They shape their traditions in turn
The latest from Taner Edis on multiculturalism.
Liberal language about “choice” and “force” is very misleading here. No one chooses who they are. Our choices take place in a context of unchosen circumstances, and unchosen but organically acquired loyalties. Particularly conservative religious people (a pretty large chunk of the human species) are very much embedded in unchosen traditions and communities. It’s not so much that they are forced into anything as that belonging to a community is an integral part of who they are.
Yes, but again, they don’t all simply accept everything that results, and they don’t all want simply to accept everything that results. We’re not obliged to just assume that everyone is happy with whatever slot she was born to. On the contrary, it’s better, more humane, more progressive, more just, more reasonable to assume that other people are like me and are capable of wanting more, or less, or better, or different. This applies doubly or triply to people who are ’embedded in unchosen traditions and communities’ that consider them underlings. That is, obviously, not to say we should kidnap all such people and force them to be more like us, but it is to say that we should be concerned about their ability to choose what to be.
A good number of secularists seem to have a model of religion as an authoritarian, top-down imposition. Devout religious people who perceive themselves as freely living their faith do not see things the same way. Not because they are brainwashed, but because they routinely experience their community as a place full of negotiation and give-and-take. Religious people are agents. They are shaped by their traditions, but they shape their traditions in turn.
Some are; some do; but not all. Some can’t, because they’re not allowed to. Some don’t, because they’ve never had the opportunity even to develop the thought. Not all religious people get the chance to ‘shape their traditions in turn.’
[G]iven the much fuzzier boundaries between communities than persons, I would expect any sane communitarian view should make plenty of allowances for interference. Slavery, for example, may well be a point where enough is enough.
‘May well be’??
Here is some nice community life for you.
A woman Muslim councillor says death threats and sexual harassment calls have made her change the way she dresses and reconsider being in politics…The mother of four said: “It’s really horrible. A male voice said ‘We are going to get your parents out of their grave and put you there’ and ‘We know where you and your kids live and we are going to show you!’…One talked about how he liked my western clothes, my tight jeans, my body parts and sexual acts he would like to do to me.”…Last year Rania Khan, another of Tower Hamlets’ women Muslim councillors, received hate mail after photos were taken of her without headscarf at an Eid party.
Well? So? The councillors and their tormentors are all ‘in a context of unchosen circumstances, and unchosen but organically acquired loyalties’; they ‘routinely experience their community as a place full of negotiation and give-and-take’; they are agents; they are shaped by their traditions, but they shape their traditions in turn; so there is no problem, right? They live in a community, and living in a community is good, so if women who have the gall to be councillors and dress as they see fit are subject to sexist sexual threatening phone calls, that’s just part of community life.
I don’t actually think Taner thinks that – yet it is what he’s saying. What can I tell you?