Boris’s Burka Bashing – Morally Malevolent

A while back my wife decided that she would start to wear the hijab. She never discussed this with me nor did I have any indication she wanted to wear one. She felt that as part of her spiritual journey that she should wear one. I was a bit surprised, but it was her choice. She wore the hijab for about three years and then decided to stop wearing it. Again, she didn’t discuss it with me and made her own choice (this time I was a bit annoyed – as I feared she might have stopped wearing it because of the response she got from the general public or colleagues at work). However, it was more to do with what she felt about her spiritualism than anything else. There are of course people who do require their partners/daughters to wear the hijab or the burka, but in the majority of the cases, it’s a personal choice for those who choose to wear it.

My culture is British, my social reference points are British, and I think in English, but if Pakistan were playing cricket against England, I would support Pakistan (as an English person who lives in Australia would support the English football team if it played against Australia). We live in a free society where we can express our free will as long as it doesn’t impinge on others. I suppose “impinge on others” is the key phrase here, in such instances, I always apply common sense to check my behaviour when considering others. However, for some, there is a robust instinctive intolerance and bigotry that’s devoid of common sense.

I have been reading a book about political attitudes – the core message basically states that people follow their values (prejudice or otherwise however derived) and pick out points made by political parties from their literature, policies, comments etc. to justify their political sway (this is a broad simplification of the theory, but that’s the general thrust of it). If you are intolerant, see nationalism hyped by media (as it is at the moment because of Brexit), find a scapegoat and identify with an unscrupulous public figure who is taking advantage of all this you have a situation that will fuel hate rage.

David Cameron was surprised that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson wanted to leave the EU as he remembered him as a supporter of it. Boris replied that he made a list of for and against between the two arguments and came down as a Leaver. This pushed him to lead the project lies campaign. Most of us believe that he made an assessment that vote leave had a strong chance of winning and Cameron wouldn’t keep his word and step down as PM if he lost the referendum. He was right. This would leave Boris in a prime position to put himself forward as the Tory leader. Unfortunately for Boris, Gove twisted the knife and Boris showed a lack of backbone and withdrew from the selection process. Still having his sights set on becoming the PM he has now turned to the lowest common political denominator by playing the extremist card that has already increased racial attacks on Muslims, in one week.

Boris turned tail on Europe; has used religion bashing to endear himself to the right (this is all the more disconcerting when you consider he has Muslim ancestors) and who knows what else he will do in his efforts to be the next Tory leader. However, one thing is clear there seems to be little consideration of morality checking his actions which are calculated to secure his ultimate goal. As Boris is so keen on classics maybe he should mull over Marcus Cicero statement “What is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage. The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious.”

 

* Tahir Maher is the Wednesday editor and a member of the LDV editorial team

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11 Comments

  • I think it is a sad day if the major world religions are not allowed to be scrutinised. Christianity has come under much scrutiny here on LDV. And of course the major world religions have much to commend them. Polly Toynbee makes trenchant criticism of the Burka and Islam in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/14/boris-johnson-burqa-dehumanise-muslim-women

    Her argument seems essentially that left-wing Guardian columnists are “allowed” to make these criticisms, right wing Telegraph columnists are not.

  • “Boris Johnson” believes in “Boris Johnson”; everything he does/says is to further that belief.He is the epitome of the saloon bar bully whose only interest is in being the centre of attention. He has risen to prominence by being controversial for it’s own sake and regards truth and morality as inconveniences only practiced by lesser mortals.

    I’m only surprised that, after your ‘Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’, you returned to ‘Boris’; an ‘epithet’ (as in, “it’s only Boris being Boris”) to excuse his excesses.

    I believe/hope that, like Nigel Farage, Johnson’s time has passed and, as his need for attention drives him to further extreme utterances, he will alienate far more people that he attracts.

  • Innocent Bystander 15th Aug '18 - 11:14am

    I would have thought that an English person who emigrated to Australia and took Australian citizenship would have the courtesy to support ‘his’ Australian cricket team.

  • David Evershed 15th Aug '18 - 11:53am

    Boris Johnson made two strong liberal points:

    a) He defended the right of Muslim women to wear whatever clothing they wished

    b) He demonstrated that in a liberal country we all have the right to make satirical comments about cultural customs.

    Boris Johnson should be supported by liberals for defending liberalism.

    Remember Voltaire, who is quoted (wrongly?) as saying “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

  • Sue Sutherland 15th Aug '18 - 12:41pm

    Thatcher and Reagan liberated greed and now the Tories and Johnson and Trump are liberating hatred. The two are connected because the politics of greed have resulted in a society of a few very rich people and a lot of people in relative poverty. Releasing hatred is a way of controlling the poor by ensuring their anger is focussed on groups other than the very rich.
    I’m not sure how we can put both genies back in their bottles because, unlike Labour, with their slogan For the Many not the Few, we have no wish to use hatred as a political weapon and once released it has a power of its own. Perhaps we have to follow Martin Luther King and fight hatred with love and a passion for freedom and justice.

  • David Evershed 15th Aug ’18 – 11:53am……………Boris Johnson made two strong liberal points:
    a) He defended the right of Muslim women to wear whatever clothing they wished.
    b) He demonstrated that in a liberal country we all have the right to make satirical comments about cultural customs……….Boris Johnson should be supported by liberals for defending liberalism.
    Remember Voltaire, who is quoted (wrongly?) as saying “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”…………………………

    Regarding your first point; that is not strictly true. He said he was not advocating a legal ban on the burqa; not the same thing.

    As for Voltaire; would you extend the same right to mocking colour, sexual orientation or disability?
    BTW. Johnson already has ‘form’ on colour and, as for ‘sexual orientation’ I recall Johnson promising to raise the issue with foreign governments but, ‘when push came to shove’, Johnson stated that, “‘it would not be appropriate” to intervene when Bermuda repealed same-sex marriage.i

  • Denis Loretto 16th Aug '18 - 9:03am

    @David Evershed
    There is plenty of room for sensible and sensitive debate on the issue of the covering of identity by wearing concealing clothing. Johnson has now made it much less likely that such debate will take place. Those within the Muslim community who wish to encourage this form of dress will be strengthened by the wish to protest against the ridicule he has expressed. Those within the Muslim community who wish to discourage this form of dress will feel inhibited by the risk of sounding like acolytes of Johnson and his admirers. All for puffing himself up by on one hand setting out a liberal case against “banning the burqa” and on the other hand tossing gobbets of red meat to his bigoted followers by using deeply insulting language, What a charlatan.

  • Peter Hirst 16th Aug '18 - 5:03pm

    If people become politicians without a moral compass, it is unlikely they will obtain one while in power.

  • Peter Martin 18th Aug '18 - 8:28am

    @ Innocent Bystander,

    “I would have thought that an English person who emigrated to Australia and took Australian citizenship would have the courtesy to support ‘his’ Australian cricket team.”

    Not at all. I’ve lived in Australia for many years and have dual nationality. Generally speaking Aussies don’t expect Kiwis, Poms or anyone else to switch allegiance, cricket wise, even if they do acquire nationality. They enjoy the banter too much. Especially if Australia has beaten us 5-0 in a series!

    So if Tahir wants to support Pakistani cricket, that’s his choice, and no-one should have a problem with that. Except maybe those who think like Norman Tebbitt!

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