Racism: Quebec Soccer Federation sticks to turban ban

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cco

Catchfire wrote:

I don't understand. If your grandparents changed the language they speak, why did you also have to do it? Or did you change it to something else again?

Yep. They came from Germany to America, and switched to English. I came from America to Québec, and switched to French. My wife came from Jordan to Québec...and so forth. We knew we were moving to a French-speaking place when we came, so it didn't feel like much of an imposition. And both of us were rather thrilled to move somewhere more secular than whence we came.

Catchfire wrote:

Anyway, the point is, of course, is that religion is a "choice" like consumerism is a choice, like language is a choice, like capitalism is a choice. They are not circumscribed objects which come to us unencumbered. They come with programming which runs deep, and not only, in the case of religion, identifiable as this or that ritualistic practice. Likewise, this or that ritualistic practice has dimensions which far exceed the act itself -- they have deep-seated ties to relationships, indentity, belonging and so on. Not something you can just easily "choose" not to have.


I was on the board of an atheists' group in Tennessee. Every last member had grown up religious initially. It's not easy, any more than learning a new language is easy, but it's a lot easier than changing your skin colour. And I'm not actually calling for anyone to give up their religion over this extremely silly dispute (which has now been rectified). I was just saying it was religion preventing them from playing. And now it won't anymore.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

cco wrote:
Yep. They came from Germany to America, and switched to English. I came from America to Québec, and switched to French. My wife came from Jordan to Québec

The analogy seems to be lost, but my point was that even if you end up speaking another language, you can't get rid of all the vestiges that come with your first language. For one thing, you still speak English, cco! But these don't even mean "only" cosmetic residues like the accents your grandparents surely had, or the grammatical idiosyncrisies which mark immigrant speakers their whole lives -- but even more deep-seated and subtle things like humour, metaphor and so on which come built-in to language. So too with religion. It's not enough to agree to stop saying Hail Marys. The other programming still runs deep. "Choice" is an extraordinarily limited word for what confronted these children.

On a separate note, I've never taken much stock for the "x is not a race, so this can't be racist" argument. I find it rather sophistic. What counts as a race is pretty murky and always changing, and is always in contradistinction to whiteness. In that sense, this ban is certainly racist, without question.

cco

Catchfire wrote:

The analogy seems to be lost, but my point was that even if you end up speaking another language, you can't get rid of all the vestiges that come with your first language. For one thing, you still speak English, cco!

Well, it's a lot easier to be bilingual (or more, in my case) than it is to have more than one religion. :)

Catchfire wrote:

But these don't even mean "only" cosmetic residues like the accents your grandparents surely had, or the grammatical idiosyncrisies which mark immigrant speakers their whole lives -- but even more deep-seated and subtle things like humour, metaphor and so on which come built-in to language. So too with religion. It's not enough to agree to stop saying Hail Marys. The other programming still runs deep. "Choice" is an extraordinarily limited word for what confronted these children.

On a separate note, I've never taken much stock for the "x is not a race, so this can't be racist" argument. I find it rather sophistic. What counts as a race is pretty murky and always changing, and is always in contradistinction to whiteness. In that sense, this ban is certainly racist, without question.

I understand your argument, even if I don't completely agree with it. Perhaps, in fact, this is one of those cultural idiosyncrasies you were referring to. Until fairly recently, Tennessee didn't have much of an immigrant population to speak of, and racism there has always been marked by rather strict skin-colour enforcement along the lines of the "one-drop rule". When I think of racism, I think of cross-burnings, miscegenation laws, the shooting of MLK and the subsequent riots...

The state constitution forbids atheists from holding public office, and my mother's church was shot up by a fundamentalist redneck who was angry they accepted gays. He killed two people. But while he was almost certainly ALSO a racist, I didn't consider that (or the article of the state constitution) to be racist, but rather religiously discriminatory.

If I wanted to hold public office in Tennessee (perish the thought), I could convert (perish that thought as well). You can't convert from being black. You can't convert from being gay either, but we call anti-gay policies "homophobic" instead of "racist".

