One of my favourite bits of cognitive dissonance

There’s something that always gets me about white people who want to restrict immigration so as to preserve their cultural and racial dominance, which is supposedly under threat, in a given country. Who want to ban, for instance, Muslim women from wearing clothing of religious, cultural and social importance because they feel uncomfortable encountering the Other in their own backyard. Who want to partake in bits of non-white, non-Western cultures but don’t want those people around so much because this suburb is becoming overrun, and it’s a bit scary, don’t you know?

So, I’ve got a question for white people who feel uncomfortable with having their status as the default humans threatened.

You want to prevent us Others from living where we wish…
You want us to keep our strange customs and faces to ourselves…
You want selected bits of who we are but you want the fullness of who we are out of your faces…

… and you’re the ones who feel threatened?


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88 comments for “One of my favourite bits of cognitive dissonance

  1. Dorian
    September 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    You know, this isn’t even something that had occurred to me (likely because, despite the fact that I’m Métis, I do very much benefit from white privilege). But it’s a really, really telling point.

    Brava, Chally.

  2. KW
    September 19, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I just passed out from how awesome this is. Well done.

  3. Neville Park
    September 19, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    YES. I wish more people would realise this…

    I’ll add that (as much as people pretend) it’s not always even about immigration, as often the “immigrants” have been around for quite a while—or it’s a case of “[Land stolen from (non-Christian) people] is a Christian nation!” This is not to say that xenophobia doesn’t exist, just that racism magnifies it.

  4. September 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Well said. But don’t forget that those same immigrant-hating folk would like to keep the cuisine, music, clothing, etc. of the feared ones. Thanks for the tacos, now go home.

  5. September 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    As a white person who doesn’t feel threatened by non-white or non-Western cultures, I have no idea why white people who are threatened feel that way. It seems odd to me, too.

  6. Beppie
    September 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    WORD. It annoys me particularly that the clothing of women designated as culturally other comes in for so much scrutiny. So many women are doubly marginalized in this way – marginalized by the dominant culture and marginalized by the policing of women’s bodies and clothing.

  7. banisteriopsis
    September 19, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Wow, this post is almost a day old, and it hasn’t blown up with people saying “But I want to protect my white culture!” or “I’m white and not racist, you’re painting me with the same brush as those other people!” I think it’s the directness that’s keeping them at bay. Well done.

  8. September 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Cognitive dissonance and ahistoricity. It wasn’t so long ago that women were required to cover their heads in the Roman Catholic church, for instance. Catholics that have an attitude about Vatican II are still upset about this…..and many of those same folks are upset about hijab, also. Go figure.

  9. September 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    I hate the anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. Most of my friends are against the anti-immigration laws. But I see it in the media.

    No one is illegal.

  10. September 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Actually, when I said “most of my friends are against the anti-immigration laws,” I meant the new Arizona one. I have a bad feeling that some of them are okay with the status quo otherwise. I’m not.

  11. September 19, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Do you want an answer to this question or is it rhetorical?

    If you want an answer- the answer is yes. People with privilege feel threatened when that privilege is threatened.

  12. September 19, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Fat Steve,

    Yeah, that’s pretty well known. Because that’s such a basic social justice concept, I doubt anyone on any feminist blog needs that explained.

    I think that Chally’s post is more “If you think this way? How do you resolve the conflict between treating immigrant people of color as if they’re threatening and dangerous while actually being threatening and dangerous to immigrant people of color?”

    I doubt most who actually feel that way would bother to engage in the kind of self-reflection necessary to even begin to answer that question.

  13. Northeast Elizabeth
    September 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Clothing isn’t policed in the United States. You must be mistaking it for some other country, like France.

    Your theory that support for enforcing existing immigration laws is based on racism is most likely a projection of your own disgusting racism. All white people think alike, is that it?

    P.S. I’d like to fly around the world and visit every country without a passport, staying as long as I want wherever I want. Will you pay my legal fees in defending myself against deportation/imprisonment in those countries that share America’s “racist” view of a nation’s right to regulate immigration?

  14. September 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Word.
    This attitude particularly bothers me in Australia. It’s like, you (not you obviously Chally ;), you the white person, whose ancestors arrived in boats and did their best to destroy the original inhabitance and their culture. Who treats the original inhabitance as less than human. You are afraid of “boat people” “overtaking your culture”.

    I saw another post about this, I’ll see if I can dig it up.

    Thanks for the awesome post Chally!

  15. September 19, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Northeast Elizabeth:

    Firstly, no one said anything about clothing being policed in the US in particular. Why that assumption? Although, yeah, in the United States, people do police other people’s clothing choices, quite obviously.

    My… racism against white people? Because that is possible, now, in spite of white people having the systemic power? Also I think the post makes abundantly clear that I don’t think all white people think alike, but okay.

    Also I keep grinning when I read your third point, so I’ll just say that if you don’t get how racism influences immigration policy, you are missing something big.

    Thanks for playing, but we’re done now.

  16. September 19, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    I have read many accounts by people of color who talk about how wearing clothing from their own cultures in the US gets them all kinds of negative reactions. You don’t have to make burqas illegal for white people to police clothing choices.

    My mother has actually bragged to me about mocking Muslims for wearing Middle Eastern clothing in public. I mean what is that but policing clothing?

    Oh, and fuck yes I told her that was wrong.

  17. September 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Ah, found the post!
    A Shiny New Coin: http://shinynewcoin.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/muslin-a-threat-to-the-fabric-of-society/

    Also;
    Yeah, Chally, calling out hypocrisy is totally racist -_-;

  18. September 19, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    This post is awesome, yes. But the best part is the phrase “default human.” It sums up all sorts of privilege in two words.

    Beautiful!

  19. Northeast Elizabeth
    September 19, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Firstly, no one said anything about clothing being policed in the US in particular.

    I didn’t say you “said” it. But it is what you meant, so I addressed it as I would had you said it.

    Why that assumption?

    Because I know what you meant from the context of your post.

    Although, yeah, in the United States, people do police other people’s clothing choices, quite obviously.

    And now you’ve “said” it, exposing the dishonesty of your claiming you were talking about something else. Talk about “playing.” Also dishonest is your implication that you were talking about “people” policing others’ choices, when quite clearly you were discussing a state-imposed legal “ban.” But if all you were talking about was societal pressure, I imagine you’d have to be critical of the “people” who promote the wearing of the clothing that others want to police. And perhaps you can explain why those people have more of a right to police the clothing (for religious cultural reasons) than those who oppose the clothing for cultural or other reasons.

