“You’re so dangerous and it’s so exciting.” (On UUK)

Another stupid, misleading article by Myriam Francois-Cerrah:

Universities UK’s guidance was not about the rights or wrongs of segregating an event by gender, rightfully steering clear of this important discussion in order to allow, as a free society should, the full expression of a range of distasteful, illiberal and even offensive views. It’s a lesson Muslims are regularly lambasted with. This means that although as a Muslim, I oppose the segregation of lectures along gender lines, even side by side, I’m glad British universities have upheld their commitment to securing free speech and promoting debate, which is exactly what university is about. It is now up to Muslims internally to push forward with greater gender equity, increase female representation and challenge sexist views which bend theological interpretations to fit their patriarchal desires. Banning segregated seating will do nothing to resolve the misogyny which at times underpins it.

“Do anything controversial, however bad, and I’ll support it. Because I like disagreeing with things.” And who said careerists were vacuous?

Francois-Cerrah has either not read UUK’s guidance, which she so readily explains to us, or she has so subsumed herself into the inferiority complex of the Muslim community that she feels that she must throw herself behind its most reactionary – and unrepresentative – elements. It’s either ignorant or dishonest.

Firstly, take a look at what UUK actually said:

Ultimately, if imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely- held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.

In other words, for men and women to choose to sit next to one another in a public gathering is an attack on the speaker’s “genuinely-held religious beliefs”; if you do not abandon your rights when you are instructed, you are being an odious, inward-looking and regressive troublemaker. Indeed, Omar Ali appeared on Channel 4 News to celebrate the victory of religious bigotry as being that “we live in a liberal society.”

One has to wonder whether he has completely misunderstood the meaning of liberalism – which, to its credit, were such frivolities as the emancipation of women – or whether the political Islamic pressure groups have finally understood the virtues of their alliance with the far-left.

But to Francois-Cerrah:

It is Universities UK which is calling for bans; here, on the right of individuals to express their beliefs in the physical (not merely “spiritual”) equality of the two sexes. That is an assault on freedom of expression. No one is saying that deluded victims of indoctrination – male or female – may not voluntarily segregate themselves at a mosque or Agatha Christie-esque dinner party. But I will not allow you to force me to sit where I do not wish to sit.

1) Grow up.

2) This is why we need socialism and not this stupid wishy-washy liberal attitude to things.


Things will only get better

… this week. Following my month-long exam-related lapse of blogging, I’m returning with ideas for future (better) posts on which to write. I noticed that my posts were becoming increasingly Syria-related. Now that theme won’t end, because it’s bloody important – not a pun, you terrible human beings – and because events are making me hate everyone who speaks about it.

That said, ideas brewing in no especial order:

  • Edward Snowden: a product of the villainy he’s denouncing? A more morally-grounded alternative to Assange? Less visceral in its commentary than Manning? Leading to –
  • Internet openness: is the internet a microcosm of the real world? Should it be? Is it a part of the real world? What laws do, and do not, apply there? Is an anarchic vacuum being filled by the despots of the ancien régime?
  • Ian Brady: do we let the Moors murderer die? Scant knowledge of psychiatry, as well as facts and philosophy (both legal and moral) will provoke attempts to disentangle a layman’s confused ignorance.
  • Student politics: what it means, what it should mean and it what it will never mean. More microcosms, fewer answers – all brewed in the mind of a student bored with the moderate realities of university political circles. Marxism, Doris Lessing, narcissism.
  • Something literary: random poem? Random poet? Finish a book or two, pretend I understand more than I inevitably will.
  • Pseudo-polemicists and their love of populism: why middle-class societies should be sceptical of grassroots activism.

To gravitate towards that very populism: any other ideas?

(Here’s a merry video culminating in a creepy shot of Tony Blair to get you in the mood.)

What is a Teapot?

One of the scare stories told to students applying for a place at Oxford and Cambridge is that they their fate will inevitably be determined by something arbitrary and unexpected. With a mendacious grin the professor will recline as he asks, “What is a teapot?”

Via The Atlantic, here is tea time in Syria:

Iraqi refugees find themselves on the boundaries of another war: a teapot lives with the community abroad.

Fighters of the Free Syrian Army warm their drink on the embers of one of the regime’s posters: a teapot brings life and energy out of destruction.

Behind the flimsy curtain defending against snipers, an iron teapot is the unperturbed stoicism of routine.

The good teapot can be picked out of the rubble; it civilises war. Is that a good thing? Or does it just normalise it?

Israel Boycott Rejected at Oxford

I missed the college vote and have no role whatsoever in the federal University, but the Student Union has rejected, by 7-to-1, a motion calling for a boycott of Israel. A great deal of confidence has been restored:

[David Townsend] said in a statement after the boycott debate at OUSU: “Tonight Oxford students showed that their commitment to intellectual freedom is unshakeable.”

Because a boycott of what, exactly? Jaffa oranges? Anything written by an Israeli? The anti-occupation parties in the Knesset too? Intellectual freedom should always take priority; it is not “radical” or “progressive” to oppose freedom of speech with racial sectarianism.

Fairly sure I met this guy at the Oxford “Radical” Forum last week. But more of that later.