Articles to read, stuff to chew on


by Sunny
16th April, 2007 at 4:02 pm    

1) Writing in the Media Guardian today, former New Statesmen editor Peter Wilby:

Britain, the papers thought, was made to look powerless and wimpish by Iran and the interviews only reinforced that impression. But the press, I think, is misreading the game. The west is competing with Iran not to project power, but to project victimhood. It does not want stiff upper lips, but trembling lower ones, preferably with tears, to signify, by modern convention, the authenticity of pain. When Lord Palmerston wished to show foreigners they could not deal lightly with British citizens, he sent a gunboat. His successors send Sir Trevor McDonald into action. That is how wars are conducted in the media age.

2) In BBC News yesterday:

Fifty-seven per cent of the Muslims polled said they identified strongly with their country, compared with 48% of the general public. Muslims were also more likely to express confidence in the police (78% to 69%), national government (64% to 36%), the justice system (67% to 55%) and elections (73% to 60%). Nearly three-quarters of the Muslims said they felt loyal to the UK, and 82% said they respected other religions.

Can’t wait to see this poll come out in full. That should shut up some of the usual racists.

3) In Karachi, Pakistan, 10s of 1000s of people came out in protest against a harsh Taliban-style court set up by a mosque to curb “vulgar” activities. The imam of that mosque had also recently threatened President Musharraf. The protest organisers, MQM, branded the mosque “religious terrorists”.

4) Writing in CounterCurrents, Kavita Krishnan briefly mentions how the Hindu far-right movement (called Hindutva) have used women for their own ends, adding that:

But it would be a mistake to imagine that this aspect of Hindutva – Bajrangi’s brand of violent policing of women, or the Bajrang Dal’s threat issued a few years back, that Hindu women who married Muslims would have their noses cut off, or its periodic threats against women wearing jeans or couples celebrating Valentine’s Day – marks a rupture with a gentler and more benign Hinduism. Communal fascism of the Hindutva variety draws sustenance from the widely prevailing anxiety of Hindu caste communities about breaching of patriarchal codes, caste and community boundaries – and the resultant threat to property relations and status.

Certainly, feminists can cite plenty of examples through Indian history to show how Hindu religious bodies have sanctioned violence against women (Sati) or put them in a lower social order (the Manu Smriti is one example). But there have been plenty of revivalist movements who don’t fit that patriarchal narrative. But more than that, such deep in-grained patriarchy in Hindu families (as there is in Muslim societies) has not come about through religious sanction but this system of caste, which puts all the emphasis on women as carriers of culture than men.

I’ll give you an example. Two weeks ago the author and former UN secretary-general candidate Shashi Tharoor wrote an article in the Times of India lamenting the demise of Indian women wearing the sari. As plenty of critics pointed out, and he acknowledged rather lamely, he said nothing about Indian men abandoning traditional Indian clothes in favour of shirts and trousers, focusing instead on women alone. Such sexist attitudes are endemic of course in Indian society, where a set of rules apply to women that apparently do not apply to men (including on modesty).


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Filed in: Culture,India,Pakistan,Sex equality,South Asia






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  1. Robert Sharp

    Ownership of Women…

    Even if women have formal political equality, there still exists in society an unspoken, second-order sexism. Yet another reason why there is a place for the ideology of political correctness, which can expose and shame these attitudes

    ……




  1. Laban Tall — on 16th April, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

    Actually, that poll, if reported accurately, may tell a different, deeper story. As you probably know, fewer and fewer native Brits identify with the UK, instead identifying with England, Scotland or Wales (Northern Ireland is an exception, half identifying as British, half Irish). An unintended consequence of devolution.

    People of recent immigrant stock, the overwhelming majority of whom live in England, have tended to identify as British rather than English. The poll may be telling us as much about the fracture lines within the UK, expressed as an increased loyalty to the constituent nations, as it does about Muslim loyalty.

  2. Sunny — on 16th April, 2007 at 5:08 pm  

    Laban – I’m not so sure… because our institutions are still overwhelmingly ‘British’ rather than exclusively ‘English’.

    Sure, immigrants largely identify as being British (although this applies mostly to those in England rather than those in Scotland, Ireland etc to my knowledge), but the poll doesn’t suggest “native Brits” identify with English over Britishness, or what that means.

  3. Kismet Hardy — on 16th April, 2007 at 5:21 pm  

    “Shashi Tharoor wrote an article in the Times of India lamenting the demise of Indian women wearing the sari.”

