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Extra Swim Class At City Heights YMCA Becomes Gender, Immigrant Issue

Evening Edition

Above: With summer now in full swing, San Diegans are heading to beaches and pools to cool off and get exercise. But for East-African women in City Heights, taking a dip isn’t so easy. Many of them are Muslim and can’t swim in co-ed pools. But that’s changing. Megan Burks of our media partner, Speak City Heights, tells us how some residents and their local YMCA are getting Muslim women in the water and active this summer. (Video by Katie Euphrat)

Aired 7/9/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests

Megan Burks, Editor, Speak City Heights

Dr. Adina Batnitzky Assistant Professor Sociology at the University of San Diego

California Western Assistant Visiting Professor Andrea Freeman

Transcript

KPBS Evening Edition

USD Professor on Swim Class

Above: Dr. Adina Batnitzky, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of San Diego, talks to KPBS about a women-only swim class.

Statement from the Copley Family YMCA

“At the Y, we recognize that for communities to succeed, everyone must be given the opportunity to be healthy, confident, connected and secure. This swim program at our Y does just that. It fulfills all three areas of our focus, Healthy Living, Youth Development and Social Responsibility.

The swim program is designed to allow women in our City Heights community to have the opportunity to get in the water with their children, learn to swim and stay active in an environment they find comfortable in. At the Y, we believe it is our social responsibility to give back and support our neighbors.

The program takes place outside of the normal Copley Family YMCA business hours and therefore does not exclude the public because nobody else would be using the facility at the time it takes place.

The Copley Family YMCA has been teaching children and adults to swim for over 50 years. Our lessons are taught by experienced, certified instructors and focus on improving swim strokes, building character values, and having fun in the water. We welcome all and have a wide-range of aquatic programs to suit everyone’s needs.”

Leticia Leos

Executive Director

Copley Family YMCA

Commenters responded swiftly and often viciously to a story by KPBS media partner Speak City Heights on a women-only swim class for Muslims at the Copley YMCA in City Heights.

Many decried the YMCA for discrimination because men weren’t allowed in the class. But Megan Burks, the author of the story, told KPBS Midday Edition the classes were held after hours, when the YMCA wouldn’t normally have been open.

“So they're not kicking out members who would have been there already,” she said.

Burks said the YMCA does get public money, but that the funds “typically go to youth services and childcare services, so it's not really for the operation of the recreation.”

California Western assistant visiting professor Andrea Freeman explained that not allowing someone to attend a class is not discrimination in a legal sense.

When asked under what circumstances a class like this would violate antidiscrimination laws, Freeman replied, “there aren't any.”

Adina Batnitzky, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of San Diego, said the debate over discrimination “gets away from the important issue.”

“Yes this is an issue of inclusion and diversity, but it’s also an issue of public health,” she said. “We want to get these women moving.”

Batnitzky said Islam has doctrines about modesty that apply to both men and women, which is what keeps the women from participating in a co-ed swim class. She added that because many of the women are East African, they are at higher risk for hypertension and diabetes.

But, she said, a community effort to exercise can counteract that risk.

“We know that communities that come together, particularly ethnic minority communities, it can either have a negative effect, reinforcing bad behavior, or in this context, I applaud these women for taking their health into their own hands and working out,” she said.

Batnitzky said she thinks the response to the story was so harsh “because they’re Muslim women.”

“We talk the talk in terms of embracing diversity, but when it comes to actually practicing diversity, we don’t actually do a very good job,” she said. “If this had been a Christian women’s all-swim hour, we wouldn’t have issues.”

Commenters also argued the women-only class slowed assimilation for the Muslim women. But Batnitzky disagreed.

“America prides itself in being a country where everybody can feel comfortable,” she said. “People don’t need to change their religion and culture in order to be an American.”

“If anything, it’s a wonderful story of these immigrants going to the Young Men Christian Association—is there anything more American than that—and taking their health into their own hands and going to a community center,” she added. “They’re being wonderful role models for their children, taking care of their own bodies, it’s something we should be promoting.”

Comments

Avatar for user 'terrifdint'

terrifdint | July 9, 2012 at 12:43 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Is one hour of exercise once a week enough to combat obesity? Are there plans to add more hours in the future?

Also, private parties after hours at the YMCA are expensive. Do some people in the Copley community view this as a free private party?

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Avatar for user 'MissEthel'

MissEthel | July 9, 2012 at 8:27 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

I am ecstatic that in my community there is FINALLY an avenue for Muslim women to swim and workout. This is a great start! I recently worked for a large community center that refused to offers these gender specific classes. I can only assume that the backlash played a major part in lack of effort at the request of the community. I am not Muslim, however, have a good relationship with many of the families in my community. The kids' moms were always asking me to start a petition so they could take a Yoga class. Good for you YMCA! Good for us as a community!

