Sunday, October 15, 2006

Caveat lector. This is a rather rambling piece.

As anyone who has ever tried to do so will attest, writing a blog can be hard work sometimes. You have to juggle the desire to write with other commitments and there are times when there is loads going on, you’re itching to say something about it, but you just don’t have the time. Other times, you feel like writing, but there are no stories around that really inspire you. Another scenario is when there are loads of things going on that would usually set you off, but you cannot summon up the energy for some reason. I’d say I’m experiencing the third situation now. This is a consequence of writing a mainly political blog: you’re really at the mercy of the current news agenda. I could write about other things I suppose, but I tend not to because I don’t think that’s why people come here and, secondly, I’m not terribly interested in writing about things going on in my personal life. I don’t treat this blog like a diary. Some people do, and that’s great, but it isn’t for me.

So why am I writing this at all? Because sometimes, as I’m sure other bloggers will agree, there is a clock ticking in your head, counting the days and hours since the last time you published anything, and after a while it can start to bug you. So here I am on a regular Sunday afternoon, reeling off thoughts purely to satisfy the little voice in my head constantly reminding me that I need to write something, anything, today.

But there are plenty of stories out there, mostly of a religious nature it seems. And perhaps that is putting me off writing about them: it just gets me worked up and, in any case, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. But what choice do I have?

So come with me while I load my shotgun and head for the nearest cylindrical container housing cold-blooded aquatic vertebrates.

News about veils continue to dominate, in particular the story of a teaching assistant suspended for refusing to remove it in class. Yet more evidence that this country is hell bent on persecuting Muslims at every opportunity. Because clearly, there are no practical considerations to be taken into account here. In a job where being able to communicate with young children is something of a prerequisite, it makes sense that the person be covered from head to toe. I’ve decided to wear a motorcycle helmet to work from tomorrow. Or maybe a Ku Klux Klan outfit. And who is my employer to dictate otherwise?

Elsewhere, the cabinet is split over new laws for gay rights, after protests from religious organisations terrified about sodomy in the streets, endless Judy Garland conventions in their churches or Graham Norton having the right to defecate in Westminster Cathedral. Or something. I stopped reading halfway through, so if anyone wants to tell me what it’s about, please do so.

Meanwhile, according to the Muslim Council of Britain, Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, is pandering to an ‘Islamophobic agenda’ following the government’s decision to cut funding and official ties with their organisation. Why was our government helping to fund this group in the first place? Or any other religious promotion group for that matter. Not in my name.

British Airways, meanwhile, have stoked controversy by sending home a worker for refusing to conceal a Christian cross while on duty; a contravention of their uniform code. A code that extends to all religious clothing and paraphernalia, with the exception of Sikh turbans and Muslim hijabs. Ann Widdecombe has stated that Christians are “being persecuted” in the current environment. Which is patently as nonsensical as the claims from the Muslim Council of Britain or this opinion piece in The Sunday Times arguing that ‘Muslims are the new Jews’. Although I suspect that the stance by British Airways is driven by a misguided PC belief that one of their employees displaying Christian iconography might be deemed ‘insulting’ to non-Christian customers and co-workers. The only thing this policy insults is everyone’s intelligence. I expect that the vast majority of people could not care less and there is a world of difference between wearing a piece of jewellery and wearing a niqab in the name of your faith: namely that the former does not prohibit the wearer from doing their job effectively and the latter, if said job involves meeting and greeting with people, does. A fairly simple, common sense position to take on the whole issue.

And it is all about practicality rather than discrimination. If I were to wear a small cross around my neck to work tomorrow, my employers wouldn’t be concerned. They might, however, object if I were to commandeer the boardroom and slaughter an ox as an offering to the lord almighty. Both could be defended as representations of my personal religious affiliation, but the latter is clearly impractical in the workplace, not to mention incredibly messy. And I know this from bitter experience.

Meanwhile, that execrable little turd George Galloway stuck his snout into the trough at the Respect party’s annual conference yesterday, proclaiming that anti-Muslim comments are the last “respectable” form of racism in our society. This from a man whose party used Oona King’s mixed race, Jewish heritage as a race-baiting electoral tactic while competing for the seat of Bethnal Green and Bow in the 2005 general election. Money quote from his speech: “It's a disgusting, ugly sight and sound to see or listen to.” You certainly are George, you certainly are. Besides, Islam isn't a race.

I can’t think of anything else to say. Which brings me back to where I began. I’m going to bed.

3 comments:

ph said...

Know how you feel. I used to care, but now realise this was a mistake. I am consumed by political ennui. A bit of Jayne Ayre might do me good

tafka PP said...

Ok- can we send Graham Norton to defecate on India Knight, please? I've not read such a pile of poo in a long time. (And I read a lot of crap)

If she wants to complain regarding religious persecution against Muslims, I wouldn't dream of stopping her. But if she wishes to make such sweeping comparisons, she should at least do it in an honest and informed manner. Or is that too much to expect from columnists? Insinuating that this "backlash" in any way justifies the upsurge of angry young muslims is ridiculous. Further, not to be overly pedantic, but the British Muslim community haven't been "Enjoying" this type of attitude for quite as long as the Jews of Europe, who over the past few centuries didn't have Sky News, the Internet or any Galloways to break and bolster their various angst. Yet centuries of social discrimination, expulsions, forced conversions, accusations ranging from boiling Christian babies to make Matza to controlling the African gold reserves, and, lest we forget, the legislated anihalation only 60 years ago, still didn't drive Europe's Jews into suicide-bombing, effigy-burning, alienating rages. If Ms. Knight wants to cry "Muslims are the new Jews" she should at least read some bloody history. (Pun intended)

Meanwhile, watching and reading of all of this religious madness unfold from afar is worrisome indeeed. Galloway's attempt at a beard is especially frightening.

Citizen Sane said...

I totally agree. I cannot stand the argument that "we" are somehow collectively to blame for certain people's behaviour. The fact is, there is an element of fanatical Islam that genuinely wants to kill everybody who doesn't agree with them, and this cancer is spreading. There is nothing "we" can do to placate them or rectify their injurious claims. It doesn't matter if we take our troops out of Iraq or Afghanistan, or "fix" Palestine and Kashmir or stop printing nasty cartoons or cease having debates about religious dress. It wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference other than hand them a victory. And apologists for these fascists are the appeasers of our time.