As has been reported in some (not nearly enough) media outlets, the head of the Syrian Civil Defence (Syrian volunteer rescue workers also known as the “White Helmets“, estimated to help saved more than 40,000 lives) Raed Saleh has been recently barred from entering the US to collect a humanitarian award won on behalf of the organisation.
Now it has emerged that an American citizen has come out and claimed credit for Saleh’s barring and deportation, boasting that he had organised a “report campaign” of Saleh to the US Department of Homeland Security prior to his arrival – falsely reporting that Saleh was a member of “Al-Qaeda”. The American’s name is Scott Gaulke (Twitter Handle: @Navsteva), a pro-Assad, self-proclaimed left-wing “anti-imperialist” activist.
I’ve seen many problematic things from people self-representing “the Left” these past few years, but this is incomparable. Even if it turns out ultimately that this wasn’t the reason for his barring (and it may well have been), its horrific.
(To be clear, when I use the term “the left” this isn’t to blame everyone for the actions of a minority, just as that wouldn’t be fair in other contexts. However in this case I find it important to point out what the person self-attributes their motives to as it is simply an extreme manifestation of what many on the self-denominated (and false) “anti-imperialist left” have been propagating regarding the Arab Spring these past few years.)
A FB commentator put it well: ‘It’s “anti-imperialist” to snitchjacket/be a cop caller now?’
(Funnily enough, the author of this blog also once had the police called on him by members of the “anti-imperialist” UK Stop the War Coalition, for speaking out of turn during an event. So this is perhaps not a sort of isolated incident from this variety of identity-centred, air-blowing “anti-imperialists”. As noted before, those who will go on lengthy polemics about Western “orchestration” of liberation movements will find no qualms of claiming welfare benefits or domestically campaigning for greater public spending by the “imperialist state”. It is all about identity politics and domestic posture).
Such actions should amount to (and be considered as) little other than a declaration of war from those who’ve done it to everyone fighting Islamophobia and prejudice.