Liberal hypocrisy, the hijab, and the Iranian chess boycott

For my own sanity, I’m going to stop looking at the Huffington Post, as there’s nothing there of value unless you’re a Regressive Leftist or need your daily Two Minutes of Trump Hate. But I did want to mention one salubrious piece in that otherwise odiferous venue brought to my attention by Grania. It’s by Zubin Madon, and called “When chess grandmatster Nazi Paikidze said no to the hijab she also unveiled liberal hypocrisy“.

If you’re a regular here, you’ll know that American women’s chess champion Nazí Paikidze-Barnes is boycotting the Women’s World Chess Championships in Iran because the women players will be forced to wear the hijab (headscarf). FIDE, the international chess association, chose that venue and is supporting the hijab requirement, despite the fact that it violates their own rules against sex discrimination. The U.S., Danish, and British chess federations have also decried the hijab requirement and supported Paikidze-Barnes, who started a Change.org petition that now has nearly 16,000 signatories.

This was pretty big news, and even the New York Times had a piece on Paikidze-Barnes’s boycott. But the PuffHo? Ha! While they take every opportunity to laud hijabis, including Olympic athletes who wear it, they say nothing about women who reject the oppressive garment. I’ve searched on PuffHo for any mention of Nazí’s boycott, and found. . . nada. But of course they, and many others, were all over themselves praising the “bravery” of U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who, after all, chose fencing simply because it was the one sport she could engage in while wearing a hijab.  Muhammad was not brave, nor a hero, and risked nothing by fencing while wearing a hijab. In contrast, Paikidze-Barnes risks her international chess ranking by standing up for women’s freedom of dress. She is the true hero.

But (probably due to an editorial error), Medon’s piece slipped into the PuffHo, and it tears the liberal media a new one for extolling hijabis while ignoring or even denigrating women like Paikidze-Barnes who refuses to wear a garment that is mandatory in Iran, enforced only on women, and comes from religious dictates about “modesty.”  Medon articulates what most of us have realized, but which is largely ignored by the liberal media: when there’s a conflict between women’s rights and the supposed oppression of Muslims (perceived as people of color), despite Islam’s generally oppression of women, the Left throws women under the bus. Unfortunately, those who oppress Muslims the most are other Muslims, who in many places subjugate half their population as well as gays, atheists, and those of non-Muslim faiths. Compared to that oppression, which effectively bars women from having any career aspirations and leads to the execution of gays and apostates, the “Islamophobia” loudly decried by places like the PuffHo (and that often conflates bigotry with criticism of Islam) is much less harmful.

Medon:

This latest controversy confirms what I have suspected all along—publishing articles glorifying modesty-culture as empowering, have little to do with defending a Muslim woman’s right to choose. If it were indeed about defending women’s freedom, left-leaning media outlets would have eulogized Nazi Paikidze’s choice with the same eloquence as they did a hijabi fencer’s choice to cover-up. They didn’t. Which makes the Western leftist’s (well meaning) romanticism of the veil nothing more than a patronizing exercise in virtue signalling.

Defending women in headscarves in the West from anti-Muslim bigotry (“Islamophobia” is a non-word) does not require pandering to Islamofascists in the East; or dismissing the agency of a White woman exercising her own freedom to choose. By failing to show solidarity with Paikidze, Western liberals have also failed the vast swaths of non-observant Muslim women like Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa, who reject the idea that a scrap of cloth defines their cultural identity.

I have previously written about how the left’s apologism and double standards on Islamism are harming the very minorities they claim to protect. Fearing that right-wing bigots will co-opt any criticism of Islamic dogma, the left has unwittingly ended up pandering to the most regressive elements within these minorities. Their pseudo-liberalism is undoing the hard-won victories of Western feminists who have struggled for decades to bring about emancipation.

