Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Feb/10

3

…about those cheese-eating surrender monkeys

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France denies citizenship over veil:

French officials have denied citizenship to a man because he allegedly forces his wife to wear a full Islamic veil, the immigration minister said Wednesday.

“This individual imposes the full veil upon his wife, does not allow her the freedom to go and come as she pleases, and bans her from going out with her face unveiled, and rejects the principles of secularism and equality between man and woman,” Immigration Minister Eric Besson said he told Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

Tuesday’s decision came a week after partial ban on veils covering the face — including those from a burqa — was issued by a French parliamentary commission. If voted into law, the ban would apply in public areas such as schools, hospitals and on public transportation, CNN reported.

Six months ago, Sarkozy told lawmakers France did not “welcome” the Muslim burqa, citing the issue of women’s freedom and dignity, not religion.

A 2004 French law banned Muslim girls from wearing headscarves in state schools. It also banned other religious symbols such as large Christian crucifixes, Jewish yarmulkes and Sikh turbans.

In my mind one of the more shameful aspects of the American Right in the early 2000s was our denigration of our Western European allies over the Iraq War, in particular France. Sure, their motive wasn’t pure, but motives rarely are, and the French were right. The anti-French mania was represented by repulsive schlock such as Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America’s Disastrous Relationship with France. Granted, the relationship with France in many elementary school curricula is inversely childish, with the Marquis de La Fayette serving as a saintly personal representative for the French nation, with whom our relationship was always complex and to a large extent driven by situational conditions (not to mention that different portions of the American populace had opposite stances toward France on occasion, as during the French Revolution, when the South was pro-French and New England anti-French). But teaching materials for children tend to be childish and simplistic by their nature; what excuse does a conservative intellectual such as John J. Miller have? Instead of elevating his readership, in this case it seems he appealed to their baser inclinations, and that appeal will surely not stand the test of time.

In any case, I point to the French attitude toward particular types of Muslim religious garb as illustrative of the fact that they certainly are not “surrender monkeys.” In fact, laïcité tends to make Anglo-Saxons uneasy, with its aggression and disregard for liberty. But in this case the reasons are clear. One the one hand, there are practical rationales for why people should not expect to go about in public with their face covered; facial expressions are critical signals which our species relies upon. In pre-modern Muslim societies generally it was elite Muslim women, who lived segregated lives, who could engage in the luxury of the full face veil. Today middle class Muslim women who wish to have careers take up the veil. This is an innovation, and I think there are prudent grounds to object to it. A Muslim woman in the past who took up the veil as generally not a public woman. Today many public women are now taking up the veil. The personal has been made political.

That being said, the big problem here is Islam. If everyone was honest it might be feasible for Europeans to propose a “grand bargain”: Muslims can practice their faith however they want, so long as Europeans can block all further immigration from Muslim lands, or, by practicing Muslims. Non-Muslims the world over can tolerate small Muslim communities, but they fear the rise of large minorities. I will not review the reasons for the discomfort, they are not premised on delusion. But if Muslims were like the Amish or Hasidic, a peculiar people apart, but no long term demographic threat, then objections to the niqab or burqa would disappear.

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15 comments

  • Susan · February 5, 2010 at 10:12 am

    The real objection to the burqa might be one of simple security: You don’t know who is under all that enveloping fabric. Or what she might be carrying in the way of weapons or explosives. Or if the wearer is even a she. Wasn’t there an incident at Heathrow (it may have been elsewhere) a few years ago during which a man wearing a burqa and carrying a fake passport that identified him as a woman tried to board a plane?

  • Twain · February 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    I would cut off all immigration to Europe and the US, although it might be too late. They could encourage Europeans to have 2 kids per family which is close to replacement levels of I think 2.1. It seems the elites in Europe are so worried about “racism”. If they didn’t let these immigrants into Europe, they wouldn’t have to deal with it. I guess we are to mistakenly acquiesce to the takeover according to our naive leaders and let ourselves become minorities.

  • Susan · February 6, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    A post office outside Paris was robbed today (2/5/10) by two people in burqas. The article I read, from Agence France Press, stated that one of the leaders of Sarkozy’s party had introduced a bill providing that the burqa should be outlawed because of security concerns. It’s the perfect disguise if you want to commit any sort of crime.

  • Art · February 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    In my mind one of the more shameful aspects of the American Right in the early 2000s was our denigration of our Western European allies over the Iraq War, in particular France. Sure, their motive wasn’t pure, but motives rarely are, and the French were right.

    Actually, it wasn’t the American Right that was shamefully denigrating our Western European allies, it was the American Left. Bush sought the aid of our allies and welcomed every contribution, refusing to criticize those who did not send troops. The left attacked any leader that declared in our favor from Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi to Jose Aznar. Democrat politicians, like John Kerry, routinely belittled any contribution to our cause. It’s hard to imagine a more shameful act.

    And what was it that France was right about? That the shamefully extortionate oil contracts that they had negotiated with Saddam in return for support in lifting the sanctions would be declared null and void by the Iraqi people once liberated from his fascist grip? That Western European elites would no longer be able to exploit the “Oil for Food” program to enrich themselves while hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s, mostly children, died from lack of food and medicine? That supporting an ally that had rescued their nation not once, but twice, from German armies would be unpopular with ethnic minorities at home potentially leading to terrorist acts and should therefore be avoided in order to protect themselves? What exactly did the French get right?

    The Russians who had a strong, ongoing relationship with Saddam and intimate knowledge of his security apparatus had other, perhaps more interesting, things to share:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin says that after the 9/11 attacks Moscow warned Washington that Saddam Hussein was planning attacks on the US.

