Idiots! You were supposed to have HIDDEN them.

The high court judgement also condemned some books found by Ofsted inspectors in the library [of a Muslim school in Birmingham], despite a previous inspection and ruling that the books should be removed.

The judges opined, the books were “derogatory towards women,” nonetheless “clearly some members of staff were in agreement with the teachings of the book – hence why they remained.”

Haroon Rashid, a parent at the meeting said that the … books should have been placed away, out of sight from the inspectors.

This, he believed, was incompetence on behalf of the teachers. Additionally, “inspectors did not understand the context in which the rules [about beating and imprisoning your wives and daughters] were allowed in Islam.”

From Two Reviews of the Film “The Square”

An attack on rich smug postmodern people whose moral vacuity is matched only by their moral preening, the film has drawn rebukes from the New York Times and the New Yorker reviewers. The NYT is the milder of the two:

The condition it depicts will be familiar to just about anyone who buys a ticket, and its insights might have been generated by a Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism smartphone app.

Nicely written. But the New Yorker reviewer is more than dismissive; he is hopping mad. He argues that mindlessly toxic films like The Square, and many like it, which unfairly accuse a class of educated and not entirely depraved people of brutal, clueless, narcissism, destroy liberal culture and make the world safe for reactionaries:

[Films like this one work to] feed the maw of populist resentment, to exacerbate hostility toward liberal society, to propose no change or improvement, to lament no tragic conflicts, but, rather, to reject liberal society with a muffled, derisive frivolity, to despise institutions, norms, mores, and—above all—the educated urban bourgeoisie and the professional competences and administrative order that it sustains. Lacking artistic originality to propose or effect a shift in consciousness or a new mode of experience, they offer a constipated realism that rubs others in their filth while keeping their own hands rigorously pristine. Theirs is a cinema of reactionary snobbery, a righteous snort of contempt of exactly the sort that feeds far-right rejectionism all the way around to where it meets far-left rejectionism—in haughty, self-righteous, and humanly challenged cynicism.

The artwork that comes to mind reading this is Wallace Shawn’s performance piece, The Fever, where he attempts precisely to take seriously – in emotional, intellectual, and ethical ways – the costs of what the New Yorker’s critic calls “bourgeois comfort and sophistication”:

[Hyper-realist films like The Square display] the conspicuous restraint of aesthetic nonintervention, of falsely bland repudiation of visual expression, as if to let the facts onscreen speak for themselves. But the actual artistic point of these satires on bourgeois comfort and sophistication is a visual simplicity that matches the dramas’ repudiations of technological, intellectual, and bureaucratic modernity… The bureaucracies [these films] despise are, so to speak, the bureaucracies of others; their films aren’t shot through with the discourse or the intricacies on which they depend—as many of the best films of the time are, often in surprising ways. (Such a varied films as “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Get Out,” “The Future” and “Let the Sunshine In” grapple with the increasingly abstract complexities of modern life in styles that reflect those complexities.) In short, cinematic invention goes together with societal investigation; for Haneke and the Hanekets, the social cinema is a sneer under glass.

And now what comes to mind is Richard Rorty’s Achieving Our Country, in which he distinguishes between what he calls the cultural left (post-structuralist theorists, mainly) and the progressive left (politically pragmatic, not terribly theoretical people who write within a basic acceptance of liberal democracy that Richard Brody sees missing in these films). Rorty writes about a “spectatorial, disgusted, mocking Left,” which seems, in regard to The Square and its ilk, apt.

Washington! It may not be the most visually compelling city…

… but UD‘s hometown abundantly – maybe even uniquely – caters to your every political whim. So UD has for awhile been taken up with the issue of global female genital mutilation (half a million women in the United States have been cut, or are at risk of cutting, 50,000 of them in the Washington region; Maryland, where UD lives, is one of eight states with the highest rates), and a couple of nights ago she had merely to walk a few hundred yards from her university office in order to take part in a spectacular global forum about it.

She was able to ask one of the lead DOJ attorneys on the Jumana Nagarwala case in Detroit if we’re actually going to be able to put this Johns Hopkins University med school graduate in prison for a long time.

“We do not,” she replied, “take cases we are not confident we can win.” (Applause broke out at this.)

UD looks forward to Johns Hopkins University publicly rescinding Nagarwala’s degree, on the grounds that medical schools in the United States are not butcheries.

Linda Weil-Curiel, a heroic French attorney with a heroic family history, described her years of successful prosecution against cutters. “My most rewarding moment? I was sitting in a courthouse, looking over some notes, when three large and menacing men surrounded me. ‘You’re the reason our women no longer obey us,’ they said.”

Here she talks about the central, overwhelming importance of a secular state with a commitment to universal human rights. Lately she’s been trying to get all of this across to hapless England, which has a scandalously huge FGM problem, about which it seems unable to do anything. But of course French laïcité gives them an advantage, in this as in so many other matters.


Speaking of visually compelling, Pierre Foldès, the surgeon who pioneered reconstructive surgery for those who’ve been cut, was also there, and he treated us to many large graphic images of the whole shebang: mutilation, rehabilitation. Ol’ UD wasn’t expecting this, and she doesn’t mind telling you she underwent a certain interval of heebie-jeebies until she settled in to the whole clinical observation thing.