Part of the “controversy” mentioned by Medon refers to an op-ed by Azadeh Moaveni in the October 7 New York Times (Moaveni is described as “a lecturer in journalism at Kingston University and the author of “Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran”). Moaveni makes three insupportable statements: that the majority of Iranian women “wear the head scarf by choice”; that pressure from the West will not only be ineffective at changing Iranian law and FIDE’s dictat, but “plays into the hands of conservatives who claim that the West uses women’s rights as a tool to humiliate the pressure them”; and that change in Iran must come from Iranians, not dictated to the country by “outsiders.”

First of all, the evidence that most Iranian women choose to wear the headscarf is nil. Before the revolution in1979, turning Iran into a theocracy, most women did not wear the headscarf, and there were huge protests by Iranian women when the government made the hijab mandatory. The government put down those protests. Sites like #Mystealthyfreedom continue to show Iranian women (always anonymous) doffing their hijabs, eager to let their hair fly free.  Here’s just the most recent post:

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-8-47-34-am

Further, nobody seems to even think about the simple fact that in a society where there’s social and familial pressure to be “good girls” or “good Muslims” by wearing the hijab—not to mention, of course, the religious policing and laws—the concept of “choice” becomes nebulous. What is a “choice” can only be seen in a society where there is absolutely no stigma attached to not wearing the hijab. 

Finally, there’s no evidence that pressure from non-Iranians will slow “progress” in the rights of Iranian women. I deeply resent the idea that “outsiders” aren’t allowed to criticize the oppression of women (or gays and apostates, for that matter) because such criticism slows progressive change. What that really amounts to is a call to retain the status quo, and an assertion that women’s rights differ between Iran and the U.S.(It reminds me of how the segregationist South resented the intrusion of “outsider” northerners with their ideas about integration.) It’s pure moral relativism, though to be fair Moaveni notes that many of her contemporaries don’t like the mandatory hijab.

It’s like saying we shouldn’t criticize the horrible injustices of North Korea because we must let the North Koreans change their own society. The problem is that in both North Korea and Iran, people aren’t free to object to the government. One could equally well make the case that the criticism of women like Paikidze-Barnes is heartening to Iranian women, giving them examples of nations where women have not only greater freedom of dress, but greater freedom to criticize their government.

The notion that we shouldn’t criticize Islamic oppression of women is argued in a similar editorial by Sarah Harvard at Mic.com 

“Iranian and other Muslim women have to be heard directly,” Keshavarz said. “Unless their own voices are heard and appreciated, what we know about them will remain second hand, diluted and often misrepresented and misunderstood. Boycotting an event that will recognize the abilities of the Iranian women and uplift them — in the name of supporting these women — is quite ironic to say the least.”

According to Keshavarz, there’s a white savior complex narrative inherent to Paikidze-Barnes’ boycott that permeates the media airwaves and leaves Iranian-women in a deprived position.

“White savior complex”? Give me a break. If there’s any complex operating here, it’s the “Let brown people oppress each other as much as they want” complex.

79 Comments

  1. Flemur
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I’ve searched on PuffHo for any mention of Nazí’s boycott, and found. . . nada

    Try the first sentence of the linked article.

    Not having read more of the article than that one sentence, the hypocrisy, liberal or not, is evident when participants in a women’s only event complain about sex discrimination.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Did you see that the linked article was not in the Huffington Post but the WASHINGTON Post?

      As for your saying that it’s hypocrisy for women to complain about discrimination in a women’s only event, you’re just dead wrong. Men don’t have to wear special clothing at a chess event in Iran.

      Now apologize or you’re banned.

  2. Graham
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Is Paikidze-Barnes necessarily trying to make statements about Iranian society and about the need to confront oppression? Could it not be more simply that she just wants to play chess and is refusing to be dictated to about having to put a probably distracting piece of cloth on her head whilst she does so?

    • eric
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Yeah that was my thought too. “Ms. Paikidze requests she not be forced to wear a headscarf” /= “US government pressuring and trying to humiliate the nation of Iran.”

