In Defense of M.I.A

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Why she's pissed at Lynn Hirschberg.

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Sarahana | May 28, 2010

Maya Arulpragasam aka M.I.A

Maya Arulpragasam aka M.I.A

New York Times ran a profile on M.I.A a few days ago, the content of which infuriated the singer into tweeting writer Lynn Hirschberg's phone number. She also promised to post the unedited version of the interview on her website this weekend. If you skipped the 9-digital-page article, here's the lowdown.

Lynn Hirschberg suggests M.I.A's take on Sri Lankan politics is naive (surprise!). She quotes democracy activist Ahilan Kadirgamar to prove her point: “What happened in Sri Lanka was not a genocide. To not be honest about that or the Tigers does more damage than good. When Maya does a polarizing interview, it doesn’t help the cause of justice.”

If Kadirgamar explained what the correct assessment of what happened in Sri Lanka is, that quote was not included, and nor are we told what was said in the “polarizing interview” that was a hindrance to justice. Tamil Tigers is an ethnicity-based militant group, as a result of which the Tamil population has been repeatedly targeted en masse by the armed forces, so it is not obvious to me how this does not constitute a genocide. When Sri Lanka's armed forces wiped out the Tamil Tiger leadership in May 2009, the UN estimated that more than 250,000 people were displaced from their homes in northern Sri Lanka, which is Tamil territory; an estimated 20,000 people marched in London in support of those affected. Was this in the way of justice, too?

Hirschberg goes on to say, “…the video for 'Born Free' feels exploitative and hollow… As a meditation on prejudice and senseless persecution, the video is, at best, politically naïve.” She doesn't care to explain what this specific brand of political naiveté entails.

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