Wednesday 13 May 2009

Burchill, the burkha and the British left

I've never been a big Julie Burchill fan. Her habit of taking on and casting off ideas and identities (communism, lesbianism, Christianity) like so many passing fashions, and simply for their shock value, exemplified one of the least attractive characteristics of the punk era (see also Joe Strummer's Brigate Rosse t-shirt, Siouxsie's swastika armband, etc).  

Julie redeemed herself somewhat (in my eyes, anyway) with Not in My Name, the book in which she and Chas Newkey-Burden had a go at various modern liberal hypocrisies. (I see that Chas, bless him, has been displaying Burchillian tendencies of his own lately, with his cheerleading for Bibi Netanyahu. The reasoning seems to be: the rest of the left have turned anti-Zionist, so let's support the most hardline Zionist we can find. 'The middle ground' is not a term that has much appeal for these guys. Great blog, though, Chas.)

Fortunately, Burchill is just the kind of maverick, counter-intuitive commentator that the Guardian adores. Which means she can get away with saying things about the British left, and the paper itself, which would normally be ruthlessly excluded from its pages, as in today's conversation with Julie Bindel. Here's a taster:

Bindel: I know you get really pissed off with what seems to be a liberal consensus which results in a love-relationship between the British left and fascist Muslim fundamentalists. Is the Guardian also guilty of this?

Burchill: Very much so. It's really weird how many allegedly leftwing men are prepared to forgive and even justify the most reactionary statements and behaviour so long as those peddling it are darker-skinned. Amazingly babyish and simple-minded.

Bindel: You are very outspoken about the burkha being a tool of women's oppression.

Burchill: Apart from the obvious repressive and misogynist offensiveness of the burkha - and it insults men as well as women, implying as it does that they are slavering beasts who will turn into rapists with one glimpse of an ankle - it strikes me as extremely disrespectful to the Creator. We are saying that the body He created is sinful and must be hidden away like a nasty little secret. God created women to look like women; he didn't create them to look like parrot cages with a nightshade chucked over it.

1 comment:

Chas Newkey-Burden said...

I really do like Bibi, who is far from being the "most hardline Zionist". Thanks for your praise for my book and blog, though!