Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What can no longer be pretended

In my previous post, I wrote about the conversion of Tony Blair's sister-in-law, Lauren Booth, to Islam. There was a lot of thought provoking commentary on the story, both at this site and elsewhere. Over at The Thinking Housewife, Laura Wood made this interesting argument:

My guess is that she sought to embrace God in socially acceptable form. She might have lost more friends if she had become a pious Christian than a pious Muslim. She did not risk social annihilation, not in the self-annihilating, anti-Christian Europe of today.

And at View from the Right, Sage McLaughlin wrote an excellent comment (worth reading in full), in which he argued that women like Lauren Booth were becoming wearied by aspects of the liberalism they subscribed to:

the real fantasy that is wearying to them right now is the desolating and exhausting make-believe world offered by liberalism. What they cannot forever pretend to accept is the universal sameness of all peoples (contradicted both by reason and by daily experience), the lack of differences between men and women that matter socially (ditto), the impossibility of miracles, and a self-created multiverse of cosmic exiles, estranged in essence and locked in their own drab mental prisons impervious to the liberating expansiveness of real transcendence. Nothing could be more pathologically masculine than such an oppressively abstract wonderland, at odds with women's natural desires and so hostile to the natural bonds of family and community.

There's evidence for what Sage McLaughlin asserts in a few of Lauren Booth's newspaper columns. For instance, Lauren Booth moved with her family some years ago to the French countryside in order to enjoy the lifestyle. But it turned out badly.

In part, this was because she felt the loss of connection, as Sage McLaughlin puts it, "to the natural bonds of community":

We have become part of the statistics of the boredom and loneliness that expats with limited French can experience, even as they portray themselves as having that ‘dream life’ in the sun.

She also felt the loss of connection to her own family. She spent years commuting to England to work whilst her husband stayed home with their daughters. It was an arrangement which bred mutual resentment:

I have been the partner who earns a living, continuing to travel back and forth to the UK ... With bank accounts in two countries, a partner with no income and the turbulence of both the financial and the job market to take into consideration, I needed to be a fiscal pedant to get the books right. I never trained as an accountant.

Soon I was feeling disjointed, neither able to pursue career choices in the UK fully, nor be a constant part of either my children’s lives nor my husband’s friendships locally. We were soon in trouble. With the banks. With the taxman. And with our marriage...

Last year, in secret, Craig went to see a lawyer. He was told that as I worked away from the home, he would get the house, the kids, a cut of my income – everything – in a divorce.

...I don’t know what the future holds, only that the time has come for me to put my children’s need to be close to me at all times before our love of la vie en rose.

It's also true that Lauren Booth feels uncomfortable with the growing ladette culture in the UK. She has complained that ladette culture,

tells young women that being female means less than being a male.

And here’s the crux of the matter, the very heart of why more and more young women ape the worst excesses of some men: if mothers don’t hail the attributes of being a woman to our daughters then why shouldn’t those daughters aspire to be young men instead?

By female attributes, or social mores, I mean that we have it in our genes to be ‘the gentler sex’.

That playing with dolls leads to caring about how we dress, that by encouraging our daughters’ interest in neighbours’ babies (and good old babysitting) we also encourage the gentler aspects of a girl’s character.

Oh how unfashionable! What next, eye-fluttering and giggling? Well, why not? In British culture, sexual competitiveness has replaced mutual respect. So why aspire to something so ultimately self-defeating as sameness?

How tragic that being a young woman is significant for many girls only because by baring their flesh they can use this to win male attention.

France, where I live with my daughters, is not (yet) experiencing the same level of teen-girl violence. I watch in fascination as my daughters Alex and Holly, aged eight and six, behave differently when they speak French than they do English.

They tilt their heads and a little smile that can best be described as coquettish (in its most innocent form) plays on their lips. In English they are blunt, bold and straightforward.

