11th September, 2008

Schools and the forgotten children

by Rumbold at 10:26 pm    

There have been many debates over faith schools, what should be taught in schools, what should be worn in schools, and the suggestion from Ken Livingstone’s closest ally (what lovely people he hangs around with) that racial segregation would be in order.

All these issues affect children already in education, but what about those not in the school system? Johann Hari reminds us about them. His section on the children of asylum seekers is especially good:

“Every year, 2,000 kids who have committed no crime are jailed in Britain’s “immigration centres”. They are forcibly seized from their homes or their classrooms – without time to gather their belongings – and locked away behind iron doors. They do not know when they will get out; some are held for more than six months. They are not allowed out to play in a park or to kick a ball. They are given virtually no schooling. Their “offence”? To come to Britain fleeing persecution.

I’ve written before about the racked, trauma-soaked children I have found in Yarl’s Wood detention centre. In this week’s New Statesman, a typical child-inmate tells her story. Fourteen-year-old Meltem Avcil tells how, when she was seven, her mother brought her here from Turkey, where they were being terrorised for being Kurdish. Meltem has been here for half her life, and says in a London accent: “I feel English through and through.” After their asylum claim was declined, they were seized. Guards took them to Heathrow to force them to board a flight to Turkey. They beat Meltem’s mother in front of her and said to the girl: “You know if you refuse to go on the plane, we’ll put handcuffs on you and tie your feet.” The pilot refused to fly such obviously distressed people, so they were taken back to the detention centre for three months – where they won their appeal. Jasmine is back at school and says now: “One day I will show everyone what I am capable of. But I will never forget Yarl’s Wood.”"

Sunny adds: There’s a New Statesman campaign on this issue. Go there to read more.

1st September, 2008

Imposing Ramadan on non-Muslims

by Sunny at 3:48 am    

There was a story in the Daily Mail last week titled, ‘Muslim council chiefs ban ALL members from ‘tea and sandwiches’ in meetings which take place during Ramadan

I thought – nah, this can’t be right. They can’t be that stupid. So I made some enquiries, and was forwarded the original correspondence sent around.

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26th August, 2008

‘Buying medals’ for the Olympics?

by Sunny at 4:51 pm    

Andy Gilmour has written a good piece, after I asked him, about the whole question of whether Britain has been ‘buying medals’ just because it has good sporting facilities. He rightly lays into the Tax Payers Alliance sort of stupid thinking, which I’m very pleased about.

More TPA stupidity here today about public sector pay.

19th August, 2008

Covering hair and other body parts

by Sunny at 3:03 am    

Naomi Alderman wrote a great response in the comments to the robust PP discussion on the Hijab and feminism, which deserves re-producing in full. This is what Naomi wrote earlier on PP

Many societies around the world and at different periods in history have had different ideas about which parts of the body ought to be concealed in public. I’m no anthropologist, but just watching documentaries and reading about other cultures makes it clear that, in some cultures it’s no big deal for women to walk around totally naked. That’s not seen as “sexually provocative”, it’s just that the custom of the place is to wear some beads, maybe sandals or jewelry and nothing else. Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” gives great examples of this. In the African culture he describes, it would be shameful for a woman to appear without her waist beads at a festival, but having bare breasts is entirely expected.

Modern Western culture has a different view. There are, of course, specific dress codes for specific places but in general Western culture says that a woman showing her bare breasts is a sexual display, while a man walking around with no top on when it’s hot is just a normal way to keep cool. [This is the case in London, where I live. If it is different in your region, I apologise for my London-centrism.]

This view is also reflected in, for example, the swimwear of male and female athletes at the Olympics. Men wear swimming shorts, women wear one-pieces which cover their breasts. Who knows if the women might perform better in just the shorts, or if both sexes might perform better totally nude? We’re not going to find out, because the athletes in these events must cover up the parts of the body which modern Western culture considers too overtly sexual to be displayed.

