Today, my son and I were discussing that whole York University misogyny-accommodation fiasco on the way home from school. We discuss a lot of things during our drives – best time of my day!
‘TORONTO – After permitting a student to be excused from course work on religious grounds so he would not have to publicly interact with female peers, the Dean of York University is also permitting another student to have the right to ritually murder people to appease his gods.
“We are legally obliged to heed to the student’s wishes of human sacrifice” said Dr. Martin Singer, Dean of the faculty of Arts and Science at the university. “This wouldn’t affect many students as the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli only lasts 20 days to celebrate the spring equinox and sometimes occurs during reading week. Additionally, the student has assured me that obsidian blades are so sharp that you will barely feel them.”
“I understand that people may be uncomfortable with the idea of firing arrows at someone tied to a wooden board until their blood fills a copper bowl, but York University is an inclusive campus that appreciates the values of all religions,” the Dean added.’
Yes – very funny.
But that was not my point…rather, having forwarded this article onto several people, one of them actually believed it.
Sad, very sad…because as we discussed this, my son pointed out that if the intended human sacrifice were the one demanding this religious accommodation on the grounds that they have a terminal illness and believe that being a human sacrifice to the sun god will cleanse their soul and therefore their belief ought to be accommodated – this becomes a much less far-fetched scenario than most of us would like.
Which brings me to the title of this post…
As we drove on, and as we left the uncomfortable reality and resorted to levity we got to the title of my post. Please, put on your best Dalek voice, but, instead of ‘Time Lord DNA has been detected! Must exterminate! Exterminate!!!’ we changed the wording a tiny bit:
RELIGIOUS* DNA HAS BEEN DETECTED!
Later on, trying to relax before bedtime, I checked my YouTube subscriptions to find this little installment in the accommodation insanity:
What I find most disturbing is that this martial arts instructor caved in, segregated the class – and even let the Muslim student proselytize at the dojo!
And the young woman, being told by her sensei to get used to it – outrageous!!!
My own experience with a dojo and Muslim demands for accommodation are refreshingly different!
Let me tell you the story.
I was always fascinated by martial arts. But, while I lived on the wrong side of the iron curtain, being a daughter of a political dissident, this was a closed door for me. Once in the refugee camp in Austria, I traded babysitting and tutoring a martial arts’ master’s kids for lessons…but, it was barely a taste…
Once in Canada, I pursued my dream of learning martial arts. And, to my parents’ credit, even though they were rebuilding their lives from nothing, they did send me to martial arts classes. But, being new in the country, my parents could not afford to send me to the dojo of my dreams: Takahashi Dojo.
Oh, how I dreamed of it!
So, once my sons were old enough to start learning some martial arts, guess what place I picked?
Because of their age difference, they were in consecutive classes, which worked out very well. And what worked out even better was that during my younger son’s class, I could take Tai Chi classes at another part of the dojo. The dojo was then run by June Takahashi (then in her late 70′s or early 80′s) and Tina Takahashi was the principal teacher, with Phil Takahashi teaching some of the classes, too. How much better could it get?!?!?
What a pleasant surprise it was for me that June Takahashi had decided to take the Tai Chi class too! All of a sudden, I was classmates with one of my idols. It was awesome.
After the Tai Chi class, I would still have an hour to wait while my older son’s class was on, but, being classmates and all, if she was not too busy, June would often spend that time chatting with me. I learned so many things from her! She told me about her childhood in BC, where she and Masao (her husband and founder of the dojo) met as children during WWII in one of those shameful camps the Canadians of Japanese descent were sent to, and much, much more.
One day, she was busy in the office and so I watched my older son’s class. He was about 11 at that time, and had been going to classes for a while – and though still a novice, he was diligent and thorough and knew all the ‘rules’ (typical Aspie!). So, it was natural that he got assigned to take a new student who was there for his first class under his wing, explain the ceremonies, why and how and what, what the significance was, and so on. He was good at this and loved helping out.
In this role, he was teaching the newbie how to bow properly during the opening ceremony, that it shows respect, and also how to show respect by bowing to your opponent before you commence working or sparring with them. So far so good – except that the boy’s father started yelling at him from the sidelines, saying ‘No bowing!’ and being loud. The father got asked to wait for his son in the changing room and the rest of the lesson went well. The new student was a good kid and did all he was asked quickly and well and with respect. End of story, right?
My younger son and I were waiting outside for my older one to come out of the dojo – but so was this boy’s father. He was a big man, 190+cm tall and very buff. As soon as my son came out, he marched right up to him (my son came barely up to his chest), loomed over him and, gesticulating wildly, started screaming at him: ”We don’t bow! We are Muslims! How dare you tell my son to bow!” I was afraid he was going to hit my son!
He did not get the chance because I ran over and stepped between them. Though he was much bigger than I, I put on my best mamma-bear face (and body language) and told him in no uncertain terms that he was not going to speak to my son in that manner! I have been told that in that mode, I can look a tad intimidating – and the man stepped back and visibly shrank – but continued to tell me to tell my son not to tell his son to bow during judo.
Well, I was not having any of it. I explained that my son was in the right and invited him to go back to the dojo and discuss it with June, Tina and the other instructors there. Without another word, he left rather hurriedly.
The adrenalin was coursing through my veins with so much fervor I was shaking. With my sons in tow, I went back to the dojo and spoke to June in the office. Since we were on friendly terms, she knew I was not likely to make something like this up. And, my sons were both quite pale following the experience and confirmed my story’s veracity.
So, what did June Takahashi do?
Right there and then, she looked up the kid’s record: the dad had pre-paid for a full year of classes. Not cheap. But, to June, some things were more important than money. On the spot, she reversed the credit card payment and said that neither that man nor his son would ever step into her dojo again!
June Takahashi is a true Canadian hero!
All of us felt very bad for that man’s son…
* ’Religious’ refers to both theistic and non-theistic religions like ‘big-satetism’, communism, feminism, warmism and other irrational yet dogmatic belief systems.