Recall that at Ahmadinejad’s recent speech at Columbia, he responded to a question about Iran’s oppression of homosexuals by claiming that “in Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.” His statement was met with a chorus of boos and catcalls, the only thing he said that really riled up the politically correct crowd of Morningside Heights.
Well, it may come as a surprise to Columbia faculty and students to learn that a current professor at Columbia has argued that there are no homosexuals in the entire Arab world, except for a few who have been brainwashed into believing they have a homosexual identity by an aggressive Western homosexual missionizing movement he calls “Gay International.” The article is called, “Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World,” and it appears in Volume 14, issue 2 of the journal Public Culture, and was elaborated upon in a book, Desiring Arabs, published by University of Chicago Press (UPDATE: BTW, I read the article, which is accessible through my GMU library account, but not the book). According to the author, “It is the very discourse of the Gay International which produces homosexuals, as well as gays and lesbians, where they do not exist” (emphasis added).
The author doesn’t deny that same-sex sexual contact exists in Arab countries, but claims that the category of “homosexual” is purely a Western one exported to the Arab world by Western cultural imperialists. He suggests that by encouraging Arabs to adopt a Western homosexual identity, westernized Arab homosexuals have naturally provoked a counter-reaction against the importation of decadent Western culture into their societies. The article, to say, the least, is not at all sympathetic with the Western gay rights movements, and the author could easily write, replacing “Iran” with “the Arab world,” “in the Arab world we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.” (See here for a good critique of the author’s thesis.)
Oh, and the author/professor is Joseph Massad, whose name has come up in this blog many times before because of his “creative” scholarship, such as claiming that the movie “Exodus tells the story of the Zionist hijacking of a ship from Cyprus to Palestine by a Zionist Haganah commander.” (As I’ve noted previously, this is analogous to saying that Schindler’s List was a movie about Jews taking a working vacation in Poland.)
Massad, of course, is a current darling of the far Left, because friends of Israel have raised questions regarding his alleged discrimination against Israeli students and pro-Israel students, and about his scholarship. I guess this means that in certain circles, even Ahmadinejad-ish ideology regarding gays can be forgiven so long as one can portray oneself as a martyr to the struggle against Israel and its American friends.
UPDATE: I just discovered that Columbia History Professor Richard Bulliet, who acted as the go-between arranging for Ahmadinejad’s speech at Columbia, has this to say (in an interview to be broadcast Sunday morning) about the relationship between Ahmadinejad’s and Massad’s views (link to interview transcript here):
DeDAPPER: Two things that I noted. One, when the question that led to this
was about the persecution and actual execution of gay people in Iran, why do you do that, he says there are no gay people. But the thing that I noted and you were in the audience, so I was only watching on TV, is he seemed–there were people that had clapped for things he had said in the audience and as it sounds like as many who were opposed to him. But on that one, it sounded like the entire audience is laughing at him and he seemed a little surprised that even people who’d clapped for him were laughing. Was that the case?
Prof. BULLIET: But that was a kind of a shocking thing. No one had ever heard him ask that question. Never heard him reply to that question. The irony is that one of the most controversial professors at Columbia, Professor Joseph Massad, has recently written a book called “Desiring Arabs” in which he says exactly the same thing, that homosexuals of the sort you have in America, that is to say where you have movies about homosexuality, you have queer theory, you have a gay rights movement and so forth.
DeDAPPER: There’s an open gay culture, yeah.
Prof. BULLIET: Yeah. An open gay culture. He says that isn’t what you have in the Arab world or in the Middle East. You have a long history of same sex relations that takes a variety of forms. Is not defined as gay or not gay. And Massad would say that the whole notion that gay culture is the same the world wide is an imposition of Western cultural imperialism. But people haven’t read Massad’s book yet, and so they aren’t quite aware that that sort of gay denial of that type actually is academically respectable. Certainly, Ahmadinejad has not read that book.