Do we tolerate religious intolerance?

Wow, slept from 11 until 10, loads of REM, daysleeper indeed. Had a good chat with Kate last night about whether I was being somehow ‘ungrateful’ for my feelings of disappointment, we surmised I’m not, that it’s a normal part of the process and we have to continue as we have been with the old cliched one day at a time.

One thing I didn’t comment on yesterday was that come March or sometime thereafter there may be some ‘residual’ tumour and they would cut it out.

The Kenyan artist, courtesy of Rachael, is Edward Orato, thank you very much Edward, your work will soon be framed and on a wall in our house.

Tears and powerful emotion welled up in me when reading Suzanne Moore’s Grauniad piece this morning: “Add faithophobia to my crimes: I have no respect for religions that have little respect for me”.  Her argument is pretty much summed up in the title but I urge all you equivocators, moral relativists, and fence sitters to read this and then please try and continue with your arguments. The crux of her position is that why should she show any respect for those who show no respect for women, who would restrict the rights of women, who deny women power, even power over their own bodies (abortion, FGM immediately come to mind). That there is some sort of ‘faux’ respect shown that is primarily based on fear; say, write or draw what we don’t like and we will kill you. Is this what any self-respecting society should allow?

Of course most of the violence is carried out by young/middle aged men but as Suzanne (see how I’m comfortably on first name terms with my fellow scribes?) writes they are often culturally ignorant of their own identities, they have not been taught properly, as your comments about French teaching allude to Jo. As Suzanne says: “The lost boys who cling to dogma do not even know their own history, never mind anyone else’s.” Thing is they are often groomed and proseltysed to by more elderly MALE religious elders (of most, if not all faiths).  Suzanne ends her piece with something I endorse fully: those who believe in no god have the same rights as those who do.

Watched some of a very disturbing TV programme last night: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ which followed three very angry English men around and their particular hatred towards Muslims. One scene has stayed with me when they and other extreme male nationalists confronted a gathering of male Muslims listening to the ‘radical cleric’ Anjem Choudary outside Regent’s Park mosque. This cleric has actually been banned from preaching in mosques. The scenes of anger and hatred expressed by the two groups towards each other was horrendous and if allowed to get together would have resulted in a horrible bloodbath. One comment among many ugly comments was from a Muslim fellow who threatened the ‘whites’ with the prospect of all their children becoming Moslem. How many see all this as continuation of the holy wars? The crusades continue.

Slade’s ‘My Oh My’  now playing on the radio and it’s like Alice Cooper’s ‘Only Women Bleed’ in as much as it’s somewhat unexpected and has some heart warming sentiments (just one slightly questionable line). It’s lyrics could also be an anthem for our current times and what I’ve been writing about: ‘So let’s all pull together my oh my’.

Listening to Women’s Hour earlier there was an interview with someone about the possibility of two women running against each other for the US presidency. They were discussing the prospects and likelihood of Carly Fiorina running for the republicans against Hilary Clinton. When the interviewer asked about her lack of political experience the interviewee said that she’d been Hewlett Packard ceo and that this was enough qualification for being a president, enuff said.

An overarching possibility is that it is our current neoliberal capitalist system that is feeding and encouraging much of our current discontent. When you have a system that has so quickly resulted in such gross inequality, that has deliberately created a large number of poor, disenfranchised and angry young men then perhaps you create the environment that encourages them to look for ‘answers’ or outlets for their anger. Ally this to Naomi Klein’s very plausible shock doctrine thesis whereby corporations, kleptos and BBs use disasters to further their hold and profits (New Orleans and post-Katrina are an example) such that we have greater fear of terrorism and ‘the other’ and consequent greater production, spending and so on on ‘defence’, counter terrorism’ etc. Welcome to 1984 and our reducing freedoms.

Manifesto 61:

  • all schools to teach not only about the different religions but also agnosticism and atheism and the cultural values of every religion, especially the place and treatment of women historically and currently.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.


2 thoughts on “Do we tolerate religious intolerance?

