The “appeasement” argument is also fundamentally flawed. Islamists will not stop waging war against the West if we allow them to cover their women in public. On the contrary, the misogyny that prevails across much of the Islamic world, and the resulting contempt for Western values of gender equality and sexual freedom, is a major factor in radicalization; indulging it merely emboldens the extremists. (Syria — which like other secular Arab dictatorships is acutely aware of the threat posed by radical Islam even as it encourages extremists abroad — has just banned the burqa from its universities.)
Jamie Glazov devotes a chapter of his book United In Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror to detailing how Islam’s various neuroses about women and female sexuality lead them to hate the West (elsewhere he deals with the left’s support for Islamic extremists, and the attendant double standard with regard to women’s rights).
The basic point is that Islamist misogyny derives from various ingredients within Islam itself. The notion that women are, by their very nature, inferior to men is the underpinning of the entire structure and derives its legitimacy from numerous traditional teachings.
And so, he argues:
Women become mandatory victims in a culture whose lust for death necessitates scorn and loathing for the gender that bestows life. Western values, therefore, pose a severe danger to the death cult, since they threaten to liberate all the women in the world. In the age of globalization, mass communication, and the Internet, the West’s values are spreading with lightning quickness. The death cult’s response takes two forms: a war fought within the culture to eradicate the essence of what is female from its own women, and a jihad against free nations to crush the expansion of liberty and pluralism.
There are, of course, a couple of perfectly understandable objections to a burqa ban: that women who comply with the law will be banned by husbands and other relatives from leaving their homes, and those who feel liberated by a ban to reject the burqa could be subjected to violence. However, as long as Islamic misogyny is tolerated, Muslim women will continue to be repressed, burqa ban or not.
The choice for Western societies is to let that misogyny — and the extremism it fuels — fester, or make it clear that the repression of women is unacceptable. Accept that some women may suffer the consequences of a burqa ban, but trust that taking a stand will begin to turn the tide against the extremists and improve the lives of millions of women and girls around the world — to say nothing of the thousands of people of all sexes and religions who are victims of Islamist violence every year.
Britain — and the U.S. when faced with a similar dilemma, as it inevitably will be one day — should ignore the smokescreen of civil liberties and ridicule notions of “empowerment.” The only thing empowered by the burqa is the Islamists’ contempt for the West’s self-confidence. Conservatives must do the right thing by Muslim women and society as a whole. Let the leftists and so-called progressives be the last Westerners standing in defense of extremist Islam’s repression of women.