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13th August, 2008

My latest article: on the Aisha controversy

by Sunny at 5:40 pm    

An extract from the article:

And yet it’s unarguable that a prickly feeling of censorship still hangs over us, not just with Muslims but other religious minorities too. Remember Bezhti? How about MF Husain? If you think only Muslims get angry over perceived religious offence, then think again.

To some extent, we do need some controversies to play out and the clash over free expression to happen so that people understand the boundaries. We can’t expect Muslims, or any religious minority, to like what is being said, but we can expect them to protest peacefully. And largely we’re getting to that stage, until we reach a point where those shrieking about a clash of civilisations become irrelevant, people start becoming less jumpy, normal self-censorship comes back into play, and the Daily Mail finds another minority group to pick on. Then we’ll come full circle.

But until then, this necessary clash over free speech has been delayed for another time. But it is inevitable and it is necessary and we’ll all be fine after it. Let’s just get it over with.

8th August, 2008

Updating Sharia for the UK

by Sunny at 3:56 pm    

An interesting development is taking place tonight – City Circle are hosting the launch of a new Muslim marriage contract. On CIF, Samia Rahman explains:

Currently, the Islamic marriage ceremony (nikkah), performed by an imam in the presence of two witnesses, is not recognised by British law and often involves little or no paperwork.

If things go awry and the couple divorce, the woman – and it is almost always the woman – experiences great difficulty securing the financial rights guaranteed to her under sharia law. The terms and conditions of this new contract, signed at the nikkah, clarify both husband and wife’s rights and obligations in all eventualities. For example, it ensures that the right to divorce (talaq-i-tafweed), is automatically delegated to the wife, something that is practised in most Muslim countries.

There’s two points to make here. First, I’m guessing this is more aimed at the traditional Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities up north where they might not always follow British marriage law properly. For example, under the new contract a man waives away rights to multiple wives Islamically too. The divorce side of things is also being made more equal for women.

More importantly, it looks like an attempt by the British Muslims orgs to say – guys, the Muslim marriage contract should try and be more in tune with British laws and our place in society here. It looks like there had been a bit of a fudge, Islamically, in the past, about the nikah. I think the initiative today is about trying to streamline the religious thinking behind the nikah and ensure it doesnt contravene British law while affording more equality to women than what otherwise may have been the case. Good on them.

Will it have much impact? More likely in more traditional families if they’re obliged to sign up to the new contract. But even in more liberal places like London, almost all Muslim marriages go through a nikah, even if for reasons of tradition and just keeping parents happy. Similarly, for Sikh families its the Gurudwara ceremony that is the most important and likewise for many Hindus. At least this means that if something does go wrong, and the decision has been made to resolve things according to how the religion dictates, then women are protected.
The City Circle event is tonight in Edgware Road, London.

Rumbold adds: The contract is here (thanks to Mixtogether):


7th August, 2008

What will Obama do to race politics?

by Sunny at 11:40 am    

The New York Times has this excellent article on: Is Obama the End of Black Politics? Matt Bai says:

For black Americans born in the 20th century, the chasms of experience that separate one generation from the next— those who came of age before the movement, those who lived it, those who came along after — have always been hard to traverse. Elijah Cummings, the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and an early Obama supporter, told me a story about watching his father, a South Carolina sharecropper with a fourth-grade education, weep uncontrollably when Cummings was sworn in as a representative in 1996. Afterward, Cummings asked his dad if he had been crying tears of joy. “Oh, you know, I’m happy,” his father replied. “But now I realize, had I been given the opportunity, what I could have been. And I’m about to die.” In any community shadowed by oppression, pride and bitterness can be hard to untangle.

