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By Andy McDandy
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#319149
As I said (or at least alluded to), the racists don't need evidence, just something to use to attack on. If minorities aren't integrating at all, they're integrating too much. Or keeping to themselves while getting all in your face. Or taking all the jobs while not doing an honest day's work. Bottom line - you can't reason with a racist.
 
By ezinra
Membership Days Posts
#319162
Malcolm Armsteen wrote:Your attempt to unhitch attacks on Muslim women for having their faces covered to a law which pandered to the right-wing forces that demanded that Muslim women not have their faces covered seems strained. Think about the permissions the law gives for behaviour.
The first thing to say about this is that the French left is just as keen as the islamophobic right on 'protecting' Muslim women from the oppressive veil. The socialist party made little effort to oppose the law, and several of its leaders actively argued for it, in the name of laïcité. Anti-clericalism — or, on a practical level, the rigid enforcement of the separation of state from religion — is a powerful unifying force in French politics.

What was disturbing about the so-called debate on national identity which Sarkozy launched in support of his bill was the degree of consensus around the issue. White French people are widely hostile to hyphened identities and what they call communitarisme — the division of the population into a number of ghettoised 'ethnic' sub-communities (which they associate with the American model). The French state, let's not forget, still refuses to compile statistics on the ethnic origins or religious identification of its people, on the grounds of laïcité. To the majority of white French folk (on the left or the right), being French is the only political identity that counts: the others (Jew, gay, Arab) are recreational.

Compare that with the debate on gay marriage which has dominated French political discourse this year. It has been a very polarising issue. The antis have spewed their homophobia all over the media; they managed to mobilise perhaps a third of a million demonstrators, including my stepmother, on a grim winter's day, and maintained much of that momentum even beyond the passage of the bill last month. The virulence of the antis' campaign, the hatred in their hearts, brought me to tears on numerous occasions, and left me feeling frightened and angry. But I happened to be in the south of France on the day of the first same-sex wedding, and so I joined the crowd outside the town hall, and when Vincent said oui to Bruno through the loudspeakers, the most enormous cheer went up. The folk around me — straight, gay, cis and trans — all began snogging their partners there and then, in front of the cameras and the riot police (who were enjoying a quiet afternoon in the sun). There had been two camps, in disagreement, and our side had prevailed. That's politics.

I would be pessimistic for Britain if I thought there was a consensus against multiculturalism, but there isn't. The groundswell against further immigration is, I think, broader — the question is whether it translates into extra prejudice and violence against migrants themselves. The sun is still out today, so I will say that I doubt it. I'm not quite so optimistic for France, where the legacy of right-wing populism is longer and more 'impressive', and where the Front National has an established political presence. But it would only need a couple of multinationals to pull out of the country, citing a hostile political climate, for the far right to lose its lustre. French businesspeople are obsessed with their country's international image.

I know I sound complacent — the success of the gay marriage bill is a part of that. But I've lived almost all my life under right-wing governments*, and in spite of that, the Europe I live in now is a more just and tolerant place than the one I was born into. And I see no reason why that shouldn't continue.

*For completists:
Born 1973, Scotland (Heath)
1973-81, France (7 years of right-wing govt, six months of Mitterrand)
1981-98, UK (16 years of Tory govt, 1 year of New Lab)
1998-2008, France (4 years of cohabitation, 6 of Chirac/Sarkozy)
2008-present, UK (2 years of exhausted New Lab, 3 of Cameron)
Total: 32 years of right-wing govt, 4 of cohab, 3.5 of left(ish) govt
 
By youngian
Membership Days Posts
#319176
ezinra wrote: I know I sound complacent — the success of the gay marriage bill is a part of that. But I've lived almost all my life under right-wing governments*, and in spite of that, the Europe I live in now is a more just and tolerant place than the one I was born into. And I see no reason why that shouldn't continue.
As links on this site demonstrate there is no shortage of anger being vented on folk devils by people who don't really know why on a rational level.

But I understand where you are coming from with the above quote. Richard Dawkins did a programme earlier this about morality in a non-religous framework. He made the point that there is far less violence, communual hatred and even bad manners in non-religious secular Europe and other parts of the globe (not that religion is the root cause but I follow his point).

I'm weighing towards your view and the future probably does belong to the children of the enlightenment. But to refer to Malcolm's original concerns, 1930s Germany was the country of Kant, Beethoven and Marx. The future is never certain and has to be fought for.

Very interesting post by the way.
 
By ezinra
Membership Days Posts
#319186
Thanks, youngian. I think both you and Malcolm are right to temper my optimism. I'm actually rather ambivalent about the future — we're clearly becoming more individualistic and more suspicious of each other at the same time as we're more open-minded about (though not necessarily more accepting of) difference. Liberal capitalism and its contradictions, eh? It's curious/worrying how the effects of a crisis in the capitalist bit (the recession) have mostly been borne, so far, by the liberal bit.

To return to my 19th-century populism-in-the-US analogy, I think that's probably where we're heading — ever-greater economic inequality, an ideological emphasis on individual responsibility for one's situation, and the loosening of the safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable. This will lead to further alienation, restless competitivity, and a sense of victimisation and illegible rage among classes of people who, objectively speaking, ought to be fairly happy with their lot. It will probably require a set of folk devils for us to despise. As a result, society will be unpleasant, angry and divided. But that doesn't make it Weimar.
 
By Malcolm Armsteen
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#319198
In Weimar many people were angry, confused by events, unhappy about change and needed to lay blame.

