I think “light-blogging” is the appropriate phrase to describe the past month on this website, for all sorts of reasons, both obvious and less so; but I have been briefly spurred into action by listening to Melanie Phillips on Radio 4’s PM programme yesterday.
The reason for her appearance (yeah, like you didn’t know) was to weigh into the argument on Jack Straw’s behalf concerning his aversion to Muslim women wearing the veil, in particular when speaking at his constituency surgery. Our Mel was quite clear on the fact that while she respects peoples’ religious freedoms and the right to wear the appropriate garb, wearing the veil is quite different. What is especially different about wearing a veil as opposed to say a turban, or a yarmulke? Is it because it is a significant barrier to communication and a sign of separateness, or is it simply because it is a symbol of the Muslim faith?
Melanie claimed it was the former of course, but I have my doubts. To me, as I listened to her performance, she clearly and effectively communicated her Islamophobia; I could imagine her pinched, twisted, and contorted features as she was repeatedly forced to spit out the word “Muslim” during the interview, as if she had just taken salt and lemon and was about to down a tequila. Funnily enough, the fact that this all occurred on radio – where I couldn’t bear witness to Melanie’s actual facial expressions – didn’t hamper the blatant message she was transmitting to me; thus undermining the whole bogus basis of her argument.
God I’m getting sick of this. The other day it was PC Basha being relieved of his duties outside the Israeli embassy, and now it is this Jack Straw business. Remove the Islamic element from the stories and all you have on the one hand is that “a member of staff asks to be excused duty on compassionate grounds, and his line manager, while not being obliged to accede, kindly does”, and on the other “an MP states a silly but perfectly legitimate personal preference with regards speaking to his constituents”. Sadly though, for both these stories, the Islamic element is present, which allows stupid people on both sides to dive into the trenches and strafe no man’s land. Can we not just leave them to it?
So I’m escaping. Thanks to my parents we are off on holiday to Spain to get away from it all. Yes, a fortnight of no-British-news-please will do very nicely thank you very much. Do they have to put up with this crap down in Andalusia do you think? Or should that be Al-Andalus?
Oh, you just take your pick, according to your bigotry. I shall return in just two of your Earth “weeks”.