    The British Asian women’s rag Asiana magazine has recently made a bid to go global. But the distribution/advertising teams in India have complained there are too many saris and lenghas in the mag…

    I kid you not

  4. Kismet Hardy — on 16th April, 2007 at 5:23 pm  

    (PS. whether shashi thappar is sexist or not, the sari is a damn fine piece of garment and, I’m not sure if it’s sexist to demand this, but all women should be forced to wear it with no blouse and stand beneath waterfalls. By law maybe

  5. Sid Love — on 16th April, 2007 at 5:27 pm  

    Fifty-seven per cent of the Muslims polled said they identified strongly with their country

    Their “country” could be defined as Britain, England, Scotland, Wales or to all interests and purposes ‘Headingley, Leeds’, ‘Southall, Middlesex’ or ‘Newham, London’. I don’t think the poll results are a function of which definition of Eng-er-land you subscribe to but to Englishness as such.

  6. sonia — on 16th April, 2007 at 5:29 pm  

    i think laban tall makes an interesting point. a lot of my ‘english’ friends think its bizarre that british asians insist on referring to themselves as british rather than english or whatever – scottish, irish or welsh. for them british is synonymous with imperialism – ( and not just ‘abroad’ but the british crown etc.) and something they dont want to identify with.

    different strokes for different folks?

  7. Sid Love — on 16th April, 2007 at 5:32 pm  

    for them british is synonymous with imperialism

    I hanker for a time when the world map was swathed in Imperial Pink and the Raj was partying full swing to Noel Coward and Kishore Kumar.

  8. Sid Love — on 16th April, 2007 at 5:35 pm  

    Yes! What Kismet said at #4.

  9. ZinZin — on 16th April, 2007 at 6:27 pm  

    Interesting poll results as it shows that islamophobia is not that widespread. Anas is quite annoyed.

  10. KB Player — on 16th April, 2007 at 6:38 pm  

    “Actually, that poll, if reported accurately, may tell a different, deeper story. As you probably know, fewer and fewer native Brits identify with the UK, instead identifying with England, Scotland or Wales (Northern Ireland is an exception, half identifying as British, half Irish). An unintended consequence of devolution.”

    Yasmin Alhibai-Brown said something similar – I can’t find the article but I think it was to the effect that “Britain” is a political and formal entity, and seems much wider than the more narrow “English” or “Scottish”, which are more cultural and a harder thing to become part of. I’m a white immigrant who took on British nationality and I can see what she means. It’s the difference between belonging to a state rather than belonging to a nation.

  11. leon — on 16th April, 2007 at 7:44 pm  

    I see that little green footballs has taken a predictable line using the poll…

  12. Rumbold — on 16th April, 2007 at 11:21 pm  

    Yes, I also agree with Kismet in 4.

    Hinduism has always been a difficult religion to pin down because it is so much more fluid than the monotheistic ones. While there have always been Hindu fanatics I cannot recall any wars between devotees of Vishnu and those who followed Shiva, unlike the religious wars that tore apart Christendom and the Islamic world.

  13. Rumbold — on 16th April, 2007 at 11:30 pm  
  14. William — on 16th April, 2007 at 11:53 pm  

    We can hope that the poll on British Muslim attitudes will be made public and it’s contents become popular knowledge therefore as an anitidote to bias towards Muslims.

    We can also hope that it will be reported about the demonstrations against the Mosque in Pakistan. After all it was reported here in the UK recently about certain Mosques and their Talibanisation and also their threats to the government. Will we have balance??

  15. Nyrone — on 16th April, 2007 at 11:54 pm  

    “Protests erupted in the holy city of Varanasi, Mumbai, Kanpur, Meerut and Indore a day after Hollywood star Richard Gere kissed actress Shilpa Shetty on the cheeks at an AIDS awareness event in the Capital”

    Who ARE these people that are protesting?

    also, I think Kismet makes a necessary and timely point in #4.
    I suggest you start a club…

  16. Anas — on 17th April, 2007 at 12:45 am  

    are you actually acknowledging it exists then ZZ?

  17. ChrisC — on 17th April, 2007 at 9:03 am  

    So were the previous polls all wrong?

    Or is this one wrong?

    Or do we take a (still rather worrying) average?

  18. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 10:12 am  

    9. zinzin – ha ha :-) ( sorry anas!)

    i think kavita makes some crucial points in her article. it’s what often you don’t hear in such a straightforward enough way from the Islamic feminists.

