bermans

Veil of Ignorance

Last month, in Tablet Magazine, Paul Berman attempted to mount a defense of the French prohibition of Muslim veils (the infamous “Burkini” ban, or, earlier, forbidding headscarves in schools). There is a faint bit of cheekiness to it, in its appeal to French cultural as the be-all-end-all of the argument. Why don’t we respect their culture? This is just the way the French do things! Maybe it is time to check our American egos, and acknowledge that other countries have valid ideas of governance in their own right? To ban the veil is, Berman argues, simply an example of the French value of secularism – sometimes referred to be its French term, laïcité

If his is meant to be a subtle jab at the lazy invocation of cultural relativism that some members of the left regularly indulge in, then well done. If it is meant to be more than a satire, though, there is a problem. The French ban on the veil is indeed an example of laïcité, though Berman actually objects to the use of the term since for him laïcité is nothing more than “the Jeffersonian principle of a wall between church and state, in its French version.” This is true, in the same sense that the Revolutionary Courts are the “Marbury principle of judicial review, in its Iranian version.” It may fill a similar niche, but it is shorn of all the limitations and checks that make the concept worth emulating. Laïcité is “separation of church and state” in the exact way that hyperbolic American conservatives have breathlessly condemned it: taking out the “state” and substituting in “public life.” A ban on headscarves in public schools (or kippot – oddly unmentioned by Berman given that they too are covered under the French law) would not be an example of separating church from the state –it is an effort to excise religion from public life. It does not govern statecraft, it governs individuals exercising their religion as individuals on those occasions where they step outside the home. 

The reason why American (and French) liberals object to the ban on religious garb worn by private citizens who have the temerity to enter the public square is that this sort of compulsory secularism is not liberation even (in Berman’s oh-so-vague clawback) “in principle”. It is not compatible with religious equality for anyone, and in practice its burdens fall heavier on minority groups whose religious practices will always seem louder simply because they are different (notably, crucifixes are not banned so long as they are not “obtrusive”). If secularism takes this form, it is simply a different form of theocracy – our personal rights stop to the extent they offend the (ir)religious orthodoxy.

If Berman is looking to build opposition to the veil, a misshapen argument that butchers liberal values of secularism is unlikely to do the trick. Perhaps he would do better to make common cause with an Egyptian MP who is pitching a veil ban on the grounds that it is a “Jewish” practice. After all, just as in certain circles it is sufficient to argue against a practice by labeling it “Islamic” (or “Islamist”, which – whatever merits it might have as a carefully-used term, here is not being used with care), in others there isn’t any more powerful argument against a given behavior than persuading everyone that “its Jewish”.

via The Debate Link http://ift.tt/2d0gpAY

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Pictures from Peripheries / MAZIPOS' second exhibition
MAZIPOS' second exhibition, PICTURES FROM PERIPHERIES, hosted by artist Branislav Nikolic at the Jalovik's annual residency in Serbia. The selection of works display a wide range of disciplines and nationalities. Participant artists: AYHAM JABR - RODOLFO SOUSA - ARAM HUERTA - PETR BAŘINKA - EMRAH KARAKURUM - DACE SIETINA - INARI RESÉNDIZ - JUAN PÉREZ LACRUZ - SOFIA ANTZEL - COLLODION COLLECTIVE - FABIANA PARRA - MILAN LADYKA - PABLO ROJAS - IZABELA OŁDAK - DANIELA KRAJČOVÁ - OTO HUDEC - DANIEL BERMAN - KATKA PĚKNÁ - LISE WULFF - TÖRÖK TIHAMÉR - PATRICIA TODORAN - GONZALO SILVA - KSENIJA PANTELIC - MARIJA MANDIĆ - BRANISLAV NIKOLIĆ

@MAZIPOS second exhibition, PICTURES FROM PERIPHERIES, hosted by artist Branislav Nikolic at the Jalovik’s annual residency in Serbia. The selection of works display a wide range of disciplines and nationalities.

Participant Artists: AYHAM JABR - RODOLFO SOUSA - ARAM HUERTA - PETR BAŘINKA - EMRAH KARAKURUM - DACE SIETINA - INARI RESÉNDIZ - JUAN PÉREZ LACRUZ - SOFIA ANTZEL - COLLODION COLLECTIVE - FABIANA PARRA - MILAN LADYKA - PABLO ROJAS - IZABELA OŁDAK - DANIELA KRAJČOVÁ - OTO HUDEC - DANIEL BERMAN - KATKA PĚKNÁ - LISE WULFF - TÖRÖK TIHAMÉR - PATRICIA TODORAN - GONZALO SILVA - KSENIJA PANTELIC - MARIJA MANDIĆ - BRANISLAV NIKOLIĆ

6

When Jadzia was killed off, I was angry at Terry for leaving. When she got the role in the sitcom “Becker” so quickly it looked to an outsider much like she said. Or that a better offer came along and she’d abandoned DS9. But I was wrong, like a lot of people back then.

A few years ago she said for the first time I can recall that she’d wanted to stay in a reduced role. And that the powers that be said “No, all or nothing.” I couldn’t believe it. I was so mad at all of them; Behr, Moore, Berman.

But it wasn’t all of them. Not Moore. Not Behr. It was just Berman and/or the studio. But the others didn’t even know what was going on! No one but Terry and Berman knew.

Berman of course denies it, but then what do you expect? There are dozens of stories about him being difficult and anal. None about Terry being difficult or greedy. Terry willingly gave up acting for over a decade to raise her son, and is only just now trying to get back into things.

Oh and that last paragraph from Berman? How you can’t do a reduced role because you want to do movies? Yeah. Colm Meaney had that arrangement from day one. They arranged his shooting schedule to give him weeks off at a time. So he could keep doing film roles. So that’s just a fucking blatant lie from Berman.

I really hope no one lets this stuff alter their love for Trek. You see here that the other creative people on DS9 didn’t know about what was happening and were outraged to find out after. That they would have stopped it.

Ira Behr, whom I’ve always respected, became visibly ill according to Terry herself. I’ve no doubt he’d have quit in protest if he’d known at the time what was happening. So let that be the thing you remember most: that whatever horse shit Berman might have done, there were good people who did stand up to him (on other occasions) and would have here if they’d known.

In TNG, Gates McFadden was fired for season 2 by Maurice Hurley for complaining about sexism. Patrick Stewart threatened to quit if she wasn’t brought back and Hurley let go. There are many examples of the good people standing up for what was right on the various Trek shows. Remember that. Remember all the good. It doesn’t erase the bad, but it shows that good people who care can make a difference and do more often than not.

Do you remember the way the girls
would call out ‘love you!’
conveniently leaving out the “I”
as if they didn’t want to commit
to their own declarations.

I agree that the “I” is a pretty heavy concept
and hope you won’t get uncomfortable
if I should go into some deeper stuff here.

—  David Berman,  Self-Portrait At 28