Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)
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Sunday, 17 January 2010

Godwin's Law and Burkas.

A comment in the Mail invokes Godwin's Law more times in a short paragraph than Mrs Rigby has seen for ages.

Before we go any further let's make it clear that none of the Rigbys are members of any political group, organisation or party and nor are we full, practising, members of any religion.

Some of the things below may be either very simplistic or historically inaccurate, but remember this is a blog and it’s all a matter of opinion, not meant to be used as a text book.

Anyhow, let’s move on and see what "Kenny" from "Inverness" wrote :-

racists, nazis, little englanders, small minded, that's UKIP and the BNP, there's ways to protect and be proud of your country without reverting to political point scoring with attacks on ethnic minorities, this was how Hitler started, and we dont want that, freedom should mean exactly that, by supporting these excessive measures we are in danger of becoming everything we are supposed to be against.

- kenny, inverness

Okay "Kenny", so did you read the whole article, including this bit - which is needed to set the context.

The policy decision comes after French President Nicolas Sarkozy began attempts to outlaw full veils on state premises including public transport.

Danish Conservatives in the country's coalition government have also demanded a ban on the burka and the niqab in public. And in October 2009 the Muslim Canadian Congress called for similar measures.

UKIP leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch added: 'We are taking expert advice on how we could do it.

'It makes sense to ban the burka, or anything which conceals a woman’s face, in public buildings. But we want to make it possible to ban them in private buildings.

'It isn’t right that you can’t see someone’s face in an airport.

'We are not Muslim bashing, but this is incompatible with Britain’s values of freedom and democracy.'

It would seem that "Kenny" might have decided what "he" was going to say by skimming the title, and was going to say “his” piece whether or not it was relevant - because "he" misses the point completely. Maybe “he” just wanted to call other people racist nazis because, err, well, because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Mrs Rigby disagrees with people like "Kenny" and so do some other bloggers, including Raedwald.

Plenty of places won't let you through their doors if you're wearing a motorbike crash helmet, either with or without a visor, and some won't let you in if you're wearing a hooded coat or even a hat with a brim or peak - it makes no difference if you're quite old and no piece of clothing is covering your head. These places include banks, some pubs and restaurants and some shopping centres. The rules for ID photographs of any sort (passport, driving license etc) are nitpickingly strict. They do this because we identify each other from our faces.

Mrs Rigby and others in Britain, France, Denmark and Canada don’t think anybody should be allowed to exempt themselves from rules that have been carefully designed to keep people safe - and that includes women, especially those who have made a conscious, voluntary, decision regarding their lifestyle - but acknowledges that this is where there could be a clash of cultural values.

Some people seem to forget that Britain, much of northern and western Europe, the Antipodes and most ex-European colonies across the pond and in Africa, share a common cultural heritage that has little to do with organised religion as we now know it, and has little to do with late-twentieth-century mores either. Cultural and societal customs and practice have evolved over centuries, often invoking a deep-seated legacy of instincts that have been absorbed rather than consciously learned – and these values and instincts travelled a long way when they hitched their ride with Columbus, Magellan, Cook et als.

“Western” people tend to communicate with their faces – irrespective of their religious background or spoken language. It’s easy to tell if somebody is happy or sad, pleased or annoyed, by looking at their face. We can quickly tell if somebody is lying – we simply know. Cover the face and there’s a blank, uncommunicative canvas, unwilling to interact with others – because we have either lost or have never needed to develop an instinctive understanding of body language.

Also, people who can't see are very good at working out emotions from listening to intonation and enunciation. Those who can't hear tend to rely on what they can see. So covering up, or cloaking, an important part of a person can make communication almost impossible for those those who are either visually or hearing impaired.

It’s long been accepted, in Europe etc., that those who deliberately covered their faces (except for protection) did it because they didn’t want to be recognised. Perhaps it was because they were involved in something unpleasant – whether highway robbery, burglary or carrying out executions – or because they were performing a rite or ceremony, such as some mummers – whose origins have long gone.

The last time it was socially acceptable, in Britain anyway, for women to cover their faces with veils so thick that they hid the individual from view was in Victorian times - during a period of deep mourning. Such veils were last seen at the funeral of George VI (scroll in to 3m 10 secs), when many thought they were terribly passé because things like this were becoming fashionable.

In Britain, and generally throughout Europe and the western world, adult women can wear almost anything they want these days, and can do so without being punished. It’s a very long time since fashion or ‘rules of fashion’ said that “a well-dressed lady never shows her knees”, and even longer since ankles were deemed risqué. It’s why, in general, British and European women only cover their faces for a special ceremony of some sort – a ceremony that they choose to be involved in rather than being told they must, which could include wearing a full veil for Mass or as a Bride.

Mrs Rigby and her friends have worn all sorts of different fashions. They’ve worn long things, short things, flimsy things, silly things, floaty things and sometimes very little things, and they’ve worn them in public places too – and they’ve done it without ever being told off or punished. It’s because of this that many women shudder at the thought of being thrashed for wearing trousers – especially as they wear them very often, and they know it’s a regular part of girls’ school uniform here in Britain.

It’s probably also why many British or European women feel uncomfortable or ill-at-ease if they find themselves in a situation where they are told they must cover either part or all of themselves with a particular piece of clothing, and why, when they think that other women are being put under pressure to “conform or be punished” and so must wear a dark coloured garment that covers them from head to toe, they want to say something – but generally realise there’s no point because few will hear what they say, and if they do they won’t listen.

