Burn the Burqa

From the other side of the pond:


President Nicolas Sarkozy said his government was forwarding the legislation to parliament because it had a "moral responsibility" to uphold traditional European values in the face of an increasingly visible Muslim population, estimated at more than 5 million, the largest in Western Europe. He called the course chosen by his government "demanding" but "just," and he insisted that the law was not intended to stigmatize the country's Muslims.... 

The French proposal has drawn heavy support, with up to 60 percent of those questioned in opinion polls saying restraints are necessary. But Muslims here have complained that they feel singled out for a practice that, according to an Interior Ministry estimate, concerns fewer than 2,000 women in a country of 64 million inhabitants.

I think I'm not a fan of the burqa. But I also think that that it shouldn't much matter. I don't know, maybe Western values are different for me. I always think the way to win this fight is to have confidence in the strength of the culture, as opposed to the strength of the law. Put differently, I don't know that you can force integration. It has to hinge on the organic magnetism of your values. I don't want, say, the Klan outlawed. I want people to have the right to make a choice. 

Obviously a line has to be drawn--human sacrifice isn't covered by this conversation. But within reason, freedom is about choice--but there must be a real choice. I just don't think you make them love you. 

More on this later. I need to get clearer.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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