All entries for Sunday 15 October 2006

October 15, 2006

Liberal Ineloquence

Following the media saturation of the ‘problem’ with the integration of Muslim communities into their “British” counterpart, I thought something better be said on the blog. Although I’m struggling…

It strikes me that the English language is inadequate in arguing from the point of view of a British white liberal, especially when talking to friends who are also white British. All the time I find myself talking about “us” and “them” when my whole argument is based on deconstructing the “us/them” viewpoint seemingly taken by the majority of people.

Perhaps it’s my ineloquence, but I knew that on Wednesday when we talked about this in our meeting, it was very frustrating knowing that I disagreed with a few people in the room, but I hadn’t the words to adequately counter them. Some students there turned a question of the practicalities in Muslim women choosing to wear the full niqab into some far reaching discussion about how the Muslim community need to become more like ‘us’.

The idea that culture is somehow static, and outsiders have to be ‘integrated’/assimilated into it by accepting not only laws but ‘values’ (what they hell are they anyway?) seems so alien to me, perhaps I subconsciously don’t feel the need to labour the point by arguing it..

No matter how much I’m disgusted by it, it continually remains “an issue”, when really, to me, there is none there.

No matter what I think, the media have decided to latch onto this. As Peter Wilby in the New Statesman saws, the Muslim community have become victim the “Alsatian dog syndrome”, whereby the metaphorical “Alsatian” savages a metaphorical child, and suddenly journalists are on the alert for savage dog stories. Ironically this happened with dog attacks the other week, but in this instance, Muslims are the flavour of the week, and the press can’t get enough. As Wilby says:

A Muslim can scarcely sneeze without making front-page headlines and this has been spasmodically true since 9/11, and particularly since 7/7…The actions of a single Muslim are taken by the press as a representative of Muslims as a whole…. Look at the headlines about Muslims and try substituting Christians. Christian cab driver refuses to carry Muslim. (Don’t tell me it’s never happened.) Christian youths vandalise house occupied by wounded Somali refugees. [People] find nun’ habits alien and unsettling. Christian Prime Minister supports bombing of Lebanon…Christians! Arncha sick of ‘em?

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