— Tom MacMaster, American pro-Palestinian activist pretending to be a Syrian lesbian.
I admit it, I missed this story. When I first saw the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blog, I said to myself: “what a load of crap. I bet this is written by a 40-year old straight male American grad student” (OK, actually I thought it was an undergraduate).
In any event, I didn’t give it another thought. Who would be stupid enough to take this seriously? Just another hoax in the place where “nobody knows you’re a dog.”
One of the reasons he did it was to make his rantings against Israel and the US more believable. Who’d listen to a white guy attacking Israel and the US? But an attractive Syrian lesbian — now that carries authority!
I’m not sure I follow his reasoning. After all, his character, “Amina Arraf,” was a Syrian Muslim, who might be expected to think like one. I guess what he meant was that nobody would listen to him, but his persona’s blog got hundreds of thousands of hits, was quoted in The Guardian, Time, CNN, NPR, etc. So he had a much bigger audience for the usual ugly lies.
Well, his cleverness got him kicked out of the University of Edinburgh’s History program. And it got the Jews, the Arabs and the LGBTQ crowd all seriously pissed off at him. I think his wife is also annoyed.
The really best part of the whole story was something I didn’t know about until this afternoon when a friend mentioned it. It seems that Amina Arraf was a frequent commenter on a lesbian blog called (sorry) “LezGetReal,” which was run by a Paula Brooks, with whom Arraf sometimes exchanged flirty remarks.
Of course — how could it be otherwise? — “Paula Brooks” turned out to be another middle-aged straight male named Bill Graber.
This could have made a good Jack Lemmon movie, if it weren’t for the vicious political purpose behind MacMaster’s deception. The ‘Gay Girl’ blog is down now, but some of ‘her’ writing is quoted here:
As soon as I post this, I know, the defenders of the Holy Nation will come and denounce me, will ask why it is that I do not see their cause as holy and my own people, my own heritage, my own history, as nothing more than the squawkings of baboons.
Don’t laugh; I am sure they will come. And they will again and again demonstrate their arrogance and their ignorance. When not claiming that their innate superiority in all things means that democracy is not for the likes of me (after all, how else to justify their state?) or that we are all needing just a firm, pale hand to guide us, they will show their ignorance of history.
I for one know my own history. And I know my own country. I know that Jaulan [the Golan Heights] was lost after the Syrians had agreed to cease fire. I know who started that war; it wasn’t us. I know that the Israelis hold Jaulan because they would steal our water and need a nice platform to keep Damascus in their gunsights. I know that there is no difference between what keeps them there and what took Saddam to Kuwait … I know of American sailors who died to keep the world from knowing … I know that their own generals admitted that all the ‘vicious wicked Syrian attacks’ were provoked by them, not us …
I know also of the ethnic cleansing that they undertook up there; 131,000 people made homeless so that Russian migrants might have a place to illegally live.
Bad, bad writing. And worse history.