Saturday, June 27, 2009

Goldberg on the Burqa

Michelle Goldberg has a good piece on the burqa. (Full disclosure: I was interviewed for this article and pointed her toward Joan Scott and Cécile Laborde, whom she quotes at length.)

1 comment:

MCG said...

This piece is well-written, which I think disguises serious failings. The author, for example, discovers a trend to absorb Muslim law by confounding the extreme bending of the law in the U.K., on the one hand, with one single, ultimately futile, incident in France.

Agencies in the U.K. may be recognizing polygamy, as Ms. Goldberg says. Contrary to Ms. Goldberg's suggestion, however, the situation is different in France. There was one case last spring in which a French court bent to a Muslim request and stretched the French code that permits divorce for serious impediments to cover divorce where the wife was not a virgin. Ms. Goldberg not only fails to acknowledge how unusual that event was but, more serious, she fails even to note that that lone French decision wound up being overturned. So in the end, contrary to Ms. Goldberg's argument, there is no such French decision at all.

In the end, Ms. Goldberg suggests that a law forbidding the burqa could impinge on women's freedom. She says it "could lead to those in the most fundamentalist of households being trapped inside their homes altogether. . . ."

Is one really to believe that Ms. Goldberg values the suffering of real women unwillingly imprisoned in burqas less than the imagined, hypothetical, pain of women who, she speculates, might desire to wear the burqa but possibly have to stay home if it is proscribed?

Ms. Goldberg's excellent prose disguises an outcome-determined, stacked, argument built upon inaccuracy and speculation.