Friday, March 19, 2010

Burqa bashing

Burqa bashing is back in the media. One argument (e.g., Nigel Farage snippeted on the bbc world service) for banning the burqa is that it’s a symbol of oppression. The United Kingdom Independence Party leader is not the first person I’d look to for defence of minority rights, but that just shows you how naive I must be.

Now, naive as I am, I would have reasoned as follows: some oppressed women are bundled up in burqas; some women wear them freely; just because the burqa is an instrument of oppression there doesn’t mean it’s an instrument of oppression here; so people should be free to wear it. But, says Farage, if it’s an instrument of oppression there, then it’s a symbol of oppression here and that’s why we should ban it.

Well that’s clever: taking a symbolic stance against oppression there is ample enough reason for denying freedom of choice here. So, let’s apply the logic across the board. The cross was used by the Romans as an instrument of oppression, and, if it’s an instrument of oppression there, then it’s a symbol of oppression here. So we should ban the cross!

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