      Though IMO this is a fairly common mistake made by authoritarian regimes; since they have pretty strong control over their media and public figures, they assume the US exercises the same level of control, and thus our media is a proxy for our government. That’s why you often NK and even China demanding the US state department do something whenever the NYT or some other media outlet publishes something embarrassing about them. So in this respect, its probably understandable why the Iranian government would equate “Ms Paikidze’s personal opinion” with “US government diplomacy.” They’re still wrong, but their mistake is one authoritarian regimes commonly make.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      “Is Paikidze-Barnes necessarily trying to make statements about Iranian society and about the need to confront oppression? Could it not be more simply that she just wants to play chess and is refusing to be dictated to about having to put a probably distracting piece of cloth on her head whilst she does so?”

      That could be the case, but you would have to assume her stated reasons on the change.org petition is a lie.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Read her petition and her statement. As Mike said above, you’d then have to say she was lying. I happen to believe what she says were her reasons. And she doesn’t gain ANYTHING by not going; she can only incur losses.

      If you had read what she said (and you should have since there are links in my post), then you win the James Randi Award for supernatural powers: discerning what Nazí really thinks!

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I believe what is being well described is a media firm, such as Huff Post to carry the banner for the bias and hypocrisy of modern journalism. They are simply no different from Fox news or MSNBC or most of the others. Everything comes with such a slant it is no longer credible information.

    When we have all chosen up sides and report only from our own preferred view, there is no longer any freedom of speech that we think we stand for. It is exactly the same thing being done at some of the universities and it all goes into the same ugly basket.

  4. eric
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    What is a “choice” can only be seen in a society where there is absolutely no stigma attached to not wearing the hijab.

    Well, I wouldn’t demand that level of extremity as a criteria for it being called a choice. Very few decisions in life have “absolutely no stigma attached to” one outcome or another. Even something as trivial as choice of football jersey become non-choices under that definition. In reality, we consider decisions made under some social pressure to be choices, but the higher the pressure becomes, the less choice-like the decision is.

    Having said that, I would agree with you that wearing a hijab in Iran will probably only meaningfully become a choice when (a) its legal, and (b) women don’t fear being beaten by either strangers or relatives when they do it. That’s the de minimis requirement; we should certainly aim for more social acceptance than that, but if Iran achieved that, claims that wearing the hijab (in Iran) is a choice would at least pass the laugh test.

  5. GBJames
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    sub

  6. Bill
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Can i ask you Jerry, and the other people here who agree with him, why do you care so much about what happens in Iran?

    Shouldn’t muslims and other peoples be free to decide what they want even if you disagree with it?

    I can understand getting bothered with muslims and other people living in your country enforcing their own cultural and religious beliefs on the native population, but why do you care so much about the people living in Iran?

    Because it seems to me like this a rather lame attempt at accusing other leftists of hypocrisy.

    As for the whole moral relativism charges, maybe some people don’t think they have any business criticizing other nations? Just some food for thought.

    • GBJames
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      “Shouldn’t muslims and other peoples be free to decide what they want even if you disagree with it?”

      Shouldn’t Muslim women be free to decide what to wear?

      As it happens, Muslim women are humans and deserve to have their human rights respected even if they happen to live in an oppressive theocracy.

      Why on earth would you think that criticizing other nations is somehow off-limits?

    • GBJames
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I neglected to add these other questions:

      Do you think criticizing South Africa during the Apartheid era was wrong?

      Are you uncomfortable criticizing Israel for their settlement policies?

      • colnago80
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Oh, the hypocritical leftists in the West have not the slightest difficulty criticizing Israel. Poster child, one Glenn Greenwald, whose Intercept web site regularly criticizes Israel while ignoring the actions of the Hamas terrorist who run the Gaza Strip relative to homosexuals. Homosexuality is a capital offense in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Greenwald is himself gay and is living with his partner in Brazil.

      • Bill
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        I honestly don’t care about Israel at all.

        And since you brought this point up, why do so many atheists (particularly of the “new” kind) care so much about jews and Israel?

