Ban the Burqa?
On November 2, 2004, Americans elected George W. Bush for a second term. On that same day, an Islamofascist thug shot and then stabbed filmmaker Theo van Gogh to death on the streets of Amsterdam. While the Daily Mirror famously wondered how 59,054,087 people could be so dumb, the Dutch wondered how their famously tolerant society should react to the extreme intolerance exhibited by the Islamofascist foxes in their hen house.
To many in Holland, assimilation is the answer. To that end, the Dutch government is considering a ban on the burqa outside the home. To me, this is a dilly of a pickle. On one hand, I agree with the notion that European Muslims need to assimilate into their new countries. By assimilation, I don't mean that I think they have to become just like Westerners, but rather that they have to accept the basic notion of living in a secular liberal democracy. The constitution, not the Koran, is the law of the land. On the other hand, where the hell does the government, any government get off telling someone what they can and cannot wear. That's not freedom!
But is the burqa really religious? Isn't it just a hideous sack that women have been forced to wear because they live in societies that teach that women's bodies are wicked and that if they're exposed men can't be expected to respect them. Muslim women in Holland may very well want to abandon the burqa en masse, but they don't wield the power within their own household to do so. So, in a sense, perhaps the government isn't preventing them from doing anything, it's actually empowering them to do what they want.
Enlightened Americans and Europeans have been taught to respect other cultures. We hesitate to say that the practices of one culture are wrong. But seriously, who wants to stand up and say that they believe it's okay for women to be second-class citizens (at best)? No one does, so instead people fall back on the idea that Muslim women want to wear a burqa, they want to be the victim of an honor killing, they want to not be able to vote or drive or work outside the home. These same folks would have heard slaves singing in the cotton fields and decided that they were fine and dandy being slaves and how dare we force our Northern values on them! I'm not buying it. I was brought up to believe that everyone, male or female, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, etc. has the same right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
All that said, I think banning the burqa would be a stupid move. Are the Dutch really prepared to arrest every woman in a burqa? Furthermore, I think that the law would spark some popular defiance by Muslims of every stripe (fascists and reasonable) who would feel that their religion is under attack. I wouldn't blame them. I'd be pissed as hell if the US Government decided I couldn't wear a cross for some reason. I don't wear a cross now, but the second it was banned would be the second I'd start.
So what are the Dutch to do? In America, immigrants had to assimilate to succeed. To get a job, they had to learn English. To fit in, they adopted some of the customs of their new homeland. The market took care of a lot of things. Holland, like much of Europe, is such a generous welfare state that those same market pressures don't exist. Around 16% of Muslims in Holland are unemployed. That's a hell of a lot of people who have nothing better to do than sit around and discuss how rotten Dutch society is. Perhaps if the safety net weren't so wide, more of Holland's immigrants would learn that the key to success in the Western is more than just the right passport. Call me crazy, but I think that people with homes and jobs and wives and kids that depend on them for survival are much less likely to bomb things or kill people because they don't like their movies.
I do wonder if it's possible for a society to be both modern and Muslim. I think what Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has tried to do in Dubai is as close as any country has gotten. I'm fascinated by Sheik Mohammed. He has the soul of a great entrepreneur combined with unimaginable resources and nearly absolute power. But that absolute power is what bothers me. It's one thing to be modern and Muslim, but what about being modern, Muslim and free? Maybe that's impossible and that's what Europe's Christians and its Muslims are going to have to deal with sometime soon.
Posted by at January 17, 2006 10:56 AM
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|# January 17th, 2006 5:52 PM Daddy|
|Never mind the post, where the hell have you been?
Hope everything's OK.
|# January 17th, 2006 6:18 PM kris|
|just taking a break |
|# January 18th, 2006 1:27 AM mbrlr|
|I agree (surprisingly) that assimilation is the best option, but I'm uneasy with making folks do things such as give up the burqa --- it's really their business and, believe it or not, they do ascribe religious aspects to it and we generally believe that individuals havae that right.
I realize I'll confirm all the stereotypical views of liberals, but we do need to remember that cultures --- think of the Amish, for example --- can coexist and be quite different even in Western countries. We also should keep in mind that Islam may be going through its dark ages right now, but there is a great history and tradition contrary to that within the history of Islam. When the West was going through its own dark ages, Islam was the more enlightened culture and it would be a wise course for us to keep history and the changes all cultures go through in perspective.
|# January 18th, 2006 8:08 AM JohnTant|
|Amish people don't go around killing artists who make films critical of their sect. And they aren't all THAT different. |
|# January 21st, 2006 2:57 PM mbrlr|
|What level of difference how determined makes one not-quite-American? Just curious. |