A Tale of Two Head Coverings – a personal-essay

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break the chains of racism

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A recent incident in Auckland highlighted that racism is still very much alive in our country. The case of Fatima Mohammadi being denied employment because she wore a piece of fabric on her head is indicative how far New Zealand has yet to go on being the tolerant society we would like to think we are.

According to some in our society, this is acceptable;

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

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fashion headscarf

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The garb of two internationally-recognised women below is very acceptable, and the wearers held in high regard by many throughout the West;

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This is not acceptable, and elicits fear, prejudice, and intolerance;

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One of the four women above was denied employment at a job interview, because she wore a head-scarf.

Can you guess which?

Clue: she’s not caucasian.

By any measure, this is a form of racism. Those who mask their racism by insisting that employers have a “right” to base their employment decisions on race, religion, ethnicity, etc, are trying to hide their prejudice behind the mask of “free choice”.

“Free choice” ends where racism begins.

Otherwise, we end up with “free choice” being expressed like this in cafes, buses, and other public places;

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“Freedom of  choice” to be racist has a corollary – it denies another human being the right to participate on an equal footing, based solely on religion, race, etc.

Do we really want to see signs like this springing up around New Zealand;

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no_muslims

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Perhaps the most bizarre way  racism is couched  is the proposition that forcing muslim women to abandon their headscarves is a “feminist” stance. Like the “freedom of choice” excuse, the “feminist” excuse is pseudo-progressiveness which masks the real ugliness that is racism.

Forcing a woman not to wear a certain style of clothing is no more feminist than telling her what she must wear. It is another  Orwellian concept which most of us are already familiar with;

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Anyone who thinks that it is ok for Ms Mohammadi to be discriminated against has obviously never been discriminated against. Otherwise they would know the intense feeling of humiliation such discrimination creates.

The feeling of humiliation was one of my first lessons in the nastier side of human behaviour. As a child, I witnessed first-hand racist abuse meted out to my mother by local half-witted young men at an A&P Show. Two or three louts (I can’t recall the actual number) overheard her telling me and my siblings to stay close and not get lost in the crowd.

They obviously over-heard her talking to us in her native language. Being from Eastern Europe, her different language and accent was obvious.

They surrounded my mother and told her to speak English. They told her to go back home. They shouted menacingly at us. Powerless, we clung to her, until they got tired of their racist ranting and walked off.

Not the best experience for a six year old.

I’ve never forgotten the experience. That kind of thing sticks with you for the rest of your life.

There are those – usually privileged white, English-speakers – who will maintain that was simply “freedom of speech” when they publically harangued, intimidated, and frightened us.

It didn’t feel like “free speech”.

Quite simply, this is not the Kiwi Way. In 1981, this country fought apartheid in a far-away country and there were mass protests in the streets as many New Zealanders resisted  state racism in South Africa.

Aotearoa’s stand on South Africa’s apartheid system was instrumental in that country’s democratic reformation.

If business-owners can discriminate on grounds on a headscarf, what is the next grounds for discrimination? As history shows, the human capacity for bigotry can start small and seemingly insignificant, and end up with a holocaust that forever impacts on the collective human psyche.

It seems that we have much work left here in Aotearoa to address our own attitudes.

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References

NZ Herald: Editorial – Clashes of culture call for tolerance

Other Bloggers

The Daily Blog: Cottonsocks – Response to NZH editorial

Previous related blogposts

A taste of racism

Random Thoughts on Random Things #1

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special exemption

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= fs =

103 COMMENTS

  1. Still on the racist bandwagon Frank .Are you trying to create trouble.
    I see no racism just a personal decision by a shop owner.
    You are blowing this out of all proportion. the photos of Katherine and Dianna are from a visits to a Muslim country ,showing respect for their beliefs.

    • 1/ It is not a bandwagon Elle. Bandwagon is a jingoistic emotive word designed not to help an argument or discussion.

      2/ The decision of the shop owner is not based on health and safety considerations and is therefore based on prejudice; in this case of Muslims in particular and race by possibility.