Now it’s the turn of North America.

Quebec follows many European nations and regions in banning the burqa and niqab in public places.

Opponents always say the same two dumb things.

They say only a few women wear it. So? It ain’t about numbers, baby.

They say it’s all about the cynical politics of the moment.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims issued a statement saying it was “deeply concerned” by the new law and that it “boils down to ugly identity politics” ahead of the 2018 provincial election.

Opposition to fully covered women, in country after country, is profound, and transcends politics.


As for ugly identity politics – hey. Better ugly identities than no identity at all.

IOW: For sure this is about identity politics. It’s about having an identity. End the blotting out of women.

‘Beyond the face-covering ban, the bill also sets out broad limits for all requests for religious accommodation. It states a request has to be “serious,” respect the right to equality between men and women and “the right of every person to be treated without discrimination.”‘

Quebec is well on its way, not only toward a significant burqa ban, but just as importantly toward an effort to discriminate between “serious” and non-serious religious accommodation requests. The intellectual laziness and social irresponsibility of beliefs like Katha Pollitt’s – “[R]eligion is what people make of it.” – make the world safe for crushing restrictions against girls and women in otherwise advanced countries.

You don’t get to say that your religion mandates that your eleven year old daughter have her clitoris cut off and her vagina sewn up and her head and body covered in veils. You don’t get to say that your religion mandates your wife can’t leave the house – ever – or if she is allowed out, it’s only under guard and under total veiling. You don’t get to say that “due to my firm religious beliefs … it will not be possible for me to meet in public with a group of women.” It’s perfectly okay for you to run your own cult in which you ban yourself from contact with the female race, but you don’t get to call this a religion, and you don’t get accommodations based on it.

You’re free to sue your daughter’s school because it won’t let you be on its grounds fully veiled. You will lose the suit, and it will cost you a lot of money and the court system a lot of time to get to that foreseeable outcome, but you’re free to do it.

But no state, and no institution within a state, is compelled to accommodate every demand made upon it simply because someone somewhere presents some behavior or other as religious.

‘The Audacity of Blaming Sex Addiction’…

… is an article in The Atlantic about Harvey Weinstein.

These are … problems of power and status that manifest as a violent disregard for others — a failure to acknowledge the autonomy of women or a problem accepting it and a compulsion to revoke it by force. So it feels especially jarring to hear that same person professing a lack of agency in these acts.

Whether you refuse to let women out of the house unless they cover every inch of their body with a black sheet, or refuse to let women transact business with you unless they take off their clothes and go down on you — whether it’s All clothes off! or King-sized sheet on! — it’s quite the same thing: The violent revocation of women’s autonomy.

The only thing that differentiates American from French culture in these matters is that when Dominique Strauss-Kahn (an uncannily identical twin to Harvey Weinstein) was himself finally outed, bigshot philosophers defended him.

[Bernard-Henri] Lévy says … that the man he calls a friend of 20 years, “bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere. Charming, seductive, yes, certainly; a friend to women and, first of all, to his own woman, naturally, but this brutal and violent individual, this wild animal, this primate, obviously no, it’s absurd.”

BHL is a smart guy, but he seems unable to grasp that you can be an articulate, enlightened economist, or a sensitive maker of art films, and a primate.

‘[I]f the average college campus is not quite the Maoist re-education camp of right-wing fantasy, there are enough embarrassing incidents like the one at William and Mary to suggest that parts of the left disdain the First Amendment.’

The problem is that we have no agreement about which ideas are beyond the pale, and the people least willing to draw necessary distinctions are the most strident. Student activists are naturally going to test boundaries and make maximalist demands. Yet while I’m under no illusion that they’re interested in the opinions of Gen X liberals like myself, someone should tell them that if the principle of free speech is curtailed, those with the least power are most likely to feel the chill.

Michelle Goldberg tries to bring reason to the latest group of campus activists who successfully shut down free speech – this time at William and Mary. The target: A speaker from the nefarious ACLU.

I understand that for a lot of young leftists, it doesn’t make sense to equate what they see as hate speech with the speech of the oppressed. It’s harder for me to understand why they think that if First Amendment protections are weakened, the left — and not, say, the Trump administration — will be allowed to define what is hateful and what is not. After all, it is extremely common to hear people on the right describe Black Lives Matter as a hate group. A Louisiana police officer injured in a protest against police brutality recently tried to sue the movement and one of its most prominent members for incitement.

It’s certainly true that it’s easier to enjoy free speech when you’re privileged. It doesn’t follow from that, however, that eroding free speech protections helps the vulnerable. When disputes about free speech are adjudicated not according to broad principles but according to who has power, the left will mostly lose. If the students at William and Mary aren’t frightened off activism by their experience with national notoriety, they’ll probably learn that soon enough. Luckily, if they ever do come face to face with forces determined to shut them up, the A.C.L.U. will be there.

Or you could read this, by Conor Friedersdorf.

