05 April 2015

Discrimination and Backlash: Two Different Cases

When I wrote recently that "women are the only minority on the planet that are universally discriminated against without any serious repercussions" I got some flack from people who perceive any pro-feminist statement as a misguided Political Correctness discourse.

I was not going to bother responding but then I stumbled upon a perfect illustration.

Discriminating Against Women

In February, the new Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstroem told her Parliament that Saudi Arabia " was a "dictatorship" that violated women's rights and whipped bloggers."

Wallstroem had previously been invited to address the Arab League after her government recognized Palestine last October. When she made those remarks, Saudi Arabia promptly moved to block her speech.

It also stopped issuing visas to Swedish citizens and recalled its ambassador.

The Kingdom also accused Wallstroem of "flagrant interference" into Saudi Arabia's internal affairs. And of course, the top Wahhabi ulema claimed she was disrespecting Islam.

A backlash ensued. Can you guess against whom?
There is speculation that Sweden may lose its ability to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2017, because of the Wallstrom Affair.  Swedish businessmen sent a letter stating that breaking the arms trade agreement with Saudi Arabia would thwart Sweden’s reputation as a trade and strategic partner.  Even Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf asked Wallstrom to compromise.  In the face of such severe criticism, Wallstron, a left-wing politician who took office promising that she would implement a feminist foreign policy, may have to capitulate and compromise.  
As the Guardian put it: "Sweden’s whole industrial establishment was ranged against Ms Wallström."

To put the claimed economic damage in context, Sweden's total exports to the Kingdom were $1.3 billion last year.

That represents just 1 percent of their exports.

The clincher is this:
Strangely, the western media has paid very little attention to this affair, and most western states have failed to indicate their support of Wallstrom.
Je suis Margot, indeed.

Discriminating Against Gays

Recently, the Republican Governor of Indiana Mike Pence passed a religious freedom act. He claimed that this was a legislation that mirrored a federal bill that was signed into law by Bill Clinton, the Federal Religion Restoration Act or FRF.

The Indiana law allows individuals, companies, churches and all kinds of legal persons to refuse a service to anyone if their religious beliefs directs them not to provide that service. (The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFR was designed to protect individuals from government interference in their religious practices).

Gay and Lesbian organizations quickly saw the potential for companies and churches and other parties refusing to serve gay couples. They asked the Governor Mike Pence to either add language to the bill to eliminate that possibility or pass an anti-discrimination legislation for gay, lesbian and transgender people.

He refused to do either.

A backlash ensued. Can you guess against whom?

Within days, businesses like Apple or Angie's List took a firm stand against the law. NCAA, which holds College basketball finals in Indiana issued a thinly veiled threat, as did the NFL. Other states like Connecticut banned state-paid trips to Indiana.

Within a week Mike Pence, despite many prominent conservatives coming to his defense, caved in and added new language to the bill.

I admire gay, lesbian and transgender association for what they did and how they stood up to discrimination. More power to them.

What is interesting and very instructive for me is the fact that when it is about women, the backlash is against the person who points out the discrimination.

But when it is against any other minority, the backlash is against the perpetrator of the discrimination.

Talk about Political Correctness.

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