Odd reading through comments on the . I feel and fear too much equivocation.
I utterly oppose the notion that society should ever force women (or men) in or out of their clothing, especially clothing they are wearing because of their faith. It’s wrong, it’s self-defeating and it’s dangerous.
It’s wrong because respect for difference means you have to put up, not only with those differences that cause us no internal conflict (he likes chocolate ice-cream, she likes vanilla) but also those differences that disturb us. To be tolerant you have to suffer pain. Attempting to justify as liberal or tolerant accepting a person’s private emotional or theological state, while denying them the outward expression of that state, is simply absurd. Insert Voltaire quote here.
It’s self-defeating because this is not how change is affected. Do I think radically unequal rules regarding appropriate clothing are genuine reflections of Divine will? No, of course not. I’ve a gendered analysis of the burka that fills me with miscomprehension and scepticism bordering on revulsion. But the way I chose to fight this fight is in the realm of debate and drawing those who have non-Western liberal ideals of the role of men and women into the public square. Driving Muslim women off the beach, or worse, taking their clothes off in public!, is not going to warm the heart of anyone to Western liberal ideals. In fact quite the opposite. Insert quote about recruiting sergeant for terrorism here.
It’s dangerous because this is how fascism ekes out a place in ‘acceptable’ discourse. This is the well-trodden path of the fascist who gains electoral mandates for their fascism;
· First identify, in the most broad-brush terms, problems in society.
· Second pick a minority, preferably a less-empowered part of society, and blame them for the problems.
· Thirdly, impress those easily misled that because you have the courage to pick on the powerless you are the right man (yes, usually a man) to be given carte-blanche to use similar bullying tactics against anyone else who can serve as a scapegoat for any other problem addressed.
Insert Pastor Niemoller quote here.
We don’t effectively express our concern/revulsion regarding burkas and the like through equivocating when it comes to the burkini ban. Time to get off the fence.