Magazine | August 30, 2010, Issue

Letters

Oppression Is Oppression

In the August 16 edition of NR, Claire Berlinski called for the banning of the burqa in order to solve the problem of “gender apartheid and the subjugation and abuse of women throughout the Muslim world.” How can removing a symptom cure the disease?

Ivan M. Lang

Glendale, Wis.

 

As a sympathetic reader of your generally fine journal, it pains me to write in complaint about Claire Berlinski’s argument in “Ban the Burqa.” She abandons the core conservative principle of religious liberty in the name of a politically expedient but ill-conceived reaction to a current political moment.

On what grounds does Berlinski say we should ban the burqa? Ostensibly, because women who remain uncovered will become increasingly harassed by Muslim men. But do we ban miniskirts because a few men might respond boorishly, and, even fewer, aggressively? No. And why? Because to do so is coercive and reduces the liberty of the woman in question.

I thought conservatives were not only for religious liberty but against governmental social engineering. Apparently not at National Review.

Berlinski may assume that the burqa reduces the liberty of Muslim women, but what of those who choose to wear it as an expression of their faith? She broaches but eschews this very topic. If it is wrong for Muslim men to coerce Muslim women, why is it fine for the government to do so?

Berlinski advances the wrong solution to an identified problem. If Europe is worried about the dominance of Muslim immigrants, its governments should rethink their politically correct ideologies and start reducing the number of visas to their countries. They can debate in the public sphere and try to show why secularism, Christianity, or some other belief system is better. But coercion by the government is simply not the answer.

National Review should be resistant to governmental restrictions on religious expression. With a few twists of words and some backing by the leftists who control our social-science departments, one could easily advocate governmental intervention in other practices or communities. Beware the law of unintended consequences.

Will Antonin

Via e-mail

 

Claire Berlinski replies: I thank Mr. Lang and Mr. Antonin for contributing to this discussion. To Mr. Lang: I didn’t argue that banning the burqa would solve the problem of gender apartheid in the Islamic world. To Mr. Antonin: I did not write that it was “fine” for the government to coerce Muslim women. I wrote that it was an outrage against religious freedom and religious expression. I moreover said that it was discriminatory, persecutory, and incompatible with the Enlightenment traditions of the West. I fully appreciate your arguments and find them compelling. But the arguments in favor of banning the thing seem to me, on balance and from experience, more compelling still. There are no good solutions to this problem. There are only less bad ones.

NR Staff — Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Politics & Policy

Our Real Gulf Disaster

Four months after the Deepwater Horizon spill — which President Obama called the “worst environmental disaster America has ever faced” — the oil is disappearing, and fisheries are returning to ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

On Thin Ice

A hundred years ago, Europeans could not have imagined the horrors that lay ahead for them. Our current century was ushered in with an awful demonstration of what may lie ...
City Desk

Cancerland

I visited cancerland in 1992, and now my wife is traveling there. I took the testicular tour, she is on the breast package. Her prognosis is excellent, as was mine. ...
Politics & Policy

Petronoia

Tom Bower is a British investigative journalist who made his name writing hard-hitting exposés of the activities of such major British business figures as Robert Maxwell, Mohamed Al-Fayed, and Richard ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

Oppression Is Oppression In the August 16 edition of NR, Claire Berlinski called for the banning of the burqa in order to solve the problem of “gender apartheid and the subjugation ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Robert Gibbs complained about “the professional Left.” These days the White House is looking more and more like the amateur Left. ‐ President Obama says that the job of plugging ...
The Bent Pin

Heap o’ Nothin’

Back when August was called the dog days, columnists got a break. We were allowed, even expected, to write about nothing much because there was nothing much to write about. ...
The Long View

The “Grounder”

What’s Going On at the GZM This Week? Prayer Rugs for the Needy We’re collecting prayer rugs for the needy. Please put all gently worn prayer rugs in the bin right next ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

ONE 14TH OF JULY We met them at a block party on Sansom Street One Bastille Day, Two Berliners, true believers, Who met when the Wall fell, A night he remembered For the chunk of concrete He ...
Athwart

Shat and Scat

TV reflects our standards; TV changes our standards. If you want to know where standards are heading when it comes to salty lingo on the tube, consider the name of ...

Most Popular

Education

Is Journalism School Worth It?

Clarence Darrow dropped out of law school after just a year, figuring that he would learn what he needed to know about legal practice faster if he were actually doing it than sitting in classrooms. (Today, that wouldn't be possible, thanks to licensing requirements.) The same thing is true in other fields -- ... Read More
Culture

Wednesday Links

Today is ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli: Here's some history, a documentary, and a Lego re-enactment. How DNA Can Lead to Wrongful Convictions: Labs today can identify people with DNA from just a handful of cells, but a handful of cells can easily migrate. The 19th-century art of ... Read More
World

Microscopic Dots. Let’s Look at Them.

Stuart E. Eizenstat has written a big book on the Carter presidency. (Eizenstat was Carter’s chief domestic-policy adviser. He also had a substantial hand in foreign affairs.) I have reviewed the book for the forthcoming NR. Eizenstat tells the story of a meeting between President Carter and Andrei Gromyko, the ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Alfie and Haleigh and Charlie and Jahi

When British hospital officials tried to pull the plug on 23-month-old toddler Alfie Evans on Monday night in arrogant defiance of his parents' wishes, many Americans took to Twitter to count their blessings that they live in a country that would not allow such tyranny. "Stories like Alfie Evans make me ... Read More