  19. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 10:49 am  

    SHILPA! LET’S TALK ABOUT SHILPA! I like talking about Shilpa. So that Richard Gere, eh? Going to India, spreading HIV, molesting our women. It’s true what they say. Never trust a Buddhist

  20. Bert Preast — on 17th April, 2007 at 11:40 am  

    “for them british is synonymous with imperialism”

    I’d say it’s English that’s synonymous with imperialism – in most languages the British were commonly referred to as English, and Scotland, Wales and Ireland were seen as suffering under the English imperialist yoke just as everyone else was. Codswallop of course, but that was the perception and to an extent still is.

  21. soru — on 17th April, 2007 at 11:51 am  

    So were the previous polls all wrong?

    I think the previous polls on UK muslim attitudes surveyed only muslims.

    I think most people would be surprised by just how much vague generalised support for anyone fighting the UK, including by terrorist means, there is in the general non-muslim (and non-voting, mostly) population.

    If you had a poll, ‘what do you think about the idea of Iran launching an all-out nuclear assault to wipe Britain off the map’, with 5 options:

    1. that would be an unprecedented outrage
    2. that would, on the whole, be a bad thing
    3. neutral, don’t know or don’t care
    4. casualties would be regrettable, but the long-term effects might be positive
    5. that would be the best thing to happen to this bloody country since 1066

    you wouldn’t get over 90% for option 1.

  22. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 11:54 am  

    Crazy things going on in the US. i wonder how the NRA can hold their heads up.

  23. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 12:27 pm  

    Sonia, can you believe George bush has already made a statement defending the right to bear arms? The bodies are still warm for crying out loud

  24. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 12:33 pm  

    has he Kismet? that’s disgusting. right to bear arms indeed. who’s got the guns? the psychopaths it seems.

    A country with so many school shootings – it’s practically the only place in the world this seems to happen.

    the shooter was apparently an asian male (chinese) he shot up the engineering building – maybe he didnt’ get 100? who knows.

  25. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 12:54 pm  

    See the picture in The Mirror today of a poor chinese student manhandled and handcuffed because he was a suspect? So the guy kills 30+ people and then will be walking round the school with a pile of books going about his own way? Fucking crap American coppers

  26. Sid Love — on 17th April, 2007 at 1:02 pm  

    the shooter was apparently an asian male (chinese) he shot up the engineering building – maybe he didnt’ get 100? who knows.

    Muslim Muslim Muslim!

  27. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 1:37 pm  

    what a fucked up country i swear – you can buy bullets at walmart but not rizla.

    so what can you expect?

  28. kepler — on 17th April, 2007 at 1:38 pm  

    Sonia / Kismet:
    Even crazier- nn TV news yesterday, can’t remember which channel, an American interviewee argued, in effect, that it was caused by the disregard of the sanctity of human life exemplified by abortion.

  29. kepler — on 17th April, 2007 at 1:41 pm  

    But, Kismet, given that there were two attacks two hours apart, either there were two attackers, or he was just behaving normally, carrying books around, etc.

  30. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    I suppose you’re right Keplar. It’s just when Americans see one person as an enemy, suddenly the whole nation turns into lookalike competition scout…

  31. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 2:08 pm  

    You can’t buy rizla at walmart?!

    Crikey. How many stoners can be arsed to pick up a gun?

    Oh yeah. They want to sell guns.

    Makes perfect sense now…

  32. Anas — on 17th April, 2007 at 2:10 pm  

    why is there so much coverage of these shootings on UK TV when about 50 people get blown up in Iraq everyday and hardly anyone blinks an eyelid?

  33. ChrisC — on 17th April, 2007 at 2:11 pm  

    I see the poll specifically concerns London attitudes.
    That may make some difference.
    Is there greater integration in London?
    Probably greater employment at least.

    Still some worrying findings, with only 5% thinking homosexual relationships OK (though only 65% of non-Muslim Londoners apparently think so).

  34. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 2:30 pm  

    Anas, one issue is desensited, the other sensationalised

    There’s rhyme for ya, even if there’s little reason…

  35. Laban Tall — on 17th April, 2007 at 2:50 pm  

    I was in a Nevada Wal-Mart last week looking at the ammunition. The ‘outdoor’ shop next door was selling ex-Hungarian Army rifles at a bargain 69 bucks – about £36.

    Despite all that the US feels a safer country than the UK. We stayed with a family who only lock the doors when they go on holiday and whose cars stay on the drive with the keys in all night. I suppose burglars aren’t so keen when the average house contains his and hers revolvers, a shotgun and a carbine.

  36. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 17th April, 2007 at 2:59 pm  

    why is there so much coverage of these shootings on UK TV when about 50 people get blown up in Iraq everyday and hardly anyone blinks an eyelid?

    I think that it is because of the Zionist baby eating Aliens cover it up … what do you think?

