Lengthy, interesting but odd read in yesterday's National Review Online on banning the burqa where the author goes from against banning the burqa to being in favor of it but ultimately acknowledging that it's nigh impossible now on the grounds of political expediency. Here's the money paragraph towards the end of the article:
Headscarves cannot at this point be banned. It is politically impossible, and it is also too late: The practice is too widespread. But the decision to wear them should be viewed much as the decision to wear Klan robes or Nazi regalia would be in the United States. Yes, you are free to do so, but no, you cannot wear that and expect to be hired by the government to teach schoolchildren, and no, we are not going to pretend collectively that this choice is devoid of a deeply sinister political and cultural meaning. Such a stance would serve the cause of liberty more than it would harm it: While it is true that some women adopt the veil voluntarily, it is also true that most veiling is forced. It is nearly impossible for the state to ascertain who is veiled by choice and who has been coerced. A woman who has been forced to veil is hardly likely to volunteer this information to authorities. Our responsibility to protect these women from coercion is greater than our responsibility to protect the freedom of those who choose to veil. Why? Because this is our culture, and in our culture, we do not veil. We do not veil because we do not believe that God demands this of women or even desires it; nor do we believe that unveiled women are whores, nor do we believe they deserve social censure, harassment, or rape. Our culture’s position on these questions is morally superior. We have every right, indeed an obligation, to ensure that our more enlightened conception of women and their proper role in society prevails in any cultural conflict, particularly one on Western soil.
We think the author pretty much makes the case herself for not banning the burqa beyond merely, it's too late. Is the burqa that, in the author's mind, represents a culture of oppression any more explicitly repulsive than donning white bed sheets or goose-stepping around in an SS uniform which are Constitutionally-protected activities?
Do you know for whom it is too late? The countries of which have passed burqa bans and which are considering them: Europe. Europe, which has insistently refused to address the question of Muslim assimilation and which has acquiesced its culture for fear of Muslim reprisal finds itself in reactionary mode with their burqa bans.
And let's not confuse not wanting to implement targeted laws banning what can and cannot be worn in public with not wanting to engage in a cultural battle. We can sit here and argue the negative merits and implications of the burqa in an attempt to win the battle without passing laws to get our way.
We don't think there are any easy answers for how better to assimilate Muslims into American society nor are there any easy answers for confronting radicalization within the Muslim community but we are extremely confident that banning the burqa is not the way to go about doing it.