Barbarian Muslim women in strange clothing? I don’t think so, but…

June 13, 2009

A real barbarian woman?

Barbarians? Uncivilized? A commentator named "Nairb" has deep worries about my posts about   President Obama’s view of free expression and   Secularism and non-conformity . Such devotion deserves proper reward and reply. I quote from his comments on my second effort.

In comment #9 Nairb says, "Discouraging certain religous practices in non citizens is not about conformism nor democracy."

I agree—repression of religion is about tyranny. Especially when used against powerless non-citizens. Perhaps you are not acquainted with the logic. I will try again.

When adults choose a lifestyle you don’t like, and you use State force against them, you teach NOTHING about freedom or morality. But you do teach the Majority that it’s OK to use Law to force conformity of thought and expression and lifestyle. Are you prepared to go down that road? Maybe you are not acquainted with history, but happy to repeat it.

#9 Nairb adds,

"Its about Equality and protecting the equality of those who are weak in society due to cultural or religous practices that are Irrational, Barbaric and Uncivilised!"

I argue again that logic and history disagree with you. To really protect the equality of the weak, make the weak your political equals. Even if you feel that they are "barbaric". This takes courage, a real courage you haven’t shown. You’re so brave with a Big Brother State behind you while you condemn the weak. A Muslim woman would not be impressed by your kindly offer to control her life after gaining her freedom from religious control. Again, your faith that your lifestyle must be the best lurks behind the tyrant’s logic. Social oppression and inferiority is morally evil, we agree. But please do not fight evil with worse evil. Only democratic means achieve democratic ends.

And even if your view about lifestyle is actually right, then rational persuasion should suffice to gradually teach it—resorting to fast Law is a confession of weakness, not strength. Do not suppose that your blunt method of State Power is impressing any Muslim woman’s mind. She has seen that sort of power before, remember? But I can’t tell if you respect her mind at all. Could she be surprised if you didn’t, if she’s used to that disrespect already?

My restrained secularism simply protects free expression from State control, letting ideas do the persuading. Your zealous secularism controls expression using the State, letting Majorities do the "persuading" at the point of a gun. Which option really understands the spirit of democracy? Try using your mind and not your prejudice on this tough question—you wouldn’t want to appear "irrational and barbaric" too. But you probably look pretty "normal" in your street clothes, after all, with such concern for conformity.

One last factual point to correct. #8 Nairb says, "I note that Muslims excluding a muslim women from going outside the family home on her own does not bother you so much." Perhaps you are unacquainted with my earlier post, in which I said, "If Muslim women are physically harmed, if they are forced into household slavery, if their fundamental human rights are violated, then let the State’s laws do their proper work of enforcing justice for all citizens." Oh wait, I forgot—Nairb rejects citizenship for "barbaric" Muslim women. What is protecting them now, exactly? Not a society already condemning them as inferior.

I condemn any Power—religious, masculine or legal included—that enslaves the body or the mind. States can be barbaric, too. Democracy never forgets.