Skip to comments.A Burqa in Bloomingdale's
Posted on 07/10/2011 8:52:02 PM PDT by stolinsky
This column was first posted on June 1, 2010. In it I expressed the fear that a burqa could be used to conceal a terrorist − male or female − strapped with explosives. Some readers thought my fear was unreasonable, even bigoted. It wasnt. Read Terrorists in Drag: Bombs Beneath the Burqa by Dr. Phyllis Chesler. Male terrorists have been captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere, disguised in burqas and loaded down with weapons and explosives. What is already happening there can happen here.
Meanwhile, in Britain there are concerns that Sharia courts are enforcing anti-woman decisions; in Canada Hindus protest Muslim religious services held in public schools; and in both countries polygamy is officially condoned when husbands receive welfare payments for multiple wives. France and Belgium, on the other hand, are having second thoughts about multiculturalism, and have banned the burqa in public. Liberals want us to emulate the French. In this respect at least, let us do so.
Tolerance does not require that we tolerate the intolerable. Diversity does not require that we tolerate diverse varieties of injustice, oppression, and misogyny. Sensitivity does not require that we be sensitive to the feelings (if any) of those who are so utterly insensitive that they oppress women, mutilate girls, and practice honor killings. Multiculturalism does not require that we throw our own culture into the trash − and endanger ourselves in the bargain.
On the contrary, our values require that we apply the same standards of justice and protection to all people within our borders. Sometimes we fall short, but this is no excuse to abandon our values. Other nations are defined by their ethnicity; we are defined by our values. If we abandon our values, we lose our reason for existence.
A Burqa in Bloomingdales
David C. Stolinsky
July 11, 2011
Im not really sure if it was a burqa or a niqab. A burqa is a whole-body covering for Muslim women with netting over the face. A niqab is a similar covering with a slit for the eyes. Perhaps more progressive husbands allow the niqab.
You see, I was standing in Bloomingdales Department Store in Century City, an upscale area of Los Angeles. It is frequented by lawyers and their staff from nearby office towers. My wife was completing a purchase at the counter when a shadow passed behind me. No, not really a shadow − a human being reduced to the form of a shadow.
A Middle Eastern-appearing man walked by, wearing a suit and an open-collared white shirt. The shadow came two or three paces behind him. It − and I thought of it as an it − was covered head-to-toe in loose black cloth. Normally I first look at a persons face, especially the eyes. But in this case, I saw that the face was covered, so I concentrated on the body.
I concluded that it was probably the mans wife or other female relative. But then I realized that it could just as well be a young man with plastic explosive strapped to him − and studded with large nails designed to penetrate eyes and brains.
California and other states have laws against appearing in public masked. Since the days of stagecoach robbers, people have known that someone in a mask probably is up to no good. If masking the face causes mistrust, how much more does masking the whole body evoke suspicion.
But a woman forced to go around like a dehumanized blob is only half the problem. Equally problematic is how everyone, including me, allowed her to pass without comment. As we have done with homeless people, we will now do with women in burqas. We will grow accustomed to averting our eyes from injustice − and that is unacceptable.
Yes, I know about cultural sensitivity, tolerance, and diversity. But tolerance of what? People who tolerate the intolerable will themselves become intolerable. Diversity of what? A prison contains diverse criminals − does that make it a desirable place to live? Sensitivity to which cultures? Cultures that degrade women to less-than-human status? Cultures that encourage child marriage, wife-beating, and honor killings? Cultures that deny women the right to divorce or child custody? Cultures that encourage genital mutilation of older girls?
Generations of parents have circumcised newborn boys for religious reasons, and now for health reasons. The incidence of HIV, as well as herpes and penile cancer, is lower in circumcised males. Whats more, the incidence of HIV and cervical cancer is lower in their female partners.
On the contrary, all civilized people condemn genital mutilation of older girls as a revolting method of blocking sexual pleasure. But progressives have taken over professional organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics. It recently changed its position on male infant circumcision from positive to neutral, just as the health benefits became apparent. Meanwhile, the Academy changed its position on female genital mutilation from condemnation to allowing a small nick for cultural reasons.
● A nick in what − the clitoris itself?
● Small? How small? Pretty small? Small-to-medium? How about removing the whole clitoris? In young girls, it is small.
● What culture? Does a bad habit become a custom, and then a cultural tradition?
Fortunately, public pressure forced the Academy to reverse itself. It no longer recommends genital mutilation of girls. But stay tuned. Political correctness is like a vampire. You think youve killed it, but it comes back again and again. As with the burqa, so-called liberals are sensitive to the misogynistic, oppressive males of primitive cultures, but they are utterly insensitive to the women who are so dehumanized that they cannot show their faces in public, and to the girls who are forced to undergo painful surgical procedures that have no benefit but are deleterious to health. How sensitive is that?
