Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I remember sitting in Social Studies class in high school in 1990 or so, hearing about the Japanese Internment during World War II and McCarthyism. I remember thinking that I was happy we were now such an enlightened people that we would never allow something so foolish to happen again. We had learned from the mistakes of the past and were no longer doomed to repeat them.

Then I hear callers to a local radio station calling for the banning of face coverings in the name of protecting us from terrorists. The irony of this being a Canadian station, a country where it is necessary to wear a scarf much of the year or risk frostbite. The lack of terrorist attacks from both the masked and unmasked should perhaps be a clue that this is an issue that does not need addressing.

Certainly the need to positively identify individuals in certain situations is necessary, although those situations are very rare. Religion does not grant additional rights.

Much of what the Burka represents is the antithesis of a secular, free and equal society. However, banning such things is only treating the symptoms and does nothing at all to deal with the issue. As usual, it is a solution that is clear, simple and wrong.

Terrorism is our generation's witch trials, our Red Scare, our Japanese Internment. When my children's children learn of this time in school, they will look back on our paranoia and shake their heads, wondering how we could be so foolish.


Lunchbox said...

You can't prohibit the wearing of subjugative, demeaning clothing directly for fear of being called a bigot.

You can't enact a law against smoking because of the challenges facing it, but we got smoking banned at workplaces because of a Workplace regulation.

You can't arrest Capone for murder, but he did Life for tax evasion. Tax evasion.

The end doesn't justify just ANY means, but it does help that a pathetic jab can accidentally accomplish a lot for equality and freedom while it's accomplishing a little bit for the paranoid nutjobs who run the border.

When it all comes down to it, I'm not sure where I stand on the issue. I hate both sides of it, despite that one side of the equation is imaginary. I hate that I'm all but condoning the use of one bunch of mcCarthyist-types against another bunch, but I'd like to defend that failing of mine once everyone can talk and appear as equals.

inverse said...

Yes, the point was not so much to come down on one side of the argument or the other. The point was that this is not a discussion that should need to be had. Both sides just make me feel ill.

Mongoose said...

I'm pretty sure your children's children will be on an equally absurd witch-hunt, or at least their contemporaries will.

As for the burqa or other veils, seeing as this is Canada, women wear it by choice. Seriously. If they don't want to, they can do just like the rest of us and wear something else, and leave the abusive jerk if there is an abusive jerk in their lives. Everyone here has the ability to leave abusive relationships and wear whatever they want, although some people choose to feel sorry for themselves instead.

Second, it occurs to me that so far I've only heard men comment on how demeaning the burqa is etc. Apparently I don't know any women who care either way, except myself. Personally I'd wear a veil most of the time if I could do it without looking crazy. Instead I wear a hoodie. And I think burqas would be great, too, although I've heard they're very hot. But it would be nice to be able to walk around without people being able to see you.

inverse said...

Yes, all thoughts I had while writing this, just couldn't figure out how to work them into the narrative. :-)

People can get pretty upset about what they see as symbols. I don't quite understand that myself, but it's not entirely unexpected.

Mongoose said...

Furthermore, I was thinking about this again today, and it occurs to me that clothing can hardly get more demeaning than the way the average Canadian woman dresses, with their ass and boobs and rolls of fat falling out everywhere. That's not only subjugative and demeaning, it's gross to look at, too. And I'm not even grossly fat but I'd still feel a lot more down-trodden by sexist men in a spaghetti-strap top and shorts that show my underpants, than in a veil worn in obedience to the word of God.

Lunchbox said...

The choice to look like a bonehead or totally great, or forced into an identity-less role by thugs waving fairy tales around. You know, if I wasn't a guy (and unaffected by stupidity of whole societies?) I'd be allowed to have an opinion about that! ;-)

inverse said...

There seems to be some debate as to whether covering the face is religious or cultural. Or simply misogynist.

But as you said, this is Canada, there's no force of law compelling anyone to wear (or not wear) anything, and I like it that way.

Mongoose said...

"The choice to look like a bonehead or totally great, or forced into an identity-less role by thugs waving fairy tales around."

Your assumption that women are forced to wear burqas by evil men is just that, an assumption. I don't believe you've polled any of them to see if they do it by choice or because they're forced.

And the "I'm half-naked so you'll pay attention to me" fashion is most certainly an identity-less role put on solely to please men.

At least the ones in the burqa believe in something more important than trading sex for money.