Re: Cover

1

I think the standard Christianist response it to totally ignore this sort of thing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:14 PM
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Unless, of course, it can be neatly slotted into some preexisting argument as evidence for the Christianist position.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:21 PM
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Can we maybe distract the birther people with this for a bit?

No.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:28 PM
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Yeah, "Look! France!" seems unlikely to have much effect on the birthers. There's only one country they care about.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:33 PM
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These days the birthers are doing more good for the Obama administration than the Obama administration is for itself. The more I think about it, the more sure I am that Rahm Emanuel wants the birthers and teabaggers to keep hold of the mic for as long as possible.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:38 PM
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Would anybody like to talk about Tiger's approach at sixteen today?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:40 PM
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No.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:41 PM
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No? Okay, then I'll just have to go finish writing this chapter.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:41 PM
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Teo, do you know of any books/artilces about either the impact of Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or the late-nineteenth-century Indian reform movement, particularly Helen Hunt Jackson's Century of Dishonor?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:44 PM
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Um, that was decidedly OT. Sorry, Stanley, that was rude of me.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:45 PM
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9: Sorry, no.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:49 PM
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I'm not offended, ari. Apparently, everyone fucked off anyway.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:49 PM
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Ari, I thought of two history-related comments I wanted to make today. And yet do you have open threads at EotAW? No, you do not.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:50 PM
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That's okay. I'd rather talk about Tiger Woods anyway.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:50 PM
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13: Open threads are for suckerz. Especially with commenters like you around. And 14 to 12 and 11. Because I'm economizing. Actually, I just drank two cokes, as I'll need to be up all night editing, so I'm feeling kind of chatty. Gentlemen.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:52 PM
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"drank two cokes" s/b "did two lines of coke"


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:53 PM
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16: I can't say that, teo, in case Parenthetical is around.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:54 PM
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I'll take questions for Congressman Perriello, with whom I'm meeting tomorrow morning to discuss his constituents' take on health reform.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:55 PM
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17: Good thing I'm here to say it, then.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:55 PM
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18: As if the fait accompli -- no public option, no way -- outlined by Lindsey Graham in his interview with Ezra Klein is really a done deal.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:57 PM
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20: link?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 10:59 PM
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I'd rather talk about Tiger Woods anyway.

Maybe I should put you in touch with my dad. He seemed to want someone to talk about the British Open with a few weeks ago.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:00 PM
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Link. The whole thing is worth reading, if only to watch Ezra Klein continue a decent fueled by ambition. Still, he's cute.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:02 PM
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A decent what fueled by ambition?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:02 PM
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decent s/b descent

I'd blame the coke, but that would only fuel the rumor mill.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:02 PM
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Still, he's cute.

Charming, too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:02 PM
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Teo, you should be out looking for citations for me, shouldn't you?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:03 PM
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So ari, you see what happens when you watch golf all day instead of starting your homework at a reasonable hour? Now you'll have to stay up late and you'll be all tired out tomorrow. I hope you've learned your lesson.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:04 PM
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27: Should I? Why?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:05 PM
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Presumably, the response would be "even the crazy secularist French, etc. etc."


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:08 PM
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Or, in a different context, "even the infidel Moslems, etc."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:12 PM
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32

Actually, "Islamofascists" would be the term, wouldn't it?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:13 PM
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I'll need to be up all night editing

Me too! I'm not particularly happy about it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:13 PM
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I, for one, am quite happy that ari and apo will be up to keep me company while I wait for my laundry to finish.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:16 PM
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I'm afraid I will be poor company, as I'm actually going to have to edit furiously 'til daybreak if I'm going to meet my deadline (and thereby not get in trouble for being absent without warning on Friday). This job would be a lot more fun if we didn't have clients with their annoying projects. I guess it would pay a whole lot less, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:21 PM
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36

But I was going to relate the Thirty Years' War to Cerebus the Aardvark. Now the world will never know.

The French wake up to the threat of Eurabia, but too late. They made a similar mistake in 1938, I believe.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:21 PM
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Fair enough, apo. Walt will have to do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:24 PM
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Have to do? I'll have you know that my mind is not addled by drugs and endless Google searches for "penis". Actually, you have a point...


