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Be honest: when you hear “barbaric cultural practices”, which culture comes to mind?

Posted on 8 October 2015

I understand why people are supportive of the Conservatives targeting of “barbaric cultural practices.” What’s not to support? No one likes rape, murder or any other form of violence against women and children. And yes, you could get into a discussion around the word “barbaric” because of its past misuse to refer to non-white cultures, including First Nations, but sure call them “barbaric” as in “terrible”, “cruel”, “brutal.” They are.

It’s the “cultural” part that’s a problem.

Because I hate to break it to you but rape, murder, violence: those ain’t exactly limited to one culture.

And guess what? They’re already illegal in Canada. And have been for a long, long time.

So the new part is the culture.

The implication is it’s not enough to be diligent against individuals who would rape and murder. There’s a whole “culture” to beware of.

And which culture, exactly, are you talking about?

It’s reminiscent, I think, of the arguments against decriminalizing or legalizing homosexuality back in the day.

Once upon a time, homosexuality wasn’t viewed as simply being attracted to other men. It was, in the minds of many, pedophilia.

So when people would try to defend homosexuality, many people heard someone trying to defend pedophilia.

And you can see that in this whole discussion. The niqab isn’t just the niqab. The niqab is rape and murder.

Look at the online discussions around this. If someone defends the right to wear the niqab, someone else jumps in asking why they support ISIS, the subjugation of murder, and forced marriages. They simply don’t see them as two different things.

Just like people couldn’t separate homosexuality from pedophilia. They were simply intertwined in the minds of people who didn’t understand. And felt nervousness and fear as a result.


And it doesn’t stop at the niqab.

That fear extends to Muslims as a whole.

Here’s a Liberal campaign sign defaced with the words “More Muslims + Taxes”.


Here’s another that reads “Arab Scum.”


Some terrible vandalism found on a campaign sign in riding of London-Fanshawe. #elxn42

— NEWSTALK1010 (@newstalk1010) October 7, 2015

There is no subtly here. This isn’t “I disagree with the practice of covering a woman’s face.”

It’s Muslims = bad. Arabs = bad.

This isn’t about one particular manifestation of Islam.

It’s about all Muslims. And all Arabs. And anyone who looks like they might be Muslim are Arabic.

They are suspect.

Because there’s a culture out there. A culture that is incompatible with Canada.

A culture the Conservatives are so worried about they’re promising to set up a special tip line so you can call on your neighbours if you suspect them of being a part of that culture.

Again, the practices they are referring to are bad: rape, murder, etc.

But again, those were already illegal.

And we already have 911.

So why do we need this new tip line?

Why isn’t it simply called a “child and woman abuse tip line?”

A brown man who says he’s a Muslim rapes a woman.

A white man who says he’s an Atheist or a Christian rapes a woman.

But only one of them needs a tip line. And “rape” isn’t the key word.

What does that do to your views of Muslims generally? Of brown people generally?

So if you see no problem with the terminology of the barbaric cultural practices tip line, ask yourself this…

When you hear the phrase barbaric cultural practices, which culture comes to your mind?

What colour is the skin of the person who you’re going to be more diligent about watching with suspicion, just to make sure they aren’t up to anything bad?

Then say it out honestly and see how it feels.


Filed under: Canada

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