Kid Moses
Bernie and the Fed

Hijab Howler

By Jonathan B. Wight

An article of clothing can be important for signifying membership in a tribe, religion, gang, army, or corporation – recall that IBMers and Mormon missionaries always wore white shirts.

There can be confusion and contrived anger over moral rights and wrongs when someone doesn’t hew “proper” line on clothing. Wheaton political science professor Larycia Hawkins recently wore a hijab on campus to show solidarity with Muslims during the season of Advent.

She was suspended (and may lose her tenured job) for what she wrote on Facebook about it:

“I don't love my Muslim neighbor because s/he is American.

“I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity…. We worship the same God.”

The second line sounds like something Kant would say, isn’t it?

And, according to Christian tradition, it is a lot like what Jesus might say. He was concerned with breaking the barriers between insiders and outsiders. He sided with the marginalized, who tended to be sick, poor, and of different cultural groups.

(For example, Jews of that time hated Samaritans for, among other reasons, claiming that their God was the true God. Yet in the parable of the “Good Samaritan” Jesus asks his followers to find solidarity with them and others, despite religious differences.)

Speaking of differences, it boggles the mind to think of the semantic problems for Christians who reverently use the word “veil” to refer to the head coverings of Mary and Catholic nuns (above), and yet recoil in horror at the “hijab” worn by Professor Hawkins (above left). The latter term, of course, can imply religious doctrines that are imposed on women, rather than freely chosen, and raise other problematic issues.


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