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:27 PM
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endless Google searches for "penis"

Pshaw. I have a google news alert that does all the searches for me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:31 PM
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Ever since I was told the following things (and ever since, being credulous, I believed them all):

(a) French nationalists go around attempting to force soup contianing bacon to homeless muslims and, when the soup is refused, lose their shit;
(b) A vegetarian restaurant in France was shut down because it refused to sell meat to someone who lived nearby;
(c) French history teachers are now all supposed to say that it's widely agreed that French colonialism was a good thing,

I have felt my sympathies with those who would avoid assimilating into such a parochial culture increase a thousandfold.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:37 PM
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41

Where the hell did ari go?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:37 PM
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42

I would like to hear more about ezra's descent, 'cause I'm sure not in the mood to read an interview with L. Graham.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:37 PM
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43

I mean, I'd like to hear this from ari.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:38 PM
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44

Then we're agreed: ari must return.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:40 PM
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45

Too bad the agreement of the person whose agreement is paramount will be, alas! difficult to secure, in this situation.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:41 PM
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46

Laundry's done. I guess nosflow will have to wait for ari alone.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:45 PM
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47

Well I'm prepared to tell my congressman that:

(1) Health care ought not be a for-profit enterprise.

and that

(2) A lot of fucksticks are acting like fucksticks.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:50 PM
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48

I was always waiting for ari alone. I only pretended to be happy when eric came along because I know he's got low self-esteem.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:55 PM
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49

Never fear, I've returned! But wait, where's Teo? Folding laundry? Okay, if he's going to be productive, I'd better get back to work too.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:58 PM
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50

I'll take questions for Congressman Perriello, with whom I'm meeting tomorrow morning to discuss his constituents' take on health reform.

Make it clear that you're burning him in effigy because the plan isn't socialist enough.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 9-09 11:58 PM
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51

49 demonstrates the exact kind of coordination failure that markets are optimal to resolve.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:06 AM
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52

No one wants to talk about the veil thing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:12 AM
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53

I pretty much covered it with 36.2. There's nothing left to say.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:17 AM
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Back in the day, this post would have sparked an entertaining 500-comment thread on women's bodies and the covering thereof. Now, it's just laundry and golf and Ezra Klein. Tragic.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:27 AM
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52

No one wants to talk about the veil thing.

It's too depressing. There is likely to be trouble no matter what France does.

Which suggests Enoch Powell was correct, that it is a good idea to be selective about who you allow to immigrate.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:32 AM
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Well, I'm done. I guess I shouldn't have had those two cokes after all. I'm all coked up with nowhere to go. Sad, really.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 1:56 AM
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57

Get crazy, ari.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 2:05 AM
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58

4: Kenya?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 2:10 AM
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57: I want to. I mean, I'm ready to. But I don't really know how.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 2:14 AM
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60

Do the hustle!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 2:14 AM
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61

Seriously, I'm shocked and concerned that you're up. You should take this opportunity to drive into SF and go to Power Exchange.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 2:19 AM
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59: Go all-out. Have another coke.


Posted by: Unpronounceable Awl | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 2:19 AM
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63

I'm not sure what you mean by Indian reform, but have you looked at Hoxie's Final Promise or Prucha's massive history of the federal government and Indian policy? (Not having read them, I have no details to provide.) I remember Sarah Winnemucca's Life Among the Paiutes having some reformist aspects to it. I can't remember if Charles Eastman's From Deep Woods to Civilization mentions reform, but I'm pretty sure Eastman was part of reform movements.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 2:39 AM
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Which suggests Enoch Powell was correct, that it is a good idea to be selective about who you allow to immigrate

Except that if you read the article, it's made clear that many if not most of the women adopting this form of dress are born in France, and include a large number of converts.

So, no.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 2:46 AM
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63: I've got both Hoxie and Prucha covered. What I have in mind is something that looks at the movement that sought to reform federal-Indian relations in the late nineteenth century, the former abolitionists who didn't know what to do with themselves in the wake of emancipation and so ended up trying to lift up the downtrodden red man. And, as I noted above, I'm especially interested in Helen Hunt Jackson. As for Dee Brown, I'm really curious about the reception of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Was it considered an important part of the Red Power movement? A part at all? Did it ostensibly reshape popular perceptions of the nation's historical treatment of Native peoples? Was it regarded as an important book? Important like, say, Silent Spring, in that it helped shape a mass movement? Or not.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 3:07 AM
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66

What makes you think I'm not there right now?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 3:08 AM
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66: you don't appear to have any stuck keyboard keys.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 3:11 AM
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63: Ah, well, in that case I can't really help you without doing research on my own. And that's not going to happen, unless the legislature pays me--and I don't even work for them.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 3:21 AM
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Most of the outrage, particularly among Paris commentators, has centered on women's rights, based on a supposition that women who wear full veils are forced to do so by their husbands.