    My… racism against white people? Because that is possible, now, in spite of white people having the systemic power? Also I think the post makes abundantly clear that I don’t think all white people think alike, but okay.

    Yes, you are racist regardless of whom you say has the systemic power if you base your generalization on race (i.e. what “gets you about white people”).

    I’m not as race-obsessed as you so perhaps I don’t grasp the subtler points of you genetic theories. Is white for you just WASPs, or Italians, Irish, French? Be specific about who you’re defaming here. And how about Saudi Arabians? They seem to have a lot to say about dressing.

    Also I keep grinning when I read your third point, so I’ll just say that if you don’t get how racism influences immigration policy, you are missing something big.

    Interesting. You’re suggesting that the fact that every single country in the world would detain and deport me if I tried to enter or stay without a passport is evidence of racism?

    Thanks for playing, but we’re done now.

    My experience at feminist blogs tells me that you “mean” you won’t publish this comment because you lack an adequate response to it. Don’t worry, Chally — I did it all for you.

  20. Jadey
    September 19, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Yes. I learned a lot about the immigration policy in Canada over the couple years, which apparently involves a lot of A) weeding out of POC (oh, and how! Even now we just keep fewer immigration offices in non-white predominant countries, even though that’s where most of our immigrants come from, although at least some of our most egregious legislation has been dumped), and B) making a lot of promises about employment opportunities that are simply never kept. Our system is deliberately designed to mostly allow only highly educated and trained immigrants (whom we desperately need), but they are un- and under-employed to disgusting levels, especially if they are not white. There is just no rationalizing a system that fucked up. And yet so many of us feel a ridiculous entitlement to the idea that we OUGHT to be privileged as (white) citizens from birth – people genuinely believe that immigrants of colour are a threat to white birth citizens’ employment, and it’s almost impossible to convince them otherwise without full page charts, reams of published documents, and a signed affidavit from Jesus Fucking Christ.

    Nevermind that we still refer to the ridiculous notion of second or third generation immigrants – people who are not immigrants at all! Except they’re not white so they’re assumed to be. Hell, by that logic I am a third-generation immigrant (almost second generation, with a few months difference!) and so are plenty of white people I know, but no one ever asked me “where I’m from”.

  21. September 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Here, Chally, have an internet.

  22. Katrina
    September 19, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    *applause*

    Well said, Chally! Plenty of people I know are under this “oh noes, our (white) culture are under attack” mindset. I explain why that is BS and I get treated like I’m crazy or just told to shut up (yet they think they’re the logical ones, right?). :\

  23. Cel
    September 19, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Actually, it isn’t racist to restrict immigration. If you believe it is, then every country is racist. If tens of thousands of whites wanted to immigrate to China, the Chinese would not allow them all to immigrate at once. White people don’t have systemic power in China.

    Hell, even if tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese living in other countries wanted to immigrate at once, they would be refused.

    If tens of thousands of Taiwanese want to immigrate to Saudi Arabia, the Saudis would not let them etc.

    It’s not just whites who want to be the “default humans” in their countries.

    “My… racism against white people? Because that is possible, now, in spite of white people having the systemic power?”

    Look up the definition of racism. Anyone can be racist to anyone.

    Now, the ban on burqas is indeed racist. Where I live in Canada no one gives a damn if you’re wearing a burqa or bikini top, which is as it should be.

    (I’m Asian, not that it matters)

  24. September 19, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Northeast Elizabeth, I am not from the United States. I wasn’t talking about the United States in particular. Clearly I wasn’t talking about state-imposed bans because I just said I wasn’t. The rest of the post wasn’t about governments, why on earth would you think that was?

    ‘I imagine you’d have to be critical of the “people” who promote the wearing of the clothing that others want to police. And perhaps you can explain why those people have more of a right to police the clothing (for religious cultural reasons) than those who oppose the clothing for cultural or other reasons.’

    That doesn’t even make sense. Wearing clothing is promoting it to others, now?

    You also need to do a little research on what racism means. I’m not pulling definitions out of the air, here, I’m talking about its meaning on the back of academia and activism and understanding across social justice communities. Also, I’m explicitly not speaking about white people as a monolith, so stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

    Being non-white doesn’t make me race obsessed, confronting racism doesn’t make me race-obsessed. I don’t have genetic theories. I have… no idea why you’re thinking I think of whiteness in those categories.

    ‘Interesting. You’re suggesting that the fact that every single country in the world would detain and deport me if I tried to enter or stay without a passport is evidence of racism?’

    Nope. Especially given you’re white. Try again.

    ‘My experience at feminist blogs tells me that you “mean” you won’t publish this comment because you lack an adequate response to it. Don’t worry, Chally — I did it all for you.’

    Not so much, mate. I decided to play nice for the sake of any readers who might have fallen for the kind of sentiments you’re offering. However, our blog policy does say that racism – seriously, race-obsessed? I guess you just don’t see colour? – is against the rules, as is arguing in bad faith, so if your next comment pisses me or any of the mods off, you’re banned.

  25. September 19, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    ‘Actually, it isn’t racist to restrict immigration.’

    Good thing I never said that, then.

    I’m getting bored with the sentiment that there aren’t racial components to how immigration happens (or doesn’t) so we’re not going to be letting any more of that through. Hopefully we can move a little beyond the 101, yeah?

  26. September 19, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    I’ve always thought it was funny when some White people are so, so afraid they might become a minority because of immigration / people of color having “so much kids”, saying in the same time that being a minority is frightening and that the current minorities are not really oppressed.

    It’s like straight men being soooo afraid of being in a gay area and in the same time saying that women should be happy to be harassed on the streets.

  27. Jadey
    September 19, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Cel: Actually, it isn’t racist to restrict immigration. If you believe it is, then every country is racist. If tens of thousands of whites wanted to immigrate to China, the Chinese would not allow them all to immigrate at once. White people don’t have systemic power in China.Hell, even if tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese living in other countries wanted to immigrate at once, they would be refused.If tens of thousands of Taiwanese want to immigrate to Saudi Arabia, the Saudis would not let them etc.It’s not just whites who want to be the “default humans” in their countries.“My… racism against white people? Because that is possible, now, in spite of white people having the systemic power?”Look up the definition of racism. Anyone can be racist to anyone.Now, the ban on burqas is indeed racist. Where I live in Canada no one gives a damn if you’re wearing a burqa or bikini top, which is as it should be.(I’m Asian, not that it matters)  (Quote this comment?)

