Women in burkas, with cell phone


Over at Infinite Monkeys blog, where I cross-posted my quick-hitting humorous piece on the Burkha Barbie, a regular liberal reader weighed in with a defense of the dehumanizing garment. It has to be read to be believed.

The commenter, crywalt, wrote:

I fail to see what’s bad about a Barbie in a burka. Women wear burkas. Barbie represents women in general (at least in narrow kind of toy terms, sort of). So why shouldn’t Barbie wear a burka?

It seems some of your innuendo runs to the idea that women wearing the burka is necessarily the result of some kind of abuse. That’s unfair. Maybe it’s abusive to fill the stores with pants that don’t come up all the way in the back so everyone in the mall can see your ass crack. Which of course you now have to wax because if you’re seen with body hair, you’ll be psychologically abused by your peers. Maybe not having to worry about people staring at your tits and ass all the time, and treating you as inferior because of your looks — too pretty! Not pretty enough! — would actually be embraced as liberating by some women!

Just think: If American women wore burkas, that Sarah Palin Newsweek cover would’ve been much different.

It’s a funny thing, religiously informed dress. My daughter goes to a school where the administration is largely Turkish and Muslim. She takes Turkish as a language and last year we went on a school trip to a Turkish cultural center. The Turkish teacher leading the trip wears a hijab, which is to say the traditional headscarf. We adults had some time to talk and she told us how, back in Turkey, as a teacher, she would be forbidden by law from wearing the hijab. Turkey has such an inferiority complex, and is so desperate to appear as a modern, secular country which just happens to be mostly Muslim — which it is — the government has made it illegal for government workers to wear traditional Muslim clothing. Turkey wants to appear so liberal, open, and free that they’ve curtailed their citizens’ liberties. The teacher also told us how her mother and aunts had fought for so long to be free of the hijab that they don’t understand why she’d want to wear it. But she does.

And it occurred to me that that’s one of the good things about America. You want to wear the hijab, you wear it. You don’t, you don’t. But the burka might be too far for America, even if some women would like to wear it.

Here was my response (with citations from crywalt’s comment, and others, in blockquote format). I think it speaks for itself — and highlights how far "liberals" have wandered from their once-deeply held principles of individual liberty:

It seems some of your innuendo runs to the idea that women wearing the burka is necessarily the result of some kind of abuse. That’s unfair.

It’s not really "innuendo." Nor is it unfair. As Monkey Brad notes:

… the burka is pretty much nothing if not fully dehumanizing. The problem is that it is inseparably tied to a history of someone other than the wearer deciding that it must be worn.

Must the embrace of multiculturalism include ignoring this fact? Or the fact that in societies that embrace the burkha, girls can be married off to cousins at the age of 12 (or even 9, because Muhammad took a wife that age)? Or that women in societies that embrace the burkha — and even those that merely tolerate it, like Canada and the UK — it fosters an insular sub-section of a "Western" society where women are subject to honor killings? The burkha itself is the antithesis of what a liberal society represents, and few truly free women would choose to wear it. That’s the point.

"Normalizing" this symbol of oppression is not, in my mind, a good thing. Few would have a beef with a hijab. But, frankly, I would prefer it if Hillary Clinton (of all people!) would decline to wear it when traveling overseas to respect her own liberal culture. It’s not like we request that women visiting from Muslim countries conform to our social norms, by wearing a pantsuit (let alone "tramp stamp" pants).

Not to go too far off topic, make an inapt analogy, or pick a drawn-out fight … but I’m amazed that a liberal American would present such a defense. American liberals complained that the Confederate Flag flying on the grounds of the state house of South Carolina was itself an oppressive act — 150 years after the fall of the Confederacy. But wearing a symbol of oppression is a grand expression of multiculturalism? All liberals — classical and modern-day — should be stamping out the burkha as reflexively as they did a Confederate flag.

But the burka might be too far for America, even if some women would like to wear it.

I’m glad you draw the line somewhere … sorta.

(I encourage more discussion here at The American Culture — as well, if one is inclined, to give crywalt more rebuttal at Infinite Monkeys by joining the fray in the thread.)