So not the point.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 4:01 AM
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I am sure that this is a reflection of my own prejudices, but I will admit that the full veil has made me extremely uncomfortable.

I used to see a fair number of Kuwaiti women near Massachusetts General Hospital, because their government will pay for treatment there. These ones were very interested in skin care. They were all wearing quite a bit of covering, and it was fine, though they'd uncover a bit to ask me about exfoliation products.

Once in Cambridge I saw a woman with a full burqa whom I had to help. I respect her right to dress that way, but I still found it profoundlyy unnerving. It was very hard for me to think about anything other than her clothing, and since she talked very little, I found communication difficult.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 5:13 AM
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70. One of the main problems non-Muslim people (and Muslims from traditions which don't much use it) have with niqaab is precisely that we are used to communicating using facial expression, and that niqaab impedes this, which we find disabling. After all, this aspect aside, most versions of niqaab aren't much more "alien" than traditional nuns' habits, and although we may deprecate those, we don't find them disconcerting.

I've never seen a discussion of the trade off between modesty and communication from a Muslim perspective, but I'd like to. I doubt any reputable Islamic scholar would make a case that niqaab is deliberately intended to make it difficult for women to communicate (I'm sure you could find a disreputable one who would - after all, "Christianity" spawned Tim LaHaye), but it would be an interesting debate.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 5:46 AM
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The French-Muslim thing is an issue of particular passion for me, so I'll try to be reasonable. But generally, I'd say it falls under the heading of "What is it to you?" If the practice of wearing so much as a hijab is offensive to the secular sensibilities of French people, it's worth analyzing why anyone cares what a woman wears, or if it has any fundamental difference from my xenophobic mother complaining about hearing someone speak a foreign language at the mall. Sure, "they" are here, they're visible, and they participate in the economy, but it's like they're not even ashamed about how not-like-me they are! It's almost like they're proud of it!

Does not wearing a veil/scarf make non-Muslim women so very free? Do women who have the right to wear skimpy clothing thereby avoid being discriminated against, harassed, beaten up, raped, or murdered for being female? If the problem is the oppression of women, why not work toward a culture in which options and opportunities for women are broader and more inclusive, rather than coming up with more ways to tell women what they're not allowed to do?

I don't buy that this is the French government trying to go around forcibly liberating women from the shackles of their hideous patriarchal control. No one believes that if you take a scarf off of a woman's head, she instantly turns into Gloria Steinem. This is xenophobic fear-mongering. Let's not forget that the entire French plan for colonialism has been based on the Frenchification of the oppressed. It's not enough to be a well-behaved subject of French rule; to be French, you have to embrace French culture. And women are being used as symbols of this failure to assimilate properly.

How are you harmed when you see a woman in a scarf, or even a full-body covering? Is it the sanctimony that bothers you? Do you assume she was beaten into wearing it, and that she'd far rather be collecting designer shoes? Does it irritate you to think about the people around you as religious? Or "foreign"?

The compulsory covering for women in Muslim countries is, of course, seriously wrong and destructive, and we hear a lot of stories about women secretly gathering to do their hair in Western fashions, despite the threat of being beaten or killed. This is not the same as a woman living in Paris or New York wearing a hijab. In the West, wearing a Muslim head covering is what causes people to threaten violence in public, or to discriminate against women in subtler ways. It does not make women more free to legitimize this social control of what they choose to do with their wardrobe.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:10 AM
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I should add that I am biased because I teach at colleges where there are a lot of Muslim women students, including some American-born converts, and no, it just doesn't hold that women who wear a covering are the anti-feminist oppressed. I know that I only see the bright, confident, ambitious, liberated women from our Muslim communities, and that there may be plenty of women sitting trapped in some apartment in Queens unable to leave the house without permission. But the problem is clearly not clothing, or even Islam itself. It's sexism. Apparently "sexism" is too difficult to take on, so governments instead choose to regulate what they assume are symbols of it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:20 AM
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I live in a city where native-born Americans walk around in a full-body veil. It doesn't seem to be any more or less problematic than other religious or fashion-dictated attire.

The France issue just seems like a giant proxy for integration (which in the European definition of the term seems to be assimilation, rather than the US dictionary-standard definition). It's about France being bigoted that the women aren't assimilated if they wear it (seriously, banning them from French classes? Can you say cutting off your nose to spite your face?). And it's about the women, and their male family members, choosing to make this a particular point of contention where in other circumstances it might not be.