Newspapers and the government (after Weimar I know, but when not in government if you see what I mean) provided them with a focus for their anger etc.

Politicians and media both did well out of it. Just like now.
 
By ezinra
Membership Days Posts
#319254
Relevant to this topic:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/ju ... unravelled" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
[From] the late 70s … the US became more entrepreneurial and less bureaucratic, more individualistic and less communitarian, more free and less equal, more tolerant and less fair. Banking and technology, concentrated on the coasts, turned into engines of wealth, replacing the world of stuff with the world of bits, but without creating broad prosperity, while the heartland hollowed out. The institutions that had been the foundation of middle-class democracy, from public schools and secure jobs to flourishing newspapers and functioning legislatures, were set on the course of a long decline. It as a period that I call the Unwinding.
 
By Kreuzberger
Membership Days Posts
#319255
Malcolm Armsteen wrote:In Weimar many people were angry, confused by events, unhappy about change and needed to lay blame.

Newspapers and the government (after Weimar I know, but when not in government if you see what I mean) provided them with a focus for their anger etc.

Politicians and media both did well out of it. Just like now.
I tend to agree. The less politically savvy at the dead-spot of the debate can be manipulated by The Law to be told what is acceptable and what is not. The the axe-grinders on the other hand, can use it to support and justify their actions.

"This expectant mother was breaking the law", goes the narrative, "she got what she deserved." Yes, there are shades of grey but unless one stands up and says that this law if fundamentally unjust, the incidents will happen time and again until they cease to be news. At that point, they become the norm, the Chess Club bans are brought in and a lot of glass gets panned in.

The central issue, I'd have thought, is that the rule of law is both the foundation and the outcome of democracy but, equally so, it is a powerful weapon for those who mean nothing but division and hate for their own ends. Too many people all too often fail to do their duty and actually give a shit. Niemöller all over again.
 
By cycloon
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#319277
The analogy of Weimar requires, to have the full impact, the likelihood of a Nazi-esque 'conclusion'.

I don't see that happening in the UK. I'm not saying it's impossible, but nor do I think it politically or historically sensible to suggest that it's therefore inevitable/likely. The historical situations are very different, despite many similarities as well.

I know nobody has made that link yet - explicitly, at least - but it's what springs to mind when Weimar is mentioned.
By Big Rob
#319279
To be fair in a lot of islamic countries women are treated like shit and have to wear the burqa.

It seems that right wingers share a few intolerant traits of the hardline muslim countries.

In the mind of the right wing it seems to a perceived threat of loss of nationality or racial superiority that drives intolerance, in the case of social conservatives islam is a threat to christianity too,.

From what I've read, what is driving islamic fundamentalism, as well as conservative islam, is a fear of secularism.

What happen with islamic female dress in France was supposed to be driven by secularism. Instead you had the state interfering with religion.
Last edited by Big Rob on Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
By Kreuzberger
Membership Days Posts
#319303
cycloon wrote:The analogy of Weimar requires, to have the full impact, the likelihood of a Nazi-esque 'conclusion'.

I don't see that happening in the UK. I'm not saying it's impossible, but nor do I think it politically or historically sensible to suggest that it's therefore inevitable/likely. The historical situations are very different, despite many similarities as well.

I know nobody has made that link yet - explicitly, at least - but it's what springs to mind when Weimar is mentioned.
Thanks to the EU and the fragile coalition of the haves. To consign the black and white images of Weimar to the past is to overlook the technicolor of the Balkans and Rwanda et al and to give the right the rope with which they would hang us all.
Last edited by Kreuzberger on Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
By ezinra
Membership Days Posts
#325863
Malcolm Armsteen wrote:The law and the attack are both examples of growing intolerance. The law shows that the intolerance is becoming normalised and institutionalised. My inference is that this normalisation emboldens the intolerant.
There's a very fair piece by Angélique Chrisafis in the Guardian today on the proposals for a new and even more discriminatory law. She notes that:
Islamophobic attacks in France more than doubled between 2011 and 2012 – with women in headscarves the principle target, accounting for 77% of victims of physical or verbal attacks, according to the French Collective Against Islamophobia [FCAI]. After the attacks on veiled women in Argenteuil, the French Muslim Council warned: "Attacks on women in headscarves multiply around the time of each debate about the wearing of the Muslim veil."
The FCAI finds a significant correlation between media coverage of 'Islam' and rises in the number of attacks on Muslim women. It observes that
for the year 2012, there were noticeable spikes [in aggressions against Muslims] in the months of April-May and September-October. These periods coincide with the Mohamed Merah affair, the release of the video «L’innocence des musulmans», [an argument over the publication of provocative] cartoons, and not forgetting the matter of [the conservative party leader] M Copé's pain au chocolat. [Copé empathised with (fictitious) parents whose (fictitious) children had had their (fictitious) snacks confiscated by (fictitious) Muslim peers during Ramadan.]
There's a lot of blame to be shared here — by mainstream media and cynical politicians (Copé campaigned for the party leadership by complaining about "anti-white racism") but also public intellectuals and social, local and 'alternative' media.

The FCAI report also suggests that Islamophobes feel increasingly confident about verbally abusing Muslims in public, and are more likely than before to pass from verbal to physical harassment. There has been a notable rise in islamophobic incidents in the workplace, especially in the avowedly secularist public services, with schools the worst offenders. But the most worrying development is the rise in street violence, which is new. I don't know whether the recent attacks were organised, but the far right has certainly been emboldened by the mobilisation of large numbers of demonstrators by the anti-equal-marriage campaign, which it attempted to hijack towards the end.
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