      3/ If Katherine and Dianna can show respect to Muslims surely a New Zealand shop owner can as well. Islam is a recognised religion in New Zealand/Aotearoa and is accorded the same protection and rights of practice as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and even “The Force”.

      4/ Why don’t you look inside yourself and explain what it is about someone wearing a headscarf that frightens you so much that you choose to respond so emotionally.

      The problem is not really the people who wear headscarves; it’s the people that take exception to them…

        • “Blown out of all proportion”?!?! Racism is never “out of all proportion.

          Do you think Rosa Parks was “blowing things out of all proportion” when she refused to sit at the back of the bus?

          It may be “out of all proportion” to you, Elle – you’re not the one the racism was directed at.

    • So you don’t see any racism, Elle?? Is that because you are white and speak english maybe? You should try living in my brown skin. That might change your ideas about 100%. Until you’ve lived as a brown-skinned person you have no idea how many little racist things we have to put up with day after day, every single day.

      I’m in university and fairly articulate. But even I have to keep my mouth shut and bite my tongue when shop keepers follow me around their store, or I don’t get a job because of some glib reason.(I came top of my class at high school.)

      You see, Elle, it’s all about privilege. Your privilege is having a white skin and speaking english. That gives you immunity from the daily things we have to put up with. These are things you dismiss so casually. But if it happened to you? Man, that would open your eyes and never close them again.

      • I visited the Kingdom of Brunai ,I went shopping there , I was followed by the shopkeeper ,I was the only white person there ,they treated me with utmost suspicion , because I was different.i have visited india about 10 times and loved it and the people, I do understand how you feel but you wouldn’t get that treatment from me,i see all the people as the same just struggling souls, as for white “chicks” would have got the job,i know lots of white girls who have trying to get a job for ages no success, I don’t think NZ is racist,the people or most of them are very accepting of everyone but maybe I mix with nice people,
        the scarfe was the problem not the girl or her colour , it wouldn’t have been a problem for me, if she was qualified she would have had a job with me .

    • Elle, so you think discussing and fighting racism is making trouble?? Really?? Wow! I must remember that tomorrow when I have to confront racist attitudes all over again. Trying being brown for a day, girl, you’ll realy open your eyes to a whole new world of pain and humiliation.

  2. I see no racism just a personal decision by a shop owner.

    Would it be ok for the shop owner to discriminate on other grounds? Like, say, skin colour?

    If not, why is it ok to discriminate on some matters, but not others?

    Those are the issues we confront. I make no apology for doing so.

    • No you don’t like apposing opinions ,so you credited my comment as spam.I will repeat my comment if you like.

      Would the shopkeeper be pilloried and called racist if a patched gang member applied for a job and was refused because of their dress.
      The photos of Dianna and Katherine shows them wearing a scarfe in a muslim country out of respect for muslim beliefs.
      As a fashion statement scarves are fine for race creed or colour, or for religious purposes,its not the point . ive never seem Fatima before,and no disrespect to her ,she would be welcomed into my house.
      Just because someone dosnt like scarves worn in his shop dosnt make him racist,it makes him an idiot and unkind he could have said he has to see other applicants,but I don’t think he was racist.

    • Should you be forced to employ a member of say the Nazi party Frank if you didn’t feel comfortable with their political views?

    • In this case I don’t think it’s justified, but there are certainly other areas where a dress code would prevent her employment.

  3. Racism is often a personal decision. Being purely personal never means a decision can’t also be racist.

    I for one am grateful, Frank, that you can and do write as you do.

    • Ditto, George. I am ashamed that attitudes like Elle’s, and her racist friends, are given prominence here. They’d be more suited to Whaleeoil, where their racism is the norm.

      • im getting really angry now,i am not racist and my friends arnt either,its not about me ,I was commenting on all the fuss, I believe its best left now.i just think the shop owner was pilloried,
        I have never been rude to anyone of any colour in my life , my belief is that every religion is valid for those involved,i don’t condemn anyone,Im sorry if people suffer from being brown in NEW Zealand ive never been involved in it and thankyou Frank,for suggesting I would.

