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Khadija Khan Speaks Out on World Hijab Day
On World Hijab Day Khadija Khan writes for the DDU that illiberal religious practices should not be shielded from criticism on the grounds of ‘Islamophobia.’ Khan argues compellingly that progressive members of the Muslim community suffer most when well meaning activists conflate criticism of Islamic ideology with bigotry against Muslim people. On World Hijab Day we shouldn’t forget that the hijab is not a matter of choice for women in many Islamic countries, such as Yasaman Aryani, imprisoned for sixteen years in Iran for removing her hijab in public on International Women’s Day.
“A hole in the heart of anti-racism training”
Chloe Valdary is an American writer and philosopher whose Theory of Enchantment courses seek to revitalise the compassionate teachings of civil rights campaigners like Martin Luther King. Valdary is seeking to forge a new meaning for the much-abused term ‘anti-racism.’ The Theory of Enchantment centres shared human experience, empathy for the uniqueness of each individual and encourages curiosity about difference, rather than assuming that character is determined by identity and shaming those who do not conform to prescriptive racial categories. Critiquing the approach of diversity trainings based on Critical Race Theory in an article this week, Chloe writes:
‘The worst thing a business or school can do is alienate its employees or students by treating people as political abstractions and making them feel insecure. Instead we ought to be asking ourselves how to create conditions that lead everyone to flourish. What is needed is an antiracism training rooted in a framework of abundance, not a framework of scarcity that puts white people into the reductive category of oppressor and black people into the equally reductive category of oppressed.’
Valdary’s work resonates deeply with the core message of Don’t Divide Us, embodied simply in the name we chose for our group. Anyone interested in exploring a unifying, humanistic approach to diversity can find information about the Theory of Enchantment here.
Launch of the Free Speech Champions Project
DDU signatory Inaya Folarin Iman launched Free Speech Champions this week, aiming to inspire young people to protect free speech and engage in critical discourse. The project will support campus free speech societies and facilitate fearless discussion on challenging issues. To quote Free Speech Champion Brad Strotten:
‘Censorship conduces nothing to the end for which it was framed. Shunned into silence, bad ideas, rather than becoming reformed, are confined to the solace of their own affirmation.’
The DDU are proud to support the Free Speech Champions and encourage our supporters to read more about their work here.
Critical Race Theory in Medicine
The Lancet this week published a concerning article calling for Critical Race Theory (CRT) to be embedded in the medical profession. The article claims that medical practitioners are part of the invisible power structures that CRT identifies as perpetuating ‘white supremacy,’ writing that ‘systemic racism is often embedded in policies and hegemonic Euro-American sociocultural frameworks.’ The article further informs us that global health networks ‘emerged as an enabler of European colonization of much of the rest of the world’ rather than, as is commonly understood, a means of ensuring that the maximum number of people have access to healthcare.
As is now commonplace in poor quality CRT scholarship, the Lancet article presents unequal outcomes between identity groups as automatic evidence of widespread, ‘systemic’ discrimination. While we must always take seriously the possibility that discrimination is at play when unequal outcomes are present, pre-determining the cause of a phenomenon in order to advance an ideological agenda is antithetical to the purpose of an evidence-based discipline like medicine. CRT is also hypocritical about which unequal outcomes it is concerned about, using the intersectional grievance hierarchy to determine which identity groups are deserving of support. While the Lancet article demands redress for the low number of women in global health leadership, it seems singularly unconcerned by the underrepresentation of men in fields such as psychology.
Across all professions, but particularly in fields where the best interests of vulnerable people are at stake, Don’t Divide Us would like to see practitioners helping all people in need, regardless of their immutable characteristics.
Is silence really violence?
A thoughtful piece by Jacob Reynolds will interest educators and parents concerned by the current trend towards politicised teaching. Reynolds reflects on the activist mantra ‘Silence is Violence’ and its implications for critical thinking and education. Describing the work of Hannah Arendt, who conceptualises thinking as the ‘soundless dialogue between me and myself,’ Reynolds evokes a moment that must be fondly familiar to many teachers:
‘Silence may be out of fashion, but teachers of all stripes will surely recognise that moment when a comment suddenly turns a pupil’s world upside down, prompting a visible retreat into this ‘soundless dialogue’ with themselves to work out what it all means.’
Demonising silence, Reynolds argues, reduces the space in which individuals contemplate action. Considered thought is the essential partner, not the opponent, of active progress towards social justice, and the slogan ‘Silence is Violence’ collapses this symbiosis into a simplistic binary. As Reynolds writes:
‘Silence then, is very far from being violence. As history has sadly taught us, violence swiftly follows when people insist that we silence ourselves and stop thinking.’