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Beware of those who hide behind ‘choice’

I find that people often hide behind ‘choice’ in order to defend their position.

But that to me is a cop-out.

I think it’s always better to start with principle. You’re less likely to go wrong.

Do I support the US bombing of Iran? Do I support the veil? Do I support religion? The death penalty? Torture? Sharia law? Before I even know how many people ‘choose’ any of the above, my answer is a resounding no.

Clearly, just because people choose something, it doesn’t necessarily make it right. And we know this because we are always fighting for changes and for social justice – however small – in our homes, workplaces, schools, and neighbourhoods.

In fact many changes – from ending slavery, giving women the right to vote, to ending racial apartheid – came about by changing a majority’s view on how the world should be.

But for some reason, this common sense approach goes out the window when it comes to anything Islamic.

We hear for example that adult women have a ‘right to choose’ the veil or Sharia courts in Britain. But the use of the terms choice and rights are highly deceptive. Firstly, many are pressured into wearing the veil or going to these courts.

Also there is very little choice when living under what I call an Islamic inquisition. Islamists don’t let you pick and choose but will threaten or intimidate anyone who transgresses their medieval norms. They threaten you if you are not veiled. A good example is the Muslim woman councillor of Tower Hamlets, Shiria Khatun, who was given death threats for not veiling. And the same applies to Sharia courts. Women are told that not accepting the court’s rulings are equivalent to apostasy and disbelief.

Using terms such as rights and choice are merely public relations ploys by Islamists and their supporters. And it’s often used by others to shrug responsibility towards important matters facing us today.

After all one can justify or ignore anything by saying it’s a ‘choice.’

The Islamic hadith (sayings and actions of Mohammad) on stoning comes to mind. It is said that a woman begged Mohammad thrice before he reluctantly agreed to stone her to death.

‘Scholars’ of the Institute for Oriental Studies in India have reported that out of 40 eyewitness accounts, only two women ‘involuntarily’ threw themselves on the burning pyres of their dead husbands in order to legitimise suttee. The rest, they say, made a ‘voluntary choice.’

Clearly, there can be no choice under the unbearable pressures people and women in particular face. But even if it was a real choice (if you somehow manage to remove all the pressures involved), it’s a bad one for people, society and the world at large.

Iranian Marxist Mansoor Hekmat says it best in his interview on Islam and De-Islamisation:

I will not respect any superstition or the suppression of rights, even if all the people of the world do so. Of course I know it is the right of all to believe in whatever they want. But there is a fundamental difference between respecting the freedom of opinion of individuals and respecting the opinions they hold. We are not sitting in judgement of the world; we are players and participants in it. Each of us are party to this historical, worldwide struggle, which in my opinion, from the beginning of time until now has been over the freedom and equality of human beings. I will not respect the superstitions that I am fighting against and under the grip of which human beings are suffering.

Comments

  1. alanflynn says

    In your reply to my comment in the earlier blog, ‘The veil must be opposed’, you write: “Let me repeat. I don’t think adult veiling should be banned. I still think we should be able to oppose veiling though. My discussion on a ban is with regards the burka and child veiling.” Correct me if I am wrong Maryam, but I understand that you do NOT think there should be any law proscribing an adult walking in the street in a headscarf, Sikh or Hindu turban, Christian habit, Jewish sheitel or Muslim burqa, chador, abaya, jilbab or niqab? You are very much opposed to Islamists saying that they have a RIGHT to cover, but you do not wish to ban their attire? Is this your position? The misunderstandings arise when, in speaking out against veiling as a RIGHT, you have not always made it clear that you oppose a ban on veiling when in strictly civilian use by adults: in ‘The Veil must be opposed’, for example, you wrote, “A ban on the burqa, chador, neqab and its likes is important but it is no where enough”. In different jurisdictions, people face persecution for either veiling or not veiling. By all means, let us exchange our views on the meanings conveyed by these various apparel, but let us not interfere with people’s dress. There are western muslimas who wish to wear nothing other than an all-enveloping chador, jilbab, abaya or burqa in public. Criticise their choice (where it IS a choice), place it in a wider context of sex discrimination & apartheid – but respect their autonomy. I oppose all religions, all forms of discrimination, I am not ‘hiding behind choice’ here. People should have a choice of what to wear. That is also a principle. A principle of individual autonomy. Once more I shall draw people’s attention to @Seans earlier youtube citation of a video of the arrest of a woman wearing a niqab. This nasty business is what us ‘pro-veil’ freethinkers are opposing. http://youtu.be/ti18IwEOucE

    • Upright Ape says

      While not speaking for Maryam, I think most if those things (except for the ones that cover a person’s face) should be banned. That said, they should not be ignored either. Those women who “freely choose” to wear the hijab are pawns for islamic radicals and I would tell them that to their face.

      • Ysanne says

        Telling them that to their face is great. It not only recognises those women’s right to their own decisions, but also as people whose decisions matter.

        Banning their wearing the hijab, in contrast, is simply saying that women are too easily influenced to make good choices themselves, so choices should be made for them. How is that acknowledging women’s agency?

    • Rebekah says

      You say that you oppose “all forms of discrimination” but my experience shows that some forms of discrimination are far more opposed than others. Misogyny and homophobia are given infinitely wider berths to operate under the aegis of cultural and religious ‘tolerance’ and far left political agendas (e.g. anti-imperialism). Racism in contrast has an all but zero-tolerance pattern except on the far right.

      I never see someone like you moaning how it is a “nasty business” when people are arrested for sporting fascist symbols or other racist clothing. If we can regulate extreme racism, then we should be free to regulate extreme misogyny.

      • Upright Ape says

        Really? All over the south confederate battle flags fly and major streets in big cities are all named Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E Lee.
        And no one ever gets arrested for any of that. On what planet are you living?

        • Rebekah says

          “On what planet are you living?”

          Interesting you should take such a snide tone in a post that betrays your parochial, American-centric view, in what is, the last time I checked, a British blog. Europe and your neighbour, Canada, have a record of criminalised expression, if you bothered to note.

          And from an analytical note, why are the American rebel leaders of the 1860’s any worse than the “Founding Fathers”, many of whom owned slaves and approved a nation with slavery deliberately preserved. I mean is Thomas Jefferson really any better than Jefferson Davis on the issue of race? Or how about all the monarchs, prime ministers, etc. that presided over slavery in various British colonies? Isn’t Lord Nelson just as much a defender of a slave-holding empire as Stonewall Jackson? Your post is not only parochial, but terribly selective in your finger-pointing.

          That problematic element is, after all, why some leftists hate America and the West to their very foundations, part of the path that ends with them symapthising with or actively excusing Islamist activities.

          By the way bashing the American South often portrays a classist attitude. Poor, uneducated whites are just “trash”, whom you can mock without any risk or courage on your part. We have this phenomenon in the UK of the press mocking white poverty on council estates for reality TV giggles. And yet once upon a time, before the anti-western relativism came to dominate the left, fighting poverty was our most noble goal.