    I hope you meant that where you live in Canada in particular no one cares (in which case, congrats), because there are definitely lots of places in Canada where people, including government legislators, care who wears a burqa. I have certainly never lived in a place here where no one cared.

  28. Cel
    September 19, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    You did in fact say that.

    “white people who want to restrict immigration so as to preserve their cultural and racial dominance, which is supposedly under threat, in a given country.”

    Granted, you did actually not use the word racist, but you did say “preserving cultural and racial dominance.” If you’re saying that “preserving cultural and racial dominance” is not racist, then what exactly are you saying about it?

    “there aren’t racial components to how immigration happens (or doesn’t) ”

    Of course there are racial components to immigration, I just said there was and that every country does it. You’re arguing that therefore, immigration is racist. That’s a logical fallacy.

  29. September 19, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Cel: Actually, it isn’t racist to restrict immigration. If you

    believe it is, then every country is racist.

    Chally never suggested that all immigration restriction was racist. Certain immigration policies, and certain ways of applying them, definitely are. Australia’s policy on asylum seekers and the way in which immigration is ‘debated’ is so strongly characterised by racism & Islamophobia that even political leaders no longer bother to pretend otherwise (instead of asking the electorate to ignore the racism in their policies, our PM and opposition leader invited an open-slather ‘debate’ where people were encouraged to be unafraid of being slapped with the label racist for expressing ‘unPC’ (bigoted) views during the last election campaign.
    In other words, white people were encouraged to talk about how threatened they feel, in order to drum up support for policies which threaten non-white people.

  30. September 19, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    God, the irony of being told to look up the definition of racism (because anyone can be racist to anyone!) just burns. No source more objective and representative and inclusive than the dictionary, amirite?

    Chally, thanks for posting (here specifically and generally in life).

  31. Paraxeni
    September 19, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    @ Cel + Northeast Elizabeth – riddle me this, would you?

    I live in the UK. The largest amount of legal, and illegal immigrants in this country are from Australia and the United States.

    Why then, when I open a paper, or turn on the TV to see a debate about immigration policy, are there images of West Africans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Filipinos and West Indians? Why are third-generation British-Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi) citizens frequently told “Get back where you came from!” (and they don’t usually mean Salford, Bradford, West Denton or Clapham), while Americans and Australians who *cough* ‘accidentally’ overstay their visa (if they ever had one) are not targeted in the slightest?

    Why have economic migration, and spousal immigration, been curtailed by nationality rather than by job qualifications? We’re crying out for more doctors and nurses here, because we’ve used up all the funny little brown people we imported in the 50s and they’ve retired, and yet we won’t let any qualified docs into the country unless they’re from the EU or white-majority former commonwealth countries.

    So please, if you will, enlighten me – how are immigration restrictions not racist? How can my American friends easily get visas to settle in the UK with their partners, when my 3rd gen. British-Indian neighbour’s wife (an engineer, another thing we have a shortage of) can’t? If it’s not about language, or money, then what?

  32. Andrea
    September 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Wait, did someone say there aren’t racial components to immigration? Aaahahaha, *wipe eyes* ha ha ha. Good one.

    Okay, so my husband immigrated from Norway when we got married. That is, we had to go through the immigration process. And when we showed up to our interview without a lawyer, you know what I noticed? Every single couple of color had a lawyer. Every single one. We didn’t, as I said, and you know why? As two white people, we didn’t need one.

  33. Dreidel
    September 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    @Chally #25

    ‘Actually, it isn’t racist to restrict immigration.’

    Good thing I never said that, then.

    Actually, you clearly implied that — and you obviously believe it. (After all, it’s part of Victimhood 101, right?)

    Feel free to be “bored” and not let this comment through. I agree that the tiresome theme of “white” (however you define that) versus “people of color” (by which you mean everybody else on this planet) gets boring very quickly.

  34. berele fregnisht
    September 19, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Is the expectation of immigrants’ assimilation actually morally wrong, i wonder? I mean, having just had some new people move into my cooperative house and having had my metaphorical feathers ruffled because they went and reorganized all the closets without checking in with those of us who were previously living here, and for all sorts of minuscule issues, i was having a very emotional response of “that’s just not how we do things here”. It seems like a pretty generally human thing to expect newcomers to conform to “how we do things here”. And i think that sort of sucks, because i have great enthusiasm for cultural nuance and variance, but it also seems understandable. Though maybe that’s a western bias?

    For most of human history, large influxes of new people only came with war and conquest. Immigration as we currently understand it is really a product of the invention of capitalism and the industrial revolution. Assimilating or at least partially assimilating a handful of people here or there is no big deal and no great tragedy of monoculture in the making. Peoples who refused to be assimilated for whatever reason, but also happened to be politically or economically useful to those in power, so they weren’t just annihilated (jews in eastern europe, for instance) had a real hard time of things historically.

    So, i guess i’m not trying to say that the feelings of threat about outsiders or ‘others’ are good things, but maybe that they’re just generally human things, rather than white, imperialist things. But, since white imperialists have a huge amount of systemic power, they can use those feelings in much more harmful and oppressive ways than anyone else.

  35. September 19, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    “I’m not as race-obsessed as you”

    This statement usually comes from those people who can afford not to be. Just sayin’.

    Like guys who say “this is not a gender thing.” Okey doke (I get it, but you don’t).

  36. PM
    September 19, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I’ll present another angle – U.S. Americans, as a whole, don’t care about lawbreakers who are raped, tortured, denied medical treatment, and outright killed in U.S. prisons and sometimes even jails. Since these folks tend to view undocumented immigrants as lawbreakers, that makes them fair game for that treatment in ICE facilities with nary a word spoken about maltreatment of human fucking beings. I guess what I’m saying is that racism is not required for Americans to turn a blind eye towards fellow humans. However, Chally’s point is well taken – I can’t in good conscience make the case that if these things were happening to Whites, the public’s response would be the same. Folks of color are easy to otherize, and those who don’t speak English are considered to be another step removed from that oh-so-sacred whiteness. Since many tend to be poor, classism intersects, too.

    But the U.S. was not brought up at all in the original post. I think that makes the elephant in the room here to be the 1000 Roma who were just booted out of France (yeah grammar and plurals, I know!). I’m sick of seeing Roma being spat on in “liberal” Europe, sick of seeing Roma being rounded up like dogs and kicked to other countries and towns, and sick of seeing Roma history erased when the Nazi holocaust is brought up in high schools and in general discussions (at least here in the U.S.).

  37. Jessie
    September 19, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I think you will find that the “default humans” of any area, feel threatened by the “invasion” of an “other”.

