Friday, January 29, 2010

As always in the public arguments over social policy, whether it's the hijab or late term abortion, liberal positions are couched only on the laziest and most self-serving terms. It's not a choice between "freedom", "choice", and "morality", but between cheap moralizing and moral seriousness.
As with my earlier comments on Citizens United and Brown being outside the curve of public sentiment (and we can add Roe), there's a tension between public freedom and public responsibility, and tension in the question of who should decide. I've been waiting for someone to bring this up and someone finally did in comments elsewhere: ban the niqab; ban the cloister. Ban the Christian veil. Ban the requirement that ultra-orthodox women shave their heads (a wig is their hijab).

The arguments in this case are stupid. But there is a difference between the obligations of citizens to their society and the claims of an empire that its subjects, who are its victims, owe it deference. In Australia there is no freedom not to vote, and I'm not opposed in principle to the opposite: strict requirements to earn the right of suffrage. The only universal foundation required of a just society is the right to leave. There are fundamentally unjust societies, but there also are varieties of justice. The main division, and I've been arguing this point since I was in my early 20s, is the division between culture and its opposite: the anti-society of fascism. The settlers on the west bank are fascist; Hamas is not. Conservatives and even most reactionaries are not fascist. Pretty girls in Fendi scarves are not a danger to the republic, and it's deeply counterproductive to think otherwise. People who are made nervous by the hijab should be made nervous by a nun. Or if they're not, maybe it's something else?

Fun with anthropologists
"Glamour is the performativity of the sexually intimidating woman - intimidating according to conservative gender roles: the woman not as passive but as judge."

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