America May Be The Gun, But Europe’s The Trigger

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
First Amendment of The Constitution of The United States of America

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Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression,
including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.

The “Fundamental Freedoms” of
The Canadian Charter of Rights And Freedoms

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France is an indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic. It ensures the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction as to origin, race, or religion.
It respects all beliefs.

Article 2 of The Constitution of The Republic of France

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Ten years of growing nationalism and a crackdown on immigration may seem like the beginning of a trend in European politics, but really it has been the continuation of policies in place for centuries. What started out as religious persecution of one tribe of Christianity over other Christian religious groups, has evolved into secular persecution of “Other” groups, be they Hindu, Sikh or, especially, Muslim.

The Paris riots of 2005 where disaffected Muslim youth burned cars and engaged French police in minor street skirmishes, were just the latest in European religious persecution dating back to the initial religious settlement of America, and even further back into the Crusades. But modern Europe has discarded Christianity so now instead of the sects of Christianity fighting each other internally or slipping across the Mediterranean to fight against Jews and Muslims the latest conflict is being fought by Secular Europe against Islamic immigrants fleeing to Europe from wars started by the European imperialism of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Swedish International Radio recently [Fall 2006] spent half an hour discussing whether Islam poses a threat to Swedish Secularism. Nearly 4% of the population of Sweden is Muslim, which works out to approximately 300,000 people. These people are predominantly from Iran, Turkey and Bosnia and some are beginning to demand the right to practice their religion in the open, including prayer breaks at work. A Swedish mosque, one of only five in Sweden, was recently burned to the ground.

This follows two tumultuous years of clashes between the Muslim community in France and French lawmakers. France has banned religious symbols from schools, and over half of all German states now have laws banning Muslim teachers from wearing the hijab. In large parts of Germany it is also now illegal to wear Muslim head-dresses to work and prayer in public has also been banned. And now Sweden is considering a similar or greater ban, including a potential ban on Halal foods.

Forced assimilation is becoming the policy of Europe, their argument: Without secularism there cannot be democracy. None of this is new, but what is amazing in these recent discussions is, with the same breath these politicians who are setting policies calling for the forced integration of Muslims into European’s various Secular Societies, they then condemn America for having “racist” tendencies.

It’s easy to understand why the Europeans are doing this, they’ve always been xenophobic. There are not a whole lot of coloured people in Sweden, so when those populations start to grow (due to the migration of people suckered in by the advertised tolerance) and those migrants bring with them their religions and customs, Swedes get freaked. Same for Norway, Finland and so on. Now throw in the growth potential for religious militants (as they see happening in The World in general), be they Sikhs, Hindu’s or Muslims, and the Swede Freak Meter goes into the red. There are three countries on this planet who have managed to become multicultural: Canada, America and India. Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and the rest of South East Asia restrict immigration to the point where it just doesn’t happen, and citizenship is limited to those with long and deep roots in those countries. If you’re a recent or even third of fourth generation immigrant to Europe, Russia and Australia you’re marginalized — your religion and customs are quaint as long as they don’t grow or gain momentum, then they’re dangerous and the laws start getting passed.

But if you listen closely to what’s happening in Europe, France especially, you’ll find Secularism is finally being acknowledged as their True Religion. France’s constitution guarantees a Secular State, therefore there can be no religion. The new European Union constitution will, when it has been written, make sure no religion will have influence over the state or over the citizens of the state. This is why Catholic Poland, Italy and Spain are taking so long to ratify the constitution, these three countries may inevitably get some concessions based solely on the “historical relevancy” of Christianity, but if you’re a Sikh living in Europe and you want your kids wearing their head dresses at school you might want to start pricing overseas moving companies.

Secular States are more likely to become fascist, that’s the problem. Take France as an example. Right now it is illegal for a student in a public school to wear a religious headdress, as a penalty the child will be sent home until they’re willing to come to school without it. But what if the child refuses? Does that child get suspended? Expelled? Lose their right to a state sponsored education? How far does it have to go before that child, or their parents, is jailed? Not far at all. What if all Muslim children refuse to acknowledge the law? How long before the state ups the penalty? If there is civil disobedience, how long before the majority demand the laws and penalties be expanded beyond the classroom?

Or, conversely, if the public school version of the law is successful, how long before it’s applied to areas outside the schools? If children inside schools are so uncomfortable having religious clothing and symbols in their classrooms that laws must be passed to protect them, how long before enough people complain about religious symbols outside of school until laws are passed to protect them?

In India you are free to worship, and that freedom is protected by The State. There are some recurring tensions between specific groups, but India is quickly moving beyond the murderous strife of the past and is now allowing The State to settle disputes. To a certain extent Canada and the Americans are on the same road as Europe. In Canada and in the United States there can be no mention in Public Schools of Christianity at Christmas, the Ten Commandments cannot be posted in court houses, even though they form the basis for all of the Western legal systems. But we haven’t made Secularism our State Religion yet. What we have done, or are on the road to doing, is creating a Multicultural Society in which the dominant culture is the one least revered. But still, if an American or Canadian child wants to wear a Cross, so be it, same with a Sikh’s head wrap, a Muslim’s Hijab or the Jewish Skullcap.

It’s widely misunderstood that the American Constitution protects the State from Religion, when it’s actually the other way round. The American Constitution protects Religion from the State. When the Great Thinkers wrote the American Constitution they were remembering the religious persecution which drove them away from Europe in the first place, so they created a legal document protecting All Religions from State persecution. Here in Canada we have a document — the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — which guarantees our Right to practice any religion we wish. [aside: seeing that our country has only had a constitution and a Charter since 1982 we’re still trying to figure out exactly what all of this multiculturalism thing means…].

But those types of documents are missing in Europe. They don’t understand the persecution suffered by the Jews, Muslims, Sikh’s and the rest are running from, because for the past 1500 years it has been Europe doing the persecuting so they still see nothing wrong with a few more laws limiting the ability of these peoples to worship their Gods inside Europe.

Ultimately it seems that while America claims to be spreading democracy across the Middle East in an effort to protect itself, Europe is limiting the role of democratic freedom inside its borders in an effort to save Europeans from the rest of the world.

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About Gabriel

I’ve lived in fifty-two places. I've been paid to pick stones out of fields, take backstage photos of Britney Spears, and report on Internet privacy issues. My photos have been published in several newspapers, and a couple of magazines.
This entry was posted in America, American Politics, Canada, Canadian Charter of Rights, Canadian News, Canadian Politics, Christianity, Civil Rights, Facism, Islam, Middle East Politics, Punk, US Middle East Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to America May Be The Gun, But Europe’s The Trigger

  1. queenminx says:

    I consider England to be multi-cultural. My city, Manchester, is multi-cultural and has been for a long time.

    And Protestants and Catholics have been persecuting each other in Northern Ireland for as long as I can remember, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Ireland part of Europe?

    My Gran is a Northern Irish Catholic and still talks about ‘the troubles’.

    I don’t like being lumped in with your idea of European Religious Persecutors.

    I completely agree that what France is doing is Fascism at it’s most base and ugly, but I would hope that there are French voices of dissent, I can’t imagine that all French people agree with their countries politics.

    Again, correct me if I am wrong.

    I am sure you will.

    x

  2. Gabriel... says:

    I hesitated to call India “multicultural” because their “multicultural” doesn’t really extend to colour… but in terms of religion and ethnic groups they’re obviously one of the most mixed countries out there. I put Canada and America into a different category than Britain because it is possible for someone who is non-white / non-Christian, non-English speaking to assimilate quickly and completely into those two societies. It may have taken a Supreme Court challenge but it has been possible to wear a turban and be a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, can you imagine a Beefeater wearing a turban? Or a Queen’s servant wearing a hijab, or a Minister of Health speaking with a Pakistani accent? I’m not suggesting that it hasn’t happened (I don’t believe they have), but that it’s taking a lot longer to occur in the cradles of democracy that are the States of Europe than over here.

    It’s been my experience that the British really don’t like the idea of having more than one culture [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4741753.stm], and most first and second and even third generations of immigrants from Africa and Asia remain immigrants without the same level of access to… well, anything the white-Christian long timers have access to, like jobs.

    Protestants and Catholics mixing is not a great leap forward into multi-culturalism. They have had a tendancy to get along everywhere else in the world for quite a long time. Despite the current level of peace between the two Churches in Ireland, they are both white, Anglo-Saxon and based on the same faith. They’re not North African Muslims wearing robes, hijabs and demanding mosques be built in Manchester…

    And, to be honest, with a class system as rigid as Britain’s still is, how can assimilation or multi-culturalism occur (this is another reason why I hesitated with India)? Multi-culturalism, in Canada and the United States, is a method of assimilation where the immigrant is allowed to keep their culture while adopting those of the new country. Look at the huge pockets of ethnicity in America, yet they all, as soon as they get off the boat, believe they are American first and the line to citizenship is straight and fairly fast. A software programmer from Pakistan is a Canadian citizen, and considered a Canadian citizen, almost before he gets off the plane. How long until an Algerian immigrant or refugee gets to be considered “All The Way Welsh”?

  3. queenminx says:

    Firstly, there is a Mosque being built not far from where I work in Greater Manchester, and although there isn’t a Minister for Health who speaks in a ‘Pakistani’ accent or any other accent, there are many MP’s who are Pakistani and Indian. And I do believe in the NorthWest there is a young Muslim Woman who has won a seat in Local Government against conflict from her male Muslim community.

    I do believe that the reasons why ‘Beefeaters’ don’t wear turbans is because the ‘traditional’ costume of a ‘Beefeater’ doesn’t include turbans. I think you chose ‘Beefeater’ as a bad example, after all, they are now simply a tourist attraction.

    As for a ‘Queen’s servant’ wearing a Hijab, I have no idea how many Muslim staff the Royal Household employs, and neither do you, but I think it is stretching your point to even mention that.

    Maybe instead of comparing a Beefeater to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, you should have used the Metropolitan Police Force as an example. Which as far as I am aware, the reasons for not wearing hijab’s or turbans is simply a uniformed safety issue, rather than a refusal to recognise or respect an individual’s chosen religion. I am sure there are many civilian staff employed by the Metropolitan Police Force who wear Hijabs and Turbans. At least, there were when I worked for them back in 1988 in Hounslow, Middlesex, which is a predominantly Asian Community. Indeed, my landlord and housemates were both Asian and, better employed than I.

    And furthermore, there are plenty of schools in England that are predominantly Muslim, which I would say goes a long way to ‘allow’ an ‘immigrant’ their own cultural indentity. I am not only including Muslims, when I talk about multi-culturalism. You seem to be fixated on religion. I thought culture incorporated a lot more than that. Is it worthwhile to mention to you Manchesters Chinese and Polish communities? The Polish community as a point, was well established long before Poland became part of the EU and now it has, there is a Polish shop recently opened just down the road from where I work. So, yippee for Polish Immigrants giving this new adopted country a go and taking advantage of opportunity.