    See Rwandan genocide, Burma (Myanmar) civil war, Second Congolese war, India/ Pakistan land division, Northern Ireland conflict, Sudanese civil war…

    on and on and on. Conflict after conflict ad nauseum over land. over and over the refrain ” YOU cannot be on OUR land for [political/ religious/ cultural/ ethnic reason] and will we do our best to make you uncomfortable/ kick you out”

    feeling threatened isn’t a white people thing. It’s an everyone thing. A difference is that white people are the default humans in many of the most powerful countries and the “other” does not come bearing arms.

    I would venture to say that religiously / ethnically/ culturely/ politically inhomogeneous societies are less stable than homogeneous ones. North American has been fairly homogeneous (whilte, Christian, capitalist) for the past 400-ish years. I speculate that it is approaching an unstable point due to the recent decrease in homogeneity (oh noes! liberals! feminists! immigrants!)

    But I am also perplexed how people who feel threatened by the other like to “sample” their culture. That has not been my experience at all. Warning: long-winded anecdotal evidence.

    In my first year of university, I went to Vancouver with a friend, whose Mum is from Hong Kong. I am from rural Atlantic Canada. Vancouver was quite overwhelming. I felt like that plane took me all the way to Asia. I couldn’t read product packaging, store signs. The only recognizable food was fish and chips. But what really got me was I couldn’t talk to the people. I spoke to a fussy baby in a department store, who promptly stopped fussing. I then went to speak to his mother only to find out she spoke no English, French, or German. By the end of the week I was so homesick. I did not want another tau siu bao (which were really tasty) or bubble tea or deep fried squid. I wanted to go home where things were familiar, and I could talk to people.

    The major lesson I learned that week was a whole new respect for people who are able to leave all that is familiar and make a life for themselves. Feeling alone is HARD. I can see why immigrants want to take their culture with them. I would too. I can also see why it is interpreted as a threat. History says diverse groups of people tend not to co-habitate well.

  38. September 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I see this all the time. The taco is ok, but not the people the taco comes from. Chinese food is practically a staple in fast food, but don’t forget to make fun of the Chinese cook making your food or the terrible English you can’t understand while giving your order. The fact that immigrants learn the English language as a second – or third – language while not bothering to learn a second language is completely overlooked. But hey, this is the U.S., everyone should just speak English! Oh how that annoys me.

    The fact that every American has a nationality originating from outside the U.S. is completely ignored. I guess if you come from white ancestors its ok, but any other shade is not? Riiight.

    Absolutely Fabulous post, very well said.

    Thank you!

  39. September 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    It may not be racist to restrict immigration, but immigration can be restricted and attacked in racist ways, which explains so much of the political rhetoric in the US and Australia right now.

    Northeast Elizabeth,

    I often find that telling people what they really meant as if I am capable of reading their mind is an incredibly unconvincing method of trying to refute their arguments.

    You actually seem incredibly defensive here about the idea of talking about how immigration is used to perpetuate racism, to the point of accusing Chally of hating white people (and somehow being capable of perpetrating oppression on white people), and I think you’re taking a lot of stuff out of her post that simply isn’t there.

    Honestly, I have no idea what you intend to accomplish by posting what you have. Your comments seem geared to telling Chally that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, that she apparently said things she never said, and to put her on the defensive.

    And honestly, do you think it’s new or insightful to tell people of color that they’re racist because they’re talking about race? That somehow no other white person has attempted this gambit to silence any talk about race? You’re not big or clever in doing this, you’re just perpetuating a standard racist response to a woman of color talking about racism.

    You really should reconsider your approach.

  40. Beppie
    September 19, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Heh, Chally, I find it really amusing that Northeast Elizabeth is accusing you of making generalisations based on race, when your original post clearly specified that you are talking about “white people who want to restrict immigration so as to preserve their cultural and racial dominance”.

    It seems rather clear to me that you are not talking about all white people, but only those who believe that their white privilege = the right to cultural and racial dominance.

  41. September 19, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Word.
    This attitude particularly bothers me in Australia. It’s like, you (not you obviously Chally ;), you the white person, whose ancestors arrived in boats and did their best to destroy the original inhabitance and their culture. Who treats the original inhabitance as less than human. You are afraid of “boat people” “overtaking your culture”.

    I saw another post about this, I’ll see if I can dig it up.

    Word. I’m from Aus too and I constantly have to put up with this shitty attitude problem.

    Interestingly, if you point out to people who worry about ‘boat people’ (I hate that term), that every week in Australia thousands of white British people violate their visas instead of returning home, they don’t feel as passionate about rounding them up and sticking them in camps in the desert as they do about people with browner skin then them.

    Anyway, Chally.

    Good post. I really agree with a lot of the sentiment I just have a couple of questions.

    How do you thin about when a minority culture does have power over the majority?

    I remember being told by my father that in Bradford (Yorkshire) the Muslims there had reached a majority in the local council. They started shutting pubs (due to their religious beliefs). Obviously, this upset a lot of people.

    What I’m trying to ask is; do you think there is ever a point where a minority holds dissproportionate power, due to the the majority’s fear of coming across as racist if they criticize them? I’ve been thinking about this for a while and feel undecided.

    (By the way, can anyone confirm whether the Bradford story is true or if its a urban legend told by disgruntled white yorkshiremen)

  42. September 20, 2010 at 3:47 am

    Cel, I’m not arguing that immigration is racist? I’m saying that preserving cultural and racial dominance out of fear of the non-white other is racist.

    Cheers, EAMD. :)

    Dreidel, I clearly don’t believe it as I just denied any ownership of that sentiment. But beautiful job with getting bored with anti-racism and referring to a non-white person as wanting victimhood! That’s not the kind of crap we tolerate at Feministe, so congratulate yourself on being the first ban of this thread.

    ‘feeling threatened isn’t a white people thing.’

    I’m going to say this once. I didn’t say feeling threatened is a white people thing. I was talking about a group of white people who feel threatened, not ascribing feeling threatened as a white trait.

    Mizz Alice, thanks for the nice words. I have to point out that Native Americans don’t necessarily have any national history outside the US.

    ‘What I’m trying to ask is; do you think there is ever a point where a minority holds dissproportionate power, due to the the majority’s fear of coming across as racist if they criticize them?’

    I’ve never seen that happen, goldie, so I wouldn’t like to speculate about what the implications and outcomes would be. :)

  43. September 20, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Jessie,

    Colonialism and imperialism mean that white people have a presence and impact even in nations that are to your eyes primarily dominated by people of color, and this impact has probably affected their culture in significant ways. It also contributes to a lot of the strife in those countries. I think it’s hard to talk about those countries as fearing the other in the same way the Global North fears the other because this totally ignores both historical and present context, and ignores how the Global North influences these countries even now. Including pressures involved in denying political asylum or immigration to citizens of those countries.

