Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Veils and the Like

My neighborhood has had quite the influx of Somali immigrants in the last few years, so women wandering about in what strike me as at best bizarre outfits in the summer heat have been moderately common during this time.
There are many intermediate states in this domain, but one thing I find consistent is that there seems little proscription against foot decoration and exposure, making me wonder about foot fetishism in parts of the world.
In the face of a growing variety of legal restrictions on wearing burqas and the like in the Western world, there is some lively debate going on. Norm pointed me to this mini-essay by Kenan Malik.
I agree I think pretty much entirely - blanket rulings on how people dress are unwelcome in any society I live in. I also do not believe anyone has an obligation to show me her or his face - good God there are still people in Toronto who avert their eyes from my friendly greetings on the street (which may be terrifying).
And I agree with the summary:
The idea that the entire weight of the Enlightenment tradition should rest on banning a piece of cloth worn by a few hundred women shows how absurd has become the debate about the burqa. Certainly, it is important to defend liberal social values, the secular society and the heritage of the Enlightenment. But we cannot do so by promoting illiberal policies, stigmatizing immigrants, or banning symbols of ‘otherness’. The very values that Lévy believes are undermined by the burqa demand that we oppose any attempt by the state to ban it.
But there is certainly more to be said. As I agree that clothes do not make the man, I do think barbaric practices do make the man, and that we have a responsibility not to change how immigrant families dress, but that they behave like what I would like to consider normal Canadian adults.
If you want to become depressed just let Phyllis Chesler help you.
Or for that matter this story very close to my home.
What will our courts choose to do? Slam the guilty with tough sentences and a clear statement that we expect these barbarisms to stop in Canada? Or to have some expert testify that the poor little guys cannot help it because of their 'culture' (culture is hardly a word to use for behavior like this) and therefore should be treated leniently? And in the latter case, which is what I rather expect to see, what are we telling the daughters of the future? Forget it girls - you are not worth our protection because you were born into a family of monsters! And we think those monsters have a valid 'culture'.
Let's finally get serious and get public about it.
UPDATE: CBC says the Parvez murdering family boys get what Canada laughably calls a life sentence. That is, they are eligible for parole in ten years; I suspect it would behoove some of us to be at that parole hearing, since Aqsa's family all seemed to want her murdered and are thus unlikely to speak up for the victim when the parole board meets.
UPDATE: Parole in 18 years - a somewhat intermediate position. Means the father won't likely cause more trouble, the brother will be released just in time to cause more trouble.
Meanwhile of course the mother pleaded for mercy for the murderous pair who killed her daughter. Who are these people?


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