The French and the Hijab

You have to admire the French. They have strong views about what parts of the body should and should not be covered.

Muslims used to have strong views about what parts of the body should and should not be covered.

The French base their views on some vague, baseless metaphysical notions of human dignity and, of course, a rejection of God. But their conviction is unmatched.

Muslims base their views on their commitment to God and His laws and the grounding of religious and spiritual ethics. But apparently all that does not inspire real conviction in them, not the conviction the French enjoy.

After all, the French are willing to stake a claim and say, “This is what is proper. This is what is right.”

The most Muslims can say in response to this is, “Yeah, you’re probably right. But maybe some women want to wear a veil every now and then and their choice should be respected if that’s ok with you. And if not, then shame on you for not respecting their choice, boo hoo hoo.”

Why should the French or anyone else respect that? They believe that the veil is fundamentally an affront to civilization. They believe it is an abomination. There is no respect for what one finds morally detestable.

Rather than address the issue on that moral level, rather than find a backbone and make the deeper arguments that cut to the core of the issue and doggedly interrogate the assumptions and inconsistencies underlying French and Western attitudes about the human body, nudity, sex, and gender — rather than do this serious work, we are content to sit and whine about “respecting choice” and “religious freedom” and all this nonsense which is not even our vocabulary, it’s not a part of our intellectual tradition, but we use it anyway because we think others will accept it.

Newsflash. They don’t.

So a tip of the hat to the French. If only Muslims had an ounce of your conviction, it would be Muslims setting standards of dress for you instead of the other way around.