Monthly Archives: August 2012

Student commentaries – on how science has attempted to justify racism

Some very good research and writing from Daniel and Caleb from 1T20.

You can read Caleb’s Research on Discrimination,  in particular, the section on how various branches  of ‘science’ has tried to explain innate differences, and hence water down the act of discrimination is worth reading (probably clearer than mine!). Daniel sets the context below, thoroughly explaining how science has been perverted to explain discrimination – and it’s place in the natural order.

Only until the last century, over the last half of a millennium, openly blatant and public racial discrimination has been shamelessly justified by calling it science – resultantly defiling the practice of science and all the works scientists had contributed along with it. This highly repugnant behaviour leadsone to wonder how a heinous atrocity of such a magnitude could exist for so long in Man’s history. ‘Credit’ is either due to the perpetrators’ excellent job of masquerading their distasteful practices or the victims’ fear (or genuine inability) of speaking out for themselves. Hence, the notion of science itself – an abstract incorporeal notion – is merely a tool or means utilised by past men belonging to the ‘upper echelons’ of society to justify racism and other forms of prejudices; it cannot attempt to “justify racism” per se, and any failed attempts would be due to the perpetrators. With regard to the success of the perpetrators-of-prejudice, it should be jarringly obvious from the disregard for this notion today that it has ceased to be an acceptable reason for discrimination. Although racism is pervasive, this fact should not be attributed or associated to the success of justification of discrimination by scientific means. Racism has long existed before scientific racism set in – anti-semitism is said to have existed since 300 BC – muddying our early perceptions of what is truly ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and the demarcation between them, so the existence of racism today is not due to scientific racism efforts in the past. Few can refute if one were to say that scientific racism propagated discrimination and contributed to its longevity, but the crux of this discussion is whether science has been successfully used as a means to justify racism, and it most definitely has not been convincing to the victims even during the eras of when scientific racism was a commonplace, and the so-called scientific racism was seen a legitimate field.

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Women in Islam and gender understood through religion

Am having to face some very difficult questions in class these days on gender equality and religion. What is ‘religious doctrine’ and cultural practice is fuzzy at the edges, particularly since relativism and subjectivity has found its way into almost all but the most cloistered of religious institutions, radically changing the way “religion” is conceived in  rapidly evolving cultures.

I’m a big fan of studying similar spiritual traditions among Abrahamic religions (Chronologically: Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and am in the midst of reading up more on women in Islam. Please feel free to direct me to any good links on the concept of femininity understood through religious tradition or scriptural texts.

Here’s a primer on women in Islam passed to me by Ms Suzie.

 

 

What is the real terrorist threat in America?

Domestic terrorism in the US is hardly an outcome of Islamic militanism, yet terrorism is largely associated with the muslim community in and outside of the US. 

The New Yorker – Posted by 

oak-creek-465.jpg

Satwant Kaleka, who served as president of the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, arrived in the United States from India three decades ago with thirty-five dollars in savings. By last Sunday, he owned several gas stations, according to the Los Angeles Times. He turned up early that morning at his temple to oversee worship and preparations for a large birthday party.

Wade Michael Page, a former bassist and guitarist in a white-supremacist rock band, drove to Oak Creek just after 10:15 A.M. He pulled out a pistol and shot worshipers remorselessly. An eleven-year-old-boy, Abhay Singh, watched him shoot one victim seven or eight times.

Kaleka tried to tackle the gunman. Page shot him, too; Kaleka dragged himself away, but he bled to death. He was sixty-two years old.

Sikhs in the greater Milwaukee area face discrimination “on a daily basis” because of the visible markers of their faith, such as the turbans that believing Sikh men tie on, Kaleka’s brother said later, and yet Kaleka held onto a belief in an “American freedom dream.”

Page’s other five victims were all immigrants to the United States from India’s Punjab province, where there is a large Sikh population. Among them were Suveg Singh Khattra, an eighty-four-year-old farmer who came to the U.S. to live with his son, and Paramjit Kaur, who worked more than sixty-five hours a week at a Wisconsin medical-instrument factory; she was the mother of two college-age sons.

There is no hierarchy of hate crime or racist terrorism, but Page’s massacre has a distinctive, sickening quality, set amid ignorance and reflecting a pattern of underpublicized bias of a sort that is often directed at the smallest of minority groups.

It’s not clear whether the shooter, like some Americans who have violently attacked Sikhs before, mistakenly believed that his victims were Muslims. In any event, the outrage would be the same if Page had shot up a mosque. The killer seemed to hate all brown people, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Yet the mass murder at Oak Creek took place in a context of persistent discrimination against Sikhs. During the months and years after September 11, 2001, Sikhs have been attacked and in at least one instance murdered by vigilantes who mistook them for members of the Taliban. Nor is this bias only a fringe problem of skinheads. At American airports, it is the policy of the Transportation Security Administration to always single out turban-wearing Sikh men for secondary screening and pat downs, no matter the traveller’s age or profile. (Turbans can in theory hide explosives, as suicide bombers in Afghanistan have demonstrated, but the procedures and explanations of the T.S.A. about its rules, as described by the Sikh Coalition, an advocacy and education group, suggest a blanket policy that would not likely be applied to a religious group with a higher profile and more numerous advocates.) Continue reading

Saudi Arabia’s women-only cities are no blueprint for liberation

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY CHRISTIAN CHAISE

A plan for cities of female workers will not increase women’s independence. It is akin to US-style Jim Crow racial segregation

‘How can further segregation be expected to solve the problems caused by discrimination?’ Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images
Aug 13 Monday, The Guardina

Are radical feminist separatists infiltrating Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite? Have the women of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia undergone a wild revolution,read Love Your Enemy? and decided to eschew all male company to create their own political systems and free themselves from the patriarchy? I hope so, because otherwise it’s hard to imagine the convoluted logic behind a decision to build all-female cities to boost women’s employment.

The country already has separate schools, segregated universities (and thebiggest all-female university in the world) not to mention offices, restaurants and even separate entrances for public buildings. Now industrial hubs are to be built so that women can be hidden away even further than their current dresscode of abaya, headscarf and niqab allows.

The country’s segregation is so extreme the plans bring to mind the US’s racial divide under the Jim Crow laws, ensuring “separate but equal” institutions for black and white people. And like the legalised discrimination in the US, “equal” in this context means no such thing. The female half of the adult population of Saudi Arabia is considered unfit to control their own lives. Women cannot decide whether to leave the house, whether or who to marry, whether to work or study, whether to travel, what to wear, or even whether to have major surgery – without the consent of a male guardian.

In a country of such startling misogyny, which treats women like children, it is hardly surprising there are few women in work and that it is becoming a crises the ruling elite is being forced to take notice of. Almost 60% of the country’s college graduates are women, but 78% of female university graduates are apparently unemployed – despite the fact more than 1,000 hold a doctorate degree. In total only 15% of Saudi Arabia’s workforce are women. And unlike in many recession-hit countries, there are more than enough jobs to go around – the economy apparently booming.

Yet with women refused driving licences for fear it will lead to social disintegration, education for girls failing to fit them for the workplace, and businesswomen still expected to have a male representative to deal with government agencies, not to mention the pressure to provide women with separate offices, employers naturally favour men. With sexism so central to the system, women are also largely restricted to traditionally female-oriented fields in the public sector and less than 1% of decision-making posts are held by Saudi women. Continue reading