All the other problems in the UK, and indeed the world, have now been officially solved, so we can now concetrate on this so, so important issue that was kicked off by Kettering's Member of Parliament, Philip Hollohead (sorry Hollobone) who compared the burka to wearing a paper bag over your head. The Evening Telegraph felt this was a bit of a step too far and described it as "insensitive". It wasn't insensitive, it was insulting and intended, quite deliberately, to be so - and to appeal to the worse instincts and prejudices of some the ET's readers. They duely responded as was intended and with such predictable knee-jerk responses, with little reference to fact, logic or indeed basic human rights principles.
Playing the overt "race"-card in a general election is not now acceptable for oh-so-New Conservative Party MPs, but instead a new "coded" game (which, of course, everyone understands is really the same game re-packaged), is being played instead: bash-the-burka.
You can read the opening salvo in this debate at: http://www.northantset.co.uk/features/Debate-rages-over-the-right.6042533.jp
It also continues at:
and again at:
In tonight's (9-2-10) Evening Telegraph, after days of prejudice, intolence and even abuse (which was deleted from the ET's web-site eventually!) at last three letters were printed that put across an alternative perspective. I make no apology for printing one of them (from me!):
Mr. Hollobone's explanation for his position on the burka says much more about him than the issue he is pontificating to us on. Why did he find a woman wearing a burka "inappropriate and frankly offensive"? What harm has it done to him? Did he try to speak to her or did he only see the piece of cloth she was wearing? Did he only see the covering and not the human being within? Why did it evoke such strong emotions - look into your heart, Mr. Hollobone, and you may well be frightened as to what you find about yourself! Are we not taught at primary school not to "judge a book by its cover" - as a lesson in understanding prejudice?
A burka is a piece of clothing worn by a very small minority of Muslim women. It is not something I would wear, but it is certainly not offensive, inappropriate or threatening, any more than a Nun's habit, or a Vicar's cassock, or a Sikh's turban or a woman with a scarf, or the Mayor of Wellingborough's garish arctic survival kit that he wears at official ceremonies.
An interesting take on women's "liberation" too. So, you liberate a so-called oppressed minority by ... criminalising or banning what they wear. What a contribution towards increasing freedom and choice - lock them up! Great stuff Mr. Hollobone. I am glad you don't want to "liberate" me from anything!
The more important question is not "should we ban the burka?", but "why has this issue generated so much heat, venom, anger, hostility and downright viciousness and in many cases rampant prejudice?" Are we so weak and unsure about our own identies that we have to attack someone else's? Don't we have more important problems to worry about? Have we not learnt the lessons about what such blind prejudices and populist anger can lead on to?
To be frank I am appalled and horrified by how easy it has been to evoke such an un-British populist outpouring of hatred directed at such a very small minority within our society.