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Avatar for user 'LisaB'

LisaB | July 9, 2012 at 8:57 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for sharing this story. I am not a Muslim woman, but I work with the Somali (Muslim) community in the field of public health. We are busy promoting healthy eating and physical activity as some of the best ways to prevent and manage the chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, that are at epidemic levels for all populations across the nation. It is no good for us to recommend these healthy behaviors if there are not opportunities to do them. I applaud the YMCA for their efforts to help the community and create a wonderful opportunity for women who really need it.

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Avatar for user 'GeneL'

GeneL | July 9, 2012 at 10:47 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

I am amazed that there are people in this community that would deprive a group of women and their children from doing something as simple as swimming for such absurd reasons. Discrimination? Really? Because men won’t be allowed in? After hours once a week? And what does it have to do with assimilation? Anyone want to guess how many Italians, Irish, Jewish, or Asian immigrants never assimilated? It’s sad that people can’t find enough empathy to make some accommodations because of a community’s culture and religion. I can’t imagine it being disruptive to anyone else’s way of life, their ability to earn a living or put food on the table, or their self-esteem. It’s just a group of women swimming at the Y for an hour. And the fact that Batnitzky needs to explain the obvious and the Y has to put out a statement that dances around the issue is just as bad. The Y was kind in making these accommodations and should just tell the morons who complain to find something else to whine about. Small-minded people.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 10, 2012 at 9:29 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

@TERRIFIDENT, excellent point. They also need to change their diet, whether traditional, Americanzied or mixed.

But why should the "community" be involved in this? Your personal health is a personal issue. If putting on gymn clothes is seen as "inmodest" in today's day and age, then that is dark obscurantism.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 10, 2012 at 9:34 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

"Batnitzky said she thinks the response to the story was so harsh “because they’re Muslim women.”

“We talk the talk in terms of embracing diversity, but when it comes to actually practicing diversity, we don’t actually do a very good job,” she said. “If this had been a Christian women’s all-swim hour, we wouldn’t have issues.”

Mmmaybe because after all, it is the YMCA or YWCA? But actually, Professor Batinsky, the people most opposed to this are those who reject the all-encompassing label of "diversity" in theh first place. The rants on the original story bear this out.

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Avatar for user 'Really123'

Really123 | July 10, 2012 at 10:03 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Although the radio story explained in legal terms what discrimination actually is, and how it does not apply here, (good enough for me), it seemed a bit of a love fest with everyone agreeing with each other and gasping in indignation together at the comments made online.

I expected in the least, that someone with a intelligent mind present an opposing point of view. Someone who represented the posts arguing discrimination. Maureen asking a question here and there was really not fair treatment. Please inform fairly, even if the legal end result is the same, as would have been in this case.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 10, 2012 at 10:18 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Nothing is worse than a love fest.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | July 11, 2012 at 9:46 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't think any civilized society should take part in gender oppression in the name of embracing diversity.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 11, 2012 at 12:19 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Batnitzky said she thinks the response to the story was so harsh “because they’re Muslim women... If this had been a Christian women’s all-swim hour, we wouldn’t have issues.”

===

I wholeheartedly disagree with Adina Batnitzky and find her comments in this article surprising considering she is a professor at USD.

The reaction was not because they were Muslim women. The reaction was based on the YMCA's segregationist policy. If this had been a Christian women's swim hour, there certainly would have been issues and to state otherwise is very disingenuous.

The opinion that Batnitzky asserts is a myopic and obsolete view of our society, one that contends only minorities can be discriminated against. However, I do agree with her that African Muslim women should be allowed to self-segregate provided that every other religion, race, and gender are given equal opportunity to self-segregate as well.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2012 at 12:28 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

MA said "But why should the "community" be involved in this? Your personal health is a personal issue. If putting on gymn clothes is seen as "inmodest" in today's day and age, then that is dark obscurantism."

I had understood you to hold quite a different view on the responsibility for health. Have I been mistaken or is there more to your statement that I am missing?

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 11, 2012 at 12:41 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

I also feel that KPBS skipped over Prof. Andrea Freeman's legal opinion and should have invited her to the interview for a more in-depth exploration of the root of this issue.

Why does the YMCA's policy not violate anti-discrimination laws?

Is the discrimination acceptable simply because it is outside normal business hours as the YMCA stated?

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 11, 2012 at 12:54 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

ILK, right on. I hope unReality123 read it.

BENZ72, by personal health I mean making the right choices about whether you decide to lead a sedentary lifestyle or not; smoking, drinking, omnivore vs. vegetarian, etc. Do I believe our healthcare system is expensive, inadequate, bogged down in bureacracy . . . absolutely.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2012 at 1:08 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Ah, that is clearer and I agree with almost all of it.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 11, 2012 at 3:06 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

My apologies to KPBS, I only watched the TV interview and did not notice the radio interview with Prof. Andrea Freeman.

Prof. Freeman's discussion with Cavanaugh was very interesting:

=======

CAVANAUGH: Well, what I'm saying is that we have had some comments on the website that say that holding this swim class for women, and it was motivated by Muslim women's concerns, and allowing only them to participate is akin to whites only discrimination.

