16 December, 2008
A cat among the pigeons
A Sikh cat among the Muslim pigeons, indeed. His Grace brings us news of an interesting dilemma for the ever so politically correct administrators of our schools.
In summary, halal meat is being served unadvised to children at a London primary school. A Sikh parent has found out about this and is complaining, halal slaughter being anathema to the Sikh religion. For all I know, the origins of this Sikh precept might well lie in the desire of the Gurus to distance Sikhism as much as possible from the practices of Hinduism and Islam rather than in profound theological considerations, but that is hardly the point. Them's the rules, Bro. Just as the spelling of modern Dutch reflects a desire to make Dutch as visually distinct from German as possible. So it goes, it's their language, Fritz.
Personally I have been an atheist since the age of 10, but I am nonetheless the product of a historically Christian North European culture which profoundly informs my cultural and social outlook. This, I think, is what people largely mean when they refer to the UK as a Christian country. The dwindling proportion of actively practising, church-going Anglicans, much touted by the Righteous Left in their relentless promotion of Islam, is beside the point.
I object strenuously to the presumption that, because I am a Godless Heathen, I am amoral and up for anything. And specifically in the present context the presumption that I would be happy to accept meat slaughtered according to halal or indeed shechita practice. Whether or not halal slaughter is cruel in comparison to pre-stunning is an interesting and worthwhile question. There is much about the mainstream slaughter of food animals in this country that merits attention, not least the large distances travelled under stressful and unfamiliar conditions to the few remaining abattoirs. But all this is moot. I object to eating halal meat in the UK on the grounds that it is prepared according to alien religious practice to which I do not subscribe and with which I am largely unsympathetic. I also object on the principle of bloody-mindedness: this is my people's culture, it is up to "them" to assimilate to our requirements, not vice versa. It is up to me which alien cultural foibles I choose to make accommodation for in my own country.
Of course, if my kids were at this school and I complained, I would be dismissed out of hand as a racist. I might even receive a visit from the police, and social services might give serious consideration to taking the sprogs into care. But here we have a complaint from a member of an Approved Minority. The powers that be have to listen and respond.
Let fur and feather fly.