A couple of days ago, you'll recall, we featured current controversies over a metal cross retrieved from the rubble at Ground Zero, and a roadside cross marking a fatal accident in Lake Elsinore, California. American Atheists and the American Humanist Association are suing over both outrageous provocations.
On the other hand, as far as I'm aware, American atheists and humanists have no plans to bring any separation-of-church-and-state suits against the City of Minneapolis, for its observance at City Hall last month of "Hijab Day". Female members of the city council wore the hijab, as did the Chief of Police, Janeé Harteau, a lesbian who recently married her "favorite sergeant", Holly Keegel. I have no idea what Sgt Keegel wore for Hijab Day. Maybe she went as the Grand Mufti.
Hijab Day grows a little bigger around the world each year. Its purpose is to enable the rest of us to show our support for women who choose to go covered. In reality, for most Muslim women around the world, the choice is made for them - by men. In Afghanistan under the Taliban, women were forbidden by law from ever feeling sunlight on their faces. Maybe most of them would have "chosen" not to feel it anyway, but we'll never know, will we? And in the west young Muslimas who decline their fathers' and husbands' choices do so at their own peril:
Why aren't Noor Almaleki and Aasiya Hassan as famous as Matthew Shepard? They weren't in up-country villages in the Pakistani tribal lands. They were Americans – and they died because they wanted to live as American women.
Nonetheless, on Hijab Day, non-Muslim women like Minneapolis' Police Chief demonstrate their support for the right of women to "choose" to go covered by enthusiastically joining in. City Hall staffer Ilhan Omar enthuses: "I love cross-cultural sharing." So do I! Now that the lesbian police officers have spent the day in hijabs, when are we having Pride Day at the mosque?
~You can, however, carry "cross-cultural sharing" too far:
Saudi Cleric Issues Fatwa Against All-You-Can-Eat Buffets
~In Iraq, meanwhile, they're considering revisions to the marriage laws:
A new law being considered in Iraq could lead to girls as young as eight getting married and wives having to submit to sex at their husband's every request.
America and its allies expended a decade's worth of blood and treasure in Iraq, but we left no trace - because we were too polite to do any "cross-cultural sharing" of our own. So we live in a world of remorseless, incremental one-way multiculturalism - which is, ultimately, far more powerful than the laughably misnamed "shock and awe".
~Since 9/11, those westerners who tolerate the avowedly intolerant have sought refuge in equivalence. Okay, in Afghanistan they build a wall specifically for the purpose of crushing homosexuals underneath it, and in Iran they behead you for bebottoming, but come on, a lot of these Christians are pretty homophobic, aren't they? And yeah, the clitoridectomy clinics are doing a roaring trade and there seems to be a lot more honor killing around than there used to be, but Republicans want to cut off Sandra Fluke's free contraceptives in her late 30s, don't they?
My old editor Jonathan Kay attempts a subtler version of this argument in a National Post column with the eye-catching title, "Shariah With A Jewish Face", which is his characterization of the preferred lifestyle of Israel's ultra-orthodox communities:
Haredim exhibit a level of misogyny and sexual phobia that is more commonly associated with militant Muslim fundamentalists. Public spaces in Haredi communities are rigidly segregated by sex. In extreme cases, the women even dress in Jewish burquas (colloquially referred to as "frumkas," a play on a Yiddish word indicating piety). What's worse, Haredim have demanded that the wider Israeli society adapt to their primitive views — insisting, for instance, that bus lines offer sex-segregated service, that advertising should be free of female faces or bodies, and that beaches maintain separate areas for men and women.
The Haredim don't, on the other hand, go in for female genital mutilation and child marriage. Nor, as significant numbers of Minnesota's Somali hijabi do, do they send their sons back to Somalia as suicide bombers. And I would be surprised if they'll ever impress their "cross-cultural sharing" upon Israeli gays as easily as Muslims do upon Minneapolis' feminist council members and lesbian police chiefs.
Jonathan Kay has a point insofar as, when the demographic energy of a minority group outpaces so dramatically that of the majority group, that poses challenges for any society. I wrote a whole book on the subject, whose basic thesis is that the future belongs to those who show up for it. Among 21st century Jewry, the Haredim are showing up in huge numbers. But Judaism is not a universalist religion. Islam is. And one-way "cross-cultural sharing" are markers laid down for the future.
~Speaking of "cross-cultural sharing" - or, at any rate, the litigious end of Islamic enforcement - Ezra Levant and I will be discussing that and other free-speech topics in a one-hour special on Sun News, coast to coast across Canada Saturday night at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific, repeated on Sunday. You can get a personally autographed copy of my book on Islam, free speech and the twilight of the west, along with Ezra's, exclusively in the SteynOnline Free Speech Special.