I am being asked, as a “Liberal” – whatever that means, what we should do to protect our values against the ones of the people who don’t think like we do. Especially, when these values are of openness, tolerance and freedom for all.
The answer to just block the ones who don’t believe the same as we do is very “in” these days but I do believe in education and empathy, first. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes in order to understand where they come from so to fathom their thinking and eventually modify it.
I grant you that such a feat is easier for me as a gay man living in a Western society where the religious, no matter how much we order it to shut up, still condemns and calls for the ban of everything they disagree with.
I also lived in many countries where I have experience in shutting up, looking at local beliefs and culture, and try to position myself within it as well as I could without imposing my view.
I would say that’s the first we need to do when immigration is concerned: a French immigrant like me needs to understand that our rejection of monarchy doesn’t mean the rest of the world must behave their monarchs. I disagree with monarchy. It’s everything I stand against: privileges given at birth, social immobility, laziness and the epitome of people who believe they are entitled to living off the state sucking millions up just to look presentable. And they can’t even manage that for some of them.
However, unless specifically asked, I don’t go around Spain, nor did I in England, with a soap box calling Spaniards and Britons idiots and serfs for having a king or a queen and demanding their head on a platter. How Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, the whole of Scandinavia and the UK understand their own state is their own choice and I must respect it or leave it.
Do I mean immigrants who don’t want to abide by our rules should leave or be deported? No and yes. For me, it all depends on the idea of choice and open-mindness. I would say to a Westerner riling against a country they have just moved in that if they are not happy to see two men kissing or women wearing bikinis that they are free to go back to where they come from. With an immigrant from most Middle-Eastern or African countries, I wouldn’t do as such. I would educate first. The double standard is justifiable by the difference in education and environment that leads to two words I used before “choice” and “free”.
Why would I tell off a Westerner? Because I know they had access to a differentiated educational system that has taught them about the freedom of choice. A system that has laid out all the possibilities, has explained the world at great lengths, that has creates endless opportunities and freedoms within a wider democratic system where the key is for citizens to take their destiny in their own hands as much as possible and learn to be responsible.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion but after seeing, like I did, an American, born-again Christian in the streets of Paris calling for homosexuals to be banned from getting married, I would, as I did, confront them and tell them to fuck off home.School has taught them many ways and they have willingly chosen one. If it’s incompatible with the ones of a country they also chose to live in, why are they here?
To Westerners, yes but to Muslims for instance, no (-ish). Why? Political correctness? For fear of being labelled racist?
No just because I understand where they come from and the need for reeducation. First-generation immigrants in our Western countries are coming from countries where education is not about choice and opportunities, it’s about repeating and maintaining. Their schools don’t teach critical thinking but dos and don’ts in an overall political environment that is violent and intrinsically unfair and unjust.
These people are coming to our countries fleeing hardship, wanting a better life but with mindsets carved deep into themselves, sometimes literally. The answer to this, I often hear, is deculturation. Especially for the first generation so their children can be fully assimilated.
Parents are asked to leave their culture behind, for their own good too, and take on the new one but what is culture? Your language? Your religion? Your dress code? Your eating habits? As a French atheist living in Spain, should I convert to Catholicism and go to church? When I lived in England, should have I become a Anglican and bow to the Queen? Am I refuse to integrate and assimilate by rejecting Catholicism or my subjecting to the Windors? No. It’s more than that, I am said, but no one can define it.
That’s the point of culture: it’s all the untold rules that we grow up with and make us behave a certain way. In Spain, people think it’s weird when I address them using the second person plural but in France, it’s borderline insulting to address someone you don’t know using the second person singular. Yet we are all share the same Latin roots with just a small mountain range between us.
How do we fix the problem? Education. Education. Education. Let’s consider some key questions I heard from good-willing people thinking some immigrants are a danger to our values: How do we make sure Muslims are not antisemitic? How do we ensure Asians are not forcing their girls into marrying older strangers? How do we ensure African girls are not excised? How do we ensure religious immigrants are not homophobic?
We do what they do in Norway, for instance, we educate them. We listen to their thinking, debate with them, show them something different, teach them critical thinking and acceptance for it doesn’t come naturally, it’s always nurtured. And sometimes, often, we play into their weaknesses of bowing to diktats and say: “Because that’s the way things are done here. So think for you have two choices: You stay and accept it or you go back to where you came from.” A hard choice for most of them but it’s a choice at the end, one that will put them in control of their own destiny, often for the first time.