      • alanflynn says

        I am as implacably opposed to misogyny & homophobia as I am to racism. I just don’t believe that any good is going to come from banning religious attire which feminists such as ourselves recognise as sexist. Many religions impose or encourage a specific dresscode for women which symbolises the sexist values we deplore. Other faiths such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses also preach male supremacy but have no symbolic dresscode for believers of either sex. Are you saying that we should ban Islamic veiling such as the headscarf, together with the Jewish sheitel (wig) & tichel (headscarf), the Catholic mantilla, together with the head coverings worn by Rastafarian & Plymouth Brethren women? All of these garments betoken male supremacy.

        • Rebekah says

          As I predicted you conspicuously avoid stating your opinion of bans on fascists/rascist clothing, but hypocritically challenge me with other religious garments. Unlike you, I will answer forthrightly. I support bans on any garment in any religion that is imposed in a sex-specific manner on children. I further support any ban on adult garments for any religion that obscure the identity of the wearer significantly in public (with some rational caveats, e.g. motorcycle helmets).

          I have no such hope of these bans, since we perversely allow ritual genital cutting of children. While it is technically illegal for girls, the lack of vigour in pursuing the crime amounts to practical tolerance for grievous bodily harm in the name of religion and tradition.

          Further the fact is we already have a dress codes in all modern nations. Nudity is illegal, except in prescribed circumstances. Women have to cover more than men because our body objectively differs. The “choice” apologists overlook that in their outrage about “nasty business”.

          Freedom to dress as you like is not integral to democracy, in the way freedom of speech and the press are. Restricting garments with prejudiced or inflammatory connotations makes sense.

          • alanflynn says

            I don’t think it is fair to equate the self-directed covering of a muslima, with that of a person walking down the street dressed as a Nazi stormtrooper or as a Ku Klux Klansman. Since the raison d’etre of these organisations is the promotion of hate, then unless the individual is in a movie, there is certainly a sound basis for proscription here. A muslima, on the other hand, is not promoting hate, but is dressing according to her own sincerely held notions of modesty. If people can spare 7 mins, here is a BBC interview with three mild-mannered – respectful of individual choice – British muslimas, who speak about their reasons for wearing the niqab: http://youtu.be/4kBadnr2NTc It is you (and many others) who construe their clothing as having ‘prejudiced or inflammatory connotations'; that is not the meaning intended by these women, and so I respect their personal choice, irrespective of the fact that it is antithetical to my own atheist & liberal identity. I also believe that there should be no proscription on public nudity for the very same reason of respect for individual choice. My principle is that both niqabis & nudists be protected under the umbrella of secular democracy to dress/undress as they see fit.

          • Rebekah says

            “I don’t think it is fair to equate…”

            Of course you do not. To admit that the veil is innately a symbol of misogyny, let alone genuinely hold misogyny to be as unacceptable as racism, would topple your entire apologetic for the veil.

            Your being “implacably opposed to misogyny & homophobia” comes across as just empty words from a supposed “liberal”, whose actual conduct the past few days, shows him passionately defending a patriarchal institution that fundamentally places an unequal burden of sexual morality on women. And why, because you are apparently emotionally swayed by the self-reported motives of true believers. Ironically I have listened to Muslim women myself and their stated motives are often a jarringly sexist line about how men cannot control themselves and thus women bear that burden.

            But I guess as a man, modesty has never been a serious issue in your life. In fact I find the loudest voices on the left in favour of ‘choice’ on the veil are overwhelmingly men. Now admittedly more men seem to comment on political discussions in general, but the number of women actively defending the veil is a minroty in my experience, whilst most leftist men seem to support veil ‘choice’. There is something sick about you, Ace of Sevens, Winterwind and Sean being the loudest, most determined voices here.

            “raison d’etre of these organisations is the promotion of hate”

            And once again a postmodern “atheist” casually exempts religion from such a charge. Certain leftists have made an art the past few decades of excusing religious and cultural hatred from outside the PC comfort zone of criticising white, Christian conservatism. It is a seething and constant hypocrisy that has harmed liberal progress immeasurably.

            I at least give you credit for allegedly supporting nudist rights. But then nudists are usually liberal left, or at least not-conservative by definition. It is pretty painless and risk-free to defend them. Likewise with Islam, since much of the left is aggressively actively committed to shielding the religion from public criticism, so you have lots of allies to count upon. Now standing up for a neonazi’s right to choose his or her outfit, that would take some actual political courage on your part.

          • almostambi says

            Rebekah, slightly off-topic, but the greatest impression I get from your posts is of melodramatic condescension: “as I predicted, you…” “someone like you” “alleged atheist” “supposed” “of course you would” and so on. I think it’s reasonable to presume that anyone who spends the time reading and posting here is open-minded enough to consider your point-of-view without it?

            I may be missing some history here, it’s just… very distracting having to pick through all this aggressive psychoanalysis and rhetoric to find your points.

          • says

            Every time I think Rebekah has plumbed the depths of stupidity, she makes another comment revealing herself to be more dense than previously imagined.

            Of course you do not. To admit that the veil is innately a symbol of misogyny, let alone genuinely hold misogyny to be as unacceptable as racism, would topple your entire apologetic for the veil.

            Do you “admit” that the US and Australian flags are innately symbols of white supremacy and genocide equivalent to Nazi symbols? You won’t answer this question because it would topple your entire argument against the veil.

            Your being “implacably opposed to misogyny & homophobia” comes across as just empty words from a supposed “liberal”

            Although I am gay, I support the choice some adult gay men make to undergo “anti-gay conversion therapy,” despite the fact that such therapies are psychologically harmful and rooted in homophobia. That’s because I respect other gay men enough to believe that they can make their own choices, even if they make bad choices for the wrong reasons. It’s a shame you have so little respect for other women that you won’t extend the same consideration to them.

            But I guess as a man, modesty has never been a serious issue in your life. In fact I find the loudest voices on the left in favour of ‘choice’ on the veil are overwhelmingly men… but the number of women actively defending the veil is a minroty in my experience, whilst most leftist men seem to support veil ‘choice’.

            What a fucking joke. Alanflynn just gave you a link to three women talking about why they choose to veil. Of course you ignored them and dismissed them as “emotionally self-reporting” because you only give a shit about women’s voices when they agree with you. Do they not count as real women because they’re Muslims, and veiled? I suppose all women who wear the veil are sick, just like I and all the evil men here. Funny how you’re the only healthy one on the planet.

            Certain leftists have made an art the past few decades of excusing religious and cultural hatred from outside the PC comfort zone of criticising white, Christian conservatism.

            No one is denying that there is a significant amount of hatred promoted by religion. That does not mean that religions are equivalent to hate groups. I have encountered much hatred within atheist circles, from people who think Iran and Saudi Arabia should be nuked, killing men, women and children, to people appealing to evolutionary psychology to justify men sexually objectifying women. None of that makes atheists a hate group, or atheist symbols equivalent to Nazi symbols. Apparently you are too stupid to understand that.

            Now standing up for a neonazi’s right to choose his or her outfit, that would take some actual political courage on your part.