The generational transition that is reordering black politics didn’t start this year. It has been happening, gradually and quietly, for at least a decade, as younger African-Americans, Barack Obama among them, have challenged their elders in traditionally black districts. What this year’s Democratic nomination fight did was to accelerate that transition and thrust it into the open as never before, exposing and intensifying friction that was already there. For a lot of younger African-Americans, the resistance of the civil rights generation to Obama’s candidacy signified the failure of their parents to come to terms, at the dusk of their lives, with the success of their own struggle — to embrace the idea that black politics might now be disappearing into American politics in the same way that the Irish and Italian machines long ago joined the political mainstream.

Sounds about right to me.

5th August, 2008

Celebrating our multiple identities

by Sunny at 3:22 pm    

Labour London Assembly Member, Murad Qureshi, makes a good point on his blog:

Last weeks Sikh girls victory, Sarika Watkins-Singh over her right to wear a religious bangle or kara ( sikhs consider this a handcuff to god ) to her school was pleasantly bold when she stated she was a ” proud Welsh and Punjabi Sikh girl ” in front of the high court. This contrast sharply to others who have fought for their religious rights to wear what ever they deemed important to them to wear at school like the Begum case a few years back.

It indicates to me a sophistication on her part to the recent politics of identities particularly religious ones, where we have become accustom to people presenting themselves in one dimension and usually religious. When in reality we other dimensions to our identities, ethnic and civic for example. And indeed it can be relative as well depending where in the world one is. For example, the place where l feel the most British and thankfully is when l am ever in the United States. The fact of the matter is you can be all of them at the same time and her statement clearly illustrated this well. And this is something secularists like the Indian Amartya Sen, in his writings has always indicated.

I want to flesh this out a bit more because I think many of the responses to my article such as – why should people with religious beliefs be allowed to break the rules? – were not thought through properly. They need to be challenged properly.

The blogger Thabet, in response to my piece on CIF, points to this piece of thinking:

It is precisely in a secular state – which is supposed to be totally separated from religion – that it is essential for state law to define, again and again, what genuine religion is, and where its boundaries should properly be. In other words, the state is not that separate. Paradoxically, modern politics cannot really be separated from religion as the vulgar version of secularism argues it should be – with religion having its own sphere and politics its own.

Good point.

31st July, 2008

‘Obama has angered millions of blacks’

by Sunny at 5:13 am    

So says Darcus Howe in this week’s New Statesman magazine. Erm, except that none of the polling shows that. If anything, he angered Jesse Jackson and that probably helped Obama with blacks and whites. Darcus Howe refers to Obama’s recent speech:

Obama missed a step, and let fly in a rhetorical flourish his hostility to absent black fathers as the major source of the pain and suffering of the black communities in the US. Hardly any attention directed, so far, to the racism heaped upon American blacks from slavery to this day, and which accounts for the ceaseless revolt of black people internationally. I suppose he is being cautious not to alienate the white vote.

This is nothing new in the national politics of America. Every modern president has played it this way. This tendency received intellectual legitimacy as far back as 1965 in the Daniel Moynihan report, which charged black men with the failure to create a black family. There was much condemnation of this report in the black community. Martin Luther King gave his partial support, saying: “Nothing is so much needed as a secure family life for a people to pull themselves out of poverty and backwardness.” But he offered criticism, too: “The fact is that problems will be attributed to innate Negro weaknesses and used to neglect and rationalise oppression.”

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28th July, 2008

A cat amongst the Pigeons

by Sunny at 9:11 am    

Mr Moo’s latest post is hilarious:

The new era of pigeonholing is over. We are setting up a Council of Pigeon Advisors, consisting of Pigeons, but some doves, and also, crows, and maybe a peacock. We think in the interests of community cohesion, it might even be beneficial to put a cat amongst your pigeons. And to those right-minded pigeons who are willing to co-operate, I would say this, be more like the doves. They are more glamorous, and are in the Bible and Picasso sketches, and they drink wine and eat pork and laugh at Rushdie books and have inter-racial relationships without having to go overseas to marry their cousins. They do not get squished in the 0121 area as they are too busy posing with Kofi Annan and that chap who took over from him whose name no-one remembers, no not Boutros Boutros Boutros, but yes, he too had a funny name. Anyway, we digress, our point is this: Doves are nice, and the sooner you pigeons listen to us in this regard, the better it is. Yes, you may point out that dove-poo and pigeon-poo are indistinguishable, but that is not our point. We will know what breed of bird left a smear on our Skoda Octavias, and that is the important thing. We will know.