  1. Not sure if you think I’m a moral relativist or an equivocator… but here goes. It is not a ‘faith’ that persuades those eg “who show no respect for women, who would restrict the rights of women, who deny women power, even power over their own bodies (abortion, FGM immediately come to mind)” – those are actions of a tyrannical wilful arrogant twisting of words once set down as ways of living in a society. Those original words (uttered by various people who were then latched onto and viewed as teachers or prophets) may have expressed a belief of the writer/speaker, but it is only in the accumulated translations, transliterations and misinterpretations that those words become guidelines and then rules and then compulsions and then diktats. None of this has anything to do with faith. We all have faith every day – faith in doctors, dentist with their hands in our mouth, cafe owners, supermarkets, wine makers and the love of our lovers to name a few. Let’s not confuse faith with religions and their dogmas and catmas nor with societal and cultural mores that those with power in a given society look to justify by taking philosophies and stories of spiritual insight out of context, ignoring the often metaphorical or allegorical framework they were created in, and turn them into so-called laws.
    Note that here, don’t know about UK, many folk have spoken on TV about their support for le mag even if they don’t always like the cartoons, They are moslem by inclination but no more linked to violence than Suzanne Moore is to Jesuit torture or conquistador genocide – as one of the Charlie survivors writes, why should ‘moderate moslems be asked by the meejya to apologise for sick assassins, the former are simply French citizens, with no more responsibility for the latter than any other citizens. Biard (from Charlie Hebdo):
    “Yes the Israel-Palestine conflict is a reality, yes international geopolitics is a succession of underhand tricks, yes the social situation of, as they’re referred to, ‘people of moslem origin’ in France is profoundly unjust, yes racism and discrimination must be fought unceasingly. Fortunately there are several tools to try to resolve these serious problems, but they’re all useless if they lack one thing: laicité (tr: secularism). Not positive laicité, not inclusive laicité, not laicité-je-ne-sais-quoi, but laicité full stop. Only it allows, because it extends universality to all rights, the exercise of equality, liberty, fraternity and sisterhood. It only permits full liberty of conscience, ….It only permits, ironically, believers and others to live in peace. All those who pretend to defend moslems while accepting the totalitarian religious discourse are in fact defending their executioners.”
    It’s hard to translate laicité, which is why I haven’t = secularism is the closest english comes to it, but doesn’t carry the same weight nor depth. Here’s the wiki definition of it:
    Proponents assert the French state secularism is based on respect for freedom of thought and freedom of religion. Thus the absence of a state religion, and the subsequent separation of the state and Church, is considered by proponents to be a prerequisite for such freedom of thought. Proponents maintain that laïcité is thus distinct from anti-clericalism, which actively opposes the influence of religion and the clergy. Laïcité relies on the division between private life, where adherents believe religion belongs, and the public sphere, in which each individual, adherents believe, should appear as a simple citizen equal to all other citizens, devoid of ethnic, religious or other particularities. According to this concept, the government must refrain from taking positions on religious doctrine and only consider religious subjects for their practical consequences on inhabitants’ lives.

    So, let’s get off the fence and get proportional representation for a start, as a beginning point for getting any sort of consensual society that we want to live this life in.
    Basta, too much wine talking.
    Glad your taste of life is returning, Duncan, ’tis done, can keep on getting better now. xxx


  2. Thanks Jo, and yes my comments were directed at you and others and thanks for writing response. I think that it is through such discourse we learn and hopefully move on and your comments have paused me to think. It is a complex ‘problem’ and I think that in such situations it helps to take a position that best reflects your own thinking and beliefs to try and ‘simplify’ and from such develop deeper understanding but remain open to ‘better’ arguments which may shift your position. Too often in the past I suffered from agreeing with whatever the last person said in the naive belief that it keeps the peace. Also of liberal relativism, but look where that’s got us on the left.
    I like the idea of laicite and agree on PR.
    Look forward to seeing you and Den next week.
    Duncan x


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