CAT | culture
In the wake of this, this?
In The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order Samuel P. Huntington placed Russia in the “Orthodox” civilization, as opposed to the “Western” class. Over 20 years since the collapse of the Communist bloc I think one must say that Huntington’s typology captured some essential aspect of reality. The Czech Republic has much reverted back to the small liberal democratic nation it was before World War II. In contrast, Russia’s philo-American 1990s under democratic neoliberalism was a transitory affair. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has shifted back toward a stereotypical authoritarianism.
And yet Andrew’s reference to Fremen’s act of sacrilege did make to realize that the Russians are different, but not that different. Imagine if you will that some women engaged in similar acts in India or the Islamic world. Obviously they would not dare unless they had a death wish. And that is a difference which unites Russia and the West: religious offense is not a matter of violent retribution. The women of the Pussy Riot collective were lucky that they did what they did in Russia, and not Iran. In a Muslim country they might have been torn limb from limb by enraged believers on the spot.
Via The Daily Telegraph:
‘Political correctness’ is preventing police from stopping child abuse by parents and church leaders who believe in witchcraft, a minister warns.
Tim Loughton, the children’s minister, said that a “wall of silence” was obscuring the full scale of cruelty in some communities where beliefs in evil spirits was common. He was speaking as the Government announced plans to introduce new training for social workers, teachers, police and church members to combat the abuse.
It follows the conviction earlier this year of Eric Bikubi a London football coach, and his partner Magalie Bamu, for torturing and murdered a 15-year-old boy because they believed he was practising witchcraft. The couple, whose families came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, subjected Bamu’s brother Kristy to a three-day ordeal because they were convinced he was practising “kindoki” or sorcery. The case had echoes of that of Victoria Climbié, the eight-year-old girl who was murdered by her guardians who believed she was possessed by demons.
My friends often wonder why I identify as a conservative in light of the existence of loons such as Pat Robertson. The problem from where I stand is that lunacy is found to your Left and your Right. My friends to the Left are often indulgent or ignorant of their loons to their Left, though they have a laser-like focus on the loons of the Right. Consider this piece in The New York Times Magazine, Oakland, the Last Refuge of Radical America. The “right-thinking” liberal often decries the know-nothing sentiments of the Creationists and their ilk, but what about the heads-in-the-sand attitudes of these “radicals”:
It is, in a word, gentrification, and what’s most striking about its arrival in Oakland is that it’s just now getting there — that the city has existed for so long as a kind of living museum of 1970s radicalism, its culture of militancy, poverty, crime rates and dysfunctional government all conspiring to delay what now seems inevitable. “For years, Oakland has been the black hole in the middle of the great galaxy of Northern California as it shimmered its way into the electronic age,” says Richard Walker, an urban-geography professor who recently retired from the University of California, Berkeley.
Oakland is not representative. Economically dynamic cities such as Palo Alto are moderately Left-Democrat in their orientation for cultural reasons. But there is part of the Left-coalition which is simply in denial about the reality that the activism, protest, and frankly parasitic lifestyles which they choose to lead are dependent on the market economy which they decry. This is no different from the social conservative who is wary of science in their rhetoric, but will always avail himself of the newest gadgets and best medical care.
Via the Daily Telegraph:
Seventy members of an Islamist sect who have been living in an underground bunker without heat or sunlight for nearly a decade have been discovered living on the outskirts of the city of Kazan in Russia.
The sect members included 20 children, the youngest of whom had just turned 18 months. Many of them were born underground and had never seen daylight until prosecutors discovered their dwelling on August 1.
A 17-year-old girl turned out to be pregnant…
The group – known as the “Fayzarahmanist” sect – was named after its 83-year-old organiser Fayzrahman Satarov, who declared himself a prophet and his house an independent Islamic state, according to a report by state TV channel Vesti.
Satarov was described as a former deputy to a Sunni Islamic cleric in the 1970s. His followers were encouraged to read his manuscripts and most were banned from leaving their eight-storey underground bunker which had been dug in the basement of a building, Vesti said.
The Daily Telegraph’s Cristina Odone is rightly appalled by the murder of Shafilea Ahmed:
Shafilea Ahmed’s parents have been found guilty of her murder. The beautiful 17-year-old Cheshire schoolgirl was killed by her own mother and father in a brutal honour killing they kept hidden for nine years.