In some aspects the US really does have its act more together, and I think this is one of them. We just do a better job of dealing with the stresses and hiccups of migration than most of the rest of the world.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:26 AM
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But the problem is clearly not clothing, or even Islam itself. It's sexism.

Exactly.

Apparently "sexism" is too difficult to take on, so governments are poorly equipped to address, and not especially interested in addressing, sexism. instead choose to regulate what they assume are symbols of it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:28 AM
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re: 74


The France issue just seems like a giant proxy for integration (which in the European definition of the term seems to be assimilation, rather than the US dictionary-standard definition).

Be very careful about making France a proxy for Europe. France is really quite different from much of the rest of Europe in both their official policies and informal attitudes.

We just do a better job of dealing with the stresses and hiccups of migration than most of the rest of the world.

And your evidence for that is ... ?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:36 AM
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We just do a better job of dealing with the stresses and hiccups of migration than most of the rest of the world.

Would you see it that way if you were a Latino field worker in an area of the country infested with Minutemen?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:39 AM
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"What is it to you?"

That's my take on it, too. However, there's enough of a Black Muslim community in Durham that I do occasionally see women in the full eye-slit covering and think, "It's 98 degrees and 60% humidity. Are you *insane*?"


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:41 AM
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Witt, you're probably right, but I think that the Canadians seem to have us beat. I can;t really back up that assertion though.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:42 AM
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Apo, try thinking, "Well, she's not going to get skin cancer like that blonde in the singlet over there".

Or alternatively, try not thinking about it. (I reserve my position, however, that communicating with somebody wearing a mask is actually more difficult, and requires a lot of effort from the person in the mask.)


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:47 AM
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76, etc.: This is kind of a specialty of mine, so yes, I actually do have quite a lot of evidence for what may have sounded like a sweeping generalization (and yes, it even applies to the farmworkers -- starting with the fact that their children have birthright citizenship and guaranteed free public education thanks to Plyler v. Doe).

But unfortunately, I'm at the beginning of a long workday and won't be able to stay in this thread. I'm sorry for starting a tangent that I can't really stay to discuss.

I will say that I agree that France is not Europe as a whole, and that I was specifically also thinking of Austria, Germany, Sweden and Spain among others when I made my comment.

As far as BG's point, Canada has done more at the provincial level to fund integration activities than any other country I'm aware of, and that includes the US. Organizations like TRIEC and WRIEN, as well as actual "pitches" like Alberta's immigration website, are very nearly unprecedented on the scale that Canada offers them, and are in many ways considered an international model.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:54 AM
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I think that the Canadians seem to have us beat. I can;t really back up that assertion though.

The demographics of immigrants to Canada look VERY different from those who come to the US, so you have to be careful making direct comparisons. By design, Canada attracts immigrants who are disproportionately educated, affluent, and bearers of middle-class values. The US (and France, for that matter) are absorbing a lot more of the global underclass.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 6:59 AM
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A female Muslim friend of mine* has/had religious issues with the wearing of the niqab, and (to a lesser extent) even with the hijab. As far as she was concerned, wearing them in 'the West' had quite the opposite effect from their alleged purpose of not drawing attention to oneself and preserving a level of modesty. Instead they serve to focus attention and trumpet one's identity** in a way that is actually quite at odds with 'modesty' and with the spirit of the Qur'an.

Her take was that the right and proper thing to do was just to dress in a fairly conservative 'normal' way, covering or not covering one's head depending on personal preference, and to just be like everyone else.

* now basically lapsed, but at the time we had this conversation, reasonably devout
** hence the popularity of the full get-up with converts.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 7:00 AM
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83. As an unbeliever, this has always struck me as a theologically plausible position. I've seen it argued against on several occasions, but always by converts or by imams not born in the "west". As an ex-Christian from an interpretative tradition, I tend to find such arguments profoundly unconvincing on their own terms.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 7:23 AM
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82: The Canadians outside of Toronto who were complaining about how Toronto has changed and is no longer a polite, clean place because of immigration and the government's policy's on multiculturalism in place of the melting-pot model
were not talking about the people who came over from Hong Kong in 97. They were talking mostly about Somalis who they blame for "polygamy" and putting their extra "wives" on welfare and violent Jamaicans.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 7:25 AM
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I'm 90% sure that the issue in France is just an expression of xenophobia, but 72's vigorous torching of straw still annoyed me. Yes, wearing clothing designed so that no man other than your husband is allowed to see you is exactly like any other fashion choice, one with no political implications whatsoever. How could anyone ever have a principled objection to it?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 7:55 AM
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The one time I saw a women in head-to-toe even-the-eyes-slit was shaded out, I had a deep visceral response that she had been smudged out as a person altogether.

