3/19/07 I receive an email from "firstname.lastname@example.org," who quickly employed a familiar tactic: call any critic a terrorist:
Does it bother you that you advocate and support terrorism?... Thanks for identifying yourself as a lover of jihad, and a friend of terrorists.
Yours truly, Divestmentisracism
And on it went for a week or so, me and the anonymous. Selections from his/her emails ranged from the hateful and absurd, to a childish playground blather.
Your future employers will also love to read your hate speech. You can forget about ever running for political office outside of Dearborn.
Oh, when I called you a terrorist...I meant it. You support terrorists, and that is obvious.
My email exchange became a disturbing glimpse into the world of crazed Zionists. I began to enjoy hitting back, fascinated but saddened by the magnitude of hatred that returned with each message.
What to say in response?:
"Be aware that by justifying the occupation of Palestinian land, you shirk the precedents of international law set forth by the United Nations after WWII to stop reckless nations like NAZI Germany and Imperial Japan from conquering their neighbors. This framework was designed to protect innocent life and to end wars of conquest. By justifying US unilateral invasion of Iraq and Israel's subsidized war on and conquest of Palestinian land, your opinions fly in the face of these human rights laws and international precedents which, had they been created earlier, may have prevented the holocaust in Europe or the Rape of Nanking by Japanese forces.
Long Live Nasrallah!
My mistake was the playful "Long Live Nasrallah," which became the new rallying cry accusation of my anonymous friend:
"You ended your e-mail by saying "Long Live Nasrallah!"
This shows your true terrorist-supporting colors. Thanks for admitting your true allegiance. I am forwarding your e-mail to the relevant law enforcement authorities, given that Hezbollah is a designated terrorist group. "
But in the response, which threatened me with state action, I saw the implications of our exchange more clearly. It was not merely about two private citizens squabbling over distant politics. This exchange was about discursive power, and the normalization of racist ideas and policies in media, academia, and government. Symbiotic relationships form to govern and police the ideological boundaries of the mainstream, and to criminalize the critics of colonial projects.
to be continued...