I’m saddened by the news that Belgium is close to banning the burka.
Muslim immigrants have had a difficult time assimilating in some European countries and this certainly isn’t going to help. I understand and am in favor of some of the rules that some European governments have had to impose, like the one saying you have to actually show your face on your identification card so the government can actually identify you. Call me crazy, but if your face isn’t showing, it’s not a useful means of identification.
But when it gets to the point where you ban an article of clothing for women, one that has important religious meaning, because you’re afraid that male terrorists could wear them and move about unknown, I almost don’t know what to say. It makes me want to get up on my soapbox and do my best Keith Olbermann impression: “How DARE you, sir! Have you no SHAME?”
After 9/11 when Muslim groups like CAIR were saying that it was unfair that more Muslims were screened in airport security, I was admittedly not very sympathetic to their concerns. I have always said that if white, blue-eyed, blonde males ages 30-40 were bombing train stations, then I would have no problem going through extra security when I went to board a train. I would be mad at the people who were doing the bombing, who were tarnishing my image, not at the people who had to put me through greater security to ensure I was not one of the bad guys. I would be sympathetic to the government and understanding of their need for hightened scrutiny of people who looked like me.
But I think this goes too far. If this law passes, it’s going to set back relations with the Muslim community in Belgium, without question. Perhaps that’s part of the agenda here: make them feel unwanted and maybe they’ll leave and some other country can worry about them instead. I wish I weren’t so cynical, but it’s hard not to be at a time like this.
I know European countries do not appreciate rights and freedoms to the extent that we do. Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Austria, for example. Some will say that this kind of thing could never happen in this country. I would hope that is true. But we live in an age where many on the political left look to Europe for guidance; where some Supreme Court justices pay more attention to European law than the U.S. Constitution, for example. At the same time, some on the right would say that in the name of a war that may potentially last forever, we should be able to infringe on individual rights granted to us in the Constitution.
Let this example from Belgium shatter the myth forever that a more European society, with a stronger government presence and fewer civil liberties, is something to which America should aspire.