FREEMAN: Right. Well, you have hit the nail on the head by using the word motivation, because discrimination in a legal sense has to be motivated by hostility or annimus toward a certain group. Whereas a whites only pool is clearly discriminatory because it is hostile to nonwhite, this women's only class is not hostile to men.

CAVANAUGH: But it doesn't allow men.

FREEMAN: Yes, but when you speak about discrimination in a legal sense, are it's important that there is intent. So the intent to discriminate is part of discrimination.

CAVANAUGH: I see. So just not allowing someone to attend is not discrimination?

FREEMAN: Not in a legal sense.

CAVANAUGH: Ah, ha. So under what circumstances would a class like this violate antidiscrimination laws?

FREEMAN: There aren't any.

[ LAUGHTER ]

========

According to Prof. Freeman, discrimination against whites and males is perfectly legal based on a loose definition of "intent". However, when you apply the exact same "intent" when whites or men wish to exclude others it is illegal.

I also find the laughter after Freeman's last comment to be very telling.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2012 at 3:43 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

"Whereas a whites only pool is clearly discriminatory because it is hostile to nonwhite, this women's only class is not hostile to men."

This is what really confuses me. In what way is that distinction clear? Is there some other pattern besides A vs A' that could be applied? If so, what are the standards for that application?

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 11, 2012 at 3:49 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

That's so weird that it becomes illegal when whites or men want to exclude others. Why do you suppose that is? What reason could there possibly be?

I find your willful ignorance to be quite telling, but this story's not about me, it's about some muslim women who want to swim in a pool while being good muslims. No one is allowed to have a problem with that.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2012 at 4:17 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Ilk, which parts, if any, of your post are intended to be sarcastic?

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 11, 2012 at 4:20 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

It's not important. The important thing is that people stop objecting to this manufactured controversy. Thanks and have a great day.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 11, 2012 at 5:40 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Commissar Ilk, we won't speak out again, please don't send us to the gulag!

The aggressive and unabashed arrogance of some people is just...astounding.

Ilk, how about you start over and bring us a reasoned argument as to why minorities are permitted to discriminate but not whites or men. If you have one...

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Avatar for user 'JohnL'

JohnL | July 11, 2012 at 6:27 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

More of the Fake FoxNews style manufactured controversy by what seems promulgated by white-separatists?or religious bigots?and nativists that constantly spam KPBS website,(see above), and others that either don't read before typing or might benefit from a remedial reading comprehension class.I'm sure many can attest to the fact that for maybe 50-60 yrs ,in many public/private pools across America and many other parts of the world there have been women's,children's and many other types of segregated swim times
Again, freedom of speech is important, but the constant nativist spamming should be moderated and those that violate banned.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 11, 2012 at 9:51 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

CaliforniaDefender, I'd be happy to lay that argument out for you. However, because my time is valuable and I'd hate for my efforts to be in vain, please first provide me with an example of some actual discrimination being perpetrated by minorities, because I certainly don't see any of that in this story.

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Avatar for user 'Really123'

Really123 | July 12, 2012 at 7:57 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Ilk- your idea of debate is one hand clapping.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 12, 2012 at 10:42 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

I also find the prof's laughter strange, to say the least.

What makes this issue more complex than what it otherwise might be, is the fact that in Islam, the doctrine is all encompassing and infleunces even secular society. I certainly do not wish to see laws in this country like those they tried to enact in France banning scarves.

Last week I was standing in a huge line in Tijuana to get back across the port of entry and I spotted two traditionally dressed Muslim African women and I thought to myself how the world really is getting smaller, not just through techonology but also through demographics and yet our tribalist mentality keeps resisting this reality.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 12, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

JohnL,

Try defending your own points rather than attempting to silence contrary views as this is a debate forum, not an echo chamber. I also suggest you stop calling people names like "bigot" and "white separatist" as it is quite offensive.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 12, 2012 at 12:33 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

IlK,

It's quite time-consuming to come up with a reasoned argument to defend your beliefs after they have been challenged, isn't it?

I'll make it quick and easy for you:

East African Muslim women have been afforded exclusive access to the YMCA while prohibiting access by those deemed undesirable. They also prohibit the employment of those same undesirables.

That is clear cut discrimination, not that I disagree with the YMCA doing it.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 12, 2012 at 12:50 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Mission,

I agree that the laughter was odd. Perhaps if they included someone with a contrary view, they wouldn't have felt so comfortable laughing about this serious topic.

Anyway, what is so wrong with tribalism? This instance of segregation in a pool helps protect and reinforce the culture and religion of those African women. It would be a shame if their culture was lost simply because they were granted refugee status in America.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 12, 2012 at 1:14 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Oh, so it's discrimination, and all discrimination is equally bad regardless of intent, yet you agree with the YMCA doing it. Makes sense!

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 12, 2012 at 2:34 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Ilk,

I never said all discrimination was bad.