    As for white people sampling other cultures? It happens all the time on all kinds of levels. Cultural appropriation is a big topic in a lot of online and offline spaces, I think, although I don’t think Feministe gets much of that. If you google “cultural appropriation” you can probably find a lot of information.

  44. September 20, 2010 at 4:12 am

    This is a great piece Chally. I can’t believe people are actually trying to make a case against it/accusing you of racism or whatever it is they think they’re trying to achieve.

    Resistance to immigration, specifically immigration of certain cultures or from certain places is of course about preserving racial dominance/control. It is of course about people who have had that dominance feeling threatened and in many countries, Australia for example, the dominant group is white/European in origin. As one of the other commenters said already, you can see that by the way immigration is treated in the media. “Illegal immigrants” are people who come to Australia on a visa who outstay that visa or live contrary to the terms of that visa (ie working on a tourist visa). But for some reason that inconvenient fact is far outshadowed by a few hundred people legally seeking asylum by boat each year.

    There’s also a notion of lifestyle about the resistance to immigration. There’s a fear that should people immigrate to developed nations from developing nations in large numbers the standard of living will fall. There’s a perception that the standard of living in developing nations is somehow to do with THOSE PEOPLE, not their oppression/exploitation by the Western world.

  45. September 20, 2010 at 4:35 am

    All the defensiveness on the thread is really, really annoying. Seriously? You’re arguing that Chally is anti-immigration restriction? It’s pretty clear that this post is about a specific type of restriction, one that has its roots in racism.

    berele fregnisht:
    The difference between your example and migrants in a new country, is that messing with your closet is a very personal thing. You don’t just go into someone’s house and start rearranging furniture.

    But a country isn’t a house. It’s not a private area. And someone living in the house down the road and doing things a little bit differently doesn’t actually affect you one iota.

  46. Olli
    September 20, 2010 at 5:03 am

    This post is perfect.

    The part of this public discourse I hate most is when white straight men suddenly act like they care about sexism and homophobia, because “those people” are sometimes sexist and homophobic, and doesn’t that threaten that tolerant culture what we have here????1

    So, when “they” have broken into my house, burned all my Christmas decorations, poured all my booze down the sink and forbidden me to speak English, they’ll subject me to something I just haven’t encountered from whites – homophobia. What a horrifying complete novelty that will be! I’m glad I know now so I can keep the brown people out, o very sudden expert on social justice.

    (I’m sorry if this rant was an unacceptable derail!)

  47. September 20, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Sob.

    Why do you hate white people, Chally? Why?

  48. September 20, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Oh oh oh! Let’s make this choose your own adventure!

    A) My hatred is derived from my irrational fear of sparkles. Somehow.

    B) Giraffes. That’s all I’ll say about that.

    C) Deep down, I’m just a sad, hateful, lonely person who wants to be loved.

  49. September 20, 2010 at 6:03 am

    “The fact that immigrants learn the English language as a second – or third – language while not bothering to learn a second language is completely overlooked. But hey, this is the U.S., everyone should just speak English! Oh how that annoys me.”

    Oooh that drives me up the wall too! I don’t even understand the logic behind it, the whole English-is-sacred in the U.S thing. English was forced on most white Americans ancestors, why the fierce protection of it?

    On googling cultural appropriation I can find no mention of tacos or any other foods. I assume this is because food generally has one purpose: to be eaten, and thus it’s harder to take them out of context and rob them of their original meaning :)

    The only potential problem with race in this post is that it addresses the fears of cultural domination of white Americans only. I agree with Jessie on this:

    “I think you will find that the “default humans” of any area, feel threatened by the “invasion” of an “other”.”

    @Lisa: your response about the impact of colonialism on some of the other countries is likely valid, but you mentioned the Global North, which contains countries that aren’t primarily white or ex-colonies. You can’t lump that many countries together and examine them as a whole without ignoring “historical and present context”.

  50. berele fregnisht
    September 20, 2010 at 6:06 am

    @PharaohKatt
    “And someone living in the house down the road and doing things a little bit differently doesn’t actually affect you one iota. ”

    I’d strongly disagree with that. My neighbors, my community, my town: i damn well hope that they affect me a lot more than one iota. Otherwise they’re really broken.

    But, in any case, i was mostly using that as a rhetorical example of how such seemingly trivial differences can produce pretty strong “not how we do things here” feelings. So, no wonder that recognizably more substantive and more public ones (language, religion, food, music, clothing) do as well.

    But, since Chally clarified that this wasn’t a discussion about assimilation in general or the feelings that accompany/motivate the will towards outsiders assimilating, i won’t derail further and spin that out.

  51. September 20, 2010 at 6:08 am

    Again, this post wasn’t about white Americans only. Again, it was specifically about the power dynamics in play when white people in certain contexts engage in this thinking.

  52. schauspiele
    September 20, 2010 at 6:36 am

    (By the way, can anyone confirm whether the Bradford story is true or if its a urban legend told by disgruntled white yorkshiremen)

    UK licensing laws require authorities to consider four objectives when deciding whether or not to grant an application. Three of these relate to crime, disorder and public safety. Bradford has issues (as do many UK cities) with binge drinking and associated violence in the city centre, creating tension between leisure drinkers and residents. Bradford’s overall crime rate is significantly above the national average.

    Bradford has high levels of unemployment and associated deprivation, particularly in the city centre. It also suffers from competition with nearby, accessible Leeds, which is a more attractive and established nightlife destination, particularly for its wealthier suburbanites and for its university students. Pubs and bars across the UK have also suffered since 2007 as a result of the new restrictions on smoking. Bradford struggles to attract businesses to the city centre and the businesses that are there struggle to attract and retain custom.

    I would say that attempts to respond to crime and disorder concerns, and economic pressures on the leisure industry as a whole, are far more likely explanations for the closures of any pubs and clubs than religious factors.

    Bradford does have a recent history of tension between different ethnic groups, with riots in 2001 and, currently, two far-right councillors. But I have no idea how you would go about guessing individual councillors’ religions, let alone posit them as the basis for a conspiracy theory about a council takeover.

