Cameron and Muslim women: a new twist on an old colonial story

Before David Cameron launched himself this week into a critique of the English language skills of Muslim women in the UK, he would have done well to take a tour of Tate Britain’s exhibition Artist and Empire. It’s a deeply unsettling reminder of a past that the British have made an art of half-forgetting.

This is painting by the square metre: huge canvases to demonstrate the struggle and the glory of British expansionary militarism. It’s a reminder that spreading that pink across the globe was a brutally violent process. But it was the undercurrent of erotic thrill to empire that is even more disturbing.

Imperial maps are bordered by large-breasted maidens holding cornucopia brimming with exotic fruits for the conqueror. One portrait of a coy, bare-breasted woman was that of a hostage imprisoned by James Cook in his cabin as part of negotiations with a recalcitrant indigenous people in the Pacific. Empire offered an abundance of available women; in contrast the imperialists’ womenfolk are dressed and presented in domestic settings, safely established under male control as wives and daughters. [1419 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 541 votes] So, an inability to speak English after a decade or more in the country is a good thing, because it is sticking two fingers up to 19th century British colonialism?

[2ND 352] OMG Guardian stop embarrassing yourselves…

[3RD 343 ] This insane article makes me bristle with anger. It seems the Guardian sees racism and imperialism in everything.

Cameron was making a sensible remark about immigrants who can’t speak English: if they are to integrate and be financially independent, they need to learn it. It’s sensible – really rare thing for Cameron.

“No issue is more likely to incense Muslim families than targeting their mothers and grandmothers; it will be seen as a threatening and unwarranted intrusion into their private domestic lives.”

Then they should grow up. Immigrants who refuse to do the minimum and learn at least some English should not be allowed to stay permanently. Other nations have similar policies – for example, Norway.

“In the Muslim homes I have visited it was clear that the women were extremely busy cooking and caring for many family members.”

Aren’t traditional values lovely? If only white women could be as easily domesticated as the brown ones.

Truly pathetic!

[4TH 332] “In the Muslim homes I have visited it was clear that the women were extremely busy cooking and caring for many family members.”

And why shouldn’t they be content with that eh..?

[5TH 315] Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims in the UK hail from the same background and were all affected by colonialism. When you study how the communities have progressed there are startling differences (muslims with degrees 20%, Sikhs: 30%, Hindus: 45%). The key issue is the progress made by respective women. The better the women are integrated the better the whole community does. If you stand in the way of progress of women then you suffer. See: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/cmpo/migrated/documents/ethnicityreligion.pdf [Guardian Cif]

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