Sunday, August 1, 2010

Behind a Veil of Hypocrisy

There has been a lot of noise lately about banning burkas, and it is all wrong.

Most of the articles cite security concerns, or the fact that the burka is a medieval form of misogynistic discrimination. Or the claim is made that there is nothing in the Islamic religion that demands the burka to be worn, and that is used as a justification for prohibition.

All of these “reasons” are ridiculous, counterproductive and contrary to individual rights.

The security issue as presented is only an issue if the appropriate security agency does not validate that the person under the veil is in fact who they say they are. Most airports have private rooms where a female security agent can take the individual in question so that their identity can be confirmed against their passport photo.

In the event that the person under the burka refuses to be so identified then it is up to the security agent to stand by its reasonable request (and against the inevitable knee-jerk of political correctness and possible threats of violence) and deny that individual the privilege of boarding the aircraft, or gaining access into the country, whichever is the case.

Such a policy applied uniformly to any and all passengers or entrants, would soon become known and accepted by all. It is the unequal application of a weak policy or selective screening that exasperates and perpetuates the problem.

The complaint that the burka is discriminatory is a moot point. Although as a rights respecting society we should watch out for rights violations - the initiation of force or fraud - against anyone it is completely and utterly impossible to make a claim of it without proof.

If a woman in a burka were to complain to a police officer that she was being forced under threat of violence to wear a burka then in that case there would be something that could be done, using existing laws and procedures. With help she could remove herself from that abusive relationship and the person who is threatening her with harm could be charged. But without that sort of proof we must operate on the presumption that her actions are her own, and she has chosen to wear the burka. To do otherwise, and ban the garment, regardless of the good intentions or the misgivings of the majority (or even a vocal minority) would be idiotic, illiberal and heavy handed.

The third complaint is really not a reason at all but a fuzzy headed kind of logic to which predominately religious and conservative opponents cling when all their other arguments have been ignored. It is nothing less than the cry of the closeted racist… “But they don’t have to wear it so why don’t they just dress like normal people… They should have to.”

It isn’t the burka. The burka doesn’t make a woman a terrorist, its not a sign of oppression or abuse, and it doesn’t matter that it is not a necessity of the religion.

If you can not grasp these simple concepts imagine outlawing baggy pants because they made every kid a gang-banger, or jeans and a halter top because they signify abuse and degradation or imagine if crucifixes were prohibited just because there was nothing in the bible that said they aught to be worn…


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

This is a reasonable solution that you suggest, and being reasonable, it will probably not be done.

In the US, the free exercise of religion, not to mention just plain liberty (do we really want government to tell us what w can wear) dictates that government agencies cannot ban the burqua, no matter how despised. Of course, private airlines, private schools and businesses could do it if they want, and then the burqua wearing women would be free to patronize other businesses, schools and so forth.

Yes, they did it in France, but France does not have a constitution that includes the Bill of Rights.

Ryan said...

I like this article. Would you mind if I cross-posted this on my blog with you cited as the author and a link back to your own? I can let you know when it is done with a link to the cross-post.

My blog site is

Zip said...

Yes Ryan you may.