2010 November 27 Saturday
Claire Berlinski: Ban The Burqa

Claire Berlinski, an American journalist who lives in Turkey, was originally sympathetic to Muslim women who wanted to wear a veil. But she found that Muslim fundamentalists are not willing to tolerate non-wearers of the veil.

One woman here told me of her humiliation in childhood when her family was ejected from a swimming pool because her mother was veiled. I believed her. All stories of childhood humiliation sound alike and are told in the same way. It was perverse, she said to me, that she should be free to cover her head in an American university but not in a Turkish one. It seemed perverse to me as well. It would to any American; politically, we all descend from men and women persecuted for their faith. I was, I decided, on the side of these women.

But that was when I could still visit the neighborhood of Balat without being called a whore.

Figuratively speaking she's been mugged by reality.

The argument that the garment is not a religious obligation under Islam is well-founded but irrelevant; millions of Muslims the world around believe that it is, and the state is not qualified to be in the business of Koranic exegesis. The choice to cover one’s face is for many women a genuine expression of the most private kind of religious sentiment. To prevent them from doing so is discriminatory, persecutory, and incompatible with the Enlightenment traditions of the West. It is, moreover, cruel to demand of a woman that she reveal parts of her body that her sense of modesty compels her to cover; to such a woman, the demand is as tyrannical, humiliating, and arbitrary as the passage of a law dictating that women bare their breasts.

All true. And yet the burqa must be banned. All forms of veiling must be, if not banned, strongly discouraged and stigmatized. The arguments against a ban are coherent and principled. They are also shallow and insufficient. They fail to take something crucial into account, and that thing is this: If Europe does not stand up now against veiling — and the conception of women and their place in society that it represents — within a generation there will be many cities in Europe where no unveiled woman will walk comfortably or safely.

If Islam is really that incompatible with a free society then the Europeans need to do much more than a burqa ban. Otherwise the only way to protect native Europeans in the long is Ataturk-style dictatorial secular rule.

How to reconcile liberal support for multi-culturalism with liberal support for liberalism? A set of values that is not the same as the liberal set of values in some way is incompatible with liberalism. The liberal view of multi-culturalism seems to be rooted in a condescending view that liberalism is the modern global form of manifest destiny. Confronted with cultures which are anti-liberal at their core liberals ignore the deep-rootedness of inter-cultural differences and assert that when members of all other cultures are transferred into Western countries they will not pose a problem for liberalism. Rather, liberals save their powder for native Western conservatives as the real enemies. I think this is the height of folly.

Environmentalists made a big deal of the rhetoric of sustainability. I'd like to see liberals track demographic and social trends with an eye on the sustainability of liberalism. I think they promote values and policies that ultimately undermine the sort of society they want to see. America and Europe are going to become less like their ideal Swedish welfare state because the demographic trends which liberals support with immigration policies and welfare policies will create the kinds of societies that can not afford a Swedish welfare state.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 November 27 01:00 PM  Immigration Culture Clash


Comments
Peter said at November 27, 2010 4:32 PM:

Great post with excellent points.

TangoMan said at November 27, 2010 8:12 PM:

The arguments against a ban are coherent and principled. They are also shallow and insufficient. They fail to take something crucial into account, and that thing is this: If Europe does not stand up now against veiling — and the conception of women and their place in society that it represents — within a generation there will be many cities in Europe where no unveiled woman will walk comfortably or safely.

Oh brother, I hate this form of intellectual hubris. Claire has to create a foundation for her essay by posturing as though she has found some point which sews up the argument so that it is beyond dispute. Her failure to discover that her key point is not new makes a hash of her claim that existing arguments are shallow and insufficient. It would have been more professional of her to simply argue that of the existing arguments in favor of the ban the one that she finds most compelling is the one which stresses the peer pressure and community norms being enforced either through moral force or through physical force. Simple. The argument is advanced in the same way without contorting the piece to make it look like she's discovered a point that others won't call shallow and insufficient.

jerry said at November 27, 2010 9:53 PM:

"How to reconcile liberal support for multi-culturalism with liberal support for liberalism . . ."