Even though I’d suspected, like everyone else who’s been following the tragic case, that Iftikhar Ahmed and his wife Farzana were responsible for their daughter’s murder, I’m desperately sad. Can religion really lead a mother and father to kill their own child? It is clear that in the Ahmeds’ case, this was so: Alesha, the victim’s surviving sister, testified in court that her parents openly acknowledged that they must do away with the rebellious teenager. She had adopted “western ways”, and brought shame on their family.
It is a terrible tragedy – even more so because although the [Uk] Home Office statistics claim that there are 12 honour killings a year in Britain, the truth is far more alarming. As Ann Cryer, the former Keighley MP who campaigned tirelessly against honour killings and arranged marriages pointed out to me when I was researching faith schools, teachers in predominantly Muslim areas complain regularly of “disappearances”.
I’m not the first to note this, but I have to say that if I were asked to compile a list of misleading phrases “honor” killings would be up near the top. These are shame killings, and as Ms. Odone clearly agrees, they are deeply shameful too.
Back to Ms.Odone:
Once a [British] Muslim girl hits puberty, the most conservative parents will pluck her out of school where she risks contamination from western peers, and if she is lucky they continue her lessons at home. If she is unlucky, they send her back to Pakistan, in an arranged marriage usually to a much older man. I see this as a very strong argument in favour of more Muslim faith schools: only when they feel their daughters are in a safe Muslim school will parents allow them to continue their education past puberty.
Yes and no, I’d say. In principle, taxpayer funded ‘faith schools’ (or, say, voucher programs that permit parents to spend their vouchers on such schools) seem fine to me. When run well, such schools can deliver a better education—and at lower cost to the taxpayer–than their equivalents in the public sector. Everyone wins.
On the other hand, they can also be a poisonous recipe for cultural isolation and, ultimately, the Balkanization of a nation. Taxpayer-funded Pakistani-style madrassas anyone? No, I didn’t think so. To that end, whether in Cheshire or in Louisiana it is essential that schools eligible for taxpayer pounds or dollars need to be open access (academic selection is fine, however) and subject to a strict accreditation process. What’s more, the UK experience would appear to show that the vetters themselves need to be vetted.
The problem with all that is that schools that have weathered that process are unlikely to satisfy parents such as Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed, two killers who are just the latest evidence of the failure of multiculturalism.
Via the New York Post:
Brooklyn has lost its right to bare arms. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish business owners are lashing out at customers at dozens of stores in Williamsburg, trying to ban sleeveless tops and plunging necklines from their aisles. It’s only the latest example of the Hasidic community trying to enforce their strict religious laws for everyone who lives near their New York enclave.
“No Shorts, No Barefoot, No Sleeveless, No Low Cut Neckline Allowed in the Store,” declare the English/Spanish signs that appear in stores throughout the Hasidic section of the hipster haven. The retailers do not just serve Jews — they include stores for hardware, clothes and electronics. Hebrew speakers are also put on notice: “Entry here in modest dress only,” the signs read. When a Post reporter visited Lee Avenue in a sleeveless dress, some store owners stared at her shoulders, while others refused to look her in the face. The policy, an outgrowth of the sect’s 200-year tradition of dressing modestly, is rankling non-Hasidic residents.
“Religious freedom is one thing, but we do not have the right to enforce our beliefs on someone else,” charged Bob Kim, 39, comfy in tight jeans and a T-shirt.
“Why should they be able to say that on their signs? It’s not OK,” added Hana Dagostin, 32, wearing a sleeveless top.
“People should be able to wear what . . . makes them comfortable,” said Fabian Vega, 34, also wearing shorts and a T-shirt.
Store owners and managers defended the dress code.
“We have our way of life, and this is the way we want everyone to respect that,” said Shalom Cooper, a manager at Glauber’s Cuisine on Division Avenue.
Orthodox men typically wear suits and black hats in public, while women dress in long-sleeved blouses and below-the-knee skirts.
“We’re not concerned about the way women dress in Manhattan — but we are concerned with bringing 42nd Street to this neighborhood,” said Mark Halpern, who is Orthodox and lives in Williamsburg.
Some called the policy un-American.
“It’s further evidence of this era’s move toward Balkanization in the United States,” said Marci Hamilton, a First Amendment scholar at Cardozo School of Law. “It’s no longer sufficient that they have shared norms among themselves, they are increasingly trying to impose their norms on the rest of the culture.”