            You are trying to appropriate the experiences of racial minorities by comparing our fear at the sight of KKK and Nazi symbols to your fear at the sight of a hijab. I already told you that despite being gay, I am not frightened by seeing a cross or hijab in public. However, I would have good reason to be frightened of someone wearing a KKK hood.

            Fuck you for trying to appropriate my real fears to justify your paranoia. The racism I experience is not a rhetorical tool for you to make your delusions of persecution seem reasonable. You are a despicable piece of shit and you should rot in hell.

          • Rebekah says

            You are trying to appropriate the experiences of racial minorities by comparing our fear at the sight of KKK and Nazi symbols to your fear at the sight of a hijab.

            You are clearly utterly enraged at me and that renders you stupid. The very spelling of my name ought to have at least made you wonder if I am Jewish, which I am, yet you rage at me about “trying to appropriate the experiences of racial minorities” with respect to the Nazis?!? That just makes you look like a clown, lashing out in desperation because you cannot counter my argument.

            Besides as an Australian of Hindu origin, I seriously doubt your family has any history of any kind with the KKK or Nazis. The closest would be modern racists that claim to be heirs to the real Nazis. And has the KKK ever killed a Hindu in its entire history? They certainly killed at least some Jewish civil rights advocates. They also hated black Africans and Catholics, you are neither.

            If anyone is “trying to appropriate” the suffering of other groups based on the specific examples you elected to use, it is you. Let that irony sink in.

            Fuck you for trying to appropriate my real fears to justify your paranoia. The racism I experience is not a rhetorical tool for you to make your delusions of persecution seem reasonable. You are a despicable piece of shit and you should rot in hell.

            [Begins a slow clap] Bravo. That is a meltdown to end all meltdowns. And all because I dared challenge your privileging of racism over misogyny and homophobia. The fact you end with the ultimate hateful condemnation of religious people, namely my being punished in hell, really says it all about what you are deep down.

        • Rebekah says

          almostambi, calling out people’s inconsistencies, if not out-right hypocrisy, is called a forceful, logical argument not “psychoanalysis”? And funnily enough I feel condescension for people that claim to be liberals and atheists but shill for religious patriarchy.

          • almostambi says

            I’ll clarify: possibly I’m naive but I read alan’s original point as, ‘Hey, maybe there are reasons to oppose a ban on veils etc. other than those that implicitly support religious misogyny?’ i.e. arresting a woman for wearing a veil further punishes the victim without addressing the underlying culture of oppression.

            This has been discussed in the commentary elsewhere on FTB: http://freethoughtblogs.com/bluecollaratheist/2012/04/23/stilling-the-jerk-of-my-liberal-knees/ (there’s a follow-up entry by the author entitled ‘In Which I Admit to Being Wrong’)

            –To which your direct reply is: “I never see someone like you moaning how it is a ‘nasty business’ when people are arrested for sporting fascist symbols”, which has nothing to say about the logic of the original post and introduces a preoccupation with others’ motives (which I deemed “psychoanalysis”) that has since led this discussion down a rather messy corridor…

            We all “claim” to be liberals and atheists because we are.

          • alanflynn says

            thank you for the reference to this same debate in that parallel universe almostambi; they had an intelligent – and courteous – discussion & it was interesting to see how the blogger himself made a volte-face over this issue: “to be creative in life, we must lose our fear of being wrong” is sound advice for all of us.

  2. jesse says

    Hm. I live in the US, and in New York. Here we have some of the largest communities of orthodox Jews in the US.

    I would feel deeply opposed to a legal ban on any religious dress. Just as, I might say, I feel deeply about opposing certain kinds of political expression, however abhorrent it is to me.

    We do have, by the way, a kind of Jewish court in New York — it applies Jewish law to stuff that happens in the community, but it has no legal standing whatever. In a child custody case, for instance, while a secular, civil court might consider the circumstances around such a religious court’s ruling, it can’t really be given legal weight. So the judge can say “here is X situation” — in such cases you are dealing with humans, after all — but when the law says something, the religious authorities haven’t got anything to say about it.

    Is the situation with Sharia courts in the UK different? Is there some legal weight given to them, or is the pressure completely social?

    Anyhow, the reason I get nervous when people talk about banning headscarves is that there is a racialist component to it. Nobody talked in France about banning Jews from wearing yarmulkes or Jewish women from wearing wigs. But then, Jews are ‘western’ and white, for the most part. If your fight is with Islamists and people on the far right of the Islamic tradition, ‘othering’ Islam doesn’t strike me as particularly helpful — it only seems to me to give them ammunition.

    One could argue that Jewish women in Brooklyn haven’t got a choice about their mode of dress because of the culture they are raised in, but then you get into the problem that from that perspective, none of us really made our choices ‘freely.’ But that’s getting into philosophy and such.

    I realize that the immigrant tradition and identity issues are rather different in the UK from the US. But like alanflynn above, I would like to know where Maryam falls on this. A woman being threatened by the community over not wearing a headscarf — and opposing such behavior — is different from saying that there should be a legal ban on such a thing.

    Again, I’d be curious to know how things are different in the UK form the US in considering this. Generally, leftists and feminists in the US have been supportive of women who want to not wear the veil, for instance, but opposed to laws that dictate religious dress, because it would impact many religious communities that have nothing to do with Islam or veiling or any of the things that happen in those countries. (Then there’ that pesky First Amendment….)

    • says

      Jesse:

      If you are female you are clearly a self-hating sexist woman who is too stupid and brainwashed to make choices for herself. If you are male you are undoubtedly a sexist and traitor to the Left. Rebekah will be along to explain this in more detail shortly.

      • Rebekah says

        Wow, perfect timing. As I was writing an actual evidence-based response to jesse’s points, you were lashing out at me. I have obviously upset your apologist agenda by calling it out for what it is.

      • Rebekah says

        By the way, I did note your racist tantrum directed at me in the other article. I am actually a Sephardic Jew whose family worked its way from Tunisia to France to England in the 20th century. I look rather Mediterranean, so my alleged whiteness may not quite live up to your hateful imagination.

        And your rage was so absurd. From the Wikipedia article on the “bindi” to random Hindu sites, there is a lot of information validating my claim that men also wear the “bindi”. Here is just one example: http://www.proudhindu.org/hinduism/why-do-many-hindus-wear-a-dot-near-the-middle-of-their-forehead

        Feel free to direct your rage at them and accuse them of “whitesplanning” or whatever other bigoted notion pops in your head. With the site name “Proudhindu” I am guessing they are not a wicked “white atheist” like me, however.

        You remind me of an idiot I met once who spelt “Qur’an” with the apostrophe before the “r”. When I noted his mistake, as matter of incorrect transliteration he informed me that he was raised Muslim and that was how his parents did it, so it was ‘correct’ as far as he was concerned. That experience over fact mindset is the apotheosis of postmodern apologist for religion and explains much of your worldview.

        • says

          Rebekah:

          The very spelling of my name ought to have at least made you wonder if I am Jewish, which I am, yet you rage at me about “trying to appropriate the experiences of racial minorities” with respect to the Nazis?!?

