Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dear Muslims: Quit yer bellyaching.


[Updated Tue, Oct 17, 12:20 p.m., probably not for the last time.]

My limit for tolerance can be pushed only so far, and this pretty much does it for me:

Britain's 2012 Olympic Committee was in crisis over the weekend after it was reported that the Summer Games that year will occur during Ramadan, the holy month of Islam when Muslims fast from sun-up to sundown.

One might initially have sympathy with the Muslims ... until one reads further to see the actual timeline. Let's start with the Olympic scheduling requirements (all emphasis added henceforth):

The International Olympic Committee requires the Games begin between July 15 and Aug. 31 but leaves the final decision to the host city.

All right, so we have a mandatory range for the start date for the Games, which normally run for just over two weeks. And that mandatory range turns out to clash badly with the month of Ramadan in 2012, doesn't it?

The 2012 Games are scheduled for July 27 to Aug. 12, while Ramadan, which follows a lunar cycle that moves it earlier each year by about 11 days, will run from July 21 to Aug. 20.

In short, Ramadan that year couldn't really be scheduled any more inconveniently with respect to the Games, could it? To minimize the damage, the British organizers had two choices. First, they could have scheduled as early as possible to start the Games on July 15, but that would have have still run into Ramadan only six days into the competition.

The other option would have been to wait until Ramadan was entirely over and start on Aug 21, which would have worked but would have pushed the last few days of the Games into September -- kind of making them the Autumn Games as opposed to the Summer Games. But one doesn't really need to get into this kind of nitpicking detail to be more than a little fed up with the complaining.

It's one thing to work around someone's schedule if that involves a day. Or maybe a few days. Or maybe even a week. But get serious -- if you choose to have a religious observance that spans a month, it's beyond reasonable to ask that the rest of the world put its plans on hold for you. You want to get spiritual for a month? Go wild, knock yourself out. But the rest of the planet has places to go, people to see and medals to win. You're more than welcome to join the festivities. Whoops, got other plans? Sorry to hear that. Feel free to drop by again in four years, we'll be doing it all over again.

(It's even more aggravating that Ramadan, as the article describes, "follows a lunar cycle that moves it earlier each year by about 11 days," which makes long-term planning even more difficult since you're trying to hit a moving target year after year. Talk about making planners' lives as difficult as possible.)

In short, let's not make this into an issue of religious intolerance, because it just isn't. It's simply a question of scheduling and logistics. Hey, we got some Games going on, you're welcome to come on down. Oh, you're busy? Too bad.

Whether Muslims choose to observe Ramadan faithfully is entirely their decision, so let them (individually, if need be) make that decision. And let them accept the consequences. Ideally, without the childish whining. God knows, we get enough of that from the Christians around here.

IS IT JUST ME, or is there a veritable infestation of "anonymous" wankery going on lately, as the first commenter takes umbrage with my alleged double standard:

Wow, CC, you really are the world's biggest hypocrite. Back here, you called Kate McMillan all kinds of names toward the bottom for a post she wrote making fun of Muslims and this Olympics thing. And here you are, doing exactly the same thing.

Not surprisingly, "anonymous" has missed the point, the mark and pretty much the whole planet. Let's see what I actually wrote in that earlier post:

OH, IRONY OF IRONIES. There's something pants-wettingly funny about the Canadian wingnut-o-sphere moaning on and on about DoRA and how their delicate, religious sensibilities need to be protected, then having one of the most deranged among them publish a post accusing others of being crybabies.

Note carefully that I didn't just make fun of Kate's position. Rather, I made fun of the idea of someone accusing others of being crybabies, when the Christian wanker community have made petulant, infantile whining a veritable way of life (do I really need to mention the "Defence of Religions" Act yet again?). In short, I was pointing out Kate's hypocrisy on the topic.

I, on the other hand, have every right to have written this piece since I make it a habit of treating all childish complaining about alleged religious persecution with the same measure of utter contempt. In short, I am being totally consistent, as you're welcome to verify with an old post of mine in which I show that it's not beyond various snivelling Christians to demand that others change their sports schedules to accommodate them.

Therefore, thusly and Q.E.D., I have been perfectly consistent, while Kate is still a hypocritical wanker. Are we done here?

BILLIONS AND BILLIONS SERVED? Commenter "mike" makes a number of points, one of which I'll respond to right now:

... choosing to schedule the games unnecessarily during a period of fasting for members of the world's second largest religion with 1.4 billion adherents worldwide is completely unreasonable in my opinion.

You use that number "1.4 billion" as if it's somehow meaningful. It isn't. As many people are aware, female athletes in Muslim countries are subject to a shitload of abuse for doing things that female athletes in the Western world take for granted -- training in public, wearing normal (revealing) athletic apparel, that sort of thing. For more details, feel free to start here.

What this means is that, even though Islam might have 1.4 billion followers, there's no possible way that you can make the case that that number fairly represents the number of potential Olympic participants -- not when Muslim women have the odds stacked against them from the very beginning.

So it would be howlingly hypocritical for (male) Muslim leaders to rant on about how the timing of the 2012 Olympics is so totally, totally unfair to Muslims when, in many cases, Muslim women have absolutely no hope of ever participating in the first place, thanks to those very same misogynists.

Tp paraphrase an old joke, it's sort of like killing your parents, then complaining how tough life is as an orphan. Sort of like that.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, CC, you really are the world's biggest hypocrite. Back here, you called Kate McMillan all kinds of names toward the bottom for a post she wrote making fun of Muslims and this Olympics thing. And here you are, doing exactly the same thing.

But I'll bet you don't even realize how hypocritical you are.

The Strong Conservative said...

CC:
I know I'm banned, but I agree with you on this one. See, we can find common ground.
Cheers.

Mike said...

CC:

While I often agree with a large amount of what you post, I must take strong issue with this post.

Taken from the official Olympic Movement website, the stated goal of the movement is:

According to the Olympic Charter, established by Pierre de Coubertin, the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

Despite what I think of the current state of affairs of the Olympic Movement, choosing to schedule the games unnecessarily during a period of fasting for members of the world's second largest religion with 1.4 billion adherents worldwide is completely unreasonable in my opinion.

The way you write your post, you make it sound as if all of a sudden, all Muslims decided to get a haircut during the Olympics and are now having a gripe. It's about a very important part of one's spiritual beliefs, and the level of insignificance with which you describe this event seems quite callous.

The other option would have been to wait until Ramadan was entirely over and start on Aug 21, which would have worked but would have pushed the last few days of the Games into September -- kind of making them the Autumn Games as opposed to the Summer Games.

While we are dealing with completely arbitrary dates here, the last time I checked, Autumn started around the 21st of September. The beginning of summer is not called "kind of spring" and the end of summer is not called "kind of autumn." I think that using the dates that the IOC sets out for the Olympic Games would be more than appropriate, and as you point out, could be scheduled to not coincide with Ramadan.

(It's even more aggravating that Ramadan, as the article describes, "follows a lunar cycle that moves it earlier each year by about 11 days," which makes long-term planning even more difficult since you're trying to hit a moving target year after year. Talk about making planners' lives as difficult as possible.)

With it being possible to find out the tides in practically every location on Earth well past your lifetime with a simple click of a mouse on an Internet-connected computer, trying to claim that some event that is following a lunar cycle will be too hard to determine in the future seems a tad absurd to me.

Mike said...

So it would be howlingly hypocritical for (male) Muslim leaders to rant on about how the timing of the 2012 Olympics is so totally, totally unfair to Muslims when, in many cases, Muslim women have absolutely no hope of ever participating in the first place.

I don't see how relevant it is to talk about how "howlingly hypocritical" you think the Muslim leaders are. I myself am not Muslim, (and I don't see how it's relevant anyways) and I have no problem ranting about how the timing is unfair. Discrimination is discrimination. Islam is a well established world religion that deserves to be taken into account.
Whatever gripes you may or may not have with it are not relevant to this discussion unless you are trying to say that Muslims shouldn't be allowed to participate because you don't like their religion, which is an entirely different can of worms.

Claiming that an already existing disadvantage in terms of participation somehow justifies putting them at a further disadvantage seems rather dubious. It's well known that many African countries' participation is limited because of the limited funding set aside for sport in impoverished nations. Would this for you amount to justification for excluding Africans from the Olympic Games?

Ti-Guy said...

I know I'm banned, but I agree with you on this one. See, we can find common ground.

And this is so typical...when it comes to criticising Muslims, the so-called Christians make a point of saying they agree.

I find this kind of "agreement" so passive-agressive. When anyone pulls this dodge with me, I tell him or her to "keep it."

The ideologically rigid enemy of my enemy (ideological rigidity) is NOT my friend.

Noel M said...

@mike

I don't believe that cc advocates that anyone should be denied the opportunity to participate, the point is that the timing of this "secular" event should not be subject to "religious" restrictions. As with any event, sports or otherwise, if your religious beliefs limit your participation, that's your problem, not the rest of the world's problem.

Mike said...

