Sane man !

Friday, July 15, 2005

Racism as secularism

This is Lenin talking good sense:

blatant racism has been sold under the guise of secularism

Although I don't fully swallow the Marxist frame he will stuff everything into, he and the SWPers sound much more sensible than a lot of traditional moderates and liberals... Here, he's skewering the nasty kind of lefty "hawk" that decided after 9/11 that the really dangerous thing was all those scary darkies, you know, over there, and that this trumps any other kind of argument. This type of islamophobia has been dissected in detail, and it's not really worth arguing with that kind of people and their prejudice-driven sophistry. Do we talk of "catholic terrorism" about the IRA? (Once again) terrorist bomb NY and London because of their hatred of rock music and women showing their hair?

But Lenin's phrase also goes to the heart to what bothered me in the French scarf ban debate: some deep-rooted racist motivations, dressed in secularism. Let's not forget that around 15% of the French regularly vote for the racist Front National. It is easy to stick the "muslim" label on the population of Algerian or vaguely Arabic origin, even if it isn't true for most, particularly in the younger generation. But did it even bring some politic credit to embattled Chirac and his party? Hardly, they're too incompetent for that, and the racists will always prefer their hatred uncut (from the FN) rather than the shameless but limp centrist imitations... they never learn!

I love France's secular spirit generally, and hate all types of religious superstition, and the idea of making women cover themselves is a pretty nasty example of how religions tend to degenerate into more or less the preservation of patriarchy (I mean, "family values").
But the "laicity" concept concerns the provider, ie the state, and not the user. The idea is not to coerce the latter into a secular state, as this is counter-productive. It's about the separation of church and state.

This type of stupid, wrong-headed forceful removing of a few headscarves (and crosses!) will induce more divisions and wrong-headedness than miraculous conversions to darwinists brights. Indeed sticking a muslim label on a population that wasn't that bothered will probably be a self-fulfilling idiocy, because the group in question isn't properly integrated and is looking for an identity... and will turn to hardline "Islam".


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