In short, Liberalism is just white-hating, genocidal racism, and anti-racism is just a code phrase for anti-white. The West's Muslim problem can only be solved by ending Muslim colonization and repatriating those already here. When Liberals like this Claire Berlinski denounce the burqa it is in fact a defense of the real problem, genocidal colonialism waged by the left against their own nations and peoples. It's a propaganda stunt aimed not at protecting Muslim or Western women, but at making the dispossession of Europeans more palatable by pretending that such laws will tame the excesses of Islam (or blacks, or . . ). It's a law to soothe the victims and keep them quiet. When Muslims (or blacks, or . . .) make up a majority, or even a large minority, in a nation or territory your laws and traditions won't matter a damn, and that's all that counts. Anything else is spin.

From the article: " In each and every case, not only in 2008 and 2009 but also in 2007, the offender was a non-Western immigrant.' These statistics are rarely discussed; they are too evocative of ancient racist tropes for anyone’s comfort." Yeah, we wouldn't want to evoke those racist tropes, would we? Did she forget to mention that the majority of the victims these rapes, this explosion of racist mass rape, are white? Oh, dear me, I've troped, haven't I? A woman who thinks avoiding evoking "ancient racist tropes" is an understandable excuse for remaining silent in the face of racist mass rape, yet has the nerve to say "within a generation there will be many cities in Europe where no unveiled woman will walk comfortably or safely" can't be taken seriously. As I say, last ditch defense of open borders.

WJ said at November 28, 2010 6:37 AM:

"The choice to cover one’s face is for many women a genuine expression of the most private kind of religious sentiment. To prevent them from doing so is discriminatory, persecutory, and incompatible with the Enlightenment traditions of the West. It is, moreover, cruel to demand of a woman that she reveal parts of her body that her sense of modesty compels her to cover; to such a woman, the demand is as tyrannical, humiliating, and arbitrary as the passage of a law dictating that women bare their breasts."

To compare the desire to cover one's face to the natural desire to cover one's breasts, buttocks and vagina is poppycock. The human face has evolved as a means of expression that goes far beyond mere verbal communication. In every civilization around the world covering one's sexual organs is standard practice. Only in Islam are people expected to cover their faces, too - and then only women. Women do not show love, fear, joy, doubt, worry, sadness, anger, or hate with their breasts. They show all these and more with their eyes, their mouths, and every muscle in their face.

And to say that we must tolerate Islam to honor the Western, enlightenment tradition is also absurd. Despite our pretense of absolute rights, we have never practiced any such thing, and have always known that their are limits to such freedoms. Freedom of religion? Talk to the Mormons, who were barred from practicing polygamy. Freedom of speech? Not for fighting words. Right to bear arms? Not any arms; certainly not an RPG or a nuclear warhead. And of course liberals would subsume all those rights to the supposed government mandate to end racial discrimination, a "right" which, unlike those mentioned, appears nowhere in the Constitution.

Up until the end of World War II we all understood these things. A few days ago I received a chain email comparing Hiroshima and Detroit 65 years after the war. Hiroshima was magnificent. Detroit was in ruins. During World War II Detroit was an arsenal of democracy, turning out Jeeps, tanks, ambulances and God knows what else by the thousands. Liberalism has done to Detroit, to America, and to the West what Japan and Germany could never do; has forced us to accept the unacceptable, and to tolerate the intolerable.

Immigration at current levels, sustained for so long, is ridiculous no matter who's arriving - white, brown, black, yellow or red. Immigration at current levels with such large numbers of people from a culture that is the West's one natural enemy is suicidal.

Anonymous said at December 6, 2010 10:27 PM:

Religion is the killing of mental options.

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