We are slipping. And sleeping while the hard-fought personal freedom for all is slowly degrading into brazen selectivity in the guise of protecting (yeh, right!) "freedom". The mania and paranoia that have swept most of the Western world for the past few years are still rising, one step at a time, in calculative orchestration, seemingly. Where these fear and political exploitation could lead this world to be anyone's guess, however, that guess may genuinely frighten many.
Sorry, but we can't just pick and choose what to tolerate
The furore over the right to wear the veil has exposed the double standards of the liberal anti-Islam agenda
Wednesday October 11, 2006
Well, who would have thought a bit of black cloth could have provoked such anger and such anguish. The anger is part of a growing and alarming trend. The general consensus among the anguished (such as this newspaper) is that, in Jack Straw's words, "there is an issue here".
Certainly there is. The veil question has exposed a staggering level of thoughtless illiberalism, and not just where you'd expect to find it. Hot off the mark, the Express consults its readers about a ban on the veil: "An astounding 97% of Daily Express readers agreed a ban would help to safeguard racial harmony." It's not quite clear how this ban would be implemented. (Policemen ripping veils from women's faces? Asbos? Flinging wearers in jail?)
Clearly there are precedents: the Dutch parliament has voted for a ban on wearing burkas in public places, and three Flemish towns have actually instituted a ban. In this country, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown supports a burka ban on feminist grounds, and the "progressive nationalist" David Goodhart, who edits the left-leaning Prospect magazine, calls for a ban on the burka in schools and public offices (which, depending on where Jack Straw holds his surgeries, might solve his problem at a stroke). The problems attendant upon such a policy are demonstrated by the Belgian municipalities, which had to define burka-wearing in a way that didn't criminalise carnival masks (and it is very hard to see a way of defining the burka that wouldn't incriminate the niqab).
That liberalism can so easily collapse into nativism is clearly seen in Rotterdam, where designs for mosques are rejected as "too Islamic" and a citizenship code makes it compulsory to speak only Dutch in the street. That Muslims will not be the only victims of cultural proscriptions is seen in Flanders, where the bans on burkas in public places have been followed by one on speaking French in schools. That bans on veils don't end there is shown in Germany, where several states are seeking - pace David Goodhart - to ban civil servants from wearing the hijab, including Baden-Württemberg - the first German state to bar headscarf-wearing teachers from the classroom.
So this furore has exposed the double standards of the liberal anti-Islam agenda. Like the Behzti and Jerry Springer controversies, the Danish cartoon affair was spun as a contest between universal western liberal values of tolerance and particularist religious fundamentalists who wanted to impose their sensitivities on everybody else. Now many people who defend free expression to the death want to stop other people wearing what they want, in order to protect themselves from cultural offence.Read the Full Article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1892543,00.html