Busy day

Between looking after the lost dog I found yesterday, putting up fliers, returning the dog to his home, and then taking down the damned useless fliers, I didn’t really have time for much writing today.

It didn’t help that I got used to writing tomorrow’s post in the evenings, then managed to miss a day and wrote yesterday’s post yesterday evening. It was really weird when I was plotting out my evening and realized that I hadn’t posted anything yet today.

Anyways, here’s a story from London that really pissed me off. When I went to that blog just now to find that link, I saw another! So apparently threats of violence are effective at curtailing free speech in the UK. Good to know, I guess.

If you don’t wanna click the links, the first one describes a guy with a camera phone entering a meeting on Sharia Law and Human Rights at the University of London shortly before it started, panning the camera around the room, and announcing that he had their faces and knew where some of them lived and if anyone said something bad about Mohammad he’s hunt them down. The meeting was canceled.

The second is a 17 year old (the impressive Rhys Morgan) being forced by his school to change his facebook profile pic.

Seriously offensive.

Apparently they made him change it because he was getting harassed after using it for a week. When he first said no they threatened expulsion. The phrase “blaming the victim” feels like it belongs in here somewhere.

So next time you’re in the UK and don’t like what somebody’s saying, don’t bother with their ridiculously plaintiff-favoring libel laws, just threaten violence and someone will shut the offender up.

The thing is, Islam in the UK is a pretty complicated issue, at least from this outsider’s point of view. Here’s how I see it:

On the one hand, you have Muslim fanatics who form insular communities that more or less run on their own laws, make it very difficult or even impossible for young Muslims to integrate into larger British society, violently lash out at any perceived slight, and generally do their best to justify and perpetuate the stereotype of Islam as a religion of violent reactionaries with no tolerance for anyone else and a penchant for terrorism.

On the other hand, you have xenophobic groups who range from your basic white-supremacists or general racists to a more narrow anti-Muslim sentiment. They tend to have names with “defense league” or something similar in them, and seem to blame any perceived imperfection of their life on Islam.

Both parties are a small but loud minority, both claim to represent their larger community, and both seem to think that if you aren’t allied with one of them, you have to be allied with the other. The idea that people might just want to get on with their fucking lives seems to be beyond them.

From here in California, it’s difficult for me to say what impact they really have. It’s very easy for just a few people to look very large and important on the ‘net, and baiting just a few of the blogs or youtubers I follow could easily distort my perception. But one thing they’re both really good at is making it very hard to examine these issues clearly or talk about them, if only because any time you say something that could be construed as criticizing one group you then have to go on to explain that you’re not joining the other.

I guess that’s what people mean by “tribalism”, that us or them mentality. We have a little of that Muslim vs Xenophobe thing going on here in the ‘states, (ground zero mosque comes to mind) but whenever someone starts talking about creeping Sharia law here we can just point to the first amendment of the constitution and they generally shut up and go away.

It looks like I’m being a little hard on Britain here, but that’s only because I liked it there and expect better from them.

Once again, I wound up writing much more than expected. But I solved the problem of wandering off-topic by not having a topic in the first place, so there’s that.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on January 17, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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