    As for access to jobs, I really don’t know which jobs you are talking about because in my city, people from all religious denominations, countries and cultures are employed in a dazzling variety of careers, and I do believe have access to employment along with any white, christian, english speaking person, and after saying that, most companies are now legally bound to operate policies of ethnic representation amongst their employees.

    Of course, it would be very difficult to be employed in any job if language is a barrier that’s just common sense but after saying that, in my city, courses are offered free of charge to anyone who wishes to learn English as a second language and in a lot of cases, an interpretation service is offered, if available.

    Furthermore, I would like to work in Barcelona, but I wouldn’t expect to be employed in the same job I have now as I cannot speak Spanish. My job demands person-to-person communication, therefore any position I would expect to be employed in, if I couldn’t speak Spanish, would be limiting. Again, that’s just common sense.

    I don’t know what your ‘experience’ of the British are, if you even have any. What I would suggest is that you vist Britain, which btw is four separate countries, please visit all of them and you will find each one has it’s own ‘cultural identity’.

    As for rigid class systems, I thought India was a country that had class/caste systems more rigid than a lot of other countries, or so my Indian Hindu co-worker tells me. Who btw, has a fantastic job and is better paid than I, an English white (non-christian).

    And matey, you contradict yourself by ending with ‘How long until an Algerian immigrant or refugee gets to be considered “All The Way Welsh”?’ I thought your whole point was ‘Multi-culturalism … is a method of assimilation where the immigrant is allowed to keep their culture while adopting those of the new country’, so in that case, the ‘immigrant’ doesn’t want to BE Welsh, just wants to live there.

    x

  4. Gabriel... says:

    “How multicultural is Britain?”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4741753.stm

    .
    There’s a big difference between what Europe and “Britain” call multiculturalism, and what Canada calls multiculturalism. America doesn’t use the term at all, but its “melting pot” practise is closer to the Canadian model than Europe’s. MC in Europe is not a method used to integrate, it’s a method used to keep cultures separate from each other. Of course there are “other cultures” integrated into “British” society, the UK is not Nazi Germany and I haven’t implied Britain, the UK, Wales or any of the other pieces, are anti-other cultures. Britain was a colonial / imperialist power for two hundred years, of course they’ll be some mixing of colours and religions. “The first mosque built in England was in 1889. It’s called the Shah Jehan mosque, named after the Sultan who had the Taj Mahal built”, but those Pakistani’s you encounter speaking the Queen’s English are most likely, but not all obviously, the descendants of the Pakistani people brought to England during and after the 1960’s to be menial labourers.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,738909,00.html
    “[…]. From the 1960s, when Britain sought cheap labour to do its dirty work at home, poor Pakistanis, among others, settled here bringing with them a zealous religion that all but eschewed luxury, sensuality and ornamentation. If there was a religious reason for this puritanical zeal, it was underpinned by poverty.”

    .
    People in your country increasingly see religion as something that divides, yet while identifying that there are several religions in the country, the numbers of people who see themselves as religious is quickly declining. So secularity is rising, religious belief is dropping, which is making religion a wedge issue. Meanwhile, Tony Blair has admitted that Britain’s multicultural past has been ineffective in bringing “other” cultures into the British mainstream. Unfortunately he is choosing the wrong direction:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1978045,00.html
    “82% of those [Britons] questioned say they see religion as a cause of division and tension between people. Only 16% disagree. The findings are at odds with attempts by some religious leaders to define the country as one made up of many faith communities.”
    “The clear majority, 62%, agree Britain is better described as “a religious country of many faiths”, although “only 13% of those questioned claimed to visit a place of worship at least once a week, with 43% saying they never attended religious services.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1967748,00.html
    “Religious groups will have to prove their commitment to integration before being awarded taxpayers’ cash, Tony Blair said today, as he reignited the row over Muslim headscarves. The prime minister said it was “plain common sense” that teachers should have to remove them in the classroom, as he announced a crackdown on funding for religious and racial groups.”

    Of course it’s “plain common sense”, everyone knows that women wearing scarves for religious reasons are what’s crippling this world we live in. So what your country is proposing is that Muslim women no longer should be allowed to work in schools. And if they complain, well it’s just a damn scarf, right? Obviously if the government said no one could teach school while wearing a cross any right thinking Britain would take it off right away. But maybe that has something to do with their not being all that religious… maybe it has something to do with everyone else being secular, so why not the Muslims as well? Why can’t they be like everyone else?

    .
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,738879,00.html
    “Muslims are subject to appalling levels of racial and religious harassment, and rates of unemployment and poor health are high. One in three respondents said they or a member of their family had experienced personal abuse because of their faith, and 61% said relations with non-Muslims had deteriorated since September 11. As a result the vast majority, 85%, support new legislation banning religious discrimination. Unsurprisingly British Muslims feel a strong sense of exclusion, with 69% saying they felt the rest of society does not regard them as an integral part of life in Britain.
    Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, welcomed the poll: “There is an overwhelming interest in the community in integrating but we need to be very clear what we really mean by integration. It does not mean assimilation – forgetting the culture and traditions you’ve been brought up with and adopting a culture that’s alien to you. “Integration involves understanding the English language, going to mainstream schools and having an interaction with mainstream society, developing better relations with people of different faiths and no faith.”

    .
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/race/story/0,,605337,00.html
    “The relatively even dispersal of the 149,000 Chinese Britons may further add to their near invisibility in discussion about race in Britain. But this may simply be a positive sign that they have little to worry about. Britons of Chinese origin, along with African-Asians, can no longer be considered disadvantaged groups – both men and women achieve similar earnings to their white counterparts, and are as, or even more likely, to be in professional and managerial jobs.
    “Worst-off are people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin who score poorly on all main indicators of social exclusion and disadvantage – they are easily the most likely to be unemployed, living in poverty or overcrowded housing, and with lower levels of fluency in English than other ethnic groups, especially among women.”

    .
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/12/09/nmulti09.xml
    “Tony Blair formally declared Britain’s multicultural experiment over yesterday as he told immigrants they had ”a duty” to integrate with the mainstream of society.
    “In a speech that overturned more than three decades of Labour support for the idea, he set out a series of requirements that were now expected from ethnic minority groups if they wished to call themselves British.”These included “equality of respect” – especially better treatment of women by Muslim men – allegiance to the rule of law and a command of English. […] “The right to be in a multicultural society was always implicitly balanced by a duty to integrate, to be part of Britain, to be British and Asian, British and black, British and white,” he said.

    What Tony is proposing is actually much closer to the Canadian model of assimilation through multiculturalism. But with regards to the religious symbols, he’s using some of the European model as well, which is a shame.

    .
    Now, to your more “direct” questions:

    “I do believe that the reasons why ‘Beefeaters’ don’t wear turbans is because the ‘traditional’ costume of a ‘Beefeater’ doesn’t include turbans. I think you chose ‘Beefeater’ as a bad example, after all, they are now simply a tourist attraction.”

    I know who and what the Beefeaters are. Believe it or not we Canadians also have “tourist attractions”, one of them being the RCMP Musical Ride and, also, RCMP officers do stand around our Parliament Hill in their “Dress Reds” offering tourists both information and a photo opportunity, and some of these RCMP officers do wear turbans. At least the ones whose religion calls for a turban… otherwise it would be dumb.

    .
    “Maybe instead of comparing a Beefeater to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, you should have used the Metropolitan Police Force as an example. Which as far as I am aware, the reasons for not wearing hijab’s or turbans is simply a uniformed safety issue, rather than a refusal to recognise or respect an individual’s chosen religion.”

    No. If I wanted to compare City Police I’d use the Toronto Police force [here] where Sikh’s have been able to wear turbans, on the job, since 1986. I’m sure there are UK-specific safety issues which would lead your government to force Sikh’s to remove their religious attire so they can work. I mean, it’s just their religion, right?

    .
    “You seem to be fixated on religion.”
    Did you read the quotes at the top of my post?

    .
    “I thought culture incorporated a lot more than that. Is it worthwhile to mention to you Manchester’s Chinese and Polish communities?”

    It does, and no. Culture means more than chopsticks and it means more than race. I’m sure there are people from all across the diasporas of the world living, nay, thriving in Manchester. Again, check the quotes at the top of my essay.

    .
    “I don’t know what your ‘experience’ of the British are, if you even have any. What I would suggest is that you visit Britain, which btw is four separate countries…”

    “btw” we have ten, America has 50. Other than my grandparents, my father, and his brothers being borne and raised in the most predominately Scottish of those “British Countries” [I’ve edited out some stuff here, I wrote it while I was a little irritated. If you want to read it I’ll email it to you] you’re absolutely right, I have no personal knowledge of The Kingdom or it’s four remaining components. Except, or course, from watching the BBC World News every night, reading at least a few books, magazines and web pages on the topic, being a fan of Rowan Atkinson and, of course, being borne in one of The Kingdom’s former colonies.

    .
    “…please visit all of them and you will find each one has it’s own ‘cultural identity’.”
    Yeah, that would probably be part of the problem. “Cultural identities” as fixed as “The Four Countries That Are The UK” have a way of crushing those from “Elsewhere”, but that may be a separate essay.
    As for why India and not Britain, as I have said: “I hesitated to call India “multicultural” because their “multicultural” doesn’t really extend to colour… but in terms of religion and ethnic groups they’re obviously one of the most mixed countries out there. […].”

    .

  5. janie jones says:

    I enjoyed reading this essay. It was very interesting and gave me a lot to think about.

    It frightens me when a state interferes with religious belief. I am not a religious person, but I know those who are should be entitled to worship without fear of reprisal.

    I agree with Canada’s decision to take enforced Christian prayer out of public schools. I think a school should remain secular, but that does not mean the students must be secular as well.
    Students should be permitted to wear religious clothing and accessories in class. A secular society enforcing its secular values on religious peoples seems no different to me than one religion persecuting another.

    I actually think it would be beneficial if students were taught about different cultures & religions – with unbiased textbooks and knowledgeable instructors & guest-speakers. This might remove ignorance and the sense of “other”.

    Although I believe we are moving slowly towards a global secularism, religion is, at this point in human history, still a vital component in the lives of a vast population of the Earth. This needs to be accepted & respected. I think many people robbed of their beliefs whether religious or spiritual or poetic or scientific would lead less-meaningful lives more subject to despair.

    This is of course just one girl’s opinion…
    And as a post-script I would just say I will NEVER EVER understand xenophobia in the modern world! We should be embracing one another.

  6. queenminx says:

    Well, I must be living in a different country then. One you know more about than I. Because by working and living here on a daily basis, I see integration at all levels. But of course, reading the news and watching Rowan Atkinson makes you more of an expert.

    x

  7. queenminx says:

    [you were responding here to some stuff in my last response that I edited out, last time I’ll edit one of my… or your, comments. Promise. “…I should have stuck in a wink!”]

    I am merely trying to point out that this country has a long, long way to go, and what you written in your article has merit, most of it I am inclined to agree with.

    I just think it’s a tad unfair of you to make such steadfast negative opinions (or so it appears) about this country when you live thousands of miles away, and are gleaning most of your information from articles written in The Guardian or the like, which may have a vested interest in not wanting Britain to be multi-cultural and therefore believe it’s best interests lie in making other countries believe this is the case.

