Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ acculturation

Today’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “maths”, came with a note:

This week’s comic was provoked by an article written by the Rev Giles Fraser. If you can bear it, here it is.

It’s a piece by Fraser in the Guardian, “Assimilation threatens the existence of other cultures,” that begins this way and then goes downhill:

This week a doctor from north London was telling me about one of his patients, a lad of 20 who has lived in the borough of Hackney all his life. He was born here and grew up here. And he’s a bright boy – yet he speaks only a few very rudimentary words of English. The language he speaks at home and at school is Yiddish. Some may be appalled by the insularity of the community in which this young man was raised. But I admire it. In particular, I admire the resilience of a community that seeks to maintain its distinctiveness and recognises, quite rightly, that assimilation into the broader culture would mean the gradual dilution, and the eventual extinction, of its own way of life. It is no surprise to me that the ultra orthodox are thriving, with high birth rates and predictions that they will be constitute a majority of the Jewish population within 20 years. They have refused assimilation.

It adds immeasurably to the richness and diversity of how life is apprehended that not everyone sees the world in the same way. It is mind-expanding to be challenged by those who commit to another way of life. What a miserably grey one-dimensional place it would be if the dominant model of middle-of-the-road liberal secular capitalism became the only acceptable way of living.

And Jesus’s point is right on the money. It goes without saying that plenty of people have partly assimilated, retaining good parts of their culture while abjuring the bad. Restricting Jewish kids from any exposure to secular culture, or even the secular world, does not increase the diversity of life; it restricts the exposure of kids to that diversity and narrows their choices in life.


What Fraser is really getting at, of course, is Islam, as is clear in his last paragraph:

Of course, the barely concealed target of Casey’s report is Muslims. They are serial offenders in their resistance to the hegemony of integration. They won’t allow the Borg-like values of secular liberalism to corrode their distinctiveness. They seek to maintain their religious convictions and way of life. They refuse all that nonsense about religion being a private matter. They stand strong against the elimination of diversity. And we are all immeasurably richer for their resistance.

“Borg-like values of secular liberalism”? What about the repressive values of Islam: its rejection of gays and apostates, and its pervasive oppression of women. Do we want that kind of diversity?

The Guardian is increasingly becoming a liberal defender of illiberalism. It is the Huffington Post of the UK.


  1. GBJames
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    It is so nice to be able to visit the zoo and see the rich diversity of encapsulated cultures.

    • Dominic
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      “When you are in Rome, live as they live in Rome…”.
      When people refuse to acknowledge facts, what can you do to integrate them? They refuse integration, want to remain apart.

      IOn a happier note, Neil de Grasse Tyson was on Radio 4 yesterday am – he touched on those people…

    • Andrew B.
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Damnit! And here I thought I was original for thinking the same thing! Indeed, Giles treats his fellow human beings as specimens which exist for his own personal enrichment.

  2. Dominic
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Fraser really gets on my tits. REALLY! He typifies this sort of trendy christian-inanity. When he does the Radio 4 ‘Thought for the Day’ he invariably has me reaching for the off switch. He also is a regular on Radio 4’s Moral Maze, which some will recall PCC[E] was on a couple of years ago. He appears to hate facts, particularly scientific facts.

  3. TJR
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Fraser in summary:

    “Conformity is Diversity”

    • darrelle
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Reading Fraser’s article inspired me to meditate on the word “Sanctimonious.”

  4. Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I hear a bit of envy in Fraser’s article. Muslims can oppress women and gays, maintain a high birth rate ( which means they’ll inherit Europe) and be true to their religious book in general all the while completely ignoring criticism from the liberal West. Fraser wishes Christians could do the same.

  5. craigp
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    It is the Huffington Post of the UK.

    Sadly, that’s an accurate assessment in my opinion. The once quality newspaper has been on a steady, downward trajectory for a few years now. Also, many of their articles nowadays would not be out of place in OK Magazine.

  6. jaxkayaker
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Following up on your request for suggestions for a different term than “regressive left” from another post, what about “liberal in name only”, or LINO, parallel to RINO for insufficiently pure Republicans.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good one. Maajid Nawaz has coined Ctrl-left in opposition to Alt-right. I use regressive left or authoritarian left, depending on the circumstances. It’d be good to have an easier to use term that everyone understood.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 22, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink

        Ctrl-left is delightfully devious, though. 😉

        • GBJames
          Posted December 22, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

          Indeed. I need to remember that one.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Yes, nothing like isolation to get that great learning experience and expand your mind. Think of the Amish and their great contributions to science and technology the past 150 years. Are we suppose to admire this way of life or be in sympathy with the people in it.

    There is nothing wrong with living and growing up in rural America, however it does have big consequences if you stay in this condition and never leave it. A portion of the large separation in the U.S. political area is because of this and the mindset differences are substantial.