    TFI

  37. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 3:10 pm  

    “Despite all that the US feels a safer country than the UK.”

    hmm a bit of a generalisation! the US is a massive country – where exactly are you talking about? wouldn’t it depend on where you were? when i lived in the states i lived in south central LA and i can’t say much about safety there. i was lucky i only saw one drive by shooting/

    a tragedy like this is obviously going to make it into the news. in any case.

  38. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 3:12 pm  

    and why is it that when feel think about ‘safety’ burglary first comes to mind? are we so obsessed with tvs and dvd players or whatever that we would worry more about such activity than this kind of crazed killing sprees. yes luckily they happen not very often but still.

  39. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 17th April, 2007 at 3:15 pm  

    … or is it because that one American life is worth about 20 Iraqi lives?

    Of you might not agree with this mathematics, but your average sucide bomber doesn’t seem to.

    TFI

  40. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 17th April, 2007 at 3:18 pm  

    but your average sucide bomber does seem to.

    … honestly, my inability to review my posts is shameful.

    TFI

  41. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 3:26 pm  

    31. Kismet – you got it man..

    that’s the sort of thing Bill Hicks would have said!

    i asked for rizla at all sorts of places and made a ‘fool’ of meself. like for example, i went up to the swanky student union and asked for ‘rolling papers’ and everyone laughed like a hyena and said ‘honey you can’t buy that here/ as if i’d been asking them to sell me some pot..

    boy that sort of thing meant coming back to live in london was like a halleluja moment. oh that and there’s actually some real public transport here.

  42. Anas — on 17th April, 2007 at 3:29 pm  

    or is it because that one American life is worth about 20 Iraqi lives?

    Yeah I know it’s always been an issue — brown people’s lives have always been significantly less news worthy — doesn’t make it right tho, especially in situations like Iraq here we in the UK and US are directly culpable.

  43. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 3:56 pm  

    Having said that, kid goes berserk at American school has happened so often people have become desensitised to it. It didn’t take long before the gun debate became the main talking point. If this happened in Britain, the news would focus on the crime for days before the cause became the focus. I hope anyhoo

  44. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:10 pm  

    Anas, this is always a problem. I remember a sketch in Not the Nine o’clock news that went:

    “Top stories today, In brighton there is a cat stuck in tree, in Fincley a woman has broken an nail and in Europe a boat has sunk and thousands are reported dead.”

    “Now straight to the main story – I believe that we have live pictures of this poor cat”

    Its the same as it ever was, in fact the odd bit is how much interest we have in foriegn affairs these days. I’m still shocked that the Mumbia bombings were so poorly reported.

    Personally I think that spent to much time on the murdering in Iraq and that we ought pay more attention to fate of the Buddists in Southern Thailand, if we pretend to care about Iraq’s a little bit, we bother at all for the Thais.

    TFI

  45. Sid Love — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:17 pm  

    Yes but Churchill didn’t carve up Siam and draw it’s borders with a thick felt-tip pen, nor have we regimed-changed Thailand and secured “a golden future for the flowering of democracy” there. There ought to be a modicum of responsibility for the fate of the people of lands we invade, strip down and break into minor protectorates, oughtn’t there?

  46. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:32 pm  

    Sid makes a good point

  47. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

    TFI, I’m glad you brought up the serious matter of Buddhists. i’ve been wanting to discuss Buddhists all day. That Richard Gere, eh? I mean has he no respect for a woman’s personal space? I tried that once and I got arrested. I didn’t even make bail because my mother was still cross that I manhandled her like that

    So Shilpa comes to this country with her culture and we all go boo that the common english can’t tolerate her ways. Western bloke goes to India and they burn effigies of him

    And most importantly, what about Shilpa’s sari? Didn’t the twins look really nice in it?

  48. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:35 pm  

    though i think the buddists in southern thailand ought to get some attention too..

  49. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:35 pm  

    as well as the state of wildlife in london!

  50. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:35 pm  

    heh heh kismet

  51. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:36 pm  

    he tried to kiss her on the cheek right? whats the big fuss about!

  52. ZinZin — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:42 pm  

    Anas
    Islamophobia exists but I am no longer an islamophobe and your to blame for that.

  53. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:43 pm  

    Well effigies aside, that’s no way to treat a lady! I mean that Richard Gere, waving his cock in American Gigolo and picking up pretty prostitute women, I hate him. Why couldn’t it have been me?