Not long ago, many people spat on the floor. When I was a kid, streetcars in San Francisco carried signs saying, Expectoration prohibited. This assumed that a person who spat on the floor knew what expectoration meant. Still, its fortunate that cultural sensitivity had not yet been invented. Otherwise, public-health officials hoping to prevent the spread of tuberculosis would have been told to remove the signs.
But how, exactly, is the centuries-old tradition of spitting on the floor different from the centuries-old tradition of dehumanizing women by making them go around wearing tents, or of mutilating their genitalia to preclude sexual pleasure? Just because something is centuries old does not mean we must allow it, much less respect it. Calling it a cultural tradition does not make it respectable. You can call spitting on the floor expectoration, but its still just a filthy, unhealthful habit.
Fancy terminology or fancy surroundings cannot alter reality. A burqa in Bloomingdales is still a burqa. Why do we feel too insecure to uphold our values in our own country? All this reminds me of a quotation from Yeats:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
On the contrary, what we need is the moral courage of General Napier.
When the British gained control of India, they got rid of suttee, the Hindu custom of burning a widow alive on her husbands funeral pyre. This was done to express grief, and also so that the husbands family would not have to share the inheritance with the widow. The British commander-in-chief in India, General Sir Charles Napier, was informed that suttee was an ancient tradition with a religious basis, and that suppressing it would cause resentment. (Sound familiar?) Unimpressed, Napier replied:
You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.
I am not an admirer of multiculturalism. But if we must have it, let us practice the kind of multiculturalism advocated by General Napier.
If they insist on their customs of misogyny, domestic violence, and honor killings, let us insist on our customs. In case you forgot, let me remind you:
● Our customs include protection of women and children − if necessary, from their fathers, brothers, or husbands.
● Our customs include equal rights for women, especially in regard to education, career, marriage, divorce, and child custody.
● Our customs include severe punishment for those who mistreat women and children, including deportation, long prison sentences, and − in the case of murder − execution.
A burqa in Bloomingdales? A small nick in the clitoris? Honor killings in America? A mosque two blocks from Ground Zero? Whats next? Criminalization of critical statements about Islam, as is already happening in Canada and Europe?
If they insist on following their customs, we must insist on following ours.
Our ancestors were able to exert a civilizing influence in other peoples nations. If we are unable to exert a civilizing influence in our own nation, we do not deserve to have a nation of our own. And before long, we wont.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: email@example.com.
I’d like to comment on a phenomenon I’ve been seeing recently in my deep-blue neighborhood. I’d like to call it the Muslim Fashion Show.
The characters include between three and six (numbers may vary) (young) women clad in full long skirts and hijab headgear, plus one (young) woman in Western dress, no head covering. I refer to the latter as the “liaison” who makes the performance appear wholesome and normal to the average onlooker.
The hijab-clad ladies arrange themselves in an area open and visible to all.
They proceed to wander around in a large circle, aimlessly, not really looking at anyone or anything else.
The liaison beams at all passers-by.
The hijab-clad ladies then drift off to do whatever the environment dictates: if it’s public transit, they take a seat or disembark at the next stop. If it’s at a grocery store, they eventually pick up a shopping basket and start wandering the aisles. The liaison follows them.
The “look at me, I’m in Muslim garb” performance is very consistent. The same characters show up.
It all looks staged.
There have been burqa clad women in the Galleria area of Houston for a long time. You will see very few white people anymore at the Galleria.
‘It all looks staged.’
Invite you all to join me in humming “Jesus Loves Me” when passing these black-clad women.
Brush up on the tune - you’ll feel like you’re at least ‘doing something,’ as I do.
If the Muslim woman is an American convert, she may have gone to Sunday School, and knows the song.
If not, and the Muslims hear the tune frequently, - - well, who knows the impact it could have - - - : )
Or Fairest Lord Jesus AKA The Crusader’s Hymn
Don’t forget Onward Christian Soldiers.
Or, “Jesus loves me, yes I know. `Cause the Bible tells me so!”
>>...There have been burqa clad women in the Galleria area of Houston for a long time. You will see very few white people anymore at the Galleria...<<
I learned to ice-skate at the Galleria. Back in the early 70’s, it was the premier “upscale” mall in the entire south and as such, I always felt like a “gypsy in the palace” whenever I went.
I’d like to go back sometime just to see how much has changed. I hear Alief is, for all intents & purposes, a detatched suburb of Mexico City...
They were in full uniform including the ghastly mesh panel over the eyes.
I confess to almost jumping out of my skin at the moment of near-collision with these silently-gliding figures right out of a horror movie.
It was a most startling experience during that moment.....and to this day I'm careful to swing way out when I'm rounding aisle endcaps so I don't have a heart attack when encountering such netherworld apparitions right in my face.
The funny part was seeing the bearded muslim male trailing behind the two spooky females, apparently a husband.
He was dressed in a garish open-neck Hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts and sandals, sun glasses dangling around his neck....obviously dressed comfortably for the 90-ish degree weather outside the store.
You wouldn’t recognize it. All foreigners. So Alief is the same way?
Check out “Five Reasons To Ban the Burqa” at
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