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Dr. Pipes on Banning Burqas

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When we last saw our buddy Dr. Daniel Pipes, he was defending Michelle Malkin and her historical revisionism regarding the Japanese Internment. Poor Michelle had just written In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror and, along with being rebutted to hell and back, was being accused of being a lot of nasty things. So he popped in to say yes, she was right. Wasn't that nice of him? Well, now Ice is back, with a brand new edition - saying we should ban the wearing of all-covering Islamic Burqas and Niqabs. Why? ...burqas and niqabs should be banned in all public spaces because they present a security risk. Anyone might lurk under those shrouds - female or male, Muslim or non-Muslim, decent citizen, fugitive, or criminal - with who knows what evil purposes. He then goes on to list some of the more spectacular criminal purposes to which the all-covering garments have been put: fleeing Jihadis and escaping thieves and murderers have tried to drag their way to freedom. He also points out that folks who wear all-covering garments aren't getting enough Vitamin D, though he seems to have overlooked that they make vitamin pills for those exact reasons. Oh, and there's a Pakistani horror movie where 'burqa man' slaughters people. Can't have that around these parts, no. Throw those Captain Kirk masks away, now! Pipes ends his missive with the following: Nothing in Islam requires turning females into shapeless, faceless zombies; good sense calls for modesty itself to be modest. The time has come everywhere to ban from public places these hideous, unhealthy, socially divisive, terrorist-enabling, and criminal-friendly garments. So let's see, here: according to him, "a woman's freedom of expression grants her the option to wear a hijab" (so nice of him to allow for that, pity France can't say the same). But a woman who covers up everything to show piety through modesty - however overboard most non-Muslims may consider it - has become a "shapeless, faceless zombie" by wearing something "hideous." Both my wife and I had students who wore Niqab back in the UAE (she more than I). They tended to come from the more conservative families, yes, but they were anything but zombies, as their instructors could well attest. They just believed, as was their custom, that duty to God involved wearing something that kept them as covered as possible. Do I have objections to all-covering garments? Yes, but those objections relate only to me and my own form of belief, which does not require them. My problem comes when people are forced to don something they do not want to, such as when the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan and forced all women to wear burqas, whether it was their own custom or not. I have a similar problem with non-Muslim women being forced to cover in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia, too, but if one chooses to go there then one has to respect the rules. Likewise, that respect is a two-way street. I agree with those who disallow Muslim women to cover for their drivers license and other photo IDs. To do so renders such IDs useless. But to ban a woman from wearing it altogether because it might be used for criminal purposes, or terrorist actions, opens us up to all kinds of clothing rules in the name of security. And you'd think that's something a thinking conservative would shy away from? And you might also think a "Middle East Scholar" like Dr. Pipes would respect the decision to wear pious clothing, and have the intelligence to see beneath the fabric, and past its potential misuses. But we're not seeing a lot of that here, are we? But then, I don't know that we're dealing with thinking so much as feeling, here. Earlier in his article, Pipes reminds us The niqab ... became a hot topic when Jack Straw, a British Labour politician, wrote that he "felt uncomfortable" talking to women wearing it. I wonder Dr. Pipes, like Jack Straw, might be suffering from a certain unease from seeing Muslims in general - what we like to call "Islamophobia." The sort of nagging feeling that comes when one realizes someone else is Muslim, and automatically wonders (1) if they're carrying explosives and (2) where the nearest emergency exit is. If your first reaction on meeting someone of a different race was to grab your wallet and run, we'd call you a racist and ask what was wrong with you. But following 9/11, it's perfectly acceptable to think the worst of Muslims and - worse still - air those suspicions loud and clear. Now, this wouldn't be the first time Dr. Pipes has had a run-in with the i-word. It often comes courtesy of useless (and possibly terrorist-enabling) people as CAIR. But I find Pipes' denials to be more about his detractors' sins and less about his own. And as no less than Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, Dr. Pipes seems to behave sort of oddly when it comes to matters Muslim. It's almost as if they can do no right in his eyes. Given that, it's hardly surprising Pipes is waging a jihad of his own on Muslim clothing. And I won't be surprised if he gets joined by a few other voices in the meantime. Maybe the time has come to everywhere ban Middle East Scholars turned social engineers from having any say in sumptuary laws, lest they blare their hideous, unhealthy and socially divisive tripe to the world, enable Islamophobia and drive our enemies just that much further underground?
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J. Edward Tremlett is a lot of things, currently. He's back in the states after a seven-year stint in Dubai, UAE. He's been published in such diverse places as The American Partisan, the International American, The End is Nigh, Pyramid Magazine (more...)

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