Go and read the whole thing! And if you want the serious version, then you could read Asim Siddiqui’s article.

23rd July, 2008

Someone else’s clothes

by Rumbold at 9:36 pm    

A senior politician was widely praised today after launching an attack on the kilt. Speaking to a national newspaper, the LabourConservative MP spoke about how a kilt was a sign that that the wearer subscribed to an extreme anti-English ideology: “Kilted men make me uncomfortable,” said the MP, “especially when it is windy.” He went on to point out that the modern kilt is not even Scottish, having been invented by a non-Scot who was a member of a religious group opposed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “What does this say about the wearers?” wondered the MP. “Some of them can’t even speak English.”

Earlier in the week, an MP from the ConservativeLabour party attracted similar applause when he attacked men who wear suits: “Where I live, all you see are men walking about in the street in suits. Either they are off to Parliament to claim expenses, start wars and tax the poor. Or,” continued the MP, “they work in the City where they spend all day coming up with complex financial packages that benefit no-one, so that they can spend their huge bonuses on strippers. The suit is a badge of corruption, greed and moral degeneracy.”

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Increasing women councillors – event

by Sunny at 2:42 am    

This is taking place today.

The Government has set up a Taskforce, chaired by Baroness Uddin, the first Muslim woman in the House of Lords, to increase the number of women from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) communities who are serving as councillors in local government. Local councillors play a vital role in their local communities and the Government wants to encourage and support more women from ethnic minority backgrounds to take part in public life.

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20th July, 2008

Mixing together

by Rumbold at 9:09 pm    

Yesterday I attended a discussion about the issues that ‘mixed’ people face, whether because they are in a relationship that crosses religious and/or racial lines, or because they are the children of such a union. All the participants were agreed that mixed persons (I can’t think of a better term), were neglected by the state and the media. There were a number of complaints about the way in which the Commission for Racial Equality and its head Trevor Phillips have failed to address the issues that mixed persons face, and the way in which the state only helps groups that one might term ‘whole’ (blacks, whites etc.).

One of the speakers was Mixtogether, a regular visitor to Pickled Politics. He runs an online forum for interracial/interreligious couples, especially those whose relationship has been criticised by their family, friends or wider community. He pointed out that although there is very little data available, mixed-race couples represented around 5% of the couples (2001 census), and were the fasted growing group. Among the issues faced by some mixed couples, especially in the South Asian community, is the pressure from those close to them to break of the relationship and pick a ‘suitable’ mate.

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14th July, 2008

Misunderstanding the ‘Race Debate’

by Sunny at 5:49 am    

I still don’t understand why The Observer keeps paying Andrew Anthony to write about race and religion – he’s so infuriatingly clueless. I destroyed his long, boring essay on how he was disillusioned by the liberal-left a while back, and yet he keeps coming back with examples that illustrate his ignorance.

In this review of Kenan Malik’s interesting new book (I like KM), he says:

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for members of religious or cultural groups to be classified as races. It’s also perfectly routine to ascribe race to skin colour (except in cases of ‘mixed’ heritage, when a light skin is always referred to as ‘black’). And the standard position of anti-racists is to deny that race is important while simultaneously celebrating racial diversity. For anyone who finds themselves confused or bemused by the ‘race debate’, and perhaps even more so for those who know exactly where they stand, Strange Fruit, Kenan Malik’s excellent new book, is essential reading.

