France’s Racist Burqa Ban

So France, flying the flag for secularism, equality and modernity, has bravely banned an item of clothing worn by an estimated 2,000 women – the veil properly known as the niqab, though often referred to as the burqa. Before we congratulate the French for this bold move, let’s explore some background.

Anecdote: A Mauritian friend, a light-skinned, mixed-race guy, was in Paris recently visiting family. Walking down the road with his blonde wife and their toddler, they passed a respectable-looking guy… who racially abused them and spat on their child.

Anecdote: A French friend of mine, “N”, grew up in the notorious estates (projects) in the Paris banlieues (suburbs). His mother was French, father was an Indian Muslim immigrant, and so in French terms, he’s foreign. He grew up along with other excluded sections of French society: Arabs, North Africans, Jews, Sub-Saharan Africans. Racial harassment from police was a daily part of life. He became a gifted graphic designer, but no company in Paris would hire him. He moved to London and quickly found a well-paid job. He still sees France as home, but without employment, couldn’t live there.

Anecdote: A French friend of mine lives in London. She’s white, “native” French. She visits family regularly. She tells me that racist talk is now openly accepted among white French people, with no shame or stigma attached.

Anecdote: The black British journalist Gary Younge studied for some time in Paris. He’s written of his experiences during that time, when he faced regular racial abuse and police harassment, to the point where he began to feel hatred for white people.

Anecdotes are interesting but don’t prove anything: But what about the UN report that advised on a “significant resurgence of racism” in France? The 1998 poll showing France to be the most racist country in Europe, where 38% of French people described themselves as racist? The 2005 uprisings by poor North Africans who had finally had enough? My friend N’s experience wasn’t unusual: in 2005, 5% of white graduates were unemployed, compared to 26.5% of graduates of North African origin.

Outside of football, non-white faces are barely seen in public French life. France applauded itself when its first black newsreader appeared on TV. In the 70s? 80s? 90s? Actually, it happened in 2006.

The picture at the top of this article is of a yellow Star Of David with Juif written on it (“Jew” in French). In Nazi Germany and occupied Poland, Jews were forced to wear stars saying Jude – “Jew” in German. But in Vichy France, the French carried out the persecution of Jews, and they did it the French way. While some European countries resisted German demands to hand over their Jewish citizens, France sent over 75,000 French Jews, Jewish refugees and other French citizens to the death camps. After World War 2, Germany was forced to live up to the horror of what it had perpetrated; but France was not. The willingness with which the French turned on their own Jewish population was buried, and the myth of the French Resistance was amplified instead, to present France as a heroic nation under occupation.

This is the France that banned niqabsyesterday. Europe’s most racist country, a segregated state that has never allowed equality or integration for its minorities, a country where people of Muslim origin have trouble finding employment or good housing, and face routine harassment and brutality from the police. Those who believed that this is about women’s rights or promoting secularism have been fooled – this is simply France doing what it does so well: bullying powerless minority groups that can’t hit back.

My Favourite Christian Fundamentalist Tweeters

Religion is one of the great applications of Twitter. Although I’m an atheist, and strongly believe that a world without religion would be a better world, I believe in religious freedom, and wouldn’t engage with someone for their beliefs alone. However, many use religion for profit, mix religion with bigotry, or are simply too crazily entertaining to ignore. Most of the craziest Christian tweeters are based in the US, although Africa will undoubtedly offer competition in this field as its broadband connections become faster and more reliable. There are so many great examples to choose from… here are just a few.

@MissRaissa

Miss Raissa says on her bio: I am a young woman who loves God. I enjoy intellectual conversations and politics. I am 100% Pro-Life. I have a tough personality and I am also really sweet.

Really sweet? If she says so herself… but many beg to differ, especially during her many outbursts against “evil” and “wickedness” – for example on her blog: Turn away from your wickedness. Depart from sexual immorality, fornication, adultery, drunkenness, lies, gossip, homosexuality, robbery, murder. Did you notice how she snuck in sexual immorality and homosexuality? It’s these types of statements that have won Miss Raissa more enemies than friends on Twitter. Miss R’s Congolese origins may help to explain her attitudes; African Christianity being a strand that can make even US varieties look moderate.

Miss R tweets liberally, and clearly struggles with the natural urges that afflict any woman of her age, as revealed by tweets such as: when you are dealing with lust – thus demonstrating how making lust “sinful” is a fantastic way of recruiting young people to religious causes.

Miss R can come across as a confused and misguided young woman, but her blog does contain a “Donate” button, and when pressed on what the donations are for, she tends to be uncharacteristically shy, saying that they will be used for “ministry”; she obviously understands the link between preaching and profit.

@BrendaSawJESUS

Brenda is a “Prophetess”, and as you might guess from her ID, she saw Jesus. She sees many other things too, and is here to warn us to turn to God before it’s too late. I’m never sure how much of Brenda’s persona is a money-making opportunity and how much may be caused by a mental illness, but given that she reaches thousands via Twitter and Facebook, and sells her book online (presumably at a profit if anyone buys it), I consider her fair game regardless.

