Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hitchens v. Obama on Hijab Laws

PHUTATORIUS
A few posts ago Redneck described a left-winger's conundrum. Well, here's another one: what happens when the practices of a religious minority conflict with equal rights for women?

Avowed secular polemicist Christopher Hitchens just took issue with President Obama's assertion — in the Cairo speech on America and Islam — that French and other European governments infringe religious freedoms when they enforce laws that prohibit women from wearing the hijab.

I gotta say, I'm not sure where I come down on this one — I think because both Hitchens and Obama are oversimplifying the question (go figure a journalist and a politician dodging complexity).
More...
In truth, there's a whole lot of middle ground between the assumption that drives Obama's position (that women want to wear the hijab) and Hitchens's (that they don't). I won't presume, as Obama and Hitchens did, to speak for all Moslem women, but my surmise is that a lot of them don't draw a distinction between what they want to do and what they have to do. This is the ambivalent nature of tradition, after all. I would venture to say that a lot of Moslem women do want to wear the hijab, but they only want to wear it because they have to — just as I might find more pleasure supporting another baseball team, but I stick with the godawful Indians because it ties me to my roots, it's something my father taught me, and for some unfathomable reason the Indians are a part of my identity.

If you want to have to do something, or you have to want to do it, is it fairer to say that you want to do it, or that you have to? I'd say neither. But when the question is whether or not to have the sort of law that President Obama was discussing in Cairo, it's useful to make one or the other assumption. If women are culturally (or physically) pressured to wear the hijab, then it's sure worthwhile to have a secular sovereign write and enforce a law to override the compulsion. If they simply want to wear it, then that same law surely infringes religious freedoms. Ideally, there's a law that says it's unlawful to compel someone to wear a hijab: that would get to the heart of the question, and it would punish appropriate people: i.e., the jerkwads who impress backward, illiberal "traditions" on these women in the first place.

There's the broader policy point, too, that Hitchens makes: acceding little pockets of sovereignty to the umma is destabilizing to Western countries, and it encourages the kind of transnational radicalism that al Qaeda et al. promote with their talk of a worldwide Caliphate. But there's a counterpoint to consider here, which is that the true believers will always exalt the celestial law over the mundane, so that a secular state's regulation of religious practices itself has a radicalizing property to it, by provocation. I'd like to figure out which is the better policy, and I'd like to tackle it with some sharper analytical implement than "concessions embolden, so let's antagonize them."

In the end, though, I go with my instinct: liberal, secular values are important. Everybody else who comes to America has to trade some component of his/her identity to join the larger community. Life's a bitch. Wear what you want, but when we take your driver's license picture, take off the frickin' hijab so we can see you. Just like everyone else.

Of course, this only brings me back round to another conundrum: does disagreeing with President Obama here make me part of the hawkish right-wing opposition, or an apologist for France?

Redneck: any thoughts?

6 comments:

Fangyaya said...

coach outlet
michael kors outlet online
adidas superstar shoes
ray ban outlet
ugg boots uk
louis vuitton outlet stores
burberry handbags
rolex watches
kate spade outlet
kate spade
chicago bulls jerseys
coach outlet store online clearances
uggs on sale
michael kors outlet clearance
ugg sale
toms wedges
michael kors bags
timberlands
christian louboutin pas cher
miami heat jerseys
replica watches
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors outlet online
ralph lauren outlet
michael kors outlet online
gucci outlet online
supra shoes
hollister kids
louis vuitton outlet
the north face outlet
abercrombie and fitch outlet
ugg boots
polo outlet
jordan shoes
montblanc pens
ugg slippers
ugg outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
adidas nmd
20168.30chenjinyan

dada24 Xu said...

nike air force black
moncler outlet store
hermes belt outlet
louis vuitton borse
michael kors canada
michael kors outlet store
moncler pas cher
lacoste polo shirts
christian louboutin outlet
discount nike air max
michael kors outlet clearance
canada goose
ugg sale 2016
cheap rolex replica watches
oakley sunglasses wholesale
canada goose outlet
ugg outlet online
canada goose parka
ferragamo outlet
uggs pas cher
ecco outlet
yeezy boost 350
coach factory outlet online
cheap oakley sunglasses
true religion jeans
uggs
nike cortez shoes
pandora charms outlet
mlb jerseys free shipping
coach factory outlet
jordans
nfl jerseys wholesale
burberry bags
louboutin outlet
20160907caiyan

chenlina said...

uggs outlet
ray ban pas cher
louis vuitton bags
nhl jerseys
burberry outlet
jordans for sale
coach outlet
rolex watches
rolex watches
replica watches
chenlina20161028

Meiqing Xu said...

ysl outlet
kate spade outlet
toms shoes outlet
canada goose jackets
adidas yeezy
kate spade handbags
coach outlet
ralph lauren outlet
lebron james shoes
canada goose jackets
20161223caiyan

dong dong23 said...

cheap ray ban sunglasses
cheap nba jerseys
ralph lauren
coach factory outlet online
coach outlet store online clearances
pandora rings
michael kors purses
michael kors outlet
scarpe hogan
louis vuitton outlet stores
2017.1.16chenlixiang

Jian Zhuo said...

burberry outlet
oakley sunglasses on sale
burberry outlet
pandora jewelry
kate spade outlet store
longchamp pliage
mulberry handbags
coach factory outlet store
tommy hilfiger windbreaker
sac longchamp
170529yueqin

Post a Comment