    To try and return this to the original topic, it’s interesting that your father chose to ignore comparatively simple explanations for city-centre pub closures in favour of racially-inflected ones. A recent IPPR report (summary here http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/19/immigration-not-fuel-bnp-support) suggested that there is not a correlation between voting for the far right (whose main electoral issue is immigration) and high immigration levels – but that communities with low ‘resilience’ (correlated with high levels of social exclusion, deprivation and low achievement, poor community networks, lack of citizen empowerment) are more likely to vote for the far right.

  53. September 20, 2010 at 6:44 am

    So! I have to go and sleep now. Given the grand tradition here at Feministe of hilariously clueless comments about race and the way these threads run, I’m going to close comments and will open them up again when I wake up. Thanks folks!

  54. September 20, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Lasciel,

    Thanks for pointing that out. I did specifically mean European colonial powers and of course certain former colonies and was lazy about saying so.

  55. September 20, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Amadei: As a white person who doesn’t feel threatened by non-white or non-Western cultures, I have no idea why white people who are threatened feel that way. It seems odd to me, too.  

    Allow me to quote Beauty and the Beast: “We don’t like what we don’t understand, in fact it scares us”

  56. Aisha
    September 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks Chally for an awesome post. You explained wonderfully how inconsistent the dominant culture is with people from another culture. Even when whites are okay with a person of different color moving in next door, they are expected to behave like middle class whites or are always under suspicion. Its like, now you’re here, forget where you came from, except maybe for food.

    A few years back when I was in USA as a student and lived in off campus housing with people from many different countries. One day someone called the cops because they thought there was domestic violence between a middle eastern couple. Its possible that the guy disciplined his wife a bit but the way cops made it out was like he was a terrorist and needed to be deported. Nothing much happened since the woman was on her husband’s side but it illustrates that people’s culture should be taken into account when evaluating their behavior.

  57. Sheelzebub
    September 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Northeast Elizabeth, I will not be questioned and asked for documentation when I ride the Amtrack near the border. That DOES happen to the people of color I know.

  58. September 20, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I love this post so much.

  59. September 20, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I’ve never gotten where people get off feeling entitled to the possession of a specific geographic area solely based on the fact that they were expelled from someone’s uterus in that general vicinity.. or that other people have no right to reside in that area because they weren’t.

    That being said, I’m a first time reader and I say excellent post. Well put.

  60. September 20, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    “Its possible that the guy disciplined his wife a bit but the way cops made it out was like he was a terrorist and needed to be deported.”

    Disciplined… his… wife?

    what is this i don’t even

  61. September 20, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Aisha, thanks for the nice words.

    I just have to note that women in abusive relationships often take their abusers’ side, for whatever reason, which doesn’t mean that this woman was really okay with what was happening – if there was in fact domestic violence going on. And I don’t think this is what you were getting at with your last point, but just to make things really clear, I don’t think respect for culture justifies giving a pass on violence.

    A general note: thanks for the nice words about my post, folks! :)

  62. September 20, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    @Laciel:

    On googling cultural appropriation I can find no mention of tacos or any other foods. I assume this is because food generally has one purpose: to be eaten, and thus it’s harder to take them out of context and rob them of their original meaning

    What about a fast food joint named “Rabbi Shmielowitz’s” run by some prayer-shawl wearing non-jew, selling ham and cheese on challah sandwiches as a “passover special”? Food can be taken out of context like other aspects of culture.

    Because most restaurants selling food from a non-dominant culture are run by people from that culture, though, it’s less likely they would be doing something that others from that culture would find horribly upsetting.

  63. makomk
    September 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    PM: not just erased from the Holocaust in the US. I assume you saw the French president’s comments in which he called any comparison to the Holocaust or to the actions of the Nazis anti-semetic, but I’ll link them for the benefit of others. Hello – remember all the Roma who were systematically killed and enslaved too?

  64. Gentleman Cambrioleur
    September 20, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    The Sweden Democracy far-right party just won a record of 20 seats in Swedish parliament following….that’s right….a strong campaign against immigrant rights that particularly targeted immigrants from countries perceived as Muslim (North Africa and Southwest Asia particularly.) One of the ads, which was banned from TV, showed an elderly white man pursued by women in burkas. Since the European far right is pretty scary in a “Hitler had some good ideas” kind of way, I’m downright terrified right now. Seriously, the power of these sorts of xenophobic sentiments cannot be underestimated.

  65. September 20, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    52 schauspiele,

    Thanks for the info. And yes, it is interesting that my father didn’t take these into account – however he was told the story by someone else, as is often the way with these things.

  66. rice
    September 20, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    It’s worth noting that Islam isn’t a race, but a belief system (yes, I know everyone knows this, but it bears repetition because dislike of Islam is so often linked, either rightly or wrongly, to racism). Hating it, hating representations of it isn’t inherently racist. Ethnocentric? Maybe, maybe not depending on what parts of it you’re averse to. That said, the average hue of a given Muslim’s skin certainly does supply plenty of racists all the reason they need to link that belief system with race, and so you get quite a bit of crossover there. But I think a great number of people are offended by the sight of a burqa because of the ideology it represents, and not because of its link to an ethnic “other,” the same way certain other modes of clothing which represent certain belief systems either overtly or tacitly might offend other people.

  67. Chelsey Worth
    September 20, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I just want to say in response to whoever said that “In Canada, nobody cares whether you are in a burka or a bikini”: I live in “Canada”, and by Canada I mean south eastern Ontario in the GTA, since Canada is not one giant culture and there is considerable variance of opinion on social issues such as immigration from region to region. If by your statement you meant that the police will not stop you on the street and rip your burka off, then you are correct. But if you meant to say that wearing a burka will not make you a target for bigoted, xenophobic attacks and assumptions, you must be living in some other country. Don’t believe me? Ask a Muslim woman who wears a burka. Just be in the company of a Muslim woman who wears a burka for any extended period of time. And it won’t matter where in Canada they reside; our country is full of xenophobia and especially Islamophobia, from sea to sea to sea.

    It really frustrates me how so many people just shut their brains off when the subject of race is brought up. All they want to hear is that it doesn’t matter, that they aren’t racist, that white males are the new “oppressed minority”, and that POC are all whiners who just need to pull up their bootstraps and stop complaining. Or they only want to hear about POC who “beat the odds” in a racist society (long, long ago, of course, don’t you dare suggest that society is still racist) and didn’t let a little thing like race get in the way of their success.

  68. Politicalguineapig
    September 20, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Gentleman Cambrioleur: I’m pretty sure that the rightward trend in Europe will only continue, if the economy continues to stagnate. Every time the economy nosedives, people tend to become more conservative, more regressive and more insular. As noted elsewhere, we’re seeing it here in the U.S too. People just aren’t smart and it’s easy to blame the immigrants instead of thinking.

