“If I walked into parliament with a balaclava on, would I be allowed in?”
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of questions like this recently. Perhaps you’ve even asked one yourself.
The first response that comes to mind for me, is…
Why would you want to?
People who wear the burqa do so for religious reasons. Does your religion demand you wear a balaclava? If not, why would you want to get around in one? They’re hot and uncomfortable. And you’d look a bit silly.
That aside, there’s a much more concrete answer…
Yes, you WOULD be allowed in
Liberal Party Senator, Cory Bernardi asked this very question a few years back. Here was the answer:
During the Senate Estimates hearing in 2010, Senator Bernardi was told that a person wearing a balaclava entering Parliament would trigger an alert and be watched but they would be allowed to enter the building without removing their facial covering.”
You’d pass through security checkpoints, metal detectors and x-ray inspections
When you visit parliament house, you have to be cleared by security. This includes metal detectors and x-ray inspections. I don’t know what the procedure is for identifying burqa-clad women, because none have ever visited parliament house! (And therein lies the irony of this discussion.) But there’s no reason to think security personnel could not, as Waleed Aly says, just:
take them aside to a private space and ask them to reveal their face for identification purposes.”
Theoretically, that should be the end of the discussion, but of course it won’t be, and hasn’t been. And this is a symptom of the real problem…
Why are we targeting burqas?
How many acts of violence have been committed in Australia by people wearing a burqua? I’ve only ever heard of one, and it was a bloke! Is a burqa more likely to be used as a disguise by a terrorist than, say, a pair of transition specs and a beard? I mean, which is likely to attract more attention, thereby increasing the risk the attack will be foiled? But are we demanding a ban on transition specs and beards, in parliament (and everywhere else)? No.
But what about in banks and petrol stations?
I’ve heard people use the banks and petrol station argument. You’re not allowed to wear a motorcycle helmet or a balaclava there, so why should Muslim women be allowed to wear a burqa?
Again, I’d point to the actual risk. Balaclavas and bike helmets ARE used in robberies. When did you last hear of a robber wearing a burqa? The fact is, people who wear a balaclava or bike helmet into the bank are clearly up to no good. People who wear a burqa are just doing the banking.
I’d contend the law about helmets and balaclavas isn’t about being able to identify people, it’s about outlawing a proven high risk behaviour. And if we’re making laws based on actual risk, then shoes, handbags, backpacks, briefcases, pockets and wallets should all be outlawed before burqas. Even envelopes should be! People could easily hide a weapon in any of these places, and I’d think they’re more likely to do that than hide them under a burqa (again, if only because of the attention a burqa attracts).
It’s all just so illogical
So-called ‘burqa bans’ are completely illogical. Without any evidence, and despite the fact that you’re statistically more likely to die from falling off your chair than from a terrorist act, burqa ban advocates are prepared to limit the freedoms of fellow Australians who happen to cover their face each morning. Even though it’s those very freedoms that make Australia such a great place to live.
If violent deaths are what you’re trying to avoid, why not focus on the fact that one woman dies every week from domestic violence? No-one has EVER died in Australia from so-called ‘Islamic terrorism’! The response to this alleged terrorism threat is completely out of proportion, because, for some reason, we’re more scared of terrorists than we are of ‘ordinary’ murderers, even though we’re far more likely to be killed by an ‘ordinary’ murderer than by a terrorist.
Worse, it’s a deliberate distraction
Last night, a friend of mine said:
I’ve always thought burqas should be illegal in banks and petrol stations. It’s got nothing to do with all this talk of terrorism.”
But the fact is, we wouldn’t even have been DISCUSSING burqas if our government and media weren’t beating it up.
Think about it. This discussion is exactly the one they want us to be having. They WANT people braying for a burqa ban, and they want others passionately arguing against it. Because when we’re squabbling over that, we’re not discussing the real issues. Like who trained ISIS, who armed them, who created the environment in which they’ve been able to wreak such havoc, whether a military intervention will actually stop them, and whether it’s fair or accurate to call it a ‘Muslim problem’. Or whether there might not actually be something else going on that they want to distract us from or push through. Like the most unfair budget we’ve seen in years, maybe ever. Or the passing of new laws that give ASIO the power to access, monitor, copy and delete anything on any computer or internet-connected device you own, WITHOUT A WARRANT! Yes, that happened.
Instead, we’re talking about whether a handful of Australian Muslim women should be allowed to wear their traditional garb. Worse, we’re ARGUING about it, we’re DIVIDED. Noam Chomsky summarises it eloquently:
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
We Australians like to think we’re an intelligent, rational society, but we fall for this terrorism ruse EVERY SINGLE BLOODY TIME! It’s politics 101! Leaders for MILLENNIA have done it, and even openly admitted to it. So why do we keep falling for it? We’re proving ourselves to be just as easily manipulated as all those who came before us. It’s like the bloody Salem witch hunts!
So I, for one, won’t be discussing it anymore
I’m done. If you want to dance to the tune the government’s playing, knock yourself out. Kick up your heels. But this is all just so patently obvious, I’m embarrassed to have spent even as long as I have writing this post. I’m not going to discuss burqas on social media anymore, or with friends or family, and I won’t be answering any comments about them here.
Instead, I’ll be focusing on the stuff they’re trying to distract me from. Because I know that’s the discussion that will decide our future.
EDIT: Just to clarify, I don’t support women being FORCED to wear the burqa
What we’re talking about here is freedom, not oppression. Of course I don’t support women being forced to wear the burqa, or any other oppression. I simply support their RIGHT to wear the burqa.