During the 20th century governments in European countries made agreements with allies that were intended to stop big wars happening again, then they made more alliances for trade. In simple terms organisations such as NATO and the EU are a result of those alliances and it’s because of people working with each other that Europe has been relatively peaceful since 1945.

Perhaps it's because of this long-term peace that some people fail to acknowledge that all humans like to identify themselves with others and are, essentially, 'tribal' creatures. We all, either consciously or subconsciously, prefer to mix with those with whom we have something in common – it could be place of birth, age, language, religion, cultural or societal concepts, or even something as simple as a dress code. A single ‘something in common’ can overrule and negate all other differences, especially if individuals define themselves by this one thing – but it’s when huge tribes start thinking their ideas are more important than other tribes’ ideas that trouble starts.

Some people seem to forget that there was a fully-functioning Britain before it got called a 'multicultural' country, and before it began to be absorbed into the greater geographical concept  known as the EU.

Compared to some parts of the world it’s quite nice to live in Europe and ‘the West’, it’s so nice that, historically, people from less peaceful and less pleasant parts of the world have always wanted to come to live here. Immigration patterns over the centuries tended to be quite slow and it wasn't until the mid 20th century that thousands of people started arriving in Britain, France and other northern European countries all at once, and those people came from places that had their own, distinct, cultural background as well as fashions (clothing) that set them apart from the locals.

When immigration started speeding up there were, of course, a few who were horrible to newcomers – these people were probably horrible to everybody they came into contact with – but they were used as an example of how ghastly British people were. The reality was that most ordinary Brits didn't care what colour somebody else might be - as long as they were nice and didn't rock the boat - because they had other things on their minds, including feeding their families and helping put the country back together after WW2.

The reality in 2010 is that few apart from the bean counters and policy makers give a damn about racial stereotyping, and resent the way it's become an industry all of its own. A lot of people also resent the “Kennys” of this world, who think it’s just fine to make ad hominem attacks because, well, just because they can and because they don’t actually know the people they are attacking but presume they must be ‘racially’ European.

People like “Kenny” don’t seem to ‘get it’, they don’t seem to realise that most people just want to keep their heads down and get on with their lives - it doesn't matter who they are or where they come from. European people as a whole are intrinsically fair-minded and will generally follow rules, but they don’t like to see favouritism in either the making or enforcement of those rules – rules which are needed because of things like this and because there is a serious need to stop people from covering up their faces to hide their identity when they commit crimes.

In short, if nobody can identify a lawbreaker then the lawbreaker gets away with their crime.

People like “Kenny” don’t seem to look further than the end of their noses in their quest for “equality”, which in itself is something of an irony because they don’t seem to notice that, in multicultural, equal-opportunity Britain, there are some high profile organisations that don’t seem to comply with government’s equality ‘quotas’ and would probably baulk at the idea of all-women shortlists. One such group has been recently reconciled with government. (more here h/t LFaT)

Mrs R thinks that if this organisation fully complied with Harriet Harman’s quotas their list of around 70 “Advisors, Office Bearers, Members, Board of Councillors” would proudly show that it comprises more than 4 women. A spokesman for this same organisation has said that most women who wear the burka do so out of choice and do so out of a sense of religious duty.

Mrs R has a sneaky suspicion that if a man ever suggested she had to wear something because it’s her “duty” she would get all rebellious and tell him where to go – especially if following his orders meant couldn’t go into a lot of places in Britain.

She knows she could do this – because there are laws that say she can.

She knows that, if the man tried to punish her for disagreeing with him and refusing to do what he demanded, she could seek help.

She knows that if he thumped her she could go to a hospital on her own and have her injuries checked out, even by a male doctor, and she could even be given a safe place to sleep.

Mrs Rigby knows that laws were made to protect women a long time ago. It happened after programmes like this one were shown on the television when organisations like this one were set up.

Mrs Rigby is lucky, because she knows that none of the things she’s just mentioned are likely to happen to her. She isn’t so sure that each and every female who walks shrouded in a burka would be so lucky if wearing them became illegal - and that’s why, although she applauds this law in principle, because it’s just plain common sense, Mrs Rigby thinks the law-makers would need to be very careful regarding unintended consequences that could, inadvertently, mean that a lot of women find themselves permanently housebound - kept indoors by rules that dictate women's attire. Rules that are currently regulated and enforced by practitioners outside the jurisdiction of either British or EU Courts.

Update:

In an interesting twist, Mr Balls doesn't want to tell some British part-time schools to comply with no-smacking rules - for fear of upsetting Muslim 'sensitivities'.

Mr Balls needs to realise that nobody in Britain should be outside the law, and it's things like this that make people angry, more especially as so many of government's rules have been 'for the children'.
.....

For other opinions see also :-
LFaT
Muffled Vociferation
Cranmer here and here
13th Spitfire
Corrugated Soundbite

3 comments:

Furor Teutonicus said...

"To wear bin bags or nor wear bin bags..." However, although having my views on that, I wish to know why, in a so called "Democcracy, a group that only (officialy) form around 4% of the population, can do what they damn well please, AND get the ear of every "politcician" in the land, REGARDLESS of what the 96% majority want?

Not only that, but the "Government" bends RIGHT over for them every time.

There is only ONE reason, and that is the "Government" are receiving some VERY special "favours" from a certain large family in the Middle East.

"Favours" such as, "You do what we tell you, and we will not fly any more aeroplanes into your buildings."

418 said...

Will UKIP also ban the police from concealing their faces when on 'riot' duty?

Furor Teutonicus said...

When your sort stop trying to burn them off with fire bombs, probably.