  69. September 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    I suppose the one question I have is if:

    “There’s something that always gets me about white people who want to restrict immigration so as to preserve their cultural and racial dominance, which is supposedly under threat, in a given country…”

    In what way does that differ from non-white people who want to restrict immigration so as to preserve their cultural and racial dominance, which is supposedly under threat, in a given country?

    Do non-white arguments against immigration take on a different form? I honestly don’t know, so I’d be very curious about your answer.

  70. Bagelsan
    September 20, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Awesome post, as everyone (everyone who matters ;p) said upthread already.

    I guess I’m somewhat sympathetic to wanting to maintain cultural dominance, with a particular definition of “cultural dominance”, because there are aspects of my “culture” I absolutely think are superior to any alternatives — but I’m talking about stuff like tolerance of free speech, strict separation of state and religion, the ideal that everyone is educated to a certain level, the idea of total equality. So for me, my liberal “culture” has pieces of it that I hold completely non-negotiable. And if there started to be a huge shift in the culture where I lived such that religion started infringing on the secular sphere, for example, I’d be pretty damn resistant.

    And that is happening. But it has, like, nothing to do with foreign/brown/whatever people — all the cultural shifts I’ve been seeing and hating are basically 100% right-wing white American asshole-driven. I mean, the new Indian postdoc? Not a threat to my access to birth control! The guys who stand outside the Walmart? Aren’t trying to get every mention of evolution in textbooks replaced with intelligent design bullshit! The lady in the burqa? Isn’t the person tossing out DNA evidence in the rape cases of “slutty” girls. All that infringement on my “culture” is almost entirely Christian white (dude) types.

    All that culture wars crap is home-grown in the US of A.* And furthermore, even though I can find a particular interpretation of “culture” towards which I am sympathetic, I know that the vast majority of the time it is straight-up racist/xenophobic dogwhistle. So even that sympathy is limited at best.

    (And does it even need to be said that worrying about maintaining racial superiority is creepy and unforgivable? The average melanin content in the country has even less impact on things I care about than the nationality-of-origin of whatever immigrants are around, if that’s possible.)

    *I’m sure a lot of this goes for Europe, etc. too, but I’m just writing what I know here.

  71. tinfoil hattie
    September 20, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Its possible that the guy disciplined his wife a bit but

    This is where I stopped reading. “Disciplining” another adult? Uh, it’s called abuse.

  72. September 20, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Fat Steve,

    How about the criminalization of immigrant POCs and POCs assumed to maybe be immigrants?

    I think that’s a pretty big difference, at least in the US (and I know Chally did not mean only the US, but I can mainly speak as a US citizen in this case).

  73. Odin
    September 20, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Don’t forget, non-white people who speak other languages in public in the US* are doing so because they “refuse to learn English!” Because bilingualism doesn’t exist, apparently.

    * Sorry for the USAian-centrisim, I’m not sure in what form this sort of complaint is made in other countries.

  74. September 20, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Chally –

    Oh yes, thanks for pointing that out. My brain was stuck in “immigration” and I didn’t think of Native Americans because they’re not immigrants in the U.S. And of course, they’re in the same situation, I’ve seen bitter animosity towards Native Americans because people think they get tax breaks and huge trust funds (not to mention the alcoholic and lazy stereotypes they are labeled with). Although they are eligible for certain educational grants and other similar funding, that in no way warrants any kind of criticism.

    Also, your post reminded me of the list of illegal immigrants living in Utah sent out, however, only Hispanics were listed.

    Thank you.

    @Lasciel – Maybe Taco Bell would be a pretty good example? I’m not sure, that term is new to me, I just read it, still learning…

    @Bagelsan – Well said. I have this fantasy of a world where all people equally respect each other regardless of their beliefs.

  75. PrettyAmiable
    September 20, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Fat Steve: In what way does that differ from non-white people who want to restrict immigration so as to preserve their cultural and racial dominance, which is supposedly under threat, in a given country?

    Where is this an issue?

  76. September 20, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    About how it supposedly doesn’t matter in Canada whether you wear a burqa or a bikini… hate to burst your bubble but Quebec was “ahead” of France for this type of discrimination. See: http://thedelphiad.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/why-niqabgate-has-got-me-steamed/. The most disheartening aspect of this debate is how many non-Quebec residents agreed with the province’s attitude.

  77. Aisha
    September 20, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    I didn’t mean to say in any way that violence is justified but it should be noted that violence is defined differently in different cultures and that applying North American conventions to how one should behave with your own spouse leads to untold grief for new immigrants. I wouldn’t say it was abuse in the case I mentioned, the guy was a loving husband who sometimes has to take into account how his wife behaves is a reflection on him and restrict her accordingly.

    • September 20, 2010 at 11:35 pm

      I didn’t mean to say in any way that violence is justified but it should be noted that violence is defined differently in different cultures and that applying North American conventions to how one should behave with your own spouse leads to untold grief for new immigrants. I wouldn’t say it was abuse in the case I mentioned, the guy was a loving husband who sometimes has to take into account how his wife behaves is a reflection on him and restrict her accordingly.

      …yeah, see, no. Just because someone defines violence differently doesn’t mean that violence isn’t occurring. Also, if the guy was “restricting” his wife because her behavior was reflecting poorly on him? That sounds abusive. Regardless of culture.

      I really don’t buy this “oh people from other cultures just define abuse differently, and it’s totally unfair to expect them not to abuse their partners!” It’s condescending, and it uses ideals of tolerance and respect to justify oppression and harm. Not ok.

  78. Aisha
    September 20, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Where is this an issue?

    Well, India has huge issues with people from Bangladesh migrating in large numbers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_immigration_in_India

  79. September 21, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Chally,

    I’ve never seen that happen, goldie, so I wouldn’t like to speculate about what the implications and outcomes would be. :)

    That’s fair enough. It seems that the example I brought up wasn’t true anyway.

    I’ve got another thing I’d like your opinion on.

    See, I think that hatred of immigration is about racism in some senses, but I think there’s a little more to it than that. I think it more has to do with a fear of change in values.

    When I was in England last (I’m australian, my father is English) I found out that one of my cousins is with a muslim – this isn’t so unusual, but the fact that she is his second wife (its polygamy, the marriage is not official in the eyes of the law) and she now wears traditional Muslim clothing. This has been very upsetting for my family, as it is seen as a betrayal of her English culture and a rejection of her family. It doesn’t seem to have to do with his skin colour – I think if he had been a secular person of muslim upbringing then the story would be completely different.