  54. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:48 pm  

    :-)

  55. sonia — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:50 pm  

    anyway that shashi tharoor guy doesn’t know what he’s on about. yah people may not waltz around the streets in saris as they used to, but give them a grand occasion and they’ll doll up in saris. why should he want us to not be able to run off so easily in daily life?

    anyways. didn’t he see the pictures of liz hurley and whats his face nayar’s wedding? everyone was decked out in a sari!

  56. Kismet Hardy — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:52 pm  

    I’ve done extensive research into this matter

    Milkless, tidy top-heavy thrashes

    Is an anagram of

    Shilpa Shetty loves kismet hardy

    As dick littlejohn says, you couldn’t make it up

    I hope this has been enlightening for you

  57. Sid Love — on 17th April, 2007 at 4:52 pm  

    what even that cow, Elton John?

  58. ZinZin — on 17th April, 2007 at 5:09 pm  

    “Well effigies aside, that’s no way to treat a lady! I mean that Richard Gere, waving his cock in American Gigolo and picking up pretty prostitute women, I hate him. Why couldn’t it have been me?”

    Richard Gere was the prostitute in American Gigolo you were not paying any attention? Admit it.

    Shilpa Shetty always at the centre of attention. Must buy stock cubes.

  59. soru — on 17th April, 2007 at 5:09 pm  

    Yes but Churchill didn’t carve up Siam and draw it’s borders with a thick felt-tip pen,

    Only because it had already been done:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Thailand_%281768-1932%29

    ‘The British interceded to prevent more French bullying of Siam, but their price, in 1909 was the acceptance of British sovereignty over of Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu under Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. ‘

    Thailand and Iraq started the post-WWI-era as rather similar countries – british-backed anglophile monarchies, from the period where direct imperial rule was out of fashion. You could imagine their corresponding Kings meeting at Sandhurst and comparing notes.

    Both then had a period of military rule, and a period of fighting somewhat on the other side in WWII. The big difference is that the monarchy in Thailand came back into power:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Thailand_%281932-1973%29

    With chaos reigning on the streets, King Bhumibol, ignoring the safety concerns of his immediate security staff, ordered the gates of Chitralada Palace opened to the students who were being gunned down by the army.

    Despite orders from Thanom that the military action be intensified, army commander Kris Sivara had the army withdrawn from the streets.

    Then, for the first time in modern history, Thailand’s constitutional monarch openly involved himself in the transition of political power. He condemned the government’s inability to handle the demonstrations and ordered Thanom, Praphas, and Narong to leave the country.

    At 06:10PM, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn resigned from his post as Prime Minister.

    An hour later, the King appeared on national television, broadcasting the following speech:

    “Today is a day of great sorrow that will be. . . recorded with the utmost grief in the history of our Thai nation. For the past six or seven days, there have been various demands and negotiations that have culminated in an agreement between the students and the government. But then bottle bombs were thrown and tear-gas was fired, causing some clashes in which many people were injured. Violence then escalated all over the city until it became a riot that has not ended until now, with over a hundred of our Thai compatriots having lost their lives.

    I beseech all sides and all people to eliminate the causes of violence by decidedly suspending any action leading in that direction, in order that our country can return to a state of normalcy as soon as possible.

    Furthermore, in order to remedy the present disaster, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn resigned from the post of prime minister earlier tonight. I have consequently appointed Nai Sanya Dharmasakti as prime minister. . . .””

    The junta had fallen, at the cost of 1,577 lives.

    There’s really quite a lot of 20C history you never seem to hear mentioned.

  60. Sid Love — on 17th April, 2007 at 5:16 pm  

    Aye soru, but don’t you think the agencies of democracy have a lot to answer for in Thailand?

    You only have to see the popular military takeover from last September to realise that King Bhumipol is probably having the last laugh.

  61. soru — on 17th April, 2007 at 7:35 pm  

    Not sure what you mean by that. Both sides in that conflict were claiming to be on the side of democracy, so at least one of them must have been wrong.

    The ousted prime minister, a billionaire tycoon who rose to power in 2001, was extremely popular among rural Thais largely because of a series of lucrative local programs he backed. But allegations of corruption and abuse of power earned him the hostility of the country’s elite, mostly in Bangkok.

    Sounds a bit like Chavez in Venezuela. But it’s not something I know enough about to say who is wrong or right. I was just correcting the misconception that:

    britain screwed with the country in the past -> country is screwed up in the present

    The correct way of stating that is:

    Britain screwed with the country in the past -> country is located on planet earth

    Britain screwed with essentially every country at one time or another, so if you go to some troublespot and say ‘look, britain used to be involved here’, that is like saying ‘look, the people here breathe air and have a moon in the sky’.

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