Having it all
The problem with soothing official boilerplate is that it tends to ignore incompatibilities – it tends to say ‘Yes yes of course we can do everything, of course we can fly through the air and creep along the ground and dive beneath the sea, all at the same time.’ It tends to say everyone can have everything everyone wants, next question please. The Department for Education and Skills reaction to the MCB’s helpful educational guidelines for instance.
The Department for Education and Skills has no involvement with the document produced by the MCB. We have already provided schools with a wealth of official guidance, which makes clear they should take into account, and recognise, the needs and cultural diversity of all their pupils regardless of their background….It is important that education provides the right ethos which encourages high aspirations, good citizenship and mutual understanding, and that schools recognise the cultural and faith needs of all their pupils.
Right, except the only problem is that you can’t do all those things. That’s why all this business about recognizing the putative ‘cultural and faith needs’ of everyone is not a cheery straightforward uncontroversial matter. Shall we spell it out? Yet again? Might as well, I guess. Maybe if we keep on spelling it out, over and over again, eventually spokespeople for departments will realize they can’t get away with soothing boilerplate on this particular subject any more. Okay: to spell it out: some cultural and faith needs include the need to prevent half of humanity from having high aspirations. Does that clear it up at all?
Okay I’ll try to be even blunter. Some cultures and some faiths don’t want women to have high aspirations at all; as a matter of fact there is nothing, literally nothing, that some cultures and traditions hate more than women with high aspirations. Some adherents of cultures and traditions like that shoot women with high aspirations in the head, precisely for the crime of having high aspirations. Other such adherents set fire to such women. So you can’t do both. You can’t do both, you can’t do both. Sad, isn’t it – but you can’t. You have to choose. You can do only one. Either recognize putative cultural and faith needs, or encourage high aspirations. Those two goals are violently, tragically incompatible. Hideously incompatible. Repellently incompatible. You have to choose one, and you have to choose the right one. You have to learn how to say ‘The hell with cultural and faith needs.’