I don't believe that cc advocates that anyone should be denied the opportunity to participate, the point is that the timing of this "secular" event should not be subject to "religious" restrictions. As with any event, sports or otherwise, if your religious beliefs limit your participation, that's your problem, not the rest of the world's problem.

If the goal of the Olympic Games, as I mentioned earlier is "...to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play," then choosing to exclude a large part of the world's population unnecessarily does not match the mandate of the games. If the structure of the games can be altered as much as it is currently for the sake of the advertisers' profits, the start date can surely be moved a week or two for members of the world's second largest religion. I wouldn't be surprised if the true reason behind this was that if the dates were moved, it would interfere with some other advertising "gold mine."

M@ said...

choosing to exclude a large part of the world's population unnecessarily does not match the mandate of the games.

How is scheduling the games according to the rules of olympic games-scheduling "choosing" anything? As CC pointed out, part of the games is going to happen in Ramadan no matter what you do.

So what happens to Muslim athletes when Ramadan occurs before the olympic games? How do they deal with the disrupted training schedule then?

And what if I were scheduled to compete on my favourite saint's day, when I was supposed to be fasting and burning incense and lighting candles? Could we get the day moved then? There are an awful lot of Catholics in the world, you know.

I wouldn't be surprised if the true reason behind this was that if the dates were moved, it would interfere with some other advertising "gold mine."

Nor would I. But I'd want to see some kind of evidence for this, first, instead of throwing it around as a fact. I might even try to think of such a "gold mine". Have you managed that yet?

Closet Liberal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Closet Liberal said...

Not to rain on your parade (I kill me, I really do).

From a practical standpoint, weather is a factor. The driest months in England historically are April - July.

August on through December it gets consistently wetter.

If I were planning the Olympics and wanted to ensure all outdoor events completed, I would schedule as close to July as possible, religions be damned......

Mike said...

As CC pointed out, part of the games is going to happen in Ramadan no matter what you do.

m@:

As CC pointed out, Ramadan is over on August 20, and the Olympic Games must begin before the end of August. No conflict necessary here.

Nor would I. But I'd want to see some kind of evidence for this, first, instead of throwing it around as a fact. I might even try to think of such a "gold mine". Have you managed that yet?

I never claimed anything as fact. It's pure speculation.

CC said...

I was, in fact, about to make precisely the point that "closet liberal" made -- while the Games could technically have started after Ramadan, this is England we're talking about, where weather getting into September is getting seriously iffy.

At some point, the British organizers have every right to look after themselves and make the choices that are in the best interest of the Games.

'Nuff said.

Mike said...

"At some point, the British organizers have every right to look after themselves and make the choices that are in the best interest of the Games."

I've left your own italicizing in the quote above to show that your emphasis is clearly on self-interest and not on co-operation. Self-interest, as I am now stating for the third time, but seems to be passing right by some people, is contrary to the stated goals of the Olympic Games.

Having the right to do something does not in any way translate into that action being the right thing to do.

CC said...

Earth to Mike: Let me introduce you to reality. You don't run the Olympic Games on idealism. It takes money. Normally, lots of it.

So while any Games organizers are free to be as accommodating as possible, at some point, they have to be concerned with the bottom line. And if it made a significant difference financially to schedule the Games earlier in the year, then that was the right call.

Add to that the published issues regarding traffic and getting volunteers, and the later comments made here about possible weather problems getting into September, and I'm seeing less and less of a controversy all of the time.

If you want to live on idealism, be my guest. I'm guessing you've never tried to put on a sporting event. Hint: I have. You lose your youthful idealism in a hurry once the bills start coming in.

Mike said...

CC:

So, you're telling me to drop my idealism and live in "reality?" Sounds an awful lot like the arguments made the right wing that you apparently loathe.

Instead of advocating for cooperation and tolerance, you're telling me to follow the money.

Lovely.

aweb said...

The weather in Britain is too sketchy to schedule the games in September.

Ramadan, as it has been pointed out, is hardly a mystery or difficult to figure out 10 years in advance.

Sensible thing to do: tell the bidders for the games that year they must hold the games in late August/September, and if that might not work, too bad. A lot of countries are too hot in July, and would be a lot better off with the games in late summer.

Does anyone think the Olympic committee, largely run by corrupt bureaucrats, gave even a first thought to possible religious conflicts?

Lexington said...

It seems to me the real problem is that IOC imposes an arbitrary requirement that the games must start between July 15 and August 31. That's a six week window in which to hold a two week event.

If the IOC had been a little more flexible and allowed a start date on, say, July 1 the whole issue could have been avoided.

