Monday, July 26, 2010

European Press Attempts To Paint Moral Equivalence Between The Cross And The Burqa

The cross is a symbol of the death of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was said to have died, as a sacrifice, for the sins of the world.

The burqa is a portable concentration camp for women.

There is no moral equivalence between the two, or so one would think.

But watch, as presto chango, the magic of European Postmodernist thought can tie any set of ideas into logical loop knots that will render them unrecognizable, and, well, damn it all, equivalent.

This is what we here at the Infidel Bloggers Alliance call some of yer' fancy-pants nuancin.

From Press Europ:

Burqa, the cross we must bear

Presseurop via Sami Sarkis/Katarina Premfors/Getty 

The ban on the burqa in Belgium and France, now spreading to Spain, the UK, and even to universities in Egypt and Syria, points up the hypocrisy and double standards of Western Christian culture, writes German philosopher Andrea Roedig. If the burqa is an instrument of oppression, isn’t the cross we worship really a morbid fascination with torture? 

Just for the sake of argument: if Jesus were wearing a burqa, could he still be hung up on the walls of classrooms and public offices? The debate about the full-body veil is flaring up this year in all sorts of different places. It began with Belgian and French bills, now passed into law, to ban the burqa and niqab in the public domain, followed by similar proposals in Spain and Britain. The news that Syria now prohibits the wearing of face-veils at university fits and yet doesn’t fit into the picture: one has to distinguish between the arguments that apply to the Arab world and those of the European debate.

Here in Europe, the discussion of the burqa ban invariably and automatically revolves around the Islamic challenge to Christian culture, where a double standard is often applied. Proposals to outlaw full-body veils do not meet with a storm of enthusiasm, to be sure, but with comprehension. After all, that much-mooted “mobile prison”, which is not required in such radical form by the Koran, is less the expression of a religious obligation than a horrible tool of patriarchal control, in which women are degraded to insects, as one woman journalist puts it. To Western sensibilities, the burqa seems like a Kafkaesque metamorphosis.

The Cross is a nifty symbol

But the morbid charm of the Christian cross, in comparison, isn’t all that harmless either. What does it really mean for a civilisation to venerate an instrument of torture as its emblem? Viewed with sufficient detachment, the exhibitionistic fetishism of suffering in the pictorial tradition of Western Christianity has got to look just as outlandish as the absurd mandatory veiling of women in some Islamic countries. If we hadn’t got so very used to them, all those crucified bodies dangling about in some areas of the Western world, writhing in agony and replete with painted blood-trickling wounds, could well be regarded as a form of indecent exposure.

The cross, with or without Jesus, is a nifty symbol: it shows death and simultaneously signifies the triumph over death. This instrument of torture is supposed to be a sign of hope, of course, because the crucified Christ was resurrected. But that’s tricky because it’s doubtful whether pictures can really express the opposite of what they show.

Naked Jesus versus muffled-up woman 

It is understandable that Western culture should summon up more tolerance towards its own symbols than towards those of its southeastern neighbours. Nonetheless, it should be clear that its symbols are no more innocuous and no less cruel. The West shouldn’t go overboard in its outrage at Islamic misogyny either: after all, it still puts up with the occupational ban on women priests in one of its main churches, and many a nun’s habit is not such a far cry from the burqa.

In the clash over permissible symbols – naked Jesus versus muffled-up woman – Christianity’s explicit pictorial tradition comes up against Islam’s traditional ban on images. That the West should find the veil so sinister and inhumane is partly owing to its culture of exhibition, which equates freedom with disclosure, whether it be the disclosure of sins, of the body, or of images of God. Islam, however, like Judaism, expresses itself not in images, but in the observance of laws.

Need to ponder our own cultural biases 

In affective terms, imposing a radical ban on the burqa in the public domain, but no such ban on the cross, replicates an old cultural struggle over faith, law and the commandment “Thou shalt not make thee any graven image” – which Christian culture never observed anyway. The Belgian and French burqa ban ends up looking like an attempt to ban the ban on images. Why do that, what is there to be so afraid of?
In debating the burqa, we need to ponder our own cultural biases and cruelties as well, especially in Europe. That doesn’t mean to make light of the full-body veil. It is an instrument of oppression. But should it therefore be prohibited by the state?

A strictly secular purge of the public domain will create areas of freedom, but at the same time it impoverishes and imposes a form of secularistic paternalism on society. It might be better to take a more even-handed stance, as in the German constitution, for instance, which combines the principle of the neutrality of the state with the protection of the free practice of religion. That leads to a not entirely clear-cut separation of church and state, true enough, but it reflects the complexity of the whole issue of religion and tolerates not only the cross, but also the headscarf/burqa. The principle of “neutrality through plurality” puts its faith in enlightened citizens and their creative resilience. We needn’t expect more than that for Europe.


revereridesagain said...

