Tony Blair’s war in Iraq is failing miserably. Even his own military chief has rightfully called it a losing proposition. That’s why Tony’s been looking for another war to fight–any war.
The one he’s apparently chosen is a war against Muslim women. Not all Muslim women, mind you. Just the ones that don’t cotton on to our western ways and insist on wearing traditional garb that is offensive to westerners. Or western men to be specific since the two most prominent politicians to have come out against the niqab are Blair and Jack Straw, the proverbial white Christian males.
I should make clear that I don’t much care for the niqab. I find it oppressive and can’t imagine a woman wouldn’t also find it so. I may even have some similar feelings toward it as Blair and Straw. From Aqoul I understand that the niqab is not a traditional form of dress with a long history, but rather a recent and somewhat oppressive custom imported from Wahabist Muslim countries. Nevertheless, who am I to tell a Muslim woman to take off her niqab? If I were Muslim, I would feel much more emboldened to criticize this custom as Aqoul has done. But I’m not.
I don’t much like it when non-Jews (usually evangelicals or right-wing Catholics) try to tell me in the comments section here I’m not a good Jew because I actually believe Israelis and Palestinians can live together peacefully (not right now, but some day). What right do they have to tell me anything about my own religion? I could run rings round their knowledge of Judaism. Whatever happened to showing a little humility in the face of the Other?
The difference between Blair and Straw, and me is that I realize that I’m not a Muslim and that I have no right to tell a Muslim how he or she should dress. As long as they don’t endanger themselves or others in what they do, why should I care whether they wear a niqab or a George Clinton ‘fro? It seems to me the height of western, Christian superciliousness to decide for Muslims what they should or shouldn’t wear in public settings. Just because Muslims have decided to live among us does that give us the right to tell them they must dress more like us for us to be willing to communicate with them?
Here are some of Blair’s more insipid comments on the controversy:
“It is a mark of separation, and that is why it makes other people from outside the community feel uncomfortable,” Mr. Blair said at a regular news conference, echoing some of Mr. Straw’s sentiments…
“No one wants to say that people don’t have the right to do it,” Mr. Blair said. “That is to take it too far. But I think we need to confront this issue about how we integrate people properly into our society.”
Oh heavens no, we wouldn’t want to say those Paki gals don’t have the right to their enslavement. We’ll just refuse to meet with such a one (as Straw has done) till she gets “religion” so to speak and “integrates properly into our society.” Have you ever heard of such nonsense coming from a politician who I thought, at one time, had some smarts. I tell you the man’s got to be desperate to feel he needs to score points against Muslim women in the culture wars. Do you think maybe this will become Tony’s personal jihad? We all should have some overarching principle informing our moral universe. For Tony, I guess it gonna be that wretched mask those ladies wear.
And Blair has the unmitigated gall to say he understands why a Muslim woman would be disciplined for putting on her niqab in the presence of men at the school where she worked?
The debate about its use…has crystallized around Aishah Azmi, a teaching assistant suspended by a local council for refusing to remove her full-face veil during class in the presence of male teachers.
Mr. Blair said he could “see the reason” for Mrs. Azmi to be suspended from her job at a Church of England school in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, where there is a substantial Muslim minority…
“We have to deal with the debate,” Mr. Blair said. “People want to know that the Muslim community in particular, but actually all minority communities, have got the balance right between integration and multi-culturalism.”
Natter on Tony all you want. But you can’t pull the wool over my eyes. I know an ignorant bigot trying to pass for an enlightened liberal when I see one. Whatever happened to tolerance? Whatever happened to live and let live? Whatever happened to treating people fairly in the job market? Tell me what is the difference between wearing a niqab and a yarmulke? And just what precisely is so absolutely essential about being able to see a woman’s face when you speak with her?
The Tories, not to be outdone in the Department of Bigotry and Ignorance released this statement quoted in the NY Times:
David Davis, the Conservative opposition spokesman on home affairs, said last weekend that British Muslims risked “voluntary apartheid” by displays of separateness like the full veil.
Give me a f(&*)n’ break. Voluntary apartheid? You dare use that pejorative term in this context? If Muslim women really wanted to be separate they wouldn’t work at all. They’d stay at home tending their families and never set foot among heathens like Blair, Straw and Davis. In fact, considering their boorishness it’s a wonder that any Muslim woman, whether wearing a niqab or not, would be willing to be seen with any of them.
And not to be outdone, Romano Prodi, another pol I thought had some smarts, has hauled his lame lard-ass up on the anti-jihadi bandwagon:
“You can’t cover your face; you must be seen,” Mr. Prodi told Reuters. “This is common sense, I think. It is important for our society.”
Why yes, it’s common sense to those of us white Catholic males who run the show here. So what if it’s not common sense to the A-rabs. They want to live here–they better shape up or ship out. We’re not running a Muslim caliphate here. We’re running a country. A nice, white Roman Catholic country.