The limits of multi-culturalism


By Miriam Shaviv
July 28, 2010
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I have just finished reading one of the ugliest, most vile pieces ever published in the British press. It is actually dripping with venom.

I am speaking, of course, of Christina Patterson's piece in the Indy today, The Limits of Multi-Culturalism. Her piece begins as a mild rant against her annoying and rude neighbours in the Charedi neighbourhood of Stamford Hill. They drive while using their mobile phones; park in the wrong spots, don't say please or thank you in their shops and occasionally disdain their non-Jewish customers.

Fine. I daresay all these things really happened to her. Certainly they are all complaints that have aired so often they have become cliches.

But that's only the first couple of paragraphs. After she gets her complaints about the "armies of children" and the "funny suits and hats" out of the way, she really gets going:

When I moved to Stamford Hill, 12 years ago, I didn't realise that goyim were about as welcome in the Hasidic Jewish shops as Martin Luther King at a Klu Klux Klan convention. I didn't realise that a purchase by a goy was a crime to be punished with monosyllabic terseness, or that bus seats were a potential source of contamination, or that road signs, and parking restrictions, were for people who hadn't been chosen by God. And while none of this is a source of anything much more than irritation, when I see an eight-year-old boy recoiling from a normal-looking woman (because, presumably, he has been taught that she is dirty or dangerous, or, heaven forbid, dripping with menstrual blood) it makes me sad.

"Normal-looking woman"? What's that? A woman who looks like you, Ms Patterson?

She then goes on about a series of Muslim practices that similarly make her "sad" - including little girls "being taught that their tiny bodies, and their lovely hair, are things to be protected from the male gaze". The very concept of modesty - in clothing, in contact between the sexes - actually offends her. I'd love to hear what she has to say, by contrast, on the armies of young girls in London sleeping around, drinking and minimally dressed. That's what offends me.

All these things make me sad, but I accept that people should, except in certain professional situations which involve dealing with the public, be allowed to wear whatever they like, and that laws which prevent this are self-defeating, and that you can't stop parents, or rabbis, teaching little boys that adult women shouldn't even be brushed against on a bus, and I accept that some of these things are an inevitable consequence of a modern, and in many ways magnificent, multi-cultural society.

Again, she seems to think that she is the 'normal', normative one, and that the rabbis preaching modesty are the 'modern' ones. She fails to grasp that in the context of history, she's the modern, new one, not them.

I love, by the way, she pays lip service to the "in many ways magnificent" multi-cultural society.  In her political milieu, she has to profess to believe in it, but at the end of the day, she's not exactly live-and-let-live, is she? You rather get the feeling that she (a) hates the Jews and Muslims really, seriously more than is strictly necessary and (b) feels they really ought to thank her for generously giving them permission to exist.

G-d, this is painful, but let's go on.

But there's one thing I will never accept. In the next few weeks, between 500 and 2,000 British schoolgirls – yes, British schoolgirls – will be sent abroad, ostensibly on holiday, and taken to the home of a woman who will, using an often dirty razor, and no anaesthetic, slice off their labia, and clitoris, and then, using sewing thread or horse-hair and an often dirty needle, stitch their vaginas closed. Sometimes, the girls faint. Sometimes, they die. But the people who do this to them (in East Africa and India and Pakistan and the Middle East) believe that it's what God wants. They believe that it promotes "cleanliness" and "chastity". Oh, and men's sexual pleasure. But not, for obvious reasons, women's.

Female circumcision has been illegal in Britain since 1985. Since 2003, it has also been illegal to take girls out of the country to have them "cut" abroad. The maximum penalty is 14 years. So far, there have been no prosecutions. Not a single one. I don't care if evidence is difficult to get, and I don't care if parents think they're doing the right thing for their children, and I don't care if it's a "sensitive" issue. This is a total and utter disgrace. Parents are being allowed to mutilate their children, and the institutions in this country are doing sweet FA.

