to give voice to those who do *not* have that privilege. And that means combating poor information as well, because invariably it will be those most vulnerable who will suffer the most.
[PSA: if you do wilfully misinterpret my work, expect your employer/outlet to get a message. Because they will. Not because it bothers me personally, but because your spreading of poor information invariably hurts others - and you shan't be doing that on my watch at my expense.]
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