Saturday, May 30, 2009

You aint from round here...

Islamophobia Watch draws attention to a depressingly dim column by the occasionally sharp Matthew Parris. The whole thing is a tiresome whinge, culminating in this disingenuous musing:

Would it be wrong to try to convey to communities in Britain who adopt the full hijab that, though it is a woman's legal right to dress as she chooses, she should recognise that she's in a country where many people will find a masked face disturbing, and that (without meaning to) she is acting in a culturally inappropriate manner, which may offend?

One is struck, powerfully, by how pathetic this is. If you are offended, or even disturbed, by someone covering a part of their face, I strongly suggest you seek treatment. Failing that, I suggest you keep it quiet, and try to remain indoors as much as possible. The modern world was not made for such precious creatures. But this attitude is also most telling. After all, the objection to the hijab/niqab/burqa (such sartorial distinctions evidently don't matter if the garments are assumed to be cut from the same evil cloth) is supposedly a universalist one. It supposedly has some connection with women's rights. Behind it all, though, one consistently finds a cowardly authoritarianism, a desire to regulate the apparel of Muslim women on behalf of that dowdy particularism known as 'British values'. Such values, where they do not amount to an assertion of the inviolable rights of property, seem to involve being bourgeois, conformist, timid, insular, and pig-ignorant. Would it be wrong to try to convey to Matthew Parris and those of his ideological persuasion that this is not the 1950s? That while it is their legal right to believe and even write whatever lame nonsense occurs to them, they should realise that they live in a society where many people will find their paranoia ludicrous? And that, without meaning to, they are confirming what everyone already knew - which is that Britain doesn't have a culture?