Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Today's Scene: We don't get to choose the battle. We only get to choose our side.

I said this years ago and I say it again today: 
 We don't get to choose the battle. We only get to choose our side. 
Right now, Canada finds itself dealing with Islamophobia and the anti-Muslim Bill 21 law in Quebec. This isn't an issue that anybody really wanted to deal with right now, at this time of wars and pandemics. 
But it's here, it's happening - we don't have a choice about that. 
We only get to decide whether we agree with what Quebec is doing, or whether we support Trudeau's appointment of Special Representative Amira Elghawaby to combat Islamophobia. 
I, on the other hand, do not. :
At a provincial level in Canada, ever since it was Lower Canada, it is Quebec that has dealt for two centuries with unfounded anti-religious prejudice. So I think it should be ashamed of itself over its anti-Muslim laws. 
Evan Scrimshaw writes a fine and furious rant:
The real reason people are so up in arms about this appointment? It makes white people feel uncomfortable, and that’s all this is about....
All this is is a group of people being offended that their behaviour has been called out. Bill 21 is a disgrace, a racist piece of shit that is undeserving of this country.
In The Orchard substack, Jeremy Appell describes the moral panic among pundits who just cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that Islamophobia is actually a problem - Canadian Pundits throw Amira Elghawaby to the wolves:
Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s newly-appointed special representative for fighting Islamophobia, is under fire for … criticizing Islamophobia in Quebec.
And Canadian media commentators have added fuel to this fire every step of the way.
...The media has continually perpetuated the hysteria surrounding Elghawaby’s appointment, with pundits mostly honing in on her criticism of Islamophobia in Quebec. But many of these columns veered into explicit Islamophobia.
He goes on to call out pieces by Althia Raj, Chantal HΓ©bert, Tom Mulcair, Susan Delacourt, Konrad Yakabuski, Andre Pratte, Kelly McParland, Chris Selley, Tarek Fatah, Terry Glavin, and finally, of course, Rex Murphy. 
You know folks, if you ever you find yourself arguing on the same side as Rex Murphy about any public issue whatsoever, its a signal that maybe your analysis is flawed! 
And on Friday we saw some in Quebec rising to Elghawaby's defense - Prominent Quebecers plead for federal anti-Islamophobia rep to be given a chance:
....“We are sensitive to the concerns that have been raised since her appointment, but the challenge before her is a considerable one and we believe that Ms. Elghawaby should be given the opportunity to assume and pursue the mandate for which she was appointed,” the letter said.
...“We stand ready to contribute to a constructive dialogue around these complex and sensitive issues and are committed to countering biases of all kinds.”
Among the people who signed the letter are constitutional lawyer Julius Grey, philosopher Charles Taylor and Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Quebec City mosque where six men were shot in 2017 in an anti-Muslim attack.
The Anti-Hate Community Leaders’ Group, an Ontario-based activist organization, also released a letter in support of Elghawaby’s appointment. It said that after working with Elghawaby for more than a decade there is no one better suited for the federal position.

Moving on, here's another issue that demands taking a stand for what is right -- supporting trans kids, and their parents: In his substack, Tom Scocca writes an absolutely stunning article - Why is the New York Times So Obsessed with Trans Kids? - calling out the New York Times (and echoed by The Atlantic and New York magazine) for their recent obsession over trans teenagers, creating medical, educational, social and political "controversy" where few or none actually exist: 
This is pretty obviously—and yet not obviously enough—a plain old-fashioned newspaper crusade. Month after month, story after story, the Times is pouring its attention and resources into the message that there is something seriously concerning about the way young people who identify as trans are receiving care. Like the premise that the Clintons had to have been guilty of something serious, or that Saddam Hussein must have had a weapons program worth invading Iraq over, the notion that trans youth present a looming problem is demonstrated to the reader by the sheer volume of coverage. If it's not a problem, why else would it be in the paper? 

And this tweet surprised me - I didn't think there were so many trans supporters in Oklahoma - hooray! Moving on, I hope we have reached the end of the Great Balloon Hysteria: Finally, I see Elon is still struggling with Twitter - it's like watching your neighbour assembling an Ikea desk after throwing out the instructions and the Allen wrench:
By the way, and completely off-topic, I have also started a new recipe blog that I call Cathie Cooks -- yes, that's what the internet needs, more recipes! Anyway, check it out sometime if you also like to cook.


Cap said...

Quebec's Bill 21 bars public servants from wearing religious symbols to work. It is not specifically Islamophobic since it affects all religions that expect members to identify themselves through their dress. The law can as easily be called antisemitic for its effect on men wearing Jewish headcoverings, and it was attacked on that basis by Irwin Cotler, Trudeau's advisor on antisemitism. Sikhs, such as Jagmeet Singh, have also criticized the law, which obviously affects men in turbans.

But Quebec has not asked Cotler or Singh to resign, which points to a far more widespread form of discrimination - misogyny. The pattern is quite clear - men can criticize the law for its effect on religious men, but women can't do the same for religious women. This is yet another case of a prominent woman taking stick for saying things for which no man is being reproached. And the media is not calling Legault out on this misogyny, preferring to frame the story in terms of religion.

Elghawaby is finding out that women who publicly stand up for women's rights are on their own. Other women will join the pile-on if it means keeping their own jobs. This is nothing new, just ask JK Rowling, Chimamanda Adichie, Kathleen Stock Maya Forstater. Martina Navratilova and Germaine Greer, among many others.

Cathie from Canada said...

Interesting point - I had thought the main impact was on women with hijabs but I hadn't realized it also affected wearing turbans - this makes it even more evident that the goal was anti-"ethnic" discrimination.