Burqas and Dog Whistling

Quoting Dick Gross in the SMH

There is a financial contagion threatening to sweep Europe but another contagion, just as destructive, is going pan European – Islamophobia.

The French started it with the prohibition of the veil in schools.  It has now extended to prohibitions on Islamic practices in Switzerland and Belgium.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi in his blog and in The National Times argued that some of the prohibitions should leap the Pacific and come here. Amazingly 81 per cent of National Times readers agreed with him in an (admittedly unscientific) poll of more than 10,000 respondents.  Ah one can never go wrong spewing out racial divisiveness.  This dog whistle has worked.  Bernardi must be rapt.

I might respect Bernardi a little if he had called for a ban on motorbike helmets with black, non see through, visors. And if he had called  for wearing helmets to be banned the moment you get off the bike. And if he had called for the wearing of balaclavas, and scarves, and face disguising sunnies to be made illegal in public places. A bit like you can carry your rifle around the farm, but not in town. He did not call for this.  He is dog whistling, just like Dick Gross says.

Perhaps we need a debate on what constitutes reasonable garb to wear in a public place.  I remember, with regret, the panic I once caused in a bank when I was distracted by something outside, and then walked in with my helmet on; sheer terror in the face of the teller. But let's have an honest discussion about what is reasonable and what is just racist. Maybe instead of picking on some minority group we could ask how ways we behave in public frighten and threaten other people.

One of the comments on Dick's page says it well

So why do people get all steamed up about a garment? Because they're scared and the garment is an easily recognisable target for their fears...
and why are they scared?
Because they've been told to be..and it's easier to be scared than rational. Scared people are easier to manipulate..
Orthodox Jews used to be targeted in Eastern Europe because of their mode of dress and side curls- because they could be recognised and people could find a target for their fear and hatred..
So next time a politician says "Ban this or introduce this" don't just react emotively- just ask what's in it for him/her.. and then do a little research to determine whether there really is a problem- or whether you're just being manipulated by your fear... You may end up disillusioned, you may end up contemptuous of the attempt but at least you won't be scared of shadows...

I know what I fear in the streets; groups of young men noisily hanging out, or walking towards me, filling the whole foot path. Women in burquas are the least of my worries.

Christians might ask what relevance Bernardi's comments might have in a world where we are supposed to be about removing the power of the high and mighty, and having compassion for the weak and suffering. "...Next time a politician says "Ban this or introduce this" don't just react emotively- just ask what's in it for him/her.. and then do a little research to determine whether there really is a problem- or whether you're just being manipulated by your fear..."

Bernardi claims to support Judaeo-Christian values.  This Christian says his article on banning burquas does not do that. It is contrary to compassion and decency. It reflects his right wing views, not Christian views. Joe Hockey (not my favourite politician) reflects Christian decency and orthodoxy

Last year in a speech titled ''In defence of God'', Mr Hockey supported the right of women to wear what they wanted and observe their faith in their own way.

''Yes, we should condemn those governments that force women to cover themselves from head to toe whether it is their choice or not,'' Mr Hockey said. ''But we should not concern ourselves with people who make those choices themselves, as many Muslim women do.''

The full article by Dick Gross is here. Read on >>>>


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