This Week in Colonial Gaze: Bachmann, Gohmert, Katy Perry, and the White Maasai-ah.

bachmann-crazyA prelude to every late night talk show joke for the next year:

Perpetual embarrassments, Islamo-antagonists, and Tea Partying US Congresscritters Michele Bachmann (MN), Louie Gohmert (TX), and Steve King (IA) walk into a room with cameras, flags, and microphones and declare an Egyptian press conference. I’m not sure if this press conference actually contained members of the Egyptian press. I’m not sure they had translators, or on what stations (if any) this aired. I’m not sure that Bachmann, Gohmert or King even know – or if this was actually just staged in the basement of the US House with some props and ferrin-lookin’ people. If they were blindfolded and walked around for a few hours, it’s quite possible the Three Stooges of the Tea Party wouldn’t know whether they were in Egypt or Alex Jones’ bunker.

What I do know is that the three engaged in a good amount of American Exceptionalism and hubris and talked down to their audience as if they were kindergartners with learning disabilities, both traits of something that United States politicians and citizens from the United States of America are exceptionally good at doing to non-United States people not from the United States of America (you really have to watch the video. At least the one from the Daily Show. Srsly. We’ll wait).

There is much, much to say and ridicule them about, for they are idiots on a fool’s errand*- that errand being to speak on behalf of General el-Sisi and to talk not to the Egyptian people but past them and to their ignorant constituents. But I want to focus specifically on two issues, both having to do with how they view and then treat their Egyptian hosts.

Bachmann et al, treated the Egyptian viewers like poorly-trained babysitters (or parents who don’t know better) treat children with learning disabilities. Which we know is ironic largely because that’s exactly what B/G/K are. Their hatred has dulled their senses to the point where they’re barely able to tie their shoes, and they project that incompetence unto those they believe are inferior – particularly Black and Brown people. But they are also following a deeply Euro-American tradition, that of the Colonial Gaze. The Colonial Gaze is the purview of the Western eye to cast projections upon non-Western People of Color (POC) bodies and spaces as objects from which the Westerner can subtract value and resources from.

An obvious example of contemporary Colonial Gaze would be how Haliburton and Dick Cheney were looking at Iraq about twelve years ago: as a big ol’, juicy oil drum full of primo money and ready to be “liberated.” It can be also seen more recently in the new “Roar” video for Katy Perry. White girl goes to empty part of Africa (because Africans are invisible or utterly marginalized in Hollywood’s imagination, when they aren’t utterly superstitious or hyper-violent barbarians) and conquers the land as her own (because only White visitors to Africa can truly do that, like Tarzan, Sheena, or post-divorce Katy Perry).

Speaking of white girls taming the barbarian African wild, it’s not just the purview of conservatism that wants to teach the “savages” what it means to be free and liberated. Mindy Budgor, a wealthy, White, bored American woman decided that she needed to liberate the Maasai women from their own tribe and thus free the Maasai people from their own impending doom by becoming the Last Samurai first female Maasai warrior. Even though, again, she’s not Massai. Or African. And has only spent a few weeks with the tribe.

Because the poor Black tribal women of Africa, apparently, aren’t resourceful enough, willing, or able to work on their own liberation and lack any and all sense of agency. They are like incompetent children and Budgor, in her attempts to liberate herself of her nihilism and boredom, unnecessarily butted in, took credit, and got a book deal  rescued them from their weakness. I mean, that is, unless you take a second and listen to actual Maasai women (yeah, they can write and think and speak and act all by themselves). But that might incorporate actually listening rather than projecting. I mean, what do Third World Women know about their own experiences and lives? Nah, it’s just better to go in and satisfy our big egos.

Speaking of liberals and neo-colonialism, the Democratic Party is willing to follow this line of logic to punish rather than help the Syrian people. We could listen to calls to support refugees and cease-fires, but just as some don’t need to know Egypt or Egyptians in order to lecture them about how they really should be more like Americans, some Americans would rather we use our big stick (and then come in to claim our prizes).

Going back to The Three Asparaguys; among the other pieces of illogical and idiotic colonialism, they encouraged the military coup; spoke as ambassadors on behalf of the US  for yet another military coup backed by the US; reminded the world of the US’s intervention in political sabotages the world over; and conflated the Muslim Brotherhood with terrorism. Bachmann even went so far as to suggest that the Brotherhood was responsible for 9/11.

Steve King, Michele Bachmann, and Louie Gohmert cannot bear to think of the Egyptian people as anything more than a canvass to lay out their fears against the Muslim Threat and extract votes and speaking gigs out of rabid USian nationalistic fears. (It’s a decent paying gig for no work. Just ask Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.) Actually, that may not be far off from how the US sees Syria, and thus we can bomb them and extract whatever resources we can claim there as well…


*Within a few minutes, the Three Dumb-egos managed to evoke the names of some six of the US’ Founding Fathers a dozen times, like piss-poor weekend missionaries trying to sell Northern Africans on the virtue of our True God(s). As if those names mean or could mean anything half a world away. As if those men are eternally good and perfect for not just us (and they aren’t. Remember when they had and raped the enslaved that they “owned”?) but for all people of all time. They are lifted up to god-like status based on some words that they wrote – if they wrote those words, that is. Louie “Asparagus” Gohmert, for instance, tried quoting a line from Thomas Payne, but ended up quoting the Glenn Beck novel, The Overton Window, instead.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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