  4. So if a patched gang member applied for a job , would it have been racism to refuse on the grounds of his dress,if the Gang member had gone to human rights about discrimination would you support him.?Would you get all upset and call people racist on his behalf.

    • Would you deny gang members employment, is the first question that comes to my mind.

      Everyone who wants to work, should have the opportunity to work. That is almost a commonality between Marxism and Neo-liberalism (at least, I hope it is).

      • Yes but would you personaly employ them I think not, maybe a patched gang member should apply for a job in a shop. The press has caused much upset for this girl, maybe preventing her from getting another job,not all employers think the same.
        You come across as selfrighteous in this Frank , ive never noticed it before I have always praised your writing,but this piece is so emotive and using every bullet in your asenal ,its like a vendetta .

        • Once I had to fire a patched member for blowing to many shifts. The RM at the time was so shit scared he hand balled the duty onto me. The guy didn’t take it very well, he real angry, no blows, just a lot of threats, I’ll kill you, stuff like that. After awhile it was over and he was gone.

          A year latter I spot him walking up the street in full regalia. I thought right, if this is going to go down I’m going to get first. He was at least 20kgs heavier and hours a day worth of gym time more than I. Nothing less than decisive blows would assure my safety. I turned to my work mate, asked him for his weighty key ring and said this might get ugly, every one new the story so we were brothers in that moment.

          When he was five meters from myself he spotted me. I shaped up to him with key ring in fist. The guy went from a staunch get the fuck out da way walk to a hunched I’m invisible walk, then gave me a wide birth.

          I was very relieved the guy didn’t make good on his threats. All I wanted was to get back to work safely and make some money.

          Iv seen so many people in my time let failures get the best of them, and those failures cause the weak legitimate pain, from just there own failures.

          I suppose the moral of the story is if you can’t do the work. You can’t earn money.

        • You come across as selfrighteous in this Frank , ive never noticed it before I have always praised your writing,but this piece is so emotive and using every bullet in your asenal ,its like a vendetta .

          I regret you feel that way, Elle. This is not a personal ‘go’ at you, nor is it a ‘vendetta’.

          I would like to think it’s a rational discussion on a very important matter.

          Yes, it is emotive for me. If you’ve read my piece above, you’ll understand why.

          • Thank you Frank. I’ve read many of your blogs on gay rights and now sticking up for us brown folk. You give me and my brothers and sisters hope yet.

    • That’s a fair question Elle but just think it through a moment.

      Patched gang members belong to an organisation that has no legal or jurisdictional standing. They also have strong connections with illegal activities, crime.

      Muslim practicioners have legal and jurisdictional standing, and the organisations, as such, are religious and not specifically geared to illegal activities or crime.

      Having said that, many gangs are moving away from violence and crime and attempting to fulfill a more socially supporting role. Hell some of them produce lunches for free distribution to schools!

      There are also former patched gang members who seek to work and remodel their lifestyles. A number of employers show initiative and take such people on.

      Ms Mohammadhi is a New Zealand citizen and is a Muslim. She has no links to crime or anti social behaviour and simply wants to work, to serve. As Sikh men must wear a turban, she, as a Muslim woman, must wear a headscarf.

      You Elle, when you go out must wear clothes (as must I). This does actually deny us our right to be free, but it boils down to a trade-off between the right to be free (or make free choices) and the responsibility to live in harmony with a social group. Mostly, it’s a reasonable trade off.

      The problem with the “free to choose” ideology is that it crunches right over what used to be called common sense. Free to choose does not mean I can simply kill anyone because I find them a pain in the arse. Society has decided that killing someone is illegal. Similarly society has decided that discrimination on grounds that include religion and race, is a bad thing and is therefore illegal.

      Thus I cannot deny someone employment because they choose to wear a headscarf.

      So to me the argument you put is not comparable. You have to compare similar things and the examples you gave are not similar.

      Also, a reasonable reasoned answer to your question actually requires a lot more information than you give. In the case of the gang member we need to know his circumstances and motivation for applying for a job. It may not be as clear cut as you state.

