Saturday, February 14, 2015

A tolerant nation, but . . .

Eigenheim Winter
The federal government will quarrel with the Supreme Court again, this time because the wearing of a niqab by a conservative Muslim immigrant during a citizenship ceremony is considered "offensive" by the prime minister while the court interprets our existing law and Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect being so attired as a religious right.

            Some claim that Harper's picking of this as another fight is mostly a pandering to the demographic that can't tolerate difference (he probably knows that bigotry is so entrenched in Canada that you can actually win some seats by promoting intolerance). I personally agree with the sentiment that women being required to cover themselves thoroughly in order to prevent men's lascivious thoughts and actions is as objectionable as its reverse: the libertarian assertion that "I can wear as little as nothing wherever and whenever I want, so get used to it." But my convictions were shaped by Christian community and Canadian values, not by Islam or libertarianiam.

            No religious faith I know of can withstand the scrutiny of logic, especially when applied by someone not raised in the particular set of beliefs being considered. Requiring an orthodox Muslim woman to uncover her face in the presence of men who are not her husband is probably as traumatic for her as a Jehovah's Witness adherent being forced to undergo a blood transfusion, or an orthodox Anabaptist or Quaker being compelled to march in a military parade carrying a rifle.

            Of course the response from an intolerant right wing is and will always be, "Tough! You don't like it, stay out of my country!"

            The government spokesperson on CBC's Power and Politics defended its position by saying that a judge needs to be able to see a person's face during the administering of the oath of allegiance in order to be sure she's actually saying it.  Poppycock! The option of being sworn in separately in the presence of a female justice could be easily arranged.

            Petty as this last attack on religious freedom in the Charter seems, it's only another phase of our government's narrow range of tolerance. Far more scary is the entangling of Canada in a coalition seeking to defeat "jihadist" militancy . . . militarily. I wasn't raised to value niqab-wearing, sweat lodges or the healing properties in crystals, but I "believe" that love conquers evil; nothing else can.  Counterintuitive as it will seem to most, Canada's best role in the Middle East right now would be in providing escape options, sustenance, relocation  to those being steam-rollered by ISIS.

            Most urgently, though, we need a new government. The prospect of that happening without a progressive-side merger are looking slimmer by the day.

            So sad.


No comments:

Post a Comment