The Shroud of Controversy
Let’s set the stage, shall we?
The solemn voice of the news anchor battles the cacophonous white noise of persistent static: “Stephen Harper and the conservative government find themselves in hot water again over a controversial comment on females wearing the niqab…” *** CLICK *** Our politically correct champion of social justice switches off the radio sitting over his shoulder; he needs no further convincing.
Sharpening his #hashtags, clearing his trending words of their scabbard and tightening his bandana of sanctimonious righteousness, he prepares for battle. His hands already shake with anticipation. Stomach growling, lips chapped with thirst, rest will have to come later. Reviewing the final results of his labour, his hesitant thumb slowly presses the Enter key…
Semi-joking aside, the Conservatives do find themselves in a bit of an awkward spot stemming from the “Not the way we do things here” campaign. A campaign aimed at banning face coverings during the swearing-in at the the Canadian Citizenship Ceremonies.
This ‘niqab quarrel’ flared up early last month when Federal Court Judge Keith Boswell tossed out a ban on face coverings previously imposed by the Conservative government. Harper loathes the wearing of face coverings and he isn’t afraid to scream it from the rooftops.
Harper is recently quoted as saying:
“It is offensive that someone would hide their identity at the very moment where they are committing to join the Canadian family.”
The Conservative Party of Canada has also created a petition trying to reimpose their ban on face coverings. Arguing that:
“In Canada, women are full and equal members of society — including when they take the oath of Canadian citizenship.”
- If you agree, you can find more information and sign the petition here.
That’s all well and good (and make no mistake, I certainly agree!), however, using the power of the internet you will find that not two weeks ago the Conservative Party actually spoke out against a Montreal court judge who denied a Muslim woman a hearing after she refused to take her head scarf off.
To give you the Readers Digest version of that story:
Ms. El-Alloul, an immigrant from Kuwait, had her vehicle impounded by the police after her son was pulled over. When she went to the courts to request her vehicle be released the judge demanded she remove her head scarf. She refused, and thereby the judge ruled not to hear her case at all.
The Judges reasoning was that “any person appearing before the court must be suitably dressed” and that the court was a “secular space”, meaning all are equally obliged to show decorum, that the same rules apply to everyone in a court of law.
Anyway, as you might imagine, the story went viral. Every Canadian news agency and political party (including the Conservatives) were simply scathing with their opinions on the matter.
- The Globe and Mail called it “profoundly un-Canadian. And profoundly wrong”.
- The Star referred to it as “Cruel”… and “RACIST”.
- Mr Trudeau hit Twitter with the truism: “All Canadians deserve to have their rights protected, especially in a court of law. Let’s remember who we are”.
- And from the victim, El-Alloul herself, came the following: “[I] Felt like a animal”, “When I’m sitting alone, I will cry”, and, most melodramatically of all, “Because of that I went home crying. That day, I felt destroyed. I felt like I’m not Canadian any more”
- And of course from the Office of the Prime Minister: “If someone is not covering their face, we believe they should be allowed to testify”.
In fact, people were so incensed over it that thousands banded together in solidarity to fight the injustice the only way they knew how…
WITH A NEWWWW CAR!
And therein lies the rub. According to the government it would seem to be profoundly Canadian to cover half your face with a scarf and yet profoundly un-Canadian (not the way we do things here) to cover most of your face with one. Whoops… ‘Gotcha!’, says the politically correct champion of social justice.
Possibly this dispute really has nothing at all to do with the different varieties of qabs’ or jabs’ or any of the other assorted head and facial accessories.
Perhaps our obsession with preserving our nation’s world-renowned policy of multiculturalism is to blame. The idea that extremely complex cultures, cultures that ought to be conveyed though personal relations, by way of family, friends and group ritual, should instead be defined solely by way of festivals, culinary styles, artifacts, native garb and different sorts of pyjamas, could be to blame. The only thing that defines El-Alloul as a person is her head scarf apparently.
Maybe this could explain why a judge asking a women to remove a scarf during a hearing or Harper believing you should have to show your face, one time, during a 15 minute ceremony, is met with such harsh opposition. Our identity as ‘Canadians’ is currently so shallow and empty that such requests and viewpoints are seen as a fundamental attack on everything Canada believes in… everything we stand for.
The problem is that no one really knows what the meaning of ‘Canadian’ is anymore. For decades Canada has striven to revise its own history, removing any form of identity or trace of a dominant hegemony. Hell, as our very own MrServomechanism recently discussed, even the Canadian flag was designed to be as neutral and meaningless as possible.
When you realize that perhaps Canada’s only true core value is that it has no core values, it actually becomes pretty easy to understand the massive public outrage over such seemingly trivial issues.
When Mr. Harper comes out and says “this is not the way we do things here!” I am forced to sadly disagree. I wish it were true Sir, but alas, this is the way we currently do things here.
We’re an empty canvas of Cultural Relativism. In this moral void the works Da Vinci and a child’s smatterings of glue, glitter, and macaroni are equal in all ways. It’s all just a matter of perspective, isn’t it?
Frankly I find it all an appalling farce.
In a late-breaking and, frankly, funny development, the Bloc Quebecois had their website hacked. All of its contents were erased and replaced by Islamic proverbs. Why, you ask? Why would an international terrorist origination take the time and effort to unleash a ‘terrorist cyber attack’ on a political party only prominent in one province, in one of the most inoffensive countries in the western world?