      I’m afraid short statements or catch phrases cannot be processed in reasoned debate. That is why this is such a deep and difficult debate for so many of us.

      And above all do not be frightened by that which is different…

      • Yes minister you know best , you are right, a piece of cloth makes me very scared.
        I sat on a train in Melbourne and a group of ignorant teenagers were tormenting a young Chinese girl,everyone in the carriage ignored them ,I didn’t, I lit into them and told what a bunch of ignorant fools they were,they sat down and were quiet for the rest of the journey. The young girl held my hand and said thankyou. So forget your condescending attitude to me ,im not afraid of anything ,itseems you and Frank are living in the past ,I let my sad times go ,I suggest you do the same,the more you go on about it the meaner it gets.

        • Elle, you’re being very hostile. Frank is stating his views, but nowhere does he launch into you as he’s done numerous times with other right wingers. I think you need to dial it back. Or at least think through why you’re so defensive.

          • Priss what gives you right to decide im being defensive I am not and neither am I right wing,as I think the T D B knows. You believe what you want ,you people are like hanging judges ,you hear one person give an opinion and you are on to it,well im not interested in your biased view,

  5. To Editor my remarks were not spam,but genuine reply about calls of racism by Frank ,but I understand if Frank dosnt like my comment,they would be deleted ,shame its never happened to me before.

    [Elle, there is still a glitch in the system whereby many submitted posts end up in the wrong folder, especially the Spam folder. That has nothing to do with human intervention. I spend at least an hour a day, sometimes more, going through the Spam folder, approving legitimate posts, and trashing real spam (rayban sunglasses seems to have replaced offers for cheap viagra) and rubbish from trolls. There is no policy that I’m aware of to delete your posts. – ScarletMod ]

  6. You’re absolutely right Frank.

    The naysayers try to reduce it to a “where-do-you-draw-the-line?” argument which is actually totally misrepresenting the problem.

    I’m old enough to remember the difficulties Sikh workers for London Transport and British Railways had concerning their need to where a turban. Nowadays it’s just considered “normal” by Brits.

    The real problem is the “us-and-them” logic which sees “us” belonging to a group that we consider “normal”, therefore anyone not of that group is “abnormal”.

    I really don’t know how to defeat that fuckheaded logic or why it still persists today.

    I do know that if you have not been on the receiving end of this logic you have no concept of what it is like or that it has even happened.

    The reality is that just because you cannot see a weed doesn’t make it not exist.

    Those denying accusations of racism do not realise that they are making that judgement from their own race and upbringing not from a universal truth.

    I’ve always believed that such utterances tell me more about the utterer than the utteree…

  7. I belong to an organisation of Indians, Muslims Chinese etc , I get on well with all of them,they would laugh if they heard me called racist.No this is not a MY best friend is a indian .my doctor is not white but I choose him over other drs.
    Your views are misguided and wrong.

      • Thanks, but that is not an answer to my question.
        We are apparently talking about racism, her race is central to the issue.

    • In case you missed it Richard, she wasn’t white. If she was white, she would’ve been hired no question. Have you ever been in a shop where the attendent gives better service to a white chick and practically ignores me? Yeah it happens. Not that palangi understand.

      • Mmmkay, the non white race.

        But that’s not the reason she gave for the discrimination.

        She said it was because of her head dress.

        “I never thought I’d have to go through such a thing because of something I wear”

        “It wasn’t because of my lack of experience; it was a direct target to my hijab”

        She says she was told she would be eligible for the position if she didn’t wear a particular style of headwear.

        If the headwear in question identifies its wearer to be a certain race, might you please identify the race it identifies its wearer as.

    • Leaving a question unanswered merely increases its apparent significance.

      I’m intrigued, what was the woman in Auckland’s race?

  8. whilst i don’t know whether this is a dress code or racism issue,if that’s the dress code fair enough.I don’t believe in special treatment based on what invisible magic man you believe in.This particularly applies to the full face clothing that Muslim woman are forced to wear in many countries, but sadly many of us on the left side with the oppressors in situations relating to Islam to the detriment of many Muslims.

    I would recommend people read the excellent Maryame Namazie at freethought blogs.comhttp://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2015/11/05/warwick-tcd/

  9. Is this about racism or is it about religion? I thought the wearing of a particular sort of headscarf denoted religious belief, not a person’s colour. Shouldn’t we keep them separate?
    I ask this as I have zero issues with a person’s race but I think religion is a load of todge. As an atheist, I might very well think twice about employing someone who is deeply religious, as I suspect we probably would not get on that well together in the long term, just as I probably wouldn’t employ anyone who smelled of tobacco smoke as I cannot abide smoking since kicking it myself a decade ago. I don’t employ anybody, by the way.
    I cannot do anything myself about another’s feeling (perceived or real) how another is regarding them, however it is perceived they are being regarded. All I can do is deal with people, one by one, as they present themselves to me and vice versa.
    We all make some sort of instant value judgement about people when we first meet them and I defy anyone not to. Many things will be included in this, it will be someone’s sex, height, weight (I know that as someone who is not exactly slender) their face (I definitely know that too as someone has extreme resting bitch face), age (I know that one too as I have often experienced expectation you maybe “can’t cross the road on your own”) and indeed, the colour of their skin. I defy ANYBODY not to do this. It is what you do with it afterwards.
    And the skin thing is not confined to what is referred to as colour, I am now seeing a very sensitive time ahead for a young family member who is extremely freckled and has an underbite which leaves that child with a naturally downturned mouth (receiving some treatment for that). In this day of selfies and cyber bullying I will be watching out for the child very carefully as even at this young age, I see a growing awareness of otherness” and wonder what he/she might be facing among peers. I CAN feel that as I was isolated as a kid, being much bigger than all the others, which was not the norm when I was a kid.
    I don’t wish to diminish what racism is, I cannot walk in the shoes of PoC but I do walk in the shoes of one who’s a bit on the hefty side, someone with a naturally scowly face, who’s getting on a bit.
    We all have crosses to bear (odd I should use that analogy I know) some are more burdensome than others.

  10. Richard, don’t be such an arse. You’re starting to sound like Gosman with your nit-picking questions.
    If you don’t understand what racism is, say so. Plenty of people will be able to educate you. But if you’re playing games with a woman being discriminated against because of her ethnicity/religion, then that shows you in very poor light.
    Don’t play silly games when racism is affecting people’s lives. It isn’t cool.

    • I understand exactly what racism is, thankyou Theodore. It is discrimination based upon race.

      You don’t like my questions because you can see where they lead: to the inescapable conclusion that the discrimination described was not racist. It was bigotry based on religious grounds, not upon racist grounds. Even the victim recognised this to be the case and complained accordingly – and with justification.

      Conflating all forms of discrimination and bigotry under the term racism is counterproductive and an abuse of the language.

      • Richard are you seriously more concerned about definitions than discrimination? Really? So we need to categorise each little bit of discrimination before confronting it? That sounds like the crap Gosman would usually say.

      • Your more concerned about the “abuse of the language” rather than the racism meted out to this woman? That’s pretty tragic, Richard.

        I’m not 100% certain, but I’m fairly sure Martin Luthor King didn’t check his Thesaurus before taking on the racist establishment in the Southern states of the US.

          • Oh , Merrial, now you’re attacking Martin Luthor King???

            Like Elle, you’re getting so defensive it’s just getting ridiculous. Dial it back, for heaven’s sakes!

            If you and Elle aren’t closet racists then you’re certainly digging a deep hole for yourselves with your strident defensiveness.

            Remember that this was about a young woman denied a job because of her religion and ethnicity. If it had been a pakeha wearing a headscarf, this discussion would not be taking place. Surely even you can understand this?

            • Priss: “Oh , Merrial, now you’re attacking Martin Luthor King???’

              Nope. He did that all by himself. It is necessary to remind people that there aren’t any saints. Including King.

              By the way, his second name is “Luther”, as in “Here I stand, I can do no other” Martin Luther. Not as in Lex Luthor from “Superman”.

              Fun Fact: King was christened “Michael”, but changed his name to Martin.

      • Richard Christie: “the inescapable conclusion that the discrimination described was not racist. It was bigotry based on religious grounds, not upon racist grounds.”

        That’s exactly right. This has been the point that Elle has been patiently trying to make as well. I hope I’m not misinterpreting you, Elle!

        But unfortunately, many of those commenting here have got a bee in their collective bonnets about racism, seeing it everywhere except where it actually exists, and thereby greatly debasing the term, almost to the point of meaninglessness.

        They seem to be unable to understand that this is what they’re doing. Instead of debate, some resort to insult and ad hominem attacks (along with a prodigious number of question or exclamation marks). They’ve been doing the same thing on CottonSocks’ posts elsewhere on this blog.

        I think that those of us attempting to put a countervailing view are wasting our time.

        • Thank you Merrial at last some one who see’s the big picture, I think most of these people just see someone attacking so joined in the abuse without even checking what I was trying to say,some of the names have never been seen before .I think its people who are John Keys bloggers, designed to create a diversion by having a false flag to deflect from TPP and Flag debate. The call racism is always known to bring out arguments.
          Im quite sure the ladies in the picture who are wearing scarfes wouldn’t apply for the job but if they did and got the job they would remove their scarves behind the counter.Im not saying Fatima should remove hers,but why use emotive pictures of royalty to show they wear scarves as well. I see you got down ticks as im sure my comments here will,but I excuse their repetitive need to be right.

  11. The comparison you are making between the headdresses is simply not valid, unless you are propositioning that if Kate Middleton demanded to continually wear that headdress every single day of work, she wouldn’t have faced similar ‘discrimination’.

    • So many negative spitefull trolls on this site. Down ticks ,I suspect National trolls , most of these names i.ve never seen before on this site.
      Blah Blah.

      • No, Elle, not National party trolls. as a lifelong Labour supporter, I voted you down. Your trivialisation of the treatment meted out to Fatima Mohammadi is sad. You don’t seem to understand that this is not about the rights of the shop keeper to practice discrimination. Such a right does not and should not exist.

        If you think confronting racism is “blowing things out of proportion” I think think you need a reality check. Nelson Mandela spent much of his life fighting racial discrimination. It doesn’t matter if it big or small, discrimination has to be fought.

        You should rethink your attitudes.

      • Hell no, Elle. Downvoted more likely by people who see this for what it is, and that’s racism.

        Frank, well written my boy. You’ll get that Pulitzer one day!

        • priss I think you should rethink your attitude, its far more imflametary thatneed be . Most businesses have dress codes, if the scarfe, shawl , was against the shopkeepers dress code,then he had the right to point it out ,get off your bandwagon,and stop telling others what to do.

  12. Sorry Frank. Usually you write good articles but this time you’ve bombed.
    You get 4/10.
    Your different picture inserts are muddled, like your ideas.

    (BTW those royals wore that garb WHEN VISITING the OTHER country!)

    “WHEN IN ROME DO AS ROMANS DO”

    NO it’s NOT about race, nor religion.
    It’s NOT about skin colour.

    It’s about CULTURE CLASH.

    Has it occured to you that the men in her culture secretly consider Kiwi women as indecent & promiscuous and dressed like sluts?
    Does that bother you at all?

    Do they come here to become “Kiwis”?
    NO.
    And let me tell you, if they outnumbered us, they would soon have NZ women conform to their dress codes.

    You have got a bad case of uber political correctness at the expense of commonsense!
    And I totally concur with Elle

    • Thankyou cassie you got down ticks as well, Frank wont shift on this because hes getting a good number of resonses which is the name of the game,and of course they side with him which is ok with me .
      To write an article and justify it with his families treatment when he was a child is misguided , most of us have a story to tell about our childhoods but don’t choose to hark back to it
      Sorry Frank I had a lot of time for you, its fine to defend racism but not to the extent you lose sight of the fact the shopkeeper apologised for his action ,is that not enough?
      try to see both sides of the story.