The dress code appears to be the latest effort by the Hasidic community to separate itself from the greater population. There’s an Orthodox ambulance service and a private police force called the Shomrim. On the B110, a privately operated public bus line that runs through Orthodox Williamsburg and Borough Park, women are told to sit in back, also in accordance with Orthodox customs. The neighborhood embarked on a successful 2009 crusade to remove bike lanes from a 14-block stretch of Bedford Avenue — fearful of the scantily clad gals who would pedal through. Even Hillary Clinton was caught up in the mix last year — her image in the situation room the night of Osama bin Laden’s killing was scrubbed from a Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper because readers might have been offended by a woman’s presence in a sea of men.
“There’s a movement toward insularity among religious groups. It’s dangerous for tolerance, and it’s also dangerous for peace,” Hamilton said.
City lawyer Gabriel Taussig said the signs appeared kosher, provided they don’t “impermissibly discriminate based upon gender, religion or some other protected class.”
But the dress code covers up a bigger problem, according to Shulem Deen, a former Hasid who now lives in Bensonhurst.
“It goes to the basic human value of empathizing with others that are not like you, and I think the Hasidim have no awareness of such a concept,” he said
It’s up to those who own the stores to set the dress code for their customers, but it’s difficult not to feel a little depressed by this tale. E Pluribus Unum and all that…
Cross-posted on the Corner:
Via the Guardian:
During a four-day gathering in California entitled Unleash the Power Within, the famed lifestyle guru [Tony Robbins] encouraged participants to take a leap of faith and test their luck on the red-hot surface. Emergency services were called to deal with the fall-out, as many in the group suffered second- and third-degree burns. Three needed hospital treatment, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
“I heard wails of pain, screams of agony” one witness told the newspaper.
“First one person, then a couple minutes later another one, and there was just a line of people walking on that fire. It was just bizarre, man,” Jonathan Correll, 25, said.
The injured fire walkers were among thousands who attended the Robbins event. As part of the multi-day seminar, a crowd were led to a park where 12 lanes of hot coals had been laid out.A brochure for the Unleash the Power Within event suggests that once you overcome the fear of walking on coals of between “1,200 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit” you can “conquer the other fires of your life with ease”.
A spokesman for the San Jose fire department told the San Jose Mercury News that it does not recommend that people undertake the endeavour.
A Pagan Soccer Mom writes:
Friday, September 21 has been declared Covered in Light International Day. This event has been started by the group Covered in Light, a group of Pagan/Polytheist women who choose to cover their hair as a part of their religious observance. As stated on their website:
“ In no way are we oppressed, objectified, suppressed, or made to feel like a second class citizen. The covering of our hair is a sacred act of devotion to our chosen Deities and therefore is approached with devotion and reverence.
We welcome all women from all walks of life to join our Sisterhood if they feel led to do so. Trans-women and women of other faiths who are Pagan/Polytheist friendly and who embrace the Divine Mother are also welcome amongst us with open arms.”
Covered in Light International Day encourages women to “put yourself in their scarves” by wearing a headscarf in support of women of any religion who choose to veil. This act not only shows support of women who choose to veil, it is also a stand against the discrimination faced by so many women who cover.
Where to begin?
Via Guernica, another reminder of the permanence of superstition, the reinvention of the past (the Goddess?) and the magpie “spirituality” of the West:
Photographer Katarzyna Majak shoots her subjects in vivid color, posing each one as a healer, a goddess, or a queen. These Polish women combine the rituals of the Cherokee, Sufis, Daoists, Wiccans, Druids, and others in search of greater spiritual meaning. With these photos, Majak looks at the prejudice against witchery, the acceptance of aging, and a growing appreciation for feminine divinity.
Guernica: What do you mean by “the women’s time”? From a quote with your interview with Maria Ela, one of your portrait subjects, she says she “thinks it’s a time of transformation,” that she has “to let go of the feeling of being victimized by men,” in order to gain awareness of the “cycle of the Goddess that helped me let go of thinking ‘against.’”
Katarzyna Majak: So, it is the time when more and more people, especially women, resonate with the energy of the Earth’s upheaval. They do not want to think “against” and are not interested in fighting. They would rather use their own empowerment to balance the feminine and the masculine. Another explanation may also be connected with the fact that the Goddess, and one may treat that as an equivalent of women’s power, in Judeo-Christianity, has been living “in hiding,” which is now coming to its end. There is a noticeable women’s spiritual awakening, which is aimed to balance the feminine and masculine, to raise the feminine so that they are both on the same level and neither gets excluded or diminished…