    What I am trying to point out, and failing miserably, is that I ‘see’ that changes are being made on a ‘ground roots’ level if you like, from living and working here. I see it from a ‘working class’ perspective, and know for a fact that attitudes are changing and the ‘general’ population is changing with it.

    It becomes a irritating to me when it the whole idea of being multi-cultural, requires, a country to relinquish it’s own culture, when surely it should retain it as well as embracing others. This is the point I think you were making with the four countries of the UK keeping their own ‘fixed’ cultural identities. I see nothing wrong with this, and they are not as ‘fixed’ as you would suppose but it is important to have a ‘cultural identity’ for it to be part of a ‘multi-cultural’ society.

    Listen Gabriel. I am all from a Multi-Cultural Britain. I welcome it. I embrace and celebrate it. The bus I take into the town centre of Manchester has become like the United Nations and I for one, and I am amongst many, think this is a fantastic step forward.

    What I wouldn’t and don’t accept is an attitude of mis-informed generalisations that some of the articles you are reading heavily lean towards.

    I don’t know where these newspapers get their statistics, because the people I deal with on a daily basis, simply don’t fit into this negative.

    I work in my community. My friends work in my community. We are aware of what our community involves and the changes that are being made. Some people’s attiutudes will take longer to change and in fact, they may never accept these changes. That’s tough for them.

    For me, on a personal level, I love it.

    [again, you were referring to the comment I edited out… last time. Promise again.] …when I disagree with you, I will disagree with you. When I think you might be mislead, I will tell you and hopefully you will thank me for it.

    If that’s not what you want from your readers, again, with the greatest of respect, this will be the last comment I make.

    xx

  8. Gabriel... says:

    “I see integration at all levels.”

    Again: “Britain was a colonial / imperialist power for two hundred years, of course they’ll be some mixing of colours and religions.”
    All of the quotes and links I used in my response above were from British based media, so if you have a problem with how I or anyone else “sees” how your country is ‘dealing’ with “multiculturalism” I suggest you take it up with them.

  9. Gabriel... says:

    “…I should have stuck in a wink!” [Sorry, I edited a piece of my last response out, but I guess I got there too late]

    I know you’re new at this whole thing, so when you post “hard” the general response will be hard… sarcasm does not translate well in print (which is why Ian Rankin always writes “No, I love it. Really”, Rebus said sarcastically.” ) Queenie, if you were someone else I wouldn’t have killed two hours by writing a 1500 (!!) word response to your first response.

    “I just think it’s a tad unfair of you to make such steadfast negative opinions (or so it appears) about this country when you live thousands of miles away, and are gleaning most of your information from articles written in The Guardian or the like, which may have a vested interest in not wanting Britain to be multi-cultural and therefore believe it’s best interests lie in making other countries believe this is the case.”

    But it’s okay to make those observations about France and Continental Europe? The links I used to quote from were all recent (within the past three years), and the people represented in them were from different communities and included your Prime Minister. Again, the British “multicultural”, according to former-Labour-God Tony Blair his-own-bad-ass-self, is a broken system which has historically made it far too easy for “other” cultures to be segregated from “Britain”.

    “What I am trying to point out, and failing miserably, is that I ’see’ that changes are being made on a ‘ground roots’ level if you like, from living and working here. I see it from a ‘working class’ perspective, and know for a fact that attitudes are changing and the ‘general’ population is changing with it.”

    You’re not failing at all, you’re doing a great job of saying England/Britain/UK is integrated on several levels, but that’s not the point and I’ve said three or four times that I agree with you.

    “It becomes a irritating to me when it the whole idea of being multi-cultural, requires, a country to relinquish it’s own culture, when surely it should retain it as well as embracing others.”

    This is the broken system Tony and I are talking about. There has to be give and take, it’s a little like a dinner conversation. If I’m invited over to your home and all you do is go on and on and on about how wonderful your family is and you don’t let me talk about mine at all, I’m going to be a little left out and maybe feel a little isolated. If, however, you allow some back and forth we’ll get along just great.

    “This is the point I think you were making with the four countries of the UK keeping their own ‘fixed’ cultural identities…”

    From now on either you have to say “The Ten Countries That Are Canada” or else I get to say “Britain”.

    “Listen Gabriel. I am all from a Multi-Cultural Britain. I welcome it. I embrace and celebrate it. The bus I take into the town centre of Manchester has become like the United Nations and I for one, and I am amongst many, think this is a fantastic step forward.”

    Great. Now explain why the current Leaders of your wonderful country agree that the multicultural system that has been in place is a failure? That “leap foward” has been stuck in mid air for a hundred years. Again: “Britain was a colonial / imperialist power for two hundred years, of course they’ll be some mixing of colours and religions.”

    “What I wouldn’t and don’t accept is an attitude of mis-informed generalisations that some of the articles you are reading heavily lean towards.”

    1) “The Guardian newspaper, of which Guardian Unlimited is its online presence, was founded in 1821 and has a long history of editorial and political independence.”
    2) “The BBC exists to enrich people’s lives with great programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain. Its vision is to be the most creative, trusted organisation in the world.”
    3) The Observer is part of the Guardian network
    4) “Telegraph Media Group publishes telegraph.co.uk, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Weekly Telegraph.”

    “I don’t know where these newspapers get their statistics, because the people I deal with on a daily basis, simply don’t fit into this negative.”

    December 26, 2006:
    “Guardian/ICM Poll: 82% say faith causes tension in country where two thirds are not religious…”

    “[you wrote some stuff here about what I edited out… last time I edit my own comments, promise.] When I disagree with you, I will disagree with you. When I think you might be mislead, I will tell you and hopefully you will thank me for it.”

    And I do…

    “If that’s not what you want from your readers, again, with the greatest of respect, this will be the last comment I make.”

    No it won’t be (again, 1500 (!!) word response, if I didn’t like / respect you it might have been 12 words, max.)

    I wouldn’t really refer to anyone reading this stuff as my “readers”… more like lost people looking for Scoble’s site but too shy to ask for directions.

    “xx”
    oo

  10. queenminx says:

    [I edited out a few nice things Queen said which, I believe, were meant for me. If she wants them back in I’ve saved them elsewhere]

    you: ‘But it’s okay to make those observations about France and Continental Europe?’

    me: It’s okay for ‘you’ to make them because it’s your article. If French or Continental Europeans feel they need to respond then I am sure they will. I will speak for myself and for what I think is happening here.

    you: ‘The links I used to quote from were all recent (within the past three years), and the people represented in them were from different communities and included your Prime Minister’.

    me: I don’t read newspapers, I have a tendency to resort to cynicism when faced with a ‘newspaper article’, regardless of how well written and who by. This is simply because I don’t believe they can remain impartial but, I will go back and read the links you have used to base your article or the responses to my comments on. (I would do this for you!!) And, to find out which ‘communities’ were represented.
    I’ll come back to Tony Blair Witch.

    you: ‘a broken system which has historically made it far too easy for “other” cultures to be segregated from “Britain”.’

    me: I do believe that ‘other’ cultures or more to the point, individuals, in some cases, want to be segregated. Unlike newspapers, I do enjoy a good documentary, and there have been arguments made for both segregation/integration. I think the outcome was basically an individual decision. Should a person of a ‘other culture’ wish to remain segregated, usually because of family or religious convenience, they will. Or, if they wish to integrate, they will. I think what was apparent was the individuals consulted felt they had a ‘choice’. I thought this was a good thing.

    you: ‘There has to be give and take, it’s a little like a dinner conversation … If I’m invited over to your home and all you do is go on and on and on about how wonderful your family is and you don’t let me talk about mine at all, I’m going to be a little left out and maybe feel a little isolated. If, however, you allow some back and forth we’ll get along just great’.

    me: I understand your point. I think I got annoyed because I personally want the ‘back and forth’ you talk about. I think it’s a wonderful thing. I don’t travel, so I don’t get to see the world, so when the world comes to me on the 219 bus into town, I am truly honoured! I understand the problems you have written about. I suppose I wanted you to know that there are British (I’ll come back to the British bit) people who welcome and embrace different cultures. And I don’t know whether it comes across in the articles you have been reading, but there are lots and lots of cross-cultural work being done over here, by people who truly believe in what they are doing and think it is the only way forward. I feel this work is denigrated if it is only the bad stuff that is printed. That’s where the ‘negative’ is, why can’t these newspapers follow up with the ‘positive’? See below.

    you: ‘Great. Now explain why the current Leaders of your wonderful country agree that the multicultural system that has been in place is a failure? That “leap foward” has been stuck in mid air for a hundred years. Again: “Britain was a colonial / imperialist power for two hundred years, of course they’ll be some mixing of colours and religions.”’

    me: I can’t explain this. The leaders of ‘My Wonderful Country’- (I assume this is sarcasm, because you don’t think this country is wonderful, even though you never said ‘writes sarcastically’ wink!)- don’t listen to me or the vast majority of it’s constituents, just like they didn’t listen to us when practically the whole of the UK said they didn’t want the war in Iraq. And, Britain hasn’t been an imperial power for a long time so I am not sure apart from the obvious mixing of colours/religions why you keep bringing this up. It’s more history than contemporary, isn’t it? What I do think is positive, is that people from other countries still want to come and live here, make lives for themselves and their future generations. This makes me proud.

    you: Newspapers points 1-4.

    me: As mentioned above, I don’t read newspapers for the reasons stated and for also, as stated above, that the negative is printed and not the positive. As a point, would you be able to find positive articles about the good work that is being done in communities to cross-over cultures or accept and respect chosen integration and/or segregation?

    you: ‘December 26, 2006:
    “Guardian/ICM Poll: 82% say faith causes tension in country where two thirds are not religious…”’

    me: Yes, but who do these polls ask? No-one I know or have ever known, has ever, ever, ever, taken part in one of these polls??? So, exactly where are they getting this information?? And, taken out of context, or even in context, statistical information can be manipulated to prove whatever damn point needs to be proved. I simply don’t trust stats! I am absolutely 99.72% sure of this, even though I have never actually asked myself the question or taken part in a poll to determine whether or not I trust statistical polls! wink!

    you: From now on either you have to say “The Ten Countries That Are Canada” or else I get to say “Britain”.’

    me: Gabriel, I am English. I am not Scottish, or Welsh or Irish. That is why I go on like I do. Ask Puddlejumper if she’s Scottish or British, and which one comes first. I don’t know about ‘The Ten Countries That Are Canada’, or if these ten countries consider themselves separated from the whole. But, the four countries that are British, aren’t a ‘United’ Kingdom. We are reluctant neighbours. Ones that have gotten used to each other but don’t truly accept any ‘oneness’. That is why there is now a Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies. I wholeheartedly agree with this. In fact, you will find a lot of Welsh, Scottish and Irish people who don’t ‘like the English’. You will know from the history of these islands how much blood has been spilled trying to unite them, and how much blood is still being spilled trying to separate one of them. It is important for these four countries to have their own indentity, and it has been hard-fought for. So I am not being an arse when I say I am English. I think it important to respect the differences and the cultural indentity of the four countries that make up Britain. But, for the sake of simplicity, and to make your points, of course say Britain, it’s sensible to do so. I just wanted you to understand why I point out the difference.

