Monday, July 02, 2007

Bakers without Borders and Co-optation Watch

Media Benjamin gets pied

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As someone who has kinda taken on the, often not so popular, role of writing about Co-opted Muslims (although most of the individuals I've focused on might be better termed Puppet Muslims) - I have to say that hearing about a group called "Co-optation Watch" brought a big smile to my face. I doubt it that many Muslims know who Media Benjamin is, or what the issues are with regards to Global Exchange - the organization that she heads up, and why would "Co-optation Watch" pie her...

However, in many ways, her story is not all that different from many Muslim leaders, intellectuals, scholars etc. who start out being strongly critical about imperialism. But just as they began to develop frameworks that might allow for a non-reactionary intellectual challenge to imperialism... they ended up getting co-opted in one way or the other.

But it does not end there - when a Muslim scholar gets co-opted s/he in turn becomes an instrument for empire-supporters, who then use the scholar to poison (or "moderate") movements. Unfortunately, a serious discussion on this phenomena has been very limited - not only amongst Muslim, but also amongst other (left/liberal) movement activists.

Muslims should take a look at the following two books to get a good foundational understanding of the issues:

Challenging The New Orientalism by M. Shahid Alam

How social movements in the US have been co-opted:

The Non - Profit Industrial Complex

And the debate on IndyBay on the pieing of Media Benjamin - lotsa comments - sometimes heated - but worth checking out

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