I’ve been silent for the last couple of days.
One reason is the weather. We’ve had good weather in Portland, OR, this week. Any time we get good weather this time of year we must take advantage of it. I hacked the hell out of a couple of shrubs. I managed to get the lawn mown. I’m pretty sure that a farmer may have been able to cut and bale it. Oi! I’m not even going to mention the dog poop that had to be picked up!
Another reason for my silence is the difficulty of the subject, that is, my own opinion relative to the actions of many of the western world’s legislative bodies modification of the subject.
The issue is Muslim women and the hijab/niqab. Canada is debating this subject in the halls of Parliament as well as the streets of Quebec and Ontario. Should “religious symbols” be allowed to be worn or prohibited by civil employees such as teachers, for example? Should Muslim women be allowed to wear the hijab, the head covering, while working as public employees?
My knee-jerk reaction was anger/frustration. What difference does the hijab make? The niqab is another issue. I can see that the covering of a face is difficult for westerners. Much of our communication is derived from facial expression. But the hijab, in my mind, is no different than wearing a hat. I worked in a public library in the US for 10 years. We had a dress code. For the most part the dress code made sense. Hats were not an issue. One of the librarians that worked the front desk collected (and wore) hats of all types.
The use of the term “religious symbols” is also troublesome to me. How strictly does one want to take the interpretation of this phrase? Would the wearing of a small cross or star of David or crescent, as a necklace, fall within the rubrics of such a law? What about religious tattoos? In my location what about a full color tattoo of the virgin of Guadalupe ? Would it be forbidden, if it was visible? Would that employee be required to wear a long sleeve shirt, even though the terms of their employment post-dated the marking of the tattoo?
Now, having said all of this, I have the exact opposite opinion of religious symbols in public that are used as a means of hate speech. The cross of the Ku Klux Klan or the Swastika are the two examples that jump immediately to mind. These should not be allowed even in a free society under any circumstance. Hypocrisy? Maybe? Maybe not?