Brenda explains how she achieved her role as a Spokeswoman For God on her blog as follows: At the end of 1997, God sent I, Brenda, a dream/omen warning of an eclipse crashing through my eldest daughter’s window. A few weeks later in 1998 she was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever…

She interprets the above to mean that God was calling her, though in a similar position I’d have a few questions to ask God first, like: “An eclipse is a pretty vague way of warning about Rheumatic Fever isn’t it?”, or “How does an eclipse crash through a window?”, or “If you knew my daughter was going to fall ill, why didn’t you just stop it from happening in the first place?”

Brenda’s tweets tend to entertain; here’s a taster:

I am a End Times messenger of God..I am on social networking 2 relay the warnings that God is sending B4 Jesus appears!

Question: Isn’t being a false prophet a sin? Answer: Yes, but understand the difference. False prophets make up things. Real prophets don’t (I’d hate to ask how you tell the difference).

#PROPHECY Warning from the Lord God’ March 26, 2011 “Vision of Black People Worshipping and Explosion” (Brenda’s visions are always so impressively unusual).

@apiyor

Duncan Apiyo is (I believe) Kenyan, and boldly tweets his beliefs without regard to logic or political correctness.

His tweets range from the bigoted…

–Ěomosexuality is evil, nobody was created a homosexual, just like nobody was created a pedophile or a murderer. Romans 1

To the somewhat confused/confusing…

Love drives out fear, thats why the selfish, atheists and the nonebeliever will always be afraid.

To the what-the-fuck-are-you-talking-about???

Doing calculations to make my perpetual energy motion equipment a realityNobody knows all about electrons or neutrons, NO EVIDENCE. Nobody has seen them, hadron colider arround jupiter cant get you any evidence

Richard Carvath

We “don’t do religion” in the UK, so I’ve selected Mr Carvath as a relatively rare British example. While across the pond, the Republican Party is home to many religious nuts, their UK equivalent, the Conservatives, keep most of their remaining fundamentalists locked up in a closet somewhere, out of the public gaze.

Richard Carvath runs a blog where he describes himself as a political activist and a former member of the Conservative Party. It seems that his gay-hating, Muslim-hating views aren’t appreciated in the modern, newly-packaged Conservatives, at least not to be waved around too publicly.

While his blog is worth a read, Richard doesn’t appear to tweet, a great loss to moron-watchers everywhere. Searching for his name on Twitter only found one recent tweet, which sums up his importance to British society: RT @r2danny2: @JJBounce well Richard Carvath is just a twat really

@JoeCienkowski

Go out on a high, so they say, so I saved best till last. Joe’s Twitter activity has declined of late, but his one-man mission is to demonstrate, using nothing but pure scientific logic, that the Bible is literally true, including his “proofs” that the Earth is 6,000 years old. One of his key arguments is that you can trace a smooth population curve from the population of the Earth after Noah’s flood 4,000 years ago (8 people, apparently) to the current population, as revealed in this tweet: human population fits like hand in glove w Noah’s 8 people 4400 years ago to 250M in 0AD, 1B in 1804, to 6.7B today. 7B in 2012

Below are a couple more, though I can’t do Joe justice here – you can find his thoughts on Twitter and (I believe) elsewhere if you Google him, though his web site seems to have vanished for the time being.

there’s not a chance we evolved, as scientifically impossible. Real evidence shows creation- directly created male and female-is true

evolution is ‘fig newton’ of your imagination. It’s real only on ‘fairytale science’. In true reality, there’s clear 1st design

one tsunami and Japan is different as we know it. The amount of water (70% on earth) also proves the flood is literally true

the resurrection is a solid LITERAL historical fact that cant be discounted but only denied by incredibility

Sorry that I missed so many favourites… feel free to add more below.

Looking Ahead: Morons in 2011

At this time in a new year, you can expect political pundits, economists and “futurologists” to give their predictions for the next 12 months. As the world’s leading Moronologist (self-appointed), I’ve decided to share my predictions for the coming 12 months. Where will be the hotspots of moron activity? Who are the morons to watch? What will morons be doing and saying in 2011?

Prediction 1: Winter will be colder than summer

OK – that’s obvious. However, this simple fact takes morons by surprise every year, and provides their small minds with “evidence” that man-made global warming is a myth. Meanwhile, the oil, coal, gas, motor, road and aviation industries will continue to fund denialist organisations in order to keep millions of morons confused.

Morons to watch: in the absence of any actual scientists who deny climate change, the serial climate liar Christopher Monckton is likely to again be wheeled out by deniers. It doesn’t matter that he’s been repeatedly discredited; morons don’t check facts anyway.

Probability: 100%

Prediction 2: The Tea Party will become increasingly confused

Given the extreme levels of confusion already existing within these moronic groups, this is a braver prediction. The Tea Party is a loose-knit collection of assorted morons, who believe they are part of an “anti-elite” movement, but who in fact are funded and nurtured by some fairly “elite” types. As activists realise they’ve been primarily used as a tool to win lower taxes and looser regulation for the super rich and big business, many will drift away, disillusioned.