    And as you are on a roll with editing your comments and mine, maybe you would be so kind as to correct my mis-spelling of Mr Atkinson’s name. A man I do admire and can remember watching ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’ when I were just a nipper.

    Thanks!

    xx

  11. Jamie Stern-Weiner says:

    You appear to be confused as to the meaning of secularism. You write:

    “France’s constitution guarantees a Secular State, therefore there can be no religion.”

    That makes no sense. A state is secular not if it bans religion, or if there is no religion, but if religion and state are separate. Hence, Britain is a secular state, even though many British citizens are religious.

    As to your contention that secular states are inevitably “fascist” – that’s plainly ridiculous. The sole evidence you provide for this is that France has banned the wearing of religious dress. So? That proves France is fascist?! Using your argument, most religious countries are fascist too – for example in countries run under Shari’a law, where they forbid women to wear revealing clothes.

  12. Gabriel... says:

    “You appear to be confused as to the meaning of secularism. You write: “France’s constitution guarantees a Secular State, therefore there can be no religion.” That makes no sense. A state is secular not if it bans religion, or if there is no religion, but if religion and state are separate. Hence, Britain is a secular state, even though many British citizens are religious.”

    No, a state which guarantees secularism, like France, is a state with no religion. Britain guarantees religions are protected from The State, therefore the people have freedom to pray and to be prayed to.

    “As to your contention that secular states are inevitably “fascist” – that’s plainly ridiculous.”

    Nope. Secular states, like France, demand uniformity. “I don’t believe in God, therefore you should have no problem giving up your hijab to work in a school.” Institutional uniformity = fascism.

    “The sole evidence you provide for this is that France has banned the wearing of religious dress. So? That proves France is fascist?!”

    I was writing about Europe, and did mention a few other examples but, for the sake of this essay, yes.

    “Using your argument, most religious countries are fascist too – for example in countries run under Shari’a law, where they forbid women to wear revealing clothes.”

    Funny enough, most (but really all) countries using Sharia Law as the primary basis of their legal system are fascist. Go figure. It’s Yin and Yang: France wants everyone to be the same, therefore no outward religious expression; Saudi Arabia wants everyone to be the same, therefore everyone gets to be judged by the same Allah.

    Secularism (sec·u·lar·ism) (noun): the rejection of religion or its exclusion from a philosophical or moral system.

  13. Jamie Stern-Weiner says:

    Right. There’s an or in there. In the case of countries like France and Britain, secularism does not mean a “rejection of religion”, but it does mean the “exclusion” of religion from matters of state.

    France does not exclude religion from existing. That much should be obvious. It does, like other secular Western democracies, exclude religion from the state. Big difference, there.
    “Institutional uniformity = fascism.”

    fas·cism (făsh’ĭz’əm) pronunciation
    n.

    1. often Fascism
    1. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
    2. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
    2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

    In other words, not what you said, and not an accurate description of France.

  14. Gabriel... says:

    re: Secular definition: My “or” comes after an “either“.

    There’s a big difference between banning public schools from promoting one religion over another (America), and banning children from attending public shools because of their religion (France, Germany, Sweden, soon Britain, other European places with much nicer beaches). So if the “Other” religious communities in France hadn’t caved to the States demand regarding religious attire in classrooms, and a Sikh kid walked into a class and demanded to be educated while wearing his kirpin… does he get escorted out? Do French police stand outside the gate to prevent young children from attending class because of what religious symbols they’re wearing?

    France’s Christian majority don’t ‘believe’ anymore, therefore the respect for other religions is dropping like a stone tossed at a heretic: “Why can’t they be as enlightened as us? Why can’t they simply fit in?” France does not exclude religion from existing, but if a religion wants to continue to exist in France it must do so with France’s blessing and France’s definitions. How can a State support religious freedom, while banning the religious from being a full member of the State? Muslim religous beliefs, and the people who follow Islam, are being shut out of the cultural, political and working… lets call it ‘classes’, across Europe. If my religion calls for me to wear a head-covering, but the State bans me from working or attending class with it on, the State is rejecting my religion.

    The fatal flaw in France’s constitution is “secular” and “all beliefs”. They cancel each other out, and “respect” doesn’t really mean much of anything. I can respect your decision to paint your body bright pink and run around my neighbourhood naked screaming about Xenu, but there’s no guarantee I, being The State, am going to allow you to continue doing it, even if, as a Scientologist, your beliefs call for it.

  15. queenminx says:

    My daughter is in High School. There are young muslim girls who attend her school wearing their hijabs. I don’t see a problem with this. It doesn’t interfere with their schoolwork, and in fact, from a practical point of view, it will keep their ears warm in winter.

    Following this, jewelry of all kinds is forbidden. This is the school rule, so of course it includes crosses/crucifixes. I don’t see a problem with this either. I suppose if a young Christian girl/her family wanted to push the point, it may cause some furore, but up until now, this is accepted without contention.

    I wonder if the Catholic Schools in the area allow the children to wear crosses/crucifixes, or like most schools, ban the wearing of jewelry, simply because it isn’t practical i.e. jewelry is stolen/lost/broken or causes ‘keep-up-with-the-Jones’s’ competitiveness. I can’t see anyone wanting to steal a hijab from a child’s head, or the wearing of such causin fights in the playground because ‘your hijab is better than mine!’

    If my daughter’s school banned muslim girls from wearing their hijabs, I for one, would be outraged and would take my daughter out of school in protest.

    I think you are right Gabriel when you say: ‘… Christian majority don’t ‘believe’ anymore, therefore the respect for other religions is dropping like a stone tossed at a heretic: “Why can’t they be as enlightened as us? Why can’t they simply fit in?” This is true. It angers and saddens me, that a simple acceptance of ‘difference’ cannot be gracefully adopted.

    I am not religious, I don’t like religion, but I am respectful in my acknowledgement that ‘other’ people are, regardless and in spite of what that religion might be.

    I believe it is important to try and understand religion, which is why I welcome the teaching of Religious Education in schools. In my daughter’s primary school and now in high school, this is still taught.

    I think, for the most part, it is fear that causes contention. Fear that, something is being taken away, or taking over. This to me is a misconception. We are being given something different. In my opinion, this can only make ‘us’ more, regardless and in spite of, who ‘we/us’ are.

    I have fought hard all my life to be an individual. I would hate, to be forced to be the ‘same’ as everyone else.

    So, I can only hope that the many, many ‘British’ people who feel the way I do, will also take their children out of those schools who ban the wearing of hijabs. I sincerely hope (I do a lot of hoping), that it won’t come to this.

  16. Jamie Stern-Weiner says:

    “re: Secular definition: My “or” comes after an “either“.”

    Well, in the definition you gave it doesn’t. But even if it did…so? That doesn’t change the meaning. Secularism in this context (i.e. in the context of a political system) means that religion is separate (or ‘excluded’) from the State. Government and Church are separated. That’s what secularism means.

    “There’s a big difference between banning public schools from promoting one religion over another (America), and banning children from attending public shools because of their religion (France, Germany, Sweden, soon Britain, other European places with much nicer beaches). “

    There is indeed. I disagree with your characterisation of France – that it is banning children from attending public schools because of their religion.

    What if my religion called for me to carry a big sword around everywhere I go? I am sure you would agree that it makes sense for schools to ban weapons within school grounds – is that the same as banning me from attending school because of religion? No, or at least that characterisation is misleading – it is banning certain practises within school grounds, regardless of religion or not. So, in this example, the practise of weilding a sword in school is banned, for health and safety reasons. That means anyone who wants to carry a sword around with them everywhere they go – whether for reasons that are religious or not – cannot do so in schools. They then have a choice: stop carrying the sword around or stop going to school.

    The point is that the ‘religion’ aspect is purely incidental – I am not being banned from school because I am religious, I am being banned because I refuse to leave my sword at home.

    “So if the “Other” religious communities in France hadn’t caved to the States demand regarding religious attire in classrooms, and a Sikh kid walked into a class and demanded to be educated while wearing his kirpin… does he get escorted out? Do French police stand outside the gate to prevent young children from attending class because of what religious symbols they’re wearing?

    The “religious symbols” were not banned because they were “religious”, but because of what they were (as in the sword example – it was banned because it was a sword, not because it was a religious sword). And yes, just as if I brought a sword into school demanding to be taught despite the banning of swords I would be escorted out, so the same happens (I presume) in France when people try to defy the French ban.

    “France’s Christian majority don’t ‘believe’ anymore, therefore the respect for other religions is dropping like a stone tossed at a heretic: “Why can’t they be as enlightened as us? Why can’t they simply fit in?””

    Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘respect’. I have as much respect for belief in God as I do for belief in fairies and elves and Santa Claus. Respect is not the issue here; the issue is tolerance and freedom.

    “France does not exclude religion from existing, but if a religion wants to continue to exist in France it must do so with France’s blessing and France’s definitions.”

    But that’s true of everything. If I want to exist in Britain, I must do so in accordance with British law.

    Now, the important question is not whether or not there should be such “definitions”, as you put it, because of course there should. Society cannot exist with everyone simply acting as they want. The real question is: what should those definitions be? On this matter, there is much debate. I am of the firm view that the hijab and most other religious attire does no harm to anyone, and so should not be banned. I absolutely disagree with the French policy on the issue (I wrote about my views when it came up in Britain here). On the other hand, I do agree that it is necessary to ban, for example, Sikhs from bringing into school the huge swords they are required to by their religion. This is not because, as you would suggest, I have something against Sikhs – the problem I have is with the swords, not with the fact that the sword is religious or Sikh.

    So, again: France is a secular state. A fundamental principle of French government (and therefore of the civil service, including public schools) is that religion and the state should be separate. That is not the same as what you imply, which is that France is some sort of fascist state that is fiercely destroying religion however it can, and that grants its citizens no religious freedom. That simply isn’t the reality, regardless of one’s views about the specific policy regarding the hijab in schools.

    “If my religion calls for me to wear a head-covering, but the State bans me from working or attending class with it on, the State is rejecting my religion.

    The fact that it is your religion is irrelevant. Religion is just a set of ideas, and deserves no special treatment compared to any other set of ideas. So let’s just take your example: you want to wear a head-covering (the fact that the reason you want to do so is religious is, as I say, irrelevant). You claim that by banning head-coverings in places of work and learning, the state is rejecting your idea.

    Yes, it is. So what? States reject all sorts of ideas all the time. Right now, the British government is rejecting the idea that I can go around killing everyone who looks at me funny. Does that mean Britain is fascist? Should I blame secularism?

    No. So, as I say, there is legitimate debate to be had over certain laws (“definitions”, as you put it). I would argue that it is necessary to reject the idea of allowing people to go on killing sprees, and I would argue that it isn’t necessary to ban head-coverings in most situations. That’s fine. But your suggestion that the very existence of these limits, and the subsequent enforcement of them, is equivalent to “fascism” is just absurd.

