Long-term Harry’s Place readers will recall a period when Madeleine Bunting featured here almost as much as Jeremy Corbyn does now, when Islamism and its relationship to multi-culturalism was emerging as a topic.
Bunting is a cultural relativist plus anti-imperialist of an Edward-Said-and-water kind, which ultimately comes down to a Lonely Planet view of other cultures even when they are ghettos within her own country. We go to them as tourists and if female we mind our dress and head scarves and whether we can enter the coffee houses. They should be their authentic selves and we display our sensitivity and even post imperialist guilt by not applying our Western values to theirs.
And so unto the third generation of living in the UK.
Bunting therefore was the Guardian columnist par excellence.
Then she disappeared from its columns, thankfully.
I have problems with Cameron’s rationale for this as a way of preventing jihadism. I don’t know if there’s been any study that shows jihadists come from homes with poorly integrated mothers and the deportation threat is far too heavy handed. However the idea that immigrant women should learn English is unexceptionable and Naz Shah, for one, has pointed out that patriarchal types will keep the wife at home and away from independence through her ignorance of the language.
Not speaking the local language turns you into a child, as anyone who has travelled knows. I remember once having a job going from house to house checking the electoral rolls, and occasionally you would come to a house in the suburbs where the foreign lady would have to ask her children to translate. She was obviously pretty much trapped in her family.
But Bunting sees this as an attempt to reinstate the Raj. She uses every anti-imperialist trope.
1. This is neo-colonialism of the “White man rescuing brown women “ kind;
2. It is raw labour exploitation. Now comes this astounding paragraph – astonishing if you haven’t read the Guardian and know how easily it drops its feminism:-
Muslim women are not available – for the labour market. They are kept at home and are “economically inactive”, that new slur of disdain in hard-working Britain. He is not interested if they are caring for children or elderly relatives. In the Muslim homes I have visited it was clear that the women were extremely busy cooking and caring for many family members
Peak Guardian Yell like that uttered at this supposedly feminist newspaper’s squirming around sexual assaults by migrants. Keep them pregnant and barefoot! What’s the point of educating a woman so she can earn her own money – that pay packet that was for decades a feminist fight along with access to schools, to universities, to a decent job and the professions. My own mother was uneducated just for the purpose of marrying i.e. education would be a waste on someone whose life would be spent cooking and cleaning and bringing up children (which she did, badly and unhappily – when she would have been a competent and contented librarian, say – but she was made to leave school at fourteen).
So teaching woman to speak not just the native language of the country where they live but the lingua franca of the world is ““colonial feminism”.
This is a kind of sub-Germaine Greer of her Sex and Destiny and The Whole Woman period, with its view of a warm, picturesque third world domesticity, which is magically unlike the prison of the domesticity that aggrieved our own mothers – and which we would never put up with for three seconds ourselves.
And of course Cameron is “othering” and acting with “haughty imperialism” when initiatives should come from the “grassroots” and the “community” – that community which is the heaven and the outside world – the one of work, and college, and random contact with all sorts of people – is the hell. The community with its own little emperors who can be far more bullying than the state.
Oh – and all this plays into ISIS’s hands – in fact it seems it was their idea:-
What is so desperately frustrating is how political leaders seem powerless to deviate from the script laid down for them by Islamic State. Cameron’s charade of imperial tropes plays into exactly the clash of civilisations paradigm that Isis is using to bring about conflict.
We look forward to the next video of the Warriors for God denouncing teaching immigrant women English. At least it will be a change from the normal beheadings.
She is ripped to pieces in the comments of course.