Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

The Toronto Star's "Ethics Columnist" fields a Halloween query:
Q We are a Christian family. Our daughter, 7, goes to a school where there are many Muslim kids. Some of their moms walk them to school in burqas. My daughter is fascinated by these mysterious “costumes” and says she wants to go out on Halloween as a “Muslim lady.” Do I let her?
Here's his answer, one that's perfectly in keeping with the Star's muliculti ethos in which tiptoeing around the controversial and endeavoring to never give offence to anyone, ever, ranks numero uno in the Trudeaupian rule book:
A: Absolutely not.
In the first place, the Muslim community in Canada is conflicted, within itself, about the place of the burqa in religious life.

At one extreme are those, of both genders, who see wearing these garments as a matter of religious devotion, even obligation, for Muslim women. At the other, many see them as signs of the oppression of women, and therefore offensive in a progressive society like ours.

These are complicated questions. Even those women who claim they have “chosen” to wear the burqa sometimes testify that, although it was their “free” choice, choosing not to wear it could result in trouble — either at home or in their community. One wonders, therefore, whether a choice made under those conditions is really in any sense free.

Allowing your daughter to dress this way, therefore, is to inject her into the middle of not just one, but two controversies. Not only is that unfair to her, but disrespectful of your Muslim neighbours. I would hope that if your next-door neighbours were having an internal family argument, you wouldn’t knowingly send your kid into the middle of it. Same reasoning applies here.

There will be people who read this and accuse me, as they so often accuse liberal media-types, of Islamophobia, i.e. being scared of Muslims and therefore affording them more respect than we give to Christians. “After all,” they will say, “kids have dressed up as priests and nuns for years on Halloween, and no one said Boo.” True enough — but isn’t it different if Rick Mercer or Mary Walsh teases Newfoundlanders about their unique ways than if a Torontonian calls them Newfies and makes fun of them? Some things that are appropriate inside a family feel different when they come from outside. If a black kid wants to dress up as Jackie Robinson then go for it — but I’m not sure a white kid should put on blackface makeup to do it.

You have a teaching opportunity here, to help your daughter understand the complexities of multiculturalism and mutual respect. Use it — then let her go out as something really scary — a vampire, a lawyer, even Rob Ford.
Got that? Rob Ford: creepy, kooky, scary, ooky. Multiculturalism: topping, swell, even when it entails beliefs and attitudes, such as forcing chicks into sharia fun sacks, that, clearly, do not belong in and are antithetical to a free society. And tweaking Islam in any way: verboten, not an option, beyond the pale,

My answer would have been a whole lot shorter--and much more "insensitive": Don't let your daughter wear a burqa. Tell her it's a symbol of oppression--women costumed as their society views them, i.e. as a blank, a nullity, a void--that is out of place in a free, democratic, non-sharia-ruled country like Canada, where women have the same rights as men. Point out to her that the difference between her wearing a burqa and a "Muslim lady" wearing one is that, for her, it's dress up, but for those other women, its a requirement, one that, should she fail to heed it, could result in her being injured and perhaps even killed. And if you don't teach her that, and stuff her head full of the squishy equivocations the "ethics columnist" suggests, you are doing her, her country and, indeed, all of Western civilization a huge disservice.

Sorry if that isn't "complicated" enough for you, Star "ethics" guy.

Update: The Noel Coward answer:

Don't put your daughter in a bag, Mr. Infidel.
Don't put your daughter in a bag.
She's a little bit of a meeskite,
Much wider than she's tall.
And the chance she'd be had,
Even unclad,
Is nil to none at all.
She's a loud girl,
Who laughs just like whooping crane
The sound of which drives one insane
And about which I wouldn't brag.
But on my knees, Mr. Infidel,
Please, Mr. Infidel,
Don't put your daughter in a bag...

No comments: