This was inspired by a powerful post from The Opinionista a while ago.
I’m sick of being a racist for criticising or even discussing religious ideology. I’m sick of saying I have a right and a duty to criticise any ideology I consider harmful.
I’m sick of being an “Islamophobe” when I talk about Muslims having their rights infringed by other Muslims in the name of Islam.
I’m sick of being the only lawyer in a legal department who seems remotely concerned about freedom of speech and other human rights.
I’m sick of being an oddball or a killjoy for not laughing about infant genital mutilation with my colleagues, when a Jewish colleague strolls into the office talking about (yet) a(nother) circumcision ceremony he’s just attended. I’m sick of hearing colleagues express greater interest in the food served in the synagogue that morning than the human rights abuses committed there. I’m so sick I would rather vomit over the food than eat it. I’m sick of people who think taking a knife to an eight-day old baby boy’s penis for no medical reason is acceptable if it has an intelligent-sounding Hebrew name like “Brit milah”, and I’m sick of people drawing shockingly false parallels between unnecessary, harmful circumcision and medically vital, beneficial vaccinations against deadly diseases.
I’m sick of leaving the office after a hard day’s work and giving up my free time to attend an anti-Sharia debate or discussion, only to hear a colleague loudly announce to everyone in the office, including my superiors, “Enjoy your BNP rally.” I’m especially sick of hearing this from a gay colleague who still doesn’t understand what Sharia law has in store for him despite my repeated explanations.
I’m sick of deflecting charges of racism against me by saying the bravest, most vocal and most inspiring opponents of Sharia law I have met, and whom I am privileged to call my friends, are men and women from “exotic” countries like Iran, Sudan and Pakistan, and I’m sick of people only then grudgingly entertaining the possibility I might not be racist. I’m sick of their inability to comprehend the inherent rights and wrongs of an argument, and I’m sick of lowering myself to scrape the underside of the intellectual barrel by saying pathetically, “some of my best friends are…”. I’m sick of trying to understand how the large organ inside some peoples’ heads lets them conclude Iranians, Sudanese and Pakistanis are allowed a view on these matters, but white Englishmen are not.
I’m sick of liberal, educated people thinking a peaceful, law-abiding infidel is not allowed an opinion on Islam, which is likely to be the defining issue of the century he dies in.
I’m sick of people thinking I must be a Muslim to have an opinion on Sharia law. I’m sick of people thinking I must be a woman to have an opinion on women’s rights. I’m sick of people thinking I must have a vagina to defend the right of those with one not to have it mutilated. I’m sick of people thinking I’m obsessed with genitals when I’m simply obsessed with leaving the genitals of babies and children intact. I’m sick of people thinking I need to be gay to defend the legal rights of homosexuals, and I’m sick of people who call themselves tolerant and who wouldn’t ordinarily dream of using the term ‘gay’ in an accusatory sense sneeringly suggest I’m gay for defending homosexuals’ legal rights.
I’m sick of people degrading democracy to a crude numbers game of majoritarianism. I’m sick of hearing the vocabulary of democracy and human rights – “tolerance”, “diversity”, “choice”, “leaders” – forcibly hijacked to justify harmful religious ideologies which are murderously intolerant, which stamp out diversity, which forbid choice, and which are implemented by so-called leaders with no mandate whatsoever other than the ability to spread fear.
I’m sick of my colleagues’ middle-class smugness, masquerading as faux concern for animal welfare, in jumping on a celebrity chef’s bandwagon and lecturing others on free-range food, whilst being too ignorant or morally invertebrate to criticise inhumane kosher and halal slaughter. I’m sick of being a racist, an anti-Semite or an Islamophobe for saying meat eaters like myself have a moral obligation to minimise the suffering of sentient creatures when they’re slaughtered, and I’m sick of being told I have no right to an opinion on animal welfare as I’m not a vegetarian.
I’m sick of hearing my colleagues sexually climax when Costa replaces Starbucks in the work coffee bar – and hearing them virtually sob that “it’s still not as good as Caffè Nero” – but not expressing the blindest bit of interest when I tell them the canteen is now serving halal food (other than to call me a racist or an Islamophobe).
I’m sick of our elected leaders – left, right and everywhere in between – thinking an education system that promotes segregation on the grounds of religion (and effectively, of race) is part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
I’m sick of our elected leaders’ inability to discuss, let alone tackle, these issues, and I’m sick of the far right colonising the vacuum like the opportunistic, deadly bacteria they are. I’m sick of people carving society into ethnic and religious “communities” which only encourages the far right to carve another community: the white one. I’m sick of people not understanding we all live in the same community.
I’m sick of being called aggressive, militant or intolerant when I respect the rights of people of all faiths and none, and when this motivates me to effect change, and when I seek this change exclusively through the rule of law.
I’m sick of people so intoxicated on their own freedoms they’re not even aware of them, and I’m sick of them assuming everyone has these freedoms. I’m sick of people thinking attending a protest is suspicious, anti-social or criminal behaviour.
I’m sick of being asked by puzzled fellow lawyers why I’m “so interested in human rights” [it’s because I’m human] and I’m sick of them unwittingly unveiling their own selfishness by assuming it’s because I’ve had my own rights infringed in the past. I’m sick of western-educated lawyers’ inability to understand I don’t need to have my own rights infringed to speak out against human rights abuses against my fellow humans.
I’m sick of being told Islam means peace when I know it means submission. I’m sick of being told Islam reveres women when I see how Muslim women are
treated mistreated by Muslim men, in the name of Islam, in “Muslim countries” or the “Muslim world”, and I’m sick of the very idea that any country or any world can have an official religion, any religion.
I’m sick of being sexist when criticising a medieval shroud which anonymises and debases women and which fuels a “culture” of blaming them for sexual violence they receive. I’m really sick of women calling me sexist for this and I’m really, really sick of women who consider themselves “feminists” doing so. I’m sick of people being more bothered about the few women who want to cover their face in public than the many who don’t, but must.
I’m sick of women turning a blind eye to the plight of their fellow women and young girls or even justifying their patriarchal, misogynist mistreatment with post-modern, culturally relativist intellectual nothingness dressed up as feminism. I’m sick of being more concerned for women’s rights, especially Muslim women’s rights, than most educated, professional women I know, whilst still managing to be an Islamophobe. I’m sick of women who aren’t concerned about the emotional, sexual and physical abuse of women and girls, baring their teeth and shrieking, “SEXIST!!!” at the blandest, most inoffensive joke involving a mother-in-law, or a dishwasher.
I’m sick of being a racist for believing boys and girls with dark skin have exactly the same legal rights as those with white skin, and I’m sick of people laughing when I say, “this is why we call human rights, human rights”.
I’m sick of people assuming all Muslims speak with one voice. I’m sick of people assuming all Muslims want to live under Sharia law. I’m sick of people wondering why there aren’t more liberal/secular Muslims willing to speak out, when non-Muslims like myself are so enthusiastically ostracised for criticising Islam and Muslim “leaders”. I’m sick of people not understanding that if it’s this hard for me to speak frankly, it’s even harder for those liberal/secular Muslims out there to do so.
I’m sick, sick, sick of it all.