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Friday, February 09, 2007

Some of my best friends are black

This is absolutely brilliant.

A group of parents at a school in West Hampstead are upset and protesting against the school’s decision to serve kids halal meat only.

Now, in fairness to the school, they did do a poll among parents, to which many of these parents didn’t bother responding, and the school therefore had the go ahead to make the decision it did. Furthermore, it’s fairly understandable that – in a school with a 77% Muslim intake – the school would be keen to find a fair and cost effective way of catering to all. In today’s anti-Muslim climate, I’d say it's worth pointing out that this was clearly a financially motivated decision, rather than one based on misplaced religious sensitivies.

Nonetheless, you can sympathise with the position of a group of non-religious parents, in a non-denominational school, being angry that decisions are being made on religiously-sensitive grounds that affect their children. As someone who personally rejects all religion, I know I wouldn’t be happy if I discovered my children were being fed kosher food in a non-denominational school. (The only way it would be acceptable would be if I’d sent them to the Jewish Free School. You get the point).

Anyway, this brings me to the point of view of Jacqueline Gomm, one of the parents in question – or, as she’s described by the Guardian, a ‘protest leader’.

She starts off reasonably enough: “I deny being guilty of racism”. Quite right.
However, where she could have gone on to justify her protest on the grounds that – ooooh, I dunno – “the method of killing animals for halal meat is cruel and unnecessary, and as the parent of a child whose religion doesn’t demand the eating of halal, I object to their being forced to eat it. I have as much right for my needs and interests to be represented as those who, in this school or elsewhere, operate from within the dictates of faith”.

She could have done that. Instead, she said this:

“I totally deny being guilty of racism. We allow people to come into this country and we end up being in a minority. We accommodate other cultures at the expense of ours.”

Oh dear.

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