          Besides as an Australian of Hindu origin, I seriously doubt your family has any history of any kind with the KKK or Nazis. The closest would be modern racists that claim to be heirs to the real Nazis

          You are the one being stupid.

          It should be obvious that I do not live in the same time period and country as the original Nazi Party and KKK. What the fuck does that have to with it?

          Do you think modern white supremacists who live in Australia and display Nazi and KKK symbols care about the original historical context of the ideologies they claim affiliation to? Do you think they care if I’m a Jew, Catholic or African-American (incidentally, there are many Catholics amongst my extended family)? Do you think the racists who bashed me in school, called me a nigger and told me to go back where I came from, stopped to ask me if I was a Jew, Catholic or African-American before they did so? Hint: no. There are Klan and Nazi groups all over the world, including in Australia and the UK.

          By your twisted logic, you yourself cannot comment on your experiences with racism or neo-Nazism as a Jew, unless you personally lived in Nazi Germany and survived a concentration camp.

          Here are some linked articles with excerpts for your education.

          We have infiltrated party: KKK

          David Palmer, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Australia, said several Klan members had secretly joined Australia First, a far right party that announced yesterday that it had the numbers to register as a political party.

          “We aren’t interested in actually registering as a party,” Mr Palmer said. “Our main idea was we would move in and take back what we consider our Aryan parties. [The Klan] is a white pressure group; a white social group for white families. But also a reserve in case the ethnics get out of hand and they need sorting out.”

          Mr Palmer said there were three branches of the Klan in NSW, but he would not say where. Nor would he say how many members were active, but said each Klan meeting attracted about 20 members.

          Late last year a second arm of the Klan – calling itself the Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Australia and New Zealand Realms – set up an internet forum moderated in Victoria. It dissociates itself from Mr Palmer but has strong links to the Klan in the US.

          Racist US organistation Ku Klux Klan ‘in Perth’

          `We have members in Sydney, around Melbourne and Perth (and) Darwin,” Mr Robb said in a phone interview this week.

          Mr Robb, who hosts what the KKK boasts to be “the world’s first and only white pride internet TV show”, would not confirm numbers or details of Australian members because Klan rules prohibit him from doing so.

          But his claims were backed by a former national KKK leader, Johnny Lee Clary, who quit the Klan in 1989 and is now an internationally renowned anti-racism campaigner who regularly advises US and other law-enforcement agencies about the group.

          Mr Clary warned that the KKK and other white-supremacist groups were actively recruiting in WA and said even Perth high school students knew KKK members.

          He had toured WA since 1999 and people regularly told him about local KKK members after he gave motivational speeches at WA churches and schools.

          “I know that the Ku Klux Klan is in Western Australia. I know that they’re in the Perth area,” he said in Perth this week.

          “The National Front is here, I know that the Nazi Party is here. I’ve talked to people here and they’ve said to me `I know so and so, that belongs to the Klan’.”

          An old story from the UK in 1999 shows that there were already people identifying as KKK back then, and they were claiming credit for rising racial tensions including attacks on British Asians (Indians/Pakistanis.)

          KKK plans ‘infiltration’ of the UK

          One Asian shopkeeper described a typical experience with three local youths, who he says were skinheads.

          “They just started swearing. They said: ‘You black bastards, get out of here. You’re making the money, we haven’t got a job.’ Things like that,” he said.

          Funny how they called him a black bastard. He should have explained to them that as he was neither a Jew, Catholic or African American, racism didn’t affect him, and the KKK would have obviously left him quite alone.

          Indian student bashings on the rise in Sydney: community leader

          Sujatha Singh, India’s High Commissioner to Australia, says there are elements in society that attack people for racist motives.

          Violent attacks on Indian students are on the rise in Sydney, and have forced the Indian Government to take steps to assure the safety of Indian students in Australia, a community leader says.

          Dr Yadu Singh said there had been at least 20 bashings of Indian students in Sydney in the past month, but most went unreported out of fear. He estimated over 100 attacks on Indian students in the last 12 months.

          “There’s a name for [the racist attacks]: ‘curry bashing’ … [as in] ‘lets go curry bashing’,” he said.

          “They are not random at all, the people are targeting them. They know these students are easy targets.”

          Two 18-year-olds faced a Victorian court late last year after a man was killed in such an attack. The court heard seven friends had met at a Footscray McDonald’s store on January 22 and decided to go out “curry bashing”, which meant assaulting and robbing an Indian.

          If anyone is “trying to appropriate” the suffering of other groups based on the specific examples you elected to use, it is you. Let that irony sink in.

          You accused me of being rendered stupid by anger. However, you are obviously too stupid to use Google, because you believe that KKK and Nazi-affiliated groups have no significant presence in Australia. Let that irony sink in.

          [Begins a slow clap] Bravo. That is a meltdown to end all meltdowns.

          Yes, well done. Dismiss legitimate anger as a meltdown. That saves you having to consider what you did to deserve it. What next? Will you accuse me of being hysterical and having my panties in a twist? No, I’m not a woman. You could always try accusing me of being an overemotional, irrational darkie. That works too.

          And all because I dared challenge your privileging of racism over misogyny and homophobia.

          No, because you claimed that the veil was equivalent to a neo-Nazi or KKK symbol. You still haven’t answered my question about the Australian or US flags.

          The fact you end with the ultimate hateful condemnation of religious people, namely my being punished in hell, really says it all about what you are deep down.

          It’s an expression. Hell doesn’t exist. When we die each of us will rot. The only difference is that one of us will be remembered with fondness.

          By the way, it’s called anger. Deal with it.

          By the way, I did note your racist tantrum directed at me in the other article.

          Really? Using the word “whitesplaining” is now a racist tantrum? Is “mansplaining” now unacceptably sexist? Is calling someone rich classist? Calling someone able-bodied ableist? Calling someone straight heterophobic? Calling someone Christian Christophobic? Hint: no.

          I am actually a Sephardic Jew whose family worked its way from Tunisia to France to England in the 20th century. I look rather Mediterranean, so my alleged whiteness may not quite live up to your hateful imagination.

          Where I come from, people “of Mediterranean appearance” are generally considered white. They are certainly able to pass as white in general society, with all the attendant privileges.

          And your rage was so absurd. From the Wikipedia article on the “bindi” to random Hindu sites, there is a lot of information validating my claim that men also wear the “bindi”.

          Hey, moron. Try reading what people write before having an aneurysm over it. I never disputed that men also wear a bindi/pottu. I disputed that it was non gender-specific/not worn in a gendered way. Let’s do a brief recap of our discussion.

          You said:

          symbols like the cross and bindi, with no gender-specific elements

          I said:

          I am not even sure how to respond to someone who is so ignorant of Hindu traditions that she thinks the bindi has no gender-specific elements. Right, that’s why my dad wears a bindi all the time, just like my mum. Oh, wait. He doesn’t.

          You might be confused because you’ve seen Hindu men wearing kumkum, sindoor or vibhuti on their foreheads in the temple, on holy days, or if they’re extremely religious… They do not wear it all the time the way traditional Hindu women are supposed to. In fact, the bindi/pottu worn by women all the time is different from the kind worn by people on special/religious occasions.

