Freddie responds to my tweet on Iran, solidarity, and fashion:
I could imagine that Jamess refusal to show solidarity with the protesters (or at least his discomfort in the same) is the product of apathy or fear of the other. I think, applied generally and not specifically, thats a plausible reason for anyone to not be proclaiming solidarity. With James, I just dont think that its true. Just like I dont think the fashionista impulse is overly important in widespread support for Iranian reformers.
Its tricky business, but I find that to be a recurring (though tacit) thread in Jamess work: plausible illegitimate motives imagined, so illegitimate motives proved.
Other commenters at the League agree that I must be snarking. Well, it’s a tricky business, but aphorism’s always in fashion. Freddie is right that something tacit is afoot, but it’s not strawmanning, it’s suspending ‘judgment’. I recognize that it might be easy to impute snark to the following —
Thought: above all, solidarity with the Iranian opposition has been *inspired* (not justified) by their *fashion*.
— but the point is that this thought could just as easily, and should, be taken at its word, no irony or sarcasm implied. I could have written lines like these:
Look at them! They wear what we wear. They dress like we dress. They can dance to music we can dance to. They wear their hair like we do; they wear makeup like we do; they like discos and read bestsellers and when we look at them, we look at us, only a little different, no more different, really, than we are already from one another. This isn’t mere cosmetics. It’s the foliage of freedom. When they shout, when they cheer, when they are shot, when they are killed, we see don’t see Them. We see Us.
A love letter to cosmopolitanism, that — and no more or less than a dramatization from the heart of a characterization from the head. Too long for a tweet, or an aphorism, and inappropriately ‘in character’ too. Inspired, not justified! I warned. But that’s what was read: here James is mocking people for standing in solidarity for no reason beyond taste. The accusation of illegitimacy, simply read in. Interpretive rule of thumb: criticize it, yes; but ask first how seriously it could be taken.