Morons to watch: this may be a make-or-break year for Sarah Palin, the Moron Queen of Morondom. Her chances of becoming 2012 presidential candidate seem to be slipping, and she’s likely to end 2011 by drifting further from politics towards lucrative celebrity deals.

Probability: 75%

Prediction 3: Islamaphobia to rise in Europe/Israel, peak in US/UK

This is a complex one; since 9/11, morons have been inciting even dumber morons to believe that Islam poses a threat to life, the universe and everything. Islamaphobia has helped fuel the growth of neo-fascist movements across Europe, that were already in recovery as collective memories of the Holocaust faded away. Xenophobia is at the core of European identity, though Europe plays well at being “tolerant” in between the odd genocide. Neo-fascists have been making electoral gains for some time in places like France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and across the old Soviet bloc. Israel has also seen a long rise of neo-fascists being elected – something that has deeply disturbed Holocaust survivors.

Meanwhile in Britain, which has always been less fertile ground for fascism than most of Europe, the BNP (British National Party) appears to be heading for collapse amidst electoral failure and financial meltdown. The EDL (English Defence League), perhaps Britain’s dumbest organisation, has gained somewhat as a result, but I predict that they too will splinter and decline during 2011, largely because they don’t seem to have any member who can read or write.

And in America, where mainstream politics are further to the right, the far-right have always found a home within the Republican Party, which ironically seems to rein in their more extreme elements.

Morons to watch: Publicity-seeking Pamela Geller will keep ranting to ever-smaller crowds before vanishing from public view. BNP Leader and British eyesore Nick Griffin may well be ousted as BNP leader. Creepy-looking Dutch MP and inciter of hatred Geert Wilders will continue to be the rallying point for Nazis across Europe.

Probability: 50% – very much depends on whether Islamist terrorist morons (or people pretending to be Islamist terrorist morons) succeed in any major attacks in the West during this year. Also depends on unemployment levels across Europe.

Prediction 4: US economy will gain strength as UK weakens

2011 will provide the results of the big test: stimulus spending (as tried by the Obama administration and by the outgoing Labour government in the UK until May) and government spending cuts (as favoured by the UK’s new Conservative leaders). UK consumers are already reacting badly to VAT rises and government jobs cuts… which is likely to lead to lower tax revenues, and the need for even more cuts (as already demonstrated in Ireland).

Morons to watch: the new Republican speaker John “Crybaby” Boehner needs to help derail the recovery if the Republicans are to have a good chance of winning the 2012 presidential elections. UK Prime Minister David “Rich Boy” Cameron will announce that the recovery is weaker than expected (without taking the blame) and “regretfully” announce further spending cuts.

Probability: 60% – depends on many factors including Prediction 5…

Prediction 5: Oil price rises, morons draw wrong conclusions

Upwards pressure on oil prices continues for simple reasons: the easiest-to-reach supplies are dwindling, pushing oil companies to exploit more expensive sources like oil sands and deep-sea wells. America uses in excess of a quarter of the world’s oil supplies, but developing countries are growing much faster than the West, and use more oil each day.

If your friend was addicted to a substance that is becoming increasingly expensive and hard to come by, which of the following advice would you give them?

  1. Try to use less of it, or
  2. Keep using more, and spend more time and money looking for new supplies.

The oil industry runs the Republican Party, and the Republican Party now runs the House of Representatives, so America will try 2) the moron approach. Being chronically addicted to oil, the moron approach is to spend huge amounts of money to find more oil, and deepen the addiction in the process, leading to an even deeper crash when global oil supplies finally peak. At the time of writing, the oil price is $89 per barrel, and will probably be significantly higher at the end of 2011.

Being so deeply in the grip of oil morons, America’s choices are a painful adjustment now, or an even more painful adjustment later. “Kicking the can down the road” is the moronic choice, and no doubt the approach America will take. Meanwhile China, apparently less in awe of everything the oil industry says, is investing heavily in green energy alternatives.

Morons to watch: The newly-empowered Republicans will stall attempts to invest in green energy, and try to kill rail investment (which would cut transport energy usage). The oil industry will continue to claim that there are centuries of oil supplies left, despite all the evidence. Morons will complain that the price of gas keeps rising, but keep on driving their SUVs anyway.

Probability: 80%

And finally… Predictions 6 and 7: Jesus won’t return and the world won’t end

And now for some morons we can all laugh at (well, almost all of us anyway).

A group calling itself We Can Know ran posters last year in Nashville, Tennessee to advertise their web site. They claim that Jesus will return on May 21 2011, and the world will end on October 21 2011. Their campaign was reported in The Tennessean, but the story was later removed (original link). Meanwhile, many other groups have settled on December 21 2012 as the true date.

For those who believe in the Rapture, and are worried about their pets’ wellbeing after they float up to heaven, a kindly group of atheists have set up a pet care service.

Morons to watch: look out for religious nuts acting even angrier than usual when they wake up on May 22 and find they shouldn’t have sold all their worldly belongings on eBay for a dollar.

Probability: 100% (actually, make that 99%… just in case)