Jasbir K. Puar of Rutgers University is publishing a book called The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability.
In The Right to Maim Jasbir K. Puar brings her pathbreaking work on the liberal state, sexuality, and biopolitics to bear on our understanding of disability. Drawing on a stunning array of theoretical and methodological frameworks, Puar uses the concept of "debility"—bodily injury and social exclusion brought on by economic and political factors—to disrupt the category of disability. She shows how debility, disability, and capacity together constitute an assemblage that states use to control populations. Puar's analysis culminates in an interrogation of Israel's policies toward Palestine, in which she outlines how Israel brings Palestinians into biopolitical being by designating them available for injury. Supplementing its right to kill with what Puar calls the right to maim, the Israeli state relies on liberal frameworks of disability to obscure and enable the mass debilitation of Palestinian bodies. Tracing disability's interaction with debility and capacity, Puar offers a brilliant rethinking of Foucauldian biopolitics while showing how disability functions at the intersection of imperialism and racialized capital.
It is, as always, an amazing coincidence that such a high percentage of so-called "academics" somehow manage to find Israel to be the paradigm of whatever evil they identify - "settler-colonialism" is a classic example, but even campus rape and racism have been linked to Israel through the magic of the new intersectionality where any two concepts can be linked as long as the author hates both of them - and one of them is Israel.
We looked at the hate that animated a speech of Puar's last year, when she attempted to link Israel to pretty much everything evil at a conference on gender and ecological issues:
In centering in human entities and temporalities how Palestine matters resituates the geopolitical that has been oddly alighted in the resurrection of the ecological and the geographical and emergent fields of new materialisms and Anthropocene studies. Many scholars have rapidly noted that much of the Anthropocene talk has been enabled through a rather bald-faced appropriation of long-standing native and indigenous cosmologies. So the book attempts to offer a counter genealogy to the surge of theories of object-oriented ontology and theories of post-humanism by putting them into direct relation to the fields of post-colonial theory, questions of imperial occupation and settler colonialism and disability studies.
This is the germ of her idea for this new book.
But first, let's look at the first paragraph of Puar's new book's preface, before she completely descends into pseudo-academic gobbledygook:
The intensification of the writing of this book, and the formulation of "the right to maim," its most urgent political theoretical contribution, began the summer of 2014. This was the summer police shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the summer of Operation Protective Edge, the fifty one-day Israeli siege of Gaza. Organizers protesting these seemingly disparate events began drawing connections, tracing the material relationships between the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the militarization of police in Ferguson, from the training of U.S. law enforcement by the Israeli state to the tweeting of advice from Palestinians on how to alleviate tear gas exposure. Descriptions of the militarized containment of civilians in Ferguson
echoed those of the settler colonial occupation of Palestine. It was not long before the "Ferguson to Gaza" frame starting taking hold as an organizing rubric. Ferguson-to-Gaza forums sought to correlate the production of settler space, the vulnerability and degradation of black and brown bodies, the demands for justice through transnational solidarities, and the entangled workings of settler colonialism in the United States and Israel. The comparisons, linkages, and affective resonances between Ferguson and Gaza were not perfectly aligned, and they did not always yield immediate alliances. But these efforts were convivial in their mutual resistance to the violent control of populations via targeted bodily assaults, and reflected desires for reciprocating, intersectional, and co-constituted assemblages of solidarity.
Puar accidentally highlights the sequence of events that contradicts her entire academic career. Israel-hating activists (like Puar herself) decided to tenuously attempt to link protests against US police practices to Israel which even Puar admits is "disparate" and that the connections between the two are not obvious. The desire to link the two completely disconnected issues precedes the actual supposed linkage. Puar the quasi-academic is willing to embrace and fabricate these linkages not because there is any truth to them but because they fit her politics. Facts are merely props for foregone conclusions where context is the enemy.
As a thought experiment, decide: Which is closer linked to each other, Israeli practices with US police brutality, or Palestinianism and Nazism? The links between Palestinianism and Nazism are direct: the founder of the Palestinian national movement was an open antisemite who proudly supported the Nazi aims of genocide against Jews; Palestinianism aims to remove Jews from positions of political power as the Nazis did in the 1930s, Palestinian media today continues to publish articles that are antisemitic and which include the blood libel and Holocaust denial just as Nazi media did, the Palestinian leadership violently suppresses any dissent within their own areas of power. Yet can one even imagine an academic paper pointing out these links ever getting published, let alone an entire book by an academic press?
The linkages that Puar and her ilk claim where Israel is the personification of whatever is fashionably evil at the moment are not only tenuous - they are fictional. One can literally choose any topic and any nation and find linkages that are at least as believable. All one needs is the desire and the links come by themselves. It isn't research - it is dumpster diving.
In fact, the next two paragraphs of Puar's preface highlight exactly that. She claims that US police (as if all the police departments in the US are magically linked to each other in what she calls the "US security state") have a seeming default "shoot to kill" policy against blacks, but Israel's policy not to kill Palestinians is framed instead as a "shoot to maim" policy: They are, obviously, opposite.
One striking aspect of the connective tissue between Ferguson and Gaza involved security practices mining the relationship between disability and death. Police brutality in the United States toward black men and women in particular showed a definitive tendency to aim for death, often shooting numerous bullets into an unarmed, subjugated, and yet supposedly threatening body—overkill, some might call it. Why were there seemingly so few attempts to minimize the loss of life? The U.S. security state enacted powerful sovereign entitlements even as it simultaneously claimed tremendous vulnerability. ....
The might of Israel's military—one of the most powerful in the world—is built upon the claim of an unchanging ontological vulnerability and precarity, driven by history, geopolitics, and geography. Alongside the "right to kill," I noted a complementary logic long present in Israeli tactical calculations of settler colonial rule—that of creating injury and maintaining Palestinian populations as perpetually debilitated, and yet alive, in order to control them. The Israeli Defense Forces (idf) have shown a demonstrable pattern over decades of sparing life, of shooting to maim rather than to kill.This is ostensibly a humanitarian practice...
The ostensible "US security state" policy of shooting to kill is linked to the IDF policy of trying to avoid death.
Yet, sure enough, Puar finds a linkage between the two in the next paragraph - because anyone can find any linkage to anything when they look hard enough.
Indeed, immediately after that she describes the egotism that caused her to try to link the movement for the rights of the disabled with Black Lives Matter and therefore Israel:
On this particular day [July 10, 2016] the main Black Lives Matter protest in New York City was happening in Times Square. Not far from this location, the Second Annual Disability Pride parade, marketed as a festival and celebration, was marching on Broadway from Union Square to Madison Square Park. International in scope, the parade included veterans and actors involved in the development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I was in a part of Manhattan equidistant from both activities, one being an action and the other being an event. The relationship between the two confounded me.
Why does there have to be a relationship between two completely different marches in Manhattan on a single day? Because Puar wants there to be one. After all, she was equidistant from both - that must have some sort of divine (sorry, intersectional) meaning, right?
And, of course, Puar succeeds in finding that link, which is the basis for this entire book!
This isn't research. This isn't innovation. This is simply hate dressed up in academic clothing, and the hate that Puar has is just as toxic and noxious as the racism she pretends to oppose.