Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Unreasonable Accommodation

Far be it from me to give a hoot about the little nation within our nation, but I'll admit to finding the (ahem!) progress of the Bouchard- Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation extremely entertaining.

Unaware, apparently, of the monotonous refrain coming from multiculturalism's critics (i.e. that it is naive to think that such a project can have no worse consequences than a more realistic looking Model UN at the local high school) Messrs. Bouchard and Taylor present us with this prize platitude as though it were a profound and novel insight:
The hijab should be greeted in day-to-day life as a possibility to connect with someone with a different way of life ...
Oh, how precious!

Of course it would never occur to a pair of geniuses like Charles Taylor and Gérard Bouchard that their gooey advice contains a granite filling of old-school prejudice--namely: that it is apparently inconceivable to them that these simple, be-hijabed women could ever be as close-minded and quick to mistrust as normal people; or that they might think little of the suggestion that their arms (by virtue of their headscarves, somehow) are perennially outstretched in an effort to embrace The Other.

But I just love this idea that while the commission's findings openly acknowledge that some of the meanings attributed to the hijab by Muslim women "don't jibe with the dominant values of our society," it is still the Québecois--comprised of 'radical feminists', 'republican egalitarians', and the 'intolerant'--that are expected to do the leg-work.

I mean: surely if the anti-hijab folk are expected to interpret this symbol (which, to repeat, the commission admits is controversial) as an invitation "to connect with someone," then it must follow that the hair in every militant feminist's armpits is an invitation to the pro-hijab folk "to connect" as well. How, after all, is it fair to privilege the outward displays of backwardness of one person over those of another?

But alas! This too is beside the point. For even if the commission did find that tolerance (to say nothing of intolerance) goes both ways, they'd still have managed to avoid addressing the central problem: that well-meaning (if rather strange) invitations do not a culturally-harmonious-party make.

Just ask the UN.