      • Elle: “Frank wont shift on this because hes getting a good number of resonses which is the name of the game,and of course they side with him which is ok with me .”

        Or, have you thought that people are siding with him because he happens to be right, and that you and your bigotted friends are from a by-gone age where european was equated with superiority? Have you?

        It suited you to support Frank when he wrote stuff that was dear to you. Now he’s challenging your views and that just got a whole lot uncomfortable huh? He’s sometimes written about things I disagree with but I don’t go into print trying to destroy his credibility, I think through what he’s trying to say. Maybe you should try it sometime.

    • Wow, Cassie, islamophobic much??

      THEY COME FOR OUR WOMEN!! – you’re practically screaming it out! This blogpost really is bring the racists out of the closet.

  13. Frank, this is a tendentious and pernicious piece, full of distortions, false equivalences and non sequiturs. I don’t doubt that you feel strongly about racism, but this is not an accurate account of it.

    “…forcing muslim women to abandon their headscarves is a “feminist” stance. Like the “freedom of choice” excuse, the “feminist” excuse is pseudo-progressiveness which masks the real ugliness that is racism.”

    Sorry, but that’s just bollocks. Nobody is forcing Muslim women to do any such thing. And even were it the case, that wouldn’t constitute racism.

    Don’t present pictures of the late Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Cambridge wearing the headcovering that is obligatory in Muslim societies, to somehow bolster whatever argument you think you’re making. I’ll bet if they’d had their druthers, they’d rather not be wearing that get-up! They’re only doing it because it’s expected of Western women in those countries. A point made by some commenters elsewhere….

    And how the hell do you get from headscarves to archival pictures taken in apartheid USA long years ago? Talk about a non sequitur.

    “They surrounded my mother and told her to speak English. They told her to go back home. They shouted menacingly at us.”

    Yes, there is a long and dishonourable history of ESL speakers being treated that way in NZ. It’s bullying, Frank, not racism. I seriously doubt that those guys thought you were inferior; they probably weren’t thinking at all, really.

    On the other hand, we’ve had people move away from us in buses in Germany, when they heard us speaking English. It’s just Germans doing a form of what those men did to you, but a bit more polite.

    “Quite simply, this is not the Kiwi Way.”

    Oh yes it is. You yourself say so; and so do many of the rest of us. That proud tradition of tolerance and a fair go: it’s just a comforting myth we tell ourselves, like that other one about punching above our weight. New Zealanders are just as likely as any other nation to be groupish and suspicious of outsiders.

    But it still isn’t racism.This country is not racist; our laws, conventions and political institutions are predicated on all of us being equal. And long may it last. That and our commitment to free speech.

    • These people are not interested in rational thought Merriel.
      they down ticked your reasoned comment,people love to be part of the
      attack wether justified or not.

      • Elle & Merrial, I disagree with your arguments, that’s why I down-voted you. Nothing to do with Frank at all. Please give us some credit for independent thought!

        • Frank wrote the emotive story I disagreed with that,thats my right .I am NOT a racist ,so I will say my piece Many time Ha ha,this is all getting boring now.

      • Elle: “people love to be part of the
        attack wether justified or not.”

        Yes, I’d noticed. Like circling sharks, maybe?

  14. Oh and if anyone is still a little confused over what racism is, take a look at what Australia is doing at the moment – dollars to dougnuts, racism is right up there in their little grab bag of motives.

    • Rae: ” take a look at what Australia is doing at the moment – dollars to dougnuts, racism is right up there in their little grab bag of motives.”

      Well, certainly racial prejudice, anyway. However, the White Australia policy appears never to have entirely gone away. And that’s certainly racist.

  15. Elle/Merrial, you two are in a bit of a self-imposed echo-chamber here. No one is taking the slightest bit of notice of your racist ( oops, sorry, I mean “spirited defence of womens rights”) tripe.

    Ok, carry on.

    • You obviously are samwise,you cant resist can you ,judgemental much.
      you just love being part of the crowd,who can throw stones ,so go away.
      I have finished with this spiteful rubbish ,wont be visiting this site again its boring so any comment you make wont be seen by me

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