  17. Gabriel... says:

    “…jewelry of all kinds is forbidden. This is the school rule, so of course it includes crosses/crucifixes. I don’t see a problem with this either.”

    That’s pretty much what I’ve been saying is the problem though, Queenie. Because Europe is getting tired of its own religion it’s becoming far too easy for the Euro-States to ban everyone else’s: ‘America may be doing all the shooting, but European secularism is at war with Islam.’

    Even Holland — where you* can sit out on a patio watching the tourists walk by while you get a handjob, smoke a nice bowl of hash while knocking back an Absinthe laced with the virgin blood of a baby Siberian Tiger — is playing around with banning the parts of Islam the State feels are inappropriate.

    *maybe not you specifically…

  18. queenminx says:

    you: ‘where you* can sit out on a patio watching the tourists walk by while you get a handjob, smoke a nice bowl of hash while knocking back an Absinthe laced with the virgin blood of a baby Siberian Tiger … maybe not you specifically…’

    me: hmmm … sounds good to me!! (sticks tongue out).

    And, maybe not the virgin blood of a baby tiger … grrr!! I would much prefer an experienced adult tiger!!

    Oh yes!!

    xx

  19. janie jones says:

    I loved reading all this; it was fascinating! Stuck in my studio (I work from home) I don’t get as many opportunities to hear or participate in thoughtful debate as I once did. Thanks guys!

    It’s interesting trying to decide how to balance the preservation of specific cultures in what I hope will one day be a truly global culture. Nationalism is tricky…it has caused a lot of problems in the past (& present). Why do people find it insulting when “their” country is insulted? I was born and raised in Canada and I am a proud Canadian, but not a PROUD Canadian if you understand me…I’m sure I would like other countries too if I visited them.

    I would love to quote some of your interesting arguments and answer them specifically, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin! I’ll just be an interested on-looker. Looking forward to more on this issue…
    xoxo

  20. Gabriel... says:

    “Secularism in this context (i.e. in the context of a political system) means that religion is separate (or ‘excluded’) from the State. Government and Church are separated. That’s what secularism means.”

    No, political secularism means State over Religion.

    Me: “There’s a big difference between banning public schools from promoting one religion over another… and banning children from attending public shools (sic) because of their religion… . ”
    You: “There is indeed. I disagree with your characterisation (sic) of France – that it is banning children from attending public schools because of their religion.”

    Me, Again: And yet they are.

    “What if my religion called for me to carry a big sword around everywhere I go? I am sure you would agree that it makes sense for schools to ban weapons within school grounds – is that the same as banning me from attending school because of religion?”

    In Canada a Sikh child can wear his ceremonial knife to school, into a movie theatre, into work, and… well, everywhere. Weapons are banned in school yards, yes. But if it’s a religious item, no, it is not banned. If some random kid is caught on the playground with a butterfly knife then, yeah, it’s confiscated and the kid gets suspended and a stern talking to.

    “No, or at least that characterisation (sic) is misleading – it is banning certain practises within school grounds, regardless of religion or not. So, in this example, the practise of weilding (sic) a sword in school is banned, for health and safety reasons. That means anyone who wants to carry a sword around with them everywhere they go – whether for reasons that are religious or not – cannot do so in schools. They then have a choice: stop carrying the sword around or stop going to school.”

    See, you’re thinking like a religiously burnt out European. If my religion calls for something to be worn, and the State forbids me from wearing it, the State is dictating changes to my religion. And, in Canada, swords are used at various religious festivals, and where swords are called for during religious services it is allowed. Including, but not excluded to, Sikh and Hindu and Scottish Highland Games.

    “The point is that the ‘religion’ aspect is purely incidental – I am not being banned from school because I am religious, I am being banned because I refuse to leave my sword at home.”

    In Quebec, until about 1957, it was illegal to be a Jehovah’s Witness. But it was not against the law. If you were caught sharing literature about The Witness Program in a random bar, that establishment could be seized by the Quebec government. If you were caught carrying Witness literature in your car, you lost your car. All the Witnesses had to do was not discuss or share information about their religion and they would be left alone.

    “The “religious symbols” were not banned because they were “religious”, but because of what they were […]. And yes, just as if I brought a sword into school demanding to be taught despite the banning of swords I would be escorted out, so the same happens (I presume) in France when people try to defy the French ban.”

    I’m not sure which Religion Of The Sword you’re referring to which requires children to carry swords into classrooms but, funny enough, religious swords are not banned here in Canada. Also, as a safety issue, no student in Canada has ever been harmed by a kirpan or a religious sword or a hijab. France, and other countries in Europe who you continue to ignore, have set out laws forbidding the wearing of items which are required in certain religions. And the only reasons which can be sited for doing so are some vague notions about mystical swords and exploding hijabs. There has always been a lot of fear in Europe when it comes to “The Other”, and the way they’re dealing with it now, as always, is to make “The Other” like “Everyone Else”, so Europe can stay like it was back in the day when “The Other” knew their place was across the Sea.

    Me: “France’s Christian majority don’t ‘believe’ anymore, therefore the respect for other religions is dropping like a stone tossed at a heretic…”.
    You: “Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘respect’. I have as much respect for belief in God as I do for belief in fairies and elves and Santa Claus. Respect is not the issue here; the issue is tolerance and freedom.”

    Me, Again: So Allah, praise be upon Him, has no more standing in European culture than a fairytale told to placate greedy children? The thing about “tolerance” is that in order for it to occur one must “tolerate” others, which is not exactly a ringing endorsement of those “other” beliefs.

    “But that’s true of everything. If I want to exist in Britain, I must do so in accordance with British law.”

    To be British you must be British, correct? And those laws can never be changed to accept “Others”? See? Secularism demands religions change to the whim of The State.

    “Now, the important question is not whether or not there should be such “definitions”… because of course there should. Society cannot exist with everyone simply acting as they want. The real question is: what should those definitions be?”

    The definitions are stated at the very top, in those three quotes from three constitutions. Religion has a place in the cultures of Canada and America, but not in France and, when it’s finally adopted, not in the European Union.

    “On this matter, there is much debate. I am of the firm view that the hijab and most other religious attire does no harm to anyone, and so should not be banned.”

    Well, how magnanimous of you. But when you eventually believe that something does harm to someone, even if that harm is really just an inconvenience to you, the non-believers — like a hijab, is that when you feel it’s okay to ban something someone believes is important enough to be a part of their religion?

    “I absolutely disagree with the French policy on the issue (I wrote about my views when it came up in Britain here). On the other hand, I do agree that it is necessary to ban, for example, Sikhs from bringing into school the huge swords they are required to by their religion.”

    Those “huge swords” are ceremonial, and not everyday accoutrements (I’m guessing you’ve only seen India through the lens of Hollywood). And, somehow, Canada is managing to get along just fine with dudes wearing swords. Again, if one of those swords gets pulled out of its scabbard and is then thrust into the chest of some other random dude there are laws which deal with that sort of thing. Like “assault” and “manslaughter” and “murder”.

    “So, again: France is a secular state. A fundamental principle of French government (and therefore of the civil service, including public schools) is that religion and the state should be separate.”

    Kind of, but no. Separate, yes, but not equal: In most of Europe religion is separate and subjugated by The State.

    “That is not the same as what you imply, which is that France is some sort of fascist state that is fiercely destroying religion however it can, and that grants its citizens no religious freedom. That simply isn’t the reality, regardless of one’s views about the specific policy regarding the hijab in schools.”

    There is “freedom” to believe in what The State’s interpretation of your religion is. And I’ve never said France is fascist, I’m saying that Europe is heading that way (again) in response to the “Islamic Invasion” from former colonies and people sucked into immigrating to Europe because of some slick advertising. The only countries on the planet right now banning the little bits and pieces of Islamic culture that Muslims thought were important enough to add to their religion, are in Europe. Yet, somehow, America is the boogie man under the bed. Like my URL so brilliantly puts it: America may be fighting against some people who are Muslim, but it’s Europe which is at war with Islam (paraphrased).

    “The fact that it is your religion is irrelevant. Religion is just a set of ideas, and deserves no special treatment compared to any other set of ideas. So let’s just take your example: you want to wear a head-covering (the fact that the reason you want to do so is religious is, as I say, irrelevant). …”

    Wow. “Religion” so callously dismissed? By a European? Really? I never would have seen that coming.

    “… You claim that by banning head-coverings in places of work and learning, the state is rejecting your idea. States reject all sorts of ideas all the time. Right now, the British government is rejecting the idea that I can go around killing everyone who looks at me funny. Does that mean Britain is fascist? Should I blame secularism?”

    States rejecting ideas when it tires of them… like, say, freedom of speech, is good with you? When the State discovers something that offends it at this moment it’s allowed to just ban it outright? Some immigrant comes to Britain and he’s handed a pamphlet with little stick figures telling him to curb his beliefs, and by the way Murder is also out of the question? In Canada there are laws to protect The People and there are laws to protect Religion from The People. The two are equal, and do not contradict each other. But this is the way it works in Europe: The law protects people: “Don’t Kill” (okay); but then it protects people from being exposed to the bits of religion The State doesn’t like: “Don’t Carry The Kirpan Cause You Might, You Know, Kill Someone” (not cool).

    “[T]here is legitimate debate to be had over certain laws (‘definitions’, as you put it). I would argue that it is necessary to reject the idea of allowing people to go on killing sprees, and I would argue that it isn’t necessary to ban head-coverings in most situations. That’s fine. But your suggestion that the very existence of these limits, and the subsequent enforcement of them, is equivalent to ‘fascism’ is just absurd.”

    For a guy writing that limiting the number of people we can kill is the moral equivalent to limiting the amount of religious adornments I can wear, and where I can wear them, you’re being pretty liberal with those “absurd” comments. Europe, as an entity, has a deep rooted desire for everyone to be exactly alike. Europe, as a collection of countries, has a deep rooted history of fascism. The two are very much connected, and by banning Muslims from being able to practice their Islamic faiths (even if it’s a little at a time), Europe is in danger of once again adopting the philosophy that Germany and Spain and France got into so much trouble over sixty years ago, and the same philosophy which drove European religious immigrants to Canada and America two hundred years ago, one hundred years ago, sixty years ago… last Tuesday.
    Your birth rates (except The UK) are dropping like a stone, your immigration rates are falling and the immigrants already in your countries have an incredibly hard time to become full citizens. As immigrants become more and more vital to the running of the Union there will continue to be a backlash against the culture and religions of those immigrants, which means more French riots, not fewer. The way to deal with the oncoming mess is to relax, take a deep breath, and admit that people can pray to a god and not be a threat to the State. 25% of Canadians come from somewhere else, recently… a quarter of Canadians were borne somewhere else. And, with freedom to wear swords, kilts and turbans all guaranteed in our Charter, somehow, there have been no GTA-style sword murderers and girls can get through an entire day in class without… I don’t know, whatever Europeans believe a hijab is a threat to do.
    Again, you have Religious countries like Saudi Arabia, you have their Secular equal in Germany and Holland, then you have America and Canada. Where are you freest to enjoy your religion, Uncensored by The State? Now, what’s the difference between “The State Respects Your Religion” and “The State Guarantees Your Religion Will Be Protected From The People”?

