Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The limits of multi-culturalism

I have just finished reading one of the ugliest, most vile pieces ever published in the British press. It is actually dripping with venom.

I am speaking, of course, of Christina Patterson's piece in the Indy today, The Limits of Multi-Culturalism. Her piece begins as a mild rant against her annoying and rude neighbours in the Charedi neighbourhood of Stamford Hill. They drive while using their mobile phones; park in the wrong spots, don't say please or thank you in their shops and occasionally disdain their non-Jewish customers.

Fine. I daresay all these things really happened to her. Certainly they are all complaints that have aired so often they have become cliches.

But that's only the first couple of paragraphs. After she gets her complaints about the "armies of children" and the "funny suits and hats" out of the way, she really gets going:

When I moved to Stamford Hill, 12 years ago, I didn't realise that goyim were about as welcome in the Hasidic Jewish shops as Martin Luther King at a Klu Klux Klan convention. I didn't realise that a purchase by a goy was a crime to be punished with monosyllabic terseness, or that bus seats were a potential source of contamination, or that road signs, and parking restrictions, were for people who hadn't been chosen by God. And while none of this is a source of anything much more than irritation, when I see an eight-year-old boy recoiling from a normal-looking woman (because, presumably, he has been taught that she is dirty or dangerous, or, heaven forbid, dripping with menstrual blood) it makes me sad.

"Normal-looking woman"? What's that? A woman who looks like you, Ms Patterson?

She then goes on about a series of Muslim practices that similarly make her "sad" - including little girls "being taught that their tiny bodies, and their lovely hair, are things to be protected from the male gaze". The very concept of modesty - in clothing, in contact between the sexes - actually offends her. I'd love to hear what she has to say, by contrast, on the armies of young girls in London sleeping around, drinking and minimally dressed. That's what offends me.

All these things make me sad, but I accept that people should, except in certain professional situations which involve dealing with the public, be allowed to wear whatever they like, and that laws which prevent this are self-defeating, and that you can't stop parents, or rabbis, teaching little boys that adult women shouldn't even be brushed against on a bus, and I accept that some of these things are an inevitable consequence of a modern, and in many ways magnificent, multi-cultural society.

Again, she seems to think that she is the 'normal', normative one, and that the rabbis preaching modesty are the 'modern' ones. She fails to grasp that in the context of history, she's the modern, new one, not them.

I love, by the way, she pays lip service to the "in many ways magnificent" multi-cultural society. In her political milieu, she has to profess to believe in it, but at the end of the day, she's not exactly live-and-let-live, is she? You rather get the feeling that she (a) hates the Jews and Muslims really, seriously more than is strictly necessary and (b) feels they really ought to thank her for generously giving them permission to exist.

G-d, this is painful, but let's go on.

But there's one thing I will never accept. In the next few weeks, between 500 and 2,000 British schoolgirls – yes, British schoolgirls – will be sent abroad, ostensibly on holiday, and taken to the home of a woman who will, using an often dirty razor, and no anaesthetic, slice off their labia, and clitoris, and then, using sewing thread or horse-hair and an often dirty needle, stitch their vaginas closed. Sometimes, the girls faint. Sometimes, they die. But the people who do this to them (in East Africa and India and Pakistan and the Middle East) believe that it's what God wants. They believe that it promotes "cleanliness" and "chastity". Oh, and men's sexual pleasure. But not, for obvious reasons, women's.

Female circumcision has been illegal in Britain since 1985. Since 2003, it has also been illegal to take girls out of the country to have them "cut" abroad. The maximum penalty is 14 years. So far, there have been no prosecutions. Not a single one. I don't care if evidence is difficult to get, and I don't care if parents think they're doing the right thing for their children, and I don't care if it's a "sensitive" issue. This is a total and utter disgrace. Parents are being allowed to mutilate their children, and the institutions in this country are doing sweet FA.

There is, I'm sure, nothing in the Koran to indicate that hacking off a girl's labia is an all-round great idea, just as there's nothing in the Torah to say that Volvos should always be driven with a mobile phone in hand, and goyim should be treated with contempt.

Wow. We started off with rude Jewish drivers and somehow, four columns later, we've got to Muslims "hacking off a girl's labia". Amazing - no one at the Indy has yet spotted that the two things really have nothing to do with each other. Except that they are both carried out by those repulsive foreigners.

People will believe what they believe, but a civilised society will have laws to indicate what is acceptable in that society and what isn't, and it will act on those laws. A properly civilised society would also ensure that children are not subject to the crazed whims of their parents, and hived off into "faith schools" where they're taught that the world was created in seven days, or that they need special gadgets to switch on the lights on a Saturday, or that women who show their face are sluts.

"Crazed whims of parents"? Now we get to the nub. She dislikes Islam and Judaism and sees them and their practitioners as irrational and "uncivilised". That is what this is all about, as evidenced by the next paragraph:

A properly civilised society would accept that while lovely little C of E schools were once an excellent place for children to learn about the religion that shaped their culture, art and laws, you can't have them without having the madrassa run by the mad mullah next door, and therefore, sadly, you can't have either, but have, instead, a system of compulsory state secular education, in which children learn to get on with people from all religious backgrounds and none, and are taught about all religions, but also that the culture of the country they're living in was, for 2,000 years, largely based on one.

Hold on - she doesn't hate all religions. C of E schools = "lovely"! Muslim and Jewish schools = bad! I understand, Ms Patterson.

By now, of course, her tone is totally crazed - hate-filled and hateful. Even if I were reading this with the most charitable of attitudes, and wished to assume that Ms Patterson did not mean to come across as a complete bigot, this is how it reads to me. Maybe we ought to send her to visit one of those state schools where children "learn to get on with people from all religious backgrounds and none". She certainly sounds like she needs a refresher course.

No comments: