26 March, 2012
I'll believe it when it happens
But if it does happen then halleluiah! The EU has recently backed down on proposals to require labelling of "non-stunned meat", the opposition from Jewish and Muslim lobbyists seemingly being driven primarily by economic considerations: the kosher and halal markets are cross-subsidized by the unacknowledged sale of unstunned meat into the wider secular market, both excess ritually qualified meat as well as meat which for whatever arcane reason has failed the ritualistic rigmarole.
I don't know what's driving the apparent flurry of government activity reported by the Mail. Presumably "They" have noticed that the natives are getting restless, be it from stories in the Mail, the street activism of the EDL, the allegations of Marine LePen, or whatever. The natives are getting restless, and can no longer be quelled by tut-tutting by the and the veiled threat of accusations of racism. Something must be done, or at the very least said.
Well, we shall see what we shall see. But there is one aspect of this issue which is worth commenting on here and now. When opposing the clandestine spread of halal (and, in principle at least, kosher) products, it has become conventional to speak purely in animal welfare terms, to focus exclusively on the cruelty of slitting the throat of a fully conscious beast, something which is done in dhabihah slaughter so that, it would appear, the dying animal will hear the prayer of thanks to Allah which sanctifies its death and presumably be duly grateful.
Opponents of halal take the cruelty line in order to sidestep accusations of racism.
The trouble with this approach, which is essentially a variant of the "I'm not racist but..." pre-emptive cringe, is that like other such cringes it leaves you wide open to easy distractive counter-attack from the Righteous.
The vegetarian Righteous will simply sidetrack the discussion into a general argument about how dreadfully cruel all slaughter of meat animals is. The carnivorous Righteous will argue that animal welfare standards at British farms and slaughterhouses are open to criticism generally on a variety of grounds, so what's with the preoccupation with Muslim and Jewish cultural requirements, hmm? Not being racist are we, hmm?
All perfectly reasonable no doubt, but apt to bog you down in irrelevances while the halal slaughterhouses gradually become the norm as a matter of supplier convenience and effective control of the meat industry passes more or less incidentally into Muslim hands.
There's nothing wrong with arguing against the cruelty of unstunned slaughter. There's nothing wrong in arguing more generally for a decent life and a death with minimal fear for the animals that we rear to eat.
But that is not the primary issue here, is it?
The primary issue is a cultural one. I am an Englishman and an atheist of Christian social heritage. This is my people's homeland, my people's culture has primacy here, and I expect to be able to buy, by default, meat and other food prepared according to my people's cultural standards.
Irrespective of animal-welfare considerations, I prefer not to eat meat slaughtered by some bearded nutter muttering "Bismillah! Allahu Akbar" or whatever the required formulation is as he slits the bewildered and terrified beast's throat, in order to sanctify the slaughter.
This bizarre practice is, for the time being at least, tolerated in this country. By our leave. That may not always be the case. But while it is I do not expect it to be foisted on me unbeknown, whether for the convenience of lazy suppliers or in order to appease and accommodate colonists.
Remember you don't have to apologize for being British.
Rant ends. Innit.
I expect there are countless McDonald's customers who care not if the chicken they feast on -- or what can be rendered from its carcass anyway -- was prayed for by someone in a foreign language. I expect too the chicken doesn't care over much at this point, just as it didn't if it ever heard its Latin name spoken aloud.
If God exists I expect he/she/it has got used to the idea of animals dying by now too, so hardly needs placated.
But the annoyance is that the religious requirement of someone muttering in front of a dying animal has become important not only to a relatively small number of people (though God knows they seek to expand their numbers on the the back of free money from the Brits) but also to all of us, even if we aren't a fully paid-up members of the Mo fan club. Many institutions, anxious they might lose custom, routinely offer everyone halal meat (and by the way I don't recall this ever being a problem with Kosher as the Jewish community as they went to their own butchers and steered clear of the rest) purely as a safeguard. Naturally this obsession of pandering to the cultists includes schools -- no surprise as many schools have to adapt to the numerous tribes arriving -- but quietly too reaches many work places who as yet don't employ muslims, mostly because the RoP would rather own corner shops or drive taxis, and even reaches in to old people's homes when there are very few of that persuasion in their places.
But it is our national fear that someone just might be upset that drives so much of our life now and halal is just one small aspect of this ongoing nightmare we have hoisted on ourselves.
I am sure there are muslim approved butchers and as far as I am concerned they can shop there and take their own sandwiches wherever they go. It would relieve us of this terrible offence-may-be-taken anxiety that drags us down.
Incidentally, I worked with a muslim woman who, scared to death her allah would be angry if non-hahal meat passed her lips, only ate cheese at work or outside her home. Perhaps she knew if was made with rennet from halal sources, or she just hoped allah wouldn't notice, being busy as he/she/it is with making galaxies. Last I saw she was fine, so either allah didn't care or will get round to it one day. Until then, don't worry.
Worrying is only what we Brits do, to make everyone else's life easier.
Any arguement or excuse for not simply telling The Truth here is going down the "two wrongs make a right"...which is no excuse at all.
The Brits appear to have forgotten the obvious answer of;
"Yes, so what?"
What IS all this fear of being labelled racist?
Here I am RACIST AND BLOODY PROUD OF THE FACT!