Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mark Steyn, prompted by stories on "the burka Barbie":
Resisting terror is exhausting. It’s easier to appease it, but, for the sake of your self-esteem, you have to tell yourself you’re appeasing it in the cause of some or other variant of “social justice.”

* * * * *

“The U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it,” President Obama told his audience in Cairo earlier this year. “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal.”

My oh my, he’s a profile in courage, isn’t he? . . . [T]he real issue in the Western world is “the right of women and girls” not “to wear the hijab.” A couple of weeks ago in Arizona, a young woman called Noor Almaleki was fatally run over by her father in his Jeep Cherokee for becoming “too Westernized.” If there were a Matthew Shepard-style gay crucifixion every few months, liberal columnists would be going bananas about the “climate of hate” in America. But you can run over your daughter, decapitate your wife, drown three teenage girls and a polygamous spouse (to cite merely the most lurid recent examples of North American “honour killings”), and nobody cares. Certainly, there’s no danger of Barack Obama ever standing up for the likes of poor Miss Almaleki to a roomful of A-list imams.

* * * * *

Talk to any educated Muslim woman who attended university in the fifties, sixties or seventies—back when they assumed history was moving their way and a covered woman was merely a local variant of the Russian babushka, something old and wizened you saw in upcountry villages. Now you see them in the heart of the metropolis—and I don’t mean Beirut or Abu Dhabi so much as Paris and Brussels. It’s very strange to be able to walk around, say, Zarqa, hometown of the late “insurgent” Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and look 90 per cent of the women in the eye, and even be rewarded with a friendly smile every so often, and then to fly on to London and be confronted by one masked face after another while strolling down Whitechapel Road in the East End. The burka, the niqab and the hijab are not fashion statements but explicitly political ones, and what they symbolize in a Western context is self-segregation.