          See how I mentioned in that paragraph that men wear it too, but not all the time the way women do, and only on special occasions, and with a different connotation, so the wearing of it is gendered? So telling me that men sometimes wear a bindi is no good. You are stating a fact I already stated. It proves absolutely nothing.

          Feel free to direct your rage at them and accuse them of “whitesplanning” or whatever other bigoted notion pops in your head.

          Phrases like “mansplaining” are considered quite acceptable on most feminist blogs. I followed their lead with coining “whitesplaining”. If you have a problem with the terminology, take it up with feminists.

          That experience over fact mindset is the apotheosis of postmodern apologist for religion and explains much of your worldview.

          The Dr Phil Show is that way. ———>

          • Rebekah says

            Wow. I just woke up in the middle of the afternoon to find that response. I am not impressed or intimidated by your continued furore. Rage and profanity are often substitutes the far left employs in lieu of a rational argument. It also helps mask the hypocritical elements of your politics, like say, an alliance of convenience with a certain homophobic, misogynistic religion (just a slonga s tehy are not racists, right?).

            I was going to just ignore you until you came to this thread and started attacking me further. I should have followed my initial inclination, but your shift to a racial attack on me was pretty reprehensible.

            You can make all the excuses you want, but “whitesplanning” is ultimately a racist term. It is an attempt to delegitimise an argument not with evidence or logical deconstruction, but with a cheap reference to a person’s race. That should be unacceptable to any liberal and I should not have to jewsplain that to you.

            But then again you are not a left liberal, you are a “progressive”. And if years reading the comments on leftist sites have taught me anything, it is that the far left can be an open sewers of prejudice against working class whites, Jews and East Asians, all the while congratulating itself on its anti-racist consciousness.

    • Rebekah says

      Anyhow, the reason I get nervous when people talk about banning headscarves is that there is a racialist component to it…But then, Jews are ‘western’ and white, for the most part.”

      The other way of looking at it is that taking on traditions from non-white, non-Christian traditions requires the courage on one’s convictions to weather the inevitable accusations of ‘racism’, and nowadays, ‘Islamophobia’. And next to being a child sex offender, ‘racist’ is pretty much the worst label to lay upon someone.

      It is much easier for a comfortable liberal or leftist to just rationalise that an issue is a manifestation of racism and go about a privileged life untouched by the injustice in question.

      France and Belgium had the ‘audacity’ to actually defend school-age girls from a patriarchal institution and supposed liberals throughout the English-speaking world erupted in outrage. Of course these are the same lot who genuflect at Muslim demands that Mohammed be held sacrosanct, so much so that legitimate news items are suppressed in the media.

      “Nobody talked in France about banning Jews from wearing yarmulkes or Jewish women from
      wearing wigs.”

      1. The law banning the headscarf was just a reiteration of a law dating to 1905 as I recall and then just a manifestation of the tradition of laïcité dating back to the Revolution. Yes Islam spurred renewed interest in enforcing it, but the concept of banning religious wear on children predates any real presence of Islam in francophone Europe. And most importantly, knowing the history of the Third Republic, the target of the 1905 legislation was devout Catholics, not even Jews.

      2. A patriarchal religion requiring certain behaviour of men is not the same as a patriarchal religion requiring certain behaviour of women, because of the power inequality. I am nonetheless happy to Jews and Sikhs banned from such conduct towards boys.

      3. Do school age Orthodox girls wear wigs? If not, then that example is spurious.

      • jesse says

        Rebekah — I think the problem is that your solution creates more problems than it solves.

        Let’s address a couple of other things first. Yes, school-age children of orthodox do wear wigs, I think, after their bat mitzvah, but I am not sure (not being orthodox myself) what the cut-off point is.

        Second, while your point about power differentials in a religion that is patriarchal to begin with is well-taken, you still run into the problem of which activities to ban, especially at school age. I mean, the Amish have modes of dress that are specific to men and women. Some of that is because they have chosen to live without a lot of modern tools and such. Undoubtedly it’s a patriarchal church. But would you say the Amish must be forced to live with electricity, for instance? Or forced to dress like everyone else? And where does that stop? How do you define which traditions are “bad?”

        I mean you say you come from a Sephardic Jewish family. OK, there are lots of traditions that are pretty strongly patriarchal, particularly in prayer. Do you prohibit parents from doing that? From saying the part that says “Thank god I wasn’t born a woman?” And at what age are they allowed to say it around their kids?

        Then there is the matter of political strategy. Turkey tried a kind of enforced secularism, and what’s happened is the Islamist-tinged party got more votes. That’s because when you ban things like that people feel they are losing a stake in the system (in this case a democracy that tolerates non-religious) and say, “screw it.” The USSR did the same thing and it’s one reason that Islamists were able in many cases to seize the political moment when the system collapsed (though they did not take the same tack as in Saudi Arabia, say). In Egypt and Syria both attempts to enact legal bans on certain expressions of Islam backfired badly.

        This isn’t likely in the West, since Muslims are such a small minority. But if you want to help Muslim women driving any community more underground strikes me as a losing strategy.

        It isn’t just about dress, is the problem.

        Now, you brought up FGM. It’s worth noting that such is illegal in the US, for instance, but not because it is a religious/cultural practice. Such would violate the legal obligations physicians have here. That doesn’t mean people don’t try it and take their kids back to the home country if they can. But within the US the practice is extremely rare (and has been the subject of a few legal battles). So it isn’t as though leftists and feminists are broadly tolerant of it — quite the contrary.

        Then there is the issue of power you brought up. Yo seem to miss the fact that the relationship of Muslims in the US or UK to power is completely different from what it is in say, Iran. While there are issues within the community that need to be addressed (and it is why I asked Maryam about it) one has to recognize that Muslims and other minority religions are often subject to all kinds of discrimination and oppression. The same is true even of Christians, if you happen to be non-white. So while, for instance, domestic violence and sex assault are massive problems on Indian reservations and in many African-American communities, ascribing it entirely to patriarchy and bad religious practice would be incomplete at best.

        (And just because a law dates to 1905 doesn’t make it right).

  3. Sean says

    “Beware of those who hide behind ‘choice’ “

    You mean, like feminists? The title of this article suggests that people who support a woman’s choice are just using this to disguise some secret, nefarious agenda. Is the suggestion of sinister motives really necessary here?

    You claim the veil is oppressive because Muslim women are allegedly pressured into wearing it. Besides the fact that this isn’t always the case, women (and men) are pressured into doing many things in every society. Women are pressured into having sex, getting married and having abortions. Does the fact women are pressured into doing these things make these things inherently oppressive, or is it the pressure itself that is oppressive? My vote is for the latter. The same holds true for Muslim women wearing the veil. It is not the veil itself that is oppressive, but any attempts by others to either pressure a Muslim woman to wear it or pressure her to remove it. This is where the oppression is and this is where the opposition should be. In the absence of this pressure, the choice is freely made by Muslim women, and this is how it should be.

