Obviously the likely burqa ban in France is drawing a lot of media attention from both sides. Since my first post, I’ve been following these articles, and realized that it’s not so much my anti-theism or paranoid ‘desire for safety’ speaking, but an issue I’ve written about before: assimilation.
If you’re going to live in a Western country, I feel like you should try to blend in to Western society. No, you don’t have to give up your beliefs or anything, but there’s a time and a place. One commenter on an article explained it well: there are two extremes: bikinis and burqas. Bikinis are acceptable….in certain situations. At the beach or the pool for example. But you wouldn’t wear a bikini to the mall or grocery store (unless you’re an attention whore), because you know it’s not appropriate. In the same way, I feel like burqas aren’t entirely appropriate in the public places of a Western nation, such as France, which has no Muslim roots. Wear them at home, wear them in your Muslim mini-neighborhoods, and wear them when you pray. But don’t wear them in places that would make others uncomfortable.
I’m sure many people (esp. EK and AC) are thinking: “it’s not our problem if it makes them uncomfortable, they should get over it!” But at the same time, you have to look at it from their pov. When we talk to someone, we like to make eye-contact and look for emotion on faces. In part, it helps us feel better connected with them. We also use it to judge how trustworthy they are. You can argue all you want about whether this judgement is ‘right,’ but whether you like it or not, it’s part of Western culture. It’s a bit unnerving when they can see you, but you can’t see them. When they know who you are from a distance, but even up close you can’t identify them unless they decide to speak and identify themselves.
I’m sure EK and AC still disagree. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve grown up in NYC, a place famous for its large non-assimilated population. Neighborhoods are described in terms of the ethnicities who live there, and you know not to expect English in several of these places. But for someone who grew up where everyone was the same, and the internationals who moved in quickly adopted most of our habits, it’s just not something I like.