Eclectic Blue

Face masks

Comments Off on Face masks 06 August 2018

Surprise, surprise that today Boris Johnson returned to the spotlight in his column with the Daily Telegraph, attacking women who wear burkas, comparing them with letterboxes. Oh, how we laughed, until we realised that this was just Johnson being Johnson, positioning himself as the imcumbent leader of the hard right, a kind of Pound Shop Donald Trump and first in line to succeed his ailing prime minister, the hopelessly inept Theresa May. And I laughed too, until I realised that he was only saying what I’ve been saying for years: burkas look ridiculous. Importantly though, Johnson did not urge for a burka ban and neither would I.

I kind of accept that many muslim women will say that it’s their choice to wear the burka but then the burka comes from a culture whereby a woman could end up being murdered by her husband for the heinous crime of being raped. And, more than most religions, islam regards women as second class. These arguments show that my libertarian side, where I ‘kind of’ accept the wearing of the burka as being a choice, it strikes me that it is more a Hobson’s choice.

What if, for the sake of argument, large numbers of men chose to wear balaclavas or scarves across their faces, like many supporters of the far right rabble rouser Stephen Yaxley-Lennon? As with the burka, I would find this very intimidating. Indeed, why on earth would anyone wish to employ someone who covered their own face or to pay them benefits? Choosing to wear the burka would have consequences. It would see that person having to make a choice that would see them turned away from public places, stores, airports. It would be their choice, not the state’s.

I do not argue for a ban because the police, ravaged by Theresa May’s cuts, have more important things to do than rush up and down the High Street instructing women to remove their burkas. No. Even though the burka is totally absurd and does, like the ever populist Johnson observed, look ‘ridiculous’

I would argue that the burka has no place in a ‘normal’ western society and I very much value our relatively normal society. Wear it by all means but it is your choice whether you participate in society just like the rest of us. There are places all over the world where burkas are not just encouraged to be worn, they are enforced. We’re better than that in Britain but if you wear a face mask of any kind your freedoms may not be the same as the ones the rest of us enjoy. And nor should they be.

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