This may just be a language-based social tic. Except that what they are learning at school is undoubtedly how to be young ladies. Here, you see, girls are both consciously and unconsciously encouraged to be coy, polite and ‘coquinne’ (cute).

We can all cringe at these words but bigger values seem to hide just behind them. This idea of femininity means that girls are considered as worth protecting, by society and their male peers.

...Girl violence comes from self-loathing and insecurity. No happy, stable human being gets a ‘kick’ out of harming another. Girls who carry out such attacks have been brutalised by society. The message in UK schools and beyond is this: be the same, to be different is to be the ‘weaker’ sex, fight for your rights.

I will fight for something a little different. I want my girls to be ... girls.

Now, that could have been written by a traditionalist, rather than by a woman who has devoted much of her life to the left.

I think we should be encouraged by this. It shows the possibility, as Sage McLaughlin wrote in his comment, of women becoming wearied by the liberal fantasy of making gender not matter.

Unfortunately, Lauren Booth chose to respond to her feelings of loss of community, of womanhood and of transcendence by turning to a non-Western tradition. But her case does show how individuals can turn, how they can weary of what liberalism offers and seek alternatives.


  1. Its cringeworthy to read her gyrations. Yes I want to be a woman, but anything but the old fashioned way. So she ends up in Islam, taking the turn into lala land. The left are so ridiculous. The point here is she thinks she's struck onto something new, women should be women. This is what we've known forever. Mark its an insult really to care about this woman. The left, as indicated by this example, are just rubbish. Why should she have a job that consists in writing about her idiocy? Why on earth does our society give these people such a prominent voice?

  2. So this is a quote for a Mail Online article asking why white middle class women are converting to Islam:

    "‘Many young Muslims have abandoned the “fire and brimstone” version they were born into have re-discovered a more spiritual and intellectual approach, that’s free from the cultural dogmas of the older generation. That’s how I intend to spend my life, showing the world the beauty of the true Islam.’

    Good luck with that.

  3. I don't know, Jesse. She actually sounds quite sincere. Perhaps she really is taking this all very seriously. I also feel as if I've "struck onto something new", and I'm eager to spread the word.

    I just wish she would have gone back to traditional Christianity, where she belongs. Perhaps spent less time with the Palistinians and more with her brother-in-law.

  4. It doesn't help that Christianity has been watered down in the west in to that weak lemonade we call ecumenism.

  5. Yeah, it sounds like she was looking for patriarchy. When she found it, it asked her to wear hijab.

  6. So having apparently devoted her life to the causes of leftism, that attacked community directly and indirectly in order to smash every single social structure between the individual and the leftist god of The Holy State, having done her part to pit women against men, having labored in the sour vineyard of leftist cant for years, Booth suddenly wants some of the things back she so casually overturned in her younger days. But rather than admit error, wrongdoing, hurt, and then turn back, i.e. repent, Booth turns a different direction, in support of a religion that can be described as demonic.

    And for this, we are to be thankful?

    Yes, it is good to see an aging leftist have some second thoughts. But it's think gruel, because to rebuild the institutions that have been damaged or even smashed is going to be harder, and more time consuming, than the destruction was, and I do not see Booth or any other lefties offering to engage in any of the heavy lifting to get that done.

    I am obliged to feel pity for her, that is true, but not to praise her.

  7. May the only true God forgive her. That bit could have been written by a traditionalist conservative, although it is perhaps somewhat dubious as far as the French part is concerned. I could testity to that.

    Anonymous wrote that "Christianity has been watered down in the west in to that weak lemonade we call ecumenism."
    I am not sure the Pope has been watering down Roman Catholic dogmas of late, he spoke out loudly against multiculturalism whilst one of his cardinals lambasted Heathrow as typical of a Third World country. Of course, many Christians tend to water down their beliefs by constantly trying to reconcile them with liberal tenets, which more often than not ends up defiling these very beliefs. Nonetheless, many Christians still stick to their religion in earnest. Keep faith in Christianity, the backlash is coming fast in Europe.

