What happens when a moral panic of sexuality morphs into a colonial panic? The discursive emergence of sexual minority rights read along- side an age-old colonial narrative of morality generates a critical lens that makes visible the structures of regulation and discipline underlying representations of colonized cultures. In other words, as gay rights have come to measure democracy and righteousness in the eyes of the global north, they have also been used to perpetuate colonial and military violence against oppressed and colonized populations in the name of morality. Thus, a moral panic becomes a colonial panic, with sexuality as its battleground. This chapter investigates how pinkwashing, or the use of gay rights as a signifier of human rights in representations of Israel/ Palestine, projects the Israeli human rights violations made against Palestinians onto the written-as-homophobic Palestinian in order to legitimize the settler colonial state of Israel. Similar to the “great irony of panic” discussed in the Introduction to this volume, this panic “direct[s] attention away from actual sources of danger,” that of colonization and occupation. Pinkwashing disavows the moral panic of queerness by fetishizing the Palestinian queer, and through a savior narrative creates a colonial panic in place of the moral panic. Thus, viewing it through Stanley Cohen’s lens of moral panic, the sexual deviant morphs into the racial deviant as morality shifts away from homophobia and towards a conservative “democratic” brand of homophilia (Cohen 1973, 9).
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