Sunday, March 1, 2009

Of bigotry and logic

It was a bit of a shock for me to get a post script from an OEN ( editor (copied below with my reply): the OEN prides itself on its tolerance and breadth of understanding, when in fact, like most American publications, it shares a collective contempt for the Muslim world. How was George Bush guilty in trying to 'civilise' us? It seems the ideas of lunatic leaders find nourishment in secluded, dark and dank liberal crannies.

"Op Ed News Administrator

P.S. I am going to publish this piece but with a caveat. It has only been since the rise of Hamas that the Palestinian movement has been shackled by an Islamic twist. The Palestinian movement itself is a nationalist movement, so that sort of creates a little discordance with the premise of your piece.

And, as an American who is very glad that women in this country do not have an archaic patriarchal system shoved down their throats without a choice, the history of hostility toward women in Arab and other Islamic Cultures would seem to indicate that the hijab, the burkha, and any other contrivance used to pretend that women do not exist, are merely used as tools to allow the prevailing system of patriarchy and domination by religion to continue."

[NB: not one word about my observations regarding female foeticide in India, where Islam, unfortunately has had no impact; not one word about the Indian caste system: all the evil is in the Islamic world; neither did the editor even notice what I had to say about the elegance and diversity of the shalwar-kameez and the saree as opposed to the uniformity of denim pants and T-shirts. He/She has focused, laser-like, on only the hijab - very revealing, that!]

This was my reply to the editor:

"I read your caveat ('A Bangladeshi Bluestocking') with interest.

I assume it was solely meant for me. May I ask why? What purpose did you hope to serve with that little lecture? We are used to being lectured like that, of course, but not all of us accept it with grace.

As a social scientist, I am aware of cultural biases even among the most enlightened editors - I am not going to argue your points (you recently published as essay of mine called "The Body of William Jay"), but such frank expressions of disgust and superiority are quite rare in my personal experience.

I hope in future you will show more respect to me as a writer and desist from lecturing me again.

As for your views regarding Arab and Islamic societies, they are the blind, uninformed prejudices of a typical westerner - I expected better from the OEN. Your collective attempts to 'civilise' us have caused a great deal of misery. But then, I accept that as part of your civilisation, and publish such views openly, instead of taking individuals aside and giving them a private dressing-down, and by means of logic instead of bald assertions of superiority.

Logic is not a westerner's forte."

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