There is, I'm sure, nothing in the Koran to indicate that hacking off a girl's labia is an all-round great idea, just as there's nothing in the Torah to say that Volvos should always be driven with a mobile phone in hand, and goyim should be treated with contempt.

Wow. We started off with rude Jewish drivers and somehow, four columns later, we've got to Muslims "hacking off a girl's labia". Amazing - no one at the Indy has yet spotted that the two things really have nothing to do with each other. Except that they are both carried out by those repulsive foreigners.

People will believe what they believe, but a civilised society will have laws to indicate what is acceptable in that society and what isn't, and it will act on those laws. A properly civilised society would also ensure that children are not subject to the crazed whims of their parents, and hived off into "faith schools" where they're taught that the world was created in seven days, or that they need special gadgets to switch on the lights on a Saturday, or that women who show their face are sluts.

"Crazed whims of parents"? Now we get to the nub. She dislikes Islam and Judaism and sees them and their practitioners as irrational and "uncivilised". That is what this is all about, as evidenced by the next paragraph:

A properly civilised society would accept that while lovely little C of E schools were once an excellent place for children to learn about the religion that shaped their culture, art and laws, you can't have them without having the madrassa run by the mad mullah next door, and therefore, sadly, you can't have either, but have, instead, a system of compulsory state secular education, in which children learn to get on with people from all religious backgrounds and none, and are taught about all religions, but also that the culture of the country they're living in was, for 2,000 years, largely based on one.

Hold on - she doesn't hate all religions. C of E schools = "lovely"! Muslim and Jewish schools = bad! I understand, Ms Patterson.

By now, of course, her tone is totally crazed - hate-filled and hateful. Even if I were reading this with the most charitable of attitudes, and wished to assume that Ms Patterson did not mean to come across as a complete bigot, this is how it reads to me. Maybe we ought to send her to visit one of those state schools where children "learn to get on with people from all religious backgrounds and none". She certainly sounds like she needs a refresher course.

COMMENTS

Jonathan Hoffman

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 14:33

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0 points

Who is propping up the Indie?

It should have gone bust months ago - surely no-one pays for this drivel.....


Anonymous

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 14:48

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0 points

This comment by Kibi has been moderated


Anonymous

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 14:53

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0 points

This comment by Jon_i_Cohen has been moderated


Jon_i_Cohen

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 16:27

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0 points

She is one hostile lady!
Here is an e-mail i have just had from her:-
C.Patterson@Independent.co.ukC.Patterson@Independent.co.uk

Send e-mail
Find e-mail Add to contactsTo Jon Cohen
From: C.Patterson@Independent.co.uk
Sent: 28 July 2010 15:04:56
To: Jon Cohen (jon_i_cohen@hotmail.com)

Well, if it doesn't upset you that children are mutilated by their parents, or brought up to despise great swathes of the population, there's probably something wrong with you...

Christina

Christina Patterson
Writer and columnist
The Independent

Wow!!


Jon_i_Cohen

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 16:28

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0 points

Anyone who wants to send her an e-mail please feel free, you have her e-mail address!


Jonathan Hoffman

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 17:32

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0 points

I have too. I will publish the response here.

She is a 5-letter word beginning with b and ending in h which if used here will get me moderated.


Marcus Dysch

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 17:41

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3 points

Butch?


rsteel

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 18:07

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0 points

I can imagine the first half of the article being penned by Goebels in the mid 30s incredible in 2010 - just shows that not everyone learns from the past - sad old b---h.


Yvetta

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 18:31

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0 points

"Cur of the gentler sex" is the expression, Jonathan!


Dr Brian Robinson

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 19:03

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1 point

She had a potentially good article about the horrors of female genital mutilation (FGM) -- and its illegality -- but the kindest thing I can say about her piece is that she totally vitiated her argument by the sheer vileness of everything else in it. And one might almost get the impression that in her moral universe FGM is rather on a par with driving badly. The Independent began to go downhill quite a while ago -- shame, because when it began under Andreas Whittam-Smith it was a good -- and had the makings of a great -- liberal paper.


