Canadian Politics Social Issues

The Politics of the Niqab

Dave 07

It’s hard to believe that a head covering can become an issue in an election campaign, but the Niqab has managed to do it.

Newspapers carry a couple of articles each day, usually opposing the Conservatives in their opposition to wearing the Niqab during the Canadian citizenship ceremony, and it comes up in every party leader’s debate.

Earlier this week, Barbara Kay wrote an excellent National Post article on 10 reasons to ban the Niqab, and I agree with most of them. However I’d like to propose an overriding principle that suggests we should allow the Niqab, and that principle is tolerance.

I wrote a blog last Canada Day called: “Pursuing Tolerance, or why I believe in the Niqab. A few months of reflection has made me realize that the second phrase should have read: “or why I’m prepared to put up with the Niqab.” I am quite aware that that stance will still put me offside with the vast majority of Canadians, including a whole lot of Muslims. So be it.

Many people in our society understand tolerance to mean affirmation of an idea or practice, when in fact it simply means putting up with them. As a Canadian, I’m prepared to put up with, or tolerate, many ideas or practices that I find stupid, ill advised, indefensible, obnoxious, or even, intolerant. I view wearing the Niqab and Burqa to be all of the above.

And as such, I believe they are a valuable reminder to all Canadians of the inferiority of Muslim societies to Canadian society. That’s why most Muslims move here.

But that’s not the main reason I support allowing a woman to wear a face covering during the citizenship ceremony, provided, that she is identified, open face, by a court official prior to the ceremony, as is the current practice.

It’s because I too have some beliefs and associations that some would and do find obnoxious, and some actually find intolerable. Here’s just one illustration.

Most of our eight grandchildren have, at one time or another attended a Christian Charter school. I support that, and I also support public education dollars following the students to those schools.

Our children pay provincial education tax, exactly like the family next door. Yet some people – including some politicians – insist that our children must pay education taxes to support the public school system, plus pay the full cost of educating their own children. That’s discrimination built on a foundation of intolerance.

Christian schools approach education from a particular philosophical worldview, but then, all schools do. The schools our grandchildren attended are open to all students of any or no religion, and they adhere to the provincial curriculum. Studies also show that most faith based schools produce at least as well educated and socialized students as regular (secular) schools.

Unfortunately, there are many more glaring examples of intolerance in Canadian society. Think of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s barring – by fiat – all those who do not agree with his pro-abortion stance, from running as Liberal candidates. Canadian universities now routinely bar speakers whose views do not accord with the (usually) left-wing stance of the administration or the student council; and some Canadian law societies feel they have the right to dictate the social values of law schools.

I’m not prepared to spend moral capital by refusing to tolerate the Niqab when there are far more fundamental battles to be fought.

NiqabSo far in Canada, the Niqab has been little more than an eyesore. But I want to be perfectly clear, that the moment that a Niqab or Burqa is used as a disguise in the commission of a major violent crime, or a terrorist act, the game will have changed.

By having tolerated the Niqab for 30 seconds during a citizenship ceremony, Canadian society will have amassed the moral capital to ban it outright should it be found to present a danger to society.

And finally, we don’t need to provide the radical fringe with martyrs. Forcing a tiny minority of Muslim women who choose to wear a religiously unnecessary bag over their heads, to uncover, is a waste of our time.

Let’s tolerate them, but throw our open and strong support behind the vast majority of Muslims who are just patriotic Canadians.

Big Government Bullies Bureaucracy Politics Social Issues The left Uncategorized

Pursuing Tolerance, or, Why I believe in the Niqab

July 1, 2015

Dave 07Today is Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day. Many people from around the world choose July 1 to take the oath of Canadian citizenship. I thought it might be appropriate to rerun and expand a bit on the following Facebook post from last February.

A story that’s been in the news a lot lately is about the Muslim woman who wishes to wear a Niqab during the citizenship swearing-in ceremony. The Niqab covers the face completely, leaving only a slit for the eyes. The Burqa goes even further and puts the woman behind a fine mesh screen so that she is in semidarkness all the time.

