Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:20 pm

A few years ago Trisha Goddard (who as far as I know now hosts a very trashy Jerry Springer style TV talk show in the UK) completed a stint on TV in Australia for a couple of years, and in leaving called Australia “the most racist country in the world”.

I thought she was wrong then, and I think she’s wrong now, but have a gander at the Comments section below this newspaper article: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/burqas-are-confronting-and-i-wish-fewer-people-wore-them-says-tony-abbott/comments-fn5z3z83-1225901091959

8 responses to “Arrghhh!!!!”

  1. Mark says:

    Well, I learnt that “the burqas are definitely better at Hungry Jacks”.

    The only problems in real life, not the “We don’t do that here” objection, is that humans show their identity and state of mind with the face. It’s obviously useful for criminal activity to be able to hide your identity, so no burqas in banks, which makes it consistent with no total coverage helmets.

    I don’t think racism is the right word for being against it. There are lots of cultural differences that are easily accepted. This one is a bit more than that. It’s one of the few things that people seem to consistently object to. It is perceived rightly or wrongly as an antisocial attitude. And there is an opinionated stream of aussie society that would be vociferous against that sort of thing.

    Human beings are limited. To remain engaged in society for many people requires finding it no too confronting, I think. Some assimilation is probably necessary to retain the best level of cohesion.

    But, I wonder what got Trish Goddard upset? I have heard some dark-skin migrants say they have not experienced any racism in Australia. I guess different people are sensitive to different things.

  2. Bravus says:

    How would we go if cross jewellery or fish stickers received the same kind of attention? True, they’re not covering the face, but they’re outward marks of inward devotion.

    Maybe ‘racist’ is not precisely right – though some of the ‘bugger off back home if you want to wear it’ comments suggest it’s not far from the mark. It’s not precisely religion either: it’s culture, I guess.

    Lots of ‘Australia is built on Christian values’ posts as well… see my newer blog post.

    I personally find some facial piercings a bit confronting, but I’m not arrogant enough to think that my personal preferences should dictate the way others can dress.

  3. Mark says:

    I don’t mind Seikh turbans, or Muslim head gear, or conservative christian beltless shapeless dresses, or anything. But many people feel a sense of fear at someone hiding their face. The identity aspect is a side issue. KKK hoods have a similar effect. It’s a bit deeper than personal preferences.

  4. Bravus says:

    But surely that kind of reflexive, irrational fear (unless you assume small Muslim women are going to mess you up) is an atavism that we’d use our reason to overcome, not something we’d give in to and legislate?

  5. Mark says:

    This is like a discussion you started earlier, about going with your instincts. In that case I was saying the reflexive response was not to be trusted, and you were saying maybe it was. I agree that there can be something behind unconsidered reactions. Sometimes of course our reasons are just a suit we put on a scared cat, but I wanted to probe the negative reaction to the burqa.

    It could be just guilt by association with masked robbers and KKK members on TV, but I think there more immediate explanations.

    1. Since we study people’s faces to assess the nature of their attitude toward us, a number of people when dealing with someone hiding their identity (not parading it with a turban or whatever) and not showing their facial expressions, will imagine the worst. That small muslim woman might be carrying a gun under all that. But more immediately we want to know if we are starting to offend her or whatever.

    2. Many people perceive it as an instrument of oppression, because a burqa makes it harder for women to carry out their daily tasks, sort of reminding them that their place is indoors. It may be not that the woman herself is the object of the anger, but the culture that makes her put up with that inconvenience.

    But I agree with you that legislation is probably overkill for case 1. Banning it if case 2 is the problem could just keep them indoors more, and have the opposite effect of the liberation intended.

  6. Bravus says:

    It’s an interesting one, because it tends to unite the left and right, for different reasons. The right (overgeneralisation of course) tends to object to the burqa on the grounds of ‘not like us’, and the left on the grounds of oppression of women. I’m not sure I entirely buy the latter: it seems paternalistic to me in this day and age. I don’t think, in the vast majority of cases, the women are wearing them under duress. I think most often it’s their choice. I guess we can get into all that rattle about ‘false consciousness’, but I’ve expressed my deep misgivings about that notion before.

    I kind of take your point about being able to see people’s faces to ‘read’ them, but I think your suggestion that the default position is distrust is telling. What if we defaulted to trusting people in general – even the ones who are not like us – until the prove untrustworthy?

  7. Mark says:

    Yeah, some of the sort of “illegal immigrant” hysteria may be getting transferred to women in burqas.

    Some of the acceptance will just come with familiarity. We deal facelessly with people all the time – the phone, the internet etc, unless you both have iPhone 4’s 😀

    I hope someone can delicately study the reality of this so that there can be more light than nebula on it.

  8. I honestly think that for the most racist countries in the world it comes down to a close race between Russia and Japan.

    Russia has a huge neo-nazi movement (home of over 90% of the worlds current skinheads according to Vanguard).

    As for Japan? watch this and make up your own mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxPGnWiLFfo

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