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Europe's Liberal Tolerance

Belgium is soon to become the first nation to ban the wear of Muslim veils in public (there are already laws against the fully covering burqa and niqab). France and the Netherlands are considering similar laws, and Quebec (European as it is) is set to ban veils among public employees.

The liberal MP who sponsored the Belgian bill explained: "We cannot allow someone to claim the right to look at others without being seen. ... Wearing the burqa in public is not compatible with an open, liberal, tolerant society."

Only in Europe may openness, liberality and tolerance be invoked in the context of the government dictating, by force of law, what clothes a person is permitted to wear. I recall Muslim girls who were not allowed to attend school in France (due to a headscarf ban) holding signs that read: "Thanks for sending us back to the 14th Century, France."

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Discussions - 3 Comments

Have to disagree. There is no such thing as "liberal society." There are societies that have a tradition of being more tolerant, but within boundaries. This is the primary difference between Libertarianism and Conservativism -- the realization that "society" is organic and normative, and cannot be reduced down to a set of laws governing atomized individuals. Human beings just are built that way.

This is the legacy of Rousseaun liberalism: men have to be forced to be free.

Mr. Paulette, are you actually supportive of women who want to wear burqas in public?

I must admit, I would have expected the right's loathing of liberal Europe to take a backseat to their disdain for Islam. Perhaps, except for the detail of Mohammed, they have more in common politically with the Taliban than the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys"?

The idea of the government "dictating, by force of law, what clothes a person is permitted to wear"
is hardly unheard of in the US, by the way (there have been more recent stories than this one, but you get the idea):

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/30/fashion/30baggy.html

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