  21. queenminx says:

    Gabriel: ‘The way to deal with the oncoming mess is to relax, take a deep breath, and admit that people can pray to a god and not be a threat to the State’.

    me: damn right! My only problem with your initial comments Gabriel, was the impression that ‘all/significant majority’ Europeans/’English’/British people shared the same views.

    And as for ‘exploding hijabs’, expect to see a firework with that name on sale in time for this year’s Guy Fawkes night!!

    On that night, I shall be wearing a kilt and tossing a caber onto the bonfire. I am shopping online at this very moment for a sporran.

    wink!

    Seriously, I don’t ‘like’ religion, simply because in my opinion they divide humanity into ‘us and them’ dependant on the chosen religion. Religions also restrict and reject certain individuals within humanity. Homosexuals are probably the best example. I have, of course, Islam and Christianity in mind. Is it okay to be a ‘gay’ Buddhist??

    Gabriel: ‘Yes of course it is’. I am laughing.

    Does the Buddhist religion reject homosexuality?

    I suppose, to put a finer point on it, I don’t like religion because it is exclusive.

    It is my right to be non-religious, in exactly the same way another person can embrace it. Both choices should be respected and accepted.

    I think this fear of ‘Islam’ is not a fear of the religion itself, but of Islamic Extremists, following on from the attacks on America and Britain. ‘Bad Muslims’ = ‘Bad Islam’. I don’t understand the French/European rejection and persecution of Islam, I suppose they have their own justifications. The ‘exploding hijab’ one maybe.

    I am sorry if some of my comments may sound facetious, this situation does worry and upset me. I am a person who thinks that religion etc is just a dress-up for the human underneath. It isn’t the religion that makes a good human, it’s the human who uses religion to be a good person.

    I am not sure that will make sense, but it does to me. I don’t like anyone who uses relgion to hurt someone. That person then becomes a hypocrite to me, because as far as I am aware, the fundamental idea behind all religions is to be good humans.

    I can’t get ‘exploding hijabs’ out of my head, it’s really tickled me, great name for a ‘boiled sweet’ methinks!

    xx

  22. Gabriel... says:

    What is it with you guys and blowing stuff up? Seriously, I’m going to have to come over and ‘witness’ this fetish you all have first hand.

    The problem with “Us & Them” is that those divisions translate really easily into National lines: “I” am Welch, “You” are Not. And it’s okay to be homosexual in any religion… religions are surprisingly malleable, and generally evolve without interference from The State, so that they eventually take on some traits of the secular society around them. Women don’t like wearing burqua’s, and they’d like to give driving a shot without getting shot, so they move to Canada, drop the burqua and take driving lessons… she’s still Muslim. But, she can still hop into the burqua when she wants to because it’s against the law in Canada to make laws forbidding her from digging the old thing out of her tickle trunk and wearing it to the corner store. Irshad Manji is an author, activist and a proud lesbian Muslim… her book was pretty good right up until the last three chapters, but it’s worth reading: click here. She’s also Canadian for whatever that’s worth.

  23. Jamie Stern-Weiner says:

    “No, political secularism means State over Religion.”

    No, it means the state and religion are separate. Of course, the state will have more power, because the state governs the country, whereas in a secular state, religion doesn’t.

    “In Canada a Sikh child can wear his ceremonial knife to school, into a movie theatre, into work, and… well, everywhere. Weapons are banned in school yards, yes. But if it’s a religious item, no, it is not banned.”

    Firstly, the “big sword” I kept talking about was not the Sikh kirpan (except once, when it was). I just made that up as an example.
    Secondly, what you describe here is actually religion over everything else. You want religion to be given speical treatment under the law. Why? What right has religion to be treated differently from any other crackpot set of ideas? Now – I call it ‘crackpot’, so you can tell I am not religious. But that’s not the point. Whether they are right or wrong, religious ideas are just ideas, and they deserve no immunity from criticism or from the law.

    If it was decided that all swords must be left at home for security reasons (this is just a hypothetical example), then there is of course no reason for a Sikh with his ceremonial sword to be excluded from that, just like there would be no reason to exclude me from the ban if I claimed that my personal God – Jameeba – commanded me to carry my sword everywhere or else my arm would explode.

    “See, you’re thinking like a religiously burnt out European. If my religion calls for something to be worn, and the State forbids me from wearing it, the State is dictating changes to my religion.”

    No, the state couldn’t give a toss about your religion. Let’s take the practise in some African religions of killing ‘witches’. There was a case in Britain a couple of years ago, I think, where a young girl was killed because she was thought to be a witch.

    Now, in Britain, we say that it is illegal to kill people. That’s the law. Unlike you, apparently, I say that this law should apply to everyone, even people who supposedly kill because of religious reasons. Killing is wrong, whether you do it for religion or not. So when we passed a law declaring it is illegal to murder, it was not a State plot against religion. Religion was irrelevant; what mattered was that killing was believed to be wrong.

    “I’m not sure which Religion Of The Sword you’re referring to which requires children to carry swords into classrooms but, funny enough, religious swords are not banned here in Canada. Also, as a safety issue, no student in Canada has ever been harmed by a kirpan or a religious sword or a hijab.”

    (again: it was a made up example) but that’s fine. You say that swords and hijabs and so on do not pose a threat to security. OK, there is, as I say, a legitimate debate to be had over the necessity of certain laws. But what you’re doing is declaring in principle your opposition to any attempt by the State to legislate against religious ideas or practises. In other words, you want religion to be immune from the law. This is a startling idea, and one you’ve yet to justify.

    “So Allah, praise be upon Him, has no more standing in European culture than a fairytale told to placate greedy children? The thing about “tolerance” is that in order for it to occur one must “tolerate” others, which is not exactly a ringing endorsement of those “other” beliefs.”

    Well, I have my opinions about religion. I think it is simply a very effective mechanism for control. I have no respect for religion at all – but I “tolerate” it. You write that to “tolerate” a belief isn’t exactly a “ringing endorsement” of it – well, you’re right, it isn’t. So what? Now you’re arguing the religion should not only be immune from the law and from criticism, but that everyone should be forced to “respect” it?

    “Secularism demands religions change to the whim of The State.”

    What you mean by the “whim of the State” is actually the laws of the country – and yes, everything is governed by the law. That’s how it works. Religion is no exception to that, nor should it be.

    “Well, how magnanimous of you. But when you eventually believe that something does harm to someone, even if that harm is really just an inconvenience to you, the non-believers — like a hijab, is that when you feel it’s okay to ban something someone believes is important enough to be a part of their religion?”

    If I think that a certain practise is truly harmful to others, I would try to legislate against it, whether the practise was religious or not.

    “Kind of, but no. Separate, yes, but not equal: In most of Europe religion is separate and subjugated by The State.”

    Subjugated in the sense that the common law remains the supreme authority in the country, yes. Religion, like business and academia and the public and everyone else, is subject to the law. That’s what you seem to be railing against.

    “There is “freedom” to believe in what The State’s interpretation of your religion is.”

    You can believe in whatever you want. There is no thought-crime in France, or Britain or anywhere in Europe. You can also say almost anything you want. But about actions – yes, there are limits, defined by the law. That is a good thing, surely?

    “Wow. “Religion” so callously dismissed? By a European? Really? I never would have seen that coming.”

    Britain and France are far less religious than the U.S.

    “States rejecting ideas when it tires of them… like, say, freedom of speech, is good with you? When the State discovers something that offends it at this moment it’s allowed to just ban it outright?”

    What? No. Look, the job of legislating falls to the elected representatives of the people. They draw up laws that govern the country. Now, we are not here arguing about the merits of various specific laws. We are arguing about whether, in principle, the state has the right to legislate against religion. Does religion have to obey the law? I answer, emphatically, yes.

  24. queenminx says:

    you: ‘And it’s okay to be homosexual in any religion… religions are surprisingly malleable, and generally evolve without interference from The State, so that they eventually take on some traits of the secular society around them’.

    me: Aha! (in my best Sherlock Holmes impression). So, in this instance, the secular state not only acknowledges, or doesn’t interfere with the ‘religion’, but gives the religious person the freedoms that perhaps (or maybe not perhaps, maybe for certain) in her own ‘religious country’ she would not be allowed – to be gay, drive a car or be seen without her ‘burqua’ – or else face rejection from her family/community/religion/culture? So, in that respect, it is not okay to be homosexual, unless living in a secular country, where the religion has adapted itself!!??

    Following that, here in the blowing-up stuff obsessed Britain (wink!), it wasn’t so long ago that homosexual priests/vicars and the like, were stuck in closets. Some of them still are. So, even in ‘secular’ countries, it isn’t okay to be gay and pray! This, of course is dependant on the secular country.

    I think really, it’s a matter of adaptation. And, for the most part, Brits are really slow to adapt. It’s some kind of inbred stubbornness. Maybe it’s because they have lived on these tiny islands for so long. Maybe it’s because they have been invaded or under the threat of invasion for centuries. But, eventually, whether they like it or not, amidst much grumbling and elbowing, we make room. At least, that’s what I like to believe will happen, and does happen.

    If it doesn’t, I might have to move to The Ten Countries That Make Up Canada.

    How do they feel about the English??

    You know, I was discussing this debate with my friend James, on Monday. He has been visiting Kosovo for the last few years, a Muslim country. The Kosovans actually like the English. I was so shocked and surprised that people from another country liked English people, I almost started crying. I have never come across this before. Honestly. I was moved. I always feel I have to defend my country, and point out positives. I know for the most part, the rest of the world thinks we are a bunch of beer-swilling, racist arse-holes, or imperialist class-obsessed, out-dated fools. Point is, I am not. James, is not. Many people I know, are not.

    I just wish we could export a different opinion of us, along with football and music, and … erm … well, football and music. Oh, and film. Maybe.

    xx

  25. Gabriel... says:

    “[…] So, in that respect, it is not okay to be homosexual, unless living in a secular country, where the religion has adapted itself!!??”

    I’m sorry Queenie, but your question is a little confusing… it’s 2:18am. But I think this is the proper response: when exposed to each other two groups eventually adopt parts of the other group as their own. So when Muslim’s first started coming to Canada in large enough numbers that they could be considered a ‘group’ Islam in Canada began to look differently than Islam in other countries. The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms guarantees that Islam is protected from the ‘whims’ of Canadian society, so no law can be passed banning any of the practices of Islam, however, the secular and other religious societies those Muslim groups are surrounded by all have an influence. Just as Islam has an influence over the rest of us non-Muslims. All of the groupings in Canada change each other by virtue of being in such close, and peaceful, contact with each other.

    .
    “[…] …it wasn’t so long ago that homosexual priests/vicars and the like, were stuck in closets. Some of them still are. So, even in ’secular’ countries, it isn’t okay to be gay and pray! This, of course is dependant on the secular country.”