It was at a gas station in Houston, and there were two men and two women, and the men were wearing western garb. I was deeply weirded out by the obliteration of the women.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:20 AM
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85: How are they blaming Somalis for violent Jamaicans?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:24 AM
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How are they blaming Somalis for violent Jamaicans?

They put khat in their ganja?


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:26 AM
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86:There is a lot of secularist history in France. Remember, around 1900 (link if requested) they shut down all the Catholic private schools, and I think closed the monasteries. For the second time.

This wouldn't be the first time they have been pro-active.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:32 AM
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I do think they allow, for instance, the traditional headgear in Brittany (Flying Nun) but that may be considered an ethnic display. I think the Franch idea is that there should be no religious displays in public. Quite serious, there is a history of urban riots protesting Catholic feast-day processions.

If they women want to claim the coverings are only ethnic and not Islamic they might get away with it. I suspect they won't, like certain issues and activities in America, the point of the hijab etc is to insert religion into the public sphere.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:38 AM
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Pwned by bob, but as I understand France has more problems with this than elsewhere because their vision of secularism to some extent excludes personal religious displays, because of the state's conflictual history with the Church - especially in schools, where the wearing of crosses etc. is also forbidden. That traditional hostility can become an outlet for expressing what's really xenophobia and immigration-angst.

I'm not sure that this is reflective of real long-term problems in, say, the US's stance on veils. We allow people to go around in veils, try to avoid discriminating against them for it, and give them the freedom to stop if they want. Tons of problems in implementation, but conceptually I think it works.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:50 AM
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58: That's the one.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:53 AM
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They're blaming Somalis for being welfare cheats. They claim that the men have multiple "wives," but of course only one is recognized, so the other women are eligible for welfare.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:14 AM
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Timothy Garton Ash wrote about this years ago. I neither approve nor disapprove his discussion or conclusions, but I remember finding the piece interesting if depressing at the time.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:36 AM
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95: What a thoroughly unpleasant and inflammatory piece. It's hard to imagine what kind of positive goal one could accomplish by publishing that.

(Tangentially, I wonder what other ways of marking web content could be created, since I figure the chance of someone missing the 2004 dateline and writing a school report or something based on this as an actual news story are about 100%.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 10:06 AM
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They're blaming Somalis for being welfare cheats. They claim that the men have multiple "wives," but of course only one is recognized, so the other women are eligible for welfare.

That's probably happening. The polygamous FLDS were able to keep their communities afloat by doing that.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 10:08 AM
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Again, I do not approve Ash's comments, but 2004 was an unpleasant and inflammatory year, and I remember reading uglier things then about the unassimilated and assumedly Islamic underclasses of Britain and France.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 10:11 AM
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92
I understand France has more problems with this than elsewhere because their vision of secularism to some extent excludes personal religious displays, because of the state's conflictual history with the Church - especially in schools, where the wearing of crosses etc. is also forbidden.

I'm pretty sure the rule against wearing crosses only came about when they banned head scarves and realized they'd have to do the same thing to trappings of Christian and Jewish religion as well to have even the remotest semblance of fairness.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 10:14 AM
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99: the display of crosses (on walls etc) has been banned in French state schools for decades, I believe. Presumably the wearing of crosses wasn't because most Christians tend not to wear visible crosses.

as far as she was concerned, wearing them in 'the West' had quite the opposite effect from their alleged purpose of not drawing attention to oneself and preserving a level of modesty. Instead they serve to focus attention and trumpet one's identity** in a way that is actually quite at odds with 'modesty' and with the spirit of the Qur'an.

This is what tends to happen every time there's some niqab or burqa test case: the Muslim woman in question generally describes it as "part of her cultural identity".

And AWB betrays ignorance of French Muslims when she says that it's an informed cultural choice. There are a lot of Muslim women in France who are pretty isolated from the general culture. Many of them don't even know they have the right to vote. This may not happen to the same extent in the US (even if it did, AWB wouldn't know about it).

There are some US states, I think, where the burqa would be illegal, because of laws prohibiting the wearing of masks in public (originally brought in as anti-Klan measures).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 10:41 AM
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100
the display of crosses (on walls etc) has been banned in French state schools for decades, I believe.

