Thursday, August 27, 2009

Clive James on Honor Killing

h/t Norm
An excellent piece.
Apparently there is little to encourage fathers in these cases to the consideration that there might be loss of honour involved in murdering their helpless daughters.

It was news in Britain when, on 14 July 2006, in London, a gifted Pakistani girl (her name was Sumari) was slain by her father, brother and cousin. It needed all of them to do it, because apparently she had to be stabbed 18 times. Her crime had been to disobey them, and she died of the proof that they had been well worth disobeying. Taking it on the lam, the father — who, while thicker than any brick, had at least been smart enough to spot the lack of congruity between British law and his own beliefs — holed up in his land of origin, Pakistan, thus providing yet another statistic in one half of the two-way traffic whereby potential victims, if they are lucky, hide out in the West, whereas perpetrators flee the West to hide out in the East. That two-way traffic should surely be enough by itself to define the nature of the horrible cultural interchange, which is mainly a matter of our culture failing to provide sufficient protection against the consequences of theirs.

On the pathetic response of our Western societies:
No Minister of Community Cohesion has yet said that all communities would have a better chance of cohering with each other if those communities whose beliefs about honour were contrary to the law of the land could change them.

And what about community cohesion. The devil with it!
But surely, if moderate Islam is to hold its own against its extremist wings, then fraying, in that one respect at least, is exactly what the culture needs to do. There are more than a billion Muslims who are not engaged in jihad against the West, and not likely to be. We should try to remember just how few people are trying to kill us, even when they feel sorely provoked. But if the non-fanatical majority can't find a voice to condemn the few among their fellows who see nothing wrong with killing their own women for imaginary crimes, then they either condone that attitude or are afraid of those who hold it: either way, not a very encouraging start towards the more liberal Muslim future that we have been promised.

Wishing the feminists were more engaged:
We had also better believe that where men alone decide what women's rights are, the results are rarely good. Western liberal democracy, or a reasonable imitation of Western liberal democracy when it comes to the rule of law, is still the only kind of society we know about where women are not at the mercy of systematic injustice — that is, of justice conceived of and maintained as a weapon of terror. Where women are concerned, countries like Japan have climbed out of their dark histories to the exact extent that they have become Western-style liberal democracies, and no further. The same is true for the "Tiger" economies: the condition of women might have been ameliorated only because it has been thought expedient to subject theocratic pressures to the rule of law, but it doesn't matter why the law is there, as long as it is there. The rule of law does not guarantee justice, but there is no justice without it. It has been one of the sour amusements provided by our feminist movement in its modern phase to watch its proponents trying to blink this fact.

Honest bafflement:
At one point our feminists, getting frustrated as the pace slowed down in the home stretch to utopia, started telling us that other cultures (cultures practising clitoridectomy, for example) were more "authentic" in the respect of female sexual identity. A woman in Somalia, we were told, at least knows she is a woman. At one point, my friend Germaine Greer could be heard propounding this view, but she has a good heart, and perhaps found reason to dial back on her fervour after Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has actually suffered a clitoridectomy in Somalia, pointed out that the practice, far from being a sign of authenticity, was a mechanism of repression. How Germaine Greer could ever, even momentarily, have thought anything different is a matter for study in a field that needs to be explored: the way Western intellectuals lose sight of elementary liberalism in the heat-haze of their own rhetoric.

There is much in his article that is about the more general silliness of the western left on third world issues.

The other crucial requirement, surely, is for the pampered intelligentsia of the West to give up finally and forever on any notion that the Third World — for all its deprivations and perhaps because of them — is some kind of Eden in which countervailing values against the excesses of the West may be found. What may be found is more often a heap of dead bodies.


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