Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Spanish voice of reason on Islam, clothing and schools

"Islamophobia, the successor to our centuries-old tradition of anti-Semitism. In short, the rejection of the other…

One of the most commonly heard arguments these days runs along the following lines: if progressives want to remove crucifixes from classrooms, how can they accept the presence of female pupils wearing hijabs? What this question overlooks is that the classroom is a public space, paid for with taxpayers’ money, and run by the state, and where teachers and pupils of different faiths meet. The state is supposedly secular, so there can be no official use of religious symbols.

But wearing the hijab, the kippah or a crucifix is a personal decision, and should be seen along the same lines as wearing a particular team’s soccer shirt, or a t-shirt with a band name on it.”[ Javier Valenzuela writing in El Pais.]

My own logic would also suggest that unless there is a bigoted slogan on a t-shirt or depicts acts of violence then it should be allowed… (Or unless a student is half-naked) I see no reason to bother with them.

The enormous amounts of time and energy spent in schools (and recently the media) discussing and dealing with the subject of student’s clothing is ridiculous.

And why is this such a popular subject? Mainly, because it is a tangible subject. You can see it. It therefore suits the small-minded. It is easier to deal with than bullying, racism or the reluctance of many parents to be involved in their children’s education. So it gets the most attention, even though it does not deserve it.


kat said...

It can also lead some parents to send children to more accomodating private schools or to homeschool---both options can reduce diversity in public schools.---a loss to the students of a great experience

Brett Hetherington said...

Thanks for the comment, Kat. I think you're absolutely right that it is a loss to students of a great experience when diversity is reduced in this way. When tolerance disappears we end up with greater homogenisation and one culture dominating instead of the sharing and appreciation a number of cultures. That is sad and it can breed mistrust and further bigotry.

Germà Capdevila said...

I agree 100 per cent. At the end, the atavic fear to the different is behind all this reactions.

Brett Hetherington said...

Thanks for the comment, Germà. Yes, fear. Fear of the unknown can sometimes even be fear of oneself, or at least a part of ourselves that we don't want to face up to.