It’s a common and recurring tendency among conservative Catholics to be complacent regarding the jihad threat because of a desire to see Muslims as allies in a culture war against all-encroaching and authoritarian secularism. This idea is based on ignorance of or indifference to the fact that, with its polygamy, divorce at a word, sexual slavery of Infidel women, allowance for wife-beating, tolerance for early abortion, and more, Islamic sexual morality is hardly akin to Catholic sexual morality. There is also a tendency, which is also found all over the West outside the Catholic Church, to assume that various concepts, and acts designed to express them, mean the same thing in an Islamic context that they do in a non-Muslim context. That false assumption is what we see here from Archbishop Chaput with regard to modesty.
Archbishop Chaput says: “The hijab and the burqa say two important things in a morally confused culture: ‘I’m not sexually available;’ and ‘I belong to a community different and separate from you and your obsessions.'” In reality, that is what a Western woman might be intending to convey, but in an Islamic context the message is slightly different, and that slight difference is all-important. Yes, the hijab and burqa certainly say, ‘I’m not sexually available” and “I belong to a community different and separate from you and your obsessions.” But there is more. The Qur’an says: “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused.” (33:59) This is the foundation of the prevailing assumption in Islamic culture that if a woman is raped or sexually abused, it is her fault for exciting men, who can’t be expected to control themselves. This is the assumption underlying honor killing, and the reason why it is so common in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and other Muslim countries for women to be imprisoned after they were raped: the rape is their fault.
So the hijab and burqa are really saying: “I am assuming the responsibility — willingly or not — for the possibility that I might be raped or sexually abused.” It is a visible sign of the subjugation of women.
And that “willingly or not” clause is all-important as well. Archbishop Chaput says: “I admire the integrity of those Muslim women” who wear the hijab and the burqa. He assumes that they are wearing it freely, as they would be in the West. And to be sure, many Muslim women, especially in the West, are indeed wearing it of their own volition. What does Archbishop Chaput think of the integrity of Aqsa Parvez, whose Muslim father choked her to death with her hijab after she refused to wear it? How does he feel about the integrity of Amina Muse Ali, a Christian woman in Somalia whom Muslims murdered because she wasn’t wearing a hijab? And of the 40 women who were murdered in Iraq in 2007 for not wearing the hijab; and of Alya Al-Safar, whose Muslim cousin threatened to kill her and harm her family because she stopped wearing the hijab in Britain; and of Amira Osman Hamid, who faces whipping in Sudan for refusing to wear the hijab; and of the Egyptian girl, also named Amira, who committed suicide after being brutalized for her family for refusing to wear the hijab; and of the Muslim and non-Muslim teachers at the Islamic College of South Australia who were told that they had to wear the hijab or be fired; and of the women in Chechnya whom police shot with paintballs because they weren’t wearing hijab; and of the women also in Chechnya who were threatened by men with automatic rifles for not wearing hijab; and of the elementary school teachers in Tunisia who were threatened with death for not wearing hijab; and of the Syrian schoolgirls who were forbidden to go to school unless they wore hijab; and of the women in Gaza whom Hamas has forced to wear hijab; and of the women in Iran who protested against the regime by daring to take off their legally-required hijab; and of the women in London whom Muslim thugs threatened to murder if they didn’t wear hijab; and of the anonymous young Muslim woman who doffed her hijab outside her home and started living a double life in fear of her parents, and all the other women and girls who have been killed or threatened, or who live in fear for daring not to wear the hijab?
What about their integrity? Those who taunt or brutalize hijab-wearing women are louts and creeps, and should be prosecuted if they commit any acts of violence. At the same time, the women who don’t wear hijab in Muslim countries are far more likely to be victims of violence than hijabis in the West. Who speaks for them? And while Archbishop Chaput is admiring the integrity of Muslim women who wear the hijab and the burqa, has he considered the possibility that some of them face lives of misery and brutalization if they dare not to wear it, especially in light of the Qur’an’s mandate to beat women “from whom you fear disobedience” (4:34)?
The conservative Catholic complacency regarding Islam, and particularly Islamic morality, is based on ignorance, as you can see here from my debate with the Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft. It is compounded by the outright falsehoods that Pope Francis continues to spread, most notoriously his outrageously false claim that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” The Pope has created tremendous confusion among Roman Catholics who imbibe the prevailing idolatry of the papacy, treating every word from the Pope as a divine oracle and even reading out of the Church those who dare to stand up and say that he has said something false when he obviously has. Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is increasingly authoritarian, ruthlessly suppressing any dissent from the Pope’s complacent and false claim that Islam is a religion of peace with a dispatch it has never shown in teaching or defending the actual tenets of the Catholic Faith. In pursuing this line, however, the papal idolators are digging themselves into a rather large hole, as they’re attaching the Church’s dogmatic and moral authority to a falsehood, which challenges any claim to such authority in the first place. In other words, if one cannot be a Catholic and believe that Islam is not a religion of peace, then Catholicism is false, and the Church not worth staying in anyway. Thus either the Church will reject this suicidal position, and do it soon, or else collapse upon its own self-contradiction.
“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
“The message behind the burqa,” by Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, October 20, 2016 (thanks to Judith):
In his excellent speech at Notre Dame (about which more anon), Archbishop Charles Chaput makes an interesting point about Muslim women who wear the hijab or burqa:
Some of my friends are annoyed by that kind of “in your face” Islam. But I understand it. The hijab and the burqa say two important things in a morally confused culture: “I’m not sexually available;” and “I belong to a community different and separate from you and your obsessions.”
There are problems with Islam, especially in its more assertive forms, and the archbishop says as much in passing. But those two messages are messages that our culture needs to hear….
The Archbishop’s remarks on the hijab and burqa in full:
In Philadelphia I’m struck by how many women I now see on the street wearing the hijab or even the burqa. Some of my friends are annoyed by that kind of “in your face” Islam. But I understand it. The hijab and the burqa say two important things in a morally confused culture: “I’m not sexually available;” and “I belong to a community different and separate from you and your obsessions.”
I have a long list of concerns with the content of Islam. But I admire the integrity of those Muslim women. And we need to help Catholics recover their own sense of distinction from the surrounding secular meltdown. The Church and American democracy are very different kinds of societies with very different structures and goals. They can never be fully integrated without eviscerating the Christian faith. An appropriate “separateness” for Catholics is already there in the New Testament. We’ve too often ignored it because Western civilization has such deep Christian roots. But we need to reclaim it, starting now.