I'm not sympathetic to the "let the Muslims suck it up" argument because the fact is the IOC would never dream of telling Christians the same thing.

Don't believe me? Try scheduling the winter games for the last week of December.

The truth is that western dominated organizations, and that includes virtually all the ones that matter, routinely defer to Christian sensibilities (often quite unconsciously) even as they are savaged by cultural warriors (with zealous Christians all too often in the van) for trying to accomodate non Christian faiths.

If the IOC really wants to live up to its own ideals it must change to accomodate the reality of a world with multiple faiths. Treating Muslims like disenfranchised outsiders is a recipe not only for splitting the movement but for facilitating the "clash of civilizations" that anyone who isn't a Christian zealot drunk on dreams of chiliastic glory would rather avoid.

Niles said...

You know, it's a bit ironic that an argument about religion has broken out over the Olympic games, which were originally in homage to the classical Greek gods (and a chance to show off).

Since the dates of Ramadan past can be looked up and the history of the Olympics can be looked up, how many times has Ramadan come and gone within the window of the Olympics? How was it dealt with before this by Muslim athletes? My understanding is exceptions can be made to the fasting although I'm not clear on the guidelines to that.

Why are some of the commentors making it sound as if /all/ Muslims are going to be affected by this unfortunate alignment of events rather than the athletes directly competing? I mean, the Olympics also run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, days of prayer for the peoples of the Book. Should Jewish athletes of a certain orthodoxy be exempted from competing on their Sabbath? Should evangelical Christians? I can't even guess what religious sacrifices are made by athletes of other faiths in order to compete. Is there an Olympic level athlete unaware of the possible conflicts that might arise between spiritual and internationally competitive needs?

Once you start making allowances on the grounds of religion, where do you stop? What religion is not worthy of accommodation? Does it require a popularity level as commentors here argue the Muslims fulfill?

I think the Olympics are another separation of state and church area. They're a favorite target of religious fundamentalists full of conspiracy theories about what the five rings really mean, etc. They're also spattered by the blood of terrorism. I watched those Olympics in Munich.

Keep modern religion out of the Olympics, leave it to the Greek pantheon and the virgin flame of the torch. If you think the games carry a pro-Christian bias, lobby to take that element out instead of jamming another bias in.

mk said...

Interestingly, Ramadan 2010 is scheduled for September 24 through October 24. The Commonwealth Games are scheduled for October 3-14, 2010 in New Delhi, India. Their choice I assume. I wonder what Pakistan thinks of that.

mk

Crabgrass said...

Just so long as they don't compete on the sabbath, I'm comfortable.

mk said...

Oops. My bad.

Never mind about that Commonwealth Games thing...I got the dates wrong. Ramadan is actually earlier in 2010, so it doesn't conflict with the Games.

BTW, do not use:
http://www.interfaithcalendar.org

mk

Adam said...

Just a hunch: Premier League football is a more important scheduling conflict than the rainy season.

I'm sympathetic to Mike's argument that the Olympics has explicit inclusive goals to which - while money often comes first - they pay more than lip service.

On the other hand - as CC says - it's a whole bleepin' month. The world doesn't stop during that month - not even for Muslims. They still go to work, they still are allowed to play sports, there is nothing preventing Muslims from taking part in the Olympics at that time. They may face a competitive disadvantage (or heck, maybe an advantage from all of that self-discipline and focus that fasting is supposed to bring about); but that's all.

The Olympics run on Saturdays and Sundays, which is more proscriptive than Ramadan for many religious sects. I don't see why this particular 'period of observance' is one that needs to be avoided.

Hmmm, one possible exception to the above: are you allowed to swim during Ramadan?

ajsuhail said...

As a Muslim, I have a few comments to make.

A muslim is allowed to postpone the fast to a later date if he/she is in a state of travel, which technically the vast majority of Muslim atheletes will be doing as very few of them actually live in London.It is only those Muslim atheletes who are based in London who will face a problem.They can draw inspiration from Muslim NBA players who used to take part in games while fasting at the same time.Tough I agree, but 'doable'.

Incidentally, the Pakistan cricket team is taking part in the Champion's cricket tournament in my country and I doubt that if anyone of them is fasting.I can assure you that the vast majority of Muslims do not expect the rest of the world to defer to us, but any priveleges extended are sure appreciated.

I only hope that the hysterical right wing goon squad does not use this to once again demonise all Muslims.

Crabgrass said...

ajsuhail said... "I only hope that the hysterical right wing goon squad does not use this to once again demonise all Muslims."

You can absolutely count on it, unfortunately.