    All that “Gay Anglican Bishop” stuff started here in Canada and in America. Canada has the largest “Gay Pride Parade” in the world. People who are gay can legally marry in Canada, and even legally get divorced. If you are gay and living and dying in Canada your pension benefits can be passed to your gay spouse or common law partner. We make San Fransico look like… well, Kansas City. The “gay” groupings still have a long way to go in any/all countries, but it has always been “okay” to be gay in every religion, it’s just that most of the people interpreting those religions have gotten it bass ackwards.

    .
    “[…] …for the most part, Brits are really slow to adapt. […] But, eventually, whether they like it or not, amidst much grumbling and elbowing, we make room. At least, that’s what I like to believe will happen, and does happen.”

    A lot of this comes down to history and language. There’s too much history to being Welch or Dutch or German, the people living in those countries/provinces can trace their ancestry and culture back to Cro Magnon Man. Then a lot of the language of your traditions automatically excludes “other” religions and cultures: The Church Of England for example, no other Western country has a Church and State leader tied into one figure. This is why I’m kind of impressed with Charles when he says he wants to be the titular head of the British ‘faiths’, or something like that. There are ghettos, real ghettos, around Paris and around Berlin filled to overflowing with Muslim immigrants who cannot find work because they’re not French or German, and those States won’t allow them to become citizens because they have no roots. Japan is the same, so is China. If you don’t fit into the language and culture you are Other and therefore not “Us”. On the other hand, Canada’s history and culture and language is mixed into weird combinations. We were “founded” 375 or so years ago by the French and their Native allies, who were then conquered by the British and their Native allies, who all then teamed up to beat the American-British in 1812, but we didn’t have a flag until 1967 or a Constitution / Charter until 1982. A third of our population has a French ancestry, while “the rest” are a mix of primarily British, Scot, Irish, Ukrainian, Chinese and Natives. The majority of our Provinces created the official Federation of Canada in 1867, but our last piece, Newfoundland — which was a separate British colony — didn’t join up until 1949. We have two Official Languages, and we’re already talking about adding “sign language” to the mix. Of all the “Western” nations our constitution was written last (Britain doesn’t have one in writing, I know), and I really think that has something to do with how “Others” are accepted here.

    .
    “If it doesn’t, I might have to move to The Ten Countries That Make Up Canada.”

    You are always welcome here, Queenie. I have a futon.

    .
    “How do they feel about the English??”

    Most of us come from the Various Islands Of The Motherland. Just expect never to be served anything in English anywhere in Quebec.

    .
    “You know, I was discussing this debate with my friend James, on Monday. […] I was so shocked and surprised that people from another country liked English people… […] I know for the most part, the rest of the world thinks we are a bunch of beer-swilling, racist arse-holes, or imperialist class-obsessed, out-dated fools. Point is, I am not. James, is not. Many people I know, are not.”

    The only people who feel that way are well-meaning British neurotics and the Taliban. There’s a chance I’m going to sound insulting here, if so I’m sorry in advance… I’ve never said this directly to a European before. There are a lot of Myths surrounding Europe. One of them is the tolerence of “Others”. Europeans, historically, have gone out of their way to… sorry… kill everything non-European everywhere. Europe is, however, a place of wonderful myths and great ideas and ideals: Arthur, Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, Clive Owen, Greek Democracy, the spoon. Since the Rehabiliation which was The Cold War allowed Europe to come together (or were forced to come together by America and the other Former Colonies) Europe has managed to go sixty whole years without dragging the world into horrible conflict over race, religion and culture. But Europe almost did it again, kind of like a last gasp, when Europe needed Canada and America to stop Serbia, Kosovo and Croatia from killing each other over religion, culture and language. But America is what’s immediate: they’re in Iraq with the British, and in Afghanistan with Canada and Britain. What the Cold War did to rehab Europe, it did at the expense of the reputation of America. America became The Big Bad because they were the aggressors against the Soviets. So now Europe is, to some, the destination for all things Freedom. And Europe, thanks to The CW, is a wonderful place to hang out, visit some Spanish beaches, get drunk in a Welch bar, beat up some smug Frogs, but it still has a lot to learn from America (and Us) about religious and cultural freedoms and rights.

    .
    “I just wish we could export a different opinion of us, along with football and music… .”

    In the original post I left Britain out for a reason: Britain, The UK, is not “Europe”. Britain is the middle point between “Europe” and America. But Canada’s the weird hub of the axis of Europe, Britain and America. And, again I apologize, Euro-Football is a great sport… when you’re in high school and it’s before or after Hockey Season. Hockey: where Europeans, Americans and Canadians can come together and beat the shit out of each other without resorting to Mutually Assured Destruction — again, another Canadian way of bringing peace to the world.

    Turn It Waaay Up:

    1) Hitting: right click here.
    2) Ottawa Senators vs. Buffalo Sabres highlights: right click here
    2) Hockey Fights: right click here.
    3) Not For The Faint Of Heart: right click here.
    …if you want to know the backstory to number 3, and why it gives me “the pride shivers” everytime I watch it, right click here.

    .
    “xx”

    oxo

  26. feartheseeds says:

    There’s a guy named Claude Lemieux who played on the… purple team. He had a very long career making other people’s careers shorter. He was known as a player who would hurt you, then hide (we call it “turtling… you can see him do it on the video). There’s a guy on the white & red team named Kris Draper, who was a hard working career player. During a game Lemieux bodychecked Kris from behind, very, very hard. Kris’ face was broken in several places and it took about a year for him to heal. The game you watched was the first game Kris played against Lemieux since the incident. The “pride shivers” come from the fact that everyone on both teams knew what was going to happen and the Detroit Red Wings (white & red) and the Colorado Avalanche (purple) both defended their players, the Avalanche even stood up for Lemieux even though, if it had happened in a bar, they would have preferred to leave him to the mob. Darren McCarty, the guy who levelled Lemieux with a semi-dirty hit, also scored the winning goal. That’s McCarty and Draper hugging at the end.

  27. queenminx says:

    Right. I watched it again. I guess that makes you a ‘Red Wings’ fan, or maybe a guy who dislikes ‘turtling cowards’.

    I think Hockey is a bit too violent for me. I was clenching my teeth during this clip, and kept wanting to put my hands in front of my eyes.

    I am so mard, sometimes.

    But, you are right, they certainly
    ‘beat the shit out of each other’.

    xx

  28. queenminx says:

    1 to 3 (ha ha, 1,2,3) I don’t even know I am doing it sometimes.

    Anyhoo, I watched as much as I could of hockey players hitting each other. At first, I was laughing, then after a couple of minutes, I felt a bit sick, especially the clip of all the blood on the ice.

    Why ‘pride shivers’??

    I followed your links to PJ’s site, and read your conversation. That cheered me up. It’s a bit like verbal voyerism.

    The ‘Annoying Devil’ made me laugh out loud, and I so need that right now.

    xx

  29. feartheseeds says:

    I think I should have said “Operatic” rather than ‘poetic.’

    If you’re only going to watch one more, this is the one. There are two fights, but nothing major (one’s right at the start) but it’s a great snapshot of Hockey:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYlAbJIMHWM

    One of the greatest goals of all time… ?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY84yknveuc

    This is a Top-10 Goals put together by a Euro broadcaster:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTy30lYpRvo

  30. queenminx says:

    Okay… I am going to watch them. At this point, though, I am a bit overwhelmed by the vid of your friend Christine.

    And … if I watch these videos of ‘hockey’, to be fair, will you watch video’s of Ice Dance and Ballroom dancing?

    wink!

    wink!

    Okay. I am preparing myself for an onset of violent contact sport.

    wha

  31. Gabriel... says:

    I like emotional sporting events, and that was definitely one of the most emotional. I personally favour the Ottawa Senators or the Montreal Canadiens (notice the “e”). I’ll find some nicer videos for you. Surprisingly hockey can be quite… poetic.

  32. Gabriel... says:

    Yeah, it’s still devastating to me and I’ve seen it a few times… what they’re doing is important. They do it a little… off-kilter sometimes, but they’ve got a message and they do a good job of getting it out there. They’re both brilliant artists by the way… and I just realized I forgot a link on that post. Shit.

    If by “Ice Dance and Ballroom dancing” you mean European Football, sure.

  33. Gabriel... says:

    Okay… I fixed the post on my personal blog, so there’s another video of Christine… but really, really sweet.

  34. queenminx says:

    What are the rules in this game?!! Why are there even referees??

    Good grief, I was shouting out loud at some of the violence, although, it seems it’s expected in the game. I must admit, the two guys at the beginning of the first vid, circling each other with their ‘dukes’ up, was kinda funny.

    I dunno. I don’t think I could bear to sit through a whole game.

    Nope. Much more of a ballroom-dancer-type-sports-watcher, me. And even though, we are home to one of the best football teams in the world (supposedly) Manchester United, I have never been to a football match!

    xx

    Apologies for the half-finished comment above, someone came into my shop and I must have hit submit by mistake!

    doh!

  35. Gabriel... says:

    That was funny… There are rules, the videos just edit out the whistles. There are two referees and two linesmen. The rules are similar to soccer/football… offsides, flagrant fouls. Most penalties involve a player being sent off for two minutes and the team playing a man down. Your “wha” reminds me of the Quest For The Holy Grail: “the Castle Arrrrrrrrrgh…”

  36. queenminx says:

    But what constitutes a ‘flagrant foul’???

    This is a whole new experience for me. There are guys kicking the crap out of each other, squaring up to each other (dukes out boys), and blatantly smacking each other with hockey sticks!! These aren’t ‘flagrant fouls’??

    I am smiling as I write this. It kinda reminds of wrestling. Is is all ‘for show’, you know, the public expects a bit of a punch-up, so the players provide. Or, is it really that violent

    It must take some kinda guy to want to be a hockey player. They must have to not only practise hockey and ice-skating, but ju-jitsu, karate and hand-to-hand jungle combat techniques!!

    Whew. Sorry, what were you saying about Canada being a country of ‘tolerance’!??

    Is this where us Brits get it wrong?? Because unless guys play rugby, and even then there are (as far as I am aware) no all out punch-ups, there isn’t an outlet, or let’s say, a ‘condoned’ sporting outlet, for aggression. I dont’ think boxing counts either.

    This ‘conversation’ has certainly made my day though.

    I owe you one.

    I thought I was going to be miserable all day, and I haven’t been.

    So, cheers!

    big, big smile.

    xx

  37. Gabriel... says:

    You’re very welcome… fighting is a five minute penalty, with another two minutes to the guy who started it. The stick work is: highsticking, slashing, spearing and tripping all of which are two minutes. Highsticking can be four minutes if it’s flagrant or five if there’s blood. If things really get out of hand the refs have a ten minute/game misconduct option. There have been more bench clearing brawls in American baseball and basketball over the past fifteen years than in hockey… I think the last NHL bench-clearer was back in the early 80’s. There is a certain… code in hockey fights though. You never pick one with a smaller player, you never go after the “skilled” players, you stop when the other guy has had enough, you always drop your gloves, if you have a chance you drop your helmet, and you always protect your skilled players, so that if he gets mugged you jump the mugger… same for goalies.

