In this, the third and final part of the series, we highlight compelling reasons for banning the burqa in public places in the UK (and any other civilised country). In sketching the core issues at stake it is shown that this Islamic dress code, specifically, has absolutely no place whatsoever in modern Western society and should be legally prohibited as soon as possible.
Why we must ban the Burqa (and the sooner, the better)
EARLIER WE REJECTED the somewhat absurd ramblings of left-wing apologists for all things Islam and began the process of identifying the real reason(s) why we must ban the burqa (and niqab, etc.). And take notice: the claim here is not that it should be banned, or that we should consider banning it, or think about banning it, or ban it in certain public places or circumstances, etc, etc. Moreover, the motivation for such a ban doesn't draw upon statistical analysis or popular views and polls, even though most show heavy support for a ban across a spectrum of the UK population (as is the case in many other European countries). Rather the claim here is unconditionally and emphatically robust, it is unequivocal and uncompromising - the burqa absolutely must be banned in the UK, and in any modern civilised society, anywhere in the world, that has true liberal values at its heart.
What are these true liberal values referred to? They are values rooted in, but certainly not limited to, those hard-earned principles of equality and liberty for all. In particular, these values extend to equality of condition, opportunity, choice, and worth for each and every citizen. And they extend to all those freedoms we take for granted – freedom to live, act, work, play, speak, think, and express ourselves as we each see fit. Such freedom and equality extends to that of ownership in oneself, of one’s talents and labours, of body and mind, of one’s destiny and even demise. And for the most part these values, in most civilised western societies, have been held high, sought after, aspired to, pursued, guarded, and cherished.
It is, then, a very strong claim for direct action to be enshrined in law against wearing the burqa, and any forms of attire sufficiently similar in intent and representation. Ironically, this argument stands, to some extent at least, on the very same liberal values the left-wing objectors often claim to rest their own case. Regardless, what is now needed is to unpack the core reasons why public wearing of the burqa specifically is both unacceptably at odds with these values and must be banned necessarily and urgently.
Whether or not Muslim women choose it for themselves, as some claim, the burqa embodies a representation and symbol of the oppression and subjugation of women the world over – in other words, all women, everywhere. What matters here is that the burqa represents a medieval concept of male conquest and rule over a woman’s liberty and, therefore, their freedom to act for themselves, to choose their path in life, to master their own destiny, and answer to no one but themselves for it. The burqa embodies a symbol of male dominance over a woman’s body, and the rights to dictate how she dresses, who she communicates with, who she marries, where she goes, and when she does these things. The burqa imposes upon women the burden of responsibility for inappropriate and/or unwanted male sexual desires and pursuit. Moreover, it implies that men themselves are entirely at the mercy of their sexual passions, unable to control themselves, driven by rampant desires to mate like animals on heat.
The burqa stands out, like a carbuncle upon the whole of humanity, as a political symbol and representation of all that we in the West don’t stand for in terms of women’s rights to equal treatment, respect, and authority in our communities. The burqa stands out, like a sore thumb, against every principle of equality and fairness for women which we have fought for in a century and more, all over Europe, since the days of suffrage and before. Few symbols, in all history, can be more alien, more unpalatable, or more confrontational than the burqa. Few representational dress codes, if any, are more provocative, more distasteful, or more unacceptable to western liberal culture and values, to free and equal men and women everywhere, than the burqa. The burqa is almost the embodiment of everything, absolutely everything, that we don’t stand for in a society that places the highest of value on liberty, equality and justice for all its peoples. And this is true no matter whether it is worn freely and of choice or is imposed and enforced upon the women that wear it. It matters not one jot that you chose to wear it, it is unacceptable on every level and in every way imaginable.
The emphasis here, it should be noted, is not on the intentions, or beliefs, or actions, of the wearer but purely on the symbolic nature of the item of clothing itself. Much like the wearing of a Nazi swastika in public, it isn’t the beliefs and intentions of the wearer but the nature of the unacceptable representation that is instrumental in causing an offence. ‘Causing offence’ will, too, be very familiar to the political left because that is pretty much their complaint about almost anything they don’t like. This, however, raises a very important distinction – that between simply ‘causing offence’ and doing something that is wholly unacceptable (that may or may not have caused ‘offence’).
It is important to note at this juncture that If wearing the burqa only caused offence, given it did cause offence (and for many it does not), then it would not be sufficient reason for banning it, not at all. However, regardless of whether the burqa causes offence when worn in public it goes significantly beyond this. Causing offence is not sufficient reason to ban the burqa (or the Nazi swastika). Yet, ironically again, if we were to apply the loony left-wing criteria for so-called ‘offence’ the opposite would result – that it would (or should) be found sufficient to ban it. This is a very weak extreme left position of course and in a truly free, equal, and just society you quite simply have no right whatsoever not to be offended. Indeed, the extent to which one can offend, and be offended, can be something of a gauge of the limits of liberty and justice within that society. Take, for instance, the protests (often descending into riots it should be said) post the lawful election of Donald Trump in the US and the public’s vote in favour of leaving the EU in the UK referendum. Swarms of left-wing snowflakes and extremists both sides of the Atlantic engaged in a relentless outpouring of some of the most vitriolic personal offence against the other side that they could possibly muster. Yet not for a moment did any of them seem to consider that they could enjoy doing so only because the other side had no rights whatsoever to not be offended.
