Sunday, October 5, 2014
Burqas don't kill people, people kill people
The rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State has seen a rise in fear and racist attacks in the West. In Australia there have been numerous attacks on Muslims and mosques. The corresponding number of attacks committed by Muslims has been significantly fewer.
Muslim women in particular have reported being attacked by people screaming abuse, trying to tear away their head-coverings and physically assaulting them. The attackers threaten them with bashing, rape and beheading. Some of the attackers have even threatened to murder their children. Ironically, these attacks are ostensibly because Islamic State has beheaded a number of Westerners.
The small-minded cowards who've perpetrated these attacks have shown a distinct lack of intelligence. Many of these gutless wonder have attacked vulnerable women or snuck into mosques and defaced them.
It's not overly surprising that some elements of society lack the skills to separate true terrorism from the general Muslim community. After all, the Australian government has been feeding xenophobia and racism for years by linking asylum seekers with terrorism (even though asylum seekers are victims, fleeing war, terrorism and persecution), by linking Islam with terrorism (not mentioning the use of terrorism by Western nations in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, or the funding of despots responsible for much of the persecution that asylum seekers are fleeing) and by establishing Australian 'values' as some sort of whites-only club, namely Team Australia, that everyone must swear allegiance to.
The media has been responsible for peddling and expanding on the government's xenophobic mantras, thus feeding further the fear, racism and bigotry that is being manifested violently by some and repeated ad nauseum by others who can't differentiate one action from another.
Studies have found that lower intelligence in childhood often resulted in racist attitudes in adulthood. (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/millennial-media/201304/do-racism-conservatism-and-low-iq-go-hand-in-hand). This was because of a lack of cognitive skills and inability to see the 'big picture', which is constructed of individual events not a mass event. Racists lack the ability to separate the actions of a few from the larger group who disagree with it. A Muslim committing terrorism is not representative of all Muslims. Just like a Christian who rapes a child is not representative of all Christians. Racists can't see the trees for the forest. Something happens and all they see is the forest, they can't drill down and separate the individual from the overall group. It is a lack of intelligence and cognitive ability that underpins racism, bigotry and xenophobia.
A number of these mental giants will argue that religion is not a race, therefore they aren't racist. However, the same behaviours that characterise racism also characterise their anti-Islamic bigotry. If you don't want to be called racist, then don't act like a racist. Speaking of forests, as Forrest Gump said 'stupid is as stupid does'.
These bigots claim they are defending their nation or religion from the insidious actions of Islam, yet it is the behaviour and hate-speech of bigots that is the biggest threat.
Recently, Parliament House in Canberra declared that anyone in a burqa can't sit in the open gallery, but can only sit in an enclosed room that is usually reserved for noisy school children. They would be separated from the chamber by a glass window. This is a blatant attack on women wearing burqas. How many people wearing burqas have ever been to Parliament House? In addition, everyone who enters Parliament House goes through metal-detection security. A security officer at Parliament House stated that the new rule was implemented so that they could identify whoever yells abuse from the public gallery. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that no burqa wearing person has ever yelled abuse from the public gallery. It is blatant fear-mongering bigotry that is behind this rule and it is supported by the actions and rhetoric of the government.
Let's not get into the variations in Islamic head-dress - that would only confuse the racists. Actually, let's do get into the variations. This article from ABC gives a good description of the variations: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-23/why-do-muslim-women-wear-a-burka-niqab-or-hijab/5761510.
The attack on the burqa (as the racists keep banging on about), is partly fuelled by the belief that there could be someone dressed up in a burqa in order to commit a terrorist act. While it is possible that a cross-dressing terrorist might don the burqa, if they are intent on covering their face then what is to stop them dressing up as the Easter bunny, or a storm-trooper or some other fancy-dress that hides their face. If it's a suicide bomber, why would they hide their face at all? Would a suicide bomber care if anyone sees their face if they're about to blow themselves apart?
Some kind-hearted souls state that they oppose the burqa because women 'should be free'. I applaud their concern for the well-being of Muslim women, however, that is a facade and justification for another attack on Islam. Apparently, the freedom of Muslim women doesn't extend to having the freedom to chose what they wear.
Muslims across the globe have been protesting against the actions of Islamic State, and for that matter, the actions of terrorists in general. I don't see too many Christians protesting against the war-crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide perpetrated by Israel for the last 70 years or so. Israel's crimes in the name of Zionism, and therefore in the name of God, have given rise to much of the anger in the Muslim world. Yet even with this anger, very few of the more than 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe have reacted violently. Considering a quarter of the world is Muslim, we'd soon know if they were all hell-bent on destroying the west. Obviously, they are not.
There's a whole lot of discussion around the burqa. Some politicians are even calling for a ban on it. Even Australia's illustrious prime minister, Tony Abbott, has stated he doesn't like the burqa. If we are to ban the burqa, then ban all religious garb: ban nuns from nun outfits, ban priests from priestly outfits, ban the cute little collar that some protestant ministers wear. Banning the burqa is a ridiculous argument and is fuelled by fear and hatred of Islam. It masks a deeper loathing for the entire Islamic community by small-minded individuals who should know better. Government, church and community leaders should be condemning the deep-seated racism and bigotry being manifested against Muslims. This includes ensuring their own language and actions does not give tacit or blatant support for racist abuse and attacks.
Get something straight: burqas don't kill people, people kill people.
It is time that the government stopped feeding this fear and hatred. Focus on the real problem, focus on terrorism, condemn it, but do not condemn an entire religion because of the actions of a few.