I wasn’t going to comment on ongoing round of laws in Europe and Quebec that aim to ban face coverings, but, faced with what seems to be a near wall of silence from Conservatives ~ who in the 21st century are the only reasonable heirs to 19th century liberalism ~ I think I need to say something.
These laws are stupid … but they are worse than stupid, they are an assault on individual liberty by a bunch of political nincompoops.
Now, there are a number of variants of head and face coverings, they are especially common among some Muslim women …
… and some restrictions on some of them in some situations are, pretty clearly, justified on common sense or security-identification grounds. We, most of us, can probably agree that a lady should not wear a burqa or chador or even a niqab when she’s driving a car (it might restrict her vision) or when she is applying for a driving licence, which is a pretty common form of recognized identification … and it seems pretty clear that airport security should insist that a burqa or chador must be removed for security screening (to permit positive facial recognition).
But, why the hell does the state ~ the BIG, collective, state ~ care what any individual wears when (s)he boards a bus. It ought to care that she deposits the correct fare, of course, or taps her card to pay, but why does the state care if her face is covered? It’s arrant nonsense, and it is an infringement on a fundamental right.
Reminder: you (and I, and Muslim women, too) have lots of rights but four of them are quite fundamental: life, liberty and property as defined by John Locke in 17th century England and privacy, as defined by Brandies and Warren in 19th century America. These rights all accrue to all individuals, only, and they, those individuals, need to have their fundamental rights protected against constant threats from collectives including religions, societies and states, themselves. These new laws, passed by big, collectivist states, are threats to individual liberties and must be challenged and overturned. Liberals, like Justin Trudeau, will not do it because they are progressives, not liberals, and because people like Justin Trudeau cannot think about fundamental rights … only about partisan, short term, political advantage.
Let me be clear about my own position:
- Women may wear whatever they want for their own (good or not so good) reasons; but
- It is wrong for anyone (including any father or husband or rabbi or provincial premier) to force women to dress in some certain way for social (including political) or religious reasons.
Your religion is a wholly private matter between you and your gods … you may never try to impose your beliefs on others, including your wife and children.
Instead of passing a law, the Government of Quebec should have mounted a multi-million dollar ad campaign that explains that while the Quran, for example, might, indeed, enjoin people to be modest, it is not a “dress code” that requires women to wear medieval costumes. That applies to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and so on … If a woman wants to wear a veil for her own reasons ~ as a fashion statement or as a sign of “solidarity” with her community ~ then she should be free to do so, subject only to those few, common sense, restrictions, like showing your identity when voting, discussed above. Modesty is about actions and attitudes … it is possible to be modest in a bikini and immodest in a long dress. Modesty is about how one comports oneself, not about how much of oneself is covered by fabric. What is wrong is not wearing a veil or even a chador, it is in forcing someone to wear such a thing or in denying them the right to wear what they will in most, ordinary circumstances. Many, many Muslim sheiks and imans are quite wrong when they (like some Jewish rabbis and some Christian preachers) demand that women wear certain garments … they are trying to restore a notion that women are property, owned by their fathers or husbands. That’s what should be a crime … not wearing a niqab on a street-car.
I will not be surprised to see these laws backfire. I expect that many modern, sophisticated, educated, liberated and liberal Muslim women will “take the veil,” so to speak, and go out and about in public just to “give the finger” to Premier Philippe Couillard for being a fool and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for being a coward. More power to them … they have individual rights to liberty and to privacy that are being attacked by a bunch of fearful, stupid middle aged men.
This has nothing to do with Islam or with “Canadian values,” it is ALL about one “culture” trying to bend another to its will. It is wrong, it is horribly illiberal and real Conservatives need to condemn it because we, all of us, need to be liberal, we need to preach, practice, promote and always defend liberty.