Whatever else may be said about her, Pauline Hanson’s action in wearing a burqa into the Senate, despite the sobbing hysteria of Attorney-General George Brandis, was a right and brave action, calling attention to something which should have no place in Australian life. Brandis seems to argue that as a result of Senator Hanson’s action, otherwise peaceful Muslims will go out and become terrorists, which is not very flattering to the local Muslim community or their ability to accept Australian values.
Brandis was, incidentally, wrong in claiming the burqa is a religious requirement: it is worn by a minority of Muslim women worldwide and is simply a statement of women’s subjugation and inferiority. To attack it is not ‘bigotry’ but, arguably, the reverse. How much imagination does it take to understand that confining women to seeing the world forever through a slit in a black bag is a ghastly form of life imprisonment – and a woman cannot even venture out on this treat without a husband or male relative to guard her. Putting yourself imaginatively in such a situation is a sobering experience. One hardly needs to add female genital mutilation to get some comprehension of what such a life must be like.
I had occasion to telephone a Muslim school in Perth recently, and was greeted by a recording of little girls singing:
B is for the burqa that we wear…
I imagine it would be virtually impossible for a child to go against this sort of pressure and brainwashing, or to defy it at home.
Of course Brandis is not alone. The ambassador of that beacon of human rights, Iraq, is reported to have said Hanson’s gesture might ‘inflame’ those people ‘already at risk of being radicalised’. In other words, appeasement forever!
Ronald Reagan’s words about appeasement could have been tailor-made for this situation: ‘It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.’ When near neighbours Malaysia and Indonensia are facing rising tides of Islamic extremism, appeasement is the last thing we need.
Far from being turned into terrorists by Hanson’s action, many – certainly many of the more educated and ‘moderate’ Muslim women – should be grateful that someone cares about their liberation from intolerable oppression. Before the renewed Muslim onslaught against Western values, women in Muslin countries from Egypt to Iran happily wore Western dress, as innumerable photographs from even a few years ago show.
Apart from oppressing women and confirming their status as chattels, the burqa also insults all men. It is a statement that men will be inflamed with lust and rape any woman they see uncovered – ‘uncovered meat’ as Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly, the Mufti of Sydney’s largest mosque, delightfully put it, adding: ‘If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside… without cover, and the cats come to eat it … whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, no problem would have occurred.’
For Australia it is a statement of Islamic cultural aggression, and also a statement of moral relativism: that an oppressive institution has as much right to exist as an ethic of freedom. Indian women may be grateful that the British Imperialists did not feel this way when they banned the good old local custom of suttee – burning widows alive. Of course, some sort of an argument could be raised, and for all I know has been raised, since there is no limit to the Left’s idiocy, that prohibiting suttee was a brutal act of cultural imperialism. Certainly female genital mutilation has found defenders among Western feminists, while those who speak out against it, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, are abused. The burqa is not socially or culturally neutral. It is a part of the whole multi-sided attack on the values of the Enlightenment, of freedom and equality. To tolerate it in a society like ours is to tolerate institutionalised misogyny and enslavement. If, as Turnbull claims in attacking Hanson, ‘our best allies, our indispensible allies in the battle against Islamic extremism, against Islamic terrorism, is the Muslim community,’ then that community should welcome Hanson’s action as a step towards emancipation and freedom. Turnbull continues: ‘mutual respect is… the foundation of our success as a multicultural society.’ This is waffle. The burqa as nothing to do with ‘respect’ but the opposite. We do not and should not respect the subjugation of women.
While the whole concept of multiculturalism is subject to increasing disillusionment, the foundation of the success of any society, multicultural or otherwise, is shared values. Freedom for women is one of these. It is grotesque to see leftists and ‘feminists’ in parliament applauding the Attorney-General’s defence of what is not merely a symbol but a manifestation of women’s subjugation and enslavement.
Meanwhile, to Brandis’s possible embarrassment, the liberal German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also come out against the burqa, calling for it to be banned in Germany to ‘prevent any parallel societies developing’. Surveys reportedly indicate that a ban is supported by 85 per cent of Germans. ‘In communication between people, which is of course essential to our living together, we have to show our faces,’ Merkel told delegates at the annual Christian Democrats (CDU) party conference in Essen to spontaneous applause. ‘So the full veil should be forbidden wherever legally possible.’
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has said, ‘Expecting half humanity to go round covered in black sacks is just evil sexism.’ There are situations, and this looks like one of them, where the absence of government action is indefensible. To call Hanson’s act ‘divisive’ as if this were a dire condemnation, shows a peculiar sense of values.
It is hardly possible to stand against an evil without being divisive. The early Christians were divisive when they protested against the bestial games in the Roman arena. Churchill was being divisive in the 1930s when he called for resistance to Hitler, Solzhenitsyn was being divisive when he called attention to the gulag. Masses of human beings will continue to accept the most horrible abuses until some figure, yes, some ‘divisive’ figure, protests effectively against what is going on. It is a matter of common sense that without those who dare to be ‘divisive’, moral and social progress is impossible.
As Bill Martin wrote in Quadrant Online, Brandis’s and Turnbull’s defence of this vile institution (which he calls ‘beyond disgusting’) shows the chasm that has opened between the values of the Liberal Party’s trendy new elite and its traditional supporters.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues