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The Cutting Tradition: A Film About FGM

I’ve spent most of the day watching videos about female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting (FGC), as preparation for a post I plan to do about the topic. I found one particularly good video I want to share with you now. It was commissioned back in 2012 by the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FIGO) and produced by a group called Safe Hands for Mothers. Their vision is one where no women die in pregnancy or childbirth. As FGM markedly increases the risks for women during childbirth, their work includes campaigning against it.

The Cutting Tradition is narrated by Meryl Streep and, as stated on the YouTube page, was “Filmed in Ethiopia, Egypt, Djibouti, Burkina Faso and the UK, [and] … looks at the reasons for female genital mutilation in Africa today.”

Note: This video includes graphic content of FGM being performed and FGM being surgically corrected.

29 Responses to “The Cutting Tradition: A Film About FGM”

  1. Jenny Haniver says:

    You’re a far better woman than I to be able to watch the “uncut” version of this video and spend a day watching many films about FGM. I had to edit on first viewing, first thing in the a.m. here (will go back later after anesthetizing myself with some alcohol, I have to anesthetize myself just to watch,these girls aren’t even anesthetized) because it was like trying to watch a hostage execution video or a video of a Saudi woman being stoned to death for adultery (both of which I’ve seen).
    And, yes, I think this argument that the clitoral hood is like the prepuce captious bs; and that is not to imply that I advocate male circumcision. That’s a different matter; related, yes, but different and it distracts from the urgent need to stop FGM; it also places women’s needs in this regard in the usual subservient relationship to male concerns yet again. Someone on Jerry’s site, re his post of 29 May, has twice insisted that arguments for FGM are somehow “all excuses for male genital mutilation” and skeptics who ignore this are flat out ignorant. The ultimate in (chauvinistic) reductionist thinking, to me. If this is a legitimate argument, the person who posted the comments needs to articulate it, though I doubt if he can. If we’re all such dupes, don’t leave us in the dark.

    • I’ve gotta say, watching this stuff makes me literally feel ill, which is also the effect execution and stoning videos have on me. Someone has to make the effort and speak up though or it will never change. I’m a small voice, but Jerry being good enough to reference it on his much more popular site makes a big difference, and the more people that know, the better.

      This film makes it clear that in many areas the procedure is all about reducing the sexual pleasure of women. One of the regular commenters on Jerry’s site, Charleen D Adams, brought my attention to this paper: http://evp.sagepub.com/content/14/2/1474704916648784.full.pdf+html

      Her comment:

      Relatedly, here’s a recent article in the journal Evolutionary Psychology proposing and testing a hypothesis for the prevalence of FGM, “Female Genital Cutting Restricts Sociosexuality Among the Igbo People of Southeast Nigeria”:

      Abstract
      Female genital cutting (FGC) involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia and causes detrimental effects on woman’s physical and psychological health. Estimates suggest that 130 million women and girls have experienced FGC worldwide. A frequently cited reason for performing this procedure is to restrict female sexuality. To test this idea, we examined women’s willingness to engage in uncommitted sexual relations (sociosexuality) among the traditional Igbo community in Southeastern Nigeria, a region in which FGC is prevalent. Women with FGC reported more restricted sociosexuality in all three domains (attitude, behavior, and desire) compared to women without FGC. Our results suggest that FGC significantly restricts female extra-pair behavior. We provide evidence that this practice is partially attributable to sexual conflict over reproduction by decreasing paternity uncertainty and increasing the reproductive costs to women.

      This sort of thing always makes me wonder would it have happened if the alternative was some sort of procedure that restricted men’s sexual pleasure and left them suffering and susceptible to suffering in multiple different ways for the rest of their life, would it have been done?

      Male circumcision is, as you say, a completely different issue. Quite apart from anything else, as long as it’s done by someone properly qualified and in a proper setting, the evidence is it has multiple advantages. However, apparently the best time for it to be carried out is when the child is too young to remember, so that brings up important consent issues.

  2. HaggisForBrains says:

    I watched, and confess I was in tears watching the cutting taking place. I’ve always been against any form of non-consensual genital mutilation in principle, but seeing it actually performed disgusted me. I have the very western attitude that sex is fun, and should be fun for everyone, whether married or single, over the age of consent. I can’t understand why a husband should prefer a wife who cannot share in the pleasure of an orgasm. To me, the sharing of sexual joy is a vital part of the love I feel for my partner.

    I was also appalled to see the long-term result of infibulation. Even after surgery, there is no way that woman will ever enjoy making love. Her husband might as well cut a hole in a watermelon and use that!

    • I think your attitude to sex is simply the natural one. Most of the hang-ups people have are those that have been imposed by various religions through the ages imo. Sex is such a fundamental part of who we are, people wanting power worked out pretty quickly that it was a good way to control people.

      In many ancient belief systems there was an element of fear of women too because (I think) of their ability to procreate which wasn’t understood. That fear remained even once they understood the physical process.

  3. The Paxton marshall says:

    I can’t watch, but I’ll take your word for how terrible it can be. All kinds of unnecessary body altering procedures on children too young for informed consent should be outlawed. This would include FGM, MGM, tattoos, Chinese foot constraints, and deformation of ears, nose and lips.

    Verotchka, who has actively worked to reduce FGM, provided some very good perspective on the practice, in comments on the WEIT blog. Jerry Coyne, who has never known a Muslim, responded with the same nasty dismissal he gives anyone who suggests that Islam is not the primary source of evil in the world. He told her to come over here with her comments. I hope she does as she seems intelligent and thoughtful. You may disagree with her, Heather, but you will respond with facts and reason rather than insults, which are Coyne’s stock in trade. For a self described defender of free speech, he shows zero tolerance for anyone who disagrees with him.

    • I will be surprised if Verotchka does come over here because she doesn’t like me. She considers my website promotes anti-Putin propaganda and has accused me of lying and even creating graphics in Russian to support my lies. In support of her contention that Putin is actually a Good Person she posted a picture of him swimming with dolphins – apparently the dolphins would have turned on him if he was evil.

      Verotchka has been asked by Jerry to apologize to another person (who also comments here) and myself for some previous nasty comments she made before being allowed to comment again on WEIT which she has never actually done, so there’s a history there. Insults are not Jerry’s “stock in trade,” and he is not showing “zero tolerance.” As I’ve said to you before, he has rules for the way people conduct themselves on his website, which are clearly described, and if people break them they can expect the consequences. I’ve disagreed with Jerry openly several times, and as recently as yesterday. Yet we remain friends and he even advertised this post on his site, which makes a big difference to how many people see it. That doesn’t seem like the petty behaviour you accuse him of to me.

      In Verotchka’s comment on Jerry’s site she is simply determined to criticize me. Neither Jerry nor I has ever said that Islam was the cause of FGM. The initial post I wrote on the subject, and that Jerry linked to, was specifically about Reza Aslan’s lies regarding the link between FGM and Islam. It stated:

      FGM has existed for at least centuries, and probably millennia. It was around long before Islam, so Aslan can rest assured that I’m not going to try and pin the blame for its origins on Muhammad. However, there can be no doubt that Sunni Islam has adopted the practice and made it part of its traditions, and not just in Africa. Africa’s role is that it is the only continent where religions other than Islam practice it. However, when health workers visit Christian communities to explain the negative health effects of FGM, none of the people say, “We do it to express our faith in Jesus.” It’s a different story in Muslim communities.

      And that’s where the FGM/Islam connection comes in. FGM is not mentioned in the Qur’an, and is not required by Islam. However, some biographies of Muhammad have him coming across a women who performed FGM. According to the story, he did not tell her to stop doing it, and described how much the woman should cut off. As I’m sure you know, Islam considers some hadiths weak and others strong, and the hadiths relating to FGM are considered weak, which is why FGM is not a requirement in Islam. It is basically up to each imam to decide whether it is a practice that should be followed in his mosque. Those Muslims who practice FGM though, do so because they believe there is a religious requirement.

      FGM is rare in Shi’a Islam, but more common in Sunni Islam. There are four main schools of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam. Two of these consider the practice obligatory and the other two recommend it highly. One of the schools that recommends it most strongly is the highly respected Azhar University in Cairo which is perhaps why (until recently) 97% of women there were victims. It was also promoted there by the Muslim Brotherhood. (See the fatwa from Azhar U relating to FGM in this post: http://www.heatherhastie.com/reza-aslan-lying-for-islam-on-fgm/ )

      As another example in Indonesia, where the practice is also almost universal amongst Muslims, and was introduced via Islam, it is carried out on all baby girls born the previous year on Muhammad’s birthday as a celebration of the same. There, thankfully, mostly only the prepuce is removed (which is a less serious form).

      Wherever in Asia FGM is practiced it is only in Muslim communities and was introduced with Islam. Neither FGM nor male circumcision were performed anywhere in Asia before Islam. In some areas FGM is performed, but male circumcision isn’t.

      • The Paxton marshall says:

        Thanks for filling in the background, Heather. I stand corrected. This is a good example of the perils of making judgments on a snapshot of evidence, without knowing the historical and cultural background. But in my mind, if disagreement is not allowed, even encouraged, in a discussion, it will enlighten no one.

        I appreciate your brief overview of the relationship of FGM to Islam. There is not a sharp line between religion and culture in premodern societies. Religion permeates culture. As is often pointed out, there is not a clear divide between religious and secular law in Islamic countries. Understanding the cultural factors that underlie any ritual practice is more complex than religious doctrine can express.

        I think the largely unexamined side of the religion/behavior nexus, is the influence of behavior on religion. Religious emphases change to reflect the society that practices it. You can’t attribute everything Christians do to the Bible or to Jesus (as represented in the Bible). Same with Muslims, Quran and Muhammad. The fact that FGM is not commanded in the Quran, and is not essential to Islam, should make it easier to eliminate it (as opposed to MGM which is essential to Judaism and (I believe) Islam), But there are other cultural factors at work. It would appear that FGM is a defining difference between Sunni and Shia practice. That could make it harder for Sunnis in some places to abandon the practice.

        The most important issues to Christians in the US, abortion, homosexuality, keeping religion in schools and government, opposition to other faiths such as Islam and communism, are either not mentioned or not important in the bible, and many are contrary to the spirit of Jesus’ teaching. People make of religion what they want. Although in premodern societies religion plays a role in most everything, to isolate religion as the cause of anything is almost certainly simplistic. I know Jerry Coyne disavows that view, his continued focus on the evils of Islam suggest otherwise.

        I would suggest that the most promising approach to reducing FGM is to demonstrate its lack of support in Islamic scriptures, and that one can still be a good Muslim without practicing FGM. Encouraging the minimal FGM, which is more akin to male circumcision might be a good intermediate step. But the goal should be to end inflicting all these deforming procedures on helpless children. To the religious, it’s like saying the body God gave us is flawed.

        • Those Muslims who are fighting against FGM are pointing out the lack of Qur’anic support for the practice. A big part of the problem though is that unlike most Christian religions, Islam has no formal hierarchy. There’s no pope, archbishop etc to come out and declare the practice wrong – it’s up to individual imams to make that decision. One of the reasons many don’t want to do that is they see it as the same as saying that all the previous imams who supported it since 632 were wrong and they’re reluctant to do that. A bit like papal infallibility in a way. But you’re right – it’s when religious and tribal leaders can be brought on board that the most success is achieved.

          I am curious about your reluctance to criticize Islam. It’s like you’re saying that there is one idea, amongst all the ideas in the world, that is immune from being questioned or challenged. If Western society had taken that route with Christianity, the Enlightenment would never have happened and we’d still be burning people at the stake. We still have our Pat Robertsons, but most Christians (especially outside the US) disavow such representatives of their faith. There are many within Islam who want to see their religion reformed and I am determined to support them if I can and if they want me to. Some of them are risking their lives by speaking out against those that cleave to the version of Islam espoused by DAESH and every other Islamist terrorist organization.

          And Jerry does not blame every problem in the Muslim world on Islam. He freely acknowledges and often mentions several other causes. But, as you say, it is impossible to separate out religion from everything else that goes on in much of the Muslim world as as such it is a part of every problem.

          • paxton marshall says:

            Hi Heather, you wrote: “I am curious about your reluctance to criticize Islam. It’s like you’re saying that there is one idea, amongst all the ideas in the world, that is immune from being questioned or challenged.”

            I am reluctant to criticize Islam, because I do not want to add to the rampant Islamophobia in my country (USA) that has enabled unconscionable attacks on Muslim countries, the murder of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, and plunging the entire Middle East into civil war and chaos. I am reluctant to criticize Islam because most of those who do are blind to the role of western imperialism in destroying Muslim societies, overthrowing elected governments, and imposing brutal dictators on Muslim people.

            I am reluctant to criticize Islam, not because the beliefs or doctrines of Islam hold any attraction for me; they don’t. I regard belief in any supernatural agency as a delusion. I abhor such practices as FGM, wife beating, honor killing, and the murder of innocent people, whether it be by suicide bombing, F-16s, Tomahawk missile, knives or drones. I regard Muslim dress no differently than the uniforms of nuns, priests, Haredi Jews, or the hair nets of Mennonite women. It’s not my business to interfere. Yes, maybe there is some coercion as there is in requiring schoolboys or soldiers to wear certain uniforms, but I see no benefit in using coercion to fight coercion. I deplore teaching children to hate, and the bombast about destroying Israel and creating a world-wide caliphate. But words are not equivalent to actions and I equally deplore those who use the hateful rhetoric of others as an excuse for committing violence on them. The Hamas charter does not justify the captivity and abuse of millions of Palestinians.

            I am reluctant to criticize Islam because I have seen the results of xenophobia and racial, ethnic, and religious hatred in the US, most recently anti-communist hysteria from the 20s onward, leading to blacklisting, witch hunts, and the disastrous Vietnamese terrorism, which killed a million or more southeast Asians along with 58,000 Americans. It was criticism of the religions and cultural practices of blacks and Native Americans that justified slavery and genocide of these people. Most Americans are still in denial of the crimes that facilitated our “manifest destiny”. Most Americans are ignorant of the prejudice and discrimination that Irish, Italian, Catholic, Chinese, eastern European, and Japanese immigrants faced, and even of the internment of thousands of Japanese-American citizens during world war 2.¬¬¬¬

            I am reluctant to criticize Islam because I find much of the prevailing criticism to be shallow, bigoted and misleading. Anecdotes are seized upon as evidence, Muslim atrocities are not put into the context of western atrocities that provoked them, the behaviors of Muslims are simplistically attributed to the Islamic religion without due analysis of the context. How many ISIS (DAESH) fighters lost family and loved ones in the US/UK invasion of Iraq? Is it Islam that motivates them to want to kill westerners, or a desire for revenge? And upon further examination, the things that Muslims are criticized for, misogyny, violence, etc turn out to be no worse and often better in Muslim countries than elsewhere. This is what we found when we examined the incidence of rape and domestic violence in Bangladesh and found that many other countries, Christian, Buddhist, atheist, Hindu had higher rates than Bangladesh and other Muslim countries. Murder rates are another example. Much is made of ISIS beheadings and Muslim honor killings. Yet, if we look at the data we find that Muslim countries often have murder rates below the world rate of 6.2 per hundred thousand. Some examples: Algeria 1.5, Egypt 3.4, Morocco 1.0, Tunisia 3.4, Jordan 2.0, Turkey 2.6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

            I am reluctant to criticize Islam because so much of western criticism of Islam is false and duplicitous. Some of the examples cited in the last paragraph may be due to negligence or sloppy research, but much of it is due to deliberate distortion of facts that are well-known. We are told of Gazan children being taught to hate Israelis and given toy guns to encourage armed struggle, without being told that the Palestinians who resided in Israel were driven from their homes by force of arms, herded into a sliver of land, held captive for 50 years, denied access to the outside world, and slaughtered by the thousands when they dare to resist their imprisonment. We are told that Islamists are the greatest threats to world peace when they kill dozens in terror attacks, without mention of the hundreds of thousands killed by US/UK/Israel in terror attacks on Muslims. I respect criticism of Islam that is put into proper historical and comparative context, but the criticism of Islam that I see, from Donald Trump, to Sam Harris, to Jerry Coyne, is most often one-sided, biased, makes little or no attempt at balance or objectivity, and by cherry-picking the evidence is deeply dishonest. Criticism of Islam by those I call Islamophobes is moral obtuseness compounded by deliberate distortion, and it serves the purposes of warmongers, oil barons like the Bushes, and war industry profiteers like Cheney. When criticism of Islam is no longer used to justify the destruction of Muslim societies then I will gladly criticize Islam.

          • By putting Muslims in a separate box from the rest of society you are encouraging them to be seen as different and scary imo. You are equating all Muslims with the worst of Islam and patronizing them with the prejudice of low expectations.

            USians hate Muslims because they are scared of them. The only Muslims most of them know of are the ones that commit terrorist acts. It’s just as if the only Christians you knew were the ones that bombed your country to smithereens. About 30% of Iraqis believe that DAESH was created by the US and Israel to make Muslims look bad. Same reason – they don’t know any Christians or Jews personally, they just know the bad stuff about them. And atheists? Everyone hates us until they get to know us. Your attitude perpetuates this imo.

            There are not less rapes in Muslim countries, there are less rapes reported, and when you look at what happens to women who report being raped in many Muslim countries, it’s no bloody wonder. UN figures show that the more religious a society is, the more women are abused. (You can look up the figures yourself or wait until I get around to writing about it.) And those women suffer in silence. NZ has a problem with family violence (domestic violence). One of the indicators that the programme to combat it is working is that it is being reported more. When I was a kid that sort of thing was dismissed as, “Just a domestic.” Now it’s a crime, as it should be. You must be aware in your own country that reports of high numbers of sexual attacks on campus have been dismissed by right-wing media because the official numbers are so different. Even in countries that are generally pretty good for women, they do not report abuse of attacks for multiple reasons. I didn’t myself.

            Requiring people to wear a uniform is not the same as requiring women to wear particular dress, and to think the two can be equated is just faulty logic. “Maybe there is some coercion …” for goodness sake Paxton. It’s about choice, and whether you’re free to make a different choice. In many parts of the world if a woman wore anything other than the religiously imposed garb she would be stoned or beaten to death. A uniform that goes with a job/school can be taken off. Priests and nuns embrace their choice of the religious life. All religions who impose a dress code for civilians are wrong imo.

            Islam isn’t a race, it is a belief system. It should be just as open to criticism as any other belief system. Opposition to Islam is a legitimate position, just as opposition to fascism or Christianity or racism is. You are equating opposition to Islam with opposition to Muslims. Just as you have no time for the belief system of Christianity but have Christian friends, and the same is true of Islam/Muslim friends, and Judaism/Jewish friends, the same is true of me.

            You might have been told that Islamists are the greatest threat to world peace. I have not. The problem seems to be with attitudes that are prevalent in much of your country, and that is what needs to be fixed. It will not be fixed by attacking people who are doing nothing wrong in expressing their own opinion, but by people in those parts of your country that never see anyone different to themselves getting to know some new people. To equate Trump with Harris and Coyne is patently ridiculous, which you know perfectly well and you’re only doing it to get a rise.

            Criticism of Islam doesn’t have to be put in any historical context to be valid. I don’t have to justify my criticisms of Islam by proving anything about myself as long as the criticisms themselves are valid. The fact that what the US and its allies did in toppling Hussein had so many negative effects for millions of Iraqis does not justify a group of Islamist terrorists raping thousands of Yazidi women, throwing gays of buildings, and making women wear black bags, and using the Qur’an to justify that. And Bush, Cheney et al did not use criticism of Islam to justify their illegal war.

            And I can’t get over that you have doubled down on your justification of teaching kindergarten children to hate. Whatever faults there are on the Israeli side, and there are many, at least they don’t formally teach their children to hate one particular people and how to carry out a war, as if it’s some kind of game. They do teach them to hide in bomb shelters at the sound of air raid sirens, which is also something no child should have to live with.

    • And BTW, I happen to know Jerry has at least one Muslim friend because he put her in touch with me when I did my post about the CAIR Chicago website.

      • The Paxton marshall says:

        Today Jerry Coyne is irate because kindergarteners in Gaza Are given toy guns at graduation. I don’t recall him being similarly irate at the slaughter of.2000 Gazans in 2014, many of them children, by weapons far more powerful than Kalashnikovs. Perhaps he should consider that it is not toy guns that make them want to kill, but being herded like cattle into a pen and kept captive by Israel for 50 years. No anti-Islam animus here?

        • Seriously? You think it’s okay on any level to teach this stuff to kindergarteners? I don’t care who’s doing it, or what the situation is, it’s wrong to teach this stuff to children. How would you feel if that’s what your children were learning at kindergarten? It is never appropriate for children to be forced to learn to conduct war or kill, especially against a specific enemy, at such an age.

          This is not anti-Islam animus, it’s anti-child abuse. This film is one of the most shocking and disgusting things I’ve ever seen.

    • somer says:

      The regressive left have not only come to dominate the left, they have been the New Establishment for the last two decades. In so many workplaces people can’t say what they believe because the ideas spread via too much of University and media have meant that its become not nice to express a whole range of views unless you are a business person, financier etc. People who have no consequences are more likely to be very conservative, or maybe racist so its a race to the bottom of pretend there’s no real threat to modernity and liberalism to outright regressive left defence of anti modernity versus racism, imperialism or/and very conservative social views. The middle ground is burned black

      If people are not careful regarding not overtly offending regressive norms it could count against their career, or drastically reduce their friend circle. People are shamed and bullied into silence even though they know most people don’t actually believe the spiel that the West is responsible for the great bulk of evil in the world and that the world was somehow fundamentally nice in the pre capitalist past at least outside the West. Valuing the enlightenment does not make you a neoliberal or a laissez faire capitalist. Yet the regressives are the new Establishment. Like Nick Cohen says, concern for the poor in their home countries or for class is marginal; they are only concerned about The West, and they don’t care when their policies (e.g. deindustrialisation) impact on the working class. They have many wealthy or well off people, especially working in the humanities, in their midst, because the regressive line or at least failure to criticise it or contradict it has become orthodox for most of the humanities.
      The majority of internet sites and comments are dominated by the Regressive left and they troll those they disagree with endlessly. There are billions of sites that will be dominated by comments from people who agree with you whereas genuinely humanist atheists are effectively shut out of the vast majority of places by being swamped with adverse comment – if they are allowed to speak at all.
      Jerry doesn’t allow fundamentalist Christians to lambast him on his site and he doesnt allow regressives to hijack his site either. Its not like they don’t have a scallion other fora to dominate and direct the discussion. If the situation were different it would be another matter

      • somer says:

        Rotten spellcheck “Its not like they don’t have a squillion other fora” not “Scallion other fora!”

      • The Paxton marshall says:

        Somer, is there a single fact in this rant that could be confirmed or refuted? It’s just a bunch of meaningless generalities, that add up to nothing, except that you hate regressive liberals (whoever they are; one would never know from your characterization), and support Jerry Coyne’s blog policies.

  4. somer says:

    Re my comments of 1 June – though they are my views they are not really relevant to the topic and probably too heated and somewhat personal to Paxton so I understand you may well decide its best not to allow them!

    • I’m just slow at approving comments sometimes Somer – there was no problem with your comment. People can say what they want as long as they conduct themselves properly, and you did that.

  5. nicky says:

    A video with some horror content indeed.
    However, I found the diversity of views encouraging.
    In fact, the type 1 circumcision, if only the ‘hood’ is excised, is defensible, methinks. (not aesthetically though, immo the ‘hood’, contrary to the male foreskin, is generally one of the more charming features of the female anatomy) . It is not really a serious mutilation such as type 2 or infibulation.
    In this case ironically Islam could be used to improve women’s lot: reduce FGM to what could indeed be called FGC.
    [And for all clarity: I do not support any mutilation including ‘type 1’, it is just so much less mutilating and disabling]

    • Yeah, often in Indonesia just a part of the prepuce is cut and the clitoris isn’t cut at all (or just a pin prick for form’s sake), and as an intermediate step could help. On another post I did on this subject there was a women who commented that some women there are even asking for this form of FGM to meet religious norms and say it increases pleasure. (Though if it’s required to increase pleasure I suspect an inept lover is the problem!)

      • nicky says:

        Of course, the aim of FGM is to ‘ control’ women, which is not always acknowledged. A kind of mutilating chastity belt.
        The ‘hood circumcision’ does not do that at a all (reason why my opposition to it is mainly aesthetical).
        But I think here we have a common cause between fundamentalist Islam (as said, despicable as it is) and humanitarian/ humanist(?) goals: to end the horrible mutilation of millions of women/little girls. I would be willing to go very far in this accommodationist stance if it would achieve that goal.

  6. paxton marshall says:

    A particularly egregious example of a western political leader deliberately stirring up Islamophobia occurred in London’s recent mayoral election campaign. Prime Minister Cameron sent letters to Hindus and Sikhs supporting Zac Goldsmith and warning of the danger if Sadiq Khan (a Muslim) were elected. Goldsmith would “keep our streets safe from terrorist attacks”. “Sadiq Khan Will Put London’s Future and your Community at Risk”.” “Londoners will become lab rats in a giant political experiment.” Khan’s religion was not explicitly mentioned, but everyone knew it was Islam and that the fear-mongering warned of a Muslim takeover.
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/30/battle-london-mayor-dirtiest-fight-zac-goldsmith-sadiq-khan?link_id=81&can_id=&source=email-international-elections-digest-rodrigo-duterte-donald-trump-of-the-philippines-wins-presidency&email_referrer=international-elections-digest-rodrigo-duterte-donald-trump-of-the-philippines-wins-presidency&email_subject=international-elections-digest-rodrigo-duterte-donald-trump-of-the-philippines-wins-presidency

    Prominent critics of Islam howl loudly if college students disinvite a fellow Muslim critic who was scheduled to speak to a group of fellow students, but did any of them ever mention this far more serious intrusion of Islamophobia at the highest level of British politics? If so I missed it.

    • Actually they did. If you have access to BBC World, watch Dateline London. It’s on Sundays NZ time, which means Saturday afternoon for you. I can’t remember the time off hand but it’s an excellent panel discussion if you’re interested in British politics.

      And yes it was a disgusting tactic, and it didn’t work. British (and NZ for that matter) are less susceptible to that sort of thing than USians. In fact, in NZ playing dirty is more likely to get people voting against you than for you.

  7. Ken says:

    Unless you’re the current National govt, of course, who’s poll numbers seem immune no matter what they do.

    • They have gone down a couple in the latest poll, although it’s disturbing to see that Winnie has picked up in the preferred PM stakes. I’m not so sure that National is so popular, it’s just that Labour and the Greens don’t currently present a viable alternative. That may change if they prove they can work together effectively between now and the election and the Greens continue their progress in not being economically/financially scary started by Russell Norman. At least Labour looks unified now too, which will help a lot. I think David Shearer was a better leader and he should have been given more of a chance, but it’s too late to worry about that now.

      • Ken says:

        Labour have taken far too long to realise they need to present an alternative govt, not just the Labour party. They’ve finally made an agreement with the Greens, but what matters now is what comes next and how they build on that. As for the Greens views on economics, it’s more that the world is coming round to their views rather than any big changes they’ve made. The really scary economics is borrowing to fund tax cuts as National did, or their announcement today to spend $20b on the military instead of investing enough to get many more of the 25% of NZ children currently living in poverty out.

        • I can’t argue with any of that. Labour sometimes seem to think they should win the next election because it’s their turn, rather than presenting good enough reasons to vote for them. It’s good they’ve finally acknowledged they need to work better with the Greens, but I would argue that until recently they couldn’t even work with each other so had to get their own house in order first. And yes, more and more people are recognizing that a few Greens policies actually make sense. I think the Greens have got better at compromising, such as working with National when they can get at least part of their policy agenda enacted. Once upon a time they wouldn’t have done that.

          The military does need updating and it can’t be put off forever. Children should be a priority, but it’s not as if they’re doing nothing in that area. I’m not defending them, but it’s the sort of spending governments have to do sooner or later. I didn’t do a proper analysis of the borrowing for tax cuts thing at the time, so I don’t know if it was justified or not. There are circumstances where it can be economically justified, and our economy is currently better than most, so I’m going to withhold my judgment on that one. It might or might not have been the right thing to do. However, now that we’re back in surplus, there’s no justification I can see to do it again so if we get tax cuts next year, I would hope they’re well thought out and not just an election year bribe.

  8. Ken says:

    Last time they campaigned on a tax cut, so they delivered regardless that it was a bad idea and bad timing. It costs $1b each year. Next year it will be an election bribe, because that’s how they roll.

  9. Aaron Anderson says:

    Male circumcision is just as horrifying! It kills over 100 baby boys yearly in North America alone. It also destroys the 16 functions of the foreskin..Babies usually go into a state of shock, which doctors often mistake as sleeping. The pain alone alters the brain, often resulting in chronic anxiety, depression, and/or attention disorders. We’re also 3x more likely to have erectile dysfunction. I’ve suffered from all of these. We cannot continue to fight against FGM and hold MGM to a different standard. #EndThePain #HisBodyHisRights #HerBodyHerRights

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