We live in a society built on equality. If one group is allowed to discriminate, all groups should be permitted. This means "separate but equal" with equal being the focus and intent.

What argument, if any, do you have against that?

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 12, 2012 at 2:45 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Try and focus more on the intent behind different kinds of discrimination, instead of what groups have or don't have the right to discriminate. Therein lies your key to finally understanding this issue.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 12, 2012 at 5:06 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

The intent in this case is that the African Muslim women feel uncomfortable swimming with men due to their cultural and religious values.

But what if a group of men felt uncomfortable swimming with women? Or whites with blacks? Or Jews with Muslims? Or overweight with skinny? Or nudists with clothed? There is no difference in the intent as each group feels uncomfortable or wishes to honor their cultural, religious, or personal values.

Ilk, there's no substance behind your argument. So stop offering keys when your pockets are empty.

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Avatar for user 'JohnL'

JohnL | July 12, 2012 at 5:41 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

CD, I have defended my own points, your "debate"has no meaning as it is based upon falsehoods, you are smearing and mischaracterizing the Y and story, seemingly to get attention,many of your previous statments might be found on a neo-nazi type site and would generally be considered racist/bigoted and are not cute or funny

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 13, 2012 at 7:34 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

But what if a group of men felt uncomfortable swimming with women? Or whites with blacks? Or Jews with Muslims? Or overweight with skinny? Or nudists with clothed?

Go ahead and present evidence of one of those things actually happening, and we'll go from there. Until then, CaliforniaDefender, you're busy imagining hypothetical scenarios while I'm here trying to defend the rights of some living, breathing Californians.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 13, 2012 at 10:50 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Ilk, unless I misunderstand CD's point, the issue is that should one of those groups present that argument as a reasonable cause for exclusion we would/should all say 'no, play nice with everybody else'.
It really gets into the issue of private vs. public and the control of access. Do you believe there should be uniform rules for controlling access or should they be dependent on which group is doing the excluding?

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 13, 2012 at 11:03 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

JohnL,

Your personal attacks are incredibly offensive.

Stop labeling people neo-nazis, bigots, or racist simply because you disagree with them. Either address my viewpoint or go home. You have no business attacking me personally, especially using such horrible labels which are entirely false.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 13, 2012 at 11:15 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

No, the issue is that some women are trying to learn how to swim, and some people are opposed to that. Why resist this? Who is actually being harmed by the alleged discrimination? You and the Defender know full well the answer is nobody, yet you push back and spin this entirely innocuous "story" as an "issue" because some people's ideas about cultural assimilation are of paramount importance, and they will be as petulant as they need to be about it.

It only gets into the issue of private vs. public and the control of access if you want it to. And if you want it to, it makes me question your intent.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 13, 2012 at 11:20 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

If personal attacks are incredibly offensive, then the aggressive and unabashed hypocrisy of some people is just...astounding.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 13, 2012 at 11:33 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Ilk, is it possible that you missed the point that the women who want to learn to swim are welcome to do so with the rest of the people who want to learn to swim, in an inclusive vice exclusive setting? I don’t think anyone is opposed to their learning, only the requirement they be given special consideration.

As far as I can tell, the only things preventing them from participating with the rest of the group are their own neuroses about inclusion with other people who happen not to be women. I can understand holding a separate session for someone who is physically or mentally disabled and will need extra help. Dividing teaching resources this way helps each set of students get the most out of the experience. I would like to avoid thinking of this group as mentally disabled by their religion. Please help me understand what legitimate need this is addressing.

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Avatar for user 'JohnL'

JohnL | July 13, 2012 at 11:45 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

CD Personal attacks?the hypocritical deflection and smearing continues,your words-"I never opposed the culturally based Latino Film Festival, but black yes.","Just be fair and equal by allowing all groups to segregate."," I see no issue with a private business or organization excluding anyone they don't want to serve. ","My point is that "separate but equal" is now happily encouraged so long as the group isn't white or male. And that needs to change!"," It is now the left that is discriminatory, prejudiced, and bigoted."

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Avatar for user 'Natalie Walsh'

Natalie Walsh, KPBS Staff | July 13, 2012 at 12:14 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

While KPBS supports the dialogue, it appears that some of it is turning into name calling and is going off topic. And many of you are are simply repeating yourselves without advancing the conversation. Please keep your comments civil and on point.

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Avatar for user 'JohnL'

JohnL | July 13, 2012 at 12:15 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

One can only conclude there are some that are jealous that others have something to do or getting something they don't have

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 13, 2012 at 12:25 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

"Ilk, is it possible that you missed the point that the women who want to learn to swim are welcome to do so with the rest of the people who want to learn to swim, in an inclusive vice exclusive setting?"

No. I'm aware of that, as are you and as are the women. You're just pretending to not understand why they'd want their own class.

If islam is just a series of codified neuroses as far as you can tell, then maybe you should excuse yourself from this conversation since you're not a rational human being.