That's probably true, but what does it have to do with anything?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 11:24 AM
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Presumably the wearing of crosses wasn't because most Christians tend not to wear visible crosses.

Not true for French Protestants, who often wear religious necklaces. (You know the ones I'm talking about, a stylized cross with a dove dangling down. I coveted my friend's in high school.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 11:28 AM
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I don't know what France's policies on assimilation have to do with the birthers here in this country.

There was an informative review in the NYRB a short while back on differences between French and US (and other western countries') approaches to citizenship and assimilation, but alas, bummer, it's not fully available online. It's here, but that is useless, given that it's not even available. Damn.

Part of its point, in any case, is that there are defensible reasons for both sorts of policies: French policy has for many, many years required, for citizenship, a suitable grasp of the language and secular culture of the country. Fair enough; US citizenship requires pledging allegiance to the flag or some such, doesn't it?

The wearing of veils to varying degrees is an issue internal to French culture and policy; I can't manage to condemn their general political history on this matter. It's one approach to attempting to head off cultural clashes at the pass. It falls down in particular cases -- what national policy doesn't? I can't bring myself to say that US policy is shiningly successful either.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 11:33 AM
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I don't know what France's policies on assimilation have to do with the birthers here in this country.

So, this post was too clumsily written, but basically I read the linked article, began to wonder about my views on the issue of veiling (which views are not at all well-formulated in my mind), and from there began to wonder, for no particular reason, how someone on the Christian Right might frame the issue.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 11:43 AM
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104: Sure. I didn't mean to be critical, at all. I have no idea how a christianist would view it.

Sadly, they're so far outside my own scope that I just think they're stupid find them opaque. Um. They believe that women are properly subordinated, right? And they feel that women wearing skimpy outfits are agents of the devil. I really don't know what they would say. As someone said upthread, this country (and maybe Israel) are their only concerns.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 11:54 AM
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Another potential problem with the hijab and burqa is that western orientalism has to a certain extent sexualized those items as part of the general dusky maiden trope. IOW, someone wearing such a thing in the western context may be sending the exact opposite message from the one they intend.

Not that the benevolent government of France is concerned about this, but it's a thing.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 11:55 AM
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104: If that same policy were somehow imported verbatim, it would be a great wedge issue. Liberals would be almost unanimously against it*, albeit mildly or grudgingly in some cases, but right-wingers? They'd never be able to decide between demogoguery against Muslims and against big government encroaching on local schools. Heads would explode.

But I suppose it would be such a great wedge issue precisely because of the differences between our countries, so the policy would never come up for debate in the first place. In France there's no federalism issue to worry about, their version of separation of church and state places far more emphasis on keeping it out of government than on protecting the individual right to worship, and the Christian right isn't nearly as influential as it is here.

* Actually, shit, during an election season...


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:05 PM
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They're blaming Somalis for being welfare cheats.

We've got a fair amount of Somali and other Sudanese refugees here and by god it's hard to imagine a group worse suited for assimilation.

Hey look, it's America's most despised ethnic minority with added bonuses like Islam, a language barrier, and a totally foreign culture! Not surprisingly, they're having a rough time.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:25 PM
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108: I don't know why Somalis and Sudanese are America's most despised ethnic minority, but that aside, are there programs available to help them adjust? English classes? General American Culture 101 classes?

I realize it's Texas, so who knows whether your state provides dollars for that sort of thing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:32 PM
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I think the connection was:

most despised ethnic minority = black people, and Somalis are black!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:36 PM
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Oh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:45 PM
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Back in the day, this post would have sparked an entertaining 500-comment thread on women's bodies and the covering thereof.

Just for the record: for the former, against the latter.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 12:52 PM
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Thus proving Muslim men are right to make their women wear burqas.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 5:24 PM
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Some of us know how to look but not touch, Walt.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 5:28 PM
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While I agree that the policy is a bad idea, it would be nice if American liberal critics of it bothered to learn the full historical context. Namely, a long tradition of militant secularism and anti-clericalism which believes that it is the State's duty to combat conservative religion that does not fully accept 'republican' values. That in turn is directly related to dealing with a Church which spent a century and a half devoted to the destruction of the French Republic. The first big laws aimed at shutting religion out of the public sphere were passed in the late nineteenth century.

You also have quite a lot of support for the policy from secular French Muslims. (Contrary to the fearmongering nuts here and in Europe, the French Muslims, while more religious than French non-Muslims, are pretty non-religious by US standards, with over half attending services only a couple times a year or less.)

