Bomb Throwing Pacifist

If you took that happy, smiling guy from the box of Quaker Oats, handed him a bottle of gin and a rifle, and pissed him off to a point where he decided he wasn't going to take it anymore, you'd get a little something like this.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Notes from the Front

I had another interesting dream last night, but once again spent too much time dilly dallying and have now mostly forgotten it. I think that it was another Battlefield 2-type dream and that it somehow involved driving voer sand. Perhaps a beach? In any case, no matter.

Last day of G-Street work will be tomorrow. I'm sad in a way, but not overly so. The people were cool and it was fun playing with textiles, but the job itself was only marginally interesting and the pay was crap. As such, while I will miss some of the people from an emotional point of view, work has little hold on me.

The Belgian jacket is coming along nicely. I finally finished redrafting the pattern onto butcher paper so I can keep the original in all its sizes while at the same time having a useful pattern to work off of. Tomorrow I will pin out the pieces and cut if I have the time before heading out to visit Heather, although the weatherman said snow and as such there may be some difficulty. We'll have to see. I also found some nice buttons to go with the jacket: black with frosted white centers. I'm not sure what they're made of, but they are very cool looking and fit the jacket perfectly (or at least as perfectly as we'll get without going fabric-covered, which I'm not sure I wanna get in to).

Had a bit of a difficult philosophical moment today. Basically in a barrage on e-mail being sent out with regards to my Quaker friend being held hostage in Iraq, my local meeting is going to be holding a vigil with a local Muslim group, the All Dulles Area Muslims (ADAM). In the e-mail they mentioned that the two groups have worked together before, especially after the mosque was vandalized on 9/12/01, 9/11/02 and 9/11/03. But they also mentioned that the Quakers had come to the defence of women who were the victims of hate crimes for wearing the headscarf. And for me, that was somewhat problematic as it reopened old wounds left over from the Franco-Muslim situation I've been struggling to come to grips with.

On the one hand, I must say that I loath the veil from many different angles. I find it offensive to my liberal, secular traditions. To me, it is an overt expression of conservative religiousness on the same level as that shown by Christian fundamentalists- pompous, prudish, and alien. Likewise, it also offends my feminist side as it is to me a symbol of oppression of Muslim women. Yes I know some apologists would take isue with me over that, but I feel that I have resolved my view there strongly enough to withstand academic criticism (sure, some women WANT to wear the viel, but that doesn't change the fact that they have to wear it because they are women and not men, thus resulting in an inherently oppressive situation unique to their sex). And there's the fact that I just get into too much trouble with vieled women at the store. Always trying to haggle and bargain, although to their credit, that's mostly Indians and Bengladeshis and Pakistanis, and as such not really a truely Arab thing.

On the other hand, I know in my heart that I should be tolerant. Hate is always hate even when it is directed at something you find repugnant. Many times the women didn't choose to wear the viel but were coerced into it. Even if they weren't and do choose to wear it, it's not like the choice was truely free. It's part of their culture and they no more chose to wear the veil in many respects than I chose to wear a tie to work or wear socks with my shoes. I mean, I could chose not to, but I'm already prejudiced towards due to my upbringing.

Furthermore, even if they did chose to wear it, so what? As repugnant as I find their religious traditions (many of them anyway) it seems to me that they are just expressing their free exercise of religion and as such should be free to do what they choose. I don't mind the Amish or the Hasidic Jews (that much ;)), and even us Quakers were once pretty well rescricted to simplicity of dress and speech, marking us out as different. I imagine part of it is just deeply-ingraiend prejudice on my part left over from my pre-epiphany days. I mean, after all, what am I going to say? "Screw them muslim women with their headscarves. I think hate crimes should happen to them and go unpunished as they deserve it?" Hell no. I mean, the dark, twisted, beast inside of me says so, but deep down I know that's wrong. They are free to wear their headscarves and as much as I dislike it, I feel that it is important to protect them for exercising their religious traditions, as much as I dislike them.

Oddly enough, I don't feel the same way with regards to Sikhs or other turbaned men...just the women for some reason. With regards to the men, I'm very protective of them and would kick the living shit out of anyone attacking a "diaperhead" or "sand nigger." Yet with the women...I just don't know. I guess it's a terminal case of "Damn it woman! Why don't you free yourself and do what you want to do?! Take that viel off." Oh well. Like much in life, the answer isn't always easy or pleasant. I just need to take a deep breath, open my heart, and see the light in everyone and let go of whatever anger or grudges I may feel. It just isn't always that easy. I'm just sad I'm not a better person.
Marc with a C, 12:47 AM


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