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7th July, 2008

C4 ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Muslim’

by Sunny at 8:40 pm    

Just switched this on, and say some guy talk about “cockroaches” walking and taking over everywhere, and making the obvious link with Muslims. No different to Melanie Phillips’ more flowery “dhimmification of Britain” narrative then.

A prize for someone to spot the first blogger to take a comment from the programme out of context and state that Oborne was “kowtowing to Islamists” or something like that.

Filed under: British Identity,Media
1st July, 2008

On being British…again

by Ala at 2:59 pm    

I apologise for bringing this news late: I’ve been bogged down and was missing an interenet connection for a while. I finally finished slugging through the debate at the House of Lords on Britishness that took place on the 19th and consider myself much more confused than I was before reading it. I got very little out of what was at best a wishy washy debate, with statements like “Britishness is like freedom. Freedom is a journey that never ends, because each generation discovers new aspects” from Lord Haskel and which had the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State concluding that the debate itself was very British; possibly the kind of British that is confused, vague and involves a lot of fumbling along.

I thought Lord Addington, the only hereditary peer speaking at the debate, had something interesting to say:

Where does the idea of Britishness come from? Where does it go? It comes from historical accident. It is going we know not where. It is changing as we speak. Is it a good or a bad thing that Afro-Caribbean youth culture is currently dominant? It is a reality. How will that new culture develop in the future? The minute we start talking about issues like this, I feel we are out of date, because things are developing and changing in ways we would never have suspected in our youth.

The level of integration in certain areas is incredibly high and in others it is not. Is that not the same as the class differences we all felt so much more confident talking about a few years ago? I do not know. The two issues clearly cross over. Certain people from certain ethnic backgrounds have found themselves to be slightly more successful at integrating into the middle classes than others

Most agreed that Britishness was something that could not be imposed from the top. As proof of the elusiveness of its definition, most also highlighted the multiple identities of Britain, from as far back as time immemorial, perhaps, to its modern devolved constituent nations and multiple religions and denominations. Recent waves of immigration have added more mixture to the already mixed cocktail of cultures that make up Britain, so what is new all of a sudden? I can’t help thinking it has something to do with Islamist terror.

A lot of the speakers made the important distinction between civic nationalism and cultural and ethnic identity. As long as we carry out our duties as citizens and respect the rule of law, it doesn’t matter what ethnic group you belong to or culture you identify with. All in all, I’m baffled as to what the point of this kind of debate is. Is it the last gasp of the nation state?

Filed under: British Identity
24th June, 2008

Don’t bring religion into the equation

by Sunny at 10:46 am    

This is a guest post by Sarah, who blogs at same difference.

These are questions which have bothered every Muslim in England ever since September 11th, 2001. Why is there so much racism towards Muslims in Britain? Why does Islam have such a bad name in Britain?

The answer to these questions is that Islam has a bad name in Britain because of people like Alexandra DeGale, or Alex from BB9, as she will be better remembered.

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22nd June, 2008

Boris Johnson aide quits over race row

by Leon at 11:39 pm    


Another day, another reason to raise an eyebrow at the activities of the Johnson administration:

An adviser to London Mayor Boris Johnson has resigned after making an apparently racist remark to a reporter. Responding to a claim that some black people might leave the UK if Mr Johnson became mayor, James McGrath said: “Let them go if they don’t like it here.”

Mr McGrath said his remark to an undercover reporter from the-latest.com website had been taken out of context. Mr Johnson said he knew Mr McGrath was “not a racist”, but the remarks made it “impossible” for him to keep his job.

Dave Hill has some good coverage of the story and reactions. Is it me or is Team Bojo already fraying at the edges a mere eight weeks into the job?

19th June, 2008

Rock Against Racism was a bad idea then?

by Sunny at 8:51 am    

Boris Johnson’s “cultural advisor” Munira Mirza goes from bad to worse. As Dave Hill pointed out last week, the annual Rise Festival has this year been expunged off its anti-racism message. The festival is held annually in London.

