Pauline Hanson walked into the Senate yesterday all covered up, which no doubt improved the aesthetics of the place, but made everyone for some reason lose their heads, including causing the Attorney-General to tear up (and get a standing ovation from Labor and the Greens, an occurrence he is much unaccustomed to).
So what’s actually the issue?
If it’s about banning the burqa, as I have written many times before, I’m conflicted. I understand wanting to dress modestly (which indeed is the extent of the Koranic injunction), but all body/all face covering seems to treat a woman as a non-person, and as such represents an aspect of a deeply sinister political agenda pushed by the Islamists (they’re like white supremacists and neo-Nazis, if that helps you oppose them for a change). On the other hand, I instinctively don’t like banning things; people should generally be free to wear what they want (though a large percentage of Muslim women are forced to cover). People tell me all the time I should dress my age, but I tell ’em: back off, if I want to look like an old goat trying to pass as a young kid, that’s my sad life.
Or was it about ridiculing the religion? This seems to have been the AG’s teary point to Hanson: “I would caution and counsel you with respect to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians… To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do and I would ask you to reflect on what you have done.” Point taken – we shouldn’t ridicule other people’s religious sensibilities or mock their religious garments. Unless the other people are Christian, of course. Perhaps Hanson should have just dressed up as a nun at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. You know. Like the nuns at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst, a stone’s throw from Oxford Street, some of the few people who were actually prepared to touch AIDS patients when the disease first struck in the early eighties. That’s funny and edgy, so no probs.
Pauline Hanson, third from the left
Still, I’m having this slightly alternative scenario rolling around in my head:
HANSON: Hey everyone! Look at me! I’m wearing a burqa in the Senate Chamber.
LABOR BENCHES: Another dual nationality?
GEORGE BRANDIS: [tearing up] “I would caution and counsel you with respect to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians… To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do and I would ask you to reflect on what you have done.”
HANSON: Same-sex marriage offends my religious sensibilities as a Christian – and as a Muslim. If I were a Muslim. Which I’m not. I want the Hansard to record that.
EVERYONE: You religious bigot! Fucking monster! #LoveWins.
Lastly, in the era where Anglos are shamed for selling burritos, white women for wearing cornrow hair, and Katy Perry for dressing up as a Japanese geisha, did Pauline Hanson actually commit the greatest sin of all: cultural appropriation? God help Pauline!
Main illustration: Channel 9.
Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk where this piece also appears.
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