Vile Islamophobic Denmark Bans…

… the burqa.

A Remarkable Thing is Happening in Europe.

It’s called democracy. Europe’s people and its institutions are banning the burqa. Austria is the latest country to do this, and the results of a recent poll suggest Denmark could be next.

Less than a quarter of Danes oppose a ban on the burqa and niqab, according to a new survey.

A majority of the population support banning the two types of Islamic veil in public, according to an opinion poll carried out by Epinion on behalf of broadcaster DR.

According to the poll, 62 percent said they support a full ban on wearing the burqa and niqab in public, while 23 percent said the veils should continue to be allowed.

These figures are in line with surveys in most other European countries.

Social Democrat MP Mattias Tesfaye, a member of parliament’s immigration committee (Udlændinge- og Integrationsudvalget), told DR that he was not surprised by the result of the poll.

“I am provoked myself when I see a woman in a burqa. Not so much by the woman, but by what it stands for. I actually perceive it as a form of prison,” Tesfaye said.

It’s been fascinating to watch the … uncomfortable split between intellectuals who persistently lecture the population and the courts of Europe about their appalling reactionary ways… about how all decent people obviously see imprisoned women among us as a signal instance of human rights … and the actual voice of the people and the courts across the continent. (And yes – there’s this.). Large majorities of people, it turns out, don’t consider it their civic duty to collude in the forced or the unforced public annihilation of a country’s women.

My Favorite Fatwa

The beyond-thrilling news that women are now permitted to drive cars in Saudi Arabia (What’s next? Walk down the street without a male guardian?) reminds UD of her favorite edict from that country, known to all as The Adult Breastfeeding Fatwa.

Since an unrelated man and a woman being together in the same room is strictly forbidden…

Sheikh ‘Abd Al-Muhsin Al-‘Obikan, an advisor at the Saudi Justice Ministry, recently issued a fatwa allowing the breastfeeding of adults. The fatwa is aimed at enabling an unrelated man and woman to be secluded in the same room, a situation which Islam considers forbidden gender mixing. The rationale behind the fatwa is that breastfeeding creates a bond of kinship between the man and woman, … thus making it acceptable for them to be together in seclusion.

The order generated a lot of controversy. (Egypt even saw some nipple retraction.)

One columnist pointed to a paradox, namely that the fear of gender-mixing is prompting clerics to encourage lewd behaviors like women breastfeeding grown men.


In an earlier post, UD imagined Rate My Expressers entries for women-taught university courses in Saudi Arabia:

Hard initially to get hold of her nipple; once locked on, very good.

Slow. Too much class time spent pumping, sucking. Female students look bored.

Plays favorites. Feedings should be fairer.

Talks endlessly about how much better she lactated when she taught at a more selective school.

Milk production fine, but men sleepy after, and professor seems unable to wake them. What are they teaching in ed school these days??

A Great Graphic.

Design: Joe Scorsone
and Alice Drueding.

Quotation of the Day.

“Take for example, female genital mutilation,” Anderson said. “So, they say ‘that’s a cultural practice.’ I’m sorry, no culture should be able to whack off sex organs, so you can’t have pleasure anymore.”

Karrin Anderson, a professor in the Colorado State University communications department.


Also: Check out the great “Girls Belong in School” poster on the page.

No sacrifice is too great when it comes to assuring your daughters …

… a joyless, mutilated future.

Dr Nagarwala … has supporters – 17 of which have offered to put their own homes and assets on the line to free the doctor from jail until trial …


Number Nine… Number Nine… Number Nine…

Laura Kipnis’s endlessly repeated Title IX investigations at UD‘s befuddled alma mater, Northwestern University, begin to sound like the famous Beatles song. She keeps getting investigated for sex discrimination and found not guilty of it. Her life is heading into Groundhog Day territory, waking up every morning to the same effort to nail her for nastiness.

She wrote about her first investigation in a recent book:

Her prior Title IX investigation, she writes, “has made me a little mad and possibly a little dangerous. . . . I mean, having been hauled up on complaints once, what do I have to lose? ‘Confidentiality’? ‘Conduct befitting a professor’? Kiss my ass.”

Failing to bring her down via Number Nine, Northwestern tried to ruin her for incivility.

The dean ultimately found that Kipnis did not violate the civility policy…

Rats. How about her violations of The Free Woman policy? She’s been flouncing around being a free woman – can we go after her for that?

No. Let’s stick with Title IX. A law professor specifies, in the New Yorker, how it can be used:

Title IX can … be used to discourage disagreement, deter dissent, deflect scrutiny, or register disapproval of people whom colleagues find loathsome. The problem is not with Title IX itself, much less the generic capacity of any rule to be used as a pretext for unrelated ends. Rather, it is the growing tendency to try, in the words of Kipnis’s book, “to bend Title IX into an all-purpose bludgeon.” This warping is made possible by ambiguous and undisciplined understandings — misunderstandings — of sexual harassment and its harms… Title IX is too often conscripted to serve purposes antithetical to the education of citizens in a democracy, in which disagreement, dissent, or disapproval should lead to argument, not to an infinite loop of institutional investigation.

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