        Aren’t you all supposed to be atheists?

        • GBJames
          Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

          And South Africa during the Apartheid era?

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

          I understand Bill, you are out there just to get a rise out of people. So why are you interested in atheists, new or otherwise? It seemed obvious from your earlier comments that you were not interested in Iran either. So too Israel. Maybe you should tune back in when someone mentioned a country you are interested in?

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Being an atheist doesn’t mean not caring about people who aren’t.

          Being a NZer doesn’t mean I don’t care when I see injustices in other countries.

          Being a white woman doesn’t mean I don’t care about issues faced by those who don’t fit that demographic.

          Being a human being doesn’t mean I don’t care when animals suffer.

          I never thought being an atheist made me any less selfish than any other decent human being, but perhaps the word “decent” is of significance here.

        • Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

          Bill,

          Either learn to think, stop trolling, or go away. New atheists care just as much about oppressed Muslims (if not more) than about Israel. You don’t have to be religious to care about bigotry against the religious.

          Jebus.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted October 19, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

          Israel is an example of secular enlightenment.
          An example of the values developed when people are freed from the yoke of religion.
          It is of course not a perfect example but it is those values that are being defended rather than anything else.
          The negative aspects of Israel have been criticized here and I pretty sure that if it turned into a fundamentalist Jewish theocrasy, which has also been criticised here, that w.
          That, and a fairly recent historical example of the necessity for a homeland for a certain demographic. A demographic the destruction of which is part of the charter of one of their neighbours and implicit in the beliefs of many more around them.
          That is why I support Israel anyway.

    • eric
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      I think the primary objection in this case is against FIDE, for selecting Iran as a venue while agreeing to this rule. The argument being made is that FIDE’s own written policies state they will not permit discriminatory conduct against women at their events. The venue-provider demands the right to discriminate against women at a FIDE event. So therefore, FIDE should either change venues or insist that the venue-provider make an exception to their rule for the time and location of the tournament.

      Now I’m sure a lot of people on Ms. Paikidze-Barnes’ side would also like Iran’s rules on headscarves overturned in general. However, this particular protest is much more narrow in scope and request.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Others will no doubt comment more completely, but I will just say that hypocrisy exists among some regions of the left, and that pointing that out (to them) is not wrong nor lame.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      That is exactly the kind of mind set that countries like China, Russia, Iran and others have. Oh, it is none of your business to get into the internal decisions made in our country, just mind your own business.

      It is a global world Bill, try joining it. There is nothing lame about it.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Can i ask you Jerry, and the other people here who agree with him, why do you care so much about what happens in Iran?

      Because Iranian women are women, and therefore human beings?

      Does empathy stop at national boundaries?

      • Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        “Does empathy stop at national boundaries?”

        For some apparently.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Bill,

      Please go away. Why should I care more about American oppression than oppression in other countries? Do women’s rights matter only in America? Should we be more concerned with poverty in Indiana than the far worse poverty in India? It’s bang for the buck, my friend,and you don’t seem to get it.

      • Zado
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        Do women’s rights matter only in America? Should we be more concerned with poverty in Indiana than the far worse poverty in India?

        Many Americans (perhaps most) would answer yes to both those questions, at least on practical grounds. Their attitude, in fact, is the root of the left’s moral decline in the West. Every last whiff of internationalism has blown from the sails of modern liberalism, carried away by post-colonial theory and the legacy of the Vietnam War. What we’ve been left with is exactly what we see: an egalitarian ethos that is amplified within our borders, but which fails to echo beyond them. “Let the oppressed women of the world figure out feminism for themselves; what we’ve got to do is close the wage gap!”

        It doesn’t matter that globalization is proceeding apace, that every day the world gets a little smaller. Many Americans, on the left and the right alike, still imagine that protectionist/isolationist policies are our best bet to resuscitate the American dream, and fail to realize that our fate is only getting more and more bound up with the fates of foreigners in exotic lands.

        Bill is simply exemplifying this attitude. We may disagree with it, but it’s very mainstream nowadays.

        • Posted October 18, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          I think you’re right to an extent, and I think I understand the regressive left’s attitude in this respect more than I ever have. I don’t think it’s that they necessarily care about women, gays, and atheists, and apostates being oppressed in America, more than those in third world countries, but that they fear the potential reaction of speaking against it, and potentially causing national outrage which will result in military intervention, or even just sanctions which, as they often do, will harm the disenfranchised more than the perpetrators of the oppression.

          I on the other hand, and perhaps naively, think speaking up is useful in it’s own right. Showing support for, and solidarity with those fighting against oppression, at a time where voices can be heard across borders in the internet world, can empower those fighting against oppression in their own countries. Sanctions, and military intervention are not the inevitable result.

          • Zado
            Posted October 18, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            Indeed, they are not. Take South Africa in the 80’s, for example. I don’t know how much the boycott of its businesses contributed to the change of regime, but surely it had some kind of impact. And there are all kinds of NGOs that can influence developments in other countries, if only minimally.

            But those are practical matters. In a way, I’m more interested in the beliefs that underwrite them, and which influence people’s behavior. I’m most interested in beliefs that deserve criticism, such as the widespread reverse-Orientalism that is part and parcel of leftist thinking nowadays, summed up best by PCC above: “Let brown people oppress each other as much as they want.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      … maybe some people don’t think they have any business criticizing other nations?

      Now there’s the attitude that got us Rwanda and Darfur — not to mention apartheid and Shoah.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Women competing in the chess competition aren’t all Muslims. Why should non Muslims be forced to comply with the religious edicts of Muslims?

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Your point, if you have any, seems to be that it is poor manners to rant against murders, as long as one is (still) alive. We have no business criticizing other people and their murderous ways.
      (If this sounds like an exaggeration, where is Neda Agha-Soltan now? Or Sohela Darvishkohan?)

  7. TJR
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    In other words supposed “liberals” are telling us that we should support the dictates of the Iranian ruling class.

    Its remarkable how often leftists end up as apologists for ruling classes.

  8. Christopher
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    🎼 where have all the liberals gone? Long time passing. Where have all the liberals gone, long time ago. Where have all the liberals gone? They’re virtue signaling, every one. Oh when will we ever learn? Oh when will we ever learn?

    With a nod to Pete Seeger’s Where Have all the Flowers Gone?

  9. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    All resistance to social progress, from resistance to rights of minorities, and resistance to womens’ rights, had always said ‘yes, we should change but it is too soon.’ They also always said that pressure to change will spark resistance to change. These calls to slow progress always came from the conservatives.

    Funny (but not ha ha, funny) that we are seeing the same pattern of resistance here, only now from the Regressive Lefties.

  10. Historian
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Many religions of the extreme variety compel women to dress in certain ways in the name of “modesty.” Of course, the definition of modesty and the need for it is determined by men. When a nation is a theocracy, such as in the case of Iran, standards of dress become national policy. Through being subjected to relentless propaganda, many women in these nations accept dress standards as proper and the morally correct. The power of propaganda in many areas, properly implemented, can be quite effective in getting the masses to believe in things they would not otherwise believe. Goebbels proved this 80 years ago.

    Is the boycott advocated by those not falling for the propaganda the correct thing to do? Beyond doubt, although whether it will get the mullahs to change policy in the short term is highly unlikely. Short of war, moral suasion is the only hope to enact change, but this may take decades. The decision to hold the tournament in Iran was a big mistake. If you don’t like the cultural practices of a certain nation, you shouldn’t go there. Imagine there exists a society where nudism is the norm, although people can optionally wear clothes. Such a society would consider nations that require the wearing of clothes backward and repressive. These nudists should not come to this country. My point here is that there are no absolute standards as to what is immoral or repressive, particularly if one rejects the notion that moral standards are handed down by God. If society X believes the practices of society Y are abhorrent, X has two choices to change Y: moral suasion or coercion. The latter has been often used. In World War II the Allies fought, in part, to end the mass slaughter by the Nazis. I undoubtedly believe they were “right” in doing so. But, I also understand they were fighting to impose a morality that the Nazi leadership had convinced Germany’s populace was one they should not share.