I want a very secular society, but I'm more than willing to admit that banning turbans from a soccer field is likely bigoted. There's certainly room for debate on what's considered a "race". But calling a religion a race is a bridge too far in my book. I know hundreds of people who have changed their religions. I even know half a dozen who have changed their genders. But I don't know a single one who's changed her race.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

You immigrate to Canada and somehow because you want a secular society Sikhs, whose families have been here for over a century, should be coerced into abandoning their religion.  Who put you in charge of our culture?

My understanding is that "passing" has always been a way for POC to try and overcome the inherent racism in North American society. That is a whole lot of people who "changed" their race.  That is without even going into the Michael Jackson story.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35srmDpNqXk

 

6079_Smith_W

@ cco

Strictly speaking I wouldn't call hatred of Catholics racism either, although the war in the Vendée is recognized as genocide, even though the only difference was religious and political. But as I said above, there are plenty of cases where the line between religion and culture and ethnicity is very blurry. I'd say this is one of those cases. And while it might seem easy to change here in a developed, urbanized world, there are plenty of places where it is not, or where it doesn't do much good to even try.

And as for it not being easy to have more than one religion, I would say that is only true of the most fundamentalist believer. I know a number of people, including some very traditional people, who observe more than one faith. More, if you consider those who have changed; I don't think you ever entirely lose a way of looking at the world, even if you leave it for some reason.

cco

kropotkin1951 wrote:

You immigrate to Canada and somehow because you want a secular society Sikhs, whose families have been here for over a century, should be coerced into abandoning their religion.  Who put you in charge of our culture?


I really don't think that's what I said. In fact, I said I'm not calling for anyone to abandon their religion. I just said religion isn't the same as race. Take a deep breath, kropotkin1951. We agree on most issues. Why is everyone over here so angry? And why are my views, as an immigrant, less valid than anyone else's?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

cco wrote:

In fact, I said I'm not calling for anyone to abandon their religion. I just said religion isn't the same as race.

cco wrote:

Sure they do. They just don't get to wear turbans while doing so. Now, mind you, I agree wholeheartedly that the ban is ridiculous. But I also think it's ridiculous that their religion prevents them from going outside without a turban on. Your religion isn't written in your genetic code. It's a set of silly superstitions you've been taught, and it has next to nothing to do with race.

You obviously don't believe that your quote above is not calling on Sikhs to abandon their religion but it sure sounded like it too me. You merely ridiculed their religion and only suggested they could abandon it.  Your views are not less important because you are an immigrant but frankly don't you think you should respect the beliefs of the other people who live in your newly adopted country and refrain from calling them ridiculous.

cco

Their belief in Sikhism is not any less open to ridicule than my belief in secularism, which you've certainly had no problem challenging. I'm just some guy on the internet, with next to no influence on public policy. Free and open debate of ideas is also one of the beliefs most people in my newly adopted country hold. My wife's country banned "The DaVinci Code" because it might be offensive to their small Christian minority. Personally, I'd rather live in a country where it's just as acceptable to hurt someone's feelings as it is to play soccer while wearing a turban. ETA: Or should there be a "cooling period" for new immigrants where they're not allowed to express their beliefs? BTW, I've been here since I was 17. If I were an immigrant from Pakistan, would you be telling me I should respect the way things are done here? Because it seems to me that that's the exact sort of thing you're complaining about.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

If you were an immigrant from Pakistan that was making intemperate statements based on someones religion, race or ethnicity I would absolutely be calling you on it.

By the way your choice of countries is interesting because in BC when we pushed back against overt racism in this province most bigoted racist didn't even know what religion people with turbans belonged too. They just called them all "Pakis" or "ragheads" no matter where they were born.  Their religion was not the problem their South Asian ancestry was the problem. Your arguments about the difference between racism and religious based intolerance does not fit the history in this country. Racists have a long history of attacking Sikhs and its not their religion they don't like.

If you don't already know this piece of Canadian history you should read a bit about the Komagata Maru incident that is approaching its hundred year anniversary.  The racists didn't fucking care about the religion of the people on board although most were Sikhs. They just didn't want any Asians to enter the country.

Quote:

Komagata Maru incident involved a Japanese steamship, the Komagata Maru, that sailed from Punjab, India to Hong Kong, Shanghai, China; Yokohama, Japan; and then to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, India. Of them 20 were admitted to Canada, but the 356 other passengers were not allowed to land in Canada, and the ship was forced to return to India. The passengers consisted of 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims, and 12 Hindus, all British subjects. This was one of several incidents in the history of early 20th century involving exclusion laws in both Canada and the United States designed to keep out immigrants of only Asian origin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komagata_Maru_incident

Unionist

Catchfire wrote:

What counts as a race is pretty murky and always changing, and is always in contradistinction to whiteness. In that sense, this ban is certainly racist, without question.

This statement of yours - ending rather stunningly in "without question" - convinces me at long last that (contrary to what I used to think) you don't know everything.

This entire discussion, with browbeating galore on all sides, is foolish. The term "racism" should be abandoned entirely, because any term which can't be used without explanation and terminological debate doesn't meet the most fundamental criterion of communication.

I propose we replace it with xenophobia. That's clear. It's fear, hatred, exclusion, domination, practised against "the other". Then you no longer have to worry about shades of skin colour, phony definitions of "race", offensive debates as to whether someone can or "should" shed their religious beliefs, etc.

It is crystal clear to me that a large ingredient in this soccer federation's maintaining of the ban while "waiting for FIFA" was xenophobia. To keep insisting that it was also "RACISM" - "WITHOUT QUESTION" - shows not only a profound ignorance of the reality of Québec culture today, but also a dogmatic reluctance to come to grips with solutions.

And, contrary to some interlocutors, I may be wrong about this. But so what?

And while we're at it, now that this ban is history, shall we have a conversation about the banning of Sikh turbans in other spheres of society in Québec, and throughout Canada? Or would that be "off-topic"?

 

cco

kropotkin1951 wrote:

If you were an immigrant from Pakistan that was making intemperate statements based on someones religion, race or ethnicity I would absolutely be calling you on it.

That's not what I asked, though. I asked whether you'd be as comfortable applying that "you're an immigrant, so learn how we do things here or shut up" attitude toward an immigrant who was from a non-white country (such as Pakistan, but you can substitute your own example if you'd like). And yes, I am familiar with the Komagata Maru.

Unionist wrote:

The term "racism" should be abandoned entirely, because any term which can't be used without explanation and terminological debate doesn't meet the most fundamental criterion of communication.

I propose we replace it with xenophobia. That's clear. It's fear, hatred, exclusion, domination, practised against "the other". Then you no longer have to worry about shades of skin colour, phony definitions of "race", offensive debates as to whether someone can or "should" shed their religious beliefs, etc.

Thanks for this, Unionist. I have no problem agreeing the former turban ban was xenophobic. That seems like a much less problematic term.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

cco wrote:

I asked whether you'd be as comfortable applying that "you're an immigrant, so learn how we do things here or shut up" attitude toward an immigrant who was from a non-white country (such as Pakistan, but you can substitute your own example if you'd like). And yes, I am familiar with the Komagata Maru.

Please refrain from putting quotes around your misinterpretation of what I have actually posted. I never said those words and your using quotes is disingeniousness and insulting. If you can't make a point without that kind of nasty little device that warps what I said into a disgusting statement then you have no point at all.

 

cco

My quotes were used in the traditional English-language sense to set aside one phrase from the rest of the sentence. If I'd meant to imply those were your actual words, I'd have used the quote tags rabble provides us. However, if you feel I implied those were your literal words, I apologize without reservation. They obviously were not. That said, I still feel like that was the gist of what you were saying.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Unionist wrote:

The term "racism" should be abandoned entirely, because any term which can't be used without explanation and terminological debate doesn't meet the most fundamental criterion of communication.

I propose we replace it with xenophobia. That's clear. It's fear, hatred, exclusion, domination, practised against "the other". Then you no longer have to worry about shades of skin colour, phony definitions of "race", offensive debates as to whether someone can or "should" shed their religious beliefs, etc.

Who is the "other"? Who is the "other" being contrasted against? If I deny Catholics a job because I prefer to employ Evangelical Christians does xenophobia really cover it. If I don't hire FN's people because of their race how in hell can they be the "other" in their own homelands? The reason I called this racism is because the attacks on turbans in this province have always been by people who are more concerned about the race of the people who wear turbans than their religious beliefs. If I deny a Chinese woman a job in a place that normally hires white men should I call that sexism or racism? Does the sex of the woman make her the "other" or is it her race?

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

cco wrote:
racism there has always been marked by rather strict skin-colour enforcement along the lines of the "one-drop rule"...You can't convert from being black.

Well, that's just it -- as long as race is defined by ludicrous measures like the "one-drop rule" -- and all the ways in which we think we see race is still some variation on this noble theme -- you can convert from being black. In the day, they just called it "passing."

Unionist wrote:
This statement of yours - ending rather stunningly in "without question" - convinces me at long last that (contrary to what I used to think) you don't know everything.

I've never claimed to know everything. For instance I've never been able to progress beyond grade six piano. I'm sure there are other things, but I can't put my finger on them right now.

Quote:
The term "racism" should be abandoned entirely, because any term which can't be used without explanation and terminological debate doesn't meet the most fundamental criterion of communication. I propose we replace it with xenophobia. That's clear. It's fear, hatred, exclusion, domination, practised against "the other".

I consider "fear, hatred, exclusion, domination, practised against 'the [O]ther'" to be racism. I won't argue with your term, but I feel that the whole discussion which arises out of the word "race," in general, over what counts as a race and what doesn't, to be a smokescreen which doesn't have the interest of the Other at heart (here Maysie should pop up to roll her eyes at a white guy explaining racism), but is a diversionary tactic along the same lines of the "I'm not a feminist, I'm a humanist" clap-trap. I'm not saying, of course, that babblers want to divert attention from racism, but I think, often, the effect is the same.

Race isn't a physical characteristic we can see, it's a discourse invested in power relations which foregrounds some visible markings and conceals others, emphasizes some invisible culturally inscribed habits and understates others -- and it makes us think they're part of a natural category. So I think this Sikh ban is racist because the rule is not about singling out the Sikh religion -- as if the QSF even knows the first thing about the intersection of Sikhi and soccer (!) -- but about singling out difference. And the way that difference is made visible in mainstream culture, on Quebec and elsewhere, is through skin colour. At it's heart, this story is about brown people and not belonging. I won't quibble if someone wants to call this xenophobia -- but I call it racism.

As a mod, I'd like to suggest that we keep in mind that this is a sensitive issue and please refrain from lobbing accusations, or what can be received as accusations about one's character and so on. On the whole, this is a heated and interesting discussion and I'd like to keep it going. Thanks.

6079_Smith_W

Catchfire wrote:

I won't quibble if someone wants to call this xenophobia -- but I call it racism.

Pretty much my feelings about it. And to add to my last comment, one of the classic examples doesn't even involve colour though it involves some cultures which weren't considered "white" 100 years ago.

If we look at protestant anglo racism against Italians, Irish, French, Metis, and to a lesser degree Spanish and Mexican, a lot of it is wrapped up in anti-Catholicism, from seeing them as backwards, superstitious papists, to having big families, to not really being trustworthy citizens of the commonwealth because of their presumed blind allegiance to Rome. Never mind that the reason for that mistrust is 400 year old history. You see that in particular in the dogma of hate groups like the Klan and the Orange Lodge. And it was so pronounced that the election of John Kennedy was to some a scandal similar to the election of Barack Obama.

You could make a similar case for Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Russians and other Eastern Europeans and anti-Communism.

Again, not a textbook definition of racism, but a close enough association that it fits the bill in my books, especially when you consider that it is seen through  rage and ignorance-clouded glasses.

cco

Catchfire wrote:

Well, that's just it -- as long as race is defined by ludicrous measures like the "one-drop rule" -- and all the ways in which we think we see race is still some variation on this noble theme -- you can convert from being black. In the day, they just called it "passing."

If your skin is light enough, and your features are Western enough, sure -- though, again, those are things you're born with. At the NDP convention I was debating the term "visible minority" with someone. Does my wife count? When she doesn't have much of a tan, she could certainly pass for white (though she has an epicanthic fold), but her father, brothers, and most of her cousins are on the "most likely to be randomly selected for screening" list. My ex-girlfriend is about the same skin shade, but her features are too African to pass.

Catchfire wrote:

I'd like to suggest that we keep in mind that this is a sensitive issue and please refrain from lobbing accusations, or what can be received as accusations about one's character and so on. On the whole, this is a heated and interesting discussion and I'd like to keep it going. Thanks.

Thank you for this as well.

onlinediscountanvils

I'm in general agreement with kropotkin, Smith, and Catchfire on this. Situations like this fall well within the colloquial definition of racism. It's something that's easily understood by most, and attempts to refine that definition only serve to cloud the issue, rather than clarify. If use of the term racism ever falls out of favour by those communities who are most directly affected by racism... that's when I'd give more serious thought to changing my use of the word.

lagatta

Including the Québecois people?

Montreal Simon quoted a (perfectly fine) CBC article about the end of this story, but after the article there was an absolute cesspool of anti-Québécois racism by commenters, or bigotry if one prefers (I know that Québécois are certainly not a race, but there is a long history of national oppression and the accompanying slurs). http://montrealsimon.blogspot.ca/2013/06/stephen-harper-rob-ford-and-lit...

MegB

While it's important not to dilute the impact of the term racism by overuse, it serves no purpose to so narrowly define it that it equally loses its power to convey complex forms of discrimination. Xenophobia, bigotry, discrimination - these also work, and are not, in combination with the term racism, mutually exclusive.

To the poster who claimed you can't have two religions, that's not exactly true. Zen Buddhism embraces all other religions. You can be Christian, Jainist, Jewish, Zoroastrian or Muslim and still practice Zen Buddhism as a religion. I, personally, observe several Christian holidays but am not Christian. I've attended Seders, received food gifts and blessings from friends during Eid Al-Adha, but I'm an atheist and practicing Buddhist. It just isn't cut and dried for me and for many people I know.

6079_Smith_W

lagatta wrote:

Including the Québecois people?

Yes. I think I called it that upthread already. If not, I certainly consider it that.

 

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

I would be more swayed by the arguments against using the designation "racism" if the controversy involved some other religious group, almost any other religious group for that matter. But I am going to feed peanuts to the elephant in the room and point out that the overwhelming majority of Sikhs are, to use the terminology of our beloved bureaucrats, a visible minority within Canada and Quebec in general, and a particular visible minority to be specific.

Sikhism, unlike Christianity or Islam, is NOT an agressively missionary religion and, consequently, the community is comparatively homogenous in terms of ethnic/racial compostion. Yes, there are converts whose ancestry traces back to Europe, or Africa, or any other place you might care to mention -- but these converts are not statistically significant. One is not going far out on a limb to observe that Sikhism traces back to pre-partition Punjab, and that its adherents usually trace their ancestry back to India and Pakistan, even if there was a sojourn through East Africa (or some other British colonial possession) along the way.

 

 

DaveW

Unionist wrote:

Catchfire wrote:

What counts as a race is pretty murky and always changing, and is always in contradistinction to whiteness. In that sense, this ban is certainly racist, without question.

[...]

This entire discussion, with browbeating galore on all sides, is foolish. The term "racism" should be abandoned entirely, because any term which can't be used without explanation and terminological debate doesn't meet the most fundamental criterion of communication.

I propose we replace it with xenophobia. That's clear. It's fear, hatred, exclusion, domination, practised against "the other". Then you no longer have to worry about shades of skin colour, phony definitions of "race", offensive debates as to whether someone can or "should" shed their religious beliefs, etc.

I agree, use xenophobia first

and the R-word has become so overused as to pass almost unnoticed sometimes ; it should not ...

the UN Convention and its related Conferences refer to "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance"

 

 

Unionist

bagkitty wrote:

 But I am going to feed peanuts to the elephant in the room and point out that the overwhelming majority of Sikhs are, to use the terminology of our beloved bureaucrats, a visible minority within Canada and Quebec in general, and a particular visible minority to be specific.

I don't think one should simplify complex phenomenon in order to fit them into a "race", or even "racialized", category.

There are three times more self-identified Hindus (talking about religion) than Sikhs in Québec. And, as I have mentioned, most Sikh males don't cover their head. In neither case is there any particular report I've seen about exclusion or harassment or discrimination on the soccer field. And there are more than 12 times as many Muslim males as Sikhs, many of them Tamils and Gujaratis. Again, no soccer federation sanctions against them, and they are arguably much more "visible" than Punjabis.

I'm not saying it's about religious beliefs (you can't really tell a person's beliefs by what they wear) and it certainly isn't only about skin colour or ethnic origin. I think it runs in a different direction: Multiculturalism vs. integration. Secularism vs. everyone wearing their religion on their sleeve. What Québec needs to tackle is the difference between welcoming all residents into the Québec nation vs. pressuring people to abandon their culture, identity, etc. I don't think it helps to oversimplify that dilemma - especially when it feeds into the vicious ugly neo-colonial Québec-bashing which seems to know no political boundaries.

 

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Unionist wrote:

I think it runs in a different direction: Multiculturalism vs. integration. Secularism vs. everyone wearing their religion on their sleeve. What Québec needs to tackle is the difference between welcoming all residents into the Québec nation vs. pressuring people to abandon their culture, identity, etc. I don't think it helps to oversimplify that dilemma -

That seems to be a big part of this story. The thing I don't understand is why Sikhs are not already seen as part of the Quebec nation. They have been a part of the fabric of the province I live in for a hundred years so I just don't get how they can not be part of the Quebec nation. Did Sikhs only start moving to Quebec in the last decade? I hope the debate in Quebec does not lead to two classes of Canadian citizens. One that can move to Quebec and keep their culture and identity and the other that must change their religious practices before they can integrate into another area of the country.

In BC we have a long history of racism by the state.  The Japanese internment was one example but when discussing the integration model versus the multicultural model a better example is the Doukhobors.  Before the multicultural model took hold in Canada the government of this province interned children and arrested adults for defying the government edicts in an attempt to protect their religion.  I know people from the Castlegar area that have been affected their whole lives from being locked up because their parents would not change the practice of their religion. Locking up the children and stealing their communal property got rid of the overt Doukhobor presence in the West Kootenays but at what cost to the lives of the people involved. I presume the Quebec nation will not go as far as the BC government from the 1950's but the QS is right that the debate needs to take place. The question has to be how far can the state go in seeking to promote integration.

I do note that the NDP supports the integration model compared to the multicultural model so it should be interesting to see how the party deals with these issues in the future. 

6079_Smith_W

Unionist wrote:

I'm not saying it's about religious beliefs (you can't really tell a person's beliefs by what they wear) and it certainly isn't only about skin colour or ethnic origin. I think it runs in a different direction: Multiculturalism vs. integration. Secularism vs. everyone wearing their religion on their sleeve. What Québec needs to tackle is the difference between welcoming all residents into the Québec nation vs. pressuring people to abandon their culture, identity, etc. I don't think it helps to oversimplify that dilemma - especially when it feeds into the vicious ugly neo-colonial Québec-bashing which seems to know no political boundaries.

Again Unionist, I don't really care what you call it, but I don't see how changing the name has any bearing on the effect on the victims, or people's reaction to it. 

We have enough difference of perception among people here who have some common ground. It stands to reason that those differences are going to be magnified in the wider community.  People are going to interpret this as they see it, and there's not a damned thing you or I or these governing bodies can do about it, other than to think a bit more before taking steps like this, and topping them off with comments like telling people they can play in their backyards. If there are actions here that might be ambiguous, the intent of that comment was crystal clear.

 

 

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