Yvetta

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 19:16

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0 points

Yes, what a pity she let that issue be obscured by her other ravings.


Jonathan Hoffman

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 21:57

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1 point

When I asked this cur of the gentler sex (thanks Yvonne) to substantiate her assertions, I got this charming email:

"Dear Jonathan Hoffman

(Some of us still believe in courtesy even if others don't.) Thank you for your interesting email. If you don't know how Hasidic Jewish people dress, then I suggest you make a little outing to Stamford Hill. They are usually quite easy to distinguish from the rest of the population because of their rather idiosyncratic clothes. Unless all of the people I mention (who I encountered in the past few weeks) were in fancy dress, I think it's probably safe to assume that they were Hasidic Jews. I couldn't care less about their religious beliefs, but I am getting a little weary of their bad manners. Clearly, from the flood of emails I've had today (from current and former residents of Stamford Hill, some of them Jewish) many others agree with me.

Are you implying that I'm lying? That would be an extremly impolite thing to do... "


Joshua18

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 22:34

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0 points

Christina Patterson writes:

"Some of us still believe in courtesy even if others don't."

Yes, and the Viennese were also famous for their good manners and charm. Here they are being charming to their Jewish neighbours:

http://tinyurl.com/27kzoxb

http://tinyurl.com/289zhl7

And who today can top the Brits for civilised behaviour?

http://tinyurl.com/35wthvt

http://tinyurl.com/39e9l9h

http://tinyurl.com/37mkevh


Dr Brian Robinson

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 23:25

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0 points

Jonathan, call me naive but I still find it astonishing that someone in Patterson's position could write an email like that. It's not free speech, it's an abuse of free speech. Who is she anyway? I haven't taken the trouble to find out more about her. My reading of the Indie these days is confined to Johann Hari and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown -- and sometimes Matthew Norman.


Jonathan Hoffman

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 23:49

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-1 points

"Christina Patterson is a former director of the Poetry Society, and literary programmer at the Southbank Centre, she writes on culture, society, politics, books, travel and the arts."

She's a nonentity who expects people to believer her when she slanders Jews.


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 07/29/2010 - 07:16

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-2 points

"And I would like to say to the little boy who sat bang in the middle of two seats on the bus and who, when I tried to sit next to him, leapt up as if infection from the ebola virus was imminent, that it does slightly make one feel like a pariah"

Sounds to me that that little boy has excellent taste.

Christina Patterson - if you ever try to sit next to me on the bus you'll get the identical treatment - and the time of the month will have nothing to do with it


Jon_i_Cohen

Thu, 07/29/2010 - 08:37

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0 points

Pattersons reply to my e-mail

From: C.Patterson@Independent.co.uk
Sent: 28 July 2010 15:04:56
To: Jon Cohen (jon_i_cohen@hotmail.com)

Well, if it doesn't upset you that children are mutilated by their parents, or brought up to despise great swathes of the population, there's probably something wrong with you...

Christina

Christina Patterson
Writer and columnist
The Independent

********************************************************

Bad mood? time of the month? or just one sad old b***h?


Jon_i_Cohen

Thu, 07/29/2010 - 08:53

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0 points

Why was my earlier comment moderated?


Jon_i_Cohen

Thu, 07/29/2010 - 08:54

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0 points

Christina Patterson's comments have not been moderated


pretzelberg

Mon, 08/02/2010 - 15:23

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1 point

The Patterson article was nasty enough - but the e-mails displayed above are frankly bizarre and look as if they'd been written by a teenager.


ssm49

Wed, 08/04/2010 - 14:00

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0 points

'"Normal-looking woman"? What's that? A woman who looks like you, Ms Patterson?'

I think you need to remove the beam from your own eye Ms Shaviv.

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