Alka Sehgal Cuthbert picks three of this week’s news items and provides a critical DDU view.
Macron, Islamism and Principles
Macron’s recent speeches on the need for Muslims to be socially integrated, have provoked criticism and accusations of Islamaphobia. Turkey’s President Erdogan, has called for a boycott of French goods. Today, three more people have been murdered in a church in Nice by a Tunisian youth shouting “Allahu Akbar”. Yet Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamed, comments that Muslims have good reason to want to kill French people for past colonial violence.
Some in Europe seem to sympathize. “Macron is no friend of free speech or civil liberties. In calling for a ‘French Islam’ he is targeting a whole community for the actions of individuals” the argument goes.
This is spectacular “whataboutery”. It is no surprise that political leaders waver in which principles they choose to support, or that they can be used to cloak other interests. But none of that makes the principle Macron is trying to assert, in the current context, wrong. Refusing to make a choice, albeit in a difficult situation (no-one wants the state to intervene in a religion) is continuing the moral confusion that makes solidarity and integration difficult in the first place. Knee-jerk responses that seek to either exonerate the murderers or to condemn all Muslims everywhere will not help people of France, which includes many ordinary Muslims who, like their fellow citizens, are appalled by these murders. Not all Muslims believe that blasphemy should be a crime in France, a secular nation, still less that it should be punishable by brutal killing; some might like the freedoms that inhere in Enlightenment thought and values just as much as their fellow citizens of different or no religions.
Spiked Online: “We Must Refuse To Play The Islamists’ Game”
Kemi Badenoch reminds teachers of professional commitment to political neutrality
In a determined and passionate speech in parliament, Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch reminded teachers that the view of race and racism embodied in critical race theory is forbidden under the 1996 Education Act (406 Political Indoctrination). It is not banned, at an appropriate age, when older students have been taught to think abstractly – a skill needed for engaging with and critiquing any theory – it can be taught as one of several theoretical approaches. Its radical epistemological and cultural relativism have no place in the school curriculum or in influences school practices. When introduced into school settings, it becomes clear that it is a minoritarian outlook that seeks to change established norms. Some may well need changing, but for the better, not in ways which set people against each other and fixes them into boxes of victims and oppressors. At best the latter can only “educate themselves” to be allies who continue to be privileged, but just have to profess their guilt about it. Nor does the reminder mean that controversial political ideas cannot be discussed in schools, at an appropriate age. But they need to be taught for what they are – a set of ideas and beliefs to which there are legitimate alternatives, even if you don’t personally like them.
At DDU, we think fighting any social, political or economic inequalities is an activity for adults in the political sphere – it is highly ethically and educationally suspect to bring this fight to children in schools. Kuba Shand Baptiste thinks anyone critical of CRT must support Trump. This delegitimising tactic contributes to a climate of fearfulness on the part of people who are not racist, but disagree with CRT. It needs to be challenged by anyone who values a pluralistic, democratic society.
DDU’s Calvin Robinson makes the case for why Kemi Badenoch’s speech is needed and welcomed by all who value knowledge for its own sake and want children to be taught “how to think not what to think”.
The Spectator: ““Kemi Badenoch is right to take on Critical Race Theory”
Structural racism doesn’t explain everything and COVID-19 isn’t racist
In a report of Covid disparities, government scientific advisor Dr Raghib Ali has said that structural racism is not a reasonable explanation. Although ethnicity may be a contributing factor, is only one among many others, and not all factors carry the same causal weight. Dr Ali comments that a better approach should be to focus on the role played by jobs and housing – this way would mean poorer white people would not miss out on getting the help they need. The graphs in the article below suggest that age and black ethnicity correlate with a higher risk of dying with (not of) Coronavirus. There are several possible lines of scientific and sociological enquiry that could be pursued to find out more about this discrepancy. Media-amplified calls of “historic racism” or “racist virus” won’t help in this question for scholarly research or in providing medical help to all who need it. Well done Dr Ali for some common sense!