Munira Mirza then wrote this piece for CIF, which was so bad that it was fisked very nicely on BorisWatch for its gratuitous amounts of bull. The BNP representative in London, who pushed on this issue, is very happy.

All this shouldn’t be surprising – after all she is following the party (Policy Exchange) line. A few years ago she published this report, arguing that the arts were being damaged by targets that focused on “social exclusion” and other political goals than the pursuit of arts in itself. I mean, who the hell wants social exclusion anyway? This is simply the outcome of that view.

The view is naive on several levels. Firstly, the arts is predominantly a middle-class white activity and its practioners self-reinforce that by commissioning art from that demographic and then attracting audiences who primarily relate to that. So some money is used to fund arts activity by people of more deprived backgrounds and of ethnic minority backgrounds (which usually overlaps) for the sake of widening the scope of British Arts and the audiences that consume it. Not very different to when I argue that television production has become a middle-class activity and that leads to crap like the BBC White Season.

Secondly and more importantly, Munira Mirza seems to ignore the social impact of political messages through music and arts. The point about Rise was to keep the anti-racism message the predominant narrative. It was big events like Rock Against Racism that made anti-racism the socially acceptable position. She seems to think that despite a BNP member being elected on to the assembly, there’s no evidence of racism becoming more socially acceptable. Instead, because only around 70% of the audience were white, it meant the festival wasn’t diverse enough (yes, that’s her argument!). Sheesh.
Next up: the London Mela a bad idea because there’s too many Asians there.

18th June, 2008

Blacks in France rejoice over Obama

by Sunny at 12:59 pm    

This piece in the NY Times is interesting.

Americans, who have debated race relations since the dawn of the Republic, may find it hard to grasp the degree to which race, like religion, remains a taboo topic in France. While Mr. Obama talks about running a campaign transcending race, an increasing number of French blacks are pushing for, in effect, the reverse.

Having always thought it was more racially enlightened than strife-torn America, France finds itself facing the prospect that it has actually fallen behind on that score. Incidents like the ones over the weekend bring to mind the rioting that exploded across France three years ago. Since it abolished slavery 160 years ago, the country has officially declared itself to be colorblind — but seeing Mr. Obama, a new generation of French blacks is arguing that it’s high time here for precisely the sort of frank discussions that in America have preceded the nomination of a major black candidate.

When he sat down to talk the other morning, the first two words out of his mouth were Barack Obama. “The idea behind not categorizing people by race is obviously good; we want to believe in the republican ideal,” he said. “But in reality we’re blind in France, not colorblind but information blind, and just saying people are equal doesn’t make them equal.”

He ticked off some obvious numbers: one black member representing continental France in the National Assembly among 555 members; no continental French senators out of some 300; only a handful of mayors out of some 36,000, and none from the poor Paris suburbs.

Careful! I might be promoting a supremacist racist agenda here! Sunny the communalist in action! I admit that I find American discussions on race in the media far more frank than here or in Europe. Apparently, just mentioning the word “brown” or “black” in Britain makes you a foot-soldier for the Muslim Council of Britain.

Sikh girl takes school to court over kara

by Sunny at 4:46 am    

A Sikh schoolgirl who was excluded from lessons when she refused to remove a religious bracelet should not have been told to take it off because it is a symbol of faith and not a piece of jewellery, the High Court heard.

Lawyers acting for Sarika Watkins-Singh, 14, referred the judge to a photograph of Monty Panesar, the first Sikh cricketer to play for England, wearing a similar plain steel bangle, known as a Kara. Sarika claims she was was the victim of unlawful discrimination. Helen Mountfield, for Sarika, told the court: “there is no string of authority to say that school uniform rules may trump religious dress codes”

From the Telegraph. Interesting! I thought banning her wearing the Kara was silly anyway. It is a key tenet to Sikhism.