    • steve oberski
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      And study after study has shown that the incidence of child abuse is correlated to how insular and isolated a community is.

      Be they Amish, JWs, ultra orthodox Jews, fundamentalist Christians or Muslims, if a group is allowed to isolate their children from society they will abuse them.

    • somer
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      Balkanised mentalities are surely another thing contributing to the election of Trump

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 22, 2016 at 12:38 am | Permalink

      “Rural America” is painting with a broad brush–not all farmers or boonie-dwellers are know-nothings or evangelicals. And some of the worst fundamentalist religious enclaves are in the middle of big cities–think of the Hasidic Jews in NYC.

  8. darrelle
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    “They refuse all that nonsense about religion being a private matter.”

    Fraser is really letting it all hang out here isn’t he?

    More generally than just that quote, to my mind this (the whole article) is an example of a preacher, pastor, father, whatever, at their worst. People committed to their brand of religion go into their church and listen to a church leader like Fraser say shit like this and take it as gospel. Without examining it for validity or accuracy and while disregarding conflicting views, again without examining them. It is disgusting.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      this (the whole article) is an example of a preacher, pastor, father, whatever, at their worst. […] It is disgusting.

      Unless, of course, you happen to be on the top of the pile, in which case it is an admirable form of resistance to the imposition of the values of others.
      It matters if you’re on the top of the pile looking down, or in the pile not een being allowed to look up.

  9. Stephen Mynett
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Even education cannot help some, I cannot believe you can become an executive of Pakistan International Airlines if you are totally uneducated. Yet, in the name of air safety they are happy to murder a goat.

    From the Freethinker:

    • Filippo
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      I trust that that will make tomorrow’s hard-copy NY Times.

      I wonder if any children on the plane saw it.

      • GBJames
        Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if any were sacrificed.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 22, 2016 at 12:44 am | Permalink


      Islam–the religion of pieces.

  10. steve oberski
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    We already have a term for what Fraser advocates and it is called child abuse.

    Fraser is fine with other peoples children being subjected to the barbaric practices of their parents culture that result in them reaching the age of consent with none of the skills needed to be a productive and happy member of their society,

    But I’m pretty sure that none of his children (assuming he has any, hoping for their sake he does not) have been subjected to this abuse other than the thin gruel dribbled out by the Anglican church these days.

  11. Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Fraser’s father is Jewish and his mother is Christian so had they shared his belief in the seperation of cultures he would never have been born.

    Nor would his Israeli wife have married him.

    In that he has much in common with Trump and Farage.

  12. Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I thought that in the UK (as well as some here in the US), one of the complaints was that these ignorant children were then supported on the dole since their parents had no idea how to work for a living and of course they wouldn’t have either.

  13. BJ
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    “The Guardian is increasingly becoming a liberal defender of illiberalism. It is the Huffington Post of the UK.”

    This is something that happened quite some time ago, and in the past year they started removing the comments section from their most heinous and untruthful articles in a feeble attempt to keep their narratives intact.

    • Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      They removed most of the comments under their pro-intelligent design piece last week, including one of mine which simply linked to the author’s earlier post on the Sokal hoax.

      The Guardian is little more than The Sport for snobs.

      • BJ
        Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink


        And you’ve identified another one of their tactics: allow comments on some of their articles, but delete any comments that come too close to spoiling the narrative, under the guise of “harassment” or “hate speech.”

    • Michiel
      Posted December 22, 2016 at 1:59 am | Permalink

      At least the vast majority of the comments under this piece seem to be refuting the silly argument put forth by Fraser.

  14. Jbaldwin
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    In other words, their insular and oppressive culture benefits our open, liberal culture as a shining example of our value of diversity and tolerance…and, as a bonus, they pay the costs! \smh.

  15. Posted December 21, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  16. ploubere
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    The man is a colossal doughnut (my new favorite insult).

    In any case, it takes North Korean-level oppression to maintain such insularity within a community, and few manage to keep out the barbarians. The Amish, for example, are beset with social problems including drug abuse. And they have higher rates of inbred genetic problems.

  17. Posted December 21, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Fraser is a merchant of banalities. Just ignore him.
    As to the trait, common to all religions, of subjugating women, a recent BBC Radio 4 documentary on Haredi communities in the UK makes for very interesting listening (any similarities with self-segregated Muslims, anyone?):

  18. Andrew B.
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    In case no one else has mentioned it, Fraser also seems to overlook a very crucial point: that commitment to diversity comes at the expense of commitment to the experience of diversity. When you engage with others from different backgrounds and worldviews, a bit of that rubs off on you as well. You become less “pure,” in a sense. There’s no way to actually interact with diversity without become more diverse yourself.