    • eric
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Imagine there exists a society where nudism is the norm, although people can optionally wear clothes. Such a society would consider nations that require the wearing of clothes backward and repressive. These nudists should not come to this country.

      You don’t have to imagine, There is such a society. Read the article, its quite interesting. Yes, they find western clothing mores sexist and backwards, particularly the requirement for tops for women but not men. But they are also astonished that we brazenly show our belly buttons.

      Its like there’s some minimal irrationality in human cultures. You can eliminate all the -isms as bet you can, eliminate even clothing hang-ups. But when you do all that, people just invent some other weird rule to obsess and feel anxious about.

      It actually makes a bit of sense; all our closest species relatives have hierarchical societies, where top apes monitor and regulate the behavior of lower status apes. It may be we have similar impulses, and that many of us can’t be happy unless we’re monitoring and regulating the behavior of our fellow apes about something.

      • Historian
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        I went to the link you cited and also to where apparently the article was originally posted.

        http://recursed.blogspot.com/2016/09/a-visit-to-nari.html

        Unfortunately, it appears that the story is a satire and there is no such nation of “Nari,” which is Iran backwards and the religion “Malsi” is Islam backwards.

        • eric
          Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          Well, there’s egg on my face! Thanks for the response.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Took me about three paragraphs. It was the mention of ‘five times daily prayer rituals’ that gave it away, after which trying ‘edat’ backwards confirmed it.

          I’m just too cynical.

          Pity.

          cr

      • harrync
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the link to that get piece of satire – had me going for a while, because it well fulfilled the first requirement of satire: it really seems possible at first reading. One comment noted it was very similar to an old L. Sprague de Camp science fiction story.

        • harrync
          Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

          On a different topic – is there any way to disable auto-correct? As far as I can tell, it is basically an annoyance with little if any benefit. I checked – when I miss-type “geat” [instead of great] it auto corrects to get.

      • jeremy pereira
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        I’d actually be a little bit surprised if a man participating in an official chess tournament would be allowed to do it topless. If it happened, I expect the next tournament would probably have a regulation requiring “shoes and shirt” or equivalent.

        • Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          Actually, men in my culture go shirtless only to sunbathe, and sometimes to do hard work or sport (but not chess).
          Putin’s habit to pose shirtless exposes him to constant ridicule.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          I can see some loopholes there.

          When I was at engineering school the committee, trying to civilise the engineers, passed a rule that ties had to be worn at the AGM. So of course, next AGM, half the mob turned up wearing top hats and ties and underpants (‘boxer shorts’ in US). Only.

          cr

  11. eric
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    These calls to slow progress always came from the conservatives.

    Well, in 1854 in the US the call for slow progress came from the Democrats. This lead to the formation of the Republican party, who reject the slow change idea in favor of immediate, complete, damn-the-torpedoes change instead. However, (a) that may be the exception that proves the rule, and (b) how times have changed.

    • eric
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Ah, sorry, this post was intended as a response to Mark S’s @9 post.

    • Historian
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      A complete response to your comment about the formation of the Republican Party in 1854 and the policies of the Democratic Party would require an extended essay and this is not the place for that. In regard to you characterizing Republicans as calling for immediate change, presumably in regard to slavery, this is not correct. They did not call for the immediate end of slavery, just the prevention of its spread to the territories. If you are referring to abolitionists (who were not Republicans), such as William Lloyd Garrison, then you have a stronger case.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        You are correct on that, very hard to reduce any response on that matter. Many seem to throw Lincoln in with the abolitionists yet he was far from it and said so in many speeches. The Kansas-Nebraska Act probably sealed in the Republican Party attitude as much as any number of events. But it was painfully clear they did not want to do away with slavery as much as the south wanted to insist it was so.

