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October 15, 2006


james higham

"Feels very silly writing all this knowing that nobody will read it," concludes Lesley Cookman at the end of a post about family business in the Thanet part of Kent.

Anything but silly and a glance at my musings from my window this morning shows that this is the sort of posting I enjoy most. Even the DK is coming out a little and showing the human side. And this is why always always come to Dave's blog.

Matt M

Hmmm, I consider myself a vaguely muscular liberal (metaphorically speaking, in real life I make Milhouse look good), but I agree with you about the sheer load of guff about the veil - though I find myself often contemptuous of both sides.

I think there needs to be a debate (I'm quite big on the whole talking things through), but the almost instinctive Us and Them approach is self-defeating: you can't encourage people to join in while emphasising their difference. If we're going to complain about clothing, then lets look at the whole of society - do veils make people more uncomfortable than hoodies, for example. (I know who I'd rather get on a bus with). What are the tolerable limits to freedom of attire, if any exist? How secular is our society, and how should it deal with religious minorities? Why has Straw's comment drawn more outrage than specific examples of people being suspended/fired for religious attire? Etc.

I want answers, damnit!

[Not from you in particular, though it wouldn't be unwelcome - this was just a general rant, which your blog has the fortune of hosting]

Lesley Cookman

Gosh! Someone read me! Thank you so much. And thank you James Higham for endorsing Dave's comments.

Only one quibble... no-one who lives in Whitstable would be very pleased at being relocated to Thanet.


Dear Dave,

As someone who is only a recent British citizen, albeit one who has live here for 20 years, I remain somewhat bemused by the white, "liberal", middle-class response to Jack Straw's comments on women who come to his MP surgeries.

Much of the Guardian led discourse on the matter appears to be based upon the false premise that burka wearing Muslim women are being "targetted" and unable to speak up for themselves- and grounded in "cultural relativitism".

It appears to me that the burka ladies are quite capable of fighting their own corner- Aishah Azmi, for example, appears quite capable of running her employment matter at tribunal without any assistance from Guardian readers.

So who then is being "condesending"- Jack Straw, who simply made a comment on requests he makes at his surgery- or the white, middle-class, "liberals" who wade in support of a woman's culturally relative right to be sub-servient?

The last time cultural relativitism was rolled out on the so called liberal agenda was during the female genital multilation debate- where Black American "feminists" proclaimed the right of African mothers to have their babies "circumcised". In that case, it was the Australian and British feminists who stood up and said what we all know- that there are somethings that are just universally wrong. For example, just as it would be wrong to break a child's arm as some sort of cultural ritual- no matter where in the world you are or what religion you practice; so female genital mutilation is accordingly also wrong.

It therefore is somewhat ironic to again see the middle-classes rolling out the argument that it is a woman's right to choose to be subservient- and we [the so-called liberals]will show them we think they are subservient and incapable too- by running the argument on their behalf rather than LISTENING to what they [the burka women] have to say in response.

Thus, my point is that nothing is added to a liberal debate of an issue by making discussion of a point effectively off limits by shouting that discussion down as condescending. You guys are the one's being condescending.

As for Phil Woolas- saying Aishah Azmi had "put herself in a position where she can't do her job"- I would remind him that the Employment Tribunal and not a government minister will be the finder of fact in that case. Labour really must have a death wish.

David Davies actually is spot on when he suggests that the Muslim community (whatever that is) is in danger of creating a social apartheid.


It looks like the some Muslims like the Dr Paisley analogy too.



To follow on from Lesley, can I just say I'm astounded that someone read me too. Thanks very much for linking me, Dave. I'm really pleased you enjoyed my post. By a really quite frightening coincidence, I finished "Dad's Life" only last week - an excellent read. Cheers!


Oh yes, to save much confusion I should also point out that I am Miss Hacksaw. Doh!

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