    He said Russia’s secret service had information on more than one occasion that Iraq was preparing acts of terror in the US and its facilities worldwide.

    […]

    Speaking on a visit to Kazakhstan, Mr Putin said Russia had warned the US on several occasions that Iraq was planning “terrorist attacks” on its soil.

    “After the events of 11 September 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services several times received such information and passed it on to their American colleagues,” he told reporters.

    He said the information received by Russian intelligence suggested Iraq was planning attacks in the United States, “and beyond its borders on American military and civilian targets”.

    Putin says Iraq planned US attack, BBC

    If Saddam had been left in power and acted on his terrorist fantasies, I’m sure that this interview would have been used as evidence at Bush’s impeachment trial.

  • Derek Scruggs · February 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Actually, it wasn’t the American Right that was shamefully denigrating our Western European allies, it was the American Left.

    Right, because we all remember that leftist movement to change the name of English muffins to… I dunno, Egg McMuffins?

    Did you actually read that Putin article you linked to? Putin still opposed the Iraq war.

    Does it shock you that a country in which we had been engaging in a low-level war for years might be planning an attack against us? Perhaps next you’ll break the shocking news that the Taliban is plotting us against EVEN AS WE SIT HERE TYPING STUFF ON OUR COMPUTERS!!!

  • Author comment by David Hume · February 6, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    derek, there’s no arguing with denial :-)

  • Art · February 7, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Right, because we all remember that leftist movement to change the name of English muffins to… I dunno, Egg McMuffins?

    Poor baby, I’m sure that if they had know the lasting physiological pain such a stunt would inflict on Francophiles, like you, they would have reconsidered.

    Did you actually read that Putin article you linked to? Putin still opposed the Iraq war.

    What? Putin opposed the war? Well, that settles it. If Putin is willing to accept the risk of a terrorist attack on the U.S., who are we to argue.

    Does it shock you that a country in which we had been engaging in a low-level war for years might be planning an attack against us?

    Does it shock you that, after 9/11, a President charged with the security of the American people would consider the possibility of such an attack unacceptable?

    Perhaps next you’ll break the shocking news that the Taliban is plotting us against EVEN AS WE SIT HERE TYPING STUFF ON OUR COMPUTERS!!!

    Actually, that news was broken on 9/11. I guess for some, it still hasn’t sunk in. GET BACK ON YOUR MEDS!!!!

  • Art · February 7, 2010 at 11:43 am

    @David Hume

    Maybe you two should get a room.

  • trajan23 · February 7, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I have often speculated that the Francophobic mewlings of the Neocons had something to do with the fact that the Neocons needed something concrete to demonize. Barred from going after Islam with both barrels, they turned to the French, the perfect target. As they are White Western Europeans, slurs can be leveled against the French that would never be tolerated if used against a non-Western nation.

  • Art · February 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I have often speculated that the Francophobic mewlings of the Neocons had something to do with the fact that the Neocons needed something concrete to demonize.

    Francophobic? Wouldn’t that imply that someone was actually afraid of the French? Yes, we need a concrete target. Remember how we attacked the French after the first World Trade Center bombing? How we savaged them after the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania? How quick we were to scapegoat them after the attack on the U.S.S. Cole? How ironic that a commenter on a site that traffics in anti-Christian bigotry would be complaining about someone else going after the “perfect target”. No, we “neocons” leave the demonizing to salt-of-the-earth types like you.

  • Mike H · February 7, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    The French are easy to dislike from an American perspective, at least since Suez they have had a somewhat dysfunctional relationship to the country that saved them from German occupation.

    Whether it’s trying to build the EU into a heavyweight that could pose a counter to American power, trying to reach separate understandings with the Chinese and the Russians, undermining Anglo-American Balkans policy, all sorts of attempts to gain dominant influence in various Middle Eastern countries or their constant meddling in former colonies, pretty much everything they’ve done is in some form or shape directed against the U.S.

    Really the French have never stopped thinking of themselves as a Great Power and the dominant European power and thus have tried to keep American influence in Europe down and since they can’t do it openly they have done it through deceit which tends to annoy others.

  • Mark in Spokane · February 7, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    The French will never forgive us for saving them from the Germans. Twice. That a country such as France — with its civilization, its history, is former dominance of the European stage, its Napoleonic glory — was reduced to the level of Italy during World War II has dug into their collective craw ever since the Americans landed in North Africa. (Don’t forget the first troops to fire on Americans in the European/North African theater were French forces).

    No good deed goes unpunished…

    And lest I be accused of anti-French bigotry, my father’s family is from Alsace. My dad was a proud American sailor who was part of the first wave to hit Omaha Beach.

  • trajan23 · February 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

    @Art
    Art, my reference to a “concrete target” was not military in nature. The Neocons were able to physically attack the Middle East, but they were unwilling to attack Islam in a brazenly propogandistic fashion. The Neocons were (and are) far too PC to ever go after a non-Western culture, hence , their need for the French. The Neocon’s war in the Middle EAst was an oddly cerebral affair, lacking in true emotional heat. The Neocon bombings were always punctuated by paeans to the greatness and goodness of Islam. The French, as White Westerners, received the hatred that the Neocons could not allow themselves to express towards Islam.

  • chris · February 10, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I love when my fellow Americans forget the French role in American Independence. Plainly spoken, America would still be part of the British Empire if not for the French. French supplies, French guns, French ships and French soldiers tipped the scales in America’s favor.

    There is a good reason why there is a statue of Compte de Rochambeau in Washington D.C.

  • jwc · February 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I think the most objectionable thing about Hume’s article is that he refers to John Miller as an ‘intellectual.’ Surely you jest, SAH!

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