Mike Kueber's Blog

July 29, 2010

Is France getting a bum rap? – part II

Filed under: Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Earlier this week, I wrote a blog entry about an epiphany that I had in my estimation of France.  As I started writing the entry, I remembered that the epiphany was prompted by two incidents, but I could only remember one of them.  Surely, I thought, the second incident would come to mind as I wrote the article and did some additional research.  But it didn’t, and instead of holding the entry, I published it, as is my wont.  Today, I came across a re-hashing of the same incident in the NYTimes.  See http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/veiled-threats/

In a column titled “Veiled Threats,” Martha Nussbaum makes an argument against the proposed laws in Europe that prohibit the wearing of a burqa in public places.  A burqa is a loose fitting cover-garment worn by Muslim women that covers their entire body except for their eyes.  It is worn whenever they are out in public or in the presence of non-family members.

Nussbaum makes her argument by refuting all of the rationalizations for the prohibition and, thereby, proving illegal, discriminatory intent:

  1. Security concerns.  Why do we allow pedestrians in winter to cover up?
  2. Civil interaction.  See #1.
  3. Symbol of male domination and female objectification.  America is replete with examples of male domination and female objectification.
  4. Women are being coerced.  There is no evidence of this.
  5. It is unhealthy – i.e., hot and uncomfortable.  This is laughable, according to Nussbaum.

I haven’t given this issue a lot of thought, but in my opinion Nussbaum has not effectively refuted Arguments #1 or #2.  Just because people bundle-up in Chicago when walking in a snowstorm doesn’t mean that there are not legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for prohibiting that behavior on a regular basis. 

But that is not the point of this blog entry.  The point is that, once again, France has impressed me with its willingness to address tough issues.  France comes across as a confident, robust nation that is unafraid to think and act; whereas Obama’s Washington comes across as a politically correct, namby-pamby afraid to offend.

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