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Dissent and Rebuttal of the Day – Not Seeing Nuance in Naomi Wolf's Arguments?

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Posted on September 5 2009 2:00 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here

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CBrandon critiques Jamie Glazov’s most recent post on Salon‘s foray into the Naomi Wolf-Phyllis Chesler debate:

With your hyperbolic statements (the false “Naomi Wolf loves the burqa”) and a picture of a woman wearing a burqa, you distorted and completely misrepresented the purpose of Naomi Wolf’s article. She makes it clear in the first few paragraphs and again in the conclusion that we should think about the reasons why a woman would choose a veil (“Choice is everything”). Especially in countries like France and Britain where women really do have a choice in what they where. (Head scarf? Slacks? Cleavage-revealing top? Mini-skirt?) Why, she wants us to think, would a woman, even a convert to Islam choose a veil in Britain? Or the U.S.? Or China where a veil or even a head-scarf could put the woman at greater risk of oppression or physical harm.

Ms. Wolf wants us to consider the nuances behind women’s choices of dress. (NOT everything equals burqa, oppression, and threats to America like you and Jayson Rex believe.) And that includes women in the Muslim world. Not all women wear the burqa, or would even choose to, like the women in the countries Ms. Wolf visited (Morocco, Jordan, Egypt) that wore the more open chador and veil. There is a tremendous difference between those countries and Afghanistan where more women do wear the burqa. By lumping all Muslims together, by ignoring the differences in ethnicity, language, and dress between those in cultures as varied as those in China and America is like saying all Christians world-wide are of the fundamentalist, anti-feminist screed that declare a woman’s purpose in life to be a wife, to bare children and to obey her husband.

And Naomi Wolf clearly does add something to the debate. If she didn’t, you all wouldn’t be quickly typing up ways to misrepresent her ideas.

But Jonathan had an answer:

Cbrandon, you miss the point. Muslim women don’t have a choice about their dress ANYWHERE. They wear what is sanctioned by the local Islamic community or they face the consequences ranging from stern criticism to ostracism to physical harm. But always, there is the pressure to conform. The risk of backlash in the West is more likely from the Muslim community than from the natives. If honor killings are going on in the West, it is safe to assume the dress code is enforced too, at least by husbands and families.

Muslim women in ANY Islamic countries can’t choose how they want to dress. They might choose the chador over the burka, but they can’t choose the hot pants over the chador. Their personal feelings don’t matter. Nor can they choose to convert from Islam. If they are born to a Muslim family, they are automatically Muslim.

There’s a lot more to Islam than just dress codes anyway. The dress requirements may vary between regimes, but there are more important similarities that make Islamic countries all alike. Their treatment of non-Muslim citizens, the repression of free speech, official government anti-semitism, etc. Islam is a suprematist ideology.

As for stereotyping, you are the one describing both religions as square pegs fitting into round holes, just to sound “fair”. But you implication isn’t the reality. Islam is more monolithic while Christianity is more individualized. Islam is one basic flavor. Christianity is a buffet. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses. You aren’t even addressing the two equally anyway. You compare Islamic cultures to Christian theology in asserting that neither are universal. Apples and oranges. Neither one is universal, true. But the two religions are not comparable in the same regard. Islam is universal in dogma. Christianity isn’t.

Don’t forget that a lot of those Christians you describe as adhering to the “anti-feminist screed” are women. Christian Fundamentalism has nothing to do with gender roles, all left mis-definitions aside. It has to do with what one believes about the age of the Earth. But of course, to the left, anything that is traditional pro family is “fundamentalist.” Logical, since Marxism presupposes that each individual is the property of the state. Family loyalties are always subordinate to the will of the collective.

This is the kind of thoughtful back and forth that we like to see at NewsReal. Attack the argument, don’t attack the person. Try and avoid ad hominem.

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