The crux is this; as a political symbol of oppression and segregation the burqa goes far beyond causing simple offence, although it very often does this too. This symbol spans decades of British history and drags us back to a bygone age of disgraceful male elitism and cultural practice that is almost entirely alien to modern day cities, towns and villages in Britain and the West generally. Not only does it straightforwardly impose a physical barrier for meaningful communication but it places an unacceptable, and if imposed, singularly barbaric constraint upon it. The burqa, and its forms, is a dark symbol of shamefully misguided attitudes towards a woman’s place in society, her place in the community, and her place even in her own family. Represented in this glaring symbol of oppression, is the very essence of everything we have come to despise in our own past attitudes toward women, and British tradition now despises such attitudes wherever they are found (or, at least, it should despise such attitudes).
So, let’s be crystal clear here; British culture and tradition is now such that there is no place, none whatsoever, for any, yes any, discrimination against women regardless of the dictates of some backwards, ignorant, culture, religion, or political ideology. Likewise, there is absolutely no place, in civilised Western societies, no place whatsoever, for symbolic representations that promote a barbaric, misogynistic, oppressive, and disgusting attitude to around 50% of the human race on the grounds that they are merely ‘women’.
The burqa, and many of its similar forms (e.g. the niqab), are such a symbol. And this political symbol of subjugation seeks, through the intentions of many Muslim men that support and sometimes enforce it, to promote inequality, obedience, and subservience. There is, therefore, no place whatsoever for this, anywhere, in our (civilised) society. Yes, citizens enjoy the freedom, here in the West, including Britain, to wear pretty much anything you want, even where what you wear might offend the sentiments of others. But that freedom is not absolute, it is not immune from all conditions of reasonableness, and acceptability. If you doubt this then consider, ponder upon, all those things that we might not be free to wear (or not wear). Consider, for instance, images or similes of an unacceptable nature that would cause not just offence but absolute outrage. Conjure such images for yourself, perhaps in a quite and reflective moment, and consider how these might not be acceptable representations. And now think further how much more unacceptable it is that a particular symbol, a particular representation, such as the burqa embodies everything that is despised by the majority of a nation (unless, that is, we have it wrong and that, actually, subjugation of women remains very popular in Britain and the West?). Notice, too, that these objections do not hinge on any notion of 'offence' caused by the burqa as a symbol and representation and, indeed, none may be caused or taken. But let’s spell out further just what is inherently represented by the burqa in an effort to be ever more transparent.
What the Burqa actually represents to modern western cultures and peoples
The following bullet points outline key elements in the burqa as an unacceptable and symbolic representation and promotion of oppressive practices and attitudes – past, present, and future;
- Misogyny and discrimination against women is entirely unacceptable in our society. The burqa represents such misogyny and discrimination.
- Women are not, as Sharia law dictates, equal only to half that of a man. The burqa represents this inequality.
- Women in Britain have the right to an identity, to equal participation in, and benefit from, our society, its laws, and its privileges. The burqa represents, and often imposes, division, exclusion, and anonymity for women.
- Women in just and equal communities like ours are free to wear what they want (within reason of course, as are men). The burqa represents the withdrawal of that basic right and the imposition of enforced archaic and prejudiced practices.
- Women in our communities can talk to whoever they like, befriend whoever they like, live with whoever they like, and marry whoever they like. The burqa represents and promotes the withholding of all these rights, and their transfer to male masters.
- In the West it is not acceptable, or lawful, for a baying crowd to stone to death a woman for adultery. The burqa represents acceptance and promotion of such barbaric 'justices'.
- There is no acceptable justification for forcing a woman (or child) into marriage to a man she does not know, like, or (importantly) want to marry. Or to assault, maim, or kill her for not doing as demanded, or fraternising with someone her family disapprove of. The burqa is a representation of these assumed (by Muslim men) powers over women.
- It is reprehensible, to say the least, that a woman (often as a child) should have her genitals mutilated (FGM) to fulfill the requirements of some pathetic, misguided, ill-informed , and cruel ancient doctrine. The burqa represents acceptance of these vile and utterly disgusting practices.