  19. Jonathan Dore
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    It seems that to Giles Fraser, the rights, education, life-chances, and psychological well-being of the children who are the victims of these walled-off cults is far less important than that they should carry forward, like good, obedient drones, the culture of their forefathers.

    I find it difficult to express with sufficient force quite how contemptible this idea is.

    • somer
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

      Every minority is “oppressed” especially if they are implacably anti western liberalism and want to live in the 7th Century. Ultra orthodox religious and Muslims fit the bill perfectly. That’s modern “progressive” values for you. State and societal resources are unlimited and these sorts of “progressives” care greatly about the working class – but Always after they have infinitely cared about such “diversity”. Thats why most of the working class are heartily sick of this kind of left, and thats why the tories will be unchallenged in power. These sorts of guardian articles are actually keeping the tories in power and they are continuing to ensure their opposition is so weak they can do whatever they want.

  20. h0trats
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the Guardian is doing either its readers or its reputation any good by giving publicity to this astonishingly moronic reaction to a clear denial of care and education to the children concerned.

    How can any of us be ‘immeasurably richer’ at the prospect of a young man, born and raised in the UK, wearing a religious uniform, unable to understand or speak English? In what possible sense is he British?

    • GBJames
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      I love your gravatar and nym. I trust you had a fine Zappadan.

      • h0trats
        Posted December 21, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        Indeed I did, and nice to see that someone is paying attention. Thank you!

  21. Sastra
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Sounds to me like what I’ll call “cultural tourism.”

    “My, isn’t it nice that there are places where people live in huts and walk miles for water and keep their women inside and beat their children with sticks and have nothing to do with outside cultures or education or anything modern … because now my vacation is so much more interesting? The land and people are still unspoiled. My photos are wonderful, the stories unique. It was just like stepping back in time.”

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted December 23, 2016 at 5:51 am | Permalink


  22. Gareth
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    How are we enriched by someone we can’t talk to, who lives secluded and separate from the rest of us?
    Who may well have died in the time I typed this, and we’d have no way of knowing, or notice.
    Thats some weird form of enrichment.

    If people choose this way of life, great, it is their choice, but it no more enriches us than some socially withdrawn stamp collector who never leaves his house.

    • GBJames
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      But of course, children are not given this choice. It is made for them by parents. Child abuse.

  23. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    What is the virtue in perpetuating any old culture? Why do it? If Yiddish (to quote the first example) or Islam or Native American faded away, what would it matter? A lot of people who identified as Jewish/Muslim/some tribe would identify as something else, and they wouldn’t miss what they never had. So far as I can see, that change would be ethically neutral. (And before someone bemoans the loss of old traditions, I’d point out that happens all the time. The Mayans are long since gone, would anyone miss them? (Though their physical descendants are still here, called South Americans). The Druids are long gone. Godammit, the English culture of two centuries ago is gone, gradually changed into what we have now. And it’s not really missed by anyone, other than old people nostalgic for a romantic view of a lifestyle that never really existed.)

    On a personal note, my wife is from a Pacific island with a population of a few hundred and its own distinctive culture. I suppose in a few decades it will be gone, or rather changed by adaptation into a new form comprised of elements of old and new. That will be sad in a way, the old culture served them well for centuries, but it would be sadder to try and preserve it unchanged as a sort of living fossil (which, I should add, they don’t). It arose as a pragmatic response to the environment and it will continue to adapt, pragmatically, as the world changes. The expatriates here in New Zealand still keep up their own language and many of the traditions, but as an open society they will eventually assimilate and no individual will be any the worse off for that.

    The big minus side to any culture is when those who cling to the old ways establish a reactionary closed society, cut off from the world around them. It almost always goes toxic, leading to suspicion, paranoia and authoritarian oppression of its members. It ends up totally out of step with the evolving world. Also, frequently, leading to persecution from the surrounding population who are suspicious of secrecy.


    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted December 23, 2016 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      Well said! Summed it up nicely.

  24. somer
    Posted December 22, 2016 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    From an elitist stance, Prince Charles appears to entirely agree with Giles Fraser
    Prince Charles warns against religious persecution

    “The prince said the scale of religious persecution around the world was “not widely appreciated” and was not limited to Christians, but included many other minority faiths…..
    Prince Charles urged people to remember the story of the Nativity this Christmas, which was about “the fleeing of a holy family to escape violent persecution”.
    He asked listeners to remember that the Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina because he was “seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship”.
    The Prince said: “Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same – to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God.”

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted December 23, 2016 at 6:03 am | Permalink

      The Prince said: “Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same – to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God.”

      Laughing out loud. I support our constitutional monarchy in principle, but sadly Prince Charlie is an embarrassing joke. Perhaps he’ll do the decent thing when the time comes, and abdicate in favour of his son.

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