I'm gonna go ahead and do the same out of boredom.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 13, 2012 at 12:35 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Natalie,

Thank you. I'm going to ignore JohnL and I recommend everyone else does the same as he has no interest in advancing the debate.

Ilk,

You don't understand my argument. I fully support the YMCA and their segregation policy. The African Muslim women need that class to feel comfortable and I'm happy they have it. However, this ability to segregate must be applied to any group that feels uncomfortable around others, whether it be race, gender, religion, culture, diet, clothing, health...anything.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 13, 2012 at 1:09 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

If that is all there is to it, then I do understand why they want their own class, and find the rationale hardly worth considering. I would be no more inclined accommodate someone butchering a goat in the middle of Morley Field because of some bronze age stories than I would endorse gender segregation in a public place based on the same flawed premise. Religious scripture is not a legitimate foundation for law or public policy. If you think that makes me irrational, we probably cannot reach consensus. Have a good day.

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Avatar for user 'Nyeemah'

Nyeemah | July 14, 2012 at 7:56 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

"We talk the talk in terms of embracing diversity, but when it comes to actually practicing diversity, we don’t actually do a very good job...”

So much irony, so little time. Have you considered, KPBS and others, that it is Muslims who are not embracing diversity by not participating in regularly scheduled classes and programs.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 14, 2012 at 3:27 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

CA O says "what is wrong with triablism"?

Hmm. Try Rwanda or Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania?

PS: JOHN L doesn't name-call. Calling someone a racist, a bigot, a nativist, or rightwing is not "name-calling." Calling someone a "redneck," or "toothless wonder" or a "wetback" would be. Of course, then the Far Right has their "code' words.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 14, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

CA O, I think moderator Natalie meant those words for EVERYONE--not someone in particular.

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Avatar for user 'JohnL'

JohnL | July 15, 2012 at 11 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank you Missionaccomplished, There was no personal attack,as I did not specify/single-out.That someone assumed I was talking about them might prove my case.That a nice, human interest story was hijacked by some ,that post anonymously, to promote immigrant bashing based on race,gender,religion is nothing new,what is surprising is that KPBS has let it stand,Why this is important;
The increase in violence against Hispanics correlates closely with the increasingly heated debate over Comprehensive Immigration Reform and an escalation in the level of anti-immigrant vitriol on radio, television, and the Internet. While reasonable people can and will disagree about the parameters of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, in some instances, the commentary about immigration reform has not been reasonable; it has been inflammatory. Warned an April 2009 assessment from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), "in some cases, anti-Immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent."

This toxic environment, in which hateful rhetoric targets immigrants while the number of hate crimes against Hispanics and others perceived to be immigrants steadily increases, has caused a heightened sense of fear in communities around the country.http://www.civilrights.org/publications/hatecrimes/escalating-violence.html

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Avatar for user 'JohnL'

JohnL | July 15, 2012 at 11:01 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA are all part of a network of restrictionist organizations conceived and created by John Tanton, the “puppeteer” of the nativist movement and a man with deep racist roots. As the first article in this report shows, Tanton has for decades been at the heart of the white nationalist scene. He has met with leading white supremacists, promoted anti-Semitic ideas, and associated closely with the leaders of a eugenicist foundation once described by a leading newspa- per as a “neo-Nazi organization.”http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/pdf/static/splc_nativistlobby_022009.pdf

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Avatar for user 'jrpeng'

jrpeng | July 15, 2012 at 4:13 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Brand-spanking new to the KPBS website, although I've been listing to KPBS for quite some time. I must say, I was startlingly taken aback by the tenor of the conversation here. Clearly, this is an issue that has touched several nerves. I've waded through much of the comments (although I tend to dismiss those that say things such as "It's people like you that..." or "You're obviously not well-educated..." or "I find your willful ignorance to be quite telling..." once attacks start, the speaker loses all credibility with me), and I have to agree that there is quite a predominantly negative atmosphere in here.

That being said, I do recognize that many folks have reacted strongly to Copley YMCA's decision to offer the all-women's swim class, and that a lot of the perceived hostility is actually meant more as the expression (or venting) of legitimate feelings on the matter.

I wanted to offer my 2 cents on this topic. I'll apologize in advance if I'm anyone replies to my commentary and I don't respond to them. I'm not necessarily actively following this discussion thread, I just wanted to offer another perspective.

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Avatar for user 'jrpeng'

jrpeng | July 15, 2012 at 4:19 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

(And I ask you to bear with me if I seem to be taking a long time to present my argument - I'm multitasking between several tasks on my computer, in addition to house chores.)

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Avatar for user 'jrpeng'

jrpeng | July 15, 2012 at 4:38 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

I worked at La Jolla Y for 9 years in the Aquatics Department as a lifeguard, swim teacher, and lifeguard/professional rescuer instructor. There are subtle differences between how each AQ department is run from one facility to another (La Jolla vs. Copley, for example), but as the YMCA is a national (and fairly standardized) organization, I can speak with a fair amount of authority on some of the things going on here. (I will offer the disclaimer that I've been away from the YMCA for about 2 years now, and I'm sure there are a few things that have changed and/or developed since I left.)