Cynics from the Right will come me a utopist for thinking we can ever reverse mindsets. Why would they think otherwise? They, themselves, think the solution is to go back to a past they have fantasised.
Cynics from the Left will tell me that we can’t even get Western Christians to be gay-friendly and our own society to accept full men/women equality so immigrants…I get where they come from but all the more reasons to keep trying. We cannot stop human progress and we will learn from ourselves.
Some will point out that I’m being very optimistic when talking about our educational system, that, in more and more countries, it’s being privatised so critical thinking is now a danger to the blind acceptance of a evermore unequal, neo-capitalist society in the name of making money.
I agree and I also see that countries resulting in blanket bans and camps are the ones where education is anything but a priority.
I watched a quick Instagram video of Tom Daley giving us tips to get healthy by doing something call the Pistol Squat – which I am convinced gets its name from prisoners of war who managed to not get shot by doing it.
One thing: anyone who can pull that off is already healthy. There might not have very defined six packs or the 0.1% of fat necessary to see them because they don’t do eight hours of sports everyday for a living but this exercise requires so much from your body, i.e. put the entire weight of yourself on one knee, that only the 5% fittest can do it.
Bottom-line is: the more I watch Tom Daley, his fitness challenges and advice on how to get healthy, the more I realise he’s talking to people who are already healthy. Just not calendar-fit, like he is. PR…PR…PR…
I posted a link to the video of Shoshanna Roberts and her 10-hour walk through New York to highlight the everyday sexism women are subjected too.
Among the abject and oh-too-predictable “Men are just being nice by saying hello to her” – yeah, because strangers care so much about how everyone’s morning, day or evening is going – there are now attempts to dissect the video. Good, you’d think.
However, we end up with this: “The problem with that video is that white guys have been edited out”. When in fact, the problem with that video is that when men are put in front of their sexism they become the usual bullies who always find a reason to say it was not them or it’s not what it seems or they are the victim of a conspiracy. The world is their school playground.
The attempt to focus on supposed racism is called a diversion. Some people watched the video with a pen and a paper and instead of witnessing the everyday sexism, they reviewed the skin complexion of every man, counted them, compared and decided the video was worthless.
The point of that video is to show what happens daily to a woman when she indicates clearly that she is not in any mood to socialise. The actress is wearing sport gear, is walking at a fast pace with weights in each hand, she never smiles or even looks at them before, during or after. Any man passing by with the same demeanor would be completely ignored. No more “polite hellos”. Yet, when it’s her, men are heckling, harassing, insulting, following.
So how can we possibly make sure people don’t see that? Well let’s try to divert the focus on something else and possibly something that will discredit the video so when people watch it, they don’t see the sexism of everyday men but instead the racism of the people who edited the video. I am even sure some have found that she looked at a white guy whereas she never looks at black men, who knows? But “that’s proof!”.
I am not here to dismiss the fundamental racism of the American society but the reality is that the actress and the charity she is working with had 10 hours of video to edit. Their focus was everyday sexism, not race so when they edited the video, it was irrelevant to them to be counting how many black, white, Hispanic, Chinese, Arabic or whatever type of men were sexist. It was and is still NOT the point. The point was to show sexism. Not to discuss the editing.
Tragic yet common attempt from the accused to divert the attention.
Because if you go on the path of diversion on race, the doors are endless to discredit the video:
Not enough white men: it deliberately shows Black men as being more sexist.
Not enough men from rich neighbourhoods: it deliberately shows poorer people are more sexist.
Not enough men in parks or offices: it only shows people in the streets.
Not enough highly educated students: it looks like people with less education are more sexist.
Not enough young men: it makes people believe only older men are sexist.
Not enough professional diversity: it shows a lot of people outside of little shops, delivery men and street vendors.
Not enough rural men: it shows people in the city are more sexist than people in the countryside.
Not enough men with women: most of the men are with other men so maybe they don’t mean it, it’s just to show off.
Not enough nice men: Why haven’t they put a count of men she crosses and said nothing? It’s biased.
I guess the accused will always find a way to say they are not the problem, their victim is.