  12. Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    “when there’s a conflict between women’s rights and the supposed oppression of Muslims… is much less harmful.”

    That perfectly articulates my sentiment. I don’t understand how so many on the left can seemingly be more concerned with the relatively minor harm experienced by the small population of Muslims in the west than that which more than half the population suffers in many Muslim dominated countries. If they didn’t claim otherwise I would suspect them, on this topic, of being the nationalists, and xenophobes they often rail against.

  13. Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I don’t get why it should be relevant that most women in Iran wear the hijab by choice, even if it were true. The point is that they’re not free to choose otherwise (so, they’re not free to choose). It’s like justifying the violation of LGBT people rights by saying “most people are heterosexual”.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Right – even if all but one woman in Iran actually wore by choice, the *one left* who is told she must still suffers an injustice.

  14. Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    But (probably due to an editorial error), Medon’s piece slipped into the PuffHo …

    Ya cold-blooded, brother …

    Nice piece by Zubin Medon.

  16. Sastra
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there was also a simpler explanation behind the failure to appreciate the stand taken by the chess player: the belief that refusing to follow customs in someone else’s country is “rude.” Or gauche, or insulting, or mean.

    To some people, politeness is one of the most important virtues. Being impolite — particularly to a non western host — is inexcusable vice. The larger issue is easily lost among mental analogies to keeping shoes on in a Japanese house or refusing to wear a hat in a sacred temple. If you’re a liberal sort, you can imagine a xenophobic boor behaving boorishly and well, you know better, don’t you?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      It is worth considering, as all matters should be considered from a variety of perspectives. I can see how those who do not support the protest would do so because they see it as rude to not accept the custom.
      But in this case, of course, it is important to be rude since the custom singles out women, and is intrinsic to their general oppression and lack of value. If it were required that both men and women were veiled, then maybe we would have less problem with it.

      • Sastra
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Iirc the “respect our customs” excuse was given by the Iranian authorities — and they gave it because they knew it would resonate with most people.

        Plus, most people know that religious rules generally make no sense so they’re used to not searching for or thinking about the meaning behind such rules. A country with a sense of humor could probably get away with all sorts of shenanigans by claiming it’s an article of their “faith.” Imagine chess players hunched over the boards while wearing socks on their hands, tin foil hats on their heads, and strings of macaroni around their necks. “Please, it is our sacred way.”

        Oh, good enough.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      I too think this is part of it – the idea that it is ignorant not to follow the customs of another country. However, the situations like the Iranian one demonstrate an ignorance of where the custom comes from.

      There are often exceptions made to customs. For example, no one complains about someone not following a certain custom if there is a good reason for them not to do so such as a disability of some kind. There are no reasons Iran would accept for breaking their dress code for women.

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      “The larger issue is easily lost among mental analogies to keeping shoes on in a Japanese house or refusing to wear a hat in a sacred temple.”

      I don’t know that this explanation applies when we’re discussing the media’s silence. I suspect much of the media is aware of these larger issues, and that “simpler explanation” doesn’t apply to them.

      • Sastra
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        True. I was thinking more along the lines of the man or woman in the street, who might easily buy in to the explanation that “this is our way.” Some of my friends who self identify as liberal respond to this rationale with a reflexive jerk. Open-minded, tolerant people respect Other Ways and go along to get along, etc. Bringing up feminism or human rights makes them uncomfortable because it’s outside the narrative where liberals adapt to be polite.

        That one is less complicated.

  17. rickflick
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    sub

  18. DrBrydon
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    That billboard, though. First it depicts women as a totally different species. Then it shows men as literally fish out of water living in their own protective bubbles. How do the little dears survive? Good thing they have those guns and clubs.