I can remember a specific instance while on duty at the pool, probably within my last year of working there, where I was approached by a young woman in what looked to me like some sort of Middle-Eastern garb (my memory is a little fuzzy on just what she was wearing, but it was certainly intended to cover her up). She asked me if there was any set time when the pool was perhaps set aside to allow women to swim without men present. I apologetically told her, "No, I'm afraid there's not." She commented (very politely) that some women would like the opportunity to swim or learn to swim, but cannot do so in the presence of men, because of their customs and beliefs. I smiled and said that I understood, but that we simply didn't have the means to facilitate something like that. She seemed disappointed, but was gracious when she thanked me and left.

My initial thought in response to her inquiry was, "Gosh, how can someone expect us to seclude the pool for just one group of people?" I understood where she was coming from, and I felt bad, but it just didn't seem logistically practical.

My second thought - the one that has remained with me since that encounter - was along the lines of, "Man, that's actually really quite a shame. We could really reach out to a whole population that isn't being served right now." And I don't mean that from a business standpoint - I'm not talking about raking in revenues. I mean a population that isn't benefiting from access to the types of services we provide for the community.

...

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Avatar for user 'jrpeng'

jrpeng | July 15, 2012 at 5:18 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Given this, I was very excited to see that Copley has created just such an opportunity for these women. Now they will have the chance to learn to swim, which is absolutely among the most important skills a person can develop. I also greatly appreciate Copley's attempt to reach out and embrace those who are culturally different from what we're accustomed to. One key tenent in our training to become swim instructors is to look for ways to try and include everyone. This includes accommodations for those with disabilities of all natures, and those with cultural differences. (I couldn't even begin to describe just how many different cultures I've seen represented in my swim classes.)

This brings me to a point of clarification that I wanted to offer you, that you may or may not be aware of. In the last few years, there has been a campaign within the YMCA to revamp how the organization presents and sells itself to the public. Yes, the Y started off as the Young Men's Christian Association; but it has grown and developed and blossomed into so much more than the name would suggest. The Y, in changing its appearance, wanted to appeal to a larger, more inclusive population, to let the public know that it's not just for certain groups of people, but for everyone. (Indeed, that's one of the Y's slogans: "It's for everyone!") As part of this makeover, the YMCA logo was changed from black/white/red to more multi-colored; and the name of the organization, was changed from the YMCA to just the "Y" (although the letters "YMCA" do appear alongside that big "Y"). The Y still operates on the same founding principles it always has, "To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all." The mission statement of the YMCA of San Diego County reads "The YMCA of San Diego County is dedicated to improving the quality of human life and to helping all people realize their fullest potential as children of God through development of the spirit, mind and body." You can see here very explicit language that seems to indicate that it is a Christian organization; but it's not intended to be. Part of it's listed philosophy is that "All people are welcome to participate regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, religion, or ability to pay."

I bring this up to emphasize the Y's interest in seeking to include, rather than exclude, individuals or groups of people.

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Avatar for user 'jrpeng'

jrpeng | July 15, 2012 at 5:27 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

So, my position is that Copley Y is doing a wonderful thing by offering the all-women's swim class. It is reaching out to a population that otherwise seems to be excluded from active participation; and it is helping these women learn to swim. As a swim instructor, I don't care what background you come from. You need to learn to swim. You never know when you'll need that skill, even if it's only to keep yourself afloat. And as a person who embraces the philosophy of loving, honoring and respecting all people, I am more than happy to honor the customs and practices that are so extremely important to these women.

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Avatar for user 'jrpeng'

jrpeng | July 15, 2012 at 6:03 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Many of you are concerned about the discriminatory impact on employees of the Y, the impingement on members' access to the facility; and the issue of public money funding some of the Y's programs (and thereby potentially funding this class). Let me address those issues; hopefully, it can help allay some fears and frustrations.

It's already been recognized and discussed that the class is being offered once a week, after hours. This was stated in the article. So the seclusion of the pool for this class isn't denying other members access. This, I would think, is a non-issue, or a false issue.

It's also been acknowledged that the women participating in the class are paying not only for the class (which includes the cost of the instructor/s), but for the lifeguard(s) as well.

It is not uncommon for individuals or groups to rent use of the pool for events such as birthday parties, graduation parties, organized activities, etc. Providing facility management approves it, these rentals can take place after hours. If they so desired, the Boy Scouts of America could rent the pool for an hour as a den or troop activity; the BSA doesn't allow girls (although they could allow girls to swim with them, IF they wanted to). Parents could rent the pool for an hour for their little girl's birthday party; it's entirely possible that the little girl has invited only girl friends. A group of college graduates could rent the pool for an hour to celebrate graduation; they might be all male, or all female, or co-ed. In each of these scenarios, the persons in question are paying with their own money for use of the pool, for the presence of the lifeguard, and for any additional staff they might request. This is what the women of the all-women's swim class are doing. They're paying with their own money for use of the pool, presence of the lifeguard, and the time of the instructor(s).