    The fact you regard the hijab or niqab as a “symbol of oppression” is irrelevant. These are your values, not those of Muslim women and while I respect your right to express your opinion on the matter, I don’t think Muslim women need march to your tune. People who oppose abortion consider it to be murder, a crime more horrific than wearing a piece of cloth on your head. Others think women who wear mini-skirts and make-up are sluts. They too, are entitled to their opinions but in the end, how a woman lives her life should be her choice—not yours, not mine, not society’s.

  4. says

    Resubmitting this comment without links because it’s awaiting moderation.

    Rebekah:

    The very spelling of my name ought to have at least made you wonder if I am Jewish, which I am, yet you rage at me about “trying to appropriate the experiences of racial minorities” with respect to the Nazis?!?

    Besides as an Australian of Hindu origin, I seriously doubt your family has any history of any kind with the KKK or Nazis. The closest would be modern racists that claim to be heirs to the real Nazis

    You are the one being stupid.

    It should be obvious that I do not live in the same time period and country as the original Nazi Party and KKK. What the fuck does that have to with it?

    Do you think modern white supremacists who live in Australia and display Nazi and KKK symbols care about the original historical context of the ideologies they claim affiliation to? Do you think they care if I’m a Jew, Catholic or African-American (incidentally, there are many Catholics amongst my extended family)? Do you think the racists who bashed me in school, called me a nigger and told me to go back where I came from, stopped to ask me if I was a Jew, Catholic or African-American before they did so? Hint: no. There are Klan and Nazi groups all over the world, including in Australia and the UK.

    By your twisted logic, you yourself cannot comment on your experiences with racism or Nazism as a Jew, unless you personally lived in Nazi Germany and survived a concentration camp.

    Here are some linked articles with excerpts for your education.

    We have infiltrated party: KKK

    David Palmer, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Australia, said several Klan members had secretly joined Australia First, a far right party that announced yesterday that it had the numbers to register as a political party.

    “We aren’t interested in actually registering as a party,” Mr Palmer said. “Our main idea was we would move in and take back what we consider our Aryan parties. [The Klan] is a white pressure group; a white social group for white families. But also a reserve in case the ethnics get out of hand and they need sorting out.”

    Mr Palmer said there were three branches of the Klan in NSW, but he would not say where. Nor would he say how many members were active, but said each Klan meeting attracted about 20 members.

    Late last year a second arm of the Klan – calling itself the Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Australia and New Zealand Realms – set up an internet forum moderated in Victoria. It dissociates itself from Mr Palmer but has strong links to the Klan in the US.

    Racist US organistation Ku Klux Klan ‘in Perth’

    `We have members in Sydney, around Melbourne and Perth (and) Darwin,” Mr Robb said in a phone interview this week.

    Mr Robb, who hosts what the KKK boasts to be “the world’s first and only white pride internet TV show”, would not confirm numbers or details of Australian members because Klan rules prohibit him from doing so.

    But his claims were backed by a former national KKK leader, Johnny Lee Clary, who quit the Klan in 1989 and is now an internationally renowned anti-racism campaigner who regularly advises US and other law-enforcement agencies about the group.

    Mr Clary warned that the KKK and other white-supremacist groups were actively recruiting in WA and said even Perth high school students knew KKK members.

    He had toured WA since 1999 and people regularly told him about local KKK members after he gave motivational speeches at WA churches and schools.

    “I know that the Ku Klux Klan is in Western Australia. I know that they’re in the Perth area,” he said in Perth this week.

    “The National Front is here, I know that the Nazi Party is here. I’ve talked to people here and they’ve said to me `I know so and so, that belongs to the Klan’.”

    An old story from the UK in 1999 shows that there were already people identifying as KKK back then, and they were claiming credit for rising racial tensions including attacks on British Asians (Indians/Pakistanis.)

    KKK plans ‘infiltration’ of the UK

    One Asian shopkeeper described a typical experience with three local youths, who he says were skinheads.

    “They just started swearing. They said: ‘You black bastards, get out of here. You’re making the money, we haven’t got a job.’ Things like that,” he said.

    Funny how they called him a black bastard. He should have explained to them that as he was neither a Jew, Catholic or African American, racism didn’t affect him, and the KKK would then have left him quite alone.

    Indian student bashings on the rise in Sydney: community leader

    Sujatha Singh, India’s High Commissioner to Australia, says there are elements in society that attack people for racist motives.

    Violent attacks on Indian students are on the rise in Sydney, and have forced the Indian Government to take steps to assure the safety of Indian students in Australia, a community leader says.

    Dr Yadu Singh said there had been at least 20 bashings of Indian students in Sydney in the past month, but most went unreported out of fear. He estimated over 100 attacks on Indian students in the last 12 months.

    “There’s a name for [the racist attacks]: ‘curry bashing’ … [as in] ‘lets go curry bashing’,” he said.

    “They are not random at all, the people are targeting them. They know these students are easy targets.”

    Two 18-year-olds faced a Victorian court late last year after a man was killed in such an attack. The court heard seven friends had met at a Footscray McDonald’s store on January 22 and decided to go out “curry bashing”, which meant assaulting and robbing an Indian.

    If anyone is “trying to appropriate” the suffering of other groups based on the specific examples you elected to use, it is you. Let that irony sink in.

    You accused me of being rendered stupid by anger. However, you are obviously too stupid to use Google, because you believe that KKK and Nazi-affiliated groups have no significant presence in Australia. Let that irony sink in.

    [Begins a slow clap] Bravo. That is a meltdown to end all meltdowns.

    Yes, well done. Dismiss legitimate anger as a meltdown. That saves you having to consider what you did to deserve it. What next? Will you accuse me of being hysterical and having my panties in a twist? No, I’m not a woman. You could always try accusing me of being an overemotional, irrational darkie. That works too.

    And all because I dared challenge your privileging of racism over misogyny and homophobia.

    No, because you claimed that the veil was equivalent to a neo-Nazi or KKK symbol. You still haven’t answered my question about the Australian or US flags.

    The fact you end with the ultimate hateful condemnation of religious people, namely my being punished in hell, really says it all about what you are deep down.

    It’s an expression. Hell doesn’t exist. When we die each of us will rot. The only difference is that one of us will be remembered with fondness.

    By the way, it’s called anger. Deal with it.

    By the way, I did note your racist tantrum directed at me in the other article.

    Really? Using the word “whitesplaining” is now a racist tantrum? Is “mansplaining” now unacceptably sexist? Is calling someone rich classist? Calling someone able-bodied ableist? Calling someone straight heterophobic? Calling someone Christian Christophobic? Hint: no.

    I am actually a Sephardic Jew whose family worked its way from Tunisia to France to England in the 20th century. I look rather Mediterranean, so my alleged whiteness may not quite live up to your hateful imagination.

    Where I come from, people “of Mediterranean appearance” are generally considered white. They are certainly able to pass as white in general society, with all the attendant privileges.

    And your rage was so absurd. From the Wikipedia article on the “bindi” to random Hindu sites, there is a lot of information validating my claim that men also wear the “bindi”.