    On a serious note, though, it’s one thing to proclaim ‘do as the Romans do’ for people who are visiting a county as individuals. I think it’s another thing when a country makes a bid to host an international event, and then requires (under penalty of law?) that their guests follow their religious strictures. How is that not rude?

  19. Posted October 18, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Why is there a ‘Women’s World Chess Championship’ at all? Why not just a World Chess Championship?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 18, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      ‘cos currently men would overwhelmingly dominate (and do) in the World Chess Championship. For whatever reason.

      cr

      • mikeyc
        Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        Is this true? If so, has anyone been interested in finding out why?

        • Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          “Is this true? If so, has anyone been interested in finding out why?”

          From phys.org:
          A team of researchers from the UK has shown that the under-representation of women at the top end in chess is almost exactly what would be expected, given the much greater number of men that participate in the game at all. Researchers Merim Bilalic, et al., have published their research on this statistical sampling explanation in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

          Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2009-01-men-higher-women-chess-biological.html

          • Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

            I wanted to add that I don’t think it’s surprising that far fewer women play chess. It’s historically, and even currently portrayed as an activity that is predominantly engaged in by men. I mean how often are two people in print or film sitting down to a game of chess with a glass of cognac women.

  20. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I’d say hedgehogs are cute.

    That looks more like a porcupine than a hedgehog, by the way.

    Stupid billboard.

    cr

    • David McCrindle
      Posted October 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Since when have hedgehogs been a danger to society (apart from Spiny Norman, of course).

  21. Larry Smith
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Another excellent article on this topic (and my apologies if someone already mentioned it – I didn’t see it if they did) is by “Nervana”: https://nervana1.org/tag/nazi-paikidze/. Besides having street cred herself, she polled her female contacts inside Iran as well. One point made in the article that I don’t remember seeing before here (again, apologies if needed) was that Iran would like nothing better here than for foreign (especially Western) women “playing along” and wearing the hijab while participating, thus basically approving this practice.

  22. Posted October 19, 2016 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    “I’ve searched on PuffHo for any mention of Nazí’s boycott, and found. . . nada.”

    Curious to see how National Public Radio covered the boycott, I did a search of their website, but only drew blanks. I did searches for “hijab” (many articles, mostly pro),”chess” (many articles), “woman’s sports”(TONS of articles), “chess boycott” (3 articles–none relevant), and “Nazí Paikidze-Barnes” (not a single article).

  23. somer
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Re the nebulousness of choice for women wearing the hijab in countries like Iran. Of course there is actual State oppression, because its a theocratic state, and there’s family pressure. But I think the heart of traditional Islam is community pressure to follow absolute orthodoxy, especially around what are considered Islamic gender norms. this means the “honour” of the family is primarily bound up with how the woman behaves – she must be devout and subordinate to parents/husbands family and male relatives. Moreover in Islam its imperative to avoid shame and to uphold norms in society or your kin community (which extends way beyond just immediate family). Thus families are shamed if girls are not seen to be behaving correctly, and then if they cannot control the girl there may even be the ultimate sanction of honour killing. For the same reason of gender norms theres the tradition in much of Islam that 9 times out of 10 the woman is responsible for any sexual crime and that she, and only she, must be punished which is why raped women are treated like criminals but the offender is seldom punished unless there is overwhelming evidence and the womans Islamic reputation is spotless.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 19, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      So what you’re saying is, Islam is, what’s that ghastly expression, ‘family friendly’?

      Ugh! I knew it.
      😉

      cr

      • Posted October 20, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        Except for a few illegal transactions, all restaurants in Iran are presumably what are called “family restaurants” in parts of the US. (I understand that’s a euphemism for “does not serve booze” in some places.)

  24. madonzubin
    Posted October 22, 2016 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m honoured to have made it into your blog three times now Proffessor!!! Maybe HuffPo is growing on you🙂
    PS: Spelling *Madon*

    • Posted November 17, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Is it possible to change the error in my last name Prof. Coyne? Just so that google search picks it up correctly. Thanks again for the (third) shoutout 🙂


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