    You’d love being at a game, everyone does. It’s too fast a sport to properly appreciate on TV, most of those “highlights” had to be slowed down to get the full effect. Trust me: When the 200lb players are skating end to end they’re usually travelling around 20mph. The puck, a vulcanized, frozen disk about the size of a fist, can move up to 106mph.

  38. puddlejumper says:

    I can’t believe I missed all this.

    Boo. Being depressed.

    By the time I get it here its back to hockey again….
    x

  39. Gabriel... says:

    I was wondering where you were. I can start it all over if you want, I’m sure Jamie won’t mind another go at it. And I know Queen is always ready to “Speak For England”.

  40. queenminx says:

    I am aghast!!!! No, no, no! That’s all wrong!

    you: ‘Queen is always ready to “Speak For England”.’ Are you referring to my blog name?? ‘Queenminx – Thinks for England’??

    Because I hated that. The guy(s) who bought the blog for me were trying to come up with a ‘catchy’ blogname. I am called queenminx/qweenminx on other sites (poker for one).. so I wanted to be called queenminx. But the ‘she thinks for England’, I disliked intensely. So, in the end, they left it out of the final design. I ran my cursor over my name on your blogroll, and it says ‘thinks for England’. Does this crap come up when my blog appears somewhere. I am so disappointed if it does.

    Damn, damn, damn.

    But, after that mini-rant, if you mean I speak for England, because I am always rabbiting on about England, then fair enough.

    big kind of wobbly smile!

    xx

    Oh. And, hockey. I know I would enjoy it if I watched it. I naturally get involved in whatever I am doing, I can’t help meself. e.g. I don’t go out of my way to watch football, but when the World Cup’s on, it’s kind of hard to avoid. So, naturally, I find myself shouting at the tele going ‘Go on Son’. And doing that football groan that everyone does when the player misses a goal. I have even been known to call the ref a ‘blind wanker’. Tut! And me, a laydee!!

    wink!

  41. puddlejumper says:

    Nah…its okay.

    I’ve just been having a weird couple of days but I think the worst has past.

    UK is in odd position, constitutionally, of have an apparently secular government that is (abeit symbolically) headed by a monarch who is also the head of the church of England.

    I think there is a scary undercurrent of religeous, right wing thinking in the UK. I don’t like it but it’s there and it seems more often these day to be focussed on Muslim sections of the community.

    I blame Bush and the whole war or terror. Especially since the media both here and in the states seems to convert that into a war on “islamist” terrorism.

    The only good thing I can see from that is that it has made life easier for Irish Catholics in the UK than once upon a time. When I was a kid “they” were the alleged enemy of the UK, very confusing for me, the daughter of a second generation Irish Catholic.

    The “troubles” still exist to an extent but from what I’ve seen when I’m over there it seems to be more of a power thing and is tied up in drugs and gangs, the politics and principles behind it have weakened over the generations.

    So the media focus is now on our Muslim communities. There has become an almost McCarthyist feel to things.

    Shortly after the London bombings there was a feature on one of the day time chat shows (Richard & Judy) about how there was a “report a terrorist” hotline and rather than expressing shock about this the presenters were actively trying to encourage viewers to call in and report if their neighbour had been “acting suspiciously”.

    I hate all that crap. I think our government encourages it because its much easier for them to hold onto power if they can keep us just that little bit afraid.

  42. queenminx says:

    PJ: ‘the daughter of a second generation Irish Catholic’. Me too.

    I agree with you PJ. Before the terrorist attacks in America and over here, Muslim’s just got on with their lives. It’s like I wrote above, Bad Muslims = Bad Islam, that’s the attitude. It’s fear all over again. The government, and the media, love stirring it all up. It sickens me, and frightens me, how easy it is to do this.

    There was a programme on a couple of years ago, I wish I could remember what it was called, (damn memory) but, it was about a young Muslim girl growing up in a small Yorkshire town. There was a scene where she had gone into work after 9/11, and her work colleagues were taking the mick out of her, calling her Osama Bin Laden. She didn’t know who he was, and if I remember correctly, she couldn’t say his name properly. That really struck me. Because she is Muslim, second/third generation Pakistani, she is supposed to know about Islamic terrorists, by name! I had never heard of him before then, I am damn sure most of the world had never heard of him, which, I believe was the point of the attack.

    What I am trying to point out was the ‘ordinariness’ of this young woman, just getting on with her life.

    It went on to show her struggles to fit in, to be ‘Western’, but this, for the main part, was a struggle between her family (Muslim) and the culture (British), she had been brought up in and into.

    xx

  43. Gabriel... says:

    ‘”Queen is always ready to “Speak For England”. Are you referring to my blog name?? ‘Queenminx: Thinks for England’??’

    I was indeed. Both of my blogrolls have been updated accordingly. I believe you’ll like the new text bubble.

    “Does this crap come up when my blog appears somewhere. I am so disappointed if it does.”

    When you put someone into your blogroll you have the option of putting in a little… explanation of what the blog is about. This is what pops up.

    Puddle: “I blame Bush and the whole war on terror.”

    Queenminx: “Before the terrorist attacks in America and over here, Muslim’s just got on with their lives.”

    The difficulties faced by “Others” in and around the European Continent started a long time before GWB won the 2000 American Electoral College Vote (ie: those mostly European-educated 9-11 hijackers got their marching papers a long time before George got kind of elected).

    Lets not forget that it was how England treated the people of South East Asia that got Ghandi so motivated…

    [btw: I am preparing something on ‘racism in Canada’… ]

  44. queenminx says:

    you: ‘I believe you’ll like the new text bubble.’

    me: Wahoo!! Now that’s more like it. Bend over old chum, and I shall fetch the paddle!!

    more me: Hmmm … methinks you know me too well now, Gabriel.

    And, more me: … check out my blogroll!!

    you: ‘btw: I am preparing something on ‘racism in Canada’… ]’

    me: Racism in Canada!! This can only mean two things:-

    1. There is racism in Canada. In which case, I will tell PJ to cancel the group ticket and get a smaller holdall, coz I am not coming …

    or …

    2. There is no racism in Canada. In which case, I will tell PJ, go ahead and book the group ticket, and get cracking on that really big holdall lady (don’t forget about the shoes!!)

    I await the outcome.

    In the meantime, I am going to practise with my paddle. I might have to consider a new one, this one is a little more than worse for wear!!

    big, big salacious wink!!

    xx

  45. janie jones says:

    There have been periods in history (believe it or not) when some religions accepted that the idea of God could be worshipped in more than one way. Let’s hope we get there again. I love studying the history and development of religions/mythologies. I just finished “A History of God : The 4000-year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam” by Karen Armstrong (a former nun). I definately recommend it. Each religion has had its violent episodes, but the Christians…yikes! It struck me that on the cover of the book are three symbols – for Judaism a star (nice), for Islam a crescent (fine) and for Christianity a dead man/god on a cross (seems a little grim).

    Hockey is fantastic to watch – except for the really nasty fights, basketball’s good too. Baseball and American football – I will never understand the attraction (boring!). But the best (despite my Canadian hockey genetics) is soccer/european football. When the World Cup is on I spend a lot of time on the couch (and off it jumping up and down). It’s the way they help each other up, trade shirts, and shake hands. It’s the fact that my dad taught me at a young age and I played for years for the local team Glen Sandfield. It’s the fact that it brings the world together – people love kicking a ball around! It may also be because of all the men in shorts and knee-socks (lovely).
    x

  46. puddlejumper says:

    The men in shorts are the ONLY reason to watch football (soccer). Mmmmm.

    I like the sound of the book you mention. May have a look in my local library.

    For a funnier take on the three big religions you might want to check out this…

    http://platosway.blogspot.com/2007/01/religious-trilogy.html

  47. queenminx says:

    janie: ‘the idea of God’

    me: I often think that God is a really bad idea, and that humanity should come up with a better one.

    janie: ‘Let’s hope we get there again.’

    me: yep. me too. I do like hope, and faith, not forgetting charity, but hope is my favourite.

    janie: ‘It may also be because of all the men in shorts and knee-socks (lovely).’

    me: damn right, janie. Footballers have such great legs. I preferred the shorts in the 70’s, (think Georgie Best, when he was the ‘best’) … they were so tiny and really showed off player’s tight bums! And, you know, I never thought of it before, I suppose I took it for granted but, yes … men in knee high socks!! yum, yum!

    Damn. Now, I have to do some work, and all I can think about is Georgie Best’s tight butt. Stop!! Photocopying, minxy… think photocopying!!

    xx

  48. janie jones says:

    i checked out plato’s way – hilarious!
    as a lover of star wars and analogy i definately will have to mull it over…
    also a lover of plato actually (former classics major)
    cheers

  49. puddlejumper says:

    Platos was the whole rational thought thing yeah?

    I have to admit to not knowing that much about it…so I may be wrong, please correct me if I am.

    I did a bit of the Greek tragedies on a course years ago. Fantastic stories. Full of murder and betrayal and revenge, real juicy stuff.

    But I remember a Media Studies tutor trying to explain to me that the Greeks never “read” the tales the same way we do..the whole culture affecting how we view the world and I found it fascinating…

    How could they read the stories differently? I kind of “know” they probably did in my head because they lived in such a different world. It’s so difficult though to truly see through the perspective of another culture. It still makes my brain hurt to think about it too hard.

    Lol, I’m getting all philosophical now so I’m going to shut up!

    :-)

  50. Nita says:

    A very complicated arguement but fascinating. I did not read through all the comments… but I can say that many of the things you said ring true. India is a multi-cultural society with different ethnic groups, 30 languages many of which have different scripts. There is as much difference between the people of one state and another as there is between the French and Germans. More in fact…the languages have different written scripts, customs, dress and food are completely different. However outsiders find this difficult to understand…that India is not just a mass of brown people!
    I tried explaining this to an American once but I am not sure he understood.
    India is a true multi-cultural society (I have written a post on this – multi-cultural India) because no one tries to mend the cutural difference. It’s just there.
    At the same time there is a certain religious divide. Each state has it’s share of different religions.
    Hindus, the majority are the least important. Because India is a democracy there are politicians who try to garner the votes from the minority religions, basically play politics.

  51. Gabriel... says:

    The diversity of… well, everything, in India is staggering. It’s the caste system which stands in the way of India being truly multicultural… again, it comes down to History getting in the way of social progress. But it is getting better, at least from what I’m seeing on my TV. More women are moving into the workforce and becoming independent from their families, which is changing the dowry system and more and more trust is being given to the State to take care of religious and political disputes.

    A lot of emphasis is being placed on the speed of growth in the Chinese economy, but a slower economic growth with faster political and cultural growth in India means India is being positioned to be the next “great power”. China will be teetering on collapse from environmental, social and cultural factors long before their fatally flawed economic system becomes stable.

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