Additionally, many children are gender-sensitive - meaning that they respond better to one gender over the other. Many, many parents request instructors of a specific gender for this very reason. As well, adult swimmers who are gender-sensitive also request instructors of a specific gender. The motivation isn't intended as discrimination, it's meant to make the swimmer more comfortable, and thereby better facilitate their learning experience. I see no difference between this and the request for only female lifeguards and instructors for the all-women's swim class.

This point also addresses the issue of denying potential hours to male employees. For swim lessons where a male instructor is requested, a female instructor cannot fill that position, even if a male instructor is unavailable at the requested time slot - unless the swimmer decides that they're willing to compromise. Likewise, for lessons where a female instructor is requested, a male instructor cannot fill that positon, for the same reasons.

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jrpeng | July 15, 2012 at 6:04 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Regarding potential overtime hours - this can be a trick point, but it's not impossible to mitigate. Yes, if a lifeguard or swim instructor has been on the clock for a certain amount of time, and accepting the after-hours class would put them over 8 hours for the day, they have to log the extra hours as overtime. That's the law. However, department directors and coordinators are responsible for managing their staff's hours, and are highly encouraged by their superiors to not allow anyone to work more than 8 hours in a day. It is the responsibility of the department director or coordinator to make sure that none of their staff works overtime, unless it is absolutely necessary. Thus, he/she should not and would not be assigning the hours for the all-women's swim class to anyone who would end up with overtime as a result. Since Copley is running the class, I would assume that the staff hours are sufficiently managed to avoid overtime. If, at some point, it becomes impossible to avoid overtime, and either the aquatics department or senior management is unwilling to grant overtime, then it is the responsibility of the aquatics director or coordinator to close the class (make it unavailable) until it can be assigned without accruing overtime.

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Avatar for user 'jrpeng'

jrpeng | July 15, 2012 at 6:07 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

I hope this helps to clarify some of the issues that many of you are concerned about. As I said, I'm not actively following this discussion; but if I do find time to come back, and anyone has posted any responses to my comments, I'll try to respond.

Peace be upon you.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 16, 2012 at 8:07 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Great post! Thanks for your thoughtful contribution to this conversation.

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JeanMarc | July 16, 2012 at 10:50 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Why do people still try to look past the fact that the root of this issue is the barbaric view of women within Islam and the progressives accepting it out of fear of not being politically correct or tolerant?

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Suzanne Marmion, KPBS Staff | July 16, 2012 at 1:52 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank you all for the kinder tone you are taking--this helps grow the conversation instead of shutting it down.

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Avatar for user 'plak'

plak | July 16, 2012 at 3:15 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't see anything constructive or informative in using slurs against one's religion, race, or gender. This has been a fake controversy. I am surprised that KPBS has tolerated the obvious slams against these women and their needs under the guise of cultural debate. Religious bias vs. religious tolerance is not an equivalent debate.

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SDMom22 | July 16, 2012 at 4:07 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Isn't the Y a private organization? As such, they have the right/responsibility to serve their members. So if their members want or need a private swim time, they should offer it. Especially if doing so doesn't take away from any other members. If you don't agree with the policy, don't join the Y, or give up your membership. Just as the Boy Scouts went all the way to the supreme court to affirm themselves a private organization with the right to discriminate. Don't like what they stand for? Don't be a member. Don't like the Muslim restrictions on women? Don't become a Muslim. But don't denigrate others for doing so. Part of the whole American ethos is to allow for these differences and to allow private organizations to accommodate them.

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Nyeemah | July 16, 2012 at 5:09 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

"Thank you all for the kinder tone you are taking--this helps grow the conversation instead of shutting it down."
Interesting. Is this a subtle warning? JeanMarc's observation just prior to this comment opens the door to lead the conversation in the direction it went in the previous column: addressing the question of whether gender-segregated classes enable ideological misogyny, and the role of the classes in the broader picture of assimilation vs. colonization.
The last conversation on this public forum was censored and then aborted by the KPBS staff, more because of what was said, not how it was said. The staff disagreed that there is a bigger picture to be considered. It will be interesting to see from this point if the conversation is allowed to continue, or if provincial attitudes prevail.

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JeanMarc | July 17, 2012 at 9:15 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Nyeemah - me and you see eye to eye on this issue. Don't worry, we are not alone, even though we are becoming rarer in California, the US, and the whole world. For fear of being banned from commenting, I have learned to temper myself somewhat so that I am still able to continue voicing my opinion and standing up for truth in the face of abject leftism.

It is shocking how many people don't realize that the path this country has gone down over the last fifty years follows the exact blueprint towards socialism as architected by the worlds most prolific socialists and communists of the past. The same that influenced the Harvard professors, who in turn influenced the current elite on the left. One of the building blocks to a socialist future is... get ready... tolerance!