The Hijab on the other hand, is a simple scarf similar to the one worn by Hutterites or by my Mennonite ancestors, and it leaves the face exposed.

I have to confess I’m torn on this one. I do find it offensive that someone would insist on covering their face during a citizenship ceremony. As a Canadian I even find it offensive when I see women wearing the Niqab or Burqa on the street. It is antithetical to the open Canadian culture where we look at each other’s face when we speak. The Hijab on the other hand doesn’t bother me at all – some are very beautiful – nor do Hutterite women wearing their scarves.

NiqabBut if those who wish to have their faces covered during the ceremony are prepared to prove their identity in a private room before the ceremony, then I have to come down on the side of letting them offend me, and even offend Canada. Because if giving offense is sufficient reason to ban something, then it certainly won’t be long until things that we do or believe in are going to offend someone else. In fact we’re already there, and doing or saying some of those things can get you taken before a human rights commission, or worse. That is what totalitarianism looks like, and it has happened here.

As a Christian, I am deeply offended by some of the comments or articles we read in the papers, or art that’s denigrates my faith. But I am entirely prepared to tolerate it. We’ve gone way too far down the road toward having the rights of selected individuals or groups to not be offended, becoming enshrined in law. That road ends in totalitarianism.

I actually got a lot of positive response to that blog. But here’s the problem. Our society is becoming more totalitarian day by day, and unless we do something about it, the trend will continue.

It’s not just universal free speech that’s a thing of the past.

Property rights are opposed by most politicians and most bureaucrats. You might think you own property and have an exclusive right to it, but if the government, or an environmental group, or some other favoured group needs access to it, or decides that some species need saving, kiss your rights goodbye. You’ll be lucky if they even discuss it with you before they walk over you. And if you oppose what they do, you will be accused of being a selfish, wealthy, not in my back yard-ist. “Toe the line!”

A bureaucrat in India recently made the comment that the big story of the 20th century was not the nationalization of industry, but the nationalization of the family. Children used to be the right and responsibility of the parent. Now, bureaucrats – appointed by politicians we elected, either actively by voting for them, or passively by not getting involved – have decided that they are “co-parents.” (That’s a new word, coined in the last couple of years by an Ontario bureaucrat.)

And the nanny statists are extremely intolerant of any opposition to what they are teaching your children. Depending on the subject, if you voice an objection you will be labelled a racist, a homophobe, intolerant, bigoted, or some other pejorative suitable to their purpose, which is to silence you.

To the nanny-statists, if you own a gun you are potentially a danger to society. Any day now, you might go out and kill someone, so your guns should be taken away. If you object you are obviously a gun nut, and have just proved their point.

If you oppose spending billions to combat climate change because you know from history that the climate has always changed, you are called a DENIER, which puts you in the same class as a contemptible Holocaust denier.

If you say out loud that Canada should have some sort of regulation on abortion – in surveys, most Canadians do – you are branded a woman hater and anti-choice. Is it possible to be pro-choice; just not unlimited choice?

The radical left has an agenda, and since the 1930s it’s been perfectly clear what it is, because they have stated what it is. Their agenda was to take “a long slow march through the institutions of the West”, and completely change those institutions so that Marxism / Socialism could achieve peacefully what was done through violence in Russia, China, and elsewhere during the 20 century.

So that’s why I’m concerned about fighting for tolerance. Because when the long slow march is complete, tolerance for those who don’t subscribe to what the state prescribes will become nonexistent. Think Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or Communist China.

Think I’m exaggerating? Dr. David Suzuki who some Canadians regard as St. Suzuki, said in 2008 that politicians who do not believe in climate change the way he does should be put in jail. And he has refused to repudiate that comment. That’s not the spirit of scientific inquiry; that’s the spirit of Totalitarianism.

In the Afterword to his excellent book: “The Great Divide” William Gairdner says: “I hope it is not vain or overly optimistic to think that the quality of the divisive cultural climate in which we now live, might one day improve and rise, instead of continuing downward.”

I hope so too, because if we continue on this road to selective intolerance, a couple of generations from now I’m not sure Canada will be the kind of country to which people will want to emigrate, or in which to celebrate Canada Day.