    Alte wrote that "she [Lauren Booth] was looking for patriarchy. When she found it, it asked her to wear hijab."
    She may still live to regret that choice and leave Islam if she experiences some of its nastier aspects. After all, Al-Bukhari claimed that "I have not seen one any more deficient in intelligence and religion than women" (2:541). Wait until she finds out about her 'rights' regarding inheritance, the (in)significance of her testimony before a court, the way you prove rape in Islam, or the fact she may be 'ploughed' as often as pleases her lusty husband (Surah 2:223). Well, let us hope she does not find out about the doom awaiting apostates, for that should deter her... Let us hope for her sake it is not too late, then. May others walk the right path and find solace in God.

  8. She may still live to regret that choice and leave Islam if she experiences some of its nastier aspects.

    Why would she? If there's anything that Islam is successful at, it's convincing new reverts that up is down, black is white, and that their old moral boundaries must be eliminated.

    For another example, Cat "Peace Train" Stevens is a big supporter of Hamas, notwithstanding the anti-war rhetoric of his youth. You'd think a bleeding-heart lefty like Cat would find terror, torture, and murder repugnant and repent his conversion, but you'd be wrong.

  9. The Pope on multiculturalism:
    Ratzinger’s theme was “the spiritual roots of Europe,” and he criticized a culture that gave value and protection to other religions — notably Judaism and Islam — but that denied the same to Christianity. With his trademark bite, he identified “a peculiar Western self-hatred that is nothing short of

    ...and Heathrow does remind one of a Third World country. India or Bangladesh, or something. Last time we were there, we couldn't understand anyone because of their thick South Asian accents. Much of London is like that, in fact. Good curry, though.

    Leftists hate the Catholic Church for a reason. Remember what the Pope said about Islam in the Regensburg lecture, and his defense of complementarianism?

    Germany is feeling a multi-culti backlash, as well. The right is gaining across Europe. From The Economist this weekend:
    Germany’s bestselling book is “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (“Germany does away with itself”), a warning by a director of the Bundesbank, since forced out of his job, that too much child-bearing by the poor and by immigrants (especially Muslims), and too little by the educated classes, dooms the country to decline. The book’s popularity has shaken Germany. Xenophobic parties play little role in politics, but the resentments that feed their popularity elsewhere are just as potent. A third of Germans think the country is overrun by foreigners, according to a newly published poll; a majority favour “sharply restricting” Muslim religious practice. Over a tenth would even welcome a Führer who would govern with “a strong hand”—a sign that the embers of extremism still glow.

    Conservative politicians, long fearful of being outflanked on the right, are pandering. Horst Seehofer, head of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), declared this month that Germany needs no further immigration from Turkey or the Arab world. Germany is “not an immigration country”, he insisted, contradicting a hard-won consensus among conservatives. Characteristically, Angela Merkel, the CDU chancellor, sought to placate anti-immigrant sentiment without stooping to populism. Multiculturalism has “absolutely failed”, she said on October 16th, implying that immigrants would be expected to integrate better into German society. But she balanced this by admitting that Islam “is part of Germany”.

    I haven't read the book yet, but I am planning on it.

  10. Yes Alte there's nothing wrong with genuine conversion, I guess. The quote I offered wasn't from Booth but another middle class women. Her argument was that all the "unpleasant" aspects that we associate with Islam aren't actually in the religion but "cultural", ie old school Arab, additions. Real Islam is about peace blah. So she wants to take on the "dinosaurs" within Islam to show the "real" religion, which is what I suppose many have attempted with Christianity. This is all ridiculous wishful thinking. You latch onto one bit you like and think you can ignore the rest.

  11. So lets assume she's successful and manages to "feminise" Islam. Is this the real motive here? To find the strongly male things, feminise them, and then move on? The Army is perhaps one example. The commentators, usually women, arguing for more gender equality in the army don't actually care about the army or its effectiveness, but gender equality. So they make it more whimpy then lose interest and look for something else.

  12. Yes, feminists are like locusts that way.

    I downloaded the book and will start reading it immediately. I'll give y'all a review when I'm done.

  13. Alte:
    Leftists hate the Catholic Church for a reason. Remember what the Pope said about Islam in the Regensburg lecture, and his defense of complementarianism?

    Yes, and I also recall how he backed down as soon as he was criticized for it. It is all too typical of all cultural, political and/or religious leaders in the West to back away from telling the hard truths about Islam, because as soon as they do so they are accused of "discrimination", one of the few actions that the secular world recognizes as something approximating sin.

  14. "Yes, and I also recall how he backed down as soon as he was criticized for it".

    Come now it was gusty to raise it. People pushing conservative arguments have to walk a very fine line or they get subject to very strong attack, which is what we're seeing with intensification of the sex abuse scandal.

  15. Perhaps she has left Christianity because she thinks it is inseparable from feminism?

  16. "Unfortunately, Lauren Booth chose to respond to her feelings of loss of community, of womanhood and of transcendence by turning to a non-Western tradition."

    What Booth has done is follow in the footsteps of the Radical Traditionalists (aka the Traditionalist School), without even knowing it. The so-called Nouvelle Droit also follows this path, by the way.

  17. Last time I checked the Pope backed Muslims (propped up by foreign Muhadjadeen)agianst Christians, the Balkans are testimony to this.

  18. Thanks for the details, Alte, it is exactly what I meant, but you did it more justice than I did. As for Thilo Sarrazin's book, I cannot wait to read his book, thanks God, I have some measure of proficiency in German. Would you mind sending me the book as you managed to download it? There is no way I could do it here as I am connected through my university's network, and it is closely monitored. Here is my e-mail address:

  19. Ugh. It turns out that I downloaded a review of his book. It isn't available on Kindl yet, unfortunately.

  20. Anonymous, the Pope didn't "back Muslims" during the siege of Constantinople, any more than Elizabeth I "backed Muslims" at Lepanto by not offering help to the resistance against Ottoman expansionism.

    The heights of idiocy that Cathlophobic bigots are driven to never ceases to amaze... it does illustrate how much they are not assets to the struggle to save the Christian West.

  21. I am one hundred percent behind the agenda of a return to traditional gender roles, but the way she frames it sickens me. Women have this almost insurmountable tendency to see females as victims, no matter the situation. So the abhorrent way in which modern women act is now because of a society that praises masculinity and not femininity? Women are victims and have been brutalized by society? Will anybody in this world EVER hold women accountable for their own actions?

    I can't stand it. Its the same trip Laura Wood was on at one stage and probably still is for all I know.


    Utterly exhausting.

  22. "Ugh. It turns out that I downloaded a review of his book. It isn't available on Kindl yet, unfortunately."
    All right, I will probably go to Germany sometime around Christmas, and I shall get a paper copy.

    "The heights of idiocy that Cathlophobic bigots are driven to never ceases to amaze... it does illustrate how much they are not assets to the struggle to save the Christian West."
    I strongly agree with you; such claims are utterly ridiculous. Now is not the time to re-stage the Reformation Wars, we need to put aside our minor differences and rally behind the standard of Christendom. Of course, the Pope never sanctioned the sack of Constantinople by Mehmet II's Ottoman Empire, nor did Rome ever condone the invasion of the Balkans. Quite the opposite, it threw its weight behind Hungary to fend off the Turk.

  23. I have the essay response from Duthel. There are significant excerpts from the original in it, and I'm about 1/3 of the way through now. I must say that I'm disappointed, but not surprised.

    Sarazzin acknowledges some of the essential problems, but he's an SPD-er at heart. All of his preferred solutions are secularist and state-based. It's just more leftist populism. I suppose I'm a right-populist who prefers a return to Kinder, Kirche, Küche rather than mandatory schooling at 3 years old.

    I've been sorely reminded of why we fled Germany, in the first place. We're homeschoolers; educational refugees, as it were. We both really miss it, though. My husband is always complaining now that we left Germany just to get to America in time for the crash over here and a boom over there. And the house we've bought has lost about 25% of its value already. Oh, well.

    Are you in/from Alsace (.fr in your address)?

  24. I am not so surprised, Alte, coming from the SPD, I did not expect even Sarrazin to openly take on a traditionalist stance. Neither is he a traditionalist at heart, though many of his comments on the German welfare state rather belong to the CDU/CSU category which is hardly a hallmark of conservatism these days. As far as I am aware, I believe he is an atheist, and is not likely to stand for Christian civilisation. His Weltanschauung for Germany is therefore entirely different, and will never coincide with ours. However, these are interesting developments, because it means even the dozy left can, every now and then, face the truth instead of assuming its usual stolidity. So, yes, no surprise so far, although I still want to lay hold of one copy as soon as possible.

    I do like Germany, and I think there is some potential for a conservative revival there. As you correctly conjectured, I am from Alsace. Well, it is a bit complicated. I am originally from Southern France, but I am studying at the University of Strasbourg (and currently doing one year abroad, in Scotland, as part of my curriculum). However, I feel strongly about Alsace and I love this part of France, although I consider myself French first and foremost.

    If I may ask, where are you from in Germany? I am well acquainted with Baden-Württemberg and Niedersachsen, especially Hanover and Freiburg im Breisgau, but I know little else of Germany, except through my readings and links with German people.

  25. It's pretty obvious that Sarazzin thinks patriarchal religions are more part of the problem than part of the solution. His suggestion of paying educated German women 50K Euros for each baby is particularly daft. That would just encourage their hypergamy and further discourage them from marriage. As if Germany's problem is that it doesn't have enough bastards.

    I was born in Stuttgart, but consider myself Bavarian now. I've been in Strasbourg quite often, on private visits and business, and it is by far my favorite part of France. My cousin lives in Freiburg, so I visit there sometimes. A really beautiful area. And the food! And the wine! Gorgeous weather, as well.

    I also really liked Toulouse (I was there regularly for business, and took a nice jaunt down to Collioure with the train) but all of these North African men chased me around the city, which soured me on it. They are very aggressive there, which was a shock for me after the restrained German and Alsatian men. In Germany or Alsace I never felt afraid to travel alone, or walk around the city in the evening. My French colleagues started escorting me out in the evening for dinner. They were very embarrassed by it all, and assured me that it is not the French way to harrass women like that.

  26. Sarrazin of course is SPD, so his solutions will be statist and leftist. The remarkable thing, however, is that the SPD left is now at least beginning to critique multiculturalism. The SPD distanced itself from Sarrazin, of course, and isn't saying what Merkel is now saying, for example, but Sarrazin is expressing the views of many in the SPD and the German left in general (as well as the left in other continental countries) that something has indeed gone terribly wrong when it comes to the situation of Islam in Europe.

    Strasbourg is kind of pseudo-France. It's so close to Germany, and Alsatian culture in general is such a mish-mash, that it doesn't feel as much like France to me. To me, one gets a better sense of where France is at by going to Paris and getting on the local (not the express) train between Paris and CDG Airport, through the northern suburbs. That's where France is at right now, really.

  27. I laughed when I read the Economist article and they quoted Seehofer. Trust the good Bavarian man to be so blunt.

    Strasbourg is kind of pseudo-France.

    Of course. That is why I prefer it.

    That's where France is at right now, really.

    Yes, but why would I want to go there? To be chased around by a bunch of uneducated, unemployed jerks who think a young woman walking alone in a sleeveless shirt is hoping to be gang-raped? If I want to do that, I can go to Morocco. Or Rome. Or Stockholm. Or Neukölln. Or Hamburg.

    Oh dear.

    I will go to my (still) nice Strasbourg, eat my flammekueche, wash it down with a decent Pinot gris, and make small-talk with the polite Alsatians around me. It is like Germany, but they have a French accent and finer food. Ideal, really.

  28. Will anybody in this world EVER hold women accountable for their own actions?

    No, of course not. You are tilting at windmills.

    Both the liberals and the conservatives are subtly acknowledging the fact that women are not the same as men, by treating them like mislead dependents rather than fully-accountable adults. At least Christianity -- minus the Victorian pedestalization -- holds women to account for the basics (do not murder, do not steal, do not commit adultery, etc.) The liberals don't even bother with that.

    Now that we've all reached this sensible consensus and have acknowledged that women are often rather silly and stupid, can we please re-establish patriarchy and be done with it already? How much longer do we have to keep up the charade? Do the inmates have to run the ayslum?

  29. Okay, last post so that I don't drive you guys crazy. Have you seen this already: Wer in Deutschland am ärmsten ist

    According to the statistics from 2008, the poorest group in Germany is single women. The wealthiest group is intact families (father, mother, 2+ children). Of course, cause and effect is being hotly debated in the comments.

    Who wants to bet that some idiot politician will take this as a reason to champion more money for single mothers?

  30. I feel most comfortable in Strasbourg, although we also tend to attract the same trash as many other big 'French' cities. Toulouse can no longer be considered French, not to mention Paris. Strolling down the streets in Toulouse does not feel like visiting France, but rather Algeria, Morocco or Chad. Strasbourg is a different matter altogether, because, as you mentioned, it is a kind of in-between, and Alsace is arguably France's most conservative region. Strasbourg is both French and Germanic, distinctly Alsatian in short. I do understand your concern; I am always worried whenever my mother and sister must go to Toulouse. We are in dire straits, this is beyond dispute, Novaseeker, but the backlash will be all the more violent because of it. The French 'far-right' is amid the most powerful of Europe, and it is clearly on the rise. I can assure you, Alte, that most natives (I cannot refer to 'French' people as many of the invaders have been naturalised over time) would never dare harass women, as far as I am concerned, my manners are gentlemanly, and I am shocked by this kind of dissolute, lusty behaviour, which is, alas, customary amid these uncivilised tribes.

    Freiburg is a lovely city as well, quite likeable, the only disadvantage being it is ruled by a Watermelon from Bündnis 90/die Grünen. I remember vividly that I used to sit at that restaurant's terrace when a group of Muslim women (I have to assume they were women since we could not see their faces) trotted by in full burqas, all conversations suddenly ceased and everyone stared at them in pointed silence. There is hope for Germany.

  31. Okay, last LAST comment. LOL.

    There is still hope in Southern Germany. In the East you have the communists and the north has been overrun by immigrants already. But the southern men still have their dignity left, I think, and aren't simply going to bend over and take this. A last stand at the Alps?

    I do know many North African or Middle Eastern engineers (my former colleagues) who are very gentlemanly. But they are mostly Christian or Bahai.

    It's also wrong to judge a culture solely by the elite. If you want to know what they really think of women, look at the lower classes. Even the French native working-class men have never been anything but polite to me. They certainly didn't frighten me or chase me down in the street! The same goes for native Dutch men, Austrian men, Swiss men, etc.

    That is the logical mistake the left is often making. They point to Muslim engineers, scientists, and moderate politicians and hold them up as "typical Muslim immigrants". But they are atypical, so dismissing concerns as exceptions is just an attempt to deny the reality that women are facing in their daily lives. European women increasingly feel unsafe in their cities, and restricted in their movements. European men shouldn't have to worry about protecting their women; living in Europe should be the protection.

  32. It may seem odd but I deliberately wanted to live in multicultural Sydney specifically in part because it was multicultural. To add another white face to it. I must admit though that I don't have to worry about my safety, I'm neither pansy enough to invite attack nor aggressive enough to provoke it. It also kind of helps if you half want to be attacked ;).