    Hey, moron. Try reading what people write before having an aneurysm over it. I never disputed that men also wear a bindi/pottu. I disputed that it was non gender-specific/not worn in a gendered way. Let’s do a brief recap of our discussion.

    You said:

    … symbols like the cross and bindi, with no gender-specific elements…

    I said:

    I am not even sure how to respond to someone who is so ignorant of Hindu traditions that she thinks the bindi has no gender-specific elements. Right, that’s why my dad wears a bindi all the time, just like my mum. Oh, wait. He doesn’t.

    You might be confused because you’ve seen Hindu men wearing kumkum, sindoor or vibhuti on their foreheads in the temple, on holy days, or if they’re extremely religious… They do not wear it all the time the way traditional Hindu women are supposed to. In fact, the bindi/pottu worn by women all the time is different from the kind worn by people on special/religious occasions.

    See how I mentioned in that paragraph that men wear it too, but not all the time the way women do, and only on special occasions, and with a different connotation, so the wearing of it is gendered? Your telling me that men sometimes wear a bindi is no good. You are stating a fact I already stated. It proves absolutely nothing.

    Feel free to direct your rage at them and accuse them of “whitesplanning” or whatever other bigoted notion pops in your head.

    Phrases like “mansplaining” are considered quite acceptable on most feminist blogs. I followed their lead with coining “whitesplaining”. If you have a problem with the terminology, take it up with feminists.

    That experience over fact mindset is the apotheosis of postmodern apologist for religion and explains much of your worldview.

    The Dr Phil Show is that way. ———>

  5. says

    http://rio20br.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/rio20-brazilian-senators-letter-to-about-jailed-pastor/

    Rio+20: Brazilian senator’s letter to about jailed pastor

    Among other pressing issues, we have debated in our Rio+20 campaign the concerning state of religious and human rights in Iran. United groups such as gay, religious and human rights activists, as well as local communities joined us in creating an online campaign against Ahmadinejad’s presence in Rio. The campaign encouraged several politicians to express their deep concern about human rights violations in iran in general, and specifically the case of sentenced to death Christian Pastor Nadarkhani.
    On behalf of the entire Christian community in Brazil, Congressman Marco Feliciano issued the following letter directly to Iran’s leaders,and in the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    We support Congressman Feliciano, and the entire Christian community in Brazil, on making such a bold and clear pledge for Pastor Youcef’s release, and urge you to share this letter and Pastor Nadarkhany’s story in online media and blogs.

    Pastor Nadarkhani Source: ACLJ
    “We respect the laws of your country, but in the same way as you have come to Brazil to decide on the Rio + 20 Conference, we allow ourselves to plead for the life of this man, who is our brother”

    Mr. President of Iran,

    I come to the presence of Your Excellency, with the backing of the entire Christian community in Brazil, to ask for clemency to Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been detained and sentenced to death in his country for the crime of apostasy.

    At this time, when the world turns to Rio de Janeiro and the occasion of his coming to our country, I submit this Open Letter, together as the humble request of Congressman who is also an evangelical pastor, for the government of Iran review the process that condemned Nadarkhani, to spare his life and return to his home where his wife and children await.

    We respect the laws of your country, but in the same way as you have come to Brazil to decide on the Rio + 20 Conference, we allow ourselves to plead for the life of this man, who is our brother.

    I’ve made contact with the Iranian Embassy in Brasilia, and reaffirm the Lord I’m available to the Iranian authorities to address this issue with Brazilian authorities. I promise I’ll work on everything in my power, within the laws of my country.

    Brasilia-DF, June 19, 2012. Signed: Marco Feliciano – Congressman / PSC-SP

  6. says

    Rebekah:

    Rage and profanity are often substitutes the far left employs in lieu of a rational argument

    Rage and profanity are legitimate responses to attacks on a person’s dignity. Attempting to portray other people as hyper-emotional and yourself as the only rational voice is a technique often employed by far right racists in lieu of a rational argument. (See how we can both make unwarranted extrapolations about other people’s politics from innocuous statements they make? It’s fun, isn’t it?)

    It also helps mask the hypocritical elements of your politics, like say, an alliance of convenience with a certain homophobic, misogynistic religion (just a slonga s tehy are not racists, right?).

    The same way that you’ve made an “alliance of convenience” with far right racists and white supremacists who want to ban the veil and disregard women’s choices (just as long as they are not sexists, right?).

    I was going to just ignore you until you came to this thread and started attacking me further. I should have followed my initial inclination, but your shift to a racial attack on me was pretty reprehensible.

    If you think the phrase “whitesplaining” constitutes a reprehensible racial attack, you have obviously never been bashed or called a nigger or black bastard. You are so deluded and privileged that it is difficult to take anything you say seriously. Most of the feminists on this blog network find the phrase “mansplaining” acceptable and useful in some circumstances. By your reasoning they are all man-hating reprehensible sexists.

    You can make all the excuses you want, but “whitesplanning” is ultimately a racist term.

    In the same way that “mansplaining” is a sexist term. So most of the people on this blog network are rephrehensible sexists in your eyes. Maybe you should go somewhere else.

    It is an attempt to delegitimise an argument not with evidence or logical deconstruction, but with a cheap reference to a person’s race.

    No, it is a defence mechanism used by people who belong to minority groups, to remind those who belong to privileged groups that in most cases they have no idea what our experiences are like, so instead of telling us what our lives are about, or what our own cultures, histories, stories or symbols mean (e.g. what the bindi means), they should shut up and listen. A lesson you sadly failed to take on.

    That should be unacceptable to any liberal and I should not have to jewsplain that to you.

    Sorry, you seem to be under the impression that you get to define liberalism. “Jewsplain” is a false analogy, because Jews are not the dominant majority ethnic group in the West, as whites are. However, it is possible to both be Jewish and have white privilege because many Jews can pass as white.

    But then again you are not a left liberal, you are a “progressive.”

    And you are an authoritarian who denies women’s agency.

    And if years reading the comments on leftist sites have taught me anything, it is that the far left can be an open sewers of prejudice against working class whites, Jews and East Asians, all the while congratulating itself on its anti-racist consciousness.

    Yes, and far right morons like you can be open sewers of prejudice against people who belong to racial minorities or choose to wear religious symbols.

    Maybe you should have spent a few of those years taking a critical thinking class instead of reading website comments. Then you might not be such a dipshit.

    • says

      By the way, you may like to portray yourself as an innocent martyr whom I viciously attacked for no reason. However, if you read this comment thread, you’ll find that it was you who mentioned me first. You said that the men on this thread, especially myself, Ace of Sevens, alanflynn and Sean, were “sick.”

      Calling other people sick is a technique often used by left-centrist Democrat Greens. Clearly it reveals a tendency to mask the deficiencies of their arguments with convoluted pseudo-psychological babble. Centrist-left Democrat Greens men are open sewers of prejudice against part-time leaflet-distributors with no dental insurance. They privilege discrimination against insurance brokers over discrimination against financial planners.

