Bahar Mustafa: The Aftermath

Yesterday it was revealed that Bahar Mustafa, a student welfare and diversity officer” at Goldsmiths, university of London, is to appear in court on charges of sending threatening and grossly offensive messages via Facebook and Twitter.

Mustafa, who advocates for safe spaces and No Platform policies on campus, was said to have been hoisted with her own petard; it remained to be seen whether her fellow activists, having seen the error of their ways, would repent for their sins. Well, the verdict is in.

Writing for the Daily Dot, Skylar Baker-Jordan echoes Mustafa’s own comments, explaining in great detail why non-white women are incapable of racism and sexism towards white men:

Racism and sexism require both prejudice and power, and as a woman of color, Mustafa lacks both white privilege and male privilege, and thus lacks any structural or institutional power in these areas.

Is there a judge in England with the patience and understanding to sit still through this? 

After checking his own privilege, Skylar dissects the hashtag #killallwhitemen.

#KillAllWhiteMen is the “Smash the Patriarchy” of the 21st Century – as well as a play on “Kill All Men,” the misandry meme which has been around since the 1990s. As the feminist blogger Stavvers wrote a full two years before the controversy over Mustafa erupted, “nobody is actually planning to kill all men. Not even some men. It’s just a phrase, an expression of rage, a rejection of a system which is riddled with violence.”

The theory put forward by anti-hate speech activists is that words can be equated to physical violence, with the proviso that the person on the receiving end isn’t a privileged white man. How could the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not understand this? Of course, Skylar is merely repeating what free speech activists have been saying for years, that hurtful words can’t compare to a smack to the face.

Backtracking over this argument, he invokes Katie Hopkins, who demonstrates what truly dangerous speech looks like (ironically, Hopkins has come out in defence of Mustafa):

Mustafa’s tweet, and any tweet by anybody using these hashtags, is not in the same category as Sun columnist and former reality TV star Katie Hopkins’ repeated remarks about Muslims. Over the last year alone, Hopkins has been reported to the police multiple times for incendiary and dangerous comments on her Twitter. She called Palestinians “vermin,” advocated mass bombings, referred to asylum seekers as “cockroaches,” and insinuated that British men of Pakistani descent are pedophiles.

If there are any other words that are inappropriate to use within these very specific cultural and historical contexts, be sure to let us know asap. In fact, why don’t you write them down in list form to mail to the CPS so that nothing like this ever happens again?

A semi-anonymous article by the women of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) describes the prosecution against Mustafa as a witch hunt:

The witch hunt against her, online, in the press, and by the police, is a clear example of the dominant hierarchies in society trying to silence vocal dissent against white supremacist and patriarchal hegemonies.

Nice try, however, this fails to account for the recent prosecution of Pastor James McConnell – a man up to his oxters in white, male privilege – after describing Islam as “satanic” during one of his sermons.

What Mustafa’s co-conspirators don’t understand is that laws regulating speech are equal opportunity prosecutors, blindly rooting out “offensive” speech without prejudice. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Bible-thumping Privileged White Man like James McConnell or a patriarchy-smashing Woman of Colour like Bahar Mustafa.

Vonnie Sandlan, President of the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland, inadvertently hit the nail on the head with this Facebook post:

Absolutely furious to hear that Bahar Mustafa’s been charged over this situation. Just a gentle reminder – hate crime laws are all well and good, until they’re implemented and enforced by people who do not understand the struggle of oppressed people. 

Precisely.

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