Christina Patterson on Jews and Muslims
This post has nothing to do with food. If you're looking for the normal treats, can I suggest you read my hilarious anecdote about a recent dinner.
This post is about what I perceive to be something that looks a lot like racism. Specifically Christina Patterson's article in the Independent, The Limits of Multi-Culturalism. I found on first reading, her article utterly abhorent. I had similar feelings on second, third and fourth readings. Which is why I admire Miriam Shaviv's take-down of her article.
But on reading the comments this morning, I started to wonder if in fact Christina has done more for Muslim - Jewish relations in a few hundred words, than a multitude of worthies have over many years. This is an article that has both communities up in arms.
Patterson's depiction of her way as the only right way is deeply disturbing. She positions religious Jews and Muslims as 'other' and swiftly elides 'other' into 'bad'. She puts to good use many tropes of the worst kind of racists: broad generalisations (all Jews drive the wrong way around supermarket car park it seems), appropriating their language (see the frequent use of the nastiest of yiddish words, goy) and defence of the poor ignorant child in the clutches of the evil parents (Jewish and Muslim children adhering to concepts of modesty).
I'm not going to comment on her accusations of female circumsicion in the Muslim community because I know nothing about the topic. I do know that no such thing exists in Judaism. Yet Christina tries to obfuscate the issue:
There is, I'm sure, nothing in the Koran to indicate that hacking off a girl's labia is an all-round great idea, just as there's nothing in the Torah to say that Volvos should always be driven with a mobile phone in hand, and goyim should be treated with contempt.
But is this a bluff? Is she really trying to ensure that in our joint horror, relations will flourish. All too often the British press divides Jews and Muslims. Both groups regularly feel their views are misrepresented in the media. It seems to me we should be able to find common cause in agreeing all the traits of racism are alive and well on the pages of The Independent.