That said, it is no coincidence that this issue cropped up in the eighties around the same time as Le Pen began his rise and the issue of racism and integration came to the forefront. So yeah, without racism and xenophobia this wouldn't be around. However, without the French secular tradition you wouldn't have the sort of very strong support among left wingers and left liberals that you do.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 7:53 PM
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Thank you Teraz. This seems like one of these issues where what goes through most people's minds is:

Normal person: Does this matter? Can't we just ignore it? Either way it doesn't make much of a difference. It seems fine the way it is. We should be talking about something else.
Rabble-rouser: WELL NOW THAT I'M TALKING ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME, YOU NEED TO TAKE AN OPINION! THE TIME FOR NEUTRALITY IS OVER. YOU CERTAINLY DON'T WANT TO BE A FASCIST DO YOU? IN THAT CASE YOU HAVE TO SUPPORT SOMETHING THAT MAKES NO SENSE!
Normal person: Well, okay, but I don't actually want the laws to change.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 7:56 PM
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Also worth noting is the attempt by the French Socialists to destroy the (large) Catholic school system back in the eighties. For neutrality's sake, this would have impacted other religious schools, but the target was clear. Largest protest demos since May '68.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:04 PM
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Doesn't everyone here know the contents of 115? I sure did, and I'm not particularly well-informed about French politics.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:06 PM
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How would anyone know what secular French Muslims think? You appear to be particularly well-informed about French politics.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:09 PM
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118 Many are commenting as if they didn't. So either ignorance or being disingenuous.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:10 PM
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Disingenuous? What, just because the French have the tradition of laïcité they are entitled to freely abuse their religious minorities?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:25 PM
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People who claim they are "not particularly well-informed about French politics" despite know the word "laïcité" are banned.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:26 PM
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knowing


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:27 PM
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And I don't even own a TV.

I have no idea where the accents go. I copied and pasted it from WIkipedia.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:28 PM
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I think that on a site where most people tend to view themselves as progressive and pro-feminist, they'd at least try to stop, pause, and understand when a policy in a foreign country they view as deeply wrong is supported by the overwhelming majority of local progressives and feminists, including such members of the minority community affected by the policy.

Specifically means that you need to understand that for the French center and left, a key component of maintaining a secular state is restricting the religious freedom of those who don't embrace the notion that the public sphere should be completely secular, with religion out of sight. Continental Europe does not have the same sort of belief in absolute First Ammendment rights that we do. Speech deemed dangerous to fundamental democratic values is criminalized for example.

So, given that you don't have a taboo on restricting such freedoms, and that you have a positive tradition of doing so specifically with conservative religion, the question becomes a bit different from the French progressive and feminist perspective. There is no question that many women want to wear hijabs, niqabs, and burqas. It is equally clear that many are pressured into it. So either you're restricting the freedom of some minority women, or acquiescing in the coercion of other ones. Not much question which one to choose.

Or you can just dismiss all of this, and any French lefty you talk to will dismiss your views as those of an ignorant and arrogant American who wishes to impose their values on the rest of the world.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 8:57 PM
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125: teraz, are you responding to a particular comment that's been made here or just responding to a trend you've seen when this topic has come up elsewhere? I'm a bit confused but happy to have your perspective.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:08 PM
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an ignorant and arrogant American who wishes to impose their values

Or, you know, minding one's own business. Being neither French nor religious, I don't feel a need to have an opinion on French laws about religious dress.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:28 PM
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I think that on a site where most people tend to view themselves as progressive and pro-feminist, they'd at least try to stop, pause, and understand when a policy in a foreign country they view as deeply wrong is supported by the overwhelming majority of local progressives and feminists, including such members of the minority community affected by the policy.

How would we know what the local progressives and feminists think?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:31 PM
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125 Both. In this AWB and Witt. And I actually mostly agree with them. (Though I think that implying that this is the equivalent of mandating such dress is completely wrong) But I've also both seen this elsewhere and engaged in this discussion with both French and Americans. And I feel that reducing this to just xenophobia and racism misunderstands what's happening on a fundamental level.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:36 PM
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So you basically endorse the claim that because the French have a tradition of laïcité, they can freely abuse their religious minorities? Okay, then.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:41 PM
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128 Good question. I get most of my info on the subject from French sources. But don't the US papers at least mention the broad consensus from far left through center with more diverse views on the right (neolibs influenced by US values, Catholic types by the strong opposition of the Church).