17th June, 2008

Identity Politics 101

by Sunny at 11:25 am    

One of my main themes on Pickled Politics has always been to explore identity politics. The process isn’t always one way – it’s for me to learn about, but also for me to communicate with a white audience that doesn’t always seem to get it. So given that its the raison d’etre of this blog, I’m going to explore it further, given yesterday’s amusing responses.

So here’s another start on Identity Politics 101.

1) People have multiple identities, whether racial, religious, cultural, national, lifestyle, sexual etc. Those identities exist in context. When you’re at home, the cultural and religious side matters more; at a restaurant, your vegetarian side becomes more applicable. It is also true that if you feel one of those identities is under attack, unfairly, then you may decide to drop it or become more attached to it. This is one of the reasons why the media paranoia about Muslim self-identification effectively perpetuates it.

2) When it comes to politics, we usually vote along self-interest. If you’re poor you’re more likely to support a party promising better tax redistribution; feminists will look for women friendly policies; minorities may look towards parties who support immigration or aren’t overtly racist against them. After all, who the hell would vote for a party that goes against their self-interest?

3) Identity politics cannot die unless the state physically stops people having identities. What I’ve always campaigned against is undemocratic organisations claiming to represent religious identities, and that too when they have ulterior motives. I can no more stop Muslims identifying with their religion than you can stop me from caring about animal rights.

4) Identities also don’t go away if inequality exists. So, the existence of racism will always keep alive some sense of victimisation and self-identification with others in the same boat (to varying degrees). Similarly, patriarchy isn’t something dreamt up by feminists – it exists. Which is why feminists self-identify around women issues. Is it wrong for them to do so?

I also made this point in this article on Obama, arguing why its natural he attracts overwhelming black support in America. Neil, if you can handle something nuanced, try reading it.

Part 2 maybe tomorrow…

16th June, 2008

Some good stories

by Sunny at 2:28 pm    

This article in the Observer is really quite good.

The estate became home for hundreds of families escaping persecution and torture in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Uganda and Congo. Most had their request for asylum in the UK turned down, and when the Home Office began coming to the estate at 5am to remove them, Donnachie and the rest of the residents looked on in horror. “It was like watching the Gestapo – men with armour, going in to flats with battering rams. I’ve never seen people living in fear like it,” says Donnachie. “I saw a man jump from two storeys up when they came for him and his family. I stood there and I cried, and I said to myself, ‘I am not going to stand by and watch this happen again.’”

5th June, 2008

The Human Rights Act has failed

by Rumbold at 5:08 pm    

In 1998 the Blair government introduced a piece of legislation which was supposed to revolutionise human rights in this country; gone would be the days when ill-defined and ill-ordered laws and conventions protected the citizen, now was a bright new dawn when nobody would ever suffer state or corporate oppression again. Ten years on, I believe that this ‘Convention on Human Rights’ has failed to do what it was supposed to do, apart from make a few lawyers even richer. Typically, those attacking the Human Rights Act (HRA) would now launch into a rant about how all it does is protect murderers from being identified, or jailed rapists who want to keep their lottery winnings, or terrorists from being deported. While this might be a valid argument, the real question is whether or not the HRA has protected the rights of the citizen. In a word, no.

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4th June, 2008

What makes a good citizen?

by Sunny at 2:21 pm    

Have a chew over these questions…

- Are shared values essential to a coherent idea of good citizenship?

- …. Or just ‘values’, perhaps not ‘shared’, for a more plural notion of good citizenship?

- What is behind ‘shared’ values? Do their origins matter, how do they change over time, are people seduced or co-opted into sharing them?

- Within that, what are the tensions between the national (identity, community, values, citizenship), the secular (identity, community, values, citizenship), and the faith-based (identity, community, values, citizenship)?

- If we were to chart citizen values, would we find (or could we defend) a continuum of citizen values, as opposed to binary oppositions between faith-based values and (1) values of other faiths, and (2) ‘secular’ values?

Filed under: British Identity
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