The moral equivalence drummers are out with a vengeance lately. It's not a thought-stopper, but it will bog down discussion while every specific difference is picked over. Perhaps the best answer is to list the points of Sharia law and the evidence that Islamists are working to implement this worldwide, and don't let them wander OT.

Always did think risen-Christ images were much more to the point of what the religion is trying to convey, and they are visually uplifting. How did the crucifix become the dominant imagery for the church?

revereridesagain said...

And equating nuns' habits with the burka reminds me of equating cults with the Marines, which I heard a lot of in years past. The fact that nobody is forced to become a nun (at least not for a couple centuries now) or a Marine seems to escape the notice of these folks.

Pastorius said...

I agree with you that the Risen Christ is a better image, and gets more to the point.

I think the Cross is not a bad image for the Church, because it portrays God's Willingness to sacrifice Himself for humanity.

But, that being said, I hear people venerating the Cross, and I think that is idolatry.

Autumn_Auburn said...

In America, wearing a cross (or other religious symbol) to work is becoming more and more disallowed. Crosses are not allowed to be displayed on public property.

I am not Christian and I am in favor of separation of church and state. I don't slap people in the face with my religion and I expect the same respect in return.

In the most simplistic terms, the burqa is a religious symbol and therefore should be banned from all places that crosses are banned.

Now, as a woman, I do see the burqa as a "portable concentration camp for women" absolutely. If I saw a man abusing a woman on the street, I would intervene. This is the same thing, in my eyes. She is being oppressed and abused by the males in her family; in absentia perhaps, but nevertheless, it is being done.

Many who are abused believe that they deserve it. Just because she doesn't think she's a victim, doesn't mean she isn't.

Abuse has no rightful place on the public street.

Pastorius said...

Such abuse has no place in the privacy of the home either, in my opinion.

Rebellious Kafir said...

"If the burqa is an instrument of oppression, isn’t the cross we worship really a morbid fascination with torture?"

And that one statement reveals a world of ignorance. Who worships the cross? Speaking for myself as a Catholic---we worship Jesus Christ. Period.

The rest of the stupidity about nuns being forced to wear a habit has already been pointed out.

Pastorius said...

I am a Protestant. Last week, I was in Church, and they insisted (and I did not comply) that we sing, Old Rugged Cross

"I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross"

What a stupid piece of idolatrous trash that is.

Rebellious Kafir said...

Well, Pasto, being woefully ignorant of and unable to discuss the theology of whichever Protestant church you were attending, Im going to make a guess---when I hear that song, I take it to mean cling to the ideals of Christianity(since the Cross is one of the worldwide symbols of Christianity)To me, that doesn't mean worship a couple pieces of lumber nailed far as venerating the cross, to venerate only means to regard with respect, reverence or heartfelt deference--in a sense, everytime I place my hand over my heart for the National Anthem, I am demonstrating my deep love for, respect, reverence and heartfelt deference to the flag.

Rebellious Kafir said...

correction: not to a square piece of cloth that the flag is created from, but the ideals and beliefs that flag embodies.
---thats what I shoulda said :)

Pastorius said...

Maybe you are right.

Certainly there are enough verses in the New Testament which envision the cross as a symbol:

Rebellious Kafir said...

Maybe you are right." :::faints:::

Pastorius said...

Well, the only thing that convinced me that I was probably wrong, and you right was the Bible.

Other than that, I'd never admit I was wrong.


Autumn_Auburn said...

Pastorius said...

"Such abuse has no place in the privacy of the home either, in my opinion."

I wholeheartedly agree. But, there's not much we can do about the abuse that is hidden. My point is, if you want to abuse your women, don't make the rest of us watch.

Hide it well or face the consequences.

Black_Rain said...

that photo represents what the Borglims want to do to all the Jews

Pastorius said...

I see what you mean.

I think we should poke our noses in it. We know it's going on. We ought to condemn it very often and very publicly, in the hope that these women will start to understand they do not have to stand for being enslaved.

Autumn_Auburn said...

Pastorius said:

"I think we should poke our noses in it. We know it's going on. We ought to condemn it very often and very publicly, in the hope that these women will start to understand they do not have to stand for being enslaved."

Indeed! I wish we could just take them and deprogram them, like they do with the cult members. Unfortunately, because they were born (generation upon generation) into that lifestyle, I don't think it would do any good.

One can only hope that, perhaps, with enough exposure, they will see that they don't have to stay in their situations.

I could not imagine what it would be like to be under constant threat of death, from your own blood relatives, forcing you to remain in bondage.

I am so glad that I was raised in an open-minded family, who allowed me to find my own path.

Pastorius said...

An Immodest Proposal: Steal Their Women