    I thought about it logically. I thought that she has the right to do whatever makes her happy. I hoped that everything works out well for her.

    But I also know on the emotional side of my brain, in my little dark heart, that should my own future daughter do something like this – something that is so against my ideals of secularism and feminism – that I would be beside myself with grief and rage. (As an atheist I would have a similar feeling if my children announced themselves born again christians)

    The point of this long story is this and here I will speak for what people won’t say out loud in England, because they know it is despicable – if there had been no muslims in England then their own children couldn’t choose a value that was the antithesis of their own.

    (I know that this isn’t true. She could have become something else that they didn’t approve of, but their logic is the removal of potential dissaproval)

    So, I have a question for everyone here. What do you think of this situation? What do you think of the idea of your most cherished values (eg feminism) being slowly overtaken by a different culture?

    This is the feeling that I get from my English relatives. I have sympathy for everyone in that situation – my cousin who married under dissaproval, her family and the muslims who are designated as the ‘other’.

  80. September 21, 2010 at 2:39 am

    @Jill- yeah the reason the cultural excuse doesn’t fly for me is cause the exact same thing has happened in the US (and a lot of other places that now disapprove) with the exact same excuse, that it’s a man’s “duty” somehow to abuse and control his wife.

    @PrettyAmiable- Japan, for one.

    @MizzAlice- lol that reminds of when Taco Bell tried to make a go of it in Mexico. “they aren’t tacos. they’re folded tostados. they’re very ugly.”

    @Jeff- eh, idk. That sounds more like fetishizing Jewish culture in general. You can sell any food in a disgusting or gimicky place; in that case, I suppose the food would be part of the appropriation. But just a restaurant selling challah bread dishes? I don’t see what’s necessarily appropriative about that. Most cultures do happily embrace foreign cuisine, it tastes good, people want to eat it.

    Eh, the “thanks for the tacos, now go home” example of racism just seems really off to me. The people that brought the tacos did it a long-ass time ago and are probably dead by now. Not to mention a little thing called a transition zone? Which the southern US border would be. It makes about as much sense as saying halting immigration from Germany would mean we were stealing hot dogs from them and kicking them out. Or that a Chinese immigrant selling hot dogs is appropriating German culture. There are a few religiously significant foods, but for the most part, food is food and people don’t get too hurt over it.

  81. Rkel
    September 21, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Aisha: I didn’t mean to say in any way that violence is justified but it should be noted that violence is defined differently in different cultures and that applying North American conventions to how one should behave with your own spouse leads to untold grief for new immigrants. I wouldn’t say it was abuse in the case I mentioned, the guy was a loving husband who sometimes has to take into account how his wife behaves is a reflection on him and restrict her accordingly.  

    It seems to me that this is EXACTLY what Bagelsan@70 was talking about – there are some particulars of western liberal culture that are non-negotiable.

    Beating your wife is one of them.

    And while respecting individual’s choices to follow their own native culture should be the norm, that does not mean the culture is immune from being criticized. I think that is probably the biggest point people get stuck on with respect to Islam and immigrants who follow Islam.

    It is a gravely dangerous thing to suggest that criticizing particular issues within Islam such as it’s history of misogyny and homophobia is somehow an insult to dignity. We might still be living under the iron yoke of a Christian theocracy today had we applied the same logic.

  82. PM
    September 21, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Hey makomk, thanks for the link! It’s interesting how more and more people here in the U.S. are finding out how gays were killed in the holocaust, too, as gay folks are becoming more accepted in our society, and the repeal of DADT and legality of gay marriage are now big causes among liberals. However, the plight of the Roma in the Nazi holocaust is still largely ignored. I think this stems in part from racist European attitudes being present here for centuries, and also because the U.S. doesn’t have a large or at least powerful Roma population. No surprise, then, that U.S. Americans have largely ignored the shameful forced deportation of Roma from France.

  83. September 21, 2010 at 3:28 am

    I’m going to give this thread a few more hours to stop with the drift and drift back on topic, then/otherwise I’m shutting it down.

    Note of hilarity: I just got called ‘the most racist person ever’ in a comment I just trashed.

  84. September 21, 2010 at 4:21 am

    The question of what constitutes violence and other things that I doubt any of us would want to allow to change or be diminished by immigrants, or anyone else for that matter, does have relevance to this thread, I think. There is a problem with people who come from war torn countries, or any other places where oppression is the norm. There is a massive culture shock. It causes real problems for the migrants and their community.

    There is also a real solution. Support services. People who help to build bridges between the existing community and the new members of those communities. Those people of similar backgrounds who have been in their new country for longer, and many other folks as well have roles to play in helping people make a transition to understanding the non-negotiables in their new community, but more importantly, to understand what it even means to live in a country where violence is not the only way of life.

    As I’m typing this, I’m acutely aware of the fact that they have probably only come to a country where the oppression is lesser, and hopefully less deadly. But still, people need help to live in a new place. They don’t need to be excluded because they need that help. And they might just show us how many of our “non-negotiables” we actually disregard on a regular basis.

    Remind me again what lofty ideals we are defending from the invading hordes?

    (Speaking with an Australian bias and experience)

  85. September 21, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Again, this post wasn’t about white Americans only.

    What?! But EVERYTHING is about white Americans, Chally! Stop messing with my miiiiiiiiiind!

    @PrettyAmiable – I lived in the UAE for a while, and I can tell you that there is a LOT of tension wrt foreigners and migrant workers there. Many native Emiratis will use words such as “alienated” and “outnumbered” when they describe their status in the country. Most people who come to live and work in the UAE will never be granted the privileges that Emiratis have, but there is a real issue as far as misunderstandings across cultural lines go. It tends to become especially salient during Ramadan, for instance.

    Also, I feel that there is a vast difference between how richer white countries and poorer white countries deal with immigration. In Ukraine, a poor white country, there are a lot of immigration-related issues that can’t even be addressed properly, due to staggering amounts of corruption within the governmental sphere, just to give one example. It’s common knowledge for the average person on the street that a Ukrainian passport can literally be bought (last time I heard, the going rate was 10 grand, in dollars) – which raises all sorts of interesting questions about national identity.

  86. September 21, 2010 at 6:05 am

    So I’m not really up for shepherding this thread any more given the high proportion of things that are making me !!! Hopefully one day the climate in the comments here will change enough that we can have more productive conversations about race, and I can speak as a non-white person and not have to deal with the degree of racism I get faced with here when I do (or any at all!). Hopefully this has made you think…

Comments are closed.