Again let’s emphasis a key facet of civilised cultures today, or at least what they should be today: The above issues, and the conclusion that the burqa must be banned outright from the midst of our communities does not hinge upon the element of 'offence' caused (or claimed) by the representations inherent in the burqa, not at all. Despite what snowflake lefties might think we do not, generally, have any rights not to be offended, not a bit of it. This is something that left-wing Islamist apologists have yet to understand. Such a right is, quite simply, absurd. However, in the context of the present debate this is not the issue. We might, then, assume that very great offence has been caused by the appearance of Muslim women wearing the burqa on the local high street. Equally, no offence may be taken at all. Yet the reason the burqa absolutely must be banned remains, regardless of its offensiveness or the lack of it. Why?
The answer to the above question is almost too simple at this juncture but it needs spelling out nonetheless; causing offence is plainly not an applicable criterion for judging whether something like wearing a burqa should be banned. The ban must be imposed, not because of any resulting offence, great or small, but because it is an entirely unacceptable symbolic representation and promotion of points 1-8 above. And this remains the case, whether offence is intended or not, taken or not. It also remains the case regardless of whether the burqa is worn of free choice, or forced upon the individual in question.
At every turn this political symbol from the dark ages, and instrument for female oppression, is as foreign and repugnant to our culture as can be imaginable. Given the fact that these culturally caustic dress codes are nowhere enforced within the Quran, the Hadith, or indeed by a large number Muslim clerics, further questions surely arise. One of the most prominent of these is, why are Muslim women arriving in Western countries insisting on wearing such inflammatory attire if they are free to do otherwise? At least two replies come to mind, either they are not in fact free to do otherwise or are simply choosing to respect the customs of their religion and/or community. Yet, in the case of the latter reply, the core requirement is only to dress modestly (for men and women). So, knowing the nature of British culture and the emphasis on liberal and libertarian values why would they plumb for what is clearly viewed by so many as an inflammatory, divisionary, and unacceptable dress (that might also, as a matter of fact, be taken as highly offensive too)?
The second reply could perhaps be closer to reality – Muslim women do not really choose to wear the burqa, it is more often than not thrust upon them. Many reports suggest wearing the burqa or niqab is not a matter of choice for a majority of the Muslim women. At this point we are, however, beginning to speculate, although it might be considered informed rather that raw speculation. But cut this cake any way you like, it would be folly indeed to claim that all Muslim women seen wearing the burqa choose to do so.
The Burqa - and principles of liberty, equality, and fairness
Some might reply that what is argued here trades on ambiguity regarding the meanings of ‘offence’ and ‘unacceptable’ and how we understand these terms. On this account the core complaint is that the argument against wearing the burqa on grounds it is in some sense 'unacceptable' is simply tantamount to saying it's offensive. This is because the only reason that a ‘representation’, like the burqa, is unacceptable is because it causes, or may cause, offence to others. However, this is not the case.
What is argued here is that, regardless of offence, some representations are quite simply unacceptable, even where they cause no offence at all. They are unacceptable because of what they represent, not because they offend (or not). It is the content of the representation itself, inherent in the public face of the burqa, that is totally unacceptable in a society that values highly principles of liberty, equality, fairness, and justice for all its people. And this is the case quite apart from any notions of offence caused or taken.
As a matter of fact the burqa is not immune from causing very great offence in many communities. However, as pointed out earlier, this not a reasonable ground for introducing legislation against wearing the burqa – and it really is a road we want to avoid taking wherever we can. What the above importantly shows, however, is that the liberal left's favorite complaint of 'offence' is entirely irrelevant in terms of the justification for or against the burqa. That the burqa causes offence, or even if banning it causes offence for those in support of it, is of no consequence here. What matters is that what the Burqa represents is simply not acceptable in a society that adheres to Western values and standards. Why? Because given points 1-8 above enshrine typical practices and attitudes endorsed by doctrines such as 'Sharia law' , it is patently evident values and standards in the west are wholly superior to those followed by primative humans. To allow a symbol such as the burqa to invade and infect our communities is not an offence, it is an affront to what we call common decency, respect for others, and the duties of that respect (to fellow men and women alike).
There is no place in modern western societies for symbolic representations of brutality and oppression like the burqa, any more than there is for a pedophiles T-shirt depicting a sexually explicit image of a child. Such images (as representations) are often, as a matter of course, offensive but this is so only because, in the first instance, they are wholly inappropriate, and unacceptable. The crucial point here, if only one is taken away from this argument, is that offence is only taken, incidentally, because the image (representation) is in the first place inappropriate and unacceptable, not the other way around. To put this another way, how would it be that one takes offence, feels offended, by something they otherwise consider completely appropriate and acceptable? The burqa may or may not be offensive to some, it's prohibition may be equally offensive to others but it matters not one jot as it remains inappropriate and unacceptable in a civilised society and country.
Postscriptum: A very good video reflecting some of the above can be found here - https://youtu.be/JfkBrx3f3fs. As well as demonstrating the failure of 'national security' as a useful objection to the Burqa it outlines some of the fundamental issues raised by its appearance in the West.