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:42 PM
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115 really pissed me off. If you want to argue with someone, teraz, argue with that person. Don't be a dick and lapse into unjustified generalities about the site.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:46 PM
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130 No. I'm saying that if you believe that there's nothing wrong with restricting religious freedom, and that freedom of speech opposed to secular democratic values can be suppressed as well, the issue becomes a lot less clear.

This is being pushed onto the agenda by the xenophobes, however, the bulk of support comes from the left. These are people who basically share your values and within the French political tradition your values (and mine) mean supporting the ban. So try to be a bit less judgemental of the French.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:50 PM
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Actually I didn't mention this site in 115. Just American liberals in general. And you're definitely acting as a data point in my favour.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:55 PM
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133: I don't understand how that's not just a restatement of 130. Insert the word "left" after French in 130, and they're saying the same thing.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 9:56 PM
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Actually it means that for a French lefty the choice boils down to supporting the rights of fundies vs supporting the rights of non-fundies while supporting religious freedom as they understand the concept, i.e. secularism. From their perspective you're saying that fundamentalist religious types have the right to oppress others. It's not about minorities at all. In any case they're not exactly fond of the idea of ethnic or religious group identities and view arguments based on such community rights as inherently illegitimate. ('For the Jew everything, for the Jews nothing' as the architect of Jewish emancipation put it)

The idea that this argument just boils down to 'lacite means the right of oppression of minorities' is as silly as the reverse one you get from French lefties that the American liberal view supports the sexual abuse of girls who don't conform to conservative religious gender norms under the cover of religious freedom. (A serious practical problem in France where some view non-hijab wearing 'muslim' girls as 'sluts' who need to be punished by their (male) peers)


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 10:13 PM
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129: I went back and re-read what I wrote to try to understand if I said that, and I can basically see why my 74-75 came off sounding like I was against the ban.

For the record, I'm neutral-ish on the ban, with the caveats that as I said, I think it's a proxy for a larger set of issues, and that governments in generally are poorly equipped to address sexism.

I have strong opinions and a fair bit of background knowledge about immigrant integration, but that doesn't extend to being certain that I know all the particulars of what policies another country should adopt.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 10:23 PM
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Governments in general, I meant.

Time for bed.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 10:24 PM
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Of course according to the French sources, the intersection of the hijab and the French secularist tradition is fraught!

I do think that the days when the French could dictate precisely how immigrants should behave within French society have ended. They needed that cheap post-war labor, they wanted to hang onto the few colonies they still had, and now it's time for them to accept that "French" now comes with hyphenated identities.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 10:35 PM
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Is their perspective right or wrong? Or are we not allowed to judge it because it's traditional?

The French left's understanding of religious freedom is wrong. Full stop. The American left's understanding of religious freedom is right. I'm prepared to try to understand someone's perspective, but it doesn't make them any less wrong.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-10-09 11:05 PM
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140: "The French left's understanding of religious freedom is wrong. Full stop. The American left's understanding of religious freedom is right."

I'm confused. A few questions first?

In 131 you said "So you basically endorse the claim that because the French have a tradition of laïcité, they can freely abuse their religious minorities?" Should I take it that's your understanding of why "the French left's understanding of religious freedom is wrong?" If so I gather you think it's wrong because "freely abus[ing] religious minorities" is wrong. Okay. But don't you think that's better than the position of the French Right, which is that those Muslims shouldn't be in France at all? And while we're at that, should French Leftists support such religious minorities' practices as hacking up girls' genitals and forcing them to marry uncles?

And what do you think "[t]he American left's understanding of religious freedom" is exactly, and what's so superior about that?

To me it's not the burqa itself that matters, it's what it symbolizes: some religious groups' dehumanization of the female half of Humanity. In that sense the burqa is as ugly as the Yellow Star marked "Jew" and should be stringently opposed, in France and in the U.S.A.

(And yes, I know that some Muslims who are not "burqa types" still mutilate girls' genitals and that not all "burqa types" do; more's the pity, that they don't always hang big signs on those girls who might need our help.)

On the other hand some religious minorities' garb, such as headscarves and shtreimels, do not dehumanize their wearers but only make them look "different" or maybe "funny"; that's everybody's right, religious folks' as well as young men who won't keep their pants up. For one thing we can still tell two wearers of shtreimels apart: they are not denied their individual distinctiveness, nor are they forbidden to show their faces (half-hidden by beards though they may be).

We Americans are not obligated to tolerate everything "religious minorities" do, nor are the French. We in "the West" should find a happy medium between the massacre at Waco and unquestioning "multiculturalism." Let us learn from the French.


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 2:32 PM
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