On and Off the Fence

Excellent. There were several people reminding us that many French Muslim and Muslim-background women do in fact support the ban on the hijab at Twisty Sticks yesterday, as I mentioned. And today there are several more. Very good indeed. The prevailing assumption that there is Only One Right Way to think about this issue has been shown up, frankly. I have a lot to say about this, but only time to say a little of it now.

A tangential matter: the Waiting Socialists point out that they weren’t ‘scolding’ me, as I said. No, true, they weren’t. I did think of that as I typed the word – then typed on. Too lazy (or in a rush) to think of a better word. But I should have, really, because that’s just the kind of thing I hate (well one of the kinds of things, I hate lots of kinds of things): conflating questioning and disagreement with attack or rebuke. In fact that was really stupid of me. If they had a comments place I would say so there, but they don’t – however they clearly read me just as I read them, so it comes to the same thing. This is tediously self-referential, I know, but it’s also not – because mistakes like equating interrogation with scolding are among the many many ways we go wrong in our thinking. I suppose I think there’s just no such thing as too much attention to the ways we do that.

Allow me however to take issue with or perhaps expand on one thing they say:

We note that, once again, none of our questions, or those of others who don’t entirely agree with her, has been answered – except one: Ophelia now writes as if she has got off the fence that she depicted herself as sitting on in her previous posts on this issue. That, at least, we are glad about. It never was a very convincing posture.

Well…maybe. But I’m not sure if I’ve really been sitting on the fence, or if it’s just that I keep going back and forth. Or is that exactly the same thing? (Not so much sitting on the fence as swinging on the gate, perhaps.) At any rate, I do go back and forth. I do see drawbacks either way, as well as advantages. But about the convincing part – true enough. My real preference is for the ban – but I also do see why other people object. The objections have merit. But I do think the anti-ban side has a remarkable tendency simply to ignore or discount the arguments of the other side. I think there are real tensions in this issue.

And one final random item (time presses today), Norm Geras’ highly amusing birthday poem to Kant at normblog. I’ll give you just a flavour, including the sly quotation from B&W:

For we are little crooked folk
Yes, even learned bookèd folk
Are crooked little timber folk

Though clever supple limber folk

And Kant it was who said ‘Hey crooked!’

He could have said ‘Your claws are hookèd’

Yet he did not, he spared us that

He didn’t see us like a cat

He saw us more like twisty sticks

Like rough bent planks, no easy fix

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