I don’t think I’ve ever written a post about Muslim immigration into Europe and its implications. I haven’t written on it because I don’t live in Europe; I don’t get the nuances of the dynamics; and so I don’t know what I’m talking about.
But I saw this story over at Uncle’s, about a woman who was denied a quick divorce from her husband who beat her and threatened to kill her because the judge in Germany ruled that the Koran says wife-beating is okay, so the wife shouldn’t expect any better. And I saw Uncle’s comment on it– “Multicultural sensitivity at its most perverted. If it keeps up, society there will reach the point that it so culturally sensitive that it cannot survive.” –and realized some feminist analysis, coupled with some useful multicultural analysis, might actually be useful in this case.
Is this multiculturalism run amuck or is this one judge’s bigotry and xenophobia writ large?
I’ve read through the NYTimes article and a couple of things really stand out. One is that the wife, who needs the divorce, because her husband is a nut-job abuser, is not easily identifiable as a Muslim; she doesn’t wear a head scarf and the other is that the judge said that she thought the woman’s “western lifestyle” might be a reason her husband might feel compelled to beat her.
This got me thinking about the nature of xenophobia in general. If you think about it, the xenophobe has two problems–one is that there’s a group of outsiders who are not like “us” who are coming into the country and refusing to assimilate and ruining things, but the other is that the outsiders, who are not like “us,” might find ways to pass, to become so much like “us” that the line between “us” and “them” becomes fuzzy and hard to distinguish.
If you’re of the belief that that “other” group is an enormous problem that must be dealt with by removing the “other” people from your society, the folks who can and do assimilate are a much bigger problem than the folks who don’t, because those folks are much harder to identify. So, even as xenophobes give lip-service to how much the “out” group refuses to do like we do, make no mistake that the xenophobic nightmare is that the “out” group would find a way to do so.
How else to understand what’s going on in this case?
Here you have a Muslim woman who has done just what we “Westerners” ask of Muslim women. She’s Westernized. And yet, the judge, a Western woman, turns around and says, “It is precicely because of your desire to be like me that your husband is justified in beating you, because, in your culture, it’s okay to beat uppity women.”
You see that? How the judge refuses to grant that the woman wanting the divorce has a claim on German culture?
See, I think that Uncle views this case as evidence of the blurring of cultures, that the German courts are now going to start giving Koranic verses the same weight as secular law. But I don’t think this is a case of blurring of cultures at all. I think this is a clear-cut case of an ethnically German non-Muslim woman drawing a clear line between how “real” German women can expect to be treated and what kinds of behaviors “other” women in Germany, no matter how seemingly “German,” have to tolerate.