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 17, 2012 at 9:37 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Ah, so it's the HARVARD ELITE who are behind the YMCA teaching muslim women how to swim! I knew something was up - something huge, something DANGEROUS - but it took the clever mind of our own JeanMarc to see the bigger picture.

It's all part of THEIR plan. First, segregated swim classes. Next, boots trampling over our faces forever. Might as well throw in the towel, America...

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 17, 2012 at 10:43 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Ilk, since you bring it up, albeit sarcastically, do you see some bright line in this gradual erosion of freedoms that it would be perilous to cross or do you foresee this trend toward socialism reversing itself at some point? If so, please explain. Or are you advocating for socialism?

Thanks

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 17, 2012 at 11:12 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

You see an "erosion of freedoms" whereas I see a group of women who'd like to learn how to swim while remaining compliant with the customs of their religion. You are insistent on perceiving a slippery slope argument. In reality, none exists. The class is being offered after hours. This is no more discriminatory than separate men's and women's public restrooms - an arrangement which offends no one because it enforces a long-existing cultural norm for decency. You either respect others' cultural norms, or you don't.

There are many -isms I might be inclined to advocate for, but this issue isn't about me, it's about a group of women's right to learn how to swim the way they feel comfortable doing so. I don't feel that's too much to ask. It's really that simple. Don't make this issue more complicated than it has to be.

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JohnL | July 17, 2012 at 11:17 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Dr.Batnitzki was right,also, this is a coordinated nationwide effort against these women and the Y and others .I urge people to take 5min.to google "segregated swim time"or similar and see the groups behind this.Will KPBS report on this?

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 17, 2012 at 11:26 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago


@JOHN L, and those Nativist neo-Malthusian websites, masquerading as "independent" or "non-partisan," have been discredited by both conservatives and liberals: ADL, SPLC and the WSJ -- and also by Common Sense and Reason.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 17, 2012 at 11:33 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Intolerance of others' cultures and ideologies equals fascism. There are too many subcultures and ethnicities in our country for it to ever work. Join the human race and stop wasting time supporting xenophobic arguments. Take the time to actually befriend a few Muslims and enrich yourself.

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Missionaccomplished | July 17, 2012 at 11:42 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

NYEEMAH, PLEASE DO explain how gender/sex segregated classes in themselves promote "misogyny."

You would have me, as a male become a "pole dancer" because otherwise it is "gender-based segration"??? (I'm thininf of the exercise class on Unviersity Ave.)

Or is it sexism and gender-based segregation when Mexico City has "women only" mini buses for public transportation so they will not get "brushed up against" in one of the most crowded cities in the world?

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Missionaccomplished | July 17, 2012 at 11:47 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

JEANMARC, the last fifty years? Let me see, you long for the discriminatory pre-1965 immigration Quota System, Christian prayers in public schools, and pre-1954 "separate but equal" segreation.

So in your mind the landmark Supreme Court rulings and the civil rights acts of 1964 , 1965 and 1968 are all leading to . . . oh my God! . . . socialism!!!

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Avatar for user 'Nyeemah'

Nyeemah | July 18, 2012 at 6:26 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

If we're going to disregard the principle of separation of church and state by applying Islamic doctrine (Sharia law) to management decisions at public facilities, then to understand the important global context of this backyard issue, it's probably best if we first look at the sources of that doctrine for greater understanding of the big picture. Ramadan begins Friday (7/20) and Muslims worldwide will be reading the Koran from cover to cover as a devotion during their holy month. Non-Muslims (unbelievers) could read it for educational purposes. In addition, it's probably a good idea to look around the world (many European cities are struggling with this) at the existence of parallel societies where colonization v. assimilation leads to populations of people who reject their host country's legal system, social system and norms, etc. because they believe that their religious laws supercede the laws of their new land. Taking it a step further in understanding Islamic doctrine, one could study the recent history of a microcosm like the Maldives. If people truly want answers to the questions they're asking, the information is out there. Best wishes to all.

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Missionaccomplished | July 19, 2012 at 10:25 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

That doesn't explain your original mistatement. Try again.

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Nyeemah | July 20, 2012 at 1:56 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Sorry. I can't do you homework for you. But here's an easy way for you to get started:
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/koran/simple.html
It's the Koran with a simple search feature. Type in various words like: unbeliever (anyone who is not Muslim), friend, fight, strike, witness, punishment.
Do that and you're on your way to greater understanding.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 23, 2012 at 12:18 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

"In addition, it's probably a good idea to look around the world (many European cities are struggling with this) at the existence of parallel societies..."

Nyeemah, well written post.

Most European nations are sitting back and allowing their legal/illegal immigrant populations to voluntarily segregate themselves, which they happily do.

Thus their new land becomes indistinguishable from their old land. That is the definition of colonization.

Good, bad, or ugly? One thing is for certain, America is slowly following suit.

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