I never did. It's not that I don't care about the plight of gay people, but I now suspect that from the beginning I knew in the back of my head that we were being licked. The photo of her homepage was, well, it just looked too polished for me.
But liberals, do-gooderers, socialists and world improvers wearing woollen socks, my oh my, they flocked to A Gay Girl in Damascus. Tens of Copts may be killed on any given day in Egypt, hundreds of Pakistani Christians may see their housed burnt by "offended" muslim mobs, and we may be treated on a weekly basis with reports like this (that is, if you have a real good radar):
... but all of that don't matter.
It all don't matter. On the other hand, when you're supposedly a gay girl in Damascus and you have suddenly vanished, then LGBT organizations across the globe suddenly snap wide awake, every liberal newspaper suddenly has a new Heroine, and Peter Beinart, the airhead who was one of the reasons I dumped Time Magazine, twats, er, tweets that 'This woman is a hero'.
As we all know by now, that heroine was a 40 year old US student (!) living in Scotland, a certain Tom McMaster. Reportedly straight, but you never know. Also, check out his T-shirt and notice that Mr McMaster during the first Gulf War went to the region to protest US "interventionism" and you see that all the ingredients are there to not be a sane badass rightwing individual spending his time in a useful way:
McMaster' alter ego was not real, but here's a Real Master who will put it any time better than I will ever be able to: Mark Steyn in the Orange County Register, June 17:
"... Now consider it from Assad's point of view. Unlike "Amina," "Rania" and the "three armed men in their early 20s" who "hustled Amina into a red Dacia Logan," you have the disadvantage of actually existing. You're the dictator of Syria. You've killed more demonstrators than those losers Mubarak, Ben Ali and Gadhafi combined, and the Americans have barely uttered a peep. Suddenly Hillary Clinton, who was hailing you as a "reformer" only 20 minutes ago, wants to give you a hard time over some lesbian blogger. Any moment now Sarkozy or Cameron or some other Europoseur will demand anti-homophobic NATO bombing missions over your presidential palace. On CNN Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper will be interviewing each other back and forth all day long about the Gay Spring sweeping the Arab world. You'll be the first Middle East strongman brought down by lesbianism. You'll be a laughingstock at Arab League Where-Are-They-Now? nights. Who needs it?
"Release the lesbian bloggers!" commands Assad.
"Er, what lesbian bloggers?" says his vizier. "This is Damascus, remember?"
"Oh, yeah." And he spends another sleepless night wondering if this is the most devilish CIA dirty trick of all, or if one of their satellite drones merely misinterpreted the grainy footage from the Col. Gadhafi Lookalike round of "Syrian Idol."
The pretty young lesbian Muslim was exposed as a portly 40-year-old male infidel at the University of Edinburgh with the help of "Paula Brooks," shortly before "Paula" was exposed as a 58-year-old male construction worker from Ohio. "He would have got away with it if I hadn't been such a stand-up guy," the second phony lesbian said of the first phony lesbian. As to why stand-up guys are posing as sit-down lesbians, "Paula" told the Associated Press that "he felt he would not be taken seriously as a straight man."
"He got that one right," sneered the Toronto gay magazine Xtra.
Indeed. A century ago, a British Army officer went to the Levant and reinvented himself as Lawrence of Arabia. Now a middle-aged American male college student goes to the Internet and reinvents himself as Florence of Arabia. We have become familiar in recent years with the booming literary genre of the fake memoir, to which Oprah's late Book Club was distressingly partial. Greg Mortensen's now-discredited "Three Cups Of Tea" took it to the next level, not just near mandatory in the usual circles (grade schools and sentimental punditry) but also compulsory in the Pentagon for commanders en route to Afghanistan. After centuries of disdain for the preferred beverage of imperialists, American officers in the Hindu Kush now drink more tea than the Brits, and they don't even like it. But a charlatan told them to do it, so the tea allowance now consumes 23 percent of the Pentagon budget.
Yet Tom MacMaster topped even that. He took an actual, live, mass popular uprising and made an entirely unrepresentative and, indeed, nonexistent person its poster-"girl." From CNN to The Guardian to Bianca Jagger to legions of Tweeters, Western liberalism fell for a ludicrous hoax.
Because they wanted to. It would be nice if "Amina Arraf" existed. As niche constituencies go, we could use more hijab-wearing Muslim lesbian militants and fewer fortysomething male Western deadbeat college students. But the latter is a real and pathetically numerous demographic, and the former is a fiction – a fantasy for Western liberals, who think that in the multicultural society the nice gay couple at 27 Rainbow Avenue can live next door to the big bearded imam with four child brides at No. 29 and gambol and frolic in admiration of each other's diversity. They will proffer cheery greetings over the picket fence, the one admiring the other's attractive buttock-hugging leather shorts for that day's Gay Pride parade as he prepares to take his daughter to the clitoridectomy clinic.
Yes, yes, I stereotype. But stereotypes become stereotypes because they're grounded in observable reality. "Amina Arraf" is grounded in nothing more than a fetish fantasy as preposterous as those lipstick lesbians in porn movies who can't wait for some hot straight guy to jump in and make it a threesome.
It would be statistically improbable for there to be no women attracted to other women in Damascus. But "Amina Arraf" is nothing more than the projection of parochial obsessions on to distant lands Western liberals are too lazy to try to figure out. In 2007 in The Atlantic Monthly, Andrew Sullivan, not yet mired up Sarah Palin's birth canal without a paddle peddling bizarre conspiracy theories about the maternity of her youngest child, announced that, never mind his policies, Barack Obama's visage alone would be "the most effective potential rebranding of the United States since Reagan." As he explained:
"It's November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees this man – Barack Hussein Obama – is the new face of America. In one simple image, America's soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. ... If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama's face gets close."
For crying out loud. The assumption that "a young Pakistani Muslim" in Lahore or Peshawar shares your peculiar preoccupations is the most feeble kind of projection even by the standards of Western liberal navel-gazing. If doting progressives stopped gazing longingly into "Obama's face" for just a moment, they might notice that in Benghazi "democracy activists" have been rounding up Libyan blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. In Bahrain "democracy activists" have attacked hundreds of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, ripping the tongue out of one muezzin and leaving him brain damaged. What's so "multicultural" about the pampered middle-aged narcissists of the West's leisurely "activist" varsity pretending that the entire planet is just like them?
You can learn a lot from the deceptions a society chooses to swallow. "Amina Arraf" was a fiction who fit the liberal worldview. That's because the liberal worldview is a fiction."
Like I said, a Real Master. Night.