      This indicates that your mother failed to spend enough time bonding with you during the Phallic stage, resulting in a failure to resolve the Oedipal complex and penis envy. I can think of no other reason for your clear displays of projection, repression and reaction formation.

      The many years I have spent reading comments on online forums have made me an expert in diagnosing psychological disorders online. I also have the magic power to define who and who is not a liberal, and tell people what their culture’s symbols mean.

      If you are Jewish, perhaps you should climb down from your cross.

      • Rebekah says

        Sigh. So now you are angry that I classify your views as “far left” or “progressive”, even though you describe your own blog as “left-wing” and yes, “progressive”. by the way “far left” is not meant as insult, just a realistic reflection of where your views sit in contemporary politics. That contrasts with your infantile new tactic of labeling me “far right”, which has no basis in reality.

        By the way my comments on the far left are on many points identical to Maryam’s own views, views with which you told me that you “95%”. That must be a very big 5% given the vitriol your fling at me.

        Speaking of which, here is your penchant for distortion and selective racism writ large:

        If you think the phrase “whitesplaining” constitutes a reprehensible racial attack, you have obviously never been bashed or called a nigger or black bastard. You are so deluded and privileged that it is difficult to take anything you say seriously.

        1. What I actually said is that your shift to a racially-charged argument, of which “whitesplanning is just one small part, was “reprehensible”. The term “whitesplanning” in and of itself is racist prima facie as I explained, but in terms of level of offence, it is merely infantile.

        2. The fact you have the audacity to imagine that a Jew living most of her life in England has never been subject to similar hateful comments is so outrageous it defies belief and is deeply insulting. For someone seething at me for allegedly disparaging his “dignity” I find your dismissal of my experience as a Jew disturbingly hypocritical.

        …and tell people what their culture’s symbols mean.

        That is what this is really all about isn’t it? Two days of fury from you, because we disagree over whether the bindi qualifies as “gender specific”. The irony is that for a faith as internally diverse as Hinduism and region as diverse as South Asia, it is utterly absurd and arrogant for you to claim your personal experience as if it were the sole arbiter of its meaning. My opinion has backing from Hindu sources, but my wicked whiteness invalidates any pesky evidence in your mind. You are just like that git and his “Qu’ran [sic]“.

        So with that, I am done with you.

  7. alanflynn says

    For those unpersuaded by the arguments which have been set forth in the defence of female agency in this matter, it might be considered that the women who choose to dress in this way – especially those who cover themselves the most comprehensively – are in fact a mobile advertisement for secular humanism. We ought to be paying them, by rights.

  8. says

    Rebekah:

    Sigh. So now you are angry that I classify your views as “far left” or “progressive”, even though you describe your own blog as “left-wing” and yes, “progressive”. by the way “far left” is not meant as insult, just a realistic reflection of where your views sit in contemporary politics.

    As I describe myself as left wing, that label is obviously not what I took issue with. I dislike the way you accuse people who disagree with you of having ulterior motives, such as secretly being misogynists and classists who ally themselves with the religious to oppress women. It makes as much sense as accusing you of allying yourself with the far right because of your desire to ban headscarves.

    By the way my comments on the far left are on many points identical to Maryam’s own views, views with which you told me that you “95%”. That must be a very big 5% given the vitriol your fling at me.

    I support Maryam on 95% (actually perhaps closer to 85% – it wasn’t a scientific measurement) of the work she does on combatting religious fundamentalism. Taking a broader view of her politics, I probably disagree with her on many more things. To take one example, she belongs to the Worker-Communist Party of Iran, while I believe Communism is a flawed ideology that fails to provide the optimum conditions for human flourishing. If she tried to tell me that I was “sick” for defending women’s choice, or tried to attribute my political opinions to underlying psychological dispositions despite not being in a position to accurately assess me, the gulf between our views would widen yet further.

    1. What I actually said is that your shift to a racially-charged argument, of which “whitesplanning is just one small part, was “reprehensible”.

    If my use of the term whitesplaining was just “one small part” of a “racially-charged argument”, kindly provide quotes of the other, presumably more plentiful references I made to race.

    There were no other references. Your rage at my alleged disgusting and reprehensible racism stems from my one use of the word “whitesplaining.”

    So apparently, merely mentioning race is enough to “racially charge” an argument.

    It follows that when you mentioned the gender of leftist male commenters such as myself, Ace of Sevens, alanflynn and Sean in order to dismiss our opinions on veiling because we don’t understand women’s experiences, you were “sexually charging” the argument (not in a good way) and being reprehensibly sexist. I hope you are feeling as contrite as I am right now.

    2. The fact you have the audacity to imagine that a Jew living most of her life in England has never been subject to similar hateful comments is so outrageous it defies belief and is deeply insulting. For someone seething at me for allegedly disparaging his “dignity” I find your dismissal of my experience as a Jew disturbingly hypocritical.

    Again, if you think that someone mentioning your “race” and suggesting that it makes you less likely to understand the experiences of certain minority groups constitutes a “reprehensible racial attack” then you are not judging the standards of racial attack by those of us who actually experience them to a severe degree.

    You are putting words in my mouth when you say “… if you imagine [I have] never been subject to similar hateful comments…” I imagine you have been subjected to hateful comments. Most people have. What I said was, “You have obviously never been bashed or called a nigger or black bastard” if you think that someone mentioning your race constitutes a hateful attack. I don’t know what your circumstances are, but it’s entirely possible (indeed, probable, given that you think someone mentioning your race is attacking you) that you were partially shielded from some of the more intense forms of racial prejudice. Sometimes people who belong to minority groups have certain privileges or advantages (for example, I live in a relatively middle-class, educated suburb) that protect them from some kinds of discrimination. For example, as you are female, you were less likely to be a target of a physically violent assaults during your school years than I was.

    That is what this is really all about isn’t it?

    Your psychic powers continue to amaze.

    The irony is that for a faith as internally diverse as Hinduism and region as diverse as South Asia, it is utterly absurd and arrogant for you to claim your personal experience as if it were the sole arbiter of its meaning

    Still won’t admit you’re wrong, I see. This crap about the internal diversity of Hinduism is pathetic attempt to salvage your position. If I claimed that Muslim women’s wearing of the veil had no gender-specific elements because Muslim men cover their heads too, my going on about the diversity of Islam and babbling about the various veiling practices amongst Sunnis, Shias, Sufis and Ahmadiyyas would not change the fact that I was wrong.

    My opinion has backing from Hindu sources, but my wicked whiteness invalidates any pesky evidence in your mind.

    And in your mind, my wicked maleness invalidates any opinion I might have on the hijab. So I guess we’re even.

    You are just like that git and his “Qu’ran [sic]“.

    Oh, but given the incredible diversity within Islam and the many dialects of Arabic, as well as the many systems of transileration from Taliq to Roman script, wouldn’t it be incredibly arrogant and presumptuous of you to claim that “Qur’an” is the only correct transliteration?

    So with that, I am done with you.

    Oh, good. I hope I haven’t been distracting you from your vitally important work of psychoanalysing commenters on your favourite blogs.

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